2010-01-31

The Definition of Lazy

My obsession with quadriplegics lingers. It’s not an interest I am particularly proud of, but I am hardly alone; there are plenty of people who gawk at dwarves, conjoined twins, and individuals with fetal alcohol syndrome. As a society, we are fascinated by physical abnormalities. With quadriplegia, I think the lure is part sympathy, part curiosity. To lose control of one limb is devastating, but to lose all four of them seems like an epic misfortune.

Hanging out with Ben last night, I took the opportunity to ask him whether he knew more about the quadriplegic who lived in the guest house referenced in the previous link. Earnestly, Ben responded:

“Oh, that’s a weird story. He had other problems, too. He was… he was lazy.”

If there was more to the story than that, I didn’t hear it, since it was interrupted; I thought I might never stop laughing. Calling a quadriplegic lazy just might be the best thing I’ve ever heard. I reckon that even a quadriplegic would bust a gut at that, which is a shame considering she has very few body parts to spare.

2010-01-29

Wine Connoisseur

My friend Dewayne hosted a wine tasting party and took it very seriously. He conducted exhaustive research, then bought a variety of wines. The main event of the evening was a taste test of about ten selections. I tried most of them, but admittedly could not much discern between a twenty and fifty dollar bottle. On a side table, Dewayne set up about a dozen additional bottles of wine that were not being used in the "official" tasting, but were available to sample some extra kinds. I tried a few and found myself actually enjoying one that had a picture of a playing card on the label. I liked it so much that I poured myself a second glass of it, even.

Later, Dewayne inquired which wine I had liked best throughout the night. I explained that it hadn't been one from the tasting, but a bottle from the bonus table. When I pointed out the playing card wine, Dewayne laughed.

"What's funny?" I asked.
"You're joking with me," Dewayne said.
"No - wait - why?"
"That's really your favorite kind?"
"I think so, but I'm no expert."
"Dude, that's from the ninety-nine cent store."

Apparently, when Dewayne was picking up some napkins at the 99 Cent store, he noticed a few bottles of wine on the shelves, so he decided to bring one home as a joke. As a joke. There were bottles as expensive as $60, but I managed to find the cheapest bottle in the whole place and declare it my favorite. In a way, it's a relief to not have a taste so refined that I can't afford it, but it's not like I could even regularly buy that wine since it was an overstock item, not a name brand.

Two buck chuck? Evidently, that's a little pricey for my taste!

2010-01-27

Porn Star Karaoke

So there’s this semi-famous event in Burbank that I’ve always been curious to check out called Porn Star Karaoke. Every Tuesday, people who work and perform in the adult entertainment industry descend upon a karaoke joint and sing their cum-stained hearts out. As the website puts it, “They get drunk and entertain each other in any way the law will permit, all loosely disguised as karaoke.” It sounds like nothing if not a spectacle, so last week I finally organized a small troop to go. Two of my friends, who are real feminist types, expressed understandable “reservations” about attending such an event, but finally relented. Much like in many a porn plot, don’t take the stiff liberrian-types’ “No”s for an answer because deep down they really want it, and soon you’ll be having a fucking good time.

Shortly after arriving, our porn star MC announced a contest: whoever screamed the loudest would win a pornographic DVD. I wanted to win, if for no other reason than because it would be funny. While everyone else screamed wildly, I decided to employ some strategy and open my mouth only pretending to scream. Then, as everyone else found his or her vocal cords unable to sustain yelling any longer, that’s when I started screaming really loud. It made it seem like I had a lot of stamina, a quality the porn star clearly liked (or perhaps she just noticed and related to my ability to fake it) because she marched over and handed me the DVD.

The DVD is called Smokin’ Cracks; though porn titles are notoriously punny, I find the name of this anal sex video particularly amusing. Kudos to the creative team on that one. After I proudly won my prize, I found out that wasn’t the only give-away of the night. There were also t-shirts that read “Porn Star Karaoke” that you know would become my favorite shirt of all time; I wish I had saved my strategy for an even better prize. I should have held it in longer: talk about a premature evocation!

If you’re wondering who shows up for an even like this: a whole bunch of dudes. Lecherous, lecherous dudes. At the back of the room, there was just this row of beer-swigging, gawking men. I’m in no position to judge them, but it was a bit creepy. As for the porn stars, “stars” seems to have been used pretty liberally, in the same manner as Dancing with the Stars. I didn’t see any big names like Jenna Jameson or Ron Jeremy. Heck, there weren’t even many of the haggard large breasted blonde women I anticipated seeing. Instead, most of the adult entertainers were tiny barely legal-looking women with reasonably sized bosoms. They’re probably the girls that play naughty babysitters in the films. Don’t get me wrong, they still looked skanky, so I’m not disappointed, I just feel as though I rented Drink Your MILF and found a copy of Hole-y Catholic Schoolgirls 17 inside instead. (Yes, I just made up those titles, but they’re probably real for all I know.)

Later, the erotic MC offered to give the loudest person a copy of Big Black Booties (or some approximation), but there was noticeably less noise than usual. Racists! Half-jokingly, I screamed, “Ooh, I’ll trade!” but my friends hushed me. Apparently, what I hadn’t noticed is that Smokin’ Cracks’s star Nicki Hunter, pictured on the cover, was not so coincidentally the MC. She had awarded me her own porn: what an honor! And there I was trying to trade it away, how ungrateful could I be?

When it came time to award another prize, I knew I would probably not be eligible for a second freebie, so I threw my support behind another friend. As she shouted, I covered my mouth with my hand and screamed loudly behind her head to contribute to the noise and make it appear as if it was all coming from just the one person. Again, my strategy succeeded and she won the most amazing Porn Star Karaoke tank top. Look, I’m not going to claim I was the smartest person in the room that night, but the advantage in these porn contests definitely went to the one guy thinking with his brain rather than his crotch.

One of my friends struck up a conversation with a man who had been hanging out in the porn VIP section. When she walked back to the table, she expressed that she wanted to know if he worked in porn because she was now intrigued. With only the tiniest bit of encouragement, she decided to slip him her phone number to learn more about him later. Alas, when she went up to him later, she learned that he was not a part of the porn industry and decided not to even bother handing him her digits. “What would be the point?” she told us. Yeah – what would be the point in pursuing a man not involved in porn? BORING!

Finally, I got to sing my one song of the night. Most people were performing lackluster ballads, but, in the spirit of the night, I wanted to do something significantly more risqué. Nothing out-and-out dirty like “I Touch Myself” or “The Whisper Song” (which should be played exclusively at weddings) as that would be too clichéd. More than anything, I just wanted to scream and show some attitude, so I performed “Flagpole Sitta,” which seemed to wake people up and was well received.



While one friend was outside on a cigarette break, her name was called to sing a song. I ran outside to alert her, and then sprinted to the porn MC and said, “She’s coming, she’s coming!” “You’re cumming?” she asked seductively and gave me a wink. I was a bit thrown off that she would think that a stranger would run up to her to announce he was ejaculating, but considering her profession, I suppose it’s plausible that this has actually happened before. “No, no,” I corrected her, just as my friend rushed up to the microphone. “[The singer] is coming.” “Oh,” the MC said. “I thought you meant you were cumming,” and proceeded to pantomime a jerking off action. It’d be unreasonable to expect a lot of tact and class in this environment, but I must admit I was unduly shocked nonetheless.

Meanwhile, since I had the star of Smokin’ Cracks in my presence, I thought I should get it signed, as it seemed like the perfect way to end the night. I asked Hunter for her autograph, but her marker was dead, so she said she would find a new one before cooing into my ear “Promise you won’t leave.” I wasn’t prepared to disappoint, so I sat and made my friends wait. For the next half hour, I watched Hunter dance seductively with men, sit on their laps, grab her breasts, and do just about everything other than obtaining a new marker. As my friends grew impatient, I finally went back up to her to ask if she had gotten the marker, even though I knew full well she had not.

“Oh, I’m so sorry,” she said. “I’ll go get one now – come with me.” Without warning, she grabbed me by the penis (over the pants, mind you) and yanked me thirty feet across the bar to a waitress who had a marker. The whole time, I was so shocked and unsure how to react that I just giggled and she led me by my, uh, leash.

Check out what she wrote to me!

For the record, it looked like she was sharing her ass with a lot of guys that night, so while I doubt its sincerity, I still appreciate the sentiment.

I would show the back cover, too, but then I would lose any pretense of maintaining a family friendly website (yeah, go ahead and laugh, my habitual readers), so you’ll just have to use your imagination or conduct some illicit Google search.

Nikki Hunter’s IMDB page indicates she’s been in more than 250 pornographic flicks, and those are just things that IMDB reports; I’m sure in that line of work, there are plenty of direct-to-internet videos that go un-credited. Did we watch Smokin’ Cracks? Well, of course, curiosity got the better of us, but we skipped right to the scene with Hunter and could only stomach about four minutes of it. It’s far too raunchy for my taste. I’m not sure what I’ll do with it, exactly, but I have a feeling it might, in the near future, become a gag gift -- emphasis on “gag” – no really, you don’t know how true that is until you see the film, and trust me, you don’t want to. But you might want to check out Porn Star Karaoke at some point, because that was a pretty fun time. Those stuffy feminists I referred to in the first paragraph? They want to go back more than anyone. It just took a couple of drinks, and one of them was chanting “WE LOVE ANAL!” by the end of the night; I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen her behave in such a way before.

There’s a little porn star in all of us.

2010-01-26

Childhood Art

Here's a picture that I found that I had drawn as a child:
At first I was couldn't determine a context or why I would draw such a thing, but after a short study I figured it out: These are illustrations for a calendar.

The first man is a New Year's Baby, if his sash weren't enough of an indication. I didn't know anything of alcohol at that point - how you spell it or how you hold it (maybe it's difficult for a grown, naked man with only four fingers). He's hairy and gross, but I probably found that funny at the time.

The middle lady is an African American seemingly floating in the air. With her peace sign and hippie appearance, she must be one of those Martin Luther King Jr. supporters who believes in equality and other such nonsense.

The last man claims to be Dan Rathers, but he is wearing an awful jacket (vest?) and the world's most misshapen necktie. I'm not sure if he is acting as the gopher or why he is standing in the hole, but we do see Dan's shadow, so I guess that means six more weeks of bad art.

Unfortunately, I didn't complete six more weeks of illustration, at least not that I was able to find. Of course, there's no reason I couldn't resume this project. Let me know if you want to commission some calendar art from me. Sorry horn-balls - the New Year's Baby is as beef-cakey as I'm willing to go.

2010-01-24

I'm Selling My Tonight Show Ticket!

Out of the blue, Andrew called me last week to ask if I would like to attend the taping of The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien later in the afternoon. He claimed he didn’t quite remember when he signed up for the tickets (booze and pills will do that), but now, a couple of months later, his turn had arrived. Just moments earlier, I had read the news that Conan O’Brien had officially rejected NBC’s offer to bump his show back to 12:05 am, meaning he would be leaving the network. With all of this drama occurring, how could I turn down an opportunity like that?

I’ve always liked Conan, but truthfully, I rarely watched his show. When it comes to late-night, I’m firmly in Camp David (of the Letterman variety) and have been since childhood. Sure, Letterman is a sourpuss, but I reckon he’s had a large influence on how my sense of humor developed, so it’s hard to just abandon that. Nevertheless, even if I don’t watch Conan with any regularity, I do admire him greatly. In a way, I see him as a kindred spirit. We both have messy hair and bizarre yet ultimately charming personalities. However, the real similarity that I have noticed is that whenever we aren’t sure how to fill time, we both resort to doing funny dances in the hopes of being entertainment. I’m not sure why I do that (or Conan for that matter), but I do.

What I do know is Jay Leno. I cannot stand how unfunny Leno is. The man will tell Monica Lewinski jokes until he dies. One time in college, someone approached me with a video camera and asked whether I preferred Leno or Letterman. I went on an extended rant about how Letterman was far superior and more intelligent while Leno was comedy for bumpkins and people who prefer knock-knock jokes. I forgot about the interview until a few months later when I found myself on screen at a student screening. Whoever made the video cleverly inter-cut my cries of Leno fans’ idiocy with another guy who said he just liked Leno better but couldn’t articulate why. This wasn’t just any random guy, it was coincidentally a classmate of mine who, yes, I did believe to be stupid, but I never realized that this particular guy was also involved and that my comments would be used to make him look like a real dolt. That led to an awkward interaction in our next class, so I felt a little bad, but I don’t take back anything I said. I meant it and I still mean it. Leno sucks.

That said, I do think Leno has been vilified. The NBC executives are the real assholes in this situation, so I’d be tempted to cut Leno some slack if it weren’t for this video from 2004 where he claims he will be gracious about the passing of the torch, even though as things transpired, he has been anything but:



After a lengthy wait in a holding pen, we were allowed to file into the studio and take seats. It was a really entertaining show. Sure, 90% of the jokes related to Conan’s situation with NBC, but they were hysterical and topical, and not to mention biting. Though there was a great deal of slagging off NBC, Conan more so remained self-deprecating, a trait I appreciate. The guests were Tom Brokaw (who was surprisingly funny), the guy who plays Chuck on Chuck (who Allison accurately labeled a tool), and Rosanne Cash. Cash wasn’t someone I had heard of, but Allison had coincidentally received her album for Christmas (ah, Texans and their country music) and explained that she is Johnny Cash’s daughter. Moreover, her latest CD consists of a list of songs that her dad said were essential country songs that everyone must know. “So she is really cashing in on her dad’s fame, then?” I asked. And I didn’t even mean the pun.

On our way out, a news crew tried to stop us to share our opinions on the late-night controversy, and even though I paused for a second trying to think of something relevant or witty to share, I ultimately decided to keep walking because it seemed more appropriate to have a more ardent Conan fan share his feelings instead.

Still, I came away with warm feelings about Conan that day and how he kept his chin (not a Leno reference) up despite the impending setbacks. Arriving home, I read through his press release announcing that he would not continue on with Tonight Show from earlier in the day, and was especially struck by this:

In the last few days, I've been getting a lot of sympathy calls, and I want to start by making it clear that no one should waste a second feeling sorry for me. For 17 years, I've been getting paid to do what I love most and, in a world with real problems, I've been absurdly lucky. That said, I've been suddenly put in a very public predicament and my bosses are demanding an immediate decision.


I am impressed that Conan is able to keep things in perspective and I appreciate him not asking for sympathy. Most people would give anything for a fraction of the success Conan has found, so he overall he is a very fortunate person indeed. While this ordeal with the network makes it compelling entertainment news and gossip, it isn’t nearly as bad as the situation in Haiti, for example, though the news coverage might not indicate that distinction.

With that in mind, I decided it might be nice to put my Tonight Show ticket and wristband on EBay for purchase with all of the money going toward the Red Cross/Haiti. If anything, I almost feel guilty as a casual fan for taking a seat at one of the last shows knowing how many serious fans would have killed for that ticket, so I figure it might be nice to give someone the memorabilia who would fully appreciate and also help out some people who have had it far worse than Conan.

So bid and bid generously and pass the following link on to other Conan fans!
Tonight Show Conan O'Brien Ticket: day he quit $toHaiti

2010-01-22

Face Lifting by Exercise

I found this book at Goodwill and was understandably intrigued.

Though my initial impulse was to poke fun at it – unlike most people, my urge to mock outweighs my hunger and sex drive – I started to wonder if maybe it weren’t the craziest notion that I’ve ever encountered. After all, people can avoid plastic surgery like liposuction by good old-fashioned exercise, so why not exercise your facial muscles?

The black-and-white instructional photos in the book seemed archaic, so I conducted a search to see if I could find any modern video that gives an example of “face lifting by exercise.” Here is the first result. I’m not sure anyone would call the 80s “modern,” but don’t let that stop you from checking out what this lady’s bizarre workout.



I’ve changed my mind – it IS the craziest notion I’ve ever encountered. Mock away! (Except her hair. That is some beautiful hair.)

2010-01-20

Re:

Yes.

2010-01-19

I Have a Lovely Bone to Pick

Sasha more or less nominated The Lovely Bones to receive my latest scathing cinematic review when she sent me the link to Tucson Weekly’s own review of the film, which starts as follows:

"If Funshine Care Bear came to life and excreted an enormous amount of feces, that feces would be the movie The Lovely Bones.
It’s a steaming, treacly pile of excrescence, frosted with visuals that look like they were adapted from the pink lace-covered dream journal of a unicorn-collecting scrapbooker. Essentially, if Walt Disney made a movie about the rape and murder of a teenager, this is the movie he’d make."
I’m not sure I can put it any better or funnier than that, but after wasting two hours watching the film, I’m at least going to try. Be aware, I will be spoiling the film, so don’t read if you want to see the film untarnished. HINT: You do not want to see this movie. It’s probably worth noting that I’ve never read the bestselling novel on which this film is based, mainly because watching crap is less time-consuming than reading it.

The Lovely Bones stars Mark[y Mark & the Funky Bunch] Wahlberg as a devoted father, but I’d argue that it’s impossible to see him with 70s era clothing and haircut as anything but a pornstar in Boogie Nights. Alas, his penis stays in his pants but (spoiler!) the film’s other leading man, Stanley Tucci, can’t say the same. But I’m getting ahead of myself. The real protagonist is Walberg’s daughter, fourteen-year-old Susie. She likes to take photographs of her unnamed chubby neighbor and deliver whispery faux-poignant yet ultimately meaningless narration. Susie feels some heightened sense of importance since she is narrating from the grave, sort of like the Desperate Housewives gimmick.

Though just a freshman, Susie has a crush on a senior. Her Slutty Grandma, played by Hey-I-Know-How-To-Do-That-Role Susan Sarandon, suggests that she just kiss him already, before admitting that her first kiss was with an older man. (Susie will ultimately non-consensually follow in Grandma’s footsteps.) Susie expresses regret for having a crush on this boy since it makes her oblivious to the fact that her neighbor, Tucci, wants to rape her. In these situations, it lacks tact to blame the girl, but if she is willing to accept some responsibility…

One evening, Susie tells Daddy Wahlberg that one of her friends has a crush on him. He doesn’t seem to care, which makes her upset. Clearly, Susie has not yet learned the lesson that things work out for the best when men don’t have romantic interests in minors. Wahlberg is too caught up in building ships in bottles. As he works, he delivers a nonsensical monologue about how he is the obsessive type and and will not rest until he gets the job done. This scene is important because it shows he is fucking nuts even before tragedy strikes.

Susie receives a couple dozen rolls of film for her birthday and uses them all up immediately. Her parents are upset and don’t want to spend that much money, so they agree to develop one roll of film a month. Similarly, Susie is upset, because she really wants to have copies of that chubby teenaged neighbor she was stalking.

In the meantime, eerie neighbor Tucci builds an elaborate underground chamber beneath a cornfield. There are houses visible behind it, so how no one notices a man with a trademarked molester mustache digging such a big hole and spending months there is implausible. Once it is finished, Tucci invites Susie to check out the clubhouse he built. Finally taking some advice from Slutty Grandma at the wrong time, Susie plays coy for half a second and then climbs underground with this neighbor she’s met only once.

Oh, and then he rapes and kills her. Despite the enormous special effects budget, this act is only implied. Even though any dolt would have seen the writing on the underneath-the-cornfield-wall, it takes Susie a while to realize she’s dead. From then on, the movie follows the same exact plot line as The Sixth Sense. Okay, maybe not entirely, but the only reason I would have been surprised to see an appearance from Haley Joel Osment is because surely no one would cast him in anything anymore.

When Susie never returns home, her family calls the police and an investigation ensues. Though Tucci is questioned, the police press it no further, despite him practically having handed them an ID with the name Creepy McCreeperson. Simultaneously, Wahlberg starts his own “this-is-my-new-ship-in-the-bottle-obsession” investigation, wildly accusing any man in town, including one man simply because he is a janitor. On the edge of a nervous breakdown, Susie’s mom moves away to work on an orchard to distract herself and pretends that Susie was never born.

But don’t feel bad for Susie – she’s having a great time. The entire special effects budget goes toward making a fantastical world for Susie to play in. Purgatory is like an amusement park and she is just having so much fun with her new friends (former victims of the same serial killing neighborhood.) Being raped and murdered: underrated.

Bored and maniacal, Wahlberg continues to develop Susie’s film, found in a box labeled “Rolls to Develop.” For a moment, I thought the movie was self-aware, until I realized that it did not say “Roles to Develop.” The last roll has a picture of Tucci in it (a photo Susie had accidentally taken in happier times), so Wahlberg’s all, “It must be him!” By the same token, why isn’t the chubby neighbor the killer? By chance, however, his latest accusation is right, just as Susie’s younger sister, Lindsey, develops her own suspicions toward Tucci because her dog barked at him. Dogs know a rapist when they smell one.

Tucci now starts building a hut in which to kill Lindsey because she’s cute and clearly suspicious of him. Wahlberg, the dork that he is, goes over and helps with the construction of said hut. He really should stick to ships in a bottle. He then freaks out and asks about Susie and Tucci hides in his home. Later, he tries to follow Tucci into the cornfield, but instead stumbles upon a teenage couple getting it on. Frightened, the boy proceeds to beat the shit out of Wahlberg, who is hospitalized, yet not institutionalized as the situation

Lindsey does not give up the hunt, however. She breaks into Tucci’s home in search of evidence. She finds where Tucci has kept a lock of Susie’s hair (romantic!), but Tucci arrives home just then and catches her! She dives out the second story window and narrowly escapes with evidence in hand. Knowing he’s caught, Tucci immediately packs some things and leaves. Lindsey races to her home in time to find her mom has returned and instantly fallen back in love with her dad. There’s nothing like abandoning your family and getting beat up by a guy half your age to reignite some romance. Those precious moments slightly delay a call to the police, so Tucci gets away.

Now that the murder is solved (though the murderer is at large and has eyes on Lindsey, so I don’t see the resolution here), Susie is free to go to heaven, which is apparently even better than the utopia of purgatory, but she won’t go until she finishes one last thing. She enters the body of Ruth (a minor character not worth mentioning until now) and proceeds to kiss the boy she has a crush on, who recognizes her as Susie. After all, if there’s one thing we’ve learned from this movie, it’s that taking over another person’s body by force for the purpose of your own sexual satisfaction is perfectly fine. Finally, Susie had the first kiss she always wanted, which I guess goes to show what kind of lover Tucci is. (Too far?) Now she can go to heaven where all living girls only wish they could be!

Susie delivers one last whispered narration about how everything works out for the best. Her parents are back together, Ruth and the boy Susie had a crush on are now dating (which is NOT weird at all – hopefully he’s not calling out Susie’s name in the bed they are shown lying in), and young Lindsey is pregnant. Because teenage pregnancy is always a happy ending! Let’s just hope that’s not Tucci’s kid. Speaking of Tucci, he is still being creepy with some new young woman, when an icicle drops on him, causing him to slip and plunge off a cliff to his death where his body will never be discovered. So there’s justice, but nobody knows it. Sorry, Tucci. At least he’ll have heaven to look forward to!

2010-01-18

Accidental Kiddie Porn


I’m not a ChiMo, but I might have been mistaken for one. (ChiMo is my friend circle’s shorthand for Child Molester. Because, you know, we reference child molesters so much that it’s important to have an abbreviation for it.)

At Ben’s wedding reception, his best man, Raza, gave the traditional speech. By traditional, I mean that is customary to give one; the content was hardly “traditional.” In fact, the short speech led up to the distribution of a childhood photo of Ben. Not just any childhood photo, but one in which Ben had his pants down. The guests laughed as the photos were dispersed. I chuckled, too, of course, and then, not sure what to do with it, slipped the double-sided picture into my blazer pocket.

Fast forward to the next day at the airport. The handle on my wheeled luggage jammed and I couldn’t shut it properly. Since I was planning to stow the suitcase in the overhead compartment, I needed to force it closed. After several failed attempts, I actually dumped all of the contents of my bag out in the middle of the terminal so that I could tug/massage the handle to a closed position. While pulling it from the inside made progress, it was a long process. I was a little self-conscious since I was sitting next to a messy pile of my clothing including my underwear as hundreds if not thousands of people walked by.

It turned out that I didn’t know what self-conscious really meant until, full minutes later, I found the naked photo of Ben was somehow sitting atop my belongings for the world to see. Because I had been making a spectacle of myself by making a mess and thrashing my suitcase about, surely some people had noticed a photo of a nude boy amongst my possessions.

Embarrassed, I flipped over the picture to hide it, only to remember moments later that – whoops! – the other side was graphic, too. The last thing I needed was to be caught with this racy photo, so I buried the image beneath my clothes. After fixing the suitcase and repacking my things, I honestly was concerned that the authorities would approach me because some passerby had reported me in possession of child pornography, but fortunately I got on the plane without incident – or another incident, anyway. Funny how an innocent joke at a wedding can become a criminal offense in another context.

2010-01-17

Diversify Your Work Force

I want my friend Heather to come visit, but she is "too busy" working for a major corporation in the diversity department.

K: Why won't you come to CA? There's a lot of diversity here that you should probably check out. Have you ever met a Mexican?
H: What are Mexicans? I'm getting slightly sick of diversity. It's such bullshit.
K: Well, we can hang out with mostly white people if that makes you more comfortable.
H: It's just that no one really cares. Well, some people do, but most people just want to say they're doing good things for black people.
K: Your company should just get in the business of reparations. That'll fix everything.
H: Actually, my company is mostly fine... It's frustrating because everyone in charge doesn't want to make real changes because there is no business justification.
K: Use a powerpoint. That'll show em. First slide: "Once you go black, you'll never go back." Applause applause applause, world changed, yadda yadda yadda.
H: You should come and work here!
K: I'm saying! Just cut and paste this chat in an email as my cover letter and send it straight to the boss and HR. But change my name to something Lopez.
H: Right, they can't know I am friends with white people.

Employment, here I come!

2010-01-15

In Memory

I just saw a commercial on Lifetime advertising an all-day Jennifer Aniston movie marathon on this coming Monday.

Martin Luther WHO?

2010-01-14

Pregnant Student Update

Even though I've been out of the teaching profession for more than a year now, I still receive requests for an update on my pair of students who got pregnant.

If you're unfamiliar with the story, you can read it here, and then how things got complicated between these students and me later.

If you want the story in a nutshell, there was a pair of freshmen in my class that dated and got pregnant. As much as I hope things have worked out for them, they were not parent-material in any sense. The maturity level of the Daddy was particularly disconcerting:

Someone asked Daddy if he wanted a boy or a girl. "Duh, a boy," was his response. "What if it's a girl?" someone asked. "I don't want a girl, that's gay." Now, I'm legitimately afraid for the unborn child, especially if its genetalia proves unpreferable to the father. Most would consider the act of reproduction to be a predominately heterosexual act, regardless of the ultimate gender, but Daddy believes otherwise. Attention all fathers with daughters: you're gay. Maybe you've fooled yourself into believing you're straight since you've been in a longterm, sexually active relationship with a woman, but that girl you've created is a sure sign of your closeted homosexuality. My student, however, is a man, so you can be sure he's going to have a boy. And only have boys from here on out. Actually, only wanting boys is a mentality that strikes me as particularly gay, but whatever.

I am sort of upset that I won't still be working at the school when the baby is born. Perhaps I'll send a card, especially if it's a girl:"Congratulations -- You're Gay!"

Anyway, unfortunately, I haven't heard any news about the new parents, but after the most recent request for information, I decided to google the kids' names to see if anything turned up. Amazingly, I found a birth announcement, which provided a birthdate and the baby's gender. Guess what - that baby is a GIRL! Which means Daddy is GAY! I'm not sure whether to find this really amusing or be upset at the fact that Daddy has probably abandoned the kid for being a disappointment. Alas, there are few cases where having no father might be preferable to having the one you've got, and this could be one of them.

2010-01-11

My Mentor: A Personal Eulogy

A trying day just got harder.

I had a couple of bad experiences this morning, but have been trying to live up to my New Year’s resolution of keeping an optimistic attitude anyway. I think I was doing all right with it until I received a call a half an hour ago that informed me that Jeanne Fryer, my former professor, died. Jeanne was my mentor, a concept I’ve never really understood until I had Jeanne in my life.

While attending graduate school to receive my Masters in Education, Jeanne was assigned as my advisor. Because of the way in which the program was organized, I spent at least eight hours each week with her in a class with four other students. My peers, fellow English teachers, had been my classmates in a larger class the previous summer. Notably, the five advisees of Jeanne were, how shall I say, the students that were a little rougher around the edges than our other cohorts. Even though we were all teachers, we were the ones that would question authority, swear in class, fall behind on the reading/assignments, and try to get away with whatever we could. Surely, it wasn’t a coincidence that we had been grouped together. And surely it wasn’t a coincidence that someone saw fit to have Jeanne be our advisor.

From that lead in, you might assume Jeanne was some kind of hard-ass taskmaster, but it was quite the opposite actually. Jeanne was one of the kindest people I have ever met. She never had a bad thing to say, and while this can be an annoyingly fake trait in some, Jeanne was so genuine it was easy to believe her. It didn’t take long for my ragtag classmates and I, the grad school equivalent of the bad students we had in our own high school classes, to completely adore Jeanne. Truthfully, we didn’t hold much esteem for some of the authoritative figures at our college, but Jeanne was a stellar exception. Were it not for Jeanne’s warmth and guidance, I am not kidding when I say I probably would have dropped out of the Education program altogether.

I struggled a lot as a teacher, a fact that is pretty well documented in the archives of this blog. Fortunately, Jeanne was there to support me. Even in my failures, she was always able to find a positive comment to offer, as well as some constructive criticism. I can’t say I quite maintained my sanity that first year of teaching, but she helped me to keep the little bit that I could. I tried to hide a lot of the worst aspects of my teaching from a lot of people, but I felt comfortable putting it all out there for Jeanne. She would come and observe me in my classroom at my worst and actually manage to make me feel better; in some cases, I just appreciated having a witness to certain events (i.e. “Can you believe a student actually did that?!”) I remember once when she came to my worst behaved class, a smart-ass student asked me, “Is that your girlfriend?” It was clearly meant to be an insulting joke of sorts given our large age discrepancy, but I just responded, “Yes.” The student looked me at me confused and Jeanne just shrugged her shoulders and smiled. At that moment I realized: I should be so lucky!

My mentor-relationship with Jeanne went beyond teaching. One of the aspects that drew me to Jeanne the most was her remarkable life path. Though she started out as a teacher, she frequently changed careers and was never afraid to travel and try something new. Jeanne was an avid learner who let her interests guide her. While most people are content to find something decent and stick to it, she would venture out and take risks professionally, routinely finding success. Her life was an inspiration to me; as someone who didn’t want to teach forever, I loved her drive and found hope in her exploits.

Truthfully, I’m pretty sure Jeanne realized I was destined not to be a teacher far before I did. That’s not to say she thought I was a shitty teacher, I know that she had more faith in my abilities than I did, but that she sensed my overwhelming unhappiness with the job.
Although she continued to encourage and support me 100%, she also recognized my potential and passions for other pursuits. She encouraged my wandering eye and shared writing and academia opportunities with me.

When I wrote my graduate thesis, Jeanne admired my candor in a way I’m sure no other professor would have. I took a very cynical perspective toward teaching in my writing and did not hold back. This was very much against the grain, as most of my peers’ theses were filled with uplifting sob stories that romanticized the profession. (Good for them, of course, after my experiences, I respect a great teacher more than anyone, it’s just not me.) Jeanne vouched for the originality, strong writing, and unique honesty of my thesis and helped it to be selected to win the college’s thesis award. There’s no way I would have won that without her in my corner, and there’s no way I would have felt comfortable sharing so strongly without her to validate my research and experiences.

At my graduation ceremony (the same one where I did in fact pat Jeanne on the butt on stage on a dare), each advisor prepared speeches about their advisees. Most professors complimented their students’ teaching abilities (and rightfully so), but Jeanne made sure to push mine beyond that to make it more relevant to my long-term goals. I kept one of the note cards she read from: “Thank you for your ‘realness.’ What a pleasure it must be to be counted among your friends (and students!) Best wishes for life discoveries.” She also included a quote by e.e. cummings: “I’d rather learn from one bird how to sing than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance.” The wisdom of that quote has only grown on me since leaving the teaching profession. It shows how much she understood me. She believed in me and saw things in me that I didn’t see in myself.

After graduating, I meant to stay in better touch with her, considering what an inspiration I found her to be. You know how “meant to”s go. We’d contact one another occasionally or run into each other, but we never shared the long chat I was hoping for. The last time we spoke, Jeanne shared how her father had died, and that was the saddest I had ever seen her. She still maintained her trademarked sense of optimism, though, and if she knew she was sick at that point, she did not mention it and clearly wasn’t letting it hold her down.

In the past few months, I tried to get back in touch with Jeanne. As I struggled to find employment and a solid life path, I really wanted some guidance from her. For some reason, I felt that she more than anyone would have all of the answers. I now realize that life must have gotten very complicated for her during this time, so I completely understand the lack of response.

It’s frustrating, because now more than anything I want Jeanne to fix my situation or make me feel better about it. At least I was fortunate enough to know her and know that she believed in me. I can still take the wisdom and the care that she offered, use her life as an inspiration, and keep pursuing a meaningful life that is happy, fulfilling, and helpful to others. Plus, remembering Jeanne reminds me to remember how an optimistic approach is the best one – even for a cynic like me – so I will keep soldiering on.

Jeanne has helped a lot of people become great teachers, and for me on a personal level, a great person. To allude to the note she made about me at graduation, the real pleasure was to be counted among Jeanne’s friends and students. I only wish I had had the opportunity to express that to her recently.

2010-01-10

Some FRANK Polls

POLL TIME!

If you could meet any artist, living or dead, who would it be?

A. Pablo Picasso
B. Claude Monet
C. Henri Matisse
D. Lisa Frank

I'd choose D, Lisa Frank, for her groundbreaking work of rainbows and cute things. No one understands colors and fourth grade girls better than Lisa.


As much as I like making "Lisa Frank as a serious artist" jokes, I tend not to make them, because I'll often botch the punch line and accidentally say "Anne Frank" instead. And, well, to say the least, referencing "Anne Frank" definitely changes the tone of the joke.

As far as Lisa and Anne go, I can't think of any similarities beyond a shared last name. Perhaps they were sisters? (I told you the basement was a better hiding space!)

But anyway, that leads me to my NEXT POLL!

What do you consider to be the biggest Anne Frank tragedy?

A. Like Vincent Van Gogh, her work was not published and appreciated until after her death.
B. Like Harper Lee, she lacked the talent to produce a second work that lived up to the quality and success of her first book.

This time, I vote B. It's called the sophomore slump, and it's a shame she fell prey to writer's block and a long, fatal descent into booze and pills.

That is how she died, right? Oh. Well that's really terrible. Quick! Lisa Frank, create a distraction!

Teeheehee, so cute! I'm glad that mistake works both ways.

2010-01-08

My Sense of Humor in a Nutshell

If someone were to ask me to describe my sense of humor with a single graphic, I would most likely offer up this:

Normally, I'd just show the image and let the inherent humor speak for itself, but since I'm holding this picture as some sort of example, I'm going to elaborate more than necessary.

Don't get me wrong: it's tragic. What the third girl says is horribly sad. In fact, in this case, I'd argue that it's impossible to laugh without first quickly feeling the pain. After the first two materialistic responses, you get lulled into such a sense of triviality that the final answer comes like a firm punch to the gut. And that shock, I'd contend, is hilarious.

Sure, I have an inappropriate sense of humor, but it's not like I'd just laugh at someone's parents being dead in another context. (Not many, anyway.) But as someone who has worked on newspapers before, I can say that whoever laid out this space-waster (let's face it, this piece is hardly hitting journalism) is an idiot.

I love how the first two respondents now look like total assholes, even though if you were to omit the third person, most people would concede that their answers were sensible, if not full on cosign to them. I'd also imagine that if the other people had been privy to the last girl's answer, they'd think of something more thoughtful to say.

To get back to the topic of my sense of humor, I find the following things funny: social critique, awkward discomfort, and unexpected punch lines. But more than anything, this snippet is a taste of reality. And reality is quite funny.

2010-01-07

The Blind Side: How White People Can Make You the Best Black Person You Can Be

Warning: It’s called The Blind Side because it makes you want to gouge your eyes out.

YES – I am about to recap and SPOIL this movie. But it doesn’t matter, because you didn’t really want to see it anyway! So deal. Or stop reading. If you stop reading, though, you’ll miss out on a film that’s more racially problematic than a Klan meeting.

We start with a black mechanic who drives two children to a wealthy private school. He speaks to a coach at the school, requesting that he accept his son, the smaller of the two kids, to start him on a better path. Instead, the coach is interested in the other child, known as Big Mike. You can practically see trophies flash in the coach’s eyes as he sizes up the massive Big Mike.

We never hear what becomes of the mechanic’s son; presumably, as a scrawny black kid, he has nothing to offer the upper crust white society and is never admitted to the school. Big Mike, however, has the girth to be a star football player, so the coach goes to the school’s admission board and begs them to accept Big Mike. The coach uses white guilt as his first ploy, and when that fails, he follows up by reminding the school officials of their Christian values. Christian guilt trumps even white guilt, apparently. The religious administrators, who have probably previously used African missionary trips as an excuse for going on paid safari vacations, finally relent and agree to tame this large, savage beast.

Big Mike immediately struggles at his new school. One white teacher, played by someone other than Michelle Pfeiffer, who must have been busy (doing what though?!), recognizes that just because Big Mike is uneducated doesn’t make him an idiot. He has potential! The other teachers laugh. Big Mike also has trouble making friends. After a month, the first people Big Mike attempts to befriend are two small kindergarten girls who run away from him in fear. The scene is supposed to show that no one will give Big Mike a chance, but I’m with the girls: he’s being creepy. Try hanging out with someone within ten years of your own age.

Another kid at the school, S.J., performs in the school play as “Indian #3” (of the Native American variety.) He wanted to be the chief, but apparently they gave that role to the Chinese kid because of his ethnicity. Oh, affirmative action! On the way home, his parents’ car passes Big Mike walking around in the cold and the mom, Sandra Bullock, demands the car be stopped so she can take him home and feel like a hero for the night. Of course, she assumes Big Mike is going to steal from him while she’s asleep, but what else is a do-gooder white woman to think.

Bullock enjoys having a charity case living in her house. She bonds with Big Mike in the best way you can with a character that never utters more than a few words. Bullock takes Big Mike back to his home in the projects where she must stay in the car, because there are perverted black men hanging out on the stoops who want to have sex with the pretty white lady. She does not like this environment, so she insists that Big Mike stay with her family permanently, giving S.J. the big black brother he’s always wanted. Meanwhile, Bullock keeps asking questions that she already knows the answer to like “Did you ever have a bed?” and “Did your mom ever read to you?” so that her heart can break a little when he says no, then be instantly repaired when she thinks of what a good mother SHE is.

Since the white teacher has been working hard to find his potential, Big Mike finally reaches a GPA that allows him to play sports. His new family takes him out to celebrate and tell him the big news. They’ve been feeding and housing him in anticipation of a sports career all semester, and finally their investment is paying off!

Football doesn’t come easy to Big Mike. He doesn’t know how to play because he’s never cared about football previously. Both his brother S.J. and his mother Bullock pressure him repeatedly, reminding him that football and his team are like family and he can’t give up, essentially implicitly reminding him that he’ll disappoint his other family if he quits. Over time, Big Mike excels and becomes a star!

Meanwhile, Big Mike wants his drivers license. For some convoluted reason, this requires Bullock to first become his legal guardian. Even though she can do so legally immediately, she vows to wait until speaking to Big Mike’s biological mom first. She says it’s out of respect, but really it’s just another chance for her to see what a better mother she is. Yes, Bullock, you are better than a crack addict who has lost custody of her dozen kids. Keep being white!

When Big Mike earns his license, his adoptive parents buy him a new car, specifically a pick-up truck. Everyone knows black all people shouldn’t drive a pick-up truck, which he demonstrates by immediately getting in an accident. This accident happens in large part due to the fact that listening to hip-hop music distracts Big Mike. (Black people and their music… AMIRIGHT?!) The airbag should have killed the too-small-for-an-airbag S.J., but Big Mike reaches out his arm to deflect the impact. Like many cinematic negroes before him, Big Mike is magical. His arm looks pretty destroyed from the accident and you’d think this would at least somewhat affect his sports participation, but this is never addressed. After all, if he couldn’t play, the family would probably have to euthanize Big Mike, and what kind of happy ending would that be?

As Big Mike continues to excel at football, numerous colleges scout him. His new parents, Ole Miss alums, pressure him toward their alma mater, even giving the Ole Miss coach insider information on Big Mike so they can recruit him more effectively. Before he can get into any Division I school, however, he must improve upon his D-range GPA. Looks like the whole emphasis on education went out the window once he qualified for sports, and now he’s facing the same problem again. They hire Kathy Bates as Big Mike’s personal tutor. Bates is a democrat, which Bullock considers to be more shameful than being black, and nearly says as much. Bates is also an Ole Miss alumnus, and makes up stories about rival teams having dead bodies under their playing fields to scare him into accepting at her school. You can’t trust a liberal!

Since literally everyone that cares for him wants him to go to Ole Miss, Big Mike chooses accordingly, if you can even call it choosing. Thereafter, the NCAA investigates the recruiting process. They find it strange that a couple of Ole Miss boosters have adopted a kid and set him on the path in what appears to be an elaborate recruitment process. Big Mike suddenly realizes that maybe his white parents had ulterior motives.

Big Mike runs away to find his biological mother because suddenly a parent with no expectations seems preferable to a manipulative one… or maybe he just wanted some crack. The black men who want to have sex with his white mom meet him instead. Their conversation leads to a physical altercation, which just goes to show that all black men, even supposed gentle giants, are prone to violence. Though there is no kung-fu involved, the fight scene is reminiscent of a ninja film where Big Mike is able to beat up each of the assailants who approach him one at a time, despite the fact that they all have guns.

Bullock comes to the rescue, and Big Mike returns to the NCAA investigator. He says something cute and suddenly all is forgiven and the investigation is terminated. His white family, which IS his real family, proudly drops him off at Ole Miss. Bullock leaves Big Mike with a parting hug, then, I KID YOU NOT, warns him that she’ll cut off his penis if he gets a girl pregnant out of wedlock. S.J. immediately chimes in, “She means it!” so sincerely that I half expect him to pull down his pants and show his own neutered groin, but that doesn’t transpire. Nevertheless, Bullock’s comment shows just how far she’s come toward seeing young black men as more than a stereotype. Or not. Not at all actually.

Apparently, this has all been based on a true story (of fucking course) and Big Mike goes on to join the NFL. The message here is that you can be whatever you want to be. Or rather, you can be whatever other people want you to be, especially if they “believe” in you. One has to wonder if they believed Big Mike could be a scientist, whether he also could have succeeded in that field. But I guess we’ll never know, because they looked at a big black guy and thought “FOOTBALL!” and the rest was history. Congratulations, white people!

2010-01-06

A "New" Cell Phone

For a while, my phone was on the fritz. It would rarely ring and calls would generally go straight to voicemail. Sometimes my text messages would show up backwards – like a mirror image of itself. Holding your phone up to a mirror to read text messages is not the way to go. It was an old, cheap phone, so I don’t blame it for failing on me. I’m sure spray painting it gold didn’t improve its quality of life any, either.

On my flight to Connecticut, my phone officially died. I don’t mean that the battery died, those were charged, but the phone just quit altogether. I was upset. After deplaning, I realized my phone was no longer in my possession. What had I done with it? After everyone else cleared out, I got back on and searched with a flight attendant. “I found it!” she said. It was a Blackberry… someone else’s Blackberry, no less. We couldn’t find mine.

I contemplated my bad luck, and then decided it just might be good luck after all. Since bad events are pretty much a given in my life at this point, they might as well happen simultaneously and negate each other essentially. What did it matter that I lost my phone if it had died? And what did it matter if my phone died if I had lost it? My life is great, actually!

Just as I reached home in Connecticut, the airline called. Someone had found my phone. Despite the phone being dead, I decided to return the next day to pick it up so I could recover my saved phone numbers. I went to the lost baggage area where I had been told it was being stored and inquired about it. The lady said they did not ever keep phones there, but she agreed to check anyway. I described it as “junky” and she went looking. After a couple minutes, she returned with the phone. “This must be it!” she said, and it was. “Phones are considered valuables, so we always lock them in our safe. I guess they decided not to do that in this case.” Wow, so the phone was rule-breakingly junky.

With dead phone in hand, I went to the Verizon store for a new telephone with an open mind. I didn’t really want an upgrade upgrade, but I was prepared to let the salesperson talk me into something a little better than the basic model that comes free with renewing your contract. The employee didn’t try to bamboozle me; in fact, he didn’t even attempt to help me. I asked him to show me the varieties and mentioned I was open to whatever possibilities. He asked what I wanted my phone to do, so I said, “call people.” Perhaps that response deserved the “duh” answer he gave me, but that’s not good customer service. He asked what else I wanted and I told him I wasn’t sure, but that I probably didn’t need the internet or anything.

“Oh,” he said, while pointing. “Then you’re looking at that wall, it’s for the older generation.” He didn’t walk me over to it, just gave me a condescending attitude. I went over to the fogey wall, introducing myself to the products and privately fuming. I looked for the cheapest phone I could find. I’m still of the mindset that I have a phone to call people, not to answer all of life’s problems like some people do. Maybe I’ll change my mind at a later point, but I rather like not being albe to consult the internet at every moment of the day. Sure, it has its perks, but irrationally or not, I fear an entirely mediated life.

Now if you’ll allow me a moment to get off this especially tall horse I seem to be riding, I’ll go select the cheapest phone available. And it’s not just because I’m cheap. No, at this point, it’s at least half spite. I’ll show him how confident I am to pick a lame phone despite his attitude. Besides, I made a vow to myself that I wouldn’t buy a pricy phone until I leanred not to drop it on a daily basis. Let’s just say I’m not there yet.

The Verizon employee couldn’t have looked more unimpressed by my selection. “Oh, the same exact model you already had,” he told me. I’m not sure if it is the same model just two years later, but it certainly looked different – it’s half as thick and a different color – but way to be a dick!

Obviously, after going through the trouble of picking up my dead phone, I wanted to transfer my stored numbers over to the new phone. He took my phone, but grumbled that it might not work because it was in such bad condition and the port was gunked up and broken. This, mind you, was the same port that I plug my charger into on a regular basis, so I knew it, in fact, worked. He took it to a back room and returned moments later telling me the port didn’t work. As I began to protest, he said he’d try one more time. He came back shortly, saying that “somehow” he got it to work. Gee, thanks.

So yeah, I have a “new” phone, possibly quite similar to the last one. No need to send me your numbers, unless you’re a stranger and I never had it in the first place, in which case only send me your digits in the case of job offers, life opportunities, or marriage proposals. Thanks!

2010-01-05

Angela Lansbury, Sex Icon

I once had a roommate who had a legitimate crush on Angela Lansbury. I never knew how to make sense of this, because she's pretty old and not particularly attractive in my opinion, but if the voice of a teapot does it for you, who am I to judge?

This past weekend, Priscilla gave Lindsay a photography book of famous Divas. The cover art was mesmerizing - just look at Lansbury do that high kick!

Maybe she's a sexier woman than I gave her credit for. I guess I've always just associated Lansbury with my grandparents since Murder She Wrote is their favorite television show of all time. I love a good whodunnit, but the premise is a bit funny. Lansbury plays Jessica Fletcher, a writer, not a detective, yet she just happens upon a murder on a weekly basis. If I were one of her friends, I'd think twice about spending much time with her.

Since Fletcher lives in a small Maine town called Cabot Cove, I wondered how absurd the murder statistics there must be. Fortunately, James Barron of The New York Times did my research for me: over the course of the show, a full 2% of the town's 3,560 (and dropping) residents were killed. That's not even factoring in murders of people who just happened to be visiting the area; apparently those figures are even more alarming. It's a wonder that the tourism held up as well as it did. For some perspective, generally in Maine, a town of that size averages about one homicide a decade.

To get back on topic, maybe people were dying all around her because Lansbury is so drop-dead gorgeous. It's a thought anyway. In spite of her surprisingly nice legs, I'm not yet on the Lansbury-Sex-Goddess train, but if you are you just might love this next video. It's a clip of Lansbury naked in a bathtub while rubbing herself and describing the sexuality of mature women. I kid you not, so viewer beware! If she's not your thing, you might want to just skip the video or else you'll find yourself contemplating Suicide, She Wrote.