Wednesday, November 26, 2008

“Happy Turkey Day” Is So Ironic Because None Of The Turkeys Are Happy

This year will mark the first time that I am not in New York (or any of its surrounding states) for Thanksgiving. I thought about flying home for the feast, but at the end of the day you’re traveling 1,500 miles for poultry. And since the advent of the telephone and e-mail, there’s no need to sit around a dinner table to show your family you love them when it’s just as easy to send a Thanksgiving e-card.

But being in Miami feels weird. Truthfully, all holidays (except for Labor Day) feel weird in Miami. Maybe it’s the weather, or the region’s distinct lack of historical significance, but there’s just something about the idea of Christopher Columbus, Native Americans, and turkeys all hanging out on a beach that doesn’t seem right. Also not right is my historical interpretation of the origins of Thanksgiving, but that’s not the point.

Regardless, Brooke and I (and Brooke’s brother who flew down to avoid family with us) will be cooking our own Thanksgiving dinner, the prospect of which is both empowering and terrifying. This is the Super Bowl of dinners. I’ve overcooked plenty of hamburgers while shot gunning beers after a long day’s work, but messing up Thanksgiving dinner is on par with poking your father’s eye out with a tree branch on Christmas Eve. (Trust me, I’ve done it.) What’s more, it’s an insult to food – a commodity that has been so good to me over the years that for me to turn around now and slap it in its dry, overcooked face would be inexcusable.

So everyone, wish me luck. In return when it comes time for me to be thankful about something, I will think of how appreciative I am that my blog’s awesomeness has tricked a bunch of complete strangers into wishing me luck over roasting a bird.

Happy stuffing! (If you know what I mean.)

(I didn’t mean that sexually.)

(Scratch that, take it sexually – turkey sex for all!)

(Not sex with turkeys, though. Gosh, this got weird fast.)

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Conversation Between The Reporter And His Cameraman Right Before Starting This Interview With Sarah Palin

Reporter: “OK, Sarah just finished pardoning the turkey. What do you say we get a nice landscape shot in the background for the follow-up interview?”

Camera Guy: “I’m sorry, what did you say? I was totally distracted by that guy slaughtering turkeys.”

Reporter: “That’s nasty.”

Camera Guy: “Totally, we should put that in the background.”

Reporter: “She’ll never go for it.”

Camera Guy: “I don’t know, I think she might.”

Reporter: “She can’t be that dumb . . .”

Camera Guy: “$20 says she is.”

Reporter: “You’re on.”

(Interview ends.)

Reporter: “That $20 was my son’s allowance.”

Camera Guy: “Tell your son that’s what he gets for having a republican dad.”

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Centrum Wants Me To Die Young

If there’s two things I love in this world, it’s a good woman and a good sale. If there’s two more, it’s a stiff drink and a steak sandwich. And if there’s two more after that, I’ll take a Mad Men marathon and 12-hour Ambien-induced night of sleep. But, to go back to my original point, quote me a deep discount on a quality Russian bride and I’m a happy man.

When it comes to sales, my love doesn’t even stem so much from the fact that I’m saving money; it’s that I’m getting something for less money than other people paid for it. Without even trying, I’ve outwitted someone else who was gullible enough to spend 30% more for their sheets than I did. One time, I even spent $49.99 on a bath mat for no other reason than that it was marked down from $150. To this day, I dream of the moment when I will have company over and as they exit the bathroom they’ll say, “Hey, I have the same bath mat at home,” and I’ll leap from my chair and yell, “$49.99!”

So when I was in CVS the other day buying vitamins, I was naturally psyched to see that Centrum was on sale. Now, I don’t have an allegiance to any brand of vitamin. It’s not like I think One-a-Day’s iron is any more potent than Centrum’s. Except that the only Centrum variety that was on sale was Centrum Silver – the multi-vitamin specially formulated for people 50 and over.

Initially, I balk. I’m a strapping young man, so there’s no reason for me to be taking whatever kind of osteoporosis-fighting minerals they’re putting in Centrum Silver. On a whim, though, I look at the label. And it turns out that Centrum Silver has the same ingredients as regular Centrum, just more of it.

I’m still studying the two labels in shock at my new discovery when an elderly woman approaches me holding two bottles of fish oil. She holds them up to my face and says, “Can you tell me the difference between these two bottles? One is $8 cheaper than the other one!”

“For starters,” I answer, “The more expensive bottle has 180 pills in it. The cheaper one only has 100. Plus the more expensive one seems to prevent fish burps, if that is important to you.”

She looked me in the eye like, “Did you just say fish burp to me?” and walked back over to the shelf more confused than thankful. And it was then that I decided to buy the Centrum Silver. It all made sense: Centrum Silver was part of a conspiracy designed by the multi-vitamin industry to keep everyone just healthy enough to need their product when they’re young, but not so healthy that they don’t need it when they’re old. And if Centrum wants me to wait until I’m forty-nine years, three-hundred and sixty four days old to start getting healthy, well fuck them.

I bought the bottle, smiling not only about the economic deal I got but the deal I got on cheating death. When I got home, I put the bag on the counter.

Brooke: (taking bottle of Centrum Silver out of CVS bag) “Is there a reason you bought the vitamins for old people?”

Me: “It was on sale. Plus, I compared it with the regular stuff and get this: The only difference is that it has more vitamins and more antioxidants. I love vitamins and antioxidants!” (popping open the top) “Do you want one now?”

Brooke: “No thanks, I’ll hold off . . . until I’m 50.”

A good deal and a good woman, and I’m a happy man.

Monday, November 17, 2008

My Justification For Attending The So You Think You Can Dance Tour Last Night

When I was little, my older sister would bully me into playing her games instead of mine. This meant that instead of playing Spiderman and the Deadly Lava Pit of Doom, we would play My Little Pony Goes Shopping. I would cry to my mom that we just played My Little Pony Goes Shopping yesterday and now it was my turn, and besides it doesn’t make any sense because the ponies always buy the same three shirts anyway. (Nevermind that the ponies were wearing shirts in the first place, or that my game involved lava and a man with spider abilities.)

In response, my mom would always say the same thing: Sometimes having fun means sticking your dick in your pack pocket and pretending you have a vagina for a little while.

Of course that’s not what she really said. What she really said was something more like, “Mommy can’t help because she’s busy playing Mommy right now, which, despite whatever your father says, IS A JOB.”

But over the years I’ve read between the lines enough to understand the underlying truth that fun isn’t always testosterone filled nights of laughing at homeless people and climbing things. Sometimes fun is gay. (It’s why they call it gay, after all.) And gay means watching reality TV stars dance around a stage for two hours. It means witnessing a grown man fist-pump a perfectly executed pas de deux. It means being surrounded by so many screaming girls that that you’d think you just crashed a slumber party with a chainsaw. It means, at the end of the day, admitting to yourself that “You Can’t Stop The Beat” from Hairspray is one fuck of a catchy tune, and to say otherwise is to commit self-deception on par with most diagnosable mental diseases. And if having a big dick means anything, it means being true to yourself. Hence, why I attended the So You Think You Can Dance Tour last night.

P.S. For further clarification please refer to banner picture. Oh Kherington, how I ahdore your fhirm tush.

Friday, November 14, 2008

I’ve Heard Of This Disease Before. It’s Called Faking.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Pleasure to Meat You

For my birthday dinner this year Brooke took me to a Brazilian steakhouse. Ever since I first learned about the Brazilian steakhouse (or churrascaria, for Brazilian people or annoying know-it-alls), I’ve wanted to go. And it did not disappoint.

If you’re unfamiliar with the awesomeness that is a Brazilian steakhouse, congratulations on being a vegetarian. How’s that vagina working out for you? (Note: Disregard sarcasm if you are a woman; I hope your vagina is working great.) Basically, a Brazilian steakhouse is a temple to all things meat. There’s no menu. There’s no pasta special. There’s a huge salad bar and an army of men who wander the dining room with various hunks of meat on skewers, their sole mission being to feed you so much meat that it’ll take weeks for your digestive tract to get back on schedule.

You “order” using a wooden disk at your table. One side is painted red, the other green. When you want meat, you place the green side up. When you don’t want meat, you place the red side up. “Simple enough,” I think to myself as we sit down at the table. “It’s like a game of “Red Light, Green Light, 1, 2, 3” but with meat. Oh, I could call it “Red Light, Green Light, 1, 2, MEAT”! People would think that’s hilarious. I should write that down; I’ll never remember it. Maybe I’ll just tell Brook, she has a good memory. But then it’s kind of wasted on her. Not that things are wasted when I say them to her. She’s awesome. It’s just that I have a blog to think about . . .” My inner monologue gets long-winded when I am hungry.

The waiter comes to our table to explain the procedure and I give him a look that says “Yeah, like I would come to a Brazilian steakhouse without A PLAN. Asshole.” The way I see it, an all-you-can-eat buffet is a battle between me and the restaurant: They want me to fill up quickly, I want to milk them for all the food they’re worth.

I tell Brooke I have a plan and she reminds me it’s a restaurant, not an action movie. Whatever. The idea, I tell her, is to whet your appetite using the salad bar. This means eating small portions of delicious food, but also eating medium sized portions of not so delicious food. In this way, you properly whet your appetite for good food while tricking your stomach into thinking that it has to absorb as much of the good stuff (i.e. meat) as possible, before the mediocre stuff comes back. This procedure is in line with how my mind normally relates to my body (through deception and trickery), which is also how I conduct most personal relationships in life. It’s complicated, but effective.

My first plate contains mozzarella, asparagus, mushroom caps, lettuce, hard cheeses, and pasta salad. I eat in a rotating fashion: two good bites (mozzarella and cheese), one bad (lettuce). (Readers should understand that I don’t hate lettuce, I just fundamentally disagree with, and will never trust anyone who says they like lettuce.)

Brooke is going to town on her heaping plate of appetizers, but I know better. I eat slowly, purposefully. All the while, I am watching the waiters stalk the eager diners with their hunks of meat. (Ed. Note: Great line for a suspenseful chapter ending in my next romance novel.)

Finally, the time comes to flip the disk from red to green. And the second I do, it’s like chumming shark infested waters – except I’m not the prey, I’m the hunter. And the waiters are carrying my prey, so they’re more like a school of smaller fish who are incidentally attracted to the bloody scene. So the shark metaphor might be a reach. But the point is, I haven’t had this many men offering me meat since that time in college when my friend Scott and I got caught in a torrential downpour and accidentally ducked into a gay bar soaking wet.

And once the floodgates opened, it was impossible to stop them. Top round, bacon wrapped filet mignon, pork medallions, quail – the only thing more impressive than the quantity was the variety. When one guy came over and thrust a slice of medium rare beef at me saying “Pichana!” I thought he was threatening me. It turns out that’s a type of delicious steak. Which I ate a lot of.

The initial flurry was intense, like a scene out of Harry Potter when Ron mistakenly opens the wrong magical doorway, which is actually a vacuum portal leading to an elongated scene of pandemonium before Harry laboriously closes the door and a random stack of papers comes floating down to the floor – i.e. Brooke reaching over and turning my disk to red.

Instinctively, I shot her a threatening look. But in that moment, she talked me off the ledge: “Remember the plan! Slow and steady!” I took a deep breath and realized she was right. This is what they wanted me to do – to ruin my appetite by gorging on the first wave, leaving me defeated. I looked Brooke in the eye and realized all over again why I loved her.

Because she understands that the way to a man’s heart is through his meat.

Friday, November 7, 2008

A Exchange Between 19-Year Old Me and 29-Year Old Me on my 29th Birthday

Dear older, more boring Me,

So it looks like our dream of working on a farm collective somewhere in space and publishing groundbreaking philosophical treatises about the existence of a four-dimensional world limited by three-dimensional emotions while writing cutting-edge poetry on the side never came true. Bummer.

But hey, blogging in Miami is pretty cool, too. That joke about farting was really funny.

young, idealistic You
Dear young, idealistic Me,

If life doesn’t get simpler the older you get, you’re doing something wrong. Fact.

older, more boring You

P.S. It turns out the plan to get chicks to sleep with you by going on about how genius The Stranger is doesn’t work. I repeat: does not work.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Some Post-Election Thoughts

• My mom’s reaction: “Yeah!!!! By the way, new movie coming. Slumdog Millionaire. Looks fantastic.”

Ohio totally stole Florida’s thunder by going for Obama first. The whole reason I moved down here was so my vote could count, and by the time Florida was called the whole thing was an afterthought. Now what? I just live down here for the beach and no state income tax? Really?

• Much like Jon Stewart, I’m having trouble living in a world without election news, voting ads, and poll numbers.

• Something that needs fixing ASAP: Microsoft Word’s spellchecker still suggests “Osama” for “Obama.” He’s the president-elect for Christ’s sake.

• The cover from the British newspaper The Sun of Super Obama charging to the rescue is both ridiculously over-the-top and kind of ridiculously awesome.

• Oprah Winfrey in the crowd at Obama’s victory celebration was amazing. More than anything she seemed terrified at being surrounded by so many people. When a random woman touched her shoulder in celebration, the look on Oprah’s face was like, “What just happened? No one’s touched me since 2003.”

• I know it’s not McCain’s fault that everyone booed at the mention of Barack Obama during his concession speech, but you know what they say about d-bags of a feather . . .

• Stop the fucking presses. CNN has hologram technology? When the hell did this happen?

Here is a list of people who, to the best of my knowledge, don’t have hologram technology: NASA, the U.S. Army, Microsoft, and China. In fact, the only people who might have hologram technology are aliens. And now CNN. Unless CNN is run by aliens, I’m a bit blown away here.

• In other CNN technology news, John King loves that touch screen. I wouldn’t be surprised if he has one installed in his home, and when the maid comes over he gives an interactive presentation on how he wants her to clean the house. “See this here?” (taps bedroom, enlarges screen, circles under the bed) “That’s a dust bunny.”

• The AP reports that Obama will immediately start receiving highly classified intelligence briefings. I can’t even imagine how cool this must be. Just imagine him sitting there like, “Holy shit, that monkey hosting the news in China is working as a spy for us? I never knew!”

• I’m not gonna lie: Different time, different place, Campbell Brown and I could have been very happy.

• Not only did Brooke and I have some awesome Hope SexTM last night, but I brewed some delicious Hope CoffeeTM this morning and made us a couple of Hope SandwichesTM, too. And I’m sure we weren’t the only ones. I predict that in nine months, blue states everywhere will experience a sudden influx of Hope BabiesTM, meaning that Democrats have the 2028 election IN THE BAG!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Brooke And I Are Totally Having Presidential Sex Tonight

She even said it’s OK if I scream Obama.

Portrait of a Puppy as a Young Man


(This post is part of a multi-part series aimed at helping distract me from the stress of election day – by giving you nightmares.)

Note To Jesse: Just Because The Polls Have Closed Doesn’t Mean You Can’t Be Voted Off

Reportedly the reason for the break-up is that Deana is a stupid whore who wouldn’t recognize true love if it was standing right in front of her – unless it was taking her picture, in which case she would put on a bikini and smile like it was raining kittens.

Or maybe it was because when Jesse was asked by Extra if he would like to send a message to DeAnna via the show, he tearfully said, "I guess I would say I'm sorry for whatever I did to make you not want to be with me,” at which point DeAnna shook her head and said to herself, “I always thought that extra hole of his was a vagina . . .”

Either way, I’m really surprised that these reality TV weddings don’t pan out. I always thought that once you bang a girl on national TV she’s yours forever. But I guess our modern society has progressed past that quaint notion already.

(This post is part of a multi-part series aimed at helping distract me from the stress of election day. Rest assured, Jesse: Your heart has not been broken in vain.)

John McCain Needs My Help

A few weeks ago, I was coerced into signing up for the McCain campaign’s mailing list in order to make my own Joe the Plumber rally sign:

Totally worth it. But ever since then, I’ve been forced to experience the unexpected terror of receiving periodic emails from John McCain and Sarah Palin. Today, I’ve already received three, the last of which contained the following:

It almost made me feel bad for them. Until I scrolled farther down the page and realized that they were actually sending out voter’s names and telephone numbers to who knows how many strangers. And not just normal strangers, but strangers like me!

Still, I decided that such a personal plea for help couldn’t go unassisted. After all, the hallmark of democracy is the idea of equality, and what kind of citizen would I be if I staunchly supported one candidate without at least lending the smallest helping hand to the other?

So I picked up the phone, scanned the list, and made some calls. Collect calls. Apparently they didn’t share my views on the importance of democracy, because even thought I tried to read them my prepared speech, none of them accepted the charges. Commie bastards.

(This post is part of a multi-part series aimed at helping distract me from the stress of election day, though this particular post fails in that regard.)

It Was Only a Matter of Time

How come when people get away with crimes like murder or car-jacking everyone’s all, “Well that doesn’t seem very fair.” But when a thief gets away with an awe-inspiring robbery it’s cool? The AP explains:

JERUSALEM (AP) — It took time (Ed. Note: Ha!), but Israeli police detectives have cracked one of the country's greatest crimes — the legendary heist of a priceless clock collection from a Jerusalem museum a quarter century ago.

The heist baffled police for more than two decades. But detectives now blame Naaman Diller — a notorious Israeli thief who fled to Europe and died in the United States in 2004.

Diller was renowned for daring break-ins and an ability to keep one step ahead of the law. He meticulously researched sites for hours and used innovative techniques that earned him the admiration of the same people who were trying to stop him.

"He was a legendary robber. He was very different, very intelligent, and had a unique style," Yaniv said.

Well that sounds fascinating. I wonder how he did it . . .

According to police, Diller used a crowbar to bend the bars on a back window of the museum the night of April 15, 1983, and behind the cover of a parked truck climbed inside with a ladder. Having staked out the museum, he knew the alarm was broken and the guard was stationed in front.

I’m no professional thief (or am I?), but I’m pretty sure using a crowbar during a robbery is about as innovative and unique as using lettuce and tomato on a turkey sandwich. If these are the standards for Israel’s most daring and notorious crimes, they should hear about the time I made off with five of my sister’s chocolate chip cookies. When she wasn’t looking, I took them and ran. Incidentally, it’s the same way I stole Judy Price’s virginity in high school. True story.

(This post is part of a multi-part series aimed at helping distract me from the stress of election day. May the best black man win.)

Holy Shit, It’s Election Day

I won’t lie; I’ve been a little obsessive about this whole presidential election thing. I know it may surprise many of you who view me solely as a devil-may-care ne’er-do-well. In fact, I don’t even know the meaning of those two words. That’s how much I usually don’t care.

But this is different. Like Rambo III, Jaws 2, and any plot involving Steven Segal, This time it’s personal. For eight years I’ve watched as this country that I think is pretty alright has been summarily shat on by the rest of the developed world, except certain places in Asia where internet access is limited. But even then all they want are our blue jeans and Coca-cola, two things that were invented long before the year 2000 – relics of this country’s great ancient past. And I, for one, am ashamed.

So here we are: Election day. I woke up early with a slight nausea – equal parts excitement and nervousness. I’ve already read every election-related story, anonymously commented on every anti-Sarah Palin message board, and replied-all with a terse though profanity-laden email to the McCain campaign newsletter I found in my inbox, even though I’m pretty sure it’s sent out by one of those automatic message services.

And now what? I can’t even look forward to casting my ballot today because both Brooke and I voted already last week, and from what I understand you can’t vote twice, nor can you don a fake mustache and use your fake ID from college to try to vote as someone different, nor can you convince some very narrow-minded election officials that you suffer from multiple personality disorder and that Marge, Becky, and Clint feel disenfranchised by the narrow definition of “a person.”

All that’s left to do is wait for the polls to start closing, sit down with the good scotch and hope for the best. In the meantime, I plan on distracting myself by writing a few short posts today – all about something other than the election. And maybe a few about the election. Because goddamnit this is history being made. And you know what they say: You can ignore history, but eventually she will come back and tell you that you should probably be checked for STDs anyway.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Boo!, and Other Forward-Thinking Scare Tactics Used at Universal Studio’s Halloween Horror Nights

One of the first dates Brooke and I ever went on was a Halloween party. It was 2006, and despite the fact that we had only met a few weeks earlier I decided that this would be the perfect time for her to see me dressed up as a member of The Karate Kid’s Cobra Kai.

Brooke showed up with her friend dressed as a Duke lacrosse player (how dated!), and the scariest part of the whole thing was when I had to kiss her at the end of the night. My bandana smudged the black lines drawn under her eyes, and though it was never said out loud, it was decided then and there that whether we liked it or not, we were going to be one of those couples who enjoyed celebrating Halloween. (We kept the streak alive last year by attending a Nightmare Wedding theme party dressed as “the strippers from the night before.” I was a cowboy, she was a garden-variety whore.)

This year we decided to do something different. Our old neighbors from Brooklyn (who we have managed to stay in touch even though all empirical and anecdotal evidence points to the sheer impossibility of befriending your neighbors in New York City) talked us into going with them to Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights. Having historically treated Halloween more comically and less to the point of its creepy, crawly, Saw I-VII roots, we figured we would give it a shot. (Although Brooke did warn us all that the last time she went to a haunted house, she got so scared that she crawled up in the fetal position and said, “I don’t like it, I don’t like it, I don’t like it,” to which all of us said, “This is going to be great.”)

So how was it? In a word, eh. I’m not saying it isn’t fun. On the contrary: In terms of fun ways to celebrate Halloween, Universal’s event is right up there with banging a Sarah Palin look-alike. (Statistically speaking, someone reading this probably did bang someone dressed up as Sarah Palin on Halloween. If by some chance you both banged a Sarah Palin look-alike and went to Universal Studio’s Halloween Horror Nights, e-mail me at with some comparative details, pictures, etc.)

The problem though is that I don’t think Universal Studios really taps into people’s inner-most fears. They had eight haunted houses, each with a different theme (e.g. backwoods locals fighting off undead creatures, or the “reaper virus” running rampant in post-apocalyptic Scotland, which actually is, for some weird reason, more scary sounding that post-apocalyptic Indianapolis.) The sets were elaborate, the costumes detailed in their ugliness, and the liquor all bottom shelf. Scary enough, I suppose.

But after you were there for a little bit, you kind of caught on to the racket. “Wait a minute,” you would say. “That guy isn’t really half-lion, half-skeleton. And in all likelihood, that girl’s arm wasn’t really cut off with a chainsaw moments ago. I watch a lot of House and with that much blood loss she would likely be in anaphylactic shock right now and much more focused on getting a tunicate to control the bleeding than in jumping out from behind that wall every few seconds.”

Which brings us to the second problem, and that’s how they scare you. When it comes to their methods of fear, they are old-school one-trick ponies – jump out from behind a wall and make a sudden, unexpected noise like boo, grr, argh, or bwa. It’s effective, of course. I’m not wholly unconvinced that Brooke didn’t pee herself a little bit when one particularly aggressive zombie leapt out from behind a closed door and nearly bonked heads with her. But at the end of the day, they aren’t scaring people so much as they are startling them. It’s a physical reaction, not a mental one. For example, when my college girlfriend came to me and said she thought she was pregnant, I was scared shitless. And she wasn’t even wearing a mask at the time. Now that’s genuine fear.

So they have a good foundation to work with, but here are just a few suggestions on how to improve the quality of the experience – to elevate it above and beyond some intricate parlor tricks into something truly terrifying: everyday life.

1) More punching. Have you ever been punched? It may not be eerie, but it really fucking hurts! And most people are afraid of pain. Of course I understand that due to some legal restrictions Universal Studios can’t exactly have their employees punch customers. But they can certainly bus in a bunch of parolees from the local prison. A few shots of bourbon and they’ll be as punchy as ever. Heck, throw in some of those IV bag Jell-O shots and they’ll probably even escalate to rapey.

2) Public speaking. At the end of the horrific haunted schoolhouse, everyone is trapped in a large classroom. No one is allowed to leave until a chosen student gets up in front of the class and delivers a presentation on both the immediate and lasting economic effects of FDR’s New Deal on middle-class America and abroad. In their underwear.

3) Detroit. One unlucky visitor wins an old house in Detroit.

4) “Two and a Half Men.” One of the haunted houses is actually just a locked room with “Two and a Half Men” playing on loop for hours.

5) The dentist. Upon entering the park, have customers sign a waiver consenting to have purely unnecessary dental work done if you are one of the unlucky people caught by the roller-blading dentist and his troop of ghoulish dental assistants. If they do manage to drag you kicking and screaming into their back alley, you get a root canal right then and there.

6) Hire this kid to walk around singing.

I’ll tell you one thing that was terrifying though: the size of the turkey leg I ate while we were there. (IMAGE IS ACTUAL SIZE.) By my calculations the turkeys these legs come from must be 50lbs easy. You want to scare people, let some of them loose in the park. Not the actual ones you got the legs from, of course. That would just be gross.