Thursday, March 31, 2011

Arresting Entertainment, Part 2

This is sort of a follow-up to yesterday's post on my absurd love of COPS, but it will probably veer into other subjects. I hope that's not a problem.

So anyway, I ended yesterday's post by mentioning that a co-worker turned me on to the G4 channel. I always knew that G4 was there at channel 191 (I have Verizon FIOS), but it was never really in my orbit of surfing, which is usually this:
  • 502-511, the "regular" channels
  • 746 then back to 230-233, channels with uncut movies (not counting AMC), a rarity since we've cheaped out on the premium movie channels
  • 570s for sports, though I'm not watching much these days because I just get reminded how people half my age are making a million times my salary
  • 650-664, because I'm addicted to the shopping networks and the Food Network, and I'm comfortable enough with my own masculinity to admit this
G4 has a lot of original programming, but I show up for the three-hour COPS marathons. They're COPS-tastic. It was while watching G4 that I learned about two other shows that are full of awesomeness. The first one is...

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Arresting Entertainment, Part 1

What is it that you plan on doing in the event
they appear and ask you to accompany them?
You reach a certain point in your life — that is, I reach a certain point in my life — when you notice certain changes in your behavior. Suddenly, Fun Dip is no longer fun. There's a growing desire to drink on weeknights. And, shockingly, Cops (or the all-caps COPS) is must-see TV.

It's not the kind of show that I've been forced into viewing because of the changing demographic of my household, which has caused a ratings spike in such entertainments as Wipeout or America's Funniest Home Videos of Crotch Shots and Related Tragedies. Maybe it's because I don't go out as much as I used to on Saturday nights, and the 8pm-9pm time slot is part of the "holy crap the kids are finally in bed" downtime before Mrs. The Anthony Show and I decide what we're going to do with the remaining 12.5 percent of our day, and COPS is the perfect show for vegging.

But damn I love this show. I don't understand why...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Stupid Is as Anthony Does, Part 2

You know the drill.
Here we are again, talking about some of the stupid things I've done at various points throughout my life, as I've done in a previous post. There have been so many of these embarrassing incidents that this subject could probably be a weekly series. The memories I thought I'd obliterated have been re-materializing like medical waste washing up on the sands of Jones Beach.

I given a lot of thought to my stupidity, and I believe these events can organized into a number of categories:
  • Curiosity. I consider myself very cautious, but I often am the guy who just has to push that shiny delicious red button that we were warned not to press.
  • Speaking or acting without thinking. Again, I think I'm a pretty cautious person, but I can be a little too impulsive, especially when it comes to saying something that I'll regret later. Anyone who's viewed my Facebook wall during my "Facebooking While Full of Red Wine Night" will know what I mean.
  • Not paying attention to the dangerous world around me. As I stress positive characteristics of my personality right before I provide evidence to the contrary, I would like to note that I consider myself a very aware, "in the moment" kind of guy. But that doesn't stop me from those kinds of moments you likely had as a kid when your mom/dad/teacher/priest asks, "Why did you do that [thing that makes absolutely no human sense whatsoever]?" and you can only reply sheepishly, "I don't know."

    As a parent, I now find myself asking that question all the time, as does Mrs. The Anthony Show. But in her case, she's usually asking me that question at least once a week.
Enough prologue. Let's get to it...

Monday, March 28, 2011

Pieces of Me

This space for rent.
So anyway, I'm getting old. As I approach, in less than a month, an age that is considered in some cultures a milestone and in other cultures the moment when you suddenly lose all your hair and you're legally obligated to harangue the kids to GET OFF MY LAWN, I expect that I'll be reflecting in near-future blog posts on how the advancement of that age is taking its toll on my everyday life.

In other words, I'm not getting any younger. And, as a bonus, I've acquired many of the accoutrements of...well, not the elderly, but definitely the olderly.

I've worn glasses since sixth grade, but I should have started wearing them much earlier. I used to think my right eye had normal vision and my left was super-exceptional, but a trip to an ophthalmologist taught me that my left eye's vision was actually below-average and if right eye's vision were any poorer it would be on welfare and I'd be appearing on the Maury show to find out who's the father of my eye's six children.

Here are a few other things that have become as much of a part of me as those glasses. Are you ready?

Friday, March 25, 2011

What I Should Be Writing Instead of This Blog

I've already written a very long blog post about some creative writing projects I have completely abandoned for the good of the literate people of mankind. Today I'll share a little information about some stuff that I am currently working on — though by "currently" I mean that I haven't declared these works dead; they still have some sort of pulse.

The ice cream = happy ending.
Here's an analogy, before I continue. Many writers are paranoid about discussing their in-progress material, and I'm no exception. It's like cookie dough. Cookie dough tastes good as raw dough, and cookies taste good when they've completed their little tour of a 350-degree oven. If you were to grab a cookie during the first trimester of its oven incubation, it would still be a cookie, but it would be too hot and too runny to be dough but too uncooked to be a full-fledged baked good.

In other words, it's fun to talk about ideas that you haven't fleshed out — "It takes place in an accordion factory...on Mars!" — and it's usually no problem to discuss a completed manuscript, but once you've actually started the baking and created a few words, even if it's the title page, it can be a burn-inducing mess to talk about.

(And yes, it can be hazardous to chat about your work even if all you have is that Martian accordion factory. I don't know how that fits in my analogy, other than to say you'd better not steal my idea for the blockbuster postmodern sci-fi musical mystery comedy thriller trilogy Professor Phobos and the Case of the Victoria Crater Squeezebox.)

So, here we go with a few examples of The Great Unfinished...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Penny-Wise and Pound-Retarded

Those vertical lines are starting
to look like prison bars.
Do you keep complete track of all your finances and diligently track and prioritize your expenditures? If so, congratulations! I now hate you with the irrational venom I usually reserve for someone like Ed Burns or any number of people in whose honor I drink the Haterade and will blog about in the future. 

If you're like me — and I mean that in a good way — you find yourself throwing away money on what Harvard economists classify as "crap," while refraining from purchasing the things that you actually need. I connect this behavior to the my inability to finish many/most/all of the things I begin, whether it's the half-assed paint job in the stairwell or that garage that never seems to get completely de-cluttered.

And I simply endure the inconvenience that these situations create, such as having to see blue masking tape that has lined some of my basement moldings since 2003, because I'm either lazy or cheap or (most likely) live most of my conscious moments in a miasma of denial.

And yet...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Because Demise of a Salesman Wouldn't Sound as Cool

So there we were, 6-and-a-half-year-old Son of The Anthony Show and I, sitting in the Barnes & Noble cafe two days ago, quite a rare location for the two of us on a weeknight. I had an appointment that ended in time for me to pick up Son at the bus stop and spirit him to the bookstore so Mrs. The Anthony Show could keep working while undisturbed. Son enjoyed the novelty of doing his homework at the bookstore while devouring a brownie, and I was relished being able to sit across from him, sipping a small latte while scanning the latest issue of Lapham's Quarterly.

(Simply being able to read a periodical is a rare luxury, these days.)

The spoiler is in the title.
The theme of the issue was "celebrity" throughout history, and I was finishing an article on Orson Welles — how most people in the 1970s and 1980s knew he was a famous director, but likely saw none of his movies and only knew about his career because of the appearances of his corpulent but magisterial frame in commercials and on the talk show circuit. Anyway, I was finishing the article and reflecting on his notorious epitaph, attributed to Welles himself: "The world's youngest has-been," when I was interrupted by Son's voice:

"I wanna read that book by Arthur Miller."

He pointed at a wall, along which were huge-scale reproductions of famous works of literature, including...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Wrong Number

Hey, kids! This is called a telephone. You can't tweet with it.
When you're young enough to still be living in your parents' house but old enough that you've started becoming perceptive about the goings-on in your parents' house, you might notice some parental behavior that makes you think, "Hmmm...that's not right," even though you've witnessed that behavior for years and until that point it seemed quite normal.

It might be your mom telling you that butter will speed up the healing on that leg wound, or your dad parking his car on the front lawn after another "late night" when he was "working" at the "office."

In my house, it slowly dawned on me that my mother's approach to solicitors, either on the phone or (heaven help them) at our door, was possible evidence of pathologically antisocial behavior.

If you're dying for an example...

Monday, March 21, 2011


PODCAST ALERT! As if you didn't have enough of The Anthony Show for one day, I've recorded a podcast based on the post I published earlier today. I don't think it's one of my better ones, particularly because I think I might have been drunk during the recording of it, but if you've got 27 minutes to kill listening to my Lawn Guyland accent, then be my guest and give it a listen, which you can by CLICKING THESE WORDS YES THESE WORDS HERE THAT YOU SEE ON YOUR SCREEN RIGHT NOW YES.

I'm Not "Street Smart," Just "Pavement Intelligent"

As I mentioned in a previous post, I worked as a custodian at a Jewish community center (back then it was called a YM-YWHA) while I was in high school. I worked with a couple of guys my age who, to be honest, were likely to continue working as janitors after high school ended.

Robert Moses was streets smart, amirite?
I generally fit in with everyone, and there were plenty of crude jokes, profanity, and insults traded about. The one thing that made me a target was the fact that I did pretty well in school — better than my co-workers, at least — so this one guy in particular, I'll call him Freddy, liked to toss out this canard every now and then:

You may be book smart,
but you ain't street smart!

(This is an abridged version of his statement, as Freddy's vocabulary normally injected an average of three f-words per sentence.)

Does not count as book smart.
Whenever I did something that was stupid or embarrassing, which, given the nature of the job, was admittedly frequent, Freddy took the opportunity to brandish that particular taunt. If I put the trash bag into the garbage can incorrectly, it's because I wasn't street smart. If I got too close to the bathroom tiles with the pressure washer and blasted a few right off the floor, it's because I wasn't street smart.

Up till this point I had assumed that the only things you learned in "The Streets" was how to properly tape a stickball bat, open a fire hydrant on a steamy day, and hide from the coppers when you're caught snatching an orange off of Giuseppe's food cart. Apparently there was an entire streets-based education that I had been missing. Then again, Freddy must have been home sick from street-school when they taught that you shouldn't try to open a bottle of beer with your mouth, because it could split your molar in half, as it did Freddy's. Hell, I wasn't even street smart, yet I knew that fact quite intuitively.

That being said...

Friday, March 18, 2011

Does This Mean I'll Have to Block My Own E-mail Address?

It tastes like discounted Viagra.
In the old days (the late 1990s) I used to be fooled by spam. I thought every e-mail that I received was sent to me because someone knew me, or because I had requested some information. Several computer viruses and one large cash transfer to someone who turned out not to be Prince Abinala Umbutu of the People's Free Democratic Republic of Congo later, I learned that that was not always the case.

Spam has become much craftier, what with those fake bank account alerts that look like real e-mails from real banks if the person in charge of writing those e-mails had third-grade grammar, but some spam I get makes me wonder whether they're even trying.

Obviously, the senders listed for spam are fake. You won't be getting e-mail from The pseudonyms are usually normal-sounding names, but quite often I receive an e-mail that alleges its address of origin to be my own.

Yes, it is. Take the example below:

Now, why would I send myself an e-mail about a Viagra discount? Even if I were to e-mail myself such an alert, because maybe I read about it somewhere and e-mailed myself a reminder, would I put my username in the subject line as well? Am I that clueless that I would have forgotten about sending myself an e-mail about Viagra discounts?

And wouldn't I ask myself, "Self, why did the discount suddenly drop 14 percent?" (Then again, the subject line says it's a minus-61 percent discount, so that actually means that the markup is not as large. I'll my own biology handle my erections at least until I get that "-47%" discount alert.)

That's all I really need to say about this. It's been a great week, The Anthony Show-wise, and I wanted to write a shorter post today. Besides, you can see that I need to respond to "Jacqueline Jones" — I have the opportunity to chat with girl! ME LOVE CHAT WITH GIRL!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Facebook Needs an "Adjustment"

YOU might be able to ignore all those postage-stamp-sized ads running along the right-hand column of most Facebook pages, but dammit, they catch my eye like someone's firing toothpicks laced with Frank's Red Hot into my philtrum.

Guess what else F stands for?
After a while, you start to see the same rotations of ads, even if you delete them, like those dipshits who claim to have bought iPads for $1.98 and would love to share the information with you if you "Like" their site and allow them to spam-rape your friends' Facebook accounts. The worst sets of ads, the ones that drive me into a rage with the heat of a thousand hot-sauce-laced toothpicks, are the chiropractor ads.

I'm not here to bash chiropractors, particularly because most have done a lot of good for their patients, and also because there are plenty of people who have already done a better chiropractor-bashing job than I could. Besides, I have a very good friend and an adequately good brother who are both chiropractors.

That's gotta hurt.
Also note that I wouldn't have (as much of) a problem with these ads if the message were something like "Does your back hurt? Dr. Steve is here to help!" However, all of these ads appear to be not about chiropractors, but directed to chiropractors in order to attract and retain business. And there's something about that assumption, that there are so many chiropractors on Facebook that it requires a shotgun blast of ads in order to reach them all, that really sticks in my craw. (And I hate having to unclog my craw.)

Which brings me to...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

So, This Guy Walks Into a Gynecologist's Office...

I have recorded a podcast version of this post so CLICK HERE IF YOU WANT TO LISTEN TO IT AS I KNOW YOU REALLY DO. As I've mentioned in my previous posts-that-are-also-podcasts, the audio version is not a straight read-through of the written post. I skip some of the written stuff and go off on other tangents when I'm on the microphone. Think of it as a set of twins that aren't identical, and one of them is uglier than the other.

The other day I mentioned that something curious happened to me at a gynecologist's office, but I'll eliminate all suspense and speculation that it was something worthy of a late-1990s Farrelly Brothers comedy with me somehow pinned to an exam table with my legs in stirrups as a nearsightedly wacky doctor (probably played by Ken Jeong) is planning to thrust into me whatever it is they shove into a particular orifice to determine whether a woman is pregnant.

I consider myself a decent wordspeller, so when the Blogger text box flags a misspelling with that wavy red underline, I'm usually able to correct my error within one or two tries, but for the word "orifice" in the previous paragraph it took several tries before I gave up — which tells you how often I actually type the word "orifice" in my everyday writing — and typed one of my attempts into the Google search box. One of the suggestions was Orifarm, which sounds like a portmanteau of "orifice" and "farm" — "Orifice Farm" would be a great name for a horrible porn site — but is, in fact, "a fast growing supplier of parallel imported and generic pharmaceuticals."

When I went to the Orifarm site, I found myself falling into one of those Internet rabbit-holes that I fall into every now and them, like when I'm looking up who won the 1938 World Series, take a right turn at one of Stalin's purges, and end up learning about the history of biscuits. Anyway, the Orifarm site is in English, but its products are offered only in Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Denmark: countries which, for most intents and purposes, are the same place.

When you click on the "Denmark" section, you get a page that includes THIS:
Uh...when I drink a lot of beer, maybe.
I don't know what this product does, but I hope if I ever go to Denmark, I'll never be afflicted with any condition that will require a prescription of it. (Why is only the headline in English?)

Oh yeah, the OB/GYN. Let me get to it before I digress again.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Personal History: The First Time I Got Drunk, Part I

Note: This post is threatening to get too long for one post, so I'll be splitting it into two pieces. This mainly because I'm too lazy to finish it in one sitting, and I have a feeling you wouldn't want to read it all in one sitting. Also, I've been drinking. 

Maybe it's because I actually am drunk right now, but I'm going to tell you about the first time I became legally (that is, in the eyes of the law, not of legal age) intoxicated. 

I must note that in high school I never drank. Never ever. Oh wait...I had maybe a small sip of sloe gin, but that doesn't really count. (I may revisit the sloe gin story another time.)

Here are some reasons why I never drank prior to entering college:
  • I didn't run with a crowd that was into drinking
  • I didn't like the taste of alcohol, even though (I was told) the taste of alcohol wasn't exactly the point
  • I was a geek/nerd/whatever, and most geeks/nerds/whatevers didn't drink
  • I was a militant teetotaler
When I was like 10 or so, my brother and I went to the house of our friend Ken, who lived next door. Ken snatched a few beers from his parents' fridge and we went to the more wooded area of his back yard to drink them.

We stood there between a chain-link fence and a bunch of tall evergreens, and I was terrified. But terror is often overruled by peer pressure, so I cracked open a can of Budweiser, but not before giving that can a good look:

Is there a Queen of Beers?

To a 10-year-old this can has a hell of a lot of writing on it in script that's nearly impossible to read. Look at that banner with the fine print that's unfurled at the top: who the hell is going to read all that? That's a lot more information than I would have found on my usual poison of the time, Dr Pepper. Does the brand expect anyone to spot this can at the deli and read this:

Pull My Finger of God

Hey, Craigslist! What's going on?

Oh...this. Let's investigate. I'm always checking out the freelance-writing gigs on the Craigslist, since it's not like I'm getting paid to blog, but most of the ads make me want to shove my head into an Underwood typewriter. Here's an example.

Looking for a published science fiction author to collaborate on a new book.

All right. I'm not a published science fiction author, unless you count "Journey to the Center of Your Mother," which was published in a collection called 'Yo Mama' Jokes That Don't Make No Sense. But I'll read on, anyway.

Must have published at least 3 successful books of your own. 

Really? Is having just two "successful" books not good enough? What leap of skill occurs from that second book to the third?

My story takes place in the not so distant future. 

Okay. So you mean it takes place, like, soon. Or next Thursday.

The title is "Finger of God".

Are you sure this is science fiction?

I have a good idea of the story but I need someone to do research into details and write dialogue and action. 

Now I'm thinking of a finger. have like an idea for a story, and you want someone — a published author with at least three real books under her belt — to do that mindless busy-work of details(?) and dialogue and action. You know, instead of finishing and publishing her fourth novel, so she can answer Craigslist ads that require you to have published "at least four" books.

Beginners please do not apply.

Of course not. But I think if a multi-published author (of at least three successful books) actually did apply, that would be science fiction.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Upcoming Updates to The Anthony Show (Updated)

You might be wondering, "Hey, The Anthony Show! What's next?" Well, in case you're interested, this is an assortment of topics I hope to tackle sooner if not later:
  • The first time I got drunk
  • More works of writing that I never finished, or even started
  • The in-progress reports of the stuff I'm actually trying to finish
  • What happened at 7-Eleven that time
  • What happened at the gynecologist's office that time
  • How I discovered the magic in "magic" mushrooms
  • Reviews of fashion blogs
  • Discussions of famous and once-famous people who died young
  • The Unknown Comic and his brief influence on my comedy
  • Tales from my days as a custodian while in high school
  • The time we almost burned down the woods in our neighborhood
  • A discussion of the greatness that is Sam Cooke
  • Some sort of rant about certain Facebook ads
  • Things that I need to buy but have put off buying because of an increasingly dire lack of funds
  • My relationship with seafood
  • Complaints about more people I haven't personally met

And I'll Be Prepared, If I Ever Decide to Become a Cross-Dresser

It might strike with you with surprise to learn that I have a slight obsession with fashion blogs, considering that I demonstrate none of the hallmarks of someone who has an interest in fashion, which could include:
  • Subscribing to Vogue (even though I do know who "A.L.T." is)
  • Following the Fashion Week runway shows
  • Watching fashion-based reality programming like that Tyra Banks show or the other one the name of which I can’t recall because I don’t watch it
There are women who would kill for this bag. And by that I mean, commit capital murder.

Nor does my own wardrobe reflect any real interest in fashion; the most accurate way I can describe my ""style"" (I put that in double-double quotes because my style isn't worthy of even a single set) is “feeble attempts to minimize embarrassment.”
This logo drives some women into a frenzy.
Yet I find myself drawn to a category of blogs whose common elements seem to be:
  • A blog name that's warm and fuzzy, occasionally treacly
  • An almost daily photo of the author in her current outfit – usually several views of the same outfit
  • The outfits could be expensive, but in many cases the blog is mostly about "style on a budget"
  • A detailed description of said outfit, which could include where and why its parts were purchased
  • References to other blog posts where parts of today’s outfit were matched with different pieces to create an entirely new outfit
  • A handful or more of comments from readers complimenting the author on her outfit
  • Pictures of clothing and shoes that the author wishes to purchase but cannot (because of price or availability), has just purchased, or has just received
  • Giveaways of makeup and clothing, either from personal stock or from a sponsor
  • Vacation pictures, either with a significant other or a dozen of her closest bestest love-ya-forever friends
  • Photos and descriptions of delicious meals eaten at restaurants or cooked at home, usually something exotic like risotto or paella or tapas or fish tacos
  • Photos and descriptions of delicious desserts eaten at restaurants or baked at home, usually cupcakes
  • An impressive number of fellow bloggers who have signed up as followers, usually numbering in the hundreds

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Welcome to The Anthony Show

This blog isn't even a week old, and I've already changed the name. So, welcome to the grand re-opening of this blog, which is (for now) called The Anthony Show.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Only Writing I'll Finish Today Is This Post, Part I

Congratulations! I recorded a podcast version of this post. There's about 80% convergence between what I say and what's written below, so if you digest both versions, you'll be getting like 120% of the fun. Or something. CLICK THIS SENTENCE THAT IS IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS TO HEAR ME DRONE ON FOR 17 MINUTES. Also, there's a slight correction I must point out: In the audio, I say that Kurtis Blow was the Saturday night rap DJ at Kiss-FM. I meant to say DJ Red Alert. I'm sure you've made that Kurtis-Blow-for-Red-Alert slip-up a number of times in your life, like at job interviews, during police interrogations, and in eulogies.

Over the years I've started many different writing projects, and though I've finished several, there are plenty that have either been abandoned forever or have been banished to the proverbial bottom drawer, trying to get my attention every time I dig through that drawer to locate my compression socks, but I ignore their pathetic pleas: "I'm a fantastic story! There's a knockout ending right around the corner! All we need to add is a big-eyed Labrador Retriever with Lou Gehrig's disease and we'll have agents clawing to get at you like zombies on buy-one-brain-get-one-free day!"

This is supposed to be a metaphor.
When I write for work, I'm under pressure to complete my assignment, even if it's something in which I have little to no personal interest, like the advantages of selecting my employer for a range of wonderful gynecological oncology services. But when I'm working "for myself," writing things I supposedly like to write and like to read, I often lack the discipline to get the job done.

Some of the kinds of not-for-work writing I've attempted (but not necessarily completed; I'll discuss that part in a moment) include short-length screenplays, full-length screenplays, novels, plays, a graphic novel, a Sunday comic strip, comic books, a musical, short stories, short-short stories, comedy sketches, standup comedy bits, a wedding toast, fake letters to the editor, resignation letters, last-day-of-work speeches, songs, and a blog post or two.

I have never written a eulogy. I've composed a few in my head, but I'm afraid to actually write them down because:
  • If the person for whom I'm writing the eulogy discovers what I'm working on, he or she will think that I'm looking forward to him or her dying, or be insulted that I have the audacity to assume that I won't be dying first, since I'm the one who always seems to get sick every November.
  • I might not be asked to say anything about the dearly and recently departed, yet there I am in my one suit that I wear to job interviews and funerals (and job interviews at a funeral, if need be), holding this piece of paper like a jerk, and everybody's coming up to me like, "It's really sad about [dead person]...hey, what's that in your hand?" "Nothing." "Come on, let me see it!" And there's like a fight over the speech I'm holding and we tussle throughout the funeral home and we bump into the casket and we knock over the casket and the casket falls to the ground and the dead person rolls out of the casket and you see where I'm going with this so I'll stop now.
The New York Times Book Review ran an essay last week about writers who have abandoned their in-progess novels, and but the authors cited were guys like Michael Chabon and John Updike, writers who, well, did pretty well with the stuff they did finish. No word on those guys trying to birth that first novel, having it stuck like some kind of stubborn breach baby, and just having it crammed there in the creative-birth canal for years, thinking of other things to do instead but feeling that you can't have any more "children" until you either pry the current one out or just put it out of its misery.

I've killed, and in some cases mortally wounded, a number of projects over the years. Some stuff I've worked on were things I never really worked on at all, they barely made it past the idea-in-my-head or one-blast-of-writing-fueled-by-a-sudden-spurt-of-imagination phase. Here are a few examples (note: if you steal any of these ideas I will stab you in the fucking coccyx!):

A rap musical about the Book of Job. I know what you're thinking: this has hit written all over it. I think I was 16 or 17 or 18 years old when I thought up this bad boy, and this was back when rap was still a fad and I was one of three people in my high school (note: my high school had no black people) who liked rap music. I never got past the first line:
Once there was a man, and his name was Job.
He had a lot of money, and fancy robes.
Understand this was sometime in the late 1980s, so that couplet was probably ahead of the curve in terms of rhymesmanship, when you consider that many rap fans were still worshiping Kurtis Friggin Blow.

Jeez, I was going to digress about Kurtis Blow, but I know it would be so lengthy that it would be worthy of its own post. Anyway, I gave up on that Job thing, and learned years later that Neil Simon actually wrote a play based on Job (the character's name was Joe Benjamin, or Joe B., get it?) called God's Favorite. I never saw it, but I think it's about God moving in with Satan, who lives on the Upper West Side (of course). The Creator's a neat freak, while the Prince of Darkness is not only a slob but also a sports reporter for the New York Post. Can a deity and a fallen angel share an apartment, without driving each other crazy?

Exact-Change Man. He's the hero of a comic or a graphic novel that never got past the idea stage. The premise is, there's a guy who walks around with change in his pocket, or maybe in a sack because he's got so much of it. He has this ability — maybe it's a super power, in which case it would be one of the lamest super powers ever handed down — to grab a handful of change and know exactly how much it is!

So, we have a scene where he goes to 7-Eleven and buys some crap, and the apathetic clerk is like, "That'll be four dollars and 27 cents," and the Exact-Change Man scoops up from his sack then dumps on the counter a pile of loose change, and the cashier is all, "What the hell, dude?" and Exact-Change Man is all, "Count it," and the clerk reluctantly does, and dammit if that change doesn't exactly equal $4.27.

When I used to ride the Long Island Rail Road, also known as Purgatory on Rails, I'd often think about Exact-Change Man doing that scene over and over...maybe the stakes get higher and he buys a big-ticket item, like an iPod and he has to carry ever more change — did I mention that he is unable to carry paper money for some reason that I hadn't figured out but would make complete sense and would make the reader feel an instant connection with this sad hero?

I think that's all the unfinished business I can discuss now; any more and I'll just get depressed. I'll pick up this thread again, though. And on the plus side, writing about Exact-Change Man reminded of my favorite 7-Eleven anecdote, so you'll have that to look forward to, as well!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

They Should Call It NO TURN ON STUPID, Amirite?

So far, my Lenten don't-be-a-pig pledge is working out, sort of. We got a pizza tonight and I devoured only one piece, plus a garlic knot, though I was hungry enough to eat three slices and then lick the box. The pizza box. You can argue that I shouldn't have eaten any pizza at all, but hey, baby steps. Baby steps made with gooey mozzarella-y feet.

I also hit the treadmill and burned 454 calories, fast-walking 2 miles in 30 minutes on the 15-degree incline, according to the display. I might go have a post-workout beer, and I'll come out even.

A couple of months ago I started noticing these new NO TURN ON RED signs. They're like the old NO TURN ON RED signs, only they added this big red dot:

They needed TWO signs for this traffic light.
There could be only two reasons, both insulting, for these new signs, a.k.a. my tax dollars at work. The Road Signs Department are afraid that:
  • Drivers don't know what the letters R-E-D mean
If a guy doesn't know what R-E-D means, how can we believe he's gonna know what N-O-T-U-R-N-O-N means? The other assumption is that:
  • Drivers don't know what the color RED is
...which must be why they have to spell it out for us with that red dot.

But if you don't know how to read R-E-D, and you don't know what the color red is, then maybe you shouldn't be behind the wheel in the first place.

What worries me is the driver who takes the sign literally and stays at the corner forever, because he knows he's not allowed to make a turn on red, and that big red dot will always be red.

Should I Lose Some Weight? No Diggity!

After typing up what follows below, I dusted off my recording equipment and made an audio version of this post. It's not a word-for-word reading of the transcript, so it will be somewhat different than the text, but it will still be 15 minutes of your life that you'll never get back. Click to listen — at your own peril!

I weighed myself this morning: exactly 163 pounds. As 2010 ended I came close to breaching the 170-pound barrier, a barrier made of dark chocolate peppermint bark, but I've kept the fat at bay. I decided to buckle down and exercise more and eat a little better, and the fruits and vegetables of my labor have resulted in my hovering in the 161-163 range rather than the 165-167 range. Not a huge difference, but not bad for a couple months.

Now, you might be thinking to yourself, unless you're the type who shouts your thoughts while reading a blog, "How dare you complain about your weight?! I would kill someone to weigh 163 pounds. That is, I would kill someone and then fight the urge to eat him!"

Granted, I'm not morbidly obese. I'm not chubby. I'm not corpulent. I'm not Rubenesque. I'm not Peter Ustinovalicious. But often I feel as if I'm — to paraphrase the band Blackstreet's best-known (and to my knowledge, only) hit, "No Diggity" — rolling with the fatness. Spelled not with a PH, but with an F. For Fat.

When I consulted Wikipedia to get the correct spelling of Blackstreet (and learned that the band name is "often stylized as BLACKstreet"; thanks for clearing that up!), I was amazed to learn two things, neither of which had anything to do with the two spellings of the band name, a fact I'd classify less as "amazing" than as "huh...whatever":
  • The band is still active
  • "No Diggity" is 13 years old
No doubt.

According to Wikipedia, the band has released four "regular" albums plus a greatest hits album, called No Diggity: The Very Best of Blackstreet, the contents of which, for all I know, is "No Diggity" a dozen times.

The band expects to release a new album this year, which the Wikipedia author is calling 5th Studio Album. I really hope that that's not a placeholder, and 5th Studio Album is the actual name, and it's the actual name only because someone wrote down 5th Studio Album as a placeholder and the cover went to press by accident before the real name was written down.

And when you consider that their first four albums were titled Blackstreet, Another Level, Finally, and (I'm not making this up) Level II, you could argue that 5th Studio Album would be an improvement.

(Why didn't Level II directly follow Level? And shouldn't it be Level III because Another Level was actually the second level?)

(Plus, having an greatest hits album called "The Very Best" kind of lowers the bar for anything afterward, no?)

Anyway. The start of Lent is compelling me to make some more changes in my life. Truly obese people will hate me for saying this (and for the fact that I can beat them in "fastest one gets the donut" competition) but I think it's easier to drop weight when you start off with more to lose. That is, when you've got one fat foot in the Grand Canyon-sized grave, you are forced to make drastic changes in your lifestyle, and even if you take baby steps, like eating six Baconators for lunch instead of your usual 12, you will see some results.

When I watch The Biggest Loser, which I sometimes call And I Thought *I* Had It Rough, the most successful contestants realize that incremental steps just ain't cutting it, and it's time for a complete life overhaul, and not just in terms of how much mayonnaise they can scrape out of the jar with a stale crust of garlic bread.

That's why losing weight is just the first step, a doorway that opens (and that you can now fit through) to reveal that you can make other important changes in your life.

As for me, I'd like to lose 10 pounds and finish one of my writing projects. I'm not saying that those 10 pounds are causing procrastination or writer's block, but I think if I'm able to use discipline in my diet, I will build up the discipline to keep my ass in the seat and write, not waste my time doing non-writing things.

(Note: This blog currently counts as writing! I think.)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Why Do They Call It a "Fast" When the Day Goes so Friggin Slow?

Today is Ash Wednesday. As I've moaned about previously, I've been considering taking some steps to improve myself. By starting the blog, I’m doing exactly the opposite.

Ash Wednesday, and its partner, Good Friday, are always the toughest days for me because of the fasting law, which requires (and I’m simplifying here) only one full meal, though you are allowed to eat two additional times as long as they don’t add up to one full meal. Beverages are allowed, as long as you don’t, as Catholic blogger Jimmy Akin notes, “drink can after can of low-carb protein shakes” to skirt around the law.

I’ve worked with people who celebrate Ramadan, and I admire their ability to endure their fast, which is a lot more hardcore than our two-days-a-year-and-you-can-still-eat-something exercise.

I had just a half-serving of my usual breakfast — a homemade yogurt/berry/banana shake — and skipped the packet of oatmeal that I devour by around 10 o'clock. Here it is, lunchtime, and I feel like I'm on Day 25 of Survivor. (On the plus side, I was able to start a fire next to my computer using a napkin, a roll of Scotch tape, and the book of matches I took from my last trip to the Great Neck outpost of Peter Luger OH GOD THEIR BURGERS ARE SO DAMN GOOD WITH THE BACON THAT'S JUST ONE THICK PIECE BUT LIKE HEAVEN FROM A PIG I WANT ONE RIGHT NOW.)

I have some Lean Cuisine lurking in the company freezer (one of the smaller offerings, not those jumbo meals that are neither lean nor cuisine), but I think I can survive without lunch until I gorge on my "one meal," which will probably the smorgasbord that would make Henry VII blush. (If a fat bloated skeleton can blush.)

So, I went to the one lunchroom where you can get real coffee — I'm not much of a non-espresso java fan, so I almost never hit up the Keurig machine — and I had to see THIS:

A luscious donut the size of an iCarly fan's fist, singing its frosted siren song from the tray of discarded bagels. The stripes made it look like some kind of sugar-zebra, and I was feeling like the Alec Baldwin lion in Madagascar 3.

Normally I would pull a snatch-and-cram before anyone else walked in. The move would look sort of like this:

I would not look as awesome as Screaming Jay Hawkins does during his snatch-and-cram. Mentioning Screaming Jay Hawkins reminds me that I must develop an adjective-nickname that can be used in front of my first name. Jay "Screaming" Hawkins just doesn't work as well.

Two other guys with this kind of nickname:
  • The boxer Marvelous Marvin Hagler actually had his name legally changed to Marvelous Marvin Hagler. Which made him big-M Marvelous, but I don't know if he was still small-m marvelous. I assume he was then nicknamed "Marvelous" Marvelous Marvin Hagler.
  • Biz Markie's The Biz Never Sleeps introduces the Biz as "The Diabolical Biz Markie." He doesn't use that nickname much, which is a shame, even if he's not really diabolical at all — just misunderstood.

This reminds me of another digression that I'll spare you from until a later time. Anyway, where was I?

I would then hide the bagels in my pockets and slink back to my cubicle in shame. Glorious frosted and carb-loaded shame.

It's 2011, when I'm trying to cut down on unnecessary sweets; the start of Lent, when I'm trying to forgo all sweets altogether; and ASH WEDNESDAY WHEN I SHOULDN'T EVEN BE LOOKING AT THIS AT ALL.

So I just left it there on the tray. Sweet, sweet mini-donut...

Our Savior Died for Ed Burns, Not His Movies

What are you looking at, Frodo?
They shoulda called it
ASS Wednesday, amirite?

Today is Ash Wednesday. I planned to start my blog today, but I'm actually two days ahead of schedule. So, I got that going for me.

Did you know that Ed "Edward" Burns has written/directed ten movies? Hard to believe! I am certainly not one who would believe that, except my blog's best friend, Wikipedia, told me so!

I had assumed that by the time he released 2001's Sidewalks of New York — which I haven't seen but whose only redeeming value has to be the appearance of Dennis Farina, only like one of my favorite actors of all time — that his career as a writer/director was on the ropes. I also assumed that after Ash Wednesday came out a year later, he was finished.

(Sure, he still gets acting and modeling gigs and he married Cristy Turlington, not bad consolation prizes.)

Yes. Because Ed (or Edward, as that poster above reminds us) went on to make five more films, meaning — if Burns retired today — Ash Wednesday would be the last film of the first half of his career!

What were the other films he made? Something called Looking for Kitty in 2004, which I'd never heard of; it got a C- grade from the AV Club, which noted that
propelled by his over-praised 1995 indie hit The Brothers McMullen, Burns has continued to cram one-dimensional characters into thinly plotted comedy-dramas, hoping to re-impress moviegoers with his aloof leading-man charm and faux-natural, trying-too-hard-to-be-funny dialogue.
In 2006 he made The Groomsmen, which I think I do vaguely remember; it starred Brittany Murphy. She died three years later. (Make whatever correlation you'd like.)

Next came 2009's The Lynch Pin, which made such an indelible mark on the popular-culture landscape that it didn't even get its own Wikipedia page.

Last year he released something called Nice Guy Johnny, which was notable only because he billed himself third, instead of as the lead.

This was the movie that Elijah Wood made around the time the Lord of the Rings trilogy began. I don't have the shooting schedules for the films, but I'm assuming that Wood finished the Burns film and then fled to Middle Earth. This is what the New York Times had to say:
As a director, writer and actor, Edward Burns never seems to tire of depicting his own sensitivity. ... This time Mr. Burns is trying something in the Martin Scorsese street-realist mode, but his self-regarding sentimentality trips him up again.
The most telling piece of trivia about this movie comes from its own Wikipedia page:
The film was only released in two theaters and grossed less than $3,000.
That had to be a joke, I thought, some sort of Wikipedia-graffiti prank from someone who hates Ed Burns more than I do...but sure enough, according to Box Office Mojo:

This means that how many people actually paid to see this thing? Fewer than 400? That's fewer than the number of people in my high school graduation class.

So there you have it for Ash Wednesday and Ash Wednesday. I suppose Ed Burns atoned for that film, since he's got Christy Turlington and all. If he were still being punished, he'd be married to Naomi Campbell.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Mother of All Blog Posts

Normally I'd save a post like this for Mother's Day, but I don't feel like it.

During my school years I spent much of my time trying to be funny. In many cases I ripped off humor from other sources, including
  • Mad magazine
  • Bugs Bunny cartoons
  • The Unknown Comic from The Gong Show, about whom I might dedicate a later post 
  • Stuff I'd heard from other people

Once in a while I'd come up with an original idea. The following post is about a humorous idea I briefly launched in sixth grade.

During the time I was in sixth grade, the most offensive thing you could do to a fellow student was insult his mother. Personally, I was never more offended by jokes about my mother than jokes about, say, my father, and not because I didn't hold my mother in high esteem. But the kids I went to school with, their mothers were sacred. "Your mother" jokes were rampant, and they could often lead to fights.

I swapped mother jokes with my friends, but we weren't trying to insult anyone. Amusingly, most of the time I didn't understand the jokes. Take this one:
Your mother's like a phonebooth in the rain: wet rubbers going in and out.

I had no idea what that meant. Even if I did know what that meant, I don't think I would have concentrated much on the actual imagery, only that it's supposed to insult the other party.

There was an old Warner Brothers cartoon where crazy familial insults were exchanged. I don't remember it as the one below, but the following cartoon, which I pulled from a Romanian site and is thankfully not dubbed into Romanian, contains a number of outdated and possibly offensive insults, including Porky Pig's topper (at the 6:50 mark, almost at the end): "Eh, your sister drives a pickle wagon!"

Anyway. One time, I was at the bus stop and when a different bus drove by I'd insulted the mother of one of the kids (we'll call him Jasper) on that bus (the window was open) with the following joke:
Your mother's like a gun: two cocks, and she blows!
Note that this joke, at the time, made even less sense to me than the one about the phonebooth and the rubbers, but I knew there was something offensive about it. I bore no ill will toward Jasper, but the time was just ripe to spring it.

This had caused quite a scandal. Jasper, who was a couple of years younger than me, and his brother, who was my brother's age, were both, as my mother would label children of this sort, "troublemakers." The kind who would fight someone for far less than in the chivalric defense of their mother's honor. So I quickly and humbly apologized, probably within a day or two.

A week or two after that, my family and Jasper's family were at church together; they were a row behind me. I noticed that the mother was with them, but there was no father. I don't think their father lived with them, or he was one of those guys who worked all the time as a mechanic or something, which probably had something to do with why the kids were always in trouble. I looked at the mother and she seemed very tired, very pious. It was then that I actually felt bad for saying mean things about a woman I'd never met.

Oh yeah. So, the thing I did for a while in sixth grade was go up to somebody, let's say Jim Johnson, and I'd say: "Your mother!"

And Jim would go, "WHAT DID YOU SAY?"

And I'd quickly reply, " Mrs. Johnson."

And he'd be relieved, and unclench his fist, and go, "Oh yeah! She is! Good one!"

I did that bit for a while until I pulled it on someone whose mother had died. It wasn't as bad as you'd think it would be, because she knew I had no idea her mother had died. It probably helped that the mother died some time ago and it was obvious that I had no idea (this was after a school merge, so I knew the girl for only like two months), so I didn't come off like a total creep. But at that point I realized it was time to retire that line of humor.

In the meantime, enjoy this little ditty from Mr. T regarding mothers. It probably was released while I was in sixth grade, because that's when The A-Team was pretty big, so I should have heeded the message.

Because "Blog" Spelled Backward is "Golb"

Part of the procrastination that held up the release of my blog was deciding on a name. A blog name tells you a lot about what's in front of you. For example, FU Penguin is about a guy who likes to have sex with penguins. The New York Times' Motherlode blog is written by a bunch of know-it-all urban moms whose snooty advice makes you go, "Wow, what a load!" (Spelling it lode is a fancy-schmancy New York Times thing that justifies them charging nine bucks for the Sunday paper.)

It's obvious that I clearly gave up on choosing a blog name that contained any real purpose or meaning, but I'll have you know that several names were under consideration, including:
  • Shit My Wife Says
  • The Anthony Blog About Anthony Starring Anthony
  • Lou Reed Stole My Pants
  • FU Empire State Building
  • Are You Ready for Some Blogging? [you have to picture Hank Williams, Jr. growling this one]
  • The Perils of a Lonely Leon Redbone Fanatic
  • The "Up Yours" Express
  • Slimboy Fat
  • WeLcOmE tO mY bLoG!!1!
I figure that the blog name I finally settled on will eventually change. Or not. So, yeah, there it is.

Monday, March 7, 2011

What the Hell Is an Interrobang?!

It's a symbol that combines the exclamation point and a question mark. Wikipedia has more details. When I was in elementary school, I used to use the combo quite often, and the strength of question-vs.-exclamation was based on the ratio of exclamation points to question marks. In other words:

"Why did you do that?!?" is more of a question than "Why did you do that?!!!!?"

This choice of punctuation was heavily discouraged by the time I reached sixth grade, and I never knew that the interrobang existed. Even if I used it, though, the teachers would have thought I'd made a mistake and created an statement with ambiguous import.

What does all this have to do with my blog?!?! I don't know.

The Obligatory First Post

And so it begins.

I wasn't sure how to start this, so I'll just jump in and see where it goes.

For a long time I'd been planning to do a basic blog, but most successful blogs have a narrow focus or gimmick, like Let's See What Candy I Ate Today or Something Else That's Blue That I Wore To Work, and I didn't want to have one of those meandering blogs that usually fall into the Random Musings Of A Boring Person category.

Though I'm not seeking readers, having some kind of focus will help when it comes to updating this thing: do I write about the sandwich I ate, my views on the political situation in Libya, the upcoming Knicks game, or the arguably amusing stuff my kids said this morning?

I wanted to start some kind of blog, at least to keep my writing going every day (or every other day, or however I plan to update this. I planned to begin on January 1, but the date came and went and I pondered what my focus would be. With Ash Wednesday a couple of days away, I decided to make blogging part of my Lenten sacrifice. Or something.

Well, I'm not sure. I'm guessing that I'll be all over the place for a while, and then something will gel and I'll realize I enjoy writing every day about Different Tap Waters I Have Tried or Pictures Of The Treads Of My Car's Tires. Until then, here are some but not all of the subjects I might graze, in no particular order:
  • Excerpts of crap that I'm writing
  • Recent and past dreams
  • Religion
  • History
  • Songs I like
  • Movies
  • Rap songs I have recorded
  • Interesting stuff I find on Wikipedia
  • YouTube detritus
  • Memories from grade/junior/high school
  • Things I like
  • Things that bother me
  • People who bother me
  • Fashion blogs (this is not a joke)
  • A great number of things that won't initially interest you, but which you might suddenly find interesting...
  • ...or not
  • Things that probably won't make sense -- to either of us
  • Drinking, and being drunk
  • Food (so yes, look forward to many a post regarding peanut butter and jelly)
  • Self-pitying -- lots of it
I'm not a believer in using a blog to purge every personal thought, to settle scores, or to reveal too much information about certain subjects. Some of my own personal restrictions will hamper some of the topics that I listed above, too. So, you probably won't get much info about:
  • Sex
  • Anything that would embarrass or enrage close members of my family
  • Anything about what a soul-sucking existence my job can be (whoops!)
You often read (that is, I often read) about authors who say things like, "I was able to write truthfully about my mother only after she died," despite the possibility of Mom haunting you for eternity in the Great Beyond. Still, I understand the need to omit names and perhaps certain identifying characteristics of people, because:
  • I don't want to intentionally embarrass anyone
  • This is about me, primarily, not them
  • I am honestly not brave enough to face, and then tell, the complete truth
So, I'll be using fake names in most cases, meaning you'll read sentences like, "Then I slapped the table hard and said calmly to my buddy, Jim Smith, 'Jim, I know you're the first black President of the United States and all, but four-of-a-kind beats a full house. You won't ram though your weak cards like you did that nasty health program, JimSmithCare!"

This is just the first post, so it's pretty easy to digest the whole thing. But as I continue and cover vastly disparate subjects, you might eventually want to read just my posts on food, not all those wonderful tales about what I like to call Facebook Regret, so I'll probably set up some categories, beyond the labels.

Why annoy people with just one medium? I'm considering providing audio versions of my posts. They won't be straight readings of the text, since I'll probably ramble a bit as well, which is even easier to do in audio format than on the keyboard.

Good luck! We'll both need it!