Our Warp Drive Problem Requires A Sexy Engineering Solution

Sorry, is there a problem I can solve for you?

Engineering problems? How about I give you a hand?

Being an engineer on a starship is at once an extremely difficult and incredibly fulfilling profession. Interstellar travel requires you to know so many levels of physics and math and mechanics that go way beyond the standards for inter-atmospheric propulsion. We’re talking about traveling at multiples of the speed of light through space! It’s no easy thing. I’m not even qualified to be Chief Engineer; I’m still years away from being good enough for that level of responsibility. So I spend most of my days monitoring, cleaning and calibrating plasma manifolds and anti-matter injectors and power relays. But do you want to know the best part of the job these days? Whenever there is a major engineering problem, especially with our quantum warp drive, it usually requires a sexy solution.

Last year, a consultant joined our crew after one of our more harrowing adventures through this vast frontier. She has made a tremendous impact in all areas of the ship, including Engineering, Communications, Navigation, and Astrometrics. Also, one hundred percent of all major Engineering problems she has worked on required some sort of sexy solution. She is utterly brilliant and extremely attractive, and she has this grace about her that reminds you of a ballet dancer. She moves so calmly and smoothly, never with any unnecessary movements. When she solves problems and saves the ship from near disaster, she practically glides through the ship, fluidly entering rooms with unmatched poise. Her brains and beauty and crisis management skills are so damn sexy.

Our Consultant

Would you like to see my scans?

Take last month, for example. We made a detour from our original course to travel through a Class 2 nebula and get some sensor readings because our goofy captain just looooves to do scientific exploration at every turn. To our horror, the nebula turned out to be a sentient being that quickly enveloped us and completely shut down our systems by draining power from the ship. We could not communicate with the creature at first, and everyone in Engineering was scrambling to figure out how to escape before we lost life support. But then our cool-headed consultant fired up a console and noticed a pattern in our sensor readings. She correctly determined that the creature was trying to communicate through minute radiation bursts off our port side. She recommended that we manually adjust the frequency of our shield harmonics to simulate the same patterns to tell the creature we meant no harm. I went with her deep into the narrow conduits with my portable phase inducer to make the proper adjustments, but those trips always require unusual contorting body movements, forcing us to reach and stretch deep into the panel to make any changes. The way she had to bend over the neutrino collection tube and twist her torso to reach the power nodes was beyond sexy.

Listen, I’m not just some perverted grease monkey.  Just about everyone on the ship agrees with me on this. No one has any illusions about her skills and intellect, but she has other assets that get the job done. She is the most intelligent and analytical person the ship, but there is more going on with her. And I swear, I think I once heard our female captain say to her over the communication system, “Report to the bridge. We have a problem and we need your sexy expertise. Your sexpertise.”

There was an incident two weeks ago where the characters on our holographic simulation theater became self-aware for, like, the tenth time in three years. They basically held the Commander, our Captain’s second-in-command, hostage. We were locked out of all hologram systems and time was running out to save him. Well, Engineering powers the entire ship so our department had to come up with a solution. We couldn’t cut power to the holo-systems without frying the circuits on half the ship because our feedback redundancies were turned off. But our consultant was monitoring the situation and determined the leader in the holo-sim, a character called Al Capone, was directly linked to all system interfaces. If we deactivated him, we could restore control to all ship systems and save our Commander’s life. But how do you kill a hologram? She said a magnetic field inverter placed on Capone would destabilize his program and destroy him, but it was impossible to get close to him without Capone killing the Commander. Fortunately, Capone had one weakness: “foxy dames with killer gams.” Enter our consultant in heels and a slim red dress with a slit that went all the way up. Some playful banter and two holo-tinis later she was able to slam the inverter onto his chest and deactivate him, saving the Commander. The sexy solution wins again.

Ready to consult for you.

Reporting for duty

She really has got it all, but even she is not perfect; every now and then she loses her mind and tries to kill everybody on board. But I suppose one would have the occasional psychotic episode after being disconnected from a hive mind of billions and have to explore your humanity while serving on a starship that is nearly destroyed every few days by astrological phenomena and aggressive weirdo aliens with proton cannons. It’s fortunate our captain can talk her down from the ledge when necessary, because our brilliant life-saving engineering maneuvers wouldn’t be nearly as sexy.

I don’t even have time to describe what happened last week, but let’s just say this. In saving the ship from some photonic-based lifeforms that invaded our infuser coils, she ended up drenched head to toe in warp coolant, and I had to hose her down with decontamination fluid to make sure she did not suffer any ill-effects.

Yes, life on a starship can be both hazardous and monotonous for a low-level engineer, but the excitement and sexy problem-solving that comes with the territory makes the job all the more worthwhile.

I Was A Target Of Assassination!

Not My Wife. Yet.

Not My Wife. Yet.

So, after my startlingly successful post over a month ago about Sarah Palin’s MAXIM cover, it seems like I dropped off the face of the Earth. No new posts since August 29 and barely a peep out of me otherwise. Speculation has been running rampant through the blogosphere, and as each day passes, the rumors get more and more outrageous. I thought I’d set the record straight on some of the more plausible, but still completely false, rumors. I did not, in fact, decide to retire after my highly successful 7-week run at humor blogging. Nor did I run off and elope with model/actress Gemma Atkinson. I did not, in fact, get a job with Carnival Cruiseline as a Morale Officer. I did not, in fact, return to college as president of the Delta Gamma Beta sorority (more specifically, I am not a 20 year old co-ed).

I should just leave it at that and be on my way, but it seems that the masses will never stop clamoring for more Free Soup With Purchase. So even though doing so may cause me to relive some emotional stress, I have decided to let everyone know where I have been. I will tell you in six words or less: I was a target of assassination! And while I survived, I have not done so without some scars to show for it. These past few weeks have been mentally and physically brutal, but I would say I am stronger for it. Without exaggeration, this has been the most harrowing and stressful time of my life!

The first attempt on my life begins six weeks ago this past Friday. While I was hard at work scanning and retouching my completely legitimate MAXIM issue that featured a sexy Sarah Palin on the cover, I enjoyed a hearty sandwich piled high with extremely American ingredients, including but not limited to delicacies such as orange cheese slices, Oscar Mayer bologna, and mayonnaise. It wasn’t until a few hours later on the racquetball court that I realized something was wrong. I doubled over in sudden pain after a particularly good volley, confused and worried that I was in my final moments of life. Fortunately, I was with my good friend, Broadway actor Anthony Rapp, who dialed 911 and got me to the hospital in time for an emergency surgery. Little did I know just how hearty that sandwich was; it contained a foreign substance that would have easily removed all stability in my digestive system. The staple of what keeps my health together was put in jeopardy, and I could have experienced a painful death. Luckily, the surgeons took care of me and said I would be back on the court in no time. Like with all of my celebrity friends, I do not mention Anthony on my blog, and he has always asked that I keep our association off the blogosphere. But I think it is more because I handily beat him in racquetball nearly every time we play.  Either way, I owe the man my life, and I must give credit where credit is due. He is my hero and I would not be here if not for him.

Assassination Attempt #1

Assassination Attempt #1

Now, you might think that the poisoning of my sandwich was an accident. I mean, it happens. How many times have you accidentally put some sort of office supply between a few slices of lunchmeat? “Enough,” you might reply, and so would I! That’s what I thought; this was just a simple mistake that turned deadly. I didn’t suspect assassination until days later, when attempt #2 occurred!!

I was released from the hospital after a few days to recover and I took a cab home. I stopped off for a quick walk through the park to take in the fresh air and reflect on my renewed value for life. Satisfied that I took in enough nature and annoyed at the stupid chirping birds everywhere, I set off for home. I arrived at my apartment on the second floor and unlocked the door. As I pushed it open, I noticed a few small twigs had become entwined in my shoelace during my walk. So I bent forward to pull them out and I pushed the door open wide to make room. That’s when I heard a click and suddenly three large arrows plunged into the door right where my face would have been. Now, I knew I hadn’t set that booby trap since Christmas ’04; someone else had to put that together when I was in the hospital!

Shaken, I called the police and they investigated but could not come up with any clues. I mentioned the sandwich incident and they said I may have become a target. It made some sense, but I couldn’t think of why. I had no known enemies, I hadn’t angered anyone recently who might seek revenge, and with my mounting debts I’m technically worth more alive than not. It was reasonable to assume no one stood to benefit from my demise!

I decided I would be cautious and more attentive, just in case the theory was true. And for two solid weeks it seemed like everything was fine. Nothing was different about my life. My highly successful part-time dog walking service was steady, all the regular gals showed up at Bingo night, my whore ex-wife was still dead. I managed to convince myself that maybe I really did set up the flying arrows booby trap before the sandwich incident. I’ve been known to sleepwalk and sleepdance, why not sleeptrapmaking? Finally after a few weeks, I could unclench and relax. Everything else was normal, so it was time for me to get back to my life without constantly looking over my shoulder.

Turns out, I was wrong. Dead wrong. After a particularly hazy night full of Midori Sours and LSD, I woke up early to start the morning walks. No matter how hard I party, my customers come first. Spot and Miss Periwinkle certainly can’t walk themselves! Hungover and with only one eye open to guide me, I made it into the bathroom. I reached though the shower curtain to turn the shower faucets on, looking forward to a hot scrubbing. Then I turned and took a look in the mirror and suddenly felt a cold gooeyness under my foot. I leapt backward in shock, remembering that I firecely vomited there after I got home the night before, and at that moment a large arm with a huge knife swung out of the shower. Had I not jumped backward, I would have been adding my own warm gooeyness to the bathroom tile.

Seeing only red, I leapt at my attacker and pinned him to the tub floor with the curtain between us. I pummeled him with the might of half a man in my blind frustration and anger. I began hearing a thumping beat as I swung wildly, and the noise became more and more melodious as I suddenly recognized it. It was the old A-Team theme song, and I realized it was coming from me. I was humming it to pump myself up as I laid waste to my assassin. Once he stopped struggling, my humming stopped and I peeled back the curtain to reveal a huge and unconscious German-looking man. I covered the tub drain and put some water in the tub. When he woke up, he saw me standing over him holding a hair dryer, which was plugged in the wall.

“One false move, and you’re fried,” I said with an added bit of gravel in my voice. He nodded that he understood. “Now start talking.”

He explained in his German accent that he was hired by some so-and-so crime boss in Latvia to come kill a man with my name. This man had stolen a ton of cash from the Latvian and now he was to die. One strong piece of intel he had was the target had once attended Lincoln Community College in southern Iowa. Well, I did in fact go to that school, but there was another guy with my exact name and we went there at the same time. Class registration was always a problem for us, let me tell you! Me in his Physics class, him in my Music Appreciation class, etc. I told Mr. Assassin that he screwed up his research and he had the wrong guy. I showed him an old yearbook, my bank statements, and my hilarious blog, trying to convince him of his error. He considered it, glanced around my apartment, and he concurred he made a mistake.

I told him that if he still intended to kill me because I saw his face, I was ready to defend myself. He quietly said he would not attempt any harm. When I asked him why he would let me live, he glanced over at my computer monitor and then looked back at me. There was a small sadness in his eyes. He patted my shoulder and slowly walked out the door without saying a word. Over on the monitor, the Sarah Palin MAXIM picture on my highly successful blog stared at me. Then it made sense. But when I recount this story to others, they tell me it was out of pity, and not the prospect of robbing the world of my incredible humor and talent, that the German spared me. I choose to believe my theory, and not the one of my bastard friends and family.

So, my friends, this last month and a half was especially tough, and you have all been great just hanging in there waiting for me to return. I am alive and well, and I will likely be spending much more time here to continue giving you the only gift I can.

You can thank the German for that.

Sarah Palin – MAXIM Cover

Good luck, Barack Obama. The race for President just took an interesting turn. I don’t have to remind people of McCain’s stunning Veep pick today. It was out of left field, but then again John McCain has been known to defy conventional wisdom and buck the system. That reflects well with his choice of Gov. Sarah Palin, who has also often played by her own set of rules in fighting corruption and running the state of Alaska. Even during her campaign for governor in 2006, she decided to appeal to the young voters by giving an exclusive interview and pictorial with MAXIM Magazine. See the cover below. I’m sure McCain’s people took this into consideration when they vetted her.

Sarah Palin in Maxim

Sarah Palin in MAXIM

They Ruined My Script for Airplane!

You know, as a young man, I never would have even believed that I could ever become a bitter individual. I always believed that you get dealt your hand dealt in life, and sometimes you’re ahead and sometimes the other guy’s ahead. I was never the type to begrudge someone else for their artistic success. That is, until Airplane! came along. Curse Jim Abrahams and those Zucker brothers!

Back in the 60s and the 70s, I wrote some of the most memorable dramas in Hollywood. Love Letters From Spain, Love In Madrid, The Spaniard Said He Loved Me, and Delicatessen Love, just to name a few. The Zucker brothers came to me and told me they wanted to give heavy drama a try; they wanted a love story they could sink their teeth into. So for $20,000, I wrote the first draft of Airplane! (it was called Love On An Airplane, then) for those idiots two years before it was released. But to put it simply, they took my script and destroyed it. You won’t see my name anywhere near that movie; once shooting began, I had my name redacted. The first draft is largely what you saw in the final product, except the Zucker brothers turned my serious drama about a young couple’s attempt to rekindle their diminished love amidst a potential airliner disaster into a pie-throwing farce. Just about all of my characters can be seen in the movie, but the Zuckers turned them into cartoons, their personal tragedies transformed into supposedly humorous situations.

What kind of airline is this?

What kind of airline is this?

Ted, the Air Force veteran-turned-cab driver races to the airport to find his love Elaine, who is ready to leave him after years of unhappiness. He catches her before she boards the flight bound for Chicago as a flight attendant (we would have called her a stewardess in those days), and she rejects his plea to give him another chance. Realizing how his life has taken a bad turn since his decisions during the war led to the death of his entire squadron, Ted Striker seeks to find the happiness Elaine’s love once gave him, but she cannot wait for him forever to get over the sins of his past. It’s the classic love story, but Abrahams and the Zuckers perverted the story and used it as a device for silly gags and “ironic” jokes to ensue. The characters’ flaws were exploited as a way to get cheap laughs that didn’t even make much sense. Okay, Ted is long-winded. He tries to sort out his post-traumatic stress and neurosis by talking to other passengers, but how could a woman just hang herself in the cabin? And where did that one fellow get a gasoline can? Ludicrous.

True Love.

True Love.

Captain Rex Kramer, Ted’s foil played by Robert Stack, was a man filled with tragedy and a bloated sense of self-hatred. That is why I chose to depict him rejecting religion and social issues as he walked through the airport. His self-loathing is so strong that he believes it will never change. He believes he cannot save himself, but he ends up guiding our protagonist Ted through the difficulty of saving that plane full of people. But Kramer was not supposed to strike out at his potential saviors, he was supposed to feel utterly defeated by the time he reached his destination and ignored his chance at finding redemption. Only then was he supposed to put up his air of confidence, a flawed leader in disastrous times. But the Zuckers clearly could not stand Robert Stack exemplifying this tragic figure through his acting, oh no. They had him beat all of those people up as some sort of joke. Simply ridiculous.



My script had it all. The hardened doctor (Leslie Nielsen) who tried to keep the passengers and crew together in times of crisis. The child traveling for a heart transplant, who represented that even the innocence of humanity can be victim to a cruel hand of Fate. I actually had the jive-talking woman, played by Barbara Billingsley, in there. But in my original draft she used her knowledge and abilities to bridge the cultural differences between the plane full of white people and a couple of negroes. But what did the Zuckers do when the passengers lose control and scream themselves silly at the thought of their own doom? They go ahead and flash naked breasts on the screen! Lunacy! The representation of man’s realization of his own flaws and resistance to his inevitable demise before he can fix his life’s mistakes cannot be – nay, should not be – obscured by hot tits!


Surely, you can't be serious!

McCrosky, played by Lloyd Bridges, had a serious drug problem in my original script, just like you saw on the screen. But it was an internal battle, not something that he openly and repeatedly mentions to his co-workers. What you didn’t see was which of our heroes on the ground was enabling McCrosky during the crisis, and guess what? You’ll never know! What’s the point on that big reveal, anyway? A strong ensemble was originally developed to help our flawed heroes in the air make safely to Chicago. But all of the characters are played for laughs, forcing some of Hollywood’s most well known and respected dramatic actors to do vomit jokes and act like buffoons.

Johnny had the darkest backstory of all

Johnny had the darkest backstory of all.

I can’t say for sure if it was the Zuckers’ intent all along. Perhaps it was always their goal to take a brilliantly written screenplay about two powerful themes, love and inevitability, and transform it into a bunch of gags that I’m sure got heavy applause from their fraternity brothers. It makes me sick to think my art was turned into that wildly successful comedy that grossed over $80 million back in 1980. Christ, if only I didn’t take my name off that script I would have been rolling in it. But to protect the integrity of my profession and my art, I cannot live with that regret. Besides, $20,000 went a looong way back then.

I suppose, though, just like I could never ever write a childish screenplay like that or The Naked Gun, perhaps the Zuckers could never really embrace heavy drama. Perhaps they tried to force some personal growth on themselves and later realized they could not fight their true nature, as immature pot-smoking manboys who will always play and never take life seriously. We cannot fight who we are, it seems. But that still doesn’t change the fact that they ruined my script for Airplane!!!

Believe It or Don’t!

Welcome to Free Soup With Purchase’s first installment of what is soon to be a wildly popular segment, Believe It or Don’t! I’m pretty sure I ripped off the name from a Jim Davis Garfield book. Not the title of one of the collections, but it was the title of a segment for some strips or some bit in a treasury book. Without Googling it, or really caring either way, I’m going to confidently say that’s exactly where I got it from. And it’s highly probable that the genius who is Jim Davis was not the first person to ever use that particular turn of phrase.

ANYWAY, this segment will deal with some seemingly startling supposed fact, and you, humble reader, can do what you wish with that information! Okay, ladies and gentleman, here it is:

I plucked at least 25 nose hairs today while watching a Star Trek episode… using only my hands.


(And you don’t have to go and Google the phrase and then tell me where it was used. No one likes a little bitch.)

Gut Check Time!

Alright boys and girls, it’s gut check time! Get pumped! Get primed! Who-rah!

The battle is nigh, bitches! You heard me, I said nigh! In mere minutes our mettle will be put to the test. You need to give 150% at all times, do you understand!? There is no backing down! There is no giving up!!

Everything we’ve trained for is staring us in the face like a bengal tiger ready to leap up at us and rip us open! They leap right for the neck, but we’re ready for that! You duck and weave and strike! STRIIIKE!!!! DO YOU FOLLOW ME?! That tiger has got nothing on you, because you’ve just sharpened your bowie knife on some granite and you are going to SLICE and DICE a motherfucker from jugular to gentials!

Everybody, did you shotgun your Red Bull?! Lewiston, down that damn Red Bull before I come over there and put you over my knee! That’s right, Lewiston, I’ll spank you in front of the gang and you’ll be crying for your momma before I’m done with you! You need all the strength and energy you can muster! Find that determination and hang on to it! You need all the pistons going if you want to stand up and win on this night!

WHOO-RAAH!!! You are not stupid! You are not weak! You are better than any of those bed-wetting little girls out there! You are going to crush them under your boot and you are not going to feel sorry for them. They wanted this; they know what they signed up for! So you go out there and you give them what they are asking for! You all have your assignments and you all are the best at what you do! And at the end of the day, only you are responsible for your own survival out there! What did I say before? It’s gut check time, bitches, who-rah!!

Alright, everybody bring it in! Say your little prayers to the almighty Jesus or Vishnu or whoever the hell you think has to balls to care about you, because the shit is about to go down and you need to be ready! Let’s do this for our mothers and fathers and show them that you are not one of their many, many mistakes in their pathetic miserable lives! Let’s give each of our mommies one reason to stop crying herself to sleep every night!!

Let’s show those bastards over at Harry S. Truman High School who has the better debate team!!!! Go get ’em!!!! WHO-RAHH!!!

10 Quick Tips for a First Date

In my travels as a swinging bachelor in this post-9/11 America, I’ve seen and done plenty of crazy things. And I’ve been on enough first dates to get a general understanding of what does and doesn’t work for either party involved. Here are some quick tips for those of you who have not picked up on the nuances of a successful first date.

1. Avoid being too passive-aggressive in your compliments. “I bet you would look really good if you put some effort in,” won’t really fly too well with anyone.

2. Don’t ever ask, “So, how do you feel about Roe v. Wade?” without any natural segue.

3. Say, “Do you have your tickets?” and they will say, “What tickets?” or “Tickets to what?” Then you flex your biceps and say, “To the gun show!” Works every time.

4. Don’t mention that you ever went to a psychic or a palm reader, even if it was “just for fun.” That’s not attractive at all.

5. No one ever wants to hear that they look like your mother or father.

6. If Don Rickles gives you or your date a good ribbing, don’t get upset. It ruins the mood, and besides, it’s just Rickles being Rickles.

7. Only talk about your fraternity or sorority days if your date was also in the Greek system and still cares about that.

8. Limit yourself to two cocktails before dinner. There is no reason to be slurry over your duck a l’orange.

9. Don’t talk about your highly successful humor blog too much. It can be very intimidating to your date.

10. If you haven’t earned a major athletic award in more than five years, don’t mention any of the awards you have won. It’s no longer impressive that you were the best at anything in 1988.

Now, feel free to offer any of your own suggestions and if it’s any good I will make sure to put it in my new book, “10 and More Tips for a First Date.” Full credit, a copy of the book and a t-shirt with my face on it (size XXXXL only) will be sent to each contributor.

Letter to My Unborn Crack Baby

Dear Baby,

There are so many things I want to want to tell you about, like the night your mother and I spent making you. How it felt to hear your were on the way. Or how amazing it was to feel you moving in your mother’s belly. But it’s highly likely none of these moments will be anything I remember with any clarity.

As I write this, you do not yet exist, but you are an inevitability. Because if there is one thing I enjoy, it’s throwing it down with a crack whore. And even now, I must burden you with a request. I must ask that you open your heart to grant forgiveness. First, please forgive me for playing my part in bringing you into this world. As you will learn, this can be a harsh place to grow up in. Please also forgive your mother, too. Her addiction does not make her a bad person. You will be born with that same addiction, so you will be even closer to your mother than most children are. You will share her desire for that sweet, sweet crack. I admit I also share the addiction, but our connection over the crack will be so different than the one with your mother.

Speaking of your mother, at this point, she will be one of three different crack-addled harpies I’m currently shtooping. It is very possible you will have a half-brother or sister who receive a photocopy of this same letter. But understand that doesn’t mean I will care for you any less than your crack-addicted siblings. You will all be equally important to me. But no matter which mother is yours, the story of how I met her is pretty much the same. My insatiable desires led me to her in a crack den in the bad part of town. We shared a crack pipe on a heavily stained mattress on the floor. We laughed and shared tales of adventure and smoked a lot of crack together. It’s the same old story each time, just with a different woman.

I dream about your birth sometimes. You arrive, a full three months early. You have the smallest little fingers and toes I have ever seen. I can see your ribs through your translucent skin. Your tiny cries break my heart because your body wants crack but cannot have it; withdrawal is always the hardest. I imagine you growing tall and strong, becoming a star athlete and academic whiz-kid. You will be better than your mom and dad, because you will have the strength to refuse to smoke crack with us. You and your possible half-brothers and sisters will be born with the crack addiction, but you will have the strength to cast it aside.

Studies have shown that crack babies are not necessarily predisposed to any specific developmental problems, so you could very well turn out okay. If you develop problems, though, know that it may not be from the crack or even from me. My genes are strong; all of my grandparents lived well into their 90s and died of old age. If something makes you “special,” then it probably came from that crack-smoking whore mother of yours, whichever one she turns out to be. So, again, I ask you to find the ability to forgive.

I’d like to believe I will be there for your little league games or cheerleading competitions or karate matches or first pony ride or whatever you end up doing, but please understand, the crack really takes up a lot of my time. It can be really hard to stay organized when you’re looking for a fix. And I may not be entirely coherent some days, or I might disappear for a week sometimes. I imagine your mother may come up short with some of these things, too, but know that I will try my best to be there.

One thing a child cannot often understand is that his father is not invincible. And even though I will say that in this letter, you still will not understand right away. You will slowly learn early on that I am entirely too weak to give up the delicious crack. But maybe I will find strength in you. I hope that I can.

There is so much I wish to teach you, but I cannot put it all in this letter. I look forward to meeting you, my little one. But right now, I’m really looking forward to smoking some crack. See you one day, soon!



[Inspired in part by Joe Cetta’s fantastic letter.]

Being the Parent of a Child in Competitive Sports is Hard!

If you’re like me, and let’s hope you are, then you have a child who competes in sand castle building tournaments. And if you’re like me, you further understand the added stress and frustration of being the parent of a champion. Yes, I’m certainly proud of my son, that’s a given. But like some parents out there, I take his victories and his losses to heart just a bit too much. My therapist says I need to relax and maybe not attend one or two of his matches. He says he might help his independence and it will help me not have a goddamn heart attack right there on the beach. But I can’t disagree more. I have to be there to let my son know I will always be in his corner.

But how can sand castle building be stressful, you might ask? You can’t even imagine, my friend. The competition is fierce out there, and his opponents are hungry for victory. He may as well play for the Dallas Cowboys or Manchester United or the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics team. And Douglas has been dominating the 11-15 age bracket for years, but this is his last year in that group. And he had some flubs that may be psychologically detrimental to him before he enters the ultra-fierce 16-18 age bracket, which is the least populated bracket in competitive sand castle building. Least populated? Big surprise! you may think. But it’s not because the kids that age quit sand castle building to embrace their hormonal interests, not at all. It’s because it’s war and only the best and smartest survive.

Just to get into the 16-18 bracket, the kids have to compete in a 5-day battle royale to see who has the chops. A different project for each day. Failure to impress the judges means the kid sits out for the season and has to try to get in the following year. I try not to put much pressure on Douglas, because he seems to put enough on himself. I encourage him to be the best he can be and push himself farther than he’s ever gone. On days when he seems very down on himself and his abilities, I throw out a casual comment or two to make sure he presses on. Something like, “Your mother ran out on us because she thought we were losers. You don’t want to prove her right, do you?” is highly effective, believe me!

I strive to find the right balance of encouragement, pride, and coaching to make him be a winner. When he does well with a top three finish, I let him eat dinner that night. When he suffers a painful loss due to a stupid mistake, I tell him to do better next time and make him sleep in the back yard. But I really feel everything he goes through. When Douglas earns that medal, I share his joy. When he is defeated, I wipe away his tears with my own. Maybe it is selfish to think this, but I feel like when he knows how proud of him I am every single day, it makes each win even better and every loss a little easier to bear.

One day, when he is an old man and he looks back on his days as a competitive sand castle builder, I’m sure he will think fondly of when I was there, cheering for him at the beach. Douglas will remember me helping him by telling him that his Arc de Triomphe isn’t quite to scale as much as little Steve Goldberg’s. He will smile, remembering me clapping louder than the other parents and taking pictures of his medal ceremonies. He will remember me shoving his face in his toppled Gold Gate Bridge because he did not take into account the moisture changes throughout the day, forever learning the inherent dangers of too much cloud cover. He won three tournaments in a row after that day, and the medals kept stacking up from there. I helped make Douglas a winner.

My therapist doesn’t know jack shit about being a winner.

It’s Not The Heat

Boy oh boy, what a hot one today! I’m sweating worse than a pig in the slaughterhouse, or some such thing! I know the ol’ weatherman says to try and keep cool on mid-summer days like this, but gosh darn it, there’s only so much I can do. I won’t drink no fancy bottled water or buy me no air conditioner, nosiree. Just give me one of those fans on a stick, a glass of lemonade, and a shady spot and I will make the best of it. It just feels so dang hot!

But you know, it’s like they say, isn’t it? It’s not the heat, it’s the intense animosity between us. That’s what’s making this day just unbearable, I’ll tell you what! Just being within a few hundred feet of you, and good golly, I feel like I’m suffocating like a goldfish lying on the linoleum floor. And not the good kind of linoleum, neither. There are hot days and all, but then there are hot days when you and me’s gotta be here together. An 80 degree day feels like 110, on account of the animosity between us.

I know you don’t like it any more than I do, but we just have to grit our teeth and bear it. I can’t stand you so very much, and I know you ain’t sending me no birthday cards any times soon. But we’re forced to be here on Tuesdays and Thursdays to mind that there art collection and this here history exhibit, so let’s just continue to do our jobs like men. We ain’t little boys who settle things with fists and shouting. We can be respectful gentleman in this here museum and do our community proud by keeping these artifacts safe. And that is what I intend to do here.

Good god damn, son, this has been a real scorcher of a day. And I ain’t never lie when I say I hate you as much as the day is long. And I don’t know if that makes any kind of sense, but it’s as true my daddy’s aim with a six shooter. And even though the Earth will start tilting away from the sun and we will have a cooler time of things and the days will get shorter, I can’t imagine that I would begin hating you less. Why, every single day it takes just about all the fibers of my being not to smash your face with that priceless vase over there. Nothing would make me happier than to knock you out, but then you wouldn’t have to suffer this here hot day and I would still have to. I’m not giving you that satisfaction, believe you me.

I was telling the boys over at Sal’s Pub about your stupid slack-jawed face, and they says to me, “Eugene,” they says, “Why don’t one of ya’ll just work on different days?” And I explained what you and I both already know. You get the kids from that she-devil ex-wife of yours on Fridays through Mondays. And my weekend is filled up with my bowling league, my bridge club, my Sunday of drinking, and my Monday of sleeping off the drinking. And we’re stuck with the museum being closed on Wednesday. And goodness gracious, are we stuck.

You a dang fool, that’s a truth as good as any. And your brainless antics got us all tripped up and stuck in this Le Brea Tar Pits exhibit. This muck is impossible to get out of, but at least it ain’t so deep that we’ll die in here. No one is even gonna come find us here until morning. So that’s the last time I try to help you out. Next time you think you see something shiny in the tar, don’t go chasing after it. And I’ll remember not to try to pull your dumb ass out if you do. Shoot, this is the worst thing you ever gone and did.

There May Have Been An Ulterior Motive in Rescuing You From That House Fire

Hi Mrs. Kolczanksi! Boy, you look great today, how are you feeling? Are the nurses treating you okay? I bet they love having you here! You’ve got some setup here, eh? Nice TV up there in the ceiling and what a great view over there! What is that behind those trees? Is that a Wal-Mart? Not bad, Mrs. Kolczanski!

Listen, I heard things took a bit of a bad turn for you. I know you’ve lost the ability to speak and your mobility has become a bit of an issue. Can you write very well? No? The nurse told me that you were saying some strange things before your speech went, like one of your children came to visit even though he passed away last year. I guess it’s hard to keep everything straight, sometimes you don’t make a lot of sense, eh? Well, that’s okay! You’re a strong individual, you will be fine! I mean, you really do look great, and this place is fantastic. And you’ve got the Wal-Mart over there….

Anyway, I know I haven’t come by lately, but I wanted to talk to you. I wanted to discuss the night we met. There is something that’s been tearing me up inside about it, and I have to tell you. I know the circumstances were not typical or ideal, but you became a really good friend to me since then. It’s not every day that a guy like me becomes friends with the Car Wash Queen of Wichita. I mean, who could believe that could happen, right? It would take some extreme circumstances for an influential community leader to associate with a good-for-nothing schmo like me. No one could have predicted the end result, not even me. All of that said, though, I have to admit something. There may have been an ulterior motive in rescuing you from that house fire.

I know, that doesn’t make much sense. People help each other in times of crisis all the time. How could I, a ne’er-do-well from the wrong side of the tracks, have an ulterior motive in rescuing you from your burning home? You woke up, choking on thick smoke, flames burning the walls around you. Before you could react, I burst through the door and scooped you up and kept you underneath a blanket while I fought through the flames to bring you to safety. I risked certain death to make sure you lived to see another day. Why? Was it a selfless act? Temporary insanity disguised as bravery? A man with nothing to lose, trying to do one last good deed? Perhaps all of these.

And yet….

Okay, Mrs. Kolczanki, I’ll level with you. I rescued you in the hope of getting free car washes for life! And at this moment, right now, three things are quite obvious. One, you came through with flying colors on those free car washes. Two, you sat through my entire speech just now probably expecting that exact admission from me. Three, you probably expect me to reveal that I also set the fire. And why wouldn’t you think that? I admitted to having selfish reasons for saving your life. You’re unable to talk and even if you could communicate, no one would really believe you because your mental state has recently come into question. It seems like the ideal picture was already painted for me to deliver that shocker.

But, no, I did not set the fire. As the investigators discovered, there was an electrical surge in the basement and some boxes caught on fire. Like I told you five years ago, I was driving by your home after a particularly rough shift at the bowling alley. And of course I knew where old Mrs. Kolczanski lived! Everybody knew you. But I saw the smoke billowing up to the sky, I saw the flames through the windows. And, I swear before holy God, my first thought was, “Free Car Washes!” So I busted through the front door and finally found you without a moment to spare! Who knew that when you asked what you could do to repay me, I would say, “How about free car washes for life?” and that you would actually grant it?

But your friendship over these years has meant the world to me, and that is no joke. But I just had to tell you that my true motivation that night. You need to understand the type of selfish human being I really am. I’m telling you this not only because of the guilt, but because I am leaving Wichita. I’m heading to New York to see if I have the chops to make it in a bigger town. I’ve come to say goodbye, Mrs. Kolczanski. I promise to write, but you won’t have to write back. I’m going to miss being inside of you very much, and I know you will too. Please take care of yourself.

Justin Timberlake New Album Track List!!

The track list for Justin Timberlake’s new untitled album has been leaked onto the Internet, and it sounds HOT!!!!!!!!!!! Things can still change, but according to an anonymous source, Justin signed off on this two days ago! Instead of ignoring it or trying to prevent information from getting out, Jive, the label who released JT’s last two albums, has decided to embrace this as a marketing opportunity. They issued a statement mere hours after the track list made the rounds:

“Justin Timberlake once again is out to show that he is on the cutting edge with his hotly anticipated new album, currently untitled, which is due out next spring. The superstar will deliver hot new tracks featuring all of the patented Timberlake staples: love, beautiful women, falling in love, making love, dancing, and going to clubs. And don’t forget the overly done production that will digitally distort JT’s voice to almost unintelligble levels on at least three or four songs. 2009 will have JT all over the radio, so get ready.”

And below are the official track titles!!!!!!

Dance With Me
Hot N Sexy
Lovin’ You
Sexy Sexy Girl
Monthly Lover
Love Taking You Home – I Will Stay
Grilled Cheese and Sex
Morning Love
See You At The Club
Dance, Girl, Dance
Sex It More


A Feminist Critique on “I Fired My Publicist, and Here’s Why”

– by Shelly McTannen, student.

[Note: You must first read yesterday’s entry, I Fired My Publicist, and Here’s Why to follow this critique by our guest author.]

While Munch most often spotlights a man as the protagonist of his cheesy ‘humor’ essays, he recently found an opportunity to use a fictitious woman at the center of yesterday’s attempt at comedy, entitled, “I Fired My Publicist, and Here’s Why.” Today, I will apply a feminist critique to the piece and demonstrate how the author himself lacks the intelligence and self-awareness to create a satirical piece that would boldly push the bias of most Americans to the forefront of their consciousness. We will see that instead of satirizing the stereotypes, he merely exemplifies them.

From word one, Munch crafts a portrait of a woman who supposes to “tolerate” the rest of the world. The narrator is elevated above things like drinking anything but sparkling water and being anywhere that is not perfect or operating at full efficiency. Early on, the reader can detect Munch’s obvious and immature worldview where a successful woman who has high expectations, strong convictions about her likes and dislikes, and the confidence to express these things openly is a ‘bitch.’ Of course, he does not use allow the female author to describe herself as a bitch, as that would be overt. But he does attempt to tap into the stereotypes ingrained in the minds of most readers that any woman with a hard stance on an issue, whether it is about her job, the people who work for her, or her perception of any other woman not living up to her expectations, supposedly can only see how the rest of the world wrongs her and nothing further. This is the classic ‘strong bitch’ formula trying to pass as a standard in entertainment by the men who perpetuate it.

Remember, the argument of the narrator being empowered by her strong convictions could not hold up in this entry, as the point of it supposedly is satire and exaggeration. However, in his blind attempt to the push stereotypes to the edge, the author merely reinforces those stereotypes for himself and his readers. By removing any possibility of humanity from the one-note protagonist, Munch succeeds in mocking a female who possesses power and influence, because every Alpha woman in his world also has a false sense of self-awareness (e.g. she is in charge, but she does not really know she is a man’s version of a bitch).

The author also manages to indict the female gender in more than one way. While using the narrator as the ‘bitch’ of the story, Munch delivers the one-two punch by describing the only other female character, Shana, as at once a subservient, victimized, over-sensitive woman who does not readily acknowledge or understand the value system of her employer. Shana is the narrator’s publicist and the subject of her story, and she is portrayed as having a separate identity outside of her job, which brings the ire of the protagonist. The unnamed narrator believes she is the most important subject in her own universe, and so should it be for her employee, Shana.

Munch also goes to great lengths to portray a woman who is the victim of a crime and who has deep love for a man as incredibly weak. Shana cannot function if her husband is in a life-or-death surgery. She cannot function if she is attacked in the middle of the night. Once Shana confronts both of those realities with her employer, our trusty bitch narrator, Shana breaks down and is immediately categorized as a fragile, “blubbering… mess.” Munch’s apparent contempt for the female gender shines through as he pushes further the dichotomy of a successful and confident woman employing a weak woman with supposedly misplaced values.

Shana is counter to the narrator, and while they exist on the opposite ends of Munch’s sexist world, they need one another. The alpha bitch with all the power is too stupid to understand the mission statement of the charity she joined, and only her “crybaby” publicist is capable of keeping her on track. Whether the narrator chooses to be ignorant or if her ignorance is a result of her reliance on others is not clear, but that is not the point. Woman plus power equals bitch equals ignorant. Her publicist is the opposite: Woman plus love plus victimized equals dependent equals weak. But neither equation is favorable.

The author’s worldview is limited by his underexposure to adult women and his overexposure to immature males who would applaud his type of so-called humor. He lacks the intelligence to understand the point of view of any realistic woman with power and emotion, so he crafts this cartoon where those traits are, without irony, pushed to the extreme. If the author does not allow himself to become more open-minded and cognizant of the world around him, his writings will never be thoughtful musings about the state of things, but instead will always be poor attempts at humor featuring childish jokes about bitches, various forms of physical abuse, and women with big cans.

I Fired My Publicist, and Here’s Why

I’m the type of woman who can tolerate many horrible situations, like waiting a few extra minutes for a table at a restaurant, drinking sparkling water that has been refrigerated, and having a poorly stocked minibar in the back of my stretch limo. But if there is one thing that really gets my goat, it’s paying the salary of incompetent people who only have their best interests in mind, instead of keeping my best interests at the forefront, like I pay them to do. So I fired my publicist, and here’s why.

Three days ago, I had a full schedule of stopping by the headquarters of various philanthropic causes my name is attached to. Photo-ops galore, but did Shana even schedule the photographers to be at any of them? No, she did not, even though she had my full schedule. Where was she? County General, that’s where. All damn day. Supposedly her husband was in emergency surgery. ALL DAY! What, was she performing the surgery that she couldn’t have made a few phone calls? And he turned out okay; he’s recovering in the I.C.U. I think.

Then two days ago, there was the charity event for the Sea Turtles with AIDS Foundation, which I recently joined and donated a large sum to. There was an auction and a comedian performing and plenty of hype, it really was something else. Well, I didn’t hear from Shana all day, and of course she did not show up to help me with the media frenzy. Where was she then? Well, it seems that after she crawled into bed after her husband’s surgery the day before, her home was invaded by three thugs in the middle of the night. She was “too traumatized” to even pick up the phone to even let me know. And God forbid she make alternate arrangements to help me out at the charity event. It’s not like they assaulted her.

And, of course, yesterday I took a pummeling in the papers for sounding like a complete moron at the STAF event. As it turns out, it’s not Sea Turtles with AIDS Foundation, it’s Sea Turtles Need Aid Foundation. Why the hell do they call themselves STAF if there is “need” in the name? Besides, how the hell would I know sea turtles don’t get AIDS? I heard some lady on a plane once say her cat had ‘kitty leukemia,’ so does something like zebras with Multiple Sclerosis or sea turtles with AIDS sound all that far-fetched? Not to this girl!

So when I called Shana to make her fix this, there was complete silence and then she just started crying and carrying on! She was a total mess. What am I supposed to do with the blubbering little Polack who refuses to pull it together? So I just put an end to everything right there. And you know, I still sent flowers to her husband today while he is in the hospital, because he needs something to be positive about. Boy, I wonder why he would bother to pull through if he knew he was coming back to selfish ol’ Bitchy McCrybaby.

Now I need a new publicist.

Here Comes Poor Charlie!

Uh oh, here comes poor, destitute Charlie! Hey Charlie, what’s happening? Still poor? Aw, poor ol’ poor Charlie! Look at you, you wear the same clothes to school every other day! You only got, like, two shirts! What’s the matter, your broke-ass parents can’t afford you no new clothes to wear to school?

It’s alright, Charlie, I heard your mom found some work over on 10th street. I hear she keeps the hot dog vendor’s wieners warm for three bucks an hour. Whoa-ho! Not a bad gig for someone who never made it past the 5th grade. I guess with her working at least your dad doesn’t have to be the sole bread-winner of the family. I know he’s bringing in the big bucks with his job taste-testing cat food. Yeah, that’s right, your old man eats cat food all day! What do you think of that?

So, Charlie, tell me, what did you think of The Sopranos finale? Oh wait a minute, I forgot. Your food-stamp-collecting ass can’t afford cable TV! Well maybe you can watch it on your computer at home. What do you have, a 386? You’re probably so poor you don’t even know what a computer is! Haw haw, what a joke you are!

Hey, listen, come here. I want to show you something. This here is a ten dollar bill, check it out. Have you ever seen one of these? Bet you haven’t. But I bet your mom has a roll of one-dollar bills in a drawer with her delicates! No wait, come back here, Charlie. Listen, anyway, if you take this over to 7-11 and buy me a Snapple Peach Iced Tea, I’ll give you 50 cents. It takes your mom ten minutes to earn that keeping the wieners warm, but you can earn it in three. What do you say?

Great, now hurry up, get my tea and get your penniless ass back here in a jiff so I can get out of here. I have three patients with impacted molars to see today.

What To Do With This Chicken Suit

What to do, what to do. What to do with this chicken suit. Boy, if that isn’t the problem of the year, I don’t know what is!

My life has been a mess because of this chicken suit since the third day after I bought it back in 2006. And I can’t seem to get rid of it! No matter what I do, this chicken suit finds its way back to me. Was my ex right? Maybe I’m unconsciously keeping it in my life. Maybe I really just want to be miserable all of my life.

But you know, when I first bought it, the world was so different. We were living in idealistic times. Democrats were elected to a majority in Congress, HEROES and 30 ROCK were exciting new shows that were changing minds of an apathetic America, Zacarias Moussaoui was convicted of conspiracy in the 9/11 attacks, and the United States was still celebrating the Bronze win for Curling at the Olympics in Turin. What exactly could go wrong by purchasing my very own chicken suit? As it turns out, everything.

I’ve always lived life with the philosophy that when you find a unique opportunity, if it appeals to you in any way, you should just go for it. Life is easier if your regrets are for the choices you make, not for the chances you don’t take. So, yeah, when a costume rental shop is closing its door and liquidating its inventory, there isn’t much room to debate paying $115 for a full-sized yellow chicken suit. It’s do or die, sink or swim time when an opportunity like that like comes along. And, oh yeah, I swam.

My wife at the time, Ashanti (not the singer), tried to be supportive, but she was against the purchase from the start. We were still trying to pay off my loans from law school, and her ballooning medical bills also put a strain on things. Chemotherapy ain’t cheap, son! She didn’t choose to have cancer and she was not going to choose to forgo treatment. In that same way, I didn’t really have a choice when it came to the chicken suit. As much as I tried to tell her, she couldn’t see the parallels.

It wasn’t like I didn’t have a plan. I bought the suit knowing that it would serve multiple purposes. First, I would be all set for next Halloween, which was nearly a year away! Second, if there ever was a reason to jump start my singing telegram business, it was having a chicken suit in the house. I didn’t pull the trigger on the business because I didn’t have any gimmicks for it, Ashanti was in the hospital coughing up blood and pus, and the partners at my firm were really riding me. Now I had the gimmick, Ashanti’s condition was improving, and I adjusted to my workload. Sammy the Singing Chicken would be knocking on doors delivering musical messages of whimsy to the masses in no time. Finally, if the business failed, I could sell the suit and probably get about 80% of my money back.

But on the third day of owning the suit was when things went awry. I gave the suit a trial run around the neighborhood, delivering to my friends and neighbors songs of congratulations for a new baby, for graduating dental school, for a recent show of heroism. The songs were clever enough, and it looked like it would be a rousing success. Soon I would make some side cash to pay for the crushing debt we were in, I thought.

On my walk home, still fully in Sammy gear, I passed a few street toughs. Long story short, they beat me pretty severely, tore my suit badly, and I found myself in the hospital with a broken collarbone, three cracked ribs, and some internal bleeding. Full recovery took 3 months, and I had the suit repaired and cleaned. I swore I would be more careful about walking around Detroit as Sammy. I didn’t want to walk around with a backpack with a change of clothes, it would ruin the fun of the costume!

After I was comfortable with walking again, I gave another test run as Sammy a try. But in my stubbornness, I again foolishly walked around the neighborhood in the suit and I got chased by another group of hoodlums. I escaped harm but it didn’t help my mood. The next day, angry at myself and those damn street thugs, I cursed the chicken suit and said the hell with getting my money back. I went down to the alley to dispose of the chicken suit in the dumpster. Little did I know that there was an All Points Bulletin out for a man in a chicken suit who robbed the First National Bank three blocks away. I was spotted by a few police officers and got taken down hard. It took a few weeks, but the mix-up was resolved. The police cleaned the suit as a sign of no hard feelings and sent me packing. Good thing I’m a lawyer; I didn’t have to pay for my services!

Ashanti left me a week later, citing among other things, my “silly” side business venture, my financial irresponsibility, and our “sexual incompatibility,” for divorce proceedings.

I sold the chicken suit on an online auction to man who lived in town and I thought it was over. Two weeks later, I received a promotion at the firm and things were at least looking up on that end. But wouldn’t you know, my boss sent over a singing telegram to congratulate me on the promotion. And guess what, DARRYL the Singing Chicken delivered the telegram. My chicken suit was back! I told Darryl (or Tom, the guy I sold the suit to) to be careful in the neighborhood, and related the attacks I experienced as Sammy. He laughed it off and told me to have a good day.

The next day, at my door was the chicken suit with a note.

“Cliff, you were right. I got jumped by two guys and they smashed my face good. You can have the suit back. It’s cursed. -Tom”

And here I am! What do I do now? I’m supposed to head over to my boss’ house for his daughter’s 10th birthday party. Hey, maybe I can entertain the kids! It’s just a short 30 minute bus ride through town. I’ll just slip old Sammy on and be on my way. If I can impress his daughter with my songs and few card tricks, well, it certainly can’t hurt things when that next promotion rolls around!

The Kind of Guy I Am

What kind of guy am I? I’ll tell you.

I tip 20% without question.
I grill my vegetables and douse them in ketchup every time.
I drive the babysitter home and ignore every word she says.
I will let you shave my back for a nickel and then stiff you on the payment.
I apply a feminist critique to everything I read, especially cereal boxes.
I make a mean batch of banana pancakes without needing a special occasion.
I separate my recyclables.
I would shoot a baby seal in the face if it threatened to shoot me first.
I sew my own repairs on all of my clohtes.
I am not correcting that typo, ever.
I enjoy meteorologists with appropriately punny names, like Gail Sandstorm or Steve Iceslick.
I walk to the dry cleaner’s to save on gas.
I likes me the boobies.
I throw every game of Trivial Pursuit I play to make my opponents feel good.
I think Marky Mark should cut a new album.
I host dinner parties with my worst enemies and flirt with their wives.
I never drink gin on Sundays.
I own three hamsters.
I put spare change in parking meters I’m not even using.

That’s the kind of guy I am, mofo.

Celebrating 30 Days of Terrible Humor!

Hey gang, thanks for stopping by. My amnesia post today marked the 30th straight day of new content here at the old blog. Click the big icon on the side bar for more info, or click here or on the bottom, and you’ll see a rundown of the awful entries I’ve done for one continuous month!

Thanks for reading!

30 Days of Content

I Love This Amnesia!

My name is Frank T. Waters. That’s what it says on my driver’s license, my bills and my checkbook. I have to believe it’s true, because I just lost my memory. And I have to tell you without any bit of exaggeration that I’m really enjoying this amnesia thing! This is probably the best thing to happen to me, but then again I wouldn’t know that for sure because I don’t even know who I am. Every day is full of new surprises and wonder. People are generally pretty nice and understanding because I can’t remember simple things like where I live, what my name is, and who the hell that guy is in my basement!

Every day is an adventure for exploration and discovery. Take yesterday as a for instance; I found out that I like sandwiches, denim, the History Channel, Frisbee, and the taste of envelope glue. Plus, I discovered I definitely don’t like rap music, crunchy peanut butter, my next door neighbor Jerry, and clementines. I guess that would be pretty mundane for people like you who have a complete identity and perfectly functioning long and short-term memories.

It’s really been fun meeting new people every day. Most of these people are so comfortable around me because they already know me, so it’s easy to relax into these new friendships. Apparently I have this hot girlfriend, Tammy. She seems a little neurotic but I suppose that’s why I loved her. Besides, no one’s perfect, right? It’s been fun getting to know her and hearing stories about us. Apparently we knew each other for a long time and had a great platonic friendship, then we slept together and the friendship ended because things got really weird. But after realizing my true feelings, I raced to the annual New Years party we usually always went to together, my breath reeking of something called Mallomars, and professed my love to her in the street. It sounds like it was really romantic.

And I’ve been trying to learn as much about myself as possible. I’ve been in my house for a week, but nothing has really clicked. That’s okay, though, because I still get to learn so many things. I see all these pictures of myself with strangers, but boy if I don’t look like a stranger myself! I see pictures of me playing rugby but I look a bit younger. Tammy says I haven’t played for years because of a traumatic accident a few years back. Apparently I was on an international flight with the rest of my team and we crashed in the cold peaks of the Andes mountains. We were stranded for weeks and to survive before the rescue party could reach us we had to eat the remains of our friends. Tammy says I only told her what really happened up there. It sounds like it was absolutely horrible, so I guess there’s another benefit of this amnesia!

I have extended family all over the country, but I haven’t met any of them yet. I talked to a cousin in Des Moines, but she didn’t inspire any more memories. She talked fondly of my parents, though. They seem like they were really great people before they died. Tammy said my mother died in a war in the Gulf in the 90s. She was a chopper pilot who was killed after her squad was downed and there was an engagement on the ground. Apparently there was a big investigation into whether or not she should receive the Medal of Honor posthumously. In the final analysis, it seems like she had a lot of bravery, especially with all those bullets flying over her head.

And as far as I know, my father was a good man, and he and I got along alright before he died. Tammy said that while I loved him, I always resented that he hid his true feelings behind tall tales about his past. He was never straight with me or my mother; all he did was tell stories, as though reality always needed an augmentation to make his life seem more interesting. Tammy said that in the last days before his death, I finally cracked through his facade and got to know him through the reality of his triumphs and failures.

See, how interesting and exciting is all of that? My life certainly seems to have some bit of drama, but whose life doesn’t? I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings. Tammy and I are going to see if I like roller coasters, laser tag, coffee, and Jägermeister. She says she knows already knows the answers, but that’s part of the fun. I love this amnesia!

Oh right, the guy who lives in the basement evidentally has been renting it from me for three months. He even showed me the cashed checks in my old bank statements. He also insists we have a lot of sex together, but I think he’s trying to manipulate me into trying that. I don’t think that any of that nonsense is true. If he keeps it up, I think I’m going to kick him out. But other than that, this amnesia is working out great!

Space Station Status Report

Okay, gentlemen, thanks for coming. We’re going to have to make this quick because we’re going to have reporters here any minute and we all need to be on the same page when the questions start flying. This is all highly sensitive information and we have to continue handling it that way, especially when our crews’ loved ones start calling. The boys in Analytics looked over the latest data from the space station and came up with a single conclusion: those astronauts are fucked.

The latest secret transmission from Commander Baines included the following information:

  • Pilot Hicks and Officer Michaels are dead. Their bodies were eviscerated, likely by the horrifying lizard beast that escaped last week from Dr. Morgan’s lab. Baines is convinced fusing the DNA sequences of a T-Rex and a chameleon and bathing it all in pure solar radiation was a severe error in judgment; Jones in Analytics doesn’t disagree. With O’Hara, Wang and Sanchez missing and presumed dead, this brings the body count to 21.
  • The Rotation Algorithms were taken offline, so now the artificial gravity is of course deactivated throughout the space station. This has created additional problems as the liquid waste disposal system began working in reverse and has been expelling its contents throughout all areas of the station.
  • Security officers Montoya and Wood are nearly out of plasma ammunition, but are working on a rudimentary slingshot system for the remaining crew members.

Nothing else has changed. We still have 25 people alive up there. For those not here at the last report, I will give you a rundown of what we’ve got.

Now, we know there is no disposable silver anywhere on the station, so if Alvaro, Philips, and Stern manage to escape from their makeshift prison in the galley, there may be significant difficulty in subduing or killing them. I still have Mr. Chang looking into who signed off on Dr. Morgan developing a lycanthropy ray in space “for the medical benefits.” The full benefits remain to be seen at this time, but the ray did reduce cancer cells in the stomach of mice by 12%, so I suppose there is some progress there. I just hope it was worth the accidental transformation of our guys into space werewolves.

Remember that station psychologist Dr. Belmont may have made some headway in the mystery of why crew members began seeing ghosts of loved ones and recently dead crew. Her first theory of space dementia may still hold up, but it doesn’t help that the factory that made 30% of the station’s interchangable components stands on an ancient Indian burial ground in Montana. I have the gang in research calling on some local natives in the area to see if they can shed some light on this and find out what incantations, if any, can be used to dispel them. With no news about Dr. Belmont, we can assume she’s still working on the problem or she’s dead.

The entire eastern wing of the station was evacuated after the botany lab was overrun by gigantic sentient vines. Our lead in that section, the coincidentally named Dr. Botany, suffered from vine burns on his arms and legs, but otherwise escaped unharmed. He reported that mixing Earth soil with irradiated moon dust may have attributed to this gross mutation. We ordered the engineers to only detach that section of the station if the vines begin to extend their reach beyond that wing. In the meantime, I have Dr. Botany working with the station’s translator, Joan Dawson, to devise a way to communicate with the vines.

Dr. Morgan’s lizard beast has a steel-like hide and the plasma weapons proved ineffective against it. So the beast has already taken the lives of 12 crew members, and it will likely never be taken down unless Baines can lure it into an airlock. It does seem to hunt and kill the fattest and slowest crew members, so the thinner, more athletic crew members have made strides to stay away from them.

Finally, the really big problem on our hands is that Baines’ second-in-command, Lieutenant Mallory Singh, has supposedly been possessed by the spirit of Bal-Luna, ancient Queen of the Moon People. She has holed up in the command room and has completely taken over the station’s computer systems. She claims to be very upset we have invaded her “territory” by positioning the station “so close to the moon,” which is still just in a standard Earth orbit. She insists on complete fealty from the rest of the crew and has made very specific demands. As of right now, the crew has 32 hours to sacrifice someone in her honor and allow her to take Baines as a husband, otherwise she will initiate the station’s self-destruct sequence. Dr. Belmont says it’s space dementia, but that doesn’t explain Singh’s sudden telekinesis, speaking in unknown space tongues, taking the lives of Kolchak, Goldstein, Ramirez and O’Malley with her Moon Beam Death Stare, and her control over the independent rotation of the moon on three axises. And she can probably pull off destroying the station, considering she has all of Singh’s knowledge. In 32 hours the station will be directly over the United States and if it explodes, it will likely land in parts of Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin, if the gang in Telemetry has their numbers right.

We’re still checking, but this is probably the worst disaster the space program has ever faced, and it is likely no one will make it out alive. So, let’s be conservative about the information we communicate until we figure this thing out.

Thanks, everybody. I think a good thing for us to do is pray for everyone’s safe return. But, really, understand everybody up there is pretty fucked.

Clean: My Battle With Sobriety

Below is an excerpt from Chapter 4 of my new memoir, Clean: My Battle With Sobriety. My book recounts my vicious fight against sobriety, with all the peaks and valleys, laughter and tears, successes and failures. I’m proud to say I’ve been drunk for 49 months now and, while every day is difficult, I will never forget the journey of how I got here.

Chapter 4, Surgin’ Urge:

I was in a meeting with Ken, my boss, Roger, his boss, and Louis, our VP of Marketing and Sales. I was pretty buzzed, but being a long-practicing functional alcoholic allowed me dazzle Louis (as usual) with the new plans to saturate the Midwest market with our new outdoor and print campaign. But it was when Louis said to me, “Carmine, your ideas really feel like a breath of fresh air,” that I felt it. The tingle in the back of my neck was back after months of absence. That small voice in my head started to speak to me. Fresh air, it told me, can be enjoyed when you think clearly. I thought I pushed that voice back down, but now it was coming back more fierce than ever. Fresh air, bright skies, optimism, accurate tastebuds; the things enjoyed by a sober man.

I went back to my office and got ripped out of my mind on peppermint schnapps. I had to drown out that tiny voice, which I nicknamed The Urge because always urged me to make a change. The Urge started small, but they always gnawed away at me. I would resist, but eventually I knew I would succumb. The Urge to put down the flask or the bottle or the can or the NyQuil tugged at me. It felt like it would be so easy to give in and just enjoy a ‘normal’ day of waking up refreshed, eager to start the day, being exceptionally productive, establishing and maintaining relationships. I spat at the very thought. I woke up three hours later, my drool-soaked desktop portfolio beneath my face. I took two long swigs of the schnapps and straightened my tie. I decided to fight the Urge. If it wanted to come back stronger, I would fight harder.

That meant removing all temptation to keep alcohol out of my system. I cancelled my weekly racquetball game with Mike. I hired a housekeeper to come by twice a week so I wouldn’t have to worry about cleaning. I bought a second Kegerator to keep in the bedroom and upped the delivery schedule. I went only to 21-and-over rock shows to be sure I would be around people who drank. I kept my gym flask full at all times so I’d be ready to go after a workout. I sold my car so I wouldn’t be tempted to not drink because I had to drive somewhere. I created as many opportunities as possible to remove responsibilities and distractions so I could refocus my energies. The Urge would not let up, so neither would I.

But, as things go when you have a goal, sometimes the obstacles lead you to failures. I was at the office late on a Friday, working on copy for a Monday presentation. It was 7pm and I just finished off the last of my Chivas when I grabbed my coat to head down for a cocktail at Morton’s. With my office on the 42nd floor, I usually take the express elevator. That night, of course, I was drunk as a skunk and feeling saucy enough to take a regular car down. As luck would have it, the elevator got stuck between floors 17 and 18, the exact middle of the 6 floors that were completely empty because of renovations. My calls on the emergency phone went unanswered. My cell phone had no reception. Worst of all, my work flask was due for a refill.

I was stuck in an empty building on a Friday night. My drunken screams and banging went unheard. The anxiety of being trapped for potentially three days and the sweating due to the 80 degree heat in the car meant my buzz was completely killed in about 3 hours. The Urge moved right in, telling me I didn’t have to live like I was living. I could see the world with clear senses, I didn’t have to feel numb all the time. I should be able to feel my teeth all the time, It told me. I cursed the forced sobriety, and I cursed myself for finding it appealing.

I was in that elevator for 14 hours before security noticed a problem. It was another hour before I was home to funnel six beers in a row. The Urge had become so loud and nagging, and the beers quieted it only a little bit. So I pulled out one of my Power Hour CDs and played it twice. I blacked out until Sunday night, but apparently I performed one my signature standbys: downing half of each bottle in my 4J Cabinet. The 4J stands for José, Johnny, Jack and Jim. The Urge was at bay for awhile as I went back to my routine of screwdrivers at breakfast, a four-Bass Ale lunch, and vodka tonics with dinner. It was nice to relax into my routine, I always found a certain security and peace with it.

Little did I know that my constant benders would soon halt due to incredibly great news with my family. Not only did my brother and his wife announce the birth of their new son, but my favorite aunt married a fine gentleman and my sister received a huge promotion. All these personal triumphs for my loved ones gave me an intense joy, and I neglected the drink much more than I would have liked. It allowed the Urge to take over and tragically, I did not touch a drop of alcohol for three months. It would take some real reflection and determination to turn things around and push away the Urge once and for all.

Read the rest of Chapter 4 and the details of my heroic journey to complete alcoholism when Clean is released in Q2 of 2009, available wherever books are sold.

First of All, Your Mom Came on to Me

Listen, Marty, I know we haven’t spoken in twenty years. But I saw your name on that popular social networking site and it made me think about the old days. It’s been such a long time, but I remember when we met as kids that we immediately clicked, like we were brothers. We had so many good times together. Remember fishing at Manitoba Lake? Remember that time I hid out under your bed for two days because I accidentally set fire to my garage? Remember all the laughs when we’d pal around town after midnight, pretending to be badasses? We were children when we met but we became older and wiser as we grew up together, learning so much about life from each other.

Our old friendship still means a lot to me. Those were some of great years that I will never forget and I’m willing to bet it you haven’t forgotten them, either. And while they were great, well, things changed between us. Obviously, you know this. I swore to myself that I wouldn’t keep apologizing for it, but maybe that’s why we haven’t spoken in all this time.

So I’m writing to apologize again, hoping that the time since then has allowed the pain to heal. I’m sorry for what happened, I know it hurt you a great deal. I wasn’t thinking straight and I didn’t consider your feelings whatsoever.

The best thing I can do is try to explain everything. First of all, your mom came on to me. It was not the other way around; I wouldn’t have actively pursued your mom behind your back. I need you to believe that because we were best friends I wouldn’t do that to you. Second, it was only that one time; it’s not like we had this ongoing thing. There was no plan, it was just a heat of the moment kind of thing.

She looked at me like no other woman had. I was going through a rough patch and I definitely had some self-esteem issues then. Most of the time, I didn’t really feel like much of a man, but when she spoke to me she made me feel like one. Plus, that night started to get crazy, remember? Everybody was acting a little unlike themselves and things just got a out of control at your 8th grade graduation party. It was hard to resist what developed that night. Again, it just sort of happened and I’m really sorry about it and I know she was too.

Look, I know we’re adults and we’re probably so much different now that trying to resurrect this friendship may not even make a lot of sense. But I felt like I was part of your family back then, and I owe it to our history to try one last time to apologize and explain. My life would have been so different if not for your friendship. And I really don’t think I would have lost my virginity as early as I did, and that was a huge thing for me. Okay, that probably wasn’t the right thing to say there, but I’m trying to be honest.

You have to understand, I was a stud in high school from day one, and it was all because of your mom. Plus, the whole thing was colored with danger and mystery and edge because she died a week later. I was likely her last sexual encounter before she died. Doesn’t it give you some comfort that she had some happiness from someone who was so close to you all?

I guess maybe it woudn’t.

Still, I’d like to hear what you have to say about this. Write me back, tell me how you’re feeling. I can understand if you never want to speak to me, but I had to try one more time to apologize to my best friend for wronging him. Whether or not you can forgive me, I’ve done all I can to fix this. I hope your are well, Marty, and I hope to hear from you.


I Hate Your Jacket and Everything You Stand For

Look, dude, stop beating around the bush already. You’re sitting here with me, probing for some answers. You probably heard that I was talking some smack about you to the gang or some such, but whatever you heard I guarantee it’s not accurate. You’re in your over-sensitive guy mode, as usual. You always think someone is out to get you or that everybody hates you. You probably think I hate you, but that’s just not the case. Listen, Skylar, I do not hate you, I just hate your jacket and everything you stand for.

Seriously, look at that jacket. What exactly were you thinking? It’s entirely wrong for you. Look at the length and sleeves. It’s completely inappropriate for your height. You’re not tall enough to pull that off. No, you’re not short, but you’re not tall ENOUGH. You paid $115 for THAT?

And you say things like you need to do good things for other people because you “need to keep your karma in good standing?” What exactly is that? It’s all well and good to try ‘pay it forward’ as they say, but you always get upset when other people don’t return the favor. You know, I can respect the need to do and say nice things for others, but you can’t be upset that people don’t always reciprocate. You’re going out of your way to make others feel good or help them out or whatever, but that doesn’t mean you suddenly top their lists of priorities to pay it back. Stop putting the expectations you hold for yourself on other people. Jesus.

And what is that fabric? That looks god-awful. Is that from the 60s or something? You absolutely cannot pull off the retro-chic hip style, not in that jacket. The color doesn’t make it any better. What sort of deep burnt orange is that? Holy Jesus Christ.

I have to admit that it really gets to me when you say you’re okay with the government illegally wire-tapping its citizens. Why should you be okay with this? We have rights granted to us by the Constitution. I know you “have nothing to hide,” but you we all have civil liberties. We can’t just give those up just to catch terrorists.

Plus, with your body type, that jacket is completely unflattering. You’re not fat, but you’re not exactly a marathon runner either. The shape and the cut absolutely doesn’t work on your frame. And your shoulders aren’t broad enough, it looks like you’re wearing a big jacket made with shoulder pads, but it had the shoulder pads removed. It looks terrible!

By the way, what do you mean that you have a problem with people under thirty who have children? Firstly, age is not a qualifier of what makes a good parent. Secondly, this country is founded on choices and freedom, so people should be able to start a family whenever they choose. Sure, it doesn’t work for everyone.  Like you with that jacket, for example. But so what if young people want to make the commitment to each other and have children together? They don’t have to be young and single to experience a happy life; having a family can bring untold joy and happiness to countless people. You’re not special that you are the one person living the ultimate single lifestyle. Goddamn, get over yourself! Let people live their lives!

And your skin is just too pale. No one who came off the Mayflower could pull that off, either. You look like a homeless person who’s also colorblind. You need to have a clean-shaven face if you’re going to try that, too. If not clean-shaven, then you need stubble that grows in evenly. You’re a mess up there!

And how exactly can you be okay with torturing prisoners of war or enemy combatants or suspects? These are human beings, and most of them don’t have the information their torturers are looking for. They’re just being used to get answers that don’t exist. They are pawns, becoming for examples of the supposed terrorists that we don’t have in custody. Torture is not the answer!

I’ll be honest with you here, it doesn’t help that your hair is thinning out. I didn’t want to say this, but it really does look like you have cancer. You’re wearing a terrible jacket and you have cancer. That is what people will think to themselves if they see you on the street wearing that. You know that I’m your friend and I can say this to you. If I can’t be honest with you, then what am I supposed to do? I’m not going to be like everyone else and tell you that jacket works for you, because it absolutely doesn’t. You deserve the honestly you’ve come to expect from a friend like me.

Listen, you’re generally an alright guy; I don’t hate you. But I can only offer two bits of advice: get rid of the jacket and kill yourself.

So I’m Thinking About Taking Up Smoking

God, I’ve just been itching for something new to keep busy with. I recently completed my third screenplay (still shopping around those other two!!!), that albino kid I tutor math and geography to on Tuesdays and Thursdays is traveling with his family to New Zealand for the next three months, and I just Swiffer’d the hardwood floors! I need something to occupy all this free time!

So, I’m thinking about taking up smoking. And I know what you’re thinking, how late to the party can you get? Without doing any research whatsoever, I can confidently say people have been smoking since at least 1200 B.C. and in the U.S. it had a huge upsurge in the 1950s all the way through the late 1980s. Smoking was it, you know? And now it’s 2008, and it seems like everyone’s quitting for some reason or another. Cancer takes thousands of lives. Towns across America are placing bans on smoking in public. The taxes on the sweet, sweet tobacco sticks are going through the roof.

But this really feels like a habit it that fits well with me; I won’t lie, I was arrested at the oral stage. I’ve been putting things in my mouth to pass the time for years. Pens and pen caps. Ice cubes long after the Sunny D has been consumed. Tooth picks after a satisfying dinner. The funny thing about it is I’ve never choked on any of these inorganic things. No major scares, no hazard-filled moments, no life flashing before my eyes experiences, nothing. It doesn’t make much sense, seeing as I bump into stuff and fall over all the time. All these years of walking and using visual cues to keep me safe and I still crash into things and take big tumbles. I’ve bitten my tongue and the side of my mouth more times than I care to remember, but three meals a day plus snacks for over 25 years is plenty of practice and you’d think that wouldn’t still happen. So how I’ve never actually sucked a pen cap down the ol’ windpipe is a complete mystery. I’ve either used all of my good luck on keeping myself alive all this time, or our old pal God still has work for me to do.

But like the Bible says, idle hands..!!! So, why not keep myself busy with the refreshing taste of a menthol deep in my lungs? I can’t stop putting things in my mouth, so instead of that third or first Pop-Tart, why not try an oh-so-divine cigarette? Truly, there is nothing like the sulfur scent after a freshly lit match igniting the packed end of a loosey.

The smoking sub-culture has always fascinated me, too. People gather in rain or shine, blazing hot sun or deeply cold evenings to share a few brief moments away from life. Their shared experience is literally a time-out from life. Everything stops for the smokers: working class folks take upwards of 10 smoke breaks per shift![citation needed]; drinking games come to a halt while the smokers go take their moment to catch their breath. “I’ll be back in a minute,” is their war-cry that, in effect, means, “I can’t really deal with this right now, I need time to consider my options while you stay here and face reality.” For the insane people who are comfortable smoking indoors and stinking up everything, that little phrase gets punched up to include, “I may have to face life, which causes me eternal grief, but I’m going to enjoy this and make you suffer a little while I’m at it. Plus, I don’t care if my couch stinks.”

So, yeah, I’m definitely going to look into putting this together. With all this time I’ve got lately, I’m sure I can learn to love tobacco, like I love the drink. For you expert smokers out there, I’ll need tips on a few things:

1) How to hold a cigarette
2) Frequency of puff-taking
3) How to flick the butt and look cool as hell (advanced)
4) Pretending like it isn’t the most awesome habit in the world (stop your faux grumbling already!)

Please feel free to offer any further advice on getting started with this new habit!

Survival Guide: Aunt Gabby

If you ever find yourself in Dubuque, you may run across the mysterious creature known as my Aunt Gabby. This survival guide is meant to prepare you for such an encounter. Below, you will find more about Aunt Gabby’s history, nature, and what you should carry with you for optimal protection.


‘Gabby’ is a short for Gabriella Morganstern, a 6-foot 2-inch biped that comes in at around 115 pounds. At one time considered a beauty and a creature that lived in harmony with her environment, Aunt Gabby is now considered by most experts in my family to be one of Nature’s Great Mistakes.  She shows surprising agility, coordination and mental acuity at 60 years old (she will say that she “turned 35 again” this year).


During the daytime hours, Aunt Gabby can be seen prowling around newsstands, needlessly haggling with vendors over the prices of unfiltered menthols and MAD Magazine. She’s also been spotted in the aisles of various ‘big box stores’ in the area, comparing prices of detergent, cat food, and mouthwash. On Wednesdays from 11am to 4pm, she can be found at the Coin-Op Laundromat on Birch Ave, often without any laundry at all. Evening hours are altogether different. At dusk of each day, Aunt Gabby can be found dining at Popeye’s, The Olive Garden, or the local pizzeria, Mama Papa’s. She then retires to her ranch house located on Rural Route 31 just north of the 17 junction. Hours later she emerges, ready to “hit the town.”


Aunt Gabby uses a blue 1983 Toyota Tercel to get to the main streets of town, where she will then walk or take cabs to her other destinations. She was reportedly once seen on a stolen motorcycle fleeing the scene of a fire at McDonald’s in the late hours, but that is based on unreliable and unsubstantiated eye-witness accounts.


All reports from my parents confirm that Aunt Gabby has never successfully reproduced, but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t tried. And while it is probable she can no longer bear a child, her sexual virility remains strong. In fact, data indicates that within the last thirty years, her number of sexual conquests has grown proportional to her age. Be wary, as most experts agree she is constantly “in heat.”


Most of Aunt Gabby’s behavior would be termed “unacceptable” by most social standards. She has been described as at once antagonistic, aloof, passive-aggressive, sarcastic, and sexually predatory. Others, including my mother, have said she is “without empathy,” “childish,” and “sociopathic.” She spends much of her evenings in local taverns, drinking heavily, dancing and encouraging others to dance even if no music is playing, and daring other people to kiss her and kiss each other for money. She indiscriminately insults everyone on the basis of their looks, fashion, heritage, religion, annual income, known associates, athleticism, genitalia size, who their father is, and ability to “hold their liquor.” She does tend to favor young Italian men who can “bench press at least 180,” so they are usually the first type she will focus on in a crowd. Any male is a potential target for — and most women are potential threats to — gaining control of the attention of the most amount of people in a room.

Defense Against:

Primarily in bars and resaturants: If Aunt Gabby notices that you have not acknowledged her presence or paid attention to anything she said, she will pounce. She often tugs a man’s crotch “just so’s you remember me.” To successfully evade her, you must demonstrate a passable level of acknowledgement. Occasionally laughing at her crude and racist humor or lighting her cigarette will keep you from her aggressive tactics. She was a track and field star in her youth and still has great speed, so she can catch up to and tackle most people who attempt to flee from her. Use zig-zagging paths, as her old ankle injury from getting into a barfight “with two dykes and a postman” in 1977 will prevent her from gaining much ground on you.

Everywhere else: Do not look her directly in the eye or speak to her for any reason, less she decides to “make friends” with you. She generally leaves strangers alone during the day, unless you are a vendor or a street urchin.

Other means of defense upon engaging her is to exploit her weaknesses. She has irrational fears of ukuleles and yo-yos, so she will avoid you if you pull one of these out of a bag and start playing with it. Any signs of aggression or frustration will be seen as a challenge and she will engage you further, often commenting on your “hook nose,” “flat ass” or “girly shoulders.” You can also drive her away by quoting Scripture.

If you have no business in Dubuque, it is advised to just stay away.

Check Out My Sketchbook

I can’t help noticing you noticing my sketchbook I left out in plain view. Yeah, go ahead, check out my sketchbook.

Yeah, I draw whatever I feel like, you know? I just see something that’s cool and I sketch it. I always carry my charcoal pencils with me just in case I feel like sketching.

See that car over there? I sketched one of the hubcaps. Because it’s like, who sketches hubcaps? Well, I do. I sketch all sorts of things.

Sometimes I sit outside the Sears at the Mall and I just sketch anything I see. There was an ant trying to roll a cigarette but and he was having a hard time with it. That was definitely inspiring, so I sketched a big ant leaning against a bigger cigarette butt and having a smoke and grumbling, “I’m on break!” I might turn that into a comic strip or something. But who knows. I famously start projects like that and then get bored with them within days and stop. I’d rather just sketch.

The barely-started pieces on that page are all of my girlfriend. I do incomplete sketches of her all the time, but faces are tough. Did you know the human ear is like the most difficult thing for an artist to replicate? So imagine just sketching with a pencil and trying to get the shading right. It’s funny how the same person can look different every time you sketch them, because the light totally changes everything.

Here’s where I sketched a leaf and wrote a little poem about it. Here’s part of a brick wall. Here’s another leaf. Here is where I sketched my left hand. One time I sketched my left hand onto my left hand and then I sketched that in my sketchbook. That’s not in this sketchbook though.

That’s a sketch of Scary Cindy. She’s based off a real girl named Cindy who, in every conversation, basically makes allusions to once being molested by her step-father. It sucks that happened, but then she talks about weird stuff like a mother bird over-feeding her baby birds until they explode. Here’s a sketch of Scary Cindy talking about that very thing, and instead of words, I put the birds sketch in her speech balloon. Scary Cindy is silly but the real Cindy is scary.

That’s a sketch of a Billy Joel after getting into one of his famous car accidents. He’s standing there dazed, but he still has the steering wheel in his hand. See? I sketch whatever.

If you’re thinking about getting into sketching, just go get a sketchbook and let it all just happen. Like that little stream I sketched yesterday, just let it flow. That’s what I do, just sketching all the time with whatever inspires me. You learn so much about yourself when you express things through sketching. It’s not high art, but it’s personal and noteworthy to have a sketchbook filled entirely with your own art.

Oh, flip to the back and check it out. I sketched pages and pages of sweet, monstrous tits.

You Think ‘Retard’ Jokes Are Funny, Do You?

Whoa, James. I thought I knew you better than that. And Don, I’m really surprised you even laughed. I didn’t realize how comfortable you both were with me that you think that type of behavior is appropriate. Did you really think I’d find that joke funny? And boy, some joke.

I often said there is no line a joke can’t cross, but really, James, that was below being no-class. I thought you were someone who understood where the differences are. And Don, I didn’t realize how insensitive you could be. Christ, I’m standing right here, guys!

Have you just been careful not to make these jokes when I’m not around? Did you simply slip up now and let one fly? I guess I can’t blame you; I used to laugh at insensitive things like that. I suppose one could find humor in everyone winning a gold medal at the Special Olympics, or some such crudity. But, really, guys, I didn’t think you’d be that type.

It’s just very surprising to discover this part of you. I think see you both a little differently now. Finally discovering where your values really are is pretty illuminating.

You think ‘retard’ jokes are funny, do you? Geez, guys, how can you? You know my father was killed by a pack of wild retards in the 80s.

I’m out of here. Get cancer, fellas.

Let’s Continue With The Interview, Shall We?

Spending four years in Appalachia is quite a honorable achievement, Mr. Watson. And being able to personally raise $27,000 last year just with a single 20K run is very impressive. Your work history and personal life really demonstrate a unique balance of compassion, personality and business savvy, which is perfect for working in a non-profit.

I’m sorry, what noise? I didn’t hear anything, I’m sure it’s fine. Let’s continue with the interview, shall we?

Now, an important thing we’re looking for next year is aggressive business development. What kind of contacts can you bring to the table and how would you execute acquiring a new book of associations for the organization?

I don’t know what you’re talking abou — Oh, that noise. I guess I’m so used to it by now that I don’t even really hear it anymore. I was going to save that part, but I guess the cat’s out of the bag, right? Here, let me show you what it’s all about it. Stand behind my desk with me.

Now, I’m going to open this drawer and I need you to understand two things. First, this may be a unique experience for you, so I need you to be open-minded. Second, I need you to really just stay still and calm. Try not to make any sudden movements.  I’m going to open this drawer in 3… 2… 1….

That is exactly what you think it is. That is a very tiny Bronson Pinchot.

Tiny Bronson lives here in my office, in that drawer, and he works for me. I know it seems a little strange, but everything I’ve learned about you through these rounds of interviews tells me you can handle this.

That is not the real Bronson Pinchot, of course. The successful actor/comedian sold the rights to his likeness for this little guy, and he lives on a private island not far from the Brazilian coast. But this is one of the perks of working here, Mr. Watson. Every paid associate of the organization gets a tiny assistant to help them through the day.

Look, Mr. Watson, today’s meeting is not much more than a formality; we think you would fit right in here. No associate even gets told about their tiny assistant until orientation. Let’s just sit back down and finish up the interview and we can talk about your future here.

Now, our agenda for the first half of fiscal 2010 basically transitions us into a model of increasing public confidence on a global scale. How do you think —

Boy, Tiny Bronson really threw you for a loop, didn’t he? Listen, Mr. Watson. Steve. Tiny Bronson is a fantastic benefit of working here. He can understand everything you say, but he can’t talk, he doesn’t eat, and he’s here to make things easier for you. Need a fax retrieved from the copy room? He’ll get it in a jiff. Need to relieve some stress? His small but tiny hands give soothing neck and shoulder massages. Need a coffee or water refill? He gets into his cute little mini-scooter and fetches it. All he requires is some attention now and then. Play with him or scratch his head. He makes adorable high-pitched noises and laughter sounds to let you know how he feels. Otherwise, no maintenance is required.

Anyway, with our European partnerships, we hope to extend our reach to —

All right Steve, I’ll tell you, but you have to promise we can finish this interview. He’s little more than an animated puppet. Under those clothes he’s basically a Ken doll. (Oh, you have to give him a new outfit every few days or he gets a little less playful and a bit grouchy.) But the standard answer is that it’s some sort of magicks and technology. Don’t bog yourself down with the specifics, Steve. Tiny Bronson has been with me for nine years now and we’ve never had a problem. Working for non-profit sure is different, am I right?

Oh, you know what else? I completely forgot; you don’t have to have a Tiny Bronson, actually. You can have a Tiny Carroll O’Connor, a Tiny Jackée Harry, a Tiny Frank Sinatra, or a Tiny Cindy Williams. But once you pick an assistant, they stick with you. There’s no changing it.

We can get into it all later. I think you’re going to be a welcome addition to the team and we asbolutely want to extend an offer to you. Let’s just get to the end of this thing and we can talk numbers. Tiny Bronson, can you get Steve here a Dasani while we finish this up? Thanks.

See, Steve, isn’t that little scooter thing hilarious?

I Haven’t Been Crying, That’s Just My Pink Eye

I appreciate your concern, thank you. No, I don’t need a tissue right now. Please, stop, I’m okay. I haven’t been crying, it’s just my pink eye.

Yes, I have pink eye in both eyes. Yes, I know I look awful, I’m not happy about it. Yes, I know how you get pink eye. No, I really do understand how it happens. It’s not pleasant to think some sort of bacteria, probably fecal matter, got into my eye.

I’ve been trying to figure out how it happened. Yesterday, it might have been wise not to scratch my eyes after I shook everyone’s hand after Jack’s goodbye party at work. I admit that. But I’m not a dirty person. I wash my hands all the time. I always wash before eating, after using the restroom, and after touching some heavily used public items, like handrails and the poles on the train.

But I guess I shouldn’t have immediately put my contact lens back in when it fell out the other day on the bus. I was listening to U2 on my iPod, busily tapping my fingers to the rhythm on the underside of my seat when it happened, so I could have used more caution when I grabbed the contact and slipped it back in.

So I’m not perfect, I make mistakes. Maybe I went too long without washing, I don’t know. It’s just so many others go so long without washing their hands whatsoever. It’s such a dirty world, I try to do my part by staying clean.

And yes, I suppose after I helped deliver that baby on the bus station floor, I should not have wiped away my tears of joy with my hands covered in blood and embryonic fluid and all the other bodily fluids that get expelled from the body during birth.

But this is basically not my fault. If more people would take the time to keep their hands clean, we would not have so many disgusting surfaces to touch every day. And I would not have this raging pink eye.

By the way, I borrowed your toothbrush this morning. You didn’t happen to use it yet today, did you?

Wedding Thank You Notes

Well, we’ve been back from the honeymoon for a week now, so I guess it’s time to write those Thank You notes! I told Richard that I would write most of them, because I got preference over our honeymoon destination. I am alternating between his family and friends and mine. You can really tell we come from different worlds!

Dear Aunt Sharon and Uncle Marty,

Thank you so much for joining us on our special day last month. It was the happiest day of our lives and we are so glad you could share it with us. And thank you so very much for the set of crystal napkin rings, butter dish, and candle holders. They will be cherished for years to come as we use them for our most special occasions, which would include all visits from you! See you at the holidays.

Love, Richard and Juliana

Dear Aunt Myrill,

Thank you so much for joining us on our special day last month. It was the happiest day of our lives and we are so glad you could share it with us. Thank you so very much for the pair of Spectacles of True Sight. They will be very useful to determine the true nature of our guests when we hold parties, especially if any are man-shaped demons or phantoms. Don’t worry, we won’t need them when you come over! We look forward to seeing you on the anniversary of the Fall of the Bulari Temple.

Love, Juliana and Richard

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Hutchinson,

It was wonderful to share our special day with you last month. Thank you for being there on the happiest day of our lives. Thank you also for the new KitchenAid stand mixer. The extra attachments means we will be able to create some excellent dishes. We hope we will be able to have you over for a visit once we get settled in the new condo. Talk to you soon!

Love, Richard and Juliana

Dear High Priestess Onomera,

While we are sorry you could not be with us on our special day last month, we wanted to extend a very warm thank you for the Enchanted Staff of Wanderlust. It will definitely make it easier to come visit you on the Dreaded Plane of Depravity. When we have our next dinner party, you will certainly be invited. We will also be sure to hold it when the moon is outside the 3rd Arc of the House of Ohr so you can attend without having to traverse the Bridge of Erliack.

Love, Juliana and Richard

Dear Tom,

We know our special day would not have been as special if you were not there, thank you for sharing the happiest moment of our lives with us. Thank you also for the Ansel Adams print in the exquisite oak frame. It will go perfectly in our living room, where it will stay for many years. We look forward to vacationing with you at Martha’s Vineyard next month.

Love, Richard and Juliana

Dear Yul the Just,

Thank you for celebrating our wedding day with us last month. Having you there to remind us of your noble spirit and friendship made it even more special. Thank you for the Elven Bag of Holding. We are running out of space in our new home and the Bag will be a more affordable and convenient storage option. I hope we will see you at the Celebration of Trolver’s Victory over the Underbeast.

Love, Juliana and Richard

Dear Mark and Stephanie,

Thank you for being with us on our special day last month. We are so happy that you were able to share the happiest day of our lives with us. Thank you also for the wine glass set, wine bottle display, and wine decanter. We expect to get plenty of use out of them. We expect you to help us break them in very soon!

Love, Richard and Juliana

Hail Astrihmgael,

Your presence at our joining ritual was felt not only by us, but by all of our other guests. Thank you for blessing us with your almighty aura on our special day. The Fires of Blumfig must have burned brightly with your omnipotence being felt everywhere on the Terra plane. Thank you also for the $300 gift certificate from Crate & Barrel. There are still some items we have had our eye on that we are dying to pick up! Look for our annual sacrifice in the next week.

Love, Juliana and Richard

Say No to Anthropomorphic Animals

America is in a time of crisis. The economy is on a downturn, our men and women in uniform are dying overseas, and the NFL doesn’t start its new season for about 6 weeks. As citizens of this great country (sorry, illegals), we need to band together and keep our ideals strong, our hope alive, and our Olympic team drugged up to the high heavens. But more importantly, what we don’t need is bigger than all of that. Ladies and gentlemen of this great country, we need to stop all uses of anthropomorphic animals in our print, television, film, and interactive media.

Of the Devil

Of the Devil

These creatures are abominations, affronts to the Creator, who blessed us with intelligence, free will, and vocal cords. All creatures are beneath us humans because — let’s face it — we are at the top of the food chain. All animals have their own place in the chain, but none of them could convince us otherwise, because our brains are humongous and our opposable thumbs give us every advantage. If any of them had a case against not being eaten by us, their squeaks and clicks and quacks and barks fall on deaf and uncaring ears. We are superior, we rule this earth. So fall in line, marmots!

But for all humans’ superiority, intelligence and dominance, we do make mistakes. Some can be fixed and forgiven, others are unfortunate and permanent blights on our admittedly spotty track record of history. Human trafficking, the Holocaust, Urkel’s ability to command a 20 share in the early 90s. Through some dysfunction, there are sins we continually allow our brethren to commit. One of the worst ongoing atrocities we do is give animals human characteristics in our media. There is absolutely no goddamn need to come up with anthropomorphic animals to say or do anything worthwhile! Some are more extreme than others. Remember that Spanish-speaking chihuahua? Pretty minor on the scale of the things. But as their popularity increases, so does the scale of their personalities. The Geico gecko is Oxford-educated and could run circles around me in a philosophical debate about the human condition. That damn Aflac duck can only speak one word (less than the chihuahua!), but it drives race cars and pilots hot air balloons. What’s more, it once wrote a 556-page treatise on the founding of Jamestown. Ladies and gentlemen, we cannot let this continue.

Another Great Sin

Another Great Sin

There is nothing creepier than an animal speaking with a professionally trained actor’s, or Gilbert Gottfried’s, voice. These are the stuff of nightmares! This perversion of nature must end immediately. We have cartoons and illustrations to satisfy this dark desire to see animals walk and talk, don’t we? I mean, if I wanted to (and I’m not saying I ever did want to) see an animal hanging out with people and suggesting a particular cereal for breakfast, I can just find Tony the Tiger on YouTube. Beautiful, glorious YouTube. We have 2D and computer-animated films to take care of the rest. This is why we have Eddie Murphy!



I just don’t understand why that some people find it acceptable for animals to sing like the Beatles or Janis Joplin. If you are trying sell me a car, give me some hyper-reality and clever copy, not this shit. And while I understand animals mate and even form relationships, there is no way I want to think about my cat trying to seduce his feline girlfriend with a lit fireplace and soft music and talking about the place where they go the bathroom. And this just barely crosses over to the Devil’s work, as the gorilla is the best creature on earth next to us.

I think we need to look into our hearts and truly reexamine our values and priorities. Many animals, in general, are cute and lovable, but we are their masters. We cannot allow our brothers and sisters in the marketing department to keep this problem going. Boycott all products with anthropomorphic animal representation. Humans, not squirrels, need to advertise to us. Demand that a beautiful wife and a shlubby husband, and not dancing giraffes or singing pigeons, tell us about rock salt, frozen pizza and comfortable pants. We can get help for our human associates who believe this is acceptable behavior, but first we must turn away from the abhorrence they create.

Good luck, and may God help us all.

You’re Looking at My Unibrow, Aren’t You?

It’s okay, everybody looks. I’m used to it by now.

I know you’re wondering a few things, because some of the more daring folks who notice my unibrow actually ask me questions about it, like I’m some sort of alien curiosity.

You’re wondering why an otherwise handsome fellow like myself would choose to let his eyebrows connect. You’re curious as to how long it takes to grow it in fully so it all looks even. You’re also wondering why if I have brown hair and eyebrows, why is the connecting brow an orange-red. I’ll field these inquiries in reverse for you.

Obviously, the orange-red brow is from the recessive genes I inherited. My mustache and beard grow in the same color, even though all the hair on my body is a deep brown. Why don’t I dye it to match, you may be thinking. Please pardon my bluntness, but don’t be an idiot.

Anyway, how long does it take to grow in so it all looks even? Three full lunar cycles generally gets me there. Of course, I do no grooming or maintenance until it is fully in, then I trim it all back to a reasonable length. I barely have to put any pomade in if I get it to just the right length. I shave off my unibrow every few years for a change of pace.

Finally, why would a good looking guy like me choose to grow out my unibrow? That question is at once offensive and a rude attempt at a back-handed compliment. What if I were to ask you why you an attractive person like yourself would choose that haircut, or choose to carry those 15 extra pounds? According to social norms, a unibrow represents lower class, unkemptness, and even mental retardation. But did you know that in some communities in South America and Eastern Asia, the unibrow symbolizes strength, vitality, and intelligence? Despite what you may think, a unibrow is not easy to grow in, it’s even harder to groom, and wearing it in this country is the hardest of all. But that does not diminish the pride I have for it.

But, really, if you must know why. When I was 8 years old, one night I woke up to the smell of smoke. Our house was on fire! My father burst through my door and I could see flames and smoke behind him. Without a word, he opened my bedroom window, which was on the second floor. He grabbed me and my hockey stick and told me to grab an end, and he lowered me safely to the ground to my mother. He went back into the house to my sister’s room and lowered her to the ground too. I remember lights and sirens and suddenly thinking that my father was trapped. I saw firefighters rush in and pull him out, but he was not breathing. He was there on the ground, covered in soot. Then I remember thinking that my hero, my father, was dead. But they were able to revive him within minutes and get him to breathe oxygen. The firefighter who risked his own life to save my father’s and who helped resuscitate him had a perfectly trimmed unibrow. I can still see it in my head today. I hugged him and thanked him for keeping my family alive and safe. As he walked away from the ambulance, he was hit by a falling airplane part and was immediately killed. It was pretty horrific, as he was latitudinally split in two right on our front lawn. His unibrow was no more.

So that is why I ‘choose’ to wear this unibrow, and that is why I choose to be a doctor. I determined right then and there to go to medical school because I wanted to help people like that brave firefighter did.

Anyway, I hope that satisfies your curiosity. Now that we got that all out of the way, are you ready for your botox injection, Mrs. Hemmings?

Review: The Dark Knight

Yesterday I put together a particularly scathing review of Batman Begins 2: The Dark Night, but I thought I was maybe a bit too harsh, so I waited to publish it. After reflecting further, I realized the film had some strengths. I thought it deserved a second chance, so I went to see it again last night. The weekend hype was over, the media has moved on to putting out countless stories about that other summer blockbuster coming up, Swing Vote, and now I could settle in and just be a regular filmgoer and maybe relax into it a little bit. And I have to admit, my view of BB2: The Dark Night has changed quite a bit. I now believe it is, in fact, one of the worst Batman movies ever made. And while the crime story was compelling, it was basically the characters and the acting that sunk this film.

Honestly, where do I even begin? First of all, the protagonist of our story, Batman, is this brooding, lonely hero(?), but director Christopher Noland did not even bother to tell the audience why. No details of his origin can be found in this film, eschewing the standards of all previous Batman movies since Tim Burton launched the franchise. Not one mention of his dead parents. No flashback of young Bruce Wayne watching his parents get shot. Not one scene with star Christian Bale looking directly into the camera and saying, “And that’s when I decided to become Batman.” I felt a little lost without these crucial scenes that I’m used to seeing.

The Dark Night"

Promotional still of Christian Bale as Batman in "Batman Begins 2: The Dark Night"

Noland decided that his lovelorn Wayne could either sit around in his fabulous penthouse apartment and be sad about his childhood sweetheart, Rachel Dawes (played by Maggie Gyllenhaal), dating the new District Attorney, or he could go out and be the gravelly-voiced Batman and solve crimes. As Wayne, Bale has playful interaction with Maggie Gyllenhaal and Aaron Eckhart while they wear fabulous outfits and eat expensive dinners. The scenes were barely saved only by the talent and charm of the actors, but what is this, a romantic comedy?

One thought about Gyllenhaal. Is anyone else missing Katie Holmes, here? Where does the indie star get off completely changing the character to be this tall, pasty red-head? She could have at least tried to use some of the standards set by Holmes from the last movie. I guess when you’re an indie actor, you can make choices that defy convention and buck the standards and everyone should just be happy she’s bringing her indie cred to a big blockbuster film.

Of course, no one can talk about Batman without mentioning his nemesis, the Joker, played beautifully by Aussie sensation, Heath Ledger. I think we should have seen more of the Joker, but Noland really dropped the ball here for more reasons than just that. We got three different versions of where the scars on his face come from! I know films do rewrites to scripts as the filming goes on, but holey shamoley, the continuity is way off. These glaring errors may not have been so bad if it was written like he was intentionally lying, but it’s clear that Noland went way overbudget and they couldn’t afford to do reshoots. Did they really think we wouldn’t notice? Plus, I was interested to learn more about Joker’s powers and where they came from. The Joker obviously has the power to teleport, because he shows up exactly where he needs to be absolutely out of nowhere in ten different freaking scenes. Noland notoriously used practical effects where CG effects would have been completely fine (the truck flip scene, Gyllenhaal sliding down a building, etc). I guess a glowing ball of energy teleporting around town would have taken us out of the reality of it? If you say so, Noland.

Heath Ledger as Joker

Heath Ledger as Joker

Another word about casting. Heath Ledger really brought the darkness to the Joker, making him everything Jack Nicholson showed us the Joker should be from Tim Burton’s Batman. But he really pushed the envelope to give us the scariest nihilist to ever wreak havoc on the silver screen. He also had some of the funniest lines in the movie, even once referencing other projects in Ledger’s career, like when he played the little boy in Jerry MacGuire 15 years ago. I suppose I can give him a pass for not winking to the camera and really knocking the line, “You complete me,” out of the park, but only because the rest of his performance salvages this nightmare of a film. I really look forward to see what Ledger will do with the Joker in the rumored next film of the trilogy, Batman Begins 3: Trial of the Riddler.

Speaking of characters, just what happened to the ‘character’ of Gotham City? Apparently in one year (of movie time), the city dismantled its elevated train system, tore down the Wayne building in the middle of town, sank the Narrows neighborhood into the ocean, and put street cleaners on duty twenty four hours a day. Oh, and everyone lives and works in tall glass skyscrapers. I can understand modernizing Gotham (see Joel Shumacher’s brilliantly designed neon-kaleidoscopian Gotham from Batman & Robin, for example), but Gotham has never looked so bright and clean! It’s like I was visiting Chicago. Oh that’s right, I was. I’ve lived in Chicago for awhile now, and I truly don’t know how non-Chicago residents felt about this ‘new’ Gotham, but for someone who recognized every exterior shot it was quite distracting. I was definitely taken out of the movie during every scene. What’s also interesting is that all the citizens of Gotham can fit onto one ferry boat, while all the prisoners of Gotham fit on another. They have just as many criminals locked up as they have citizens! Strike two for trying to be “realistic,” Noland.

I swore I would keep this review under 350 words, and I’ve already gone waay over that. I haven’t even mentioned Two-Face (Eckhart), Jim Gordon (played by Gary Oldman), and Lucious Fox (Morgan Freeman), but I’ll be brief. They all sucked.

I hope Christopher Noland can make some improvements with this mess he’s got himself into. I barely tolerated Batman Begins, but BB2:TDN is clearly way off the mark of what a good Batman movie should be. The third installment of the series should be interesting, to say the least. But I swear if Gotham City ‘resembles’ Los Angeles next time, I don’t care if they get Malkovich to play the Riddler, I’m walking the hell out of there.