Friday, December 28, 2007

Friday CJ Random 11

It's one more random than 10!

The Lovely Becky and I had our first doctor's appointment yesterday. It was the first appointment since the scare-me-shitless incident, and it also came at the end of the first trimester. That means we're at the point where you might notice stuff about little TBD, stuff that could be bad.

The doctor set up the ultrasound, and there was TBD on the screen. I have to admit, it looked more Rorschach than human at first, until we saw the spine and the heart and the head. "Everything looks healthy and normal," said the doctor. I have never been so happy to hear the word "normal." And I know when TBD gets to be a teenager, we'll hear about how s/he needs the right clothes/shoes/hair dye/piercing to be an individual, but right now, I want TBD to be just like all the other normal babies.

Anyway, I want to say thank you to everyone for their support over the years—new virtual friends as well as old fashioned bricks-and-mortar friends. You have no idea how much your words and deeds have helped. I know we're not out of the woods, but I at least feel like I have a map and the Blair Witch is no longer leaving bundled sticks outside my tent. Now let's write about some tunes.

1) "Waiting for the 7.18," Bloc Party. It's odd to hear songs about office life now that my commute consists of climbing a flight of stairs and it's impossible to have good water cooler conversations with cats. I dig this song because, even though the lyrics are a little cloying—making a couplet with "sudoku" is never a good idea—it's a big song, designed to reach the back of the stadium. I like that some bands still try to write those kinds of songs. Does anyone remember grandeur?

2) "Bad Light," Built to Spill. I miss guitar heroics, too, which were unfortunately strip- mined in the 80s by leather-pants-clad cobags playing hammer-ons before they could learn to drive. Built to Spill bring the taste back to guitar heroics, stacking layers of riffs and melodies on top of each other, but without ever sacrificing the song for flash.

3) "Don't Get Excited," Graham Parker. An oldie that I recently discovered and wonder how I missed this. He manages to out-Elvis Costello Elvis Costello. Catchy, angryish new wave with great riffs and clever, often sarcastic lyrics. Also known as "my cup of tea."

4) "Lipstick Sunset (Live)," John Hiatt. Fellas, if you need a good song to set the mood with your lady, this is a great choice. Hiatt croons some romantic lyrics over a slow, but not too slow, beat. The perfect road trip song for the journey from the living room to the bedroom.

5) "The Hammer," Motorhead. Also a great romantic choice if you're dating Gina from The 40-Year Old Virgin. Amusing Motorhead aside: Freshman year of college, I had to take a composition course. Our teacher, one of the grad students, used to wear a complete preppy outfit of penny loafers, Levi's, and a tweed jacket, but added a Motorhead t-shirt to the mix. At the time I thought he was a tool, but I realize now he was also an irony pioneer.

6) "Prison Sex," Tool. Perfect for setting the mood if you're incarcerated. Hey, Mad Dog, they're playing our song! Will you walk me to my cell? This is the only album I ever bought because of a music video.

7) "Good Luck," Basement Jaxx. Danceflooricious.

8) "For All the Cows," Foo Fighters. I loved the first Foo Fighters album because of songs like this, but never got into their other albums after that. However, I hope Dave Grohl continues to be popular, because he gets what it means to be a rock star. He's completely dedicated and passionate and yet doesn't take himself too seriously.

9) "Perfect Circle," R.E.M. At the other end of the serious spectrum. Michael Stipe ruined R.E.M. for me, as much as he made me like them in the first place. Has he smiled since Out of Time came out? It's not like I want musicians to be Lenny Bruce necessarily, but you play rock music for a living. Pull the microphone pole out and loosen up a bit.

10) "Dog Eat Dog," AC/DC. I remember seeing an interview with baseball steroid gladiator Jason Giambi, back when he was an emerging star instead of a state's witness. He was wearing a hat that read, "Drive it like you stole it." That's how AC/DC played music before Bon Scott choked to death, like they had been given the keys to a Ferrari and they had better floor it to 150 before someone realized who was behind the wheel. That's also why I always crank early AC/DC to 11.

11) "Jail Guitar Doors," The Clash. Songs like this are why the first Clash album is on my desert island list.

The Lovely Becky bought me this for Christmas, and there will be some serious dork blogging about it later this weekend. Until then, have a good one.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Happy Holidays

The Official Christmas Tree of Brando/TLB Worldwide, Inc. One of the packages under there will be the subject of a post next week. Note: the tree is actually straight, it's the doofus taking the photo who is listing.

We are in the NWI for another year of The Noise and The Heat at my grandma's house. Yesterday, we broke the baby news to my extended family. The Lovely Becky has reached the first trimester and everything is going okay, so it seemed like a good time. I don't think sharing good baby news will ever stop feeling refreshing.

Yesterday I was wrapping up a present for my mother, a present that is baby-related. I wanted to sign it from the three of us, but wasn't sure what to call our child. After some discussion with TLB, we settled on "TBD." That seems very appropriate to us.

So from our house to yours, happy holidays and safe travels.

Brando, TLB, and TBD

Friday, December 21, 2007

No Cookies for Old Men

Author's note: Some of the bloggers circled around Circle Jerk at the Square Dance have been engaged in a holiday baking contest. If you have not been involved in the contest or reading the posts, the following is probably not going to make a lot of sense. I apologize for that. In short, this baking contest goes back a couple years, and each year there are boasts, insults, allegations of cheating, sulking, and occasional bursts of goodwill toward the fellow bakers. The links spread throughout may help explain the story. Also, if you haven't seen No Country for Old Men, you may want to watch the trailer first.

On screen:

On screen:

In a large, darkened mansion, a pair of fashionable black pumps creep up a flight of stairs. A woman, her face unseen, ascends the wide staircase. She holds a menacing, four-foot tube of cookie dough with a dispenser attached to it. Reaching the top, she enters a bedroom. She comes upon a sleeping man, THE SKIMMER, and wakes him up. The camera pulls back and we see it is BLUE GIRL. She extends a cookie to him.

I need you to call this: yummy or yuck?

It's one in the morning!

I know. Just call it.

I need to know what I stand to win.


The following words appear on a black screen:

Inside a log cabin, The Lovely Becky enters, carrying a box. She walks past Brando.

What's in the box, TLB?


Just cookies?

TLB gives Brando a serious look but says nothing. She takes the large box out of sight.

On screen:

In a kitchen, JENNIFER and THE UNCANNY CANADIAN look at a mess of crushed boxes and crumbled cookies.

It's a mess, isn't it, Queen Jennifer?

On screen:

If it ain't a mess, it'll do 'til the mess arrives. (A doorbell rings). Speaking of messes, that must be Kathleen's entry.

In an office, RES PUBLICA sits talking to CHUCKLES.

Are you sure you can win this, Chuckles? Because I can't enter, and that cheater has to be stopped.

You leave it to me. But do her cookies really taste that bad?

Compared to what? The bubonic plague?

A series of scenes follow in quick succession:

Blue Girl walks away from a box of shortbread as it explodes.

Blue Girl runs her car over a box that says "Mandos."

Blue Girl wrestles a faceless man in red track suit. As his feet kick wildly on the kitchen floor, we see a pair of egg beaters slowly coming to a stop.

The Uncanny Canadian opens a box and pulls up a red track suit top. It's covered with green cookie dough.

We got a real loose cannon here. Do you think that TLB has any idea of the sort of baker that's on her?

She's seen the same things I've seen and it certainly has made an impression on me.

Brando sits on a bus.

Becky, I'm scared.

Jesus Christ, do I always have to be the one that wears the pants?

Jennifer stands in the Brando/TLB log cabin, which is splattered with green dough.

It's an all-out war.

In his kitchen, Chuckles sits facing Blue Girl. She raises her dough dispenser to his mouth.

If the recipe you followed brought you to this, what good is the recipe?

TLB stands in her kitchen, covered in flour.

What is Blue Girl, the ultimate badass baker?

You have no idea what she will do to win.

Blue Girl bursts into Res's office, carrying her giant tube of dough. His eyes widen in horror as he sees her dough tube: it reads "Pillsbury."

I knew it!

Blue Girl sits across from Brando. She holds a cookie for him to taste.

Call it.

On screen:


Championship Vinyl is closed today

Hey kids, I'm running around finishing shopping and what not today, so the Random 11 will be off until next Friday. I'm hoping to put up a post about the Cookie Contest later tonight if I don't go to jail for shooting consumers with too much holiday spirit.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

First Word, One Syllable, Sounds Like Bush

Inside the White House, the Presidential and Vice Presidential families gather round a roaring fire near the Christmas tree. LAURA, JENNA, and BARBARA BUSH sit with VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY, LYNNE CHENEY, MARY CHENEY, and her partner, HEATHER POE. CONDOLEEZA RICE stands by the fire, an empty glass in her hand. PRESIDENT BUSH mans the punch bowl.

Laura Bush chain smokes while the Cheney's and Bush's make small talk. Vice President Cheney ignores them, running his index finger over a globe.

VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY (poking at various countries on the globe)
Eenie, meenie, miny, moe, pick a target by its toe….

PRESIDENT BUSH (holding up punch ladle)
Who wants more of my Bunch?

MARY (waving empty glass and slurring)
I do, I do!

(To Mary) I think you've had enough. (To Bush) Mr. President, no more punch for her.

It's "Bunch," dear.


That's an abbreviational for "Bush punch." It's a special Bush recipe.

What makes it so special?

I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you.

Tell her, tell her!


(To himself) Heh-heh-heh, that never gets old. (To Rice) Condi, I know you want some.

CONDI (slurring with inebriation)
Sssure. And make mine extra ssspecial

Two extra specials coming up.

When no one is looking, President Bush holds his wrist above the cup and presses a cufflink. Brown liquor pours out from under his shirt cuff into the cups. He ladles a small amount of punch into the glasses. As he turns to give Condi her glass, a large, bottle shaped hump appears under the back of his suit coat.

Bottoms up!

As President Bush goes to drink, Condi hooks her drinking arm around his, pulling herself in close to the President.

Is that a direct order, sssir?

Laura gives Condi a stare.

LAURA (overly cheerful)
Condi, I am surprised you're not spending Christmas with your family?

CONDI (draining her Bunch in one gulp first)
I don't have any family.

Oh, that's right! I'm the one with the children and the husband. (She exhales smoke in Condi's direction.)

LYNNE (clears throat)
Say, what about a game of charades?

Lord, give me another heart attack now.

That sound like fun! I want to be Sonny Bono.

No, dear, not Cher-ades. Cha-rades, where you have to guess the word.

Oh, right. I knew that. Okay, okay, let me go first.

President Bush motions for one word, one syllable. Before he does anything, Cheney guesses.


Heh-heh-heh, how'd you know, Dick? Heh-

Vice President Cheney raises a finger and makes a throat slashing gesture at the President. Bush's last heh-hehs get cut off.

PRESIDENT BUSH (swallowing hard)
Mary, why don't you go?

MARY (finishing her Bunch)
Ummm, okay.

She motions for four words, first word, one syllable. While looking at Jenna, Mary points to her own eye.

Eye…(Mary claps)…oh, I! I guessed right. (To Barbara) I'm winning!

Barbara rolls her eyes. Mary motions for the second word, one syllable, and strikes The Thinker pose.

I…sit on the toilet?

I poop!

I think.

Mary claps and motions for the third word. She gestures for third word, two syllables. She points to Jenna.

Me? I think me?

BARBARA (sighing)
I think Jenna.

What? What do I think?

Mary motions for the fourth word, one syllable. She waves her hand like she's fanning herself.

I think Jenna waves. What the heck does that mean?

It's "hot."

Heather stands up.

You think Jenna's hot? How could you?

Probably because you look like K.D. Lang.

Heather runs out of the room. Mary runs after her. There's a pause before Jenna turns to Barbara.

In your face, Barbara! Mary thinks I'm hot.

You know, what, Jenna? Why don't you….

Girls? You promised.

BARBARA (waits a beat, then smiles)
You're right, mother. Here, I've got one.

Barbara stands up and indicates one word, one syllable. She cups her ear.

Sounds like…

Barbara makes a spanking motion.

Sounds like, "spank."

Barbara then points to Jenna.

Um, drank, prank…


Barbara claps. Laura stands up and throws her cigarette on the floor.

LAURA (to Condi)
Don't you talk to my daughter like that, you helmet-haired hussie!

What's your bony-ass, cancer sucking, Stepford ass going to do about it?

Laura lunges at Condi and pulls at her hair. Jenna shoves Barbara as well.

I'm not a skank. You're just jealous because I'm Mary Cheney's favorite Bush.

I'll bet you are.

Jenna gets a confused look for a moment, then makes an angry face. She lunges at Barbara and they go tumbling to the floor.

The four women fight for a moment, eventually spilling out of the room and out of sight.

Shouldn't somebody do something?

PRESIDENT BUSH (pouring himself more Bunch)
Oh, the Secret Service should stop them before anyone gets seriously hurt. Come on, let's keep playing.

You want to play charades, George? Okay, here's one for you.

Cheney stands up and signals three words, first words, two syllables. He points to his eye.

See…sight…blind…Stevie Wonder!

Christ on a crutch!

That's more than one syllababel.

It's "I," you chimp.

He motions for second word, one syllable. Cheney starts running in place.

Trotting…jogging…Jim Fixx…heart attack…Oh my God, are you having a heart attack?

For God's sake, it's "Iran."

Oh, right. I was going to guess that.

Cheney motions for the third word, two syllables. He extends his arms and runs around the room, making jet engine and bombing noises.

Flying…Jets…Wings…Paul McCartney…Baby, I'm Amazed…Baby Fishmouth.

It's Iran Airstrike! It's the same fucking clue I've been giving you for the last two years, you goddamned smirking buttfaced mouthbreathing….

He stops and grabs his heart.

Wait, I know this one: heart attack!

LYNNE (standing up, nonplussed)
No, he's just having some chest pains. He needs to take a time out and relax a bit. (She takes the Vice President's hand.) Come, dear, think happy thoughts. Unilateral military action…executive privilege…the presidential line of succession.

She leads the Vice President out of the room. Bush stands alone for a moment, then triggers his cufflink and fills his glass with booze, not even bothering to add punch before drinking.

Heh-heh, poop.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Top Ten Tuesdays: How did we end up on the naughty list?

10) Acted like a real turkey toward the one group in Iraq that likes us.

9) Have more mistresses than approval points.

8) Stuck a little something in Iran's lead stocking.

7) Compared liberals to fascists despite being a fascist about sharing the Cheetos with other National Review staffers.

6) Called husband by pool boy's name.

5) Called wife by pool boy's name.

4) Ate more than our share of the American pie, grabbed everyone else's share, and then licked the few crumbs they had off their faces.

3) Delivered a urine sample so full of performance enhancers, the cup came back from the lab and hit 40 home runs.

2) Reported that we were beat up for our conservative views on sex, when it turns out we were just beating off.

1) Last name rhymes with "Bush."

Friday, December 14, 2007

Help TLB get going on her next novel

The Lovely Becky wants to get crank on her new novel over the semester break, but she needs some new tunes that are good to write by. Stop on by and drop some suggestions in the comment box.

Friday CJ Random 11

I think many of the millions of you who read this blog also read the funniest blog on the Internet, I Am Bossy. However, she posted awful news about a terrible family tragedy: her daughter was attacked by a neighbor's dog and bitten on the face, losing her lip. The doctors grafted it back on, but they don't know yet if it will take.

The more I've thought about it today, the more it makes me sick. People have to take responsibility for their pets. The attack reminded me of a dog attack suffered by one of TLB's younger cousins, who also has a very sweet smile like Bossy's daughter. She lost part of her finger this past fall when she was petting a neighbor's dog, an animal she had petted many times before, but which was also a pit bull. Seriously, what are people thinking when they own animals like this? I hope that dog that attacked Bossy's child gets put down immediately, and the owners should never be allowed to own so much as a fish since they clearly can't manage their pets properly.

Anyway, please offer a prayer/thought for Bossy and her daughter, or go over and leave a comment.

Music always helps me take my mind of things, so here's today's list.

1) "Jackson," Johnny Cash. Johnny Cash's voice is always soothing. No matter what happens, you can always play some man in black.

2) "At the Movies (Rock for Light)," Bad Brains. When you're full of rage and want to hit something but can't, hardcore punk like Bad Brains is a good release.

3) "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," The Rolling Stones. Such a revolutionary song really ruined by the geriatric Stones still playing it. I have no problem with Mick and Keef and the rest touring, recording, and so on. Their musicians, they love what they do, more power to them, I hope the rock til they drop. But once they reached a certain age, they should have removed certain songs from their set list, like this one. It just doesn't work when sung by someone old enough to draw from a 401k without penalty. Compare the Sullivan version vs. the Cialis version.

4) "Mildred Pierce," Sonic Youth. I caught "Homerpalooza" episode of The Simpsons the other day, which is old enough that Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins was drawn with hair. Anyway, Sonic Youth were in that episode, with bassist Kim Gordan uttering the classic line, "Hey, Hullabalooza isn't about freaks; it's about music, and advertising, and youth-oriented product positioning." Little did they know how much more true that would become by the time Billy Corgan lost his hair, lost his band, and regained his band.

5) "Family Snapshot," Peter Gabriel. This is a terrific Gabriel track, with a passionate vocal and a nice soft opening that builds to rocking main portion of the song. But what do I hear in the back of the mix? A cowbell. Will Ferrell's collateral damage continues.

6) "Stan (Live)," Eminem with Elton John. This is from the Grammy Awards performance. The most unlikely duet pairing since Axl "Immigrants and Faggots" Rose and Elton John sang "Bohemian Rhapsody" at the Freddy Mercury tribute show. I guess Sir Elton isn't afraid to sing with controversial people. Too bad he missed his chance to sing "What's Love Got to Do With It?" with Ike Turner.

7) "Brass Buttons," Gram Parsons. I think this is what the Eagles were trying to sound like. If this isn't a tequila sunrise, I don't know what is.

8) "It's Been a Hard Day's Night," The Beatles. To follow up on "Satisfaction," McCartney could play this and it would still seem okay. But if he tried to play "I Wanna Hold Your Hand," now, it would seem kind of silly. Especially because the reason he wants to hold your hand is to hand you the divorce settlement and be done with it.

9) "Losing My Edge," LCD Soundsystem. I'm normally not a big fan of speak-singing songs, where the guy or gal talks more than sings. Maybe that's why I never made a big connection with rap. But this is a pretty funny song about an older DJ expressing his fear of losing his edge to the "kids coming up from behind," and then trying to show he's still cool by talking about the shows he's gone to and the records he owns. As someone with a Peter Pan complex, I can completely relate. Worth it for this line alone: I'm losing my edge to the art-school Brooklynites in little jackets and borrowed nostalgia for the unremembered eighties. Christian from Project Runway, I think he's talking about you.

10) "Plush," Stone Temple Pilots. They were poor man's Pearl Jam, but I liked a lot of their hits, including this one. I admit to singing along in the car.

11) "Dio," Tenacious D. Dio, time to go, you must give your cape and scepter to me! I will never admit, even under threat of waterboarding, how much I have air guitarred to Dio.

Have a great weekend, and I'm praying for a speedy, full recovery for Bossy's Daughter.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Top Ten Tuesdays: What classified material are we destroying?

Special vetted by the _______ ____________ Agency edition!

10) Lincoln Bedroom surveillance tape showing _____ ____ taking it up the ___ while her parents were away at Crawford.

9) Jealous, profanity-laced cover letter included with Lincoln Bedroom surveillance tape from _____ ____'s sister, _______.

8) Inventory of _,___ pairs of shoes purchased by ___________ ____ during national security crises and national disasters.

7) Magic 8-Ball used to make important military decisions by former Secretary of Defense ______ _________.

6) Craigslist ad, credit card receipts, and adult diapers showing how ____ ____ really got the nickname "Turd Blossom."

5) Google Earth image showing location of ____ _________ ______'s coffin.

4) Minutes of White House national security meeting where attendees formed a ______ jerk and ____ off while watching season 2 of 24.

3) Packing slip for First L___ _____ ____ for a black 10-inch _____ ordered from Good Vibrations.

2) Oval Office transcripts of President Bush's frequent, secret meetings with Jack D______ and Jim B___.

1) All traces of hypocrisy and cowardice by D________ who approved of torture before disapproving it.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Friday CJ Random 11

It's one more random than 10!

My brother Tickle and I send each other text messages during Bears games. After seeing a promo for I Am Legend, we had this exchange:

Me: At the end of I Am Legend, Will Smith should find that the only person left alive is Jazzy Jeff.

Tickel: Or Carlton.

That's the kind of comic relief that has allowed me to watch the Bears this year. On to the tunes!

1) "Girlfriend in a Coma," The Smiths. Still hilarious and catchy after all these years. It's hard to go wrong with darkly comic lyrics set against a shiny, bouncy melody.

2) "Who Killed It," Nas. I saw the Seinfeld "Dinner Party" episode last night, where Jerry tries to make a point about how black and white cookies are the secret to harmonious race relations. Well, over the summer, I tried to make my music collection more like a black and white cookie by loading up on some rap music. However, this song is reminding me just how vanilla I really am.

3) "Undone (The Sweater Song)," Weezer. Here's a recipe I'm more familiar with. When I need to feel a little less white, I listen to Weezer. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

4) "Uh Huh Oh Yeah," Paul Weller. Now here is a black and white cookie song. A nice vanilla melody blended with a groovy chocolate beat. Seriously, if you need a pick me up and have never heard Paul Weller, this song is worth looking into.

5) "End of the Great Credibility Race," New Bomb Turks. This is garage rock. Fast, aggressive, and it sounds like they just stuck a mic in the middle of the room, chugged a case of the kind of beer that only comes in cans, and started playing. That also pretty much ensured they would never make it big.

6) "Little Hitler," Nick Lowe. I would never want to piss off Nick Lowe, because he would write a tune about me that would deliver withering insults so catchy, I would be humming them all day long even though each stanza was a slap in the face.

7) "Life Is a Carnival," The Band. If life is a carnival, does that make all of us carnies?

8) "Fashion," David Bowie. Appropriate now that I am immersed in a new season of Project Runway. It's the only reality show I've ever been hooked on (well, maybe the first couple seasons of The Real World). Here's something that I wonder: why do people on reality shows act like they've never seen the reality show they're on? Watching some of this year's Project Runway contestants blow their chances and get voted off, I want to ask them: haven't you ever seen this show? Don't you know that you don't need to win each week, you just need to not suck the most? They're like people in horror movies: gee, the walls are bleeding and the dog is speaking backwards Aramaic, let's go into the basement and investigate!

9) " Goddamn Electric," Pantera. I don't envision them as big Project Runway fans. I would love this if someone else was singing. It's like their singer can't decide if he wants to do the high pitched metal scream or do the Cookie Monster death metal growl, so we get Cookie Monster after a Oreo Double Stuff bender.

10) "Charlotte Sometimes," The Cure. I hate to say it, but this has almost gotten to parody level for me. I still love The Cure, but this is them at their most high school serious. The moaning vocals that try to sound deep, the production echoing the emptiness of Robert Smith's soul, and the martial drum machine pounding out a 4/4 march of despair. Yet it all sounds like it was written by an 18-year old Goth upset that he has to work at Cinnabon in the morning.

11) "No Respect," Public Property. They are all white, they are from Iowa City, and they play…very good reggae music. If that's not a black and white cookie, I don't know what is.

And I hope that all of the participants and judges in the 2007 Cookie Contest will remember to look to the cookie and remember that we are all bakers.

Yeah, right. We're in it to win it and we don't care who we have to burn to make it to the top! I'll see you all in Hell's Kitchen!

Oh, but have a good weekend.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Bush: US Must Win the War on Truth

Calls Facts "bad for US foreign policy"; Proposes 50% reduction in Veracity by 2009.

WASHINGTON – Responding to a National Intelligence Estimate that said that Iran's nuclear weapons program had stopped in 2003, President Bush announced at a press conference that the United States could no longer tolerate the actions of Truth.

"After the NIE report was released," the President began, "Iranian President Mahmoud Almondjoyjihad said that this report is a victory for Iran. Well, any victory for Iran is a victory for terrorism. Which means that Truth supports terrorism. And you're either with us or against us, so that means Truth is against us.

"I will not stand by and let Truth dismantle all that this administration is trying to accomplish."

The administration has had an uneasy relationship with Truth since the beginning of the Bush presidency, when the dispute over the electoral returns in Florida in 2000 threw the presidential election into chaos. Since then, Truth has often been at odds over a number of Bush policies: the impact of tax cuts on the deficit, the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq as justification for invasion, the use of torture on detainees in the War on Terror, and the White House's assertion that old people and puppies were safe around the Vice President.

Critics of the administration have long said that the White House should embrace Truth. However, the Bush administration instead signed a treaty with Deceit, making it difficult to reach an accommodation with Truth.

At the press conference, the President made it clear that the relationship with Truth had reached a breaking point. "We tried to compromise with Truth," Bush said. "We were open to giving Truth some concessions, but it's all or nothing with Truth. For example, we tried to say that just because Iran isn't developing nookular weapons doesn't mean Iran isn't developing nukes. But that's not good enough for Truth and all the facthuggers out there. So we have no choice but to declare War on Truth."

The President then unveiled a new diagram labeling Truth, Facts, Reason, and Logic as the "Rhombus of Inconvenience." President Bush described it as "a parallelogram to the Axis of Evil."

He added, "I named that one myself. I was pretty good at geography."

During the question an answer period, reporter Helen Thomas asked that if the President was declaring a War on Truth, "wouldn't the White House actually lie about being at war with Truth?"

"But I'm telling the truth," the President answered.

"But how can we be sure of that if you're at war with Truth?" Thomas asked.

The President blinked for thirty seconds, and responded, "Boy, my head hasn't hurt much since the second Back to the Future movie. I guess I have to say that the American people should just trust me."

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Top Ten Tuesdays: Why did we break our abstinence pledges?

10) Took internship in Republican Congressman's office.

9) Meant to only do anal but never learned anatomy in home school.

8) Received an urgent revelation from a different kind of burning bush.

7) See, this one time, at band camp….

6) Thought it would cause the hair to fall from our palms.

5) Wanted to get out of going to another creepy purity ball with Dad.

4) Priest promised it wouldn't count if we went to confession right after.

3) Turned 40.

2) Played Twister at the Purity Party.

1) Touched by an angel, or some guy claiming to be St. Michael.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Friday CJ Random 11

It's one more random than 10!

It was five degrees when I woke up this morning. Five degrees. I haven't even put up the Christmas tree yet. The other day during our first winter storm, the wind was blowing so hard that the house was vibrating and the monitor on my desk was actually shaking a little. That's what we call in layman's terms, "fucked up." I wouldn't pull the lever for a Republican (or pull the lever of a Republican, no matter how much he taps), but voting for someone with a pro-global warming agenda sounds pretty enticing right now. I would feel really bad for New Yorkers being flooded out, but look at the bright side, the rising tides would wash away that urine smell in the summers.

1) "53rd & 3rd," The Ramones. Speaking of washing away the urine smell of New York… I lived in New York during the Guilani years, when the city was getting cleaned up (read: Disneyfied), so I can only imagine the grungy scariness of 70s New York portrayed in this song.

2) "Back on the Chain Gang," Pretenders. I love the guitar rift and Chrissie Hynde's vocals. One of their best songs.

3) "Grindstone," Uncle Tupelo. I started out as a classic rock/metal kid, eventually widening my rock horizons to stuff like The Cure and New Order, and then getting into classic punk late in high school and during college. But it took a long time before I could listen to anything that sounded like country music, especially anything that had a prominent steel guitar the way this song does. I preferred Uncle Tupelo's punky songs much more than the traditional Americana they played later on. But over time, that changed to where I liked their sad, twangy songs a little more than their fast, angry songs. Maybe it's because country music sounds more lived in, and I had to do a little more living to appreciate it. Or maybe it's because you can't be 14 forever, no matter how hard I try to do that.

4) "Outsiders," Franz Ferdinand. Sometimes you just have to shake your booty. Franz Ferdinand is a group that completely understands that need. I would find it impossible to keep my hands below my head if I was dancing to this.

5) "Von," Sigur Ros. The way The Ramones sound like New York, Sigur Ros sound like Iceland. There's a soft, icy beauty to this, like a winter sunrise. Which I can appreciate much better now that I live in the Artic Circle.

6) "Far Cry," Rush. And this sounds like Canadian bacon. Mmmm, hammy. This is one of those classic cases where you buy an album, love love love the first song, and then wish the rest of the songs had sounded like that first song. Oh well, they have brought me enough geeky air drumming happiness over the last 26 years that I automatically contribute to their IRA by buying the new album.

7) "Crazy Rhythms," The Feelies. Like a methed-up Talking Heads. And I mean that as a compliment, as I always thought the one thing missing from the Talking Heads was more meth. As opposed to more cowbell.

8) "Dogs Got a Bone," The Beta Band. If you ever just want to chill, sit on the deck on a sunny day and pop open a beer like you're starring in your own Corona commercial, this is a pretty damn good song to play. In fact, most of the songs on The Three EPs album occupy that laconic, groovy frequency that induces involuntary head bobbing. You can see it in action in Hi Fidelity, where John Cusack says "I will now sell four copies of The Three EPs by The Beta Band" and gets everyone in the record store shuffling in synch.

9) "More Human Than Human," White Zombie. Okay, so I can't be 14 forever, but I can still tickle my inner Beavis with the diaphragm-pounding thump of Rob Zombie's monster mashes.

10) "Copperhead Road," Steve Earle. A much better song about a smuggler's blues than Glenn Fry's "Smuggler's Blues." Probably because he was an actual desperado instead of a fake one.

11) "Save a Secret for the Moon," The Magnetic Fields. I could hear this happy, bouncy song playing over the closing credits of a romantic teen comedy, where a boy (Superbad's Christopher Mintz-Plasse, showing his McLovin' range) realizes he's been mistakenly chasing the pretty blonde popular girl (Heroes' Hayden Panettiere), when he really loves his geeky brunette female friend (Hillary Duff, showing her range by dyeing her hair and wearing corrective lenses), who becomes just as pretty once she takes off her glasses! They kiss as this song plays over the credits, while the boy's dad (Eugene Levy) dances to the song with the boy's mother (Jaime Lee Curtis), who became attracted to Levy without him having to remove his glasses or wax anything, because female scriptwriters don't write this shit.

Have a great weekend. And go Mizzou!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Official Blackwater Job Application




Serial number:_________________________________

Height (in stacked bodies)_____

Weight (in skulls)______

1. Nationality
a) United States of America
b) No, really, just select “a.”

2. Do you have any Hessian ancestry?
___No, but I'm pretty Aryan.

3. Religion
a) Christian
b) Jewish (please stop and accept Jesus Christ as your lord and savior)
c) Muslim (please stop and wait for the authorities)
d) Norse (cool!)

4. Former military service:
a) Conventional military
b) Special forces
c) Death squad

5. Do you take drugs?
___Why, do you have some?
___Only in the Barry Bonds sense of the word

6. Which of the following tattoos do you have
___Skull and crossbones
___American flag
___American flag with skulls instead of stars
___Bloody dagger
___Heart that says "Mom"
___Skull that says "Mom"
___"This space for rent"

7. Have you ever suffered from any of the following ailments?
___Guilty conscience
___Not-for-profit work
___Voted Democrat
___Asked questions first, shot later

8. Are you proficient in any of these interrogation methods?
___Sleep deprivation
___Electric slide
___Forced viewing of The View
___Playing "Sister Christian" at deafening levels until subject confesses to being a terrorist and/or member of Night Ranger
___Exposing subject to the elements
___Exposing subject to Paris Hilton cold sores
___Securing front row seats for Danny Gans

9. Have you ever been implicated in a civilian killing?
a) No
b) How would you define "civilian"?
c) I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear you over the recoil of my gun

10. Do you have any legal training in the area of human rights?
___Yes. (Please discontinue this application. We thank you for your interest.)


11. Which movie catchphrase best captures your philosophy of life:
a) Terminator 2: Hasta la vista, baby
b) Apocalypse Now: I love the smell of napalm in the morning
c) Lethal Weapon 2: Diplomatic immunity!

12. Regarding the movie 300, which of the following is true.
a) I have seen it.
b) I have seen it and I bought the DVD.
c) I have seen it, I bought the DVD, and I regularly masturbate to it.

13. You cannot open a jar of pickles. What do you do?
a) Run the lid under hot water until it expands.
c) Beat on the lid with my large combat knife until it loosens or I no longer want pickles.
d) Shoot the jar with a shotgun to teach all the other pickles a lesson.

14. I would step over the still-warm body of my own mother for ________.
a) Jesus
b) George W. Bush
c) A five-figure signing bonus

15. It takes ______ to save a village.
a) a village
b) an insertion team
c) a blazing fire

16. Would you torture a detainee for information?
a) Only if I thought he knew of a “ticking bomb” and it would save many lives
b) Only if something in the room was ticking
c) Wait, when wouldn’t you torture a detainee for information?

17. Laws are _____.
a) made to be obeyed
b) made to be broken occasionally, like thumbs
c) made for people without political connections

18. You see some natives talking together in a part of town known for insurgent activity. What do you do?
a) Gather more information before taking action.
b) Gather more ammunition before taking aim.
c) Gather more coordinates before calling an airstrike

19. In the event of an "incident" involving the loss of innocent life, what's the best approach?
a) Reach into your heart and apologize.
b) Reach into your stash of hush money.
c) Reach into your pocket for a pen to change "innocent" to "insurgent" on the government report.

20. Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
a) Retired on the beach of one of the beaches I took
b) Halfway through prison term
c) GOP vice presidential candidate
d) Valhalla

I hereby claim I have answered in a truthful and honest fashion, and that I will deny everything under Congressional subpoena.

Sign or make mark: __________________________________

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Top Ten Tuesdays: How are we promoting peace in the Middle East?

Special extended negotiations edition!

12) Settling question of Palestinian state on special episode of Deal or No Deal.

11) Conducting workshops on how to enact the policies you want despite overwhelming domestic political opposition.

10) Insisting that our allies can be a civilian dictator or a military dictator, but not both.

9) Giving oppressed people a taste of freedom by filling their lungs with the sweet water of non-torture.

8) Easing tensions by having Arab leaders roasted at the Friar's Club by America's best Jewish comedians.

7) Proposing signing of Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty in exchange for one night with Condoleeza Rice.

6) Outsourcing peace process to Blackwater.

5) Working through Holocaust denial issues on Oprah's couch.

4) Getting Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas to pledge to be in each other's five.

3) Harnessing the lasting power of small talk, forced handshakes, and photo ops.

2) Staring at the Middle East with a steely squint until it decides to be peaceful, or until term is up.

1) One ammo clip at a time.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

It was 20 years ago today

November 21, 1987. The Reagan presidency still reeled from the sting of Iran-Contra. The stock market still reeled from the Black Monday drop in October. And the first reels of The Simpsons appeared on the Tracy Ullman Show.

On this day, in a tiny suburb north of Chicago, a young man—his hair Dep'ped, his Bugle Boy pants tightly cuffed, his jean jacket washed in acid—went on a date with a beautiful young woman. She had won him over with her winning smile, her sharp wit, and her beautiful eyes. No, really, he was looking at her eyes. Though she had made fun of him the first night they met—quickly seeing through his brass-plated Southern California veneer to determine that he was, in fact, a Hoosier—that sauciness would charm the pants off him. Or so his seventeen-year-old glands hoped. He sort of asked her out. She sort of said yes. And history was made. And it was good.

Today is the 20th anniversary of my first date with The Lovely Becky.

I met TLB when I was dating her best friend at the time. We went to different high schools but lived in the same suburban area. I worked at the local grocery store with her friend, and our first conversation occurred when I gave both of them a ride after work. TLB proceeded to make fun of my enjoyment of Rush, my arrogance about having moved from San Diego, and especially my state of origin, Indiana, which made my arrogance about being "from" California even more ridiculous to her.

I would like to report that my inner monologue said, Someday I'm going to marry that girl, but in reality it was more like Who are you and when can I drop you off?

However, our next encounters were much more enjoyable. In addition to being quite fetching, TLB shared many of the same characteristics I did. Her humor was clever and also blue, giving her the bawdy, cerebral appeal of a Shakespearean character. She had a dorky side to her without being too dorky, with an interest in fantasy and science fiction that tickled this D&D player's heart, even if she made fun of me for playing D&D. While my love of heavy metal did not appeal to a girl who grew up on the border of Mullet and Mini Truck Counties, my love of new wave and alternative music gave us a soundtrack to share.

Over the next few weeks, I saw her at the store, on double dates with her best friend, and at the local library where TLB worked. As my relationship with her friend eventually changed from dating to friendship, I found myself thinking about TLB more and more. One afternoon, I stopped by the library. It was TLB's last day, and she was trying to make the reshelving of books go by more quickly.

I helped by talking to her for hours. Three, I think. It was one of those everything and anything talks, enough material for Richard Linklater to make two films. I didn't want the conversation to end, and that's when the first thoughts of i really appeared. After all, she was pretty, funny, and sassy—why wouldn't I go out with her?

We did a short time later, on the birthday of her friend. It wasn't a date-date necessarily. I, being a chicken, didn't really ask TLB out. We instead had one of those negotiated romantic understandings, brokered by her friend. He's interested in you, she's interested in you, how about a bilateral exchange? A bunch of us jumped into a couple cars and headed to Ed Debevic's, a retro burger joint where the staff knowingly insulted the customers.

I sat in the booth next to TLB, with another guy flanking my right. I was nervous. I wanted to make some expression of affection, but was afraid of embarrassing her in front of her friends.

TLB managed to break the ice in her patented delicate style. She decided to play a prank on the guy on my right by extending her skirted, nylonned leg across my lap and plopping her foot playfully into his lap.

Someday I'm going to marry this girl!

By the end of the evening, after a screening of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, we were officially a romantic couple. Even the troubling smoke on the horizon of my love life—my serious girlfriend back in California—cleared when said girlfriend called to dump me the next day.

And really, that's the story of our relationship. Things have always worked out for us. Long-distance separation, dating other people, economic woes, career challenges, location changes, reproductive issues—even when things have seemed bleak, we've managed to get through them. I think it's because, in the end, we're still those two kids talking for hours in the library, neither one of us wanting the conversation to end.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Top Ten Tuesdays: How are we coping with the writers strike?

10) Halting all national security policies until Jack Bauer starts telling us what to do again.

9) Making our ad libs completely spontaneous.

8) Using down time on the set and training in method acting to really nail new role as a drug mule.

7) Looking under couch cushions and drink coasters for Netflix DVDs we've had for seven months.

6) Going blind after drinking the comedy bathtub gin of Frank TV.

5) Discovering mysterious polygonal objects filled with words that make a TV show appear in your brain.

4) Going into porn.

3) Creating a new type of reality show that requires no scripting.

2) Offering blood sacrifice to smiling TiVo god.

1) Spending an evening interacting with family, asking them how they are doing and listening to their replies and OH GOD PLEASE BRING TV BACK THIS IS KILLING US!!!!

BONUS: How are we coping with the stagehand's strike?
Paying $7.50 to watch two bums fight on Broadway instead of paying $75 for Broadway musical about the exploitation of the homeless.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Friday CJ Random 11

It's one more random than 10!

If you’re having a dinner party and you’re looking to take the entertainment level up a few notches, simply have a book of Jewel’s poetry laying around. Hilarity will ensue like a red, red rose.

1) “My Best Friend’s Girl,” The Cars. It’s pretty easy to establish your career when your debut album opens with “Let the Good Times Roll,” this song, and “Just What I Needed.”

2) “Pretty Vacant,” The Sex Pistols. Their best song in my opinion, and it’s in my top 5 punk songs. I find that the legendary songs on this album are kind of slow, while the fast songs aren’t as memorable as the legendary songs. This is the one where they both meet: a punchy tempo full of classic Pistols bile. And the chorus is a must-sing-along.

3) “A Lack of Color,” Death Cab for Cutie. And now for something completely different...The UP is about to have a lack of color for the next few months. Hopefully there won’t be any red from me slitting my wrists when I remove that 100th inch of snow.

4) “She Bangs the Drums,” The Stone Roses. It is impossible to have a bad day when this song helps start it off. The guitar is like an old friend who is in town for a bit and who you can’t wait to hang out with again.

5) “The Hungry Wolf,” X. They were definitely the city wolves, but without losing their cool at the site of an exotic dancer.

6) “Domino,” Van Morrison. While not everyone will ever like a particular song, this is one of those timeless classics that nearly everyone can like. It’s soulful, catchy, sad, happy, and the song you could play at the end of a teen sex comedy where the snobs and slobs dance as they learn they have two things that transcend their social classes: a love of good music and unmitigated horniness.

7) “Paschendale,” Iron Maiden. Good Lord, I really am all over the place today. No one has the heavy-epic-about-historic-battles market cornered like Maiden. Despite having death in their name, Death Cab for Cutie isn’t writing a song about charging over the trenches into a hail of German machine gun fire.

8) “Milano,” Sigur Ros. This beautiful song is long enough that I could eat an entire bag of Milanos before it ended. Which would probably put me in a diabetic hallucination where Death Cab for Cutie were fighting the Germans.

9) “Let It Go,” Def Leppard. A song that exemplifies the principle of Tufnel’s Razor: if you’re not sure if lyrics are sexy or sexist, they are probably the latter.

10) “For the Widows in Paradise, for the Fatherless in Ypsilanti,” Sufjan Stevens. Now that I live there, I think he really did capture the spirit of Michigan. A beautiful, delicate song.

11) “Party Til You Puke,” Andrew W.K. And here’s the opposite of that coin. This song has aged as well as an open bottle of beer left in the sun. It might be because there’s an expiration date on using the word party as a verb, and I’m beyond that point except when I go Vegas. At the same time, it’s a hell of a closer to a truly random 11.

Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Top Ten Tuesdays: Why are we coming down with VD?

Americans set a new record in sexual disease cases. Why are we contracting VD so easily?

10) Abstinence education programs not preventing genitals being left in behinds.

9) NBA players on the road again.

8) Rampant popularity of Paris Hilton’s new fragrance, Clap.

7) Forgot to use toilet seat cover at GOP headquarters.

6) Slept with McAfee sales rep who refused to allow Trojans.

5) Played new, more potent version of Spin the Bottle which requires random sex act from

4) After pastor said he would fill us with The Holy Spirit, we came down with Immaculate Infection.

3) Watched TMZ on TV without wearing full body condom.

2) Partner’s sexual history reads like Caligula’s autobiography.

1) Used faith-based contraception.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go home and have a heart attack

Friday afternoon, The Lovely Becky started bleeding. Bad bleeding, the kind we've run into before, the kind that says no soup for you. "We have to go to the emergency room," Becky said.

I couldn't believe it. Everything had gone just fine on Tuesday! How could things go south in the same fucking week? I knew we have a long way to go, that lots of things could cause this to end, but Jesus H. Christ, I hadn't even finished my touchdown dance yet.

The last time I cried—I mean really opened up and just sobbed my eyes out—was after our first miscarriage, in 2001. I didn't even let the tears rip when our last IVF went bust. Yesterday, I stood on the stairs, getting ready to put my shoes on, and I felt a wave of grief collapse over me. I took my shoes and hurled them up the stairs, throwing them as hard as I could. My eyes swelled and I prepared for the waterworks when I realized I couldn't do that to Becky. She wouldn't blame me, because she's lovely, but I couldn't saddle her with my emotional breakdown in addition to her own physical breakdown. I took a deep breath, grabbed a small chunk of control, and picked up my shoes. There would be plenty of time to lose my shit later.

We've seen medical staff for fertility-related matters enough that we know when things are really fucked. Their body language, the things they say, and especially the things they don't say, can give off a bad vibe that no amount of positive thinking can shield me from. As Becky told the nurses and doctors her symptoms, that vibe came as thick as amber covering an insect. The initial exam just made the amber harden around us. "It looks iffy," the doctor said as nicely as he could. "It doesn’t mean you're miscarrying, but it looks iffy."

But iffy does mean miscarrying for us, because our fertility script is more predictable than a bad horror movie. Despite being more or less a model married couple, we're the fornicating teenagers that are always getting impaled by the Golem of Childlessness. The doctors needed an ultrasound scan to tell for sure, but I sure as hell didn't.

The ultrasound tech, while friendly and very nice to us, went about his business in total fucking silence. I looked at the pixilated images like one of those hidden paintings, staring at it and waiting to see little pixels form a giant middle finger. Finally, after feeling like we had been at the hospital for two years instead of two hours, the tech finished. He couldn't tell us anything because that's the doctor's job. But he did tell us that the baby's heartbeat was 138. That's even stronger than it was on Tuesday.


The doctor arrived and delivered the unexpected: as far as they could tell, Becky and the baby were fine. The heartbeat was not only good, the baby had grown since Tuesday and was cruising right along the development chart. He told Becky to stay off her feet this weekend and let them know if anything else happened, but otherwise she was free to go.

Becky and I looked at each other, unsure how to react. We're still getting used to good news. So we did what we always do when we either want to celebrate or bury our sorrows: we drove to Culver's and picked up some Butterburgers.

I don't know if Ashton Kutcher has some kind of fertility punking machine, but if he does, I'd appreciate it if he would knock that shit off.

It also seems like an appropriate time to show my favorite movie scene of all time:

Friday, November 09, 2007

Friday CJ Random 11

It's one more random than 10! (there, fish, I got it right this week)

I apologize for not writing more lately. There have been a few reasons, preoccupation with human reproduction being a big one. Another big one is that I’m working on a short story that has squeezed a lot of my creative juices. But the biggest reason is that I started a couple pieces that unfortunately haven't panned out yet. Unlike some other blogs out there, I refuse to just set my posting bar at half-assed. In fact, CJSD guarantees at least three-quarter ass or your money back. (That should make Larry Craig tap with joy.)

My frustration with the couple pieces I was working on made me want to pump up the volume a little bit today. Earlier in the week, I was reminded of The National Review’s list of the 50 greatest conservative rock songs which ran last year. The inanity of the list still astounds me. This went well beyond the standard shovel-to-the-head stupidity, crossing instead into George Romero decapitated-with-a-shovel insanity, as if the writer’s disembodied head landed on a keyboard and tried to co-opt his favorite songs by wildly clicking at keys with his tongue before he finally expired. Then it occurred to me: that sounds like fun! So this week's Random 11 is written in the demanding style of The National Review, which is known in laymen's terms as out of your ass. (And a tip of the hat to Jon Swift, who did more songs in a more timely fashion.)

1) The Smiths, “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now.” Why do I have to smile at people I’d much rather kick in the eye? Morrissey is clearly rebelling against the politically correct mores that require us to hug those we disagree with, such as Muslims, instead of bombing them, as good Christians should.

2) “Bolted Down,” Bob Hillman. This legendary conservative songwriter describes how all of the things in his New York apartment are “bolted down.” Why? Because New York’s anti-gun laws prevent him from defending his property as our Founding Fathers demanded. As he notes in the song, this keeps him from even drinking his coffee because the cup is bolted down. This is where anti-gun legislation will lead us.

3) “Crosstown Traffic,” Jimi Hendrix. A terrific anthem abut how evil carpool lanes attack our liberty to travel freely.

4) “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic,” The Police. Given the rampant godless socialism expressed by most British musicians, it is extremely gratifying to see Sting’s courage in writing this touching, moving homage to Margaret Thatcher. He even wishes to “marry her in some old fashioned way.”

5) “When It All Goes Wrong Again,” Everclear. Even though this was written in the late 1990s, it’s really a Nostradamus-like warning against a Hillary Clinton presidency. I will be sitting on top when it all goes wrong again—Clearly our country cannot afford to again fall for the peace and prosperity of the Clinton years.

6) “A Legal Matter,” The Who. Noted Tory Peter Townsend rails against the frivolous lawsuits plaguing the American court system. He obviously would not be a fan of presidential candidate John Edwards, and it’s a shame that his lack of citizenship prevents him from voting against the Democratic ambulance chaser.

7) “Where Boys Fear to Tread,” The Smashing Pumpkins. Billy Corgan’s searing screed against allowing homosexuals into the Boy Scouts. The distorted guitars perfectly capture the distorted truth of the gay agenda.

8) “Lips Like Sugar,” Echo and the Bunnymen. Long before Oprah discovered it, singer Ian McCulloh wrote about the immoral enticement of teenage rainbow parties.

9) “Drain You,” Nirvana. It is now my duty to completely drain you. No other singer has ever written so passionately about the devastation of Democratic tax and spend policies.

10) “The Swish,” The Hold Steady. These Minnesota-based rockers address the confusion of transgender politics: She said my name’s Neal Schon but people call me Nina Simone, some people call me Andre Cymone. Which is it?

11) “Gary’s Got a Boner,” The Replacements. A song that that is a battle cry for abstinence education.

It is a little frightening how much fun that was.

I am on the road for work next week. I am going to try to get the jerking back into three-quarter ass form. Until then, enjoy yourselves, and keep on rocking in the free market, er, world.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Top Ten Tuesdays: Why are we triumphant?

10) Our nominee for attorney general successfully tortured the definition of torture.

9) Resistance to our policies from Congressional Democrats rated between “speed bumps” and “French.”

8) Iraq's political stability has surged ahead of Pakistan's.

7) Launch of Fisher-Price’s My First Recall wildly successful.

6) Scriptural rethinking on divorce allows Christians to protect marriage from gays while gaily choosing a new spouse.

5) Soaring oil prices will help improve national obesity crisis when Americans are forced to push their Hummers.

4) Writer’s strike gives conservative Congressmen chance to continue their studies of the gay lifestyle in peace.

3) Mortgage crisis makes it easy to find empty houses to squat in after our foreclosure.

2) Allowing people with criminal backgrounds to join military will make it easier for the military to recruit from Blackwater.

1) None of the shit going on in the world can depress us because we just might be parents after all.

Thanks to everyone for the wishes, prayers, and ritual sacrifices to various deities. It really helped, and we appear to be on our way toward setting aside all of our hopes and dreams for a creature who will later sneak out of the house and tell us we just don't get them.

Monday, November 05, 2007

I shoulda done the Alzheimer's joke

Featuring the worldwide Internet video debut of Brando!

Slate V announced the winners of their comedy contest and yours truly didn't make the top five. Oh well. I think the guy who did the Dali Lama piece should have won. That was a very clever joke.

I know these things are subjective, but I would be lying if I said I wasn't a little disappointed. I was pretty happy with the jokes I wrote, but in hinsight, I probably should have done the Alzheimer's joke. It was an easy joke to say, and it didn't require a long set up. And where was Nancy Grace with her reproductive set up when I needed her?

So here it is, the video of yours truly after 22 hours of taping.

A CJSD programming note: tomorrow is the ultrasound for The Lovely Becky, so the Top Ten may not happen, especially if we get bad news. And if it's good news I may be too drunk to write!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Friday CJ Random 11

It's one more random than 10!

It’s been a shitty week. I don’t have a more clever, humorous way to put it. Our war on childlessness is completely fucking with our heads. Stress from work managed to overflow my perspective levies and drive me to eating the 80 bushels of candy corn that we had lying around the house for Halloween. I went back to the gym for the first time since the end of July, which reminded me quite painfully just how long I had been away from the gym and how much candy corn I have been eating. And I started writing fiction again for the first time in a while, which is great, except that writing fiction makes you crazy even when it goes well.

It’s times like this that I’m glad I am a such a music fan. TV and movies give me a lot of entertainment, but honestly, not much comfort. Football could give me some comfort if the Bears hadn’t gone from Super Bowl to Super Suck. Video games have the double-edged sword of relieving stress but also causing stress when I keep getting my ass handed to me. Reading can carry me away from all this, but when I’m already stressed, I either think I’m never going to be as good as the author I’m reading or I can’t believe that this hacky fuck is successful and I arrive back at the intersection of Pissed and Depressed.

Music bypasses all of these pitfalls for me. I put on some tunes and my savage beast is immediately soothed. Singing about the blues makes me less blue, and rocking hard channels my anger into a much more positive type of fist pumping. So I am really, really looking forward to the list today.

1) “Let It Ride,” Ryan Adams and the Cardinals. I feel better already. Without getting into the did-they-or-they-they-not suck the soul out of the country rock, this song is closer to the feeling of The Eagles “Take It Easy” than “Take It Easy” is. You know, shit happens, what’re you gonna do, have a drink and relax. That’s damn good advice.

2) “Falling for You,” Weezer. I’ve got a number of irrational fears / That I’d like to share with you. I would love to have an fear-off with Rivers Cuomo, lead singer of Weezer. I’ll bet his #1 isn’t getting sucked through an airlock into space. And you call yourself irrational—ha!

3) “See the Sky About to Rain (Live),” Neil Young. Now here’s a piano man I want to sing us a song. With him just on a piano, Young’s voice has just the right amount of forcefulness and vulnerability. We’re starting to shift to the bluster of winter, and November is the stormiest time on Lake Superior, so this song is just perfect for the start of the month.

4) “Tornadoes,” Drive-By Truckers. Today’s Friday Random 11 is brought to you by The Weather Channel! A very vivid song, written by someone who sounds like he went through a tornado. When we tell people we went through a tornado, they often ask us if it sounded like a train. The Lovely Becky always has the best description: no, it sounded more like a big fucking column of wind.

5) “Train in Vain,” The Clash. On my Can’t Be Overplayed list. Even before I really liked The Clash, I loved this song. Random weird Brando bit: I do not fancy myself a singer, and I also don’t watch American Idol. But one day my mind was wandering, and I wondered what song I would sing if I wasn’t tone deaf and had compromising pictures of Simon Cowell giving a thumbs up to Right Said Fred so I could pass my Idol audition. This was the song that popped up. Such a good song that even if I did sing it on American Idol, I don’t think I could ruin it for myself.

6) “Very Loud,” Shout Out Louds. This has a skittering snare drum beat that also gives the song a train feel. It’s a desperate, earnest love song that feels like a frayed pair of blue jeans—not terribly original, but still your favorite thing to wear. That’s what most of my favorite songs wear.

7) “Carry the Zero,” Built to Spill. As George Bush would say, this is just a phenomonable song. Layers of guitars stack on top of each other with the meaty deliciousness of a Dagwood Bumstead sandwich, only without the bland aftertaste of Blondie.

8) “Enivrez-Vous,” Stereolab. Dreamy shoegazing with a little French lyric dressing. I am expecting comments from the Stereolab fetishists waiting in the wings. You know who you are.

9) “Oh!” Sleater-Kinney. Oh yes! There’s a bouncy retro feel to this, courtesy of the synthesizers and harmonies, but it also has a modern rocking punch. Plus the drum fills on the chorus fill me full of drum heady goodness. Songs need more drum fills.

10) “My Old Friend the Blues,” Steve Earle, Townes Van Zandt, and Guy Clark. This live track just features Earle on guitar. He sings like he is BFF with the blues, and hearing his warm rasp can make any day feel a little brighter.

11) “Mr. November,” The National. A rousing, fitting way to close the list and open the last month where I’m likely to still be warm. The National are the best purveyors of catchy melancholy to come down the pike in quite some time, and another reminder that you can take that frown and turn it upside down to 11.

It’s almost silly how much that helped. I hope you all take it easy, in whatever fashion you choose, and have a good weekend.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Top Ten Tuesdays: How did we drive ourselves crazy this past week?

or Anatomy of a Comedy Breakdown!

As I mentioned on Friday, I entered a video for Slate’s comedy news contest. The premise was simple: write a joke based on an actual news story and film yourself delivering it. The folks at Slate would select 10 finalists, who would then be judged by a celebrity judge: Kevin Bleyer, a writer for The Daily Show. Right up my alley, right?

The problem is that, when I have some external pressure to be funny, I sometimes turn into Ted Knight after Rodney Dangerfield says, “1000 bucks says you miss that putt.” I immediately felt the greasy, ethereal clump of writer’s block clogging my psyche. I read through the Sunday New York Times, scanned the Web for news stories, and watched The Daily Show for inspiration. After a week, my best effort was a mildly amusing joke involving Dolph Lundgren. Not the stuff that wins contests. But since writing is 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration, I managed to keep grinding away and finally had a breakthrough two days before the contest. I wrote about four pages of jokes, whittling it down to 10 I really liked. Now all I had to do was pick one and film it. Piece of cake, right?

I don’t have any kind of video device in the house, so I picked up a Microsoft Web cam. Of course, I forgot that Microsoft is English for doesn’t work worth a shit. The picture was grainy and the audio kept going out of sync with my lips, which would have been hilarious if my joke was about fucking Godzilla. I returned it for a Logitech cam, got it to work flawlessly, and seemed ready to go. I planned to finish work for the day, then film myself that evening, plenty of time to meet the midnight deadline.

Except that when I was ready for my closeup, the video started stuttering for some reason. I tried disabling programs, installing it on another computer, and offering to blow someone at Logitech if it would result in 25 seconds of workable fucking video. After a good hour of troubleshooting, I figured out the light settings were cocking up the works and got the video back to acceptable quality. Now I was ready.

Except I wasn’t. I couldn’t for the life of me get the delivery down. Despite being a ham, I am not really a performer. I am not kidding when I say that I did at least 50 takes. I would get my voice right but my face wrong, or my face right and the voice wrong. I looked stiff, I looked stoned, I looked like a man who had been saying the same thing over and over. After all that, I got a take I liked and showed it to The Lovely Becky.

“Why did you add ‘there’ at the end? That’s throwing off the whole joke.”

Fuck! She was completely right, one word I had added almost unconsciously screwed up the joke. I broke for dinner(!), deciding that only the soothing meatiness of a Culver’s Butterburger could take the edge off. Rehearsing in the car, I managed to get the joke just as I wanted while I was waiting for my food. I came back, ate my dinner, and finally recorded 21 seconds of video I was happy with. If by some stroke of luck I happen to win this thing, the $500 should cover the cost of my medication.

Anyway, after all that, here are my ten favorite jokes that came out of this process. Number one is the one I submitted.

10) Researches at New York University believe they have located two parts in the brain that trigger optimism in people. Still undiscovered: the parts of the brain that caused people to vote for George Bush twice.

9) Legendary rock group Led Zeppelin has finally agreed to release its songs in digital form on iTunes. The band promises that these new digital versions will sound even more overplayed then the originals.

8) Top forest officials in the U.S. said that global warming may be contributing to “hotter and faster” fires like the ones that spread through Southern California. A spokesman for the Bush administration denied those claims before leaving to tour the devastation in his coal-fired Hummer.

7) British biologists said that changes in the shape of a St. Bernard’s head can only be explained by evolution, and that these changes offer strong evidence against creationism. Creationists responded that the St. Bernard could not be used as evidence since the dog is not mentioned in the Bible.

6) Recently declassified files revealed that during the 1968 presidential elections, the FBI monitored candidate Eugene McCarthy, who vowed to fire FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. It’s believed Hoover oversaw the operation personally as the files were smeared with lipstick.

5) According to a recent study, inflation and a drop in real earnings are making it harder for Americans to live paycheck to paycheck. The study also finds that it’s easier than ever to find employees willing to give dollar handjobs in the executive washroom.

4) This past week, wildfires decimated Southern California, Turkey prepared to invade Iraq, and a nuclear-armed Pakistan suffered a series of destabilizing attacks from Islamic terrorists. This prompted the White House to announce that it is way ahead of schedule in triggering The Rapture.

3) Scientists this week reported progress in developing a blood test for Alzheimer’s. In other news, scientists this week reported progress in developing a blood test for Alzheimer’s.

2) An Australian barmaid was convicted of indecency for crushing beer cans between her bare breasts and hanging spoons from her nipples. During the trial, police noted that the investigation was especially arduous, requiring two dozen officers, hundreds of hours of overtime, and thousands in tips.

1) In the recent Republican presidential debate, Senator John McCain mocked Senator Hillary Clinton’s support for a Woodstock museum, joking that he could not participate in the legendary music festival, because as a POW, "I was tied up at the time." When asked for his opinion of the museum, President Bush said he couldn’t attend Woodstock because, "I was way too drunk to drive."

Monday, October 29, 2007

If you tag yourself too much, you’ll go blind

Blue Girl has this funky meme that seems tailor made for my blog. The idea is that you find five statements that, when typed into Google, list your blog as the number one hit.

Given the kind of search terms I find in my site meter, I thought this could be...enlightening. I also decided to up the degree of difficulty by not using “circle jerk” in the search, although the terms I did use showed the same level of charm, class, and sophistication.

5. mitt romney dry hump. I have to give credit to dooce for inspiration, because her blog was where I first read about what passes for a randy Friday night at BYU.

4. nipple nazi rat poison. This goes to The Lovely Becky’s favorite piece I’ve ever done. I was always sorry I never did another sketch show -- I would have loved to see this performed.

3. iraq quagmire ass bacon. It’s because I walk around with things like this in my head that I started this blog.

2. republicans longing clinton’s penis. Since I wrote this, the “clinton” part has really become superfluous.

1. girthy sodomizing tribulation. I’m not only number one for this term, I am the only result for this. That’s probably for the best.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Friday CJ Random 11

I didn’t do much blogging this week because I was working on my entry for the Slate comedy news contest, which I have to submit today. I will probably write more about that later. For now, let’s listen to read about some tunes!

1) “Happy,” The Wrens. Hands down, The Meadowlands is my favorite album of the 2000s (or is it the aughts?) Four guys living together in a house in New Jersey, working day jobs while working on this album for seven years, and releasing an astounding pop/rock record. This song really epitomizes the album, starting out bitter and sad over a slice of life that went bad, yet ends on an optimistic note thanks to the closing jangly guitar riff that offers much needed therapy to the first part of the song. That’s what makes this desert-island-disc material for me.

2) “There’s No Other Way,” Blur. The Manchester-drums will forever keep this stuck in the early 1990s. But the mark of a good band is one that can add the flavor of the month without becoming that flavor, which is why Blur didn’t become EMF after this hit.

3) “Waking Up,” Elastica. Hey, it’s the Blur guy’s ex-girlfriend. Their debut album is very underrated, and unlike the drums in “There’s No Other Way,” it doesn’t sound dated to me.

4) “Airplane,” Peter Case. A little bit country, a little bit rock and roll, and a whole lot of good. There’s just enough steel guitar to sweeten things up without drowning it in syrup.

5) “A Fine Day for a Parade,” Fountains of Wayne. They definitely flirt with the sweet/saccharine edge. They manage to stay sweet here with a nice, low-key number that indeed sounds like the blue skies and warm temps of parade weather.

6) “O My Soul,” Big Star. The gold standard of power pop. Catchy yet original, adventurous yet familiar. Also one of the few songs in rock history that manages to incorporate the band’s name into the lyrics without sounding like it came from a bunch of egotistical cobags.

7) “Country Girl,” Black Sabbath. Dio!

8) “Knife,” Grizzly Bear. They love, love, love reverb. I saw them in concert in Iowa City, the reverb in the singer’s voice sounded like going to a barber shop as a kid and looking at yourself in the mirror looking at yourself in the mirror to infinity.

9) “Somebody to Love,” Queen. Speaking of piling layers of vocals on themselves. The backing vocals stretch upward like the Tower of Babel, only the tower gets to stay because God loves to rock.

10) “Day of the Lords,” Joy Division. I have this thing about spicy food. I go into restaurants and they will have a little asterisk or maybe a red pepper next to the spicy items on the menu. Nine times out of ten, the item is mildly spicy, and I get annoyed that they made a big deal out of how spicy it is. But one time, at a Cajun restaurant called Heaven on Seven in Chicago, I ordered the spiciest thing on their menu: Hot as a Mutha Chicken. The menu was all blah blah blah burn your face off. They even brought out a little consent form that said I, NAME, being of sound mind and soul, have ordered the Hot as a Mutha Chicken blah blah blah. Like George Bush, I looked the waiter in the eye and said “Bring it on!” And like George Bush, I bit off more than I could chew and got the shit burned out of me. I could tell I was in big, big trouble as soon as I smelled it. This wasn't spice, it was napalm. I only got through about 1/3 of the dish, and it took a half dozen beers just to get that much down. The next day, I had a 12-hour day at work, and let me tell you, I had many conversations with The Lord, asking him to take me if it would make the burning stop. So Hot as a Mutha chicken is my standard for "spicy."

The reason I bring this up is because a lot of bands get labeled as dark. Ooh, you have to listen to Morose Belly Lint, they’re so dark! And I listen to Morose Belly Lint and think, “eh, they’re not so dark.” But when I get to the point where I think no band is really dark, Joy Division pops up on my iPod and reminds me what the standard for "dark" really is. Pick a song, any song, and it really won’t surprise you that Ian Curtis killed himself. Nick Drake sounded sad, Kurt Cobain sounded angry, but Curtis sounds haunted. Thirty years later, songs like “Day of the Lords” still pack a chill, especially when Curtis sings lines like where will it end? That’s pretty damn dark.

11) “Destination Ursa Major,” Superdrag. Destination major hooks. Soaring, guitar-driven songs like this are why speakers should go to 11. Joy Division has its place, but when I’m getting ready to head into a weekend, I need some audio parade weather.

Have a good one.