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Now Taking Requests


It’s been about a week since I’ve blogged and thought I’d write something during my lunch hour. Well, the lunch hour passed and my brain came up with a big fat nothin’.

So here’s the deal: I’m going to let one of you come up with a topic. All you have to do is suggest one in a comment to this post and I will write about it. The subject matter can even be disgusting. Given what I know of my readership, I’d be surprised if it weren’t.

Dude the Obscure

* crickets chirp *

Far too often, this is the reaction I get after I tell a joke that I considered to be quite funny. Humor often alludes to some cultural point of reference and if that point isn’t shared by jokester and audience, it flatlines.

What, you don’t remember the episode of “McCloud” where Chief Clifford opined that the titular New Mexico lawman spends his quality time watching “Hee Haw” or that one “Baa Baa Black Sheep” where Peter Frampton co-starred? Well then, I guess you’re just not going to get witticisms that crystallize the essence of 1970s television, and by extension, the human condition.

I’ve seen your blank stare before, Philistine, and it doesn’t bother me much. At least it’s honest, which is more than can be said for those who laugh politely no matter what. I get the feeling these people have no sense of humor but compensate with empty guffaws that originate in the brain stem. Theoretically, they’ll laugh at anything and I take it upon myself to see how far that wisdom will go.

“You’ve seen that ‘McCloud’ episode, right?”

“Yes,” they lie.

“Well, it was pretty idiotic, which makes it perfect to have on in the background while doing the nasty with some Special Olympian I lured into my car with promises of free ice cream.”

“Ha ha.”

“The’re usually much more pliable if I make a game out of it so I tell them ‘Let’s slip in Mr. Queasy and see if he vomits from the stench.'”

“Ha ha.”

“Yeah, and you know what? For a retard, your mom is pretty hot in the sack.”

That usually stops them laughing, especially if the mother in question passed away in the last two weeks.

Shalom for the Holidays

I decided to celebrate Hanukkah this past December. I’m not Jewish but I didn’t consider that a deal breaker. I’ve been through over forty Christmases and haven’t been a Christian for any of them. Besides, conservatives were saying that a war was being waged on Christmas and if it turned out to be anything like the war in Iraq, I wanted no part of it.

The only problem was that I didn’t know anything about Hanukkah other than that it lasted eight days and involved candles. Fortunately, my girlfriend Betty was in the know and willing to help. She tried teaching me a suitable Hebrew prayer:

Betty: Baruch atah adonai, eloheyno melech ha’olam. Asher kidshanu bemitzvotav, vitzeevanu le-hadliknair, shel Hannukah.
Me: Aren’t you worried you’ll conjure up Cthulhu, reciting that shit?

OK, so that part went badly. When she stayed off the subject of prayer, however, I was a regular star pupil. I learned about the Maccabees (who were not Scottish), the writing on and spinning of the dreidel, latkes, and how the gag factor of gefilte fish can be reduced by slathering on the horseradish.

I didn’t know if Hanukkah is supposed to be a big festive holiday (Betty tells me it didn’t used to be a big holiday at all until Jewish kids started bellyaching about how the goyim were raking in the Xmas prezzies and they weren’t getting diddly) but we decided it would be fun to invite a bunch of friends over to my place and party like it was 5760.

Of course, we’d have to have a well-stocked bar. Again, I wasn’t sure if this was in strict compliance with custom but it didn’t seem to be a major violation either. Also, our friends are drunks. Some are Jewish drunks. Some are gentile drunks. None are terribly religious one way or another, which goes a long way to explain why they’re our friends. They would come to the party out of friendship. They would stay till we were out of booze.

All was going swimmingly kosher until I got it into my head that there should be a Hanukkah ham. Nothing says “Happy Hanukkah” like honey-baked ham, I reasoned. I often do my best thinking after my fourth drink. Still, I thought it would be a good idea to mention the ham to Betty before I went out and bought the thing since I have no real culture of my own and am therefore often oblivious to the feelings of those that do. If her reaction were going to be “Dude, you’re wiping your ass with over two thousand years of sacred tradition,” it would be good to hear that sooner rather than later.

She loved the idea. Invites to the “Holiday in Hambodia Hanukkah Feast” were emailed to all our drunken friends.

On the night of the party, we had a “Happy Hannukah” banner hanging above a table with a menorah, a dreidel, matzoh balls, gefilte fish, Hannukah gelt, and of course, booze. Our friend Dr. Kim was frying up latkes in the kitchen. There was only one thing missing: the ham.

I had ordered the ham online and arranged to have it delivered to our friend Sarah since Betty and I were both working that day. After waiting all day and seeing neither hide nor hair of ham, she called to relay the bad news. I pitched a regrettable hissy (not directed at Sarah though I doubt she wanted to hear it regardless) and then called UPS customer service to find out what was going on. They assured me that the ham was somewhere.

It arrived the following Monday.

So for the party, Betty ended up ordering pizza (with ham) so our treyf needs were attended to. Dr Kim’s latkes were yummy and Sarah was forgiving of having to wait for a nonextistent ham until eight o’clock at night. My first Hannukah (now dubbed “Hamukkah” by Dr. Kim) was a rousing success.

Next year though, I don’t think I’ll put much effort into planning any Hannukah festivities. I’ll be too busy partying with the Church of Satan this coming December. We all need a plan and mine is to use an accelerated Sammy Davis Jr. timeline as a blueprint for living. Wish me luck.

Elvis Was a Hero to Most

Elvis Presley would have turned 72 today if he were still alive. It’s fun to pretend that he never died, that he’s hiding out somewhere in Tibet eating peanut butter and banana sandwiches and playing Stratego with Jim Morrison. Then again, it’s also fun to pretend to believe in flying saucers, the Easter Bunny, and that Jager shots make me cute and charming.

I was 14 and it was my last year at summer camp when I got the news of his death. I shrugged. To me, he was just some fat, sweaty guy in a jumpsuit from those TV commercials selling his greatest hits.

I doubt I would have heard about it at all except that two of the campers happened to be Doc Esposito’s daughters. The counselors, knowing what little bastards we all were, cautioned us about asking the girls if they were “All Shook Up” or making other insensitive comments. Looking back, I realize that it must have been hard on the Esposito kids when they got home. The sight of their father doing something other than scribbling on a prescription pad nonstop must have been quite a shock to them.

Years ago, I considered myself an Elvis aficionado in a budding postmodern smartass sort of way. If you wanted to master the art of irony, the whole Elvis thing seemed to provide a good set of training wheels. Any combination of the hip swaying, the obesity, the drugs, or the appalling fashion sense could be played for laughs with a minumum of effort. An even easier target were the serious Elvis fans in the way they deified him, or at least made him royalty.

I’m more or less over that now. Every no-talent hipster and his cousin were doing the same schtick. It got so you couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting some asshole winking and nudging about the King. Tongue-in-cheek Elvis knickknacks could be seen in boutiques that cater to those who habitually smirk. It was clearly time to move on.

So there you have it. You’ll get no pelvis gyrations from me today, no pointing straight at you and saying “Thank you very much” as if weren’t the stalest joke on the planet by now. There will be no cute anagrams done with his name nor any silly conjecturing about how he cheated death on that Vegas toilet seat 30 years ago. All I’m going to do is wish happy birthday to a dead man who just wanted to do right by his momma. Happy birthday, Elvis. Happy birthday to you.

Mars Needs Women

I should be spending my time re-reading the next pulp slated for review, thinking up clever things to say. Instead, I spent way too much time installing and monitoring SETI@home on my new laptop. For those of you who aren’t complete geeks, SETI@home is this deal where people volunteer to have their computers number crunch radiation-level data from the cosmos to see if they can find extraterrestrial communications.

Granted, this is a long shot but the odds are better than driving down to Roswell, assuming the position, and waiting for the aliens to land so they can give you an anal probe.

OK, so installing and running the program has nerd appeal but why I spent any time monitoring it is beyond me. When I turn on the neato graphics display, the numbers whiz by way to fast for me to read any of it. And of course, there’s the small problem of my not having any clue what it all means even if I could.