Thursday, December 31, 2009

This makes Me So Tens.

My New Year's resolution for 2010 is to not let this bother me.
The first century AD was years 1 - 100.
The second century was 101 - 200.
Hang on, because I'm going to skip ahead.
The 20th century was the years 1901 - 2000.
The 21st century goes from 2001 to 2100.
It follows that the first decade of the 21st century started with 2001 and will end with 2010.

I thought the Associated Press would know that. They write, however, that "Revelers across the globe at least temporarily shelved worries about their future prospects to bid farewell to the first decade of the 21st century."

I blame Obama. He faked his birth certificate to show that he was born in Hawaii in 1961. He was actually born in Bethlehem in the year 1. No wait, I'm reading literature from his election committee. Anyway, the confusion about his birth throws off the whole perception of our calendar.

Obamacare created death panels that are euthanizing First-Decade Father Time a year early. The left wing socialist agenda has taken away our country and now this. Take back our decade from Obama!

I get that we consider decades to be those ten years that have a common number in the 10s place. The 90s started with 1990 and ended with 1999. It would be silly to call 2000 part of the 90s. So I know we're bidding farewell to the zeros or the aughts or something. And I think that's the problem.

Saying that we are ending the decade of the aughts makes us feel ancient. No one uses the word "aught" anymore, mainly because no one knows what "aught" means, any more than they know when the century starts and ends. We're not going to call it the "zeros" either because it just reminds us how many zeros we lost off the end of our investments and how many zeros we gave to bailout the people who lost them.

This is why people, including the AP just say we're ending the first decade of the century. We're lazy and disgusted and just want to have a fresh start, even if we have to twist reality a bit. Why not, that was the hallmark of the past ten years.

So I'm willing to embrace a new beginning, I just can't help cringing when people can't count the years properly. I'm happy I have only a few more hours to let it bother me. No, wait. I have another year left.

(Obama death panel image from here)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Don't Look At Me. I'm Hideous!

Before you stands the grim reaper, beckoning you with his bony finger. Next to him is an MC, beckoning you on stage to speak before a crowd. Supposedly most people fear the walk to the microphone more than the walk with Death. It seems now that they would also prefer to fly with Death than stand before a backscatter scanner so that a TSA agent can see images of their bodies.

“High-tech security scanners that might have prevented the Christmas Day attempt to blow up a jetliner have been installed in only a small number of airports around the world, in large part because of privacy concerns over the way the machines see through clothing.”

Privacy? The people I have seen in airports ought to be embarrassed by having their lack of parenting skills exposed to a planeload of strangers, but they are not. They ought to be embarrassed by the lack of fashion sense exposed by the vacation attire chosen to cover their private bodies, but they are not. They ought to be embarrassed that they ignored the announcements about taking only one carryon and stuffed their three bags in the overhead above my seat, but they are not. So why the big deal about some TSA agent seeing an MRI type image of their fat asses? The agent is probably more disinterested in the hideous body images he must endure all day every day than a proctologist is in the hideous things she has to examine repeatedly. And the backscatter images don’t smell bad.

Look at the images I’ve included here. Sure, the woman might be shamed by the unfortunate tattoo of a gun on her hip, but it’s far from an intimate view of her body. You can see the man’s love handles bulging over what is undoubtedly his tight underwear but you can’t tell it’s Spongebob underwear. You might be able to identify a tiny bulge from his, um, love handle, which might be embarrassing, but, really, was he going to hit on the TSA agent? No. (This guy looks sort of like Adam West in his Batman outfit.)

I have two ideas that would make people not only comfortable with the backscatter scans, it would cause demand for it. What they should do is scan everyone’s image and then have them all displayed at the gate area, just like the pictures at the end of a roller coaster ride. If they charged 5 bucks for your own personal copy, people would suddenly value these images just like the ones where they are screaming like a baby and wetting their pants on The Beast at King’s Island.

My other idea was inspired by the fake nude photos of celebrities on the internet. Which I have heard about. If every scanned body image had Meghan Fox’s face (or Brad Pitt’s, if appropriate) Photoshopped® over it, it would take away the discomfort. No one cares if those people have their privacy invaded - it is in fact a highly profitable industry.

My other idea is to combine the backscatter scanner with the concept of the measure-your-carryon frame they have at the gate. If the scanned body image were superimposed over an image of the airline seat, they could identify the obese passengers who need to pay extra for the weight they are carrying on. This idea isn’t going to make people happier with the scanners, it’s more of a practical matter. By the time these scanners get approved and installed the average American will have grown too fat to fly.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Words Are Flowing Out Like Weasles Screeching From a Paper Cut

Today I was listening to the last CD in the Beatles boxed set I got for my birthday.

The single version of "Across the Universe" came on just as I was about to enter the highway. Suddenly something went horribly wrong with my car's engine. There was the unmistakable sound of metal scraping on metal. I'd clearly thrown a rod or lost my bearings or mangled my flux capacitor.

I was wondering if I could make it to the next exit when i realized it wasn't the engine; the sound was coming from my speakers. This was not a serious a problem but still upsetting. The sound system in my Honda Element is excellent and I would have to get it fixed immediately. I wondered how much it would cost to get rid of that ear-piercing whine that was now ruining John Lennon's solo.

I figured out that it was someone else singing with John - either Yoko Ono or an actual beetle whose testicles were being squashed in a vice. Since the "voice" matched the one you can hear on "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill" (from the white album) I decided it was Yoko.

I hadn't known there was a single version of "Across the Universe" and I understand why. They would not have released it in the US without a warning about "offensive lyrics", in that the lyrics were sung in the most offensive way imaginable.

I don't know why Paul didn't learn from this. Have you ever heard this live rendition of "Hey Jude" which Linda McCartney sang the way I do it in my car?

What made Paul and John think adding their wives to the team was a good idea? Would Peyton Manning bring Mrs. Manning on the field to throw short wobbly passes? Would Tiger Woods bring his wife to a tournament to swing a few clubs and drive off his girlfriends? Would I bring my wife to work to miscount the beans or bring her on stage to blow the punch line to a bit? I think not.

Of course Linda ruined only a Wings concert. Yoko ruined Beatles songs, precipitating the breakup of the group. Instant bad karma.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Senate Compromised

VICTORIA KENNEDY - Harry, I said, "if you get health care reform passed this year, I'd be so happy I could kiss you". That's just an expression.
REID - It was a wager! You bet me I couldn't get it passed and if I did, you'd kiss me.
KENNEDY - It wasn't a bet.
REID - Do you know what I had to do with Joe Lieberman to try and get his vote? And then after he literally did it to me, he figuratively repeated the act by refusing to support the bill as written.
KENNEDY - Geez. Okay. One little kiss.
REID - Full on the lips.
KENNEDY - Yuck! Why don't you go molest Olympia Snow?
REID - She voted the bill out of finance on the promise I would leave her alone. She's colder than her Maine winters. Come on, open mouth...
KENNEDY - Oh, God, Harry, have some respect for Ted.
REID - He's dead. Look, I had to bring in some working girls from Nevada to get Ben Nelson's vote. Have a little love for an old man. You promised. A kiss. Full on the lips. With tongue.
KENNEDY - Gross! No tongue! And don't put your hands any lower than that!
REID - I'm just trying to avoid falling over. Hold on to me. Now, gimme some lovin'.
KENNEDY - Christ! Do you have a breath mint?
DODD - I call seconds!
KENNEDY - In your dreams, Dodd.
DODD - I meant with Harry. Lieberman says he's fantastic.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Oh Darling, Ask Me Why I'm a Loser

I have to tell you these facts in the proper sequence.

When we moved on from collected nursery rhyme record albums, my mother bought us these records that had like one contemporary novelty song (“Itsy-Bitsy, Teeny-Weenie, Yellow, Polka Dot Bikini”, “Alley Oop” or “Purple People Eater”) and a bunch of children's’ songs. We bought them at Ralph’s or Vons or some local grocery store.

My first contemporary pop record album was “The Beatles’ Second Album”. I wish I could remember what the next album I got was. I used to keep all my record albums in the order I acquired them – it was very important to me for some reason – and when I’m feeling stressed I have the urge to pull them all out and put them back in that arrangement.

We began getting Beatles albums 1963 or 4, which was when Susan and I started taking over the car radio. As pre-teen rebels we no longer consented to spend every car ride singing together from the Mitch Miller songbook. My parents had taught us drinking songs like “There’s a Tavern in the Town” and “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon”, so they was no concern over us being corrupted any further by godless rock and roll, and Mom caved. Besides, the Beatles were the gods of rock and roll then (“more popular than Jesus Christ”). We saw “Hard Days Night” three times in 2 days.

I have no idea what Mom would have chosen on the radio, if she had any power in the family dynamic, but we got to listen to The Beatles and Chuck Berry and whatever else was on 93 KHJ and KRLA. I also had a transistor radio that I hung on the handlebars of my bike while I delivered papers, so I could listen to the 93 KHJ Boss 30 hits, of which 20 were Beatles songs on any given week.

Through gifts or baby-sitting money I eventually acquired every Beatles album. And it was very important to me to have them in order – when I stopped keeping them by acquisition date, all my various LPs went alphabetically by group and within the group, by release date. I’m not sure if that’s OCD or anal-retentive but, either way, don’t touch my records, EVER! The fact that the U.S. Beatles album releases were totally screwed up, in that they didn't follow the progression of the original British products, was maddening. I had 6 years of therapy dealing with where “Something New” should be filed, because it wasn’t anything new; it was old singles and other songs Capitol had left off earlier albums.

Forty years later the technology of mp3 players resolved my psychosis: the songs are stored digitally and no one can put their grubby hands on them and erroneously file “Sgt Pepper” in front of “Help!”. My albums are stored in the cabinet where I don’t look at them, but I know they remain arranged appropriately.

Then, a couple weeks ago, for my birthday, my in-laws gave me the complete boxed set of remastered Beatles albums (on CD) – every one of The British releases – and all packaged in the order of release. This is awesome because, even though I have all the songs on my iPod, I now have the comfort of having these albums lined up properly. Neatly inside a box. In my house. Of course “Let it Be” is there, after “Abbey Road”, where it was released, instead of before, where it was produced, and that makes me slightly edgy. The thing that triggers the real angst, though, it the CD they put at the end of the set: rarities and singles that weren’t on albums.

I am going through the box listening to each CD in order, even listening to the songs I never really liked that much, like “Within You and Without You.” I’m serious; I even listened to the entire “Yellow Submarine” album which has two decent songs, 4 crappy ones (“Only a Northern Song” has lyrics that say “you may think this song is f-ed up, but it’s okay, it’s only a Northern song.” WTF? – and BTW the movie sucked too) If I were to skip the Yellow Submarine sound track music orchestrated by George Martin (not actual Beatles songs) no one would know but me. Yet I have to do it correctly.

I listen to the CDs in my car on the way home from work. So what should I do with that last CD? I feel like I should keep it handy and listen to each song off of it, in between the others, at the point where the single was released. Switching the CDs while driving could lead to an accident, but at least I’d obtain the serenity of having listened in an orderly fashion.

Maybe I should just put all the CDs in my car and drive direct to the hospital. They could put me in a nice room where I could listen to the CDs in every possible order so I would know that at least one time through I had it right.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Hold the Figgy Pudding

You can pretty much peg the date just by looking in our office kitchen. Right after Thanksgiving the trays, boxes and bins of sweets, cookies and nuts start getting delivered by clients and vendors. People are starting to make goodies at home and bringing in the practice batches or the cookies from the cookie exchange that they didn’t like.

Yesterday at 7:30 a.m. there was a tray of nearly 50 cupcakes and a big plate of cookies put out on the table. At 11:30 one third of them remained untouched. And that’s how you know it’s about 10 days until Christmas. We’ve had nearly three weeks of this stuff and we just can’t take much more.

Any other time of the year, a tray of cupcakes would be gone before the person who brought them could hit “send” for the mass email announcing their arrival. Now those emails are treated like spam, deleted without opening or blocked if the subject line includes “holiday treats in the kitchen”. As rapidly as we are expanding our own personal inner storage spaces, we still can’t keep up with the suppliers’ delivery schedules.

I have a worse problem because I ate three pounds of latkes a couple nights ago and I’m still recovering.

Doesn’t anybody give booze anymore?

It’s the most unhealthful time of the year
With our bellies all swelling
And everyone telling you "Cookies are here"
It's the most unhealthful time of the year
It's the crap-happiest season of all:
With junk food at our meetings and so much we’re eating
That we can’t recall
It's the crap-happiest season of all

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Mathematics of Hanukkah

The biggest problem the Jewish people in the U.S. have is a matter of numbers. Perhaps it stems from being a minority that has been further reduced by assimilation - and when you combine assimilation and minority you get asymmetry.

The asymmetrical Jewish issue manifests itself most notably in packages of kosher hot dogs. Kosher hot dogs are simply the best tasting, but that’s a subject for another day. The problem with them is that they come 7 to a package. The buns are 8 to a package. Since 7 is a prime number, the least common multiple of 7 and 8 is 7 X 8, or 56. You have to serve 56 hot dogs to make it come out even. To use them all, we could have a big BBQ in the back yard, but that will never happen. Why? Because Jews don’t have backyard BBQ parties.

The other asymmetry problem affects only 8/365ths of the year, at Hanukkah. To light the candles for all eight days, including the shamash candle, you need 2 + 3 + 4 + 5+ 6 + 7 + 8 +9 candles. To sum a series of numbers from 1 to n, the formula is ((n+1 * n) / 2. In this case, since there is no 1, the formula is (((9+1)*9)/2 )– 1 = 44. These can be neatly packaged in several ways. Go to any store that sells them and you will find rectangular boxes with 4 rows of 11 nestled together, or alternating rows 5,6,5,6,5,6,5,6 or 7,8,7,8,7,8 (one extra, just in case) or in some triangular box configuration. (The 5,6 or 7,8 are from Shlamiel, Shlamozzel, Hanukkah Candles, Incorporated). Any of these will work, so what’s the problem?

Look at all those different styles of candles! There is no freaking standard size! The same thing goes for the candleholder parts of your Hanukkiah.
You get your candles home and they are either Olive Oyls that are just too skinny and flop over, or they are Popeye arms on steroids and you have to carve the bottoms to make them fit.

If you go buy socket wrenches at Home Depot, there are standards so that you know the wrenches you buy will fit the nuts that exist in the world. Okay, you have to buy metric and SAE to be sure you are covered, but the point is, standards exist for wrenches and nuts. For Hanukkah candles and menorahs, not so much. There is no Bayit Depot to go find compatible symmetry of candles and holders.

Do you know how many nit-picky, detailed laws and procedures are in the Torah? Precise steps are written for how to prepare a sacrifice or wear clothes or any number of things (probably an irrational number of things). Beyond the Torah, there are specific rules on how to ensure that kosher hot dogs are kosher. So, could there be a rule that says you put eight hot dogs in a package or you standardize the candleholders and candles for Hanukkah? Eh. I guess God did not find this important.

Of course, there is no standardization of spelling for Hanukkah, so what was I even thinking?

I am sure Rabbis have considered the candle/candleholder issue and there is a reason, which comes to us through interpretation of the Torah. I should ask next time our Rabbi comes over for a backyard BBQ party.

Friday, December 11, 2009

UC Bearcat Fans Beg Brian Kelly

"More?! You want more?!" Kelly bellows as he shoves us aside on his way to his dream job in Notre Dame.

If I were the coach of a team about to play in the Sugar Bowl against Florida (the number 1 team almost all year long) and with the probable chance of playing for a national championship in a couple years, I don't think I'd go somewhere I am set up to fail and have to live in South Bend.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Keeping it Real

Last time I did standup I really thought it was the last time. Waiting to go on I felt old and out of place. On the way home, after the show I thought of a joke that addressed that feeling. That is my style, starting from someplace real and pushing it to where it would make people connect with that place and laugh. I knew exactly how to deliver it.

The next morning I woke up and had a complete joke in my head. An awesome joke, but one that was outside my usual style. I have no idea why I thought of it. It’s based on sleeping with the maid of honor at a wedding – something that could be real, but not for me. That afternoon, on the way home from work, I came up with the second half of that joke, which up until that moment I hadn’t known HAD a second half to it..

I knew I was going to have to perform again just to do those two new jokes. So figured out a way to take part of what I did last time, plus the two new bits and tie them all together with a theme about being old (because I am) and thus it’s all based on something real, just the way I like it.

The thing is, the material is all cruder than what I usually do. Not that I have ever shied away from sex as a topic or from a couple four-letter words; but, well, this routine might offers the suggestion that I like to play sex-education show-and-tell with your young children in the park. But that’s mild stuff for Go Bananas, so no problem, unless, say, my daughter decides to come to the show, which she never has wanted to.

Naturally my daughter decided she is finally comfortable with coming to see me do standup and brought her new boyfriend just to raise the awkwardness level to orange. Comedy comes from dark places but does anyone want his daughter to know he has dark places?
My five minutes went great. I did forget a couple lines, but they were incidental. I got laughs from the opening to the end (which sounds vaguely nasty). My daughter claimed she was not traumatized and we all went home happy. Today I did not wake up with a joke in my head. It didn’t come to me until I got to work. Something to do with whether doing stand up is better than sex. I might have to go back again.

Sources: Obama to be New Norwegian Leader

Hot Freak Style News – Oslo, Norway – Sources inside the Norwegian government are reporting that Barack Obama will take over as King of Norway on January 1, 2010. The story is being reported by the AP, on CSPAN and in the Oslo Enquirer. President Obama has flown to Norway is is thought to be finalizing the deal today.

Speculation has centered around Obama for weeks as Norway seeks to replace their current monarch and return to a role as a world leader in inspirational speeches. Obama has succeeded at every level of government in speaking eloquently and intelligently, most recently restoring the Democratic Party’s goal of having a health care reform bill brought to the brink of success before its expected failure on a national stage at the end of the year. Obama is also known to be at odds with American freedom and democracy, aspiring instead to rule as a benevolent Socialist monarch.

Other world leaders have been mentioned as candidates for the Norway job. Hugo Chavez has managed to get Venezuela mentioned prominently in world news recently but his reliance on fear and intimidation is thought to be inconsistent with Norway’s ideals. Moammar Khadafi was thought to be the favorite at one point but his failure to deliver a coherent speech at the UN last year dropped him from consideration.

Obama did agree to a four-year contract with the United States just over one year ago. However, his contract had an escape clause if the Norway Throne were offered to him. The King of Norway is considered the pinnacle of government leadership among rulers in the Western hemisphere.

Cabinet members were expecting Obama to speak with them directly about the move in a private meeting before the official announcement. However, Obama left for Norway without having such a meeting. Some of the cabinet members were recruited by Obama’s predecessors, most by Bill Clinton, and, while they hold an allegiance to President Obama, they are not as emotional about it as those members recruited by Obama himself. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner broke down in tears when asked his reaction to the expected announcement.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Clueless in L.A.

After graduating college with a BS degree in economic theory (yes, yes, that’s redundant) I got a job as a management trainee at a local savings-and-loan in Westchester, a suburb of L.A. It was not quite the Bailey Building and Loan in Bedford Falls, but it was small-townish and full of quirky characters.

There were two other trainees who started the same day I did: Debbie and Sam. Sam would sit with me at lunch and tell me about his life, such as the fact that he had joined the Mormon Church and been disowned by his Catholic parents. He may have befriended me just for my height, because he soon invited me to join his team in the local Latter Day Saints basketball league. Before the first game, Sam was clearly worried about something. Finally he explained that the rules were pretty much the same as any other basketball game, except that anyone who cursed would be penalized. Sam was afraid that, as a heathen, I would not be able to keep a civil tongue. I managed to muzzle myself, but one opponent who lacked self-control helped us win a game with foul shots off his foul mouth. Sam Frustaci left the S&L before our first year was up and I never saw him again until he showed up in the news.

At the branch where I spent most of my brief S&L career, Jose was our portly armed guard. I used to wonder whether Jose’s gun was as loaded as he was. I wondered, if we were robbed, would he be able to pull his gun as fast as he could sneak a pull on his flask? Fortunately, that wasn’t the branch that was robbed while I was working in it. Sometimes while I was having lunch, Jose would hang around the break room and chat. I enjoyed his company, though some of conversation may have been under the influence; like his occasional suggestion that I ask Jenny out to dinner or a movie. Where did that come from?

Jenny was a teller who was very tall and slender – well skinny is more accurate – okay, stick-like, actually. Sometimes we had lunch break at the same time and would do crossword puzzles together. She was smart and funny. She told me one of my favorite jokes, a more elaborate and funnier version of this one, and she told it using goofy voices. Eventually I was transferred to a different branch and Jenny left the S&L. I later learned through a round about way that when Jenny had lunch break alone, Jose would hang around the break room and listen to Jenny tell about how much she wanted me to ask her out. Yeah, you figured that out, but I never did. Yes, I was pretty dense.

That branch where Jose and Jenny and I worked had the best customers. There was Will, a tall guy about 25 or so who had some kind of mental condition which left him perfectly capable of functioning in the world – the World of Will, that is. He was socially withdrawn so he was never very talkative, but he was never unpleasant; he just did odd things. One day he got up to my window, stared at me a moment and then deliberately fell over backward with a thud. He then stood up and made a small withdrawal from his account. One day he came in with a maple leaf he wanted to put in his account. Dan the manager told Will he was at the wrong branch.

Mrs. Grabovsky was a very tiny, wiry woman from the Old Country. Which Eastern European Old Country I never knew, but her life there had clearly left her wizened and bitter. I imagined that she was unable to eat since her lips were perpetually pressed so tightly together that her mouth was lost among the creases on her face and I doubted its existence.. She appeared to have only one good eye because she looked at everything with her head cocked slightly to the side and her right eye wide, left eye almost closed. Whatever transaction she needed done on a given visit, she was sure that the teller was doing it wrong and stealing her money. When one of us completed an entry and handed her savings passbook back (passbook: look it up) Mrs. Grabovsky would peer at the book with that one evil eye and then focus the orb on the teller. She never spoke the curses out loud but we knew she was placing them on us.

Bill’s mom would come in often. Bill was a guy I had known all through high school. We were never really close but we shared several classes and several friends. Bill did very well in school but always seemed distant and as if he carried some unnamed burden. After high school we lost touch. I knew who his mother was but she didn’t know me. Always looking grim and a little disheveled, she would hand over her passbook with the dwindling balance totals and take out five or ten dollars at a time. One day I happened to leave on break just as she was going out the door. I was going to the convenience store next to the S&L and so was she. She used her withdrawal to buy a bottle of vodka. I found out that’s what she did each visit.

Eventually I decided to become a CPA instead of a banker and resigned. For my last two weeks they assigned me to the worst branch, out in Hawthorne. Coincidently, I was reunited with Debbie, the girl who started the same day I did. She was working the window next to mine the day I saw the man come in with a shotgun. The guy, in dark clothes was sliding along outside the window and then carefully opened the door; mostly what I focused on what the long barrel of the gun. Turns out he was a policeman. He and his partners had been summoned by the silent alarm that Debbie had pulled when she was robbed. About 15 minutes earlier a customer handed her a note telling her he had a gun and she should give him all her money. Standing right next to her I didn’t even notice what was going on as she emptied her drawer and gave it to the guy, who left without incident. She then stepped on the alarm button and, very shaken, told the manager what happened. Iwas clueless until the cops arrived.

I think I was clueless the whole time I worked there.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Lillies of the Field Neither Toil Nor Spin - But Reporters Do

When my daughter was about 9-years-old, we bought her a fish tank and, to make it more interesting, we bought a fish. We didn't know that we had bought a "married" fish, but we found out when the fish had babies. Shortly after the widdle fishies were born, they began to disappear. One day we had 10 fish babies, the next day only 5 and then 2. (Swim, widdle fishies, swim if you can! … Damn!) We managed to save the last fish baby from the cannibal mommy.

This was an obvious teaching moment. It taught my daughter to be careful around her mother, especially before meals. I wish we had found the way to make this traumatic incident into a sign of hope instead of a harsh reality, but we didn’t know how.

Much too long after the fact, I have finally gained that insight, thanks to the news people. The AP is reporting that only 11,000 US jobs were lost in November, the lowest monthly figure since 2007 and they tell us that “this raised hopes for a sustained economic recovery.“ Clearly, what I should have told my daughter on the third day of Fish Horror was, “Look, Allie, the mommy fish ate fewer of her own precious babies today than the last two days. That means we’ll start seeing babies reappear tomorrow.”

A few years ago the murder rate in Cincinnati declined in one year compared to the previous year. In particular, the number of gang-related homicides dropped. The police interpreted that as a sign that their efforts to reduce crime were working. I took it as a sign that, after gang members kill each other, there are fewer gang members left to kill. When all the jobs are gone, we will finally see zero job losses in one month; but we won’t know it because all the reporters will be unemployed. But surely the total lack of jobs can lead only to prosperity, right?

The slow decline in the rate of fish consumption in Allie’s tank did not predict new fish appearing. The only common factor in the eating and the birthing was that the Mother was involved. The economy giveth jobs and the economy taketh them away but one doth not predict the other.

The other strange element of the AP story is that 11,000 jobs were lost in November and yet the unemployment rate dropped. How can that be?

The unemployment rate they are using counts people who are looking for work and can’t find it. So it can drop in one of two ways: those people find work, or they stop looking. 11,000 job losses can’t mean people found work. So we have to conclude that more than 11,000 people stopped looking. (The number of people in the unemployment office went down, not the number of unemployed). They either decided rather than be “unemployed” they would be “retired” or “dead” or probably they took a job in the economy-which-is-not-officially-measured: drug dealing, prostitution, lottery ticket buying or reality show seeking.

People keep saying the economy is about to turn the corner. But which way are we turning? If you get mugged and robbed on the street, don’t let some reporter tell you that means prosperity is just around the corner. Be prepared to defend yourself when you reach the corner because, if you turn the wrong way, you might meet another mugger … or a hungry mommy fish.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Memory Game

One evening my wife asked me to check what was on TV. I started to click around, but on the Customer Information Channel I got distracted by the promo for that movie with Sean Penn. You know. That movie where he’s a gay politician? Milk! That’s it. Somebody Milk.

In the scene that caught my attention, Milk was talking to the other guy, and looking at that actor, I thought Milk was talking to George Bush, who the other guy played in "W". Of course I found that funny - because of the type casting - so I said,
”That actor, there …”
KAREN: “Sean Penn?”
ME: “No, the one who plays the guy that shoots him… Dan.”
KAREN: “Yeah?”
ME: “The actor, who plays Dan … I can’t think of Dan’s name …”
KAREN: “Mmmm…”
ME: “Anyway, he plays Dan, who kills Harvey Milk and he also plays "W". Two evil roles. Like typecasting.
KAREN: “Ha. Yeah.” (Okay, I thought it was funnier than "Ha.Yaeh." but I moved on to trying to remember the guy's name)
ME: “James something.”
KAREN: “Yes.”
ME: “Jaaaaames …?”
KAREN: “His dad played a doctor. I mean in our time. Doctuuurrrr … Kildare?”
ME: “No. The one who worked with Dr. Welby.” At this point, in my head I was making a connection with the father actor in some commercial for auto parts with an annoying jingle.
KAREN: “But he was a doctor.”
ME: “Yeah. Oh, Dan White!”
KAREN: “Right.”
ME: Played by James something. We’re almost there. I’m going to have to go to Google.” I picked up the laptop, but then I remembered. “James Brolin!”
KAREN: “… was the father.”
ME: “….on Dr. Welby, MD”
I googled “brolin george bush imdb”. “Josh Brolin,” I announced.
KAREN: “Yes, I was thinking it was a ‘J’ name.”
I googled “james brolin marcus welby”.
ME: “James Brolin was best known for … Dr. Steven Kiley … Marcus Welby, M.D.”
KAREN: “Kiley. I was close. I said Kildare.”
ME: “Yeah. K I L. Not bad. Oh! Double-A M C O!"

We used to entertain ourselves with card games or Scrabble or Trivial Pursuit. Now this memory game fills the evening just as well.

The game changes with age. I see our future whenever we visit the in-laws. (My father-in-law's initials, by the way, are CRS)
DAD: “That guy there. Not the one that married the singer. The other one, who shot him.””
MOM: “Sean Penn?”
DAD: “The other one.”
MOM: “The other one’s father was a doctor.”
DAD: “I think his father played a doctor.”
MOM: “On Marcus Welby.”
DAD: “What?”
MOM: “Marcus Welby.”
DAD: “Marcus Welby?”
MOM: “Robert Young. He was on the show with the father of that guy.”
DAD: “Sean Penn?”
MOM: “He’s dead now.”
DAD: “Milk is dead.”
MOM: “I just said Marcus is dead. Welby, Kildare, Ben Casey. They’re all dead.”
DAD: “You know Sam Fishman died yesterday.”
MOM: “Oh, here’s Karen and John. Hello. We were just watching that movie where Sean Penn dies.”
DAD: “We weren’t watching the movie. It was a preview.”
MOM: “It wasn’t the movie. We were watching a preview.”
DAD: “What?”

And so it goes. Their game is like playing Scrabble back to back, with two boards. As far as I know, it’s still entertaining. And if it’s not, who remembers?

Monday, November 30, 2009

Crash Into Me

Six days after reality show star wannabees, Michaele and Tareq Salahi, crashed a state dinner at the White House, they continue to get their names and faces in every news and entertainment medium; and I do mean EVERY medium: on iTunes you can download Bing Crosby’s new Christmas tune, “Michaele and Tareq Salahi is the thing to say, on a bright Hawaiian Christmas day.”

The saga seems destined to continue endlessly and now they want their adventure to become a book, which would then be turned into a 3D animated movie by Pixar.
I flipped around the cable news stations and this is what I heard today:

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Wecome back to Hardball. My guests are Republican Senator Mad Redface and Democratic Congressperson Whiney Holdhisbreath Blueface. Gentlemen, Here’s what my question is, because after all these reports I have a question, and I want you to answer it, after I ask it, and here’s what it is, do you think the Secret Service should be punished?
REDFACE: Well, I ...
MATTHEWS: Because a lot of people are saying they should. But who’s to blame. I mean, that’s my question, and I’m just saying, I’m asking.


GRETCHEN CARLSON: You're back with Fox and Friends. You know what? Did Obama bow? I bet he bowed to these people.
STEVE DOOCY: Given everything we know about him, I’m sure he did.
CARLSON: What kind of a name is Salahi?
DOOCY: It’s a weird, crazy name. Tareq Salahi? They’re illegal alien Muslims.
CARLSON: He’s turning us into an alien Muslim country and bowing to them.


KEITH OLBERMANN: Bill O’Reilly reported that some New Yorkers at the party got bombed at the bar and he suggested that therefore the Salahi’s were connected to 9/11. And for that, Bill-O is today’s ... woorrst person in the wooorrrld.


GLENN BECK: The fact that no one is raising this question shows that there is a coverup. The Salahis knew where Bin Laden was hiding but the Secret Service didn’t ask. Am I the only one who sees this?


MATTHEWS: The couple posed for pictures with Joe Biden. The wife is pretty hot, in my opinion. Look at her with her hands on Biden. According to Biden, the Obama team had set up a website for people to report that they weren’t invited but the Salihis didn’t understand how to use it. What do you think? Was it Biden or Obama or do you think the secret service is at fault?
BLUEFACE: Are you done?
BLUEFACE: Okay I think...
MATTHEWS: Sorry I’ve got to cut you off. We’re out of time


CAMPBELL BROWN: On CNN News we did some investigative reporting and we have graphics and magic boards showing that the Salahis wanted to be on real housewives of DC. We’re here with JohnnyB who claims to be an expert on wanting to be a reality show.
JOHNNYB: I want to do a show about being a CPA and a comedy writer.
BROWN: A totally bizarre combination.
JOHNNYB: Exactly. I've been trying to become famous on that premise for years. These Salahi yahoos go to a party uninvited and you can’t turn around without stepping in their fame. I wrote great comedy for a well known radio star for years and couldn’t even get a mention in his biography.
BROWN: Some radio guy failed to mention you in a book? That's your story?
BROWN: So you are not really an expert, you’re just bitter?


OLBERMANN: While your critics rail against you, you, Mr. President, stood up for the right of everyone to have health care and now you stand for the right of every American to attend a state dinner, opening up our government to all who are hungry…


GRETA VAN SUSTEREN: Fox News has just received a startling 911 phone recording.
OPERATOR: 911. What's your emergency?
MAN: Oh God, I think my son just crashed a state dinner.
OPERATOR: You think he did or he did?
MAN: I don’t know. He was hanging around the function and I was trying to work on this reality show I'm developing and then the state dinner started up and we can’t find my son.
BOY: Can I come out yet dad?


OLBERMANN: That’s it for November 30, day 6 of the coverage of the state dinner party crashers.

Just Bury The Crap

Finding lies and inaccuracies in Sarah Palin's book is like finding cat turds in a litter box: unpleasant but not unexpected. If you know what it's full of, why keep sifting through it?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Number 1 Golfer’s Club Injured In Late Night Incident

Hot Freak Style News – Orlando, FL - One of Tiger Woods’ championship golf clubs was reported injured during an argument between the golfer and his wife early Friday morning. Neighbors reported that golf pros riding carts equipped with sirens woke them at about 3 a.m. as they rushed to care for the damaged club.

Former model Elin Nordegren was said to be teed off with her husband over reports of an affair he had with sexy Manhattan hostess and VIP diva, Rachel Uchitel. Tiger is known to favor women with foreign names who also happen to be smoking hot.

Initially the couple told police that the club was in the back of their SUV and was damaged when Woods was pulling out of the driveway at 2 a.m. to “hit the driving range” but instead hit a fire hydrant and a tree. Investigators say that the injuries to the club were not consistent with a fall from a vehicle. “The damage matches the pattern of scratches and bends occurring when a jealous wife swings the club at her husbands car. Happens all too often in Florida,” said the club forensics expert from the Orlando police department. "It appears she also bashed the windows of the SUV, making a hole in one," he added.

Officials are keeping the condition and identity of the club confidential. One wonders if Woods’ wife would wield a wood and whether Woods was wounded. Perhaps his spouse preferred to pursue and pummel the player with his prized putter for purportedly playing a round with his paramour.

Rumors suggest that the club with which Woods’ wife whacked her wandering husband was also involved in the liaison with the hostess/whore. However, photos of the two together reveal that Uchitel was present both when Tiger was sporting his wood and when he was stroking his putts, so it remains a mystery which of his sticks he was struck by.

It is also unknown whether Tiger's balls were involved in the fracas. Fans hope the situation can be ironed out. Hot Freak Style News will continue to follow the story.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

No Thanks To You

I want to express my thanks for many things, but I won’t, because it only leads to trouble.

Naturally, I am thankful for my wife who has stayed with me for over 30 years. I am thankful for my daughter who can brighten my day with a simple text message or im. I am thankful for my sister and my niece. I am thankful for my friend, Marshall. And also for my other friends. Nevertheless, I am not going to write that I am thankful for any of these people because this is where it starts to get tricky.

“Why didn’t you mention some specific reason you are thankful for me,” my sister might ask.
“Why didn’t he mention me? I’m his friend too,” Marshall’s wife will wonder, “and what about our kids? I thought he liked them.”
It begins to feel like planning a party:
“If we are thankful for the Smith’s, we have to be thankful for the Hendersons. And the Scotts were thankful for us on their blog, so don’t leave them out.”
“What about MY family,” my devoted wife will ask, aren’t you thankful for them?”

Which brings up the other problem. I like to communicate clearly and precisely. When I say I am thankful for my wife, I fear it implies that that encompasses the totality of her existence. Perhaps I need to state some specific negative thing about her just so it is understood that there is a balance. I mean, for example, I am not thankful for her talking to me – at certain times.

Now if I list everyone I am thankful for, and why, plus at least one qualifier, I will be writing forever.

Maybe I should just say the things I am thankful for, like pie and beer. But there are so many things: warm sunny days, the beach, Andie MacDowell and so on. Again, the list is too long to include it all here.

I think I will pick just one thing. I am thankful for humor.
I am thankful for being able to be amused by and laugh at the things I am not thankful for.
“Just humor? What about me?” asks Comedy.
“Don’t forget your old pal, Parody.”
“Don’t confuse me with him,” chimes in Satire.
“Who would have thought that you would overlook me?” smirks Irony.

Never mind. But, hey, I am thankful for you reading this.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Breakfast At Realities

I met my friend Giddy Golightly at Mom's Country Cholesterol and Vegan Home Style Diner. She pushed aside her Watermelon Wellness Frappe to get a better angle on my fried chicken and waffles. Mumbling around the forkful of my breakfast stuffed in her mouth, she said, “Just got back from Heidi and Spencer Pratt’s interview.

“Are they dead?” I asked.

She considered it and replied, “No. They didn’t seem to be.”

“I thought you were on the celebrity death desk at E! Entertainment Network.”

“I know. Right? But when nobody dies, they make me cover other stories.” She stabbed a hunk of ham steak on my plate and introduced it to her teeth. Her yogurt sat fermenting. Heidi and Spencer told us about their new book, ‘How to be Famous: Our Guide to Looking the Part, Playing the Press, and Becoming a Tabloid Fixture.’"

“In the Twilight Zone episode titled ‘To Serve Man’,” I told her, “it turns out the aliens’ book is not a manual on how they can make our lives better; it is instead a cookbook.”

She looked up, a crumb of biscuit in the corner of her mouth. “Seriously? You don’t even say, ‘spoiler alert’?”

“Some fringe celebrities plan an event to promote a book with ‘Playing the Press’ right in the title? Could they be more obvious?”

“The book tells people how to be famous. Everyone wants to be famous.”

“Steve Martin used to do a routine called ‘How to earn one million dollars and never pay taxes. First,’ he said, ‘get a million dollars.’ Heidi and Spencer can’t tell people how to get famous – they can tell people how to stay famous – you just sucker the press in. Heidi and Spencer don’t even know if their own lives are real or a TV show.”

“Hello! They are on a reality TV show. Reality has the word ‘real’ in it. Except you don’t say REAL-it-ee, you say re-AL-it-ee. Why is that?”

“Because of the liberal media, I guess. Look, I have never watched ‘Laguna Beach’ or ‘The Hills’, the MTV semi-reality vehicles that spawned the Heidi-and-Spencer-Pratt entity. My daughter used to watch those shows and I was in the room, but even hot, young woman on the beach couldn’t make me look or listen. So I guess I shouldn’t judge them.”

“Exactly. And they want to help people like you understand them. They explained that ‘The Hills’ only focuses on a small part of their lives, they want a new show to reveal everything that happens to them.”

“If you hold two mirrors facing each other, you get a reflection of infinite nothing. That would be the result of a reality show about reality show stars who became stars by being in a scripted reality show.”

“This is an important cultural phenomenon. Like Heidi said, ‘You don't get to see our everyday lives and what we do’.

“That is the exact purpose of my life. That is my reason for doing everything that is NOT watching Heidi and Spencer. The philosopher Berkeley said we can’t know if people exist; we know only that we perceive them and can talk only about what we perceive. I don’t want to perceive them. Berkeley should be known as the father of the reality show.”

“Why be a hater? The Pratts were like the best part of ‘I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here’ last season.”

“’I’m a Celebrity, get me out of Here’ is like Charon’s boat on the river Styx. It carries the deceased to the underworld and they never return to life.”

You are Mr. Stupid Analogy Today, aren’t you? Are you going to eat that bacon or turn it into some pseudo-intellectual pop culture commentary?” She grabbed it before I could answer.

She was right, but it still hurt my feelings. I decided not to tell her about Gilligan’s Island being based on the Greek myth of the underworld. The Skipper was Hades and Gilligan was his three-headed dog, Cerberus. The Castaways were carried across the water to the central marsh and unable to ever leave. Gilligan’s Island was a spinoff from the Twilight Zone and a metaphor for Hollywood celebrity – the first reality show. But maybe that was just the bacon/sausage/cheese/egg/jalapeno/biscuit talking.