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 "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.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Lily Allen is after my Knickers!!!

I do not call my iPhone Knickers for all the rich comedic possibilities of the word "knickers," nor do I call him that as a reference to women's underwear. I call him Knickers (yes, by the way, I have assigned him gender) as part of a tribute to the band of Maori tribesmen who offered me food and shelter and warm clothes when I mistakenly took what I thought was a "summer vacation" in New Zealand, only to discover that New Zealand is in the southern hemisphere, where our summer corresponds to their winter, which is probably why I got such a good deal on the airfare. Anyway, the tribe was known as Koutouhaunga, which they assured me was a transliteration of the English word "knickers."

All right, I made all of that up. I just thought the name sounded good. Also, I liked it for its rich comedic possibilities, as well as the fact that it refers to ladies undergarments, or "unnapance," as the Koutouhaunga say. But more importantly, I thought, nay, I knew that "Knickers" was my idea.

Then I saw this.

Seems all fine and dandy, right? Lily Allen, essentially tipping her cap to me and my iPhone. Which is cool, because I imagine Knickers as a dainty, foppish sort of fellow, and a shout-out from L-Al is just the sort of thing he would looooove! I can just see him bragging to his iPhone friends over cosmos and guac, can't you? Granted, I'm not wild about the phrasing, but I'm also not as friendly with the editors of as I used to be.

But even though the article was concerning a lingerie campaign for the brand Agent Provocateur, the headline still stuck with me, a little uncomfortably. So this morning, I did a Google Search for Lily Allen and knickers.

All I can say is OMG. OMG, people.

There are like, thirteen separate things that terrify me about this, such as the "about 30,100" results that Google came up with in "0.20 seconds." What the frick? But even scarier was this article from

Excuse me, what was that? HER knickers? Whose side is the press on? And what is Lily Allen's increasingly suspicious agenda? Because I swear, if she comes anywhere near my iPhone, it's going to be all-out war. I will not give up my Knickers without a fight!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Out of my g-ddamned way!

There are three kinds of people I hate dealing with on New York-New Jersey mass transit:

1. People with open, festering sores and lesions,

2. People who take the whole situation personally, and

3. The gays.

I happened to run into a lady this evening just outside the C train at 34th Street who was cursing and making faces at the crowd like they just ran off with her puppy. I normally try to stay well clear of situations that might bring me in contact with such people. But when she ended up behind me, and I heard her cursing me as if I were lightly sautéing said puppy in extra virgin olive oil with capers and some pressed garlic, that's when I had to take exception.

So I deliberately started walking slowly and kind of side-to-side, because if there's one thing I like doing, it's goading angry, elderly women into fights with me. Suddenly, she's all, "oh now look at this Jew with his six feet of hair, goddamn little bastard. Hurry the hell up, Jew, this isn't the line for the camps!"

(Side note: I'm not Jewish. I just have dark, curly hair is all, which makes misidentifying me an easy mistake in New York where everyone is a total racist. Or maybe it's that I'm circumcised.)

Anyway, I wheeled around on this broad like my feet were on wheels, and I said, "how friggin' rude can you get, lady? You think I'm getting in your way on purpose?"

"Baaaaah," she said angrily, "I think everyone is getting in my way on purpose! All the time!"

"That's a total wad of baby crap," I said. "You're just paranoid is all."

"Baaaaaaaaah, that's what you all think!"

I had had enough by then. "Look, lady," I said, "no one is doing this to you personally, okay? They're doing it to me personally." Which, by the way, is so true.

She left with a chorus of epithets and sheep noises trailing behind her like toilet paper stuck to a person's heel, and I watched, revolted, as she headed for the stairs toward Penn Station and Madison Square Garden, the lesbian bitch. I really hate those gays.

Lollipop translations

Translations of the epic poem, Lollipop, The Bear, with the original Anglo-Saxon included.

Hwæt. We Garbeara in geardagum,
Lo, praise of the prowess of bear-kings

þearodcyninga, þrym gefrunon,
of spear-armed Bears, in days long sped,

hu ða Chicago Cubþelingas ellen fremedon.
we have heard, and what honor the Chicago Cubs won!

Oft Sonneschen Gebeare sceaþena/ þreatum,
Oft Sunshine the Bear, from squadroned foes,

monegum Don Imus, meodosetla ofteah,
from many a Don Imus, the mead-bench tore,

egsode eorlas. Syððan ærest wearð/
awing the earls. Since erst he lay

Vespascuterceaft funden, he þæs frofre gebad,
Without a Vespa scooter, a foundling, fate repaid him:

weox under wolcnum, stici swit orðmyndum þah,
for he waxed under welkin, in a pot of honey he throve,

oðþæt him æghierflude ond Ostritcjen þara ymbsittendra
till before him the fireflies and ostritches, both far and near,

ofer hronrade hyran scolde,
who house by the whale-path, heard his mandate,

gomban gyldan ond fellatiæ. þæt wæs god cyning.
gave him gifts and blow-jobs: a good king he!

ðæm gebeareafera wæs æfter cenned,
To him a bear-heir was afterward born,

geong in geardum, þone god sende
a son in his halls, whom heaven sent

folce to frofre; fyrenðearfe ongeat
to favor the folk, feeling their woe

ond ulso fyrenð; fyr Helle ovit
and also feeling, just for the hell of it,

þe clavensticiswiten ðearfe pincitowen/
the sticky-sweet claw of their pinky toes, coated in honey

þe hie ær drugon aldorlease/
that erst they had lacked an earl for leader

lange hwile. Lollipop þæs liffrea,
so long a while; the Lord endowed Lollipop,

wuldres wealdend, woroldare forgeaf,
the Wielder of Wonder, with world's renown.

ond Rennebyw gemboydernd, lyewingdly gebepectoralis;
and a rainbow, lovingly embroidered on his chest.

Lollipop wæs breme blæd wide sprang/,
Famed was this Lollipop: far flew the boast of him,

Sonneschynes eafera Scedelandum in.
son of Sunshine, in the Scandian lands.

Swa sceal geong/ guma/ gode gewyrcean,
So becomes it a youth to quit him well

fromum feohgiftum on fæder bearme/,
with his father's bear-friends, by fee and gift,

ond Vespascuterfromum, geblasend
and with his Vespa Scooter, emblazoned with

pinc scylwig ond pinc bonem allcræssen,
a skull and crossbones, the color of a summer-tulip,

þæt hine on ylde eft gewunigen
that to aid him, aged, in after days,

wilgesiþas, þonne Don Imus cume.
come warriors willing, should Don Imus draw nigh.

Him ða Sonneschyn gewat to gescæphwile
Forth he fared at the fated moment,

felahror feran on frean wære Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
sturdy Sunshine to the shelter of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Hi hyne þa ætbæron to brimes faroðe,
Then they bore him over to ocean's billow,

swæse gesiþas, swa he selfa bæd,
loving clansmen, as late he charged them,

þenden wordum weold wine Sonnescheninga;
while wielded words the winsome Sunshine,

leof landfruma lange ahte.
the leader beloved who long had ruled....

þær æt hyðe stod hringedstefna,
In the roadstead rocked a ring-dight vessel,

isig ond utfus, Chicago Cubþelinges fær.
ice-flecked, outbound, Chicago Cub’s barge:

Aledon þa leofne þeoden-beare,
there laid they down their darling teddy bear

beaga bryttan, on bearm scipes,
on the teat of the boat, the breaker-of-rings,

mærne be mæste. þær wæs madma Vespascuter
with his genitalia firm and full. Many a Vespa Scooter

of feorwegum, frætwa, gelæded;
fetched from far was freighted with him.

ne hyrde ic cymlicor ceol gegyrwan
No ship have I known so nobly dight

hildewæpnum ond heaðowædum,
with weapons of war and weeds of battle,

billum ond byrnum; him on bearme læg,
with front-clasping bra and blade: on his bosom lay,

ond fytme potso stici swit,
and pots of honey on both of his feet,

madma mænigo, þa him mid scoldon
a heaped hoard that hence should go

on flodes æht feor gewitan.
far o'er the flood with him floating away.

ða wæs on burgum Lollipop Sonnescheninga,
Now Lollipop bode in the burg of the Sunshinelings,

leof leodcyning, longe þrage
leader beloved, and long he ruled

folcum gefræge gefæder ellor Vespascuter,
in fame with all folk, riding his Vespa Scooter

geflærde fromme scylwig ond pinc bonem allcræssen,
beflowered with skull and crossbones

gebearen Chicago Cubþelingen fær scylde,
and shouting at his bear subjects,

ond all cubbengebearen om Wyrlde/
and at all little bearcubs everywhere

þæt wæs foremærost fær modderfycker
that he was the foremost motherfucker

þa ðe Mycsingunceattas Ay-cay fyrtysevyn
whosoever had toted a machine gun

allen londen Scedelandum in
in all the lands of Scandia

þær he folc ahte glæde Sonnescheningas
or ruled o’er the glad Sunshinelings

ironfæstad, geblodegod wearð stici swit...
with an iron fist, covered in honey…

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Post-Fawkesian bloggeristic malaise, what else is new?

Sorry, everyone. I have nothing to write about today. The Fawkes party went a lot later than I thought it would, and in addition to being extremely hung over and covered in severe powder burns, I'm also still in a little bit of a funk because I still haven't gotten over this whole Robert Goulet thing. My own father (in the spiritual sense), dead (in the very corporeal sense). Oh, the horror.

I've spent most of my day exercising my God-given, constitutionally sanctioned right to read and translate olde English folk tales, just like Guy Fawkes would have wanted. As soon as I find a good one, I'll share it with you. Right now I'm just finishing up the story of Grethelwald the Butcher, who murdered his brothers in a bloodlust brought on by their abduction of his most cherished sheep, and who roamed the countryside pursued by the phantom sounds of their cursed and tormented wailing, which would often wake him up in the middle of a foggy English night and urge him ever closer to the brink of madness. Next up is the tale of Lollipop the Bear, who is, according to legend, the "baddest motherfucker ever to be born with a rainbow lovingly embroidered into the fabric of his chest."

Stay tuned!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Holy Fawkes!

Let me go on record as saying that I have been a fan of this whole Daylight Savings Time invention ever since I was a kid. It's such a consummate bit of Ben Franklin brilliance - set the clocks forward an hour every spring in order to preserve an hour of farming time, to conserve lamp oil and candle wax, and to provide even vaster expanses of time for teenagers to hang out in shopping malls. So inspired! As if I didn't have enough reasons to have a vaguely gay, vaguely necrophiliac crush on Ben Franklin already.

I may a little bit sore in the brain and body from the weekend's extra-hour-induced bacchanalia, to say nothing of lugging around my commemorative, 34-pound, cast iron clock necklace (with the double strand of exceedingly pinchy chain - ouch!). But nothing - and I mean nothing - could possibly derail my planned celebration of Guy Fawkes, the man who attempted to assassinate King James I in November 1605 because there was no daylight savings time. Is this year's timing a coincidence? I think not!

Accordingly, I put my extra hour yesterday to good use, repairing some of the stitching on my Bill Blass brand Guy Fawkes lace collar, dusting off those spilled packets of Splenda from my Guy Fawkes style tri-corner hat, and restoring my miniature replica of the British Parliament so that I can blow it up again in this year's celebratory hypothetical reenactment of the Gunpowder Plot, which I learned about during my childhood schooling in Northern Ireland, and not this morning from wikipedia.

Of course, in the real sequence of events, it's said that the torch was removed from Fawkes's hand just as he was about to light the fuse on almost a tonne of explosives. In my celebratory hypothetical reenactment, the plot to assassinate King James is actually successful, Daylight Savings Time is invented almost 200 years early, and Parliament is reduced to smithereens - smithereens which are a real pain in the ass to reassemble every year. Thank Ben Franklin himself that I had that extra hour the day before!

This year's reenactment will be held at Bryant Park at sunset (roughly 2:18 PM). We'll be simulating the torture of Fawkes and his conspirators with live volunteers, so stop by and bring the kids. And dust off your Guy Fawkes songbooks too! Here's a little chestnut for the uninitiated.
Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
When the afternoon sun is a dying ember,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why Gunpowder Treason
Or the glories of Daylight Savings season
Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t'was his intent
To blow up King and Parliament,
That's how his extra hour was spent.
Three-score barrels of powder below
To prove old England's overthrow
Once Daylight Savings Time did go;

By God's providence he was catch'd
With a dark lantern and burning match,
And a calendar too with today's date scratch'd.

Holloa boys, holloa boys, let the bells ring.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!
Holloa boys, no more daylight saving!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

The Deciding Vote Has Been Cast

During breaks in the Canning Operations department at the Dole Fruit Company, my existentialist friends and I sometimes like to sit and debate mankind's finest achievements. I should warn you, this debate is not for the faint of heart. It's a catty little clique of about fourteen of us, and I am easily the least existentialist among us, even though I rate something like a 1540 on the Briggs-Goering Scale of existentialism. Silvestre was out slashing tires in the parking lot with a Bowie knife three months ago after Ronny Balboa (yes, that's really his name) gave him fourteen reasons why Leo da Vinci's Aerial Screw wasn't even in the top five, but why the League of Nations was.

I was just getting my notes together on two potential entrants into the discussion (the massive orgy of wealth and mind control of organized religion, and rolled toilet paper) when I came across this little nugget from People Magazine:

Any non-existentialists out there may have to read that twice to pick up on the piece of incontrovertible truth upon which Peepsmag has seemingly stumbled. "Zac Efron has perfected the popular shaggy do."

Hallelujah, mankind. We fucking did it. I am so psyched to go to work tomorrow.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? Or Perhaps a Tin of Fancy Feast Gourmet Cat Food?

Once upon a time, in a faraway land known as Central New Jersey, there lived a handsome, young, aspiring writer with a head full of ideas and a pocket full of dreams covered with little bits of lint because they were kept in a pocket, after all. The young writer toiled away as a part-time waiter/restaurant manager, struggling to eke out a decent existence on nothing more than charm, chutzpah, and cash tips so that he could go on indulging his passion and his artistry, and go on writing his as-yet-unfinished first novel.

Then one day, along came a beguiling sorceress, fair of face, sweet of voice, and not short on cleavage either. In short order, the sorceress had used her wiles to convince the young writer to cohabitate with her in her magical lair. First, he gave up his weekends to paint the walls of the lair the color of cinnamon, then he gave up his free time to pick up extra shifts at work so that they could afford to decorate the lair with expensive and flimsy furniture from Pier 1 and Ikea, then he spent all his writing time cooking and cleaning for her because the sorceress was, in addition to beguiling, kind of a slob.

Unbeknownst to our hero, the sorceress had a little black cat to which our young and overburdened writer was deathly allergic. The sorceress kept the black cat hidden and secret until one day when, with the help of her suburbanite parents, the cat was imported to the second-floor lair with its cinnamon-painted walls and very poor heat retention. The gallant writer accepted the cat because he was, at heart, a generous person and a really nice guy.

The writer and the cat were bitter enemies at first, constantly hissing and spitting, attempting to claw the skin off of each other's hands and shoulders, and deliberately peeing in each other's litter boxes. But eventually, the dashing writer grew to care for the cat, despite the sneezing and the perpetual sinus infection that went along with it, and despite the fact that the cat was slightly neurotic about being handled for more than a few seconds at a time. They grew to develop a mutual trust and even affection, the kind characterized by curling up on laps during cold weather and gentle purring while the tops of noses get scratched. It was love, just like in the storybooks, if the storybooks had been written about man-cat love that definitely never involved sex, I swear to God.

But time proved treacherous to our poor protagonist, and within the space of just two years, the sorceress had grown weary of her cinnamon-walled enclosure. She wanted to branch out, explore the world, and bestow her wealth of cleavage on other unsuspecting and unfortunate souls in the Route 1-Route 130 corridor. She abandoned the young writer, the enchanting black cat, and the second-floor lair at $1195 a month to move on to a life where she would never again know love, and her breasts would be free to sag all the way to her belly button.

The still-handsome-but-not-so-young-anymore writer spent the better part of the last year reassembling his life and his self-esteem, and pulling his now severely lint-covered dreams out of the pockets of the pants he used to wear back when he was a carefree scamp with a 30-inch waist. But the real loser has been the cat, who now finds herself removed from her home and unwelcome almost everywhere she goes. The sorceress and her suburbanite parents refuse to return phone calls, and our poor writer is now faced with the impossible task of giving up an animal that was more than an animal for a while; she was a friend.

Would you like to give that friend a home?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Wal-Mart Changes Name to Wal-Smart
And Then On the Next Line
You Can Totally Tell Why in Parentheses

This picture was sent to me by Karyn, a devoted reader of and leaver of anonymous comments on YATOPNRTB. It's a picture of a cake delivered by a Wal-Mart in Minnesota for a going away party for a woman named Suzanne. I know how hard it is to generate any compassion about bad things happening to people who order cakes from Wal-Mart and live in states where they elected Jesse "The Body" Ventura governor and then followed him up with a Republican (I'm talking to you, Tim Pawlenty, you bow-legged hack!). But in this case, it's the stupidity of the Wal-Mart bakery employee that takes the cake. Pun intended.

Later, that same week...

[A phone rings.]
Wal-Mart Employee: Oh hi! Thank you for calling The Wall-Marts.

Perfectly Gruntled Minnesotan: Yes, I'd like to order a cake.

Wal-Mart Employee
: What that is?

Still Gruntled Minnesotan
: A cake? Like... what you serve at birthdays and going-away parties?

Wal-Mart Employee
: Does you mean a balloon?

Slightly Less Gruntled Minnesotan
: Um... sure.

Wal-Mart Employee
: Oh, sorry, The Wall-Marts no does sell balloons. I has to go now. [Drools audibly.]

Minnesotan Hanging On To That Last Little Morsel of Gruntle
: Are you drooling audibly? [Beat.] Hello?

[A phone rings.]

Another Wal-Mart Employee
: Oh hi! This is The Wall-Marts!

: Um... uh... can I... do you have a bakery department?

Another Wal-Mart Employee
: A baking green apartment? Hi! This is The Wall-Marts!

: Right, I know. Is there a bakery department in Wal-Mart?

Another Wal-Mart Employee
: Um... you hangs on ok? [Muffled:] Does we has a baking green apartment at The Wall-Marts? [Falls down.]

: This is ridiculous. I'll just check on the website. [Hangs up, begins to seriously lose gruntle.]

[A phone rings.]

Wal-Mart Bakery Employee
: Hi! You are calling The Wall-Marts Baking Green Apartment!

Disgruntled, But Still Naive and Trusting Minnesotan
: Hi, yes, I'd like to order a cake for a going away party.

Wal-Mart Bakery Employee
: Ok grate! I is happy to insist you! What is cakefur?

Minnesotan With Adjectives Listed Above
: It's for a going away party.

Wal-Mart Bakery Employee
: Um, ok grate!

That Same Minnesotan
: And can you write on it, "good luck, Marie," and then an exclamation point, and then on the line below that, "we wish you all the best," no wait, just "we wish you the best" is fine?

Wal-Mart Bakery Employee
: [Long pause.] Um... ok grate? Does you has pick up cake on next week?

Minnesotan Heading For, Like, Three Separate Disappointments
: What? Next week? No, I need it by Friday.

Wal-Mart Bakery Employee
: Friday. Ok grate! [Shits self.]

Minnesotan Who Obviously Voted for Jesse Ventura and Therefore Has A Sad and Misplaced Trust in Things Working the Way They're Supposed To
: Okay. Thanks. Um... bye. [Hangs up.]