PLACES TO GO
Friday, April 30, 2004
RUNNING LIKE HELL
Now that nearly a week has gone by, I finally feel close enough to a place of peace that I can discuss the horrors of the Run Hit Wonder race. First of all, to those of you wise enough to steer clear of physical activity, let me school you in a harsh truth I gained from experience:
Running is hard.
Running a race is not like running on a treadmill or on an elliptical runner or in a video game. Running takes lots of effort, and when you're in a race, you can't stop until you get to the "end" (unless you want to look like a total tool, of course -- no thanks). I ran the race with Drew, our friend Chuck and Chuck's almost-two-year-old son, Cameron, who zoomed alongside us in a snazzy running stroller. (Believe me, if I had known that was an option, I would've had Drew wheeling me in an oversized contraption of his own, and Cameron and I would've had a nice little chat about pretty birds and juice and poopy along the way.)
As I jogged through the streets of USC-adjacent (which, since I myself went to graduate school there, I can accurately and lovingly describe as "shithole-ish"), I discovered that the finest creatures ever to walk the face of the Earth are the people who don't run the races themselves but who stand along the sides of the race route just to applaud and cheer the participants on. Yes, it really happens. To that squad of cheerleaderish African-American girls chanting, "Go run-nahs! Go run-nahs!" over and over again while doing their clap-shuffle side-step in 80-degree heat, please know that you made my day. I'm a bit mixed on those frat boys with the super soakers, who seemed to enjoy drenching people just a bit too much. And to that shirtless, curly-haired guy who was clapping his hands at us on that narrow corner where everyone was logjammed while he shouted, "Let's go, people! Coming through! Out of the way!", you should know that you do not belong next to the rest of us on the evolutionary chart. You have my permission to die.
As for the bands -- has it really taken me this long to get to the bands??? -- yes, the bands were there. Mostly. It turns out the only "artist" I missed by opting for the 5K route instead of the 10K was Tommy Tutone, which couldn't have been better planning on the part of the organizers. My sincere gratitude goes out to whoever decided which bands would play where. But before I trash Tutone Tumuch, let me reserve my real hostility for Mr. Tone Loc, who, around the time I was passing by his stage, decided he needed to take a short break from performing. What's the matter, Loc? 15 years isn't long enough for you? (I should point out for added disparagement that this couldn't have been more than 25 minutes or so into his set.) So instead of the shitty, nostalgia-shattering rendition of "Wild Thing" and/or "Funky Cold Medina" we were promised, we heard a recording of "Man in the Mirror". It wasn't even a good running song, unless by putting the image of Michael Jackson in our heads, they were trying to give us something to run from.
Thankfully, General Public sounded great. When I ran by, they were playing "I Confess", which if I remember correctly, was not their one hit but still a great song. It was actually kind of a relief to hear something other than their ubiquitous hit in the minute and a half I could hear what they were playing. (No, I'm not hatin' on "Tenderness" -- in fact, when I did my 80's Top 20 a few years ago, it came in, if I remember correctly, at #8.) Dave Wakeling still looked good, although Ranking Roger had been replaced by a doughy old guy. Then again, maybe that was Ranking Roger. Mike says they played "Mirror in the Bathroom" later on. (Mike did the 10K, which is the only reason he was behind me in reaching the GenPub stage.) Well, that would've been worth running back for, if only I'd known.
The mystery band turned out to be Dramarama, who have the distinction of being only the second-best band of the 80's whose name ends in "-arama". There are about a million bands I would've been thrilled to see on the mystery artist stage. Dramarama was #1,000,001. Talk about giving me, giving me nothing but shattered dreams, shattered dreams. (Yes, I know that's Johnny Hates Jazz. I'm already dreaming about who next year's mystery band will be.) Memo to race organizers: we now know better than to believe your hype.
My initial plan to amble along at a nice, leisurely stroll was thwarted by those sneaky race sponsors, who provided each of us with some Big Brother-type sneaker chip that recorded our time from starting line to finish line. Damn technological advances. That meant that sputtering along at roughly the pace of Roseanne's comeback and then lying to my friends later on about how fast I went was not going to be an option. Somehow, I managed to keep up with Drew, Chuck and the toddler and finish in a maybe-respectable 36-oh-something. (Is that respectable? If not, please don't tell me.)
Unfortunately, I couldn't stick around for the after-race performance by Devo, because I was off for a couple days in Monte Carlo (well, okay, the Monte Carlo hotel in Vegas), where I learned a very valuable lesson about why I don't get carded anymore: it's the thinning hair, stupid. Slap a baseball cap on me, and apparently, I look like a little leaguer again. Running had made me feel extremely old, but I'd found a way to make blackjack dealers say, "He looks like he's twelve!"
And so it was that I spent two days ordering drinks by the pool and playing Let it Ride, hat always on head, I.D. always readily available for display. It was the perfect vacation, and after 5Ks of Hell, I'd earned it.
Thursday, April 29, 2004
There's nothing like waking up in the morning to find out that the latest terrorist threat centers around the place where you eat lunch every day. Let's see:
So what does it mean if I avoid the mall today like the (weaponized form of the) Plague? Does that indicate that I'm a big chicken? Hey, I can live with that. I'll happily be labeled a chicken for the rest of my long, healthy, terrorism-untouched life. But some might suggest that if I don't go about my business as usual, I'm letting the terrorists win.
Well, I've let people win before. It's not so bad, unless they get all snotty about it, and you're like, "Hey, shut up already. You only won because I let you won!" And they're like, "Yeah, right! You suck, and you're a sore loser, too!" And you're like, "No, I'm not, 'cause I didn't lose! You lost, loser!" And they're like, "Oh, yeah? Then prove it!" And then you have to back down because you know you can't prove it. And then you're even more steamed because you realize you never should've let them win in the first place, and now they think they won not just the game but also the fight about who won.
So let me make this very clear up front:
Osama, I'm letting you win today. Got it?
(Ha, ha. Loser!)
Wednesday, April 28, 2004
A couple of years ago, I wrote a script for a short film that satirized reality TV shows. (Hey, it was a novel idea at the time.) It was called "Hard Knock Life", and it chronicled 16 charismatic, backstabbing orphans competing for a chance to get adopted by a wealthy family. They played games like "Don't Wet the Bed", where they were forced to drink a gallon of juice before bedtime (the last one to wet the bed received immunity), and "Who's Your Daddy?", where they answered questions about who they imagined their biological fathers to be, and the answers were fact-checked against background investigations performed by the show's producers (the reward for the top scorer was a warm hug). And every week, one loser would be sent back to his or her life of heartbreaking, motherless misery.
Well, it hasn't quite happened yet, but we're definitely getting closer.
It makes me wonder if my other joke reality show will ever come to pass. That one was called "Slave Ship", and it centered around a group of white people kidnapped at random from Starbuckses across the country and tossed into the hull of a ship made to recreate conditions of a 17th Century slave ship bound for the U.S. It would be a nail-biting thriller, it would be a valuable history lesson, and, most of all, it would be karmic retribution for the atrocities committed by past generations of American jerks. To ensure authenticity, participation would, of course, not be voluntary. Following months at sea battling constant floggings, meager rations and disease, the ones who survived would be put to work for twenty years in a foreign land where they knew no one and didn't speak the language. The goal: emancipation. The winners: no one.
That one may still be ahead of its time. But I'm keeping an eye on the trades, just in case.
IMPORTANT PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT
I won't claim to speak for you, but I certainly have been known to scream for ice cream. So I'm pretty bummed that I missed Ben & Jerry's free cone day by one measly day. I can't help thinking about what I was doing yesterday and how much better each of those activities would've been with a free cone of New York Super Fudge Chunk in my hand. Sadly, it was not meant to be...
However, lest another ice cream giveaway go by unnoticed by the masses, I feel it is my civic duty to spread the word that TONIGHT, April 28, 2004, from 6-10pm is Free Scoop Night at Baskin Robbins. And the best part is that by not paying for ice cream, you'll actually be supporting literacy! How? Because all the illiterate people out there will see huge lines coming out of Baskin Robbins and think, "If only I could read those signs on the front door, I'd know why those people were waiting in line."
Oh, yeah, and they'll be grubbing for donations to a literacy program.
So if you're looking for me tonight, I'll be standing in a long line waiting to get a tiny container of something I'm perfectly willing to pay a couple of bucks for ordinarily, and which, after my donation, will end up costing me about the same price anyway.
Down with rational thinking! HOORAY FOR FREE SCOOP NIGHT!
Tuesday, April 27, 2004
MY BRUSH WITH TERRORISM
Okay, so I have one more story from my New Orleans trip a few weeks ago. You can read about it over at The Morning News today.
Sunday, April 25, 2004
I THOUGHT IT WAS BILL PAXTON
The theme of the weekend was definitely celebrity sightings. First there was Kirsten Dunst and Jake Gyllenhaal (or was it Tobey Maguire?) at "13 Going on 30". They lingered outside for a few minutes to have a cigarette. (Drew: "They're awfully big stars to just be walking around like that.") And apparently, they're not good friends with Beck, since they walked right past him in the lobby. (Fawning fan moment: me noticing his hair is even messier in person!)
This morning, there was David Allen Grier driving an Escalade on Western Boulevard. (I missed it myself, but Drew swears it was him.)
But the best was Bill Pullman at Coldstone. The employees were totally starstruck, and he was a really good sport, chatting and laughing with them for a couple minutes.
And after he left, one employee turned to the other: "Who was that?"
"Oh, you know. That dude from 'Casper'."
Friday, April 23, 2004
INTRODUCING THE ONE-WORD CRITIC
Today I begin a new feature on my sidebar, which I'm calling "One-Word Reviews". Lots of movie critics painstakingly craft their long, poetically-worded critiques only to have them reduced to a one-word blurb in movie ads anyway, so why not cut out the middle man? My reviews come pre-blurbed, so quote away, ad-meisters!
The following are the guidelines I've set out for myself in what I hope to be an ongoing project:
Thursday, April 22, 2004
THE LAST ENTRY I WILL EVER POST ABOUT WHAT AN UNGRATEFUL JERK I AM WHEN IT COMES TO FREE FOOD PROVIDED BY MY OFFICE
Q: "Weren't those pastries good, Jerry?"
A: "To be honest, Maria, I was not fond of those pastries. Call me old-fashioned if you will, but if I'm going to blow my diet, I prefer to do it on a simpler snack treat. Those fancy pastries were far too pretty and elaborate for me. Custard, frosting, gelatin, a layer of ultra-dry cake an eighth of an inch thick and a half strawberry on top, with a swirl of icing in the form of a treble clef? Forgive me, but I'm not impressed. A Twinkie is nothing more than a tube of sponge cake with some cream shoved in through the bottom. Hostess sells millions of Twinkies a year; Miss Millie's Sweet Shoppe probably sells a few hundred of those treble clef monstrosities -- and I'm being generous. If you noticed, about half the assorted pastries went uneaten. That does not speak well of the appeal of Miss Millie's prodigal approach to cake-making. She could learn a lesson from Hostess' sales figures, if you ask me.
Frankly, those pastries tried way too hard. The chocolate log slices, for example, could've been borderline edible were it not for the raspberry swirl in the middle. There are many flavors that go well with chocolate -- peanut butter, graham, candy coating. Chocolate also goes well with other forms of chocolate -- chocolate chips, chocolate flakes, that kind of chocolate that gets hard when you put it on ice cream. But whoever thought of putting chocolate and raspberry together should be slathered in goat blood and thrown headfirst to a pack of wild boars. He's ruined a lot of good desserts.
So, in answer to your question, no, those pastries were not good. Sure, it was nice of our company to do something in honor of Staff Appreciation Week, but given their lackluster choice of dessert providers (and the fact that the so-called treats were delivered, curiously, just minutes before lunch), forgive me for not feeling sufficiently appreciated. Yes, I ate my slice of chocolate log and painstakingly picked out the raspberry swirl with a fork before I let a single morsel touch my lips, but I assure you that every bite I took was with bitterness in my heart, and I did not enjoy a single calorie of it."
What I actually said: "Yeah, they were great!"
Wednesday, April 21, 2004
BLOGGERS DO IT WITH ONE HAND ON THE KEYBOARD
This morning on my way to work I passed by a beat-up white van with a ladder clamped to the side and a bumper sticker that read:
"ELEVATOR MEN DO IT UP AND DOWN"It made me wonder where one would purchase such a bumper sticker. Surely, the market for elevator men products was fairly narrow. There must've been an elevator men trade show or convention, I figured, an event which probably took place on a high floor of some swanky downtown hotel so the attendees could admire the building's elevators on their way up. "They got an XG-2000 here, ya know," they'd say to each other as they scribbled names like "Gus" and "Julio" on their name badges. "Yeah, that's one smooth ride!" And then, while sipping complimentary coffee mixed with lukewarm hotel creamer, they'd survey the souvenir table and discover the "do it" bumper stickers. Gus would belch out a big massive belly laugh that would shake the room, and Julio would say "Aw, man, I gotta get one a' those for my van!"
And then I realized the reason I was focusing so much on the origin of the bumper sticker:
I had no idea what it actually meant.
Clearly, it's something sexual, but the literal meaning kind of escapes me. "Up and down"? I don't want to think too much about elevator man sex, but what exactly goes up and what goes down? Doesn't all sex include some degree of "up and down"? Is that what they're talking about? Why not something simpler like, "Elevator men know how to press the buttons"? Wait, does that make sense? What about "Elevator men do it on every floor?" I wasn't even sure if there was a double entendre in my own dirty jokes.
It's kind of an embarrassing confession, but the truth is I've always been clueless about sex jokes. I remember when I was about 7 or 8 years old I saw a bumper sticker that said, "Nurses call the shots!" I liked it so much, I pointed it out to my Mom. "Isn't that great?" I said.
My mom made that jeery sour face moms make when they feel their child is being corrupted. "It's disgusting!" she sneered.
It was only from witnessing my mother's reaction that I realized the bumper sticker was implying something sexual. I had been thinking it was simply some kind of nurse empowerment slogan, the RNs' way of demanding respect from those stuck-up doctors.
Social hierarchies have made sense to me from a young age. Sex still confuses me.
Okay, I've got it: "Elevator men do it in a big, shiny box."
Wait, does that make sense?
LISTENING TO THE HITS
Any chance I get to write about Omarosa, I will.
I've been getting tons of hits for "Omarosa Herbal Essence" the last few days due to a random coincidence by which two of my recent posts placed those terms in close proximity. And now, finally, I can provide some valuable information on the subject.
According to the NY Post, everyone's favorite plaster-chunk-battered concussion victim shot a commercial for the fragrant hair product and told the world she was their spokesperson. The world responded with a resounding "Uh-uhhhhhhh!!!!", bombarding Herbal Essence with letters threatening a boycott. And now it looks like Herbal Essence has dropped the Jessica Simpson-absconding Kwame-thwarter and possibly scrapped their commercials altogether.
Now, how long do you suppose it'll be before our favorite phone-call-dodging Erica-slanderer calls Herbal Essence racist?
That's the scoop, and with that, Why Jerry Why remains your #23 source for Omarosa Herbal Essence gossip.
Tuesday, April 20, 2004
THERE'S A MONSTER AT THE END OF THIS POST
It was great to meet Paul in person last night and finally put a face to one of my favorite blogs (which also has easily the best title of any blog I've ever seen). Over coffee at the Grove, Paul and I had a nice talk about life, L.A., TBWCS and the horror of family members reading your blog. Paul was just as charming in person as I expected he would be, and my first face-to-face encounter with a friend from the blogosphere was lots of fun.
And once again, Paul, I apologize for the intrusion of our surprise guest and his guest, who happened to be in the neighborhood and who secretly wanted to meet Paul as well. (Who wouldn't?)
Monday, April 19, 2004
DOUBLE DOG WEEKEND
My weekend started Friday night with the observation that a lot of people in my neighborhood seem to have two identical dogs. I had seen the guy with the two slightly deformed-looking Jack Russells plenty of times. He walks them down my block, and they prance in that cute Jack Russell way, stopping to pee and poop periodically and sticking their extended anteater-like snouts into the butt of every other dog that passes by. (The snouts would be the "slightly deformed" part.) But it wasn't until I was looking for other examples that double dogs began to spring up just about everywhere I turned. There was the goth chick with the twin pugs, the creepy tight-shorts-wearing fat guy with the two spitting image black poodles, the midwestern-looking couple with a pair of possibly cloned golden retrievers.
Double dogs were everywhere, and I would not rest until I found out why. Was it out of a belief that dogs would get along better with their own breed, or did people just love their first dog so much that when they decided to get a second, they figured they'd play it safe and find another one just like it? Or perhaps there was some creepy eugenics philosophy at work that said "my favorite breed is the perfect race and someday all dogs will be akitas, dammit!" I had to know...
On Saturday afternoon, Drew and I went to a birthday party for his five-year-old goddaughter, Chloe. This was originally planned as a no-boys-allowed party, until about the fifteenth time we talked to her about it, which went something like this:
Me: Can we please come to your party? We'd really like to.
Thankfully, we were spared making our Sophie's Choice when, the sixteenth time we asked her, she agreed to let both of us come. That was lucky for us, because otherwise we would've missed meeting the therapist from "The Swan", whose kid is in Chloe's class. She was a very nice woman, and she graciously put up with my relentless questioning and gentle criticism of her show. But in some ways, maybe "The Swan" is right, and we no longer have to live in a world where we're forced to accept what nature has given us. Whatever we feel our problems may be, there's a TV show out there that's willing to pay a team of plastic surgeons to fix them. It's nothing we haven't been doing with our pets for years, picking and choosing the traits we like best before committing to taking one in. (Swan Therapist was also interesting to talk to at piñata time, as we shared insights about the extremely disturbing level of aggressiveness displayed by the tots. For me, the spectacle had a creepy Fight Club meets Kindergarten Cop vibe to it. Children, you love that Powerpuff Girl. Why would you take such pleasure in destroying her?)
I was getting closer to unlocking the mystery of double dogs, but I had more exploring to do. Chloe's family has a dog of its own. It's the small, hairy, toothy, yappy type. I don't know much about breeds, but I would venture that this kind of dog is in the species closest in origin to the rodent family. Okay, I admit I'm not a big fan of this dog, but it turns out that the housekeeper's daughter is wild about Paulie. So wild that she just bought an identical dog for herself. I asked her what she liked so much about the dog, and she said it was "soooooo sweet" and "cuuuuuute" and the "coooooolest". No matter what she said about the pooch, she tended to over-vowel. "I just think he's the best dog ehhhhhhhhh-ver!"
Score one for eugenics.
It just so happened that later that same day, we had another birthday party to attend, this one for a guy 30 years Chloe's senior. It was a surprise party, and I had only met the guy once before, so I vowed to stay near the back for the arrival. I didn't want to have to follow "Surprise!" with "Hi, I'm Jerry. You probably don't remember me." Since I didn't really know him, I didn't have to chip in for the gift, which was a professionally-made portrait of -- get this -- someone else's dog. This man, I was informed, was so obsessed with his friend's Boston terrier, whom he pampered and spoiled and probably spoke to in a language only the two of them could understand, that a group of his best pals thought he'd appreciate if they blew $300 on a Warhol-spoofing painting (you know the one) of said animal.
There's no way, I told myself. Just no way.
Well, I was wrong.
When he got a look at his gift, his jaw dropped so far you could've driven a train into his mouth. In my life, I have witnessed few moments of happiness so pure. And that same expression returned when he got a look at his custom-made cake, which also bore the likeness of his favorite four-legged friend. At last, he had his double dogs. One of which was suitable for eating.
"You don't understand," he declared in his speech. Well, at least he understood that we didn't understand. "I looooooove this dog!" I wondered why he didn't just get his own Boston terrier, but then I reminded myself that when the housekeeper's daughter bought her own rat-dog, I thought it was a little creepy.
"I am obsessssssed with this dog!" the birthday boy exclaimed, over and over. He had a grin on his face that hadn't fade a bit by the time Drew and I, horrified, fled the party an hour later.
I finally realized that maybe double dog syndrome was the opposite of taking your dog too seriously. People who took dogs too seriously would never try to duplicate them for fear of disappointment. Maybe people with double dogs had a very blasé attitude toward their pets:
"Yeah, we liked him, so we got another one. Whatever."
Conclusion: there's nothing wrong with double dogs.
But people with no dogs creep me the fuck out.
THE DAYS FLY BY
Today is Tuesday.
At least, that's what I decided at exactly 9:00 this morning when I stumbled into work (okay, it was 9:07) and tore off the weekend pages on my Onion desk calendar to discover a lovely infographic titled "How Do We Like Our Cock?" The accompanying bar graph used long, curvy phalluses to represent categories like "Meaty", "Throbbing", "Black" and "Hard, Bi-Curious".
Of course, there are always those thorny sexual harassment issues to think about, but since people tend to notice the clever Onion headlines on my desk and comment on them, I was more worried about my co-workers, the majority of whom are catty fiftysomething women with bad hips and potty mouths, deciding to weigh in on the subject.
That's not a conversation I'd enjoy having.
So rather than run the risk of hearing "What about knobby?", I decided to destroy that page.
Friday, April 16, 2004
AND I RAN...
If you want to get me to do something I don't enjoy, (i.e., physical activity), a good way to go about it is to add in something totally unrelated that I hold dear to my heart (i.e., washed-up 80's bands). Using my highly-tuned mathematical mind, I've boiled it down to the following formula:
Running a stupid race + General Public = Jerry waking up at the crack of dawn on a Sunday to put on short shorts and track shoes
Yes, I've decided to participate in the Major Footwear Company (just because they're sponsoring it doesn't mean I have to plug them here) Run Hit Wonder race, which features artists like Devo, Tommy Tutone, Tone Loc, A Flock of Seagulls, a "Mystery Band" and the aforementioned General Public performing all of their hit along one of two routes -- a 5K or a 10K. (Note to Major Footwear Company: General Public had better be on the 5K route or there's gonna be TROUBLE!) Now someone call Behind the Music. We've got some ten-second epilogues to splice in!
I have all of nine days to prep for this thing, which is so short a training window that I may as well not train at all. So I'm not training at all. I'm not even pulling out my metric conversion chart to remind myself just how far a K is. Instead, I'm exercising my music mojo by compiling awesome One-Hit Wonder playlists (oh, where have you gone, Scarlett & Black?), nitpicking the lineup (er, didn't Tone Loc have two hits?) and, mostly, by trying to guess the identity of the so-called "Mystery Band".
First of all, could there be anything more ridiculous than having a mystery one hit wonder band? So let me get this straight. This band is so big that it'll be some huge deal when their identity is revealed, but at the same time they're not big enough to have scored a minimum of two hits? I'm guessing Major Footwear Company was just having trouble booking someone for the last slot. (Unless it's Patrick Swayze singing "She's Like the Wind", in which case, kudos, Major Footwear Company.)
So, let's think about this. It has to be someone most people will recognize by name alone. That rules out Guiffria. It's totally possible that it'll be someone ho-hum like the Motels or Missing Persons or Toni Basil, who've been whoring themselves out to every county fair and high school prom for the last 20 years. Or it could be some self-important Adult Contemporary never-was who makes us all want to shoot ourselves, like Bobby McFerrin or Edie Brickell. Or maybe, if we're lucky, it'll be some recently reunited or still-plugging-away European band who actually have talent but were only briefly popular here, like Dexy's Midnight Runners or Madness or a-ha.
And that got me to thinking about one band who really would be a major score. If there's any chance, Major Footwear Company, could you please please please book Frankie Goes to Hollywood? C'mon, Frankie. It's the perfect comeback venue. It's actually in Hollywood. (Technically, downtown LA, but close enough.) You guys came so close to reuniting on VH1 -- sooooooooooo heartbreakingly close. Okay, maybe Major Footwear Company's offer isn't any more appealing than VH1's. If fact, it's much, much worse. It's a lower profile, you only get to play one song over and over and your "audience" will be a bunch of sweaty people who run up, grab a cup of water and then move on to hear "Funky Cold Medina" at the next stop.
But I care, Frankie. I don't care how fast I run or what my time is or how many people I beat to the finish line. Hell, I'll probably collapse from exhaustion three blocks into the thing. I'm going to this stupid race because I care about you. You're my victory, my cup of water, my four-minute mile. And if you play at the 4K mark, I'll stop and listen to your music. I'll appreciate the historical significance of your reunion. I'll even wait until everyone else is gone and let you play your other songs. The others can race past you if they want to, but I'm just going to wait there, respectfully, sipping water perhaps, and enjoying the moment.
And when you tell me to relax, dammit, I'm gonna listen.
Thursday, April 15, 2004
BIN LADEN ASKS FRANCE TO PROM
In a tape released today, Osama bin Laden offered a truce to Europe provided they disengage from the U.S. effort in Iraq, a clear attempt, say officials, "to drive a wedge between Europe and the United States". But shortly after the tape aired on Arab TV stations, a second tape surfaced, and on this one, Osama offered a more direct message: "France, will you go to the prom with me?"
In a transcript of the tape, Osama declares, "France, I really like you a lot. I mean, I don't just like you, I, you know, I like like you. So please, France, will you go to the prom with me?" Osama was described as nervous and uncomfortable on the tape, shuffling his feet and gazing awkwardly at the ground. It appeared as though he had practiced his plea in the mirror countless times before finally getting up the courage to ask France directly. He added, "I know America already asked you to go with them, but they're not so great. They just think they're cool 'cause they're so big and popular and rich, but I'm cooler than them. My mom says so. So go with me, France. I'll treat you better than they ever could."
In response to the tape, France said, "Iw, like, get away from me, you creep!" and then announced plans to change its phone number.
* * * * *
In a related story, Donny Weston, 28, of Dover, Tennessee released an audio tape of his own today, which he addressed to Osama bin Laden:
"Dear Osama. Now that you're selectively offering truces, I was wondering if I could apply for one. Dude, that'd be real cool of you. I know it sucks hating, like, the entire world, so you're being all slick offering Europe a deal, like you're doing them a favor, but we all know the truth. You've got more enemies than you can handle. So let me help you narrow your hit list by one more: me. If I understand correctly, your beef with Americans is that we occupy your lands and kill Muslims. Well, guess what, I've never killed anyone, of any religion! And I've never set foot in the Middle East. You want me to stay away forever? Done! And furthermore -- and this is the important part I hope you'll pay special attention to -- I don't want to die. So come on, dude, truce? I'm not saying I'm going to agree with your philosophy. For example, I'm not really on board with the part about how you want to kill Americans, especially me. But we can agree to disagree. You'll still think Americans are imperialist killers who insult Allah and threaten your way of life, and I still think you're an Islam-distorting opportunist preying on disaffected, uneducated foot soldiers to do your murderous bidding because you see democracy as a threat to your egotistical power-grab. But we cool. As long as you don't kill me, that is. Please?"
Tuesday, April 13, 2004
SILLY RABBIT TRICKS
I've never been a huge fan of Easter, but this has especially been true since I stopped believing in all the God stuff. I never stopped celebrating Christmas, but that's because it's easy to pretend Christmas is a secular holiday. I mean, it's just some guy's birthday. I celebrate Martin Luther King's birthday and Abraham Lincoln's, so why not Jesus'? Jesus was born today? Well, good for him! Bring on the loot!
But Easter is another story. Easter is when God brought his immaculately-conceived son back from the dead after he died to absolve mankind of our sins. Uh... okay... If you believe that, I can see why you want to mark the day with celebration and prayer. But if I'm not down with resurrection thing the other 364 days of the year, I don't think I deserve to crash your party just for the sake of some hollowed-out chocolate bunnies or hard boiled eggs dipped in food coloring.
Revenge, however, justifies any hypocrisy in my book.
This past Christmas, Drew and I set a hard limit on how much we were allowed to spend on each other. See, between the 9 or so people in my family and the 9,000 or so in his, we were already spending more than we could afford on gifts, so we agreed to scale back our own Christmas so we could spend more on the other people on our lists. But when we opened our gifts, I discovered that Drew had gone over the limit by at least 50%.
"But the gifts in the stocking aren't from me," he explained. "They're from Santa!" And somehow, on hearing that, I managed to suppress my rage. I guess I'm one of those people who doesn't get mad, I get even... well, at least when getting mad would mean having to return Simpsons Hit & Run for Gamecube. If I'm a whore for anything, it's my Nintendo.
For Easter this year, I made him promise that we wouldn't buy each other anything at all. He stuck to it, and so did I, all the way until Easter morning. But when he woke up early on Sunday to do laundry, like he always does, I realized I was missing the perfect opportunity for payback. So I snuck out of the apartment, drove to the drugstore, and when he came back from the laundromat, there were chocolate bunnies, toys and a mini Easter egg hunt awaiting him.
I could see him struggling to suppress his rage: "You're in big trouble, Mister!"
"But I didn't do anything!" I replied. "It was the Easter bunny!"
* * * * *
Our friends have a five-year-old daughter, and, being no more Christian than Drew and I, they managed to forget all about Easter until late Saturday night. They opened a FedEx from the grandparents, who had sent their granddaughter a basket full of Easter junk, and suddenly, they realized that they never got her any Easter junk of their own. So Grandma and Grandpa's basket became the Easter Bunny's, and they celebrated Christ's resurrection by duping their daughter and robbing the grandparents of her gratitude.
When we went over to visit on Sunday afternoon, she was still on a mad sugar- and fictional character visit-rush, and she begged her dad to read the Easter Bunny's card to her again. He picked up a card that said, "To our Granddaughter" and read the preprinted poem, ignoring Grandma and Grandpa's handwritten note for their thankfully illiterate child. "I hope your day is filled with toys and fun and candy," he ad libbed. "Love, the Bunny".
Happy Rebirthday, Jesus.
Sunday, April 11, 2004
TELL ME MORE, TELL ME MORE
I really wanted to get my About Me section up in time for April Fool's Day. Of course, then, it was going to feature "facts" like how I write the bridge column in the local Pennysaver and how I love to knit pictures of Vice Presidents and how I named my 19 cats after the kids from "Fame" and if anyone sees Leroy to please, please, please send him home to me. I even ran google image searches for terms like, "creepy guy" and "smelly freak" and "overly pierced goon" so I'd have a picture to go with it. (And after those searches proved fruitless, I started searching "Ed" and "Joe" and "Frank" instead.)
But I started to feel sorry for the smelly freaks and overly pierced goons and Eds, none of whom put their pictures up on their websites so I could make them my "joke" picture on mine. And, more importantly, I just didn't have time to finish it.
I can't promise that my real About Me section will be as interesting, but I can promise that it's real -- mostly.
And before you crack wise about the smelly goon eating the Target cookie, let me assure you it's really me.
Friday, April 09, 2004
A GAY OLD TIME
The way the New Orleans trip came about is probably just as interesting as the trip itself. As I've mentioned before, about six months ago, I finally came out of the closet to my best friend from high school, Greg. Greg then decided to come out to his two best friends from college, Scott and Tim, and he ended up with two reciprocal coming out stories of his own. Yes, Virginia, there is an Irony Claus, and his generosity is unparalleled. Greg now thinks he has some kind of gay Midas touch, and he's desperately stalking Carlos Moya in hopes of working his magic on him.
I guess you could see the whole setup as some freak coincidence -- four guys who remain closeted or semi-closeted into their early 30's somehow all being friends. Or you could look at it as fate, like some unseen force guided us to each other because we all secretly needed someone to relate to. But I prefer to think of it as a subconscious inevitability. Closeted guys are bound to gravitate toward each other, because we're not comfortable enough yet to hang out with other gay guys and because straight guys talk about girls too much. If you find someone you get along with who doesn't hound you with questions like, "Dude, isn't she hot?" and "No, really, don't you think she's hot?" and "So, c'mon, did you bang her?", you're going to hang onto them as long as you can.
Greg had an idea that the four of us should meet up -- I'd met Tim and Scott before, but didn't know them all that well, and Greg hadn't seen either of them in years. Since we all live in different parts of the country, Greg organized, appropriately enough, an outing, a short trip where we could ponder the meaning of all that had happened and, well, just do whatever people do in New Orleans.
With the exception of Greg, all of us are pretty shy, so there was some initial awkwardness as Greg tried to bridge the two groups. But if you're in a group of four people, and you're gay, it's inevitable that your icebreaker will be to compare yourselves to the gals of "Sex & the City" and try to figure our who your respective counterparts are. And that makes everything much easier.
We all agreed that Greg was the Samantha. No longer the sheltered, insecure wallflower he was just a few short months ago, Greg has spent his post-coming out existence racking up an impressive list of conquests across the tri-state New York area. Make that four states. Greg arrived in New Orleans the night before I did, and by the time my flight landed in Louisiana, he had already found a local guy who would occupy a good deal of his time for the rest of the trip. Of course, that didn't stop him from looking around for others everywhere we went. If not Samantha, Greg would've been Captain Stubbing, because he's always cruising. Or maybe we should've just called him the Big Easy. Like this guy, he's doing his best to make up for lost time.
Scott insisted that Tim was our Charlotte. Tim hadn't seen the show, so he asked Scott to describe Charlotte for him. "She's a prude," was all Scott said. Tim protested this characterization, to which Scott replied, "But you are a prude." Needless to say, Scott was our Miranda. (If that didn't seal the deal, Scott repeatedly demanding, "I want to be Miranda!" would've done the job just as nicely, although if he said it one more time, we were going to make him Stanford.)
And that made me the Carrie, which made me feel like a respected leader, an above-the-line star in our show, even if it was more by default because all the other roles were taken.
Anyway, Charlotte and Miranda decided to go to a history museum, which seemed about as appropriate a vacation activity to Samantha and me as spending the afternoon taking an SAT prep course or golfing. So while they revisited the finer points of the Louisiana Purchase, Greg and I got our palms read by a psychic. We went in skeptical, but when the psychic told Greg he had been majorly confused until his mid-20's, we became convinced she had the gift. Of course, it only took us a few minutes to realize that everyone is majorly confused until their mid-20's. But still, it felt good when she told me I would soon come into large amounts of money and property. Money and property are two things it's good to have large amounts of, or so I've heard. Street psychics in New Orleans are no longer allowed to charge for their services, but they do solicit donations. For my five-minute read, I coughed up ten dollars, and as we walked away, Greg told me he gave $25, which either made him a chump or me a cheapskate. But hey, I'm not gonna get my hands on all that money and property I've got coming by overpaying psychics.
We wanted to take a guided tour of the city, and since roughly half the tours we saw advertised were "ghost tours", we settled on one of those. One brochure proudly advertised that their tour had "no fake vampires", "no cheesy costumes" and "no phony scares". So we knew to steer clear of that one. I wasn't involved in the final selection process, but I do believe that the person in charge of picking (*cough* Charlotte *cough*) somehow managed to pick the worst ghost tour in all of Louisiana. We ended up being the only four people who showed up, and we were led around the French Quarter for the longest two hours of my life by a guy named Mitch, who would say things like, "This is one of the most haunted houses in the city. There was a guy who used to live here... I'm blanking on his name..." and "I don't believe in vampires" and "This has nothing to do with ghosts, but..."
I spent most of the tour figuring out ways I could get far enough out of Mitch's earshot to crack jokes about him to Greg, or texting Scott with a message that said "This blows". Mitch seemed very jealous of the other, much, much larger tour groups we kept passing on the sidewalks. Many of them were led by gothic looking guides in creepy black robes and pasty makeup, and Mitch would tell us under his breath that he knew the guide and "He's from Cincinnati". (At one point, Greg made the "Rrrwwweeeeerr!" cat screech sound.) It didn't help that about 90% of the ghost stories seemed to be about abused slaves who were slaughtered by their mass murdering "masters" and whose only revenge seemed to be decades of showing up in people's mirrors for a split-second in the afterlife. Geez, that kind of spoils the silly, escapist fun of the endeavor, doesn't it?
On our last day in town, we took an airboat tour of the swamp. If you go to New Orleans, make sure you take an airboat tour, rather than the other kind of boat tour. Airboats go fast and do neat Miami Vice kinds of turns and stuff. Our guide looked just like Chunk from the Goonies, only with more tattoos. We saw four different gators, or possibly the same gator four times.
Scott and Tim turned out to be great guys, and, as Greg predicted, we bonded by making fun of him. And except for some surprise and/or bemusement at how much of a Samantha Greg had become, the gay thing didn't seem to be that much of an issue for anyone. It was great that it hadn't affected anyone's friendship, but after the century or so of cumulative closet time between us, it seemed a bit anticlimactic to say the least.
New Orleans struck me as the kind of place that's best visited the day you turn 21, because it becomes progressively less fun every day of your life after that. Sure, there were some middle-aged people stumbling around Bourbon Street at 3 a.m. in a drunken haze with half empty margaritas in their clutch, but trust me: you don't want to be like them. In fact, I think the time for me taking a trip to New Orleans to be cool will officially pass me by at exactly... er... NOW. I'm really glad we went when we did.
Still, it would've been even better to have gone there ten years ago.
Thursday, April 08, 2004
THE KID IS NOT MY SON
My one regret about the New Orleans trip is that it took me out of town on April Fool's Day. My April Fool's jokes, while I treasure them to the core of my very soul, tend to get me in heaps of trouble with the people I care about, so it's usually helpful if I'm available for damage control. My wicked little pranks are hilarious to me in anticipation and in retrospect, but while they're in motion, they're enormous train wrecks.
Now, come on. Who doesn't love a good train wreck?
That being said, I like to think I have pretty good April Fool's ethics. I believe jokes should be of the harmless variety, nothing cruel or potentially heart-attack provoking. "I'm moving to West Virginia to become a coal miner": good. "Dude, your mom died": bad. They should be just marginally beyond what you think is believable, with enough clues and absurd details added that anyone who falls for them will feel monumentally silly, but not humiliated, afterward. If anyone asks if they're being punked, you have to fess up, and ditto if anyone gets carried away and tells you you can't move to West Virginia -- you just can't!!! -- because they've always loved you *sniff, sniff* and they've been waiting for ten years now for the right moment to tell you and if you go off and get all sooty and pickaxe-scarred they'll just kill themselves, they will. At some point, busting out laughing and yelling "Psyche!" just doesn't seem appropriate anymore.
Well, I should've thought this year's prank through a little more, because a lot of people got carried away. Tears were shed. Humiliation was engendered. Apologies were tendered en masse.
Knowing I had to leave at approximately 6 am for the airport, I composed my April Fool email in advance. Then, just before I headed out with two seriously overpacked suitcases, I clicked "send", cackling with devilish delight. And as I headed for a day of travel, a day of shut-off cell phones and complete email disengagement, one by one, my friends and family read the following piece of glorious, glorious mischief:
From: Jerry M.
It turns out this is the kind of news people don't sit on very long. By the time I got to the airport, I received my first call. It was from my sister, who would never normally call at that hour. *snicker, snicker* She tells me how happy she is for us, how annoyed she is that I've kept it a secret, how she can't wait to bring her kids out for a visit with their new cousin... My plan is working, so I play along.
HER: How long have you been trying to do adopt?
ME: Er... a few months. *barely suppressed giggle*
HER: How old is she? She doesn't look newborn.
ME: No, she's... er, about seven months. They don't know her exact birthdate because, er, you know, she's an orphan and stuff. *barely suppressed guffaw*
At this point, I realize I'm in over my head, so I decide to bail.
ME: Did you notice the baby's name?
HER: Yeah. Fu-Ling.
ME: And what's today's date?
HER: Is this a joke?
ME: April Fool's!
Nervous laughter on my end. Silence on hers.
HER: That's not funny. I was really happy for you.
ME: It's just a joke.
HER: It's evil.
ME: But-- but--
HER: I have to go.
And then it was time to shut my celph off and endure a three-hour plane ride with the knowledge that perhaps I had gone too far.
During that trip, the responses began to come in through email and voicemail. Among my favorite quotes:
"OH MY GOD Congratulations!!!!! That is the best news of the year. I will be smiling all day long." -- Rob
... and then there was a voicemail from my friend Adam:
OHMYGOD! I'MSOHAPPYFORYOU!! OHMYGOD! SHE'SBEAUTIFUL!! I'MEXPLODINGWITHJOYANDLOVEANDHAPPINESSFORYOU! I'MSOSOOOOOOOTHRILLED!!! ICANNOTIMAGINEBETTERPARENTS! OHMYGOD! IT'SSOFUCKINGGREAT!!!!!!!
By the time of my layover in Houston, Drew, who was foolish enough to forward my email around at work was full-on freaking out. I spoke to his assistant, who told me that I might not want to show my face around the MTV offices for a while. Pretty much everyone fell for the joke, pretty much everyone was ecstatic at the news -- Lauren even cried -- and pretty much everyone was pissed off when they heard they'd been had.
I admit it, I panicked. I told Drew to send out the followup email right away before anybody else busted a gasket either in joy or anger. I dictated a brief postscript, then Drew tossed in a comment of his own, and he sent out the following:
From: Jerry M.
And thus followed a second round of responses:
"Please tell jerry that I fully CRIED!!! You guys are dicks." -- Lauren
And when I called Adam back and broke the news to him, he was, well, not quite as happy as he was on his voicemail. Two quotes in particular stick out in my mind:
"I will never be happy for you again!"
I think by now I've groveled for forgiveness from everyone who was upset. Most of them admitted that they just really liked the idea of me and Drew having kids, and they were disappointed when they found out it wasn't really going to happen. (Maybe someday...) My sister proceeded to forward my email to just about everyone she knew, and some of them forwarded it to people they knew, too. Almost all of these people told my sister to lighten up, but apparently, my sister's former co-worker's friend's mother thinks I'm a real jackass. (Oh, yeah? You too, lady!)
So I think I need to add a few more rules to my list of April Fool's guidelines: Don't set people up for too big a disappointment when they learn you were lying, don't include a picture of the most adorable baby in the world, and whatever you do, don't make Lauren cry. To all I offended with this prank, I am sincerely sorry.
But still... ha, ha!
Tuesday, April 06, 2004
DEITY FOR A DAY
Last year, I came sooooooo close to winning the NCAA pool. When my team lost in the finals and I ended up, instead of in first place, in 11th, I was sad, sure, but still, all seemed right with the world. Pigs were still earthbound, Hell was still scorching hot, and "Yes, Dear" was still drawing surprisingly strong ratings for CBS on Monday nights.
Well, this morning, the sky was full of flying oinkers, and Hilter's soul was seen putting on a sweater. Despair, fans of Mike O'Malley and Anthony Clark! Despair!!!!
From the very aptly phrased email sent out this morning by our "bracket manager" (whatever that means) to everyone who entered:
Armageddon has arrived.
And, from my aptly phased response:
I've been waiting for that email all morning.
Yes, I'm a sore winner. But I already know how I'm going to spend my loot.
Monday, April 05, 2004
LESSONS LEARNED IN NEW ORLEANS
Sunday, April 04, 2004
SO PROUD, SO ASHAMED...
My final score on the EW Pop Culture Quiz/90's Edition: 113
Answers I'm most proud I got right:
#63 What is Private Ryan's first name? A: James
#89 What the hell is Mission: Impossible's NOC-List? A: a list of code names and true identities of covert agents (just about the only thing I understood in that whole movie)
Answers I'm most ashamed I got right:
#44 What is Screech's real name on Saved by the Bell? A: Samuel Powers
#71 Why was Blossom's best friend named Six? A: Because that's how many beers it took for her parents to have sex
Most embarrassing fact of all: That I actually took the entire quiz -- and scored it.
THINGS TO DO
HEAR, JERRY, HEAR
WATCH, JERRY, WATCH
READ, JERRY, READ
THAT'S MY JAM!
GOOGLE, JERRY, GOOGLE
(My favorite ways that people found this site recently)
math movie with black kid
why do people in movies have extremely large glasses
free christmas party speech for boss
why can't people fuck off
scared weird little guys "yesterday i saw the day after tomorrow"
how long until "sausage goes bad?"
"I hate charities"
Hall of Fame:
How do you draw MC Skat Kat?
harmony korine impersonators
why people should spread rumors in spanish