Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Okay, it's December 25th. See if you can guess what this post will be about. Your one hint: it has NOTHING TO DO WITH MY PLANNED MISSION TO MARS

There's something so satisfying, I think, about wrapping paper.

I love the way it folds and creases as it bends around box corners.

I love the way a single stroke of the scissors can be dragged in a straight line for the length of the incision across the paper, and the Hallmark-pioneered idea of measuring the inches on the reverse side of the pattern with little gridlines, so that the straightness of those incisions is only limited by the strength of your inebriation or the severity of your cerebral palsey.

I love that a silver bow goes with virtually ever color and style of wrapping paper. Even that plain, butcher-style brown paper that clearly indicates someone's thoughtfulness ran out somewhere between buying your gift and wrapping it looks pretty good to me with a silver bow on it.

I love the way the paper tears in someone's hand - the anticipation of revelation building for both the gift-giver and the gift-givee, and the look on the givee's face when they yank out a 32-ounce cut of top sirloin, wrapped so neatly that the blood has pooled inside the packaging and not dripped underneath the tree at all - and thank goodness too, because the dog would totally have eaten the top round otherwise.

I love that the paper is made of trees, just like Christmas trees are, which prompted my fanciful childhood notion that the Christmas tree and the various wrapped gifts are embroiled in December-long arguments about whose death was more meaningful and whose fate is ultimately worse. And I'm betting the Christmas tree probably gets all high and mighty when he sees the wrapping paper get torn up and discarded into unsightly piles on Christmas morning, but then he feels pretty lonely for the next couple of weeks, and then he realizes just as he's being undressed and tossed to the curbside that the paper was the winner after all. I think there's a lesson in that for all of us, and that the lesson probably has something to do with Jesus.

Merry Christmas, to everyone who is inclined to accept hearing that. To everyone else, happy Tuesday.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The irony of a bad dish of Platillo del Mexicano

There's something ironic about a restaurant that serves bad Mexican food, isn't there? I say this not so much as a half-blood Mexican (thanks a bunch, Mom - or, as you no doubt said to your mother, "muchas gracias, calcetines de tomate."), but as a former restaurant manager at a place where, not unlike most of the restaurants in the world, Mexicans are doing most of the cooking. So I find it strange to be sitting at a place where the cooks, who are the same nationality as the owners and servers - AND THE CUISINE - can't get their own food right.

But that's just me. I have very strong opinions on Mexican food, and why people are eating it when there are perfectly good American restaurants out there going broke. In some retarded way, I bet this is all because of NAFTA. Those bastards have screwed us again, those bastards.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Ruminations on the closing of another year, and also, bacon

It's quiet at Dole Fruit today. As of this afternoon at 3pm, the Canning Operations department is shut down, Cannery Row is silent (we call it that because it’s where the actual canning happens, also because it’s shaped like a straight line, or “row”), and the entire Dole Fruit Plant (get it? Fruit Plant? I don’t know who thought of that, but I have two words for them: GENI and US!) is eerily dark and somber. We are closed next week because we are not the “US Postal Service” and unlike the mail, we do not “must go through.”

All the peaches and cherries and pineapples that are going to be canned by Dole in 2007 have been canned, pursuant to paragraph 6, section (b) of our Agreement To Can The Following Quantities of Cherries, Peaches, Pineapples, and Other Sundry Goods (hereinafter referred to as, “The Can-Can”). And now the giant, stainless hulks sit downstairs, stilled but nevertheless ominous, with their various tubes and robotic arms sticking out at the kind of menacing angles that would give a child under 8 years old nightmares that would ultimately result in therapy sessions not covered under the Dole Health Plan. The cleaning crew has been through and cleaned the last bits of fruit blood, or “juice,” off of the metal, and even though the scratches and scuffs run too deep for the machines to ever truly shine again, there’s something quite agleam about the whole scene.

It hasn’t always been an easy year, particularly for poor Ronnie Balboa (yes, that is his real name) who began 2007 with a dismal showing at the Briggs-Goering Existentialism-athon in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. Thankfully, he managed to redeem himself at the company Pick-A-Nick (co-sponsored by Hanna-Barbera) with a medal-worthy performance in the “Eat Only What You Can” contest. Also, just last month, he found out that he didn’t have The Herpes, so he has that going for him too.

For me, though, I’m going to remember 2007 mostly for the debacle of opting out of my contract with Dole. And also, for my date with Jennifer Love Hewitt before she got fat. Mostly though, my memories of Aught-Seven will be of the uncountable nights that I laid by the fireplace in my suburban house in the suburbs with bacon and a glass of brandy, and how much bacon loved me. And how much I loved bacon. And how I would slather bacon grease on my pectoral muscles and also the bald spot on the back of my head and sing classic bacon love songs while tears streamed down both of our faces. I truly love you, bacon. Come back to me in ’08. I promise it’ll be great.

Up here in the C-Ops break room at Dole, I can see the behemoth silhouettes of the machines on Cannery Row and hear the soft beeping of the coffee maker that someone forgot to turn off this morning. I’m betting there’s a sticky, tar-like substance chemically bonded to the bottom of the coffee pot by the time the rest of us are singing “Old Lang Syne.” I can smell the light and fragrant aroma of bacon from the grease I used to smooth my hair this morning. And I keep coming back to the same age-old conundrum that has plagued philosophers for dozens of years now: how pissed off must Andy Williams have been that he wasn’t invited to join the Rat Pack?

2008 promises to be an exciting year in the Copse. I’m already proposing to ol’ Rex “The Supervisor” Hyman that we look into debuting new product lines, including canned cherries with bacon, canned pineapples with bacon, canned grapes in bacon grease, bacon-wrapped-bacon, and what I hope will be the centerpiece of Dole Fruit’s vegan line: Canned To-Fruity And Facon, which is a tofu-based fruit substitute mixed with a tofu-based bacon substitute. I don’t know how you prefer your fruit – personally, I like my fruit the same way I like my women: stuffed in a can with bacon – but, my friend, this could really be your year to make the switch to Dole. If you haven’t already.

So from all of us at Dole Fruit, have a very merry holiday season, and a bacon-grease-coated new year too.

Medical Myths Debunked! Gays and Britons Cannot Be Trusted!

This is from an article in the online scientific journal BMJ (Helping Doctors Make Better Decisions, they claim...bunch of liars) about some common medical misconceptions that most people think are true. Things like tryptophan in turkey being a sleep agent. Basically, if you think that, they're calling you a moron. And FYI, when they say "you," they're talking about YOU.

Also, they're British, which might help explain the snotty, condescending tone of the article, as well as why they can't spell "theater" or "color" the right way. I can't help noticing that they don't bother to debunk the mystery of why they spell the word realize with an S instead of a Z. (That means REALISE, not SEALIZE, in case you're not to good with your alphabet, since I know most of my reader(s) was(were) educated in American public schools. Ooh, burn - I can be snotty and condescending too, BMJ! Up yours!)

Anyway, the excerpt. (Please pardon the spelling for being British.)

We use only 10% of our brains

The belief that we use only 10% of our brains has persisted for over a century, despite dramatic advances in neuroscience. In another extensive expert literature review, Barry Beyerstein provides a detailed account of the origins of this myth and the evidence disputing it. Some sources attribute this claim to Albert Einstein, but no such reference or statement by Einstein has ever been recorded. This myth arose as early as 1907, propagated by multiple sources advocating the power of self improvement and tapping into each person’s unrealised [sic] latent abilities.

Evidence from studies of brain damage, brain imaging, localisation [sic] of function, microstructural analysis, and metabolic studies show that people use much more than 10% of their brains. Studies of patients with brain injury suggest that damage to almost any area of the brain has specific and lasting effects on mental, vegetative, and behavioural [sic] capabilities. Numerous types of brain imaging studies show that no area of the brain is completely silent or inactive. The many functions of the brain are highly localised [sic], with different tasks allocated to different anatomical regions. Detailed probing of the brain has failed to identify the "non-functioning" 90%. Even micro-level localisation [sic], isolating the response of single neurones [sic], reveals no gaps or inactive areas. Metabolic studies, tracking differential rates of cellular metabolism within the brain, reveal no dormant areas.

Here's what I have to say about this:


Tell it to the woman in the 42nd Street Station this morning wearing a sandwich board and ranting about the end of the world being nigh because Jamie Lynn Spears was pregnant. There is NO WAY that woman was using more than like 4 percent of her brain. I bet she was gay too. Why can't the gays leave Britney's precociously whorish little sister alone? So what if Paul Janka impregnated her?
Dear Jesus,

I know it's been a while since we talked, but if You could please do me a favor and for Your Birthday, make sure that everyone down here on Planet Earth has a very happy holiday EXCEPT FOR BRITISH PEOPLE AND THE GAYS AND ALL THE JERKS WHO KEEP CRITICIZING JAMIE LYNN!!!

(And also the Jews. They're the ones who killed You and can't figure out how to standardize the spelling of Chaka Khan, or whatever their wannabe holiday is called.)

Happy upcoming birthday, by the way.

Love and kisses,
Smokey Robinson.

P.S. Please also make a news story about Britney Spears's vagina before it goes kee-razy from lack of attention. Thanks, Dude. I totally owe You one.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


Uh oh! What will Britney Spears's vagina do now that we are entering day 4 of the non-stop news cycle about her little sister's pregnancy, which even CNN IS COVERING!?!? That's right, American Teenage Girl-istas, take note: all it takes is a TV show on Nickelodeon, a little unprotected underage sex, and a family history of pathological sluttiness, and your vagina could be making national headlines too!

But seriously, Britney is a girl whose woman parts do NOT like to be upstaged. I'm worried about her, and so is Alex Rodriguez - more than usual, in fact. I think he's nervous that the judge who robbed her of Sean Preston and Demonspawn #2 might also award custody of Britney's privates to K-Fed as well, purely for their own protection.

It's not a half-bad idea, really, but I thought I had come up with a better one - namely, that they replace the light show in Grand Central Station with a great big pictorial history of Britney Spears's genitalia, set to the soundtrack of 2001: A Space Odyssey mashed up with Oops...I Did It Again. Seriously, if you were taking your kids on a holiday trip to the Big Apple, what would you want to show them - a light show that they can come back and see EVERY YEAR EXACTLY THE SAME BORING WAY, or Britney Spears's oh-so-fame-worthy naughty bits?

Unfortunately, the powers-that-be at GRINCH CENTRAL STATION didn't agree with me, so on with the light show, idiots. Meanwhile, A-Rod and I are stewing, and now that we have no recourse in the form of Yankee contracts to opt out of, what else can we do except pull a prank to exact our revenge? A prank that will affect all of BLAND CENTRAL, but that won't cause the national terror alert level to go higher than yellow.

Wait...does anyone remember if yellow is good or bad? I completely forget what the desirable color is, although if I had my way, I'd like to see the national terror level hovering at right around a blue iris, which incidentally, is Pantone's choice for color of the year for 2008! So soothing... imagine being told the terror alert level was blue iris. You could totally go right back to sleep.

Then, we would strike! With wheels of cheese!

Enter Alex Rod. What better revenge prank is there than to make all of Grand Central smell like smoked gouda for a few days (which also makes quite a fitting tribute to Britney's stinky hoo-ha, by the way...)? A-Rod, you are so clever! So thematic! So steroid- and HGH-free! So rolling giant wheels of smoked gouda down Lexington Avenue in the 40s with your pinstripe pants at your ankles and your great big giant trackmark-free ass hanging in the breeze, singing "Peanut Butter Jelly Time!" at the top of your lungs. Peanut butter jelly with a baseball bat indeed.

Happy Holidays, midtown Manhattan. A-Rod says so, that's why. What.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Al-Gouda Attacks New York; No One But Me Notices

I love my job in the Dole Fruit Canning Operations division, because who wouldn't love a job where every day was a bad I Love Lucy episode waiting to happen? Also, because we get to eat our mistakes. Still, every now and then, it's nice to take a stroll outside and let the air over midtown Manhattan take you away like an unmarked van outside an elementary school playground.

Then, there are days when the air over midtown Manhattan smells like smoked gouda.

I'm not talking vaguely like gouda either, and I'm not talking some isolated circumstance like just outside of a cheese shop or a haberdashery, which actually might have made sense. I'm talking 45th Street and Lexington Avenue, wafting all the way toward Vanderbilt, basically encasing the Grand Central Station Post Office in a smoke-tinted, cheesy funk. At 2:30 in the afternoon. On a Tuesday.

And where was this mentioned in the news? I'll give you a hint: IT WASN'T. Apparently, the powers that be at the Post, the Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Daily News think the aroma of smoked gouda is perfectly ordinary happenstance. Birdcage liners AM New York and Metro let it go by without a blip. Even the normally astute news-gatherers at Gawker.com and the Huffington Post missed it, I guess because the headline wasn't quite as sexy as Britney's pregnant little sister or a chemical attack on the Newscorp building (or even what the Newscorp employees got in their holiday gift bags this year).

"Stench of Popular Dutch Cheese Covers Midtown Post Office" [massive spit-take] --- how is that NOT grab-you-by-the-collar, slap-you-in-the-face, yank-the-waistband-of-your-underwear-over-your-head headline writing?
Dear Journalistic Establishment,

You have disappointed me again. It's becoming a nasty habit of yours, and I don't think you want to make me get Jesus and Santa Claus involved. Or Oprah. She will put the smackdown on your silly ass faster than you can fail in your responsibility to accurately and impartially report what's going on in the world.

Smokey Robinson

Monday, December 17, 2007

Another auld lang syne

Okay, if there were a third person in the Fred Rogers-Bob Barker-who's hotter debate in the 70s and 80s - and we're talking a distant third, like the distance between the Franklin Pharmacy in Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey and the fourth ring of Saturn - and assuming I didn't give the nod to 80s heartthrob Jack Wagner during his General Hospital turn as rock balladdeer-cum-police officer-cum-man beheaded in South America in a freak accident, Frisco Jones - it would have to be Dan Fogelberg. My vivid recollection of his feathered hair and bearded face from the cover of his greatest hits album still makes the blood run through my instrument, if you know what I mean.

He's dead now.

Hard to believe, I know, but the thing you have to understand is what it meant for Dan Fogelberg to truly be alive. For my part, I can honestly say that my life has been a poor attempt to imitate the man.

Also, I never did figure out which way this album cover was supposed to be oriented. And now, we'll never know, will we?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Here come da Judge Reinhold

Sorry, Barack Obama - if that IS your real name. But just because you landed Oprah as one of your backers does not mean you'll land me. I don't even read the books she recommends in her book club - at least, not since the one and only time I took a recommendation from Oprah and read She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb, after which I briefly became illiterate and blind. It was only thanks to Michael Chabon that I managed to recover. (Thanks, Mikey. Much love. W00t. -Smokey R.)

Anyway, just because the big O says so, it don't mean I'm gonna vote for BO.

Ew. B.O.

And just because Hillary "Dennis Rodman" Clinton has Fabio in her camp, it don't mean I'm gonna vote for her neither. Fabio's political endorsements used to carry a lot more weight with me back before he started doing the ads for I Can't Believe It's Not Butter's chest oil division. Seriously, you just can't respect a man who doesn't even use real oil to oil up his fabulous pectoral muscles - or at least, I can't. Or, at least, if that man's name isn't Mr. T, Chuck Norris, or Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow, I can't.

Besides, Fabio is totally a B.O. guy at heart. You can completely tell he's just faking it with Hillary for the sex.

Sean Penn can rave about Dennis Kucinich all he wants, but Dennis Kucinich rhymes with spinach, and we can't have a president in this country who rhymes with a vegetable. That's just unacceptable. Not that I'd listen to Sean Penn anyway. Not only was this man stupid enough to MARRY MADONNA he was also stupid enough to DIVORCE MADONNA. That would be like divorcing Leonardo da Vinci, or divorcing Nostradamus, or performing oral sex on a doped-up Rush Limbaugh for anything under 30 of your American dollars. I think we can all agree those things are ridiculous, even if I'm not sure how.

The point is this: it takes a certain kind of celebrity to get my attention. It takes a person with gravitas, with class, with three - count 'em, three - Beverly Hills Cop movies under his belt. It takes a person who can play a close talker on Seinfeld, and who can star in a classic '80s parent-child switcheroo movie with Fred Savage and somehow manage to be less convincing as the parent than as the child. It takes Judge Reinhold, who this week announced his support of Bill Richardson, for whom I shall now gratefully and gladly cast my vote, even though ol' Billy Dickboy (that's what I used to call him) broke my heart when he stood me up for a date at a beach bar on Fiji in 2003 and never called to explain.

Bill Richardson, Bill Richardson, thou has cleft my heart in twain,
Thank you, Judge Reinhold, for restoring it to wholeness again.

Proposed Rules for Santa's Village, by the Parents of the South Meadow Drive Development Association in Naperville, Illinois

1. Only the children whose families are residents of South Meadow Drive Development Association will be allowed into Santa's Village.

2. Children under the age of 12 must be accompanied to Santa's Village by an adult.

3. Parents should furnish Santa's Village with a list of pre-approved gifts for their children, in order to better manage the children's expectations.

4. The children who participated in last year's "Satan's Village" prank will not be admitted to Santa's Village.

5. The parents of the children involved in the "Satan's Village" prank shall not be treated like social outcasts by the other parents just because their children act up a little bit.

6. No rules governing Santa's Village shall be written by the parents of the "Satan's Village" hooligans, because Santa's Village is intended for the normal children of South Meadow Drive Development Association only.

7. The parents of the so-called "normal children" can take Santa's Village and stick it up their South Pole, euphemistically speaking.

8. No children shall be admitted to Santa's Village whose parents are making a mockery of the whole rule-writing procedure in the first place.

9. Yeah, that's fair, of course it is. Because Santa's Village is only for the children whose parents are so ignorant that they can’t acknowledge the reality that children have energy and like to sometimes pull innocent stunts.

10. No children shall be allowed into Santa’s Village whose parents think “innocent stunts” are what it’s called when we have to hold a special session of Sunday School to explain who Satan is, and why some people think defacing public property is funny.

11. No parents have the right to talk if all they do is hop their kids up on Ritalin to keep them calm instead of doing any real parenting.

12. No child shall be allowed into Santa's Village whose parents have such a warped idea of what constitutes “real parenting” that they have to spend their time criticizing other parents who give their children PRESCRIBED MEDICAL SUBSTANCES instead of noticing that their kids are the ones buying spray paint cans at the Ace Hardware store downtown.

13. First of all, I’M NOT THE ONE WHO SOLD THEM THE SPRAY PAINT. And second of all, any parent who wants to criticize the way another parent is raising his/her child can come over and SAY IT TO MY FACE and quit being such a chicken about it and hiding behind their ridiculous list of rules for SATAN'S VILLAGE.

14. Jewish children shall still be allowed to visit Santa's Village, since the holidays are for everyone and shouldn't be so exclusive.

15. What? Who wrote that?

16. No children shall be allowed into Santa's Village whose parents are jerks!!

17. Yeah, yeah, wait, though. Look at number 12 for a second.

18. What the hell is that about?

19. I have no idea.

20. I say we ban the Jews from Santa's Village. They don't celebrate Christmas anyway.

21. I know, right??

22. I'm Meredith Greenberg's mother, and I'd like to know what my child ever did to deserve being disallowed to Santa's Village, just because she wasn't born of a Christian womb.

23. Be quiet, Jew!

24. Oh, so now the SATAN'S VILLAGE thing is acceptable, just because a Jewish girl wants to go to Santa's Village?

25. Yes.

26. No Jewish children shall be allowed into Santa's Village.

(Except Meredith Greenberg's parents!)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Trader Joe's is seriously straining my holiday spirit and good cheer

It was hard for me to get mad about the pod in my edamame that only contained a single bean when so many of the other pods - which usually only have two beans in them - had three instead. But I did get mad, dammit. I did. It's too late now. You can't put the toothpaste back in the tube.

If we had such lax standards at Dole, there would be a massive worldwide outcry, and probably riots, which is why we have three entire people (it used to be 4.3 people, but that was before corporate layoffs and the amputation of a vestigial extra arm - I won't say whose) whose job it is to count the peaches that go into the canned peaches and the pineapples in the canned pineapples. It drives me out of my MIND when companies can't get their shit together and do something right.

And during the holidays too.
Dear Trader TRAITOR Joe's,

Fuck you.

Your buddy who hates you and who corresponds regularly with both Jesus and Santa Claus, so you better watch out, seriously,
Smokey Robinson

P.S. I mean it. Fuck you.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Another perfect gift

Dear Andrew Meyer,

Merry Christmas. No hard feelings.

The University of Florida Police Department

P.S. Please don't tase us, bro.

[Insert gruff, conspiratorial police chuckling sound here.]

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Another reason not to mess with the Lord

Okay, so first, I read this in the New York Times:
Just about any sports movie, airport paperback or motivational tape delivers a few boilerplate rules for success. Believe in yourself. Don’t take no for an answer. Never quit. Don’t accept second best.

Above all, be true to yourself.

It’s hard to argue with those maxims. They seem self-evident — if not written into the Constitution, then at least part of the cultural water supply that irrigates everything from halftime speeches to corporate lectures to SAT coaching classes.

Yet several recent studies stand as a warning against taking the platitudes of achievement too seriously. The new research focuses on a familiar type, perfectionists, who panic or blow a fuse when things don’t turn out just so. The findings not only confirm that such purists are often at risk for mental distress — as Freud, Alfred Adler and countless exasperated parents have long predicted — but also suggest that perfectionism is a valuable lens through which to understand a variety of seemingly unrelated mental difficulties, from depression to compulsive behavior to addiction.

I immediately fired off a quick email to Jesus, the alpha and omega of perfectionist jerkwads.

From: Matt [commander-in-chief@piealamodeproductions.com]
To: Jesus H. Christ [superstar@whatwouldido.org]

Dear Jesus,

Way to go, Jackass. This is what happens when You come along and be all perfect and set the bar way too high for everyone. You spoil everything for the rest of us and give us mental problems. Forget about the fact that Your never-say-die-(except-for-that-one-time) attitude was indirectly responsible for competitive athletics and the hit song "We Are the Champions," You know who You remind me of? You remind me of Sensei John Kreese from
The Karate Kid, that's who! I bet You probably rooted for those Cobra Kai assholes the whole time.

And by the way, what the fuck is with the chocolate bunnies at Easter? How does that pertain in any way to the supreme, set-the-bar-too-high, give-all-of-mankind-mental-problems sacrifice that You made?

I don't know what to say to You anymore. Suddenly all that dying for our sins bullshit seems as hollow as one of the aforementioned chocolate bunnies, doesn't it? I hope You're satifsied with Yourself.

Oh, and if I don't talk to You, have a great birthday!


But then, right after I hit SEND, I found this little chestnut in the archives of The Straight Dope:

What's up with the "lost books of the Bible"?


Dear Cecil:

I am currently reading a book entitled The Lost Books of the Bible. Being interested in Bible history, I thought it might be an interesting diversion, but I was not prepared for what I found. It claims that when Jesus was young, he killed a couple of boys and a schoolmaster because they displeased him. Jesus comes off as an arrogant bad seed in these supposedly ancient texts.

My question is: were these books truly a part of the original Bible, and if they were suppressed for obvious reasons, does the Catholic Church, or any church for that matter, acknowledge their existence? How do they explain Jesus's bad temper? Is this why there is very little about Jesus's youth in the current Bible? --Dan Olmos, West Hollywood, California

Cecil replies:

No question, the kid portrayed in the "lost books" isn't exactly the Prince of Peace. After recounting three murders in two pages, one passage concludes, "Then said Joseph to St. Mary, henceforth we will not allow him to go out of the house; for everyone who displeases him is killed."
Jesus H. Christ!

I think it's enough with the letters to Jesus at this point. It seems safer just to write to Santa Claus, even though that fat bastard knows if I've been bad or good. With Jesus, you can hide it. But at least with Santa, all you get for being bad is coal, not the business end of some hipster's axe planted in your skull.

But because I'm afraid of having my emails intercepted, I had to get help.

From: Smokey [clowntears@piealamodeproductions.com]
To: S. Claus [Santa84883@gmail.com]

Dear Santa,

For Christmas this year, please protect my friend Matt from Angry Jesus. In exchange, I will let you play a game of Michael Jackson and the Eight-Year-Old Boy with me. I'll even be the eight-year-old boy this time.

Love and kisses,
Smokey Robinson

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Friday Afternoon in the Forest with Lizzie Borden and His Girlfriend

Production Notes:
The part of Lizzie Borden will be played by a random, goateed, psycho hipster axe-murderer.

The part of His Girlfriend will be played by the hipster's girlfriend.

The part of the Forest will be played by Simonson's Tree Farm in Cranbury, New Jersey, where you can cut down your own tree, or simply pry it out of the ground with your bare hands if you don't feel like giving the $10 deposit for a saw.

The part of Lizzie Borden's mother (whom she gave 40 whacks, if the legends are to be believed) will be played by a small Frasier Fir tree in the northwest corner of the tree farm. I mean, the northwest corner of the forest.

The part of Lizzie Borden's axe will be played by the hipster's actual axe.

The part of terrified onlookers will be played by me and my darling friend Karyn, who were, in actuality, onlookers who thought the whole scene was pretty entertaining, if a little bit cold, and who at one point were dancing through the "forest" singing
Little Shop of Horrors and waving a $10 saw in the air.

The part of irritating suburban children whose cacophonous screeching made me want to introduce them to the business end of the hipster's axe will be played by irritating suburban children whose cacophonous screeching made me want to introduce them to business end of the hipster's axe.

The part of other people I would have liked to introduce to the business end of the hipster's axe will be played by the smug tree farm operators who think they're so special just because they know so damn much about trees, smug New York-New Jersey drivers who think they're so special just because they know so much about trees, the Pope, Paris Hilton, any of the surviving munchkins from The Wizard of Oz, and Cher.

The part of Jesus will be played by James Caviezel.
Karyn and I showed up at this do-it-yourself tree farm with high hopes that it would yield something beautiful and meaningful. I'm thinking Griswold Family Christmas Tree from the movie Christmas Vacation (starring Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, and a surprisingly mainstream Juliette Lewis!). Karyn had more specific goals in mind: 7 1/2 or 8 feet of pure, piney Douglas Fir from the swamps of central New Jersey.

What we weren't prepared for was to spend an hour in the freezing cold being chased around by an axe murderer.

I remember the flash of gray in the corner of my eye - a stray swatch of his coat, poor camouflage against the pine-tree background. He was toting around an axe in broad daylight. His girlfriend ambled along in front of him, stupidly, I thought. Lesson number one in dating an axe murder: ALWAYS LET HIM WALK IN FRONT.

Actually, lesson one is not to date the axe murder in the first place. Lesson two, for those dumb enough to ignore lesson one, is, ALWAYS LET HIM WALK IN FRONT.

Moments later, from somewhere to the south there came the telltale sound of oversized car doors, and two parents climbed out of their suburban assault vehicle with two screaming children in tow. Sadly, the axeman was walking in the other direction, away from them.

Towards us!

He turned out to be genial enough when he found us, and even quite understanding about why we were crouched, hiding, our underwear soiled, and our fingers raised in the shape of crosses to ward off his soulless evil. Karyn even complimented him on what a nice axe he had. I thought, why would you compliment someone on their axe? That's like complimenting a mugger on how sharp his knife was, or telling an axe murderer what a nice axe he had. That's Karyn for you, though.

Anyway, apparently he didn't have it in for us. I wish I could say the same for this poor tree though. I actually heard this savage beast of a man whoop with joy upon discovering his victim. Some people are just sick.

After witnessing this unmitigated barbarism, Karyn and I packed it in and went to a garden center 20 minutes away in South Brunswick where we bought a tree that had obviously been killed much more humanely. Then we took the tree back to New York City and stuck it in a corner of Karyn's apartment. Karyn baked cookies to celebrate, and hosted a party where her friends came over and hung lights and ornaments on it. But all I could think about was the brutal axe murder I had witnessed without even speaking up. I don't think Christmas is going to be the same for me this year - maybe not ever again.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Merry Christmas, Doc! Love, Marty

I used to swing by Doc Brown's house on my way to school in the mornings, hitching rides from unsuspecting strangers by grabbing onto the bumpers of their cars while riding my skateboard in a manner that would have given George and Lorraine fits. George and Lorraine are my parents. You might have heard of Dad - he's a noted science fiction author, all thanks to me. My mom is really no one of consequence. People tell me she looks like Caroline from Caroline in the City, but I don't see the resemblance. Anyway, they didn't know about the skateboarding. They also never knew the extent of my friendship with Doc - probably another conniption waiting to happen if they found out.

Doc's house was a cornucopia of offbeat scientific experiments and obscene amounts of clocks, a treasure trove for an intellectually curious scamp like myself who liked to play guitars and ogle girls' butts while my girlfriend was standing right next to me. Plus, and I say this without the slightest trace of exaggeration, Doc had the meanest amp in Hill Valley. The thing was heavy.

The thing about Doc, though, is that he is notoriously hard to shop for. If he wants something or needs something, he generally just invents it, leaving me at a loss for gift ideas when the holidays roll around. One year, I gave him a CD of my band, the Pinheads, rockin' out to a bunch of Chuck Berry-inspired jams that sounded remarkably like Huey Lewis songs, but he disassembled the plastic and used it as part of a hologram generator powered by his dog.

This year, I wanted to go above and beyond, in part because I still haven't properly apologized for breaking the aforementioned monster amp in October 1985 with a G-major chord, or for getting his Dolorian run over by a train. And knowing that he has a penchant for radioactive power, I think I may have found just the thing on Amazon.com. Check this out:

Uranium Ore

3.9 out of 5 stars 68 customer reviews (68 customer reviews)| More about this product

List Price: $24.95
Price: $22.95
You Save: $2.00 (8%)

Availability: In stock. Processing takes an additional 4 to 5 days for orders from this seller. Ships from and sold by Images SI Inc.

Product Features

We are always in compliance with Section 13 from part 40 of the NRC Nuclear Regulatory Commission rules and regulations and Postal Service regulations specified in 49 CFR 173.421 for activity limits of low level radioactive materials. Item will be shipped in accordance with Postal Service activity limits specified in Publication 52.

Product Description

Radioactive sample of uranium ore. Useful for testing Geiger Counters. License exempt. Uranium ore sample sizes vary. Shipped in labeled metal container as shown. Shipping Information: We are always in compliance with Section 13 from part 40 of the NRC Nuclear Regulatory Commission rules and regulations and Postal Service regulations specified in 49 CFR 173.421 for activity limits of low level radioactive materials. Item will be shipped in accordance with Postal Service activity limits specified in Publication 52. Radioactive minerals are for educational and scientific use only.

from http://www.amazon.com/Uranium-Ore/dp/B000796XXM

If that doesn't just scream "holiday" at the top of its radioactive lung, I don't know what does. And at these prices, it sure beats shopping from dangerous terrorist Libyans with shoulder-mounted rocket launchers and VW buses.

I think I may have found the perfect gift.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Leave me alone until Hot Rod comes out on DVD

It would have been upsetting for ANYONE to stand in the ticket line at a movie theater in August only to receive the inevitable bad news that all the showings of Hot Rod that day had been sold out by 11:00 in the morning. I am only human. I have my limits*. "Sold out by 11:00 in the morning? For serious?" The man at the ticket counter just wagged his finger at me and muttered something in Croatian before shutting the metal shade on my fingertips.

11:00 in the morning, though? It's not my fault that some of us are supposed to be canning fruit at that hour. I don't make the rules. Which is a good thing. If I did, the streets of New York and Seattle would be overrun by kids hopped up on half-caf soy lattes from Starbucks, and there would be free servings of My Mom's Apple Crisp™ twice a day for every homeless person, leper, and aspiring political pundit in this great land of ours.

All of which is why I negotiated, as a condition of my return to Dole Fruit, to take this week off in preparation for the DVD release of the instant American classic that is Hot Rod, starring the dudes from The Lonely Island, with the notable exception of Brooke Shields.

Here is why it didn't work out: there is apparently a vampire in the suburban house in the suburbs.

This was reported, loudly, yesterday, at 7:15 in the morning, in the upstairs hallway of the suburban house in the suburbs, by my six-year-old nephew, who is incapable of lying. No six-year-old can lie. Children only develop the capacity to lie after they first begin experimenting with sex and/or cigarettes and/or alcohol. I didn't tell my first lie until I was seven years old. But I always was precocious.

Anyway, I heard about the vampire at 7:15 yesterday morning, at the exact same time as the sun decided to pay a visit to the pillow where I was resting my previously sleeping head. I don't mean sunshine, I mean the actual sun. Was in my room. On my pillow. No kidding. There are still scorch marks on the pillowcase if you don't believe me.

For a minute, I thought I was an ant under a magnifying glass. Then the news about the vampire registered, and it occurred to me that maybe (gasp!) I was the vampire! Then I remembered that it was my week off from Dole, that I was supposed to be sleeping in, and that the sun, according to a Calvin & Hobbes strip I read in middle school, lived in Tucson, Arizona. By that point, of course, my brain was switched on and beginning to melt from the close proximity of the star of Phoebus.

I woke up grouchy.

Then, at 2:35 in the PM, like the sun landing on your pillow, came the good news: an email from Netflix with the subject, "For Thu: Hot Rod." Hallelujah. And also, bring on the garlic, just in case my nephew was right about that vampire.

*Note: Okay, the thing about having limits is only partially true. As of the writing of this blog post, the following things about me are unlimited: the size of my ego, the size of my penis, my ability to exaggerate the size of my ego, my ability to exaggerate the size of my penis, my generosity toward children and old people, my cruelty toward cephalopods, the enormity of my vast oceans of humility, and rabies.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

How Something as Simple as a Mixed Cone in Battery Park City Can Shape the Course of World Events

I remember the sticky day at the beginning of June when Alex Rodriguez, Pervez Musharraf and I were sitting on a bench in Battery Park City eating half-chocolate/half-vanilla ice cream cones and sucking down cans of Red Bull like there was a crazy Pakistani dictator sitting on a bench in Battery Park City. Oh, times were simpler then. Men were men. Women were women. Quantum physics still trafficked in realms of uncertainty. And my days were a colorful melange of innocent games of tag, scouring the city in Pervez's stretch limo looking for dandelions to pick, and sleepovers at Derek Jeter's place in the Trump Tower, where Alex wasn't invited because he had already been there four times that week and still hadn't cleaned up the Blue Raspberry Slurpie he spilled on the kitchen floor.

That day in Battery Park City, as A-Rod and I were busy lamenting Britney's sudden February haircut and worrying over her ongoing battle for custody of her two boys, it was Pervez who lightened the mood by reminding us that in his country, Britney would probably have been stoned to death in some obscenely barbaric ritual for any of her numerous and unforgivable transgressions against her role as a woman. We laughed for long minutes at the thought of it. Then, and it might just have been the Red Bull talking, I said, "hey, Pervez, is there anything that would make you consider giving up the head of the military thing?"

Pervez's usually jovial face turned dark and angry. His buoyant expression sank underneath the dark clouds of his cheeks and the grim horizon of his eyebrow ridge. A stray droplet of choco-vanilla dripped out of the corner of his mouth just below the fine brushwork of his moustache, and just above his turgid jowls. "No," he said flatly.

Between the ice cream dripping down Pervez's chin, the idea of Britney Spears' being stoned to death, and the dizzying high from too much energy drink, A-Rod started laughing his fool head off.

"This is not funny," insisted Pervez. But once one of us started laughing, it was like a laughter grenade exploding on a pile of other laughter grenades, sending laughter shrapnel in all directions, and making passersby run for cover even though there wasn't really any danger of being hit by the shrapnel. This was Battery Park City, remember, where passersby are not generally noted for their ability to distinguish between real shrapnel and the kind of shrapnel that exists only metaphorically.

"Come on," said A-Rod, who had laughed until there was ice cream dripping down his chin too, "there must be something."

Pervez's face settled into a gentle, wise smile. "No," he said. "There is nothing."

"What about another ice cream cone?" said A-Rod.

"Yeah," I said, "since you barely got any of that last one in your mouth anyway."

We all lost it again. The passersby hid behind bushes and called their loved ones on their cell phones.

"Okay, I will tell you what," said Pervez. "Alex, if you can get the Yankees to agree to a contract worth more than 300 million American dollars, then I will resign as the military head of Pakistan."

Alex looked at me, then back at Pervez, then at me again, then at his wallet-sized picture of Britney Spears (pre-psycho haircut), then back at Pervez, then in quick succession at each of us three times. Baseball players are so superstitious. Anyway, then he said, "all right, but can part of the contract be laid off into what will be called 'Historical Achievement Bonuses,' which will ultimately be a convenient way of being paid to reach home run milestones in violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement?"

Pervez looked momentarily stunned. "Why, Alex," he said, "it is simply diabolical. Make it happen."

I remember that day in June for lots of reasons. I remember that it seemed such an unseasonable time for Pervez Musharraf to be in New York wearing an impeccably tailored brown wool suit. I remember being reasonably sure that A-Rod was supposed to be in Chicago for a series against the White Sox that night. But mostly, I remember looking at the ice cream trickling down both their faces and thinking what idiots my friends were.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Shine on, you crazy Amy Winehouse's husband

Something's got me down this holiday weekend.

I know part of it is that Hurricane Black Friday has passed, and shopping malls are back to their normal amount of insane, unacceptable, pierced-in-all-the-wrong places human traffic. The 40-inch Samsung Flat Panel HDTV I didn't buy at Best Buy at 40% off is now a mere 25% off. Just gets me a little blue.

Part of it is this whole thing with Amy Winehouse's husband being in jail over the holidays, all thanks to some stupid stool pigeon club owner who wouldn't accept a bribe to shut up about that silly assault thing. It's called hush money for a reason, dummy. Am I going to have to beat the ever-loving crap out of you again before you get it through your remarkably thick skull that I DON'T WANT YOU TO TELL THE GODDAMN COPS THAT I BEAT THE EVER-LOVING CRAP OUT OF YOU? Oh, wait, that wasn't me. That was Amy Winehouse's husband. Poor kids. My heart is with you, Amy Winehouse and Amy Winehouse's husband.

Part of it was that last piece of My Mother's Apple Crisp ™ which I mistakenly ate with Cool Whip ™ instead of Turkey Hill ™ Vanilla Bean Ice Cream ™. Rookie mistake.

Part of it really has to be George Bush's scaled back domestic agenda now, as America is coming to the end of the really amazing fun-time fantasy beautiful dream that has been the Bush presidency. I know I might be crazy for saying it, but I'm really going to miss Georgie W's cuddliness, and his mawkish love for all things 1970s. Who is cooler than this man? He's like Cool Whip ™ and Coolio™ and Lionel Richie all rolled into one. That's cool.

That's not it, though.

I'm not sure WHAT it is.

It's been four days off from Dole Fruit, though. Thanks to A-Rod, who renegotiated his contract with the assistance of Amy Winehouse and her husband and NOT his mega-agent $cott Bora$, I have to head back to work and then beg for my job with my hat in my hand. Not to get all Family Guy with the references, but it's the saddest thing since Jim Belushi's performance in the movie About Last Night, which I attempted to watch yesterday, except that the DVD was scratched badly enough that I missed the last 20 minutes or so. I am positive that it was the merciful act of some former Netflix viewer, attempting to stop the rest of us from having to suffer through such an obscene and unnecessary profanity against the movie industry. Seriously, I never thought ANYTHING would make the movie Striptease, which I actually walked out on, seem like a palatable example of artistic merit. If any of you happens to know any of the corporate bigwigs in Canning-Ops at Dole Fruit, please ask them to go easier on me than the judge went on Amy Winehouse's husband. It is the middle of the Holiday Shopping Season™, after all.

Anyway, it's been four days off. I haven't shaved since Wednesday. And yet, for some reason, my stubble, which is supposed to be all manly and rough and scratchy, has been reported as soft. WTF, Jesus? WTF?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Romeo of the Road

There comes a time in the life of every bloggerist when you have to spend an entire post tooting your own horn, or, as they used to say in Shakespeare's time, "tooting thine own horn." Unfortunately, for such an obscenely talent-laden fruit canner as myself, there is so much horn-tooting material that to gratify it all, I would basically have to fellate myself, which is really hard to do in a blog post.

So what if I were to just, say, pick one of the many, many arenas in which I am the possessor of, how you say, mad skillz (holla w00t!)? You can see from that sentence that I have a gift for strategy and tact, for instance, as well as a dyn-o-mite sense of how to keep my language hip and topical. Perhaps a post on that? Or should I choose some other from among the myriad facets of my undeniable greatness, and then gush about it for 800 words or so?

The point is, this was supposed to be that post.

No, I was not going to write of my ability to translate old Saxon poetry, nor was I going to write of my fruit-canning prowess. (But more on that later, as it now appears that I am going to have to opt back into my fucking contract at Dole. Thanks a lot, Oil of Olay-Rod.) I was, instead, going to write about my ferocious wooing techniques, i.e. my mad skillz (holla w00t again!) with the ladyfolk.

And suffice it to say, you would have been astounded. You would have been dazzled. You may have gone to the length of crapping your pants with how impressed you were, not only because I am so good at tooting my horn, but because you would have seen clearly that it was a horn worth tooting, and also because you had all that bean dip at lunch. You would have been astonished - maybe not to pooping yourself lengths, but astonished nevertheless - by the tales of my trips to medieval-style castles on cold days for the sole purpose of reading poetry, or by the random and whimsical flower deliveries "just because", or by my magnanimous willingness to not fall asleep during Beauty and the Beast on Broadway, although the smell of babies filling their diapers with shit in the orchestra section had a little something to do with that. And I know, I know, that's a lot of fecal references in the same paragraph, but there's a reason for that - there's a reason for ALL of this, and the reason is this:

I have been bested.

I don't know who he was. I don't know when he struck. I do, however, have photographic evidence of what he did, taken with the camera of Knickers, my iPhone and erstwhile companion, in the men's room of a rest stop on the New Jersey Turnpike at 11:30 last Saturday night.

And here is that evidence:

Ignore the guys in the mirror. They're as irrelevant as Thomas Edison's third nipple. Look closer, and check out the mystery guy's handiwork. Check it OUT.

You don't see it immediately, do you? That is because, unlike me, you do not possess the quickness to assemble facts almost as fast as they register in your ocular nerve. What ostensibly appears to be merely two vases in a rest stop bathroom is actually the handiwork of a Casanova of Lotharian proportions, or maybe a Lothario of Casanovian proportions, or, well, basically someone much more romantic than me. Because clearly, what happened was that some guy - some guy with balls the size of grapefruits and a heart as big as a bowl that could hold both of those grapefruits along with some other assorted citrus fruits and perhaps a kiwi - came in here, stole the flowers from the purple vase, and then gave them to his girl under the auspices of a sweet and touching gesture.


Hats off to you, bro, whoever and wherever you are. Or as they used to say in Shakespeare's time, "word."

Monday, November 19, 2007


Dear Rod Stewart,

I want your body, AND I think you're sexy. I'm just letting you know.

Your brother in Christ Jesus,
Christopher Lloyd

Friday, November 16, 2007



Bananas, Matzoh, and the American Way

After a hard day of canning fruit at Dole and a hard night of typesetting my eventually forthcoming novel on my authentic, 15th-century Gutenberg press, I ended up sitting in a diner downtown last night with Sarah, who claims that I never write about her. But then again, Sarah also claims that bananas are hard to digest, which is obviously ridiculous, so you really can't completely trust everything Sarah says.

Seriously, how could bananas be hard to digest? They're yellow!

I think I might have to ask the other Matt Hooban - the one in England. He seems to know an awful lot about bananas. Maybe a little too much, even.

But this post isn't about Sarah anyway, and it isn't about bananas either, even though I am currently devouring one in what Sarah would consider an act of self-immolation, but that I consider an act of complete yumminess. It's about the Democratic debate, which was playing on television in the background in the diner, I guess because there were no sports on.

Okay, did I miss a memo? How was there a debate last night if the writers (or the Broadway stagehands, or whatever they're calling themselves this week) were on strike? Did my letter to Jesus, like so many of my letters to other world leaders and imaginary fairy tale characters, work? Is the strike settled? Are the lights back on on Broadway? Who framed Roger Rabbit?

I suppose we may never know the answer to any of these questions, except the last one. It was a toon disguised as Christopher Lloyd, which brings me right back to the Democratic debate, and this very alarming video still of John Edwards, that clearly shows he is drunk.

Now, let's get real, America. Is this really the kind of person you want on a stage in Nevada attacking his fellow Democrats, in defiance of the still-striking writers/Broadway stagehands?

I didn't think so.

They talked a lot about the war in Iraq, but here's the thing they didn't talk about - the thing that no politician ever talks about when it comes to America's armed forces and military policy: we have bad camouflage. You can totally see it. Here's just a for instance:

How many soldiers can you see in the above picture? If you said six, that's because their camouflage is NOT WORKING! *

I was in Grand Central Station in New York City yesterday and I saw three soldiers lounging around in their "mass transit camo" against the ticket windows along the 42nd Street side of the main concourse. I saw three of them! And while it's entirely possible that there was an unseen force of hundreds looming elsewhere in better disguises, it still doesn't change the fact that those three soldiers, just like the six in the photo above, have been compromised.

Think about this: if we were to invest a greater portion of our defense budget into developing camouflage that actually worked, then all the politicians could say, "yes, we pulled our troops out of Iraq. Go look." And then all of us would feel all bad for accusing them of lying because we wouldn't be able to see any troops in Iraq anymore, even if they were still there.

Come to think of it, we could probably get by with a much smaller army too, like 20 people. I'm pretty sure that 20 people in working camouflage could achieve roughly the same level of success in Iraq that the 130,000 visible soldiers in their crappy "desert camo" have achieved. Hop to it, candidates! Pick up the banana and run with it. And if you're ever in that diner I was in last night, order the matzoh ball soup, which is an act of complete yumminess that no one - not even the Democrats - can debate.

And speaking of matzoh ball soup, what's up with Barry Bonds getting indicted?

* If you said "less than six," then your eyes are not working, and there was no need to read the rest of this post. If you said "more than six," then YOU ARE A LIAR.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

No, I Will NOT Be Your Neighbor!

In 1981, there were only two men in America with hair worth talking about, and one of them was NOT PHIL DONAHUE. I cannot be clear enough on that point.

The two men: Fred Rogers and Bob Barker.

I say this because I was a discerning lad of five years old, and I remember all too clearly what it was like to know that, while I was going off to kindergarten, there were children my age elsewhere in the world who were going off to work in dank sweatshops in the Asian jungles, lucky enough not to have to give their hair a second thought the morning.

Those of us left going to fashion-conscious public elementary schools in the suburbs of Milwaukee were not nearly so fortunate. I had to think about my hair. There weren't other options for kids like me. It got so bad that even my mom was involved, bless her wicked, wicked heart.

Enter Rogers and Barker, the two cowboys of the broadcast airwaves, riding into the homes of America like cowboys riding on broadcast airwaves, I'm talking with spurs and whips and saddles and such. And dynamite hair.

Wow. Seriously, check this guy out. This is the reason there wasn't a dry pair of pants in America between 11am and 12pm weekdays throughout the '70s and '80s.

And this guy, too. Makes you want to whistle out loud like a construction worker watching too much ass parade by in too little covering, doesn't it?
Mornings in my house, there were two decisions that required making: Tropicana or Minute Maid, and did I want my hair parted like Mr. Rogers or Bob Barker. I always assumed this was a simple question of left-right logistics, but as you can see in the above photos, both men parted their hair on the left. In case you're wondering, yes, I do feel a little duped, especially considering that having to choose between these two impeccable 'dos is a no-win situation. Can you imagine doing that to a five-year-old?

Anyway, Bobbity B. just retired in June, and Mr. Rogers rode the Neighborhood Trolley up to the Land of Make Believe in the sky in 2003. And this morning, I was riding the train to work thinking not about my hair (which began curling in the mid-'80s in open rebellion against the Barker-Rogers great hair cartel), but about the new pair of shoes on my fancy feet all the way down there at the end of my stems. These thoughts intersected (as thoughts often do, I'm told), and I remembered how Mr. Rogers used to come in at the beginning of his show flashing that glossy hair helmet of his, and singing his song about what a beautiful day it was in the neighborhood before changing into his sweater and tennis shoes while inquiring as to whether or not I'd like to be his neighbor. And I have just one question.

Where the fuck was he coming from wearing the suit and shoes?

I'm okay with the fact that he wore a sweater and tennis shoes to work, because that show was his job, after all. I work in fruit - I see stranger outfits than sweaters and tennis shoes every day. Like the time Eustice O'Dowd wore pants made entirely out of milk cartons. I'm not kidding.

But what I don't get is why he wears a suit just to come to work, then changes back into the suit to leave work and go home?

It's throwing my entire opinion of his hair into turmoil now, as if my topsy-turvy world needed any additional topsiness or turviness, which it most certainly did not need. I'm having retroactive regret about all the times I told my mom to part my hair like Mr. Rogers instead of Bob Barker, even though it ended up being the same thing. One day with these shoes, and my entire childhood belief system is coming unraveled. Fuck.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A Caveat for All the Emptors of Miguel Cabrera

This is for all you Major League Baseball General Managers out there who read my blog.

First of all, hi!

Second of all, make sure you think twice before you jump in the trade sweepstakes for Miguel Cabrera. According to the Miami Herald, Cabrera is committing himself to losing weight and getting in shape this offseason. Here, have a look!
"This winter, I'm really going to work on my physical condition in order to be in the best shape possible for spring training,'' Cabrera told LasMayores.com. "I've been at it for four weeks now at a gym that specializes in professional athletes, and I'll be there until the spring.

''I'll keep at it in order to get to spring training in the best shape possible, to have the best season possible for the team I end up on,'' he said.

(from the Miami Herald)

This is an idiotic move by Cabrera for two reasons: first, because getting thinner cheapens his pound-for-pound trade value, which is how all GMs evaluate the merits of potential trades. Wait, did I say all GMs? I meant all good GMs. Sorry.

Second, do you really want this playing third base for your team next year?

I didn't think so. YOU ARE WELCOME.

I'll accept any kickbacks or "future considerations" you can think of for the free advice.

O, Sweet Lord, Grant Me In Thy Infinite Mercy a New Pair of Kicks

Dear Jesus, et al.,

Unlike most people, I don't buy my shoes to provide comfort and shelter to my feet (or my "hands of the south", as I sometimes call them), I buy my shoes for the express purpose of jamming up the butt of my many, many, many subordinates in order to get them to work harder. In other words, I need to stay fashionable, which is why I always shell out top dollar during Macy's sales to make sure I have the finest patent leather pumps that money can buy.

And then comes the love affair. Every new pair of shoes inspires me to want to buy shoe trees and an ecologically responsible shoe polishing kit, because it's gonna be different this time, I swear. I know I can change. Please, give me another chance!

Only I can't change. I can get as far as using a shoe horn to horn my "hands of the south" into my "mittens of the south." For a little while. Then, inevitably, expeditiousness takes over, and I start stepping on my own heels to release myself from the leathery confines of the mouths and tongues that have swallowed my feets, boa constrictor fashion.

Here's the kicker. (Get it? Because this is a post about shoes? Kicker? It's a pun!) Stepping on the back of my shoes has the tendency to put a great strain on the relationship between the shoe itself and the massive rubber sole from which I derive an additional six or seven inches of height, when combined with my unusually tall hair.

(Okay, can I just take a minute to apologize for that last parenthetical aside? The one about the kicker? I just reread it and thought it sounded a little bit snippy and condescending. That was not what I meant at all. And while I could have just deleted it, I really thought it would do better to let You, Jesus Christ, and you, my dear readers, see what a humble and self-effacing person I can be, and also how modest I am. I'm reasonably sure I'm the most modest person in the tri-state area. You can even pick any three states! On with the show...)

The point is that, even though I didn't mean to, I caused the breakup of the individual components of my shoe. I am now wearing what have been loving Lee described as "flappy wappy pancake shoes," which I object to because these shoes are actually constructed of 98 percent leather and 2 percent breakfast sausage. There isn't a trace of pancake to be found. Whatever. I need new shews. And some whiskey.

I want you all to know that I blame the writers' strike for this, also known by its other name, the Broadway stagehands strike. And also all the tourists in New York City who are constantly commuting to their jobs right in my way when I'm trying to commute to my job. No, wait, they're not called tourists. I meant gays. I blame the gays.

Settle the strike already, will you? I can't afford to keep buying new shoes without the residuals from the DVD sales of this blog.

Love and kisses,

P.S. Hey, Jesus, tell Your Dad hi from me. And ask Him where the $36 is that He owes me, that Dead Beat.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The All-Time Best Pickup Line EVER!!!!

Forget all that nonsense about seeing a fight outside, guys, I came up with the best pickup line ever this morning in Grand Central Station. Is you ready?

Okay, first imagine a very realistic scenario. (If it helps, picture a sign in the background that says, "VERY REALISTIC SCENARIO," or "THIS IS A VERY REALISTIC SCENARIO," or something like that. Use your imagination. Quit stealing mine.)
GUY: You are like a hot and crusty bagel, only not crusty.
GIRL: (feels heart melt like butter on a hot and crusty bagel, leaps into guy's arms and starts violently humping him in the middle of a crowd of morning commuters.)
The truly sad part is that it works. I have seen it happen. It is not pretty. It is also not hot, nor is it crusty, though I think the potential is there for it to be both. But whatever weird process is responsible for crustal formation, I really don't want to see it.

The hot and crusty angle replaces the previous best pickup line EVER, which was, "you're as sexy as the ocean, and thank god you're not as salty because that would really screw with my high blood pressure," for what should be obvious reasons. You can't go around lying to women, especially when it comes to their own salt content and its competitiveness with the ocean. They're going to find out sooner or later, and they're probably going to blame you. Also, if you really do have hypertension (you know who you are), you're going to be completely screwed when you find out how wrong you were.

Trust me, it's not pretty. It'll make you long for the days when your biggest worry was heat and crustiness.

Men, women, small cartoon dogs, you can all thank me later. Remember, I could totally have kept this to myself and scored all the hot and crusty ladies in Manhattan, only not the crusty ones.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Calling the Copse

Canning Operations is about the fourth biggest division at Dole Fruit in terms of manpower, behind Fruit Acquisition, Quality Control, and Human Resources. In terms of raw heart, though, we rank as high as second, although in some polls we come in third. I mean, no one is on the level of the guys and gals in Fruit-Acq. But there are those among the human resources community who think they have more raw heart than we do, and there are those among the Canning Operations staff who think that the HR folks might have a point. Personally, I think it's a little bit suspicious that HR gets to run all of Dole Fruit's Raw Heart polls, but that's just me.

We're a lovable bunch of scamps who love to camp and collect stamps. Last summer we all built bike ramps. And then there was that time we went on a field trip to the pool at the local YMCA, but we all forgot to give ourselves a half hour between lunch and swimming, so we got bad cases of stomach cramps. Our wives are a bunch of very nice ladies.

Canning Operations is referred to as Canning-Ops, or sometimes C-Ops. Other divisions refer to us as "the cops," like law enforcement professionals, or more commonly as"the copse," like a thicket of flowers, which I think better characterizes the guys in Canning-Ops.

The crew is pretty much your standard bunch of degenerate lovable scamp pricks. The list begins and ends with Old Theo - he's been there for like 40 years, so we call him "Old." Then there's Smilin' Luke, who's always smilin'; Laughin' Pete, who can't seem to quit laughing even when things ain't funny; Greasy Tony, who is just as greasy as the legends say, if not more so; Piece of Shit Joe, who's one of the nicest fellers you'll ever meet; Fartypants McCoy, who has no nickname; and Rebecca Goodman, our token Jew. There's also me, Silvestre, Ronny Balboa (yes, that's his real name), Rex "The Supervisor" Hyman (he's the supervisor), Eustice "Not The Supervisor, But Wishes He Was" O'Dowd (he's not the supervisor, but he wishes he was), and Phaedrus T. "Not The Supervisor, But Is Totally Fine With That" Kinney. I don't know why we call him that. There's also about 30 corporate bigwig assholes running the Copse, and hundreds of other Copse folks in the decentralized plants located around the Midwest, the Middle East, and on Guam. And of course, there's also Old Theo.

Every Christmas, we have a quiet gathering where we sip egg nog and read Proust to each other. We follow that by silently singing and playing air orchestra to the fourth movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and reveling in Schiller's gorgeous words about Joy and Brotherhood.
Freude, schöner Götterfunken,
Tochter aus Elysium!
Wir betreten feuertrunken,
Himmlische, Dein Heiligtum.
Deine Regenbogen binden wieder,
Was die Mode streng geteilt,
Alle Bären werden Brüder,
Wo Dein Vespascuter weilt.
Last year's get-together was at a tiny, poorly lit dive bar in Hackensack, New Jersey. This year, we decided to do something a little grander, so we booked a tiny, poorly lit dive bar in Hoboken instead. It was between that and Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall, and even though the Tully folks were begging us and offering us piles of money, I think we made the right call.

Now, I mention this only by way of saying why it's such a difficult decision to opt out of my Dole Fruit contract. I mean, would you be easily able to walk away from Greasy Tony and Fartypants McCoy and Rebecca Goodman, to say nothing of reading Proust out loud and the Beethoven air-orchestra? Me neither.

But A-Rod needs my solidarity, goddammit. So it's the old opt-out for me. See you later, Old Theo. I guess I won't be breaking your longevity record after all. Dammit, and I only had, like, 40 more years to go.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Help Marisa VanHorn!

When Marisa VanHorn took a job as an administrative assistant at a wealthy and prestigious private equity investment firm in New York in 2001, she entertained lofty visions of a mid-five-figure salary, health benefits, and nights at home watching TV with her husband. Then came a pregnancy, followed by a second, and later, a third. And now, like a bad bottle of tequila mixed with a generous supply of Liquid Plumr, the worm has turned.

All countries and all civilizations have their social ills, of course. Horrific stories circle the globe of the living conditions of all manner of men, women, and children. But in the high-stakes world of private equity investment, the stories whispered in back-and-forth emails among administrative assistants are of a more serious form of social ill, an apparent dearth of time, and energy, but a surplus of children.

I urge anyone without the stomach for tales of human suffering to please stop reading now.

Far be it for the titans of private equity investment to step in and intercede on Marisa's behalf, though. Their ruthlessly demanding schedules scarcely permit them the time even to fill out thank-you cards or get hand cancellations on their own wedding invitations to satisfy their bitchy, hyperdemanding fianceezillas. These are the responsibilities that devolve onto their administrative assistants - administrative assistants like Marisa VanHorn.

Now, Marisa VanHorn needs you to take her children.

Marisa VanHorn doesn't have the time or energy to focus on her television watching that she should. And so, seizing on an idea co-opted from a fellow administrative assistant trying to help her boyfriend unload a cat, Marisa VanHorn sent out an email. "My husband and I have three beautiful kids but can no longer keep them due to financial hardship," wrote the bedraggled Marisa VanHorn.

"All three come as a set," she continued. "No separations. No substitutions. All sales final. They're available for immediate delivery to your door. Each kid comes with his/her own bedroom furniture, sports equipment, and a college savings fund which most likely will be depleted before then due to the amount of food they consume."

She also lists the salient details about each of her children, Michael, Matt, and Mikayla:

Names: Michael, Matt, Mikayla
Birthdays: August, June, December
Sun Sign: Leo, Gemini, Fruitcake (what can I say, she likes to eat)
Moon Sign: Year of the Ox (cause Michael's strong as one), Year of the Lamb (cause Matt's gentle as one), Year of the Pig (cause Mikayla is one)

Yes, Mikayla is her daughter's real name, and yes, it really is spelled that way - evidence suggesting the deteriorating mental state of Marisa VanHorn by the time pregnancy number three rolled around. And yes, Marisa VanHorn is that kind of person, who names her kids alliteratively to match her own. One can only imagine that her husband's name is Mitch or Mark, or perhaps Mr. Magoo.

We obscure our own humanity, and the humanity of victims like Marisa VanHorn, when we turn away from causes like this. Won't you please do something to help? You too can make a difference, after all. And Marisa VanHorn needs you to, so she can stop wasting her company's valuable time criticizing other people for wasting her company's valuable time, and also so she can get back to all that television watching on her corpulent, bitchy ass.