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March 2009

March 31, 2009

Unpopular

Every year at this time the NCAA Tournament rolls around and every year I find myself wondering when I will start caring about college basketball. The answer, as best as I can tell: never. I will never care.

This is not to say that I don’t think college basketball has any value. I mean, I don’t, but I’m not saying it. Instead, I think my antipathy has more to do with my general resentment towards things that everybody else seems to agree are exciting and worthwhile. Popular things. Whenever a large group of people gets interested in something, my instinct is to dismiss it. You might think that makes me a snob. It does. But more than that, it makes me a phony.

Because the truth is, I would probably like all the things I put down if I just allowed myself to enjoy them, but I cannot out of general resentment and crankiness. I am to popular culture what Mr. Wilson is to Dennis the Menace.

“American Idol” is a perfect example. I do not watch that show. Why? Because it’s incredibly popular. There are those who have legitimate reasons for hating the show: Simon, the vocalizing, the schmaltz. None of that bothers me. What bothers me is that it’s popular.

The Oscars? Same thing. I never watch.

“The Office?” Don’t watch.

“30 Rock?” Ditto.

Almost every popular movie? I will not be going to see. Which explains why I went to see “Duplicity,” or as I’ve been calling it “Doo-Dooplicity.” It opened the same weekend as “I Love You, Man,” which stars a friend of mine and was directed by another friend of mine. Why didn’t I go see that? Asshole. That’s why. That said, I fully intend on seeing “I Love You, Man,” once it is no longer quite so popular. Things that were once popular but are no longer popular are fine with me. Like birch beer.

And duckpin bowling. I love duckpin bowling. For those of you do not know what that is, you are really missing out. It’s sort of like regular “popular” bowling only the ball is much smaller, as are the pins, and you get three chances per frame instead of two. It’s sort of like bowling meets Skee-Ball, a game which I also love – not only because it’s old-timey, but because you get tickets and I like sports where you are rewarded with tickets.

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when I rejected popular culture. I think it was somewhere between eighth grade and tenth grade. One year I was buying Michael Jackson records, the next I was buying records by The Day-Glo Abortions. Which did I enjoy more? Michael Jackson. Which did I listen to more? The Day-Glo Abortions. And made sure everybody knew it. This is the hallmark of a true poseur. Because, as I said, secretly I love pop culture. I love all of it, but don’t allow myself exposure to it because that would be admitting defeat. And I would rather suffer in victory than bask in defeat.

Clearly I’m in the wrong career. If I hate popular culture so much, why am I spending every waking hour creating it? Self-hatred. This schism may also explain why I’ve spent the last fifteen years of my life wallowing in the nether regions of basic cable. Yes, I said “nether regions of basic cable,” which doesn’t really make sense, but neither does my stupid fucking attitude.

So yes, I know the Final Four is this weekend and I think I can even name the teams playing: Connecticut, ‘Nova, one of the schools from North Carolina, and the McDonalds squad from Hamburger University. But I did not fill out any office pools, I will not be watching, and I do not care. Sort of. But I sort of do.

March 25, 2009

La Mia Voce è Andata (My Voice is Gone) Il Unicorno è Magnifico (The Unicorn is Magnificent)

My voice is still completely shot after yesterday's vocal fiasco, which culminated with me pointing at the menu items I wanted in an Italian restaurant, as if I were actually an American tourist in Italy. Which seemed to make the experience more authentic. From now on, I have decided that whenever I go to a place that serves foreign food I am going to do everything in my power to make the travel experience more real; I will pretend to not understand the language, pantomime questions, and spend hours afterward throwing up.

Another great thing about not speaking for the day: having an awesome excuse to make my adorable puppy dog face. Whenever somebody spoke to me today I pointed to my throat and made my best doggy face. Throughout the day, I made it more and more specific, so that by the time I left work, I determined that I was a three month old Wheaten Terrier/ Jack Russell mix named Lulu who was rescued from the pound by a lonely twenty-eight year old travel writer named Valerie Small, herself a mix (half Irish, half Vietnamese). At the end of the day, several people commented on how specific my puppy dog face was, which made me feel very good.

Driving home to my family I did that thing that I have sworn never to do again, but always end up doing thinking “This time it will be different.” I had a little coughing fit in my car, the result of which was that I found myself with a small ball of phlegm in my mouth. I panicked because I was behind the wheel and did not have any way to get rid of it. I did not want to endanger myself by rifling through my man purse (actually a computer bag, but “man purse” is funnier to say), and so I rolled down my window, stuck my head as far out as I dared, and spat. The phlegm blew across my cheek and landed in the car. Of course it landed in the car. I have attempted to spit out the car before and it always lands in the car. Because when you are driving at seventy miles an hour (on a twenty-five mile per hour road), the phlegm is going to also travel in the direction of the wind and go where the wind is going, which is in my car.

The kids did not at all seem concerned that Daddy couldn’t speak, perhaps because I have never been a particularly communicative parent to begin with. Gruff words and the occasional butt thwap are my preferred means of communication. Although sometimes I will very eloquently criticize their appearance just to let them know I am paying attention.

I was able to struggle through Chapter 2 of the first “Harry Potter” book. We started reading it this past weekend, and so far so good. I want to tell them what little I know about this series, which is that Harry dies, which I think will be sort of funny as we go through the six or seven books. “Just remember guys, Harry dies at the end.” They probably wouldn’t believe me, but then when he actually does, I can kind of shrug my shoulders and go, “See?” (DO NOT give me more info about the books in your comments! I do not want to know.)

Hopefully tomorrow I will have my voice restored. But if not, I will continue making adorable faces of woe. To further specify my adorable puppy dogness, I may also start pooping on the floor. 

P.S. I realize I included the phrase "The Unicorn is Magnificent" in the title of this post, but did not actually mention a unicorn anywhere except for here. This is because I found an English to Italian translator on Google and thought I would see how you translate that particular phrase, which seemed like the right thing to do at the time. 

March 24, 2009

My Voice Is Gone, My Spirit Remains

Today was tough. I woke up cold, crabby, and with a sore throat that made me feel as if I had spent the previous evening blowing Neptune, God of the sea. That’s a bad way to start any day, unless you are Mrs. Neptune (or perhaps, even if you are Mrs. Neptune). I figured the throat would resolve itself as soon as I got some hot tea down my gullet. No such luck. The pain subsided somewhat as the day progressed but my voice faded from rough and sexy to tracheotomy patient within hours. Not good, especially considering I had a show at NYU later in the day.

People might think that writing a television show is a largely silent activity, but the truth is, there’s a lot of talking involved. Talking about what you’re going to have for lunch, various real estate opportunities, the naked photo of Cindy Crawford in the new edition of Allure, etc.  So there is a lot to talk about, which did not allow me to rest my vocal chords as much as might have been wise.

Original
         (Thank you, Allure magazine, for this)

As a result, by the end of the day I was straining to speak above whisper volume. The thought crossed my mind that I should cancel my NYU engagement, but then I thought: all I have to do is show up and I think they are obligated to pay me, whether I can speak or not. Worse comes to worst, I figured I could always do the show in mime. After all, I am very good at “invisible box,” and “fighting against the wind.” If I did that for an hour, that more or less fulfills my contractual obligations, yes?

So I show up at NYU thinking it probably will not come to that. The adrenaline and the microphone will allow me to power through an hour of hilarious comedy. And if my voice is a little scratchy, so be it. All well and good.

Things start to turn south when I show up at NYU and am escorted to the eighth floor. What kind of theater is on the eighth floor? As it happens, no kind of theater. A fluorescent lit classroom? Yes. Those do exist on the eighth floor, and that’s where I am scheduled to perform. But I don’t know that yet, because the door to the classroom is locked, so I have to stand out there with all the kids waiting to get into the show, which is awkward. Especially when a kid sitting on the floor keeps saying to me, “This isn’t funny.”  Good stuff, buddy, I love it.

Continue reading "My Voice Is Gone, My Spirit Remains" »

March 22, 2009

The Fuck It List Goes Big Time

From the Chicago Tribune. They're a little late to the party, but fuck it.
 

Not the Bucket List; rather, the 'Chuck-It' List

Was it only two years ago that we were all worked up about the live-your-dreams, go-for-broke Bucket List, in which we enumerated all the cool things we would finally get around to doing if we had only six months to live?

We were thinking along the lines of sky-diving, hiking the Appalachian Trail, seeing the Taj Mahal.

Well, it's 2009 now, the economy is in a tailspin, sky-diving sounds kind of scary and there's a new list in town, one that's all about low expectations.

The, um, "Chuck-It" List, as we'll call it, is the brainchild of comedian Michael Ian Black, who laid down the rules on Twitter: "List all the things you do not need to do before you die." (Black's original name for the list is, sadly, not suitable for a family newspaper.)

Some people take that commandment too literally, listing "see my ex ever again," for example. But the real recession-era fun begins when you list the stuff that might once have sounded good, or at least worthwhile—but on second thought, chuck it!

Culled from Twitter, where it launched a fleet of tweets, Black's original list reads as follows:

• Climb any mountain

• Learn about birds

• Appreciate Mozart more

• Tour Europe's great cathedrals

• Attend a major league baseball game in every stadium

• Drive cross country in an RV

• Watch the sunrise

• Going to see the reunited Phish

• Woodworking: It's just not going to happen.

March 19, 2009

Manson - Not Handsome!

We finally got a new look at Charles Manson today, and I for one am disappointed with this year’s model. Where are my beloved crazy eyes? Where is the scraggly Mennonite beard? What about the groovy hair? Sure he’s got the swastika carved into his forehead but it’s looking a bit perfunctory these days, like the polo playing guy on Ralph Lauren shirts. (Note: that faded swastika is a textbook case for why you need to put sunscreen on tattoos!) The craziest thing about the new Charles Manson are his eyebrows, which could use a good waxing.

19lede_manson.350
                               (booooooring)

For forty years, Charles Manson has been America’s pre-eminent bogeyman, the guy we turned to when we got sick of Oprah and just wanted a lil’ Evil. And for all that time, he’s given us exactly what we asked for: eye rolling, finger wagging, head twitching, mouth frothing. For forty years, the guy couldn’t open his mouth without something creepy falling out.

He was the Cal Ripken Jr. of crazy.

Now though, he’s in his mid-seventies, long past the age when most nutjobs hang up their straitjackets, and it’s clear his heart just isn’t in it anymore. Manson clearly wants to hand the crown to somebody, but nobody is there to take it. Nobody has ever come close to challenging Manson as the undisputed heavyweight of psychopaths. Not Ted Bundy. Not the Zodiac. Not even Jeffrey Dahmer – and he ate people!

Manson pretty did it all: hippie, cult leader, murderer of Hollywood actress, interpreter of Beatles lyrics, one-time auditioner for “the Monkees.” Who is going to top a resumé like that? Nobody. But what’s so disappointing is that nobody’s even trying. Modern supervillains aren’t trying to start race riots. They’re just stealing money.

Money?

That’s so boring, so pedestrian, so bourgeois. Manson didn’t give a shit about money. He was having orgies. He was writing songs. He was dropping acid. He was smearing the word "Pigs" on the walls in blood. Manson was a guy who knew how to be fucking crazy!

What did Bernie Madoff ever do compared to that?

But now it’s clear that Charles Manson’s best days are behind him. His red-rimmed eyes and close-cropped hair give no hint of the rake who once said, “I’m the king, man. I run the underworld. I decide who does what and where they do it at… the game’s mine. I deal the cards.” Friends, that’s my Manson.

Or take this delightful exchange:


What contemporary crazy can compete with that? None – why? They haven’t got the style! They haven’t got the panache! Frankly, they haven’t got the eyebrows. But I believe that somebody's got to be out there. Some meth head in the heartland. Some angry artistic kid with a dream, the dream to outdo Manson. It's a lofty goal, sure, but this is America, damn it! A place where people have dreams so crazy, you'd have to be insane to think of them in the first place. Which, of course, is the whole point.

March 18, 2009

One of My Favorite Interviews I've Ever Done

Hosted by the very charming Martin Gould Cummings.

This is the section from my "Hair" review that he initially took offense to: It’s a lot more dude parts than lady parts, which I suppose is a wise decision when you consider who is attending most Broadway shows: old women, 'tween girls, gay men, and at least one transvestite who was there last night and making an annoying show of being all transvestited out. (Note to aforementioned transvestite: it’s not necessary to dress like Kim Cattrall for us get the idea. We get it.)


March 17, 2009

St. Patrick's Day: Celebrating Wonderful Irish People With A Shitty American Holiday

I am all for people feeling good about where they come from but St. Patrick’s Day may be the worst holiday of the year. Celebrating Irish heritage is one thing, but celebrating it by embracing all the worst stereotypes of a culture is something else entirely. It would be like us Jews having Money Grubbing Day.

The Irish are a proud people. I know this because I read “Angela’s Ashes.” So I know the indignation and hardships they have endured here and abroad. They’ve accomplished much in this country, which makes me think there’s got to be a better way for them to honor their heritage than by throwing up.

As far as I can tell, the primary (and possibly only) activities associated with this stupid holiday are drinking beer, wearing green, and eating salty food. Which are also the primary activities associated with going to a Jets game. The corned beef and cabbage is traditional Irish fare, the green connotes the  beauty of the homeland, and the beer reminds us of the blight of alcoholism which has destroyed so many Irish families over the centuries.

If ever there was a people who should use alcohol less to celebrate their ancestry, it is the Irish. Using alcohol to celebrate being Irish like using small pox to celebrate being Native American. Or, now that I think about it, it’s also like using alcohol to celebrate Native American heritage.

Continue reading "St. Patrick's Day: Celebrating Wonderful Irish People With A Shitty American Holiday" »

March 12, 2009

Oldish but Goodish

Somebody just called me “oldish.” More precisely, she said she used to “want to have sex with me” when I was on the State, but now she “realizes I am ‘oldish.’” What a terrible thing to say. Sure I’m getting a little long in the tooth, but that’s exactly why I inject myself with human growth hormone and tiger jizz. So that I do not go gently into that good night. In fact, I’ve never been in better mental or physical shape in my entire life. Granted that’s because I’ve always been sickly and wan, but I am just as sickly and wan now as I’ve always been!

I was really set back on my heels when she said that. You might think that a lady like that would have to be pretty young herself to make such a remark. Nay! Nay, she was not a young woman at all. In fact, she was, dare I say, oldish! Considerably oldisher than me, in fact, which in my book is the height of gall. 

Oldish isn’t even a word!

Perhaps she meant “elfin.” I mean, once you get to a certain age, words begin to jumble in the brain, and perhaps she confused “oldish” with “elfin.” That would make sense because I definitely look like Liv Tyler and Orlando Bloom’s love child. People say that to me a lot. Plus, I think I actually have some elfin blood, as evidenced by my love of flying unicorns and the curly-toed shoes I favor.

Or perhaps she really does think I am past my prime. Which is kind of a depressing thought. After all, I’m pretty sure I never even had a prime. I had a pre-prime. I was definitely primed to prime. And apparently I’m in the midst of a post-prime. But where was the actual prime? Isn’t that the part where the world is your oyster? Where you wake up feeling invincible and full of piss and vinegar? A lot of times when I wake up, I do feel full of piss, but I never really associate that feeling with anything other than a full bladder.

For me, this gives the term “sub-prime disaster” an entirely different meaning. One I like even less than the other meaning.

This is the problem with being in the public eye. Whenever she wants, she can compare the twenty-one year old me from my time on the State to the current twenty-six year old me. Although I think I look better now than I did back then. There I said it! Yes, I’m aging, but I’m aging the way Robert Redford aged: like him, I now have a lot of huge bumps on my face.

I guess the sad fact is, we’re all getting oldish. Every day, inexorably oldish. Which on one hand is kind of sad because youth is mercurial, as impossible to hold onto as a greasy wiener. But on the other hand, it’s nice getting oldish. I know more. I care less what people think about me (that mean lady notwithstanding). And no matter what anybody tells you, the prostate exams ain’t so bad, either. So I accept your barb, madam, with grace. Yes, I am oldish, but I am also goodish. And I occasionally eat a radish. And I hope you read this, you miserable old bitch.


March 11, 2009

My New Hobby. Hint - It's Adorable!!!

People are under the mistaken impression that the reason I haven’t been blogging that regularly is because I’ve been spending too much time on Twitter. Not so! Yes, I spend eighteen hours a day on Twitter, but that’s just because a despot needs that kind of time simply to keep tabs on his followers, of which I have eighty thousand. (80,000. 80k. 8k x 10.)

But that still leaves however many twenty-four minus eighteen hours is to do other things, like post on my blog. But I haven’t been doing it. Why? I’ve been too busy with my new hobby, making latch hook rugs. Yes, I am one of those people caught up in the whole “latch hook rug craze” that has been sweeping the nation like some sort of venereal disease that mainly targets the old, mentally unbalanced, and infirm.

People think it’s easy to make a latch hook rug. And they’re right. It is. People think there’s no artistry involved. And they’re right. There isn’t. But when people say that even a moron could make a latch hook rug, I respond by saying, “That’s a GOOD thing, because morons need hobbies, too.”

And it’s not just me and morons who make them, either. You probably didn’t know that in addition to creating the Theories of Special and General Relativity, Albert Einstein was an avid latch hooker. It’s true! (Not true.) In fact, on his deathbed he said that his only regret was that he didn’t complete his final latch hook rug, which contained his long sought-after “Theory of Everything.” Also true! (Also not true.)

Personally, I specialize in latch hook rugs featuring kittens playing with balls of yarn. Why? Two words: A-dorable. I just love those little kitties, and I love the irony of using yarn to make a rug featuring a picture of yarn. How many “kitten playing with yarn latch hook rugs” have I made? Somewhere in the  neighborhood of three hundred and fifty. All of them identical. All imperfect. Why imperfect? Because I believe, like the Tibetans, that it’s important to leave at least one mistake in each latch hook rug to demonstrate man’s fallibility. And also because I’m fucking terrible at it.

Yes, I’m a terrible latch hook artist, which is my great shame. When you are engaged in an activity that is given to people to stimulate their frontal lobes after a brain injury, you feel ashamed when you cannot master it. But that is my shameful truth. Either I put the wrong yarn in the wrong hole (that’s what she said), or I accidentally tear it (that’s what she said), or I end up letting the dog ruin it with its mouth (Did she say that too? She did, but only after a lot of therapy.)

But I’m not giving up. Just as I didn’t give up when people told me I would never publish any of my radical feminist poetry. Well I never did publish any of that poetry (Sample first line of a poem: “Her armpits like a fetid forest overgrown.”), but I haven’t given up on it. And I’m not giving up on this. One day I’m going to complete one of those goddamned fucking kitten playing a ball of yarn latch hook rugs just right. When I do, I’ll return to more rigorous blogging. But until that day, I have to follow my heart; and right now my heart is telling me that there is a kitten playing with a ball of yarn somewhere that needs to be immortalized, and I’m the man to do it.

 ARK070-Playful-Kitten
                     (My new hobby - yummy!!!)

UPDATE: Things just went from adorable to awesome. Check out this bad boy.

New York Magazine Picks Up on the Fuckit List.

What’s on Your Fuckit List?

3/11/09 at 3:30 PM

54Comments
What’s on Your Fuckit List?

Photo: Getty Images

The unemployment rate is starting to creep into the double digits. Animals are revolting against us. No one seems to have any idea what is going to happen with the economy. What can we, the citizens, do about these things? Eh, nothing, really. The sense of empowerment we felt back in November has been basically crushed by recent events, and all we can do is embrace the apathy. But all is not lost! Comedian Michael Ian Black has made this actually fun with his Fuckitlist, which the Twitterati are currently going nuts over. Basically, a Fuckit list is the opposite of a Bucket List: a list of things you don't care about doing before you die instead of things you do want to do. (Black's include seeing the reunited Phish, learning about birds, and watching the sunrise. Daily Intel Jessica's are making a sex tape that gets leaked to the Internet, watching Two and a Half Men, and becoming a member of the Red Hat Society. Intel Chris's are watching The English Patient, dancing like nobody's watching, and finding out what a vagina tastes like.) What's on yours?

Fuckitlist [Twitter]
Michael Ian Black [Twitter]