In January of 2007, You Learned:
THREE-TIME WINNER, 'CO-WORKER OF THE YEAR'.
A conversation I just had at the elevator bank in my office building:
Is it Friday yet?
I am a very big fan of my nephews, Oliver and Avery. Because they are only 6 and 4 years old, respectively, I must confess that they fail me in certain ways—e.g. giving me a lift home from the airport, lending money, selecting wine—but, overall, I do like them. More importantly, I really, desperately want them to like me.
I'm not sure why I crave the approval of a couple of toddlers, but why should they be different than anyone else? The only problem is, we don't have much in common. Sure, we think the same things are funny (farts) but outside of that I am pretty out of touch with their culture. I always find myself making very obvious and shallow attempts to relate, by awkwardly discussing the same two or three subjects. I talk to them about music, about video games, and about their sneakers. Then, when I've run out of things to say about any of those subjects, and the silence between has grown deafeningly uncomfortable, I hold up my hand and yell, "OK! High-FIVE!" That's pretty much how it goes at every visit.
In thinking about this, it has finally occurred to me that the self-consciousness and desperate need for validation with which I relate to my nephews is nearly identical to the way most white people act around black guys for the first time. And there's not a lot of love flowing both ways there, either.
HOW TO KICK PEOPLE: "HAPPY CRUELTY DAY!" TONIGHT.
Tonight, How to Kick People will function as book release party for Bob Powers' Happy Cruelty Day!
Happy Cruelty Day! Book Party
Thursday, January 25th, at 7:30pm
Mo Pitkin's House of Satisfaction
The show will feature readings from the book, giveaways, trivia contests, songs, the ceremonial lighting of the Happy Cruelty tree, and performances from some old H2KP friends, including:
Mike Albo - author of The Underminer
Chris Regan - Emmy Award-winning former writer for The Daily Show, and creator of Mythstory
Dan Kennedy - author of Loser Goes First
Andres du Bouchet - comedian and former host of Giant Tuesday Night
Amanda Melson - comedian and writer for Comedy Central's Stand-Up Nation with Greg Giraldo
The show is also FREE, which is nice. And if you can't make it, or get squished out, there will also be drinks and signing immediately following, at 9pm.
For more details, visit www.howtokickpeople.com
A HEARTFELT CONGRATULATIONS.
to Eddie Murphy on his "Best Supporting Actor" Oscar® Nomination:
Sometimes things are funnier when they've been decontextualized. Just saying, is all.
THIS AIN'T YOUR DADDY'S GANACHE.
The New York City transit system is loaded with advertisements promoting season 2 of the Food Network show, Ace of Cakes, which follows the everyday foibles of kick-ass, no-holds-barred pastry chef, Duff Goldman.
I realize it's pretty difficult to simultaneously communicate "bad ass motherfucker" and "bald guy who bakes special occasion cakes shaped like stuff that isn't cake." That made it so much more refreshing to discover that the creative team responsible for creating the ads rose to the challenge and decided the best way to telegraph Duff Goldman's cool factor was through the liberal use of the blackletter "Motorhead" typeface, and dressing Duff Goldman in a leather jacket and sunglasses. Cool people wear sunglasses ALL! THE! TIME!
If I worked for Duff Goldman and saw him walking around the bakery in sunglasses I suppose I'd have the same impulse I have whenever I see any sighted person wearing sunglasses indoors. I would want to walk up to him and, with a voice dripping with earnest concern, say, "Hey, I think you forgot to take your sunglasses off." This always seemed like a good approach to me—much preferable to saying, "excuse me, sir, but I think you forgot to stop acting like a complete nutsack"—because 99% of the time that person will pretend that, yes, he did forget to take off his sunglasses and then remove them, even if it does crush his heart just a little bit. The other 1% will get angry and threaten me with violence-by-fist-and-foot, which—let's face it—is totally cool.
I haven't seen ACE OF CAKES yet, but I think I can pretty much sum up its charm this way. You see, most pastry chefs are all, "La la la. I like marzipan, and I can make a cake shaped like a circle or a rectangle or some shit because I'm a FAIRY." But Duff Goldman (definitely his real name) is like, "Whatever, dude. You want a cake shaped like one of our show's corporate sponsors? No probs. Let's LIGHT IT UP MOTHERFUCK!!" And that's just what Duff Goldman does. He drives his motorcycle right up on the pastry workspace and revs his engine to mix the batter. Then he cakes it up hard and drives off to do some cool shit like drink an American beer or do a graffiti or maybe get a tattoo of a pastry tube squirting blood or some shit, you know? And then at the end, when he's all finished, instead of being like most pastry chefs and acting all, "well, I think we have outdone ourselves with this confection!" Duff is just like, "BOO-YA! LET'S ROLL 9/11!!!" And then he delivers the cake to Shaquille O'Neal in his motorcycle sidecar and Shaq eats the whole cake in one bite and is psyched! Cut to: Duff celebrating his latest cake by doing a guitar solo with his blues-funk band, The Master Bakers, while his employees are forced to watch and smile and stuff when they'd rather go home and play Nintendo. The end.
I KNOW A CRAPLOAD ABOUT WINE.
Today, at The Morning News, I have commandeered the "Non-Expert" Q&A column, where I help the helpless select fancy wines like a total fucking pro. Maybe the article will help you, too.
THE TRISTESSE OF SPILLED (FOAMED) MILK.
On exiting the coffee shop today, balancing my backpack, gym bag, headphones, and a small, steamy latte, I sort of knew something was going to bail. My body couldn't handle all that cargo. Sure enough, my latte tumbled right out of my hands, performing a dramatic 720+Kickflip+Shove-it+Benihana+Nosebone+McTwist before a spectacular wipeout against the inside of the café's front door. Another patron was about to enter the café and got to witness the entire flameout behind the safety of glass. I watched him watching it, which was an interesting out-of-body experience and judging by the expression on his face my latte accident was the most awesome thing he's ever seen. And it probably was.
I haven't had a head-turning spill like that in a long time and it was sort of nice to discover that the particular sadness it made me feel was really a really familiar constant in my life. It felt exactly like being a child, standing outdoors, and watching a helium balloon slip out of my hands. Shock, then longing, then loneliness. Then a little bit horny.
'NEW YORK' ADDRESSES HER SUITORS.
If you missed the premiere of VH-1's "I Love New York," a spin-off of VH-1's "Flava of Love," this is what it sounded like when New York finally gathered her gentleman callers around and announced which of them would be staying for the next episode, and which ones would be sent home in a cloud of Arctic Jizz Blast Axe Body Spray and disappointment.
"There are 20 of y'all, but only 15 of you are good enough for New York. Now, I have consulted with my crazy-ass mother and my flamboyantly gay Puerto Rican manservant, Chamo, and I'm prepared to make my picks. The following men will stay: Romance, T-Bone, Partytime, Whiteboy, Moneybags, Harvard, Dead Leg, Jingle Bells, Ms. Pac-Man, Beard of Bees, Cold Sore, Stomach On The Outside, Razzmataz, Dr. Dracula, and The People's Republic of Pantystank. You all have much love for New York, and we can marinate together a little longer.
"And I'm going to have to say goodbye to the rest of you: Asian Ray Romano, French Onion Dip, Sir Chomps-a-Lot, Involuntary Rectal Exam, and Cancerdick. Seeya, and wouldn't want to be ya."
THE MEN OF MYSPACE COMMENT ON WORLD EVENTS.
MY SPAM FILTER IS BULLETPROOF.
In fact, it's so powerful it even managed to block emails from my site's domain host telling me tremble.com was set to expire today, and that I'd need to renew it if I wanted my site to hang out for a little while longer.
Whenever I have a problem with this site, I write my webhost (not my domain host) a very hurtful email. This has become one of the small pleasures I enjoy as a consumer. I like to remind them that they've failed me many, many times in the past, and that my other webhosts have been exemplary mates by comparison. And, just like in my inter-human relationships, I usually receive a response that plainly and tersely shows me exactly how I, not they, was actually wrong.
WHAT'S THE DEAL WITH CAR KEYS?.
My girlfriend, Lisa, says I overanalyze my assignments. I suspect she's right. I guess I bore easily or I'm just a lousy show-off, but whenever I get an assignment I want to mess around with it, often to the point where it becomes almost a detriment to me.
For Christmas I wanted to design my own holiday cards. I'd done this in the past, but it had been a while and I felt I'd lost touch with so many people over the last few years—–the needle and the damage done etc.——it would be a nice way for me to re-establish contact with some old friends and past co-workers. Plus, it had been a while since I'd sat down to draw——when I put the spike into my vein etc.——so I thought it would be the perfect way to blow off my many other potentially profitable creative projects——Freeze! Rock! Freeze! Rock! Freeze! Rock! Freeze! Rock! Blow! Etc!
I based the illustration on "Footprints in the Sand", that popular Christian-themed poem that graces many composite board plaques proudly hanging over coffee makers at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings all across the country. In my drawing, two sets of footprints in the snow gradually become one, and Santa Claus is seen from the back, carrying someone in his fat arms. To my understanding, this was awesome.
I mailed them out and in the days that followed I received several calls and emails from people thanking me for the card, and wondering if Santa Claus had killed someone. In response I found myself emailing those people the text of "Footprints…" and eventually realized I was one sarcastic eyeroll away from being a man who sincerely emails his friends and family religious themed poetry regardless of how uncomfortable it might make them feel.
I still attest (against all evidence from friends this past holiday season) that "Footprints…" is a pretty popular piece of poetry, but I was so wrapped up in my special little project that I didn't take a moment to consider that no one else lives in my head and my holiday cards could easily have proven anywhere from unclear to baffling to a large number of recipients.
More recently, I participated in a comedy show where comedians were asked to tell the first joke they'd ever written or performed in front of an audience. It was a potentially grueling premise that actually turned out to be really entertaining and, in a couple of instances, sort of endearing. (Craig Balderson, I AM TALKING TO YOUR GUITAR!)
Then there was me…I failed to remember or locate my first joke, which was something Lisa absolutely couldn't understand. Her memory is very well organized. If she'd been asked to tell her first joke, she would have had no problem remembering it. She would also remember exactly what she was wearing when she told the joke, what she was wearing each of the next dozen times she told that joke, and would have made certain that her outfit was different with every single repetition of the joke. I don't have that kind of mind, so I over-analyzed my assignment instead.
I came up with the idea of pretending I'd written a bunch of jokes when I was a baby. Secretly, I'd always wanted to write an entire set of hacky jokes from a baby's perspective, anyway——"What's the deal with poopie pants, everyone??"——and thought it would be more fun if I wrote and delivered the baby jokes as if I were a Def Jam comedian since that would be such a big diversion from my traditional style of comedy. (Fidgety Jew™)
Here's how it went down, from four unique perspectives I gleaned from the crowd's reaction:
PEOPLE WHO HAVE NEVER SEEN ME PERFORM BEFORE:
Are these real jokes? Is he calling women "hoze?" And why is he yelling so much?
PEOPLE WHO HAVE SEEN ME PERFORM BEFORE AND WERE ALSO SCHEDULED TO PERFORM ON THE SHOW:
When is it my turn to perform on the show? / I am done performing on the show and I think it went pretty well.
This was a terrible idea that I am now forced to commit to, at least 68%.
A little racy for my taste, but I gotta admit he's speaking the truth. What is the deal with poopie diapers indeed!
As soon as I walked offstage, I already started wishing I'd searched a bit harder for my first joke. Even though I don't usually enjoy art that comes from demonstrating how misguided yet precious we all were when we were younger, I was honestly most impressed with the comedians who took the assignment literally and sincerely, and slightly less impressed with anyone who pretended this was all supposed to be an exercise in "Hey, Comedy, please enjoy my exercise in post-modern Gofuckyourself-ism!" (Present and accounted for.)
But why am I being so introspective about it all when the obvious silver lining to this whole story is that I've got a whole mess of excellent Def Jam Baby jokes? If you don't know, now you know:
So I was chillin' the other day in my onesie, just sucking on my mommy's titty. Just suckin' and suckin' and suckin' when suddenly she whips it out of my mouth and says, "Damn, baby! That's enough! What do you think I am? Dairy Queen?" And I said, "You GOD DAMN RIGHT, WOMAN!" And then I grabbed her titty and SHOOK IT and said, "Now make me a milkshake, bitch!" CAUSE I'M A BAY-BEEEE.
That's right, fellas, because you got to KEEP YOUR HOZE IN LINE. Check this out. The other day my mommy was like, "This little piggy went to market, this little piggy stayed home. This little piggy had roast beef, and this little baby had none." And I'm like, "Well, this little piggy's diaper is filled with fifteen pounds of hot dookie, so how about you stop fucking with my toes and change my motherfuckin' diaper, bitch!" CAUSE I'M A BAY-BEE!!!
Yo, you ever notice how your voice changes when you're talking to a fine baby bitch? Like, when you're talkin' to your homiez you're like [high-pitched voice] "waaa!" But when a bitch crawls up, you're like [very deep voice] "waaa, baby. waa." Know what I'm saying? We are trippin' around the ladies, y'all.
You ever start suckin' on someone's finger because you thought it was a titty? Like, when you're buggin' from hunger you get that TittyVision. Fellas, you know what I'm talkin' about. Oh, that shit ain't funny to you? Is your daddy the CEO of Similac or some shit?
Yo, who here knows what sound a cow makes? Yeah, I'm looking at a lot of you motherfuckers and you're all like, [white guy voice] "Helen, what is this fine young fellow talking about?" Because you don't know. See, a lot of you motherfuckers act like you know but you don't. I see you trying to hide but don't think I don't see you, neither. "Moo." A cow goes moo and a kitty kat goes "meow meow." Ain't that some shit?
Let me hear you——which one of you motherfuckers up in this piece loves Cheerios?
SADDAM: 2 YOUNG 2 DIE.
I realize this might sound a bit out of line, but am I the only one who expected Saddam Hussein's execution to be a little, I don't know, classier? When the first photos of the execution were leaked on PerezHilton.com, I was a little taken aback. I didn't think his execution would look like the Kennedy Center Honors, or even The New Year's Rockin' Eve, but I was really surprised by how shoddy the whole thing was. I guess I assumed there would be a clean room with a single, stoic executioner—an older gentleman with a face of some distinction, perhaps with a jagged scar running from one cloudy, dead eye down to his jawline, and dressed in some kind of uniform befitting an executioner i.e. black cargo pants and a "Punisher" skull t-shirt.
What I didn't expect was that they'd just carelessly hand the coldhearted job over to the first three guys who showed up wearing ski masks. MTV has a more rigorous screening process for contestants on "Yo Momma!" The executioners weren't even dressed alike. Isn't this sort of a big deal over there, even if it is a bizarre and confusing resolution to a completely misdirected international crisis. (Sincerely, there was something about the news of this execution that really nailed the absurdity of our invasion of Iraq that the five thousand other pieces of compellingly absurd evidence have failed to drive home. It's hard to know how to feel about it. On one hand, I'm happy any time someone is publicly hanged. But on the other, I can't help thinking they got the wrong guy, or at least the right guy at the wrong time, for the wrong crime. It's a bit like being mugged by some teenagers, and then spending the next three-plus years hunting down the Zodiac killer as revenge. Or like seeing a trailer for a movie about the most prolific serial killer in history, then racing to see the film only to discover it's actually a big dumb movie about an angry croccodile. But thank god that would never happen.)
Assuming it would be an important local, if not world event, why does it look like a couple of strays from the Symbionese Liberation Army just pulled Saddam Hussein out of a cargo van, and hurriedly dragged him into an after-school rec center to be hanged on their lunch break? I wouldn't want to accuse Iraqi executioners of performing a rush job, but I'm pretty sure one of those ski masks still had a price tag hanging from it.
Etiquette question: when do I remove Saddam Hussein from my MySpace friends?