Friday, June 30, 2006

Poetry Friday: There once was a man named Gore

There once was a man named Gore,
whom the media said was a bore.
"Stick your ideas up your tush,
we'd rather drink with Bush."
And now our asses are sore.

Inspired by the (much better) poetry friday at Republic of Dogs.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Top Ten Tuesdays: Why are we not raising the minimum wage?

10) Don’t want to damage profitability of our Wal-Mart stock.

9) Can’t risk losing our core voting base of poor white trash.

8) Somebody’s got to work for peanuts after we kick out the Mexicans.

7) Once you give people a living wage, they’ll start asking for health care, better schools, less crime, and the next thing you know, we’re Canada.

6) The free market should dictate what we pay our caddies.

5) The current minimum wage is more than enough to get a five-course meal off Wendy’s dollar menu.

4) Hoping that the poor get desperate enough to enlist.

3) If they’re so unhappy, they should just do what we did and have Dad buy us an oil company.

2) It's hard enough carrying enough change for the Piss Boy as it is.

1) Because when we made a pact with the Devil to get elected, we had to give him our hearts, too.

Monday, June 26, 2006

I like the booze but the booze don’t like me

Once it hits your lips, it's so good!

In many ways, my relationship with alcohol hasn’t changed much since my first drinking experience 20 years ago. I stood in a San Diego parking lot at age 15, one hand on the waist of my white Bugle Boy cargo pants, the other holding a Corona to my lips, while a group of thirty people stood around me chanting, “chug, chug, CHUG!”

I have gotten slightly wiser/less ridiculous about consuming alcohol since then, but generally speaking, I am still a social drinker who tends to drink too much when socializing with other drinkers. I rarely drink by myself, because to me drinking is almost as much about who I’m with as what I’m drinking. Put me in a dim pub with friends, drinking good beer or Scotch while talking about the conservative twats ruining our country, and I am about as happy as Tom Delay opening a briefcase of money.

The problem is, like Delay, I have trouble knowing when to say when. This issue is hardly limited to drinking. I don’t know when to say when to Butterburgers, Coldstone, dropping f-bombs, dropping the conversational daisy cutter “c***sucker,” gambling, or rambling. The big reason I only inhaled pot once in my life is because I knew a second trip would start my transformation into Floyd from True Romance.

To avoid full blown alcoholism, booze and I worked out the Fermentation-Productivity Truce of 1986, shortly after my second bought of drunkenness and first trip to Barf County. I would not drink all the time, but when I did, I wouldn’t worry about going overboard. As long as drinking didn’t have any adverse affects beyond eating carne asada burritos at 3 a.m., we would follow a no-harm-no-foul policy.

The Truce held for nearly two decades. There were minor scuffles—freshman year in the dorms, my first year in New York City—but cooler heads of foam prevailed. Even in my New York publishing days, when I partied like it was 1999 but had to work like it was 9 a.m., I always dusted myself off and wore my 9 to 5 hangover like a badge of honor. Sure, we killed the bottle of Jäger, but a little coffee and some aspirin and I’ll be ready to number and photocopy that manuscript.

However, the truce came under attack during the Prom Blitzed-Krieg of ’02. The Lovely Becky and I, caught up in the undergraduate spirit of living in a college town again, went to the Writer’s Workshop Prom. It’s an annual event where America’s future Faulkners dress up and act like they’re in high school. I acted like I was back in the San Diego parking lot. The next day, I awoke feeling like I’d been shaken, not stirred, and hit in the head by Odd Job’s hat to boot. I left with TLB at 11:00 a.m., drove the 10 miles back to our apartment, and went back to sleep until 4 in the afternoon. Even Sunday, I still felt the buzzing, painful fog of excess.

Age had finally caught up to me. I refused, as most do, to acknowledge it at first. But with each hangover, the rubber band of sobriety seemed to get less and less elastic. And, like the Bush presidency, the hangovers kept getting worse over time.

Things came to a head (literally) a few weeks ago. I went out with some people from work. They like to have a good time, I like to have a good time, and yadda yadda yadda I’m drinking Bacardi Orange and Red Bull on a school night.

On the stumble home, I suspected I’d be a bit foggy the next day. Instead, a full Category 5 hangover landed. Jackhammer headache, upside down stomach, and icy cold sweats.

I tried sleeping in a little, thinking maybe an extra 60 minutes would get me in cubicle shape. No dice. I felt even worse. I finally had to accept the inevitable—I would be taking my first hangover sick day ever.

The Truce was broken. I felt guilty and kind of ashamed. That may sound silly, but for the first time, drinking had directly caused me to shirk a responsibility. On top of that, my body was telling me that playtime was over. I felt old.

“That’s it,” I told TLB with Bushian steely resolve. “I’m not drinking like that any more.”

My resolution lasted two whole weeks. TLB was gone, as were the spouses of my friends Grendel and HGF. We three headed out on a Friday night and proceeded to down more pitchers than Tommy John surgery. I spent most of the next morning and early afternoon in bed, moaning.

My loving, gentle, sweet wife, calling home the next evening, was her usual understanding self. “How long did that last?” she asked, giving the question an exaggerated, Chandler Bing delivery.

“Agh! Not so loud.” Her guffaws reverberated off my remaining brain cells. “I’m serious, no more death drunk.”

“Yeah, right!” she said. “Look, I’ve gotta go, the pool boy’s here.” (Note: I may have imagined this last sentence.)

Again, I resolved to beat the demon rum, or at least make it into a minor, more manageable devil. To do so, I would have to face an even stronger challenge: the El Gordo de Amore Goodbye Pub Crawl.

El Gordo de Amore—who in many ways is Will Ferrell from Old School, but Harvard educated—was moving from the IC back to the East Coast. We had a serious pub crawl planned, complete with T-shirts commemorating our bar stops. It would take some serious will to keep this genie in the bottle.

We started off on the familiar wrong foot at the pre-crawl BBQ. “Is that Jäger?” I asked Grendel. Grendel smiled a smile of both mischief and sad acknowledgement, the kind of smiles Butch and Sundance had on their faces right before the charged the Mexican army and got riddled with bullets. I saddled up and downed my medicine.

For once, I was glad to be Catholic. Catholics have extraordinarily strong senses of guilt. If you had a Catholic X-Men superhero, he would be called Guiltarias, with the power to bend people to his will by making them feel like shit if they didn’t. I could feel Guiltarias working on my psyche. Three strikes and you’re out, boyo (Guiltarias is from just outside of Dublin). Keep drinking and I’ll show up every time liquor hits your lips, friend, from now until Jesus comes riding back on a giant can o’ Guinness.

I commenced pub crawling and felt the needle moving up the Drunkometer: Sober, Legal limit, Half in the Bag, And let me tell you something else..., and Death drunk. I was hitting H, and I knew that the needle tended to pick up momentum on the way down to D. So I did what I almost never do: I slowed down. I started drinking at a normal pace. Maybe one pint per pub instead of two or three. Spacing my sips. Keeping my pleasant drunk going without getting unpleasant. I felt so, so...mature.

Ironically, TLB was the one square dancing with Bacchus. She put the Vodka pedal to the metal and left me in her dust. I was jealous, but I stayed firm. Besides, when her head was pounding like a Keith Moon bass drum, I’d have the last laugh.

We reached the 1:30 a.m. mark. I was getting tired. I’d either need to call it a night or push the needle to the red and wind up passing out pantsless next to Grendel’s dogs, probably with El Gordo’s arms around me. El Gordo was still in fine form, Greco-Roman wrestling ol’ John Barleycorn. I consulted with TLB. “I think we should go,” I said.

“Really?” she asked. It was asked in a way no man wants to hear, when your wife is being more of a “guy” than you are. But TLB didn’t let me twist too long. She finished her drink and we got up to leave. I felt like I was eating vegetables, doing the right, healthy thing, but pining for that bacon burger. Despite the admonitions to keep going, we said our goodbyes and walked home.

The next morning, something was missing: the shovel to the head and wringing of my guts. My stomach was stable, my head only slightly achy, and I was probably an omelet away from feeling completely normal. Sure, I was sad to close a fun chapter on my drinking life. But I still had fun the night before without treating my liver with Shock and Awe.

An hour after I was up, TLB rose. Here it comes, I thought. Surely if I, a man, was struggling with the Hangover Quotient, my wife would be in trouble after a night of heavy pounding.

“So how do you feel?” I asked.

“Not too bad,” she said, as normal as if she had been drinking diet pop all night. “A little groggy, but not bad at all.”

And with that my testicles crawled just a little bit closer to my stomach. So much for crossing a milestone. Instead, I found out I’m just a bigger hangover wimp than my wife.

That’s enough to drive me to drink.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Time: Friend of freedom or tool of terror?

A CJSD Special Report

War has been declared on wartime timetables. But will our deadlines and curfews suffer collateral damage?

Republicans opened a new front in the Iraq war this week—the war on timetables for troop withdrawal. Republican Congressmen and Bush Administration officials not only refused to set a date for withdrawing American troops from Iraq, they launched an offensive against Democratic calls for such timetables, saying they would not "cut and run" and that even talking about timetables was a "disaster."

But like many wars, these attacks on Iraq timetables have had effects beyond the intended battlefield. Now, right here in America, all manner of time-based milestones are under attack.

The politics of deadlines

In Chicago, at the ad agency Grand, Olsen, and Pecker, an account manager and copywriter nearly came to blows after the copywriter missed a deadline. The advertising scribe, Gerald Bartleby, failed to deliver copy for a credit-card check package. The account manager, Jennifer Kelsey, confronted Mr. Bartleby at his cubicle, demanding to know when he would be finished.

"It will be ready when it's ready," Mr. Bartleby said. "What do you want me to do, just leave these headlines without supporting body copy? Do you want a 3 percent response rate or not?"

"It's just a check package," said Ms. Kelsey, "you know, 'use these checks for anything you want' blah, blah, blah. You said you would be done six weeks ago. What the hell have you been doing?"

"You know, I don't think this is even about the check package," yelled Mr. Branch. "I think you're just using this 'deadline' to score political points against me."

Such deadline deadlock has been reported nationwide, particularly in the IT industry. Dylan E. Myers, a project manager at Home Page Solutions, a Web development firm, says he's dealing with a near-revolt from his programmers.

"We had an emergency status meeting because we were way late on a project," said Mr. Myers, "and all my programmers were like, 'dude, code doesn't come together overnight,' and 'we have to make sure this home page is an example to other home pages.' And I was like, I hear you, and I respect your craft, but Playtex hired us to launch this new maxi pad portal launched by Friday.

"So the next day, one of them bought a Neville Chamberlain action figure off eBay and left it in my inbox,' said Mr. Myers, shaking his head. 'And they keep asking me if I want a chicken sandwich for lunch.'

Other reports have surfaced of cable television technicians refusing to name hour ranges for appointments, authors leaving delivery dates completely blank on their contracts, and business boards refusing to report quarterly profits.

"Our numbers just aren’t ready to go out in public," said one chief business officer at a Fortune 500 company, "and I'm not going to rush out earning statements for the sake of some artificial quarterly reporting structure or to satisfy some weak-willed shareholders. The results could be calamitous."

The curfew conundrum

The war on timetables has had a domestic effect as well, especially among parents and teenagers. "I told my daughter that she could stay at the party until midnight," said Helen Chapman of Little Rock, Arkansas, about her daughter, Ann. "I originally said 11:00, but she whined and pleaded and I gave in. Midnight is plenty late for a 16-year old. Well, when I showed up to get her, you'd have thought I was the biggest traitor on the planet."

Arriving at the party in her minivan at 11:55 p.m., Ms. Chapman waited for five minutes outside the house of the party, but her daughter did not appear. Going inside to investigate, Ms. Chapman found there were no parents home—despite Ann's insistence that they were there—and that there was rampant underage drinking and "general fooling around," in Ms. Chapman's words. "There was no supervision at all," Ms. Chapman said. "Those kids were just doing whatever the heck they felt like."

Grabbing her daughter by the wrist, Ms. Chapman forcibly pulled Ann out of the party. She scolded Ann for not disclosing the nature of the party, but Ann insisted she told Ms. Chapman it would not be chaperoned. After bickering back and forth about the exact nature of the pre-party disclosure, Ann said that her mother never let her have any fun and that it was unfair that she had a curfew when the other partygoers did not.

Arriving at home, Ms. Chapman said, "I don’t care if all the other kids can stay out all night, you’re coming home when I say, and you’re also grounded for lying."

"God, why do you hate freedom so much?" Ann screamed before slamming her bedroom door.

A weary Ms. Chapman slumped in a kitchen chair. "Do you see what I have to deal with now? I just want to know when she’s going to be home."

Is it "time's-up" for time?

It's unclear whether deadlines, curfews, and other time-based metrics will help us fight terror or embolden our enemies. But there is one thing that no one debates about time, a point made very clear by Republican party chairman Ken Mehlman.

"Democrats can talk about timetables and deadlines all they want," said Mr. Mehlman. "But one thing is clear: time goes hand-in-hand with death. It leads to death. And by aligning themselves with time, it's clear that Democrats are—as we have said all along—the party of death."

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Top Ten Tuesdays: Why have we been neglecting our blogs?

Special extra overtime edition!

11) Been working like a dog, sniffing luggage and chasing mechanical rabbits.

10) Had to find out where the kids disappeared to.

9) World Cup fever merged with NBA Finals mania and led to couch potato pneumonia.

8) At this point, we’ve chronicled pretty much everything we’re going to see from Mom’s basement.

7) These two Swedish foreign exchange students said they needed help with their anatomy homework and we spent all week...okay, okay, we sprained our wrists using the Internet. Happy now?

6) Help! we’ve ROTFLOL and can’t get up!

5) VH1’s history of drugs made us a little nostalgic for an old fashioned 80s style weekend and yadda yadda yadda couldn’t get onto Blogger from the correctional facility computer.

4) We decided to escape the virtual shackles chaining us to the Internet, stand on our two feet, and explore the real world around us! As we sprang from our desks, we tripped over the phone cord and broke our DSL modem.

3) Can’t stop scratching.

2) Thought The Rapture had arrived, but it was just a very convincing street theater rendition of Jesus Christ, Superstar.

1) All we can say is we have no idea how the mouse got up there or why we didn’t notice sooner.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Top Ten Tuesdays: What changes are we making to our Iraq strategy?

15) Rethinking current invade first, ask questions later policy.

14) Requiring a permit to detonate an improvised explosive device.

13) Impressing Democratic presidential hopefuls into minefield-sweeping duty.

12) Replacing formal diplomatic visits with late-night diplomatic booty calls.

11) Opening a new front, the War on Bad News.

10) Using trail of Cheetos to lure young male conservatives who rabidly support the war to enlistment offices.

9) Swapping army uniforms for Burger King costumes to really creep out the enemy.

8) Showing solidarity with the troops by donning flightsuit, hopping into a jet fighter, and personally defending the Texas coastline from al-Queda.

7) Financing war with all the unclaimed inheritance we’re getting from Nigerian banks.

6) Conducting biological warfare against insurgents by letting them sleep with Paris Hilton.

5) Promoting American-style democracy by not only playing Freedom Rock, but turning it up.

4) Improving Islamic relations by commissioning a cartoon series showing the Prophet Muhammad hugging Americans.

3) Ordering the entire U.S. army to slowly walk backwards until they reach the Iranian border.

2) Giving Kiefer Sutherland 24 hours to figure the whole thing out.

1) Coming up with a strategy.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


A CJSD Commercial production

A split-screen shows two Arab men talking on the phone, dressed in jeans and sitting in suburban family rooms. They are having a very animated discussion. A woman with a sultry voice narrates over the footage.

Do you want to listen in on hot, wild conversations that could be a threat to our national security? Do you want to hear what suspected terrorists may be doing? Then get in on the action and call 1-900-WIRE-TAP.

You’ll hear all the down and dirty details from sleeper cells that could be right next door. Our big, powerful, NSA computers flag naughty terrorist code words and connect you to where the terrorism may be going down:

We listen in on the conversation:

I’m telling you, Omar, Dirk Nowitski is going to blow up in the NBA Finals.

No doubt, Ali, that German is unstoppable. He’s going to destroy Miami.

Oh yeah, he’s going to kill everyone.

They laugh. Cut to an image of two Arab women on the phone, one holding a cookie while she talks.

Whether you like boys or girls, 1-900-WIRE-TAP puts you in the middle of a counterterrorism sandwich....

FIRST ARAB WOMAN (biting into a cookie)
Praise be to Allah, these cookies are dynamite! I could die right now and go to heaven. What’s in them?

It’s my super-duper secret recipe. I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you!

They laugh, too. Cut to an image of a 30ish white man in a suit, talking on a phone.

Not into Arabs? 1-900-WIRE-TAP will catch all kinds of dangerous code words and let you listen in on other American enemies, like Democrats...

Yes, Senator Kennedy, with the President’s approval rating sinking, now is our time to strike. We’ve got to hit him hard on the Iraq issue and rolling back the tax cuts.


Cut to a female teacher talking on her cell phone.

Hello, this is Professor Smith. Yes, I’m currently teaching a course on peace studies. I’d be happy to talk to a reporter.

The media...

Cut to a female reporter on the phone

Hi, this is Julie Morganstern from The New Yorker. I’m fact-checking a story by Seymour Hersh on the unconstitutionality of the NSA program.

And gays...

Cut to two men shopping at a department store. One talks on his cell phone:

I know, I keep telling my partner that we should just move to Vermont, but he’s about San Francisco...No, we’re picking out china patterns together. I hope we have enough room for all this stuff in the Miata.

Cut to a montage of all the callers.

For all the barely legal NSA monitoring you can handle, hook your phone up to 1-900-WIRE-TAP. We’ll be waiting...and we’re all ears.

MALE VO (speaking rapidly) All calls may be monitored without notification. $3.95 for the first minute, $1.95 for each additional minute. Children under 18 get your parents permission unless they hate America, in which case please press star 7 to speak to one of our operators.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Top Ten Tuesdays: What are getting for Anna Nicole Smith's baby shower?

America’s favorite white-trash billionaire-corpse humper announced she is pregnant. What will we get her for shower gifts?

10) Hooked on Phonics

9) Complimentary exorcism, just to be sure

8) Free baby pole-dancing lessons at Montessori daycare

7) Baby Bjorn carrier with airbags for when Mommy falls down

6) Psychotherapy savings bonds

5) A special version of The Little Engine That Could, where the Little Engine waits for the Big, Old, Rusty engine to croak so the Little Engine can get all his coal

4) A breastfeeding funnel for the poor kid

3) Foster care with a loving pack of wolves

2) Snortable pre-natal vitamins

1) Starring role on a new reality show, Mommy Worstest

Monday, June 05, 2006

Behind Blue (Girl's) Eyes

In commenting about the worst top 50 since Casey Kassem's dog dedication, our resident "flower child" Blue Girl attracted the interest of someone who's pretty darn special.

And yes, it really is him.* He stopped by Lance Mannion's place, too.

That is the beauty of blogging. Blue Girl is now officially a rock star (she's been an unofficial one for quite some time).

It also inspired me to listen to "Won't Get Fooled Again," just to see if I missed something that the Night Ranger brigade caught in making it their #1. You know, maybe some hint that Keith Moon was really a Tory.

Nope. Once again, conservatives show they don't give much thought to thinking.

Kudos to BG and Mannion.

*Update: Just to make things clear, Tom Watson confirms BG's guest is who he says he is.