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Saturday, December 27, 2014

5 things my wife gets upset about that are really her fault

Friday, November 7, 2014

4 Romantic Gestures Killed by Technology

Romance is dead and, for once, it wasn't killed by my stained boxer shorts and "complete and utter disregard for everyone except myself."  This time, the culprit is technology. That portable phone/computer/camera/bottle opener you carry  around in your pocket all day just mere inches from your genitalia isn't just slowly making you sterile. It's also crushing any hopes of impressing the opposite sex in any kind of significant or meaningful way. Nowhere is this more evident than by taking a quick look at films from the last 10-20 years. What was once considered grand gestures of romanticism have been retired faster than a Beanie baby commemorating Hitler's regime. And on that terrible metahphor, let's move on to a few examples.

The Mix Tape
The entire movie High Fidelity is an ode to the highest and single most important art form of the 1980's (and early 1990's)-- the mix tape. In this film, John Cusack wins and loses the love of his life all on the strength of plastic, metallic tape, and songs recorded off a tinny tape deck off the radio.

I'll defer to a better writer here:

To me, making a tape is like writing a letter. There's a lot of erasing and rethinking and starting again. A good compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do. You've got to kick off with a corker, to hold the attention (I started with "Got to Get You Off My Mind," but then realized that she might not get any further than track one, side one if I delivered what she wanted straightaway, so I buried it in the middle of side two), and then you've got to up it a notch, or cool it a notch, and you can't have white music and black music together, unless the white music sounds like black music, and you can't have two tracks by the same artist side by side, unless you've done the whole thing in pairs and...oh, there are loads of rules.
What do kids do today... Send links to the YouTube? Swap MP3 players? I don't know. My kids didn't even recognize what a tape cassette was and now even CD's are a thing of the past. Everything is digital. Gone are the days of composing a 90 minute ode to the person you love. Now all we've got is three-minute links to an underage singer writhing around on a bed explaining how her big ass is something we should be super excited about.

The Boom Box Serenade

You know the scene- John Cusack (again) stands outside the girl's window in his adorably ruffled trench coat with a boom box blaring Peter Gabriel held over his head. The song was 'In Your Eyes' though most people couldn't hear it over the collective sound of a million panties falling to the floor. It is the single grandest gesture in the history of movies. And I'm including Sophie's Choice.
What do kids do today... If my street is any indication, they blare their car radios and honk their horns while their frustrated date tries to convince their father that the marks on her neck aren't hickies but an allergic reaction to wool and that she will, without a doubt, be home by 11pm in the same clothes she left in this time. Promise.

The Anonymous Love Letter
There's an entire movie dedicated to the anonymous love letter. It's creatively called the Love Letter because in the 1980's a much higher value was placed on cocaine than imagination. You know who writes letters now? Your grandmother and serial killers. That's it. You're either someone who still thinks of ballpoint pens as a pretty nifty idea or you're living in a murder dungeon sending taunting letters to the police. There are no in-betweens. what is sending an anonymous love letter going to get you? Either relegated immediately to the friend-zone or placed on a government watch list.

What kids do today... Texting I guess. But compared to leaving a hand-penned, syrupy ode to love in someone's locker, 'I can haz feelings for u. Howz bout u?' leaves a lot to be desired.
The Car Door Test


This actually turns up in a few films but my favorite is Singles. In it, the main character who is surprisingly not John Cusack opens his date's car door and then smiles when she leans over to open his. It's a simple little gesture that showed that she was not only appreciative of his chivalrous gesture but was thoughtful enough to return the favor. My best friend dumped several women on the sole basis that they failed this test. But he also had the luxury of being attractive to the opposite sex and not a loathsome person like myself which makes being choosy much easier.
What kids do today... Remote-click open the door. It's not a grand gesture if all you have to do is press a button. And if you escort a young lady to her side of the car these days all you're going to get for your trouble is an annoyed look and a snarky comment along the lines of, "So what, your car door's broken and you're too cheap to get it fixed?"


With technology killing romance faster than a choleric baby, it's a wonder kids are even getting together anymore.  Eventually we won't even need to have sex. Humans will reproduce only in cold labortory settings. Candles, cornish game hen, Marvin Gaye, and Mad Dog will be a thing of the past. At least until some maverick stands up and fights against the cold system. That'd make a great movie wouldn't it? And you can bet your edible undies it'd probably star John Cusack.
 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Correction

I would like to issue a correction on yesterday's article which, as some astute and clearly bored readers pointed out, treaded the fine line between inaccurate and "outright lies".
 
1. Q. Lazzarus is netiher a band nor a man. She is a woman and I'm sure her mother thinks she is quite lovely.
 
2. "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey was not used by the Clinton campaign. That honor went to Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop" although close enough should count for something
 
3. Finally, I would also like to apologize to any remaining readers of this blog who thought that I possessed any sort of journalistic inegrity or strove for any kind of accuracy. Honestly, it's a good day when I can drag myself over to Wikipedia to verify any of my wild and unsubstantiated claims. 99% of this blog is pulled directly from my butthole and sent straight to your eyes. You do the math.

Monday, November 3, 2014

5 Classic Songs Ruined by the Movies

Movies and music go together like peanut butter and an over-heated sheep. That's not how the saying goes? There's something deeply wrong with me? Well, that's an article for another day. Today's topic is the seemingly blissful marriage of classic songs with film. But, like any marriage, things occasionally hit a bump. You come home to find your spouse in a spandex body suit covering herself in glitter and nothing is ever the same after that. Sure, you smile at each other and show up at all the kids' events, but you know, deep down, nothing short of a Tinkerbell/Captain Hook roleplaying session is ever going to please your mate. And you can't, you just can't, wear the hook. Not even for her. I've lost track again. Something about marriage. Or music. No, movies. Music and movies. And the movies that ruin those songs forever.

Sheep have such judgmental eyes.


5. Stuck in the Middle With You- Stealer's Wheel
Stuck in the Middle With You is not a Bob Dylan song despite what every user on Napster circa 1998 would have you believe (and every mis-labled illegally downloaded mp3 since then). The song was recorded by Stealer's Wheels, a band whose most notable accomplishment outside this single was recenlty reforming without any of its original members. The song is rambling, upbeat, sunny and a bunch of other adjectives that could also be used to describe the decade in which it was recorded ("shag-carpeted"?). 

Until, of course, it was completed ruined by Reservoir Dogs. Tarantino's first, and probably best film, blends 70's style, music and swagger with modern day violence and mayhem. And of course this also happens:

You know the scene. You see it even when you close your eyes. Michael Madsen's uber creepy dance with the open razor in his hands. The gasoline. The ear. The blood. So much blood. And all of it set to the tune of Stealer's Wheel chirpy little tune released in the middle of the most harmless decade of all time. Try hard as you might, every time you hear this damn song, you replay this damn scene over and over and over again. It's Tarantino's greatest crime.
Well, second.

4 Q. Lazzarus's "Goodbye Horses"
Q. Lazzarus may as well have titled their biggest hit "Goodbye Horses", the "Penis Tucking Song" instead. In the film Silence of the Lambs, the song supplies the soundtrack to this bit of movie magic.  


Can you imagine how happy this obscure artist was when he found out that his song was going to be used in a major motion picture featuring Sir Anthony Fucking Hopkins and Jodie Foster? Can you picture his face as he sat in the darkened theatre on opening night anxiously awaiting the moment when he'd hear the words he'd written played as the movie unfolded? You can almost hear him bragging to his new lady friend (who in any other circumstance, would have been way out of his league by the way). 

And then this happened.
I can't stop posting this picture!

Like burning down your last place of employment, that's the kind of thing that doesn't come off the ol' resume.

3. Dont stop Believin- Journey
It's hard to ruin a Journey song, seeing as how shitty they are to begin with. In fact, Don't Stop Believin is one of those songs that's been ruined more than once (beyond just by Journey's releasing it). But this song is resilient. This song has returned more times than John Travolta. Check it out. 
  1. Bill Clinton appropriates the song as his unofficial theme. Later, BJ puns ensue.
  2. Glee covers the song in their premiere- more BJ jokes ensue. 
  3. And that takes us to The Sopranos
In the shittiest (or best, depending on how smart you want to appear) finale ever, Tony Soprano is gunned down (or is he?) to the tune of Don't Stop Believin'. What is the significance of this song at this moment? Much has been written. None of it makes sense. It's a shit song that raises my ire every time I hear it. Tony Soprano deserved a lot of things in the finale-- Journey was not one of them.

2. Singin' in the Rain- Gene Kelly
Even if you have never seen the film Singing in the Rain starring Gene Kelly, you know the song. Maybe you hate puppies and rainbows as well, I'm not even going to speculate as to why you'd deny yourself the pure joy that is seeing Gene Kelly dancing in the rain with nothing but an umbrella and a streetlight. 
This is not the rain scene I was referring to.

Go to Youtube and watch it now. Did you do it? Are you smiling? Well, then obviously you've also never seen Clockwork Orange.

Because you've clearly just time traveled back in time from a futuristic society where television and movies are no longer a thing, I'll explain Clockwork Orange as well. It's a movie so violent, it was banned in Britain for years (and this is a country that didn't bat an eye when the Spice Girls arrived). And one of the most violent scenes in the film features the main character beating the ever loving shit out an older man with a cane, all to the tune of Gene Kelly's incredibly bouncy classic song. 

Now whenever I hear Singing in the Rain, I find myself adding 'Whap whap whap' after every verse. I imagine giant concrete dildos and penis masks. And yes, this is all in the movie. I'm not giving you a glimpse into my tortured soul. Quite frankly, you couldn't handle it. 

5. Bohemian Rhapsody- Queen
If ever there was a Queen song that showed off Freddy Mercury's incredible vocal range or ecclectic musical influences, it's Bohemian Rhapsody. This single is probably the unlikliest rock and roll hit of all time, fusing hard rock and opera of all things into an eight minute song that every man, woman in child in America can sing along, too. And, unfortunately, also Canada. Because Canadian Mike Myers liked the song so much he stuck it in his extended Saturday Night Live sketch/movie Wayne's World. 

You know the scene-- a bunch of slacker douchebags head banging in a shitty car, rocking out to Queen. Which is unfortunately what anyone who sings the song alone in their car also looks like. The movie's biggest crime here is holding up a mirror where no one wanted one to begin with. There's a reason why there's no reflective surfaces at the Sizzler. 
Feel the judgmental sheep eyes on you?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

5 Terrible Early Versions of Famous Songs

Genius does not emerge fully formed like Athena springing from Zeus' head. For example, it took me 16 drafts to come up with that opening line. The original draft looked like this:

Writing is hard.

And then I went to the kitchen to make a bagel and ended up watching Pawn Star reruns for an hour. When I went back to writing, I had forgotten my original idea, but fortunately had left the TV on the History Channel, heard an interesting fact and then decided to steal it for this blog post.

Pictured above: The creative process.

I'm also pretty sure I swiped the opening line of this article from a fortune cookie.

But that's the way the creative process works. If you were to take a peak at even the most successful artist's rough drafts, you'd be shocked at just how bad (or appalling) some of the early versions of your favorite works truly were. Like these:

5. Yesterday, The Beatles--A Denny's Commerical 
Yesterday, by The Beatles, is one of the most hauntingly beautiful songs ever written. With simple lyrics, it perfectly encapsulates feelings of loss, and separation, while still maintaining hope. As the story goes, Paul McCartney came up with the tune in a dream but the lyrics would have to wait.

As John Lennon explained it in that adorable Liverpool accent we all know and love, "The song was around for months and months before we finally completed it. We made up our minds that only a one-word title would  suit; we just couldnít find the right one. Then one morning Paul woke up and the song and the title were both there, completed. I was sorry in a way, we'd had so many laughs about it."

But did you know? 
The original lyrics, the one that John and Paul spent months laughing about, was an ode to breakfast.

Scrambled eggs
 Have an omelette with some Muenster cheese
 Put your dishes in the wash bin please
 So I can clean the scrambled eggs

Join me do
 There's a lot of eggs for me and you
 I've got ham and cheese and bacon too
 So go get two and join me do

Fried or sunny side
 Just aren't right
 The mix-bowl begs
 Quick, go get a pan, and weíll scramble up some eggs, eggs, eggs, eggs

Scrambled eggs
 Good for breakfast, dinner time or brunch
 Don't buy six or twelve, buy a bunch
 And we'll have a lunch on scrambled eggs

That's not a Weird Al send-up of Yesterday. Those are the original lyrics. Having come up with one of the most hauntingly beautiful tunes ever, Paul McCartney sat right down to pen an ode to something a chicken pops out his ass.

I just created an internet fetish.


Thank god, John and Paul let this one incubate (Pun!) before hatching (Pun!) the final lyrics.


4. Little Richard, Tutti Frutti- Butt Sex
Maybe you don't remember Little Richard. Maybe your parents were cool and listened to something besides 1950's music growing up. Good for you. All you need to know is that Little Richard is right up there with Elvis, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, and Buddy Holly as one of the most important musicians to emerge from the early days of rock and roll. His music was loud, upbeat and infused doo wop with gospel and blues and rock and roll.

Little Richard's signature song was Tuti Frutti. And again, maybe you've never heard it, but it's a catchy, nonsensical, rambunctious sprawling tune that doesn't make a god damn bit of sense, "A whop bop-a-lu-mop, a whop bam boo. Tutti frutti, oh Rudy."

But Did You Know?
And that's because the original draft was an ode to getting anally penetrated by a man.

A wop bop a loo mop, a good goddam
 Tutti Frutti, good booty,
 If it don't fit, don't force it,
 You can grease it, make it easy.

The 1950's were a kindler, simpler time. A naive time. A time when a man could look like this and nobody would suspect he was a homosexual.


Which Little Richard was. In the most flaming sense of the word. And in the 1950's he was so enamored with being gay, he almost wrote the community's national anthem. Think about it. One of rock and roll's earliest signature songs was almost the soundtrack to the most fabulous (Pun!) coming out party ever.


3. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane- Suicide is Painless
In a genre crowded with songs, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, is one of the most recognizable holiday songs around. It's been recorded by dozens of different artists, most famously by Judy Garland and Frank Fucking Sinatra.

In just four verses, this song captures everything that Christmas is supposed to represent--hope and joy and rebirth:

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Let your heart be light
From now on our troubles
Will be out of sight

But Did You Know?
The original draft of the song presented to Judy Garland was less 'Merry Christmas' and more 'Pass the razor blades.'

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
It may be your last
Next year we may all be living in the past
Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Pop that champagne cork
Next year we may all be living in New York.

This was not a tune for a man having a holly, jolly Christmas. It was for the guy who'd just lost his wife and job and was celebrating his first Yule Tide in a motel by the railroad tracks.
So this guy again.


2. Purple Haze, Jimmy Hendrix- Science Fiction Geek
It pains me to write this. Purple Haze is Jimmy Hendrix's signature song. If you haven't heard it, you clearly are not my audience. I, I can't even look at you right now. For the rest of you, you will remember Purple Haze as the song that hippy girl played for you in her darklight-lit basement before giving you your first tab of acid. It played in the background at every smoke-filled college party you went to. It was the song, man. It defined the psychedlic, drug-fueled 1960's--a time when people were pushing their freedoms to the upper limits.
The best freedom is naked freedom.


But did you know?
Hendrix was less concerned with pushing the limits of his freedom and opening the doors of perception, and more concerned with penning an ode to his favorite sci fi writer Philip Jose Farmer. That's right, Jimmy Hendrix, psychedlic guitar god, wrote one of the earliest fan fics.

Try to stifle a yawn as you read this citation on Farmer's book from WikiPedia, "In the story set on a distant planet, sunspots produce a "purplish haze" which has a disorienting effect on the inhabitants."

Oh Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy. Is it any coincidence you died only months after the original Star Trek went off the air?

1. Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Wizard of Oz--Urban Rot and Decay
The Wizard of Oz is one of the most recognizable films of all time and Somewhere Over the Rainbow played no small part in that. It is a beautiful, uplifting meloday sung by Dorothy (Judy Garland) on her small Kansas farm as she imagines a bigger, brighter world beyond her own.
Probably not what she had in mind. But how awesome would that have been?

But did you know?
The original draft read more like a William Faulkner novel than the opening song in a movie that featured a race of people called 'munchkins'.

Somewhere down past the wheat field, way way back,
There's some land that I heard of a miles past the railroad track
Somewhere down past the wheat field, skies are gray
And the people that trudge to work do it day by day
Someday I want to see this spot
Where troubles grow like mildew rot ...so true
And everything revolves around
The money that they all have found -destroying values
Somewhere down past the wheat field, way way back,
Thereís a land that my curiosity wants a crack. (at)
If happy little bluejays fly beyond the wheat field, why oh why can't I?

This version of the song made it all the way to early shootings of the film. The dark lyrics changed the entire tone of the song. How noticable was the difference? Apparently, they couldn't stop Toto from howling throughout the recording. This set off a Rube Goldberg effect of scaring a coop of chickens, showering the set in feathers. Just a few simple verse changes and the Yellow Brick Road would have had to be renamed to the Feather and Chicken Shit Covered Path.

Monday, October 27, 2014

5 Movies You Didn't Know Were Based on Comic Books

Marvel recently released its three year plan to take over the movie box office (and then the world!). And why not? The collective gross on the X-men franchise alone out-earned most of the members of the United Nations. As a result, everyone is releasing comic book-inspired films these days. No seriously. Everybody.
You didn't believe me, did you?

It won't be long until Merchant-Ivory churns out some period drama about a guy named Phineas Codswallop, a lowly stablehand who simulataneously romances a woman above his station and fights highwaymen by night. It will be based on the imaginary comic book series I'm working on entitled 'The Walloping Codswallop and His Wench of Doom'.  Of course, Merchant Ivory will do everything in their power to hide the fact that their Oscar-winning movie had its lowly origins on the pages of a comic book. Because making comic-book money is one thing, being associated with comic book nerds is a whole other bottle of Clearasil.

And they wouldn't be the first to studio to do it either. Check out these other movies which were born from the pages of comic books and from the minds of men who didn't get laid until well after college.

5. A History of Violence (2005)
A History of Violence stars that guy named Vigo who looks like Tom Petty and Kid Rock's love child.
Tell me you see it too.

Vigo stars as a guy who has a history of violence and it comes back to violence the crap out of him. Okay, I didn't actually see the movie and the Wiki entry was just so damn long. There's probably a lot of talking in between a couple of scenes of people getting their heads kicked in, if Vigo's previous roles are any indication.

But did you know? This movie was based on a graphic novel by John Wagner, the man who was also responsible for the source material for the 1995 Judge Dredd film. I'm sorry. I can't find it in myself to defend the man.


4. RED
RED is a movie about a group of geriatric former spies and previous Cold War enemies who team up to take out current spies turned bad, all the while assisted by a call center representative.


Who, if the movie was at all realistic, would look like this.
That wasn't racist. Some of my best friends are cell center representatives.

It was the last gasp in Bruce Willis's action career and the first time John Malkovich had a convincing role (as an insane old dude). The movie was occasionally funny, action-packed, romantic and terribly disappointing so of course it made a buttload of cash (more than an armload, less than a colon-fill).

But did you know? RED was actually based on a three-issue comic series of the same name by writer Warren Ellis. Remember the shitty movie--now remove the recycled cold war jokes, stereotypical Russians, and one-dimensional characters who existed solely for comedic relief. Keep all the action. Add a badass killer. And take away any redemption or a happy ending. That's RED. It's awesome. Go read it.

3. Surrogates (2009)
In yet another entry in the ongoing series 'How else can we rip off Blade Runner'? Bruce willis, in his second nod on this list, stars as a cop investigating a murder involving clones in a movie which is not at all a copy of ten other clone-murder films. Because they're called surrogates, you see. It's totally different.
He doesn't change his facial expression the entire movie.

But did you know? Surrogates is based on the series of comics by Robert Venditti and is much more Logan's Run than Blade Runner. It's not another humdrum cloning movie that asks the same rehashed questions about what makes a human, human, but a story of an inventor whose creation got away from him. It's Frankenstein only the monsters are damn near everywhere. There's collected editions out there. Treat yourself.


2. Wanted (2008)
Wanted stars Mrs. Brad Flick and the guy who played 'Delivery Man' in the Muppets Most Wanted. He's an assasin and doesn't know it. She's a sexy blah blah blah. And then blah blah blah. This movie made a lot of money, but honestly I don't even remember it being in theater. Though to be fair, if it wasn't animated and made by Disney or Pixar, my kids did not allow me to see it.

But did you know? This movie could have been sooooooooo good. For one, the original comic source was written by Mark Millar, the guy responsible for Kick Ass, one of the freshest super hero comics written since The Watchmen. And while Kick Ass was about ordinary joes stepping up and becoming heroes in a hero-less world, Wanted was about a world where all the heroes had already lost and the villains were now in charge. It was gritty, edgy, dark, and most of all surprising. If you saw the movie, I apologize. Now here's your reward for having sat through it:


1. Weird Science (1985) Weird Science is easily one of the most identifiable films to come out of the 1980's. It stars the skinny guy who got picked on in every John Hughes film, that dude from Twister, Iron Man, and Kelly LeBrock's panties. A lot of twisted and weird shit happens, even by 1980's standards.

But did you know?  The original source material for this gem of a movie, comes from the old EC comic book of the same name. In particular, a story from the fifth issue which you can read in full here: link

This is the one case where deviating from the source material actually works, but I'm warning you Marvel, if you screw up Deadpool for me or let John Wagner anywhere near the studio, I will hunt you down.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

What I Learned from Selling My Ouija Board on Ebay

In my continuing attempt to sell everything in my house not bolted down to further my fancy hat collection, I decided to list our vintage Ouija board on Ebay.  For those that have spent the last 50 years either under a rock or in a correctional institution (you'd be amazed how much of my reading audience includes one or the other), a Ouija board is a spirit board used by teenage girls to contact the spirit world. It's made from a mystical combination of plastic and cardboard by the Satanic church of Milton Bradley.

You'd think such a transaction would go relatively smoothly, but apparently I was vastly unprepared  for the level of freakitude the spirit worlds had sent my way.

Worth it.

Just in case you find yourself cash-strapped and decide to offer up your cherished Ouija, here are some tips to prepare yourself:

4. There are four types of Ouija buyers:

  • Board game collectors (yes, this is a thing)
  • People who want a 'connected' board
  • Christians
  • Small children who got a hold of their parent's computer and who went on a bidding streak

Board game collectors will ask you a million questions related to condition. Take a lot of pictures and do not make snarky comments about 'mystery stains from the spirit world'. Board game collectors do not have a sense of humor.

I was fully expecting the board game collector questions. Collectors, for the most part, are all different sides of the same anal retentive coin. I was not, however, prepared in the slightest for the avalanche of crazy that followed the usual questions about the 'integrity of the cardboard box'.

3. Buyers don't just want a Ouija board, they want a creepy story to go with it.

For the 'connected' buyers, it's not enough that your board does not contain any dried up Cheetos, it must be a fully operational gateway to the other side.

Can't a brother use the toilet without getting summoned?

These buyers want to hear about how you acquired the board (i.e., found it in a cemetery on the tomb of a convicted serial killer, obviously), why you're selling it (i.e., because you were unprepared for the angry spirits who kept visiting you), and if you had any notable experiences while using the board (i.e., you're too freaked out to talk about it).

I'd like to remind my readers that this game is made by Milton Bradley, the same people who make Candy Land. It's about as mystical as a pair of argyle socks but making up shit is apparently part of the social contract of selling Ouija boards and it is your solemn duty to honor that.

2. Beware the Christian buyers.
So apparently in certain Christian circles (you guys have circles right?), Ouija boards are taboo. Something about witchcraft and and Dungeons and Dragons and Harry Potter and Gary Busey all being aligned with demons and the devil.  I wasn't entirely paying attention as I was masturbating furiously while watching The Exorcist.

These buyers do not want a 'connected' board. They want a clean board, one that has preferably been blessed by a Catholic priest. They want assurances that nothing weird has come anywhere near this board. They want you to tell them about how clean the planchette is and how you only used it at your youth group after the elders had gone to sleep. For them, this purchase would be like you buying a slutty pair of underwear. Something you can slip on for a while to feel naughty, but can change out of the moment it starts riding up your butt. I think that metaphor holds.

Do not confuse the 'connected' buyers with the Christian buyers or be prepared for an avalanche of Biblical quotes.
And not even the cool ones.

There's at least six people in Michigan who are praying for my soul right now so I guess, if nothing else, I've got that going for me.

1. Ouija Boards are a Nightmare to Mail

Seriously, just look at that thing! It's like two pizza boxes stacked next to each other. Boxes tend to be tall and squat, not flat and long. You were probably expecting some wry comment here, but honestly I was just wondering if you had something that fit. I've got a Bible study group in Des Moines who's been waiting on this thing for a month. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

So You're Crazy? A Quick Guide to Understanding Mental Illness

So you've just been told you're crazy. And by a professional this time and not just the receptionist in the office who has no interest in going hot air ballooning with you this or any other weekend. There are some important things you should know on your road back to health and normalcy, things that not even your psychiatrist is going to tell you.

7. Psychiatry is not an exact science
We put a lot of trust in our doctors. And it's easy to see why. Not only do they undergo years and years of specialized education and constant re-certification, but they also have millions of dollars of high-tech, state of the art equipment at their disposal.

Psychiatrists, however, sit in small rooms with lots and lots of old books.

Don't get me wrong, shrinks spend endless hours reading journals, attending conferences, and working with patients, but the field is less science and more boozy guy in a bar standing in front of a dart board, praying his next shot sticks.
What does it mean if it lands on the guy leaning against the wall?

There's a lot of guess-work involved in diagnosing mental illness is what I'm saying and how you're treated usually has less to do with your symptoms and more to do with:

  1. Your doctor's particular field of study
  2. What drug/disease is currently trending (more on this later)
  3. Which drug rep just left the office (more on this too)

The human brain is complex. Think of an early map of the earth with a large blank space marked out with the phrase 'Here there be dragons'. That's essentially what we're still doing with the human brain--trying to map out a mysterious land without the proper tools or technology required to accomplish the task. Only in this case, the dragons are real and they're everywhere.
Property values are shockingly low.

Knowing what effects which part of the brain and why is a complete mystery. So all psychiatrists have to go on are symptoms and those symptoms are usually filtered through patients' descriptions and (occassionally) observed behaviors.

I'm not telling you this so you can fake an illness and score some fantastic anti-psychotic drugs (though you definitely could). I'm telling you this because, as a crazy person, it's important that you don't go into your doctor's office expecting an easy solution to your very complicated brain's problems. It doesn't exist. And it's important that you not put all your trust in your shrink to find the answers on your own. A good shrink-shrinkee relationship involves both of you working your ass off to understand the issues at hand and what might be causing them. If it helps, think of yourself as Short-Round and the doctor as Indiana Jones. Sure, one guy gets the bad ass fedora and whip, but where would he be without his little Asian buddy with the cool gadgets? Dead. That's where. Maybe the metaphor doesn't completely work here, but still, Indiana Jones. Amirite?

6. Psychiatry goes through more trends than the fashion industry.
As I mentioned above, psychiatry involves a helluva lot of guess work so when shrinks do make a break-through, they get very, very excited about it. Even if that guess later turns out completely wrong (and it often is). For example, the guy who came up with lobotomies was once awarded a Nobel prize. I'll say that again, the man who decided that what a broken brain needed most was just an appropriately applied ice pick, received a reward for humanitarianism.

Pictured: Someone whose work with ice picks was far more deserving of a Nobel.

And how long did it take psychiatry to figure out that maybe therapy and medication were a better alternative than stab-hating brain matter? 20 fucking years.

Nowadays, break-throughs tend to involve less making brain soup and more the naming of illnesses that already exist. Like Aspergers. And Autism. And before that Schizophrenia, clinical depression, ADHD, ADD, etc. etc. etc.

And like a kid with a new label-maker, when psychiatry comes up with one of these new illnesses, they go around sticking it on everyone. The same happens when a new medication makes it to market. For a while, damn near everybody was on Prozac. Today, it's Ritalin. I swear if I so much as nod off in a meeting, four people are shoving an ADHD pill in my face.

Psychiatry's answer to this is quite brilliant--they're not getting caught up in the heat of the moment and over-diagnosing (or over-prescribing) the latest crazy flavor of the month, they're just correctly recognizing people who had these issues all along. Which does nothing to explain why the same people with depression twenty years ago who were nom-nomming on Prozac like Tic Tacs are now depression free and in treatment for ADHD.

The point is that you have to be able to separate yourself from the headlines and look at your symptoms in a vaccum. And you're going to have to help your shrink do it, too because he's more immersed in that sort of thing than anybody.

5. There is never a cure
One of the most difficult things about being mentally ill is accepting that this is a lifetime diagnosis. You don't ever stop being sick. All you get is different degrees of manageable. You don't even get the luxury of finding one pill that works and living out a happy, medicated life. Because the body's chemistry changes--it builds up tolerances or changes and your pills no longer work. Or they get recalled because it grows a third nipple. Or the manufacturer stops making it because it's not profitable enough. Or your insurance won't cover it because it's too expensive.  You will spend the rest of your life mixing medications like Tom Cruise in cocktail. 

Like this if the depression hadn't crippled you into complete inactivity. 

And for that reason you shouldn't ever let yourself feel too comfortable with any one medication. But it doesn't matter, because even if you did, you'll probably quit them on your own at some point because...

4. Beware the vicious circle
When you do find a drug that works (inasmuch as drugs work), it's easy to get caught up in a state of normalcy. You may find that you no longer cry everytime you burn a piece of bread or see that goddamned long distance commercial about the kid calling his grandmother.
No, not that commercial. Sickie.

You may even begin to think that your normalcy has nothing to do with the obscene amount of pills you take everyday. Or maybe you're an artist type who has discovered it's much more difficult to come up with rhymes for 'abyss' when your head is delightfully clouded with anti-suicidal medication.

At any rate, at some point in your newly doped up career, you will come to the unfortunate decision that 'I no longer need these meds' and you will stop taking them. I call this stage, "You are a fucking idiot." That normlacy you've got is solely because of the meds. They'v given you a window to real life. A little space to breath in and practice acting like a normal person. But never forget what opened that window in the first place. And for God's sake, never stop taking your meds. Which brings me to the next point.

3. You can never stop taking medication. 
The pills can and will alter your brain's chemistry, but the brain does not fix itself. Once broken, it's always broken. Think of your head as the Hoover Dam and your crazy is a tiny leak at the base. Everyday that you don't plug that hole, the leak gets larger and larger until one day you are naked in your apartment disconnecting all your phones so the government can't bug your calls. Those pills are the only thing stopping the leak. And the moment you stop taking them, the crazy starts dripping out all over again. It's slow and gradual so you may not notice it at first. But listen to your friends and family when they tell you that the cat is not trying to communicate hidden messages from the television to you. They have your best interests at heart.

Or maybe they've never met your cat.

2. Sometimes the cure is worse than the disease
Sleeplessness, anger, irritability, suicidal thoughts, sexual disfunction...no, I'm not reciting symptoms from the DSM, I'm listing some of the side-effects from the hosts of medication you will try. No medication is side-effect free. And depending on the severity of your crazy and the dose of your medicine, you may be faced with a choice between say never having sex again or having to listen to the voice of Gilbert Godfrey chanting 'Kill' all day. And you know what? Whether you want to deal with those side-effects for a chance at normalcy is a private decision, but just know that the end result of a person with a mental illness who goes unmedicated long enough, and I'm talking just about any mental illness, is often suicide. Which leads me to the last item...

1. Suicide is always option.
That's an awful statement, just hanging out there. But let me clarify. The thing about mental illness is that people who have it suffer in silence. You've probably heard that cliche a million times. But it's true. And you know what sucks about suffering in silence? Nobody believes you. So aside from the crippling depression and physical effects, you will also have the added bonus of everyone thinking it's all in your head. And when that happens, it's easy to stop talking about your issues, which in turn only makes things worse. It's a terrible cycle.

Now I'm not advocating you throw yourself off a bridge the moment you find out you're OCD. You should try every option available to you to get back a normal and healthy life. You should fight every day. And when you can't fight for yourself anymore, fight for the people who love you. Because suicide is a terribly selfish option. It leaves nothing but blame and guilt and unanswered questions in its wake.
Just like a visit from my mother-in-law

What I'm saying is that if things ever get too terrible to manage, you have that option. Should you ever take it? No. But sometimes, when the fire is closing in, just knowing where the exit is can be comforting. And there's nothing wrong with thinking about leaving. It's actually normal. Don't hate yourself for it. Don't be ashamed of it and don't try to ignore it. And for God's sake, don't ever stop talking about it. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

5 Giant-Sized Versions of Your Worst Nightmares

Yesterday, the spider puppy crawled out of the depths of the South American rainforest and click-clacked through the leafy undergrowth into our hearts.

If it weren't for the venomous and near-lethal bite, I'd give you kisses all over. Yes I would! Yes I would! 

But this isn't the only super-sized phobia out there. Here's some more nightmare fuel for your Thursday afternoon.

Ratzilla Doesn't Die

How bad can a rat be? Sure, they sometimes live in sewers and bite and carry all kinds diseases but when you get right down to it... oh my freaking god look at that thing.

This massive sewer monster was so hell-bent on terrorizing a Swedish family, he burrowed through concrete just to get to them. At close to a foot and a half long, it promptly made itself at home in their kitchen, despite the presence of a cat who was the only member of the family who had the good sense to stay the fuck out of there. Nothing could slow this goliath down as it promptly continued to make itself at home even as its damned neck was snapped inside an exterminator grade trap.


Ear Roach

A rat in the kitchen is one thing. Sure, it's horrible, but you can always burn the house down, salt the earth, and walk away like nothing happened. The same can't be said for Austrian Hendrick Helmer who had a 2cm long cockroach crawl in and set up shop in his ear. Attempts to remove it with a 'vaccum cleaner' only angered the beast and presumably the evil god who first creatd it.

2 cm may not seem big, especially compared to the lifeboat-sized rat you just looked at, but try to remember IT WAS IN HIS FREAKING EAR. And just look at that guy...it takes a ballsy insect to make that scary ass dude's brain his home.

Ceiling Snake
Do I even need to tell you this next story happened in Australia, a place where animals only come in large or venomous.

That's not a snake. This, this is a snake. 

Now I live in a moderately rural area in that the trees out-number the amount of cars on my street. So occasionally I'll find a harmless brown snake slither across my driveway.  In winter, a snake might make its way inside the basement to keep warm (don't tell my wife). But that's about it.

In Australia, apparently, the snakes are so damn eager to get inside they puncture their way through the ceiling and pop out like the most strangly jack in the box in the world. Because this happened in Australia, however, the owners paused to snap a few shots and upload them to Reddit before calmly making themselves a new pair of boots.

Giant Bee

In what appears to be a scene in the opening film of a 1950's monster movie double-billing, a reporter is assaulted on the air by a giant man-sized bee. Her face frozen with fear in a smiling richter of death. I don't know. I didn't actually read the story. It's probably just a bug on the camera lens, but still. Look at that thing!

5.5 Meter Alligator Attacks Shark
Obviously, this also happened in Australia. How come they don't mention this shit on their visitor websites?

The picture you are looking at is not a scene from King Kong. It's a 5.5 meter alligator casually eating a mother fucking shark like a construction worker with a baloney sandwich on his lunch break.  5.5 meters? Are you fucking kidding me? I can't even run that far without getting winded.

Once again, the Aussie local who happened to catch this scene which proves once and for all there is no just creator, sat casually back and snapped pictures like he was on Disney's Jungle Safari. Hey dude, giant shark and alligator in front of you locked in a death match. Put down the damn food and pack your shit up. Australia wants you dead.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

6 Dog Costumes That Tell the World You're a Horrible Person

So apparently there are some people who think it's just adorable to dress their pets up in costumes for Halloween. And who am I to judge those people or tell them that what they're doing is wr--oh, who am I kidding? This is abhorrent behavior, people. Dressing your pets in costumes should be added to the DSM. If you are buying outfits for your pet, you should be in therapy. You need more human contact. If you're already in therapy, tell your therapist your current dosage is just not working. Tell him now. Seriously. I'll wait.

And beyond being all kinds of freaky-deaky, this kind of behavior is just plain cruel to your pet. Sara McLachlan should do a PSA against this kind of activity. If there was a telethon, I'd pledge.
Back away from the Batman mask, you sick fuck. 

I've lost my train of thought. You've got me all confused what with your cats in booties and crazy eyes. Let's see...Pets. Costumes. Abhorrent activity. Yes!

And just like any other activity, what started off presumably innocent enough--a bowtie here, maybe a little sweater there--has of course gone horribly, horribly wrong. Dressing your schnauzer in a hot dog costume? Ok, I see what you did there. But put your poodle in a Madonna with pointy bra? Then you've crossed that imaginary line. You know the one...it leads straight to the registered sex offenders list. Go ahead and move to the front. The others won't mind.

Here's six more pet costumes to avoid to end up on that list.

6. Harem Costume

The official description: Get your pretty princess dancing the seven veils in this heavenly Harem Dog Costume! Featuring a pair of pink pantaloons and matching chest piece, this Arabian dancer dog costume comes with a gold headpiece with pink veil that ties under the chin. Scheheraz-dog returns!


It's no surprise that the costume makers are not familiar with the story of Scheherazade--there can't be much time for reading literature what with all that time dedicated to violating the dignity of helpless animals. But the story of Scheherazade deals with a woman being sold off to a king for a night of defloration followed by decapitation. Those veils were meant to be yanked off as part of foreplay/rapey violation. So there's that. Now you know, how do you feel about your four-legged friend nuzzling his face in your crouch as he begs for a treat?

5. Bikini

The official description: our pup can frolic in the water the American way with our American Flag Dog Bikini! This doggie two-piece swimsuit features the vibrant stars and stripes of the American flag. With a cute flared bikini skirt and elasticized waistband, American Flag Dog Bikini gets your pooch ready to hit the pool or beach!

A bathing suit on a dog. Yeah, sure. I guess. At least that will minimize the pee while he paddles after the damned tennis ball you keep throwing in the pool. But why is this poor dog wearing a bikini top? Was he part of some kind of human growth hormone experiment?  And why is he looking all coquettish at me over his shoulder? Is, is he hitting on me?

4. Santa Baby Tutu Dress

The official description: For the pooch that has been good all year! Our Santa Baby Dog Tutu Dress features a luxe red velour design with a silver screen print of "Santa Baby" across the back. The attached white tutu sparkles with sprinkles of silver glitter. This super-soft pullover Santa Baby Dog Tutu Dress has an elastic waistband for a secure fit while your pet makes spirits bright this holiday!


There were other Santa costumes available, but this one really bugged me. Unless they're in heat and in the mood to hump something, dogs rarely seem to pay attention to gender.

And if my poor violated leg is any indication, even then it rarely seems to be a concern. 

So why do we insist on dressing our damn dogs in gender specific costumes? You want to put Sir Pup-a-lot in a Santa costume, stick him in a Santa costume. Don't slut it up just because he's a she. And for that matter, why do pet costumes follow the oddly specific rule of costumes for humans that if it's a for women, it's got to be slutty as hell. Seriously, this is a dog Santa costume, but because it appears to be for female dogs (bitches!), it's got a see-through tutu, sparkles, and fucking glitter. Gross.

3. Snookie

The official description: This The Lady Is A Tramp Dog Costume includes the wig, costume with cleavage, and the fur boot covers. Yes, it really is Snookie in a dog costume!


No, the lady is a fucking dog. And if you're putting cleavage on a dog, you have a very distinctive sexual deviancy and there are laws against this sort of thing, sickie.

Even our beloved website copywriter is a little shocked at this one. 'Yes, it really is Snookie in a dog costume!' as in 'I can't fucking believe someone came up with this idea and three other assholes went along with it and helped him make it. This is my career. What have I done with my life?'


2. Pimp

The official description: This Big Daddy Pimp Dog Costume is just as adorable as it is funny!


C'mon website copywriter, you're not even looking at the damn pictures anymore. 'Adorable'? You're describing a god damned pimp. As in the guy who back-hands hookers for not bringing enough money.

I'm trying to imagine a scenario of someone buying this costume that's not terrible. I can't. It's just...I want to hug my mom now, but I feel too dirty.  I'm not sure I'll ever be clean again.

Just promise me, if you do buy this, you will not dress up as a hooker. Let's agree to not live in a world that would allow such a thing.

1. California Cupcake

The official description: This California Cupcake Girl Dog Costume includes the blue wig, novelty glasses, and the costume cupcake bra.

Let's just agree that no sane human being has ever uttered the phrase, "Can you hold down the dog while I slip her in this cupcake bra?" And then let's never speak of this monstrosity again.



Also check out: 11 Kids Costumes That Tell the World You're a Terrible Parent

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

5 Terrible Things I Learned After Getting Mugged

In 1996, I was fresh off college graduation and faced with the least difficult decision of my life--become a responsible, working adult or fuck off to London until my money ran out.

Guess which I chose.

Three months into my attempt to drink England dry, I made a colossally stupid decision. My parents were in the country visiting me.  We’d just parted and I was on the tube heading home when I decided I absolutely had to find an ATM and take money out for the next day.  It was close to midnight and even the subway car was damn near empty.

I'd like to blame this set of poor decision-making on alcohol but, as I mentioned, I’d just left my folks and I was desperately trying to keep up the illusion that my stay in England was more about soul-searching than testing my liver’s ability to withstand lethal doses of grain alcohol.

I got off at Baker Street, which you might recognize as the site of Sherlock Holmes’ fictional home.  There’s some irony there, but it’s nearly 20 years later and I still haven’t learned to appreciate it.  Let me add that Baker Street is not a bad part of London—in fact it’s one of the nicest neighborhoods there to live.  But again, it was almost midnight in a large city and I was the only idiot out. At least that’s what I blissfully assumed.

I found an ATM close to the well-lit subway entrance, entered my PIN, and then felt someone tap me on the shoulder.

5. It all happens very quickly.
British people are notoriously polite.  During my first week in the country, I caused an accident because I stepped into traffic after foolishly looking in the wrong direction.  The driver, after discoveringI was American, bought me lunch, gave me a tour of a cricket field that he worked at, then politely reminded me that ‘Brits’ drive on the other side of the street, before sending me on my way home.  You can imagine him ‘tut tutting’ if it helps. It’s not far from the truth.

So when I got a tap on my shoulder in the middle of the night, I just assumed, it was a tourist who needed directions or, at worst, a polite reminder from a local that my pants had fallen down (see, drinking England dry).  What I was not expecting was to get repeatedly punched in the face and stomach.  Which I did.  And hard.  You know that expression ‘seeing stars’?  Apparently, that’s a real thing.
And now you'll never watch Bugs Bunny cartoons the same way.

I slumped to the ground while the man withdrew as much money from my account as the ATM would allow.  When he was done, he kicked me in the side for good measure and ran off.  I never saw his face.  My life didn’t flash before my eyes.

4. You’ll blame yourself. 
When I did realize what had happened, there was a moment of shock, and then I cried.  The pain hadn’t even set in yet.  It was a different kind of cry.  It was the kind of cry a baby makes in the middle of the night, in the impenetrable dark, when he desperately wants someone to come get him.  I didn’t even recognize my own voice.  It was that kind of cry—deep and from a place of terror and helplessness I hadn’t experienced in a long, long time.

My thoughts were a fucking mess.  If anything, the burgeoning rise of pain in my face and side gave me some clarity and something to focus on.  A voice in my head said, ‘Yes, this happened. Now get your shit together and do something.’  But I didn’t.  I didn’t move.  Because immediately, another voice said, ‘Why didn’t you do something to stop it?’ And I cried some more.

3. I’m a lover, not a fighter.
Above: Fighter, not lover. Don't confuse the two. 

You know that old adage about fight or flight?  Well, that's utter bullshit. After the first attack, I had a few seconds to myself while the man calmly emptied my bank account. I didn't think about getting the fuck out of there, nor did I think 'I can take this guy'.  I froze.  I locked up.  Which, if you know anything about self-defense, is about the worst thing you can do.

Looking back, I guess I could say I was, was stunned. And not like 'in a state of shock'. I was taken utterly by surprised because I had discovered that I was not the person I thought I was.

Nobody thinks of themselves as a coward.  And most of us are lucky enough to never have that belief challenged.  But I was challenged that night and I had failed miserably.  I was actually worse than a coward because at least a coward has some sense of self-preservation.  So I sat there, on the dirty concrete, bleeding, and secretly hoping that the guy would come back and finish the job.

2. Everything changes. 
I did finally manage to find the clarity to pick myself up and get back on the subway. I cried when I passed the ticket taker.  I cried when I got home and called my parents and, later, my girlfriend.  I cried myself to sleep that night.  I never called the police because I thought, and still think to some extent, that I completely deserved what had happened.  Poor judgment aside, I thought people like me should not exist in a blissful state of self-delusion where they are allowed to believe they are strong or self-sufficient or courageous.

I didn’t spend my next three months in England looking over my shoulder. Alcohol has the useful and completely under-rated ability to cloud your senses and I saw fit to minimize my sobriety as much as possible.
Sadly, alcohol also gave us Chumbawamba so let's call it a draw.

I didn’t suspect everyone and everything or avoid unlit places at night.  I didn’t stay home, cowering under my blankets. If anything, I became more reckless.  I realized at my core, I was someone who wanted to die.  Who was so gutless, that’s probably what he deserved.

1. There is no getting over it.  
If this were a movie, you’d get to see me hit rock bottom only to find myself tested again.  Only this time, I’d react swiftly and decisively. I’d discover that a stronger, better person was inside me all along.  You’d see me heroically take down an attacker.  I’d emerge unscathed, maybe with a renowned purpose for bettering the world around me. And that cowering wretch I was would be forgotten forever.

Come and get one in the yarbles!

If this were a book, I’d have time to work through what happened.  I’d find meaning in it, maybe by bonding with someone else who’d gone through something similar.  Maybe I’d even risk myself to save a loved one.  I’d be a hero.  I’d find hope and beauty in a world that had lost all color.  I’d grow tulips out of thin air.

But this is neither of those. It’s not even a blog post by a very talented writer.  Instead what I did was refuse to talk about what happened.  I got drunk as much as possible until I had to move back home and start working and be an adult.  And then I got married and had kids, both of which have a funny way of defusing any self-destructive tendencies you might have.  Children are selfish that way—they need you in a way that makes it very hard to think about dying.

But that person I was hasn’t changed.  I know that. I’m more cautious now.  Much more protective of my kids than if I hadn’t been robbed and assaulted.  And silently, I hope every day I never have to be tested again.