PLACES TO GO
Wednesday, June 30, 2004
I'VE SEEN THE FUTURE, I CAN'T AFFORD IT
Lately, I constantly find myself doing something that Young Jerry vowed years ago he would never do: worry about money.
I hated money as a kid, hated the concept of it, hated the things you had to do to get it, hated hearing my parents argue about it, hated the germs from other people's hands that were crawling all over every quarter or dollar bill. I hated the business section of the paper and the little stock ticker that ran at the bottom of the screen during the morning news shows. I hated the way my hands would smell after I helped my dad wrap pennies to take to the bank. I never liked ghost stories either, but you know what would've made them scarier? If instead of boogeymen and zombies, they had been about George Washington and Alexander Hamilton. Their newsprint-blocky green-ink faces were creepier to me than anything Stephen King could think up. If I found a five dollar bill on the sidewalk, I left it there. I'd roll my eyes and think, "Hmph, let someone else deal with that!" You know how kids love handling money, and it makes them feel like a big shot when Mommy gives them the money to hand over to the cashier at McDonald's? Well, that freaked me out. When my dad would try to let me pay, I'd run away and cower behind the garbage can, whimpering. Me having money just didn't feel right. Thirty years later, that hasn't changed.
The difference is that now, I love money. I love having it, I love spending it. I love seeing it slide out of an ATM or a slot machine. I love when my wallet is stuffed with it, in all different denominations. When I went to Europe, I loved foreign money. Well, look, there's the queen in a rainbow of newsprint-blocky colors! Isn't she lovely? I loved calculating the exchange rates in my head whenever I'd attempt to buy something. "This Kylie Minogue CD is a bargain at 7.99 GBP -- even in dollars that's just... $12.78!" I never thought I'd admit to being a necrophiliac, but I sure love me some dead presidents. Oh, money, Alex P. Keaton was right about you all along! (Don't worry, Young Jerry. Alex and I still disagree about politics... or is that next?!?!)
I'm not going to pretend like I don't know what happened to change my opinion of money. My parents stopped paying for everything, that's what happened. All my life up through college was a pretty sweet free ride. It's easy not to worry about money when someone else is doing all the worrying for you. But then I moved out and had to worry about rent and car payments, and two years of grad school and the insane amount of interest that builds up when you don't pay off your grad school loans within a week or so of graduating. (Isn't that a great system?) Somewhere along the way, I discovered credit, which was also a big problem. I never carried a balance on my credit cards until grad school, then I thought, "Oh, it's just one $200 futon -- what's the harm?" Well, nine years later I'm still paying off that $200 futon, and several thousand dollars of other stuff. It's clear who the villain is here. It's not money, or people who have money (I can't hate them -- I someday hope to be one of them). No, the bad people are the people who lend money. Didn't Jesus say something about that? (Great, somebody else I never thought I'd be referencing.)
One of my friends recently pointed out, with a great amount of envy, that Drew and I are DINKs. Dual Income, No Kids. We're the holy grail of economic groups, coveted by advertisers, mutual fund administrators, Club Meds, and golddigging homewreckers alike. People like us crap disposable income, and afterward, we wipe our butts with more disposable income. We're like Demi Moore rolling around naked in a pile of money every night, only we didn't have to sleep with any twisted, manipulative millionaires to get there.
If only that were true. Even though Drew and I both make pretty good salaries, we can't afford things that people our age are supposed to be buying, like houses, vacations and 401Ks. I want to hate George Bush for what he's done to the national debt, but I have to admit I did the same thing to my own finances. At the current rate, my student loans aren't scheduled to be paid off until 2023, at which point I can start paying off my credit cards. After that, I guess, I can begin saving for retirement. I'm very close to appealing to Bono for help with my cause. Really, Bono, I know Namibia has it tough, but at least they don't have Sallie Mae on their backs. Help!
Of course, in a week and a half, I won't even have a job anymore. And Drew and I have been talking about halving our acronym and becoming DI's. So right now, things are looking especially bleak. Is this the coveted DINK lifestyle that awaits all of the nation's gay youth?
I've decided Drew and I need to append that sunny acronym to reflect the harsh reality we're really facing. We're Dual Income, No Kids all right, but we're also Drowning in Unbearable Debt.
That's what we are. And at least until 2023, that's what we'll continue to be.
Unless any twisted, manipulative millionaires out there have any proposals for us...
Monday, June 28, 2004
"THERE ARE ENORMOUS, PAINFUL, CRUD-FILLED HOLES IN MY MOUTH AND I LOVE IT!" WEEKEND
First of all, I don't see what the big deal about Vicodin is. I'm now more convinced than ever that "addiction to painkillers" -- as in, "Superstar ____________ checked into Betty Ford because of an..." -- is code for something else. Even given my extremely limited previous experience with drugs (i.e., none), it seems to me that if you're willing to throw your career away over the tepid buzz you get from Vitamin V, then you haven't lived. (My advice: if you want a real boost, mix it with root beer.)
And while I didn't attempt to operate a moving vehicle while under the influence, I can't imagine plowing said vehicle into a stranger's porch simply because of a Vicodin high. My jaw, which at times during the weekend felt like it was caught in a bear trap and at other times seemed merely to be punctured by jagged metal spikes, did slightly relax a few minutes after I popped one of the magic pills, which is pretty much all that was supposed to happen, but let me assure you, whatever Courtney Love is on, it's a lot stronger.
Aside from my steady intake of prescription medication, I'm sure my weekend would be most people's idea of hell. I took lots of naps, watched lots of TV, barely left the apartment and accomplished virtually nothing. People would tell me they sympathized with how "cooped up" I was, or how I must be getting "cabin fever". Fools. Personally, I can't imagine a better way to spend three days.
Staying home is pretty much the only vacation I ever get. Even when I'm on vacation, there's always something to do or someone to visit or something to snap pictures in front of. In the course of my day-to-day life, I do spend a fair amount of time at home, but it's rarely relaxing. There's always some work to do, usually in one of the following categories: paying bills, filling out forms, cleaning, plotting a new career path, writing, or feeling guilty about not writing. Even when I take a sick day from work (which is rare), I feel the need to get things done. Recovering from surgery is the first excuse I've had in ages which really enabled me to give myself a break.
And being able to put aside all that other stuff for a few days gave me a new understanding of the concept of free time. I like it. I like wasting time and not feeling guilty about it. After I had watched about half the first season of "Buffy" on DVD, I started wondering what other minor elective surgeries I could have that might take me out of commission for a few days and allow me to catch up on some other modern TV classics. What if we rip out those tonsils already and I get acquainted with the Gilmore Girls? That gall bladder isn't doing me any good, and I hear good things about "Smallville". If only my appendix would rupture already, maybe I could get through "Alias", too.
You might think with me leaving my job at the end of next week, I'll have all the free time a person could ever want, but trust me, I'll have less than ever. In addition to all the other things I force myself to do when I'm home, I'll be looking for work, too, which is a full-time job in itself. If I want to relax, I'm going to have to be creative. I'm going to need a good reason.
Anyone need a kidney?
Friday, June 25, 2004
WORDS OF WISDOM
I just woke up with no pants on. I don't remember taking them off, but Drew says he helped me. I hope that's all I don't remember.
I'm still pretty much under the influence of my anesthetic and vicodin, but if the Beatles did all their best work while blitzed out of their mind, I figured maybe it was a good time to post to the blog in hopes of achieving some kind of tripped-out genius. There's also the chance this won't make any damn sense, but that can be fun, too.
When I showed up at the oral surgeon's office this morning, the receptionist asked, "Are you ready?" I said, "Not really". And she said, "Well we're ready." And I said, "Well, I guess that's more important." I figured that would be the last joke I'd make for a while, but brother, was I wrong.
The wisdom teeth removal wasn't so bad. The nurse gave me nitrous oxide, and my first reaction was, "I don't like this!" But she wouldn't take it off, and within about ten seconds, I was laughing uncontrollably and saying, "Bwaa-ha-ha-ha, I see why they call this ha ha laughing gas! HAAAAAAAAA!" I knew it wasn't a funny joke, but I seriously could not stop laughing. I hope she realized it was just the gas talking.
As the doctor tried to put me under, he kept trying to talk about sports. I'm usually not in the mood for chit-chat when people are sticking tubes up my arm, no matter what the topic, but this definitely wasn't a conversation I was interesting in having. I had been pretty sure this doctor was gay, but now I had my doubts. Not that there aren't gay people who know about sports, but most of them wouldn't use the topic as a go-to with another gay man. He was wondering what sporting events were going on right now that I might be able to watch on TV all weekend. He said it was too bad the playoffs were over (which playoffs? I have no idea), and that the US Open in golf was last weekend. I'm like, "If you're going to talk about golf, you won't need that anesthesia. Zzzzzzzz..." Then, in case there were any doubts about my persuasion, I mentioned Wimbledon was going on, and tennis is about the only sport I know anything about anyway. He said something about that old woman who's playing and just won her match. I'm like, I get it! You're straight! P.S. Her name is Martina Navratalova, and she lost in the second round. Then I guess the drugs took effect, because that's all I remember.
Drew says that when they brought him in to see me after the operation, the first thing I said was that the nurse and I had just been discussing Shakespeare and Kierkegaard. I believe that was my first ever Kierkegaard joke. And this is without wisdom teeth. Score one for irony, and another for nitrous oxide.
Then we made a trip to the supermarket, which I don't remember at all. I should always go to the supermarket when recovering from anesthesia, because I brought home nothing but good stuff. We bought ice cream, muffins and cookies, all of which I love, and pudding, which I hate. But the vanilla pudding has been extremely tasty. If you've just had oral surgery and you're operating on painkillers, I suggest trying new things.
Okay, time to pop another pill and go back to blissful, psychedelic dreamland.
Goo Goo G'Joob!
Thursday, June 24, 2004
MY GREATEST IDEA EVER, YOU GUYS!
If this weren't the worst day of my life, I'd be so excited I could explode.
Tomorrow, like a zillion cool things are happening right in my very neighborhood. For starters, that new movie that Ray Bradbury's so upset about is opening. Everyone who's anyone will be blogging about it on Monday! As if that's not enough, it turns out the last credibly-elected President of the United States is doing a book signing about a block away from my office -- and right around my lunchtime! I haven't had an opportunity to get this close to Democratic greatness since I saw Michael Dukakis at an Al Gore rally four years ago!
Wait, there's more! As a publicity stunt for that other movie I can't wait to see, MGM is holding a scavenger hunt, where the grand prize is a sleepover party for one lucky winner and five friends at the Four Seasons! It all happens tomorrow from 2-5pm, when participants will be lining up to pick up their instructions and a free camera to document their shenanigans at -- get this -- the MGM building, which is across the street from where I work! Sure, the competition is only open to girls aged 8-16, but if the trailer for "White Chicks" has taught me anything, it's not to be so hung up on labels. With a little bit of latex and a trip to Hot Topic -- voila, I'm Jenny Jo Johnson of Encino! "I'm, like, so excited for Sleepover, I had my Mom drive me all the way here from the Valley! God, like, stop it, Mom (i.e., Drew in a dress), you're embarrassing me!"
The only problem is that I can't do any of this, because while it's all happening, I'll be across town having my gums ripped open. And after that, I'll be fumbling around my apartment in a painkiller-soused haze for pretty much the entire weekend, periodically replacing the gauze in my mouth and trying to keep pudding out of the sucking holes where my impacted wisdom teeth used to be. When, oh when, will I learn to schedule my oral surgeries around movie openings, presidential visits and sweepstakeses?
But all isn't lost. According to the Simpsons, the Chinese use the same word for crisis and as they do for opportunity. And that led me to the perfect solution, which was so obvious all along I can't believe I didn't think of it sooner. If I can't join the party, I'll make the party come to me. That's right...
SLEEPOVER AT MY PLACE, EVERYONE!!!!!!!
We'll stay up late, watch Buffy on DVD, talk about boys, and eat gobs and gobs of ice cream -- which is about all I can eat! Doesn't it sound like the best time ever?????
C'mon, guys! You don't want to do any of that other stuff that all the cool kids'll be doing. The real fun's going to be at my place. Who's in????
Wednesday, June 23, 2004
Of everything I've ever written about Drew, the thing he gives me the most shit for is the following statement, from a post I made over a year ago:
"Drew gossips a lot."Therefore, I present the following evidence, in the form of an IM chat that occurred just minutes ago. Brief background: Dan (all names changed) is a good friend of mine who has long been on the verge of breaking up with his girlfriend, Sheila, who recently worked on one of Drew's shows. Denise is a pregnant friend of ours.
Jerry: Did I tell you about Dan & Sheila?
Jerry: Let's just say Denise's baby may have a little playmate on the way!!!
Drew: ARE YOU SERIOUS?!?!?!?!!?!?!?!?!?
Drew: I thought you were going to say they broke up!!!!!!!
Jerry: Yeah, I'm kidding.
Jerry: They broke up.
Drew: I was on the phone telling someone the news already!! YOU ASS!!!
Jerry: My god you gossip fast!
Jerry: Who were you telling anyway?
Jerry: Not someone who knows Sheila I hope
Drew: i stopped before i said anything
Jerry: Oh thank god
Jerry: I started to tell you the real gossip, but it didn't seem hot enough, so I figured I'd spice it up first!
Drew: thank god, it was her boss.
Jerry: can you imagine?!
Jerry: I'm bad, but you're WORSE!
Drew: i'm bad, but YOU'RE worse -- you lied about the gossip!!!
Drew: to a known gossip!
Jerry: Only because I didn't think you could possibly pass it on in TEN SECONDS!
Drew: you underestimated my powers, youngster.
Jerry: for the last time ever!
Tuesday, June 22, 2004
BAD NEWS FOR THE BLOG
I'm going to be losing a major source of material. Yesterday, as my computer was shutting down and I was about to go home, I marched into my boss' office, slammed the door and told him where to stick this job. Okay, that's not exactly how it happened, but saying I went about it in a polite and calm way -- and gave three week's notice instead of the customary two since he's going to be out next week and, well, that's just the kind of guy I am -- seems a little anticlimactic after all the ranting I've done. So if you want to pretend that a fistfight broke out and security kicked my keister to the curb, be my guest.
He handled it really well, as I assumed he would. From the beginning, I've just been a bad fit for this position and this office. This environment has never motivated or remotely interested me, and the longer I've spent here, the more obvious that's become to everyone. My boss told me I was too smart for the job, and since I never intended this to be a career, that explained why maybe my secretarial skills weren't as sharp as they could be. I wanted to say, "Thanks, I never intended to become a secretary," but I couldn't help thinking, "What's wrong with my secretarial skills? I type 80 words a minute, fool!"
I don't know where I'll go next, but I'll go somewhere, and I've reached the point where the unknown is far more enticing than the familiar. I've done the math, mapped out every possible direction this might lead (a long period of unemployment? the hell of temping? a desperate return to game show contestantdom?), and all of them seemed better than staying here. I guess you're never more excited about the future than when you have no idea what it holds. And right now, I'm starting to get excited again.
Scared shitless, too, of course.
THE LOW ESCROW SHOULD BE CUT LIKE AN AFRO
Why is this the first I've heard of this?
Now ya know.
Monday, June 21, 2004
A FESTIVAL FOR THE REST OF Y'ALL
Well, gay pride weekend has come and gone, and sadly, this year, it coincided with what I'm dubbing Unfunny Gay Comedy Weekend. It all kicked off with a trip to see my friend Victoria's stand-up show at a local laugh joint. Vic was just about the only comic whose set was neither unfunny nor gay-obsessed. I'm all for the gay jokes people, but in 2004, your observations need to have a bit more depth than "men rape men in prison" or "gay people have sex in the ass" or "[insert celebrity here] looks like a faggot". An hour of this and one bonus drink over the two drink minimum left me with one riled-up boyfriend on my hands.
What better way to detox from all of this than with some bad straight (unintentional) comedy. So it was off to the midnight screening of "Showgirls", where we met up with Other Drew to relive the adventures of Nomi and her breasts and the breasts of various people she met along the way. We left the theater at around 2:30 am laughing and tired and pondering why the character who looks like Joe Eszterhas turns out to be the evil rapist. It seems an odd coincidence, although maybe Joe didn't mean for him to be a bad guy, since after all, he did let his bodyguards go first.
Saturday night we debated seeing "Dodgeball", but rumor has it it's full of gay jokes, so rather than risk a repeat of Friday night at the comedy club, we decided to see "The Stepford Wives" instead. What a relief. "Wives" has no jokes at all. What it has instead is what Paul Rudnick seems to think are jokes these days, which is a sentence uttered by an actor that has the setup and rhythm of a joke but without the funny part at the end. Example: "Stepford is a perfect town. It has no crime, no poverty and no pushing." This from the guy who once wrote movies with actual comedy in them like "Addams Family Values" and "Jeffrey". Other Drew coined a new term to describe Rudnick's brand of humor: "bon nots". (It was a lone respite of funny gay comedy in Unfunny Gay Comedy Weekend.)
On Sunday, we headed out for the gay pride parade, and we had an Ant sighting! Soon after we got there, we realized there was a bona fide Last Comic standing right next to us. (Gosh, I hope I'm not outing him.) I felt kind of sorry for the star of America's favorite rigged reality show, because in the brief time he was near us, he got noticed about a billion times, mostly by the people on the floats passing by, and he seemed a bit embarrassed by all the attention. (Guy waving from the back of a convertible: "Hey, I saw you on TV!" Ant: "... and I'm seeing you in a car!") After about ten minutes or so, he finally slinked away, perhaps hoping for a return to anonymity. (Soon enough, Ant. Soon enough.)
Even less funny were two guys standing across the street from us holding wooden crosses. It wouldn't have been quite so disturbing if there were any indication they were there to ward off vampirse, and if the guys weren't so redneck-looking, and if the crosses weren't ten feet tall. It takes a lot of oomph to hold up a ten-foot-tall cross for two hours straight. It's a safe bet that anyone who's doing so is either trying to make a serious and creepy point, or is preparing to die for mankind's sins. We kept our distance -- and a suspicious eye on them -- the whole time.
At the festival, attendees pretty much fell into three groups: 1) people wearing t-shirts with funny slogans on them; 2) people wearing no shirts; and 3) me. This year, there were actual rides, which seemed like fun at the time. A bit of advice from me to you: cheap margaritas and rickety old carnival rides are not a good mix. Another bit of advice: Clown Town isn't nearly as much fun as its name suggests. Since spotting Clown Town from the street the day before, it was all I could think about. I spent most of the morning imagining the wonders I'd find inside. Sadly, Clown Town turned out to be only about 60% operational. There were moving walkways and moving stairs and a shake shack like in "Grease". But some of the walkways didn't work, so you had to pretend they were difficult to walk on if you wanted the full Clown Town experience. There was a mirror that made you look short, a mirror that made you look tall, and a mirror that needed to be cleaned. Then there was a painting that said "Clowns of the Year" with sketches of buildings labeled "Enron" and "WorldCom". Even the social satire in clown town was clunky and out of date. The best part promised to be the spinning tube you got to exit through. Buzzkill of the day: the sign above this tube that said, "No handstands".
From there, it was just a couple of mojitos until bedtime. I missed the primetime performances by K-Lo and Tamyra, but at around 3 in the afternoon, I did see a group that was introduced thusly: "They toured last year as Klymaxx 2.0, and now they're called Kontroversi!" Let me ask you this: is there really any controversy about this band, except perhaps for their poor spelling?
On our way out, we saw the guys with the crosses again, standing on a corner across from the festival. With a couple of martinis in him, Drew was brave enough to chat them up. It turns out they were there to spread the message that God loves everyone, and true Christians aren't like the jerks with the gay-bashing signs who yell nasty things at the paradegoers. It was a relief, but I wanted to tell them there's a reason the gay-bashers hold signs: it makes it clear why they're there and lets us know not to bother hitting on them. Next year, instead of holding those big, scary crosses, why not make up a nice banner that says "Jesus Loves You (Which makes him kinda gay, too, in a way)". Or better yet, put it on a t-shirt.
Friday, June 18, 2004
When I was about fourteen or so, what I wanted most of all in life was to be able to breakdance. I'm not sure where I got the idea that it would be cool. Probably from Michael J. Fox in "Teen Wolf". As if breakdancing weren't lame enough on its own, let alone breakdancing by white people, I was actually inspired to take up the craft by a sitcom star in full body hair makeup. But he was short and he was funny -- and he wasn't really a Republican -- so Michael J. Fox was my god.
I did my best to teach myself this intricate, faddish skill by watching videos and seeing every breakdancing movie that came out. It still surprises me how many breakdancing movies there were, and it makes me sad to think of how their cultural impact has dwindled over the years. Krush Groove, Beat Street, Breakin's 1 & 2 (Electric Boogaloo)... is there not a single cable channel that will give you your due? And still, after all my practicing, a casual observer would be hard-pressed to tell the difference between my version of the worm and a push-up. You may have heard an African-American comedian or two discussing white people's alleged lack of rhythm. Call it a gross overgeneralization if you will, but in my case, Martin Lawrence, your barbs ring of truth.
So I decided to learn dancing the way Fred Astaire did: from a book.* My fourteen-year-old heart gushed with joy the day I discovered a special display at Waldenbooks dedicated to breakdancing instruction manuals. I skimmed them all, wondering which was best for someone of my novice abilities. I settled on the one with a token white guy on the cover. In the picture, he was standing on the edge of a circle of popping-and-locking black guys, waiting for his chance to jump in and bust a move. It was the closest thing we had back then to a "Breakdancing For Dummies" book.
I asked my dad to loan me $6.95 plus tax, and as I carried my purchase to the cashier, I was simultaneously filled with a sense of shame and unworthiness. I knew the history of popular culture was blighted by less-talented white people imitating cool trends created by African-Americans. As cheesy as it was to learn breakdancing from a book, I got the feeling I was too cheesy even for that. As with most things I attempted at age fourteen, I suspected mockery was imminent. Fearing the cashier might put me on the spot, I prepped a clever explanation. "It's for my friend... uh... Tyrone."
Once I got the book home, I studied it, starting with the simplest moves. I was only able to clear a space in my room about four feet square, but that became my "stage". Somehow, my parents managed to ignore the thumping and rattling sounds emanating from my room at all hours of the night, or maybe I just successfully managed to drown them out with my Thompson Twins albums. (If I could barely purchase a breakdance book, there was no way I was going to walk into Sam Goody and buy Kurtis Blow.)
As I studied my new craft, my nine-year-old cousin came to visit. He had always looked up to me and wanted to do everything I did. His favorite movie was my favorite movie: "The Karate Kid", and after I introduced him to it, he had me "teach" him karate, only instead of "wax-on, wax-off" and "paint the fence", I had him clean my room and change the cat's litter box. All his life, I had been like a brother to him -- a hero, a Miyagi. But after watching me breakdance for about a minute, he declared, "This is retarded!" And that was it. I lost him forever.
My entire breakdancing phase lasted only a few weeks, and then, thoroughly discouraged and ashamed, I threw the book away. No, I didn't just throw it away. I buried it at the bottom of the trash, covering it in coffee grounds and moldy casserole so no one would dare dig for it. I was a neurotic kid, and I sincerely feared the sanitation people might find it and go, "Huh? Whose book is this? Don't white people live here?!"
And then came that fateful family gathering -- it was somebody's birthday, maybe Jesus' -- when some aunt or uncle or grandparent put me on the spot and asked me for one of my amusing teenage kid stories, and my dad stepped in, with a supportive grin on his face. I think what followed went something like this:
"Why don't you tell them about that book you bought at the mall?"
"What do you mean? I didn't buy anything."
"You know what I mean. The break dancer book. You've been practicing it for weeks!"
"Shut up, I have not!"
"Are you break dancing, Jerry?"
"Come on, why don't you show us some moves?"
"Yeah, Jerry! Let's see you break dance!"
"Stop it! Shut up! I didn't buy any book at the mall!"
"Oh, I'm sorry. That's right. You didn't buy it. I remember now."
"Yeah, I didn't! I have to go to my room now! I hate you!"
I did go to my room, and I didn't come out again until all the relatives had gone home. The part of the incident I stewed over for months after that was how my dad sold me out and told everyone my secret. It was humiliating! Of course, he didn't realize it was humiliating at the time. He was just a lame white guy, like me, whose only crime was thinking both of us were cool.
Well, he was half right. The part of the story that sticks out for me now is how he covered up for me. He didn't have to, and I probably didn't deserve it. It was one of the ten gajillion things I never thanked him for.
It may be long overdue, but I'm proud to say that my dad was a liar.
Happy Father's Day!
* Almost certainly historically inaccurate.
Thursday, June 17, 2004
... IN A BLAZE OF GLORY
Today a coworker said to me a series of words I've long been dreading hearing. The words, in no particular order, were:
"Jerry" "website" "your" "I" "found"
It didn't happen quite the way I always imagined it would. I kind of expected I'd be summoned to a dark room, the door would be closed, a security guard would be waiting and soon after the fateful words were uttered, the office manager would click a stopwatch that would count down the five minutes I had to gather all my belongings, turn in my security card and disappear forever.
Thankfully, the words were said in a friendly, conversational manner, from a well-meaning source. They were also said quite loudly and openly in the hallway, where many other people could hear. I quickly gave the coworker the "Shhhhhhh!" motion, she responded with the "Oh, I'm so sorry!" pantomime, and then she whispered to me that, now that she knew it was something secret, she'd keep it quiet and never, ever go back for a closer look at what she'd uncovered.
Of course, if it were me, I would've said the exact same thing. And then I immediately would've gone back and read every single word, pausing only for the drive home, after which I would've logged back on and read late into night. I believe my coworker to be an honest, sincere friend who respects my privacy, but I'm aware that there's a chance that simple human curiosity may bring her back to this site at some point. And of course, there's always the chance that one of the, oh, ten million or so people who overheard her might have thought, "Jerry has a website?" and immediately tracked me down through Google. (I once lived under the safety of sharing my name with a famous lap-dwelling TV personality of the past, who is so beloved by Google that any website actually relating to me was buried down in the thousands in any search for my name. Thanks to an article I wrote for a particular online zine which rates high with the search engines, the real me is now much easier to sort out from my wooden namesake. Oops.)
My first responses to this disturbing development were all gross overreactions. I wondered if I'd have to take the site down altogether. Or maybe I could switch to pseudonym mode and hide this blog somewhere else on the WWW. "Porque, Javier, Porque", perhaps? I never thought about murder, but now that I think about it, I'm a bit surprised that I never considered that option. (That's a joke, coworker, the kind I often make on this site. See, not funny. Not worth reading, right?) Finally, I settled on another, much saner response:
It's okay. We're all friends here. You can go on like normal and pretend like you never saw this, but my site meter will give you away. (Yes, it's true. Because we share an IP address, I'm going to know every time you come to this blog and exactly how long you stay.)
I assure you that nothing I've written here is really all that interesting, but yes, I have posted a couple of anecdotes about our office that you'd probably enjoy. Today's post was going to be about the coffee machine showdown. You know, how they decided that the fancy coffee machine we had wasn't fancy enough, so they ordered a super fancy one to replace it? And how my boss was pissed off that he wasn't included in the decision, so he cursed the new machine (which really is extremely nice and has little packets of chocolate flakes for cappuccinos and everything and which everyone else loves)? And how he claimed we deserved better and pouted until they ordered him a super duper fancy coffee machine from Starbucks? And how we now have two brand new coffee machines battling it out for supremacy in our kitchen? And how my boss thinks he's a hero because he brought Starbucks to our office, but everyone really thinks he's even more of a bozo than ever? I really wanted to post the whole story, but you can see how something like that, if people from work were reading it, could get me in a lot of trouble, right?
So I make you this offer: read away! If you want, I'll even give you a list of the posts where I bitch about work and call my boss childish names (I know you hate him as much as I do!) so you don't have to scan the whole site looking for them.
JUST DON'T TELL ANYONE ELSE.
I can't stress that enough. I know that other people from the office might get a kick out of learning that I've been trashing my boss for a small internet audience for almost a year and a half. But you know how things like this can get out of control if they get passed around. Let's just keep this our little secret, okay?
Someday I will leave this company. (I'll let you in on a secret: it's going to be soon.) But even then, assuming that this blog** is not the cause of my demise, as it may well be, I ask that you keep this to yourself. Yes, my boss deserves to have his lunacy exposed, but I believe karma will catch up with him one way or another, and his embarrassment doesn't need to come in a way that makes my life more difficult. I'm just a guy who likes to share little stories of his life and who falsely believed he'd have all the anonymity he needed while doing it.
Since that anonymity is pretty much blown now, and since there may be a part of you that's still wondering whether you've got the right Jerry at all, since my last name is (cleverly) nowhere on this site, I'll leave you with a message from my heart:
You're a good friend, and I value our relationship. I know I can count on you to keep this to yourself.
Jerry A. Schwarzenman
* Your name concealed for your protection. See, aren't I a nice guy?
** I realize you may not have seen a lot of blogs before, or even heard of them. The term "blog" is short for "web log", and lots of people have them. If you want to read some more, check out the ones on the left side of my page. They're all really good.
Wednesday, June 16, 2004
Monday, June 14, 2004
MISC. MONDAY MISHMASH & MORE
Thursday, June 10, 2004
GIVE THEM A SENSE OF PRIDE, TO MAKE IT EASIER
In a rare (for me) show of conscience, I've been trying to minimize the number of times I blatantly invade my friends' privacy by writing stories about them here without their explicit permission. Instead, I've tried to focus my posts exclusively on me, the programming lineup of the WB and whatever president has died recently. But for today and today alone, it's back to the juicy stuff.
Some of my favorite comments and emails that I've received have been from people who responded to my coming out stories, often because they're going through something similar themselves. So along those lines, I felt an update about Greg was in order. If you're new around here, the short version is as follows (If you're interested, you can read the long version here and here and here and here and possibly a few other places, too.): Greg and I have been friends since high school. Late last year, I (belatedly) came out to him, and shockingly, he came out to me in return. Then he came out to his two best friends from college, and they came out to him, too. It was weird and hilarious and sad all at once. Then, feeling secure in his identity for possibly the first time ever, Greg went out and became a big slut. The end.
Only it wasn't the end. Greg still had one more hurdle to jump in the great Coming Out Marathon. (I know marathons don't have hurdles, but I don't have hours to spend coming up with good metaphors, okay?) You see, Greg's game-winning touchdown occurred when he recently came out to his father. That was the one he was most nervous about, and the last major person he needed to come out to. By "major", I mean that maybe his dry cleaner still hopes he'll meet a nice girl, but other than that, Greg can pretty much be described with the requisite journalistic modifier "openly" gay.
So Greg drops the g-bomb, then Dad takes the brief, uncomfortable pause that's part of pretty much every coming out story, and Greg decides to fill the silence by saying, "... and I'm happier than I've ever been".
"... and I'm happier than I've ever been."
Can you imagine how proud I felt when he told me that? No, you can't, so stop trying, you fool. Just looking at the words now, my eyes start to tear up, my chest puffs out, and the corners of my mouth pinch upward in something resembling a smile as I exclaim, "That's my boy!" It's really incredible to see how much Greg has changed these last few months, and if I had anything to do with it by nudging him out of the closet, then I couldn't be happier either.
I'm not writing this to pat myself on the back. I decided to breach Greg's privacy because I know there are people who'd be inspired by reading this, and that that would make Greg happy. When I picked up the phone to call Greg last October, I never imagined this story having such a happy ending. But that's only because I was operating on fear, as was Greg. Fear did a lot of damage to both of us for a long time, and I know there are plenty of other people out there who are still afraid. So to them I say: the closet is bad, bad like the evildoers and bad like asbestos and bad like the new Wilson Phillips album*. It's not just bad for you but for the people you care about, too. I'm not saying everyone's coming out experiences will go as well as this, but they probably won't be as bad as you think, and they might even change someone's life.
Oh, yeah, and Greg's in love now.
The greatest love of all -- and the other kind, too. It's funny how that happens.
*an informed opinion. Yes, sadly, I bought this.
Wednesday, June 09, 2004
MY NEW LOW
I hate to admit it, but against my better judgment I've fallen for the WB's Superstar USA. Hard. I watch it, I laugh, I say, "This is horrible and I'm horrible for watching it", and then I laugh some more. I realize that if there's a Hell, and if I haven't already reserved my deluxe suite on the banks of the Styx, then tuning into this weekly excuse to humiliate people whose only crime is being oblivious has definitely sealed my doom. I've weighed the options. I want to kick it JoJo style, and I'll deal with the consequences later.
Truth be told, I don't sing or dance any better than any of the kids on the show, and I was probably about their age before I realized it. That could easily have been me up there, and if it had been, then when they told me, "Congratulations, you're the worst singer in America and you look like a big loser and you can't sue us because you signed all your rights away ha, ha, ha!!!!!", I'd probably kill myself. No, first I'd throw a rock at Briggs' head, and then I'd kill myself. Briggs, in case like most of America you haven't been watching this awful, wonderful show, is the WB's equivalent of Simon Cowell, the difference being that Simon is witty and insightful and doesn't have a constant need to seem like Simon Cowell. (Side note: every time I write the name Simon Cowell, I have to do an IMDB search to make sure I'm not mixing him up with the guy from "A Room With a View".)
Part of what's so fascinating about the show is just how low it's willing to go. It's not merely about watching people sing badly. The producers do everything they can to build up the contestants' confidence, giving them makeovers, dangling mansions and sports cars in front of them as a peek into the kind of lifestyle they'll someday be living -- wink, wink -- and handing them off to vocal coaches and choreographers who encourage them to accentuate the worst parts of their performances. They tell the geek that he's a sex symbol, the sexy girl that she's too sexy and the girl whose English skills are severely limited that it's endearing when she flubs the lyrics. Clearly the contestants were chosen not just for their lousiness but for their susceptibility to manipulation.
I'd like to think that the winner is going to be a hero who actually makes a few bucks off this like William Hung did, and that'll be ample compensation for the damage done. But I seriously doubt it. I'd also like to think that this is just a big hoax on the audience, and these kids are the world's greatest actors, and on the finale they're going to say, "You don't really think we'd be this cruel, do you?" And Jamie will say, "Hi, my real name is Dannika Louise D'aolantonio and I'm going to be the new girl on 7th Heaven this fall!" And Rosa will say, in perfect English, "Hey, yo, I'm Def Jam Recording Artist 'Kalicko' and my CD drops July 13." And then I'll laugh some more and feel good about life and human nature once again. But that's probably wishful thinking. Some people really are this deluded, and all TV producers really are this mean.
I know. Hell is going to be bad. Not only is there fire and Hilter and country music, but Tone Loc, who let me down the one time I needed him, will be there, too, and so will Vitamin C, who allegedly was a pop star at one point -- I seem to have missed that. But for now let me enjoy watching some poor innocent souls going through a Hell of their own. I'm counting the days until next week when the truth is finally revealed to them. I'm hoping against hope that they'll handle the moment well.
But I'm also hoping they brought along some rocks.
One-word reviews are back! And this time, it's not just a cheap joke!
See the sidebar.
Tuesday, June 08, 2004
"I WOULD NEVER TAKE ANYTHING FROM SELENA!"
Someone said the strangest thing to me the other day. I think it went something like this:
"I really want to see 'A Day Without A Mexican'."
I mean, can you imagine?
Not only did he want to see it. He really wanted to see it. When I pressed him for further details, he said, "I heard it's good."
And I'm all, "You mean, you've actually heard things about that movie?" Seriously, I see tons of movies, and so do all my friends, but that one's not even on my radar. I haven't seen any trailers, or any commercials, I don't know who's in it. Zilch. Then I told him I had seen "Saved!" and it was pretty good, and he was like, "What's that?!" It was as if he and I were living in completely different worlds.
And, of course, in a way, we are.
You see, "this guy" was the guy who cuts my hair, who's Latino, and -- not that it matters, but I like to mention these things -- heavily tattooed. For a city as diverse as it is, Los Angeles is extremely segregated -- whether white, black, or brown, inked or blank.
It reminded me of my initial reaction when Selena died: "Who?!" And then there was my reaction upon seeing her millions of grieving fans on the news: "Huh?!" I'm used to hearing things like, "Xuxa is the most popular TV star in Brazilian history" or "Googoosh is the Madonna of Iran." Since I've never been anywhere near Brazil or Iran, I think I can be forgiven for not knowing who Xuxa or Googoosh is -- and the only reason I know them now is, who can forget names like Xuxa and Googoosh? But Selena was a superstar I never knew, right here in my own country.
When people say things like "L.A. is so phony" or "L.A. is so schmoozy" or "Everyone in L.A. has a screenplay", they're not really describing all of L.A. There's a whole other world here that the rest of us often forget about, a world that has its own celebrities and music, and TV shows, though thankfully, I think we all have J-Lo in common. I remind myself of this every time I see the words "... and featuring Paul Rodriguez". I mean, somebody's kept that guy popular all these years.
The great cultural divide of L.A. is like a fault line, deep and treacherous and splintering off in dozens of directions. I find myself on the other side of it whenever I hear someone say, "You mean the Pet Shop Boys are STILL making records?" (Answer: "Some of the best records of their CAREER!!!!!!")
Imagine the reaction if Rufus Wainwright met an untimely end. (And having seen a very languid, bleary-eyed TV appearance of his a while back, I do worry -- you know, cigarettes and chocolate milk are just a couple of his cravings.) The streets of West Hollywood would be cordoned off for round-the-clock vigils, and guys in tank tops would be blubbering to Conan Nolan on KNBC about what an icon Rufus was and how cruel life can be.
And as all of this was going on, a large number of people passing by or watching the spectacle on TV would stare at the sight and go:
Monday, June 07, 2004
You know how our entire calendar is based on an estimate of the birth date of a guy who may or may not have had magic powers bestowed on him by his dad, who may or may not have created the universe?
And how a few years ago we celebrated the anniversary of the day that came one week after what was kind of that guy's 2,000th birthday, we think? Well, along those lines, I reached an entirely arbitrary milestone of my own this weekend.
At 4:41pm on Saturday, I received my 10,000th visitor to this site since I installed my hit counter several months after I actually began posting here. It may not be my actual 10,000th visitor, but I will always treasure this official 10,000th visitor, whom I like to call "Tenny". Tenny was guided to this site -- as, I suspect, most of you initially were -- through a Google search for:
"Ahmad Rashad" "full of himself"
I was pretty sure I had never written anything about Mr. Rashad's ego, so I checked the link, and sure enough, those phrases were contained in two separate posts. Ahmad was merely mentioned as the "Celebrity Mole" host, and the guy who I called "full of himself" was the Bachelor's Bob, whom I'm now embarrassed to have written about at all. Had I received this hit after last night's Tony telecast, I might've suspected that Tenny had actually meant to search for "Phylicia Rashad" "full of herself", but I'll leave my commentary about Phylicia's Phylicia-loving speech for another post.
Tenny's Google search turned up only three hits, and the other two aren't any more relevant than mine. What can we conclude from this? Well, nowhere on the entire internet do the terms "Ahmad Rashad" and "full of himself" turn up in proximity in any relevant way. Therefore, Ahmad Rashad is probably not full of himself. He's probably a swell guy. Perhaps he's the finest, least egocentric soul who has walked this planet, commentated on a sporting event or smoked a cigar in the vicinity of Keshia Knight Pulliam.
I should state that I get hits for crazy things all the time, and I put the craziest ones on my sidebar for all the world to see. I've long since accepted that I can't help everyone who comes here looking for information, but by gum, I can help Tenny.
So come off it, Ahmad, you big egotistical clod. You think you're so hot, don't you? Well, Tenny and I know better, so get over yourself!
Thanks, Tenny. And thanks to the rest of you, too.
Saturday, June 05, 2004
MOURNING IN AMERICA
I just read the news that Reagan died, and of course I'm sad, mostly for two reasons:
I can already imagine the throngs of bereaved Young Republicans in identical blue suits who will surely spend the next few months flooding the streets in tears. There'll be a big tribute to our 40th President at the Republican Convention -- as there should be, but it'll be way over the top and Trent Lott and Rick Santorum will extol him with messianic veneration, their heads bowed somberly, hands folded, poll numbers rising. Petitions will circulate again to have his face plastered on the dime, the dollar bill, the face of Mt. Rushmore, the flag. There will be even more schools named after him, and roads, and bus terminals, and the next thing you know, Congress will be seriously debating renaming Iraq in his memory.
I've never been much of a fan of Reagan or his politics, but I'll say this: he didn't scare me. Perhaps his greatest gift was how, even as he ascended to the most influential political position in the world, he always seemed like a regular guy. All along, he was just a guy I disagreed with who had a lot more power than I do. What scares me are these people who are determined to glorify him as nothing less than the embodiment of everything that they consider to be American. These people seem unable to accept the fact that their hero is a mortal, like the rest of us. I don't know how they'll react when confronted with this new evidence that suggests otherwise.
I still remember the moment my tenth grade history teacher informed our class, "Ronald Reagan will be judged as the greatest president in history". He said it in the same tone he'd use to say something like "There were thirteen original colonies" or "The first ten amendments to the Constitution are called the Bill of Rights", and as he uttered the words, his voice cracked under the emotion brought on by a tsunami of jingoism and respect. Lee Goldman, bless him, politely raised his hand and said, "Excuse me, is this open for discussion?" (Unfortunately, he was told that it wasn't, but we all heard Lee's side of the story that day in study hall.)
Whatever his failings, you have to give Reagan credit. He clearly had a message that resonated with people and stirred them to action, and his influence will greatly outlive him. People like that are essential to a healthy democracy, whether you agree with them or not. Reagan inspired a boundless loyalty in his devotees and built a large following of eager disciples who would do anything for him.
Then again, so did Charles Manson.
Friday, June 04, 2004
A TRUE STORY ABOUT MIKE
Mike saw a TV news report that said lots of jobs were being outsourced to India. He wanted to see if he could outsource his jerkiness, so he tried to buy a ticket to Bombay. "Oh, they changed the name of that city," the airport ticket person said. "It's called Mumbai now."
"You idiot!" her coworker said. "You weren't supposed to tell him that! That's Mike!"
"Don't tell me they changed the name of their city just so I wouldn't find it!" Mike said.
"Oh, yes," the airport ticket people said. "You are hated all over the Asian subcontinent. Bangkok is thinking of changing its name to Mumbkok."
Mike was so mad he bought a ticket to Mumbai and moved there. And the people of India were so mad that all one billion of them flew to America and hunted down those airline ticket agents and killed them.
That happened this morning. That's why you had so much trouble getting someone on the phone if you called Microsoft tech support today.
Wednesday, June 02, 2004
FAQ FOR PEOPLE WHO WANT ME TO HELP THEM FIGURE OUT WHAT TO BUY MY BOYFRIEND FOR HIS BIRTHDAY
Q: Do you mind helping me with this?
A: Not at all. He is not an easy person to shop for. I feel your pain.
Q: Have a lot of people been asking you for help?
Q: So what should I get him?
A: I don't know. It's kind of last minute, and at this point, I'm pretty much out of ideas.
Q: But I know you gave so-and-so an idea.
A: Yes, because she's quicker than you, and she got to me when I still had some ideas left.
Q: If you give away your good ideas, what will you get him?
A: That's why I don't give away my good ideas.
Q: So if I use your help, then I'm just getting your own rejected gift ideas?
A: You betcha. And not only that, but after you give him your gift, I'm going to take credit for it. That is the price of my services. Ha, ha, ha!
Q: Will you really take credit for my gift?
A: No, not really. Unless it bombs. Then I'll say, "Don't blame [your name]. It was my idea." I'm nice that way.
Q: I've been thinking of buying him [Title of Gayish Movie] on DVD. Will he like that?
A: There are only two possible answers to this question: "He hates that movie" or "He already has it".
Q: What about [Title of 80's Movie]? They just re-released it in a pimped-out special edition with a commentary track by [Washed-Up Brat Packer]!
A: Yes, we rented that last week. He/she sounded totally bitter. Hilarious.
Q: What about the new CD by [Gayish Musical Artist]?
A: He hates them.
Q: What about this cool book I found?
A: Perfect! That's totally his taste! He will LOVE getting that book and will be genuinely touched that you knew him so well as to select something so fitting. Of course, he'll never actually read it because he has about 5,000 other books he plans to read first. But if you're going for sentiment over utility, then you nailed it.
Q: What size shirt/shoes/hat does he wear?
A: Large/10/None. But if you buy him clothes, just don't be one of those people who buys him the kinds of clothes they think he should wear, rather than the kinds he actually will wear. Do you know how sad that will make him? He'll think you're saying he has no fashion sense, and he'll cry and cry all night long, and I will cradle him in my arms and tell him you're just thoughtless and insensitive. Either get him something that looks just like something he already has, or forget it.
Q: What about a gift certificate?
A: He never uses them. Seriously. They sit on his dresser in a big pile, and they rot there until they expire. One night, for fun, we counted them all up, and there was over $500 worth. The only gift certificates I've ever seen him use are for restaurants. He loves to eat out.
Q: If I get him a gift certificate to a restaurant, don't you benefit, too?
A: I hadn't thought of that, but yes, if he goes to dinner, I assume he'll take me along.
Q: I heard last year you told somebody to get him concert tickets for a band you liked, who he couldn't stand.
A: This story has been grossly distorted. Yes, I liked the headliner. No, Drew did not. But he was a big fan of the opening artist, whose name wasn't printed on the tickets. So when he opened the gift and said, "I don't like this band! Jerry does!", you can see how the rumors about my ulterior motives got started. But the fact that I liked the headliner was pure coincidence. Great concert, by the way. They totally rocked.
Q: Fine, I'll go with the gift certificate. What's his favorite restaurant?
A: [Chain Restaurant Known For Its Inhumanly Enormous Portions].
Q: Isn't [Chain Restaurant Known For Its Inhumanly Enormous Portions] your favorite restaurant?
Tuesday, June 01, 2004
IT NEVER RAINS ON SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA BILLBOARDS
On the day before yesterday, I saw "The Day After Tomorrow". And the minute after it was over, I was just about as grateful as I've ever been. I'm not familiar with the production process of this film, but there are two things you can assume must've happened along the way. About two years or so ago, some studio executive decided that America was ready to kick back and have a giddy fun old time watching the destruction of New York City again. Then, they decided to forget the fun part and hired Roland Emmerich to write and direct it.
I won't go into a lengthy diatribe about why Emmerich stinks, since I don't want to sound like an Ain't It Cool message board poster. And I'm not asking for sympathy when I knowingly went to see a movie whose trailer has been giving off the whiff of dog doo for months. But I would like to stipulate that I only sat in a theater and watched Dennis Quaid struggle through two separate scenes where he tried to save a colleague who'd fallen through some ice, because of that obscure section of the boyfriend code that says that every once in a while, you have to do something for no other reason than because he wants to. Kiss today goodbye, the sweetness and the sorrow, I'm not proud of what I did for love.
I'm not angry about the movie sucking, though. I'm used to seeing movies that don't deliver. What really freezes my metropolis is when a marketing gimmick fails to deliver. See, there's this billboard on Sunset Boulevard that rains and snows on a group of actors hired by the studio to stand there and get wet. Anyone who can bring weather to SoCal and degrade some struggling actors in the process should either win an award or get attacked by hungry wolves inside an abandoned Russian battleship, I'm not sure. (If you get that joke, my apologies to you, too.)
The thing is, it apparently only does those things when news crews are around. Every time I go past it, there's no rain, no snow, no actors thigh-high in melting crud. It's just a lame billboard in the middle of Billboard City, one you'd barely notice if you weren't desperately searching the strip for some climatological anomaly that wasn't there. I get the feeling Fox set it up, had KTLA come by and do a puff piece, then packed up and went home. What happened to the days when "Armageddon" was premiering at Cape Canaveral, when a "Last Action Hero" logo was emblazoned on a rocket, when "The Blair Witch Project" was using its website to make people think their movie was a true story? What happened to the days when marketing gimmicks delivered and actually made bad movies seem better?
If you can't trust the marketing people, who's left? Who, I ask you????
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