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.


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.


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.

Happy Thanksgiving

Tomorrow I will be having Thanksgiving with complete and utter strangers.

There will be one person I know well and two, the hosts, I casually know, but the rest of the guests -- and there should be a total of 10 or more -- are people with whom i am on neither a first, last, nor even World of Warcraft name basis. In such situations, I tend to be very quiet and unobtrusive in a corner of the room -- that is, until it's time for me to say something incredibly stupid -- and yet, unremarkable -- and to hear what sounded hysterical in my head just sort of ... trail off ... into nothingness.

What's better is that many of these people will be in someway connected to the independent film industry. And that means that while they will be discussing whether "2046" was a disappointment or not, I will be searching for a plausible lie to cover for the fact that the last DVD I watched was "Hostel" (but only because "Cool Runnings" was checked out).

And this isn't to say that these people are pretentious in any way: far from it. It is to say that I like to compound my social inadequacies with the Awkward Bomb (It's amazing: you look down at your ring finger, and it has a grenade pin around it. And you say to yourself, "I don't remember saying: 'Brain: Pull it.'").

And to explain it in another fashion: Ladies, remember the 12-year-old fat girl at the dance with the braces and floral print dress, and Gentlemen, remember the 12-year-old who brought his entire collection of Transformers to school one day for no apparent reason and even the History Club stayed away? That's me.

What I'm most worried about, however, is that my friend Cortez (as he sometimes does) will announce, quite drunkenly (as he all the time does) that "Hey, well, yeah, you know" -- BURRRRRP! -- "John's got a ... a ... a blog!"


"Yeah, where's your computer?"

And it will be at that moment that my only hope will be that Irony is not dead but has evolved to some higher plane to something beyond the idea of solids, liquids, and gases.

And it will be at this moment, the one you're at right now, that they will look to me to say whatever comment comes to mind, but instead exclaim, "Where's John?" And notice, for the first time, the door ajar and the bird getting cold.

Today's lesson: A happy Turkey day, all. Stay safe, drunk and wise, and we'll see each other again on Saturday.

Love, Faulkner, and Michael Richards

A few questions and responses about love, Faulkner, and Michael Richards from readers who may or may do not exist:
John, what do I do when I get the “Just Friends” speech from a woman?

Simple: Take her up on it. Next time she goes to the lady’s room to blow a few rails, tell her she has to take you with her.

Because THAT'S Friendship.

John, I understand you finally rid yourself of three months worth of unrecycled newspapers. Why the sudden change?

Well, push came to shove and that’s exactly how I got them out the door.

John, what do you do when someone is telling an anecdote but just won’t get to the fucking point?

I give them a wide berth. But if parenthetical leads to parenthetical leads to em-dashing of an exorbitant amount, I tell Faulkner to get to the fucking point.

You call him Faulkner? Why not “Joyce” or "Pynchon"?

Faulkner’s funnier.

John, is there anything good to come out of this Michael Richards imbroglio?

Well, let’s see … CNN found out Sinbad was still alive and conscious enough to say something: So, I guess we can consider the silver lining found.

Any other opinions on the matter?

I think Barbara Walters is going to have one helluva year. Scratch that: I think AA is going to have the helluva year. Babs will place, though.

To whom should he apologize?

Well, first to the black men whom he insulted. Then to the rest of the audience. And, finally, to anyone who has to sit through a Michael Richards joke at their local Yuk Yuk’s for the next -- and we can only hope -- six months.

Do you think he’s honestly sorry he did it?

I think anyone standing to make money off of “Seinfeld” Season 7 is honestly sorry he did it.
Today’s lesson: Actually, there is one more silver lining and it’s for whomever is doing PR for “Apocalpyto”: Suddenly, Mel Gibson isn’t the worst racist in LA anymore (but then again: was he ever?).

Trent Lott spies with his little eye

Have you ever watched a wedding like it was a plane about to crash and you were a psychic? You know: You wanna stand up and yell, “For Godsakes don’t get on board!” – only, it’s too late and, in the case of the wedding, the only thing to do now is to place bets with your friends and see if you can make some money on the “when” part?

Because that’s what I see when I look at the new Republican leadership in the Senate: You have Mitch McConnell, the party’s new head-strong leader and his No. 2, Trent Lott, the party’s former head-strong leader, who’s shocked – shocked!, I say – that people think he would want back his old position.

And, frankly, I agree: I mean, just because you stalk Jodie Foster, doesn’t mean you like Jodie Foster.

Today’s lesson: That’s right, Trent: I’m talking to you. You’re the only one around here: So I must be talkin’ to you.

Remainders of the morning

Here’s the last bit of ha-ha that one overnight shift at The Job hath wrought:
  • Anyone want to join a club I’m forming? I have no idea what in the holy hell its focus will be, but I have a name and that’s the other half of the battle.
  • Our club will be called ULTRA MEGA FORCE! but our enemy … is MEGA ULTRA FORCE!. And we’ll often forget which club we are, thereby keeping our society a monkey-trap of a secret.
  • A favorite new musician of mine is this guy, Paul Duncan: honestly, he’s the best thing since that wheel that could slice bread. Try this song on for size:

So Sick of the Sun

Today’s lesson: “Moby,” my upstairs neighbor, is probably going to start the Theremin or whatever the hell it is he’s got up there about an hour after I get home. What a joy.

Stupid stuff I do to amuse myself

No. 1 Rewrite lyrics to Kraftwerk songs:

What was:
"Wir fahr’n fahr’n fahr’n auf der Autobahn"
"John, John, John’s on the Autobahn! /
John, John, John’s on the Autobahn!"
No. 2 Let people see me staring into space and then, all of a sudden-like, bursting into laughter, like I was an Indian and a pillow away from being committed. Why? Because I’m singing “John, John, John’s on the Autobahn” silently to myself, of course!

No. 3 Number three? There IS no number three: “John, John, John’s on the Autobahn” is literally HOURS of entertainment. The only way it could be made any better is if I were actually on the Autobahn, driving, and singing, “John, John, John’s on the Autobahn!”

I probably wouldn't even stop for gas. I'd just let the tank run dry. And then, when the tow truck comes to tow me away, I can sit behind the wheel and sing:

"John, John, John's off the Autobahn!
John, John, John's off the Autobahn!"

I need to be caged and muzzled

So, about an hour after dinner with my friend Jackie – and this is on Tuesday – I staggered home, to a neighborhood watering hole, under the belief that I was drunk but not all-American, all-pro drunk – and that, once there, I could remedy The Situation.

The bar was empty save for this one woman who, clearly, was not happy about something, and probably counted a guy, talkative and on the sauce, as one of the last things she wanted to encounter that night – and, I would have honored those wishes, were it not for the fact that she was the bartender. But, obviously, my choices were limited in the matter. Plus, it’s just plain odd to sit, alone, with one person hardly a foot away and not talk to them.

Of course, I probably – and quite unintentionally – made matters worse when I decided that what we both needed was some good ol’ conversation. You see, I’m the sort of person who considers it his duty, drunk or otherwise, to make sure that everyone is having a good time. If someone is off sulking in a corner, I turn into the court jester and am willing to be the butt of my own jokes – and anybody else’s – so long as that gets a laugh. (And, to answer the logical next question: “about 50/50”).

So, I would try to make small talk with her and, on occasion, would get an actual – and, I would say, legitimate – laugh or a smile. But the change was always fleeting and she would immediately revert back to staring at the TV and watching whichever reality show was on the tube at the time.

And it was after a few minutes of this, that a guy about my age, sporting a suit jacket and thick, black-rimmed glasses, came in and sat down to enjoy a quick drink (before he met up with his girlfriend, he later told me). He didn't seem to be sad: he seemed to be fine just keeping to himself.

And, suddenly, a light bulb went on and I thought, “I know! I can rope this guy into a conversation, and then the bartender could join us in that conversation, and so strangers will meet and lives will be changed” or something to that effect – all the time figuring that what two people, who obviously wish to be left alone, want is to talk to a boisterous, obstreperous drunk. I mean, whatever the antidote to their situation was, I was the opposite: I was the quack who was recommending, “No, what this broken limb needs is a good leeching.”

So, trying, searching, mining, really, for any “In” to strike up a conversation, I casually mention to the fellow – and, it was odd but it was the only thing I could think of -- “Hey, I don’t know if you know who these guys are, but has anyone ever told you that you look like the singer of The Hold Steady?” (which, if you don’t know, is an up-and-coming band, originally from the Midwest and now residing in Brooklyn).

To which he responded: “Actually, I am the lead singer for The Hold Steady.”

And, obviously not expecting that to be the answer, I paused, and, sort of sized him up, and realized that No he wasn’t having some fun with me because Yes, he IS the lead singer of The Hold Steady. And so I remarked, “Well, I guess that’s why you two look so much alike.”

We exchanged a few more words and then he was off -- a nice guy, really.

Meanwhile, I tried in vain for a few more minutes to make the bartender smile. But she had clearly had a long night and with my B.A.C. what it was, Iraq suddenly looked winnable in comparison.

And so, I packed myself up and headed home, sad now myself: for I had learned what Ashton Kutcher fatefully did at the end of “The Butterfly Effect”: That even if you mean well, sometimes it's better for everyone involved if you left the picture entirely.

Today’s lesson: And, frankly, if I have to go home and pass out to Season 1 of Kids in the Hall, that’s not so bad, right?

Music for the masses

It’s yet another glorious, God-given MP3 Friday and that means two things: One, I’m passing off others’ knowledge as my own. And two: I will be making broad generalizations of things I knew very little about. (Of course, I guess you could say that every day is an MP3 Friday).

As usual, there are three things to remember:

1. If you get your panties in a bunch over me linking to these mp3’s AND you are the artist and wish me to stop, then by all means, I will.

2. Mother Nature having not blessed my wallet like she did my beer gut, I have not had a chance to listen to most of these albums, only the song. And so I vouch only for it and not the album.

3. And, finally, as these are only links to sites beyond my control, you best get while the gettin’s good.

Well, that’s about it. Enjoy.

The Monitor
Here’s a case where I CAN vouch for the band. And when I say “vouch”, I mean that if they issued a press release that read “The world is flat and run by the four richest Jews in America,” I would pause, looking for even a hint of a silver lining, and then say, “Well … hear ‘em out first: Maybe they’re going somewhere with this.”

Way to Go, Boy
I wanted to link to a different song by this group because it had handclaps and I’m a sucker for a good song with handclaps (frankly, they’re the new cowbell). But, this song edged out the competition by deign of its catchiness. But don’t worry, Timmy: There’ll be more handclaps one day.

Alone Again, Or
Embrace your inner Arizonan with this band’s cover of the classic Love track (recorded live at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival).

Apple Orchard
Do you do drugs? Do you like to wake up, Sunday morning-ish, after a night of doing drugs and then do just about anything you please with your day -- so long as “anything” can be done in boxers and a bathrobe (and to the tune of sizzling bacon)? Well, then you’ll like Beach House.

Long, Long, Long
Covers of Beatles songs generally go one of two ways: either straight down the shitter or right up the pooper. Rare is the case where a band takes a classic, gently bends the song to its requirements, and produces a winner.

That caged look you now seem to have is most likely due to the two words that best define this duo's work: “instrumentals” and “electronica”. But before you get scared and pee all over everything, let me say that these two gents have found a way to write and record electronica instrumentals on rock’s terms, the same way the Beastie Boys did with rap. And you like the Beasties, don’tcha?

The Ballad of Scarlet Town
And, lastly, a song for anyone who like their bands from Canada and their shine from Appalachia. (Oh, and completely off point, have you ever had someone tell you, “Oh, he or she’s from Appalachia” and think, “Well thank you for narrowing it down to one of 13 fucking states.” No? Huh, well, I guess it’s just me.)

Today’s lesson: Thanks, once again, to all of the wonderful music bloggers out there who DO know what they’re talking about:
  • aquarium drunkard
  • gorilla vs. bear
  • false 45th
  • red blondehead
  • torture garden
  • you ain’t no picasso
  • the hype machine
Take care and have a good weekend.

Howard Stern and Nancy Pelosi

We may be closer to discovering why a nation that voted for change last Tuesday is rabidly on the hunt for Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi's bra size today (and see: you thought it was going to be a boring day).

It appears that the secret lies with the Sirius broadcast of the King of All Media, the Dean of All Dirty Jokes, and the Scourge of All Ukrops: Howard Stern. Apparently, Mr. Stern has made mention on his broadcast, something to the effect, that Speaker-elect Pelosi has, well, rather large cans (and in fact, even calling into question their source -- i.e., whether by mother or by doctor).

And Stern, always at the forefront of any large can controversy -- really, he's the Meriwether Lewis of Ta Ta's, the Sir Edmund Hillary of Nay Nay's -- has not been one to shy away from this story -- unlike, say, many of your corporate media types, who -- and I guess this is irony -- answer to The Man (who, like any man, must answer to The Wo-Man, who, as of Tuesday, is Nancy Pelosi).

I, incidentally, inadvertently found out about this query because my site has received numerous hits from google searches for:

"nancy pelosi" "bra size"
or, for instance,
nanci [sic] pelosi's bra size

And, after about the thirtieth one, I figured so many searches couldn't be random: there had to be some kind of organization behind it all. And so, having posted a plea last Friday for some soul out there to provide an answer, I received two: one in the form of a reply from anonymous commenter JB, pointing me in the direction of Stern's show, and a second in the form of a link to my site from a discussion forum on the main online support network for Howard Stern fans (commenting about how it was most likely his Word that had wrought such googling). Thus, any possibility that, in a moment somewhat ironic, they were looking for her "brain size" was erased: They wanted to know the size of the Bosom-elect's Speakers.

However, it's not by decree that Howard's Sternatics have accepted this Fellowship of the Bra. It would appear that they've merely taken his remarks and run with them: That, prompted by nothing but zeal for their prophet, they have gone on a quest: The Quest for Nancy Pelosi's Bra Size.

And while such a thing is funny to think about and then easy to dismiss (and wonder, say, what's for dinner), it's not going to be funny when the Speaker-elect spots interns examining her shopping bags or strangers quizzing her on the streets: doing, generally, whatever it takes (so long as 'whatever' is near their Sirius link-up) to uncover the size of the most powerful pair in America and determine whether, for instance, she's a D or C cup (and, by the way, I have no idea what those letters mean, other than that one means bazoom! and the other means baZOOM!!).

These are Howard Stern fans, after all, and they don't quit. They, unfortunately, have come into possession of the One Ring of comedy: 'Don't worry: It'll be funny again.' Just keep at something, day after day, night after night and no matter HOW many people you piss off, "Don't worry: It'll be funny again" (which, from their perspective, it always was). And if you don't believe me, just call up any radio show host around the country, and one with a sizeable national audience, and ask him or her what he or she thinks of Howard Stern -- and that's, really, all you have to say -- and then gauge his or her reaction. (It's about what you would expect from a Skynyrd fan at a Smiths show.)

And whereas you might naturally assume that I, lover of all things pornographic and dirty, would be in favor of such information, I am not: because, you see, once they have their answer and broadcast it, the late night airwaves and every two-bit standup comedian won't stop with the jokes about "the most powerful boobs in America ... now that Rumsfeld's gone!" [Rimshot!] (And if you think that Leno won't saddle a dead horse with some chestnut about her bra size and which man she wants as her "whip," then you, my friend, are a fool).

So, you see, it's not just the Speaker's privacy I'm thinking about: it's America and her right to not be abused by corny one-liners (outside of a Dean Martin Celebrity Roast, of course).

But only one person can take charge of this situation before it becomes unmanageable, and that one person is Speaker-elect Pelosi. However, to date she's done nothing. And if she continues to take this threat lightly or believes that her secret is already well-protected, then she hasn't learned the first rule of the 21st century: that once you allow it to gather steam, it's damn near impossible to beat a determined insurgency.

Today's lesson: I don't know why people care that Stern did or didn't gloss over his use of sexual and racial humor in 'Private Parts': I mean, doesn't everyone do that when they become famous?

Things apropos of nothing

Sometimes lightening strikes and you create a work of genius forged in what writers call ‘white heat’.

Sometimes it hits a little too hard and your brother the sheriff has to pull a few strings to get you that janitorial job at the grain silo.

I think you know what time it is.

  • Sunday night, whilst recuperating from a Saturday I don’t quite remember, I popped in Dario Argento’s ‘70s horror film “Suspiria”. And after enjoying Asia's dad's 1977 masterpiece, I trolled through the DVD extras, whereupon I landed upon the bio for lead actress Jessica Harper which contained this sentence:

    “That same year, the actress appeared opposite Richard Dreyfuss and Bob Hoskins in INSERTS, John Byrum’s controversial study of a failed movie director’s descent into the world of pornography during the 1930’s.”

    My immediate reaction?

    “I never ever want to hear the words ‘Richard Dreyfuss’, ‘Bob Hoskins,’ and ‘pornography’ in the same sentence again.’
  • And now, for nothing more than a chuckle and a groan:

    “You know what they say: Curiosity killed the cat. But then again, there are a lot of cats.”

    “You know what they say: Curiosity killed the cat.”

    “Have you SEEN how many cats there are in this city? I say: Curiosity got lucky (or fell down on the job, one).”
  • “You know what they say: Curiosity killed the cat.”
    “Curiosity sounds like good people.”
    Did blogs help the Democrats win the election? Well, not more than, say, organization, money, and GOP blundering did. But people – cable news-types, mostly – like to say they did. And I think it’s because they just like to say the word, “Blogs”. Say it with me now – Blogs – it’s just so ugly and alien a word, it sounds made up, doesn’t it? It might as well be “Flern” or “Splorfs” or a hundred other words you snatch right out of thin air.

    But it’s also the way cable news anchors say it: You get the sense they don’t even know what it means.

    Much like how anyone who learns a new word feels they have to use it forty times a day, you just keep hearing it coming out of their mouths – again and again -- until you start to wonder, “They don't SOUND like they know what that word means?” As if, once they come back from the commercial break, it's: "Next up, what The Blogs are talking about. But first, news on the emperor and his fantastic new clothes."

    It’s like the president and his “Internets” or Ramona Quimby and her ‘dawn-zer’ problem.

Today’s lesson: And if you get THAT reference, Encyclopedia Brown, I’ll be mighty impressed.

Blacked Out and Loving It

At approximately 12:30 Sunday afternoon, I awoke to the sight of a painting on my apartment wall, one that hadn’t been there the night before, nor the day before that, nor any day or night prior to that afternoon.

Confusion is never welcome at Chez Flowers so early in the day (and particularly so on a Sunday). However, the painting's value as a curiosity served also a duel role of allowing me to focus my wits, and so led to the Rubbing of the Eyes, traditional with the Dawning of Any New Hangover. And it was at this point that I then remarked, “Dear Lord, I got so drunk last night I bought art.”

Good art, though. Familiar even. So familiar in fact that I recognized it -- eventually -- as a painting that hangs on the wall of a friend’s apartment, which, now that I looked about, is where I was, with my feet hanging off the sofa, in a position familiar to many an astronaut.

I had woken up in my friend Angelo’s apartment, located in Chinatown near where Canal and Bowery intersect. And, I thought, as I discretely removed myself from the proceedings, near a fantastic dim sum place that, were I not as greasy and disgusting as I undoubtedly was and -- checking my pockets -- were I to have more than ten and a half dollars (and by half I mean, literally, a torn half of a bill) --- perhaps I would feast on noodles, dumplings and shrimp, whilst repeatedly refusing the entreaties of my Chinese tablemates to share their tripe.

Instead I made my way home to Greenpoint, via the Hook and Crook lines, in order to watch the Redskins suffer yet another ignominious defeat to, well, Who Ya Got This Week?

But what happened last night? I remember the art show in Williamsburg (not to mention my Sore Thumb status there); the birthday party later on; and meeting friends from the first party even later. But that, I later figured, took me only to about 1:30 AM. What of the other, I was to later learn, four hours: what of THEM? What disaster did I let befall me this time?

Well, I was to learn, none: I was actually on quite good behavior, considering that I was, and no one knew this at the time, in full blackout drunk stage. There was no Angry Drunk present; no Depressing Drunk; No Hitting on the Girl with the Deep Voice and Hairy Arms Drunk. No, it was more gleeful, as if watching an alternate universe where Humpty Dumpty Doesn’t Have a Great Fall / He Just Sorta Sings Polly Wolly Doodle All the Day / And Everyone Lives Happily Ever After / The End.

Fortunately, my friend Cortez was available this afternoon to fill in the details and to ask and answer all of the important questions:

  • Upon re-meeting and re-greeting my friends from the Party of the First Part, was I spouting non-sequitars, something to the effect of “If you HAVE It, then you have to USE It?” And did one friend, Daniel, ask, “Well, what do you mean by It? Define It.” And was my response: “You will KNOW It, when you HAVE It.” Why, naturally.
  • Did friends get into a near-altercation with some overly aggressive Polish guys trying to take the drunk sister of one member of our party back home? Yes. And were I not talking to This Other Girl at the time, would I almost certainly have said … something? My friends are positive; therefore, I am positive.
  • At the After Hours bar, did I brush off my friends in favor of talking to anyone at the bar who happened to come my way and wished to share in the delight of polite conversation? I am told, “Yes.” Did the bartenders, according to my friend Cortez, take a liking to me, enjoying my antics and my willingness to engage in discourse as they do in the salons of Paris (though, no doubt, sounding more like a sailor from Sydney)? I’ll let you, the readers decide (myself, I’m voting ‘yes’).
  • Was it at this point, late into the night, that my friend Cortez, sensing the opportunity for a good joke, sent our friend’s date for that night, a J----, to talk to me, betting I was so far gone that I would remember nothing of having talked to her -- let alone having MET her -- for a solid 45 minutes on the way to the After Hours bar? Yes, and, apparently, I was as friendly as sunshine and apple pie.

So, you see: sometimes the hero gets his come-uppance before eventual triumph. And sometimes, it’s about the fight and not the victory.

But other times, dear readers, it’s good to know that somewhere out there is a man on autopilot, throwing caution to the wind and getting away with it.

Of course, now that I say that, I think we all know what Pride comes before ...

Today’s lesson: Happy Birthday to Catherine, friend of mine these past 10 years, who's had to roll her eyes at more than a few of my antics. And thanks, many, to Angelo, a kinder soul you will not find in the great City of New York.