New Year’s Eve Fails to Solve Our Problems Again, But Champagne!

Happy New Year, everyone. And remember, be safe: if you’ve been drinking, buckle up. The shoulder strap will help keep your floppy torso and lolling neck in a more vertical position as you speed down which-way streets. Install a temporary cowcatcher on your fender if you have time. This will prevent troublesome child-shaped dents to your car. And I probably don’t have to tell you to remember your fake set of car keys to hand over to those idiot, prying hosts when they mention you’ve had a bit too much. Put the real set of keys somewhere you’re likely to find them later, such as the ground.

A few thoughts to round out things. I made a few personal discoveries this year:

*There is a movie out there that is actually called Soft Toilet Seats. When I found this out, I spent a couple hours laughing, vomiting, and emitting piercing cries of despair. I’ve never felt so dyspeptically alive. It is . . . oh, it’s the best movie title in the universe. I don’t know what will happen if I try to watch it. I might collapse into a tiny, vomiting singularity.

*I discovered that this Internet thing is pretty easy, provided you get a friend or two to do everything for you. I shower praise on these suckers, and look forward to exploiting them further into the new year.

*Finally, I discovered this year that there was actually a human on the planet who was willing to marry me, and not for money, because I have none, and have no intention of getting any. I shower adoration on my as-yet-accent-free fiancee, and look forward to exploiting her further into the new year. She’s the most special kind of sucker: the one that will have me.

Happy New Year, everyone! Except for Corbin Bernsen. That guy can go eat it.

Home Improvement

The Many-Worlds Theory Predicts That Somewhere Roy Cohn is Cleaning Your Bathtub

I was outside on my little stooplet having a cigarette a moment ago, thinking of a few things. For one, my bathroom, or more specifically, my tub. Even more specifically, my filthy tub. It looks like God’s own biological drop-zone; it is a horror. There are good reasons for this.

  1. We’re pretty fucking lazy. Who likes cleaning tubs? It’s a filthy job, particularly if you’re really lazy in the first place. I like to imagine, say, Roy Cohn on some blasted wasteland in hell, dutifully scrubbing an acres-wide tub while winged, incontinent demons flit about overhead. He has a radio, but it only plays songs by the Chipmunks.
  2. The tub has a window above it with a sill. Instead of angling the sill downward so the water could sluice away, it is dead level, so water just pools up there and erects signs that say “Bacteria should come fuck their brains out over here!” Also, it’s a wood sill for a little extra rot-oomph.
  3. No fan. So all the steam just lurks around after a shower, handing out porn mags to everyone collected on the wood sill.

These three things all add up to: tubfilth. So while we can indeed take showers, we do so knowing that, oops, now we have river blindness. Have you ever tried calling in sick with river blindness? It doesn’t fly. “Put some eyedrops in. We need you here today to cure cancer.”

That’s one thing I was thinking about on the stooplet. Another was I forget because all of a sudden, I heard a sound from downstairs. “EEEeeeeuuggh.” It creeped me out, but then I remembered that the downstairs couple has a baby, and her room was right down there. “EEEeeeeuuugh” again. It was a weirdly non-baby sound; it really sounded like a querulous old man trying to disgustedly ward off some fresh terror, like a chilly sitz bath, or a hippie: “EEEEuuuugh.” I figured the folks had dumped the tot in there in the hopes that she would sleep. I liked to think, too, that she was trying to exact revenge for this indignity by making the most plangent, awful noise that she could conceive of. It sounded like she was trying to talk her body into stigmata. “That’d show the big blurry food machines. A nice Biblicalicious mind-fuck. C’mon palms, c’mon palms, c’mon palms . . . EEEeeeeuuugghh!”

I finished the smoke, and retreated back indoors to escape the ghastly baby-thing honking downstairs. I took a little nap, and when I woke, went to the bathroom. A shower might be nice. I moved the curtain inside. There was Roy Cohn, wearing a tattered, grey suit and listening to the Chipmunks. He leered at me, and held up bleeding palms, and he moaned “EEEeeeeuuugh!”

Boom. River blindness.

Steak 'n' Shake

I Wish You Could Experience My Exotic Meat

Tonight the fiancee (<–uh huh) and I are going to friends’ to sample some “exotic meat”–that is, something that isn’t beef, pork or chicken, basically. Our friends live near a store that somehow sells this stuff. So we’re going to end up tucking into some damn punchline-meat, whether it be Emu, Elk or . . . I don’t know. Emily Watson? Anything’s possible.

Now of course I know that meat is basically meat, so why discriminate? But I do. I have a powerful urge, for example, to flee any room purporting to be serving turtle meat, and I can’t say that I’ve got any kind of serious jones for rattlesnake, either. I know it’s silly, but there you are.

(A brief aside to vegetarians, vegans, and PETA members: I really do respect your point of view. I just don’t share it. Don’t piss in my ear about it, okay? Thanks.)

And then there’s stuff on there that I don’t really think of as exotic at all. Lamb? Please. Rabbit? Eh . . . maybe. Venison? Well, I grew up in Idaho eating this stuff. Hey, kangaroo! That’s pretty exotic. Some people might feel queasy about eating these cute little hoppers, but they just haven’t seen the trailers for Kangaroo Jack yet. I predict a big run on this soon.

You know, that’s how they could really market this stuff. Celebrity tie-ins!

Dennis Franz’ American Buffalo: Cook and Eat This Fucking Meat, You Fuck!

Jerry Bruckheimer’s Kangaroo Jack: Buy Some Meat And Receive 1 Free “Get Out of Theater” Pass

Kevin Spacey’s Albino Alligator: It Bites!

Danny Bonaduce’s Partridge Family: Please, Please Just Buy Some

I think this could work.

Freude, Schaden

Bruce Hornsby Requires Elaborate Hooks and A Stenographer

Perhaps you noticed Christmas happening all day yesterday. My fiancee (note continued lack of interest in adding accent mark) and I celebrated the birth of The Bearded One in a traditional way: by attending a screening of a blockbuster epic movie. And that movie was, of course, Drumline. It was better than I expected, especially when the orcs stormed the football field and tore the livers out of everyone in the marching band. Then the band members, now slavering revenants, bopped right back up and executed an inspiring, nonthreatening hip-hop rendition of “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” during which they somersaulted and did splits and just in every way looked really cool and impressive, given their liverless, undead state. SPOILER: Gandalf is back, and he’s got some mad rhymes, like “Balrog” with “ball hog.” Also, we were drunk.

Then, having symbolically given the finger to the J-man, we went home for a genuinely traditional Christmas activity: playing with all our cool new shit. Here’s an abbreviated list of my crap:

1 bottle Laphroaig (that’s scotch). This is for the sweet drinking and hello floor.

1 bottle of some highfalutin’ cognac. It’s so highfalutin’, I cannot determine the actual brand name. After a couple glasses, I call it “Pwim!” As in the construction, “Gibbe mena gassa pwim! Gibba gibba!” And then I am gently informed that I’ve had enough pwim.

1 Spider-Man game for the Game Cube. I am praying that, as seen in the TV commercial, there is a game option that lets me be an enthusiastic heavyset black man who chases Spider-Man around hassling him verbally.

1 All-Clad 16-Qt. Stockpot. This costs more than my apartment, so it’s only fitting that we have to live in it now. Finally, the world can know the answer to the vexing question, “What does Skot-flavored broth tastes like?” The result will most likely be, it seems, “Well, booze.”

2 kitchen mandolines. This due to poor communications skills amongst friends. I have big plans for these babies, not unironically involving Bruce Hornsby: I’m going to kidnap him and swiftly slice all his fingers into neat little piles of medallions while he screams along to the strains of his old hit “Mandolin Rain.” Christ, I’m a fucking cutie!

2 DVDs of Bull Durham. See above re: my friends are all closed-mouthed hermits. Also, they drink. I must find a hiding place in my stockpot for all this goddamn booze. Hmmm. Easier still just not to invite them over any more. It’s not like I don’t have an excuse. “Sorry. I live in a stockpot.”

And then there’s a bunch of other crap, but I . . . well, I can’t talk any more. It is time. If you hear the metal-on-metal rustle of, oh, a stockpot lid being stealthily lifted? Picture a shadowy figure emerging, cautiously, because the figure appears to be listing slightly. The figure is clutching an empty booze bottle. From inside the stockpot, you perhaps can hear muffled . . . are they screams? Is that MOR piano music too? You can’t tell. The figure is on the move; a staggering, halting move. Then–then! He takes to the skies! He’s unspooled some webbing from his wrist, and is brachiating uncertainly into the night. You can just make out some mysterious words: “Spiddama! Spiddama! Wait up! Youwanna watcha Budderam! ‘Sfunny movie! Spiddama, wait up! I gotsa lotsa pwim!”

With great power comesh gribba baltoods.


I Enthusiastically Enjoy Crap

Today I was the lucky recipient of two new CDs. One I ordered straight off the web, by a band called For Against. It’s some really good crap; pretty songs that sound like they’ve been moldering in someone’s basement since 1987. Since I will turn 34 this coming year, even the specter of 1987 brings up some seriously good memories. Man. I sure jerked off a lot that year. It was special. I look forward to jerking off to these songs; or perhaps just reminiscing about such profligate jerking off. Either way.

The second one I got was totally different, yet is still undeniably crap. It’s a CD (I have to consciously not type “album”) by some bunch of fucking lunatics named Lemon Jelly. I wish I could tell you more, but they won’t tell me more: the CD and its packaging is utterly bereft of any words at all. No lyrics. No track listings. Not even a goddamn list of band members. Just a bunch of drawings that look like something Chris Ware might have designed for a Stuckey’s ad. Anyway, it’s crap. It’s total studio wankery, a ton of self-consciously strange found audio bites melded to limp-dick guitar and synth arrangements in a weirdly autoclaved dance context. It totally blows. Naturally, I love it.

We all love crap. I clearly love a lot of crap music, and as if that weren’t damning enough, I also enjoy sports, which is basically crap writ large on the screen. Crap writing? Gimme! Hunter S. Thompson is a one-note johnny that I still enjoy, even after he stopped making sense, which was around 1972. Crap movies? I recently watched the indefatigably stupid Thirteen Ghosts, and I think I might have enjoyed myself. I mean, come on! That was QUALITY CRAP! It was so awful, I took a perverse glee in its existence.

I said a bit ago, with basically no substantiation, that we all love crap. I just kind of assumed that you agreed with me. I imagined that everyone thought, “Yeah, I know what you mean,” and then thought of personal examples of SchadenKrap. Because we all know those people who really, insistently hate crap. They’ll tell you so, over and over. You know these people. You try and make sure not to invite them to your parties. Hell, you try and make sure not to invite them to your funeral. They are the anti-fun.

Nobody doesn’t like crap. No matter what they say. And if someone denies it: they’re full of shit. And that’s a whole other discussion.

Book Club

Movies I Haven’t Seen Make Me Feel Bad About Books I Haven’t Read

There is a very serious movie coming out soon called The Hours. You know it is very serious for a lot of reasons. Right off the bat, you’ve got the Meryl Streep factor. Meryl Streep makes serious-ass movies. Anyone who has seen Out of Africa, Sophie’s Choice or The River Wild knows this.

The next thing is the poster. It is totally serious. Check out the uglified (read: normal-looking) Nicole Kidman. They could have hired an actress who, you know, looks normal and un-gorgeous without having to sandblast her extensively, but dammit, they needed Nicole for some reason! Sit down, plain actresses! You’ve been replaced.

But finally you know this is a serious movie because it’s based on Michael Cunningham’s breakaway book that nobody read of the same name, which is itself predicated upon knowledge of another book that nobody read, Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. Following me? It doesn’t matter. There are only three people on earth who have the requisite amount of erudition to follow this trail of hopelessness, and nobody likes them anyway.

I am of course snarking away mainly because I’m a doink. I have a copy of the novel The Hours, which I am unable to read, because I paralytically think, “I can’t read this. I haven’t read any Virginia Woolf!” Which destroys my usual veneer of “I read pointy-headed books and stuff.” So then I go out and I pick up a used copy of Mrs. Dalloway. I am struck by the irony that I am not reading this book out of an actual desire to read this book, but because it is a prerequisite to reading yet another book that–I suddenly now realize–I really don’t care about reading too much either (it was a gift). At this point, the whole meta-ness is starting to suck at my neck, so I blow it off and get down to reading.

And that’s when the sudden-onset narcolepsy hits. It turns out that I am unable to read Virginia Woolf. Which makes me feel dumb and philistine-y and awful. But not awful enough to keep trying to read. I’ll just chalk this experience up as Not For Skot and move on. Secure in the knowledge that I Am Not A Serious Person.

But hey! I realize: I can always see the movie.

Visual Club

Peerless Conversational Skills Belong to Other People

There is a co-worker of mine who is a stage actress. We frequently talk about theater, etc. commiserating about lack of work or whatever. She is currently in a production of Dylan Thomas’ A Child’s Christmas in Wales, which is surely one of the most boring shows in the world. I was in it once in college, and I got bored even while acting in it. You could be operated on while watching it.

My co-worker approached me today.

“It’s the last weekend of my show.”

“Oh, that’s right. You must be excited.”

“Yeah. So . . . are you going to come see it?”

(I pause. I am caught. Quick! Make an excuse!)


(You shithead.)

“Oh . . . how come?”

(This is horrible! MAKE AN EXCUSE!)

“Because I’d rather die. I’m sorry.”

(I fold.)

“Yeah, I can understand that. It’s a boring damn show. See ya.”

Is there anything sweeter than a completely undeserved success? I think not. UN-DE-SERVED! UN-DE-SERVED! UN-DE-SERVED!

Visual Club

Food Can Make You Want to Die

It is with caution that I inform you that I often watch the Food Network. It’s kind of embarrassing, really; I like to cook, but I’m a total amateur. I am cautious about fucking with recipes too much, and it would never occur to me to, say, add fennel to anything unless specifically directed to. But that doesn’t have much to do with the Food Network, because the Food Network has about as much to do with cooking as Hustler magazine has to do with human relationships. Most of the time, cooking is utterly ancillary to what is actually going on, whether it be cult (or, depending on the person, “occult”) of personality (the odious Emeril, the cloying Wolfgang Puck, the unclassifiable asshole Bobby Flay), naked advertising presented as infotainment (how do they make Milk Duds? We need a half hour on this!) or simple addleheaded travelogue tripe (The Thirsty Traveler mugs his way through Spain! Somebody forgot to ask the important question, “Who gives a ripe fuck?”).

It’s not wholly without its pleasures. If you’re not a fan of the Iron Chef, that’s fine, but I must question why anyone couldn’t like a show that combines incredible, over-the-top theatrics with such utterly conspicuous consumption, and finally culminates in forcing cheerful, ridiculous rich people to eat concoctions such as deep-fried chicken brains and eel-flavored ice cream. (“It tastes like Autumn to me.” Groovy! I prefer my food to taste like . . . food. But sadly, I’m not a fatuous rich person.) Another good show–and it goes without saying that because it is fairly intelligent, it is woefully underpromoted–is Good Eats, in which the affable Alton Brown patiently explains in lay science terms why cooking works the way it does. It’s smart and charming and endearingly low-fi.

And of course there are the cooking shows. They are, to varying degrees depending on your affinity for whoever’s hosting, all basically intolerable (apart from Good Eats, which is really a different animal). I won’t even go into Emeril, unless I have a hatchet, in which case I will enthusiastically “get into him.” Wolfgang Puck carries the lingering stink of the Eighties, and just kind of looks desperate and tanned in that panicky way that says, “I can’t possibly be irrelevant. I’m tan!” And Bobby Flay is about as entertaining and informative as formica. He is resolutely unenthusiastic as he tours America, tasting various regional dishes, and invariably pronouncing said dishes in a bored monotone, “Delicious.” “Delicous,” in his context, makes it sound like it means “This gives me a wasting, consumptive disease.” He speaks of other people’s cooking as if he were clinically evaluating their toilets by licking them.

And finally, there is Jamie Oliver, a young, handsome Brit who makes food as if someone off camera has a rifle trained on him. But in a fun way! This moppet is so relentlessly cuddly that they gave him two shows, neither of them watchable (though I obviously managed, because I suck). Hyperactive Jamie scooters about London terrorizing fishmongers and vegetable stands, and then goes back home (or wherever–I think one episode had him cooking halibut on an agreeable Tony Blair’s engine block) and maniacally cooks the fucking shit out of whatever he has found. He grabs . . . something. You don’t know what. It’s green. “Gitchyer mortar en pessle and bash the hell ou’ uvvit!” And bash it he does, as if the food owed him a lot of money, his curly blonde locks flying madly. “There we are thin luv!” He’s thrown the mortar and pestle into the plaster wall of the set and has now flung the whole green mess on to some fish morbidly shrinking in a pan. “Stir it oop, mates!” he screams, as if in the grips of a fever. Twenty minutes of this, and you can feel your pulmonary capillaries howling for oxygen, but whew, now he’s done. and he’s finally calmly devouring the ninety-two dishes he’s prepared along with two dozen of his ridiculously pretty friends, also known as “paid extras.” His demeanor suggests a man who, having come off of a shrieking adrenaline rush, has now made his peace with the unseen rifleman.

Food Network is, as I said, not without its charms. It is, in fact, a little more charming than the equally awful major networks, if only because of its single-minded nature. You can’t really claim undue surprise from the Food Network the same way you can with the Big Four when they assault you with something as soul-wrenching as, say, Joe Millionaire. The Food Network is, after all, going to be about food. The worst they can do is prepare it.

Steak 'n' Shake

There is an Eldritch Presence in My Refrigerator

My fiancee (if I were cooler than shit, I’d [a] know which e to put the accent on and [b] know how to put the accent on whichever e, but I don’t, and I don’t, and fuck it anyway) and I received a box o’ Christmas swag today via UPS, who courteously only ran it over twice with their van rather than the customary nine or ten times. I guess the holidays have them rushing. Amongst the wrapped gifts was a nice holiday basket full of luxurious, yummy shit that doesn’t seem to exist anywhere outside of holiday baskets.

You know what I’m talking about: Vaclav Havel’s Pepper-Smoked Aged Hard Salami! Snooty-Ass Farms’ Crumblier-Than-Thou Cheese! Umlaut Brand Honey-Dill Mustard! You don’t find this stuff at the AM/PM. In fact, you don’t usually find them in this dimension. It’s only the time period between Thanksgiving and Christmas that the pan-spatial rift opens between our normal spacetime and the mysterious, inaccessible otherworld known as “Vermont.”

Here there be Boutickue Farmes.

Anyway, it looks like good, uppity stuff; stuff that you’ll enjoy the hell out of right until you’re exactly 3/4 done with it, and then for ill-explained reasons, you’ll shove it into the back of the fridge to grow furry along with the poorly-thought-out batch of homemade barbecue sauce. Go ahead, take a look: you’ve got some cornichons back there from last year. See? There they are. You like cornichons, but there they are, looking wan and neglected. Pity the cornichons, sure, we all do, but you just can’t eat them, can you? Nobody knows why.

But in this year’s basket was something new. It’s so strange I don’t even know where to begin. I feel like a physicist who has discovered a brand new particle, except in his case, nobody is going to want to taste his particle or dip something into a jar of his particles. This stuff is . . . it’s a . . . it’s . . . oh, well, it’s from Vermont.

The label says, menacingly enough, “Sweet Heat Pretzel Dip.” First of all, this sounds like the header to an infrequently visited porn page. And second, pretzel dip? Nobody dips pretzels, and I’m certain of this, because I just said so. Nobody dips pretzels.

But moving on to the ingredients, the terrible mystery deepens. I like to read these ingredients out loud, as if from some Culinary Necronomicon, and pretend I am summoning Elder Kitchen Gods: RED RASPBERRY VINEGAR! SUGAR! MUSTARD FLOUR! (what? no time! keep reading!) CLOVER HONEY! MUSTARD SEEDS! SALT! APRICOTS! AND GINGER!

This is what I’m supposed to dip pretzels in? Why? Why would I do this? What possible aberrance of nature or character could impel me into such inexplicable behavior? Nothing makes sense any more; the world spins crazily on a tilted axis, and all I can do is totter along as best I can, clutching a bag of unsullied pretzels to my chest. It is my charge, and I must keep it safe. I must keep myself safe. I must keep us all safe.

And in moments of clarity, I can still see the jar. It sits on the counter, unopened, inviolate, an entity horrible in its Vermont-y perfection. This jar . . . this jar has a Cthonic power that cannot be released, and even yet, cannot be denied, it can only be . . . stilled. In. That. Jar.

I will do what I can. I know my task. I will take you up, Sweet Heat Pretzel Dip. I will take you up and place you in the back of the fridge.

Rest. Rest may we all.


I Loathe the Able-Bodied

I work–or rather, “don’t work very hard”–in a 20-story office building. I am on the 20th floor. This of course necessitates many rides up the elevator, which affords me (nice, stable me!) many opportunities for the unnecessary hatred of my fellow man.

For example, I was just on my way back up from lunch (read: cigarette), cruising along happily in my own unoccupied car when bing! I stop at 15. An apparently healthy young woman enters the car bearing the Atlas-like load of one manila envelope. She pushes a button.


She gets off on 16.

HEY! You freaking baked potato. You couldn’t handle one flight of stairs? This irritated me greatly, so I tackled her from behind and put her into an excruciatingly painful wrestling hold called the Estonian Milkshake of Agony until security hauled me off of her and clapped me in leg irons.

Not really. But I wanted to. Jesus. She must be a charter member of the Society of the Apparently Legless.

Other thing that burned my less-than-asbestos ass re: the able-bodied today: following completion of burning-stick-of-lunch, I wandered back over to the front door of the building. There is, nicely, a big button with a handicapped symbol on it so that people on crutches or in wheelchairs can whap it, and the door will open automatically for them. Like I say, nice (and, in a cancer care facility, pretty useful). So I’m walking up to the door, and a nice, young couple of kids are at the door and they hit the door-opening button.

Now really. Reach out with your wonderful, youthful arms and open the fucking door for Christ’s sake! You have so many years to come in your future that will be filled with helplessness, infirmity and despair. Do you have to usher them in with such eagerness? So I naturally took out my boot knife and stabbed them in the eyes. Then I stood bestride their fallen bodies and screamed to the skies, “I CLEANSE THE WORLD! I AM PURE LIGHT!” until security came and hauled me off.

Not really.