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.

Rhesus Reveille

My bowels filling up
My bowels filling up
My bowels filling up
I fling poo
My bowels filling up
My bowels filling up
I fling my poo at you

Oh do you like to fling poo?
Oh yes, I like to fling poo
Where do you like to fling poo?
I fling my poo at you.

My bowels filling up
My bowels filling up
My bowels filling up
I fling poo
My bowels filling up
My bowels filling up
I fling my poo at you…

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.

A Poem Inspired by the Art of Thomas Kinkade

Frottage in the Cottage

No mere glass could dare suffice
For toasts of Season’s Cheer
‘Tis jug and box of Gallo wine
Before I draw you near

My red-stained mouth makes me look like
Some sated woodland beast
Though belly filled and senses dulled
This wolf has yet to feast

For though the hearth with amber glow
Warms all within the room
Frigidity inside your heart
Makes it feel like a tomb

You treat my touch, my rubs, my gropes
Like some atrocity
Not even my most heartfelt slap
Can bring you back to me

I know you wish to spurn my love
Go running for the door
It’s only fair I let you know
Of all that lies in store

‘Tis many miles through the snow
Until the nearest town
Beware of Jack Frost’s famished heart
His love will hunt you down

His chill will numb and sap your strength
I know the way he’s sinned
So shall you, he’ll part your thighs
With scythe-like wintry wind

And when you’re found by passers by
I have no doubt they’ll say
“What a tortured, selfish face
She’s better off this way”

‘Tis the Season

Nothing says “November” like turning on the TV and watching The History Channel. Peter Weller fans, Hitler completists, and aficionados of UFO claptrap will have to get their programming fix with a lower dosage this month. It is November, and November means Kennedy.

JFK, of course, usually gets star billing. He was after all the only one to get elected president, was the only war hero, and had the hottest wife. So what exactly was his legacy?

  • 1961: Gives the go ahead on the Bay of Pigs fiasco, ruining any chance of a normalized relationship with Cuba for decades to come.
  • 1962: Decides to resolve the Cuban Missile Crisis by engaging the Soviets in a game of chicken, a strategy that served him so well aboard PT109. He got lucky this time. So did the rest of the planet.
  • 1963: Travels to Berlin and announces to the world that he is a jelly donut (well, he didn’t really but I’m not one to let the truth get in the way of a good story.)

In other words, mixed results. To be fair though, no presidency is perfect and his was better than most. His position on civil rights was admirable, he possessed a sense of humor not often seen in politicians, and he certainly had a way with the ladies. Still, I think if he had it to do all over again, there would have been some changes along the way. The decision to make that trip to Dallas immediately comes to mind.

Jack’s brother Bobby seems to be getting some play this year as well, with a movie about him coming out this Thursday. I still haven’t decided whether I’m going to go see it though. On the one hand, it is only fitting that a film about the brother of the legendary John F. Kennedy should be written and directed by the brother of the legendary Charlie Sheen. On the other hand, Jack Black does not play Ted. This is an egregious omission and I fear what others may follow.

Perhaps it’s all for the best. Jack Black is born to play Ted Kennedy and it would be unjust to limit him to a supporting role. Also, Ted’s defining moment didn’t happen until a year after Bobby’s death. I think the perfect vehicle (pardon the pun) for Black’s performance will be “I’ll Drive: the Chappaquiddick Story.”

Ted Kennedy, if you recall, claimed to have tried to dive down and save Mary Jo Kopechne before sobering up enough to go get help. Well, it doesn’t take an accomplished director like Emilio Estevez to see what a great scene it would be to have Jack Black doing multiple slo-mo belly flops off the bridge while some catchy tune from the musical “Camelot” played in the background.

That’s what I call movie magic.

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, Backspaces

We all have crosses to bear. Mine are typos. It seems as though they show up in everything I write, compromising my perceived intelligence like an extra chromosome. In this blog, I at least have the luxury of going back and fixing my mistakes after the fact. The problem is that I’m on a mailing list as well. There my errors are as uncorrectable as stupidities committed in real life.Since the reason I write is for ego gratification, this pains me. I don’t like it when things pain me. I want everything to be peachy. Failing that, I’d like the pain (and if possible, the typos) to be explained away by some traumatic experience from my past. It’s not my fault, you see. Mom used to beat me with a wire hanger.There’s the rub. Mom never did any such thing. In fact, I don’t think I’ve had any traumatic experiences in my entire life. When other people bring up theirs, I usually try to change the subject to one where I can show how clever I am.

No matter. Since I don’t have any personal traumas, I’ll just have to invent one.

About 25 years ago, I worked as a counselor at one of those summer camps Paul Newman set up for children with cancer. I didn’t see Newman the whole time I was there. He had done his photo op before my arrival and if he’s like most people, he wanted what was best for the kids but didn’t want to have to look at them for too long. I can’t say I blame him. That had to be the most depressing two and a half months of my life.

There was a silver lining however in the form of one of the campers. Her name was Tina. Tina had developed early, as they say. Not a hair on her head but let me tell you, that girl was rackalicious. I was in love.

The only problem was that I couldn’t be sure if she had matured emotionally on a par with how she had physically. Putting the moves on her and freaking her out would be a bad deal for all parties involved. Fortunately, I had a plan to test the waters. What this entailed was leaving her a little note anonymously expressing some carnal interest. If she ran screaming to one of the other counselors, I’d deny everything if asked and let the whole matter slide. If, on the other hand, she spent the whole next day with a sly smirk on her face, then all systems were go.

My handwriting was pretty recognizable at the time (A’s with circles around them, i’s dotted with skulls) so I had to sneak into the admin office and use the typewriter when no one was looking. So that night during Vespers, I slipped away to compose the note. Time was short. I quickly typed up the message and put it under her pillow before she returned to her bunkhouse.

I had anticipated that she might take the note to a counselor. What I had not anticipated was what happened next.

I was having lunch in the cafeteria the following day, surrounded by scores of children and their malignancies but thinking only of Tina. The camp director came in. Her hand went up. The mouths went shut.

“One of you,” she said. “Has been using the office typewriter to send vulgar notes to a fellow camper. First of all, the office is off limits. Second, we don’t like profanity here. At least I think it was profanity. Do you want to know what the note said?”

There was a cheer of assent from camper and counselor alike.

“‘Let’s fick.’ Yes, with an ‘i.’ Whoever wrote this really needs to learn how to spell.”

The entire cafeteria, including Tina, erupted with laughter. I made it a point to laugh along with them but like a clown in some stupid French movie, I was crying inside.

I really appreciate all of you who took the time to read this. You’ve helped me grow, you know, as a person.

Gray Doubt

The specter of old age is beginning to show up on my mental radar, which is strange for me. I’ve always been less ant than grasshopper (or perhaps locust) in the way I’ve led my life and my net worth shows it. So far, I’ve avoided having to worry about how to finance my retirement years by indulging in unhealthy vices. My logic was that people tend not to care about what Medicare will or won’t cover if they’ve been dead for twenty years.

As luck would have it, I’m descended from hardy peasant stock and at 44, am far healthier than I deserve to be. Unless I do something proactive like a swan dive off the Golden Gate bridge, I run a better than average chance of achieving geezerdom.

My pal Betty, being a financial journalist and therefore more adept at seeing the writing on the wall, has her bases covered. Her retirement plan will ensure that she can enjoy her dotage with all the pleasures the future will bring, including jet-powered walkers, organ replacements on demand (thanks, China!), virtual-reality pool boys, and the latest in deodorant technology to stave off that old-people smell.

And let’s not forget the medical bills. Living longer does have its drawbacks: broken hips, incontinence, cancer of the everything. Betty told me that no more than a few percent will be financially able to handle the expense on their own.

So what’s going to happen to the rest of us in my age bracket thirty years down the road? Or more to the point, what’s going to happen to me? God knows. At least I don’t have to worry about a revival of the old Eskimo tradition of setting wrinkly folk adrift on ice floes. Global warming will have melted them all by then.

Nowhere Near Godliness

I finally broke down and spent my hard-earned money to have someone do what I am apparently incapable of doing myself: cleaning my apartment. I love how my place looks. Betty loves how my place looks. My cat is less enthusiastic. She hasn’t seen the place in its current condition for quite some time and it must seem barren to her.

I’m not quite crazy enough to ask my cat’s permission to hire a cleaner but it would be nice if she had some opportunity to speak her mind after the fact. Unfortunately, my cat (like most) is incapable of uttering anything more intelligible than a plaintive meow, which could mean anything from “I have fleas” to “I have cancer.”

Because of this, I have decided to channel Dr. Seuss on her behalf.

I do not like this nice clean flat
I do not like ’cause I’m a cat

I like the stains from vomit spewed
I like the fridge with year-old food
I like the dishes in the sink
I like that lovely bathroom stink
I like the bread crust hard as rock
I like that crumpled spooged-in sock
I like the drain that’s clogged with hair
I like the trash strewn everywhere

But I do not like this nice clean flat
I do not like ’cause I’m a cat

Dreaming Is Free

Often though, you get what you pay for. Last night, I dreamt about and old punk-rock singer friend, whom I’ll call “Ray.” I haven’t seen him in over fifteen years and I hope he’s doing well. Other than his affinity for binge drinking, drug abuse, and domestic violence, he was a nice enough sort.

In the dream, he wasn’t so nice. He shot a good friend of mine in the head while in a chemically induced psychosis. The victim wasn’t anyone in particular, more a composite of people I’ve known over the years. Anyway, Dream Dave got a little peeved at Dream Ray over this and called 911 to rat him out to the cops.

By the time the police arrived, he had sobered up and all he said to me was, “Hi Dave, it’s been a while. You’ve put on weight.”

He apparently saved the last bullet for my ego.

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