Friday, August 31, 2007

Remember The Titans (the black football players, not the mythological godlike giants) UPDATED!

A few days ago, I wrote a post about how I’d been tricked into doing an interview for a website. When I received the invitation in my email, I thought, “This is it. After years and years, I’ve finally made it.” I imagined sitting down in a restaurant, eating a comped meal while a reporter asked me questions about my childhood. I knew that I would well up when discussing the death of my first chameleon, Cammy. But I understand that that’s the price of fame.

Well, I don’t need to remind you what went wrong. They hoodwinked me. It wasn’t an interview, it was a questionnaire. A questionnaire designed to make people like them, not me. And worse? It’s a contest. It’s like being a lonely little dog with a respectable amount of writing talent who is picked up off the side of the road by people who say, “Oh, you’re so cute!” and “Oh, let me scratch your belly!” Then suddenly you’re at Michael Vick’s house and none of the other dogs seem to like you very much.

Well you know what? I’m no quitter. Life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. Life gives you an unexpected blog popularity contest, you make a large cup of coffee. And then you drink it while you pound out a post asking for help.

I need your votes. Currently, I am in fourth place, almost 200 votes behind the leader. This is, by all estimations, an insurmountable lead.

Well I’ve never believed in estimations.

My grandmother once said, “As long as you’re alive, you’ve got a chance.” I don’t know what she was referring to exactly, because when she said it I was in the fourth grade and studying for a math test. Maybe my grandmother was a little senile. All the more reason why I need to win. Not for the money – no, I’m doing it for something more important than money: Pride. Pride in money. I want to be proud that I’ve won money.

And think about it: You have a chance here to be involved in something special. Everyone loves an underdog story. Hello, Seabiscuit? Braveheart? Hannibal against the vastly superior Roman forces at the Battle of Cannae during the Second Punic War? The Little Fucking Engine That Could!? You have a chance to all be victorious underdogs. And more than that, I have a family to feed. And by family I mean my drinking problem.


Come on everyone, say it with me now:


I’m doing an on-the-fly Q&A Friday to shill for votes. This is me at my lowest. I hope all of you are happy.
A man is sitting in a pub feeling rather poor. He sees the man next to him pull a wad of $50s out of his wallet. He turns to the rich man and says, "I have an amazing talent. I know almost every song that has ever existed!"

The rich man laughs.

The poor man says, "I am willing to bet you all the money you have in your wallet that I can sing a genuine song with a lady's name of your choice in it." The rich man laughs again and says, "Okay, how about my daughter's name? Joanna Armstrong-Miller?"

The rich man goes home poor. The poor man goes home rich.

What song did he sing?

This is a though one. At first I thought of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s classic his “Joana Miller Loves My LSD,” but clearly that’s missing the “Armstrong” portion of the name. The real question is, What’s a rich man doing talking to a poor man? What is this, a psalm? There’s a reason people make money and that’s so they don’t have to talk to people that don’t make money. WHICH IS WHY I NEED THIS MONEY!

If I had to take a guess though I would say that the poor man sang a timeless classic: “Happy Birthday.” Because you can use any name you want in “Happy Birthday.” You get it? It’s a con. Because that’s what poor people do – they con you out of your money. which is why I only give money to people who sing on the subway, because music is pure.
I just clicked on the link to vote for you and this came up:

You have been suspected of cheating the voting system. Please email to be allowed to vote again.


You know in the movies when a scrapy bunch of kids need to raise money to take part in some contest in Connecticut? So they organize a car wash? And they learn to have fun while banding together to achieve a goal? And all the while, some stodgy tight-ass from the "rules" committee stands by with a clipboard? And when the kids wash the last car and rejoice that they have done it, they have raised enough money to enter the Connecticut contest, the judge looks at his watch and says, "Owww, sorry kids. The deadline for payment was two minutes ago"?

Well that's what's going on here.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Miss South Carolina Answers Question Again; Does Surprisingly Better

I believe in a lot of things, like the iron fist of justice and not wearing white pants after Labor Day. I also believe that everyone deserves a second chance, especially if you are pretty. Because being pretty is God’s way of saying, “You’re special.” Don’t get me wrong, ugly people are important, too. They are the ones we use to teach lessons, such as “Sometimes in life you don’t get a second chance.”

All I’m saying is, let’s not be so hard on the hot girl. As you can see from this clip from her appearance on the Today Show (which coincidentally aired TODAY) she does in fact know why 20% of U.S. Americans don’t know where the United States is on a map. And the answer might surprise you . . .

BECAUSE THEY DON’T HAVE MAPS. You know, they say that genius often lies in simplicity. And I say that simplicity lies in South Carolina.

Caitlin Upton

(Her actual body.)

Monday, August 27, 2007

U.S. Americans

I had every intention of writing a post today. Unfortunately, yesterday I went to a wedding. I mean, it’s not unfortunate that two souls united themselves in the bond of holy matrimony; I mean it’s unfortunate that I ate, drank and danced so much that I am literally a shade of my normal self today. I’m having trouble processing even the simplest ideas. I’ve gone out of my way to avoid talking to people to the point that one time when I walked into the bathroom and saw two guys I knew in there I immediately walked into a stall and stood there until they left. Why I didn’t use the toilet while I was in the stall I’ll never know. I can only assume that my mind was focused on “hiding” and couldn’t comprehend multitasking.

But then I watched this video and was comforted by the fact that there is someone out there who knows how I feel.

Seriously, it’s like she’s having an aneurysm the entire time she’s talking.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Win a Trip To Italy, On Me

Normally I love contests. For the past five years I have been participating in the HGTV Dream Home Sweepstakes, logging on every day and submitting my entry despite overwhelming odds. It was a routine I would do when I got to work: Get my coffee, check my email, enter to win a multi-million dollar house, dream of moving to some place like Lake Lure, NC or St. Mary’s, GA. Go to bed, wake up, repeat.

Obviously I haven’t won yet otherwise I wouldn’t have time to write these articles. I’d be so busy loving life and taking my success for granted. But, despite every inspirational Denzel Washington movie, essential to the human condition is the notion that we can get something for nothing. That we can “win.” Which is why I’m writing this article.

I was in Borders the other day perusing the travel section when I saw an advertisement for the Lonely Planet Trip to Italy sweepstakes. To enter all you have to do is express, in 25 words or less, why you want to go to Italy. And if you write 25 better words than everyone else, you win. It’s that simple.

Now, I write a lot. I love words, and I like to think I’m pretty good (well?) with them. So, since I just got back from Italy myself and will wait to fly back when there are new movies on international flights, I figured I would write few entries for you, the reader, to submit. 25 words may not be a lot, but if you are economical you can convey a wealth of information and emotion. Good luck.

The Pragmatic Entry
I should win because I am a good person. I once performed CPR on a baby seal. I am a Democrat. My wife is paralyzed.

The Sympathetic Entry
The only thing I want before I die is to see Italy. I visited a tarot card-reader; she said I have two months left, tops.

The Impassioned Entry
I have nothing to live for except Italy! The olive fields call my name! My name is Isabel! Which is Italian, if you didn’t know!

The Threatening Entry
You motherf%&kers better make me the winner or I’m going to find out where you live and where your children go to school. I’m crazy!

The Entry My Girlfriend Wrote
Brooke’s so pretty. Like a princess. They have princesses in Italy. She deserves to go there. Cause she’s always right. Always RIGHT. Like a genius.

The Brief Entry

The Nepotisimo Entry
Non sono stato in Italia dalla mia madre morta quando ero giusto un bambino. Faccio male per vedere la mia patria. E la mia sorella.

[Translation: I haven't been to Italy since my mother died when I was just a baby. I ache to see my homeland. And my sister.]

(As seen on For those of you that don’t know, that’s the site I write for sometimes that none of you read, which is hwy you wouldn’t know about it. It’s really confusing.)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Inside The Blogger’s Studio


You know you’ve made it when someone wants to interview you. It means they care about you. That they find you interesting. And, most importantly, that they want to sleep with you.

A few days ago, I got an email from Blog Interviewer, a blog dedicated to interviewing bloggers who talk about their blogs. In the world of journalism this is known as “boring,” but in the world of blogging (a world where most writing is good the same way Police Academy is good) it’s downright awesome.

The email from Mike started:

“We would like to do an interview with you about your blog for We'd like to give you the opportunity to give us some insight on the "person behind the blog."

This is exciting for many reasons, not the least of which being that I don’t think this blog is enough about me. My motto has always been “More me,” and this fits that thinking perfectly. Not only am I telling you what I said to my mom yesterday, but now you’ll get an opportunity to really understand WHY I SAID IT. What was my motivation? What angst lies behind my tiny observations? What are my dreams? My fears? What would a cross-section of my abdomen look like? MORE ME.

But then the email took a turn:

“It would just take a few minutes of your time. The interview form can be submitted online at [link].”

Submitted online? How is the interviewer going to describe the way cappuccino foam clings desperately to my upper lip online. Wait, what? THERE’S NO INTERVIEWER?!

Nope. Just a bunch of questions followed by big blank boxes waiting to be filled in with my answers. It was sad. It was embarrassing. It was like being interviewed by Rosie from “The Jetsons.” (And on top of it all, when I clicked submit my browser timed out. I half-expected to see an error message reading “UNINTERESTING.”)

But I fought through, hiding my tears, and completed the “interview.” Yesterday, I got the email notifying me that it was posted. I felt like a girl receiving a thank-you call from some guy’s secretary the morning after our first date. And to think, I let him put it in my butt . . .

I won’t let it drag me down though. At least the world will know about [redacted]. They will know that my favorite milk shake is Mint Chocolate Chip (not an actual question). Your job now is to go to the site and give me great reviews. Awesome reviews. Reviews that Roger Ebert would write about an indie movie he didn’t understand but knows he should like. This is for every girl who has ever not gotten a call back even after putting out. (It is also for my ego, which has been fragile after falling in the shower a few days ago.) (Oh, plus I win $50 if you rate me the best. I promise the money will go to something good, like adopting a child from Thailand or vodka. Plus I talked to the guy who is currently in first place and he said if he won he would spend the money on killing kittens. Because he hates kittens. How awful is that?!)

Here’s the link:

Make me stop crying in the shower because when I cry in the shower I lose my balance and fall proud.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Scattergorically Untrue


This past weekend I was playing a game of Scattergories with some friends. For those who might not be familiar with the game, you are losers. It’s an awesome game, tried and true. I can’t believe you’ve never played it. Your parents must hate you.

The rules of the game are as follows: Everyone gets the same list of 12 categories (anything ranging from “historical figures” to “things that bounce”). Then someone roles a huge 20-sided die with all the letters of the alphabet on it, except for Q U V X Y and Z because back in the 50’s those letters were deemed Communist, thus unable to participate in games, except for Scrabble because Scrabble isn’t a game it’s a way to prove that you are better than the person to your right. Then, a timer is set and everyone must come up with a word beginning with the specified letter by the roll of the die. People are encouraged to come up with unique answers because identical answers from two players cancel each other out for a total of zero points awarded. (This is also embarrassing because it represents your mundane similarities to other people playing the game, like Sally who one time answered “all-purpose” for “a type of flower.”

So the game is going along well and I am winning by a narrow margin. It comes to the final round and the letter rolled is “T.” The timer is set and everyone begins writing feverishly. It is deceptively hard to come up with “T” words despite the letter’s commonality. It’s like a normal pretty girl who gets completely overlooked because she doesn’t dress sexy or curse. I can tell people are struggling, but I need to lock it up. The timer clicks. Everyone stops. I am confident.

Everyone begins reading off their answers, category by category. I am racking up points, but so is everyone else. “Tennis shoes,” “tees,” “Tiny Tim.” The competition is fierce. Finally, we get to one of the last categories: Things that you hide.

“Thongs.” OK, not bad.

“Tampons.” Good (albeit potentially gross) answer.

Brooke chimes in with “titty tassels.” Brooke is my girlfriend, if you forgot. Just wanted to remind everyone. I challenge the answer, asserting that titty tassels, in their very nature, are meant to be shown off. She counters by claiming that if a girl wore titty tassels, say, for work, she wouldn’t just leave them lying around her apartment when she got home at night. She would, in fact, hide them. I concede before she can add anything terrifying like, “Trust me, when I was 19 and working my way through college…”

Finally, it is my turn. I’m proud of my answer, and I say it proudly:


There is a pause in the room (as there always in for greatness) followed immediately by rising suspicion which crescendos quickly into a burst of doubt and derision. I think someone actually calls me an asshole. I am immediately defensive, screaming, “Are you kidding me? You’ve never heard of ‘hiding your tears.’ It’s a hallmark of literature, of poetry, of film, of (and I am impassioned here) goddamn life! Show me one person in this room who has never attempted to hide their tears and I will show you a person who is hiding the truth (which would have been another great answer)!” This was perhaps a bit over the top, but I believed in my answer.

After much debate, I was overruled. Even my mom voted against me, and she wasn’t even playing. I was crestfallen – not just because everyone voted against me, but because I was playing with people of such a limited scope. I mean, the category itself is arbitrary, and my answer wasn’t exactly “outside the box.” It’s not like I said “Tortured memories from childhood” or “testicular cancer” (What, you show yours to everyone?) The concept of “hiding” tears is germane to the notion of experiencing sadness in every classical sense of the experience. Indeed, when we “choke back tears,” we are attempting to hide them from those around us. Any boy who has ever been laughed at for accidentally putting his jock on backwards in the locker room understands the concept of hiding one’s tears. And to prove this to you, I have evidence. From THROUGHOUT HISTORY (yeah, mom, try arguing with history). Herewith, seven Google search results concerning hiding tears:

1. Nick Cave, “Still In Love”

“Hide your eyes, hide your tears, Hide your face, my love”

Synopsis: It is a love song written by an Australian who has a scar on his face from a knife fight with an ex-girlfriend. I’ll let you dispute the connotations of “hide your tears” with him.

2. “Will I Ever Know You” (a prayer, courtesy of

You share smiles, laughter, moments in time. You share warmth, concern and care. You share the brightest part of you. But do I really know you? You hide your feeling, your passion, your commitments. You hide your tears and troubles. You hide your soul, your greatness, your beauty. Do you see I want to know you? You make me laugh, you lift my soul. You make me feel and believe and wonder. Behind a curtain your spirit dances. Will I ever know you?

Synopsis: Maybe you want to take it up with a higher authority, like the people over at ePrayer, or, oh I don’t know, GOD?

3. Yahoo Answers:

Yahoo Answers

Synopsis: . . .

4. Fireside Harp (Track #3 “Hide Your Tears”)

Fireside Harp

Synopsis: The album may only have a sales rank of 786,880 (approximately 3 copies every 400 days), BUT how many albums have you sold in the past 400 days? More than 3? I didn’t think so.

5. Freddie Prinze Poetry Tribute Page:

(an excerpt from Sweet Laughter Man)

My Sweet Laughter Man
Why did you hide your tears?
Didn't you know I was there to hold your hand?
How I wish I had been there to calm your fears.

Synopsis: Not to be confused with his son, Freddy Prince, Jr., Freddie Prinze Sr. was a young comedian back in the 70’s who enjoyed brief fame in Hollywood. According to Wikipedia, “One of his most famous impressions was of his Puerto Rican apartment building superintendent who, when asked to fix a problem in the building, would say with a thick accent: "Eez not mai yob." The line became a national catch phrase in the early 1970's." (This proves that the 70’s were more boring than we remember then.)

Prinze starred in the hit TV show “Chico and the Man” before committing suicide, but not before giving us Freddie Prinze Jr., who, in turn, gave us “She’s All That.” So in a way, denying the validity of hiding your tears is a disgrace to “Kiss Me,” which is an awesome song.

It’s so overused that it is a cliché commonly used in B-grade internet short story writing.

6. Harry Potter Stories:

(an excerpt from Someone to Die For by Ella Norman)

I turned away, trying to hide my tears. I didn’t want it to end, but I couldn’t see any other way out. Ron cleared his throat gruffly. I looked up at him for the first time in a few minutes and was surprised to see that his eyes too were filled with tears. The end. This was the end.

“W-wait,” Ron said desperately, his voice quivering with anxiety.

“No, Ron!” I said hysterically, almost sobbing. “No, it can’t be!”

“Not that,” he said, his eyes honest and true. “If we can’t be together, can we – can I … just one – one last kiss to remember? Before we go our separate ways, trying to not to hurt each other? One final kiss to remember you by?”

Synopsis: This website full of user submitted stories relating to Harry Potter records over 40,000,000 hits per month, which is authoritative in its own rig– Wait, did Ron just ask Harry for one final kiss to remember him by? This isn’t how I remember the story going. Is “Hogwarts” a metaphor for something? I think I need to reread these.

7. Letters of Pliny the Younger (A.D. 62 – A.D. 113) Letter To Nepos

But when she [Arria] spoke and acted thus, she had the prospect of glory and immortality before her; how far greater, without the support of any such animating motives, to hide her tears, to conceal her grief, and cheerfully to act the mother, when a mother no more!

Synopsis: Long story short, this woman’s son and husband caught a deadly cold. When the boy died, her husband was still struggling for his life she lied to him, every day, convincing him that his son was still alive so he wouldn’t lose the will to live.

Some time after that, her husband, Caecina Paetus, was condemned to death by an emperor who didn’t approve of his allegiance to a previous emperor. Back in those days, you were kindly given the option to kill yourself instead of being executed. This was seen as more honorable; however, Paetus could not bring himself to do it. So Arria ran up next to him, took the knife and plunged it into her chest proclaiming "Non dolet, Paete!" (“It does not hurt, Paete.”) And they died. Together. After their son died. And you know what she didn’t do as she performed this heroic act of selfless love? Cry. Because she hid her tears. Oh, wait, sorry. There’s no such thing as hiding your tears. I guess she was just cold and emotionless. Yeah, she seems like that kind of woman.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

TRUE OR FALSE? The Cialis Spam Edition

(This is a new feature wherein I tell you a story and you decide if it really happened or not. And if you guess right, you don’t win anything because it’s an anonymous poll. But remember: the real reward is the knowledge that you wasted 10 seconds of your day voting.)

For weeks the Most Jewish Man has been complaining out loud in his office to no one in particular about all the emails he has been receiving advertising Cialis. Finally, yesterday he snapped. He called Eli Lilly and Company, the makers of Cialis, to complain. When he finally got someone on the phone, he said, “Why are you sending me these emails? I don’t need Cialis. And if I ever do need a medication to help me, you know . . . I certainly won’t be choosing Cialis!”

Then, after a brief pause, he confusedly asked, “Well if you aren’t sending them to me then who is?"

Did this really happen?

I love Puppytown!

View Results

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Truth is Boring

I’ve been uncharacteristically drawn towards all things non-fiction lately, which is a real departure from my usual inclination for lies and oblivious escapism. Brooke and I talked a bit about interrupting our endless stream of fiction books (her: “But Harry Potter could be true”) and picking up some topical, non-fiction ones. I started looking through some titles seeing if any topic peeked my interest, but then I realized that reading a non-fiction book comes dangerously close to “learning,” something I swore off after the first student loan payment was automatically debited from my checking account.

Instead, I decided to stick with movies. We watched a documentary called “This Film Is Not Yet Rated” about the MPAA rating system. Apparently, all movies are reviewed by a secret board made up of normal people. The identities of the reviewers are kept private to shield them from criticism and influence. The film’s premise was that maybe their identities are kept secret because they are a bunch of right-wing assholes. Or something, I don’t know I wasn’t really paying attention.

My problem with documentaries is that I get too wrapped up in their “causes.” Like at the first whiff of injustice towards these film makers I wanted to rise up and fix the movie rating industry. Then I thought about how hard that would be. I have a wedding next weekend, and then it’s Labor Day weekend after that and I’m not overpaying to fly out to L.A. that weekend. So instead I just tune out and resolve to let the problem fix itself because not being a meddler is just as admirable.

After that I watched “Escape From Alcatraz,” which is a movie about a young porn star’s rise to fame in war torn South America an attempted escape from Alcatraz. The movie, starring Clint Eastwood and other actors that I would recognize if I was cool enough to care about movies made before I was born, is based on true events, which is non-fictional enough for my purposes.

It was actually really good. Normally older movies come off as watered-down version of newer movies (because virtually every new movie has been made before, except now with the benefit of 25 years of technological advancement and time to improve upon the story), but because this was a true story it just was what it was. And the actual events are pretty amazing. The details of the escape attempt are what Stephen King based “The Shawshank Redemption” on, right down to hiding his digging tool inside a Bible.

After the movie was over, Brooke and I did some research to see if the movie portrayed the whole event accurately. And can you believe it? They didn’t. Apparently, when something is “based on true events” they sometimes change the story around to make it more interesting. For example, did you know that The DaVinci Code is a lie? And not even just the parts about DaVinci embedding a code of secrets into his art, which, when decoded, unlocks the secrets of the true lineage of the Lord, but that God doesn’t even exist! It’s true, I saw it on Wikipedia.

It turns out that while the details of the escape plan are pretty accurate, all the surrounding circumstances were way off. Like how they portrayed the warden as a totalitarian prick who drove inmates to suicide and then coldly looked at the camera and says, “Some people aren’t meant to leave Alcatraz . . . alive.” He was actually a really nice, well-respected guy. I mean, his nickname was "Golden Rule Warden." I’m pretty sure that any time you have the word “golden” in your nickname you’re not such a meanie (unless it’s like Jimmy “Golden Rapist” Schuller, which is a pretty stupid nickname anyway).

Also, the movie suggests that the escape was a factor in the closing of the prison when really the process of closing the prison was in effect before the escape ever happened. So I got to reading some more about Alcatraz, and that’s when I read this:

In 1969, six years after the closing of the Federal prison on the island, a group of American Indians from many different tribes, calling themselves Indians of All Tribes, occupied the island.

Wait, what? The Indians occupied somewhere? And not just somewhere, but a prison? Isn’t that like occupying a garbage dump? Or a nuclear waste facility? It’s not like they hijacked anything useful… Indeed, the government felt the same way:

From the Indians side, the negotiations were fixed. They wanted the deed to the island, they wanted to establish an Indian university, a cultural center, and a museum. The government negotiators insisted that the occupiers could have none of these and insisted that they leave the island.

This reminds me of how I used to try to make deals with my mom when I was young. I would get home from school and say, “I’m not leaving my room until I get five cookies,” and she would say, “I’ll see you at dinner.”

Finally, two years after the occupation began, the government decided it had had enough:

On June 10, 1971, armed federal marshals, FBI agents, and special forces police swarmed the island and removed five women, four children, and six unarmed Indian men. The occupation was over.

Now, don’t think me insensitive. I’m not one of those people who thinks that the colonial settlers had the right to take America from the Indians because they were wasting it with all their peaceful living and respecting the land. It was a dick thing to do. I admit it. But come on, 15 people? You’ve been abused and mistreated for centuries, and this is your big gesture? The survivors on “Lost” sent more of a message to The Others than this. All I’m saying is, if the old adage “Living well is the best revenge” is true, then moving your family into a prison is the revenge equivalent of throwing a pie in your mugger’s face. And he loves pie.

So I decided that in the movie version of this story which I will eventually produce, the Indian force will number in the mid-hundreds. And they will still use bows and arrows to defend themselves against the American coalition forces because that’s honorable so that their eventual defeat (after a decade or so of intense fighting) will be because the white man pulled another sneaky trick like supplying them with blankets laced with small pox. Only this time they send in furniture from Ikea to make their cramped surroundings seem more spacious and economic. But when the furniture breaks after just a few months, they need more and are forced to leave the island to visit the nearest showroom, where they are promptly sprayed with smallpox. I’m hoping for a PG-13 rating from the MPAA. Those assholes.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Pay It Backward

I’ve always been amazed by random acts of kindness. I don’t know what has to happen in a person’s childhood for them to believe that the world is an inherently good place. Maybe they were raised on a farm or in a TV show, but I’m pretty sure if you rear a kid the right way (and they aren’t autistic) they are going to come to the same conclusion as everyone else: that people are robots programmed for evil.

So if take for granted that civilization is a festering hole of iniquity, how do you reconcile that with some people’s random acts of kindness? I remember a particularly introspective episode of “Friends” in which Joey claims that all good deeds are selfish, and Phoebe tries her hardest to prove him wrong. Joey’s logic was that people do good deeds so that they will feel good about themselves, thereby making the causal justification inherently self-seeking as opposed to its projected altruistic façade. (I think Hume made the same argument, albeit to a much uglier group of friends.)

But I’m not so sure I buy that. Like when I’m at an event with an open bar, yet there’s still a tip jar sitting out. I guess tipping for the service is the “kind” thing to do, but seeing as how I’m now paying for my supposedly free drink, a free drink which is the last bastion of happiness in a superficial world, I don’t feel so good about doing it. So who’s right: me or Joey? (God, I hope it’s me.)

Then this happened: Last week, I was driving home from a wedding in Maryland. As I pulled up to one of the thousand toll booths between here and there, I rolled down my window and held out the fare, which was $5.00. The woman in the booth looked at me and said, “You’ve been paid for.” The gate went up in front of me, freeing me to pass. I was so surprised I didn’t even ask her to clarify. I just drove through with a suspicious look on my face, like I was rolling through a trap, and a trap of the worst ilk – a kindness trap, where on the other side I would be met with a punishment worse than the fierce grip of the law: I would be expected to be a better person.

As I sped away, I tried to wrap my head around what had happened. Obviously, the person in front of me had paid for me. But why? The last good deed I did that deserved any sort of repayment was when I nursed a bird back to life after it fell out of a tree in my backyard. I was nine, and I doubt very much that that bird grew up to be the first bird ever to drive a car, so I know it wasn’t him.

And it’s not like I was a homeless man begging on the street. I was driving a late-model, environmentally unconscious SUV on a toll highway. I knew what I was going into. Obviously I had the five bucks. So why? The only conclusion I could come to was that whoever was driving that car was a genuinely good person who enjoyed doing nice things. Either that, or they were so ridiculously rich that they refused to carry bills smaller than $20’s and didn’t want to the change. Part of me wanted to believe that he paid for me because I was such a pleasure to be on the road with, but then I remembered an incident where I called a woman “a dirty asshole” because she changed lanes without using her blinker. I doubt that was the reason either.

Since then I have obviously settled into the fact that sometimes good things happen and there’s nothing you can do about it. But then today I witnessed something else that made me question my faithlessness in humanity.

Every so often, for a long time now, when I finish washing my hands in the bathroom I will approach the paper towel dispenser and notice that a perfectly portioned sheet is already hanging out of the dispenser waiting for me. I don’t know why, and I don’t trust things I don’t understand, so I rip it off, throw it away and get my own towel. (Writing that out makes it seem a lot more assholish than I intend it to be. I’m just worried it’s another cruel trap, but instead of the punch line being kindness, it’s “someone peed on the towel and let it dry.” Come on people, it’s a bathroom. You don’t trust anything in a bathroom.)

But today, as I was finishing up in the bathroom, there was an older, well-dressed man washing his hands next to me. I didn’t make eye contact with him for obvious reasons (we’re in a bathroom) but I watched him out of the corner of my eye as he cranked out a towel at the dispenser. When he was finished getting himself a sheet, he proceeded to dry his hands and then, using his sheet as an ill-fitting glove, crank out another portion of towel, which he let hang there, unused. After he left, I looked long and hard at the sheet hanging there flapping in the dirty breeze. It was an intense, profound gaze, the way a person might look at a horizon in an Indie film. The reason these cloths have been hanging here, these cloths I had so precautiously discarded all these years, was because of this man, this kind, germaphobic soul, was so thoroughly offended by the idea of touching the handle on the towel dispenser that he took it upon himself to spare whoever happened to follow him the awfulness of its terrible plastic form.

So for the first time I took that towel, and I used it. then I fixed my hair in the mirror a little, because I need a haircut and it’s all over the place, and when I was done I absent-mindedly threw the towel in the trash. I had intended to “pay it forward,” to carry on the old man’s tradition of cleanliness, but now I would have to touch the handle in order to get another towel, then wash my hands again, then use that towel to dispense another towel. And it all seemed like a lot of work for nothing, so I just left, content to let other people fell good about themselves at my expense.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Q&A Friday!

I was just reading a news story about a woman in Mexico City who kept the body of her dead husband next to her bed for a year, until finally neighbors called the authorities complaining of an odor. There was this quote in the article:

Local media reported that Velarde's son regularly helped remove worms infesting his father's body.

First, imagine having to fact check this? Like your boss screaming at you, “No! We need confirmation that the son helped remove the worms. And make sure they were infesting the body and not just on it.” It’s like the Mexican version of The Devil Wears Prada.

Second, a year is a really, really long time to be picking worms off your father’s corpse, isn’t it? This always gets to me. (You know, when people store their dead bodies.) Maybe you go crazy and can’t part with it for the first week. And then the worms start and it’s like, “Oh man, I didn’t expect this. OK, I’ll give it a shot.” But at some point like five months in, it’s become part of your routine to go and pick worms off your father’s corpse. Like, maybe you have an appointment that runs late and you actually have the thought, “Shit! I forgot to stop by mom’s and help pick the worms off dad.” Doesn’t it hit you then that if nothing else, maybe this is more of a hassle then it’s worth?

Oh, and this winning quote from the DA: “"Yes, these people have psychological problems, but they hid a corpse. Even if it is a family member, they committed a crime.” For some reason, I read it in the voice of the judge from Good Will Hunting when he says, “You know, another judge might care, but you hit a cop! You're going in.”

OK, enough of that. On to the questions.

I am so pleased that Q&A Friday's are back. I don't have a question per se, so much as I would like some tips on fellatio... Can you help me?

Of course I can help you. I know this can be a touchy (zing!) subject. And I know girls can feel really insecure if that suck (zing! zing!) at it. The good news is, I have some real-life hands on (ZING!) experience with felatio. You’d be shocked what can happen in jail even. And I was only there 72 hours! And the best part was no one told me my bail had been posted an hour after I got there!

So fellatio (sometimes referred to as “that thing you do to make him like you”) is a lot less tricky than people think it is. I’ve read a lot of tips on technique (the lollipop method, the ice cream cone method, the McDonald’s milk shake method), but I’m not a big believer in technique. Tips and tricks are all just cover-up for a lack of interest. Truth is, there’s no substitute for passion (except money).

I think the most important thing is to have fun. Remember, this is your way of saying, “You see how much I care about you you sick fuck?” So instead of thinking of it like a chore, treat it like a party that only you were invited to. And no one likes a wall flower. So get out there, get drunk, dance and do something stupid. And remember, most importantly, to swallow your party bag when you leave.
I started faking it with the ol' BF. And I mean faking it real good – fake vadge contractions and all. (Ed. note: T.M.I.)

Anyway, now I've created a monster who truly believes that I can orgasm in 6 minutes of sex with no foreplay.

I'm like, 32 years old and know better than to fake it - so I'm WAY too embarrassed to tell him I'm such an Academy Award Winning Actor. He'd understand but he'd think I was so retarded to have faked it in the firsty. What to do, what to do?

Prolly Going to Hell in Salt Lake City

From what I understand, everyone in Salt Lake City is going to hell unless they buy a trampoline and jump so high on it that they can touch God. So don’t be so hard on yourself.

Actually, what am I saying? You’re a monster! Faking an orgasm is the single worst thing a person can do to a loved one (besides paralyzing them, then breaking up with them because they are paralyzed). It is an affront less to the physical aspect of the relationship and more to the emotional trust level necessary for all good relationships to grow and prosper.

Think of it this way: It’s like he bought you a wool sweater for Christmas. You hate wool, but you didn’t want to hurt his feelings so you said you loved it. Then for your birthday he bought you another one. And at Christmas, another. Finally, three years later, you’re out wearing one of your eight wool sweaters when you lose it and rip it off your body in the middle of the mall screaming, “I can’t take it! Why is it so itchy! It’s like wearing a horse! Why? Why?!” But he wasn’t paying attention because a few stores back he noticed a great wool sweater in a window he thought you would love. So you pick up a fake Palm tree and club him over the head with it, leaving him paralyzed. And weeks later when you are walking out the front door with your suitcase packed, he’ll try to roll after you but won’t be able to make it down the porch steps. But he’ll try anyway, and pill out of his chair all over the front lawn, causing a huge scene. A neighbor will have to come over to help him back up, and he’ll never trust another woman again. All because you thought you were Bette fucking Midler for a night.

So what do you do? You live an orgasmless life. It is the lonely, pleaseureless grave you have dug for yourself. Well, either that or just stop faking it. If your boyfriend is intuitive (hell, if he knows what month it is) he should be able to determine that he needs to work a little harder next time. Zing.
Orzo: Pasta or rice?

Yours thankfully,

I read this question five or six times trying to figure out what the perverse sex angle was before I remembered that there are questions that exist in this world that don’t have to do with penises.

Wikipedia defines orzo as a “rice-shaped pasta.” But it would be irresponsible of me to stop there, call it a pasta and call it a day. Let’s face it, Wikipedia isn’t the most trustworthy authority. So I went to someone I knew would know the answer: my boss.

This was our conversation:

Me: “Hey, did you get those spreadsheets I emailed?

Him: “Yes, thanks.”

Me: “Good. Just remember that each one has four or five tabs on the bottom, so don’t overlook them.”

Him: “OK.”

Me: (walking out of his office, then turning back) “Oh hey, you do a lot of cooking – my girlfriend wants me to cook her something with orzo in it. Do you know what orzo is?”

Him: “Well, it’s this rice shaped pasta. Usually how you cook it is you-“

Me: “Oh, OK. Yeah, I think I’ve had that before. Thanks.”

So there you have it. It is a pasta masquerading as rice. As a general rule, I don’t eat food I don’t trust. So you won’t see me eating orzo anytime soon. Oh, wait. I think I just had orzo with some salmon the other night. I thought it was rice. Damn, this orzo is trickier than I thought! Someone should note this in its Wikipedia entry. In fact, I’ll take care of it right now. It’s my responsibility. And I take it seriously.

(Think you’ve got what it takes to have a questions? Email me at

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

I’m Feeling Lucky

Like human trafficking, blogging is a thankless job. And it’s not even like the majority of bloggers are making any money off it. Unless you have a profoundly original idea (like this, or this, or my next project, – keep your fingers crossed) or access to pictures of celebrities’ vaginas, chances are you’re not turning a profit.

Instead, bloggers settle for compensation like “a nice comment” or “an OK looking reader who’ll hook up with you.” Which, when you think about the effort some people put into their blogs (present company excluded) seems like a raw deal. I mean, just imagine doing your current job in exchange for a compliment. Like “Hey Bob, pay day again! Uh . . . you did a really great job on that expense restructuring project. Your spreadsheets were hilarious! Have a great weekend!”

Not to say that I’m complaining. On the contrary, I’ve been pretty fortunate. Having never made a dime from blogging, I’ve still managed to suck whatever I can out of it. Such as:

a (pretty, successful, slightly-more-neurotic-than-your-average-girl-but-not-enough-to-really-make-
a-noticeable-difference) girlfriend;

the new dimension to my relationship with my mother, when she asked me what a chode was;

a working knowledge of HTML;

pictures of women’s underwear (once);

a sense of accomplishment (twice); and

a Tylenol (which I found while digging through my bag for a scrap of paper I had written an idea on for a blog post).

I mean, that’s a lot of crap that I didn’t have before. But I have to say, the best thing I’ve gained from blogging is . . . new friends.

Specifically, these two stalkers girls who tracked me down on MySpace and sent me a note asking me if I’d like to have lunch with them at their office one day. Now, I know what you’re thinking: Lunch at their office? Isn’t that like someone inviting you to do work at their home? Fine, maybe you’re not thinking that because it’s stupid, but the point is, lunch at their office is different. It’s special. Because they work for a little company called Google.

Maybe you’ve heard of it, or at least heard the rumors about their office – about how they have scooters and toys and how unicorns are brought there to mate in a safe environment and fairies sort and deliver the mail with pixie dust. WELL IT’S ALL TRUE. Do you know how when an atheist is arguing with someone who believes in God, and the atheist invariably asks, “Well if God loves us so much, how come he lets bad things happen to good people?” and the person who believes in God just says something like, “Everything happens for a reason”? Well they don’t have discussions like that at Google because no one gives a crap because everyone is happy.

How could you not be with the llllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll and the llllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll and all the llllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll running around, and how every time you llllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll someone would llllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll. I mean, they have an entire collection of llllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll.* I’m not ashamed to say I cried when I saw it all.

But the most magical part of all was their cafeteria. Sweet mother of all that is edible, their cafeteria was an orgy for the mouth (Ew?). Upon exiting the elevators on the cafeteria’s floor, you are met with a wall of beverages, lined up perfectly in a refrigerator case like at Whole Foods (I imagine this is what the waiting room at the entrance of Heaven might look like as well). The girls I was with walked over and each grabbed a bottle of water. I, being intimidated, did the same. Rookie mistake. I can get free water anytime I want it. I passed up free iced tea (FLAVORED). I still wish I could have that one back.

But I made up for it once we got to the main food area. There are different stations, each with a theme: seafood, meat, vegetarian, hot sides, cold sides. It was like in a cartoon when a king is having a feast and he sticks a whole ham leg in his mouth while servants bring him tray after tray of food. It was never enough. I was overwhelmed. If Freud is right and humans innately crave to be back in the womb, then the Google cafeteria is my womb. I felt at home.

So what did I end up eating? Oh, you know. Just some bourbon glazed ribs, some cornbread soufflé, sautéed asparagus, something that I don’t even know what it was but it was the best thing I had ever put in my mouth. The worst part was that I had to interrupt my eating to make conversation with these two smart, pretty girls. But eventually I figured, “Fuck it, carpe diem” and bit into a rib as though it was trying to rape me. Barbecue sauce = everywhere. Me = not caring. Girls that invited me = regretful. But I thought, “If this is payment for years of blogging, so be it.”

The girls (who wish to remain anonymous so as to retain their jobs and their self-respect), sweethearts that they were, sent me on my way with a take-out tray of desserts, which I ate on the train next to a woman who looked at me with disdain. (If you are afraid I may drop blueberries and whipped cream on you, that’s your problem.) I got back to my office a little sad, knowing that the free meal I had just eaten at Google’s office was the best meal I would eat all week. Indeed, right now I am eating a slice of pizza and (I’m sorry, pizza) it sucks. It doesn’t have any fresh sushi on it or any Curried Pineapple Chicken Breast. I had to pay for my Snapple.

“But hey,” I tell myself, “at least I still have the most important . . . friends.”

* Content redacted, as per confidentiality agreement signed at Google’s reception desk.