Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A New Year, a New Start

I've only made good on one New Year's resolution in my life: To stop making empty promises to myself every year. Only setting myself up for disappointment, right?

Besides, I've found it's much more fun to make resolutions for other people. So here are the first annual Tommy Mac New Years Resolutions:

Barack Obama: To resist the temptation to show off the pecs and abs by always wearing a shirt at press conferences. (Topless press conferences? What if Wolf Blitzer misinterprets that phrase? Talk about a wardrobe malfunction.

Rod Blagojevich: To sell a vowel. To the highest bidder. Or maybe a consonant. You know, the letter J is 8 points in Scrabble? Supply and demand baby!

Sarah Palin: To increase her foreign policy experience. She will be adding an additional floor to her house so she can see Canada from her rooftop. And maybe meet Santa that way too. Russia, check. Canada, check. North Pole, check.

Dick Cheney: To keep his enemies closer. Maureen Dowd, PLEASE decline his hunting invite.

George W. Bush: To find bin Laden -- in less than 3 weeks!

Joe Biden: To return to obscurity.

Joe Lieberman: To firmly commit to the principals of one major political party. Maybe the Whigs this time.

Caroline Kennedy: You know, to stay true to the, you know, political legacy of, you know, the Kennedy name, you know.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie: To limit adoption to only two children in calendar 2009

Nicole Kidman: To finally use that tanning bed that Tom bought her all those years ago.

Katie Couric: To return to a job that takes advantage of disingenuousness and sugary sweet tones. If only that damned Yolanda Vega would just disappear!

Bill O'Reilly: To find even more creative ways to tell people it's okay to hate Obama without using the n-word.

George W. Bush (that's right, you can't get rid of him that easy): To make even more money by cashing in on a "Hit the Moron With and Old Pair of Shoes" carnival game. But only in blue states.

Michael Bloomberg: To write his long-awaited memoir: "How to Get Sh-t Done Despite Being a Nasally Whining Vertically Challenged Bostonian."

Hank and Hal Steinbrenner: To spur the economy by burning $1,000 bills rather than measley 100-spots.

The Mets, the Jets, and Iona College basketball teams: To find new and creative ways to build up the hope of one loyal blogger and then crush his heart in even smaller pieces than the previous year.

Eliot Spitzer: To exhaust any remaining influence to secure the number 9 on his prison garb.

So let's hope our famous friends can do what's necessary to stick to their 2009 resoultions, Tommy Mac style.

Happy New Year to all and if you have suggested resolutions, leave them in a comment.

Enjoy and be safe

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Romantic Comedies: BAD For Your Relationship!

I love when I'm right. It happens so rarely that I need to bask in the glow when it does happen. I saw on TV this morning -- The Today Show no less!! -- that romantic comedies are BAD for your relationship. And this wasn't just Kathie Lee and Ho-ho-ho-ta Kot-bee just talking out of their oversize butts, this was a real academic study. Matt Lauer told me so!

Researchers at Heriot Watt University's Family and Personal Relationship Laboratory in Edinburgh (that's in Scotland you know) found "that problems typically reported by couples in relationship counseling at their counseling center reflect misconceptions about love and romance depicted in Hollywood films," according to a story in Time magazine. The Time story did not indicate if the Scottish researchers were drinking whiskey during the study, or if they showed favoritism towards movies that included bagpipe music during love scenes.

Dr. Bjarne Holmes, who lead the research, said: "...We are saying that it would be helpful if people were more aware and more critical of the messages in these films. The problem is that while most of us know that the idea of a perfect relationship is unrealistic, some of us are still more influenced by media portrayals than we realize."

By "some of us," he means people with vaginae.

One example from the study: a group of over 100 volunteers watched the 2001 romantic comedy Serendipity while another group of the same size watched a David Lynch drama. Viewers of the romantic comedy were found to be more likely to believe in fate and destiny. (They could not determine what the David Lynch group thought. Those volunteers apparently made a pact to jump off the tallest bridge in Scotland and arranged to have their bodies hidden in tall weeds, where they will not be discovered until the 2014 British Open golf tournament.)

Okay, so this notion of Hollywood providing unrealistic expectations (who would have EVER guessed that) might be setting the bar too high for men. That's not a huge surprise. But then I thought more about that point. Unmotivated, miscommunicating buffoons are setting the bar too high? So on the Great Female Relationship Expectation Chart, I'm somewhere behind John Cusack, Hugh Grant and Richard Gere? (Actually Mr. Gere likes me back there. But why does he keep calling me "Mr. Nibbles"??)

Researchers said viewers of the romantic comedies are coming away with the notion that if you are truly with "the one," then you will not have to communicate your feelings, needs, or even the fact that you're running out of milk -- your mate will just "know" what you require and destiny takes care of the rest. And you won't have to use that chalky creamer in your coffee tomorrow morning.

I guess I need to become a bumbling English chap whose hair is unkempt while I wear one black shoe and one brown shoe while struggling to make my friend's wedding on time, like Hugh Grant might do. And then I get to violate Andy McDowell's body. Actually that's a bad example. She's as dull as Hugh Grant, and he would be as satisfied sleeping with the ironing board in his hotel room. But you get the idea: the girls gets the goofball as long as he is adorably discombobulated and makes one awkward attempt to communicate his dying desire to be with her, and only her.

And then they bang.

Maybe romantic comedies are sending just the right message after all.

Well if you excuse me, I have to go get some milk, My soulmate and I are apparently miscommunicating.

Merry Christmas everyone. I hope Santa brings you all you hope for. If you don't celebrate Christmas, have a peaceful day. Maybe go to a movie, but not a romantic comedy -- then you'll never enjoy a fulfilling relationship!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Simply Having a Terrible Christmas Headache

I have this theory -- You can boil everyone's life down to one telling fact. If that's the only thing you know about them you essentially get their "essence."

I also think you can undo all the work of your life with one fateful action.

As proof, I give you "Wonderful Christmastime," that nauseating Paul McCartney carol. And by carol I mean piece of holiday dung. Call it egg log.

I ALMOST made it through the holiday season without being subjected to that ear poison. Then on a snowy Friday afternoon in Bradford's (yes a bar, not a department store) in downtown Stamford this week, I threw up in my mouth a little.

Barkeep, can I have a root canal? Or a gun?

Let's break this down.

Here's how the song opens...

Ding, dong, ding, dong 
Ding, dong, ding, dong

The mood is right
The spirits up
Were here tonight
And that's enough
Simply having a wonderful Christmas time
Simply having a wonderful Christmas time

This sh-t makes James Taylor sick. Paul McCartney wrote f---ing "Hey Jude" for cryingoutloudgodsakesareyoukiddingme???

I mean, just cover an existing carol and "make it your own." Springsteen did "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town" and people eat that up. He actually had some fun with it. You can hear him laughing in the song.

Nobody in his posse could say "Uh, Paul. You f---ing wrote 'Hey Jude'
cryingoutloudgodsakesareyoukiddingme! Maybe we do Frosty the Snowman. Frosty could be code for blow or some other drug, like we used to do? Remember Lucy?"

I think he's just angry. Not about being less talented than Lennon. But because - as Craig Ferguson likes to point out -- that he has finally become Angela Lansbury.

I admit, I'm not the biggest Christmas guy going. I've been called a Scrooge on more than one occasion. It's a wonderful time of year, but overly schmaltzy carols and movies (see "Life, It's a Wonderful") make me crazy. Why can't we be as focused on how good life really is from January through Thanksgiving instead of the opposite?

Gifts. Crowds. Traffic. Bad Weather. Intricate family planning. Weight gains. Even a harbinger of our nation's - and global -- economy. That's a lot of stuff.

We don't need "A Wonderful Christmas Time" to add to our holiday woes. I'm hoping Obama can ban it. He certainly should pardon Paul McCartney for making our world a crappier place for writing it.

Everyone -- sincerely -- do please have a great holiday season. Be safe, be happy, be loved and give love. As my good friend Kelley Taylor says "Make Every Day a Holiday."

Peace out


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My Mom Was My Sex Ed Teacher -- Helllllo Therapy!

In the last blog, I revealed that my Mom was my English teacher in the 5th grade. A friend of mine reminded me (trust me, I blocked this out), that I had my mother for several subjects that year, including one painful unit.

My mother was my sex-ed teacher.

You wold think this is a situation that could be avoided. But in my Catholic school (sex is for married people only!!!! If you disobey this remember the story about the locusts, right??) there were only two homerooms in 5th grade. Of course I was in the other homeroom, with Miss Fadus. But for Chapters 5 and 6 in the "Family Life" course (the sex chapters), you really had to separate the boys and the girls for "the filmstrip." (".....and that is called an orgasm....BEEP!")

Now Miss Fadus was um, about 14 years old. A rookie teacher, and a bit naive. When the discussion of the sex-ed chapters began, Miss Fadus pronounced the word "scrotum" as if it were a broiled entree on a menu: Scrod-um. Okay, she can't teach the boys, but she's a fine locust-free Catholic girl.

So the job of teaching the boys fell to my mom. I wasn't really freaked out at first, although my mom loved to use the chalkboard. She would write everything, illustrate everything, and she would use every available inch of the blackboard. First she diagrammed the female reproductive system. I was unaffected. In fact, I thought it would make a great logo for a rock band.

Then she drew....the penis.

That's when the room got warm. Did I mention she used every inch of the board? My dad was never so proud.

Then she cranked up the film strip. It was mostly clinical and I can't remember how they described "the deed." But I remember thinking.....Oh. My. God. That means my mom. And my dad. They did that? Do they still do that? Is their bedroom directly above mine? Ew.

So I'm now sweating. After the film strip my mom opens the floor for questions.

Now picture this....25 fifth-grade boys getting to ask about penises, gonads, semen and orgasms...It was like a White House press conference, minus Helen Thomas (thank god). With each question I'm gettng more and more squirmy and sweaty. I needed to do something. I had to ask a stupid question.

"What if you're 'doing it' and you need to pee," I ask, just to stop thinking about friction and if my mother was multi-orgasmic. I'd much rather think of my father urinating. Or Helen Thomas doing just about anything.

My mom's answer? "There's a little lever that shuts off the urine until a couple has, um, finished."

At dinner I asked my mom what the "lever" was called. Everything had a clinical name and I was sure the lever was not called the lever. So when I asked my lever-follow-up question, the rest of the family looked at me like I had three heads and broke up laughing.

Liar! My own mom lied to me. About sex. In front of other boys!

No wonder I scammed her in the Great Book Report Scandal of 1982. She deserved it!

Twenty-sex, er, 26 years later, and a stack of therapy bills that could choke a .... okay, bad analogy.... I think I'm finally recovered.

But I still twinge when I see a blackboard. Thank the Lord for dry-erase boards.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Dirty (Half) Dozen Things You'll Wish You Didn't Know About Me

The blogosphere is a strange place. All kinds of attention-seeking "creative" people make nice with each other, pretend to like each other's blogs, and occasionally play silly games in the spirit of community. It's like an AA group, except there is no bad coffee, chain smoking, or silly steps.

This blog entry is one of those silly games. Last week I was "tagged" by J., another blogger/writer I met last year, and perhaps my most loyal reader. J writes the blog J-Two-O, in which she has forms (usually funny, always interesting, and often lightning quick) opinions about the day's news, sports, or whatever is on her mind. She also owns a Jets thong. Need I say more? Yes, she's hot.

Last week she "tagged" me (and not the way the married J surely wishes) -- in kind of a high school chain letter fashion, I need to tell six random things about me. I think I'm supposed to pass it on. At the risk of all of you NOT winning a million bucks from Disney, or at the expense of one of Sally Struthers children (Sally, that's a child, not a malomar), I will not be "tagging" anyone. (As usual)

I will limit it to things I have not yet written about in this blog. Okay, here goes:

1. I like to eat lemons. No, I don't mean squirt some juice in a piece of broiled scrod (why does that sound dirty?). I mean, when I get a lemon wedge in my drink, I like to eat it. The whole thing. Rind and all (Hey, lemon peel is sold as a seasoning so it must be okay). Whenever those above-acceptable-levels-of-fecal-matter-in-your-salad-bar news stories hit the papers and airwaves, I always get an e-mail from someone that reads something like this. "Dude, you gotta stop eating those lemons in the restaurants. It's like someone wiped their ass with them before they put them in your iced tea. But if you die, can I have your Pathfinder?"

2. I passed up an opportunity to meet Ray Charles. In the late 90s when I was a reporter, I interviewed him a couple of weeks before giving a concert in Stamford. It was the coolest 30 minutes of my life. In fact, I might have peed myself. It's not always you get to talk to your total true life idol (yes, I wish I was blind and black. It must have been soooo easy for him!). At the end of the interview he invited me backstage on the day of the show. Seeing as I attended the show with about 7 other people, I thought it would be rude to say "Excuse me, kids, I gotta go say hi to Ray." It might have been the only self-less moment of my life and I regret it. Thinking back, I could have gone backstage -- with all of them....Just walk really really quietly!

3. I pee in the shower. I'm not even sure why this is frowned upon. Urine is actually quite clean. It HAS to be cleaner than the crap I'm cleaning from my body and all that soapy discharge, right. I'm not a clean freak (okay, "slob" is the right word), but I am pretty fastidious about cleaning the shower. I think we all do this but for some reason we think we are not supposed to. (Note to friends: I do not employ this bodily habit when I shower in your showers. Even though I'd bet you guys pee in the shower, too, I think you'd find it gross to have my pee somewhere in your pipes.

4. My Porn Name is Snowflake Tuttle. Funny, I know, for a fair-haired, fair-skinned boy. If you don't know the game, it's the name of your first pet then the name of the street you grew up on. The family cat was Snowflake. We lived on Tuttle Road. Today, my name would be Fumbles Bedford, which sounds more like Jim Carrey character than an adult film star. My favorite porn names of all time using this method? Cornflakes Lorenzo and Vodka Cox.

5. I'm very competitive. Many of you know this, but I have something to admit that I've never told anyone. It's my express ticket to hell. My mother was my 5th grade English teacher and she had a reading contest in which the two students who read the most books and filed short book reports won some kind of nominal prize (a candy bar or some other thing I could nag her for after school anyway.)

So the geekiest girl in the class was the clear winner, with over 100 books. I'd hate to think where she is now, but I'm pretty sure she's not on the pole. So there was a fierce battle for second place. I was competing with Susan Molnar, my total fifth grade crush (and I think 6th and 7th grade too). I knew I had to pull out all the stops. I liked reading the Encyclopedia Brown series of books, so I did what any true competitor would do. I cheated. So I made one up. Yes, I wrote a book report about a book that was never written. By "one" I mean ten. Maybe 12.

I try not to think about defrauding my mom and sticking it to the girl I wanted to, well stick it to.
I'll save a seat in hell. But the Whatchamacallit was deee-lish!

6. The (state) attorney general, at a news conference, said he wanted to tailgate at a Jets game with me. When I was a reporter, I also wrote a humor column. The column this particular week aimed to explain the male ritual of tailgating before sporting events. Eating chili and quickly disposing of cases of beers in 20 degree weather before a football game. So Richard Blumenthal, the Connecticut Attorney General then, and now, started his press conference by saying "Before we get started, let me just say I wanna tailgate with That McFeeley Guy this Sunday. Sounds like more fun than what we do here everyday." I didn't know quite what to do, as I had to explain to the other reporters in the press corps that I also wrote a humor column. This of course, in their eyes, gave me the credibility of someone writing for Mad Magazine. But at least I found out how many Coronas it takes to get Dick Blumenthal to strip down and paint his torso Jets green. (Of course he didn't do it, we didn't even tailgate. Damn politicians and empty promises!)

So that's a dirty half dozen things you may not have known about me. If you'll excuse me, I have to pee before I run out of hot water.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Think Globally, Act Locally, and Happy Birthday to Me!!

My birthday sucks. Born four days before Christmas. I came home on Jesus' birthday for Chrissakes (blasphemy intented).

I haven't had a birthday party since I was 5. (Okay I had one at age 30, but it was on New Years Eve and I don't remember much of it -- and it's more dramatic to wait 32 more years.

When I tured 21, only one friend was around to go out, so I was denied the rite-of-passage experience of having alcohol poisoning and visiting the ER on that landmark birthday.

Even my first niece, Erin, was born on my half birthday. Eleven years later, I'm happy to say, she's not as selfish.

My grandparents forgot my birthday when I was 10.

Get it yet?

I waited 37 years, but finally I've found a perfect gift for me. Especially all of you who have ever wrapped a birthday gift in Christmas paper or who forgot to call a December baby on their birthday.

December 21 is "Global Orgasm Day." The mission of the day is ... and I quote "to effect change in the energy field of the Earth through input of the largest possible surge of human energy."

So.....(ladies only -- or guys who have amazing single female friends....Okay, unhappily married will be considered too!) is a gift that keeps on giving.

You can show a humor blogger what he means to you. You can get an amazing orgasm (or two, pending any Christmas miracles) for yourself. YOU can change the Earth's energy -- maybe it can and save some work for President-Elect-Savior-Sage Barack Obama. He's got economic concerns to deal with (maybe we all have orgasms on April 15 too?)

Technically you're supposed to have the orgasm at the time of the solstice. I think I know what time that is, but I could schedule several "miscalculations" that are considerate of your schedule.

And -- it's a Sunday! You can go out for "a last minute gift" and not be lying to pesky spouses, friends or your special guy. (The Jets do play at 4 p.m. so brunch-time encounters preferred, though there is a "halftime slot" open around 5:30 p.m.). I wold recommend the 7:30 p.m. slot, because if the Jets win or lose, I will have considerable adrenaline to exchange.

So you can help save the Earth, have fun of your own, and provide a most welcome birthday gift for an oft-overlooked birthday boy. Refreshments will be provided.

I can promise you it will be the most rewarding 2-and-a-half minutes of your life. Merry Christmas, Happy holidays and Happy Birthday to me!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

She Loves Him to Deaf: Must be Christmas Time!

So I'm watching TV this morning when I should have been looking for clients, invoicing others, or paying the rent..."It is December ALREADY?"

Yes, kids, it is December already. I've seen the Christmas commercials to prove it. (I know, Christmas ads begin running just after Easter. Humor me, I needed a segue.)

Now we know it's an unusual year and retailers need to be increasingly creative with their pitch to the consumer. ("You won't get trampled to death here!" just didn't test that well with focus groups apparently).

So the first commercial I noticed was for Kay jewelers. An attractive couple sits in front of both their Christmas tree and a fireplace. The woman is deaf and the man is struggling to communicate through sign language. My immediate thought was "If he can't sign that well, they obviously haven't been together very long or he is one dumb ass." Then I decided she was just a deaf trolip about to voraciously consume him on the living room carpet of some hard-working woman who, besides having all of her auditary faculties, was hard at work in some office tower to make sure her husband would get his Lexus this Christmas. That's just more fun.

(By the way, doesn't deaf trolip sound like a Christmas cookie -- "Come here kids, Mommy made a plate of deaf trolips to leave out for Santa to eat. Want a taste? Yummy!")

Then my mind wandered. I tried to think of the advantages of dating a deaf woman. If a deaf woman nags a man with sign language and he's not there to read it, is it still really nagging? You could listen to old Stones CDs as loud as you wanted. Marlee Matlin is pretty hot. And then there is silent farting, if you can master the Silent But Deadly variety, or blunt her olfactory senses too.

And I wonder why it's tough to pay the rent, me thinking about farting around deaf mutes, I mean mates. Deaf mates.

About 20 minutes later (when my deaf advantage list had reached "She won't hear strange sounds in the middle of the night and wake me up for nothing..."), Best Buy's Geek Squad joined the Very Special Christmas parade. The commercial is a Geek Squad employee talking about an installation of a big screen television he recently completed for a man who is legally blind.

The man had memorized the room and "felt" a perfect spot for the TV. They set up the TV and taught the man how to operate four different remotes by feel, counting the buttons that control the TV and (I assume) a stereo system which he could enjoy (but not his deaf daughter who was out boning some peace-loving philanderer).

And suddenly I think: a TV for a blind guy? If he can't see the remote in his hand, how will he possibly enjoy the $2,000 flat screen. I hope they didn't con him into buying the HD package. How does this make any sense? For $2,000 he can have a neighbor come over every day and do the hand-puppet thing against the wall. ("Is it me or are there more and more black actresses these days?")

I was waiting for the Geek Squad guy to tell me he had lots of iPods for deaf trollips, scratch and sniff stickers for noseless children, and powerful microwaves for those without taste buds.

I understand retailers wanting to appeal to our softer side by demonstrating that Christmas can be special for all of us. I think it's a little bit of a cheap trick, like bringing your girlfriend's mom flowers they day you meet her. Or servicemen wearing their uniforms in bars, eliminating any hook up chance for mere civilians. We would all do it, but it's still a little bit cheap.

Frankly I would prefer the ads to be a bit edgier, saying things like:
* "Bose sound systems are so kick ass that Blair's cousin Geri from The Facts of Life rocks out too!"
* "Make it a very special Christmas, if you know what we mean..."
* "If your kid likes rocks, wrap up some gravel for the little bugger and spend more money on that sparkling diamond ring at Kay!"

But alas, I write only this blog, not touching Christmas advertisements for leading retail companies. So we will be subject to the heart-warming portrayals of capable Christmas.

Hmm, I wonder if Marlee Matlin likes bloggers....

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Vampires and Other Things That Suck

Last night a friend texted me after seeing that new teen-scream vampire love story hottie-with-unruly hair phenominon Twilight. Of course she saw it with her mom and a niece and of course loved it. What a fun girls night out.....I would rather be buried alive in a coffin wired with John Tesh's greatest hits in a continual loop than spend two hours watching anything that makes a teenage girl squeal like livestock.

But it did make me realize there are a lot of types of movies that I don't like. Maybe I have a narrow view, but I like what I like and I'm very seldom pleasantly surprised by a film in my "categories to avoid."

In general, it's like this. I like movies that could actually happen. A film that makes you think, something that advances your brain just a little bit, not just another excuse to sit like a tree stump for two hours getting dumber by the minute by computer generated special effects or anything starting Keanu Reeves

So let's eliminate the types of movies I hate. Many of these blend in together, but here are my criteria for films that make me wanna cut myself:

* Vampire movies. The fact that many women find vampires slightly or very erotic confirms my belief that I will never in my lifetime understand women. (I think it's connected to this odd infatuation with that weird little half man/half pgymy Prince.)

* Horse movies. This refers to a film in which the horse is the main mode of transportation. These include overacted westerns starring men who speak like their chaps are riding up something fierce, 19th century English love stories in which a shy mousy girl falls for the humble messenger boy who is not from a proper family despite her aristocrat Daddy's stern warning, and some civil war crap about the ordinary man who becomes a leader of men only to die in the end for nothing more than selling a few Jujubes at the concession counter. Mmmm. Jujubes.

* Space movies. Okay, people. We may or may not have landed on the moon almost 40 years ago and yet we still hold our breath every time we launch something. We will not see space travel in our lifetimes (unless Sir Richard Branson takes us there), so let's not worry about aliens, strange life forces, and unrecognizable creatures that happen to perfectlyunderstand English. Even the aliens know that Chinese is the language of the space age.

* Movies that can't happen. Take "Ghost" for example. In addition to being possibly the most annoying combination of any three people on the planet, how can a living breathing person be moved by a "ghost" sliding a coin on the floor. And Demi Moore kissing Whoopi Goldberg? Ew. Could two women kissing be any more disappointing? I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.

* Hobbits, trolls, children with magical powers. Now I'm all for imagination and reptilian creatures that, if you saw them in your bathtub you would squish them like a cockroach. But could we keep it to 90 minutes people. And do we need to make sweeping trilogies and endless series of these movies? I keep waiting for the next installment, something like Harry Potter and the Pubic Hair.

* Long, drawn out love stories whose endings are clear about 38.12 seconds into the movie. You may remember Cold Mountain, in which Nicole Kidman's love interest (no! not the senstitive blue collar boy from a family of modest means? I NEVER saw THAT coming) goes off to war and inevitably and predictably comes home to her. Towards the end of that movie, he limps up the mountain and Kidman is holding a rifle and has him in the cross-hairs. If only she shot him in the aorta I would have danced in the movie theater and personally lobbied Cold Mountain for Best Picture. Of course she didn't and they fall in love and make a baby. (The one good thing that resulted from her non-shooting of him was we got a nice Nicole Kidman boobie shot a few minutes later. Woo hoo!)

* Sci-fi. Three words: The Fifth Element. Bruce Willis and Gary Oldman should lose their Screen Actors Guild cards for being involved in that piece of futuristic turd.

* Romantic comedies. Just pick your favorite and keep watching it. They are all the same. Unless there is a chance to see Jennifer Aniston boobie, there is no reason to see yet another sack of crap. I mean do we really need to see Hugh Grant play that bumbling English chap again? Really?

So what ARE my favorite movies? The include Shawshank Redemption, Crash, Mystic River, Bull Durham, Good Will Hunting, The Usual Suspects and my favorite of all time: Field of Dreams. I know what you're saying.... "You hypocrite, Field of Dreams is one of those movies that could never happen. There are ghosts for chrissakes. What, ghosts can't make pottery but they can play baseball on a field in the middle of Iowa, you jerk?"

You're right, however I will say this: The movie did NOT have Patrick Swayze or Whoopi Goldberg. It DID have Burt Lancaster and James Earl Jones. I mean that's like trading Bob Eucker for Alex Rodriguez. That's gotta count for something. But the reason it's great is that the the movie comes down to a father's relationship with his son and what could have been, for both of them. And the last scene, where they play catch without saying a word.....great stuff.

So I'm sure you'll disagree and want to get your two cents in. I just ask if you do come to debate my movie tastes, that you don't take a horse to get here. That's just so cliche.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Not Like Any Other Day

I've voted every year since I was 18. I've always viewed it as my duty and I was proud to cast every ballot. Often, I was not inspired by my choices and I've chosen not to cast a vote for president since 1996. (I voted, just not for that office. Imagine if 240 million out of 250 million votes chose a candidate for dog catcher or probate judge but not president. Think they'd pay attention then?)

I was dreading the vote. Long lines, a new voting system in my home state, God knows the polling place would be hot, or, cold or smelly. Who knew would be outside the polling place telling me how to think, or why.

But as soon as I got there, I knew this was a different day. There was an energy I've never felt. I'm good with words but I couldn't describe it. But I had goose bumps as soon as I pulled into the polling place.

I helped make history today. As you know, I voted for Senator Obama; yet I don't believe Senator McCain is a bad choice (without getting into 'what ifs'). Either way we make history today. A black man for president. A woman as vice president. A good friend of mine called it "a revolution" and I can't agree more.

But I think it's a revolution of a different kind. I think we, as a nation, fought to get our voice back today.

We voted against apathy. We voted for greatness (both men can be described as great, I believe). We voted for a higher standard and a new country.

Now I'm not the weepy liberal you might think. I am unaffiliated because neither party represents me, and I voted for Republicans in other races today.

This is why I feel what I feel today: When I was leaving the polling place and was about two feet from my car, I noticed an elderly black woman, maybe 90 years old, struggling to make her way up the slight slope to the doorway. I went over to her and took her arm and offered my help for the last 30 feet.

When we got to the table, I told her "God Bless You. Enjoy this day."

The only words she spoke were "thank you," which she said three different times despite being slightly out of breath.

But her eyes said it all. Having a black man on the ballot, her eyes told me, was an indescribable pride that I will probably never know. She might even be a Republican for all I know.

But the ability to vote AGAINST a black man would mean the world to her too.

Here we were, a 36-year-old white man and a 90-year-old woman standing in a Presbyterian church to cast our ballots in an incredibly important election. This might be the only way we would ever be in the same place at the same time. In that moment, we understood each other as if we had known each other our whole lives (okay, my whole life!).

I hope -- win or lose -- we all feel the same way 4 years from now, 40 years from now --as we do today. And I hope you feel as I do.

So no matter who you're voting for today, please remember what a powerful tool we've been given. No matter what's happening we have the ultimate power. We have the ability to vote, or not vote, and to voice our opinions.

Let's keep them honest and remember how powerful our voice is, when we come together for what's important. Win or lose, let's come together and stay as active as we were today.

And if you didn't vote. You don't know what you're missing. It was one of the best days of my life.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

SNL: The once and future "Struggling" sketch show

Despite having an "extra hour" of Sunday today, I'm a little bit sad.

The election is about to be over. Oh, I'm very happy about that, believe me. It's not only a long road (in which we learn frighteningly little about all major candidates), but the campaigns get ugly in the final days. There is a light of mudslinging. Mud, of course, being a synonym for the word "turd."

But I'm sad because Saturday Night Live is about to suck again.

I mean, technically it sucks now. SNL-Tina Fey = mediocrity minus funny.

Let's face it, the show is not funny. Instead of doing the TiVo thing, we could watch the funny skits on YouTube the next morning. And you would not need an "extra hour" to do so. Maybe an extra bowl of cereal. And those funny moments? Provided by Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, the real Sarah Palin, and Mark Wahlberg (hey, say hi to your mother). (I give props to the Mark Wahlberg talks to animals skit and, as you'll see, to former Weekend Update anchor Amy Poehler)

I watched last night. The QVC skit with McCain and Fey, moderately funny. (Was it just me or was Tina Fey seemingly spent?) Ben Affleck was "okay" as Keith Olbermann. But, naturally, the skit was about 10 minutes too long and made me a little squirmy.

In a story about McCain's SNL appearance, the writer described the show as "once struggling sketch show." Uh.....had he watched it? It's atrocious. When the first sketch after a dull monologue and crappy fake commercial makes you yearn for Benny Hill, it is A.) Time for Bed and B.) Time to start from scratch. Lorne Michaels, come back to us. When did you lose your funny?

And, the best cast member in years, Amy Poehler, will not return as a regular cast member. I'm glad I saw her last skit, the "Palin Rap" bit during Weekend Update. (I say Obama, you say Ayers...) Poehler is leaving on the top of her game. Can you even name the last cast member who left on top of their game?

But I'm not sure it's the cast members' fault. I wonder how strong the writing is.

I mean, the Daily Show staff writes shows four days a week and delivers brilliantly every night. Ditto for Colbert's Crew. How can this be so difficult?

So I'm sorry to be a bummer (or as Palin might say, Super Debbie Downer) when you should be cherishing your extra hour today.....One more hour to be bombarded with political ads, and hopefully an extra hour for the SNL cast to be funny on the next episode.

I won't bank on it though. Where is Joe Piscopo when we need him???

P.S. (Please go vote Tuesday. If not, shut your pie hole about anything and everything in the next four years)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

It's Time to Go All Obama On Your Ass...

I never meant to get political on this blog, but I've had it.....

"Socialism," "Pals Around With Terrorists," "Not Ready....Yet (though my Miss Alaska, been governor 2 years and already under ethics investigation is)," and "Not Right For America" is veiled racism. A way to vote against the black guy and not feel sorry about it. I can't take it anymore.

I tried to think about why one would NOT vote for Barack Obama. A friend of mine says "Oh, he gives a good speech and makes you feel good." Uh....have you seen the stock market. Have you seen us spend $1.4 trillion on war and bailout of greedy bankers and insurance fiends? I kinda would like to feel good. Who's paying for that? The homeless, hungry guy who has $3.14 in is coffee cup? Oh my god, it's syrofoam, he HATES America and his planet.....

So here are, in my mind, the only reason you would NOT vote for Barack Obama...

Reasons to vote against Obama:
1. You like to be depressed.
2. Your daddy was REEEEAAALLLLLY Repulican
3. You think a 72-year-old ventriloquist is a good choice
4. You think being hot is more important than being smart
5. 4 more years? Really! It's working!
6. You still think JFK sucked
7. Obama + Biden is less than McCain plus Palin minus the distance between ... Wasilla and Russia.
8. You REEEEALLLY think Tina Fey is hot but HATE 30 Rock
9. Obama's middle name is Hussein and that must be bad, not as bad is Osama -- which rhymes with Obama -- and the guy who actually killed 3,000 Americans on 9/11
10. $150,000 for ONE hockey mom is okay but 1,500 tax breaks for 100 of them is unacceptable.
11. You are from "real America" where you have two reasons to vote this year -- that chick is hot and that guy is black!
12. Optimism isn't your thing - former Mavericks who chose to be non-Mavericks by bowing to the right wing like Muslims bow to Allah...oh sorry, you love the Baby Jesus -- like old people bow to Bingo cards IS your thing.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Ghoul Pool: I Pick Dead People!

I'm going up to visit my brother in central New Hampshire this weekend. I know what you're thinking. Fall foliage, crisp clean air, a chance to see my beautiful sister-in-law and niece?

It's not like that. Oh the leaves will be dropping, but it's the falling celebrities I'm interested in.

Yes, I am in a dead pool. We predict which famous people will die in the coming year. We call it The Ghoul Pool

Oh, please. Spare me your feigned reaction. Cuz I know you're thinking "Who's got Nancy Reagan?" And, yes, Harry Morgan is still alive.

See - you're intrigued.

How does it work? It's pretty simple.

It's a draft, like a sports draft. We have about 15 or 18 people participate... (The world is full of sick bastards like me!) We pick one person at a time for 75 rounds. Yes, 75 rounds. That's a lot of (potential) corpses. This way no two people can have Abe Vigoda. Not that any two people have ever "had" Abe Vigoda while he was alive.

I mean, really, he was rumored dead in 1982. That was .... carry the one... 26 years ago!!!

Scoring is simple. A person in their 90s scores you 10 points, in their 80s fetches 20 points, all the way down to single digits if you're truly demented will score you a full 100 points. Any person who lives to be 100 no longer nets any points. Kind of a reward for finishing the marathon if you will.

It's not as easy as picking a bunch of 90 year-olds and compiling 10 points at a time. One thing we've learned - old people are freakin' feisty. Remember when Hume Cronyn lost his wife Jessica Tandy? That bugger held on for years. He wouldn't let go. We thought he might date Madonna before passing on, that spry old bastard.

And of course there is Nancy Reagan. She refuses to Just Say Go. The woman holds on for years, breaks her pelvis and waits A WEEK to go to the hospital! Nancy, baby, Ronnie is waiting for you. Or maybe he's found another wife by now.

There are, of course, several different approaches to trying to win, or merely entertain during what we call The Ghoul Pool. They include:

1. Pick fat guys. Louie Anderson, John Candy, Chris Farley are prime examples of celebrities ripe for early doom, and big points. In fact Chris Farley ... moment of silence, God rest his big fat soul... allowed me to win the Ghoul Pool crown late one year by sending me 70 points, like manna from heaven.

2. Slash and burn. Slash. Keith Richards. Kate Moss. Fill in troubled drug-addicted rock star/model/actor. Thank God for Dr. Drew doing celebrity interventions. He's but Garry Busse back on top of the Ghoul Pool prospect list.

3. Be obscure. Find the guy who invented the Monkeys in a Barrell toy. Pick the lesser known Baldwin brother. Hell, find a Baldwin sister! Reveal that the woman who wrote "This Little Light of Mine" is 89 and is heading towards her own little light.

Of course, this can be taken to a non-competitive extremes. Two years ago, I picked 75 midgets and dwarves (there is a difference, dwarves have 'normal' sized heads on little tiny bodies, midgets are just all around small.). Yes, there are 75 Little People to be drafted. But they are funny in name (and voice) only. They die at the same slow pace as their larger counterparts I'm afraid.....sigh.....

Last year, I picked voice actors. All the surviving voices of the Smurfs. The voice of the Furby doll. The voice of Clarisse, that little vamp reindeer that sent all the blood rushing to Rudolphs.....uh, nose. The funny thing about voice actors? The one thing they cannot announce is their own death. So I officially have zero points.

4. Rap Stars. A most popular category. Unfortunately, the mostly New England white people selecting these "stars" usually don't have the 4-1-1 on the hip hop generation. We've just heard of the East Coast/West Coast feud just now. Someone even once mispronounced "Flava Flav." I kid you not. Of course, I did yield the youngest ever Ghoul Pool hit with Tupac (or as we called him when he was shot in the groin, One Pac).

5. Wish picks. Gilbert Gottfried. Donald Trump. W. Kathy Griffin. We pick them cuz it makes us feel better to think of a world without the people we dislike. It almost never yields points, but thinking about a world without Lindsay Lohan just feels so nice.

So we will all head up to North Conway, NH for some Halloween season revelry. Minus the costumes, candy corn, and cheap plastic costumes. We instead will bob for corpses, hand out poisoned apples to unfortunate celebrities, and we will all laugh the annual chuckle when someone picks Boutros Boutros-Ghali.

Ah, I love the smell of embalming fluid in the fall.....

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Choose a Side - I Mean Two Sides

So I went out in Greenwich with two friends last night to have a few adult beverages. For those of you who aren't from Connecticut, Greenwich is a wealthy place where everyone acts like Thurston Howell III, including the women. It might be the people watching capitol of the world. We were out for four hours and I never saw anyone's jaws move the whole night. I thought the whole place had TMJ. It was amazing.

But I digress. The first people I watched was a couple just inside the front door of our first stop. Actually it was Barcelona, the tapas restaurant -- the appetizers, not the nipples -- that I mentioned a few blogs ago.

This couple was unremarkable other than the man looked like....oh, I'd say....what you'd picture Jimmy Buffett's dad might be. In a town of Warren Buffetts, we found a Jimmy Buffett. Anyway, Mr. and Mrs. Jimmy were immediately noticeable because they were "those people."

They were "The Same Side of the Table People." You know, the couple that is eating together and they want the world to know that they cannot have as much as a table between them. They turn their noses up at the notion of sitting in a mere chair in order to sit together on the "bench" side of the table. You'll also notice throughout the meal that they constantly whisper to each other, they often feed each other morsels of food, and their hands disappear under the table for extended periods of time. (No, I will not continue that thought or otherwise speculate on the hand-to-hand combat that might be occurring under the table. Ew.)

Same Side of the Table People, or SSTPeeps, through their defiant choice of togetherness, are essentially telling all others they are simpletons in the world of affection expression. It's not nearly enough to enjoy a pricey meal together, especially with the economy in the potty. It's not nearly enough to present your date with a single rose during the appetizers. And, a dessert with a candle in it for a birthday or anniversary. Pffffft! We need no such amateurish nonsense. We are hopelessly and madly in love and must do everything side by side.

But I think the opposite is true. They are attention whores who need to stand out for whatever reason. Inadquacies. Mommy issues. They are Cubs fans. Who knows.

They make everyone uncomfortable due to their stubborn insistence on being different. Other patrons don't know what to make of them. Waiters don't know how to serve them. And nobody knows what to do with the empty chair. It looks like it's waiting for a bad Jewish wedding reception to break out. Or maybe a good Jewish reception. As a Gentile, I cannot distinguish such things.

So what happens when SSTPeeps leave the establishment. Everyone relaxes a little bit, just from knowing the crazy people have left. Maybe there's a slight buzz in the restaurant as people say things such as "thank God they found each other" or "holy cow, that guy looks like Jimmy Buffett."

And the rest of us are just happy we can have a piece of cheesecake with a candle in it on our special day without being judged by romantic snobs. I mean really -- would Thurston and Lovey sit on the same side of the table? Not on an island, not in a restaurant. Neither should we.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Three-Legged Race: Come Back Here, You Bastard!

As you know from a previous blog entry, I like cats. (One reader things that makes me a bit, shall we say, gay. Did I mention this reader is a visor-wearer! The irony!)

But this story is more a tale of compassion. At least it starts this way.

One night I park in front of my condo unit just around dusk. I may have had a frosty adult beverage. Or 12. And I see this cat limp into the bushes. Assuming it's not an hallucination, I try to peer in and see if the cat needs any help, in case it's bleeding or drunk. Oh wait, that's me. But to no avail, and I go inside.

About a week later, when leaving to go somewhere else (oh perhaps to have a frosty beverage. Or 15), I see the cat across the parking lot. I instantly know why he's slowly hobbling. The little bugger has three legs. Two front, one back. My first thought was "I wonder if this cat has 6.75 lives." Actually, I first thought, "What's 9 lives times three-quarters." Then about ten minutes later, carry the one, oh -- my cell phone has a calculator! - I wondered if the cat has 6.75 lives.

So the cat, who surprisingly did not limp in a circle, plops down on its side. Maybe it fell over. Who knows. The animal seems approachable. I let if sniff my finger. Then I wonder where that finger has been. I pet the cat on the top of the head, slowly, the whole time looking for the Great Nub of Wonder. Did the cat get run over? Woodchipper? Can you fit a cat with a fake leg?

I didn't see any stump, so my guess is it was born three-legged. Maybe it was one of those hyrbrid breeds gone wrong, like with dogs when they mate a Lhasa Apso with a Shih Tzu and end up with a Lhasa Shihtz.

Then I made a critical cat mistake. I pet her behind the ears. Tripod leaps up and, I swear to God, sprints away. Straight god damn beeline across the lot. I'm thinking "This stupid friggin cat is sympathy limping, probably for food. Or maybe for catnip, like homeless Viet Nam vets who just want to score some weed."

So I do the only thing I can think to do. I chase after the cat. I'm not sure why, but I pretty much think I've been shown up by an animal that takes the small yellow carrier to the vets office. A feline Special Olympian. A special needs cat.

Of course I didn't catch it -- it had one more leg than me. Duh!

So I'm standing 25 feet from my car and feel like a complete tool, having chased a crippled cat for some unknown reason. So I do what a cat does when it falls or fails to land a jump. I kinda shrug my shoulders and strut away as if that's what I meant to do. Fortunately the mailboxes were close by so I did get to check the mail. What's on top? A pet store circular advertising a "slicker set" for your pet. A rain hat, a rain coat, and four little boots.

Drown, you triangular pest, I think. Get your own damn rubbers.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Skinny -- More People You Can't Trust

I was in a men's store yesterday shopping for a new suit and something wasn't right, besides the outrageous sum they charge for a suit these days. I was not comfortable in the store, and it had nothing to do with the humiliating moment when they measure your waist and you think "Okay, maybe light beer IS a good idea."

It was the salesman. I didn't trust him. Now that's not unusual, I know. But I tried to figure out why I didn't trust him. It wasn't his blotchy skin. It wasn't the unusual way he talked - kind of a jaw-wired-shut-meets-drunk-Yoda thing. It wasn't the 1977 tie he was wearing (they should at least let him borrow one of their $80 ties. Yes, $80!! I think all my ties combined didn't cost that much. Of course you would guess that if you saw them)

Then I figured it out. This man was abnormally thin.

Much like the visor-wearing man, you should never trust The Abnormally Thin Male.

What do I mean by abnormally thin? Simple. He is at least 30 years old, yet his waist size is under 30. It's the 30-30 rule. By the time you hit true adulthood at age 30 (you probably have either a child or a mortgage and your wife has made you put away your sports, concert, or Star Wars memorabilia in favor of a tastefully designed guest bedroom for the in-laws).

Think about the abnormally thin men you might know (hopefully you don't)....

The IT guy at your company. That strange friend you husband's brother brings around (the one who doesn't drink anything and you heard speak - once). Marc Anthony. I mean, would you leave your kids with Marc Anthony for even an hour?

The Abnormally Thin Male usually can also be identified by:

* Shifty eyes
* A poor attempt at facial hair
* Some sort of skin issue
* Belts that don't work with those litle boy pants. Usually the belt is too thick, the wrong color, or came with the Boy Scout uniform 25 years ago
* The social skills of a broom

It is important to note the 30 year old aspect of the Abnormally Thin Male rule. I have a friend. We'll call him Bean, since that what we call him anyway. (He was 6 foot 2 and thinner than Paris Hilton in high school, like a bean pole...) Bean was unusually skinny throughout high school and college. After college, I did my part to save him. Mostly through beer and unnecessary calories. Now I'm happy to report he has filled out and for a period of about 2.72 days, I think he actually weighed more than me. I saved him from Abnormally Thin Malehood.

The Abnormally Thin Male is not to be confused with the Crazy Triathalon Male - the guy who gets up at 5 a.m. to run 10 miles with the dog and goes to places like Newport, RI for weekend races to improve themselves. I don't much trust those people, but I think it's because I can't possibly outrun them, outswim them, or outpedal them. (Oh, if i had just one testicle!)

You are allowed to be fit and thin. But remember the 30-30 rule. Drop under that critical number and suddenly you'll want to grow a mustache that looks like burnt crabgrass on your upper lip. Or you skin will start to itch. Don't say I didn't warn you, marathon boy!

So back to Abnormally Thin Suit Boy. There was some confusion about a sale I thought they were running that I heard about on the radio ("That was last week," said tight-jawed Yoda boy). But, he assured me, the great sale price on my suit ($199) was because I was a "preferred customer" of some sort. "Oh," I told him. "I thought it was $199 because the sales tag said it was $199. That would be the price for anyone."

He mumbled something, scratched his skin and I think grabbed a bagel crumb from his mustache (surely he ate only half the bagel) before hurriedly ringing me up and shipping me out the door.

So I won't be returning to that store. I will search for a men's store where my waist size will be appreciated and recognized for the accomplishment in beer-drinking that it is.

Friday, September 26, 2008

A Ballsy Rant: Lance, Please Go Away

I hate Lance Armstrong. I wish he would go away. But like warts, mosquitoes and Celine Dion, he keeps coming back.

I realize he is one of our "untouchable" Americans immune from criticism just like Oprah, Mister Rodgers, and that guy who played Corky.

However......The guy is a kind of a jerk. He gets a free ride because he's a national "hero." And he's come out of retirement to race again....Oooh count the goose bumps!

First I will acknowledge the good things: amazing athlete, ridiculously motivated and driven, inspirational, has done amazing charity work and he's better at public relations than I am, and that's what I get paid to do.

But let's stop viewing the situation through a cheap yellow plastic lens for a second. He is a bicycle racing star. This is a sport that is huge in France. France! Enough said. He put bike racing on the map you say? Who won this year's Tour de France? Name one other major bike race.

See what I mean?

I don't even care if he cheated, took drugs, or infused his body with the blood of an African cheetah to pedal faster. He did have an advantage that nobody ever mentions because ....shhhhhh! ... it's a sensitive subject. Folks, the man has one testicle.

Okay you think I'm evil. But ask any man what it's like to ride a bike any distance with two testicles. The boys are singing before the first mile marker. Lots of bumps, jostling, shifting. And, oh God, the friction. It's not fun. I know, it's nothing like childbirth. But I don't think any woman could experience any similar exterior discomfort comparable to Man Zone Mangling. Maybe fire. Maybe.

Think about this:
Normal Lance Armstrong - No Tour de France wins.
Unitesticular Lance Armstrong - Seven Tour de France titles. In SEVEN tries.

He's never won with a pair. The uniball is 7-for-7. Surely this is not a coincidence. Guys, back me up here?

Do you think we'd care about some silly race in France if Lance still had two dice? If he was just another normal, healthy and nameless athlete who likes to ride his bike really really far?

Okay, so you think I'm going to hell (just WAIT til I call out Corky!!). There are other reasons not to like King Lance.

He did leave his wife and family after they were unconditionally by his side during his battle with cancer and his ridiculously time consuming training. Did I mention he left to get into Sheryl Crow's bicycle pants? I am in NO WAY criticizing Sheryl Crow. In fact, if you're reading this Sheryl, call me hon, ok??

So Sheryl Crow gets cancer. What's Prince Lance's reaction? He hits the road, prolly on a vehicle with spokes. Hooks up with an Olsen twin. I don't care which one. I suspect he didn't either. Maybe he was with both of them. Two girls, one teste? Good ratio! I am in NO WAY criticizing the Olsen twins. In fact, girls, if you're reading this, call me, ok??

He's the best at his sport. But nobody in that sport can stand him. His is widely expected of cheating and done everything short of renting one of those planes with a banner trailing behind it to declare he is perfectly clean. He's mistreated the women in his life for his own selfish gain.

Gee, kinda sounds like Barry Bonds.

Maybe Barry shoulda lopped off a pinky, nailed Beyonce, and made jewelry from recylced syringes to battle illegal drug use...then he too could have been on SNL and the national pedestal.

Please, Barry, don't you be inspired by Lance Armstrong. We need only one hero/jerk right now.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Daytime Television - Can I Choose Waterboarding Instead?

Anyone who works from home or is in between jobs spends a lot of time alone and they realize that keeping sane is like a part-time job in itself. But staving off depression isn't that difficult. I've figured out a sure fire way to keep your wits about you.

Do NOT turn on the television when the sun is up.

Not that I'm anti-TV. I love following my shows, such as Mad Men, Weeds, Californication, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and other brilliant programming. I love me My Daily Show and Colbert Report the next day, like comical slices of cold pizza. And then there is sports. Always a good choice.

Now, I had many good teachers growing up and I got good grades so you know they were miracle workers. But, I think watching one month of daytime television may have erased all their good work. I want to sue somebody for making me dumber. And, of course, I want the trial to be in Judge Judy's courtroom! She's a sparkplug that one!

Let's start with the Today Show. I don't have one specific complaint about the Today Show. It's an institution and the "must see" show while the coffee is brewing. I'll try to be brief with my observations.....

Meredith looks as if she is having an enema, at this very moment. Matt and Al are both so clever in their smarminess (not really), and all the stagehands literally guffaw at the dumbest one-liners they toss out. Let's not even talk about the fourth hour. You know those uncomfortable sketches on Saturday Night Live that never seem to end? Yeah, that's the fourth hour. Every. Single. Day. Despite being the most famous Hota in television history, miss Kotb is not exactly the next Oprah. Most of all, I love the smooth segues -- "After our interview with Alan Greenspan, we will choose one lucky ugly woman from the plaza for a surprise makeover! This will help us determine what truly IS possible when you put lipstick on a pig!"

We also have SportsCenter. Now I love sports more than anyone. But I don't need to rank the top 10 tight ends in NFL history. And I'm not particularly interested in every detail of Brett Favre's life ("Doctors report he had two helpings of corn on the cob yesterday. We will interrupt our regularly scheduled program if he in fact becomes the first person EVER to break down corn during the digestive process!"). Plus I'm a Mets fan. There are no such things as highlights.

Then there are soap operas...essentially low budget, cranked-out versions of Desperate Housewives or Grey's Anatomy without the oh-so-clever writing and character development of the nightime dramas. It kinda fun to see if you can "name that scene" in two lines or less. Will she stomp out of the room and slam the door? Kiss him? Slap him? Will they get interrupted by that 18 year old floozie with whom Dr. Robert seems to have an odd chemistry? When I say "kinda fun" I mean "kinda fun, like catching your grandparents doing it. In the shower."

But my favorite has to be the cable news stations. After embarrassing themselves at the conventions, they continue to place current events completely out of context. Because they have to fill 24 hours a day, they do silly things like calculate the number of McDonald's apple pies that $700 billion could buy (that would be 2,000 apple pies per American. I hope you're hungry!). Other partisan networks suggest, seriously, that Sarah Palin's foreign relations experience is boosted by her state's proximity to Russia. That of course assumes you consider Alaska a state.

It's amazing how fast these talking heads become experts in the financial markets, meteorology, the American electorate, and of course Britney Spears. It's so bad, I almost think if President Bush wants to do the pundit thing next year, he could make Fox and Friends seem like Nova in the blink of an eye. Then of course Hota Kotb would be Oprah. Oh no!

So to all my former teachers: please send homework!! I need to diagram sentences. I need to do one of those theorem things. Hell, send a dead frog and I'll slice the little bugger open. I'll get right to my homework after The Price is Right. I hope they play Plinko today!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Boxer -- Stocking Stuffer or April Fool's Joke?

A few days ago, I wrote about the fashion faux pas (which I think is French for Easter Egg coloring kit) that is the tennis visor. I'm happy to see many of you agree with me, which could only mean we all have way too much time on our hands.

That is not to say I haven't committed fashion mistakes of my own. I once wore a brown and black shoe to work. But I blame that on being hungover. That's my story anyway. I've worn white after Labor Day. But I looked soooooo good in that sailor's outfit. And the chicks dug it. And there is what we refer simply to as "Corduroy-gate." I vowed never to speak again about that day.

But the mistake I specifically refer to wasn't really my fault. I swear.

One Christmas I got a rolled up pair of green boxers in my stocking. Good stocking stuffer for a guy. Women get jewelry. Men get Life Savers, lottery tickets and underwear. Good trade, huh?

Any man (or woman) who ever owned a pair of new boxer shorts knows that is is just too stiff to wear right away. The Boxers, you sick bastards, the Boxers. Even if you wash the new underwear 15 times, they always have the new boxer feel to them. And that's not a feeling you want anywhere near The Man Zone.

So April rolls around and I've been a bit lax with the laundry. So I reach for the last option, my new green boxers. They feel okay, as if I had any choice besides going commando, or wearing yesterday's pair again. Even I have standards, so I hoist on the new pair.

About an hour later, I'm toiling around the locker room at my gym. Some guys walk around and leave nothing to the imagination. I struggle with that decision, but ultimately I cover up; I don't want to humble anyone else, of course.

So I'm walking around the locker room. Grab a towel. Shave the stubble on my face. I may have even relieved myself. Then, after several minutes, I steal a glance in the mirror because, well, I happen to look great (almost) naked. And then I saw it.

My Christmas boxers, which I thought were plain green, were anything butt, er I mean, but. The underwear was adorned with three words on the rear end.


Yes, I was spreading springtime Christmas cheer on my cheeks. My boxers said "Ho! Ho! Ho!" on the ass. So, naturally, I scurried for my locker with the speed of eight reindeer and removed the cheery evidence.

As soon as the crimson color returned to my normal April Elmer's Glue pastiness, I called the gift giver and said "How come you didn't tell me those boxer's said Ho! Ho! Ho! on the ass? I was prancing around like.....Nathan Lane... in the lockerroom wearing those things."

After about three minutes of laughter, I heard "That's f--ing funny. How could you not know your underwear contained a holiday greeting."

I thought "Because I was matching a brown shoe with a black shoe" was the wrong answer, so I ate crow and said. "You're right." (And those are two words I HATE to say.) It was my fault after all.

I don't know if any of the guys in the lockerroom noticed. Nobody ever said anything, and there was no outright jeering. I did find it odd to find mistletoe hung over my locker the next day, but I was just happy to have a clean pair of clean back boxers over the Man Zone.

I shortly switched to boxer briefs. I tell people it's because they are more comfortable. But it's really because I choose not to make my rear end a billboard for anyone -- even Santa Claus.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Ad-visor-y Opinion: Just Wear a Hat

I've kept my eye on coverage of the Ryder Cup over the last two days. Okay, I've watched every minute and I can't honestly remember if I've showered yet. So I've had plenty of time to ponder the meaning of this exciting global rivalry.

But instead I've become annoyed. It's reminded me of everything that's wrong with sports. No, not Sergio Garcia's "I've never won a major in my life but you'd never tell by my smugness" sneer. No, not the petty "Your fans cheer too loudly when I'm trying to concentrate" debate. And, no, not even Phil Mickelson's man-boobs.

I'm talking the tennis visor.

There is nothing more disappointing than a grown man wearing a tennis visor. Simply stated, you can't trust a man who wears a tennis visor. It's a bad choice and inspires no confidence at all. For the record, there are two occasions in which you could wear a tennis visor:

1. You're actually playing tennis.
2. You have a vagina.

Instead, tennis visors are worn by fraternity dudes who also choose "I'm with stupid" t-shirts while they demonstrate their prowess in non-tennis competitions such as BeerPong or preying on otherwise bright co-eds who won't figure out that visor boy is a douche until about 5 years after graduation. Oh, and European golfers.

Case in point. See this picture of European golfer Justin Rose. Nice, innocent boy. It's not his fault he looks like Frodo, but seems like a decent guy, right? Totally someone you can root for, if you were an anti-American socialist of course. But a nice kid, for sure.

Now compare that with the below photo, with fellow European Ian Poulter, which I believe is Scandanavian for "evil visor-wearing pissant."

I can hear Stenson now, like the devil on our innocent Rose's shoulder...."Dude, now that you got the visor you need to get cool sunglasses, mess up your hair and you too can look like Sean Penn. That guy's bad ass. Hey, wanna play beer pong later and steal nice American girls with our visors and general European-ness?"

Rose even looks uncomfortable in his visor. Poor Frodo. I hope he can defect to the United States and be fitted with a nice baseball hat, like a real man.

Of course if he became an American, he might gouge himself on chicken wings and Big Macs. Instead of looking like a hobbit, he may then grow Mickelson breasts or, even worse, begin to resemble Tom Bosley. Then his choice of headgear would be the least of his worries.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Fetching Funyuns: How I Taught My Cat to Fetch

Being out of work and otherwise not interested in rushing back to CubicleWorld, I've found ways to distract myself. Just this week I've taught my cat to play fetch. Kind of.

It goes like this. At the beginning of the day, I move the couch, a chair and other assorted furniture to find the fetchable toys she has otherwise lost. She has literally lost 50 different catnip mice. I think I get a contact high just from having them around. I keep scratching behind my ear and bad habits. And I find myself constantly craving Funyuns!

So first I grab her balls. Uh. Toys, yeah toys. And I hide them between the couch cushions for gametime. When she eventually gets her five-times-a-day hankering for the Kitty Pot, she meanders over, her affection as transparent as Katie Couric in her Today Show days. I launch a mouse, ball, or that scary pig-with-a-bell toy (the last resort) to a random corner of the room. She cuts up my legs, arms, torso, or shoulders to fetch it. I think she's German because she goes from zero-to-60 in about 3 seconds.

She eventaully brings the toy back after doing that ridiculous leg-kicking thing to the poor stuffed mice. And because I have hardwood floors in my place these mice-pigs coast and slide and of course get lost. As soon as she loses a toy she does her Katie Couric-oh-my-God-I'm-sooooo-excited-to-see-you!! routine to get her next catnip filled treat. And,let's face it, I'm the Great Enabler.

As you can imagine this is a tiring ritual. It's not like I'm Captain Kitty, armed with the a great bag of cat toys. I've taken to trying to find the next great unintentional cat toy. Any cat owner knows that they love to abscond with the twist ties, caps to Poland Spring bottles and that plastic thing you remove to open the milk (Does that thing even have a name? Should we create a name?)

Well it's not like I gots me extra milk thingys hanging around the couch. And she sure as hell ain't getting my Funyuns. So I've needed to be creative and I think I might have come up with the perfect unintentional cat toy -- the pistachio nut. It's small and wobbly. It can make it's way across the living room in about 1.12 seconds. It provides the enterprising cat with the opportunity to hone her motor skills by pulling two shells apart. It contains and mmmm-so-salty treat inside for the sodium-loving feline. And they come in packages of a thousand. So when Pussy Katie comes calling, a simple launch of the lovable nut sends her scurrying for at least a minute. Times a thousand minutes. Perfect.

I quickly learned though that this is not the perfect solution. Occasionally she returns the nut, and has been known to place it among the unlaunched pistachio pile. Yeah, that's fun to place a hairy nut in your mouth. Maybe for some. Not for me, pal.

The biggest downside to the pistachio-as-pussy-toy? Injury potential. At 3:14 in the morning, I went to fetch a Poland Spring (hide the cap!!) because I had consumed 100 pistachio nuts (plus 2 previously sucked nuts) and was thirsty. Sonofabitch! I stepped on a random nut and cut my foot. That's a lot of fun in the middle of the night. And of course it's because of my bright idea.

So what's on tap today? I've learned my lesson. I'll be perfecting my resume (again) and proof reading outgoing cover letters 10 times. I'll be tossing the bag-o-nuts. But not the Funyuns. Mmmmm, artificial onion taste in a chemical-laden crunchy treat. I may never work again...

Monday, September 15, 2008

Tapas - Great for Everyone!

So there I was the other day, having a get-to-know-you quasi first date-slash-interview with someone I met from online. She was with a friend; the built-in buffer that ensures against awkward silences. Or so she thought.

A few minutes after arriving, we were exchanging stories and talking about our favorite hotspots around town. I mentioned that one of my favorite restaurants, Barcelona, was opening soon in my town.

Barcelona, I explained, is a local chain. The food is great. The bar scene is always pretty good. They asked me what kind of restaurant it was.

Over the chatter at the busy bar, I said it was a tapas place.

That answer went over like a fart in church. The ladies got quiet. To fill the void, I said something like "I always have a good time at Barcelona, it's a cool place."

So the date-to-be and her friend are kind of quiet. Playing with coasters and looking down a lot. Now I don't tell the best stories, but I didn't think this was snoozefest kind of conversation. I mean, we could have had shorter conversations (Sarah Palin's experience?).

So I said "I can't wait for Barcelona to open up here. It's going to be great!"

So the friend, who really is very lovely and sweet, quickly and curtly replies "Great for you maybe" while demonstrating what best can be described as "Oh no you didn't" body language.

I couldn't understand why they were upset to have to drive 15 or 20 minutes to enjoy Barcelona with me.

"It will be great for you guys too," I said, wondering what the problem was.

Then, as if on cue, the date-to-be looked up from her coaster and said "Do they serve the food topless?"

Oh......THAT was the problem.

"No," I said. "Tapas. Like the appetizers?"

So after about 10 minutes of laughter (did someone just snort?) and several plays on the word tapas, we were able to get the conversation back to normal.

I suppose it was a good icebreaker because we had a great night full of laughs. And, yes, I'm seeing the date-to-be again in a few days. Since Barcelona isn't open yet, I'll need another place to take her. I'm thinking Hooters....

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Meet the Neighbors: The Golden Years

I live in a condo complex with more than 350 units. So, naturally, I've never met 347 of my neighbors. But my unit shares an entrance, dare I say foyer (must be obnoxiously pronounced foy-a, and with a French accent), with three other units.

When I moved in, legend had it that these three neighbors were elderly women. One thing I learned early on was that elderly women don't make many public appearances. In fact when the foyer (French accent please) smelled like stinky garbage, I began to wonder when the flies would show up. My first meeting with my neighbors, I feared, would be over their cadavers. I have such a positive outlook on life, huh?

(As a quick aside, on my second day in my complex, the police knock an my door and asked if I had seen my next door neighbor. Her family hadn't heard from her in two whole days, so they thought she might be off to the great condo complex in the sky. Of course I had no answers, I didn't know her unit number, her name and my unit was mostly empty with some boxes around the place. Hellllllo Person of Interest! The neighbor, Gloria, turned up shortly thereafter. I think she might have been at a Bingo tournament. Maybe shopping for mothballs. How the hell do I know, I just moved in.)

Finally one day I met one of them. I was coming in from my morning run (Okay it was a walk and occasional jog. Are you happy?) and this lady, whose name I still don't know, was expending quite an effort to pick up her morning paper which I had placed in front of her door before leaving for my morning run/walk/jog/hop/skip.

I say good morning when she looks up. Apparently frustrated with her lack of dexterity, she looks up at me and says, I swear to God, "They call them the Golden Years. They're full of shit." Well, good morning to you too!

I tried my best, and said "Maybe today will be a better day" to which she responded as if I had written her script, "Maybe I'm Cindy Crawford. I haven't had one of those better days for three years."

Well it's nice to meet you I thought as a scampered up the stairs to my unit.

One of the elderly neighbors checked mean moved out before I got the pleasure to meet her. Now there's a younger couple in that unit. They watch Cops a lot, so I haven't exactly brought them the freshly baked apple pie yet.

And Gloria, the occasionally missing neighbor, has become a fairly regular supporting cast member in my life. I've got some stories about her too, but I can't give away the store in one post. Stay tuned for more about the Golden Girls, stories from the produce aisle and the rest of the assorted uninetional humor from my life.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Not Many of Us Around Here.....

I'm so 20th century, but as someone who likes to fancy himself as a writer (hey -- I used to get paid to do it!) it's time to enter the blogosphere. At least that's what the kids are calling it. By "kids" I mean anyone more than five years younger than me and/or those who do not shower or appear to fret over personal hygiene.

Why today? Well obviously it's the 7th anniversary of the worst day of our collective lives. I was a reporter on that day and while it was the worst day of my professional life, it also reminded me of both the power of words, and the responsibility of the journalism profession. Today we should take just a moment to remember, and the rest of the day distracting ourselves. A few days after 9/11, I went back to writing my regular humor column. It was tough to laugh, but so necessary. Like everyday, we need to laugh today.

So to start, I will tell a story that some good friends found funny as I recalled it last night....

Not so long ago, I was in the produce section of my neighborhood grocery store. I was wearing flip flops, shorts, and a $5 navy blue University of Illinois t-shirt I bought because, well, it was $5 and I liked the blue and orange colors. Brought out the color in my eyes, or something. (They are blue. Ice blue, thank you very much.)

As I was perusing arugula, scoping tomatoes and admiring a good variety of melons, a middle aged man passed me and nodded, as if we somehow knew each other. I barely noticed but it didn't totally escape me; I returned to my fruits and vegetables. As our carts passed again, he stopped and said "You don't see too many of us around here." Now, I'm often the last one to "get it" and I hate appearing confused so I managed a smile and said "Yeah" and then searched for the juiciest Macintosh I could sink my teeth into. Then I wondered.....

....Does he think I'm a juicy Macintosh? Does he wanna sink his teeth my god, I'm getting hit on in the grocery store. By a man. Who could be my fathers much slimmer, younger brother. I mean, I'm wearing Old Navy sandals -- do they send a gaydar transmission???

I better go look for some cereal. No, raw meat. Something slaughtered. Yeah, that's it.

He finds me again and says "Champagne" and again I panicked and said "Yeah." Then I thought, oh my god, did I just accept a date with a middle aged man over a glass of bubbly delight? Then it hit me. Actually, then I opened my eyes. His hat said "Illinois" just like my eye-sparkling t-shirt. And it all made sense. (He was asking if I attended the main campus in Champaign, IL)

I was embarrassed, but then I realized I was trapped. He said "I graduated in '68, a few years before you, which in fact was a few years before I was born. When were you there?" I said "1993," ignoring the fact that I went to Iona College a wonderful small school north of NYC. It's maroon-and-gold color scheme does not positively highlight any of my features.

I figured that was the end of it, until he said "Wow -- the same year as my daughter! What was your major?" Communications I said, which was true, but at a maroon and gold institution. "That was her major too. Do you know (Julie Smith)?"

Nah, it doesn't ring a bell, I say, hoping that the bell of my cell phone would ring at that moment. A ha, the cell phone. I excused myself to answer what he thought was a vibrating cell phone (a tactic I would have avoided just minutes ago) What's your name, he asks, in that "i know you're on the phone" whisper-slash-lip reading tone. "Joe Kirby" I said, using the name of one of my uncles.

I scurried to the frozen food section pretending to talk to anyone but the Illinois Alumni Office. I managed to lose the Class of 68 in the grocery store.

I do often wonder if his daughter knew a Joe Kirby. Lord knows it's a small world, especially in the produce section.