Girl From the North Country

by anna at 07:58 AM on August 31, 2003

I once met a rather striking Northern girl named Maria. She introduced me to her friend Sarah. This was a bit unusual for me, because most of the women I'd known had been Southern belles.

We had a few drinks on me and they began to open up. Turns out they used to spend their summers at a place they described as "downa shaw." It sounded a lot like an old singer and talk show host with whom my father had supposedly been acquainted and who he denigrated as a wanton hussy.

They would sashay along the teeming streets of Downa Shaw in bikini tops and cutoff shorts. Apparently this would attract considerable attention. In fact, they let on, it had caused not one but two traffic accidents. Drivers would gawk at them and lose control of their vehicles.

This seemed like a totally vain thing to tell someone you've just met. I wasn't quite sure how to respond. All I could think to ask was whether anyone was injured in these accidents.

Maria: I dunno. Me: What? How could you not know if anyone was hurt? You were right there! Sarah: We were laughing so hard we didn't think to check. Guys are such dogs.

At that point I decided these two narcissists had come from another planet. Even if they weren't concerned for the safety of the gawkers, wouldn't you at least be a little...curious?

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When no one knew your name and you were pompous

by anna at 07:28 AM on August 30, 2003

The following was inspired by Linz's recent link to an Onion article. LOL.

My friend Andrea tell me she brought her son to see his first concert, Kiss opening for Aerosmith. I'm like, no way. Kiss can't possibly still exist. I distinctly remember hearing about their farewell tour a few years back.

Having Kiss in the world is akin to contracting genital warts. Once it's there, it's there to stay. It may go into remission but is sure to recur. And you have to laugh when these geezers sing, "I just want to rock n' roll all night and party every day." What days, the ones in Alaska in the dead of winter? Party with what, Ensure?

She also tells me that Kiss was way better than Aerosmith. This is hardly surprising. Though kitschy in the extreme, they were always consummate showmen with their silly makeup, costumes and fire-breathing stunts. To say nothing of Gene Simmons' mile-long tongue. Michael Jordan's got nothing on him. Ladies?

What they lack is a smidgen of talent or edge. Thus, even in its 70s heyday, it was social suicide to admit being a fan. Nonetheless, they moved product like nobody's business. So did Aerosmith but not in its early days. Its first two albums tanked. Only with Toys in the Attic did the attitude-laden boys from Boston achieve some degree of success, albeit with its label poised to drop them faster than ABC did Roseanne's ill-conceived talk show.

Kiss has made a killing over the years. It's a merchandising juggernaut and it's cultivated a loyal fan base known as Kiss Army. But these legions must be total geeks, like those who still flock to Star Wars movies. And that's what I'm getting at here: tame fluff sells while rough-hewn attitude does not.

It wasn't always this way. Frank Sinatra rose to fame with his pale blue eyes and mildly suggestive posturing amid the bland likes of Perry Como. Just as Elvis's pelvic grind shtick upstaged the stodgy Bill Haley and the Comets. (Things can change. Who could ever forget a leather jacket-clad Pat Boone sneering from the cover of his heavy metal foray No More Mr. Nice Guy?)

In the 60s the big attitude band was the Rolling Stones. Their chief competitor, the Beatles, made up for what it lacked in edge with savvy marketing and studio trickery. Although the Beatles' tunes were downright smarmy by comparison, they consistently bested the Stones in the marketplace.

The Sex Pistols epitomized sneering attitude but could barely play their instruments. Both their albums sold poorly. Same goes for the Velvet Underground. Mid-sixties audiences weren't prepared for brooding tunes about heroin addiction. But they ate up the Beach Boys' sunny, optimistic ditties. In the 80s, mopy dirges by the Cure and Depeche Mode collected dust while catchy songs by Duran Duran and Wham flew off shelves. People like shit.

And this continues to this day. Nobody up in his/her world wants to admit digging Avril Lavigne, Jewel, Train, 50 Cent or Linkin Park. (Don't even get me started about Eminem. That ashen poseur has all the edge of a deflated balloon.) But looking who's selling product and laughing all the way to the ATM.

I'm sure there are a slew of edgier, more talented acts out there toiling in obscurity. (Cradle of Filth? The White Stripes?) Should they ever hit the big-time, both their fans will turn on them like dogs gone rabid. Sell-out (interesting how that's spelled just like "sellout" as in crowd) accusations will fly. Hardcore music fans are the only ones who smile upon failure and frown upon success.

Here's an eye-opener. Kenny G? Meat Loaf?

There's an analogy in the film biz. Critics love what moviegoers shun. They pan flicks we flock to, which is why their dour pronouncements are largely irrelevant in terms of box office. Just two of the top 50 grossing films of all time garnered Oscars for Best Picture. That's got to tell you something.

No offense Jean, but at least in the eyes of film backers and studio stockholders, reviewers/Academy members are dead wrong. Except, that is, when it came to Gigli. Prediction: Blockbuster will stock two copies.

Consider this: One of the best pieces of commercial literature ever written was Jack Kerouac's On the Road. When it was released, established author Norman Mailer snobbishly scoffed, "That's not writing, it's typing!"

Funny but that's what my wife says about my prose.

comments (9)


Ay Dios Mio, es SALSA!

by effenheimer at 04:53 PM on August 29, 2003

I spent a good many hours Sunday making salsa at my sister’s house. And I have to tell you it was a good, old-fashioned time.
Our grandmother used to do all kinds of things people don’t do any more. Raise, kill and freeze chickens; can tomatoes; make pickles; spank kids; etc. Of course, to her it wasn’t old-fashioned, but I remember it being something of a good time.
Oh sure, today we tend to think of a good time as doing things that don’t include being up to one’s elbows in blood, guts and feathers, but back in the day, it was just as good a feeling as when the pizza guy shows up after 35 minutes. No one cries over Pepperoni.
It was good to get these things taken care of in one, long day of work that ended in a full freezer. Come what may over the next year, you had that chicken problem solved. And you did it yourself. You and your family.
Granted, making salsa isn’t quite as physically or emotionally tasking a process as killing a hundred chickens, but then my sister and I aren’t of “the greatest generation.” For the most part, people of our generation can’t even make their own tacos let alone the salsa. They cannot see why anyone would WANT to make their own when so many consistent and tasty varieties come in jars MEANT to be used as bowls. Just dip, dip, dip and toss. What could be easier?
But still, I was very much satisfied by the entire process. You can make salsa for one, but it’s better when you know you are making it for as many as eight people to “ooh and ahh” over. And even if they don’t, nothing is ever quite so good as when you make it yourself.
When I broke out the first of my ancho/roasted pepper/garlic salsa for Taco Monday, I wasn’t just having dinner. I wasn’t just eating tacos. I was reasserting my connection to something ancient. I was connecting to hearth and home.
We really miss out on something in our modern, go-go-go, drive-thru, pound it down society. Food is not just fuel. Food is not just sustenance. Food is culture, not in the haute couture sense of the word, but in the basics of human interaction sense. We cooked for others. We ate with others.
Our desire for progress has out paced our actual need for it. Human beings are social creatures. We evolved in a world that required us to live not just in family groups, but in bands, clans and tribes. Consolidation of effort wasn’t just for fun, it was a matter of survival, but it did have certain side effects that were quite pleasurable. Camaraderie, community, esprit de corps, society, togetherness.
And every night, when the work was done, when the wild beast was pounded flat and on its way to becoming pemmican, when the corn was ground and the chokecherries packed in fat ... it was magic time. Drums, singing, dancing.
Most people have a hole inside them these days. We modern, technologically marvelous human beings don’t realize how much we have given up in exchange for our two-bedroom apartments, microwave ovens and 27-inch TVs.
We grow up in nuclear family groups, if we are lucky, and that seems pretty good. When you’re 18, it’s time to move out and on with life, if the parents are lucky. Let’s say you go off to that job or school then career. You meet Mr. or Ms. Right or Right-Enough and combine your incomes and lives, create a few more lives, but to what end? Let’s say you are successful. You keep the marriage together, raise kids who aren’t screw-ups, eat your share of microwaveable chicken pot pies, you’re reasonably happy with work, take some vacations, save money, retire and take some more vacations, but to what end?
Is society served? Is culture saved, created or affected in any noticeable way? Was it ever?
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe salsa is just salsa and it doesn’t matter if it comes in a jar from Des Moines or you make it yourself. Maybe our fast-food-in-the-car culture is just as valid as home-cooking.
Maybe you can live without love. Maybe it doesn’t matter if we dance around a fire with our tribe every night or if we sit on a couch around the tube with all the other members of the “Friends” fan club.
Maybe our souls don’t suffer from the loss. Maybe they don’t exist at all. Maybe the millions of depressed Americans are just weak remnants, the dingleberries of evolution. Maybe this too, too real flesh is all there is to worry about.
Who knows? Maybe this is all so much mental onanism.
What I do know is that no matter how you look at it , I’ve got enough roasted corn and black bean salsa to last through the long, cold, lonely winter.

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This little piggy went to...

by doyce at 02:31 PM on August 28, 2003

New fears have been raised about the health of cloned animals after three cloned adult pigs dropped dead from heart attacks.

"I just don't know what to say," one Ph.D. commented. "I mean, aside from the cloning, the binge drinking, habitual crack use, and snorting truffles like cocaine, they were perfectly normal pigs. This is inexplicable."

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A plug for good, old-fashioned morality

by effenheimer at 03:36 PM on August 27, 2003

Today’s story is a cautionary tale that’s been brewing in my mind for over a year. I used to have a friend named Jane who was determined to hit rock bottom. Her story is one of a girl’s journey into darkness through sheer force of will and a desire to be loved, sophisticated, cool and popular.
Jane was quite different. She was a 15 year old prodigy going to school with college kids. She worked at my paper. She was slightly smarter than the average bear and bored out of her mind – unlike every other 15-year-old who ever walked the earth?
I didn’t like Jane much at first. She was a snotty teenager who should have been in high school bugging her teachers instead of trying to grow up too fast and bugging me.
Like most teens, she resented anyone who didn’t give her what she wanted immediately and tried to prove me a hypocrite on every minor contradiction. It was like being in a bad “After School Special.”
Jane also had sex on the brain. She enjoyed talking shop with the other women in the office who said more than they should. Jane couldn’t wait to lose her virginity. It was like she was on a mission. She took to lying about her age until she found an appropriate “suitor.” Of course, everything became grist for the gossip mill.
Jane did just about everything one shouldn’t. She started smoking (tobacco and pot), drinking (everything she could get her hands on) and eventually dropped out of high school altogether because she was already on her way to getting a college degree so why bother with high school.
She had her good points though and I eventually warmed up to Jane by the time she was 17. Once she started chilling out, she wasn't bad at her job.
When I left the paper, we kept in touch like most friends do. I cared about her and where she was going. I talked every couple of weeks until she was about 19 and tried to get her a job in the real world.
Things went down hill quickly the last year I knew Jane. She blew off her work and was forced to quit her job as editor. She started hanging around with college hipsters and dropouts at the deli she worked at. They were a bunch of predatory losers who knew how to get just want they wanted out of a victim waiting to happen like Jane. Jane was a walking collection of neuroses, daddy issues and an overpowering need to be liked by everyone. Hell, even I sometimes had to fight the urge to just bend her over a chair.
Trying to convince Jane that drinking, toking and screwing around was bad for her was like trying to convince a 5 year old that candy is bad for them Halloween night.
Jane thought she was the “It girl” when everyone else – male and female – just thought she was a slut. Jane never had a real date that I heard about. She'd blow a dude just as soon as shake hands. Eventually, Jane’s life was scene from “Valley of the Dolls.” People were amazed at what she would do if they'd just tell her. "Take off your shirt." "Lay down." "I'll come up, but only for sex."
Jane hit “rock bottom” one night when she had unprotected sex with a 30-year-old, married Mexican drug dealer she hated and couldn’t even remember exactly how it happened.
Suddenly, teenage kicks were very serious indeed and after months of telling her to slow it down and get away from the creeps she was hanging around, she finally got into Alcoholics Anonymous, which was farther than i would have suggested for a first step. It works, but its like trading one addiction for another.
AA didn’t solve all of Jane’s problems, but at least she isn’t going to die from liver failure by 22.
Of course, she shit on me about six months later right after she spent the night at my house with three of her college aged AA buddies. I suspect one of the little cultists told her it was "weird" that we were friends and suggested she stay away from me because I didnt hear from her for a long time. I even stopped by her apartment on my way through Ames one day. She answered her buzzer and then walked away. A few months after that, she DID call me and proceeded to lie her ass off. "I thought you were (the 30-year-old Mexican drug dealer) adn that's why i wouldnt return your calls, answer the phone with caller ID, come to the door when you said it was you." I guess if you are going to lie, you have to lie big. Its funny, because if she had told me the truth, I probably would have forgiven her. I mean, I pretty much forgave all of her other terrible personality flaws, what's one more egregious error?
There's nothing wrong with a little experience, but what amazes me about all of this when all is said and done, is how one person can think what they are doing is having fun and experiencing life when they are really just being used and damaged beyond repair.

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Everybody in the whole cellblock was dancing to the jailhouse rock

by anna at 05:58 PM on August 26, 2003

A couple news stories caught my jaundiced eye. One was the brutal strangulation of defrocked priest and serial boy buggerer John Geoghan, who was moved from one prison to another out of fear for his safety. Prison guards claim Joseph Druce used a book, fingernail clippers and a toothbrush to thwart their attempts to protect him. One was conveniently "assigned elsewhere." My ass. I'm not buying it.

This young Jim Morrison look-alike may have pulled off the perfect murder. He's already serving a life sentence. So what can they do to him now, impose another? Or force him to watch the played-out Drew Carrey Show?

Don't get me wrong. Just as with Jeffrey Dahmer, it's no skin off my back that Geoghan's dead. He never answered for most of his crimes due to some statute of limitations loophole. And there's nothing more heinous than what he did. If his mom had aborted him Boston would have been a better place.

But he was a feeble old man whom the state had a sworn duty to protect and they failed to do so. Don't even try to tell me they couldn't have shot Druce dead if they'd wanted to. I mean, he had time to tie the ex-priest up, gag him and then strangle him with a bedsheet. Begging the question: What are inmates doing with bedsheets? What's next, their shrill demands for pillow shams or high-speed internet access few of us law-abiders enjoy? (Ahem, they've already got that thanks to the ACLU.)

The other is a Federal law that seeks to curtail the time-honored tradition of rape behind bars. Wardens will have to track prison rapes, which currently affect about 20% of inmates. (With 2 million Americans incarcerated that comes out to 400,000 persons forcibly sodomized.) They'll also have to take steps to stop it.

I saw one felon on 20/20 complaining about his 1st night in prison. Seems his fellow prisoners saw fit to pass him around like a joint. When his bunghole grew tattered and bloodied, a hoosegow dentist knocked his teeth out with a hammer. Perhaps mindful of the fate that befell a Chicago rapist who got his penis gnawed off, everyone partook of gum action. Such is the horrific nature of behind bars lovin', I'm afraid. Jodie Foster had it better in The Accused. Yet his complaints garnered about as much sympathy as her character's. Even the interviewer seemed blase about his ordeal.

It's almost as if people think this extra-judicial mistreatment is part and parcel of the criminal lifestyle.

One of my coworkers insists that in due time both pedophilia and murder will come to be viewed as alternate lifestyles. I almost have to agree with him when it comes to child molestation. After all, the ACLU once sided with NAMBLA in a lawsuit brought by the parents of a child raped and murdered by these scum. All in the name of its treasured free speech, no doubt. I think we need less free speech and more free silence.

But I disagree with regard to the serial murder lifestyle. Surely society will never come to embrace that. Then again, time after time we see wily lawyers seeking to justify this behavior. Just look at the Menendez brothers. Their attorney sought to justify their murderous acts based on alleged abuse that supposedly occured many years prior. The victims in that case posed no more immediate threat to their sons' well-being that Saddam's seemingly illusory WMD program ever did to Americans. They were just lounging around minding their own business and got their heads blown off by fiends.

Which is something the ACLU needs to do a lot more of. As for its beloved convicts, they should have to deal with frustrating and unreliable dial-up service just like me and possibly you.

I meant minding their own business, not getting their vacant heads blown off. Then again...

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by effenheimer at 02:50 PM on August 26, 2003

I fancy myself a somewhat keen observer of the world. Events happen, troubles are resolved, connections are made. Internationally, nationally and locally, things go awry and are also solved rather suddenly and with a most mysterious alacrity.
On the world scene, you see corporations with government ties receiving contracts in Iraq without bidding for them. Nationally, our political system is divided pretty evenly between two virtually identical political parties whose only real difference is their mascot.
Locally, well, that’s where things get dangerous, isn’t it? On the world stage, no one cares much if a small-market newspaper columnist or even CNN breaks a story about high-level hooligansim. Heck, those stories make sure no one is asking about the aliens squirrled away in the desert. But in the dog-eat-dog world of “who gets to chew on the bone next” local power grabbery, you better watch your back, mister, because every scrap is to be fought for.
You see, for the most part, no one you know is likely to be a world player any time soon. The best most of us can hope for, if we are smart enough, rich enough and well-connected, is to get into state politics.
Things, ESPECIALLY the little things, happen for “a reason.”
Things don’t happen in the affairs of men because the Lord wills them done. Frankly, I don’t think God cares one way or the other who gets the carpet-cleaning, construction, uniform and catering contracts for cities, counties and state. I doubt very much that Jesus is worried about which public officials hand out favors to family members and friends.
On the other hand, every carpet-cleaning business within six counties of a city of 1,000 cares ... very much. Every restaurant and deli is at least interested. Uniform manufacturers? Indeedy.
Ja, meinen freunden, even the fry guy at Mickey D’s only has the sweet spot under the AC vent because he takes night classes in community and regional planning with the assistant manager’s sister.
It’s been said that it isn’t what you know, but who you know that counts. True, but knowing is only half the battle. It’s not just who you know, it’s how well you work those you know. THAT has always been the failing of those who cannot overcome their circumstances. People with any kind of power and authority want to promote people like themselves (perhaps only less qualified) who can help them keep their stuff. They didn’t spend years “working hard” to get to the top so they could open up the doors for people unlike them who might steal it all.
This isn’t freaky conspiracy theory nonsense. This isn’t “get the aluminum foil hats out of the closet, Ethyl, the alien-controlled CIA agents are back” hooey. This is politics, baby, the way it’s been since, well, forever.
Now, maybe it seems I’ve come upon this theory a bit late in life. After all, it isn’t rocket science and many people out there understand these things intuitively while many others never quite seem to “get it.” I am working class, after all, and guys like me are brought up on the “notion” or “bold-faced lie” that rewards come to those who work for them. It keeps us going day after day until one day we die from an industrial accident.
Starting in September, I will be seeking out a powerful secret society to ally myself with. I want a good secret society, too, one that can lift me from the muck and grime of my current squallor to the heights of power and influence, maybe even get me a spot on a library board one day or hold highly-stylized orgies like in “Eyes Wide Shut.”
What I offer in return, besides my secret recipe for espresso chocolate chunk peanut butter cookies and stamina is basic language/typing skills, a large collection of BBC comedies and my willingness to commit unspeakable acts of gratuitous violence in return for power and great wads of filthy lucre.

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Love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage

by anna at 11:29 AM on August 23, 2003

I confess, I watched the Shania Twain: Up concert. I am no fan and am not familiar with her tunes. I was pleasantly surprised. The anti-Christina Aguilera, she underplayed her sensuality by sporting a modest blouse and loose-fitting leather pants. Her style could be described as subdued. When she did act all perky and upbeat it came across as forced, like she wasn't altogether comfortable with the cheerleader role. Ah, but when she invited three young lasses onstage to sing along she looked to be in her element. You can always tell a mother by how she interacts with children.

Although she discounted any resemblance when I brought it up, Shania reminds me of my wife. They're both understated brunettes of modest stature. And as I mentioned, exuberance doesn't come easily to Shania. Ditto for my wife.

I met Nancy in a bar. She had her nose buried in a book. Nothing says "leave me alone" like a book in a bar. Always up for a challenge, I approached her. She seemed a tad wary. Surprisingly she agreed to pay a visit to the group house I rented from my mom. As usual it was a raucous scene replete with much brawling. Nancy took it all in stride. I was impressed. A few weeks later came my birthday, which no one but my future wife noticed. She sent a bunch of balloons and a card. Again, I was wowed.

She was raising two yound daughters, which was an adjustment for me. Nonetheless we fell in love and semi-lived together for a year. At the same time I carried on my ruinous life with my boyhood pals.

This was a bone of contention because these people were hardcore criminals. But they were my hardcore criminals.

Due to repeated complaints from neighbors and visits from the police, my mom threw us out. I moved to a new group house down the street. And that's when the trouble began.

At the new digs I was no longer the landlord but just a lowly tenant and I didn't adapt well to my new role. Conflicts and tensions arose. Through it all Nancy remained supportive. Then a new girl moved in. She was the type to whom other females take an immediate and intense dislike. Nancy suspected we were carrying on, which ironically enough, we weren't. A teary and emotional breakup ensued. Only then did I begin to date the new girl.

This disrupted the group house dynamic even further and before long we were forced out. We moved to yet another group house, the one where I lost my best friend. He didn't approve of this girl any more than Nancy had.

I introduced her to my clique. They are an attractive if crazed bunch of rogues. Many of them took a liking to her and vice versa---too much vice versa. We'd all been dancing alongside the abyss for years but she had not. She fell apart and wound up fleeing for her life. None too soon, I might add. She'd worn out her welcome and had ceased bathing regularly.

I returned to Nancy's humble abode down to 125 pounds. "You look like hell," she said. By contrast, she looked radiant. I groveled for the first time in my life.

I should stress that this was no rebound deal. This other chick was long since gone by then.

Our wedding reception was a gala affair held at my parents' country estate. What had been an orderly soiree descended into chaos and madness soon after we jetted off to Lake Tahoe. They used to be such nice boys. They used to cut the grass.

The daughters are both pregnant now. Our son is 13 and coming into puberty. My wife says she always assumed the wild-eyed views I espouse were a joke. Only after we were married did she realize that I'm dead serious.

Our main difficulty stems from my male tendency to be goal-oriented. She'll complain and I will present her with a menu of potential solutions. She doesn't seek solutions, she wants solace and understanding. She doesn't want things fixed, she wants me to be Emotionally Available. I can never get that through my thick skull. Somehow I doubt this is all that unusual.

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Sometimes the songs that we hear are just songs of our own

by anna at 06:12 PM on August 20, 2003

There's a thin line between patriotism and xenophobia. And in between is what I suffer from, something I'll term xenopathy for lack of an actual word. It's not that I hate foreigners or mistrust their motives. I just don't care much about goings-on overseas. I know I should but I don't, which only fuels my guilt about feeling so smugly complacent.

Those knee-jerk anti-globalization protests always amaze me. All the usual suspects mass in their signature black-on-black garb to unfurl banners, shake their bony fists and hoist puppets aloft in a snit about...what? Hell if I know. One thing I do know is that they think 3rd World debt should be forgiven. I think my debt should be forgiven. I want to tell Wells Fargo to go to hell about the $123,000 I owe them. I want to tell Visa to kiss my ass about the $10,000 debt I've run up. But I can't. So what's the difference?

Time was radio ads hawked cars of upcoming movies. Nowadays you're moe liable to hear a slick message from "the people of Saudi Arabia." Which is misleading, because it's really from the oil-rich government of Saudi Arabia.

The gist of it is that these people are our staunch allies in the war on Big Terror. Oh, really? Where did 15 0f 19 9/11 hijackers hail from? Where was Osama born? Whose state-sponsored "religion" is responsible for almost all terrorism? Fuck them. They knew all along these vermin were in their midst and could have eradicated them. Look at how fast they rounded up the scum when they struck in their posh 'hood.

3,000 French people died in a recent heat wave. Those are Sept 11-like death tolls. I read this and idly wonder why they didn't simply crank up the AC.

There are exceptions to my xenopathy. For instance, I'm fascinated by Brazilians. Their soccer team is legendary, and all the players go by one name. They're supposedly the most exotic, beautiful people in the world. They're obsessed with plastic surgery, gyms and fashion, the skimpier the better. Everyone walks around with thongs creeping up their butt cracks and ogles one another. They have an unparalleled zest for life.

I dig Australians too. Every time America fights a war, they show up. They're like, just bring the Foster's Lager and we're there, mate. Australia was founded as a British prison so most of its populace is descended from violent criminals. And I can't get enough of their clipped accents. Tom Cruise was an idiot to ditch Nicole Kidman in favor of that gaunt Spanish chick.

But I don't care enough about any of these countries to pay the exorbitant amount it would take to visit there. And since I no longer fly, I guess I never will.

So what am I going to be missing?

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don't trust your soul to no backwoods Southern lawyer

by mg at 02:21 PM on August 19, 2003

Hi. I just flew back from vacation, and boy, are my arms tired. Seriously, my arms are really tired. Well, maybe my arms aren’t so much tired as have become masses of molten flesh, burned raw by the mid-August Florida sun.

You might question why someone with pretty almost no responsibility finds it necessary to take a vacation. Well, the answer is simply that without little things to look forward to, like a few days away from home, ice cream on a hot afternoon, and a nice air-conditioned bedroom to ease you off to sleep on a summer night, then the universe can’t crush your hopes and dreams and make you realize that you’ll never be happy when she decides to take those things away from you.

As you may or not have heard, New York City experienced this little blackout at the end of last week. Actually, about 7 states and 2 countries, 50 million people in total, also experienced this little blackout.

When the blackout hit, about 4:30 on Thursday afternoon, I was out shopping on Steinway Street, near my apartment. The lights went out and I thought it was merely a brown-out, the kind of thing you typically see in mid-August in a city where most stores will turn the air conditioning up so high that they can leave their front doors wide open and chill a 20 foot square area of the great outdoors enough to make an Inuit feel right at home.

Almost prophetically, the shopkeeper immediately brought up the blackout of ’77, where, he confided in the packed shop, he stayed in the tub all night and made love. So skieved by that little disclosure, I exited the store as quickly as possible and started walking down Steinway, which is sort of a major little thoroughfare in Astoria, and is usually packed with people, even on a weekday afternoon. So it was no surprise that there were tons of people milling outside each of the shops, until, after walking several blocks further, and still no lights, and the dawning revelation that this power outage was not limited to this block, but the whole neighborhood.

Slowly, there were murmurings of rumors passing through the teeming masses – the power wasn’t just out in Astoria, or even Queens, or even just New York City, but much of the east coast. I began to suspect something terrible had happened, and when someone yelled out “It’s the end of the world!” most people nearby laughed, but it made me feel uneasy.

Okay, sure, I suppose you’ve all heard about the blackout already, so I guess this trying to build suspense is a little pointless. Still, even though this little electrical impotence was not caused by any of those nasty Arabs and their filthy prophet Mohamed, walking around New York City in the dark, with no telephone, and no way of even finding out something from a credible source (who has battery operated radios these days?), is more than a little disconcerting.

The night passed uneventfully in my neck of the woods, no fires, no riots, but also no electricity, and no idea how long it might be until I could be expected to be watching Jerry Springer and drinking cold milk again. The real unfortunate part of the whole blackout, at least for me, was that I had a Friday morning flight to Miami. Luckily, our electricity came on around 5:30 a.m. (one of the first neighborhoods in the city). I called the airlines and, remarkably, the flight was still scheduled to leave on time.

I got to the airport and immediately new I should have stayed in bed, as numerous people were still sleeping outside (and many more inside) the terminal. Rather than waiting there and just getting consistently more annoyed, we drove home only to spend 142 minutes on hold with the airline rescheduling the flight. Unfortunately LaGuardia airport didn’t get power until much later that afternoon, about 4 hours after the rescheduled flight was supposed to leave.

After another long stretch on hold, I got rescheduled for the next day, Friday, and actually got into Florida just 29 hours after we’d intended. We only had another 48 hours to enjoy our time away, so decided this would be an eXtreme vacation, and we’d savor every minute of beach, sun, fresh seafood, scantily clad hotties, and etc. Of course, I go and get sunburned almost immediately, and am still suffering the worst and most diffused pain I’ve ever felt in my life.

In the course of a few days, my problems went from not enough light, to entirely too much light. Still, it was good to be away, and even though I’ll always have my memories, once my skin starts peeling I’ll also be able to save that to remember the blackout of 2003, and my all too brief visit to the sunshine state. Or is that California?

comments (45)


No retreat baby, no surrender

by anna at 05:36 PM on August 18, 2003

A while back I compared Bill Clinton to Ronald Reagan. I pointed out the self-evident fact that the latter would never stoop to discussing his underwear on MTV. But why is this self-evident? That will be the subject of this terse post.

In a word, it’s dignity. This is something most us aspire to but seldom achieve. The more we abase ourselves with drug abuse, promiscuity or other hurtful activities, the harder it becomes to be dignified. In my mind it’s a two-pronged test: 1) Are there certain things you’d consider beneath you no matter the circumstance? 2) Would it never even cross your mind to screw a farm animal, strike a woman or child in anger, get so drunk you make an utter fool of yourself or patronize a glory hole?

No matter the circumstance. This is key in an age plagued by moral relativism. When everything is relative, nothing is absolute. We have guidelines, not rules. And the uniquely Catholic concept of instant absolution via confession only compounds the problem. People who engage in such wanton acts deserve our condemnation, not forgiveness. With few exceptions, we need to hold them accountable for every single action they’ve taken and every word they’ve ever spoken forevermore.

Even in his present state of delirium, Reagan would not set foot in a glory hole or even a whorehouse. Nor would he have conducted national affairs whilst a bimbo gnawed on his dick. It would have never occured to him.

I like to fancy myself as dignified. Then I remember how I once used a stick of butter to grease up a girl’s ass and put it back in the fridge. The next morning I saw my roommate spreading it on toast. And let's not forget the time I forgot half the alphabet during a sobriety test and told the ossifer that I didn't consider the letters after Q all that important.

People speak of death with dignity, which seems a bit oxymoronic. But for my money the prime example of this was the culmination of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Paul Newman and Robert Redford come storming out of their Bolivian hideout with guns a-blazing, only to be cut down in a hail of gunfire. That's death with dignity.

Then again, it’s easy to confuse temerity with dignity. Surely Clinton has balls the size of grapefruits. Yet I’d venture that he is above nothing. To this day there are websites that catalogue his complicity in dozens of unexplained murders and disappearances. And while much of that might be fabrication or mere speculation, there’s an old saying that goes where there’s smoke there’s fire.

The thorny matter of Islamic terrorism complicates the equation as well. I tend to think George W. Bush has some modicum of dignity. But how does he sleep at night knowing that he alone can and does lock up American citizens he suspects of nefarious activity, without benefit of formal charges, attorneys or trials? Put aside his arguable legal authority to single-handedly impose life sentences on people who’ve been proven guilty of nothing? Is it the right thing to do?

So, are there things you simply would never do? How would you define dignity? Do any of the players on today’s world stage possess this unique quality? Can it possibly be restored in the topsy-turvy world of mankind’s 21st and final century?

Ha! I’d like to see you jokers steer this learned, highbrow discussion around to a discussion of bestiality or post mortem lovin'.

comments (13)


It's better to burn out than to fade away!

by effenheimer at 08:11 PM on August 17, 2003

Each year as the grim specter of death comes closer to clipping my tail feathers forever, (ie, Aug. 15, my birthday, rolls around) I like to take a few moments and reflect on just how crippling my mortal fear has become.
A few months ago, I awoke in the middle of the night with what I can only call a rational response to the sure knowledge of my fate on my lips. As I bolted from my troubled slumber, I heard myself gasp for breath and say through tears of panic, “I’m dying!” True story.
Now, I am not one of these guys who tries to claim that his birthday comes and goes without notice. I do not await my birthday with the same anticipation I once did, to be sure. That is because today I can buy my own damn toys. If I want that new Batman action figure, I don’t wait breathless with anticipation for my parents to get it, I go to Comic City and fight all the other fat geeks for it. So there. I also take candy from strangers, run with scissors and pet dogs with a reckless abondon.
Let’s face it, at 6, I could afford to be oblivious. At 35, my life is probably half over. Statistically, my life is probably MORE than half over. Realistically, I was probably at the halfway point shortly after I became old enough to drink legally.
I do not pretend that my birthday is just another day. No, that is for men who are either made of stronger stuff or who are incapable of looking death in the eye and wetting their pants like men. I choose to see my birthday as clear evidence that 1) I am so close to death I can smell his skids and 2) I have piddled away yet another year upon this earth having failed to achieve any number of things that have been on my “to-do” list since 1973.

That list contained such diverse and wondrous things as:
See a shuttle launch.
Travel to Europe.
Make love to a really beautiful woman I do not have to pay.
Have a child. A good one and preferably by a really beautiful woman I do not have to pay.
Be the front man of my own garage band and perform live before throngs of appreciative music lovers who really “get it” and teenaged girls who are likely to.
I wanted to finish my masters degree, but now I just want ISU to give it to me for being famous or at least notorious if not nefarious.
Get into a really good, justifiable-type, self-defense kind of fight with a guy in his early 20s, kick his ass, make his girlfriend hold my jacket and stand over him when it’s all over and ask him loudly, “Now whose blood flows?”
Write, direct, produce and star in my own movie about a guy who drives to Sioux City with a buddy of his and has a really interesting conversation about all kinds of things. I would shoot it in widescreen sepia tone and air it on HBO or CB17 over and over and over again much to the amusement and delight of everyone touched by its “realism, native wit and genuine emotion.”
Eat a burrito as big as my head.
Star on “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” and have those wonderfully snarky queens turn this gay-friendly fat guy into a fabulous superstar.
Read about a thousand books I never got around to.
Smite all of my enemies for their sins (you know who you are, BWAH HA HA!).
Take part in a traditional sweat lodge ceremony.
Finish my ninja training, become silent dealer of death like Detective Keith Jones and his boy sidekick Loren Knauss, aka The Presbyterian Avenger.
Have a sandwich named after me.
Grow my hair down to my butt.
Enter a monastery. Join one, not just go inside and turn around and leave.
Learn a foreign language well enough to actually have a conversation with a native speaker.
Watch all 1,225 half-hour episodes of the 1966-1971 ABC cult classic soap opera “Dark Shadows.”

Some of the things I have managed to accomplish on that list include:
Become a columnist.
Sing “Sweet Child O’Mine” karaoke style, in public, without fear... and ROCK!
Lose my virginity (better late than never).
Go to New York, fall off a curb on Broadway the first night, manage to go NOWHERE and see NOTHING.
Become the Beer Bong King from Hell of Alpha Sigma Phi.
Find my birth mother, borrow money.
Kick heroin habit, gain 250 pounds.
Cut down on salt, increase potassium.
See all 156 episodes of “The Twilight Zone.”

In the end, I suppose living well will be the best determination of the worth of a man’s life, but frankly, I don’t know what the hell “livving well” is supposed to mean. I haven’t read very many biographies of people whose greatest accomplishment was “living well.” A guy’s got to have a few more things under his belt than that meekness, I reckon.
The candle that burns twice as bright burns half as long and while it goes against the grain, it’s better to burn out than to fade away. Just make sure to leave something behind more substantial than a credit record.

comments (14)


I’m a loser baby. So why don’t you kill me? What a difference a day makes.

by ezy at 11:46 AM on August 16, 2003

This is a post I wrote just a few short months ago and was too chickenshit to share. It’s hard at times to face yourself and harder to put yourself out there for inspection. My life has changed drastically since that point. A large part of this is due to Amy. I actually give a fuck now. I’m getting my finances together and I haven’t danced with the white lady for a while. I know I’m never going to be the don’t drink don’t smoke type but I feel in control of myself for the first time in years. I owe it, largely, to the love of a wonderful woman. She makes me better. She makes me look to the future. She’s my love. This post was written about Steph when I thought she was going to move up here to start a life with me. Stranger than fiction huh?

I’m a loser. No, really. I am. Not in the competition between two individuals department, I’m pretty good at winning those, but more in the crack head, can’t control yourself section. Why? Ok, I’ll tell. I’m thirty two years old, not married, no house, and living paycheck to paycheck. I have debts I started neglecting years ago that, seemingly, have turned in to a Hydra with more heads than I can battle. My love life is in shambles. The one girl I love more than life itself, we have a sixteen year history, is on meds and in counseling due to my stupidity. I didn't protect our relationship when I was younger. I was a dog. Plain and simple. I chose not to exert control over my hormones and cheated on her every chance I got. I, also, never took the time to really listen to her and take interest. I’m not proud of this at all. It’s part of what makes me a loser. When she decided she wanted me back two years ago I was determined not to be the old me. I was monogamous, did the little things (flowers and such), paid attention to everything she said, and tried with all of my being to make her feel like the most special woman in the world. I also came clean. I told her everything and I mean EVERYTHING. I just wanted to be honest. I didn’t want even the remote chance of her hearing of something I’d done from someone’s mouth other than mine. Apparently I fucked up. She had no idea of how much bad shit I had done. Instead of causing her to respect my honesty it did the polar opposite. It pushed her away. It also drove her to seek counseling and medication. She now takes Zoloft. I feel like the biggest asshole in the world that I’ve put her in that position. Don’t get me wrong. She did some things to me that would cause most people to hate others. In my mind, though, they were precipitated by my actions. I also drink too much. I don’t know if it’s the Irish in me or my need to escape reality every chance I get. I also engage in other forms of extracurricular activities when the opportunities arise. I work in a respectable field, in an engineering capacity, so I’m around “normal” people all day. I look at these people and say to myself “Why not me?” They all have the 2.5 kids, own their own homes, and don’t party quite like I do. Their parties are conducted in back yards with children laughing and running around unlike mine which consist of shady apartments and nervous people. I feel like a freak. I know it’s something that only I can change but I’ve gotten in to such a routine it’s hard to break. I would have to distance myself from people I care about because they do things I won’t be able to. Get this. Now my ex is quitting her job in NC and moving to the D.C. area. That’s where I am. She called over Christmas and I went to see her. We talked and it felt like we hadn’t lost a day. We kissed but I didn’t sleep with her. That seems to complicate everything with me. You’re probably saying “Well what’s the problem?” The problem is my fear of being devastated again. I don’t know her intentions, only that she says she loves me. There’s the partying aspect also. She’s not in to that scene. I’m going to have to distance myself and quit everything. This is for the best. I am the king of good intentions though. I was going to stay in last weekend but one phone call from a shady friend and I was out the door and didn’t sleep for a while. I’m, always, a sucker for a good time. Maybe it’s because I have a low opinion of myself and just don’t care or maybe I’m just fucking certifiable. I don’t know. I, also, don’t understand why I’m willing to do this for her but can’t seem to do it for myself. I know I can. I did it last time we were together. I guess the facts of no house and no money in the bank makes me feel inadequate. She has her shit together and I don’t. God I have a lot of work to do before she gets here.

comments (24)


Queer Ear for the Straight Guy

by anna at 09:35 AM on August 16, 2003

In my neighborhood there’s a gas station that doubles as a convenience store. I was there the other day. I took vague note of a threesome in a car with out of state tags and the motor running. Two of them got out: A handsome, Tiger Woods-ish black guy who looked to be about 17, judging by his baby-faced visage and baggy hip-hop garb, accompanied a scruffy looking blonde. (Think a bedraggled, trailer park takeoff on this .)

He peels $20 from a sizable wad of bills and issues highly specific instructions as to what she is to purchase, namely a case of Coors Light and a pack of Camel Lights. She dutifully scurries to grabs the beer. She is so thin and frail she struggles under its heft. Her hair was kind of stringy and cut shoulder length. She wore worn out jeans with frayed holes and a clingy halter top that revealed an extensive and hardly dainty tattoo. It looked like some kind of gang insignia you’d see emblazoned across a tenement wall. But the most noticeable thing about this chick was the fact that she was sporting high-beams big time. We are talking erasers on those huge pencils they used to dole out as token prizes at state fairs here. You almost felt embarrassed for her, as if you’d buy her a bra if you could; although she didn’t seem the least bit perturbed. Indeed she seemed to revel in the attention her brazen, saucer-like display engendered.

The cashier certainly took due note of this, so much so that he didn’t notice that she was illegally buying cigarettes and beer for a minor. She flashes her ID and says, “Remember me next time.” “Oh you can bet I will,” he says with leering eyes glued to her chest. Certain dudes seem to regard gals nipping (especially in conjunction with major tattoos) as some kind of license to abandon all pretense of propriety. It’s like, you chose to go braless and it’s icy cold in here (65 degrees F per a thermometer on the wall.) Thus I have every right to treat you like a piece of meat. He tries to engage her in further conversation but the language barrier precluded that. He looks vaguely miffed behind his wispy moustache, like she should have ditched her friends and blew him behind the counter. She glances at me and rolls her eyes as if to say, “guys.” (I wonder how men would react if women were to openly stare at their crotches when they are strolling around sporting wood. Probably much like my friend Matt did back in the 80s, when he dangled an earring from the so-called “queer ear.” He claims gay men goosed him in elevators and accosted him in bars.)

At last she completes her transaction and gets back in her car, a bright red Mitsubishi Eclipse. Trashy-looking, Girls-Gone-Wild people such as this often gravitate to showy cars, I’ve noticed. They confer for a moment and go screeching off. I am left to wonder just what the deal with this threesome was. I should note here that the wet-noodle looking white guy in the back seat appeared to be even younger, maybe 14---a third wheel would be my guess.

We know this much: She is at least 21, they are not. She isn’t real modest and indeed makes the most of what she’s got. It’s also clear the rich 17 year old hip-hop guy is calling the shots. They are from out of state in the middle of a suburban enclave forty miles from the state line. They are ready to party hardy (24 divided by 3 = 8 beers apiece plus god knows what else was stashed in the console) and evidently plan to stick around awhile (“Next time remember me.”) Other than a nearby concert venue, there really isn’t much in the way of attractions around these benighted parts. It’s not what you’d call a hot spot for tourists. That is, unless you enjoy rooting around in junkyards or watching amateur race car drivers go around in circles. I checked online and there was no rock show scheduled.

Hmmm, so just what were they up to? What was the nature of their relationship? Us fuddy-duddies who live vicariously through the lives of strangers we chance to encounter want to know. Hell, we demand to know.

comments (10)


In the silence of the morning my mind becomes confused between the dead and the sleeping

by anna at 02:45 AM on August 15, 2003

It is 3:18 AM EST. I just awoke alone with a dog and a crippled cat staring intently at me. My wife was nowhere to be seen. I eventually located her snoring on a loveseat with a M*A*S*H rerun playing. This disturbs me because I don't like to sleep alone.

I check out Bad Sam and note that both versions of Eff's latest post remain with separate but equal comment threads. Sooner or later, I know, someone will delete one or the other, wiping out whatever it is people had to say about it...forever. This too disturbs me.

I quietly ponder the day to come. I am off from work, which is good, but many daunting tasks await. In our ongoing effort to sell our house, my wife has insisted that I clear out my workshop, where the AC unit is housed. It has not been producing much if any cool air and we've been most uncomfortable. She wants to get it serviced but is mortified to let a workman in there. Problem is, temps will reach 95 tomorrow and it is the hottest room in the house. It hasn't been cleaned in 12 years. Sundry vermin live in there and may bite me. I wonder what sort of diseases I may contract.

So I wander outside and listen to the mournful crickets' chirps, faraway train whistles and a stranded dog yipping forlornly two blocks down. I smoke for no reason. 25 clocks chime in unison. It occurs to me that the only time we're truly alone and thus fully honest with ourselves is in the middle of the night, troubled by any number of nagging doubts and tribulations. And it's only then that we can be here now. As you were in your mama's womb, surrounded by placenta, so many years ago.

comments (8)


Who will rid us of this troublesome movie star?

by effenheimer at 09:31 AM on August 14, 2003

As a kid, I remember people talking about the off-chance that California might one day fall into the ocean after a major earthquake. I thought, “oh how terrible it would be if California should disappear beneath the waves never to be seen again.”
Now, after hearing that “actor” Arnold Schwarzenegger has entered into the race for governor of that state, I’m praying for it.
This is not just embarrassing for the state of California, it’s humiliating for our entire nation and here’s why. First off, the average earthling who is not an American thinks we are all pretty much like the image of New Yorkers and Los Angelinos with a touch of Texas loudmouth thrown in to complete the stereotype. Why not? That’s what they see on TV and on tour busses. I think of Frenchmen as Parisian. I tend to think of Englishmen as Cockney, posh aristos or northern farmers thanks to PBS.
To the world, Americans look like celebrity-worshipping morons who really need a good monarchy to look up to since we have so clearly abandoned a well-informed democracy in favor of simple popularity contests.
Aaah-nuhld is about as qualified for public office as he is to star in a movie that would actually require him to act. Having never done so much as serve on a school board, Schwarzenegger is just another Hollywood blow hard looking to change career tracts late in the game as his star begins to fade. Conan is still amazingly popular but in the last 10 years, he has been going down hill faster than a soapbox derby car with a space shuttle engine strapped to the back.
Don’t believe me? Here is a list of Total Recall’s last 10 projects: “Joe’s Last Chance (pre-production, supporting role), “Around the World in 80 Days (post-production, Turkish Prince), “The Rundown” (just completed, cameo appearance), “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines” (hackneyed recurring role), “ABC World Stunt Awards” (TV presenter), “Liberty’s Kids” (TV voice of Baron von Steuben), “Collateral Damage (lead, but who cares?), “Dr. Dolittle 2 (uncredited voice of white wolf), “The 6th Day” (lead) and in 1999 “End of Days” (lead).
Commando does have one skill set that should be helpful to his political career. He has a gift with sound bites as well as a cornucopia of catch phrases to call upon while talking about his political aspirations on “The Tonight Show.”
“Duh people have sent a message to politicians from duh Vest Coast to duh East Coast. Do your job for duh people or eet’s HASTA LA VISTA, BABY!”
Never has political assassination looked so legitimate.

comments (15)


Smells like mean spirit

by anna at 06:06 PM on August 13, 2003

I love to peruse movie ads. It amazes how even the ones for total stinkers always have favorable excerpts from reviews. Sometimes they have to scrounge around in small town papers or websites, but they'll find something to entice moviegoers. I'd imagine admen take things out of context for their own devious purposes. "Lots of unpredictable plot twists..." is distilled from "Lots of unpredictable plot twists are merely a feeble attempt to distract the viewer from its total lack of a story line."

Check out your local paper. Every single movies boasts a glowing blurb, with the exception of the Ben Affleck-Jennifer Lopez clunker Gigli. Even though there must be 10,000 reviewers out there, not a one had anything good to say about this atrocity. This is unprecedented. While most reviewers skewered Glitter ("Osama is hiding in a place no one will ever find him, a theater showing Glitter) the studio was still able to scare up some vaguely noncommital comments.

If they can't, why then, they'll simply invent a reviewer as Sony Pictures did a while back. Was the Hartford Courant ever surprised to learn about its imaginary employee.

Here's a sample of what the real critics have been saying about Gigli: "This movie was so awful I had to cleanse my palate afterwards by watching Glitter." "This is the worst movie I've ever seen." "Ben and Jennifer finally get some privacy." (If anyone in the audience has seen it, please review below.)

And from the little I know about it, rightly so. The megastars B&J play hit persons who derive jollies from tormenting an autistic boy---nothing like some mean-spirited fun at the expense of disabled kids to tickle your funny bone, no? She plays a lesbian, thereby extinguishing any potential romantic sparks which might otherwise fly between the two real-life lovers. At one point her ex-flame storms in and proceeds to slash her wrists. This bit of tragicomedy has nothing to do with the plot and goes nowhere.

For once the public has heeded highbow critics' warnings. Gigli is still stinking up some 2,100 theaters, five times a day. Weekly box office has totaled about $600,000. There are more paying customers on the International Space Station.

Part of the problem might be the stars' real-life romance. Among the worst movies I've ever endured was Proof of Life with a depixified Meg Ryan and Russell Crowe. At the time it was shot Ryan was cramming her dainty fingers down Crowe's trousers every chance she got. They generated all the onscreen chemistry of the Three Stooges with Curly Joe instead of Curly. I can't remember a single thing about this incoherent mess other than thinking that death by anthrax poisoning would be better cuz it's quicker. Word of mouth might travel fast but it never seems to reach the House of Anna.

Also, Affleck and Lopez are two of a rare breed: luminaries famous by virtue of their celebrity alone. Name one other movie he's starred in, and no consulting websites. Her credits include Enough and Maid in Manhattan, both of which tanked. They will win Oscars right after Mariah Carey gets her plum recording contract back and lands another starring role i.e. never. Oh well, there's always the Razzies.

I can't help but wonder how something this horrendous could possibly pass muster. Hollywood producers are notoriously stingy. They don't part easily with the $30 million it takes to get these slackers off their asses to emote. Germ-phobic Howard Hughes would sooner visit a filthy brothel. So why didn't they realize that everyday people would be turned off by the grotesque antics as outlined above? Wouldn't they then seek to cut their losses like any other savvy businessmen? Or do they live in such insular dream worlds that they are blind to the mindset of ordinary folk?

So what are the worst movies of all time?

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Dust in the wind

by ezy at 01:01 PM on August 12, 2003

Well, Amy and I have thrown caution to the wind and are moving in together September first. This should have my ball sack all in knots but, for some reason, I’m not concerned at all. This is unprecedented for me. I am usually the one on Zoloft at the thought of, maybe, going through what I have been through in the past. Hell, she should be terrified too, given her past, but the truth is that we’re both just really excited. She’s in NYC, at the moment, on business so I got an apartment guide and tried to narrow down the field a bit so we wouldn’t waste our time on apartments we deem out of our range. We’re both trying to get rid of our unsecured debt and clear everything so we can buy a house down the road and not be maxed out. I have quite a bit of unsecured debt thanks to my stupidity. Stephanie’s credit wasn’t so good and her interest rates were astronomical so I consolidated about 30k for her on a credit card, in my name. At the time I thought we were going to be married and it just seemed like the right thing to do. Needless to say, this is now my debt. I’ve paid it down to about 10k and can see light at the end of the tunnel. I guess I could go after her for the money but, in the big picture, it would be much more of an ass pain than I’m willing to put up with. Live and learn.

cont'd »

comments (45)


See yourself as a leader, we all know it's lonely up there

by anna at 08:24 AM on August 10, 2003

You can separate politicos into two categories: 1) Aw Shucks Grandpa 2) Policy Wonk. ASG is earnest and given to mouthing homilies, yet quite visionary. PW is well versed in the vagaries Pressing Issues and given to use of euphemisms like "undocumented worker." While ASG tends to be a gifted or at least able communicator, he doesn't feel the need for frequent news conferences or speeches. PW isn't such a great speaker but will talk your ear off nonetheless.

ASGs include Ronald Reagan, Harry Truman, George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter. PWs include FDR, both Clintons, Al Gore and any number of legislators.

The electorate loves ASGs and will forgive their transgressions. Whereas we view PWs with a healthy mixture of envy and mistrust. They are the kid who was always raising his hand in class. One misstep and it's curtains for them. Meanwhile, Reagan could have taken a mistress and it would have been greeted with a wink and a nod. Look at his shrew of a wife, people would say. Clinton, whose wife is a shrew among shrews, bangs a bimbo or two hundred and he's practically run out of town.

An ASG can pull off a showy landing on an aircraft carrier with aplomb. A PW makes a fool of himself tooling around in a tank.

ASGs project confidence and dignity. PW exude cleverness. Reagan would have never assembled reporters for a morning jog to McDonalds or fielded questions about his underwear on MTV.

Which brings me to the matter at hand, California's election fiasco from hell; which makes 2000's presidential debacle seem orderly. Governor Gray Davis faces an unprecedented recall. A motley crew of 130 challengers include Larry Flynt, billboard hussy Angelyne and of course, Arnold S. Arnold is a muscle-bound version of an ASG. He actually said this: "Ve don't vant to leave chidren with any books." He pronounces "California" like a hated white vegetable. At his news conference, he paid lip service to a number of Pressing Issues but you can bet he isn't real familiar with the details. Nor does he have to be. Thousand cheered. (In defending his decision to back the 6 time Mr. Universe, one voter sniffed, "Hey, he's better than Flynt." I dunno. Has Woody Harrelson ever portrayed Arnold in a movie?)

PWs fume that he's an unseasoned fluke who doesn't know jack about urban sprawl, smog or budget deficits. People tune them out as always.

Forget about Gray Davis. First off, there's the inescapable fact that his name is Gray and so is he. Talk about a stranger to the sun, this guy looks like he's been living in a crypt. And he's left Cauliflower in shambles, drowning in debt, overrun by illegal aliens (not "undocumented workers," dammit) and worst of all, home to blowhard Alec Baldwin. He's a PW and not a very bright one either. He's history.

Speaking of which, it's clear we prefer big-brained PWs in Congress and ASGs in the White House. America hasn't elected a sitting Senator since JFK. And he'd only served two terms, not long enough to become tainted. Besides, he displayed many ASG qualities despite his youth: vision, ruddy good looks, detail-delegating and that Teflon deal which allowed him to cavort with a veritable harem without repercussions. And it never hurts to get shot. Just ask Reagan. Or on second thought, don't. He's said to be in a bad way, babbling and incoherent.

Actually there's a third category I almost overlooked: Strident Committed. Think John McCain or Ralph Nader. SCs are earnest too, but in an off-putting, strident sort of way. We don't like them, not one bit.

For what it's worth, here's my prediction: Arnold will eke out a victory over the saucy billboard chick. The governorship will be but a stepping stone to the presidency. Hey, don't laugh too soon. Look at Reagan. The Bedtime for Bonzo star has major airports and battleships named after him even though he's technically still alive. Or don't.

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You the jury

by anna at 09:04 PM on August 06, 2003

You're kicking yourself for voting, because now you've been selected to serve on a jury in a trial that's liable to drag on longer than O.J.'s. You're white just like all your jury-mates in a county that is 99% white. You twelve have beeen choesn to hear testimony in the case that has riveted the nation.

Here's what months of testimony reveal: A world-famous black athlete summons room service. A 19 year old white coed responds, bringing his cheese omelet and champagne. He urges her to stick around, saying that a magnum of champagne is best enjoyed with others. One thing leads to another and soon enough she is sucking his dick.

She's wondering what her friends might think when they hear about her sucking off a world-famous athlete. These thoughts dissipate when he grabs her noggin and pulls it off of his throbbing member (which she testifies is huge, reinfrocing a racial stereotype you've never voiced but do believe.)

Next thing you knows he's got her positioned doggie-stye and is going for the back door. Her protests go unheeded and the dirty deed winds up being consummated. She recoils in horror and leaves. Anal is something she normally reserves for special occasions with long-term boyfriends, a rare treat.

The question thus becomes: Does a blowjob constitute implicit consent for anal, vaginal or for that matter, tit or ear action?

Or is it like Anticoch College's infamou policy,. which requires men to otain express consent for their progression to each base. I swear there are lawyers plying their trade on the college's lovers' lanes.

Here's hoping we don't wind up with a hung jury.

comments (18)


Justice is lost. Justice is raped. Justice is gone.

by ezy at 02:22 PM on August 06, 2003

Is it just me or has the Kobe Bryant fiasco been one of the most lopsided, unfair presentations of our justice system you’ve seen, in a while? Don’t get me wrong; I am all for seeing women, who have been assaulted, protected from the media, when the charge has been proven. That’s my ire with this whole thing. Kobe Bryant has been charged, but not convicted, of rape. Why is he plastered all over every newspaper nationwide, with his life under a microscope, while we don’t even know his accuser’s name? That’s right. Because he’s famous. But wait. We don’t want the privileged to have any preferential treatment do we? Shouldn’t that go both ways? Oh, I forgot. He held a press conference so anything, from that second forward, should be public knowledge. Well, according to the accuser’s friends, she held a press conference herself albeit his was on TV and hers was at a keg party. I just feel that if this woman is telling the truth then why keep hiding and not get all of the cards on the table? Maybe I am being insensitive, and I don’t mean to, but this just seems wildly unfair to me. I just don’t think you should protect one person’s privacy and subject another to the amount of scrutiny Kobe Bryant is having to endure. The judge first has him appear at an arraignment then allows cameras in the courtroom? Will they be there during the trial when the accuser is in the room? If things hold true to form; I think not.

"This already extensive media coverage has erupted into an intensive media campaign to expose every detail of the alleged incident," prosecutors wrote in arguing to keep the evidence sealed.

Shouldn’t every detail be exposed? If you want the truth I think there is no other way. If you are going to allow the media and prosecutors to pore over Bryant’s past and look for dirt, without issuing a gag order for that, why not look in to the accuser’s past? There may be things there that could be relevant to the case. Her state of mind may be of some importance. Maybe she has accused someone else, in her past, of the same thing. Maybe she has some mental problems that would make her falsely accuse someone. Maybe not. That’s the thing. No one knows.

Kobe Bryant is an adulterer, for now, fine. He should’ve loved his wife more. Punish him for that. And if he is guilty then fry him. I wonder if the accuser is hot? After seeing Kobe's wife; I hope so.

comments (13)


check, and mate.

by mg at 01:51 PM on August 04, 2003

Some time this week, unless Verizon workers decide to go out on strike after all, I should finally have Internet access in my new home. I'll also be done with the bulk of my work for my summer class, which means, except for a few notable events, I'll be free until September. Which means I'm going to finally have some time to devote to this little community of ours. I'll honestly say I haven't missed a single one of you one bit, but being completly cut off from the rest of the world (also no phone and spotty cell phone reception) is no picnick (picknic?), and I think I'm busting out at the seams to start sharing and contributing to something beyond the four walls of my apartment. So, yeah.

comments (15)


If you just said what I think you said, I’m going to need oxygen.

by ezy at 12:31 PM on August 04, 2003

Hey peeps. Looks like the Bad Sam fest scheduled for August isn’t going to happen for Ezy. Seeing as how I need at least a month’s notice to schedule and clear my work load; I won’t be able to make it now if I wanted to. Something I was thinking about is how our internet personalities and actual personalities would get on. I mean, when you’re writing or commenting, on this site, you have the freedom to do or say, pretty much, whatever you want, in a semi-safe environment. You can always log off and never return, if you choose to do so, with no fear of repercussion. Would that be the same if we were face to face? I don’t know. I know the person I am here is a very close representation of who I am in everyday life. There will always be some flair thrown in, seeing as how we’re given time to think before we respond, but all in all my retorts and posts here are exactly what I would say in person albeit not as witty, if I am at all. I just wonder what would happen if we were all in the same room. To me it would be worth the trip to find out if we are who we portray here. Then again, we probably have told each other more, about ourselves, than most people we see in every day life, given the forum. I’ve shared things here that are reserved for my closest friends and would never share with acquaintances. Personally, I would like to think that we would all get on famously and tear NYC a new one. The only way to find out is to do it. We should really make an effort to set up a meeting and stick to it. Any ideas?

Amy manages a spa in the area. They give massages, pedicures, and the whole treatment. I was with her Friday night while she was buying a car. The lady she was buying from was a client that came to the spa often. Here we all are in the car going over prices, roadside assistance, and warranty when all of a sudden the car saleslady gushes to Amy about the facial she had the other day. I was in the back seat and thought I had heard something else. She said it again. She proceeds to tell Amy what a great facial she had and how it made her skin glow. Well, I did what any self respecting pig of a man would do, I lost it. I tried to keep it low but I busted out a couple of times. “What’s so funny?” the ladies inquired from the front. This is a feared position for a man to be in. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. If I tell them I’m screwed. If I choose not to tell them they will mercilessly question me until I break. I stalled for time while wondering what the car lady would think about me alluding to the OTHER type of facial and her having one. Amy knows I snicker every time I’m in the spa and some lady comes up and inquires about getting a facial. Forty bucks?! Hell, step out back and I’ll hook you one for free. So Amy gives me the “Not here for God’s sake” look then she starts laughing too. Now the car saleslady is really lost. Amy then proceeds to explain to her about how I find it comical every time a lady, in the spa, says she wants to get a facial. The lady looked at me like I was a pervert, which I am, and gave a polite laugh. Well, needless to say I felt a bit uncomfortable for the rest of the transaction but a facial for fucks sake. How can you be a male and not get a laugh out of that?

comments (16)


Want Ads

by anna at 09:28 AM on August 03, 2003

Fanatical Muslim. Arab M seeks submissive Muslim F to join harem. Let’s talk jihad, baby.
I’m putty in your hands. Generic nobody, 21, seeks someone, anyone to mold her.
Sullen WF seeks BM with whom to sulk and exchange sob stories about our victimization at the hands of The Man.
Hand jobs! Adventurous BF gives them with gusto. I wear Playtex gloves to lessen the risk of infection. No preference of age, gender or sexual orientation; any guy will do. Fisting too.
Racist Southern Cracker seeks anorexic WF 12-14 to attend NASCAR events and have sex with me in the back of my pickup truck afterwards. Morning beer a must.
Dance for me! Self-indulgent WM seeks AF 80-90 lbs who’ll perform striptease dances and then walk on my back.
Rain Man. Count toothpicks with me.
Cat lover. GBM seeks special someone to help tend to 40-50 felines’ needs. Sex a remote possibility.
Doesn’t take up much space. WF, 25, who will fit in the trunk of your Cooper Mini with room to spare for your golf clubs and cooler.
Hung like a horse. WM will split you open like a coconut. You won’t walk for days.
Anal retentive. Let’s obsess over the most trivial of matters, like soap scum or the difficulty in separating coffee filters when hung over.
Droopy boobs. Decrepit eighty-something hag can slap you silly with my tits from four paces. Will crochet with that special someone. Seeks WM 10-20.
Virgin. AF, 40. Ravish me. Bust my cherry. Make me bleed.
Handyman. I am no hopeless romantic and I’ll never remember our anniversary but your faucets won’t leak, and I know my way around a caulking gun.
Chatterbox. WF who started talking at two months and hasn’t stopped since. I love political debates and to discuss existential philosophy at length. Seeks WM 40-50 who’ll try in vain to get a word in edgewise.
Reformed Wife-Beater. WM, 40 who will never hit another woman again unless the bitch refuses to fetch me a beer. Understanding of wifely duties a must.
Out on parole. And I’m never going back. Lifelong criminal has seen the error of his ways and seeks accomplice, er, partner of like mind.
Me, me, me. BM interested solely in himself. What’d you say your name was?
Cavernous Pussy. Full figured BF, 36, seeks WM with what it takes to fill me up. Child, you could park your RV in here. *Fists myself*
Love the outdoors! I have to because I live there. Homeless AM seek AF to join me in cadging cigarettes from passersby.
Sex change. Let’s swap genders every so often to keep life interesting.
Strident anti-globalization protester. Spindly GWM, 21, seeks like-minded WM to travel the country attending rallies, hoisting puppets aloft and shaking fists. Knowledge of the World Bank’s inner workings a must.
Commitment-phobe. BM, 25, seeks bitches to fuck and discard. Lots of them.
Nondescript AF who is like, just another face in the crowd. Maybe we could hang out at the mall or something. I dunno.
Al Gore won the 2000 election. You know it, I know it, we all know it. Join me for romantic evenings spent counting ballots and growing all bitter.
Flosses daily. I may not be much to look at but I’ve got class-A dental hygiene. No fillings. Healthy gums.
I’m in hell. BF has lost job, home and family. Ex-husband is homicidal and jealous as hell. Seeks BF who will be sympathetic to my plight and support me.
Hormones raging out of control! WM, 16, seeks anyone with a vagina who’s willing to have sex with me 12 times a day.
I’ll gnaw your balls off. AF, 31, with razor-sharp teeth seeks virile AM who enjoys the unique pleasure of castration without benefit of anesthetic. Lorena Bobbit has nothing on me.
Aging former porn star. 40 year old WF who has had unprotected sex with Ron Jeremy, Johnny “Wad” Holmes and all your HIV-positive favorites. Give me a facial, hell, everyone else has.

Okay. You laughed, you cried, you read the whole revolting post and now you feel terribly ashamed of yourself. If that is the case, here is your assignment: Pick one of these desperate losers and tell us why it is you chose them above all others.

comments (11)


And girls, they wanna have fun

by anna at 08:13 AM on August 02, 2003

There's yet another study out that purports to explain why men are more promiscuous than women. It starts with the fait accompli that this is indeed a fact and then trots out tiresome evolutionary arguments about hunter-gatherer guys out to maximize their odds of passing on their genes and so on. I'm not buying it.

Supposedly these cockamamie theories neatly explain why men tend to woo women with smoking bodies and angelic faces while women pursue rich geezers with the resources to provide well their young. Both objects of affect are thought to offer the best odds of multiple viable offspring. Who's to say men don't simply prefer the company of hot women without any consideration of their fertility of fecundity? Maybe smart women gravitate toward rich guys without a moment's thought given to their affect on as yet unborn kids. Perhaps the very traits that made them rich are also attractive to the ladies.

Now I'm no mathemetician, but I do know that researchers ask subjects how many sex partners they've had and how man they'd like to have. And each time a man has sex with a woman for the first time, she too is putting another notch in her lipstick case. How then could anyone say dudes are more promiscuous than chicks?

Anecdotally, in my experience, females are more likely to stray than males. My first time was with a buddy's gal. A long-term girlfriend cheated on me with a close friend. I walked in on them in the throes of passion and was somehow made to feel that I was in the wrong for interrupting. Most guys I've known are too lazy to bother with cheating. So long as they're getting any, they are satisfied. Conversely, I knew a gal who'd allow men to pull trains on her. There's no male equivalent of that.

Plus I find these evolutionary arguments too pat. People aren't animals, after all. More imporantly, cultural stigmas come into play. The quaterback who plows through the entire cheerleading squad is hailed as a virile stud while the cheeleader who takes on the entire defensive line is derided as a filthy slut. These differences are drille into our heads by the media. Men's mags offer tips on picking up chicks and quickie seductions. Women's mags offer bedroom tips designed to hold onto a man. Surely these factors play as great a role as DNA in determining our behavior.

It's worthwhile to note that a large portion of these arguments is based on the dubious assumption that when the promiscuous male passes along his genes he's also passing along his proclivity to bang anything in a short skirt. Whereas the monogomous woman is assured of giving birth to a daughter who'll doggedly hold out fora weddin' ring. Generation upon generation of this would have resulted in gangs of rapists marauding through streets thronged with chaste women. Clearly that isn't the case.

One could easily extrapolate from this "data" that promiscuous guys are thus responsible for our soaring divorce rate. As you think you know, half of marriages end in divorce. There's just one teensy problem with this factoid: It's false. It was arrived at by comparing the number of weddings and divorces in year X. But that includes the termination of marriages in years A-W and the marriage rate tends to remain constant from year to year. So that's a fallacy. The actual divorce rate is anywhere from 11-34% depending on the study.

So there: Guys aren't all that bad and even if we were, we can't be held responsible for the unraveling of society's underpinning---cuz there's no such thing!

comments (8)