new writing in long forma proper archive for this site

dear brainfixer,
as a freelancer, i've had to park myself in a number of odd locations to get some writing done. often, this parking space is provided by a client and, more often still, is in the most undesirable location in the office. freelancers tend to (understandably) receive the serf treatment, set up at outmoded Mac design computers that double as scanner workstations , or placed directly next to the vending machines, men's bathroom, or, god forbid, media buying group.

today, however, i am sitting in the office of a dethroned king. as legend goes, this used to be the private workspace of the head partner in a west village architectural firm, and he clearly had some serious self-esteem issues. the space is larger than both of the company's conference rooms combined, and includes the following features: a small workout room (with floor-to-ceiling mirrors), private bath and shower, washer/dryer, eight-foot tall windows with superb sunlight exposure, garrisons, moat filled with crocodiles, second moat filled with choc-o-diles snack cakes, iron maiden, panic room, nervous room, upset stomach closet, and personal key to the office supplies cabinet with carte blanche on Sharpies. he also had a very lovely chair.

sitting here, in his former throne, the place he retreated to when he felt powerfless, i am struck by a single thought: he must have masturbated a lot. a whole lot. this office is amazingly secluded - from back here, i can't even hear the company's few remaining employees dialing job recruiters or sobbing at their desks. as i survey his small kingdom, i can easily imagine this former senior partner standing in front of his workout mirror, prada slacks around his thin ankles, masturbating slowly and smugly while mumbling, "check me out. i'm simply magnificent. you can park a semi in my office! you can warm up your clothes in the middle of the day. who's the best? i'm the best!" he probably winked at his reflection when he came.

dear brainfixer,
what's that? you feel this site is long overdue for another abuse of flash generator technology? well, spare those feelings, for, in association with Cash Money Productions' latest feature film, Steady Nuttin', bring you more laughs, more potty humor, and a new episode of dfilm comic strip theater: "secretary's day".

dear brainfixer,
advice for amateur djs: how to get a party full of half-drunk post-graduate whiteys to switch from standstill to hip-sway: "Genius of Love". how to make them stand still again: "Genius of Rap".

between anxiety-filled arguments with my optometrist about whether E.U.'s "da butt" was too down-tempo after Newcleus (in my opinion, it was) and watching the very same medical professional knock an open beer on top of my stack of LPs, it was not long before i decided party DJing was an activity from which i was eager to free myself. i don't even regret never getting around to spinning "Superbowl Shuffle" - and i'm sure those in attendance share that same lack of regret.

dear brainfixer,
i witnessed something last night that set me back quite a bit. let me preface it by saying it was a detached observation, rather than any symptom of personal longing, etc.

while out drinking with a couple friends i saw the man tending bar - the one i handed money to in exchange for inexpensive-tasting red wine - literally had a posse of women vying for his attention. they were arranged three across, a human shield, exerting their individual super-powers in the direction of the bartender. girl #1 was the master of the hair-flip. girl #2 pretended to be more aggressive than she really is. girl #3 had an unlimited supply of cigarettes and breast-meat.

their competition was civil and unspoken. they behaved like professional boxers before a fight, refusing to make a scene but doing everything in their power to avoid making eye contact. they were all there, but not to each other. and the bartender was highly aware of it, and highly attentive to it.

i understand that male bartenders can be charming in the same way struggling rock stars or gambling addicts can be charming. they're making honest livings, bringing joy through alcohol. they control the compact discs and the tv remote. they can give you free things that taste ok and change your mind. fine fine fine. but beyond the rough-edged charm, isn't there an expectation that the bartender will be physically attractive?

i ask this because i have no difficulty being honest about whether men are attractive - i don't think it implicates me in any way - and i can honestly say this: the bartender was not attractive. he was thin, but the thin of poor diet. he had a lousy smile, marginal social grace, and a soul patch that he should have outgrown the same day one outgrows fima clay jewelry and tecmo bowl. but worse than all this: he wore a bandana. a fucking bandana. he lives less than five miles from manhattan, and sees no problem with throwing on a pot-laced, three-cornered bandana. on his head! (if he wore it tied around his leg, he'd get 100 bonus points. unfortunately, a guy who wears a bandana around his head knows nothing of the wickedness of wearing one around his leg. those two worlds are in perfect parallel and even einstein can't make them intersect.) but the bandana did not hamper his game at all. the ladies still loved him for it. as i stewed at the other end of the bar, waiting forever to get his attention away from his groupies long enough to make me drunk and violent, i thought to myself: i'll bet he plays bass, too. or used to but still says he does.

so here's the conclusion i have drawn: i'm retiring forever. i'm going to just read and do crossword puzzles. if there is a line-up to talk to a bandana-clad bartender, i have no way of entering the marketplace. i just don't even understand the rules and accessories anymore. i just wish i hadn't sold my bongos.

dear brainfixer,
do you realize i haven't been cool since april 23, 1999? and back then this was the only other personal site online. maybe it's time to pack it in. (thank you way-back machine for allowing me to re-awaken sam sloan's dormant web site. it saved me the trouble of linking to howard rheingold's site.) p.s. this is a close approximation (minus my original 3D-glasses opening image) of what tremble looked like when it was still cool.

dear brainfixer,
i rarely beg like a small child, and i almost never ask for anything without planning on giving something in return. however, it has recently come to my attention that i need this like a junkie needs a fix. like fish needs water. like bono needs a bicyle. like sisqo needs a bus transfer.

since work has been slow (a mantra for many people with my skill set and approximate level of determination) i cannot justify making purchases that are not totally necessary, i will make you a deal. if you're financially fluid, buy me this as a gift and i'll draw you a picture or write you a story - your choice - and mail it to you. art for commerce. (that's my other mantra, incidentally) it's kind of like having no shame at all, but with just a little bit of shame thrown in.

dear brainfixer,
because i just don't know when to quit...dfilm theater presents: pressed luck

dear brainfixer,
to celebrate national "keepin' it real" month, i'm going to include a link to a very short film i made earlier this year. it was submitted for a show called "the nominee awards" which was basically a fully realized parody of the academy awards. a host, tuxedos, a song number, gold spray-painted awards, and mountains of uncut cocaine were all integral parts of the ceremony.

as a participant, it was my duty to create a 30-second "oscar clip" - a scene taken out of context from a larger, though nonexistent, film - based on the nomination i received via emal. in my case, i was nominated for "best use of lighting and/or obscure reference." i chose the "and" part and wrote a short piece from an imaginary film called "THE RAWNESS OF TRUTH: THE LEWIS HOWARD LATIMER STORY." my friend joe shot it and, along with the powerful film editing tool, iMovie, i cut it together. if you would like to experience first-hand the reason i'll likely never shoot film again, you can download the clip here.

(the more astute members of the gaffe squad - yes, you larry!! - might notice a small, unexpected cameo from one of my cats. it's the mildly retarded miss choo choo coleman. she was actually on a bluescreened soundstage in palo alto when this scene was shot. i had to cgi her into the frame to make it work. it cost me an additional $53,000 on top of the $19.95 i'd invested in spare bulbs, blended whiskey, and gold toe socks but i think you'll agree that it was one of those "over my dead body" film moments that directors will fight for tooth and nail.)

dear brainfixer,
looks like i found a new toy. please enjoy episode two: saturday night.

dear brainfixer, presents: dfilm comic strip theater, episode one: a great day, indeed!.

dear brainfixer,
my friend daegan, who can recognize a bad joke when she hears one (an ability missing in some people, i think), created the perfect platform for my "new york titty" joke. this slow, plodding dfilm perfectly captures the rhythm of bazooka joe comic timing. i think i'm going to communicate all future thoughts through this medium.

dear brainfixer,
Abercrombie & Fitch has over-extended its sense of adorable irony.

Clothing maker Abercrombie & Fitch said on Thursday it was pulling a new line of Asian-themed T-shirts after Asian-American groups complained they were a blatant example of racist stereotyping.

The shirts, which retail for $25, hit the shelves this week and carry caricatures of slant-eyed Asians in conical hats along with such slogans as "WONG BROTHERS LAUNDRY SERVICE: TWO WONGS CAN MAKE IT WHITE" and "WOK-N-BOWL -- CHINESE FOOD AND BOWLING."

when asked what kind of reaction they were hoping to get, a marketing spokesperson from Abercrombie & Fitch replied, "ancient chinese secret!" and struck a large gong to indicate the press conference was officially over.

in a related story, the soft drink machines in the Abercrombie & Fitch cafeteria are being investigated today after several employees discovered traces of pee pee in their Coke.

dear brainfixer,
in response to your inquiry regarding the specifications of DJ Scratch's Range Rover entertainment system setup, i have procured the following information. (courtesy of XXL magazine) i hope it is to your satisfaction:

  • two 12" Xtant woofers
  • three Xtant amplifiers
  • two motorized seven-inch flip-down televisions in the back seat
  • one seven-inch Apline in-dash motorized television monitor
  • wireless headphones
  • Streetwire wiring and batteries
  • two power capacitors
  • distribution blocks
  • Alpine video selector
  • PlayStation
  • DVD player
  • Satellite subscription television ("so I don't hafta miss Smackdown! on UPN")
  • hidden rear camera with microphone for recording exterior audio

is DJ Scratch enjoying his Xtant amps and woofers? "The bass will make your face hurt." so, yes.

dear brainfixer,
it's so hot here. hot enough that even interesting people are talking about the weather a lot. and in new york, the transition to warmer weather has had a profound effect on the city's collective libido. it's too powerful for me to even experience any shame. here's an excellent, high-class joke i wrote, which is available at no charge to any of new york city's up-and-coming comics:

"How about this weather folks? Have you seen what the ladies are wearing out now? New York City? More like "New York Titty! Boo-ya!!!"

dear brainfixer,
here's a tip to anyone with writer's block: go to starbucks. i'm not advocating starbucks as a cool coffee shop to "chill" with your friends, and harsh on ex-boyfriends over a doo doo frappuccino. in fact, i spend time there because it's so incredibly uncool. (and please don't take this to mean that i am placing myself on a cool pedastal that exceeds the starbucks pedastal in height. it's a simple observation that is worth following to its conclusion. now follow!)

each starbucks is essentially the same. same product, seating, layout, clientele. starbucks would like to imagine that its retail locations have replaced bars and boys' clubs and heroin crash pads as cultural salons in our cities. not true. in fact, it seems that most people who go to starbucks for long stretches fall into three categories: sleepy hobos, lazy au pairs, and the easily distracted. i'm part of that third category.

the reason starbucks has become such an excellent place for me to work - i move my fingers and brain about 30 times faster than i do at home - is its complete lack of distraction. the decor is harmless, the people are not especially cool or distractingly foxy, and the music is so methodically bland as to almost not exist, even though it is played at a piercingly high, nationally mandated and regulated volume. it's so much nicer than being at home, where my attentions are being tugged by my stereo, cats, ice cream, pornography, jump rope, telephone, telephone #2, lincoln logs, snoopy sno-cone maker, handloom, junior scientist chemistry kit, crockpot, internet, fighting cock, and train set. at starbucks it's just me, my laptop, an iced chai latte ($3.73 for a few hours of air conditioned office space rental is a bargain), and tears of hope. and also a melissa ethridge song, occasionally.

dear brainfixer,
no doubt you've already heard the gruesome story. actors elliot gould and adam arkin committed a terrible crime together and, fleeing the scene, lost control of their vehicle and dumped it into a ravine off mulholland drive. still unrepentant, they died instantly in a great twisted heap of flame, flesh, and steel. the crime and death were immediately covered up by the media under one condition: both actors would sign waivers permitting CBS to film their eternity in hell and broadcast it as a reality show. that reality show is called Baby Bob and it's everything you imagined hell would be, and worse.

while i personally have no difficulty suspending disbelief long enough to entertain the possibility of enjoying a show about a talking baby (i welcome it, in fact), i would never have imagined it could go quite as wrong as this.

the show's description tells us of an "extraordinary" baby with the ability to talk "like an adult." i saw no evidence of this. if you're going to have a baby crack wise, come up with something for it to say. this is your big chance, isn't it? you've got a talking baby? make it say something fun. instead, the baby's talk switch fires up and the scene becomes deadly still. the other, more accomplished actors wait patiently to react, their faces nearly collapsing from the tremendous effort required to keep themselves composed, and avoid weeping hysterically at any moment. then, instead of saying anything wise or funny or adult in any way - dispensing advice on home carpentry, etc. - the baby delivers nuggets like "my feet are pretty small!" and "i'm hungry, buddy!"

this leads me to believe either the baby has the intelligence and verbal skills of a six year-old - sort of a waste of talent, in a way - or the brain of a fully developed thirty-five year old man suffering from down's syndrome. whatever the case may be, it's not funny or cute. even the canned laugh track sounds confused whenever the baby opens his boring little cake trap.

i didn't see the season premiere but i would not be surprised if the laugh track also included a collective gasp of naked terror the first time the bob spoke. it is truly an upsetting thing to behold. instead of moving the entire mouth and jaw in something approaching verisimilitude, the effect is closer to the creepy Syncho-Vox technique developed for Clutch Cargo. it's a blur of lips jiggling around on a completely unresponsive face. it makes one sick to watch.

and the voice. christ, the voice. there are a million ways to let the voice carry poor writing or worse special effects. instead of choosing any of those, the creators decided to make Baby Bob sound the way an adult would sound if he were standing holding a baby on his lap, pretending to make it talk for the amusement of his houseguests. or, as ben described it, "it sounds like that baby voice they use on 'america's funniest home videos'."

i will make this promise to CBS. remove this scourge, let arkin and gould go back to having leeches suck out their eyeballs in hell, and pack it all up. in return, i will tell everyone i meet, at least once, that "the fifth season of survivor is going to be the BEST season." do we have a deal?

dear brainfixer,
here's a piece that will likely alienate me from 90% of my readers, and 40% of my friends: Male Vanity, in this month's

dear brainfixer,
here's something apropos of nothing. celebrities who Rolf: courtney love, willie nelson, denis leary, sean young, levar burton, michelle kwan, ivan lendl.

dear brainfixer,
for those of you planning on seeing spalding gray's new evening of storytelling, don't bother. here's the last line of the show:

"...and that's the most i ever puked."

dear brainfixer,
i think it might be nice to be a crazy retired lady. youd receive discounts on movies, subway tokens, and day-old bread. youd also get to wear as much rouge as you like every single day, and then double that amount on weekends. better still, youd know where to purchase rouge in the first place.

and, as a crazy retired lady, you get to really enjoy simple things, like picking up a can on Lysol at your local supermarket, grabbing the bifocles hanging around your neck and placing them in front of your eyes to inspect the label, and declaring, Crisp Linen scent? Hmmph. well, i dont care much what it smells like as long as it dont smell like my crap! i cant wait.

dear brainfixer,
bricky update:
after a long leave of absence, bricky returned to my neighborhood today bearing all sorts of new mysteries to unravel. i have collected them in a new series of books titled, "The Homeless Detective." here are some of the newest titles:

  • The Mystery of the New but Nonetheless Filthy Garden Gloves
  • The Missing Moustache Files
  • The Haagen-Daz Curse
  • In Search of The Great Book Store Treasure (i saw him twice today, coming out of a book store - different book stores - each time)
  • The Phantom Odor
  • On Thursday, The Rabbi Was Screamed at by a Homeless Guy on the Street
  • The Brick Murders of Scotland Yard


dear brainfixer,
wow. we haven't spoken for a while. i was creating a mental list of all the possible reasons this might have occurred. as i ran down the list - "The Replacements, Gossip, VH-1 Classics, Tom Horn, Larry Sanders, HBO Latin, Black Starz!, Telemundo - i noticed a pattern. i haven't written to you, or to anyone, since the moment digital cable was installed in my apartment.

upgrading my cable system was a decision i made based solely on economics - i felt like i was getting ripped off with my paltry 72 cable channels when, for pennies more, i could have 300 terrible networks to choose from. (including one called "Speed Vision" or something which is, as far as i can tell, 24 hours of high-speed vehicular racing programming. there is a program on this network called "Pinned Right" which is just one hour of crudely edited together close-up shots of a nascar vehicle's odometer. there is no dialogue; just a continuous loop of bachmann turner overdrive's "Takin' Care of Business" dropped in as an audio bed.)

what's a boy to do?

dear brainfixer,
i almost didn't even post a link to that first-date article yesterday, because i felt like only shades of personal style survived the editorial board of child experts and network bosses. however, someone just pointed me to the message boards at "The-N" and i'm bewildered to report that this might be the most heavily discussed piece of writing i've ever published.

one visitor, known only as "padfoot", punctuated her support for "kissing and making out" with a record EIGHTEEN smiley face emoticons. i put it to the post-teen crowd reading this: where is your passion?

dear brainfixer,
my people just informed me that my Adorable Factor is down 3% this quarter. to rectify this situation, i offer this article, in which i dispense preparatory advice to 12 year-olds for their first date.

(please keep in mind the tone might be a little pedestrian for your quick-moving mind, because the intended audience for the article is at least two years younger than the audience for this web site.)

dear brainfixer,
i'm having this problem lately. you see, most people have grown accustomed to my very short hair and the occasional inclusion of wireframe glasses. but now, for 2002, i have introduced a daring new look. (photos courtesy of remote lounge)

it's become an unintentional disguise. i have literally had to reintroduce myself to old friends on more than one occasion. i will stare at them for a very long time, getting all up in their grills as it were, and only receive a puzzled look in return. it is only when i open my mouth and speak - often uttering my signature phrase, "who made a stinky?" - that their faces warm with friendly recognition. at this point they'll usually say something like, "can't you tell when you're being ignored?"

my old, close-cropped hair was a special cut i referred to as "The Young Zionist". the new afro, complete with sephardic beard and glasses, is a little something i like to call "Countdown to Baldness."


plays well with others
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2001 todd levin