Monday, December 28, 2015

I'm not a big fan of Broadway musicals but I just couldn't resist an airy new soufflé of a play: "On Your Feet: The Story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan." I had such a wonderful evening that my only regret is I couldn't find anyone to go along.

"It's the story of Gloria Estefan told in song and dance?" asked my friend Margo excitedly.

"Not just Gloria Estefan!" I replied. "Emilio too!"

She cocked her head and shot me a funny look and suddenly remembered that she had to wash her dog. Her loss! Because I give this fabulous little musical two thumbs up.

I have to admit I probably would have stayed away if Emilio hadn't been so visibly included. I don't know about you, but I'd see an ad for "On Your Feet: The Story of Gloria Estefan" and I'd think, "Well, she's fun and all, but I'd really like to see her interact with an accordion player who works at the Bacardi distillery."

After all, what is the showgirl without the businessman? Leaving him out would be like an Oscars broadcast without a mention of Price Waterhouse. He discovered her, so naturally we're dying to hear his story. After all, didn't we flock to "This I Promise You: The Enchanted Life of Lou Pearlman"?

I don't think I'm alone in this, either. Everyone's fascinated by the man behind the woman, which is why the Carl&Dollywood theme park is such a massive hit. I swear, the last time I went there I must have waited in line three hours for the "Basics of Accounting" ride.

And Emilio Estefan is so much more than just a businessman. He mentored Marc Antony, Jennifer Lopez and Ricky Martin, though due to the high cost of getting rights to celebrity names they're called Mike Kasminski, Jackie Pachinko and Fred Mertz in the musical. Permanently burned into my brain is a particularly intense scene where Estefan is determined to make a star of the bumbling Mertz. His voice cracks from strain as he repeatedly prods the young man that it's "la vida lo-CA. La vida lo-CA."

I'm not saying the show would have been unwatchable without Emilio, but it would have suffered. Sure, we would have been delighted by "The Rhythm is Going To Get You," but it wouldn't have resonated half as much without the emotional counterpoint of "Creating A Strategic Marketing Platform With Latin-Oriented Businesses." The kids and the women in the crowd absolutely adored "Conga," but the men didn't really come alive until Emilio's showstopper, "Promoting Trade Diversity in the Miami-Dade Community."

Still, my favorite scene had to be where Emilio and Gloria show each other that their half of the partnership is very hard work. Gloria forces Emilio to sing and dance while wearing bolero shorts, and Emilio makes Gloria sort through her receipts. Is dining in a foreign city ENTERTAINMENT or TRAVEL? I was in hysterics as she tried to decide.

Anyway, I highly recommend this musical. If you've ever wondered about the struggle that comes before success, you should go. If you've ever wanted a deeper explanation of a Gloria Estefan song, you have to go. And if you've ever watched women's gymnastics on TV and thought, "The pommel horse routines are interesting, but I'd really like to know more about that Hungarian guy who pats them on the head afterward," then 1-2-3 get your tickets NOW!

Monday, December 21, 2015

As everybody who doesn't live under a rock knows, a blockbuster new movie just opened. A certain colorful character might call it Star Wars: It Awakens, The Force, Yes It Does, Hmm? but grandma hasn't been the same since her stroke. I'm the series' number-one fan so needless to say I'd been waiting in line at Mann's Chinese since the day Cameron Diaz's movie Sex Bloat opened and closed. Star Wars films aren't just state-of-the-art spectacles: they're an experience shared by virtually everyone alive. Americans adopt Star Wars slang into their lexicon, Europeans debate the metaphorical characters, and Asian kids get the same thrill sewing their four-thousandth R2D2 t-shirt as they did sewing the first.

A lot of people appreciate Star Wars because it doesn't demand a Ph.D. of its audience. It's not asking hard questions like, "Is gender identity more fluid in a post-apocalyptic world?" or "Is this constant violence a result of nature or nurture?," but instead leaves us wondering simple things like, "Wait, so the villain is the only character who's BLACK?"

I love how the filmmakers stay a step ahead of us in knowing what we want. Somehow they've deduced that right after we've met the first woman in a cast of thousands, she should don a bikini in an intergalactic Victoria's Secret fashion show. (Though I'm somewhat relieved they edited out that show's slightly-stereotypical emcee, Gay Gay Bonks.) Even before The Danish Girl hit movie theaters, the Star Wars folks realized they needed to ramp up their feminist punch: finally Leia is promoted to General and given a one-piece.

I also appreciate how intelligent the series is. Think of how much research they must have done, how many scientists and philosopher they must have queried, to finally decide that in the year 45,617 A.D. we'll be bombing everyone who doesn't look like us. How many strange new characters did they invent? How many times did they have to Google "Armenian baby names"? They've populated an entire galaxy with alien races and invented distinct hand-held weapons to kill them all. I think we all remember the iconic cantina scene in the original Star Wars, though it's faded a bit in my memory:

HAN SOLO: Look, Luke! Isn't it incredible here? Fifteen million light years in the future every creature is still a variation on the two-legs, two-arms, central-head rule we saw in The Mummy in 1952. That there is Mando Palrithian. Over there is Mongo Salrathian. That guy is Mingo Casbashian.

LUKE: This is amazing. Look, there's a fish-headed creature in a blue velour bathrobe!

HAN SOLO: Huh. Let's go chop his head off with a buzzing flashlight.

LUKE: Okay!

Imagine being a fly on the wall during those creative brainstorms:

FUTURIST #1: Technology has advanced in quantum leaps. Robots not only have self-awareness and sentience, but they contain all the knowledge of the world. Robots built for different functions will have distinct looks and personalities.

FUTURIST #2: But we'll still need an aggressive white guy to destroy anything really big!

I was on the edge of my seat throughout the entire film. Every time a new character appeared my mind raced. Who would they end up being related to? Is this Chewbacca's nephew? Princess Leia's half-sister? The turd emoticon's father-in-law? And what new weapon would they produce? A gamma ray umbrella? A quantum pine cone? I don't want to sound like a hopeless fanboy but eighty billion years in the future I hope fart cannons become a thing.

Needless to say, I ran straight from the theater to Toys R Us. I ordinarily wouldn't spend $3,500 on needless stuff, but these are investments that can't lose money like my Wumpo Labdabian coin purse. I knew they created toys to exploit every segment of the marketplace, but even I was surprised at the endless rows of action figures. They were big, small, fat, thin, and every shade of the rainbow. There's a little girl action figure who has a single mom and early-onset asthma, and a little boy with a bad lisp and a briefcase he carries to school. I've always gone for the really obscure merchandise, because that's what becomes really valuable, but evidently the Star Wars marketing folks have caught on to this strategy. One figure I bought wasn't even in the movie, but fingers crossed we see more of plucky little Chango Klaptrapian, the home-schooled Christian in the iron lung with the photon cream pies.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Guy Who Got Wartime Medical Deferment Is Absolutely Perfect Now

Meat or Tree?

We've all been there: wandered the twisty streets of some foreign city for hours on end, until our legs ached and our head spun. We try to recover: we duck into an exotic restaurant, grab a table and hope a tasty repast will help. The waiter approaches and he points off in the distance. Our eyes focus and refocus but it doesn't clear up the mystery: is that meat, or a tree?















Monday, November 16, 2015

How It Must Have Happened

The Reverend Roy Herberger, pastor of St. Columbia-Brigid Roman Catholic Church in Buffalo, New York, wanted to put up a funny sign. "Everybody likes funny church signs," he thought, so he went to Google where he found a lot:




One sign in particular, though, struck close to home. He prided himself on keeping tabs on his congregation, and he knew it included a lot of remarried parents. Weren't some of those kids struggling with stepparents? he wondered. Shouldn't he show some support? "I sure as heck will!" he declared, and he went outside and put up this sign:

Within seconds the church's phone was ringing off the hook. Catholics don't support gay marriage! the callers screamed. This is blasphemy! Are you crazy? Are you saying it's okay for gay couples to raise kids?

Naturally Rev. Herberger was shocked. He didn't mean anything like that! He was just providing encouragement to the children in his congregation who had, say, a regular dad along with a new stepdad.

Embarrassed, he raced outside and added a clarifying line:


Still, the phone didn't stop ringing. "Are you saying God and Joseph were dating?" Old Lady Blandings screamed. "I'm trying to come up with a reason why you think Jesus' two dads should have gotten married," yelled Willie Grimshaw, a local plumber. "But all I can come up with is YOU'RE A MORON."

Rev. Herberger quickly jogged outside, and he changed the message to this:


"I'm a little confused," said "Tiny" Mike Gastrudo. "Are you saying the two dads never had sex with each other, or stopped having sex with each other?" "So everything's cool if the two dads don't have sex with each other?" asked a furtive, anonymous voice. "Can they still, like, come on each other's chests?

This time Rev. Herberger sprinted outside, and he rewrote the message to say this:


The first phone call he answered was supportive. "Thank you so much for the comforting message, Reverend," said parishioner Ida Rae Thompson. "I thought the church would frown on it if they knew I left my Cremona for weeks at a time with a guy I met at Skunky Junk's." The fifty-odd calls that followed, though, used words like "heretic" and "burned at the stake."

Rev. Herberger was at his wits' end. "I'M LOST!" he yelled to God. "I'M CONFUSED! PLEASE, GOD, HELP ME! GIVE ME A MESSAGE! SEND ME A SIGN!"

A parishioner walking by heard the plea and decided to get back at the Reverend. In his most booming voice he shouted, "I can't! I'm too busy having sex with some random guy who used to hang around with Mary!"

Rev. Herberger freaked out. Was that really God? he asked himself. Or had the flap driven him nuts? Had he gone stark, raving mad? It didn't matter. He was finished. He'd been broken in two, flattened, humbled. The previous Rev. Herberger didn't exist any more. But then it hit him like a bolt of lightning: wasn't that what religion was all about? Letting go of one's ego so Our Lord can take charge? He took down the message and replaced it with this:

The Reverend admired his handiwork and put the spare letters away. Just as he was locking up the church for the evening, the phone started to ring, and he thought, "Wait."

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Movie Review: The 33 (SPOILERS)

I wasn't looking forward to The 33, the new film about 33 Chilean gold and silver miners trapped by a cave-in starring Antonio Banderas. Set almost entirely underground, how could the film not be claustrophobic? With an all-male cast, how could it explore humanity? And with the ending already known, how could there be any suspense?

I needn't have worried. Director Patricia Riggen has shown a masterful hand in alternating the bleaker scenes with lighter stories that oftentimes elicit more about the human condition than the times that try men's souls. While some may quibble with the liberties Ms. Riggen has taken with the story, one can hardly argue with the result.

One somewhat-fanciful subplot involves Gonzalo, a frustrated chef who'd turned to mining to support his family. Faced with mutiny in the face of yet another day of dehydrated food, he breaks out his knives and hits the burners. Working day and night -- and alienating friends and family in the process -- he discovers his true self in the face of adversity and leaves us on the edge of our seats as we wonder if he could possibly succeed in his quest for that elusive third Michelin star.

Though the mature souls in the audience chafed, the teens cheered wildly when some of the men started a cappella singing groups and made it all the way to the Underground Grand Nationals. It certainly added a light note to an otherwise dark tale, but I personally could not have cared less when the Cave-in Canaries finally bested their rivals, the Slowly Asphyxiating Swingles.

Those worried that the film would be a cold-blooded study of mortality will be heartened to hear of a recurring thread where Montanares, an aloof, confident miner, ties the other thirty-two to a bed to explore the thin line between pleasure and pain. Is S&M still fun when it's a rough working man who's submissive? Don't ask: just look at the cat o'nine tails fashioned from battered workboots and the grin on Coquimbo's face.

My favorite character may also prove to be the most controversial. Valdivieso, a withdrawn bachelor from the slums of Antofagasta, barely said a word before the cave-in. In the face of death, though, he blossomed. He worked day and night chiseling out a vein of rhinestone to transform his overalls into a glamorous gown, then entertained the men at night by lipsyncing to disco classics. Sure, some stalwarts in the audience will grumble that hitting a rock can't actually sound like cowbell, but there were definitely tears in my row when the drill broke through the wall of mud and sunlight hit those sparkles. Even the most macho of the miners resisted the urge to rush out to his anxious loved ones long enough to share those final, redemptive lines of "We Are Family."

In the end, the film's brilliance is in taking what could have been a claustrophobic caveat and transforming it into a life-affirming epic. When you finally see sunlight again, the film's lessons will stay with you: family comes where you find it, real homes don't need front doors, and even when you're facing silicosis you can still be fabulous.

Friday, November 6, 2015

The easiest way to describe my childhood is to list everything it lacked, which was basically everything. You know how if you had disgusting sex with some dude who smelled of Paco Rabanne you'd hate that scent for the rest of your life? If that was your only odd neurosis, well, it would be manageable: there just aren't that many guys who wear Paco Rabanne. But if you had gross sex with a guy who wore Levis, another who loved the outdoors and a third who loved rock music, then here's a hard fact you need to face: you're going to have to deal with it or go live in a box in the yard.

My mother had a different, perfectly rational explanation behind everything I never had. I didn't have fish until I was sixteen years old because she gave me fish when I was a toddler and I spit it out. Onto my high chair. "That showed me!" Mom crowed proudly for the next fifteen years. "You sure didn't like fish!"

That struck me as a weird little pick-and-choose decision. She continued to serve us Rancho Chucko -- a family invention of french bread topped with ground beef, canned mushrooms and Velveeta -- every Sunday without weighing my disgust.


I could have vomited it all over our shag carpeting and it wouldn't have made any difference. "You must have a touch of the stomach flu," Mom would have said. "I'll make a double batch next week."

There's a simple explanation for this conundrum: my sister Barbara Ann loved the shit. That was all that mattered. She was the oldest, and somehow before Sue and I were born she'd managed to wrangle control of our family.

I looked to Sue for backup, futilely believing that two votes against one might provoke some kind of change. "The bread is crunchy," she said, blithely ignoring the greasy meat, neon cheese and mushroom juice. "I like crunchy bread."

I have to preface the next story with a disclaimer: I'm not particularly thrilled that my mother was tied to a chair. I'm no big fan of kids, though, so it's not awfully difficult to justify it to me, whether or not violin practice is involved. Yes, it was simply abominable that her parents forced her to do something that promoted dexterity and creativity. Reprehensible! Child abuse! Somebody should have intervened so that poor girl could have watched game shows for thirty hours a week like the rest of us.

Unfortunately, the side effect was that my mother just couldn't stand to hear violins being played. While we probably wouldn't have gone to Italian restaurants otherwise, we might have listened to classical music. Which was now off the table, because Rachmaninoff didn't spend huge amounts of time on his Marimba Symphony.

I was flipping the TV channel one night when I stumbled on the opera Samson et Delila on PBS. I was instantly transfixed. I'd never seen or heard anything like it, and it was like a whole new beautiful world opened up in front of my eyes. Right around the time Delila started to dance, though, B.A. appeared and spun the channel to Family Feud.

"I was watching that," I protested.

"Forget it," B.A. countered. "Nobody wants to watch fat people sing."

I looked to Sue for support. "I'm going to go read a book," she said.

We had a lot of salad when I was a child. "Cool," you say, picturing kale and dried cranberries and balsamic vinaigrette, without realizing that until just a few short years ago "salad" meant a quarter of a head of lettuce plopped onto a plate. I wasn't a fan until Mom suddenly, inexplicably made friends with another single mother and we went to her house for dinner. We stared awestruck at the lazy Susan in the center of the table festooned with dozens of multicolored bottles of various shapes and sizes.

"What is that?" Sue whispered.

We watched as one of the other kids opened a bottle and poured some of the contents on his lettuce wedge. "It's some kind of salad lubricant," I guessed.

The other kids noticed our reluctance to partake, and soon a curious look had spread across the family. "You've had salad dressing before, right?" one of the kids asked.

"We have it all the time," B.A. lied. She twisted off the cap of one bottle and watched in amazement as a half-cup of Thousand Island glopped onto her lettuce wedge. She tried a bite and then, still trying to feign disinterest, shoveled it into her mouth at blinding speed.

The other kids looked to me for confirmation. "We eat plain lettuce with nothing on it," I said. "I have never seen this before in my life."

And then all eyes turned to Sue. "We've eaten something very similar," she said.

That's it, I think. I'm alone. Sue smiles innocently; it's another compromise. She's good at it, and she's proud of it. She's the middle child, and that's her job. I don't say much throughout the rest of the meal, and quiz her for details later. She didn't want to make trouble. She didn't want to embarrass Mom.

And really, is it all that different from mayonnaise?

Rancho Chucko

     1 pound ground beef
     1 can sliced mushrooms
     1 package Velveeta processed cheese
     1 loaf french bread, sliced horizontally

Brown the ground beef in a frying pan. Spoon onto the bread along with the mushrooms and the cheese. Broil until bubbly and somebody screams, "OH HOLY GOD, NOT THIS CRAP AGAIN!!!"

Friday, October 30, 2015

I've never understood religious people. Not just the whole "believing in something that doesn't exist" part, but the "reaction to atheism" part.

See, whenever I tell people I'm an atheist, they always ask one of three very predictable questions:

"If you don't believe in God, why do you go on living?"

Well, for a few reasons:

  • It doesn't leave as many stains on the sheets.

  • I'm actually enjoying my life. It makes me wonder what's going on in the brains of religious people. When they're driving to Montauk in a convertible, or having a drunken dinner with good friends, or riding a roller coaster at Six Flags Over A Culturally-Starved Dustbowl do they think, "Well, this is enjoyable, but what's really great is knowing I have eternal life in Jesus"?

  • If I killed myself, my parents wouldn't exactly be thrilled.

    MOM: OH NO! IT CAN'T BE! Roman's landlord called from New York and said Roman is DEAD!

    DAD: WHAT? NOOooo -- Wait. He didn't believe in God so why was he alive anyway?

    MOM: Yes, I guess you're right. Hey, are there any more bear claws?

"If you don't believe in God, what's to stop you from buying a submachine gun and shooting everybody?"

This question kind of freaks me out. I mean, is God the only thing from keeping people from mass murder? I'm picturing a rather odd interior monologue:

"I'm gonna blast the hell out of this godforsaken town! I'm blowing it all to kingdom come! I'm wiping this shithole off the face of -- Wait. I can't. I would, like, seriously go to hell."

It may surprise religious people to learn I've never actually thought about killing anybody. But then again, I don't spend Sundays listening to a sanctimonious dude tell me how a sentient being created this whole shitshow and left us all totally fucked.

There are a few reasons why I'm not a mass murderer. One, I actually like the people around me, and our mutual enjoyment might be undermined by the fact that their internal organs are no longer satisfactorily contained by skin. Two, I enjoy my freedom. I'd like to decide on a case-by-case basis whether I want to blow gang members for cigarettes. And three, while spending $800 on a submachine gun might sound tempting to you, I'd rather buy a bucket full of enchiladas and Garnier Fructis For The Challenged Scalp.

It seems like religious people are saying they'd act differently if somebody all-powerful wasn't watching them. But I'm a law-abiding citizen because I'm a nice guy, not because I'm afraid of getting caught. If we lived in a world without police, the only thing I'd do differently is stop jacking off while thinking about policemen.

Which, strangely enough, makes me empathize with religious folk. In this case, the existence of a dominant, protective figure makes me act very differently. God knows what I'd invent to protect my sexual fantasies from undergoing this sad little paradigm shift:


POLICEMAN: You know you were doing fifty miles an hour in a school zone, right?

ME: I'm really sorry, officer.

POLICEMAN: Get out of the car. I've got to search you for weapons and drugs. [PAUSE] It appears you have something in your crotch area. What's this? Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Oh yeah.


TSA GUARD: Are you giving me permission to search your luggage?

ME: Well, I'd rather not, because my flight leaves in twelve minutes. But if you have to.

TSA GUARD: I have to. [PAUSE] Hey, is that three ounces of toothpaste in your pants?

"If you don't believe in God, what's to stop you from slathering peanut butter on your taint and hanging around dog parks?"

Nothing. See you next week!

Monday, October 26, 2015

There are parties in New York for just about every holiday. On New Year's Eve we head to Times Square for live music and champagne. For Easter we put on crazy hats and parade down Fifth Avenue. And for Halloween we dress up our dogs and gather in Tompkins Square Park.

This is a gingerbread dog. Look, you can snap off a piece and -- oh shut up, Mrs. Wiggins.

This little pooch is dressed as the wad of hair you always find at the bottom of your Belgian fries.

This is that guy at the Guggenheim who always stares at your ass instead of the paintings.

Nice try but that fence was like 5,000 volts tops. The little "dinosaurs" eventually broke out and ran around aimlessly so it was pretty much like Jurassic Park 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8.

Surprisingly cute, right? If this mutt had three bucks and a cardboard box it'd be married to Melania Trump right now.

This dog is dressed as Princess Leia. It could barely hold up its head and waddle at the same time so it was pretty much a dead ringer for the real thing.

They say you start to resemble your dog after living with it for a few years, but I've been wearing my collar since I met my second husband in Myrtle Beach.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Non-experts say, "Whaaa? How can that be? Rich people can give some money to the government but still keep some money for themselves? My poor feeble mind cannot even begin to fathom what kind of witchcraft this is! 'Tax the rich' -- okay, got that. 'Raise revenue' -- fine so far. 'Wealthy take home majority of income' NO WAIT HOW CAN THAT BE?!?! Oh, bother, I am perplext! Well, all I can say is, it's certainly a wonderful world we live in where pie-in-the-sky schemes like this, way beyond the grasp of us average-brained people, can be dreamt up by those brainiacs at the New York Times! Kudos to them, and now I'll go back to trying to understand how my can opener works."

Monday, October 12, 2015

Ask RomanHans

Dear RomanHans,

My grandparents recently came to live with us, and I noticed something odd. Roman, they don't seem to sleep. When I went to bed they were playing Scrabble, and when I woke up Granddad was mowing the lawn and Grandma was making meatballs. Why don't old people sleep?

Anissa Brown
Age eight

Dear Anissa,

Sleep performs an integral function for humans: it gives the body time to repair. During the day, your muscles break down, your brain overheats, your blood vessels swell. At night, then, all that damage has to be undone. All unnecessary movement is halted so the body can repair itself.

Think of it as your own personal NASCAR pit crew. The minute you fall asleep, dozens of guys are dispatched to perform specific functions integral to successful completion of your next lap. Some restock the shelves of the reproductive systems: if you're a girl, you might have lost an egg, and if you're a boy, there's the stress caused by thirty-eight hardons. Some rush needed nutrients to the hair follicles so hair will keep coming out in attractive colors. Some manufacture new brain cells so your reasoning and storage systems can continue to function. While your body isn't quite up to NASCAR speed, some eight hours later all the work will be finished, and you'll wake up refreshed while your pit crew settles down for a nap.

Once you get old, though, your body isn't quite so anxious to fix itself. Imagine if you had a shiny new Corvette: if a bird pooped on it, you'd clean it off, right? Well, now pretend you've got a Buick. You could drive through a tar pit and you still wouldn't wash it. You'd be like, "Yeah, well, it was already a piece of shit." You don't need to look at Grandma under a microscope to know that that's what her body is telling her.

Now when the lights turn off and the pit crew comes out, they took a quick look around and halt in their steps. They see the wrinkled skin, the straw-like mop of hair, the saggy sack of fat over the pubis. They recognize the futility. Even if they could temporarily shoot some brown into her hair, they couldn't force grandma to stop cutting it with pinking shears. Even if they could fine-tune her motor reflexes, she still couldn't remember where she put the car. Even if they could manufacture more collagen for her face, she'd still use a colored Sharpie instead of rouge.

"You know," they say to themselves, "this looks like a little bit of work. Maybe we'll hire a few more guys and give it a shot tomorrow." And they turn all systems back on and two minutes after she went to bed Grandma is up and making marinara sauce.

Will Grandma's body ever hire more workers? Will they ever buckle down and get the job done? Yes! Absolutely! And you have a magical goldfish that can change in size and color every few months. In the meantime, enjoy the spaghetti.

Considered an expert in some Southern states, your friend

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Highlights of Amazon Movie Reviews

The Girl and the Motorcycle (aka Naked Under Leather) starring Marianne Faithfull and Alain Delon

A fun movie about a crazy girl that takes off on her Harley and rides way too fast on European roads to go find her old boyfriend.
I think this was made during the time when any movie that had the words girl and motorcycle in the title sold.
Most of the time she is on the bike and totally unbelievable because she is looking everywhere except where she is going.
it should be entitled "Girl on a Motorcycle Bolted to a Trailer" or "Girl on a motorcycle in front of a Movie Screen"
Note to Marianne: while grinding down the Autobahn on a motorbike at 95 miles an hour it's okay to flap your thighs and bounce your butt but by all means KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN!
She did seem to ride too fast, but that was only a result of her emotional anguish.
The helmet she was wearing wouldn't protect anything.
the Harley she is on sounds very much like a parallel twin rather than a V-twin
Her husband wasn't too bad, except modern orthodontics would have given him perhaps a half an inch more gum
I've not been able to take Delon seriously as an actor since his performance as a character named "Baldy" in Dean Martin's "Texas Across the River" in 1966. Plus I get him confused with Jorge Rivero and his almost identical character "Capt. Pierre Cordona aka Frenchy" in "Rio Lobo". Maybe they are the same person and used two names as a tax dodge.
I am sorry i could only give this movie 4 stars because she is supposed to be totally nude under that leather suit but I observed panty lines
The movie by the way was OK, the ending sucked, she just all of a sudden gets killed.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

I buy Chinese Chicken Salad at Whole Foods and have my Subaru tuned up every 15,000 miles. Why do I have a rash shaped like Ethiopia in my pubic hair?

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Two Conversations


LOGAN: I'm going to the supermarket. Do you need anything?

MINDY: A dozen eggs. And toilet paper.

LOGAN: Okay. Hey, when was the last time you saw the doctor?

MINDY: In January, why?

LOGAN: I thought maybe you were looking a little pale.

MINDY: In that case, bring back ice cream.

LOGAN: Ha! Okay. Back in ten.


STAN: I'm thinking of going to the supermarket. Do you need anything?

MAUREEN: Hmm. Oh, do you know what I really enjoyed? That cereal. The one with the berries in it. I don't remember where it was from but my, it was delicious.

STAN: I remember that. It certainly was good. Were there ... pecans in it?

MAUREEN: Yes, I believe there were.

STAN: I don't ordinarily like pecans but that cereal was quite a treat.


STAN: Let's not bother cooking. Would you like to go to a restaurant?

MAUREEN: Yes! Let's go somewhere that serves crepes, and kreplach, and Chinese Chicken Salad. Where all the waiters are named Raoul, and the water has a thin slice of lime in it.

STAN: Oh, and the bill comes in a padded vinyl sleeve, and the parking lot has a separate entrance and exit!

MAUREEN: Ooh, that sounds really classy. Let's definitely do that.


STAN: When was the last time we ate?

MAUREEN: Was it ... Thanksgiving? Oh golly but that was delicious. Mum's roast potatoes were just divine.

STAN: I don't know how she does it. Eighty-three and still going strong. I still dream about that sticky toffee pudding.

MAUREEN: And those sprouts. [PAUSE] That was the last time we saw your Uncle Reg.


STAN: Neither of us can get up out of our chairs. Should I call a doctor?

MAUREEN: I haven't been to the doctor in ages. Do you remember that nice Doctor Nash?

STAN: He had a bedside manner.

MAUREEN: Ooh, but the hands on him. You could call him for a sore throat and he'd have your knickers off.


BRITISH PARAMEDIC #1: Have you ever seen anything so horrible?

BRITISH PARAMEDIC #2: Only every Tuesday, when our Myra brings home Indian takeaway.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Had Me/Lost Me


Earlier this year, the BBC reported the story of Gabi Mann, an 8-year-old Seattle girl who has a remarkable relationship with the neighborhood crows. In exchange for food, the birds gift Gabi with such things as earrings, bolts, paperclips, and polished rocks. The story attracted international attention, while also provoking interest into avian intelligence.

Unfortunately, the birds brought Gabi's family another gift. A $200,000 lawsuit filed by neighbors says “[l]arge numbers of birds swarm the feeding operation daily, leaving behind dirt, feathers, peanut particles and shells, feces and urine on the surrounding properties.”


Allegedly, the parents have hired employees to fill the feeding troughs,

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

99% Of People Sick Of Surveys That Combine "It's Freakin' Unbelievable!" With "Well, I Guess It's Aight"

The Apple Watch was a divisive subject among early tech adopters, but a new survey being widely circulated shows customers clearly agree: a stunning 97% say the watch is either a gift sent directly by God to Earth or perfectly acceptable for automated jewelry made by irritated Chinese.

"I was surprised," said Apple Watch aficionado Norma Chipotle when told about the survey. "I suspected that Apple was in way over their heads on this. But when I strapped it to my wrist I instantly realized it was either a spectacular triumph of micro-engineering or something that wouldn't quite give me a lady boner."

Apple stock skyrocketed to reflect the product's startling success, and once again Apple has extended its unbroken winning streak. After twenty-plus years at the forefront of high-end design, they've delivered yet another product that's drawn near unanimous declarations that it's either the undisputed electronics gift of the year or the thing you'd fetch if your house was on fire and your wife already got the Everybody Loves Raymond DVDs.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

You know why I need to do yoga? Because I have a really hard time dealing with idiots like Adriene, star of Yoga For Complete Beginners. Adriene is a friendly, attractive woman who is apparently nearing enlightenment without realizing that "complete beginners" don't know words like asano and mudro. It doesn't help that her microphone is pinned above her right breast, so when she turns her head left you can't hear her, and when she does a Downward Dog your speakers blow.

Still, the video has had nearly four million viewers, all of whom are thinking, "What the fuck is she talking about?" For real complete beginners, let me clarify Adriene's yoga-babble.

ADRIENE: Take a second to check in with the breath.

ADDED NOTE: If you don't have luggage, you'll need photo ID.

ADRIENE: Just finding a little organic movement here.

ADDED NOTE: Because yoga should never be done around pesticides.

ADRIENE: Inhale in, and nice long exhale out. Tadasana!

ADDED NOTE: Just don't inhale out or exhale in. Kablammalang!

ADRIENE: I start at my tailbone, I travel up the spine, walking up the spine....

ADDED NOTE: And if I get to the corner, I pick up a green tea and then head back home.

ADRIENE: Find a nice space between the ears and the shoulders.

ADDED NOTE: Though if you find a loft with a kitchenette you're doing something wrong.

ADRIENE: Turn the left toes in.

ADDED NOTE: Beginners, go ahead and move the foot with them.

ADRIENE: Nice and easy here as we climb up the side body, climb up the spine...

ADDED NOTE: If we get lost, we'll call for sherpas.

ADRIENE: ...spreading the palms like starfish....

ADDED NOTE: Although it might be easier to make your elbow cluck like a chicken.

ADRIENE: Eventually we're going to want to get to a place where the bottom of that thigh is parallel to the earth.

ADDED NOTE: And if the top of that thigh isn't parallel to the earth, we'll seek help because our leg is broke.

ADRIENE: Spread the fingertips in celebration of you.

ADDED NOTE: Kablammalang! Baby, don't tempt me.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Bible According To RomanHans: Genesis 9:13

Noah lowered the gangplank to the ark and walked out onto the damp earth with his sons Shemp, Haim and Jobraith. God was floating nearby on a cloud. "So, God," said Noah, "is the world a better place now that you've destroyed almost everything you created?"

"I sense a bit of sarcasm there," God said. "I'll cut you some slack because you've been stuck on a boat slightly downscale from a Viking River Cruise."

"I don't mean to be disrespectful, Father: I'm just wondering exactly how evil an animal can be."

"Really?" replied God. "Clearly you are someone who has never owned a cat."

"So are you done now? You're not going to get pissed off again and wash everything away?"

"I promise," God said. "The flood destroyed all wickedness, and the earth will be a paradise from now on." With that, he waved his hands across the sky and a rainbow appeared. "Let this gaudy arc be a symbol of my covenant: Never again will I destroy the entire earth by the waters of a flood."

"Bless you, Father!" exclaimed a dazzled Shemp. "It's beautiful!"

Haim dropped to his knees. "Thank you, Lord!" he said. "We shall all sleep better at night knowing our descendants will never drown in a random God-willed occurrence."

"Wait," God replied. "Dial that back a notch, buddy. I didn't say I wouldn't send floods to kill you: I said I wouldn't destroy the earth. As in totally flood the place all at once. That doesn't mean I won't destroy one part, and then another, and then another, so that over the course of a year or two the whole thing has been demolished. I'll give you a grace period, though, so in between you can run from one safe part to another."

"There are still going to be floods," repeated Haim.

"Yup," said God. "And hurricanes, tsunamis, tornados, and water spouts. Aside from non-water disasters like earthquakes, volcanoes, and asteroids."

"So this rainbow thing doesn't actually mean a whole hell of a lot?"

God thought for a second. "Oh," he said. "You're right. Tell you what: just so we're not totally wasting our time, how about if it signals that there's just been a whole lot of rain? It'll be my way of telling you that you should have covered your lawn furniture."

"Really?" said Jobringo, Shadlump's wife. "This thing will appear AFTER it's rained? AFTER? It'll be your sign that, like, hey, everything on your clothesline is wet again?"

"That's right!" said God before he noticed their irritated faces. "Okay, you're right. I guess I didn't really think this through. Maybe the rainbow won't promise you anything, or warn you about anything. But maybe when you see it in the sky you'll, like, remember how much I love you."

"Yeah," said everybody. "We sure will."


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Fifty Shades Of Gray From Still Another Point Of View

Gray flips on the light and stomps into the bedroom like storm clouds approaching Tennessee. I can tell he's angry even before I see the leather strap. His fists are white, his thin lips are bloodless, his undone bowtie hangs limply from the collar of his tuxedo shirt.

I know what's coming, but I have absolutely zero regret. He spent the night out. He left me here alone while he did whatever the fuck he wanted. So, I did whatever the fuck I wanted too.

He yanks off the covers and exposes my naked body with nothing but contempt in his eyes. I'm cowering in fear, suppressing a whimper, but a shiver of excitement runs up my spine.

I knew what I was doing. I could have stopped myself. It might have looked like a spontaneous act of frustration, but it was well thought out. I knew the consequences; I knew I was opening this Pandora's box -- so is he in charge, or am I?

He lifts me up in his unforgiving hands and splays me out over his knee. My foot rests against his crotch and I feel soft flesh beneath the Italian wool. Is he not excited, as I am? I brazenly slide my foot across the sleeping mound, hoping to coax out some feeling from this marble statue of a man, but he gruffly holds me in place. My body is under his control, and I can do nothing but await his sentence. As the recipient of his unbridled fury, my humiliation will be complete.

He raises the paddle to shoulder height. I should be afraid, but I'm not. Does he notice my shudder of excitement? His ruddy complexion betrays no evidence. The paddle approaches my soft nethers in seemingly slow-motion as my mind clears. I care nothing about kibble, or squirrels, or chewing on his Tod's loafers. I'm panting, I'm drooling, my left leg is twitching like I'm scratching at nonexistent fleas. HIT ME! I scream in my head. YES, I WEED ON THE COUCH!

I'm too ashamed to tell him what I want, so instead I just say, "Arf." Arf. Arf, arf. ARF ARF ARF A MILLION TIMES ARF!

Afterward, we're both spent. We lay together, me in my bed and him mostly on ceramic floor tile. Sweat discolors his white shirt. He cuddles me. That's why I love him. "Sorry I had to do that, Chutney," he says, and I lick his face in forgiveness. I've learned my lesson. My bottom is red, but I guess it always is because I'm a Pomeranian.

Monday, June 29, 2015

A Joke For Old People

MAN #1: My new girlfriend dances at the Music Hall.

MAN #2: Flapper?

MAN #1: Only when she complains!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Incidentally, it might be worth noting that this advert appeared in Elle, a magazine that in 2013 announced it would be “rebranding feminism”. I’m going to assume, judging from the magazine’s decision to publish an advert featuring a seemingly distressed and very skinny young woman, that this continues to be a work in progress.

Friday, June 19, 2015

This Weekend In NYC

Rob was my first real best friend. There'd been others, but they'd all been "better than nothing" types. Rob had an incredible, bizarre sense of humor: I'm still trying to decipher half the things he said to me, like "Growing up in Ohio it used to rain so hard the food stamps stuck to my lips." He was also so smart the professors at the University of San Francisco went to him when they didn't understand the curriculum.

We were neighbors in the dorm and quickly became inseparable. It was the perfect symbiosis: I was a freshman, and he was a grad student. I was young and naive and he was a cynical old soul. I was attractive, and he looked like a Doonesbury cartoon character. I worshipped him and he loved being worshipped. With his zen friend Steven and Larry, a disabled musician, we became a foursome. We were like San Francisco's version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles if Donatello's power was finding great drugs.

The roommate I'd been assigned was Roger, another senior and Rob's best friend. Roger was a rarity in San Francisco: a real man's man. He went camping. He went fishing. He was tall and broad-shouldered, easily identifiable with his long red hair, bushy beard and plaid shirt. Leave me alone for an hour and I'll eat a muffin and wonder why my t-shirts smell musty; leave him alone for an hour and he'll build a coffee table and rescue six cats from a tree. They say it's just as easy to fall in love with a rich man as a poor one. Me, I figured rich was out of my league, so I went with the guy who could rebuild the engine of a VW Bug.

I think Roger was envious of my popularity. He'd spent a few unremarkable years in San Francisco so I think it surprised him to see that seconds after arriving I'd grabbed hold of the city with both gay hands and shaken it until the fun fell out. It seemed like every time I set foot outside, Jefferson Airplane would be playing on the Panhandle and hippie couples would offer me daisies and drug-fueled three-ways. I dated business executives, stockbrokers, bankers, and politicians after just turning sixteen. San Francisco was a small pool but I was making a little splash.

One night I met a man on Castro Street and I went home with him. Since this was Gay Central it wasn't exactly a rare occurrence, though "home" usually wasn't a gated estate in the Napa Valley. A few days later when he dropped me back at the dorm I was shocked to find my placid roommate freaking out.

"Where have you been?" he asked. "It's been days! I called hospitals. I even called the police."

"The police?" I asked, surprised and worried. "What did they say?"

"They didn't sound surprised. They said, 'Oh, we're already looking for him.'"

I appreciated his interest so I figured I'd ramp it up on my side. One night when we were both in separate beds I didn't have to twist his arm.

ME: I think everybody needs to try gay sex just to see how they stand on it.

ROGER: Really?

ME: Absolutely. I mean, nobody's entirely gay or straight, so you need to experiment to find out where -- "

ROGER [leaping in next to me] Okay. What do we do?

The next half hour is a bit of a blur. I don't think it was crazy to assume Roger would take charge, but he didn't. Instead I had to deal with this giant pink thing waiting for me to make the first move. I went with the basics. Afterward Roger didn't exactly give me rave reviews.

ROGER: Is that all there is to it?

ME: What do you mean?

ROGER: We just rub our dicks together? Wrestle around while making out? Basically gay sex is just masturbating while lying down?

ME [peeved]: How the hell am I supposed to know? I've just slept with three guys more than you.

This incident confirmed to Roger that he was hetero and confirmed to me that I was in love with him. It was classic "negging" strategy: criticize my sexual prowess and I'll want to do it again to prove that I can do it right. Roger was hot and hunky and apparently knew how to fuck; me, I was struggling for one out of three.

Unfortunately, Roger soon found a girlfriend, which meant I now had an ex-boyfriend I loved (1) living with me, and (2) fucking women in our room. This wasn't quite the party atmosphere USF had promised. I begged the Resident Advisor to find me alternative housing but being straight he absolutely could not give a fuck. Roger and I yelled, screamed and hollered until Rob intervened.

"I don't care that Roger has a girlfriend," I said. "He can fuck every woman in San Francisco for all I care. I just don't want to meet them, and I don't want them fucking in our room."

"What's the problem?" Rob said. "Roger's a single straight guy. Why shouldn't he fuck around? It's not like you two slept together."

"No," I said, "we did."

I didn't see Rob for a while after that. This incident cemented the fact that he was being left out of non-cerebral life. Luckily, the school year ended. Roger went back to wherever he was from, and then Rob announced that he'd found a house to rent on top of Potrero Hill.

Once again, it was one of those things that only happens to the chosen few. Rob had just happened to run into a gorgeous 19-year-old blonde, and he'd just happened to enchant her, and she'd just happened to mention that she owned a spare house on Potrero Hill that we could have rent-free. Larry, Steven and I knew the deal: she loved his brain and he loved her body. "But who knows how that'll end up?" we thought, drawing straws for bedrooms.

Christine took to all of us, and soon she was hanging around our house more than her own. I'm still not sure of her story. She claimed to know everybody famous, even recounting how Mick Jagger danced around her fireplace on her last birthday. I'd have doubted her stories if she'd been poor or plain but rich and gorgeous means anything goes.

No matter how much people like each other, factions develop when there are gays in a house of straights. We all ate dinner together but after dessert it was time for the tribes to separate. "I'm going to go get a drink or two," I announced. "I'll see you all tomorrow."

"Can I come?" Christine asked.

I thought for a second. It'd probably be okay. Forget Folsom, with its punk rock and leather daddies. Forget Castro, testosterone-fueled home of the Clones. Polk was female-friendly: lined with dance clubs, it was almost bisexual. Fingers crossed that she wouldn't cramp my style too much, I said, "Sure. That sounds like fun."

The night wasn't just fun: it was like being royalty for a night. I thought I'd been treated well as a hot young guy, but add a sexy blonde to the equation and the world is at your feet. The gay clubs didn't just ignore the fact that we were both underage: the bouncers literally begged us to enter and then we drank all night for free. Our baccanale lasted until the sun came up and then we drunkenly staggered back home.

The same thing happened the next night. Christine cooked us rabbit for dinner, maybe trying to prove that she was simultaneously domestic and wild, and stood up before I did. "Are we going out again?" she asked.

"Sure," I said. "Great!"

Grumbles came from around the table. Clearly the heterosexuals hadn't had quite as much fun as we'd had. "Can I come too?" Rob asked.

"You'd hate it," Christine snapped. "It's all glam and glitter and loud music. Too loud to talk, and half-naked men. It would drive you nuts."

Though her assertions were correct I wasn't convinced of her conclusion, but Rob got the hint. "Okay," he shrugged, and Christine and I hit the road.

Once again, the night was spectacular. Every door opened for us, and every attractive person fell at our feet. When we finally stumbled back to Potrero Hill at daybreak we felt like Meryl Streep after the Academy Awards. This time, however, Christine followed me up to my room and dove onto my bed.

CHRISTINE: I think everybody needs to try hetero sex just to see how they real stand on it.

ME: Really?

CHRISTINE: Absolutely. I mean, nobody's entirely gay or straight, so you need to experiment to find out where -- "

She was game and gorgeous so like anybody else in the universe I thought what the fuck.

ME [leaping in next to her] Okay. What do we do?

Christine took total charge, giving me instructions down to the last detail. I'm not sure how our housemates didn't hear the screaming, though maybe they just assumed I'd found a Chuck Norris movie on TV. A good time was had by all, though her thin, smooth, buxom body proved to me that I played for the other team.

The next morning I woke up to a knock on my door. Rob entered and sat on the edge of the bed. "Christine wants you to move out," he said.

Fuck, I thought. Fuck.

"She wouldn't tell me why. Did something happen last night?"

"No, nothing. It was terrific."

"I tried to talk her out of it. There's still a chance she'll calm down. I mean, you guys were getting along so well. It's bizarre. Out of the blue. I mean, it's not like you slept together."

"No," I said, "we did."

As I packed my bags to head back to Los Angeles, I knew my adolescence had come to an end. I'd simultaneously discovered a bright new world and had its inhabitants throw cold water in my face. I never talked to Rob again: I knew he conspired with Christine to get rid of me, and I felt completely betrayed. I Googled him so I could write a followup to this piece and immediately regretted it: Google said he was a lawyer, a doctor and a Harvard professor.

It made me feel awful. How could I go on hating him when he still hadn't gotten laid?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

And Now A Word From Our Sponsor

Christian, suffering from cancer? It's not all bad news. Research treatment options by clicking this link and the American Family Association will make a penny or two:

Remember, God has a plan, though with you it's confused. We've got our fingers crossed!

A Lost, Directionless Jeb Bush "Wanted To Make It On His Own" So He Took A Job With One Of His Dad's Wealthy Friends


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The media is waging a war on hipsters. It's easy to figure out why: they're doing what their audience wants, and what they want is to stop feeling jealous. They need the media to attack everyone who's better than them and take them down a peg or two.

Hmm: but how do you trash hot young creative types? You can't criticize their looks, or their intelligence, or their age, or their success. You can only criticize the unseen: their motivation, and their germs.

Motivation is attacked with the "wannabe" tag. Which, when you think about it, doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Because what exactly is a "wannabe"? It's someone who wants to be successful in an unconventional field. There aren't wannabes in other professions, like architecture or journalism: no, they're called "apprentices." They're called INTERNS.

Why doesn't the media target wannabe doctors? Here's a hospital scene you won't see on ABC:

NURSE: This man collapsed on the escalator at the mall. His pulse is shallow and rapid and his BP is 172 over 95.

INTERN: Thank you, Nancy. I'll take care of this.

DOCTOR [pushing him aside]: You wish, you wannabe!

Why doesn't the media accuse high-fallutin' professions of being wannabes? For instance, I remember back in the 1800s Alexander Hamilton was all, like, "Hey, if George Washington is gonna be a Founding Father then I wanna be one too!" What did Einstein do when he had a Beatles haircut and nobody gave him the time of day? We all know the answer to that. And I remember reading this in Mother Teresa's archives:

Dear Diary,

What should I do? I really want to be a nightclub singer, but damn if Florence Nightingale doesn't get the hunkier dudes.

Oddly, though, nobody cuts hipster interns any slack.

RECORD STORE CLERK: What do you think of the new National record?

HIPSTER INTERN: I'm not really into it. It sounds exactly the same as the last record. And aren't their allegedly "poetic yearnings" just pseudo-romantic tripe?

RECORD STORE CLERK: Okay, that's totally unacceptable. Get out of Brooklyn, charlatan!

So, we get an endless stream of ridiculous studies that make couch potatoes feel better about being far away from the cutting edge. "At least I'm blazing my own trail," they think as they shovel down another handful of Doritos from that butt-sized depression on their Kmart couch.

The latest is a claim by some ABC affiliate that says most hipster beards have traces of poop in them. Clearly from the outset this was designed as a slam job. Because what else are you going to find if you search somebody's beard? Cassette tapes? A Miata? Slices of pumpkin pie?

In this study, exactly one researcher wanders the 'hood swabbing every beard he finds. He checks under a microscope and voila! There's poop in almost every one.

Once again hipsters morph into laughingstocks. They thought they were so hot and so young and so fashionable when actually they're all wearing little toilets on their chins! Tell me again how great homemade mustard is, Mr. Poopoo Face!

It doesn't take a genius to realize that this attack can be easily turned around. ABC's cup may be half-empty, but ours is definitely half-full. Here's how the headline in The Daily Hipster would read:


There. The same study, with an equally valid conclusion. Mr. Smug ABC Viewer, let's see Doritos get you out of that.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Jurassic Park is now a reality, except it’s called Jurassic World in an attempt to dissociate it from the tragedies that resulted from the attempted launch of the original park.

Oh. Okay. So three separate times a "Jurassic Park" has opened. At each of these places there has been a horrible accident where the security systems failed and all the dinosaurs got loose and either tore apart or stomped or ate all the visiting tourists. Worried that nobody would come to the fourth "Jurassic Park" -- though the third was wildly popular, apparently -- the park operators have dubbed it Jurassic World.

Personally, I'm not convinced. I'm not sure that's good enough. I mean, if you want to tell people that you've got nothing to do with the total idiots who opened those three previous disaster parks, you probably want to change more than one word in the name, especially when the remaining word has never been used in actual human conversation.

If I decided to build a tanker to carry oil around Alaska, I wouldn't call it the Exxon Valdooky. If I was a food manufacturer who had a horrible reputation for unhealthy, low-quality junk food I wouldn't create a new product called Hot Packets. If my parents had named me Adolf Hitler, I wouldn't head to the courts and say, "Your honor, this is unbearable. I can't take it. Please, let me change my name to Adolf Garfinkel."

Me, I'd give the new park a totally different name. Something like, "Uncle Bob's Raucous Dinosaur Village." Or "Brontosaurus Brachiapotamus And Beyond." Or mayxj8717ou ]\[)(& Pterod*^%# poius \\][powu Woreorh .253.josid977^*

Shoot. Guess that's it for now. I don't know why but I've been having real problems with this new Time Warthog Cable.

Friday, June 5, 2015

One night when I was fifteen there was a knock on our front door. It was strange for a couple of reasons: first, because we lived way out of town, where houses were cheap. Our neighborhood didn't have any street lights, and just barely had paved roads. And second, because we'd lived there for years and nobody had ever knocked before. I grew up assuming that people just never visited each other rather than realizing that crazy people like my mother have a hard time making friends.

My mother answered the door and saw a well-dressed trio: a dark-haired, fortyish man in a gray suit, a perfectly-coiffed lady in a stylish dress, and a plain but friendly-looking teenage girl. "Hi," the man said. "Our daughter Cynthia goes to the same high school as your son Roman, and she has a question she'd like to ask him."

Mom's eyes flashed like a slot machine as the reels in her brain spun and then stopped. Rich people. Want something. From us! Mom plowed a path through the discarded newspapers and magazines and clothing from the front door to the couch, then pointed at depressions in the sofa where two of them could sit down. They glanced at one another. Their smiles didn't budge but their eyes asked, "If we back out slowly, can we pretend we were never here?"

I liked them. Welcome to my world, I thought. In this insular environment I didn't often get my opinion confirmed. And this was even before seeing the girdles hanging up in the bathroom, or the pinhole glasses she'd purchased that allegedly improved her vision but also made her look like a cross between Betty White and Kanye West.

Mom offered snacks, which the people politely declined, but she ran off in search of them anyway. Good luck on that, I thought. See, we were in an odd financial bracket you might call "Allegedly Poor." Every time one of us kids wanted something, we got a lecture about the sad facts of life. It wasn't fair! We didn't have a cent! Damn our deadbeat dad! We couldn't afford food, or entertainment, or even new pants for me, so as I grew taller Mom sewed rings of castoff fabric around the cuffs of my pants so they'd reach the vicinity of my shoes. Her unhinged optimism wasn't convincing: not only were the pants brighter and more cheerful than the usual ones, she claimed, but if you counted the rings you could guess my age.

Oddly, though, whenever my mom wanted something, we suddenly had the cash. Furniture from Robinsons, dresses from Bullocks Wilshire, face cream from Estee Lauder. It left us kids in financial limbo: were we poor, or weren't we? We envied the black-or-white destitution of the folks in National Geographic. I mean, in Uganda everybody agrees they're starving. The kids don't yell, "Hey, how about buying us a sandwich instead of more Time-Life books?" My chubby sister Clarissa further muddied the waters, but you can't judge a whole family based on a girl who'd stare at a strange man's crotch until he offered to buy her food.

Being a single working mother was part of the problem, but a close second was the work of Clarence Birdseye. When we were flush, we had frozen entrees that came sealed in plastic bags that you dropped in boiling water. They were widely heralded as a technological marvel though a few years later a federal court would rename them

Along With A Little Something That Fell Off The Side Of A Goat

Most of the time, though, our meals came from twelve-cent boxes of Kraft Mac N' Cheese. Which caused endless arguments: my sisters not only lacked the ambition to do their homework or make friends or clean up, but they also found it impossible to commit to six minutes of boiling water. They lolled around on their backs waiting for food to appear, and then attacked it like hyenas.

With pot lids and meat tenderizers I kept them away from my cooking before devising a less-combative solution. If I randomly adulterated my cooking with things they found disgusting, there'd be leftovers for when I was hungry again. Mac N' Cheese with raw onion lasted nearly twelve minutes, with Stella and Clarissa fighting to get it down like baby birds choking down garter snakes. With a cup of cilantro thrown in, though, it lasted three hours. It was disgusting, my sisters claimed. Like eating soap. Apparently they thought their complaints would banish the herb from my repertoire rather than prompt me to add it to everything from instant pudding to apple pie.

Six foot six and a hundred pounds, I knew exactly what was in the kitchen at all times. On this night there were two envelopes of cherry Jello and one box of unmade Mac N' Cheese, but these posh folks didn't look like their meals often went through the powder stage. Rather than running to the kitchen, though, Mom went for her bedroom, reappearing with six boxes in her hands. "Cookies, anyone?" she asked excitedly. "Anyone like Pepperidge Farm?"

"That sounds lovely," the wife said. "Don't mind if I do." Mom dumped a small pile of each cookie onto a plate, then dashed back into her bedroom and fetched bottles this time. "Sherry? Or would you prefer a dash of port?" She half-filled two Baccarat tumblers and passed them out to the adults.

"We don't want to disrupt your evening," the man announced, unaware that we usually spent nights watching Matlock and trying to decide if Mom was lying on the floor because she wanted attention or because she was dead. "But prom is coming up, and our daughter Cynthia hasn't yet chosen a date. We saw a photo of your son in the yearbook and agreed he was a nice-looking lad."

I didn't wait for details but immediately said yes. It didn't matter that Cynthia was as pale and awkward as I was, or that I was gay and would have preferred slow-dancing with her dad. I just knew I liked these people. They were polite. They were clean. They probably stopped and second-guessed Cynthia if she headed for the bus stop with fifty cents in her pocket and a hand-drawn map to Disneyland.

With $20 budgeted for new clothes, I bought a blazer at J. C. Penneys: the salesman insisted it was the finest corduroy, and both of the colors were really hot that year. On prom night Mom dropped me at Cynthia's house, glaring angrily as the happy family met me the door. They took a few dozen photos and then we piled in their car with her dad.

I struggled to recognize the freshly-scrubbed faces, though they were all painfully familiar at school. Well-dressed and surrounded by chaperones, these idiots, jocks and hoodlums suddenly looked like adults. Suddenly they had better things to do than chase the fat kids with briefcases. Cynthia and I danced at arm's length, chatted about the weather, and then I ran off to get us punch. When I returned she was talking to a tiny Grace Kelly, complete with diamond necklace and tiara. "This is my best friend Barbara," Cynthia announced. "Barbara, this is Roman Hans."

Barbara offered me her hand and for a second I was tempted to kiss it. Instead I shook it and said hi. We could have been different species: her hair was hand-twisted and lacquered and arranged, and mine was hacked by a trainee at Supercuts until it looked like bean dip at a Superbowl party. I couldn't give a fuck, because it wasn't even close. I had nothing to offer but attitude.

The next time Cynthia and I danced, she leaned in close. "Barbara likes you," she said. "She wants to go out with you. Would you go out with her?"

"Of course not," I replied.

"Have you ever been to Clarkwalder Beach?" I shook my head. "Her name is Barbara Clarkwalder. The beach is named after her."

With those words, the thought of tossing Cynthia aside for bigger fish took root in my brain. Sure, she lived in a nice house, but buildings are just cement and bricks. A beach is part of history, drawn on a map. It moves you out of the society pages and into the history books. Imagine your name turning into a noun. "Shall we go to Hans this afternoon?" parents would ask their children.

"YIPPEE!" the kids would reply. "Hans is my favorite place in the world!"

A couple of hours later we were giddy but exhausted, and Barbara herded us into her limo. I assumed we were going back to Cynthia's house but we turned off La Cienega into the parking of Lawry's Steak House. I was easy-going so it didn't bother me: I just knew I couldn't order anything with just a dollar in my pocket. In the back of my mind, though, a thought bubbled up. This was a date, a little voice said. And don't guys pay for ladies on dates?

Instantly the bright lights of La Cienega started swirling around my head. The night had gone so well, and now it was going to end with policemen handcuffing me while well-dressed people struggled to distance themselves. "I just saw his picture in a yearbook," Cynthia would say. "I didn't know he was the type who'd go to fine restaurants when he couldn't afford a Burrito Supreme."

I mean, I knew I wouldn't have a problem. I could order potato salad or cole slaw, then hide a crumpled single under the pile of cash collected at the end of the meal. Cynthia, though, looked hungry. And why wouldn't she be? She'd just danced for six hours straight, and she wasn't footing the bill.

Sweat seeped into my blazer as I scanned the padded menu. It was even worse than I'd suspected. Somehow we'd reached a point in American history where fifteen bucks was reasonable for a steak.

"You know what?" I barked at Cynthia. "I'm still stuffed from lunch. I think I'll just get an iced tea."

Cynthia didn't get the hint. She ordered appetizers and soups and salads, then a steak and dessert. It didn't have to end tragically, I thought, as she ladled BĂ©arnaise onto her Porterhouse. I'd just have to come up with a polite way to say, "You know you're paying for what you order, right?"

Cynthia, Barbara, and Barbara's date didn't even flinch when the check came. To me it might as well have had a neon sign atop blaring, "ABANDON ALL HOPE YE WHO VENTURE HERE." I was deciding between playing on their pity or running for the exit when I felt a hand brush against my leg. When I investigated I saw it was attached to Cynthia, and it was offering me a wad of bills.

I exhaled for the first time in two hours. She was a great girl, that Cynthia. In fact, if she'd dropped to one knee and offered me something simple with maybe one big diamond I'd be Mr. Cynthia right now. I counted five twenties into my lap as Barbara's date grabbed the folder holding the check. "I'll get it," he announced. I looked skyward. Mentally I shook my fist at whoever was up there and hollered, "Now you're just FUCKING WITH ME!"

Cynthia and I cuddled in the back of the limo as we headed back to her house. Was this how the world worked for regular folks? I wondered. A little struggle, a little worry, but everything worked out in the end? I could get to like a world like that. "Hey, about -- " she said, and I gently touched her lips. "Hush," I said. "Let's remember tonight exactly the way it is." I memorized the tinted windows, the fluffy tulle, the gemstones in Barbara's anklet. Sapphire onyx emerald. Sapphire onyx emerald.

I reached back in to check on the wad of bills in my pocket. Everything had changed. The future was bright. I'd need every cent of this cash to leave for college a few months later, but first I had cilantro to buy.

Friday, April 24, 2015

I don't like old white men. It's the old story about being born on third base and acting like you hit a triple. Back when they were young, life was easy for white dudes. Few women worked outside the home, so basically half their competition was gone. And it was the fledgling days of capitalism, when companies assumed they should act honorably, and pay a living wage.

Back in this prehistoric age, a mailman could support a family. A trash collector could buy a house. The cashier at the local supermarket -- one of the few jobs a woman could hold -- made $50,000 a year, which bought her a house and spared shoppers from hearing conversations like, "Hey Cristi, is this a beet or a carrot?" and "I swear to God, if you call me once more I will pull off your dick and hit you with it."

Their back-up plans were better than our career choices. "Well," they'd say, "if things don't work out as an architect, I could always be a flight attendant, fucking my way around the world and making $75,000 a year." Or "If by some horrible happenstance I don't make it as a doctor, Uncle Mike can get me a job as a fireman and I'll earn $70,000 a year for saving people, getting three meals a day, and showering with in-shape guys."

So it's a little surprising seeing how these dudes act like heroes today. They act like it was tough being employed before the word "productivity" was coined, when every office building was dark and empty at exactly 5:01 p.m. Now they're all offering endless streams of advice despite the fact they worked at their dad's factory for thirty years and called in drunk for half of them.

Life isn't working out? Just work hard and you'll get to the top, they say, blissfully unaware that an hour's work at minimum wage will buy you half an onion today. Want a promotion? Just ask your boss for more responsibilities, they say. Yeah, that'll work. Your net worth will skyrocket when you're suddenly in charge of french fries. Get there early and stay there late, they advise, clueless that getting any kind of employment these days means swearing that you love working unpaid overtime and giving white guys a foot massage.

Luckily, I don't see many overprivileged white dudes these days. I don't go to church. I don't read Time or Fortune. I ignore ads for brokerage firms that find life lessons on a golf course. So I was surprised to spot a few at the Budapest airport when I was catching the first of two flights home. You know you've messed up when you get somewhere even before the old people show up. They're supposed to be the early birds, allowing enough time for traffic, six trips to the bathroom, and snapping a hip or two.

As I sat there eating a Starbucks sandwich, an old couple in pastels -- let's call them Carter and Connie -- wheeled their luggage over and plopped down across from me. I winced: these were the kind of people you'd overhear telling waiters things like, "In America, restaurants have ketchup." I catalogued the differences between us: I was in 501s, not khakis, and a Fred Perry polo instead of Ralph Lauren. I wear contacts rather than glasses that come with a guarantee from Sears. Okay, I had some gray hair, but it was premature.

Carter whipped out something called Good Old Days magazine and started flipping through it. I Googled it on my tablet and was stunned speechless. It was an endless scroll of white folks ass-kissing dead relatives in heartwarming stories like these:

Dad's Dots and Dashes: "Morse code was his favorite language." I'm not sure how this'll turn heart-warming, since all I can picture is Dad screaming, "Until you kids shut your freakin' yaps, I'll be in the basement."

Grandma's Machines: "It was a good description for all those newfangled whatchamacallits." This little summary made my jaw drop. Really, in fifty years we've gone from admiring people who called blenders "whatchamacallits" to "Your tablet only has 32 gig of memory? Why the fuck do you get out of bed?"

A Day at Candlestick: "It was an unforgettable trip for a boy and his dad." Uh, let me guess: a bunch of white men watched another bunch of white men hit balls and run around bases, but somehow a boy learned something other than, "Life sure is good for us white folk!"

Home Remedies -- Feeling Rosy: "Roses -- they're not just for Valentine's Day anymore!" I'm honestly kind of curious if this startling expose will run toward "You can also buy them in October!" or "Did you know in a pinch you can use them as a breath spray?"

Sundaes Every Thursday: "Her mom's small gesture made a tremendous difference in her young life." Yes, believe it or not, a mom who makes ice cream sundaes for her kids every Thursday will be a better role model than those stupid bitches who work.

Sim's Lessons: "He couldn't read or write, but he taught his grandson a thing or two." Fingers crossed this is a "Work hard" or "Do your best" kind of lesson rather than "Mexicans stop picking strawberries if you don't give them water every four hours or so."

Carter and Connie sat there quietly for a few minutes until another elderly couple -- let's call them Dick and Debbie -- approached. "I checked this weather at home this morning," Debbie said to Carter and Connie. "Ninety degrees. [PAUSE] Of course, it's always ninety degrees at home. Ha!"

They all chortled as I rolled my eyes. It's her last afternoon in Budapest and she's checking the weather in Bag O' Pretzels, Wyoming? Weather that never changes? Besides, what difference did it make? If it was twelve degrees there, would she wear a parka and ski boots on the plane?

Connie started laughing. "Debbie was so funny this morning, Dick," she said. "We were standing on the deck, and she realized she'd lost you. She just started going up to people and saying, 'I'm looking for a man with silver hair.' Maybe the fourth person she approached said, "Sweetheart, EVERY MAN ON THE BOAT HAS SILVER HAIR.'"

You didn't have to be Sherlock Holmes to put it together. A couple of days earlier, a Viking Cruise Ship had moored in the Danube directly in front of my hotel. These folks must have been passengers. Judging from the commercials on PBS I'd always thought a Viking Cruise would be fun, so a close-up look at their passengers was a bucket of cold water in my face. As a seemingly endless stream of pastel-clad elderly wandered up and joined the four, I x-ed out the option with a Sharpie marker in my head.

When we finally boarded the plane, there had to be fifty of them. The men were all in Ralph Lauren and pleated khakis and the women in high-waisted pants, pastel blouses and gigantic jewelry made out of shiny rocks. They hoisted carry-ons into bins, settled into seats, exhaled hard and fell asleep.

After a couple hours I got sick of sitting and watching old sitcoms so I got up and went for a walk. I passed forty rows of sleeping seniors before I ran into the obligatory hunky flight attendant. I don't think I imagined our connection: flight attendants always do a lot of friendly touching but their hands don't usually linger on your chest. "You look like a whiskey drinker," he said, gesturing toward a crate of tiny bottles. "Help yourself."

Actually I hate whiskey, but I hate alienating handsome men even more. "Thanks," I said in a low but still possibly believable voice. There was a small age gap between us, but the more we talked the more the years melted away. We were both attractive and energetic. We were both handsome and fun and free. Conversation had ceded to serious flirting when Dick and Debbie barged in. "Can we get some water?" Debbie asked Mike. "Otherwise we're gonna be tough as beef jerky when we finally get to Houston."

Mike looked at me and smiled. "Houston, huh?" he said. "I get out to Houston occasionally."

It took a second for my mind to catch up, and I nearly laughed. It was crazy, his linking me with these old farts. It was silly. A minor distraction, a tiny error. Wasn't insulting at all.

I grabbed a handful of tiny bottles to take back to my seat and said, "I'm looking for a man with silver hair."