ONE MORE PIECE OF BUSINESS.
I just noticed today that The Modern Humorist finally published a piece I sent them a couple months ago. Good for me! It's called Poster Boy: Why I lost my job as a movie tagline writer, though it was originally titled, "I Almost Got the Job!: Movie Tagline Writer." That's some inside information for you.
I hope you enjoy it. And I hope you enjoy the one joke they cut, which was my tagline for the Roberto Benigni film, Life is Beautiful: "Be Careful What You Wish for."
SEE ME NEXT YEAR.
[i am going underground for the next holiday week or so, and won't officially be attending site duties until after the new year. please try to join me for this show and, if that's not possible, please at least try to have a lovely pair of holidays and remember this for new year's eve: an easy night with nice friends trumps a wild goose chase with weirdo germans. i cannot stress that enough.]
SHOW SHOW SHOW SHOW!!
I'm really happy to announce I'll be performing the first "Portable Comedy" show of the new year. This weekly show, at NYC's international model-stuffed Gershwin Hotel, is hosted by Christian Finnegan and almost always has a really nice line-up of funny individuals and patient audience members. Here are the details, if you're in town:
Friday, January 3rd - Portable Comedy!
show starts at 10:00 PM
Gershwin Hotel - 27th between 5th and Madison
Admission price - $5.00 - cheap! (bring your own alcohol - again, cheap!)
Hope to see you there, cutie-pies.
Just (barely) in time for Christmas, I've created an NYC holiday slideshow screen saver. Eschewing the Rock Center tree, which already gets more attention than the captain of the flag squad, I took a few pictures of low-rent holiday preparations in local neighborhoods. Highlights include: my trip to Dyker Heights, near Bensonhurst, where each year wealthy Italian-American families display all of their holiday and religious fervor, and absolutely none of their restraint or respect for energy conservation; a stroll through the eastern and southern-most edges of Park Slope, Brooklyn, where the holidays suffer from chronic loneliness; and a lucky snapshot in Chelsea.
If you'd like to make this screen save yours, you'll need an Apple computer and OS X. From there, it's as easy as one, two, three:
- Open your System Preferences
- Choose Screen Effects, and from the effects menu, select ".Mac"
- Now, click the "configure" button and, in the new window that opens up, where it asks you to type in a .mac user screen name, type "tremble" and click OK.
And you're off! Sorry, PC users. You've got enough neat stuff to do, though.
I'm in a promting mood this week, and it just got promote-ier. The new issue of Jest Magazine dropped this week, quietly, suspiciously. It has improved on its previous issue by being both easier to read and filled with more ads that use swear words in place of real, well-considered humor. (that's such a strange phenomenon to me. ads in the onion are the same way. i suppose the advertisers feel, since they're going to be seen in the context of a humor publication, they must be funny themselves. and since they're not naturally funny, they swear. a typical ad for, say, an emergency medical center will have a photograph of a entrance to the medical center and an ambulance parked just outside, with a headline that reads, "IF IT AIN'T A REAL EMERGENCY, TAKE YOUR STUPID, FUCKING PUSSY ASS SOMEWHERE ELSE." then there will be various bits of copy about how this medical center isn't some fairy hospital and only hard-asses better come through their doors. it's sort of off-putting when all these ads run together, honestly.)
I have a piece in the new one - it's basically an F.A.Q. about Hanukkah - but, from giving it a quick read, I can also recommend other pieces by Chris Regan (who is fast becoming one of my favorite people to read), Bob 'death ray' Powers, Liam McEneaney, and Andres du Bouchet, whose piece made me laugh out loud in one of those wonderful, rare moments that almost shakes off all the horrible misery of the world. J.K.! XOXOXOXOXOXO (that's part of the new, nice me persona i'm trying to adopt.)
If you live in the NYC area, and would like to find and possibly even read Jest, you can visit the web site for drop-off locations. That is all.
Attended a screening of Confessions of a Dangerous Mind last night. I had really been looking forward to this film for three important reasons: 1) a familiarity with the source material - Chuck Barris' autobiography; 2) a screenplay by Charlie Kaufman; and 3) Sam Fucking Rockwell, the most under-evaluated actor in Hollywood. I feel weird talking about how much I like an acto. Slipping into the tricky morass of fandom makes me uncomfortable, because it means I'm not directing 100% of attention back to me. But I'll try. Sam Rockwell is so incredible in this surprisingly complicated role that I found myself watching him with my mouth slack. Besides going nuts emotionally, as is his tendency, he creeps into every nuance of Chuck Barris' public, on-air vocal and physical mannerisms. Just liten to him shout the words "GENE GENE THE DANCING MACHINE" and then feel free to rent a copy of the Andy Kaufman biopic, Man on the Moon, take it home, and punch it in the face. I think I heard once that Rockwell had also been up for that part - along with everyone else - and I'm kind of glad he didn't get it because the script was so poor. But still...
In addition to Rockwell's inhabitation of Chuck Barris, and a few other decent cameos, the most surprising and rewarding unknown about the film was Robert John Burke. I haven't seen him in a long while but his extended monologue as a phony representative of the FCC is the single most joyful moment I've seen on-screen all year. I promise.
Now that I'm done servicing this movie like a runaway at a truck-stop, I would like to share this small detail. I attended the screening because I'm on one of those PR company mailing lists - everyone in a major city has at least one friend on one of these - and I think the screening was co-sponsored by the local shit-rock Clear Channel radio station. (K-ROCK - again, I think everyone in a majory city has one of these, too. they love playing those clips from animal house and stripes during their station IDs.) Therefore, there were a lot of lunkheads in the audience. A representative from K-ROCK introduced the movie and did very little to describe what it was actually about but did say this, "I know you're going to like it because it's got a lot of big stars in it!" When she said that, several people began pumping their fists, and one girl crawled up on her boyfriend's shoulders and removed her "WE WILL NEVER FORGET" t-shirt.
THE WORLD'S MOST UNWELCOME POP CULTURAL OBSERVATION.
Until this morning, I hadn't seen a bona fide celebrity up close in a while. I think it's mostly because I've been sticking close to my own neighborhood and, honestly, I don't think most people would consider Paul Auster and the homeless guy who looks like William S. Burroughs bona fide celebrities.
But today, as I was walking past a Blimpie's and a Gentleman's club (imagine that. my two biggest cravings - egg salad and pussy - right next to each other!) I almost walked right into actor Peter Gallagher. (perhaps you've seen him in sex, lies & videotape or mr. deeds I've said it before, sometimes at the risk of getting punched in the eyes or politely ignored, and I'll say it again: Peter Gallagher is the thinking man's Billy Zane. And Billy Zane is the certifiably sentient man's The Rock. I'm not going anywhere in life, am I? (don't answer!)
USHERING IN A NEW ERA.
While it's certainly been rearing its head with increasing regularity - Dave Egger's themed storefront on Valencia, various jokes on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, and, as recently as today, a short piece on the McSweeney's web site - it hasn't been officially stated yet, so please allow me. In the world of comedy writing, PIRATES ARE THE NEW ROBOT. (as you'll recall from several years ago, robots were the new monkey.) As you were.
P.S. I'm still waiting patiently for mummies to become the new pirate / bigfoot / hobo / what have you. Mummies - our day will come.
HOW TO RUIN A JOKE.
Now, watch how far you can take this joke, from degrees of subtletly to complete ruin. See if you can spot where it 'tipped'!
I just had sushi and now I feel awfully green. I should have known better when I saw the sushi chef holding:
- a can opener!
- a nerf knife
- his nose!
- a filet-o-fish wrapper
- a take-out menu...for mexican food!!!!!!!!
- a plastic bag filled with goldfish
- his own severed pinky
- a copy of "sushi for dummies"!
- a copy of "sushi for dummies"...UPSIDE-DOWN!!!!
- a tube of herpes medication
- his colostomy bag!??!?!?!!!
- an elvis - dwarf - carrot-top - robot-gary - coleman - pants - meat - caveman - thingy!
- a sign that says "I AM VERY BAD SUSHI CHEF. I MUST HAVE HOLD THIS SIGN TO PUNISHMENT ME! GO AWAY NOW!!"
(if you guessed "at 'can opener'", congratulations! if you guessed "hmm...i liked the herpes stuff but i didn't really get that nerf reference", congratulations, too! you have just been hired as the head writer for MAD TV. and, finally, if you guessed, "that joke was infused with faint, delicious traces of comic subtlety," congratulations, once more. you've just been hired as the head writer for THE WORLD WIDE WEB. here's some fake poop and the 'am i monkey or not?' 2003 calendar. you're on your way, buddy.)
I FELL DOWN.
Things were going very well on Saturday night, until I fell down. I was wearing a tie, which played no part in my fall. A friend, a collector of vintage ties for men (among other things), brought approximately 15 ties to a party we were attending, and insisted I slip on a new one every hour or so. nothing, not even electroclash, has made me want to wear a tie for a very long time, but friendship supercedes all variety of policy. by the second tie, i was actually enjoying myself. by the third, i was eager for the fourth. and then i fell down. Dancing. Which makes me either the world's worst dancer (as this happened to me once before, attempting a move called the marionette and ending up snapping my kneecap off to the side for a brief, ecstatic moment before completely collapsing) or the world's sexiest area rug. In a fine case of just desserts, I've involuntarily entered into that very undesirable category: a young person with a limp.
There's something about falling down that really sours an evening. Inject a minor mishap into any moment of joy and it becomes a major tragedy. Once, I watched a love-smacked couple outside a friend's dormitory window. I was on the eighth floor, pretty far removed from their skipping and hand-holding and cooing. (tragedy + distance = comedy warning) I watched them for a long time, wondering how they could be so unabashedly in love, and let myself become washed over with sanctimonious contempt resting delicately on a thick, green bog envy. They really were SKIPPING as they bounced toward the school's outdoor track loop. As they made their way down the hill, toward the track loop, locked hand in hand, velocity and inertia got the best of them and the girl broke free, tumbling ahead and ending up face-down on the asphalt. She went from full motion to dead stop in a split second, and her boyfriend stood over here. From where I was judging, it was impossible to hear anything, and that made the scene even more fascinating.
After approximately 20 seconds of her still body, splayed out, being inspected by her boyfriend, he eventually helped her to her feet. As they continued the rest of the way, their hands were no longer clasped. In fact, their whole body language had changed. There was room for three obese people between them, and the girl dragged a bit behind, limping toward her boyfriend's back. It was like watching the entire cycle of a relationship play out in 30 seconds, as if it were some kind of nickelodeon film.
Now imagine what falling down can do to a dance circle. Party over.
I've always liked The Roots, but I think the unconditionally loving attention they receive is far greater than their total creative output merits. Good songs here and there, and even a few great ones. But if you look at their entire discography, there is probably one full LP of excellent material that can be culled from all four studio albums. (this is maybe a little unfair because in concert the roots flip open seven new, impossible dimensions of energy, creativity, and talent. they are my favorite live hip-hop artists and, possibly, my favorite live artists period. but that's another world, another medium.) By hip-hop standards, I suppose one good album across four is still not so bad. (since many groups see fit to pay the neptunes or rockwilder a jillion dollars for one HOT single, in order to get a return investment of thirty jillion dollars on the sales of an otherwise limp album. it's a bit of a con.) Still, it's a little hard to stay excited about artists operating at 25% of their potential.
Here's the problem: I think the Roots have been, for most, a better group conceptually/abstractly than in practice. They represent creativity and positive behavior in a genre that is suffering from a lack of ideas, depressing misdirection, and a combination of avarice and pettiness so potent that it constantly threatens to undermine all the things that made hip-hop so potent in the first place. So yes, The Roots are fantastic for that, but I still can't remember any songs from side two ofIlladelph Halflife.
When I first heard "Break You Off", the first single from The Roots' new album, Phrenology, it only served to reinforce my opinion of the group. The song is quintessentially Roots: smooth, competent, and exactly percussive enough to fill the air of a Brooklyn coffee shop or Nolita boutique without chasing out patrons. Nice enough to catch and wonder, "who is this?", but not nice enough to wonder that out loud. That single could not have possibly prepared me for the rest of this album.
The Roots' publicists sent me a copy of the CD over the weekend (brag). By then, the album had already been out for a week or two and the eggheaded music media had already formed a line of support directly behind it, as they would anything released by The Roots. I'd read bits and pieces of the praise and I was curious but not exactly buying it. Well, presently, I am buying it. And I am buying extra copies, to hand out to everyone who grouses about the stagnation of hip-hop. Phrenology is epic. It crosses in and out of complex musical terrain with incredible ease. To call it ambitious would be journalistically lazy, especially in light of how much work clearly went into producing this album. Everyone is pulling so hard, I don't even know how to listen to it respectfully. In one moment it's hard-knuckled hip-hop with Dennis Coffey drumbreaks and tireless rhyming, and in the next it's like Sun Ra landed again. And unlike other artists who occasionally stretch into far-reaching places without the knowledge, skill or intimacy to rest comfortably (Wyclef, Eminem, and - sorry- Mos Def), each track on Phrenology operates at the peak of its style. If you've heard "Break You Off", you never would have expected to hear the techno walpurgisnacht, "Thirsty", or the tireless "Thought @ Work". I hate when albums like this come out because it causes me to reorder my nerdy "best of" list of this year's records in the 11th hour. Fuck you but thank you, The Roots.
Having trouble updating entries to this site, which isn't really the end of the world. I mean,when I think of how much extra time people have been able to spend looking into the sleepy face of my cat, it makes me believe that my work is really done here.
Anyway, there is a small backlog of words waiting to kiss the eyelids of lovelorn readers, and once I figure out what's wrong with my high-tech houseboy, I'll let those words fly. In the meantime, here's the only funny thing I've said in the last week and a half: "I eat at Nathan's Hot Dogs so often, I just call it 'Nate's'."
Addendum: looks like the problem was solved, thanks to problem-solver, Jeff Ivany. I heart good citizens who recognize an idiot when they see one and react not with public scorn, but with kindness, patience, guidance, and possibly some private scorn.
WHY I'M A CAT PERSON.
Say what you will about people and their cats, but I've never seen a human being do anything like this with such positive (and positively precious) results.
Witold, I promise I will never complain about anything again.
Know what I have learned to love recently? Caps. Not the kind of caps I use to pin a sucker's wig back, or the set of porcelain caps that have earned me the titles of "The Writer with the $75,000 Smile" (according to Teen People magazine) and "Phony Shitface" (according to my last several girlfriends). I mean the kind of caps worn by gentlemen and chimney sweeps.
Several years ago, during the cold months, I was known to wear a grey wool Kangol cap, screwed around exactly 185 degrees into the "Tarantino" position. This was an update on my cold season style in high school, which utilized a grandfatherly tweed cap rotated into the exact same position. I couldn't imagine wearing my caps any other way. To screw it back around, bill facing forward, seemed a great compromise of fashion. One sweeping gesture would transition my style from Slick Rick to Andy Capp, and I was having none of it.
My Kangol cap has been in retirement for about three years now, replaced by a more youthful flexible knit Kangol cap. As my hair has grown up and out, it has become harder and harder to stuff the whole mess underneath my winter cap but I make do. Occasionally, if I'm feeling especially coquettish, I'll leave one errant lock peeking out from beneath the bottom edge of the cap, and allow it to curl itself like ivy back up toward my head. Is it adorable? Do you need to ask? ("Cuter than a tightly sealed plastic bag of kittens." - Peter Travers, Rolling Stone Magazine)
Getting back to the cap, I had to bring it out of retirement recently because my knit cap was overdue for a darning. Before clamping it down tight on my head, I made a very mature decision. I decided it was time to crank it back to the front, and switch dials from "25" to "31" years old. It was a little depressing at first, but I was actually really pleased once I got my hair jammed inside it. (and this was not easy; with thick wings of black hair sticking out of the sides and back i started to resemble one of the Sweathogs with a non-speaking role.)
To award myself three extra points for "dashing" I even cocked the cap at a jaunty angle. This was an unpexpectedly magical touch, actually. It was like when Tom Hanks found that volleyball in Castaway and for a long time it was just a regular, junky piece of sports equipment. Then, when he saw that his bloodied handprint made something resembling a face, that one little detail flipped the volleyball from playground equipment to BESTEST FRIEND EVER!! That's what the hat was like. At first I was sort of loathe to wear it, and embarrassed about having to face it forward. Then, with the addition of a cock, everything was better. ("Condescends to audience with flagrantly gay double-entendres." - POZ Magazine)
The only negative side effect of my new cap style is excessive whistling. You see, with a cap like this, worn at such a rakish angle, I've suddenly started imaging I'm an upbeat scoundrel from a Charles Dickens novel. I think this is probably a very common disorder. After the first day wearing my cap, I began blackening spots of my face with lumps of coal and addressing my neighbors in a thick, ridiculous Cockney accent. Today was even worse. Before leaving my flat, I tied a farthing to a retractable string to grift the chap who runs our neighborhood fruit stand. (interesting fact: the fruit stand guy takes farthings as payment, but still refuses my canadian quarters. i should wonk him a right good thump on his brasso beaner!) You blame the cap; I blame the cock. ("Just what America needs!" - Terrible Idea Monthly Magazine)
NOW I GET IT.
I finally realized why people stay at their day jobs instead of choosing the freelance life I've made for myself: the toilet paper never runs out. Neither do the laughs!
Um...did the guy in the Old Navy commercial just say "fleece out"? I think he did.
Every so often I feel compelled to signal the end of a long-running comedy trope that I feel has long worn out its welcome in the mix of popular culture. I don't mean to be a killjoy. The declarations I make are not intended to hurt others who may find themselves experiencing some sense of enjoyment from making jokes that have been thoroughly exhausted for all of their comic potential; they are merely meant to protect us from staleness, from being caught in an infinite loop of recycled cultural detritus that inhibits our ability to create anything new.
Past nominees for extinction have been Elvis (the only people allowed to get a laugh out of elvis now are advertising agencies and the mentally retarded, and any overlap between the two) and Carrot Top (no fair!). I think my policies for selection are actually generous, never cutting something off before its potential for future laughter. For instance, I'd love to say Anna Nicole-Smith is off-limits but, really, who knows what surprises she has in store for us this holiday season?
That aside, here are my two nominees for 2003:
Guess what? Waiting for a rap song to come on at the party is a terrible waste of time when we all know the only reward from that wait will be your smirk-filled Robot Dancing. Yes, you think robots are funny - and, by proxy, Robot Dancing must be even funnier. Certainly, the faint "wink" sound emitted by each exaggerated, stiff movement of your arms and head would lead us all to believe this. And maybe, just for kicks, you'll even try to implicate others in your joke by starting one of those top-rock wave circles where you all lock fingers and pretend an invisible worm has possessed you for a brief moment, using your body as a medium to move to the next soul. And you'll laugh and you'll laugh and you'll laugh. To some people, that's actually a real dance. To you, it is a sort of barely concealed expression of your complete self-consciousness about dancing. (and possibly your contempt for hip-hop and, in some rare cases, even your own latent racism. but i am not here to get all oberlin college on you.)
My point is, enough! We've seen your robot dance. We've all probably been there, too. It's not a crime. It's just about time we all stopped and either learned to like moving our bodies without fear of repercussion, or just leave it to the experts. And we know that, somewhere in your silly little soul, as you robot the shit out the place, you're thinking, "I'm actually really good at this, aren't I?" You're not. Sorry. And it's still not funny.
I can imagine a small, but collective gasp rising up at this announcement, especially given his latest bouts of insanity, but that's precisely my point. You cannot touch MJ because he is always sure to checkmate whatever attack you've prepared. He's on that next-level type of shit, seeing the playing board seventy-three moves in advance. Michael Jackson has done everything in his power to fortify himself against ridicule by stacking the deck too high. While you're busy making fun of his white glove, he busts out a gas mask. If you think that's funny, he'll make sure someone gets a picture of him in a traveling iron lung. Go ahead and make your jokes about his chimp because he's so far past you that he's having tea parties with the elephant man's bones. See how good he is? And even when everyone gives him shit about being weird and white and no-nosed and molesting children, Michael is throwing up the "W" and throwing towels over his kids' heads. You cannot catch up with him. I'm sorry.
Michael Jackson is, to me, like Las Vegas. He's so aggressively otherworldly that he sort of defies analysis. Try to get your Irony Face on in Las Vegas and you'll have so many opportunities that you'll be paralyzed and speechless within the first ten minutes; at the craps table within the first half-hour; drinking a pina colada out of one of those weird, tall plastic cups that girls like so much within an hour; and shopping for a fanny pack to cart your chips by dinner time. MJ is the same way. And no more of this "remember when Michael used to be black" stuff, please? Because think about it for a moment. I don't think anyone really does remember when he was black anymore. I grew up on the Jackson Five cartoon and I am still pretty sure MJ's character was played by Johnny Quest. So leave him alone. Stop joking about him and just sit back, relax, and enjoy the show. There's bound to be a new one every six months.
THE END OF CUTE: A NEW BEGINNING.
OK, I signaled the end of cute prematurely. Forget about those baby-eating babies for a moment. Now close your eyes, and let your mind drift safely to this, the new cutest thing imaginable: an overweight, full-grown construction worker drinking milk through a straw, right out of the carton. I saw one of these this morning and I just about made a pee. If you'd prefer, you can also mentally add a slingshot to the hammer loop in his coveralls, but that's entirely up to you. I just call them as I see them.
GIMME SOME SOME SUMMADAT CINNABON.
From the ashes of the now-terminated New Times LA rises the Phoenix New Times, which has been nice enough to prolong my freelance music-writing career. This week they published my review of the new Missy Elliott album, "Under Construction". The review is online here. All the words are mine, except for the "funky fresh" punctuating the review, which was an editorial decision. I'm sorry, everyone. Fa shizzle! (a second apology. that joke was for nyc subway commuters only.)
THE END OF CUTE.
I think the absolute cutest thing I can imagine would be a baby licking another baby's ticklish face. Of course, everything would sour when that baby takes the first bite.
IT'S SO COLD EVEN THE SNOWMEN ARE BLANKING.
When it gets this cold outside it's really hard to break into song. Everyone - even that nice lady - is struggling down the street, grimacing into the bracing chill. I've been told that Pennsylvania suffers from a damp, uncomfortable cold. In New York, the cold feels like rusty knives popping between your ribs. In other words, just as everyone pictures NYC.
Today was too much, though. Even babies in strollers had no choice but to swear out loud, to themselves and nature. I passed a double-wide stroller on my way to Dizzy's Kitchen and I overheard one of the babies saying, "goddamn-cocksucking-motherfucker-cold diaper pin." The baby next to him said nothing because it was in suspended animation. I walked into Dizzy's, ordered a sonofabitchgoddamn brownie and a fuckface with honey and lemon, and longed for a damp Pennsylvania cold.
HOW TO BECOME EVERYTHING YOU HATE, LESSON SIX.
Occasionally, I like to champion the independent artisan, the struggling underdog who remains ordinarily invisible to mainstream media coverage. If my endorsement and the support of my core readership of borderline homosexuals and shut-in cat fanatics can do anything at all to propel the 'little guys' from Marginal to Marginal-Plus, I'm happy to help. That's why I am urging all of you to try the Peppermint Mocha at Starbucks.
Starbucks themselves crystallize my thoughts perfectly on their world wide internet site, as they describe the Peppermint Mocha. If I may quote (without having a lawsuit slammed down on my testicles): "Ahhh..." Ahhh indeed! It's the perfect beverage for someone who wants to combine the milky smooth taste of chocolate with the rich roasted flavor of espresso, and then, while taking his first sip, accidentally spits out his menthol cough drop in the cup. Your first reaction is likely to be anger, followed by disappointment, then quickly giving way to refreshment, and finally...high calorie bliss. If only every moment of my life could be as multi-faceted and ethically confounding as the moments shared with my Peppermint Mocha.
Some might argue that the $3.89 spent on a Starbucks Peppermint Mocha could be used more positively. $3.89 could buy a third-world baby a month's supply of Chock Full O' Nuts coffee, or stock a homeless man's refrigerator box wtih two full cases of Hobo Punch (and still have money left over for an extra-thick cardboard blanket). It could buy clean needles for my landlord, or provide shut-up money to the mayor of a very small town. But all of those things combined, and supplemented by a "pina colada mixxx" tape and a knee-high of baby pictures couldn't equal the joy on my face each time I dip into the bracing cool/creamy warm of my Peppermint Mocha. Hey baby pictures! Wanna know what's really Whipped cream on the nose of a full-grown, gluttonous man. That's what! Now put that bath towel back on your head, get back in your bucket and practice cuting it up or you're fired.
P.S. To exorcise the demons I've spawned by this endorsement of Starbucks beverages, allow me to add this: boycott Circuit City. I was dragged to one of their stores by my brother over the weekend and I can't begin to explain how traumatized I was. The store was enormous, and completely devoid of any kind of assistance. If you looked around, you'd just see these lone satellites of confused customers standing near something they might have wanted, but afraid to get too close to something they don't need. Their eyes searched out for help, and found none because, more often than not, the "home audio consultant" was hogging the in-store GameCube kiosk.
And even if an employee were present, they were too inexperienced and too stoned to do anything for you. A question like "what's progressive scan technology?" would elicit an answer like "it makes things more betterer." Legally, your store should be prohibited from selling stereo components exceeding $500 in price if your store manager is still listening to music through a CD Walkman plugged into a pair of Radio Shack computer speakers.
P.P.S. Hi, I'm the younger, and therefore less excusably annoying, Andy Rooney. Sorry.