Friday, May 02, 2003

In Which Open Mikes In Beverly Are Different Than Boston/Cambridge

I did the Wine Cellar in Beverly last night and all I can say is - wow. I knew absolutely no one there. Of the 10 of us, there were three that had tight sets. The rest, for the most part, floundered. The last act, and I don't remember her name, was just...I'm not even sure how to say it properly. "Bad" doesn't do it justice. It was a debacle. It was a classic case of "hey, you're really funny! You oughta do stand up!" Think of the woman in her forties working the counter at the gas station/convenience store. Choosing a defining moment is hard, so I'll just list some of them
- I'll be whoring on the corner after the show. $50 bucks, if you're interested
- I'm broke, so if you can just throw your bottles and cans into this sack, I'd appreciate it. I know a nickel doesn't seem like a lot to you, but it means everything to me.
- [At the doctor's office] They stick their arm all the way up your vagina and then twwwwwist it.
- [Still at the doctor's office] Ooh, what are those? Rubber gloves? I can give the dog an anal with those.
- The woman next door stutters and it drives me out of my fucking mind. "Ek ek ek ook ook". [She spent about two minutes doing stuttering stuff]
- [About the flexible mike stand] I love this thing! Put a battery pack on it and I'll never need a man again!
It went on and on and on and on. She rambled for at least ten minutes. In some ways, you have to commend her for her pluck. She looked oblivious to the fact that absolutely no one found anything she said funny, but goddamn it, she'd plug away until she'd said her piece.

[Brief tangent on the spelling of the word "piece". "'I' before 'E' except after 'C'." I HATE English. Is there any other written language that is so flagrantly illogical? There. I feel better.]

7 minutes into it the host, Jack Lynch (very funny!), and the booker, Dave Rattigan (also very funny!), could be heard saying, "We gotta save this night. Go up and do a good five and then close out."

As I got ready to leave, the short old guy (and you can gauge the status of an open mike by whether there's a short old guy performing) says to Jack, "Hey! If ya evah need someone to fill in some whay-uh lemme know, awright?"
Jack: Uh. Yeah. Will do.
Short Old Guy: You was great! Real funny! Can I steal your stuff?
Jack: Uh. Heh-heh. Um. Don't do that.
Short Old Guy: Heh-heh! Ah'm only kiddin' ya! Just kiddin'!
In Which WBUR Diversifies

BUR is having a Mother's Day fundraiser with a twist this year. According to Bob Oakes, for $120 they will "take care of Mom" for you. This is the opportunity of a lifetime. Contract killers usually charge upwards of $5000 to "take care" of someone. While I question the wisdom (not to mention the legality) of making such an offer, it's nice to know that BUR is willing to do whatever it takes to keep the coffers full.

Thursday, May 01, 2003

In Which People Confuse Me

[Preface - In the off chance that there are non-New Englanders and/or people who do not listen to Heavy Metal, Great White is a band that played The Station nightclub in Rhode Island. During the show they set off pyrotechnics that ended up burning down the club and kill 99 people.]

Great White is getting ready to go back on tour. The details are sketchy, but some of the money will go towards helping victims of The Station fire. That's a good thing, right?

"I wouldn't even want any money that they made performing. ... I call it blood money. Our children died because of them," said Carol Sweet who lost a 28 year old son in the fire.

I guess not. Does this mean that she will not be part of any of the myriad of lawsuits against the band? If that's true, I have the utmost respect for her. It shows an acceptance missing from Amercian Society - Just because shit happens doesn't mean that you're automatically entitled to compensation for said shit. Think McDonald's coffee. More than anything I would love to see a news story where the family member said "you know, s/he died and I'm heartbroken, but that's what happened. I don't money. Money won't bring him/her back."

In the case of Ms. Sweet (and I realize how judgemental I'm about to become), I doubt that's going to happen. When someone dies, you get a check because if someone dies then somebody messed up and they must pay. This is the new rule; the new American Paradigm - Mistakes Must Be Literally Paid For. The Station fire is problematic because of the scarcisty of money. To rectify this, the scope of defendants has broadened to the point where Budweiser and Clear Channel Communications, the owner of the radio station partially sponsoring the concert. They're also pressing for Federal compensation, claiming the fire approaches 9/11 status.

9/11 was a fluke, a devestating fluke to be sure, but a fluke nonetheless. It interesting to see how quickly Americans denigrated this most horrible point in history to just another standard for compensation. When the government first announced a victims' compensation fund, I cheered. An event of this magnitude deserved generosity on the same scale. Shortly thereafter, it turned out that the fund was mostly to ward off lawsuits. SOMEONE MUST PAY! Why, though? The terrorists outsmarted us. They won. We lost. It goes against everything we teach our children. "Be a good loser" becomes "If you lose, blame somebody".

Another reason for The Station lawsuits - everybody's broke. Rhode Island is not a rich state, excpet for Newport. The economy sucks. Money is tight and the rent must be paid. A nice compensation package would ease the fiscal pressure. In this way, lawsuits are like the lottery. You dump thousands of dollars into both of them with only a slight chance that you'll break even. Either way, the state and lawyers will recoup a good portion of your winnings.

I'm drawing this out a little in hopes that my browser will crash. If it does, I plan to sue Microsoft for loss of income, since there was a chance that someone might find this brilliant and pay me to write for them. It would then be Microsoft's fault that I'm sitting at home writing for free instead of getting paid. Also, if I stare at my monitor long enough, I might go into photostatic shock and I can sue ViewSonic, as well. With any luck, by doing nothing, I'll achieve my goal of retiring before my 41st birthday.

I once had a boss who suggested that I sue him for sexual harrassment and we could split the money. He was only half-serious.


I don't think it's going to crash.

Maybe I'll go buy some scratch cards instead.


Tuesday, April 29, 2003

In Which Ann Coulter Makes Me Laugh Until I Piss Myself

Yes, I'm behind the times, but I ran across Slander: Liberal Lies About The American Right at the library the other day and felt compelled to get it. Most of my friends, deceitful liberals all, looked aghast when they saw it. None, of course, had read it and rightly so. And chances are that you wouldn't and won't. And I don't blame you. But as a public service, here's the Cliff Note version.

"Liberals are stupid and the stupidest thing they do is call Republicans stupid because we're smarter than they are."

That's the book. Really. I'm not kidding.

She's very precise about how horrible Liberals are. "Liberals hate America, they hate "flag-wavers," they hate abortion opponents, they hate all religions except Islam (post 9/11). Even Islamic terrorists don't hate America like liberals do. They don't have the energy. If the had that much energy, they'd have indoor plumbing by now." Wow! I had no idea what a scumbag I was or how much I hated America. Plus, I actually have indoor plumbing. So I must have a lot of energy, too.

Coulter includes 35 pages of footnotes painstakingly documenting her documentation of Liberal wrongs. She must have learned in college that the more footnotes you use, the more impressive your paper looks and the less likely the professor is going to read the footnotes. Footnotes are a great way to bait and switch. For example -

"...Time magazine columnist Barbara Ehrenreich gives two thumbs up to 'The Communist Manifesto'..."

Gosh, you say to yourself, Time magazine allows that sort of thing in their covers?! Follow the footnote and you find that (huhmmm) the quote is from More to the point, Ehrenreich is making a point that "once every century or so" someone stirs the masses "to rise up against their oppressors. The prophet Issiah said something like this, and so, a little more recently, did Jesus." So, what does this say about Jesus?

Another wonderful example of footnoting comes in a passage showing how mean Liberals are to Clarence Thomas. The paragraph, which I'm too lazy to type all of, starts by criticizing the New York Times for criticizing Clarence Thomas. She then proceeds to tells us that all the nasty names he's been called - "race traitor", "black snake", "chicken and biscuit eating Uncle Tom", and others. The way the paragraph is constructed you would think that the New York Times called him all of these things. A quick (well, actually fairly arduous) check of the footnotes tells you the seven names Coulter cites are from two different people, none of them from the New York Times.

Remember when Jerry Falwell pinned 9/11 on gays and lesbians? Here's a refresher -
"The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. [T]he pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way — all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen.'"

Ok, he took it back...kind of. Here's Coulter's paraphrasing of Falwell
"Falwell, it seems, had remarked that gay marriage and abortion on demand may not have warmed the heart of the Almighty."
Gosh. It all seems so reasonable. And fair.

Quick quz! Katherine Harris, the former Secretary of State responsible for that little ballot problem in the 2000 election, took a lot of flak for her unique style of make-up. Who said the following of her?

"One wonder how this Republican woman, who can't even use restraint when she's wielding a mascara wand, will manage to use it and make sound decision in this game of partisan one-upmanship....Why should anyone trust her?"
A) James Carville
B) David Brock
C) Go!, the daily dish in the Boston Globe Living/Arts section
D) Jenna Bush
The answer, of course is C. Yes, Ann Coulter is not above using a gossip column to prove her point about Liberals being, well, stupid.

And Rush. Oh, Rush. Rush would never say anything horrible about Liberals. And even if he chose to he's "an openly opinionated talk radio host - not the president, the vice president, a United States senator, editor of the New York Times or a putatively objective TV news anchor." See? Rush is on the radio. Get it? Neither did I.


Ok, one more.

What does it say about your target audience when you have to explain that an extra chromosone causes Down Syndrome? That they might be a little bit...stupid?

Monday, April 28, 2003

In Which I Have Cause To Think About Hand Dryers On The Trip Back

One of the legacies handed down to me from my family is travelling by car. All of us love to drive. My parents like to drive so much that when we visit them in Utah, they have us fly into Vegas and then drive us back, which is a good two hours. Many of our family vacations (if not all of them) involved driving. As the only boy in the family, I always went to the bathroom in the rest stop with my dad. After washing his hands he always splashed water on his face, which I found incredibly stupid. I could not for the life of me understand it.

Nine years ago, on my own new family's first driving vacation to North Carolina, I understood. I was about to fall asleep at the wheel and needed something more than caffiene to wake me up. Answer: Cold Water splashed in my face.

Driving back from NYC, I could have used some cold water in my face. But they only had electric hand dryers. Fuck it. I wet my eyes and wiped them on the shoulder of my t-shit. I washed my hands and went to go dry them. There was an old guy next to me in a flannel shirt and scruffy, oil-soaked jeans. He pushed the button on his dryer, clapped his hands together hard and proceeded to rub them under the hot air. I'd never seen this method before - clapping your hands first. Did it do anything special? Does it make your hands dry faster? Is this one of those things, like with my dad, where my ridicule was misplaced? I was too self-concious to try it and find out. Besides, doing somebody else's bit while they're still in the room is just bad manners. Maybe next time.
In Which I Return From A Brief NYC Vacation And A Few Of The Things I Found There

A few houses up Sterling St. from 5th Av there are several trashcans chained outside the brownstone. There are signs on each, but one of them reads "To The Dogwalkers - Stop throwing your dog shit in this trashcan!"

We stopped at a crosswalk in Manhattan down from Central Park. About thirty of us stood waiting for the Walk sign when a well-dressed elderly woman (70, if she was a day) came muscling through us like a retarded hockey player, all elbows and attitude. In a voice that was a cross between a road grader and Tom Waits, she croaked "Get outta the way! I gotta get through! Get outta the way!" Resistance was futile as she pushed us aside. The walk sign shed it's "don't" and we left her in our dust.

After spending three hours at the Museum Of Natural History , I began to wonder if everything I saw there would one day wind up on Antiques Roadshow.

I first came across Jules Feiffer during high school, combing through the humor section of whichever library I was in at the time. I started picking up the Village Voice because of him. I used to do one of the monolouges from his play Hold Me, and it was always a crowd pleaser. As time went on, I thought less about him, but he always stuck with me. Every few years or so I pick up one of his cartoon collections and laugh my head off. A few years ago, while at the library with my kids, I discovered that he was writing children's books (both board books and kids novels). My kids fell in love with him. If you're a guy, artistic and never quite understood by your dad, you should read "The Man In The Ceiling." He gets it all right. So it was a lovely surprise to walk down Central Park West and see a banner for a Feiffer retrospective at the New York Historical Society. It's closing soon, but well worth it.

Feiffer On Clinton - just for the taste.