Friday, April 30, 2010

Friday non-Random 11: Celebrating five long years stuffed with dick jokes

Today is the fifth birthday of Circle Jerk at the Square Dance. It's hard for me to believe it's been that long, or that this is my 701st post. Heh-heh, I said "hard."

That's precisely the kind of upscale, sophisticated humor you've come to expect from this blog. But despite the low road I so often travel in terms of gags, this blog has served a higher purpose for me: saving me as a writer.

I started CJSD at a nadir of my creative writing. I had been rejected twice from the Iowa Writer's Workshop. The first rejection, while initially very depressing, was motivating and educational. Once the dust settled, I realized I didn't deserve to get in, because I wasn't ready to enter a workshop. My writing was rough, labored, cliched, and much too serious. I wasn't playing into my strengths at all, and with the help of The Lovely Becky, I learned so much from that rejection that I was glad it happened. I threw myself into the application process again, writing two stories that were not only light years ahead of where I was just a year before, but probably two of the best things I had ever written until that point.

The Workshop didn't seem to think so, and thanks to some knowledgeable sources, I learned that I had been weeded out even earlier than the previous time. Now, I certainly didn't expect to get into such a competitive program, but I did expect to make a better showing than the year before. I started questioning my abilities and even the idea of trying to be a writer.

Despite those doubts, I couldn't turn off my creative energy, and I eventually conceived the idea of writing a book about a group of improv performers putting on a sketch show. In between the fictional struggles of their quest for love and laughter, I could throw in sketches and other little comedy bits, the way Mark Leyner did in his hysterical book Et Tu, Babe? I even came up with a perfect title for the book: Circle Jerk at the Square Dance.

I threw myself back into writing. I had tried a number of times before to write a novel, and in fact had originally taken sketch comedy writing classes at The Second City to help my comedic fiction. However, these attempts had always petered out quickly, as I'd get 30-50 pages into a book and realize it wasn't happening.

Not so with Circle Jerk at the Square Dance. I pumped out the pages, writing the story and adding the sketches and feeling more pleased than ever with what I was writing. I found myself laughing while writing, which I took as a great sign. I crossed into a triple-digit page count for the first time ever and was sure I had found "the one."

I wound up having to take about a month off from the book at one point. When I went back to it, something funny happened to this funny book: the only parts that made me laugh were the sketches. The rest of the meandering plot and dull characters formed a bland, literary paste. There wasn't anything to rescue, save the title.

That was the real kick to the Faulkners. At that point, I thought I was kidding myself about being a writer. What's more, I lost my desire to write. I was so tired of failing, I didn't want to try to succeed.

Once again, though, my brain couldn't follow instructions. Even though I had no desire to try a novel again, my brain kept pumping ideas, especially for short little sketches, fake news stories, the kind of stuff I wished I could be writing for The Onion or The Daily Show or "Shouts and Murmurs" in The New Yorker (humor nirvana for many an unsatisfied copywriter).

Enter blogging. I had already done a little bit of blogging on some group blogs, but like an uglier, hairier version of Virginia Woolf, I desired a blog of one's own. Starting a blog seemed perfect for the ideas I had, too: short, profane, often ridiculous comedy bits that were not really publishable. Why not stick them on the Internet? All that I needed was a title, which The Lovely Becky reminded me I already had. In fact, Circle Jerk at the Square Dance seemed much better for a blog than a novel anyway.

I started writing. Whatever ideas I had or resurrected from my sketch vault came out. I had no rhyme or reason to what I was doing, other than trying to make people laugh and writing a Top Ten list each week. I had no timetable or schedule, so there was no endpoint. However, I definitely didn't expect I'd keep at it for five years.

But the funny thing is, it was funny. I was usually laughing at what I was writing. Eventually, other people started laughing to, and once that happened, I was hooked. I not only had a creative outlet, I had feedback. I had an audience, and one that grew into a little community of virtual friends.

All those little successes, all those comments of encouragement, repaired my broken writing ego. You have to have an ego to write, to think that what you have to say is so goddamned important that people should take time out of their busy schedules to read what you write. After purifying myself in the waters of Lake Bloggetonka, I felt ready to tackle a bigger challenge.

The real irony today is, five years after I started this blog as a way to soothe myself after the implosion of a novel, I finished a first draft of a novel for the first time ever. I reached the end last night, hurriedly writing my last line so I could say "done" before Starbucks closed. Doing that has given me a greater sense of accomplishment than anything else I've ever done outside of being happily married and being a dad. I have a long revision road ahead, but this one is going to get polished and its going to be sent out to agents. Maybe it'll be published, maybe not, but at least I'm done pretending to be a novelist and actually novelling.

I couldn't have done it without this blog and without all of your feedback over the years. Writing every week, not saying no, and soaking in the's been wonderful. So thank you very much. I've really enjoyed it and I hope you have too.

Now how about some music?

1) "She's a Rebel," Green Day. American Idiot was a regular soundtrack back in the early days of writing the blog. I can't decide if it's awesome the album is now a broadway production or if it throws all of my punk sensibilities into the air and then impales them on the spear of commercialism. Although getting thrown into the air and impaled on a spear is so punk.

2) "Metropolis," The Church. I have go-to songs for a host of occasions--lifting weights, driving fast, writing fast, feeling mad, feeling sad. This is a go-to song for just feeling good, like it's the day after I just accomplished a major life goal and it happens to be super nice outside. A perfect song for one of those random times when I'm driving around with the window down and the sun shining and I think, "Fuck, I feel awesome!" for no particular reason.

3) "The Times They Are a Changin' (Live)," Bob Dylan. It must be a pretty amazing feeling to write not just a song of the year or a decade but of a generation. I wonder if Bob Dylan ever wakes up and goes, "Hell yeah, I'm Bob fuckin' Dylan." Because that's how I'd wake up every single morning, which is why I'm not deep enough to write a song of a generation.

4) "Dim," Dada. This could be my b-side to "Metropolis" on my Sunny Single. I know we snicker at one-hit wonders, but really, if you write just one song that makes someone still sing along 20 years after you recorded it, that's pretty special.

5) "Hot Rock," Sleater-Kinney. I've gone from being a big fan to thinking they were the best band of the mid-90s and early 2000s. As much as I love punk music, it's really hard to be punk and not sound like every other punk band that came before you. Attitude usually trumps originality in that genre. That's what makes Sleater-Kinney seem greater to me with each passing year. They did what The Clash did, take a narrow genre and blow it up without destroying the key ingredients. Only I think Sleater-Kinney had a harder time because they had 20 years of punk stereotypes to subvert.

6) "Echo Sam," Holy Fuck. Normally, this type of stuff would be too odd and noisy for me, but there's just enough song buried amid the electronic squawks and grunts for me to groove to it. Love this album and love that a Holy Fuck song was once used in a car commercial. Bonus: Lightsabres!

7) "More," The Sisters of Mercy. LOL, the Burger King of Goth music, delicious even as you hate yourself for scarfing it down at 3 a.m. I still cannot believe they toured with Public Enemy, hands-down the weirdest tour pairing of my lifetime. Ideal for the commute from the graveyard to your job at Cinnabon.

8) "...And Justice for All," Metallica. I never thought this song was too long until I tried to play it in Rock Band. It takes a lot for me to wish I was doing something other than playing a videogame, but that's what I felt about five minutes in. I'd much rather have James Hetfield order me back to front or sing about the Angel of Death coming to kill my first-born than noodle around with mid-tempo thrash for 10 minutes.

9) "YYZ (Live)," Rush. Suck. It. H8ers.

10) "I'm the Man Who Loves You," Wilco. Esquire recently put Christiana Hendricks on the cover. Christiana Hendricks is currently at the top of my list of "Sexy women I would love to disappoint," bumping off long-time champ Selma Hayek. (Yes, TLB, you read that correctly. The queen is dead, long live the queen.) Anyway, they stuck her on the cover in a tight black dress, tugging a little at the neckline, a photo so hot I used the magazine to cook an omelet. So I flipped inside, eagerly awaiting an entire spread of Joan Holloway distracting me from my work, and what was there? A close-up of Hendricks eating a piece of watermelon. Worst bait and switch since Little Orphan Annie told her secret club members to drink their Ovaltine.

11) "Hindsight," Built to Spill. Hindsight brings me down/keeps me on the ground. One of the things I'm becoming increasingly thankful for as I get older is not giving a shit about the past. I have wasted too much of my life worrying about what I haven't accomplished, instead of thinking about what I could be accomplishing. It took me wasting a lot of that time to see what a waste that mindset is, but I see it now, and I'm definitely not going to repeat it.

Hope you have a "Fuck, I feel awesome!" day this weekend.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Top Ten Tuesdays: What new anti-immigration measures are we enacting?

10) Requiring Hispanics to pass an assimilation test by eating an entire Gordita.

9) Authorizing the Tasering of any person using adding “eh?” to a sentence.

8) Making all legal immigrants display their legal status by wearing a yellow star on their clothes.

7) Demanding that George Lopez present his driver’s license on camera before he can present the opening monologue.

6) Installing an anti-ship missile battery in the Statue of Liberty’s torch.

5) Forbidding anyone not born in the United States from getting on the ballot unless they are of European-bodybuilder or time-traveling-cyborg ancestry.

4) Pre-approving bailouts for the landscaping, child care, domestic servant, construction, restaurant, agricultural, and professional baseball industries.

3) Training all law enforcement officials how to say “Papers?” in a German accent.

2) Preventing racial profiling abuses by requiring at least two white people to agree someone looks like an illegal alien.

1) Following the simple rule: if it’s white, it’s all right; if it’s brown, take it down.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday Random 11

It’s one more random than 10!

It was nice to see someone win Project Runway who was a) a cool designer and b) a cool person. For once one of the good guys was also the most talented contestant. I hate when I know the asshole is going to win because the asshole is the best one at turning twigs and newspaper into an amazing red-carpet gown.

I love Project Runway because no other show captures the essence of the creative process the way it does. You see these people taking random bits of nothing—trash bags, candy, Lindsay Lohan—and turning them into something. It also shows both sides of that something: the exhilaration of seeing those trash bags turn into a cool pair of pants, the agony of seeing those trash bags look worse after the designer gets hold of them. There’s a wise old teacher who both instructs and critiques, and then a panel of critics who act like real critics, not cartoon character versions of critics. They offer praise and criticism and while they can be harsh, they always have a reason for their harshness. You could swap in anything for the outfits and judges—say a short story and NY Times critic Michiko Kakutani stomping on the literary aspirations of one of the contestants—and the essence of the process would remain the same. However, no one wants to watch a bunch of writers sobbing as they have their work vivisected, except maybe other writers. Project Runway works best because the fashion is a perfect visual symbol of that creative process. I can't taste what they make on Top Chef, but I can tell if a dress with a poofy bottom makes an otherwise thin model look like an ancient fertility goddess idol. And don't get me started on the shoddy tailoring!

The other fun aspect for me is seeing the older male contestants attempting to look hip. As I approach the age of mumble mumble, I sometimes am hit by questions as: Should I dye my hair? Can I wear jeans with a print pattern? Would I be a hit with the kids if I had a faux hawk? And should I wear one of those scarves that every single one of the gay designers wore this year? Seeing how ridiculous those items look on other people has saved me from some very bad fashion decisions.

Music time….

1) “Smoking in the Boy’s Room,” Motley Crue. A deliberate choice because I’m having one of those days today with my day job. I admit I’m lucky to have the job I do, and I’ve gotten much better of realizing that I am fortunate to have steady employment at a company I like. This morning, though, I had one of those moments where I wondered why in the fuck I ever decided to do what I do for a living. That’s when it’s time to meet the boys on floor number 2 and have a few minutes of dumb fun until I can cope again. No official video on YouTube, but bonus of crazy Russians rocking out. They should make a reality show about that.

2) “Holland,” Sufjan Stevens. And now for something completely different….

3) “Happy Jack,” The Who. Classic Who: poppy, dark, and explosive when it needs to be. I love how the simple, soft verses lull me until the band floors it on the chorus. A lot of those early Who songs are pretty wicked little tales: this, "I'm a Boy," "Pictures of Lilly." It's almost as if Townshend wanted to compensate for his bright, poppy music by creating these deranged little narratives. I love it.

4) “Disintegration,” The Cure. My favorite song from my favorite Cure album. The quiet to loud epic thing has been done a lot, but I’ve always admired how this song starts loud and then keeps layering more and more onto the main beat, like a strained relationship that gets pushed past the breaking point. Possibly the most miserably entertaining song in my collection.

5) “The Comeback,” Shout Out Louds. American slacker rock played very convincingly by Scandinavians. It’s funny: for all of the poking at Europeans, how they have welfare and six weeks of vacation, I don’t think of Euros as slackers. That seems like a specific American thing, because even the unemployed, chain-smoking European still seems like he’s doing something, like sitting in a cafĂ©, sipping espresso while spewing contempt for the bourgeois businessman waiting for his packages (let him wait). As opposed to a true American slacker, stoned on the couch on a Tuesday afternoon, lacking even the willpower to turn the Wii on, let alone play it. Side note: I remember wayyyyy too many commercials.

6) “Flight of Icarus,” Iron Maiden. I miss songs about Greek mythology. Those always rocked. What didn’t rock was the 40-story steaming Kraken turd known as Clash of the Titans. I am not really a movie snob, and in fact the movies I tend to see in the theater are big, dumb, loud pop fests: essentially "Smoking in the Boys Room" on film. But if they made a reality show about the re-making of the Clash of the Titans, all the challenges would have to be set in the stalls of a men’s room. It’s pretty terrible when every acting performance in this movie pales in comparison to the Cyclops from The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad. At least the Cyclops seems to understand his motivation.

7) “Led Zeppelin Medley,” Dream Theater. Speaking of utter shit. Holy fuck, these guys are terrible. Dream Theater is musical p0rn: relentless, mechanical jackhammering, with no soul, no feeling, no heart. It’s even more apparent when they suck all the life out of three classic Zeppelin songs. They are to classic rock what Blues Hammer is to blues.

8) “Miles to Memphis,” Chris Knight. Here’s a voice that’s lived-in, like a pair of old work boots or a Ford pickup with 350,000 miles on it that runs rough but still runs. I don’t really mind that bad music gets popular, but it makes me sad when stuff like this flies under the radar while Kenny Chesney is sweating in 3D at a theater near you. No YT clip but here's one from the same album.

9) “Let There Be Rock,” Drive-By Truckers. Yee-fuckin’-haw! They may not be the best band of the last decade, but damn if they aren’t the most consistently good band of the last ten years. This is a great ode to rock-concert-going, getting in the car with your friends and a case of illicit beer and rocking til your ear drums bleed. Glad to see that they are having some of the success they deserve.

10) “Start a War,” The National. Anthem? (h/t to fish). I love America, I really do, but I can’t believe how bent out of shape people get when pointing out that this country fights a lot, and usually for some very questionable causes: kicking Indians off their lands, stealing half of Mexico from Spain, stealing the Philippines from Spain (seriously, fuck you, Spain!), keeping Vietnam from oppressive communist dictators so it could be ruled by oppressive capitalist dictators. We’ve even tried to invade Canada (and failed…twice!). Now we have politicians in the south who want to honor Confederate soldiers who fought to uphold slavery, and then get offended when you say that’s what they were fighting for. “It was state’s rights!” they argue. Yeah, a state’s right…to keep black people in slavery. Well, this song is the opposite of all that.

11) “Roll With the Changes,” REO Speedwagon. I’m not sure who I might take more flack for sticking up for, REO or Rush, but this is a great song. Great. Not good, not okay, not decent, but great. It gives me what I want from classic rock: great melody, hot playing, a ton of energy, and a sound big enough to crack the dome of the arena where this is being performed. And it’s got soul. Not soul in the R&B sense, despite the attempt to inject a little with the backup singers and the Hammond organ. It’s got soul because all this song wants to do is rock me for five-and-a-half minutes, and on that front it succeeds spectacularly. When the big rock finish kicks in at the end, damn if I don’t feel rocked. So, to sum up, great. And for you h8ers, check out the hilarious increasing close-up that starts around the 1:15 mark.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Are you a Christian guy looking for some young, attractive, girls who just want to talk? Do you want to have some good, clean fun right from the comfort of your own home? Then call 1-900-ABSTAIN.

A GUY calls GIRL on the phone. She’s in the kitchen.

Hi, what’s your name?

I’m Betty. What’s yours, cutie?


Oooh, I love guys with Biblical names.

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So what are you doing?

BETTY (putting a pie in the oven)
Baking a pie.

LEVI (pulling at collar)
Oh, I love pie. What kind?

Cherry, of course!

All of our girls are saving themselves for marriage and won’t give in no matter how hard you tempt them.

Now it’s your turn, what’s your favorite Bible story?

LEVI (lowering voice)
Definitely David and Bethsheba.

Levi, you’re so naughty. Someone might smite you for that.

Oh, I need a smiting. I’m downright wicked.

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BETTY (slicing the pie)
Oh, my girlfriend Veronica just showed up.

Hi there.


Veronica, would you like a slice of my cherry pie? It’s a little warm, though.

That’s okay, I love warm pie.

LEVI (wiping brow)
I like it warm, too…with whipped cream on top.

Ooh, good idea. Let me just shake this up…(sound of whip cream spraying).

BETTY (laughing)
Veronica! You’re spraying whipped cream all over my pie!

VERONICA (laughing)
Sorry, sometimes I can't control myself. (Taking a bite) Oh my gosh, this tastes so good. It’s so sweet and warm.

You got some on your lips.

VERONICA (licks her lips)
Mmmm, did I lick it all off?

LEVI (falls out of his chair)

Are you okay, Levi?

Yeah, I gotta go. Nice talking with you.

Take care of yourself , Levi.

Don’t do anything we wouldn’t do.

Or we’ll both have to smite you.

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Top Ten Tuesdays: How did we get busted by the S.E.C.?

10) Followed our #insidertrading hashtag.

9) Sparked an outbreak of Mad Bull Disease among investors in a high-density mutual fund that sustained itself on the ground-up broken dreams of other investors.

8) Left out a large pile of money that a very foolish investigator didn’t take with him.

7) Had to make an unexpected margin call on our fraudulent Volcano Eruption Fund.

6) Ratted out by intern who we used as a human footstool during secret investment meetings.

5) Used the salutation “Dear Suckers,” in investor correspondence.

4) Didn't think anyone would read the investment disclosure document, including Part 6, Section 9, Clause F: Rights of Fund Manager to Completely, Unconditionally Fuck You.

3) Got exposed by some cube jockey in accounting after we took his red stapler.

2) Thought that S.E.C. investigations only existed in fairy tales used to scare young brokers.

1) Raised suspicions by actually making money last year.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday Random 11

It’s one more random than 10!

I promise that this post will be Burt-Reynolds-link free. Although I did send that link to Dr. Trapper (of Vegas fame) and told him I found his Halloween costume. (Trapper looks a bit like Burt circa The Longest Yard.) Speaking of which, he and Dr. Hawkeye came up with a hilarious idea for a poster: the two of them sitting in a hot tub, shirtless and serious, with a caption that says, “Shhhh…just let it happen.” My brother Tickle and I think Hawkeye should have his own reality show called, No, Really, I’m a Doctor. It would consist of Hawkeye doing things like running through a hotel hallway in scrubs and a fetish mask (note: I’m not making that up) and then providing medical assistance to people. Instant hit, although it would ruin his professional career and possibly his marriage.

Now for some tunes to wash those images out of your minds….

1) “Gimme Shelter,” The Rolling Stones. It’s difficult to not think of a Scorsese film when this plays, especially the Headshotpalooza that was The Departed. Note to filmmakers: if you have so many people getting shot in the head that people are actually laughing at the end of your non-comedy movie, you have too many people getting shot in the head. I also find it funny that this has become the signature Stones song when the signature of this song is the female vocal from a non-Stone. Great tune, though, exit wounds and all.

2) “Bone Machine,” The Pixies. Filthbot could have a field day with that title. Also an apt description for how most men feel at age 19, when you can’t put two thoughts together without getting an erection. You know how they say with age comes wisdom? It happens for men because once you reach a certain age, you can think for more than 10 minutes without sex getting in the way. I am amazed I graduated from college considering I was in a constant state of sexual distraction.

3) “What I See,” Dirty Projectors. HATE. It’s leftover audio casserole, the equivalent of someone finding mustard, noodles, strawberry jam, broccoli, and jerky and saying, “We can totally make a song out of that.” Blech.

4) “The Fool on the Hill,” The Beatles. This, on the other hand, is how you put together ingredients you normally wouldn’t find in a rock song and still make it appetizing. And LOL at the video. Is it wrong that I kind of miss our former president? Couldn't we have set up some kind of Truman Show situation where he thought he was still the president, and we all got to watch and mock him, but he couldn't fuck anything up anymore?

5) “So Here We Are,” Bloc Party. Sometimes you just need some pretty in your day, and this is a beautiful song: little chiming guitars, soft vocals, but drums that are busy enough to keep it out of the soft rock bin. Like we’re going to hug it out and talk about our feelings, but I’ll still seem like a dude, even if I tear up a little.

6) “Bring the Noise,” Anthrax/Public Enemy. TURN IT UP!!! They should have just broken the rap metal mold after this was made, because this is as good as that rancid subgenre will ever get. This came out when I was wide awake in Bonerland (i.e. college), and it was good enough that I could forget about sex for the few minutes that I was bouncing to it. It also reminds me of my friend Moe, a huge metalhead who also happened to be black (one of the great stereotype-shattering moments in my life). In fact, we became friends when we worked together because he loved my idea to have a lounge act that played nothing but Metallica songs. We would croon together in cocktail-singer style (snapping our fingers, of course), “You must die…when I say die…back to the front.” We would play "Bring the Noise" at the bars and instantly clear the dance floor so we could slam to it.

7) “Crazy on You,” Heart. I do miss the non-essential acoustic guitar opening a lot of 70s rock songs had, when the band would let the guitar player wank on a classical guitar for a minute while the other members did some lines and got ready to do another take. One of Ann Wilson’s best vocals. "Cra-a-a-zy on you!"

8) “Bleeding Powers,” Ted Leo and Pharmacists. Bands steal from the 80s so much these days it’s a wonder the kids aren’t tight-rolling their pants. I’m fine with this thievery—I liked a lot of 80s music, and production and fashion issues aside, think it was a pretty good decade for music. What’s great about Ted Leo is that he encapsulates 80s indie/punk/college rock without sounding like an ancient artifact or that he’s aping what came before. He just cranks out tune after tune of heartfelt, energetic, guitar-driven rock.

9) “Sway,” Bic Runga. It seems like a lot of people with great voices spend most of their musical careers letting you know they have great voices. While there is a great deal of (justifiable) fun poked at guitar/drum/bass wankery, the vocal wankery of the world’s Mariahs and Celines is just as annoying. So it’s nice to hear someone like Bic Runga, who can go huge with her voice, dropping it down to give the verses some warm piano-bar intimacy. This is the kind of stuff that should be idolized by Americans.

10) “Achin’ to Be,” The Replacements. Now this is what an achy, breaky heart sounds like.

11) “Trip Like I Do,” The Crystal Method. How can you go wrong with samples from The Dark Crystal? That’s a trick question: you can’t go wrong with samples from The Dark Crystal (note: highly clickworthy). One of my favorite electronic songs of all time, because when the song kicks it up at the midway point, I feel like I’m in an action movie, falling down a 100-story building while three killer robots are plunging after me, giving me just enough time to turn in mid-air and blast them with my ion wrist cannon, clearing the way for my talking chimp sidekick Dr. Sassafras to rescue me at the last minute in our hovercraft, where I land on the waterbed next to my female co-star, who says “I always knew you’d fall for me” just before the credits roll.

No, I’m really not a virgin.

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Happy Birthday, TLB!

The Lovely Becky is another year lovelier today. Libby already gave TLB her birthday gift, a wake-up call at 3 am this morning, because she just couldn't wait to start celebrating. Her publisher gave TLB her birthday gift by saying that her novel is ready to go and on its way toward being a book you can stick on your shelf/iPad. There are even people in foreign lands who want to give her the gift of translating her work into their own languages.

As for me...well, it becomes somewhat more difficult to give your spouse the perfect birthday gift as you spend more and more time together. It's harder to surprise them, because they know you so well and can pick up on your tells, like bouncing up and down and saying, "Wait til you see what I got you for your birthday!" And, frankly, it's harder to resist the impulse to just buy something for them during the year if you can afford it and they want it. So it's not easy for me to come up with something TLB will be very excited to receive.

That's when it hit me: Why not give her the gift of me? Say, in this pose. Minus the mustache, of course. How could she not swoon over that?

Plan B is to make dinner for her and let her sleep in as much as she wants on Saturday. Sadly, I suspect she'll be more excited about that.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Friday Random 11

It's one more random than 10!

Last Friday it was 72 degrees. Today there’s snow on the ground. Get me the fuck out of here. And yes, I know it snowed in Chicago, but right now a 60-inch winter seems positively quaint and adorable.

I also realized I’m coming up on five years of blogging. That blew my mind the other day. I can’t believe I’ve been doing this since I was 25. So I might change things up a bit. I have no idea how much I can trick out the old El Camino that is Blogger, but I’ll probably try giving the ol’ girl a new paint job at least.

1) “Crazy Train,” Ozzy Osbourne. The most entertaining Rock Band/Guitar Hero song I’ve ever played, probably because I’ve been air-guitaring it since I was 12 and playing it with a plastic toy guitar strapped around my neck was like taking one step closer to actually being Randy Rhodes. In fact, the whole Rock Band/Guitar Hero thing is probably like having sex with one of those hyper-realistic/extra-creepy sex dolls I once saw on HBO’s Real Sex. It can really seem like the real thing when you’re in the middle of it and letting your imagination take over, but to anyone watching you, you look completely sad and pathetic.

2) “Round and Round,” Ratt. There are two metal bands I hate to admit liking: Dokken and Ratt. I can mentally justify a lot of the other hair-and-leather-pants guilty pleasures: Dio is so bad he’s good, Whitesnake reminds me of the time my friend Tom and I got his booger-green Datsun up to 105 mph on the Capitol Beltway just as the guitar solo from “Still of the Night” kicked in, and Def Leppard were the British Cheap Trick and Cheap Trick fucking rules. Dokken and Ratt, though, are true guilty pleasures: derivative, silly, and simplistic. Then again, I like Taco Bell despite the fact that it’s the digestive equivalent of the Viet Cong: it’s good because it’s wrong. So there’s my justification for Ratt.

3) “Heart of the Sunrise,” Yes. The reason I like songs like this is because they take me on a little mental journey. When artists pull the prog out, it’s like a musical short story. That’s not limited to old-school prog, either. It can be the epic Icelandic chirping of most Sigur Ros songs or the harrowing overdose anthem, “Coma” from Guns N’ Roses. As much as I love catchy, concise rock songs, sometimes three minutes isn’t enough to get the job done. Just ask my wife.

4) “Breaking Us in Two,” Joe Jackson. One of the great relationship laments because it sounds like you’re sitting in a bar, listening to Joe Jackson sing about love gone wrong while you wallow in drink because your love did go wrong.

5) “Hate Breeders,” The Misfits. Yesterday’s menace becomes today’s kitsch.

6) “Out Go the Lights,” Spoon. Having a bit of a difficult time getting into the new Spoon album, Transference. I can’t tell if it’s because it’s not as good as the last one or if it suffers from Expectant Follow-Up Syndrome, where an artist releases the album of their career, one so good the next one is almost certain to disappoint. Very few rock bands can overcome that syndrome.

7) “Tax Rebates and Common Sense,” Lewis Black. I don’t normally include comedy routines if they come up in the Random 11, but this seems appropriate given that we’re a week away from tax day. I also love Lewis Black. He does swear so much that it can sometimes be a distraction, but the way he takes this raging pot of anger and pours cup after cup of hilarious standup inspires me. There’s a bit from this album (The End of the Universe) on post-9/11 homeland security that is one of the best comedic rages against government ever.

8) “Heaven’s Not Overflowing,” Corrosion of Conformity. One of my all-time Expectant Follow-Up Syndrome bands. The album before this, Blind, is one of the most underrated metal albums of all time—an hour of Sabbathy grunge metal that still melts my ears. This album, Deliverance, kicks the same amount of ass for three songs, then sends the remaining eleven off the cliff and into the Gorge of Meh. That’s the worst kind of Expectant Follow-Up Syndrome, where the album starts off strong and I think I have another gem on your hands, only to find out that those gems have been ground up and embedded into the artificial fillers and preservatives that populate the rest of the album. I keep listening hoping I’m hitting a mid-album lull, but the non-hits keep on coming. At least have the decency to suck from the beginning so I don’t get my hopes up.

9) “God Save the Queen,” Sex Pistols. “Anarchy in the UK” gets a lot of the attention but this is the better song, my second-favorite on Never Mind the Bollocks after “Pretty Vacant.” Despite becoming one of the “old” people Johnny Rottten spat this song at, and actually having what seems like a good future ahead of me, I still get a kick out of singing “no future, no future, no future for you.”

10) “Dazed and Confused,” Led Zeppelin. I go through Zeppelin periods where I really like Zeppelin and others where I get really tired of hearing them. Obviously, “Stairway” fatigue is pretty common, but there are times where I just can’t take another burst of “Black Dog” or “Whole Lotta Love” or even “Kashmir.” However, I never get tired of their first album. If “Good Times, Bad Times,” comes on the radio, I’m turning it up. Likewise, I’m going air-drum apeshit when Jimmy Page stops his noodling and the band kicks it to 11 in this song.

11) “You Make My Dreams,” Hall & Oates. Fuck & Yeah. This was used in the movie 500 Days of Summer, and while I think that movie is quite good on its own, it’s worth watching just for the scene where they use this song. Hall & Oates rule because they just make people happy. I’m not really sure why, because on the surface I should hate this. Yet I could be having the shittiest day imaginable and my foot is going to tap along to “You Make My Dreams.” I suspect that, like Samson’s hair, John Oates mustache is a mystical, follicle-rich source of divine strength.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Top Ten Thursdays: How are we welcoming Tiger Woods back to golf?

10) Setting up a private tour of Augusta with our niece, Lacey Underalls.

9) Sending him a coupon for “all he can eat” at the local Perkins.

8) Offering a lucrative sponsorship from Trojan.

7) Changing the green jacket from a sport coat to a smoking jacket.

6) Providing free transportation from the Bang Bus.

5) Letting him motorboat our breasts (Phil Mickelson only).

4) Sticking a monogrammed Fleshlight in his bag.

3) Promoting awareness of sexual addiction by wearing penis-shaped ribbons.

2) Sending him a congratulatory text message that says, "way 2 swing out of that rough and stick it in the hole."

1) Forgiving his years of appalling, adulterous behavior the second he makes an exciting shot.

Friday, April 02, 2010

No Random 11 today

There's a little too much going on today to get to a Random 11 -- including a second showing of our house that will hopefully lead to a sale so we don't have to keep cleaning all the time. So enjoy celebrating a resurrection, the kicking of a pharaoh in the balls, or the delicious welcoming of diabetes. In the meantime, here's an inspiring story to help celebrate this weekend:

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Palin: Quote about gutting every Democrat and eating their still-beating hearts taken out of context.

SKEETERVILLE – During a rally at Americas’s largest mudflap production facility, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin took aim at the media for what she says is a gross representation of her words.

“I’ll tell ya, I’m so sick of all this misquoting going on,” Ms. Palin said. “Every time I read a story about me, I just want to murder the fella who wrote it.”

Ms. Palin was referring to a recent Associated Press article that quoted her as saying that she wanted to, “Stick these socialist Democrats on meathooks, slice ‘em from neck to groin, and eat their still-beating hearts.” The quote touched off a firestorm of criticism from liberals, even causing MSNBC host Keith Olbermann to pass out from a case of the vapors.

“The problem is that these pansy-wansy liberals don’t know nothing about hunting,” Ms. Palin said. “And if they did, they’d know I was speaking hypometatorically.

“Maybe they’d be smarter if they were homeschooled,” she added, to thunderous cheers and air horns from the crowd.

Ms. Palin also addressed a video that surfaced that appears to show her waving a gun and firing a shot at a target in the shape of the Democratic donkey symbol, telling the crowd to do the same with their representatives.

“That’s not a gun,” Ms. Palin said, “I was just using my fingers to make a gun, like this.” Ms. Palin formed her right hand into a finger gun and made several pew pew pew noises, which she claims were the source of the “gunshot” noises.

The Palin controversy is the latest in a recent series of rapid-fire denunciations aimed at liberals by conservatives. House minority leader John Boehner (R-heh, heh) said that healthcare reform would trigger “Armageddon” and would kill everyone in the country because “that’s what healthcare reform does. That’s all it does!” Michele Bachman (R-Duh.) went one further, stating that Democrats were clearly “vampires” who needed to “have stakes driven in their hearts before they turn our country gay by sucking the heterosexual blood out of our children.” Ms. Bachman was unavailable to comment on this story, as a spokeswoman explained that the Congresswoman was recovering from an overdose of Twilight.

While Democrats say that this violent rhetoric is inciting violence, Republicans disagree. Senator John McCain (R-Matlock) took issue that his comment, “What we need to do is take these Democrats and stick them face first into a tank of ravenous piranhas until they agree to compromise,” was a call for violence. “Anyone with half a brain would know I was making a comment about the need for more bipartisanship in Washington. The senator was asked to elaborate, but had to depart for nap time.

Some Republicans also say they have been blatantly misquoted. A New York Times story earlier this week said Senator David Vitter (R-Xxx) wanted to “urinate on the Democratic Party,” but the senator claimed he actually said he wanted the Democratic Party to urinate on him.

“If Americans weren’t allowed to incite violence, there wouldn’t be an America”

While Republican officials have said that their comments have been misunderstood, conservative pundits have argued that their rhetoric is justifiable and in fact patriotic. Fox News host Glenn Beck said as much when he claimed, “If Americans weren’t allowed to incite violence, there wouldn’t be an America, which is precisely why the Democrats are against inciting violence.” Punctuating his point by writing “a-ha!!!” on his chalkboard, Mr. Beck continued, “That’s why it’s our patriotic duty to stomp the throat of progressivism with the jackboot of freedom.”

Radio host Rush Limbaugh said that the Democratic concerns were an attack on the foundation of America, freedom of speech. “If I can’t tell my listeners that it is there religious duty to protect Judeo-Christian family values by driving a truckload of explosives into every Democratic office, then the terrorists have won.”

Even Fox News can’t escape the criticism of distorting the news. Blogger and professional racial delusionist Michelle Malkin appeared the network to discuss how to fight the Democrats, and proposed a plan for rounding up Democrats and sticking them in internment camps.

“They edited out a key part, where I said that the camps would be heated by the burning bodies of illegal immigrants,” Ms. Malkin said. “That would make the camps self-powered, but I guess that was too ‘controversial’ for the producers.

“It just goes to show that the mainstream media will stop at nothing to paint conservatives in a bad light.”