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Where the Hell Was I?

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  11/16/03: Comedy Studio
  12/03/03: Emerald Isle
  12/17/03: Emerald Isle
  01/07/04: Emerald Isle
  01/08/04: The Times
  01/18/04: All Asia Cafe
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  03/24/04: Emerald Isle
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'Me' Things

  101 Things About For Me

  101 Things Posts About Me

  #6: Six Stitches
  #7: What's in a Name?
  #11: The Speling Bea
  #19: A Capital Weekend
  #35: Road Trippin'
  #36: Geronimo! Ditto!
  #40: Three for the Ages
  #43: Mishaps on the River
  #47: Puzzled Over Puzzling
  #53: Justifying My Tuition
  #55: My Yearbook Quote
  #56: Whatever It Takes
  #65: Pissing in the Middle
  #78: Losing My Faith
  #85: Goodbye, Teeth
  #88: A Painful Separation
  #91: An Only Child
  #98: Nothing But Putrid
  #99: Bovine Dreaming
  #100: 'Dudden Hurt'

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  02/22/2004 - 02/29/2004
  02/29/2004 - 03/07/2004


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World Star Gazette

Charlie/Male/31-35. Lives in United States/Massachusetts/Watertown, speaks English. Eye color is hazel.
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Saturday, November 01, 2003
If I Never See Another Hand-Carved, Claw-Footed, Sleigh-Backed Mahogany Frickin' Chair, It'll Be Too Damned Soon

The wife and I went furniture shopping today, looking for a dining room table.

Does anyone out there have a bayonet I can borrow, to cram into one of my eye sockets? Or an industrial circular saw I could use to slit my damned wrists?

My god, what a painful, spasm-inducing, bag-of-crap experience that was. We were out for four fricking hours, and bought a big fat bunch of nothing. And we only visited two stores. Two! How the hell does that happen? How the hell can a guy 'window shop' for four hours and walk away empty-handed?

(Hell, even in Amsterdam, most guys grab an ashtray or something as a souvenir on the way out the door, after their 'window shopping' transaction has ended. And they're not in there for four hours, either. I don't care what the hell it says in 'Penthouse Letters'.)

Anyway, this was not your normal, garden-variety four hours. This was six and a half weeks packed into a four-hour time slot. Like Gandhi, if you've seen it before, or pretty much anything Ken Burns has ever done. I walked out of the second place entirely drained -- I couldn't even drive home. I just sat in the passenger seat, twitching and bleeding from the ears, while my wife got us back safely. (I don't know how the hell she did it. I could barely control my sphincter after that little slice of hell; where she found the intestinal fortitude to navigate a car, I'll never know. She's an infinitely better shopper than I. Maybe it's genetic. I have no idea.)

So, just in case you're interested, I'll tell you how it went. (This won't take four hours. I promise. It may seem like it, but I can't help that. I gotta write about the material I'm dealt. Deal.)

The first place we went was enormous. Couches, beds, recliners, tables, rugs -- room after room of pricey furniture and home accessories. This particular furniture store is part of a chain that 'themes' each of its showrooms. (Ostensibly to distract the patrons from the hefty price tags attached to the merchandise. And to attract hordes of small screaming children. Peachy.) We were in the 'Mardi Gras' outlet. There were beads and piped-in jazz music and New Orleans street scenes painted on all the walls. Really, they had everything but the watered-down Hurricanes and gap-toothed hookers. (Which means they really didn't have anything, of course. Anything really important, anyway. But let's move on, shall we?)

Anyway, we stepped into the dining room area, paused over a cherrywood table, and were immediately set upon by one of the store's overeager employee leeches. His name, according to the tag on his shirt, was 'Al'. 'Overagressive Assbag Al', as I'd soon come to know him. He turned on the smarm from the millisecond he saw us.

Al: Hi, folks. You like that table? You looking for a table? That's a nice table!
Wife: Um, yeah. We're looking for a dining room table.
Al: Well, that's a nice table. I really like that table. Don't you love that table? What a great table!
Wife: Uh... okay, sure. It's nice. These chairs here -- does the upholstery come in different fabrics?
Al: Hey, great question! Fantastic question! Unfortunately... no. But what a great question! And nice chairs, don't you think?
Wife: Well, we're really looking for something in a little different color. Maybe we'll just browse around.
Al: Okay, that's super! Just super! Did you just walk in? I didn't realize -- by all means, look around. If you have any questions, just let me know. Really, really super!
Wife: O-kay. We'll be way over here, then.

We got as far as the next table. Thirty seconds later, up stepped Al for round two:

Al: Hey, that's a cherry table! The last table you looked at was cherry! Are you looking for a cherry table?
Wife: Yes, we're pretty much set on a cherry finish, I think.
Al: Stupendical! Hey, you like that word? I just made that up! We've got lots of cherry tables! Hey, cherry's my favorite!
Wife: That sounds, um, good. We'll just walk around and take a look at a few, okay?
Al: Perfect! Good idea! Have at 'em! Just let me know if you have any questions! Cherry questions! Ha ha ha ha ha!

Two minutes and three tables later, somebody pulls Al's chain and he comes skipping up again:

Al: Hey there! I know you! Hey, I just thought of something. There's a table over here -- on sale! Comes with chairs! Big discount! Woo! Woo!
Wife: Hmmm... I don't know. That one's kind of plain.
Al: Plain is good! Less is more! It's cherry -- you like cherry. It's cheeeeee-reeeeey!
Wife: Huh. Well, it is a pretty good price. Maybe we should look at this one.
Al: Look! Look! It'll be fun! On sale -- limited time! Get it while it's hot! Hot cherries! Cherry jubilee! Wheeee!
Wife: Dude. Take it down a notch. We'll think about it.
Al: Woo hoo! Yes, ma'am! I'll be way over there until you need me.
Al: Got a question? No? Okay -- I'll be over there.
Al: Now? Question? No? Okay. Just ask.
Al: What? Did you ask? No? All right, I'll go over there now. Talk about the table! Whoo!

Needless to say, Al didn't actually go the hell away. First, he came to tell us that only the floor model was left. We didn't like that much, so he came back thirty seconds later to 'confide' that he'd 'discovered' that there were a couple of other tables left. (Where, I don't know. Back-ordered, in another store, crammed up his rather ample ass -- I couldn't really say. The last thing I was going to do was encourage 'Big Al' with a real question. I stuck to half-nods and quarter-smiles until he finally unhooked his grubby suckers from our foreheads and slithered off. As soon as he was out of sight, we got the hell out of that section and went for a soda.

To our credit, we actually did talk about the table for a while, just like we said we would. We even snuck back into the room for a second look, hiding behind armoires and ducking under end tables in case Al was lurking somewhere. But he wasn't. Maybe he'd glommed onto another unsuspecting couple, or he'd retired to his lair for a quick smoke or a cup of coffee. I don't know. All I can tell you is that we went back, decided the table wasn't 'all that', and hit the door. The whole experience took an hour and a half. I thought the worst was over. How wrong I was. How very, terrifyingly wrong.

The lady employee who leapt at us as we walked into the next place wasn't quite so... animated as Al. Her torture was simpler, more subtle. More devious. She didn't come and go, or gush over her merchandise, or hard-sell us on any one piece. Rather, she overwhelmed us with information. She taught us 'Dining Room Tables 101', '102', and three semesters of '103'. She instructed, illustrated, and opined. She was a freaking didactic whirlwind, flinging info and numbers and errata in all directions, like so much monkey poo. It began immediately, and never let up the whole time we were there.

Her primary weapon was the in-store information books. Soon after greeting us, she ran to get one catalog, then another, and then an armful more. Huge, heavy tomes, each holding several volumes of furniture manufacturers' brochures. She flipped through them rapid-fire, thumbing through page after page as she laid down the dope on everything she saw:

'Oh, this one's beautiful. So elegant...'
'Tsk. The lines in this collection are so straight, so pedestrian. I really don't care for the design...'
'Ah, see here how the same table leg motif has been used with a different table top? Very common...'
'Now this designer will be here in the store in January. We're very excited...'

On and on she went. The commentary was all over the map -- the historical context of various designs, options for gilding and ornamental extras, gossip about the manufacturers, store policies, her favorite pieces and designers, and -- in beautiful but all-too-brief moments -- dining damned room fricking tables. Ugly, pretentious, and outrageously-priced tables, but shit -- at least when she was waxing poetic about some neo-Victorian monstrosity meant to be eaten from, I could pretend that I gave a flying beaver butt. Because at least then she was close to the damned topic.

But it didn't happen often, and eventually I zoned completely out. My brain retreated -- I think it crawled down my spinal cord and set up shop in a lung for a while -- and I just stood there, drooling and periodically nodding until the bitch finally ran out of saliva, and had to let us go. I swear to God, if she'd had a glass of water handy, we'd still frickin' be there, hearing about wood staining brushes and distressing techniques and the advantages of a cabinet to hold the extra table leaves and -- oh, for holy fuck's sake, just kill me now!! Damn!

Finally, though, we made it out. My wife -- bless her ever-patient, bullshit-resistant heart -- suggested that we had time to check one more place before it was time to head home. I tried to give her a dirty look. Really, I did. I'm a weak man; what can I say? I know it wasn't her fault, but we'd just been assaulted by two of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse. ('Manic' and 'Pedantic', I think it was. But I might be thinking of another group of terrifying bastards. Were those two of the seven dwarves? Eh. I forget.)

Anyway, there was no way I was ready to subject myself to more torture, or risk running into another one of these damned vampires. So I tried to glare icily at my wife, to get the point across. I don't think it worked, particularly -- given her reaction, I'm guessing that I didn't exactly have daggers shooting from my eyes. Tears, maybe, or blood, but not daggers. I saw pity in her eyes as she looked back at me. But my pitiful gaze got the job done -- she mercifully led me to the car, and drove me home. I just pray that I never see another dining room table again, until one of the damned things is delivered to our door.

If even then. I honestly don't know if I'll ever be ready. I've been hurt before, and hurt badly. And I don't really mind eating over the sink for the next forty years. Really, it'll be fun. Just please, for the love of Christmas, don't make me go out there again and look at tables! (Please! Honey, are you reading this? Do you love me? Even a little? Hello?) Ugh. Can I see that table saw now?

Friday, October 31, 2003
Excuse Me Whilst I Do Some Cipherin'

So, I'm wondering. I write a lot of shit here.

(And just to clarify, the emphasis in that sentence is on 'lot'. As in:

'I write a lot of shit here.'

The emphasis is not elsewhere. Specifically, I'm not saying:

'I write a lot of shit here.'

You wanna say that, you go right ahead. I'm not doin' it. I got plenty of people who can say that for me. And do, on a regular basis. The bitches.)

Anyway, the volume of stuff being spewed around here is pretty damned impressive. (No, really! Be impressed, dammit! Be impressed!) And I've spent a honkin' big load of time writing this stuff down. And so, I began to wonder -- just how many words have I typed in here, anyway? So I'm gonna check. And now you're along for the ride. Keep reading, and you'll find out. Don't say I didn't warn you.

First, though, I'll make a prediction. Here's what I'm thinking. I'm guessing (based on an anecdotal report a few weeks ago by the lovely and talented Suzette) that the posts here average a couple of thousand words or so, give or take a paragraph. And I bet I'm up to one hundred and fifty posts or so by now.

(Ed. note: One hundred and sixty-nine, to be exact, if I've counted correctly. Which is pretty damned unlikely. But still!)

So -- if I'm right, for pretty much the very first time ever -- that should be well over a quarter of a million words here on the main site. Add to that the text from the 101 Things Posts, at maybe five hundred words per, and that's around three hundred thousand words. Twenty weeks, three hundred thousand words. (That's three hundred pictures' worth of verbiage, if you keep track of such things. Which is approximately nine issues' worth of Hustler. Or, um, so I hear. If you can believe what you hear. On PBS. Moving on.)

So, let's see how close I got. (And no, that's not the same thing I say after sex. Focus, dammit.)

Here's what I'll do. I've got weekly archives. I'll copy the full text of each one -- excluding the links and shit on the sides, so you can't say I cheated -- into Word, and do a word count on it. It's not completely accurate, but it'll do. (What, did you think I was gonna sit here and count frickin' words one by one? Damn. I mean, I love you guys, really, but shit -- even I have better things to do. Pickin' my damned navel is more interesting than that. Marginally.)

Then, using the bevy -- that's right, the bevy, and that's not even the word of the day! Where else do you get highbrow bullshit like this? -- of analytical tools at my disposal (i.e, a calculator), I'll sum up all the weekly counts, and add in the 101 Things posts, and then we'll see how well I guessed. Ready? Okay, here we go. Here are the tallies for each week in the archives, listed by the day at the end of the week:

June 21: 11,438 words (partial week)
June 28: 16,860 words
July 5: 14,529 words
July 12: 16,224 words
July 19: 11,110 words
July 26: 15,979 words
August 2: 9,863 words
August 9: 11,311 words
August 16: 12,768 words
August 23: 11,232 words
August 30: 11,678 words
September 6: 10,734 words
September 13: 13,209 words
September 20: 11,521 words
September 27: 10,316 words
October 4: 13,957 words
October 11: 12,618 words
October 18: 12,571 words
October 25: 11,959 words
November 1: 10,638 words (partial week)

Totalling those up, we get... lessee, carry the three... one plus six is seven... four plus nine is, um, twelve or so... 250,245 words.

Seriously. I was within one tenth of one percent with my guess. I'm not shitting you. I'm as amazed as you are. The shock around here is positively palpable. No joke.

Now, to be fair, I should subtract a couple of thousand from the total for the words that aren't actually mine. The dates at the top each post, for instance, and the 'Comments' links. But you know what? Fuck it. I've easily edited out that many words -- hell, I've deleted whole entries before they've seen the light of day, and Blogger's done the same for me more than once. So the number stands. A quarter of a million words and change. Woo fuckin' hoo. How's that for verbosity, eh?

Now -- if I can manage the mind-numbingly boring process of checking them all -- let's see about the 101 Things. I'll roll the totals up by tens, to make it easier. (I'm all about enhancing your pleasure, you know. Um, your viewing pleasure, that is. I can only help you if you like to watch. You wanna touch? You're on your own. Sicko.) Anyway, here's the count:

Things 1-10: 5,391 words
Things 11-20: 10,141 words
Things 21-30: 6,542 words
Things 31-40: 7,779 words
Things 41-50: 6,602 words
Things 51-60: 7,649 words
Things 61-70: 8,260 words
Things 71-80: 7,317 words
Things 81-90: 7,814 words
Things 91-101 (plus the index page): 10,626 words

And that brings the total here to... 78,121 words. Heh. I'm a little bit wordier than I gave myself credit for. (By about fifty percent. I'm sure there's a lesson in this somewhere. Oh, well.)

Anyway, the point is... um, yeah, I'm pretty sure there was no point. I was just curious. But I think it's fair to say -- even allowing for MS Word's almost certain miscalculations -- that I'm over the three hundred thousand word count. For what that's worth, which isn't much. (As the old saying goes, 'Three hundred thousand words and a buck will get you a cup of coffee.' A buck. Right. These assholes never went to Starbucks. Gotta take a damned loan out there to get a cuppa joe. Harrumph.)

So, that's it. Sorry for the even-more-blatant-than-usual self-indulgence. I hope this bout of mathematical masturbation hasn't lowered your opinion of me. (Hey, to be honest, I feel better about myself. Oh, not about the number of words -- that's just gravy. I'm just impressed that I could add all those numbers up without blowing a damned artery. Woo, me!)

In any event, thanks for hanging in there. If nothing else, maybe I've proven my prolificality... er, prolifitatiousness... proliferitude? Um, my wordiage? How fucked up my priorities are? Anyone?

Whatever. All this tells me is what I already knew -- week for week, pound for pound, more drivel gets slung around here than in any other blog, diary, or journal I've seen. So if it's quantity you're looking for, bub, tie up your horse and put the feedbag on. You're gonna be here a while.

(And no, 'tie up your horse and put the feedbag on' is not some sort of weird Southwestern sexual euphemism. Not as far as I know, anyway. On the other hand, you can do whatever the hell you want while you're cruising around the site. So sling on those stirrups and lather up if you want; just keep the baby oil off the mouse. You don't want that puppy slipping out of your hand when it's time to scroll, now, do you?)

Thus concludes the first (and almost certainly last) Where the Hell Was I? statistical blog summary. Tomorrow, we'll return you to your usual menu of absurdist drivel. For now, good night, and try to get that image out of your head. You know the one -- the cowboy, wearing nothing but a ten-gallon hat and a set of spurs, mumbling and fumbling with a lubed-up mouse as a pony neighs softly in the background. Yeah, that's the one. Guh.

Man, it's gonna be a long night. *shiver*

Yeah, That's Pretty Much My Life in a Nutshell

I had an epiphany yesterday. One of those weird synchronicity moments where the truth becomes luminously clear. A moment that has to be told, shared with others.

(I'd have done this sooner, but last night, Blogger deleted the first version of this dreck about nose hair, so I had to write it again. By the time I was done, it was two in the morning, and I was pooped.

Hey, I don't prioritize this shit by cosmic importance, folks. There are few places in the world where ruminations about some guy's nose hair takes precedence over a moment of personal insight and understanding. But this is one of those places. Deal.)

So, my enlightenment came while sitting in a meeting yesterday morning. It was a meeting -- and a morning -- like many others I've had, until about halfway through, when it hit me: that's just it. This meeting, this morning... they're not just typical for me. They're stereotypical for me. Suddenly, the meeting had become a parable, a microcosm of my life. If someone were ever to make some artsy French film about my life, full of symbolism and analogy (those goddamned French... can't they just say what they mean?), this meeting would be the movie. It sums me up more or less perfectly, for better or worse. And this is how it went:

10:30am -- The meeting starts. Or so I assume. I'm still on my way from home, and looking for a parking spot. Late, as usual. I finally find a place, grab a notebook, and head for the office.

10:32am -- There's an elevator on each side of the hallway in the building lobby, with a call button beside each. One of the elevators always seems to be on the ground floor. This is good. No matter which button I press, the elevator waiting for me is the other one, on the opposite side of the hall. This is damned annoying. I push one of the buttons. The elevator door behind me, across the hallway, dings merrily. Bitches.

10:36am -- I reach the meeting room, where the proceedings are already under way. Today, it's a presentation by one of the technical managers, outlining a new plan for how projects will be organized. I'm brand new in this office, so it's useful information. I turn to a blank page in my notebook. My eyes are wide, my ears open. I'm ready to take notes.

10:37am -- The presenter is going through introductory slides. Something about how computers were invented, or how the Internet came to be, or something equally remedially ridiculous. Even I know this shit, and I've only been here two weeks. My mind wandering, I wonder whether I remembered to lock the car.

10:41am -- The presentation begins in earnest. Details are about to be revealed, plans unveiled. I stop wondering whether the jagged brown patch on the face of the girl sitting beside me is best classified as 'mole', 'birthmark', or 'hairy premature liver spot'. I take the cap off my pen. I am ready to learn.

10:42am -- I slump in my chair, awash in a sea of Managerspeak™. There are charts and graphs, workflows and summaries. All high-level, 'birds-eye view' types of slides. We're told that ''People' enter 'data' of different 'types', and then do 'analysis''. This explanation takes three minutes. Ugh. This 'sucks'. 'Ass'. Not a good start.

10:49am -- I'm back to the 'mole'. There's a single curly hair springing out of it, like a little piggy's tail. I idly wonder whether it's long enough to wrap around my pinky. I'm dimly aware of a voice, seemingly far away, explaining that we need to 'articulate our paradigm'. My brain retreats further from the onslaught.

10:56am -- Suddenly, without warning, Mr. Burns' 'See My Vest' song from the Simpsons pops into my head. I don't know why -- I haven't seen that episode in months. Unfortunately, I can't remember many of the words to the song. So I make up new verses, silently singing myself back to sanity while the technobabble circus continues to unfold in front of me:

('See these loafers, made from gophers...')

'...take a holistic approach to project management...'

('...and these mittens, once were kittens...')

'...well-stratified layers of technical infrastructure...'

('Check... out... this muumuu, made from emu...')

'...more efficient interfacing with the project stakeholders...'

('...my Irish setter's now a sweater...')

'...brainstorm modalities for effective strategic prioritization...'

('...who wouldn't die for pigskin pants?')

'...reduce the footprint of thick client middleware...'

('...here's a blouse, made from grouse, and a brooch carved from a mouse...')

'...seamlessly integrate the cross-functional teams...'

('...and a sport coat made from gorilla chest...')

'...promote organizational accountability for actionable tasks...'

('See my vest!')

'...assimilate and act on the suggestions of proactive 'change agents'...'

('See my vest!')

'...oversee the validation and curation of critical business rules...'


'...formulate metrics and parameters for meaningful quality assessment...'


'...reassess rollout methodologies to assure timely transfer of deliverables...'


11:08am -- Crap. We're barely through half the meeting. Also, I realize that I must have been arching my eyebrows -- maybe even lip-synching -- while I was singing to myself. Several people on the other side of the room are giving me very odd looks. I begin making up a story about having mild bouts of Tourette's Syndrome to cover my asininery.

11:13am -- I've slumped further in my chair. I can now barely see the slideshow over the top of the desk we're all huddled around. On the screen is a diagram of a user linked to a variety of vague-sounding system functions, like 'Add Metadata' and 'View Metadata'. I try to think of a way to make the pain go away. Maybe I could hang myself with that girl's mutant mole hair. Or jam my pen so far into my eye that it scrambles my brain. On the slide, the icon for the user is the little yellow AOL figure. O Death, where is thy sweet sting?

11:25am -- Finally, miraculously, the presentation ends. Thus concludes a solid hour of my life that I can never have back. We're told that the slides are available on the intranet, in case we want to take another look. I'd sooner lobotomize myself with a blowtorch and a spork.

The floor is opened up for questions. Of course, no one could possibly have any real questions, since nothing was actually said. Regardless, one guy raises his hand and gives it a shot. You know, that guy. That one fucking guy who makes a point of asking a question at every meeting, no matter how little he understands or how irrelevant it is to his job. The douchebag who seemingly has a sack chock full of dumbass statements and boring questions for every situation. Yeah, that guy. Brown-nosing dickbag.

11:32am -- I just spent seven minutes listening to a rambling, incoherent answer to an entirely pointless, irrelevant question. The correct answer would have been, 'That doesn't make any damned sense, you stupid cow.' But instead, we've been taken on a whirlwind tour back through the talk, apparently just in case something in there triggers some spark of enlightenment in the brain of the ballsack who asked it. Slides were reshown. A pointer was used. Again, we were told that the slides are available online. This is truly the ninth circle of Hell.

11:41 -- It's finally over. Like a drowning man gasping for air, we burst from the room and scatter to the winds. Some people go directly back to their desks, which they'll no doubt use to bang their heads against until the hurt goes away. Others gather in groups to go to lunch, which -- if they're at all intelligent people -- will consist of martinis, cheap whiskey, or some sort of paint thinner. Anything to help them forget. As for me, I'm taking a long walk around the block to cool down. Maybe I'll come back, and maybe I won't. Maybe I'll throw myself in front of a truck. I really can't say yet. I just know that I have to be elsewhere for a while, in a safe place, to coax my brain out from its hiding place. Otherwise, I may never see it again.

So, that's it. All the major aspects of my life were there -- the chronic tardiness, the short attention span, the problem with authority (including meaningless managerial doublespeak). I was in turn annoyed, bored, disgusted, and amused. I found creative and ridiculous ways to entertain myself, in even the darkest of moments. Cartoons played a large role. Alcohol was prominently featured (though not consumed, which would probably have helped... and been even more fitting). And I even displayed poor posture. Folks, welcome to my life. I don't know how else to say it.

Anyway, that's my story. Just another window into the inky blackness that is my soul. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got some martinis to guzzle. There's another meeting scheduled for three this afternoon, and I am not going to be unprepared again. I can only be sober so many times while my 'paradigm' is being 'articulated'. And once is too damned many!

Thursday, October 30, 2003
Man, How Do You Live Like That?

My nose is driving me crazy. It's so damned itchy. (I've mentioned my little nasal issue before.) For some reason, it's always worse after I exert myself. Like tonight, when I played volleyball. Now, I don't know why it happens this way. Maybe snorting in other people's funky BO for three hours has something to do with it. Or maybe sweat works its way in there somehow and gets all tickly. More likely, I imagine all the huffing and puffing wiggles the hairs in there around, scraping them against the sides like a bunch of nasty little feathers.

(Come to think of it, that might not be it, either. If it's heavy breathing that sets me off, shouldn't the same thing happen during sex, too? And how inconvenient would that be?

'Oh yeah, baby... *snnnorrrt* That's the way I *ggggrrrrkkkk* like it. Oh, yeah, who's your daddy? Who's your *ssshhhnnnuuurrfff* daddy?'

Yeah, and that's not happening, let me assure you. Let me tell you, people -- I will put up with a lot of strange noises during the old ugly-bumping. Some nights, the stranger, the better. But no one -- and I mean no one -- in the bed is going to be making piggy noises. Or anything that could be construed as piggy noises. I've seen Deliverance. I ain't goin' out like that.)

Anyway, back to my nostrils. (Sounds tasty, doesn't it? You want some fries with those noseholes? No? Okay.)

So, I'm pretty sure it's the hair up in there causing the problem. But there's damned little that I can do about it during the sport, now, is there? I'm not going to get caught returning serve with a finger jammed up there, trying to comb that shit down. If that ball hit me in the arm, I might poke myself in the brain. And that hurts, people. Take it from me -- that frigging hurts.

(You know, it's times like these when I start to think that solipsism looks pretty fucking good as a personal philosophy. If I can just convince myself that all you people are simply figments of my fractured imagination, then I won't have to be embarrassed by this crap any more. I think I'll work on this. No offense, by the way. You're nice figments, really. I couldn't have come up with better figments myself.

At least I guess I couldn't. I mean, I didn't, now, did I? So clearly there's some limitation on my powers. Damn!)

But I can't be certain that the hair's to blame, because I can't see it itching me. See, if it is the hair, then I usually feel it before I can see it. When I finally reach the privacy of my own home, I can get in there and clean house. I can tweeze, or clip, or do whatever it takes, and the problem is solved. Hair trimmed, itch gone. Which brings me to something truly amazing. Gross, certainly. Icky. Creepy. But amazing, nonetheless. Stick with me here.

I know this guy. I see him once a week or so; we've known each other for a couple of months. And this guy -- this astounding guy -- has a whole friggin' follicluar forest hanging out his nostrils. It's mesmerizing. I can't look at anything else. I couldn't even tell you what the guy looks like. For all I know, he's got three arms, or a fetus growing out of his ass, or he's just a disembodied head floating around talking to people. I honestly don't know. All I can see is the hair. Seriously, it's like he's got a whole Gene Shalit thing going on up in there, only it's growing 'up and in' rather than 'out and away'. I'm surprised that much hair would even fit in a nose, to tell the truth. It's shocking. Really.

And if my little hairlets are giving me so much trouble, what the hell do you think this guy goes through? I don't know how the guy makes it out of the house in the morning. And how does he scratch it, anyway? I'm not sure a naked human finger could get through all that underbrush. He probably has to go in there with a pencil eraser, or a butter knife, or maybe an electric toothbrush. Yeah, that can't be comfortable.

But how does he stand it? That stuff's got to give him frigging fits. Unless... maybe those hairs in there only itch when they're growing in. Maybe once they've spread out and gotten comfortable, it's all cool. Maybe the key is to cultivate those puppies, and let 'em get as long as they want. Come to think of it, I've never seen this guy scratch his nose with his finger, or wing, or flipper, or whatever the hell he has. And the tickle-inducing ends of his hairs are all flopping out the end of his nose, waving in the breeze. Maybe that's the way to go.

I don't think I could do it, though. For one, I'd never make it through the 'growth phase'. Man, ten minutes of this itchy crap is too much; ten months of it? I'd be in there with a Weed Whacker in the first week. There's no way. So I guess I'll just deal with my current problem, and go find a way to make this damned itching stop. I think I know what I have to do. I've got an electric toothbrush upstairs, and it's got my nose's name all over it. I'll be back in a few minutes; wish me luck.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003
Can I Buy a Damned Clue, Please?

aka 'How the Wheel Turned On Me'

(Wee Hours Update: Welcome to any and all of you nice folks coming from Electric Venom, as part of the 'Shameless Link Whoring' project. As a shameless link whore myself, I'd like to thank Kate for the offer to siphon off her hits for a day. Go check her out, folks! Woo!)

All right, folks. I'm trying something new today, so we'll just have to see how it goes. This is the sort of high-concept complicated shit that you might expect out of this guy, but it's never been attempted here before. I'm working without a net, people, so it could get messy. You might want to put on that complimentary poncho now, just in case.

Okay. The stage has been set, the disclaimers have been disclaimed, and your precious apparel and valuables are now protected by a thin sheet of cheap plastic. I think we can get started now.

So, a while back I was a contestant on the 'Wheel of Fortune'. Except I wasn't. Not so far as you could tell, anyway. I went through the full day of taping, and did everything that contestants are supposed to do, but the network bastards cut me out of the show. It's like I wasn't even there. How rude.

But fear not, folks. Through a series of near-Herculean feats -- many of them involving ether-soaked rags, exorbitant bribes, and/or Chilean belly dancers -- I have managed to get my grubby little paws on the footage that was cut out of that show. You'll never see it on television (and I can't imagine why), but you can read the transcript of my game show experience below, right up to the point where they unceremoniously hustled me out the studio door. Frankly, I don't see what all the fuss was about -- it seems awfully arbitrary and unfair. I didn't even get a copy of the home game. Lousy bastards.

Anyway, here are the clips I was able to find. Since they're only the bits that featured me -- and since you're obviously not seeing the corresponding video feed -- I'll let you know important details like which letters were showing at the time and the category for the current word. Ready? Okay, here we go. Enjoy!

Unused video segments -- Wheel of Fortune -- Season Six, Episode Nine

Pat Sajak: That brings us to our next contestant, Charlie. Tell us a bit about yourself, Charlie.
Me: Sure, Pat. I came here from Boston. I'm a registered Mensa Mind Master and I work at Harvard University, where I... um, teach professors how to be smarter. And in my spare time, I perform complicated brain surgeries. I also play third base for the Red Sox.
Pat: Um... It, uh, says here that you're unemployed. And our screening tests indicate you have the IQ of... let's see... a hairball.
Me: A hairball?
Pat: That's what it says, yes.
Me: Freshly coughed?
Pat: Well, it does say 'soggy hairball'. So yes, I would assume so.
Me: I see.
Pat: Maybe you want to try your intro again?
Me: Okay.
Pat: All right, cut. Stop the film, and let's take it from his intro.

Pat: So, that brings us to Charlie. What can you tell us about yourself?
Me: Well, Pat, let's see. I'm from Boston. I... um, I'm 'self-employed' at the moment.
Pat: Okay...
Me: Not that I was fired from my last job, or anything. I, uh, left. Right, I left.
Pat: Um, all right, then. So let's get started with --
Me: To travel the world.
Pat: What?
Me: I left to travel the world.
Pat: Oh. Okay, fine. Moving on --
Me: On my Nobel Prize money.
Pat: Oh, for the love of God. Look, you didn't win a Nobel Prize, all right?
Me: Well... I know. But can't I just say I did?
Pat: No!
Me: Why not?
Pat: Because it's a lie! I'm not going to let you lie on my show!
Me: Oh, bullshit, Pat. You let these two yokels yank my chain with their made-up nonsense, trying to psyche me out. 'Corporate lawyer' and 'cancer biologist' -- yeah, right.
Joe: But I am a corporate lawyer. I'm a partner, in fact, in the biggest firm in Manhattan.
Alice: Yes, and I'm a cancer researcher at the Mayo Clinic. It's not a lie.
Me: Oh. Um... oh. No shit, huh? Well. That's different, I guess.
Pat: Okay, then. Can we take this from the top? For real this time?
Me: Yeah, I guess. Damn.
Pat: Okay, from the intro. Take three!

Pat: So our last contestant today is Charlie. Anything you'd like to say, Charlie?
Me: Yeah.
Pat: Okay, go right ahead. Tell us about yourself.
Me: Yeah.
Pat: All right... go ahead.
Me: Yeah. Definitely.
Pat: Look, let's just move --
Me: I'm an excellent driver. Definitely an excellent driver.
Pat: Oh, for the love of... forget it. We'll just splice some shit together later. Cut!

Round 1: Joe and Alice have had a turn, but they're of precious little help. Couple of asshat boobs, if you ask me.

Category: Movie title
-ONE W--- --E W-N-

Pat: Okay, Charlie, your spin.
Me: Pat, I'd like to solve the puzzle.
Pat: You, um, you don't have any money yet. Why don't you spin?
Me: Nope. Pat, my mother always told me, 'Son, you've got to grab life by the short and curlies'. I'm not letting this one get away.
Pat: Well, all right then. Solve away.
Me: Obviously, the answer is 'BONE WITH THE WANG'. Thank you, thank you.
Pat: Actually, that's incorrect.
Me: Incorrect? What's incorrect?
Pat: Your answer. It's not correct. You lose your turn.
Me: Wait, what answer?
Pat: The answer you just gave. It's wrong.
Me: What answer? Say it.
Pat: *sigh* 'BONE WITH THE WANG'.
Me: Hee! You said 'wang'. *snort*
Pat: Dammit, cut!

Round 1: Joe and Alice are worthless. They luck into a couple of H's while taking turns playing 'Sit 'n' Spin' on their thumbs. The board comes back to me.

Category: Movie title
-ONE W--H -HE W-N-

Pat: All right, Charlie. Spin away.
Me: Okay. Here we go. *spin* Yay! Big boobies! *clap clap* Let's go, big boobies!
Pat: What?!
Me: I said 'big boobies'. Everybody says that when they spin.
Pat: No. It's 'big money'. People say, 'Come on, big money.'
Me: Oh. Sorry. Can I try again?
Pat: Well, we don't usually do that... but we can't show that last spin, so what the hell? Go ahead.
Me: Okay, thanks. Here we go! *spin* Big monkeys! Here we go, give me biiig monkeys!
Pat: Oh, good gravy. Stop the film! Cut! Cut!

Round 1: Same turn. Off camera, Pat's instructed me to say nothing at all when I spin. These big Hollywood stars can be so pissy.

Category: Movie title
-ONE W--H -HE W-N-

Pat: Charlie, your spin. Just... spin, all right? Nothing else. Spin.
Me: Sure, Pat. Jeez, don't get your knickers in a twist. I'm spinning, I'm spinning. *spin*
Pat: Okay, $300. Fine. Guess a letter.
Me: How about 'T'?
Pat: The guess is 'T'. Vanna, any 'T's?
Me: Oh, that Vanna is always a 'tease'? Snap, yo!
Pat: Um, yes. Moving on... there are two 'T's. Vanna, if you would.
Me: Holy hunchback mother of God! What the hell is up with Vanna? Did somebody pass her through a wood chipper, or what?
Pat: What? Oh, right. Yeah, I should have mentioned. We do a bit of, um, 'post-production editing' to make Vanna look the way you're used to seeing on TV.
Me: Shit, I'll say. You must have a whole goddamned team from Pixar in here. Ouch!
Vanna: Excuse me! I'm right here.
Me: (to Pat) Wow, you do a number on the voice, too, huh? She sounds like the frickin' Cookie Monster.
Pat: Yeah, it's tough. That's like eighty percent of the show's budget right there.
Me: Yeah, I bet. I never realized she had that lazy eye. Not to mention the wooden leg. Jeez.
Pat: Oh, that one's easy to hide. They just copy the good leg over to the other hip and animate it. Look closely next time you watch -- on TV, she's always wearing two left shoes.
Me: Freaky.

Round 1: Same turn. Hopalong Vanna has finally turned the 'T's.

Category: Movie title

Me: Pat, I think I'd like to solve the puzzle, please.
Pat: Okay, go ahead.
Pat: Oh, for Pete's sake... no! It wasn't that last time, and it's still not it. Get over it.
Me: How about 'DONE WITH THE WANG'?
Pat: No. What? No!
Me: Come on, it's like the sequel. First, you 'BONE WITH THE WANG'; then you're 'DONE WITH THE WANG'.
Pat: No! Just... no. Next contestant.
Pat: Look. You only get one guess. You're done.
Pat: Stop it.
Pat: Stop --
Pat: No, that's --
Pat: Okay, that doesn't even make sense. Now look. You had your guess. We're moving on.
Pat: That doesn't even fit. You're done.
Pat: Oh, fuck this. I'm going to lunch.
Me: What if I put it in the form of a question?
Pat: (stomping off the stage) Somebody get my bottle of scotch. Cut!

Round 2: Alice eventually solved the first puzzle. ('GONE WITH THE WIND' -- who knew?) We're in the second round now, after Joe's first spin.

Category: TV News Anchor
P---- J---INGS

Pat: Nice work, Joe. And now it's Charlie's turn. Time to spin.
Me: Nope, I'm solving it, Pat.
Pat: No. Please, for the love of God... just spin the damned wheel.
Me: Sorry, can't do it. I know this one. 'PENIS JERKINGS'.
Pat: (with head in hands) 'PENIS JERKINGS'. That's your answer, is it? 'PENIS JERKINGS'?
Me: That's right.
Pat: So you're saying there's a news man out there somewhere, starting off the six o'clock broadcast with 'Good evening, this is Penis Jerkings with the news of the day.'
Me: I'm guessing that there could be, yes.
Pat: I see. So that's your guess, then?
Me: Yep.
Pat: Not gonna change your mind?
Me: Nope. 'PENIS JERKINGS' it is. Show me the monkeys, Pat!
Pat: 'Show me the monkeys...' Oh, I can't fucking stand it. Stop taping! Stop!

Round 3: Alice and Joe manage to finish off 'PETER JENNINGS'. (Who the hell is that?) There's time for one more puzzle. I get to spin first.

Category: Country

Pat: Okay, the answer to this puzzle is the name of a country. Let's get this the hell over with. Charlie, you --
Me: I'll solve.
Pat: Oh. Right, of course. All right, knock yourself out. What's the country?
Me: It's 'POOPENVANIA', Pat.
Me: Yep. That's my final answer.
Pat: Oh, you douchebag, that's not even the right show. Cut!

Round 3: My fellow contestants do the easy work. Lazy assbags. It's up to me to guess the hard part.

Category: Country

Pat: Oh, too bad, Joe. You went bankrupt. Just like Charlie's frickin' soul. Hey, speak of the devil! You're not actually gonna do us a favor and spin this time, are you?
Me: Nope, I'm solving.
Pat: Oh, goody. I can hardly wait. Fire away, numbnuts.
Pat: *sigh* No, it isn't 'PECKERLANDS'. And the whole audience is now dumber for having heard it. Next!

Round 3: Alice and Joe contribute an 'N' between them on the next turn. Lobotomized gibbons could do better. ('Show me the monkeys!')

Category: Country

Pat: Oh, joy. We're back to Charlie. What's it gonna be this time? 'NIPPLELANDS'? 'NOSTRILLANDS'? NASTY-HONKING-HOOTER-ALIA'?
Me: *snicker* No, no... I've been thinking about this one, Pat. I've *snort* -- I've got a good one this time. It's hilarious.
Pat: Great. Excuse me while I impale myself on the fricking wheel. *sigh* All right, what is it?
Me: Hee. How about 'NETHER LANDS'? *giggle* Like the 'nether regions'? Get it? *snort*
Me: Mmmm-hmmm. 'Nether'! *mrrrf*
Pat: For the love of freakin' Christmas. That's right. Holy shit, the cluetard got one right. And... oh, crap. That's the last round. That puts you ahead. You just won the whole damned thing. I think I'm gonna be sick.
Me: Yay! All right! Go, me! It's my birthday -- go Charlie, go Charlie... I'm in the monkeys; I'm in the monkeys...
Pat: Oh, nice. Would somebody please shoot me now? We're not really giving this douchebag bonus prizes, are we? Ugh. I need a ten-minute break. Cut!

Bonus Round: Finally, a chance to show what I can do without those assholes Joe and Alice holding me back. And I finally get to stand next to Pat. Who smells of hair gel and cheap gin, by the way. Just like Grandma used to. ('Mmmmm... grandmas.')

Pat: All right, what are you playing for, anyway?
Me: I'm going for the twenty-five thousand dollars, Pat.
Pat: Fine. That's the biggest prize, so you get the hardest word. Good luck with that, pissbrain. Here's your clue. The category is 'Animal'. It's a five-letter word. We'll give you E, R, S, T, N, and L by default. But they're not in there, so I don't know why I'm bothering to tell you. Now, you get to pick three more consonants and a vowel. What do you want?
Me: Well, first off, Pat, I'm going to pick 'U' and 'I', in honor of Vanna, 'cause when I look at her, and she looks back at me -- with her left eye, anyway -- I just want to tell her that 'U' and 'I' should be together always.
Pat: That's, um, sweet. I suppose.
Me: How 'bout it, Vanna? I'll bring my 'wooden leg' if you bring yours.
Vanna: Um, ew!
Me: 'Ooooh'?
Vanna: No. 'Ewwwww'.
Me: Oh. 'Ew'. Yeah, I get that a lot.
Pat: All right, hose it down, there, Romeo. Let's get back to the game. For one thing, you're a moron, because 'I' and 'U' are both vowels. But I'm gonna give 'em both to you, anyway. Fuck what the judges are screaming into my earpiece. Hey! You people aren't the boss of me! So, you've got 'I' and 'U'. Neither of them are in the word, anyway, so what the hell do I care? What else you want?
Me: Well, Pat, I think I'll take a 'V', for 'Vanna'. And a 'W', for 'White'. Or for 'woman', because she's all woman.
Pat: Yeah, you'd think so, wouldn't you? Maybe you should take another 'V' for 'vagina', 'cause between the two of you, you're not gonna have one.
Vanna: Up yours, Pat. That's a damned lie. And I've got the pictures from the back of your limo to prove it!
Me: Ooh. You tell him, Vanna. Hey, if you need someone to back you up, you can count on me. I just gotta see the 'proof in the pudding' first, if you know what I mean.
Vanna: Ugh. Gag me.
Me: Yes. Finally, we're on the same wavelength. All right!
Vanna: What? No, I -- oh. Ewwwwwwww! That's it! (storming -- well, okay, limping -- off the stage) I'm not working like this. Turn your own goddamned letters.
Pat: Great. Now you pissed off the help. Wonderful. Well, the good news is that you've got no letters to turn over. 'I', 'U', 'V', and 'W' -- none of them are there. You got nothing. Zip. Diddle. Let's throw ten seconds on the clock and get this train wreck frigging over with. Your time starts... now!
Me: Hmmm... animal, animal, animal...
Pat: Five seconds.
Me: I bet 'Vanna' is an 'animal'... but I'm pretty sure that 'Vanna' would have a 'V' in it. Or maybe a 'W'. Hmmm...
Pat: Three... and two... and one... last chance to make another embarrassing, inappropriate guess!
Me: 'BOOBY'!
Pat: Time's up! The guess was 'BOOBY'. Well, of course it was. Dumbass. I'm sorry, but 'BOOBY' is incor -- What? The judges are telling me... you have got to be fucking kidding. The answer is 'BOOBY'?!?
Me: Well, sure, Pat. The booby is a large wading bird, closely related to the egret and heron families. There are several kinds of boobies, with the most well-known being the blue-footed booby. Come on, dude -- booby. Everybody knows about the booby birds.
Pat: Oh, that's it. That is fucking it! Get this sicko off my stage. You get nothing, you hear me? Not a damned penny! Security! Get him out! Out! Don't you ever come back to this studio again! Don't even frigging watch this show any more! Out!!
Me: All right, all right, I'm going. Easy, fellas. Whoa, hey, careful there! Look -- hey! While you're carting me off... hey, can I just say one thing to Pat? Pat! Pat!
Pat: What, goddamn it?
Me: *snicker* You said 'booby'! *snort*

And that was it. Three big stagehands picked my ass up and carted me off the lot. They even threatened to cite me for 'conduct unbecoming a contestant' and 'untoward behavior on a game show set'. I never got a dime from the show -- even though I won -- and I didn't even get to appear in the show. That's all right, though. At least now you know the truth.

But if you see an episode of 'da Wheel' that seems shorter than usual, and there's only two contestants shown, you'll know that's mine. I owned those bitches, baby. That's forever, man. They can take my money, and steal my fame, and splice my face out of their show. They can even give me an eye-bulging nuclear wedgie when they pick me up by my underwear to haul me outside. But they can never take my victory away from me. No one can. I am 'King of the Boobies', whether the world knows it or not. And not even Pat Sajak can say that! Yeah!

Tuesday, October 28, 2003
T-Minus Nineteen Days... and Sweating

Tonight was my next-to-last 'standup comedy' class. Next week, we meet for the last time. The Sunday of the week after -- that's the sixteenth of November, if you're not calendarically inclined -- we're all gonna get up onstage and throw down some rib-ticklers.

(As opposed to getting up onstage and throwing down French ticklers. That's different. Rib-ticklers? Comedy. French ticklers? Performance art. And I don't have the haircut, nor the wardrobe, to pull off 'performance artist'. So let's stay on track, shall we?)

Anyway, I'm looking forward to it. It may not go anywhere. I may try it once and be done with it. I may piss all over the stage, or blow chunks on the first two rows of patrons. I really can't say for sure. But I think I'll have fun, no matter what happens.

(Hey, making tinkles and spewing food aren't gonna slow me down up there. Hell, I've been on dates where I've recovered from worse than that.

Not to mention business meetings. You'd be surprised how much liquid those faux leather chairs can hold. Really.)

In any case, I thought I'd take this opportunity to shamelessly plug the show. It'll be at the 'Comedy Studio' above the Hong Kong restaurant in Harvard Square in Cambridge. The show starts at eight pm. (And the projectile vomiting starts at eight-thirty. Or thirty seconds after my stage time starts, whichever comes first.) Anybody out there in the greater Boston area -- or with a car and a shitload more initiative than I -- come out and see. Even if I lapse into painful jerking seizures up on stage, there are eleven other folks in my class who can more than make up for my deficiencies.

Nah, it won't be that bad. Besides, I've made an ass out of myself in front of way more people than they could cram into the cubbyhole over this Chinese restaurant. I've seen the place, actually -- there's no way more than sixty bodies fit in there without some serious greasing up, and a lot of creative limb-bending. (And that's not to say that either or both won't happen that night. There's only one way to know for sure, folks. But you'll have to bring your own lubricant. All the grease in that place is gonna be busy soaking into the fried rice special. 'Number fifteen -- you like it, you like it. Taste like chicken.')

Anyway, come check it out. I'm sure I'll remind you again as the time gets closer, but I wanted all you West Coasters and folks from other lands to have plenty of time to line up those plane tickets. Now you've got no excuse not to be there on the sisteenth, sitting on your ass while you laugh it off. So chop chop, folks. Make your travel plans early. These jokes aren't gonna laugh at themselves, you know.

Can You Hold, Please? I've Got a Primal Scream on Line Two I Need to Take

I've found a cool new relaxation technique. Given that a lot of my readers are a bit on the... um, edgy side, I thought I'd share it with you. I know how tired you get of the deep breathing and counting to ten. So maybe this will help.

It doesn't require a lot of fancy equipment or anything like that. You don't need a mat to kneel on, or little tinkly metal balls to work in your hand to help you relax. (And dude, if you're working any non-metal 'tinkly balls', just stop. That's not relaxation, man -- that's just gross. Clean yourself off and join the rest of the class, hmm?)

Anyway, all you need is a pair of old 'ear bud' headphones.

(Sorry, I can't help but put that term in quotes. 'Ear bud'. Sounds like some disease the creepy old guy down the street would get.

'Hmmm. Well, Mr. McHitchypants, this is very interesting. It seems you have a bad case of ear buds. Have you been using those uranium batteries in your hearing aid again?'

Okay, it's probably just me. Sorry.)

So, back to the story. Just grab the dinky little earphone thingies from an old Walkman, or that MP3 player you meant to load up with songs and never got around to.

(Look, you couldn't program your damned VCR. The help screens on your cell phone are in Yiddish because you accidentally set it that way and don't know how to change it. What the hell made you think you'd be able to figure out how to copy songs off of CD and onto those little matchbook-sized electronic doohickeys, anyway? Stick to your Betamax and 8-track tapes, okay? Leave the technology to the kiddies. You're not part of the solution, Skippy.)

Now, all you need to do is this: insert one of the 'ear buds' (still don't like that...) into your ear. Snake the cord down your shirt and hide the end that's supposed to attach to the stereo. Stick it in your pocket, if you want. Hell, shove it down your underpants -- I don't really care.

(Just be careful of the prongy thing on the end. If you 'zig' and it 'zags', you might be very, very sorry. On the other hand, if it 'zags' just the right way, you could be very, very happy. Just be sure you know what you're getting into. Or rather, what's getting into you. Eep.)

So now you're all set. You have an earphone in place, and no one knows that it's hooked to a big bunch of nothing. (Or a big bunch of nethers, if you've gone that route. You sick little monkey, you.) Either way, doesn't matter. What you've done is give people the appearance -- that is, the suggestion -- that you just might be on the phone with someone. Maybe the phone's in the jacket you're wearing, or maybe there's a phone in your pocket. (And maybe you're just happy to see me. I get that all the time.)

In any case, any passersby will be led to believe that you're on a phone call. Or that you're about to be. Or that one could come in at any moment. This is where the relaxation technique comes in.

You see, if you think about it, what you've really accomplished is to give yourself free license to scream in public, any time and anywhere you like. Think about that for a second. Let the power of that concept sink in. Liberating, isn't it?

You could be walking down the street, for instance. Pent-up agression and frustration boiling in your veins like Papa Bear porridge. Or an accidental piss in the sauna room. Whichever image you prefer. (I'm all about the choices, folks. Fairy tale goodness, or a sick, disgusting mess at your local YMCA. It doesn't matter, really. You'll all end up reading the same shit from here on out.) But there's no need to let that porridge / piss boil over! Not with your patented Hands-Free Hollerin' system in place. Pissed off? Just let out a roar. 'Shiiiiiiiit!' Annoyed? Feel better with an 'Ooooooohh! Damn it!' The 'man' got you down? Fight back with an ear-splitting 'Fuuuuuuck, no!'

Now, normally such behavior would brand you as a loony. An outcast, a loose cannon, a nutcase waiting to happen. A freakbag.

(Man, I don't know what the hell is going on with me and '-bag' lately. Seems like every term I use ends in the word bag. 'Freakbag', 'assbag', 'fuckbag', 'tittybag'... honestly, I don't know where this shit's coming from.

I could be the spokesman for the 'Society for People Who Want All Words to End in -Bag'.

'Try new, improved -bag! It's not just for 'flea' and 'douche' any more!'

Somebody shoot me.)

Ah, but if folks think you're reacting to a phone call -- well, that's different. If you get any funny looks after your little tantrum, just point to the 'ear bud' and make that 'phone call talky talky' gesture that everyone seems to understand. Sure, you might have to mumble a few more things, or pretend you're hanging up, to extend the charade in these cases, but you can still get away with it. Trust me -- enough real profanity-laced, grandma-startling telephone tirades are going to happen to cover your story. Just the bastards constantly calling people up to hawk the frigging New York Times -- or around here, the Boston Globe -- would do it. Nobody's gonna bat an eyelash. Really.

So bellow in that elevator, if it makes you feel better. Cuss like a sailor as you make your daily commute, or wait in line at the bank, or deke and duck your way through the crowd of slack-jawed yokels at your local mall. Just be sure to have your earpiece in place, and you can justify almost any tirade, no matter how long or rude or profane.

'Sorry -- it's a telemarketer on the phone. You know how it is.'

And we do. We all know how it is. So use this technique wisely, folks -- it may just keep you sane. (Or at least keep the length of your rap sheet down.) But remember one thing -- don't ever let them see the end of your cord. If they ever figure out that you're not on the phone, you're stone cold busted. And that's trouble. It's bad enough to be the guy who yells for no reason. But if you yell for no reason and scheme to get away with it, well, that's just not tolerated. You might be kicked out of the country. Or worse, to Indiana, or somewhere equally mind-numbingly dull.

I suppose there's a silver lining, even in that. If you just can't take any more and let out a big 'Fuuuuck!' in the middle of Gary, or Duluth, or Des Moines, at least no one will give you any funny looks. They're all in the same boat, man. They feel just the same way. You won't have any fun, but you'll definitely have some company to share your misery. Not so relaxing after all, is it?

Monday, October 27, 2003
That's It -- Next Week I'm Sleeping Through the Whole Damned Thing

Jeez, what a day. Mondays are never a big bucket of 'whee', but this one was particularly assy. And -- appropriately enough -- I'm pooped. I don't know how much I've got left in me tonight. But I can still do a bit of whining.

(Seriously, I could bitch in my sleep. No problem. Bitch and drool, drool and bitch. Do what you're best at, right?)

Anyway, today was a pain in the ass from start to finish. Or near-finish, anyway. It's not over yet, I suppose, so things could always turn up. Hell, anything could happen. More likely, I'll fall down the damned stairs, or pull a muscle getting into bed, or get the wrong end of the dog when I try to scratch her behind the ears. (Look, it's happened before. Three of the fingers on my left hand will never be clean again. 'Nuff said.)

I don't know what the weather was like today where you are. But around here, the day started depressingly and just got miserabler and miserabler. (Try saying that three times fast.) It was gray, then drizzly, and then downright wet and pissy. It didn't help that we had about seventeen minutes of damned daylight around here -- whose friggin' idea was this 'Daylight Savings Time' bullshit, anyway? Sure, we get an 'extra' hour of sleep -- on Sunday, like we're not getting up at the crack of noon anyway -- but at what cost? Sunset at four-freakin'-thirty? Fuck that, man.

I'm gonna boycott this whole ridiculous ball of shit. I'm setting my clocks forward again in protest. Actually, that'll work out well. I can show up to all my meetings an hour early, wait for ten minutes tapping my foot while no one bothers to show up, and then I can go back to loafing. Er, working. Yes, definitely working. At my desk. With my eyes closed, and my head on my keyboard. Look, I think better when I snore, okay? Slobber on the keys spells P-R-O-D-U-C-T-I-V-E.

(Okay, it was supposed to spell 'productivity'. But I got bored and cut it short. You get the idea.)

Anyway, speaking of meetings, I had five today. Five. Look, I just started my third week on this job. I don't even know five frigging people yet. How the hell can I be in on five meetings? And small meetings, too. Not those big-group jobbies where I can paint pupils on my eyelids and pretend to be paying attention. No sir. I had to nod, and ask questions, and go over papers, and all sorts of other businessy bullshit. While I pretended to be paying attention, of course. (Sure, I had to be awake. But it was still Monday. I'm not Superman, you know.)

If that weren't bad enough -- and it were; oh, it were -- my last meeting lasted until six-thirty. First two weeks -- out by five pm every day. First crappy, soggy day of the third week -- six-thirty. What happened? Did my warranty run out? Is the honeymoon over? Since when is week three 'You're our bitch now' time?

And to top it off, I've got to present a development plan at a meeting in the morning. That's nine in the morning, by the way. Or about three hours before decent, dawn-fearing folks should be awake and trying to function as normal members of society. (Not that I have much chance of that at any time of day. But before ten in the morning? Um, no. I'll be lucky to walk in there with pants on. Even luckier if they're on my legs and covering my crotch. My ass is on it's own. You can't have everything.)

So, I'd better get the hell to bed. I may not make any damned sense at nine in the morning, but at least I can be well-rested. Which I'd better be, for this meeting. I tried drawing fake eyes on my lids once when I was giving a presentation. I slumped over and, um, renostrilated my boss with the pointer I was using. My, uh, old boss, that is. Poor guy looks like a moose from the left side now. Of course, he can pick up odors like a friggin' basset hound. I still say he's better off. He's not so sure -- when I told him that in the hospital, he just snorted. Like a moose, actually.

Yeah, maybe it's best if I go to bed now. And stick to the laser pointer tomorrow. I think I've done enough nasal damage for one career. G'night!

So, How Many Weight Watchers Points Would 'M&Ms Chili' Be?

Lately I've been trying to eat healthier. Not healthy, mind you. Just healthier. I'm not talking tofu and roughage crap here. Please.

But I've been a bit nicer to my body than usual.

(Not in that way, you perv. I'm not being 'nicer' to my body like that. Jeez. Let it go already.)

Anyway, it's not exactly hard to be better to myself. I'll never be the poster boy for 'SoloFlex', you understand. Me and that Jared kid from Subway ain't never gonna be 'tight', all right?

(What's up with that guy, anyway? I know he lost a shitload of weight, but damn -- did he shed his friggin' personality, too? He's so stiff and wooden and blah... I'm not even convinced it's a real guy. I think Subway just killed off the fat guy in the 'before' picture and built this puppet that looked like the same guy, only half as big.

Oh, sure, give me that look like I'm crazy. Right. Where do you think we got Ted Danson and Al Gore from? They're not real; they're robots or something. It's a whole little cottage industry.)

All right, where was I? Ah, my eating habits. Okay.

So I'm eating better lately. It's not hard, really. A little restraint here, a good decision there. Really, the little things do add up. I've stopped crumbling pork rinds into my milkshakes, for instance. I still go through the bag of Snickers every day, but I've stopped deep-frying them. I still sprinkle bacon bits onto my double-chocolate hot fudge sundaes, though. (Look, there are some things more important than good health, all right?)

Anyway, my recent abstemious behavior seems to be paying off. All those horrible sacrifices are producing results. Even my doctor has noticed a change. That's right -- I can now utter those four magic little words:

'I lowered my cholesterol.'

Now, don't get all wiggly over it or anything. It's still up around four thousand or something. Little globs of grease float over my eyeballs sometimes. My feet squish when I walk. I sweat burger grease. So it's not low. But it's low-er. Baby steps, people. Baby steps.

Still, I'm not gonna go around telling everybody about it, like that assbag in the commercials. A clerk at the store -- 'I lowered my cholesterol.' Some fool on the street -- 'I lowered my cholesterol.' The pimply-faced teeny-boob handing him his McMegaMeal -- 'Hey, my cholesterol's down!' Dude, nobody cares. Get over it.

Besides, what kind of moron goes around volunteering his personal medical history? That's private shit, man. You don't see me going around flagging down strangers on the street, exclaiming, 'Hey! I used to be a woman!'. Or bugging old women at the mall, professing, 'You know, I think I've finally licked that herpes thing.'

(Um, not that I would need to say those things. I was just using myself as an example. In hindsight, that was a pretty crappy idea. Bitches.

Plus, even if I could say such things, I would never say I 'licked herpes'. That's just gross. Besides, it's often licking that gets you into that sort of thing in the first place. I'm just saying.

Look, this whole aside just got damned creepy. Can I just end the parentheses now? Please?


Okay, what the hell was I saying? Oh, cholesterol. Right.

So, the plan seems to be working. Eat less crap, get more healthy. I guess life is actually fair once in a while. (I continue to maintain it's just a coincidence, but hey, I'll run with it for now. Or, you know, jog. No need to strain myself, after all.) My well-being and shit had better continue to improve, though. I'm not giving up pork rinds for nothing. Even I have my limits.

Sunday, October 26, 2003
Oh, I'll Be an Asshole... But What Kind of Asshole?

I have a decision to make. The deadline is tomorrow morning, around nine o'clock. And I have no idea which way I'm gonna go yet. Maybe you can help me.

See, three days a week I drive my dog to her 'school' on the way to work. It's a place that does training, and lets dogs socialize, and keeps them exercised and all of that.

(Yes, I know. It's 'doggie day care'. You think I don't feel the shame? That I don't know how frigging ridiculous that sounds? That I don't see the smirks when I tell people? And worst of all, that the dog -- the damned dog -- is more pampered than I am? Oh, I know. I most certainly know.

But what the hell can I do? She's already been there for three years or so. I can't very well unenroll her. I'm not going to pull her out of classes, now that she's settled into a routine. The best I can hope for is that she gets herself expelled for not studying, or talking in class, or getting caught doing drugs. It's a longshot at best, I realize.

Still, it's all I've got. That's why I've started grinding marijuana leaves into her food every morning. So far, the folks at the kennel haven't noticed. And the dog has been eating all the chips and Twinkies in the house. Damn. Maybe I need a new plan.)

Anyway, I take her over there three days a week. And the guy that runs the place always says hello, and chats for a while. He's usually pretty cool. Until recently, that is. Lately, things have changed. It's different now. Tense. Edgy. Different.

Here's the problem: since the World Series started, this guy's become a Yankee backer. Now, he never talked about baseball before. I remember him even saying once that he doesn't like baseball. But ever since the damned Yankees manhandled the hometown Red Sox to advance to the big dance, this guy's been acting like he's from the Bronx. Maybe he's just been yanking my chain. Or maybe he's hopped on the bandwagon. Maybe he's channeling that big fatassed Babe Ruth. I don't know. And frankly, I don't care. It's payback time.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not a big Marlins fan. And that's why I didn't say anything up till now. I just took my medicine, and sucked up the 'How 'bout those Yankees?' and 'Did you see New York kick ass last night?'. Well, that would be fine from a guy who's been a Yankhole for years and years. You'll never convince me that George Steinbrenner's not the Antichrist, but I could at least respect a fan with some consistency. A little bit of loyalty. But this 'fair-weather' shit? Nuh-uh. That shit don't fly, people.

And so, when I see this guy tomorrow, I'm simply gonna have to say something. The Marlins shut the Yankees down -- in their own house, no less -- and he's going to hear about it. Oh, yes. The question is: what angle should I take? Below are just a few of the many options. And so I ask you -- what kind of asshole should I be? I'm like a kid in a candy store here -- I simply can't bring myself to choose.

  • The 'Hothead Homer' -- This is the guy who believes that his team can do no wrong, or at least can do less wrong than any other team out there. The home team is the best, the brightest, and has the best cheerleaders / mascot / stadium / fans. Period. No amount of logic or evidence to the contrary will ever convince the 'Hothead Homer' that the local players don't walk on water. And the more you argue, the more belligerent he gets.

    Asshole comment I could make as the 'Hothead Homer':

    'You know... the Red Sox would have never gotten beaten by the Marlins. The Yankees suck!'

  • The 'Bandwagon Bitch' -- This would be fighting fire with fire. I could pretend that I absolutely love the Marlins. I could suddenly become their biggest fan, and wax poetic about their 'grit' and their 'heart' and how they've 'won one for the little guy'. This is also a good way to subtly belittle the Yankees by suggesting they just don't have the right 'makeup'. Yankees fans hate that.

    Asshole comment I could make as the 'Bandwagon Bitch':

    'Wow, those Marlins sure played with a lot of spunk, didn't they? They really came together as a team.'

  • The 'Aw Shucks Shithead' -- These fans always like to pretend their team has no chance, leaving little room to argue with them. Even when their team wins, they manage to be self-effacing, and generally chalk it all up to luck. If there's ever a firing squad put together to kill off the most annoying people in the world, these folks will be some of the first lined up against the wall.

    Asshole comment I could make as the 'Aw Shucks Shithead':

    'Man, can you believe that the Marlins pulled that off? And in Yankee Stadium, too. I would have never dreamed it!'

  • The 'Know-It-All Numbnuts' -- This is the fan that not only knows every useless and irrelevant statistic about the teams in question, but he's the first to share his wealth of trivia with you. No matter how little it has to do with the outcome. Or how viciously you gouge pencils in his eyeballs to make him stop. Relentless, pedantic, and holier-than-thou -- that's the MO for the 'Know-It-All Numbnuts'.

    Asshole comment I could make as the 'Know-It-All Numbnuts':

    'Well, of course the Yankees lost. They weren't able to hit right-handed pitching in night games when the temperature is under sixty degrees all year. What the hell did you expect?'

  • The 'Underdog Backer' -- These people cheer for whoever's not favored to win, or is behind, or has a worse record, or has a piddly little dinky payroll. No matter the sport, the venue, the part of the country they're in -- the little guy is the good guy, and the good guy should always win. Always.

    Asshole comment I could make as the 'Underdog Backer':

    'Dude, the Yankees have enough World Series rings, anyway. Somebody else should win now.'

  • The 'Button-Punching Prick' -- This guy doesn't really give a shit who's playing, or where, or what the score is. He's all about getting under the skin of anyone dumb enough to pay attention to him. This guy would wheel a hot dog cart around Riyadh at lunchtime during Ramadan, just to get people's goat. (Or camel, perhaps, in this case.) His only goal is to annoy, for his own twisted entertainment.

    Asshole comment I could make as the 'Button-Punching Prick:

    'Wow, you'd think with all that money, the Yankees could win the big one. What a bunch of chokers.'

Okay, that's all I can think of off the top of my head. Given all the assholes I've dealt with, I'm sure I'm missing many, many other kinds. But for now, I'll go with these. Now I just need to decide which one to unleash on the guy. Man, it's hard to choose. But damn, is this going to be fun! Yan-kees suck! Yan-kees suck!

It's Just Not Fair, Dammit!

I went to a dinner party last night. It was small -- my wife and I, another couple, and the host couple and their two small daughters, aged six and eight.

It was a nice little soiree. I won't bore you with the details, but I did want to mention one small thing. One small, tiny, intensely frustrating, unfair thing. Which is this:

After dinner, as we sat with dessert on the table, we saw the 'girls of the house' for the first time. They're sweet kids.

(Seriously, I don't say that often. Kids and I generally don't mix well. We have this mutual agreement -- I ignore them as best I can, and they do their best to bug the living shit out of me.

Yeah, maybe we need to work on the 'mutual' part some more. I'm sure it's just a misunderstanding of some kind.)

Anyway, the kids came out to get their sugar freaks on. And the older girl brought a deck of cards with her. Fine. She asked whether I -- not everyone, you understand; just me -- wanted to see a card trick. (Of course, everyone else horned in and watched, too. Everybody likes to watch.)

So, she showed me a trick. It was pretty good, though she fumbled the cards a bit. (And explained afterwards how she pulled it off. That really took the sparkle off her star. For just a minute there, I thought she was a little Harriet Potter or something.)

Anyway, she wrapped up the first feat of prestidigitation, and then asked if I wanted to see another. Sure, why not? And this is when it happened. She looked at me, and nodded, and said, in her most earnest big-girl voice:

'Okay, but this is really going to be magic, because you're going to use your own hands.'


Well, I...


Shit. People, I haven't been set up that well for a zinger in years. Years! And of the half-dozen or so nasty, smart-assed things that came to mind, I couldn't say any of them. Sure, the kid probably wouldn't have known what I was talking about if I said something like:

'Honey, everything I do with my hands is magic'


'Aw, I bet you say that to all the guys'

or even

'Nah, I use my own hands all the time, and the magic's pretty much faded. Can we use somebody else's this time?'

But her parents, looking on and smiling, would have known. And I'd have been hustled out the door and never invited back or spoken to again. I might not have even been able to collect my shoes. They'd have emptied the cat's litter box into them and mailed them back to me later. And nobody wants 'cat poop shoes'. Really, I've been there. It's not pleasant.

So, I said nothing. I stuttered and gulped, but otherwise kept my mouth shut. I think my legs kicked involuntarily. My heart may have stopped for a moment. But I fought it off, and -- for once -- didn't make a rude, lewd comment. It was very unnatural. I didn't feel like myself the rest of the evening.

But I got through it. And it was good to finally sit down here and get out what I really wanted to say. Still, it's not damned fair. A setup is a setup, right? If you get a good set, you're pretty much obligated to spike it. So maybe I should have fired back with something like,

'Sure, it'd be 'magic' if I use my hands. But wouldn't it be positively 'mystical' if I used my mouth?'

But I didn't. Why don't I get this kind of setup at work, or when I'm out drinking with friends? It's just not fair!

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