Friday, December 29, 2006

2006 Year in Review: Personal Discoveries and Revelations, Odds and Ends

Global warming in not a myth. Furthermore, if not for the it being the impetus for the destruction of the world, I would love it.

Vaginas are the new boobs. I distinctly remember a time when I thought if I ever saw Britney Spears boobs I would spit up from excitement. Then “the internet” came along and it’s like, “Hey, nice see through shirt, didn’t you wear that last week?” Now her cooch is everywhere and it’s ho hum. If nothing else it is a testament to the human’s ability to adapt. Five years ago, I see Britney’s cooch and maybe my head explodes. Today? I survive, and go get lunch.

Irrational Fear for 2007: Being caught in the handicapped stall in a public bathroom. For some reason, the fear that while sitting there a man in a wheelchair will come rolling in and knock on the door is increasingly real. I mean, what would you do? First of all, maybe you’re not done in there. Then you have to finish while a wheelchair bound man is peeking through the crack in the door saying, “Hey, you’re not handicapped . . .” This may just be me growing up, but lately “it’s so much roomier” just doesn’t seem worth the risk.

I know it’s been coming for a while, but I think 2006 was finally the year that internet dating became socially acceptable. Like if you met someone through the internet, then went out with them for a few weeks and they met your friends and your friends asked, “How did you two meet?” you wouldn’t feel pressured to say you were introduced by some random, made-up friends no one has ever heard of. You could even write a blog post about it.

Keeping track of international hostilities is hard. In years past I was content with knowing that there was stuff going on in the world, but being blissfully ignorant so long as it didn’t affect me or my primetime TV line up. In ’06 I decided to make an effort to “understand” some of these historically devastating conflicts. I got as far as accidentially referring to them as “Lesbianese” and decided that politics wasn’t for me.

Bold Prediction for 2007: It’s gonna be awesome. Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

2006 Year in Review: Best and Worst of Media


Best Movie: I’ll be the first to admit that a good drama is usually better than a good comedy, but while I loved The Departed (mostly for the acting and writing) I have to say that my favorite movie this year was Little Miss Sunshine. Maybe it was the timing, and seeing a funny movie about death and depression and the failure of ones dreams was exactly what I needed.

Worst Movie: Typically I don’t see bad movies, but I’m going to guess that it was Wicker Man because I remember seeing the trailer in the theater and immediately thinking, “You know how horror movies are usually good for the first 10 minutes? And then they begin to trail off? And then there’s that chunk of about 40 minutes halfway through where things get weird as they try to advance the plot and it usually involves ancient rituals or something and it’s always awful? Well this seems like an entire movie of that 40 minutes.” Or Basic Instinct 2 because how dare you disgrace Basic Instinct 1.

Best Album: I didn’t buy too many albums this year, but of the ones I did buy I’m going to have to say that my favorite was Regina Spektor’s Begin to Hope. Choice tracks include “Better” and Fidelity.” Proof that the music really is good: Even after I found out that her voice belies her face and she is mostly unattractive, I still listened to the album.

Best Song: “Mr. Tough” by Yo La Tengo. That’s fun stuff right there. (Even though I’m pretty sure this is what they’re talking about when they say “stealing bandwith,” thanks to I Am Fuel, You Are Friends – a great music blog for anyone interested.)

Worst New TV Show: Of the bad ones I never watched but saw commercials for and said, “HOW?” I have to say that “Til Death” takes the cake. It’s like the script is a modified version of some off-the-strip Vegas lounge act. Fox advertised the hell out of this and every commercial contained some of the unfunniest material I’ve ever seen. And if you can’t even make a 30 second commercial funny

Best New TV Show: From what I hear, “Heroes” is the best new TV show of 2006. Unfortunately, I never really got into it, probably because it’s been my dream since I was young to wake up one morning with a super power (invisibility) and watching it happen to real live (fictitious) people on TV is too much to bear. So instead I’m going with “Studio 60.” I don’t care what anyone says about “predictability” and “sentimentality” and “politicizing”; it’s smart and it’s well written – two things I at least have a shot at, unlike invisibility.

Best Technology: I’m not sure if you’ve heard of Slingbox. I won’t get into the technicalities of it, but basically with this and TiVo, we’re one step closer to my utopia where I can watch TV “24” while sitting on the toilet at work.

(Readers: The editor would love to assay on things like Best New Book and Best Blog, but the editor doesn’t read much. Plus the editor is late for sex. So the editor asks you to fill in those and any other remaining blanks, because if there’s two things the editor loves it’s sex and good recommendations.)

2006 Year in Review: U.S.A. Still the Best!

For the past few hours I’ve been pouring over statistical data compiled by various research firms to determine which country in the world had the best 2006. I am using a complex formula, which I devised myself, taking into account a wide variety of facts and figures including life expectancy, literacy rate, crime, environmental sustainability and corruption, among others. Before we get started, a few highlights and bits of pertinent knowledge:

• You can live longer in an imaginary country (Cote d'Ivoire) than you can in South Africa.

• You can live longer in a mine shaft than you could in Swaziland1 (32.6 years).

• Finland was the only country to rank in the top 3 in all major categories – except for life expectancy, where they ranked a disappointing 39th – begging the question: How are people in Finland dying?

• Austria boasts a 100% literacy rate. (Yeah, right.)

Burkina Faso, a small West African nation, held its firm grip on last place for literacy rate, dropping 3 percentage points to 12.8%.2

• Zimbabwe leads the world with 585.0% inflation. I don’t even understand inflation but I know they’re fucked.

• The Western Sahara is the lowest densely populated country in the world with 2.7 people per square mile.3

• In a shocking twist, Russia remains the largest country with 6,592,735 square miles of territory, with Canada and the United States finishing second and third.

OK, enough fake statistics. Onto the real story: That, after a lot of studying and math, I have discovered that the U.S.A. ruled 2006! Congratulations, Americans.4

1 While Swaziland was the country my friends and I liked to use as our “fake” country when making jokes, it turns out there is nothing to laugh about in Swaziland.

2 There has been much political controversy in Burkina Faso over unpopular President Blaise Compaoré being routinely reelected. The U.N. has released an official statement condemning the voting practices saying “Throwing spears at pictures of the candidates is not an officially recognized method of voting.”

3 I’m going to go out on a limb and call this the Most Inaccurate Statistic Ever. Not because I think it should be much higher or lower, but because who gives a shit? Who is going around the Western Sahara collecting census surveys?

4 It should be noted that in the formula certain factors were weighted more than others, including fossil fuel usage, greenhouse emissions, internet users, airports, number of international disputes, and percentage of white, non-ethnic people.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

2006 Year in Review: Best Celebrity Couple
“Tale as old as time / Song as old as rhyme…”


2006 Year in Review: Most Interesting News Story of the Year


In a recent online survey from some site that does these sorts of things, the war in Iraq was named the most interesting news story of the year by 27% of the respondents, doubling the totals of the two stories tied for second place, “Former Russian spy poisoned” and “Pluto demoted,” both garnering only 12% of the vote.

My vote, if you’re interested, was for Pluto being demoted from a planet to a “dwarf planet” because it does not meet one of the new conditions set for the definition of a planet, namely that “the object has cleared the neighborhood around its orbit.” Pluto does not.

I have no idea what this means, but let me try to explain it to you: Think of Pluto like a really short person. Like someone you might pass on the street and wonder to yourself, “Is that a midget? Or just a really short person?” And for years Pluto was living in a nice, normal community full of tall people who were wondering if Pluto was a midget or just really short, but no one ever asked.

Then, after 9/11, the neighborhood started to look suspiciously on anyone that was different, and Pluto’s physical abnormality became a cause for concern. Finally, the neighborhood held a town meeting where they decided to ban anyone in the neighborhood who didn’t clean their yard. And Pluto had a really messy yard, so they kicked him out.

I’m assuming the Pluto story would have ranked higher if they hadn’t been using the alternate definition of the word “interesting” (“the same thing happening every day that’s been happening for years now”) and used its customary definition (“a once in a lifetime event that has literally changed our universe”). So I’ve decided to hold my own poll. Because we here at [redacted] are nothing if not fair and balanced and, at the end of the day, just in search of the truth.

What do you consider the most interesting news story of 2006?

The Iraq War
Former Russian spy poisoned
U.S. population hitting 300 million
Domestic wiretapping
2006 mid-term elections
One of only 9 planets in our solar system being recatagorized so that it is now merely a “dwarf planet” and everything we learned is wrong, all those hours memorizing the order of the planets wasted, and our universe is now smaller than it has ever been in our lifetime

View Results

2006 Year in Review

Christmas is over, a disappointing New Years Eve party is still days away, James Brown is dead. It’s a boring week. Luckily it’s also the last week of 2006, meaning it’s time for the year in review.

Personally, it was a good year, full of experience and growing and self-actualization, and I got two iPods for Christmas. I’m not sure what everyone else did in ’06, but I’m pretty confident this means mine was better than yours.

As for how “the world” fared in 2006, I think it’s fair to say it had its ups and downs, although on the whole it was better than years past. No hurricanes, tsunamis, presidential reelections or Deuce Bigalow installments. The economy strengthened (I think, don’t fact check me) and the government addressed a different kind of War on Terror – trans fats. And while I’m sure that about sums up all 361 days, why not go overboard and post a few defining moments, some statistical trivia, and anything else I can find by Googling “crazy+shit+2006.” If there’s anything you’d like me to address that you think I might forget, email it over and I’ll be sure to include it. Because more than anything I’m a man of the people. And chances are if it happened more than two weeks ago it’s off my radar. Stay tuned.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Christmas Round-Up

May I speak to Santa please?

First of all, 1 (800) Santa-Clause? Who the hell called Santa? You wrote him a letter in crayon, sealed it with love and mailed it to “1 North Pole Road, The North Pole,” like every other normal kid.

Second, wouldn’t it be more fun to answer the calls and actually talk to the kids? Like the one who asked for “love and luck,” you could be like:

Santa: “And what do you want for Christmas, little girl?”

Destiny: “I’ve been a good girl. I want for this year love and luck in my life.”

Santa: “Sorry Destiny, but I can’t give you those things. You need to earn them.”

Destiny: “Huh?”

Santa: “You need to try harder to make the people around you love you. And everyone knows that there’s no such thing as luck. You make your own luck through dedication and perseverance.”

Destiny: (crying)

Santa: “That’s not going to help, Destiny.”


Police arrest boy who opened Christmas present without permission

Police charged a 12-year-old boy with petty larceny Sunday after he opened a Christmas present without permission.

The boy, who has a history of disciplinary problems, was booked as a juvenile and released the same day. His mother plans to ask the state to take custody of him during an upcoming court appearance.

Truly a Christmas he will never forget.


Wardrobe malfunction of sorts at the White House

Following tradition, Laura Bush wore an expensive gown Sunday night during a reception tied to the annual Kennedy Center honors.

There was, however, a slight problem: Three other women were wearing the exact same $8,500 Oscar de la Renta dress.

When asked what he thought of the situation, the 12-year-old boy from the previous story said, “Wow, that’s really awful. I feel bad for her. No one should have something like that happen to them on Christmas.”


Chinese students urge Christmas boycott

Ten doctorate students from China's elite universities are calling for a boycott of Christmas and urging people to revert to Chinese traditions.

In a statement carried by many Chinese Internet websites, they lamented the loss of Chinese traditions and morals, amid what they said was the widening invasion of western popular culture.

This “Westerner,” for one, has no idea what they’re talking about.


Baby Jesus statue returned after kidnappers took it on tour

A baby Jesus statue that disappeared from a Buffalo family's Nativity set last year was returned the other day, along with a photo album entitled The Baby Jesus Chronicles.

"There's pictures of him wearing a seat belt, there's pictures of him in the shower, they kept him clean, pictures of him camping there's a drink so he's well hydrated," says owner Joan Leising. "They didn't go anywhere expensive and spend a lot of money on Jesus, but they showed him a really good time."

Leising, who says that Jesus is “her best friend,” commented, “You know, Jesus doesn’t get out much. I’m glad he got to have this adventure. Since his crucifixion, he’s been pretty down. He really needed this.” She added, “Oh my, I’m feeling crazier than usual today!”


True of False: John Denver was actually a Muppet?


Family Loses Christmas Presents To Thieves

Harris County sheriff's deputies said burglars broke into the home on Farley Road near Picton drive sometime before midnight."

Everything was gone from under the tree," Lacrecia Lee said. "Even the television; a big 56-inch television is gone. They took the kids' TV, DVD player, movies."

Neighbors said they did see some suspicious people in the area. "Another neighbor across the way said he saw four guys, but he thought they were just moving us out," Lee said. "The really were moving us out."

Then, in a display of Christmas charity, the entire community turned around, walked back into their houses and forgot about the Lee family. Farley Road: An unsafe place to call Home, where your neighbors don’t really care.


And I’m out of here. Have a Merry Christmas, and if you don’t celebrate Christmas, I’m sorry for you. It’s an awesome holiday. I’ll leave you with my favorite Christmas carol. Be back next Wednesday.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Emailing It In: A Romantic Comedy

Fine. You want to know about my new girlfriend, here you go:

It’s not like I was hell bent on finding another girlfriend. I didn’t take a bunch of girls, throw them against the wall and see which one stuck. Like most fortunate events (the lottery, sex) it just happened. In fact, how we met is the fourth most romantic story ever told, right behind The Titanic, The Notebook, and Romeo and Juliet. (We’re really pushing for a heartbreaking, tragic death – i.e. plane crashes in snowy mountain, we eat each other to survive – to bump us up the list.)

So here it is.

From: [redacted] (Hey, that’s the name of the blog!)
Sent: Wednesday, September 20, 2006 3:11 PM
Subject: so I have a friend

And she fell madly in love with your blog. And then you stopped blogging. Which leaves her a bit sad. So if you’re ever feeling bored and lonely, she’d love to hear from you. She has no idea that I am emailing you. But she’s the cutest thing ever. (Ed. Note: True.) You two might be soul mates.

From: Daniel Murphy
To: [redacted]
Sent: Wed 9/20/2006 8:41 PM
Subject: Re: so I have a friend

You might just be on to something. But I can't seem to get the note to her to sound right. I started with, "Your friend said if I was ever bored and lonely, you were the person to call," but then realized I once wrote the exact same thing to a prostitute. (An exotic one, don't worry.)

Any suggestions? (Or should I just do whatever it says next in my Jane Austin novel?)

From: [redacted]
Sent: Wednesday, September 20, 2006 3:11 PM
Subject: RE: so I have a friend

Well, Daniel. If I had all the answers I'd be writing to my own online crush and not “Brooke's.” I've let her in on this little secret, though, and she's going to take it from here ...

Best of luck. It's ridiculous out there.

(Ed. Note: insert cold sweat)

From: Brooke
Sent: Thursday, September 21, 2006 12:03 PM
Subject: FW: so I have a friend

The weirdest part of this is that I am that very same exotic prostitute.

When Allison forwarded me your email, I figured I had three options.

1. Allison could continue to write to you on my behalf, Cyrano de Bergerac-style. But then you would fall in love with her, and she would really be me. And I would be Daryl Hannah.

2. We could go the Jane Austen route: Allison would be very witty and you would fall in love with her, again. (Jerk.) But on the plus side, we would get to dance a promenade and spell "choose" like this: "chuse."

3. I just write you myself. But subtly make you think of prostitutes.

With sensible affection,

From: Daniel Murphy
To: “Brooke”
Sent: Thursday, September 21, 2006 6:40 PM
Subject: Re: FW: so I have a friend

I like your choice, going with option 3. The last time I danced a promenade I unwittingly seduced a wench. Who knew a simple box step could be so inviting?

I'm not one for banal pleasantries (I try to be as action-packed and unpleasant as possible), but I feel like you know everything about me because of my blog and all I know is that you know how to read and you pen an impossibly cute email. So (wait for it) Tell Me About Yourself. Start with, oh I don't know, credit card numbers. We'll go from there.

P.S. "Splash" (starring Daryl Hannah) was one of my favorite movies growing up, and not just because I like blonds and I like fish. But the all time favorite movie of my youth (gross exaggeration) was "Roxanne." I was simultaneously repulsed and mystified by his nose. And since then it has been a dream of mine to climb a house and profess my love for a girl. I imagine this isn't the sort of response you were counting on after dropping an innocuous Daryl Hannah reference.

Sensibly Affected,

From: “Brooke”
To: Daniel Murphy
Sent: Thursday, September 21, 2006 9:59 PM
Subject: RE: FW: so I have a friend

Daryl Hannah has inspired many a dream, like the one where Eugene Levy pours water all over me while yelling “she’s a fish.” (It’s kind of erotic in a totally not erotic way.)

Equaling the playing board, some facts about me:

1. I work for [redacted]. Basically I write emails, which are bettering mankind if you imagine that a better mankind involves cute handbags and trendy restaurants. I ended up at [redacted] kind of by default, which is how I make most of my important life decisions.

2. I grew up in NY. (Long Island, actually, though I rarely admit it, but I thought I’d share because a good relationship is built on cautiously selected moments of honesty.)

3. I went to school at U.C.L.A. for a few reasons: I wanted to move as far away as possible while still living in the continental United States, I wanted to be an actress (cause I’m emotional unstable in the she’s-so-cute-I-can-save-her kind of way), and because my favorite childhood movie was Pretty Woman. So I knew that Los Angeles had palm trees and that if you knew your way around a car (I don’t) and were willing to have sex for money (who isn’t?), a man would climb up the terrace of your East Hollywood apartment with flowers. And isn’t that every little girl’s dream -- an East Hollywood apartment? So L.A. it was. (My other favorite movie was Dirty Dancing, but the Catskills are cold and don’t have any big ten schools. It’s not that I’m a huge college sports fan, but sometimes you want to crack a beer and watch a good game, even if you have to put a little money down to make it interesting).

4. I then lived in L.A. and did various L.A.-like things.

5. I moved back to NY a year and half ago. I now live in Brooklyn, in the basement of an old hospital, which is mostly true.

6. Lastly, I am an Aquarius. Once my brother decided to indulge my horoscope beliefs. I thought I was astounding him with my accurate predictions about Cancers. He then revealed that he was not a Cancer, but a Gemini. (I’m not good at remembering birthdays, or anniversaries, or details.) But I was not rattled by his cruel trick. I plan on sticking irrationally to my few capricious beliefs.

I was going to wait to send this email so you wouldn’t think I was home, alone, on my computer, watching The Office (fine, fine, Grey’s Anatomy). But I decided to throw caution to the wind, and let the chips fall where they may.


Well the chips fell right into my lap, in more ways than one (zing!)* and a mere two and a half months later I had a new girlfriend. Serendipitous? You bet. But at the same time it should be inspiring to everyone who is looking for love – because you never know when it could happen to you.**

* Aaaand I’m single again.

** The writer of this blog cannot guarantee outcomes of meeting people through blogs and holds no liability should anyone be injured or killed in an attempt to replicate this situation.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A Christmas Memory

My girlfriend says the reason my old blog was better than my new blog is because my old blog had more personal anecdotes in it. She also says things like, “You’re so handsome!” so I’m inclined to believe her.

In lieu of all that, and because it’s Christmas time, and I love Christmas, and I’m topical, I thought I would post a Christmas-themed anecdote today. Here it is.

I don’t remember exactly how old I was – most likely 7 or 8, which is the age range I use whenever I cannot remember exactly when something from my childhood occurred. It was a few weeks before Christmas, and back then my family had a fake Christmas tree, one of those with the metal “trunk” that ran down the middle and all the metal “branches” were inserted into the “trunk” and, 20 minutes later, there was a perfectly formed polystyrene tree in your living room. It worked for us because we were a blue collar family without enough disposable income to go wasting it on dead trees but with enough class to decorate the hell out of our fake one.

Anyway, we were playing Christmas carols and the whole family was engaged in some aspect of the decorating – hanging lights, stringing cranberries and popcorn, unboxing ornaments, etc. I was helping my father assemble the tree by handing him the color coded branches to insert into the trunk. I remember that even at such an early age I thought that this was “the manly” portion of the work and I was proud to be helping my father do it.

But then I got bored and started swinging the tree branch around like a sword. My father turned to receive the next branch from me when, in my zealousness, I stuck the tip of the branch in his eye. It scratched his cornea and we had to take him to the hospital. He had to wear a patch for weeks. Just a few months ago I found out that all these years later he is still sometimes woken up by a shooting pain in his eye.

And a Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Citibank Thinks I’m Insecure

I like online banking. I like how it removes the last aspect of humanity from my finances, how at one time I had to go to the bank to deposit my checks and then, when it came time to pay my credit cards, write out checks of my own and mail them to a person who actually opened the envelope, like with their hands that evolution gave them, but that now a computer deposits my paycheck into my account, and then I log onto my computer at home and pay my credit cards with a few impersonal clicks. Then my mom instant messages me something like:

Hello son, how are you?

because she thinks it’s just like email. But that’s neither here no there.

I’ve also never felt like “identity theft” was an issue. Much like a drunk driving conviction or AIDS, I just don’t see it happening to me. (Side note: I don’t believe in a god. Nevertheless, I hope everyone understands the courage it takes for any man to write that sentence. Actually, I’m just going to cross it out. That way when karma comes around and I am sentenced to 25 years for killing someone while drunk driving, and I contract HIV while attempting to resuscitate them, and miraculously I survive my prison term only to be released back into society and find that while incarcerated my identity was stolen and now I have awful credit, I can at least shake my fist in righteous indignation and say, “But I crossed it out!”)

So when Citibank does things like this, I find it more annoying than anything else.

This morning I tried to log into my Citibank credit card and a message popped up that my account needed “additional security.” This additional security came in the form of not one, but THREE security questions that I had to choose and then provide the answer for. (Note that if my computer didn’t save my passwords, I would never be able to access anything from email to my own blog. I forget passwords the second after I create them and say to myself, “That’s a good one, something easy I can’t forget.” I once forgot that the log in for my cell phone account was my name. Just my name.)

I began to scan through the choices for the easiest possible questions. I realized quickly that this was not going to end well.

Apparently Citibank feels that too many identity thieves may already know my pet’s name, which makes sense because, like rapists, most identity thieves are people you already know, so to thwart these scheming acquaintances, Citibank decided to get personal.

It’s genius if you think about it – because while growing up my friends and I used to talk all the time about my mother’s maiden name, but we never talked about things like our favorite cartoon characters or our best friends’ names or anything. So if Richard Velazquez, whose girlfriend I stole in 8th grade, is holding a grudge and had the foresight to wait for the digital information age to exact his revenge, there’s no way he’s getting into my account. Likewise, if my girlfriend sours on me in a few months, I’ll be glad I chose “my favorite movie” and “the foreign country I’d most like to visit” as my questions, because over dinner we always talk about stuff like the last four digits of my social security number, but never trivia like this . . .

Seriously, "WHO WAS YOUR ARCH RIVAL WHEN YOU WERE GROWING UP?" I can’t even be sarcastic about this anymore, it’s just retarded. Citibank, you’re retarded. And I’m not going to indulge you in how tall I would be if I had control over things like that, which thanks for reminding me I don’t. In fact, I’m going to choose that question. And my answer will be “six inches.” So the next time I lose my credit card and have to answer these questions for a customer service agent and she says, “OK, and if you could control your height, how tall would you be?” I can say “six inches,” and when she chuckles I’ll add, “Sometimes I’m so sad I just wish I could hide from the world. How’s that for insecurity?”

Monday, December 18, 2006

Time Magazine’s Person of the Year: Me

Time Magazine has announced that their person of the year for 2006 is . . . You. Not “you” like “the person reading this,” but you in the collective, in the one pronoun that doesn’t exist in the English language (except in the south) – “You” as in “yous.”

Time explains:

“We made Facebook profiles and Second Life avatars and reviewed books at Amazon and recorded podcasts. We blogged about our candidates losing and wrote songs about getting dumped. We camcordered bombing runs and built open-source software.”

Bravo, Time Magazine. Bravo. It’s about time someone recognized who really is leading this worldwide webolution, who the important people are. Rise up, Yous, and accept your honor. You are the Person of the Year.

And you!

Couldn’t forget about you guys!

You too!

Especially you!

. . . you.

Not you.

(Seriously, no MySpace? Gawker? Nothing?)

Friday, December 15, 2006

Shelf Life of Good Deeds as Material, Impressiveness: 3 Days

Back to the important stuff, like the best holiday-related spam ever.

From: "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer"
To: [redacted]
Sent: Thursday, December 14, 2006 8:16 PM
Subject: Merry Christmas

A few problems though:

1. Why does Santa look like he was bitten by a zombie? It’s as though he is literally angry with me that I haven’t done anything about the size of my penis. But if Santa knows anything (and I think he does) he should know that it’s a subject that requires delicacy, not a “beat you over the head with your inadequacy” approach.

2. Who is this “she”? I mean, I get it in the sense that Santa knows what every boy and girl in the world wants for Christmas, so in real butterfly-flaps-its-wings-in-India kind of way, Santa knows that I have a small cock. But why not cut out the middle-whore and simply say that Santa himself wants me to beef up?

3. I’m supposed to believe that Rudolph is sending Santa’s emails? With hundreds of elves with opposable thumbs and increaded technological knowledge to make up for their obvious physical shortcomings, you make a reindeer send your correspondence? BAD FORM, SANTA.

4. What about what I want for Christmas?

Anyway, here is my revised copy:

Ad executives, I can be reached at I have more ideas like this one.

And if you can hear me, Santa, I want this.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Habitat for (My Magnanimous) Humanity

Going in, I imagine the experience will be like “Extreme Makeover,” with a horde of eager volunteers descending upon the neighborhood, cleaning up the ruins and leaving in their wake a cluster of five-bedroom Classic Victorians as well as lasting memories of brotherly love and the triumph of the human spirit. I imagine sobbing families seeing their new homes for the first time and Scott and I bursting through the front door, bounding across the lawn and hugging them, whispering in their ears, “Welcome home, Black family. Welcome home.” I imagine all these things while sleeping in the back seat of the car somewhere between Nashville and New Orleans. We are already late for our first meeting.

We get there 20 minutes into orientation and walk in on a group of about 30 people sitting on folding chairs at Camp Hope, a hollowed out warehouse decorated in the style of “dirty.” There is enthusiasm in everyone’s eyes, even ours despite pulling out of the driveway of a Doubletree nine hours before and not stopping until this dirt driveway lined with tools, hundreds of shovels, hammers, wheel barrels – instruments designed so that physical labor might exist. Still, we’re here with 30 other people who, same as us, woke up one morning and said, “I want to help.” Or, “I want other people to think I want to help.” Or “I still can’t believe I get to do this instead of 30 days in jail.” We’re in this together.

They dim the lights and commence a PowerPoint presentation that begins by showing images of people hugging one another, clearly satisfied with their accomplishments, progressing from here to Useful Tips and Suggestions, such as “There are no bathrooms, so if you have to go to the bathroom, hold it; if you can’t hold it, sweat it out,” and culminating with pictures of which poisonous snakes and spiders to avoid. Here, I am tempted to raise my hand and ask, “I’m here to volunteer, am I in the wrong section?”

Our first day, we arrive at the meeting place fashionably late after sleeping through the alarm and thinking, “We’ll just get breakfast when we get there,” forgetting that “there” is “a devastated section of the city with no electricity or commerce.” Of course, after 40 minutes of driving around neighborhoods with no signs of life, let along signs of bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches, we conclude that arriving on time for our first day isn’t as important as eating. Because obviously we wouldn’t perform our best volunteer work on an empty stomach.

After following GPS as it leads us to numerous Dunkin Donuts that ceased to exist many months ago, we finally find a diner. We order our food and sit at a booth in our still clean work clothes smiling at each other thinking, “I could get used to the blue collar life.” On our way out, we do this, despite now being an hour late:

We are not what Habitat for Humanity had in mind when it asked for volunteers.

At the meeting place, we are informed of various safety procedures (“Watch where you swing your hammer,” “Don’t rest the electric saw on your leg,” “Don’t let your heart burst from all the goodness swelling up inside,” etc.) as well as rousing speeches about not only building a house, but in turn building a community, and in turn a city. It is powerful stuff, but I imagine if I had had the opportunity to give a speech I would have made an allusion to “the overflowing waters being no match for our overflowing generosity.” But that’s just me.

Finally, around 9:00, we arrive at our work site. Today we would be cleaning out and gutting a house in the hopes of preventing it from being condemned. The house is a two story brick structure on a small lot of property, lined up on a block full of similar houses stretching in either direction. Every house is empty. Most houses have a heaping pile of trash out on the front lawn. Ours does not. That is our job.

We walk in the front door and I am overcome by the mess. It was like there had been a frat party, only the fraternity was comprised of bears; OR, it was like walking in your house and realizing you had been robbed, only the robber was God and he hated everything you owned. (I couldn’t choose which one I liked better.) Either way, the only thing to do was ignore any desire to hesitate and pick up the thing right in front of you (a toaster) and throw it out on the front lawn. They told us the goal for our 12 person team was to at least finish gutting the first floor of the house. I thought, “We’d better work faster than that if we’re going to install the Jacuzzi on the second floor by Friday . . .”

The rest of the week we worked on building a brand new house in a different neighborhood. For the most part we worked with the same group of people. There was Boss, a tough girl/woman who was either 25 or 35, depending on whether she had her sunglasses on or off. We never called her anything but “Boss” and she either loved us for it or resented us. Clearly she was an ambiguous figure, however one thing was decided for sure – if, like in the movies, she was choking Scott and Scott was choking her, Scott would pass out first.

Then there was June Carter, a late-40’s year old woman who had the same conversation with us every morning about where we were from. When we took a picture with her and she commented, “This would make my husband jealous!” we decided that her husband had been dead for 15 years.

Then there was Keith, who ran the whole site and was like the father you always wanted but he never wanted you. As we shook hands with him on our last day, Scott and I had this conversation:

Scott: “I just hope he liked me.”

Me: “I don’t think he even recognized me . . .”

There were many others, including Kelly (so sweet she would apologize for being angry), Paul (looked like Andy Dick), Hoss (looked like Boss), and Blue (a 70 year old man who swung a hammer like a soft breeze but had a heart of gold). And without giving you a day by day rundown, I’ll just say that when we got there, there was nothing but a concrete foundation in the ground, and when we left every single wall of that house was standing. So while my plans of designing a “Mardi Gras” themed children’s room may have been a bit premature (not to mention ill-conceived), I can say without reservation that there is satisfaction to be had in the work that is being done there. Good people doing good things.

I could go on about the other things we did there, how I was raped by a shot girl in a bar, how I am now a gambling addict, how I managed to remain injury free through a week of construction work only to strain my hamstring while dancing, but honestly I want to keep the focus on what’s important here. Plus I’m pretty sure I’m approaching 50,000 words and your attention span may be waning.

Listen, I’m not going to sit here and be all high and mighty like “Look what I did, you should do it too.” But without even leaving your desk there is something you can do. (Cue me pulling an adorable little black girl into the camera’s view.) You can give them money. I understand that it’s one thing to donate your time and energy, which are relatively worthless in a market based economy, and totally another to donate money, which can be used to buy DVD’s and cigarettes. Unfortunately, like all good charitable organizations, in addition to people who “care” Habitat needs cash too. So here’s what I suggest you do:

The holidays are coming up. In fact, for our Jewish friends Hanukkah is just a few sundowns away. So if there is anyone in your life who you don’t really like, but, for reasons either political (a boss), social (an old friend who is kind of slutty now), or familial (step children) you have to buy them a present, why not make a donation in their name to Habitat for Humanity? It’s a win for everyone – Habitat, because they get the money they need, the person receiving the gift, because they hate it, but can’t say they hate it, and you, because you have changed the world with the added benefit of ruining someone else’s Christmas.

It’s just a suggestion. If not, you can always just give someone the gift of yourself, in all your selfishness, maybe even wearing a homemade t-shirt that says “Hey, I didn’t break the levees . . .” Either way.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A Brief Prologue

I’m not going to bore you with a complete recounting of my trip, which wasn’t just building houses in New Orleans, but also included stops in Nashville, Orlando and West Palm Beach (you know, to balance out the “helping poor black families” by “doing middle-income white family things”). New Orleans obviously was the most interesting part of the trip, but just for the sake of painting a complete picture, here are some brief summations of the other destinations:

Nashville: We meant to go to Memphis. We didn’t realize this until our second day in Nashville when we couldn’t find either Beale St. or Graceland. Would later listen closely to the lyrics of “Walking in Memphis” and nod knowingly to each other.

Orlando: More attractions requiring 3-D glasses per capita than any city in the world (estimation). Also cheap drinks, sluts. Nice place.

West Palm Beach: Here’s how we decided to go to West Palm Beach:

Scott: “What’s the temperature in Daytona Beach.”

Me: “71.”

Scott: “How about West Palm Beach?”

Me: “79.”

Scott: “OK, let’s go there.”

Also reached the pinnacle of implied homosexuality here when Scott and I shared a cabana chair on the beach. Quote: “We couldn’t be more gay right now if you were doing me in the ass.” It doesn’t even matter which one of us said it.

A few other notes on miscellaneous items:

GPS is one of the most amazing inventions of all time. Especially because an hour and a half into the trip our map flew out the window in the middle of the Jersey Turnpike. After that, we became so reliant on GPS that at one point we programmed it to take us to the nearest Subway for a lunch break and as we exited the highway we saw a sign with an arrow pointing into a driveway that said “Subway,” but because the GPS said it was still 0.3 miles ahead, we drove right by. Later, we imagined GPS telling us not just things like “Turn right” or “In 200 feet, bear left” but “Pick up this hitchhiker, and kill him. No one will ever know.” I’m just glad it didn’t come to that.

Contrary to what you might think, trying to garner support as a Northerner in a Nashville karaoke bar by prefacing your song with “This is for our troops,” doesn’t work. Especially if you then sing “Dream On” by Aerosmith.

It’s a special time in one’s life the first time they buy new underwear instead of washing the underwear they already have.

Fact: Hanukkah doesn’t exist south of the Mason-Dixon. It’s unabashed Christmas fever everywhere. Jesus himself could rise again and hold a press conference saying, “I’m a regular guy! I’m not even that religious!” and they would simply put up more Christmas decorations to distract themselves from the paralyzing weight of their own humanity.

Finally, how come hotel advertisements preaching water conservation have a picture of a snow owl on them? It’s like on the day of the photo shoot the talent agency mistakenly sent over an owl instead of a fish, and the Marriot was like, “Well there’s no time now, just do the shoot!” Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the environment and not ruining it, but if someone is going to tell my why I shouldn’t ruin it I would at least like their logic to be correct. For example, I wouldn’t ask you to support the independent arts as an artistic bedrock of country’s collective imagination and then back it up with this:

Monday, December 11, 2006

My Triumphant Return

To some, two weeks off may seem like the perfect way to rejuvenate the mind, gather up your experiences and ideas and return ready to write. Unfortunately these are the same people who consider drinking on a Friday and a Saturday “a bender” and own gym memberships for purposes other than just keeping up appearances. And the only thing I’ve ever had in common with these people is the opinion that, deep down inside, they are not happy.

To me, two weeks off is the perfect excuse for taking another day off. Call it ‘the inertia of laziness’, the mind’s tendency to remain at rest when so thoroughly rested. Sure, there are other variables, like the lag in recalibration of my soul from an environment of hard working, altruistic people toiling under blue skies, making a difference in the world, to the current barren wasteland of humming laser printers and fluorescent lights where the first interaction I had when I walked in the front door after two weeks of being away was this:

Guy: “Dan, were you out on Friday? You never responded to my email.”

Me: (looking over my shoulder, positive he can’t be talking to me) “I’ve been away for two weeks.”

Guy: “Oh. Really? Where?”

Me: “New Orleans.”

Guy: “Oh, that’s right. Now I remember.” (pause) “So you didn’t get my email?”

Me: (holding jacket, looking at bag on my shoulder) “No. Not yet.”

Point being, I need a day. A day, two Vicodin and maybe a service revolver. But mostly just a day. So while I’m sure everyone is eager to know what it feels like to actually have an impact on the world and know deep down to your core that you changed someone’s life for the better, it’ll have to wait until I’m done with these TPS reports.

And while we’re here, a big thanks to the guest bloggers. I think we can all agree that they were terrific reads. Except for Heather’s, and she is being dealt with accordingly.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

A Rousing Finale!

So my last guest blogger flaked out on me. Lucky for her she has great hair, and as everyone knows I am a sucker for great hair.

Her only explanation was this email I got last night, which isn’t so much an explanation as it is an excuse. What’s the difference, you might ask? Well it’s kind of like the difference between Michael Richards saying he’s Jewish and Michael Richards actually being Jewish. (Zing! Two week old jokes! Yeah, baby!)

In lieu of me being unable to throw anything else up here because I’m getting on the road in five minutes for a seemingly impossible drive back north, here is that email, verbatim. Note that everyone should feel rightfully shafted, but shafted in the way that’s like, with one flip of her great hair, you forgive her.

Dear Dan,

First, let me say, having a paper due blows. It gave me bad flashbacks to college. Some might say that's because I did a lot of acid in college, but to those people I say, "Put down my monkey!"

Anyway, I never got around to writing a post for you. Here’s why:It all started back on Thanksgiving. I love Thanksgiving. It’s the one holiday where the Jews and Christians come together to rejoice in the death of our common enemy – the Indians. Anyhow, between the eating and drinking, I was exhausted. I mean, kids wear you out. Don’t get me wrong, I love them, with their “Hold me,” and “Love me,” and “Stop it. You’re hurting me,” but frankly, they’re tiring. So, I decided to take a nap. I am an excellent napper. And thus was the beginning of the end.

See I have a small problem with insomnia. So that one harmless nap totally threw off my sleep cycle. Unfortunately, my quack doctor won’t prescribe me Ambien anymore (you wake up barefoot in New Jersey one time…). So instead of Ambien, he prescribed me a different sleep medication, Lunesta. It’s crap. I mean I’ve been popping Lunesta like it’s Vicoden, and nothing.

And then yesterday, like an overzealous secret agent at an all-girl detective agency, I discovered why:

I’m a compulsive reader. So when on the subway with nothing to read, I will occupy myself by reading any available words, including, but not limited to graffiti, other people’s newspapers, subway ads (How did the same lawyers nab both 1-800-Divorce and 1-800-Innocent?), and informational prescription packets. Lo and behold, I discover the following, “Eating before taking this medication will reduce its effectiveness.” (What!?!)

Now, if there’s anything you should know about me it’s that my three favorite things are eating and sleeping. I won’t tell you the third. (Fine, fine, it’s sex. Sue me.) Anyway, you can imagine my dismay. It’s like being in a relationship with sleep, but then you meet some food that you really like, but sleep wants to be monogamous. And even though you explain to sleep that wanting to eat has no bearings on your feelings for her (because it’s not that eating is better, it’s just different), sleep still claims that the two are mutually exclusive.

Thus, I plan to go to the doctor to see if there’s sleep medicine that still works when you eat, which, if there is, would be like discovering that Lunesta has a slutty twin sister.

The point is that I couldn’t write a post for you because I’m very sleepy.

I blame the Indians.



P.S. I think the reason salad is healthy is that midway through you get so bored you forget to eat, whereas, no one forgets when they’re eating bacon.

Have a great weekend. If you happen to live in any of the states between Florida and New York, keep an eye out for a blue Honda Civic with New York plates doing about 1000 mph. If you can happen to catch my deranged, desperate eye, give a little wave.