Thursday, July 28, 2011

Obligatory Excuses Post #428

Hello minions of the electronic realm,

As you can see from the scant posting this week, I’m in a bit of a posting lull. This is a combination of a couple of different things. First, work has been ass busy, so the traditional ‘avoiding doing work, writing a blog post’ thing been happening. Second, the fall back posting times have – late at night – have been filled with trying to sleep, which I’ve been having trouble doing properly for a couple of weeks. Also, I’ve been actually doing things in my evenings – a writers meeting, a callback and some Reality Fairy goodness the past couple of days, and an ‘industry party’ for voice over people (apparently I’m industry despite not yet having an agent, nor having been paid yet for anything) happening tonight. So yeah.

But I do have stuff planned – specifically some actual pictures of the Forever Marilynn statue that I took last week but have to get off of my phone – so I’ll try to get that out to you people at some point.

Just know that I love you. That’s all I really wanted to say.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

How to Survive a Bike Ride in 99 Degrees Heat

Not Chicago, but damned if it doesn't feel like it.

Yes, it is July and much of the nation is in the throes of a heat wave so intense, it borders on the comically ridiculous.  Forecasts festooned in red warnings litter the and (I can only assume) the television. Ideally, in such instances, all travel would be suspended and people would just stay where the air is properly conditioned and life can move on in semi-comfortable circumstances.

Unfortunately, life is anything but ideal. I submit as evidence the aforementioned comically ridiculous heat wave.

For those without a car, this leaves the options of either taking public transportation or biking. Both options are sweaty and uncomfortable in their own special way. Either way, you will spend significant amounts of time out in the sun and the heat. The question is, do you want to be standing there, crammed in next to a bunch of other sweaty people, or do you want to physically exert yourself during one of the most dangerous times to be physically exertive?

If you have decided, like I did just yesterday, that you prefer option number bike, then here are some suggestions to help you cope with your ride.

1: Resign yourself to the likelihood that you are embarking on possibly the worst ride in the entire history of bicyclized transportation. First, better to set expectations incredibly low so that, if anything, you will be surprised that you made it. Second, because this might just actually be the worst ride of your life.

2: On a related note, don’t die. If you feel yourself dying, or as though you might be edging in that direction, stop. This is a good general rule of thumb regardless, but deserves to be restated. Don’t die.

3: Stop for ice cream along the way. Not only will ice cream cool your overheated body, but it will also raise your morale. I like to stop multiple times and will often choose my route home based on the number of ice cream parlors along the way.

4: Do not start screaming unintelligibly. Trust me, it won’t help you. If anything, screaming just disturbs everyone around you – motorists, pedestrians, other bikers, police officers – making your situation more awkward and potentially dangerous. If you feel you have to scream, scream intelligibly.

5: Also, no crying. Crying saps your body of much needed moisture. In addition to that, the evaporation of your tears only adds to the humidity, which in turn heats up everyone else. This may cause people around you to start crying as well, which in turn adds to the humidity and thus creates a snow ball effect. Only, no snow.

6: You can pray to God but it likely won’t help. God most likely will be sequestered away in a cooled portion of heaven and will be unable to hear your cries over the drone of the AC unit.

7: Remove as much extraneous clothing as possible. No, it might not be pretty. You know what else isn’t pretty? A sweat soaked shirt on a panting gorilla-man riding down the street on a piece of metal.

8: Cover yourself in mud. If it works for pigs then it likely works for humans too.  Lost that pesky pride.

9: If all else fails, give up. Park your bike on the side of the road, and then find a taxi willing to pick up a grown man, naked except for what caked mud has not yet come loose, crying and blathering unintelligibly about how his ice cream cone melted.

Stay cool!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Forever Marilyn: Like Transformers, but Sexier

Well, I don’t know what you Chicagoans have done while I was away, but I returned to my fair city only to find it in the grips of a dreaded heat wave, choking its way through the thickly humid air. And now, we have Marilyn Monroe’s gigantic panties to deal with.

Oh, what? You haven’t heard about this?

Yeah apparently there’s a ludicrously gigantic statue of Marilyn Monroe holding down her skirt on the Magnificent Mile. The sculpture, the product of descendant of the Johnsons of Johnson & Johnson fame and (apparently) artist J. Seward Johnson, reproduces the iconic moment from ‘The Seven Year Itch’ which has titillated old men for many decades now. Here is a picture of the iconic moment:

And now, contrast it with this 70 foot tall monstrosity.

Look how far out the skirt goes in the back:

There's no denying it: this sculpture is about seeing and having your picture taken with panties. Gigantic plaster replica panties.

I can't believe she's been outside this whole time.  I'm worried for her.  It's been so humid out, I hope she doesn't end up with a SEVEN YEAR ITCH.


SEVEN YEAR ITCH, ladies and gentlemen.


Anyway, leave it to a man named Johnson to take an incredibly sexy moment from classic cinema and make it absolutely terrifying. I mean, who could ever hope to satisfy gigantic Marilyn Monroe? Perhaps a cross between Kennedy and the Jolly Green Giant? Gargantuan Transformer Arthur Miller?

But now that I know it’s there, I have to see it. I mean I just do. Why? Because once I actually had this very same nightmare. I was a 70 foot tall Marilyn Monroe, except with my face, and my skirt kept blowing up and every time a gust of wind would blow another Japanese tour group would come by, snapping photos and nodding their heads.

I eventually sold my gigantic pair of panties to one of them for 8000 Yen.  Arigato, perv.

Links to: Kuriositas for pictures of Forever Marilyn (flickr users credited through Kuriositas),, and, of course, wikipedia.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Modest Proposal to Remedy the Child Obesity Epidemic Ravaging the World, Making Life Uncomfortable for the Rest of Us

People, we have a problem in this world and the problem is Fat Kids.*

Yes, Fat Kids the primary social illness of the modern era.  I don't know if you people know this - if you've been outside of your fancy condo or incredibly expensive home lately or taken a walk during your lunch hour from your high powered job, you've noticed that there is a preponderance of Fat Kids out there loitering around in front of the convenience stores.  They sit there, frantically shoving Little Debbie baked goods into their face and refusing to exercise.

Oh my God, there are Fat Kids everywhere, and it's making it difficult for us to enjoy our delicious Starbucks bakery treats and highly sugared espresso drinks while we check the Wall Street Journal app on our smart phones during our breaks.

How did Fat Kids become such an overwhelmingly threatening threat that threatens the very threatlessness of our lives?  Simply answer, their parents.  While not responsible necessarily for teaching their children manners, thoughtfulness, morals, community mindedness or tact, parents are responsible for ONE THING: at least make sure your kids aren't Fat Kids.

Yes, they can be self-centered assholes and wastrels, but at least let them be thin.

You have one goal, parents: make sure your kids aren't Fat Kids.  Because when you have Fat Kids it's a little uncomfortable for the rest of us.

A few well intentioned but misguided researchers from Harvard (HARVARD!!!) have recommended that obese children be taken away from their obviously incompetent, uncaring and just frankly evil parents, and placed into the custody of foster parents.  Foster, as we all know, is Australian for fixing a child's life.

The idea is that the act of Child Fatening is tantamount to child abuse, which places it on par with such nasty acts as beating one's children, forcing one's children to live in a cage, and abusing one's children in ways that are more vile and horrendous than anything we could imagine.

You see, parents must provide their children with four things: food, clothing, shelter and safety.  We know that  when a parent fails to provide an adequate amount of these things, that they are harming their children.  What most people don't know is that providing too much can be harmful as well.  Too much food?  Obese children, disgusting!  Too much clothing?  Imagine a class of children running around with eight sweaters on!  Too much shelter?  How many roofs do you propose to put over these childrens' heads, sir?!

Too much safety?  Well, we know that's impossible.  You cannot shield a child enough from such things as pain, failure, disappointment, disillusionment, inadequacy or any of the other less desirable emotions they will repeatedly be forced to deal with their entire adult lives.  Better for them to be horribly surprised than have a non-perfect childhood.

It is certainly true that children must not be allowed to become obese, as that condition leads to many adverse side effects.  People must be kept alive for as long as possible, so that they can buy more radioactive phones, inhale more car exhaust fumes, bake longer in the tanning booths, alter their appearance more to become attractive to other people, and purchase more energy drinks; in short, to live a longer and more productive and enjoyable life.

But will taking these Fat Children from their parents and placing them in the custody of foster parents really solve anything?  After all, by the time these children have been saved, they will already be fat.  Aren't these unreasonable expectations to place on foster parents?  Make these fat children unfat?  Can you even do that?

For this reason, I would like to propose another method to remedy this highly undesirable situation: obese children are to be taken away from their parents, and placed in a battle dome with an entire zoo's worth of predatory animals.  Their lives will be then monitored by television cameras, which will broadcast the Fat Dome to people around the world for their viewing pleasure.

Most of you Readers are right now nodding in agreement.  This is, you say, the most obvious answer to this problem.  However, we live in a "democracy" so some of you have a differing opinion on the matter.  And so, I will now convince you.

Have you ever seen an unfit gladiator?  No.  That's because gladiators must battle constantly for their lives, and in doing so they (a) get a lot of exercise, and (b) eat only what they have time to eat in between battles with tigers.  This also satisfies our society's Darwinian belief that only the strong survive.  While normally 'the strong' constitutes 'rich kids with parents that buy them everything' in our modern era, the Fat Dome method allows Fat Kids to achieve their own unfatness and, in doing so, their freedom.

In this way, these children are given something that even perfect children on the outside are not given: actual physical exercise.  Not that the lack of good playgrounds or competitive sports at young ages are detrimental to the development of modern children - after all, kids are to be protected from cuts, bumps, bruises and scrapes at all cost - or that this societal obsession with safety and it's preference that kids just play video games might possibly in some small way effect the healthiness of children in the first place.  I'm not saying that at all.  I'm just saying, it's different.

And of course the real boon here is that we, the rest of society, get to watch the Fat Dome play out on television and really just enjoy this blood sport for everything it is.  Yes, some of the Fat Kids might be eaten by wild animals or be forced to kill other Fat Kids just to make it out alive.  But hey, they were probably going to develop diabetes anyway.  This way is a lot more fun for the rest of us.

Now, the call to arms: dear Reader, instituting the Fat Dome is the only logical way to solve this problem.  I can only do so much - after all, I'm just a shadowy figure with a blog who makes mostly snarky comments but who SOMETIMES writes entirely sincere prescriptions to remedy societal ills - and what I am capable of I have already done.  It is up to you, friends, to spread the word and help make this happen.

Write your congresspeople!  Convert your friends!  Don't listen to those naysayers out there who would call you an animal, a shallow asshole and an idiot!  If you must, send them the link to this post if it will help convince them.  But we must not fail in this endeavor.
If it were up to this guy, we would just eat the Fat Kids.
Of course, he would say that.  He looks a little pudgy himself, no?

Fat Dome.  Let's make it happen.

*Please note, this entire post is facetious.

Monday, July 11, 2011

California: Chasing the Sunset

I took a quick break from reading the magazine I bought in the airport terminal to take a look out the window.  I don't remember what the captain said our cruising altitude was, but we were up above the clouds.  A field of puffy white mounds stretched out in every direction and over in front of the plane somewhere the sun was setting.  Our plane was chasing the sunset.

Not a bad way to start a vacation, that.  Of course, nobody planned this little bit of loveliness; it's not like the airlines said, "Let's schedule a flight for this time; the trip should be really really pretty."  No, it was very much by accident.  I don't think many people noticed - a lot of them were watching Jane Eyre or whatever nonsense was playing on the in-flight movie - but I saw it and I loved it.

That's pretty much the theme so far: I saw it and I loved it.

When my Dad took a job outside of Los Angeles almost a year ago, the immediate thought was 'that's so far away, when are we ever going to see him?'  But now that I'm on vacation (and sweet lord did I need a vacation) it has worked out nicely.  I'm staying in Laguna Beach, a place I have no business staying, for a little over a week, and I've loved every minute of it.  Here's a picture:

It was cloudy at the time of that picture.  It's even more beautiful when the sun is shining.

I'm trying to take it easy as much as possible and just enjoy being somewhere nice without trying to do too much.  That said, I've already been up to the Sunset Strip, out to Rancho Cucamonga, down to San Juan Capistrano, over to a slightly shady part of L.A. for some Karaoke and then back down to Laguna Beach and I've been here, what, three days now?
My friends Rachel and Mike, who is eating a microphone.

That's a lot of driving.  What can I say?  Can't help myself.

A couple of things I've learned about Los Angeles so far:

  • This is a driver's city.  As near as I can tell, you drive everywhere.  There is some mass transit to be seen, but it's generally scarce.  The vast majority of the bikers I've seen are the snob bikers who wear the biking outfits and are hardcore about biking.  Contrast that with Chicago, where you can abandon your car for weeks and never need it.
  • I love how traffic behavior generally reinforces my stereotypes about the locals.  It seems like drivers here are aggressive, now laid back, now self-involved, now irritated but accommodating.
  • Everything blooms here.  There are flowered plants everywhere.  The cold, dead part of my Detroiter/Chicagoan soul - the part that must steel itself for the cruel winter - says 'ah for god sake cut it out,' but I'm on vacation so it's nice.
  • When people ask where I'm from and I say Chicago they all go "Oh what I great city!  I love that place!"  I think there's a bit of that grass-is-always-greener thing going on.
Californians - at least Southern Californians - like their abbreviations.  Pacific Coast Highway?  No no no, my friends: PCH.  San Juan Capistrano?  Wrong again: SJC.  You couldn't get away with that in Chicago.  If you were going down town along Lake Shore Drive, you wouldn't say 'I'll take Lake Shore.'  You would have to say 'I'm taking LSD.'  And that means something entirely different.

'Where you at right now, honey?'  'Oh, I'm on LSD.'  'Well, don't let me bother you.  And drink lots of water.'

One thing I've done since here, just to appease the comedy nerd side of me (as opposed to the other side: just plain nerd) is to go see a show at The Comedy Store.  Here's my fat head in front of the building:
Thanks, folks!  I'll be here all week.  Literally, I don't leave until Sunday.

So yeah, that's where I am.  I'll try to continue to blog, but I'm not promising anything.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Soft Selling a Caveman on Cable

The other night at the bar, following the concert of a friend, I found myself approached by a mutual acquaintance who worked for Comcast.  Had I been smart, I would have immediately vomited on him, but I didn't.  I'm too polite.  So instead, I mentioned that while I don't work in cable I do work in telecom and 'what do you do?'

Salesman.  Suddenly: I'm trapped.

'I really love it, too, just because the product is so great.  I mean, I'm selling TV!  How great is that?!  Speaking of...' salesman's soft sell segue sonofabitch... 'do you have cable?'

No, says I.  Oh man, he's salivating now.

'What do you have, Dish?  Rabbit ears?'

No, none of that.

'Well, what do you watch?'

Nothing.  I don't have a television.

A look of shock and horror on his face.  'What do you mean you don't have television?  Like, you just don't have one?'  Like, I have a horn in the middle of my face?

Oh no, not like that.  I have a television, it's just broken such that it flatly refuses to turn on under any circumstances and, as a result, is just a big hulking piece of plastic and glass sitting in the corner of my room taking up space.  It's actually a huge sore spot for me.  I have no idea what's going on anywhere.  I've started talking to myself.  I read all the time.  I spend a lot of time crying.  But yeah, no TV.

A good sized pause.  'Well, how about phone and internet?'

I have that, I say, holding up my cellphone.

'No landline?  What do you use for internet, by the way?'

My phone.

'Don't you have a laptop or something?'

I do.  My cellphone is a hotspot, so I use that periodically.  Or I go to the coffee shop.

Another pause.  Possibly appalled, he's searching for something, anything, from his sales training to help him deal with this.

I offer: I lead a very low-tech existence, as you can tell.

'Yeah, no kidding.  Well, look, we have to get you a TV or something.'

Oh yeah, I agree.

'Like a nice flat screen HD TV.'

That would be great.  Do you run a charity that hands out flat screen HD TVs to people?  Because I would sign up for that right now, if you would send me a free flat screen HD TV.

'Do you have any plans to buy one?'

Not anytime soon.  I'm actually a very stubborn person, if that makes any sense.

'Well, I mean, tell you what, once you get that TV... you know what?  I'm sorry.  I'm going to stop soft selling you.  I'm sorry man.'

Hey, you gave it your best.  This just isn't going to work out.  Don't beat yourself up about it.

'I know.  It's just hard to stop.'
Here's the Comcast guy, installing my new Comcast Xfinity!
I would argue that conversation was more entertaining than the last episode of America's Got Talent.  Not that I would know any better.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Transformers 3 Review: HOLY $H#!!!

Holy shit, dude, Transformers 3!  I mean, shit dude!  I never seen so much shit blow up before.  It was insane!  I mean, if you saw Transformers 1 and you were all like 'Whoah holy shit that's a lot of explosions,' then this is like that but like I mean damn.  Explosions everywhere!

Never saw Transformers 2.  Didn't matter.  Did not effect my viewing pleasure one bit.  And Shia LeWhat didn't even piss me off too much!

There was this part where they blew the shit out of Chicago - like the whole city - for like an hour just blowing shit up.  Like, buildings that you see walking down the street.  Not the buildings walking, smartass, but like you're walking and you see all these buildings.  Well, in the movie it's the same buildings only there's robots flying around busting shit up and setting everything on fire or exploding everything.

I mean shit, dude.  Transformers.
OH SHIT, Shit's about to get real.
And then, we like we left the IMAX, which is at Navy Pier, and we walked outside and there were all the buildings again, not on fire.  It was like 'no harm no foul' right?  But man, it was awesome.

Granted, the purported conceit of the movie was a bit routine and lacking in clarity, given that the supposed quote unquote lesson was a jumbled mess of loyalty, freedom versus tyranny, and naturally a 'love story' element that at its best was unobtrusive however at its worst was distracting in its cliched construction, but, like, DUDE.

Shit blew UP.

(Seriously, though, it was a lot of fun.)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Fourth of July Rambling

It's Independence Day here in America, which means barbecue and explosions in the sky and I wouldn't have it any other way.


It's a great country, full of great people that do great things, and it's important to remember that from time to time.

But tonight, when you all get home from Navy Pier or wherever it is you're going tonight to watch the fireworks, and you're so jacked up from what a great day you've had and what a great country you live in, and you need to go to sleep but you need to calm down first, would you do me a favor and read this?

This is an article about how, hey, separation of church and state was actually a real thing that people, like, intended to exist when they started this great nation of ours.  Not only that, but there's actual proof.

You would think this is something that everybody knows already, but apparently it's not.  See, there's a growing contingent of 'patriots' out there who would have you believe that America is supposed to be a Christian nation.  It's not.  It's not supposed to be affiliated with any religion whatsoever.

But there are so many people out there who don't know a damned thing about this country and its history, let alone why it's special and needs to be safeguarded.  And because of this, you have people like this telling people that John Quincy Adams was a founding father (his father was a founding father) and praising a town in Iowa for giving birth to John Wayne, where in reality he was born elsewhere and the aforementioned town was actually just where John Wayne Gacy started sexually assaulting people.

Side note: Michelle Bachmann wants to live in John Wayne's America.  Given that most of John Wayne's movies were set in the wild west (People being shot in the streets?  Outhouses?  Hello?) or on a battlefield somewhere, I would decline that particular future thank you very much.

And yet, this is an elected official.  People elected this person.  People went to a ballot box somewhere and said, 'Yes, this person should be in charge.'  And it's not even the same people who elected Sarah Palin - she of the infamous Paul Revere jumble of stalling and buzzwordy nonsense - those people were in Alaska.

People: this kind of foolishness is embarrassing.  To have public officials who don't know their history, don't know the difference between a movie star and an infamous serial killer, and believe we're a religious nation where the government was set up by a bunch of Christians SPECIFICALLY TO BE A SECULAR INSTITUTION; I mean, this is a poor reflection on all of us, no?

So next time you run into these people, suggest that they read a history book.  Or at least suggest that they go out and rent 'John Adams' and watch it on the T.V.  It's a democratic republic, so we're all in this shit together.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

My New Illinois Driver's License

When you don't have a car - in fact when the loss of said car is still something of a sore spot for you - it's very easy to forget about such things as 'renewing your driver's license.'

This week it dawned on me that my Michigan driver's license expired on my birthday this year.  My lovely little sky blue Michigan driver's license, one of my few remaining physical pieces of evidence that I came from the Great Lakes State, is no longer valid.

So recently I waded through the quagmire that is the Chicago office of the Illinois Secretary of State and took their written driving test.  Here is a sample question, for you soon-to-be Illinois drivers:

Q: The light at an intersection turns red.  You must:
(A) Speed up to get through the intersection as quickly as possible before anyone catches you,
(B) Check for traffic and then ignore the red light, speeding through the intersection as quickly as possible
(C) Bring your car to a stop, and then scream obscenities at nobody about how poorly timed the lights are on Halsted, I mean for Chrissake this is a major city - it's supposed to be a world class city - why can't people get their heads out of their asses and make this work, what the FUCK?!
(D) Bribe someone.

Of course, the worst thing about getting a new driver's license is the photo session.  I am apparently incapable of taking a driver's license photo without looking sweetly deformed or drunk.  In my latest venture, I've managed to do both.

Nothing boosts your self esteem quite like a driver's license picture.

I don't have a scanner on me, but using state of the art graphics imaging software (Microsoft Paint) I have recreated it for you.

Note that one eye is significantly smaller than the other and that I look sunburned.  I look like a drunk Ernest Hemingway who's had the left side of his face bashed in with a mallet.

So, every time I get pulled over by the Illinois State Police (which hopefully shouldn't happen too much given the lack of car) they can expect me to look like that.