MP3 Friday

It’s the end of the year, which means record companies are going to try to squeeze out yet another Beatles retrospective rather than offer anything new (though to be perfectly fair, I think the Smiths had four albums proper and, like, twice as many greatest hits collections).

As such, the well is a bit dry for this last MP3 Friday of the year. Therefore, I give you a few songs I’ve been holding onto for a while. Oh, and remember a while back when I said the pickin’s were so slim that one day I’d have to pass off Big Star as a new band and just hope for ignorance on your part? Heh, heh, well …

But, as usual, there are three caveats:
  • Caveat number one is that there are some Web 1.0-ers out there still under the assumption that the VCR will spell the end of the movie industry. If that is you, then grab a brown paper bag, take a few deep breaths and, I’ll remove the MP3 link.
  • Caveat number two is that these MP3’s are links to other sites and can disappear at any time. It’s not magic, it’s just that people have shit to do and can’t wait for yer sorry ass to spend twenty seconds on your T1 knockin’ back downloads.
  • Caveat number three is that I’m poor like America’s math and science skillz and can’t afford what I can’t download for free. Therefore, I vouch for the song and only the song. If the album walks up to you and asks you for five bucks and says I said he’s good for it, tell him I said he’s full of shit.
Well, that’s about it. Enjoy:

TED LEO
Army Bound (demo)
Some Beginner’s Mind (demo)
What’s so awesome about Ted Leo? Oh, nothing much really. He’s just a guy, like you and me, who happens to kick ass with an axe and an attitude like he was some modern day Joe Strummer or Paul Weller. I could keep talking about him and how he may be the best thing in rock today, but you’ve got that John Mayer disc to buy and I wouldn’t want to distract you from douching in the New Year.

BIG STAR
Jesus Christ
Biographies of this band will rightfully tell you that they influenced everyone from Smashing Pumpkins to the Replacements to any other band that rocked, ferociously, yet still wore their heart on their sleeve. However, those same biographies also will say the band were around in the early ‘70s, which is just a lie: b/c MP3 Friday is all about the new shit. (And fyi: There’s really no reason to post this track other than it’s nice to belatedly add it to the list of cool Yule-tide rock songs).

THE BEES
Listening Man
Somehow the English pull off white soul better than Americans, despite the fact that we invented the damn thing (well, we pushed a poll tax on the people who did). At any rate, here’s what it would sound like if Jackie Wilson fronted the Wailers and couldn’t cook worth shit (honestly, marmite is the nastiest crap I’ve ever tasted).

GREAT LAKE SWIMMERS
I Will Never See the Sun
They’re Midwestern Canadian Torontons; they’re indie; they like writing songs with a waltz beat. And honestly, how long does it take for you to listen – for free – to an mp3. Two minutes? Not to mention, you’re reading a blog right now: You’re not busy, so get to listenin’!

Today’s lesson: Thank you to the blogs who make this blog look like it’s got something to say about music and the world in general:
sixeyes

gorilla vs. bear

Chromewaves

Locust St.

The Hype Machine
So long. Have a great weekend and happy new year.

Looking for friends, no benefits

It's in the female chemistry that at least two or three nights out of the week, women find themselves needing to be in possession of two items: a man and a paycheck's worth of Cosmo's. Those are their Jordaches talking and whether those genes come off at the end of the night is anyone's guess. (Though, men, if you'd like a tip to increase your chances, I'd suggest getting her friends drunk and THEN focus on her: You can ruin her exit strategy and convince her you care about her friends' good time all in one fell swoop.)

But women are a little more attuned to their biology than men are to theirs. And they know that even if their chromosomes are telling them to hang out with men, that they can interpret that command any way they see fit. And so, they'll occasionally spend their night in the company of the kind of men who prefer the company of most any kind of men. That is to say, men who can complete the lyric: "Clang! Clang! Clang! goes the trolley ...".

It's less about man-hating than mental sanity and may occur for a variety of reasons:

  • For instance, there's evidence to suggest that we men have no intention of giving up fart humor.
  • Or perhaps women are tired of men who never learned that spooning and a handshake aren't fungible.
  • Or, it could be that, in a misplaced effort to be funny, we've used terms like "clam" and "tuna trap" with our outside voice one two many times (which would be "one").
  • And then there's the category we'll just call "ethnic jokes".

But whatever their reason, it's undoubtedly a valid one. And so, women will choose to don they now their gay apparel in order to recover the energy they need to hear another straight man stammer, "Sorry, I ... I thought you might be into that."

What they may not realize, however, is that men get sick of the rat race, too, and must step back and take a break from it all. We tend to fill in those blanks with porn but even that gets old after a long, long while. Eventually, you've seen everything or discovered your limits, one, and end up critiquing and comparing and wondering why a particular camera shot is, like, 90 per cent cock: Because, sometimes, even straight porn looks like a postcard from the Washington Monument.

That's why I have decided that there needs to be a male/lesbian equivalent of the fag hag relationship. "Lez lads" was the first name I came up with. And then there was "Dyke Dudes". But they're both kind of clunky. A "Swiss Miss" has a much better ring to it, but the connection between a man and his lesbian friend with that of an attractive nation with inviolable borders probably isn't so obvious.

But those sort of details we can worry about later. All I want to know now is whether there are women out there who are willing to share a few drinks within the DMZ of sexuality. I figure lesbians and men have a lot in common: We can both be pretty cynical; we can both get pretty tired of society defining us; and we can both get pretty tired of straight women who say they will and then they won't.

So, if that sounds like you, ladies, and you need a man to share a pint and trash talk about past relationships, then you've found him.

But, for ANYONE who's read this far -- be you man, woman or "independent" -- then please help me coin a term for the relationship between a man and his lesbian friend/drinking partner. You may respond by email here.

Please include your favorite term from above -- Lez Lad, Dyke Dude, or (coming at it from the other angle) Swiss Miss -- or create one of your own. And include an essay of no more than a few hundred words as to why your choice is the best.

The winner will receive something I'm sure, and will be announced in four weeks time or as soon as we get more than one entry. Whichever comes first.

Today's lesson: Perhaps it's my imagination but it seems like most musicals are geared toward women and homosexual men. And if that's the case, then we have something else in common: We both hate fucking musicals.

Random airport tirade

Why are we banning liquids when we should be banning children? I say, you can't carry them onboard if they don't fit in a plastic bag.

Today's lesson: Fortunately, the airport DJ is playing "Waiting for a Girl Like You" from Foreigner's "4" album. I would hate to think what my nerves would be like if they played something crappy -- like the next song, "Passionate Kisses" by Mary Chapin Carpenter.

Random observation

XL 102, a rock station here in Richmond, VA, doesn't seem to recognize the irony every time they announce "...Nirvana, on Richmond's station for NEW rock ..."

Today's lesson: It must've made them sad the day that had to throw away all those Foghat albums.

Merry f'in Christmas

Christmas shopping sucks all kind of balls. For example, these kinds of balls:
  • I was tired of shopping the moment I started. My first stop was Barnes and Noble and the second I walked in, I spied a pile of books on Tai Chi and thought: "I wouldn't mind Tai Chi if didn't involve so much damn reading."
  • The book I want to see -- not read, just see -- is "Puppy Splattered Brains" by Mitch Albom: I hate that guy.
  • I like how in the Short Pump, VA, Target "Cleaning Supplies" is located directly across the aisle from "Women's Wear", while "Men's Wear" is directly across from games, TV's and fun stuff.
  • You know, Christmas is the one time of year you get to see guys who would otherwise be fishing day-old bagels out of the garbage, dressed in dark coats and top hats, trying to get you to shop at Schwartzchild. And really, isn't that Christmas?
Today's lesson: That's, roughly, 20 presents for 17 people (plus one granny's birthday present) in a little under five hours. ... Too bad I never passed a gun store. Sure, they SAY it's a week. But this is Virginia.

Merry Christmas from JFK

Greetings from the trailer park and lawn chairs that are the boarding terminal for Gate 19 for Jet Blue. The airline's official terminal will be completed sometime soon, they tell us, but until then, it's like waiting to see whether your application for asylum will be approved.

HJ, as you may well have guessed, is on Christmas vacation and, as such, will be posting somewhat less frequently over the course of the following week. There will be the odd post detailing the aggravating circumstances surrounding buying Christmas presents for about 20-plus relatives on a budget and one about the amount of salty Virginal ham I will eat on Christmas Day. But the regular saturation bombing of my life via this column (through which you no doubt live vicariously) will not resume until sometime next Thursday.

Until then, enjoy Christmas or any of the many varieties of Channa-Hanna-Upsilon-ikah.

Take care,
John

Today's lesson: Oh, also a greetings to our Islamic terrorist buddies who've made the nightmare no longer the flight but every liquid and shoe-removal leading up to departure. I'm also going to blame you for the death of the Hot Stewardess and her replacement by flunkouts of gay hairdresser school.

No one's as dumb as our graduates!

Interboro is the name of a technical college here in New York City. And its current ad campaign on subways lists, along with a variety of reasons to enroll, a picture and name of a random, alleged, graduate. And next to that testimonial is the ad slogan, "If they can do it, so can you!"

Now, there’s no biography listed with these people; no reason to think that they overcame great odds and received their degree despite a mountain of hardships, and are now a success somewhere -- and if they can make it, then so can you. No, it just has their smiling faces, their names, and a slogan that says, “If they can do it, so can you!” Or, as I read it, “If these dumb shits can do it, well, who can’t?”

And, just a few days ago, in fact, I was riding the subway and spotted two of these ads side-by-side. And, still getting a chuckle from the slogan, I decided to see just which dumb shits to whom I and the rest of the subway car were being compared. And do you know whose pictures accompanied the ads? Which random persons to whom you, I, and about a million more subway riders are intellectually superior in all manner, shape and form?

Why, that of an African immigrant and a blonde, of course.

And if THEY can do it ...

Today's lesson: I wish I had written down the immigrant man’s name because it made “Dikembe” or “Kunta Kinte” sound like “Ralph,” as if they were whispering: “Psst, he’s foreign”.

BS from the BS master

Hungover and strewn out on the couch yesterday afternoon, I thought many fine, wonderful thoughts. Regretably, Hot Johnny is a family publication and these are the only ones fit for print. Enjoy.

  • I have a great idea for a new cartoon. It’s about the adventures of Tinkle, the abortion clinic-bombing puppy. I figure it’s sure to be a hit, because: Who hates puppies?
  • Ever drank a lot of beer or ate a lot of green vegetables and then the next day had to sit in an auditorium and was expected to observe periods of prolonged silence? It’s like if Broken Lizard, the guys who brought us “Super Troopers” and “BeerFest,” had remade “Run Silent, Run Deep.”
  • Microwaved bacon has no soul, and I won’t allow it in the house. Microwaved burritos, on the other hand …
Today’s lesson: The inventor of the delivery menu is unsung as a hero to modern western civilization.

MP3 Friday: bears, Jews, and champagne

The end of the year means many things to many people. For the champagne industry, (whom I’ve always suspected of inventing “New Year’s”) it’s a boondoggle. For the Jews, it’s a time to keep your head down and not make any sudden moves.

(Incidentally, if you ever read the Jewish book “How to Defend Yourself During Christmas” and the Wilderness Guide “How to Defend Yourself During a Bear Attack” you’ll notice some striking similarities: For instance, Christians can climb trees, too. So, Jews, your best bet in case a Christian attacks is to scare it off by making a lot of noise -- say, about a lawsuit.)

The end of the year also means that this will be the last MP3 Friday until after the “New Year” (© Korbel). The dearth of records -- plus a week of presents and salty, salty Virginia ham -- will put a serious crimp in my duties as hunter/listener.

I hope you can survive.

Now, before we go on, let’s go over the rules:
  • No touching. No chewing.
  • No sweat if you’re the artist and you'd like the free link to come down .
  • No guarantees how long these mp3’s will be up.
  • And, finally, No Way have I listened to the albums, because No Way do I have the money to do that.
Got it? Good.

Now, shake hands, and let’s have a clean fight.

MUNK & JAMES MURPHY
Kick out the Chairs (replayed by WhoMadeWho)
Whatever the opposite of Perry Como is, this song’s got it.

VOXTROT
Warmest Part of the Winter
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn; Some Pot Grows in Texas. And all the while these Austin boys keeps chuggin’ along.

AFROMAN
Afroman is Coming to Town
This track comes from (Mr.?) Afroman’s “A Colt .45 Christmas”. And I think that’s all I need to say.

RACONTEURS
Steady as She Goes (acoustic)
Not everything Jack White touches turns to gold. Sometimes it only turns to silver. And boo-hoo for you because silver doesn’t match the dress you were planning to wear to the ball.

ALBERT HAMMOND, JR.
Postal Fish
I can’t see you personally, and yet I know what you’re thinking; “Albert Hammond, Jr? The Stroke? Have you lost it, HJ?” And, look, I’m just as surprised as you. But the song is short; it chugs along; and it hits the 17-year-old in all of us. And in a pass/fail world, I give it a pass.

Today’s lesson: Allow me to recognize the following blogs for the Re-Education of Hot Johnny:
Said the gramophone

Who killed the mixtape?

Work for it

I guess I’m floating

brooklynvegan

The Hype Machine
Thanks again. Be safe. And take care, Jewish People.

Bush write paper on stuff

With Bush needing yet another extension on his "new way forward", I feel like we're his college professor and every month there's a new reason why he can't hand the paper in. Think about it ...

  • he's says he knows the deadline; he says he can meet the deadline; and then -- whoops! -- suddenly, it's deadline, and he can't make it.
  • when he says that and we ask him, "Well, what sort of progress have you made," he hems and haws; and says that this is a big project; and that there's a lot to consider here; and he really wants to do it right; but if he's going to do it right, then he has to have more time.
  • when someone gently suggests a strategy (or thesis) that's not his, he gets cranky and says that's not really the direction he wants to go -- though he's sure to mention that he appreciates the input.
  • no one wants to say it, but you KNOW someone else is doing the work for him. but, frankly, you'd be happy if he'd just hand something in that's half way respectable, so we could all be done with it.
  • and, finally, none of us should be surprised if, when we finally get to look at this white paper, the margins are narrowed, the spacing is tripled, and the president has typed whole damn thing in 14-point, Copperplate Gothic Bold.

Today's lesson: Oh, and block quoting. Lots and lots of block quoting.

The other Socratic method

When Socrates had no interlocutor to pose him questions, he would use a sock puppet who would then pose and answer questions to the great teacher. And if the sock puppet were a boy, Socrates would then have sex with that puppet.

And now, in honor of the father of western philosophy, I shall briefly indulge in part one of his Method. Enjoy.

John, I noticed you finally hung up a curtain over the window in your living room, the one that faces the air shaft between you and your next door neighbor. Although "curtain" is a bit of a aggrandizement, wouldn't you say?
Yes, I would say that "bed sheet" would be a more appropriate term, much as "nailed" would be rather than "hung".

John, this sounds, if you don't mind me saying so, "white trash"?
No, what you have here is the latest example of White Trash Chic. While, yes, it IS a bed sheet and yes it IS nailed to the window, the sheet is not an American flag nor dirty and white: It is queen-size (for a billowy effect) and it is burgundy (to match the split-pea soup green walls). And because it is also a new sheet, the original folds in it are still present and suggest the sort of straight lines you would find in, say, a Doric column in Greek architecture.

If you were to hire someone to come into your apartment and perform the proper measurements and hanging, parts and labor would cost you upwards of five hundred dollars (and that's just for one window).

And how much did it cost you?
$9.99

Today's lesson: Yes, it's American White Trash, but what the hell do you think IKEA is: Swedish Tiffany's? Think again.

A.D.D.ing it on a Sunday

If you were talking to me at any point on Sunday afternoon or evening, there is a 90 per cent chance that I was half paying attention to what you were saying.

However, there is a 10 per cent chance that while you were talking, the following thoughts were floating through my brain:
  • I could understand it if aliens just walked into a bar one day and assumed the word “Bacardi” had many definitions: bar napkin holder, T-shirt, wet T-shirt. I’d probably think the same thing myself.
  • One conversation I had on Sunday reminded me of a joke I had made to myself, long, long ago: If your last name is “Rogers,” then your porn name is automatically “Butt Rogers”.
  • The football ticker read: “Browns 7 Pittsburgh 27 – receiving, Pit: Washington, 67 Yards”. And, being the immense Redskins fan that I am, I immediately thought, “Well, that’s probably the last time this season I’m to see ‘Washington’ and ‘Win’ in the same sentence.”
  • Standing outside a bar and smoking a cigarette, I couldn’t help but notice the black filters on the air conditioners in the windows of the building across the street and thinking, “Wow, it’s like a bunch of robots are mooning me.” And then I started to compose the screenplay for “Robot Fraternity” in my head.
  • Are you dispensing soap or are you giving a robot a handjob? You be the judge.
  • Why this sudden popularity for Stella Artois? Does Paul Giamatti have a new film I don’t know about?
Today’s lesson: The definition for “bright, shiny thing” is rapidly expanding in the world of Hot Johnny.

My latest brilliant idea

From time to time I like to share my immense knowledge on the subject of “Things” with my audience (which is, every day, coming more and more to resemble those “army of one” recruitment posters you see in the subways).

Past entries have detailed my solution for mideast peace (start a crack epidemic); the all-female Christian rock act I plan to form and manage (GodSlut!); and a bunch of other humorous, albeit useless, solutions to things that may or may not have ever really been a problem.

My latest grand creation is the Bardega. And what this is, essentially, is a bodega but with a bar in the back: because who among us hasn’t found himself wanting a salami and bacon sandwich with extra salt at three o’clock in the morning? I figure, bodegas have plenty of beer, they just need some stools and it’s Go Time.

Another way to think of it is that the bardega would become the mullet of the drinking world: It’s business up front and a party in the back.

Well, that’s it, really, in all it’s glory: The idea that will one day make some smart entrepreneur hundreds, literally, hundreds of dollars.

Today’s lesson: The bardega should not be confused with the Edgar Degas: one’s an Impressionist while the other is more dada.

MP3 Friday

The gods have blessed us with yet another MP3 Friday, which means that yours truly had to go out and actually find the little buggers.

Honestly, there really aren’t that many talented bands out there. Maybe five. At some point, I’m going to hope you haven’t heard of Big Star so I can pass them off as “new”.

Don’t get me wrong. I like doing MP3 Friday. But, man, the work that goes into it: all that sitting on your ass and smoking cigarettes and drinking beers and then you add listening to music on top of that – well, it’s tough, man.

But, as usual, we have three caveats here on MP3 Friday.
  • There are some bands and record labels – hacks mostly – who think mp3’s are like cameras and will steal their souls. If that sounds like you – and if it is, then you’ve probably got your urine up on the shelf in jars – then I’ll remove the links.
  • The second is that these are merely links to mp3’s. I don’t host them here and so if you’re late to the game, then I guess the Nintendo kids are going to be pointing at the Atari kids and laughing.
  • The third is that I’m a poseur and download singles because I ain’t got the money for the mortgage on the cow let alone a whole friggin’ album. Thus, I vouch for the song and only the song. The album could be honeydew melon for all I know, but honeydew melon costs money, sugar. And I ain’t gots.
Well, that’s about it. Enjoy.

BUSDRIVER
Casting Agents and Cowgirls
Don’t let the black people catch you bopping up and down to this song. They have enough on us as is without you making us look like a bunch of jackasses.

JOHNNY RANDOM
Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy
Sure, you’ve heard this ditty from the “Nut Cracker Suite” a thousand million billion times before. But have you ever heard a 40-second clip of it played on bicycle parts? I thought not. (Syd Barrett would definitely approve.)

MENOMENA
Muscles ‘n’ Flo
When I listen to this song, all i can think of is the German-sounding Plutonian from "Aqua Teen Hunger Force", holding his "baggie" and asking Frylock, “Are you cool?” It may not seem obvious at first, but just let it go ...

LIARS
A Visit from Drum
Best not to go on a coke binge prior to listening to this band’s brand of primal drumming and paranoia. Afterwards, sure.

ROBERT POLLARD
Love is Stronger Than Witchcraft
Songs like this used to flood the Top 40. What the fuck happened?

MISSION OF BURMA
2wice
This group disbanded in 1983 and reformed twenty years later and did what “Phantom Menace”, “Superman III”, and “Hamlet II: Panama City” couldn’t: Not suck. (And, by the way, this song is a candidate for cranking it up to 11).

And I strongly, STRONGLY suggest you take a gander at Gorilla vs. Bear’s Top 5 re-issues of the year. Eclectic, but will satisfy that early ‘70s sweet tooth you might have.

Today’s lesson: Thank you to the many mp3 bloggers who, unbeknownst to them, are making me look like King Shit:
  • Music for Maniacs
  • You ain’t no Picasso
  • FoeWeel !!! ???
  • gorilla vs. bear
  • aquarium drunkard
Thanks and have a great weekend.

Why I'll be cold this winter

Some of you know me very little and some of you know me not at all. Therefore, from time to time I like to pose and answer a question about myself to let you know why people always say, “Keep a blog’s distance away from that man”.

So, for your edu-tainment, I present a short discussion on just how I’ve shopped to prepare for the winter season. Enjoy:

John, explain to me again, why it is you don’t have a winter jacket yet and we’re one full week through December.

As I’ve explained to a number of people, I had a jacket. A jacket with mojo. One that, admittedly, had a number of tears in the stitching and was missing a button – and there was something funky going on with the faux fur hood (it was a military parka) – but the thing had style. It oozed it.

Mostly, however, I was proud because I had paid a mere fourteen bucks for it. And I lorded that fact over my friend Cortez who had an identical coat for which he had paid upwards of … well, let’s say it was many more fourteen’s than that (about one per reindeer).

But, sadly, after two years, the Lifeforce began fading from the jacket. I knew that I could wear it for another year if I absolutely needed to – if a second ice age demanded it, say. But we – the jacket and I, that is -- both knew that to hold on would be to spit in the face of the Inevitable. Plus, I was starting to look like ass in it.

There were two directions I could go:

One was to a) hold on to the jacket until b) a suitable replacement could be found.

And two was to a) ditch the jacket and thus b) force myself to buy a new one.

I knew myself well enough that were I to follow option one, a suitable replacement would never be found for the simple reason that it would never be looked for. Every time the subject would be broached by one side of the brain, the other would retort, “But we have a jacket. What we don’t have is the new Uriah Heep box set.” And this back-and-forth would continue until about the third or fourth time my tattered jacket and I were offered money to appear as hobo No. 10 in a police lineup:

“That’s him, officer. No. 10.”

“No. 10, would you step forward, please.”

“But I’m not a hobo!”

“Shut up, hobo.”

And thus the decision was made to chuck the jacket. So that I would –

This is really more of an answer than we needed.

Just shut up. I’m getting there.

And thus the decision was made to chuck the jacket and replace it with something as cool and as cheap, but not as cheap-looking.

That was the end of May, when I moved from Park Slope to Greenpoint in Brooklyn.

Since then, there have been committee reports and independent studies and the occasional surfing of the eBay whilst on the phone with family and friends – but no jacket ever has been produced to justify the original strategy.

And so now we must answer the question: Who’s to blame?

I assign failure in this episode to a lack of understanding by analysts of the deep disregard in which I hold shopping. Had they examined my underwear and sock drawer or taken into account the number of delivery menus on my coffee table, they would no doubt come to the conclusion that I'm a tough dog to move off the couch.

Furthermore, I see now that the alternate plan, wherein I would keep the jacket until a suitable replacement could be found, had the merit of the ass-jacket as ever-present reminder of its own assedness. Friends, family, and gawkers of all sort no doubt would voice critical opinions on the matter. And enough scared looks from enough drunk women would be the wax that sealed the envelope that sat on the log that was over the hole at the bottom of the sea.

Of course, with only my fall jacket to guard me against the harsh New York winter, I currently am in a scramble to find a cheap, winter jacket, with mojo and a decided lack of hobo-osity. Several sources are under advisement and eBay is always under watch. But if anyone in the land of Hot Johnny readers has a suggestion, please feel free to comment below.

And, while we’re on the subject -- and, just for curiosity’s sake -- what do you know about gloves, a hat, and winter boots, too?

Today’s lesson: The fall jacket I have needs a good cleaning, though. You can smell smoke from the Giuliani administration in that thing.

The greatest idea for a music video ever

The world loves a jaunty song.

And whilst listening to one such song, I devised what would be not only the perfect video for it, but also THE GREATEST VIDEO OF EVER AND FOR ALL TIME AND ANY OTHER SUPERLATIVE YOU CARE TO TYPE IN ALL CAPS.

It helps if you're listening to the song right now or have done so several times already, but, regardless: Picture the members of this Lexington, KY-based band (and there are eight of them), in smoking jackets, scattered about in various states of repose at their fin de siecle-style British Explorers Club -- when one of them (and with the help of intertitles) asks of his comrades, "Where should our next Adventure be?"

"Big game in Africa?" mouths a second.

"Big game in India?" suggests another.

"No! I've got it!" declares a fourth.

And so, next we see them, they are off, in their Big Game Jeep with their Big Game Guns, in safari clothes and pith helmets, into the heart of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to bag themselves some Big Game Hipsters.

The hunt doesn't go well at first, though. The Big Game Hipster is a fast and elusive creature that scatters at the first sign of mainstream acceptance and/or a paying job. And this will cause no end of grief to these gun-toting members of the Establishment.

But soon, our heroes, clever in their own right, hit upon an idea to bait and trap these artful dodgers. "What better lure," one declares, "than the powerful aroma produced by the droppings of the bump-backed door key!"

The ploy is, to say the least, a resounding success.

As the day draws to an end, our intrepid Explorers pack their spoils into the jeep and head home to Lexington and a fine, fine cigar.

The last shot we see is of later that night of one explorer, enjoying his newspaper, along with a fine snifter of scotch -- And from across the room, we see a pair of women's legs, bedecked in leg warmers and a pair of Chucks, sticking out of a trophy mounted on the wall.

FIN

Today's lesson: Sadly, Ideal Free Distribution probably never will make this video. So, Avalanches, you're safe at No. 1. And Beasties, you're safe at No. 2.

Leditor to the Editor, redux

This post is the second response to a Leditor to the Editor from one Rebecca L. of New York. So flush was I with material, I deigned (sometimes I deign) to give her two, totally different, replies.

As I’m sure you recall, Ms. L. was concerned about a recent attempt to do good that went awry. You can read the full letter (and originaly reply) here, but it's not necessary. Basically, she wrote that she wanted to know what to do, the next time her inner do-gooder told her to help a vagrant on the subway (it didn’t work out so well last time).

And so, without further ado, I give you, Response Redux. Enjoy.

Dear Rebecca,

You must be new to the city.

And as such, let me be the first to say, “Welcome”, and that your concerns about any “homeless” or “vagrant” problem here are unwarranted. And that is for the simple reason that New York City has no such problem and enjoys 100% employment and has for some time.

No, what you undoubtedly saw was an ACTOR, Stanislavsking it, for the next time one of the city's 87 billion "Law & Order"'s holds Crack Addict auditions. These are highly competitive roles and require hours upon hours of research. And, because half of the city’s economy is derived from the Dick Wolf empire, the city graciously allows them to perfect their craft on our streets and in our subways.

In fact, their devotion to their craft serves a duel role: as a hedge against the city’s increasing Disney-fication. City officials have long known that the chief draw of New York, particularly for domestic tourists, is the city’s image as gritty and uncompromising. And your average New York tourist – the kind who once paid an arm and a leg to see a bunch of damn “Cats” – likes coming here so that he can feel a little tough.

But without these actors, and without this carefully cultivated sense of danger, we’re in danger of losing tourist dollars to places like Newark and Baltimore. And if that happens, then what, I ask you, is the difference between us and Branson, Missouri?

Hopefully, that answers your question. However, left unanswered is how to rectify the situation. After all, what you did was disturb a trained actor, deep in his role, possibly throwing him off his game -- and with it, the entire New York City economy.

If he's to be any good – and this city, No. 1 -- then he has to live the role. But how can you expect him to become a crack addict for the camera if someone does something so out of character as to help a vagrant? That's not part of the real-life experience of your average homeless person. What you did was tantamount to walking up on stage, mid-performance, and asking Mercutio if he’s got any Milk Duds.

From the sound of your letter, it appears he was practicing for the “Law & Order” role of "Victim, Crack Addict". It's not the highest profile part -- that would be "Defendant, Crack Addict" -- but it's a part, and actors can't be choosers. (Incidentally, "Defendant, Crack Addict" isn't, forgive the pun, all it's cracked up to be: It may be the more compensatory of the roles, but episodes where the defendent is a crack addict generally turn out to be legal bullshit episodes where the show delves into the crevices of, say, search and seizure law: the biggest couch with the most pennies of any field of law. And therefore, it’s a showcase for whomever is playing the crack addict’s lawyer (usually Eric Bogosian)

Your question, then, isn't What You Should Have Done, but, rather, What You Should Do Now. The kneejerk response is to go back and say you're sorry and that you understand he's an actor. But apologizing to him is no different than helping him: It addresses him out of character.

What you should do is return to the scene of your transgression and address him as the average person might. For instance:

  • Point at him and laugh as you pass
  • In fact, I would suggest you stand there and loudly make jokes about him, in front of his face.
  • Make a big "P.U." face to let him know that you think he stinks
  • The classics are also a good way to go: Tell him to get off welfare and get a job

But, whatever you do, the important part is to make a big to-do about it -- this is an actor after all, so it needs to be a big production. And, don't worry about other passersby who yell at you to stop or say "That's cruel!" and that "You should be ashamed of yourself!": They're actors, too. So, they'll know exactly what you're doing. And they're going to want to tell you that you're doing a good job but, because they don't want to break the fourth wall either, will address you in character, as someone who's an asshole.

And that goes for any police who show up; the lawyers who inevitably get involved; the significant other who leaves you because you're just not the person they thought you were: These are all actors, all playing roles so that when the world watches “Law & Order” (or its spin-offs), they see what the professionals in the field call "verisimilitude". And THAT is what makes families, year after year, decide to see for themselves some of the eight million stories in the Naked City (and, in the process, spend assloads upon shitloads of money).

Hopefully, this in some small way helps.

I thank you for your letter and hope you keep reading.

Yours,
HJ

PS. Think of it this way: New York City is essentially one big "Westworld". Fortunately, we get to be Yul Brynner. They're stuck being Richard Benjamin.
PPS. Incidentally, an assload is worth two shitloads, which itself is worth four fuckloads. Buttloads you can forget about, as they're metric.

Leditor to the Editor

[Please note: So flush was I with material that two answers to this most recent Leditor to the Editor will be posted: one today and one tomorrow. Enjoy.]

A Rebecca L. from New York writes:
Dear Hot Johnny,

I had a confusing experience recently and just had to know your thoughts on the matter. Here goes:

I was in a rush to get to a meeting about potential freelance work. On my way out of a subway station in midtown, I encountered an older man out cold, sprawled across the stairs. Worried, but apparently unwilling to stop, I called 911 and went on my way. 911 patched me through to EMS immediately. The first question the EMS man asked was: "Is he breathing?" This simple question brought on a wave of guilt and shame that I had deserted the unconscious guy. I answered "Yes" because I didn't want the EMS man to know what a bad person I was. I turned back to the stairs to go find out if this was actually true when he told me to "Support his head." I then saw the older guy, passed out just seconds before, making his way up the steps slowly. "He wants to go up the stairs!" I blurted out in a panic. "Don't let him move!" The EMS man commanded me. "We'll be right there."

"Right there" actually ended up meaning "Not anytime soon." Fortunately, it was one of the typhoon nights and the older guy was showing no real inclination to go out into the pouring rain. I told him I had called EMS and he just nodded dreamily and leaned up against the wall of the overhang we were waiting in. He suddenly lurched out into the street and fumbled with his pants. Feeling somewhat responsible for this guy, I followed at a discreet distance, only to see him take the LONGEST PEE KNOWN TO MAN. You might be beginning to guess what the problem was here. My friend wasn't having a medical emergency. He was drunk. Very drunk. What to do?

I couldn't leave him. He might really need help anyway, or at least a place to spend the night. So, after he resumed his place against the wall (looking immensely relieved) I waited... and waited... and waited. Finally a cop car pulled up. I rushed over just in time to see the two officers pull out sandwiches and start talking on their cell phones. They were not responding, just on a dinner break. Feeling like a complete asshole, I interrupted them and explained. I apologized about misreading the situation, and about interrupting them, but I couldn't wait for EMS any longer because I had to get to work. A tiny lie-it was more a work meeting-but I didn't want to get into details. The cops were very philosophical about it. One said, "It's not your fault if the guy wants to act like an idiot" and wished me a goodnight. They promised to handle it. As I walked away I heard him yell "Come here." and I looked back to see him motioning towards my drunk friend.

So what meaning am I supposed to draw from this experience? By trying to help I:
A: Wasted the time of an already over-extended medical agency
B: Interrupted two police officers on a dinner break
C: Got a harmless drunk hassled, and
D: Was late for my meeting.
Is there a silver lining here? Am I missing something? Where did I go wrong?
Becky
36D and totally mystified
Dear Rebecca,

I'm not much of a "reader", per se. So, when anyone sends a letter longer than, say, the ingredients on a sugar packet, I get impatient. And so, I must pay someone who doesn't have the attention span of a fourth-grader to explain its contents to me.

(And, on a side note, anyone out there looking to do a little charity work -- like read to the disadvantaged -- but just really fucking hates the blind, please contact me.)

Now, back to your letter, Rebecca.

From what I recall, you disturbed a homeless man or made out with one, or something. To be honest, I wasn't really paying attention when the letter was read to me. The moment I visualized the plight of this homeless man, I sort of started to quietly hum that Paul Simon song from the Graceland album:

Homeless (boom, boom!) Homeless (boom, boom!)
Moonlight sleeping on a midnight lake

And by the time I stopped, the letter was over. So, you need to forgive me if this answer doesn't EXACTLY answer your question, but here goes: You need to stop making out with homeless people. They carry diseases. And maybe you're not a "hygiene" person -- I'm certainly not -- but compared to homeless people, you most certainly are.

Plus, making out with a homeless person is like cheating on a fat girlfriend with her even fatter sister and then, not getting the phone call back from Springer: All that fat and all that fucking. And for what? Nuthin’.

Frankly, there's no good that can come of this relationship. The first time you introduce him to your father and he offers to give him a handjob for crack is bound to be awkward. It might blot out the memories of him exposing himself at the Thanksgiving Day table, but I doubt it.

Maybe, like many women, you're thinking, "But I can change him." Many women think that and many men are fine with letting women think that. But I don't know if you have the Henry Higgins-like resources to change a man who, most likely, goes No. 2 in his pants. Even in Iraq, the U.S. doesn't have to tell the Sunnis and the Shiites: "Hey, Sunnis and Shiites: Stop all this pants pooping." And then, because no one tells THEM what to do, the Sunnis and Shiites don't start bombing toilets. No, they're a little more civilized than that.

I suggest that you get out of this relationship, and, if you have trouble finding a good man, then frequent one of the many online sites that cater to the horny and underworked.

Hopefully, this has somehow answered whatever your original question was.

Thanks for the letter and keep reading.

Yours,
HJ

PS. Oh, and don't fall in the trap that so many women who've dated a hobo fall into: 'molester' is not a step up. If anything, it's a lateral move. Same goes for 'public masturbator'.

A list

The next installment of MP3 Friday will take place Saturday.


But so that you have something to read so that you may waste more company money, I give you a list -- and one that will only be funny if you have a basic knowledge of Soviet history (and even then ...): Considered, but ultimately discarded, names for the indie band, Someone Still Loves You, Boris Yeltsin.

Enjoy.
  • Put Your Damn Shoe Back On, Nikita Khrushchev
  • Those Are Some Pretty Boss Eyebrows, Leonid Brezhnev
  • Not Everyone Remembers You, Yuri Andropov
  • Don’t You Suddenly Die Too, Konstantin Chernenko
  • Way To Ruin It For Everyone, Mikhail Gorbachev
Today’s lesson: If, however, you do NOT have a basic understanding of Soviet history, or you set the bar slightly higher for your ha-ha, then no, there was nothing to laugh at here. Sorry to waste your time.

Who am I?

Let’s play a little game, wherein I give you a bunch of clues and then you guess who I’m talking about. Ready?

  • This person did some drinking last night.
  • This same person, when he found out that one of the women with whom he was talking – a friend of a friend – was from Delaware, declared that “There IS no Delaware.” And that “Delaware is just a tax shelter. It’s the Cayman Islands of states.” And that she should “be from a REAL state, like Virginia” – the home state of our person in question.
  • This person was not much kinder to the man who – mistakenly – admitted to being from Rhode Island. When our mystery person was informed of the man’s birthright, he asked, point blank why Massachusetts “didn’t just do everybody a favor and invade. I mean, honestly: If a tree falls in Rhode Island, does it make a sound?”
  • This person, it should be noted, really had his A-game with him last night.
Today’s lesson: You may leave your guesses in the form of comments. The correct answer will be announced next week if the Mystery Person remembers to do so.

Why I'd make a bad husband b/w Thank you H.S.

[This one's a long one. But well worth your time.]
The lightlulb just went out in the bathroom. The ceiling is, like, 12 feet high or just whatever is above Me Standing on a Chair. And now, a decision must be made.

I knew this day would come. The ceiling in the whole fucking apartment (which I love, don't get me wrong) is pretty high and I've known for a long while now that I would need to buy a small ladder or a large child to stand on to change the bulb.

But now I actually have to Do it.

Usually in these posts, there is the Part 1, the Part II, the denoument, and the exciting climax, which is usually ripped off from somewhere else ("Today's lesson:" is the epilogue).

Today, however, I have only a burnt out bulb and a Lights Out, Curtain Closes, Act I.

What will Act II wrought?

Today's lesson: Fuck you, F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Part II: I need to write a quick Thank You to my friend, H.S.

The goodly H.S., if you didn't know, is the kind lady who, for some reason, thinks that my occasional meanderings should be linked to Gawker.

Why she thinks this, I have no idea. My only theory, and I'm sure I've said this before, so please forgive me for repeating myself, but I believe that she is under the impression that I'm dying (It could be that I'm funny, but it could be that I'm already a millionaire, too). And while I'd like to believe that I have a long life to live, I don't have enough traffic minus her gracious links to rule out the fact I'm dying.

And while you may say, "But HJ, how could you be dying?" i can say, "well, i drink, smoke and eat shitty foods to excess: So, how can I NOT think that I am dying."

Listening to Joy Division right now doesn't help either.

But, back from planet tangent (great blog name, btw, if anyone needs one: Back from Planet Tangent), if I AM dying, then I should probably leave a will or something so my shit doesn't go to the government.

So:

To Alex ... I leave my CDs. As well as any of my personal anger you feel is just to use against people who hate Killing Joke.

To Cortez ... I leave all my books. And if anything of this blog shit ever makes money, like in a "he was famous after he was dead" thing: you can have the money and the rights and should consider playing yourself in the movie (though it would be funnier if you played Brendan).

To Brendan ... I leave whatever cooking shit is in my kitchen, which isn't much, and which is why you can have whatever's left in my bank account -- which is also why you can have whatever cooking shit is in my kitchen (it's what they call a vicious circle, or vicious cycle, if you will).

To Thomas ... The last digit of pi is 12. Think about it.

To Mitch ... I want you to write my offical biography. You're a great writer. Plus, you know about all of the skeletons, which, frankly, number-wise, are like Halloween on Planet Halloween. And I know that you will put them in the right light, the kind that absolves you and my estate of any legal activity.

To Jill ... I leave the bottle of detergent that, for the last few days, has been siting on my coffee table. There's no reason for it, but frankly, there was no good reason you should have stayed my friend and so I think the metaphor is apt (I'm slightly less clean per parts per million, though).

To Pirate ... I leave you .. well, let's start from the (near) beginning: You just slept on my couch, after getting wasted, and not calling your fiancee to tell her that you got fucking wasted until about noon the next day. So, it only seems right that you get the futon.

To Bess (Pirate's fiancee) ... You get to write the unofficial biography.

To Shelley ... Um, wow, this one is hard. We'll come back to it ...

To Pearson ... Honestly, i don't know what to give you. To be honest, you've been the happeist motherfucker-lookingest person I've ever met. Even when you get pissed you have a smile. So ... ah ... if my DVDs don't make you happy, then they must be the worst DVD collection in the world.

To Becky ... I give you the permission to tell Joey that you are not his fag hag. And that he should shut the hell up when you've had enough.

To Joey ... I leave you a hint: When I die, there will be cigarettes near the body. Those are yours. When I die, also, there will be about eight gallons of alcohol, in various forms and various bottles. Those are also yours. There will also be "other" things that a dying man with, let's face it, nothing to care about anymore wouldn't mind having around him. Those are yours. However, if the authorities in Heaven ask, I'll swear it was planted and you and I were patsies.

To Jarad ... I leave my guitar, poker chips, and a cape (not to mention stately Flowers manor).

To Shelley ... OK, let's try this again: Shelley, I haven't made it yet, and I definitely plan to, but if i do die, there will be a mix CD here, made while I'm dying and waxing sentimental and the people around me are tired of hearing of This Weepy Story and That Weepy Story and it will be yours and made for you. Be warned, though: I've run out of coasters.

To my brother .. I would leave honesty and integrity but what would you do with what you have in spades? Instead, I leave to the only person here, nothing material: only admiration. That, and the wonderment that you owned multiple Kansas and Styx albums on 8-track.

To H.S. ... I leave a Thank You like when people leave a bar with a hug and they're really fucking drunk. Oh, and enough money for you to buy a light bulb.

Today's lesson: I just reread something and laughed. So, maybe you people shouldn't start spending my shit just yet.

Bigmouth strikes again

We almost made it through the Michael Richards imbroglio without a peep from Gloria Allred.

Almost.

Mrs. Allred, if you didn’t know, is a renowned ambulance chaser and, amazingly enough, NOT a character created by Sacha Baron Cohen to poke fun at our legal system.

She is representing the men who heckled Michael Richards (AKA Kramer from “Seinfeld”) and were, in return, publicly called the N-word. (And, because Richards felt six feet isn’t deep enough for a grave, were also reminded of the many different uses for rope).

They have suffered emotional distress, so goes the theory, and thus are entitled to compensation for the damage caused.

Yes, it’s a bullshit claim, and there’s really no reason to get up in arms about it. But bullshit claims are the most fun claims of all to follow and, frankly, if you’re reading this now, you must be bored as hell. So, why not walk with me now as we take this legal harrumphing (it’s not quite lawsuit territory yet) to its logical conclusion.

IF a person is assaulted with a racial epithet – and there’s no bigger one than N--- (which is why this is a fun test case) – they are entitled to X amount of money (so the theory goes).

NOW if the two gentlemen win, a precedent will be set, wherein a person is entitled to money if called “N---“.

BUT that only settles the matter for when N--- is the offending word: So, we must ask ourselves, what of other racial epithets?

“Hebe,” for instance, is not something I say to my Jewish friends. … Actually, scratch that. Let’s start again:

“Hebe,” for instance, is not something I say to Jewish people I haven’t known for five minutes.

It’s a bad, bad word. A derogatory word. And one that, under Ms. Allred’s theory is worth a substantial amount of money (assuming I get residual checks for something).

BUT, it’s not as bad a word as N---. Let’s face it, I can’t even, with all my powers of irony and meta-bigotry mustered, even type that word. But I can type “Hebe”.

So, therefore, isn’t one “hebe” worth less than one “N---“?

But, then again, what if Mr. Richards had assaulted four people with “hebe” and not two gentlemen with N---? Are four “hebes” worth two N---s? Or more? Or less?

And what of “coon”? “Coon” is certainly a bad word as well, but, again, not as bad as N---. However, I’d say, it’s worse than “hebe”. So, if we had a conversion chart let’s say then that

1 N--- = four hebes = 2 coons.

Now, we can’t forget the current and ever-present troubles in the Middle East and that, at some point, someone with deep pockets is going to say “sandN---“.

The way I look at “sandN---“ is the way I look at Henry Blake from both the movie M*A*S*H and the TV show: Not a full colonel. It’s almost as bad, but not quite.

So, back to our conversion chart, we’d have to say that:

1 N--- = four hebes = 2 coons = (let’s say) 1.5 sandN---s.

But then we’ve got to remember that Lou Dobbs is on later tonight and that, perhaps, somewhere, a man who invested in Microsoft very early is watching and, in a fit of anger, spouts the word “Spic” in the present of more than a few of them.

They’re entitled to a payment from – let’s call it – the escrow of racism.

But, and I’m sure you’re with me here, “spic” is about on par with “coon”. But, like “hebe”, there’s just not the history there that there is with “coon”. So, once again, back to our chart – let’s say that:

1 N--- = four hebes = 2 coons = 1.5 sandN---s = 3 Spics.

Now, what to do with the Orientals Asians: I’m going to say that we have to treat Asians like many university admissions offices do and set the bar higher. They are going to have to demonstrate not only numerous instances of the offending word – and, frankly, the only one I can think of is “rice-picker” – but also that the offending word is really, well, offending.

Of course, now that we’re on this Long Walk of Logical Conclusions, I see that we haven’t hit upon the other derogatory words for blacks or Hispanics. Plus, we haven’t even tackled dago, wop, macaca (watch out, George), kraut, pollack, raghead, or redskin, for instance. Nor what happens when one black man calls another black man an Uncle Tom? Does he deserve compensation, too?

Frankly, it’s beyond the abilities of one man to decide for a nation what monetary value these words have.

But, I guess, that’s why we have Jim Baker.

Today’s lesson: Well, of course, I’m making something out of nothing. What else have I got? “Cracker” is equal to the German Mark circa 1920.

Hannidate redux

If you're gay and conservative, then listen up, because Hannidate, the online dating service for fans of Sean Hannity has a small stable of gay conservatives who frequent the site, according to this article in the LA Times.

The only reason I mention it, is that doing so gives me a perfect excuse to link to a previous post wherein I posited some fictional entries for the dating site.

And that means more goof-off time for you. And how can THAT be bad?

Today's lesson: It's so much easier than writing new material.

Yet another game

Let’s play “I Think It Would Be Awesome If …”. It’s quite easy to play: All you need do is say “I think it would be awesome if …” and then say something that you wish would happen that you think would be awesome.

I’ll start:

“I think it would be awesome if … Michael Moore and Rush Limbaugh entered into a murder-suicide pact.”

OK. Now, your turn …

Today’s lesson: Fat blowhards on either side of the political spectrum suck ass.

A game for your next party

After finishing our turkey and goose dinner on Thursday (and thank you once again Zack and Stevie), there was a fair share of conversation and wine guzzling. And it was during one such guzzling conversation that I invented a little parlour game (which is something you do when your Blotto Alcohol Content is approaching “College Freshman” levels).

I call it, simply, Write The Novel That Doesn’t Exist (or Poem or Short Story That Doesn’t Exist). There’s really no scoring and no winner, per se: It’s more a round robin for whomever can invent the best title for a work that does not, and may never, exist by a real-life author – and one that takes a playful dig at said author.

For instance, the most memorable entry, and one for which I assume only partial credit (the majority goes to our co-host, Stevie) was J.K. Rowling’s “The Last Harry Potter Novel," a book that does not, nor may ever, exist.

Another that I remember was one of mine, a poem, which I called William Wordsworth’s, “I Wandered Lonely as a Metaphor” (and yes, I know, but “metaphor” just sounds better). And one I thought of days later was John Updike’s “White Men Can’t Jump”, a sequel to his beloved novel, “Rabbit, Shut Up”.

It may sound like a difficult game at first, but once you and your friends start the ball rolling, you’ll find it difficult to stop. For instance, just now, I suddenly remembered another cherished Pulitzer Prize-winner, “Black Like Me” by William Styron.

There are no rules, save for that "Film" is not an eligible category: Your response must allude to a writer of novels, short stories, essays – really, anything in print that you would think a fair number of people have read or heard about (though you certainly may use cinematic references in the title of your "lost" work). And usually it will take the piss out of the author (such as in the above J.K. Rowling example). But it can also be just plain silly: For instance, “The Better New Testament” [which we also called “New Testament (The Director’s Cut”)]

The beauty of the game is that it rewards both substance abuse and intelligence, two pursuits usually at odds with each other, but that here are recognized for what they really are -- and that is the twin pillars of Wit.

So, next time you hear the dreaded words “Pictionary” or “Charades” at a party, tell your hosts that you have a new game and one that will require someone, at some point, to exclaim:
“Fucking, Fucking, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck!!” by Rush Limbaugh.
Today’s lesson, redux: And, yes, I suppose you could include books-on-tape, for instance, Hillary Clinton’s “It Takes a Village (Paul Oakenfold Re-Mix)”.

The hardest part about cooking

This Thanksgiving was the first in a few years where I did virtually no cooking. Time was, I would slap on a chef’s hat for that one of two times of the year that the area’s pizza joints don’t deliver. And then a few friends would come over and we’d all sit down, eat my cooking, and be thankful for the other 363 days of the year when the area’s pizza joints DID deliver -- which, I thought, was the original meaning of Thanksgiving (turns out: no).

This year, however, I was invited to break bread with a couple, Zach and Stevie, who are friends of my friend Cortez. And my entry fee for said dinner was one dessert, one bottle of wine and one charming self. And on all three fronts I delivered – though, I must say, that my lack of experience in all three areas was no doubt telling.

For instance, I know as much about choosing a wine as I do a cold medication. Whenever I purchase either I end up spending 10 minutes trying to divine some hidden meaning from the color of the label or the area it was produced – “Maybe White Plains is the Burgundy of the Pharmaceutical world,” I tell myself – knowing only that one is different from the other but not at all how it is different. I know only that you’re not supposed to operate heavy machinery on either, but don’t worry because if you do, chances are you won’t remember it. (And as for charm, I think that that tends to exude from just about anyone who finishes his first bottle before he even makes it to the party).

But making a dessert (in my case, an apple pie) -- and cooking, in general, really -- is a little different. With a bottle of wine, if it doesn’t go over well, there are plenty of people to blame -- from either a store worker to a sommelier to your friend Mitch who works at Wine Spectator: You can always pass the buck when choosing a bad wine and rare is the case that anyone can call you on your bullshit (save, for instance, maybe Your Friend Mitch Who Works at Wine Spectator). More than likely, they live the same lie, and are willing to believe that your bad wine selection is the fault of someone else just as we’re all ready to believe that when children go missing or die mysteriously, then it MUST be the work of “some black guy,” like the parents keep saying.

But cooking, that’s a different matter entirely, because there’s no passing the buck: It’s just you and your definition of “to taste” that people remember for years to come.

Fortunately, cooking is rarely the difficult task that you build up in your mind it is. It may take the novice (like myself) a little longer to follow the recipe because, in the four years you’ve been making pies, you’ve only made four pies. But if you can read and you can follow simple directions and know that only the four greatest chefs in the world should ever attempt anything involving yeast, then cooking, generally speaking, is a fairly simple operation.

In fact, the only complicated part is, if you’re like me, and you approach simple situations with the genetic disposition to make them difficult: you come into it, say, armed with monkey wrenches at your side like cowboys do six-shooters in old westerns and are just itchin’ to pick a fight with destiny.

In my case, that meant that when I had to perform the simple task of picking out apples at the store, I would manage to screw even that up. The rules are simple: no holes, no bruises, and if it’s green it better be a Granny Smith. And if you follow them, you’ll be fine (and, speaking of which, how do you know when a Granny Smith is ripe?).

Somehow, though, my super power to extract difficulty from the earth’s core came through in shining fashion. On or about the fourth or fifth apple, I chose the one that was single-handedly the finger in the dyke: the one piece of produce preventing the avalanche that, when it occurred, laid a curse upon my feet and made me, if only briefly, rethink my greedy little pie-making fantasies.

Now, I’m sure there’s a Biblical metaphor here, what with the picking of the Apple preceding a Fall and with me trying to quickly put everything back before the Guy in Charge notices there’s a Calamity on Aisle 1: only, I don’t think when Eve took that apple that there were about four or five -- well, since there were no people, then -- orangutans (in her case, if you will) looking at her with a judgmental eye and thinking, “Pshaw, moron.” It’s not in Genesis and Jesus never made mention once of it, so I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that that never happened.

I’m equally sure that there was no Funniest Home Video moment, where she cheekily decided to pinch one but then the rest fell out of the tree and so, now that there’s no Garden Party of Eden to speak of, why not try to make ten thousand bucks off the video (in fact, keep watch for a Key Foods manager in possession and looking to make money off of just such a video)?

Yes, she and Adam lost Eden, but I lost one minute of my life, looking like a fucking moron in front of a grocery store full of Polish people. And yes, I know that the cultural stereotypes are grossly unfair towards the Polish, but I know also this, ladies and gentlemen, and that is: the very definition of Irony when it comes gently tapping at my chamber door. I think when you have a shopping center full of Polish men and women –some of whom were no doubt testy because they needed apples too – and they’re cursing through their teeth at this “idiot” in front of them, then, you, my friends, have Irony, not to mention the hardest part of making an apple pie.

Incidentally, I’d have to say the second hardest part is realizing at the last minute that you don’t own an apple corer.

Today’s lesson: Zach and Stevie on the other hand know a little something about the kitchen and had not only turkey on display but goose -- yes, goose! -- and delicious goose it was. So good in fact that while consuming a fair share of it, my mind immediately leap-frogged to the most famous goose of all – Mother Goose. And then from her to Humpty Dumpty to the Cow who jumped over the moon, to ginger bread houses and little red riding hoodsters with food for grandmother -- until suddenly the realization came upon me that it’s not McDonald’s that’s making children fat, it’s fairy tales.

Happy Day After Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving isn't just about sticking it to PETA. No, it's also about one of the greatest episodes of Television ever, the "Thanksgiving Turkey Drop" episode from WKRP in Cincinnati.

If you are unfamiliar with the show or the episode in question, WKRP follows the exploits of a last place radio station in late '70s Cincinnati, Ohio. And in this episode, the scatter-brained station president, Mr. Carlson, has decided to give away free turkeys before Thanksgiving as a station promotional event. But, as a surprise, he has kept his staff in the dark as to just HOW he plans to do this.

And as God as my witness ... you will crap your pants laughing.

You can watch the episode in three parts here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

Today's lesson: After this, Gordon Jump, AKA Mr. Carlson, would go on to fame as both the Maytag repairman and the bicycle shop owner who molested Arnold's friend Dudley in THAT episode of "Diff'rent Strokes". In fact, most Americans today when they hear the words "pedophile" or "pederast", still think "quality appliances." So, in one way, the ad campaign worked: Whenever a pedophile is caught, Maytag's sales go up.