September 26, 2004

see with your eyes, not with your hands

As you can see by the oh-so-very lifelike rendering in the sidebar to your right, I've got lots of curls sprouting from this melon o' mine. I'm not going to lie to you... I dig my hair. It's thick, naturally curly and has some crazy reddish highlights running through it courtesy of the sun. Some people pay good money to achieve this look. I got it free of charge thanks to puberty. Yes, that's right -- I've got pubies growing out of my head.

Throughout childhood, I had thin VERY blond hair. The tips curled up a little bit but mostly, my hair was straight and super smooth. And then I turned 13. Between Mother Nature and a bad layered mullet (don't judge me), my hair thickened up and kinked out. It took me several years to grow it out but once it was the desired length, I went to a new stylist and she gave me a very reasonable Molly-Ringwald-in-Pretty-in-Pink facsimile. Thanks to the buzz clippers the stylist used, my hair was super short in the back creating a stubbly-yet-smooth feel. The girls on my softball team liked to rub my head for luck. Yeah, that's always nice -- a bunch of dirty hands attached to bitchy girls running through my temperamental coif.

They weren't the only ones who felt the need to reach out and touch my 'do. To this day, MANY people -- most of them strangers -- touch my hair. My mane gets fingered and stroked more than a really slutty girl. It's flattering that some people like my hair but I still find the whole touch-first-and-ask-for-permission-later business to be very rude. I worked at a movie theater in college and I actually had a customer lean over the counter and grab my hair while I was fetching her popcorn and soda. That's not only presumptuous but very unhygienic. After the woman molested my hair, she called her friend over for a gang bang, if you will.
"Denise, look at huh hai-uh! Touch it. It's gaw-jus, ain't it?" Her friend manhandled my curls and chimed in, "Honey, is dis natural? Yaw lucky. I get perms 'n body waves awl the toyme but they nevuh look like dis. Just gaw-jus."
Last night I stopped by the Cubbyhole. My friend and I were deep in conversation when all of a sudden I felt fingers running through my hair. At first I thought it was a member of my party so I didn't flinch but then a craggy-looking older woman was in my face saying, "Great hair!" I guess I looked shocked and annoyed because she said, "Sorry, I couldn't resist." Granted, if she was cute, I wouldn't have cared but she looked like a spotter in a weight room. Me no likey.

I think I'm going to circulate a petition among pregnant women and people with curly hair, noticeable piercings, chubby cheeks and other obvious traits and protrusions. I think we should demand special dispensation to beat down anyone who touches us without asking. Hell, I'll even put aside my disgust of stretched ear lobes and welcome those people into the fold as well. Normally that shit freaks me out to no end but I'll suck it up for the cause. Now who's with me?

September 24, 2004

dinner with the mcdimples

To celebrate my father's birthday, I headed out to NJ after work last night for a family dinner. As expected, there was good food, great wine and lots of laughs... mostly at my mother's expense.

My mom has a tendency to recap the week's headlines at the dinner table. If by chance one of us has not heard a certain news story (or even if we have), she proceeds to retell it. At length. And VERY dramatically. She doesn't mean to but when all is said and done, it sounds like she's telling a ghost story. Her eyes widen and she gets a serious look on her face and deepens her voice. All that's missing is the campfire, the flashlight under her chin and the "It was a dark and stormy night..." intro.

She also injects a lot of Scottish-isms into each story. Between that and her Vincent Price-like delivery, it's hard to keep a straight face. She finds it extremely disturbing that her daughters always have to stifle a giggle after she tells a tale of death and destruction. Example: "So the car came tearing down the road going like the hammers and the poor wee woman got knocked down." No one ever gets hit or run over by a car, according to my mother. They get knocked down. This amuses me. And in case you need a translation, "going like the hammers" is shorthand for "going like the hammers of Hell," which means going really fast. Apparently the Devil is a no-nonsense boss who abhors inefficiency. If you get sent Down There, you can expect to be assigned a hammer which you'll have to swiftly swing FOR ETERNITY. No slacking in Hell allowed EVER. Got it?

So last night the mother was using her spooky voice to tell us about some poor kid who was playing with a latex glove and ended up choking on it and dying. We were all in agreement about how tragic and senseless it was. Nothing funny about it. She then went on to lament that the child was alone so there was no one around to perform the "Hemlock Maneuver" on him.

And that's when the dam burst. We snickered and laughed. She got flustered, offered up a few other mangled pronunciations in exchange and then finally told us all to shut up. But even when trying to silence us, she doesn't possess the ability to slap us with an effective, piss-filled "SHADDAP!" As a soft-spoken Scottish woman, the best she can muster is a rather genteel-sounding "Accch, sshhusht you! Away and bury your head!" Which only makes us laugh harder. She just can't win.

September 23, 2004

ill communication

Today is my Dad's 65th birthday. In honor of his big day, I'm going to tell a story that in many ways really sums up the essence of this man: sweet, kind-hearted, very generous... and rather hapless. Just like his daughter, he means well but most of his endeavors usually have unintentionally funny results.

As you may or may not know, New Year's Day is quite the holiday among the Scottish folk. Every year my mother makes a spread that rivals most Christmas dinners. On a side note, she also does this because the aforementioned trashy cousin has hijacked Christmas and serves a very untraditional buffet-style dinner served on Chintz, no less. Yeah, nothing screams Christmas more than Thuman's cold cuts, Pechter's bread and plastic cutlery.

So every January 1, my mother busts out the Royal Doulton and the McDimple clan goes to town on steak-and-kidney pie, ham, turkey, etc. Last year, my cousin from Scotland and his wife were in attendance. The cousin had just finished a tour of duty in Iraq (he's in the Royal Air Force) and wanted to spend the New Year in New York City. They stayed at an expensive hotel near Radio City Music Hall and actually ventured into Times Square on New Year's Eve. Um, I think I'd rather be in Iraq instead of Times Square on that night but that's just me...

But as I was saying... the cousin and his wife were invited to New Year's dinner with our family. My father didn't want them -- or me -- taking public transportation on this special occasion so he drove into Manhattan to pick them up at their hotel and then over to Brooklyn to get me. My father and I went over the logistics on the phone the night before. The plan was that he would bring my sister's cell phone and call me when he was nearing Brooklyn (to minimize wait time and/or the risk of him getting a ticket or having to circle the block).

The next morning, my mother called to say that the father had just left for the hotel. She knows I suck at waking up so she wanted to give me ample notice. I had a nice window of opportunity so I leisurely showered, ate breakfast and went about my business. The phone rang again shortly after, sending me into a panic thinking it was my father nearing my apartment building. But it was actually my sister, the owner of the cell phone my father was supposed to use. When I answered, the sister didn't even bother to say hello. Instead, she sounded all agitated. It went a little something like this:
Yours Truly: Hello?

The Sister: [in a really pissy tone] Uh yeah, Dad took my phone.

YT: Oh. He didn't tell you he was borrowing it? I thought he did. Sorry.

TS: He had permission to take my cell phone but instead, he took my other one!

YT: Wait, your cordless?


YT: You mean he took that big handset thinking it was your cell phone?


YT: [maniacal laughing and a series of asthmatic wheezes]

TS: So, just be ready because he can't call you now when he's getting close.

YT: [still laughing]

TS: So look out for him. Okay?

YT: O-HA-HA-HA-kay. HA! HA! H--click.
When my father arrived, I got caught up with my cousin and met his new wife for the first time. In the interest of being social and not embarrassing my Dad in front of his adoring nephew, I didn't mention the phone incident. We continued chatting as we made our way onto the BQE, across the Verrazano and along the Staten Island Expressway. While we were waiting to pay the New Jersey Turnpike toll, somehow the topic of cell phones came up. Again, I was going to spare my Dad but he left himself WIDE open:
The Father: Speaking of cell phones, something's wrong with [my sister's] phone. I was trying to call you and that bleedin' thing kept beeping at me. It said something about not being connected to the base. What does that mean?

Yours Truly: It means that you brought the wrong phone, Dad! You took the cordless! You got that message because you're like 20 miles from the base!

Dad: Oh. So that's why! [pause] You know, I thought it was rather big when I stuck it in my pocket and walked off this morning!
Now my father will never just say, "Oops, my bad." There's always some technical explanation or "logic" to explain his mistakes. Naturally, we skewered him for the rest of the day but he didn't relent. According to him, he overheard me and my younger sister once say that the cell phone in question was "antiquated" (his word, not ours). Granted, while it's rather big and clunky for a mobile phone, it could still NEVER be confused with a cordless one.

His other defense was that my sister gave him vague instructions where the cell phone was located (in her room being charged). To him, "the charger" meant an enormous cradle plugged into the phone jack, complete with blinking lights, various buttons and attached to an answering machine. He felt his confusion was valid. Nevermind that he completely overlooked the smaller phone next to it with a simple plug in it...

As I write this, I realize that this is the second phone-related blog entry involving my Dad. Little does he know that he and Verizon are fast becoming a killer comedy team.

September 21, 2004

it's 11:00pm... do you know where curly is?

Fucking home, that's where. I totally shouldn't be though. Why? 'Cause I had a date this evening. You know, there was a time when I'd meet someone for dinner or a drink and we would stay out until the wee hours of the morning talking, giggling and/or um... well, you know. Well, not tonight. What the hell is going on lately?!?! I was in the door by 9:00pm. This is appalling.

I went out with a perfectly nice woman but she just didn't tickle my fancy. At the risk of sounding immodest, I think she digs me... which is a real pain in the ass. It's just easier for all involved when the disinterest is mutual. While she didn't come right out and say, "I dig you, Curly McDimple," I could just tell she did. She was very flirty and coy. When we parted ways, she commanded me to call her soon. And she also stated, as opposed to suggesting, that we get together again. I don't mind an aggressive woman in the boudoir but I'd rather not be bossed around by one I hardly know on West 4th Street, thank you very much. It's very unbecoming.

I think I'm going to hit the bar scene again and try to stop being so shy in the presence of pretty women. I'm also going to expand my online shopping to include bi chicks. I have no issue with bisexuals but I have been hesitant to contact them in the past. It's not fun or easy to compete and coexist with men in this arena. It's just not. I also worry that these gorgeous women who catch my eye are straight and have accidentally selected the "I am interested in both sexes" feature. Now before you protest, I have to say that this is a totally legitimate concern. Two reasons: 1) I ALWAYS fall for straight chicks and 2) I've seen men's pictures show up in my lesbian-only search results because those dumbasses accidentally clicked "I am a woman seeking a woman" in the dropdown. Can you imagine his surprise when some diesel dyke invites him to a womyn's poetry slam? HA HA! It's no doubt amusing but it does give me pause.

I don't trust my judgment anymore. I just put Jess on notice that from now on, she's going to have to play "Is This Chick Ugly or Perhaps Insane?" with me before I contact or reply to anyone. She will be forwarded emails and online profiles to give her thumbs up/down before I make any moves. I'm clearly in a slump and I need someone to help correct my swing. Jess will be my Don Mattingly.

To get a broader sample of opinions, I might set up a reader panel to help dictate and decide the course of my love life. Kindly let me know of your interest and availability. Furthermore, if any of you can cough up a warm, willing body for me to squire around town, I'll be your best friend. Well, not really, but I will be grateful. Requirements:

:: Lesbo or bi

:: Female (assigned at birth)

:: Must live in NYC

:: Age range: mid-20s to 30s

:: Not gross or crazy
Let the games begin!

September 18, 2004

in the merry old land of oz

I've never been to Australia but from what I understand, it's GORGEOUS. I would really love to visit and see for myself. After checking my site statistics tonight, I really need to make this trip. Thanks to StatCounter, I think I inadvertently learned a new bit of Aussie slang and I'm eager to test it out. No doubt it will help me stand out from the other Yanks who will only be talking about shrimp on the barbie and all that waltzing Matilda's apparently been doing.

My plan is to make my way to the continent, approach a local and call him/her a "freckle fart." Yes, a freckle fart. Why? Well, from what I can gather, someone Down Under was rendered SO speechless by this put-down that he/she felt compelled to Google "comebacks for if someone calls you a freckle fart." Apparently, it's quite the burn in Brisbane, Australia and somehow, Google decided that my humble blog was a viable solution to this verbal scourge.

Now I'm quite certain that I've written all of those words individually but just never in the same sentence. I sincerely apologize for the confusion, mate. I'm even sorrier to report that I don't have a good retort other than the standard-issue and very American "Fuck you!"

If you're averse to using profanity, I guess you could retaliate with sheer logic. To my knowledge, human emissions do not have freckles or any other blemish for that matter. Sure, gas can smell to high heaven but in terms of sun damage, I think it's safe to say it doesn't suffer from it. Let science speak for itself, if you'd rather not be potty-mouthed.

Again, I'm partial to a good old-fashioned "Oh, go fuck yourself" but I understand and respect that certain folks are a bit gun shy when it comes to dropping the F bomb. Regardless of your strategy, I wish you luck!

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to Orbitz to check fares to Sydney...

September 17, 2004

speaking of work...

I've recently been promoted to a managerial role. I'll give you a few minutes to digest that and then recover from your fainting spell...

Anyways, I've been doing it for about two months now but I still feel out of sorts. I've always been the managed, not the manager. I feel strange telling people what to do. I realize that delegating tasks responsibly is very different from bossing people around but I still feel a wave of guilt wash over me each time. I can't help myself. Oh curse this Catholic, blue-collar upbringing!

With this job came an office -- the first one of my career. I haven't put my feet up on the desk while smoking a stogie but I've been enjoying my new surroundings in other ways. I've closed the door, turned up the speakers and rocked out. I've also shut the door and called my various doctors without having to broadcast my entire medical history to the whole floor. I've also closed over the door and smoked crack with vagrants and had wanton sex with hookers on my desk. You know, the standard taste-of-freedom stuff...

I haven't officially decorated but between all the tchotkes I've gathered over the years, drawings from the kids I used to babysit, squishy stress-reliever balls and toys with company logos on them, it's safe to say I'm going for the playful theme. The previous owner of this office left some really tacky knick-knacks so instead of tossing them, I'm letting them complement my already juvenile decor. My office is the equivalent of the Silver Spoons house except without the wee train, Pac Man machine and Ricky Schroder. And yes, I know he goes by Rick now but too damn bad. He will always be Ricky-with-the-Cool-Racing-Car-Bed to me. Hey, speaking of has-beens, what's Alfonso Ribeiro up to these days?

But I digress. Sometimes though, I can't help but feel like a fraud. I know I've worked hard to get here but there are times when I doubt myself and my abilities. It's not necessarily a bad thing because this self-inventory keeps me from getting complacent and lazy. I simply cannot afford to be highfalutin because at the first sign of hubris, fate takes a monstrous-sized dump right square on my head. Modesty and self-doubt, in good measure, keep me in line and poop-free, so to speak.

For all the times I feel inadequate, there are just as many occasions where I realize I'm like all professional and shit. For example, today I was asked to write a job description for a position opening up at one of our new, smaller websites. I'm not managing nor hiring for the job but I was asked to do it because I have "years of experience" in web developing. Um, I do? Okay, whatever. It was quite fun to start a sentence with, "The ideal candidate will be responsible for..." I'm used to reading that shit, not writing it.

I've also conducted job interviews recently and found myself using terms like "skill set" and "work flow." Why just the other day, I caught myself asking a candidate the following question: "How would you rate your ability to prioritize your workload and manage expectations under a tight deadline?" The candidate chirped away but I don't think I heard any of his sales pitch because I was too busy admiring the straight-faced, mature-sounding "professional me."

While he yammered, I began recalling all of my job interviews and comparing my demeanor with that of the people who interviewed me. How did I stack up? Was I nodding enough? Should I scribble notes on his resume? If so, what the hell should I write? I always hated when interviewers took a lot of notes when I spoke. What exactly were they jotting down anyway? When I saw someone writing, I automatically assumed it was something like, "Major dumbass!" or "No chance in hell!" or "Buy milk on the way home!"

But I'll no doubt be comfortable in my surroundings and with my new responsibilities soon enough. And as I further slip into "The Man" status, I solemnly promise to never act like some of my predecessors. I hereby declare that I will never tell someone I need them to "take ownership" of a task if I'm not happy with their work. If they're fucking up, I'll say it delicately but not in that bullshit way taught at management seminars. Furthermore, the term "due diligence" will never pass my lips... unless I'm making fun of a person who says things like "due diligence." And mark my words, I will never congratulate coworkers on a job well done by saying, "We're really hitting on all cylinders now!" I'm all about bypassing that bogus rah-rah shit and going straight for the booze. Speaking of which, Happy Hour awaits...

September 16, 2004

the tell-tale little jimmy stains

Due to a frustrating bout of writer's block, it's time for me to dip into my old journals once again. This was written on October 29, 1997. If memory serves me correctly, I composed this in between answering phones and taking messages for some weenie account executive. It kind of trails off at the end because I was no doubt torn away to FedEx a media kit, send a fax, wipe his ass or some other bit of useless nonsense. Anyhoo, brace yourselves for the choppy sentences ahead...

I think that one flaw that has followed me through life, and probably always will, is my tendency to not think things through [Ed note: Sadly, the same still holds true.] I have spent more time wishing that life came with a remote control than some have spent dreaming of fame and fortune. I really wish I could rewind and tape over some of my more dopey episodes. For example, if I could do it all over again, at age nine, I would not have stuck my tongue out at the neighbor driving by in retaliation for the scolding she gave me the day before. I don't regret the intent behind it because the woman was a raving bitch. My regret is that she caught me.

If I could press rewind, I wouldn't have suffered the consequences of drawing an unflattering picture of the same woman's daughter entitled "Michelle Smells." It wouldn't have been so bad except another friend stuck it in Michelle's mailbox. It turns out neither the mother, nor Michelle, enjoyed this artist's rendering. [Ed note: Personally, I thought it was rather clever to use Scotch tape for hair. It made for an impressive bas relief effect.]

If I could press rewind, my ass wouldn't have been slapped when I declared "Disco sucks!" in front of my tattle-tale sister. She proceeded to relay the off-color musical critique to my infuriated mother. Based on my mother's reaction, I can only guess that she was a closet disco lover... [Ed note: I remember this vividly. I was playing wiffle ball with some kids in the neighborhood. I was pitching at the time and some kids on the other team were talking about music while they were waiting to take their turn at bat. I overheard someone mention disco so I stopped my windup and said, "Disco?!?! Disco sucks!" I think I overheard some older kids say it so I was just repeating it. At the time, I wouldn't have known disco if it came up and bit me in the ass. I do believe this was the first episode of my obnoxious, opinionated music snobbery.]

I got nailed in these instances for several reasons:
1) A complete lack of discretion, obviously
2) No grasp of the basic concept of cause-and-effect
3) An inability to think before I spoke or acted
4) Fucking snitches

Admittedly, it was my own fault that the woman caught me mid-razberry as I forgot about that device called the rear-view mirror. In retrospect, that was silly of me to not consider that possibility.

In the other cases, I got a raw deal. The friend who placed the offending picture in the mailbox cracked under what I assume was hardly an intense interrogation. When confronted by the victim's mother, that bitch plea bargained and blamed it all on me. According to her account, I masterminded the whole project and forced her to make the delivery. It was a bitter betrayal too because I sat on many a secret of hers. Did I tell anyone that she had a "booger wall" in her bedroom? Noooo-- well, uh, I guess that cat's out of the bag now.

Okay, but did I drop a dime on her when she had the bright idea to deliver wet, dirty, dead leaves to the mailboxes of everyone in the neighborhood? Again, no. You know, in later years, I had my suspicions that she was The Unabomber [Ed note: How's that for a dated reference?] given her eagerness to deliver "mail" not sanctioned by the U.S. Postal Service. Anyway, the point is, she named names awfully quick and I did time for it. The lady came to my house and showed the picture to my parents while bawling me out which then caused my parents, in turn, to bawl me out. Some mothers in the neighborhood labeled me a troublemaker and forbid their children to play with me. It was quite scandalous.

Next up is the situation involving the sister of mine who took great pleasure in ratting out her siblings. Did I tell on her when she wrote all over the bathroom door with my mother's new tube of lipstick? No! Even when the parents threatened to make me take a lie detector test, I just said, "I don't know who did it." Too bad she didn't adhere to The Code. I mean, was it imperative to inform my mother that I had joined in the chorus of criticism of that much-maligned musical trend of the 70s? I knew the minute I walked in the house and saw my mother's face that she blabbed. I think my mother got in one good whack on my butt before I escaped. Fortunately for me, I was quick on my feet and was able to race up the ladder to my top bunk, well out of her reach.

But as with the tongue incident, there were plenty of times when I was solely responsible for my downfall...
In the distance the faint tinkling of bells could be heard. Tremors strong enough to be felt through the concrete shook the ground with the intensity of a large T-Rex bounding towards its prey [Ed note: Guess who just saw Jurassic Park?] But this was no dinosaur. It was something more ferocious than a 25-foot cold-blooded carnivore. It was a mob of kids, money in hand, chasing after the ice-cream truck.

Like a charismatic preacher in a traveling tent revival, Little Jimmy could command the faithful to turn out in record numbers to worship him with one blast of his tinny, off-key theme music. I was devout in my adoration. With great reverence, I sacrificed my stash of hoarded change to receive Communion in the form of cherry Italian ice. Technically, I simultaneously received under both species since midway through my consumption, the ice would transform into a half-solid, half-liquid substance allowing me to eat and drink at the same time. Three quarters of the way through, the small, white pleated cup became soggy enough for me to stuff in my mouth and chew like paper-and-cherry-flavored gum. When it was done, I would sadly remove the pink, tattered wet mass from my mouth. At this point, it resembled something that was accidentally left in my pocket and put through the washing machine several dozen times.

I had always been a loyal subject of the cherry Italian ice but after an unfortunate incident, I abandoned it in favor of the less conspicuous lemon flavor. It happened one day when a friend and I were sent by her mother to the local deli. After devouring our ices, we were off to the store with evidence of what we just ate all over our faces. Mine was more noticeable since my friend's bubblegum ice was a light pink shade. I ate a cherry one and resembled Robert Smith of The Cure with my haphazard pattern of bright red on and around my lips.

One of the items on our shopping list was a fresh loaf of Italian bread. My friend had to get a few things so I offered to help carry the bags home. It turns out my load had the bread in it. If I were to sing a personalized (non-rhyming) version of "My Favorite Things," bread would be nestled right in between Italian ice and cake batter. And it was literally poking me in the face as I walked. Do you know how hard it was to be within nose shot and not be allowed to eat it? I made a few "discreet" comments along the lines of, "Mmmm... I like Italian bread. I wish I had some." I had hoped she'd pick up on the subtlety and offer me some. She didn't.

We continued walking home but I couldn't stand it anymore. I was a relatively polite and well-mannered kid, however, in the face of bread or some types of candy, I couldn't be held accountable for my actions. I had a jones for some carbohydrates and I had to obey. Good sense had completely abandoned me at this point so whenever the coast was clear, I would gnaw on the end of the bread and then strategically arrange the bag so that my friend couldn't see what I had done. [Ed note: To explain, there was a shortcut between the street the deli was on and our street. It was rather narrow so we had to walk single file. The friend was in front of me so I chewed when her back was to me.]

A few minutes later, we reached my friend's house and I couldn't hide my dirty deed any longer. For that short walk home, I was consumed by my bread lust and didn't fully realize what I had one. I said a quick prayer hoping she wouldn't notice. She noticed.

If it was just bite marks, I could have blamed it on some rodents at the store. I could have assumed a haughty posture and given her a lecture that she should have checked both ends of the bread much like one checks eggs to make sure they're not cracked before buying them. I thought denial and delusion were going to save me but my devotion to Little Jimmy came back to bite me in the ass. I tried pleading ignorance but my friend quickly countered with the damning evidence: the tip of the bread was the same shade of red that was smeared all over my face, teeth and tongue. I was totally busted.
I never got to finish this piece and now I don't really remember what happened afterwards. The friend yelled at me and threatened to tell her mother, I know that much. At that point, I think I dropped the bag and ran home. If I had to guess, her mother probably cursed my name while she sawed off the nasty end of the loaf. With any luck, maybe she later took pity on the poor kid who stole some bread. Wow, this story has suddenly taken on the tone of a Victor Hugo novel. Anyone care to join me in singing "I Dreamed a Dream"?

September 14, 2004

...somewhere in the swamps of jersey

It appears that the fabulous Jake has a gripe with the residents of New Jersey who have unceremoniously invaded his tranquil upstate haven. While I proudly hail from the land o' smoke stacks, corrupt politicians and an inordinate amount of people named Pinky, I do not feel compelled to take Jake to task for his blistering take on my home state. He makes a lucid and compelling argument that a lot of my former neighbors are, well... complete and total assholes.

I used to get really worked up and defensive about it but well, why fight it? I was born to be the butt of jokes. I'm a Catholic dyke from New Jersey, for fuck's sake. Have at it. But be warned -- the fact that I did grow up west of the Hudson River and east of the Delaware means I'm well-equipped to curse like a motherfucking trooper. I don't use this skill often but when necessary, I can lash out at critics in a most colorful and original fashion. I have used the term "ball sack" preceded by an active verb, folks. More than once. And while I won't utter the "c" word, I'm not above calling someone a "twat." What's my take on obscene gestures, you ask? The Finger is for pussies. I pretty much abstain from gestures altogether but every now and then I opt for the rather distasteful yanking motion with one hand. But mostly I curse. I mean, why resort to sign language when I can emasculate men and make women cry with my salty vocabulary alone?

I really have no choice but to lower my defenses about NJ. It's exhausting otherwise... especially after this weekend's viewing of MTV's True Life: I Have a Summer Share. This particular episode followed the exploits of Tommy, a construction worker from northern Jersey, as he made his way down the Garden State Parkway to Seaside Heights each weekend. Sigh... Normally, I would have an issue with the laziness of MTV for picking on Jersey in the most obvious ways but sweet Jesus, the folks in my old area code don't exactly make it too difficult. Unfortunately, the walking Jersey stereotype is not an elusive species. I mean, why would MTV go elsewhere when they can fix their cameras on the Seaside boardwalk to showcase a neverending parade of teased hair, stretch pants, airbrushed "100% Bitch" t-shirts, copious amounts of camel toe, hot pink talon-like finger nails and gold crucifixes suspended from herringbone chains?

And naturally, Tommy was the guido to end all guidos. He wore a Don Corleone cap ALL THE TIME, drove a Cadillac, drank Coors Light and got into a fight EVERYTIME he went out. Even worse, he spoke of Seaside as his "territory." Yeah, that smell of urine you get down there is not from the drunks coming out of the bars late at night. Rather, it's from when Tommy threw open the door of his Caddy and left a trail of piss from the Parkway to the Atlantic Ocean to mark his turf.

I've been to many parties and bars in New Jersey where I've encountered the likes of Tommy. And I have to say that I hate the likes of Tommy. When I'm met with this sort of a man, I thank God I'm gay. Nine times out of 10, the likes of Tommy is flanked by a glitter chick who is his best platonic girlfriend. She always feels compelled to say, usually in between puffs on a Parliament or Marlboro Light, "[Guido's name] is a total sweetheart. He would give you the shirt off his back. The shirt off his motherfucking back!!" She will stab at the air with her cigarette for emphasis and will declare that she wants to cry when she thinks about "the amount of heart that guy has." As proof, she will usually cite the example of a brutal beating the Guido threw some poor slob who had the audacity to look at the Platonic Glitter Chick. I never know what to say in response to this. I think I'm expected to go, "Awww! Ain't he sweet! You're lucky you have him looking out for you." As if. At least I've since learned to not cup my hand over my mouth and gasp in horror.

Now lest you think I'm totally embarrassed about my upbringing and land of birth, I would have to say that I disagree. I'm proud to hail from the same state as Jack Nicholson, Meryl Streep, Susan Sarandon, Philip Roth, Allen Ginsberg, William Carlos Williams, Joe Piscopo... (I was just making sure you were paying attention with that last one.) But anyway, unlike Tommy and his ilk, I display the appropriate amount of shame and humility. I will readily admit where I'm from, albeit with some sort of qualifier. "Yes, I'm from New Jersey but I don't use Aqua Net or anything. Seriously. I haven't touched the stuff in years." While I'm on the subject, you won't ever catch me making devil prongs while yelling "Jerrrrrrrrrrrrrsey!" when the state's name is mentioned at a public event. I will never threaten to fuck anyone up in an argument over a parking spot. I don't call all pasta "macaroni" nor do I refer to carbonated beverages as "soder." I know one person named Louie... and I don't like him. I enjoy The Sopranos for the intriguing storylines and compelling characters, not because I can name where most of the exteriors are shot. Furthermore, I've never set foot in a Camaro or any tricked-out car with mudflaps, spoilers, chain-link license plate covers or other accoutrements that are not factory-installed. So there.

September 09, 2004

an ode to my crappy movie collection

Since the parents had the garage sale, a lot of hidden boxes and other items have been unearthed in their basement. I found a box full of movies I had taped off of HBO and The Movie Channel when I was in high school. Truth be told, we weren't actually paying for those channels but we still got reception free of charge. Naturally, I recorded things like the wind. I showed no discretion. I just pressed the record button all willy-nilly like. As a result, I am in possession of some shitty movies in VHS format because I was forever fearful that the freebie channels would be cruelly taken from me. And eventually, my good fortune dried up. It was a sad and dark day when I turned on the telly to see scrambled HBO and static on TMC.

I compiled quite the library of movies during my free cable run. Well, when I say quite the library, I'm referring to quantity, not exactly the quality of the films. I was the curator of crap. Even if the films in my collection opened to dismal box office returns and scathing reviews, I took enough care to carefully label each tape with a number and store them in an orderly fashion in the TV cabinet. To quickly access the movie of choice, I had only to look in my corresponding handmade catalog which was protected in a see-through report cover with yellow plastic binding.

I didn't apply the same cataloguing system to my audio cassettes, but they too were neatly labeled. No tape case was without a jacket. I always made sure the Maxell/Memorex/Fuji/Scotch card was filled out. If I made a mistake that couldn't be saved by White Out, I painstakingly cut a piece of paper from my sketch book to the appropriate dimensions and started fresh. I was quite neurotic about it. Is it any wonder I'm on an anti-anxiety drug today?

But back to the movies... While I'd like to boast a film library with tons of black-and-white Oscar-winning classics, my collection was a bit heavy on the cheese. Think TNT instead of Turner Movie Classics, perhaps. And I am not ashamed. My Christmas collection was rather superior but the rest was just a dumping ground for mostly-forgettable 80s and early 90s films. I had a lot of the classics but when relying on the whim of premium cable programming directors, one just has to make do. Casablanca? No. The Lost Boys? Absolutely. Gone with the Wind? Uh, nope. Baby Boom? But of course. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington? Get the fuck outta here. Pink Cadillac? Now you're talking.

My collection was largely shaped by my various celebrity obsessions. They were few and somewhat far between but they were serious business. Beginning at a young age, I religiously scoured the TV listings that came in the Sunday Daily News. I became quite adept at spotting Harrison Ford's name in mere seconds. Oh how I ached for knowledge of that man. He was so mysterious to me. Everyone else my age was foaming at the mouth over Luke Skywalker but I knew that Han Solo was the sexy one.

As I grew older and I started getting "funny feelings" about women, I became TRANSFIXED by Kim Cattrall after seeing her in Mannequin. Shut up. Oh but such unwavering devotion to this woman lent for some really shitty viewing on my end. My patience was tested time and time again. Midnight Crossing? Oh Kim, Kim, Kim...

And then I discovered Michelle Pfeiffer and the three of us became entangled in a bizarre love triangle (New Order, represent!) It was bizarre in the sense that Michelle and Kim had NO idea they were even involved, of course. I have to say that following Michelle around like a puppy wasn't a bad thing. The Fabulous Baker Boys, Dangerous Liaisons, Married to the Mob = good. Although, One Fine Day and Dangerous Minds = very bad.

After seeing Basic Instinct, Sharon Stone was in the running for my affections but she quickly became annoying and was given the boot but good. I had a very quick dalliance with Jennifer Runyon of Charles in Charge and The In-Crowd, but that too was a passing fancy. In addition to poor career choices, she also had a weird mouth. I regret this crush.

Kim and Michelle were really holding steady throughout high school. Then I rented Adventures in Babysitting and developed a third-string crush on Elisabeth Shue. My heart didn't exactly race at the thought of her but I liked her enough to plunk down my money to see Cocktail in the theater. I'm not going to lie to you... I liked it! Yes, it was ghastly in many ways but I have no regrets. In fact, I think I even remember most of the poem Tom Cruise recites while standing on the bar at the jail-themed club: "The Sex on the Beach! The Schnapps made from peach! The Velvet Hammer! The ALABAMA SLAMMER!" So on and so forth.

You know, when Elisabeth later regained some cred with Soapdish and the Oscar nod for Leaving Las Vegas, I felt vindicated for liking her all along. Same thing when Kim hit it big with Sex and the City. [insert Arsenio-like hooting here]

When I was a senior in high school, an English teacher brought in a videotape of Into the Woods. As the opening credits of Great Performances rolled, so did my eyes. Despite my love of musicals now, I hated them back then with the exception of maybe Annie and Grease. As a 17-year-old brimming with 'tude, I did not want to see people prancing around the stage bursting into song every few minutes. But I found myself warming up to it. The story was interesting. The songs didn't suck. Most importantly, Bernadette Peters shed her old crone costume at the end of Act 1 to reveal a smokin' bod with boobies OUT TO HERE. She struck quite the memorable pose in my heart and mind with those pursed, juicy lips and those cascading curls. In that moment, my heart was in my throat and still pounding. I didn't know what to make of it because I was totally unawares of my future tendencies, you see. I just chalked it up to admiration, as I was prone to do when a lovely lady made me feel all tingly inside.

The smitten feeling soon passed because it was towards the end of senior year and my thoughts and focus were taken over with graduation, parties and getting ready for college. Two years later, I saw Bernadette on Broadway and the latent crush resurfaced BIG TIME. I went back to see The Goodbye Girl three or four times even though it kinda sucked. But Martin Short was in it too and well, he just kicks my ass. To be in the same room with my idol and Ed Grimley was a monumental moment for me. I got Bernadette's autograph afterwards and proceeded to stalk her for several years. It was serious. I dragged a friend to TropWorld Casino in Atlantic City to see Bernadette's concert. We were the only two who didn't smell like Ben-Gay and have balled-up tissues in our sleeves. It was worth it though as she's a lovely woman and very gracious... even in the face of a bumbling, crazed fan.

My wayward point is, for each obsession, I quickly gained the ability to spot their names in the TV Guide with the speed and precision once reserved only for Harrison. Now Kim, Michelle and Bernadette had equal face-time in my anal-retentive movie archive. In retrospect, they should really thank me for sitting through some of that crap. Hello, Heartbeeps, Bernadette? What the HELL were you thinking? Hanover Street, Harrison? I mean REALLY. I can still conjure up the stank of that piece o' shit. Grease 2, Michelle? I realize this has kitsch value for some and others downright like it but I think it's rotten. P.U.

I used to be concerned mostly with Kim because she made the worst choices of all. But then I saw Lifetime's Intimate Portrait where she explained that she made the likes of Masquerade and Honeymoon Academy in order to finance her real love -- the thee-A-tuh. I had a new-found respect for her after that. Hell, if someone wanted to pay me good money to phone in a performance in a crappy Robert Hayes movie, I wouldn't say no either. Screw the Academy and the critics -- just give me the check. By the way, I also learned from Intimate Portrait that Kim is Canadian. Who knew?

By now the crushes all have waned. Instead, they're more like fond memories. I still love movies but I barely own any. Based on my obsessive behavior as a teen and my more-refined tastes as an adult, it would logically follow that I'd have an enviable collection of top-of-the-line films. On the contrary, I have a few VHS tapes and one DVD to my name. Which movies you ask? Lawrence of Arabia? No way. Working Girl? Naturally. From Here to Eternity? Surely you jest. Sixteen Candles? Like you had to ask. On the Waterfront? Hell no. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer? Fo shizzle.

And long may my crappy collection reign!

September 04, 2004

killer bunny

Dear Vincent Gallo,

I just saw Brown Bunny and I have a few comments:

Thanks for all of those first-person driving shots. I wish Dramamine® was available at the candy counter but then again I haven't had an upset stomach in quite some time and I was beginning to miss the churning sensation.

I guess you liked Chloë Sevigny's passed-out sex scene in Kids so much that you decided to resurrect it in your film. Endearing homage or embarrassing coincidence?

As for the much talked-about scene with Chloë, I have no thoughts other than... impressive penis, young man. It's been a while since I've seen one so thanks for the memories. Oh and way to score a free hummer! I just realized that if I want to kiss a lot of women and be serviced orally without much effort, I just need to author a five-page script like you did. Forgive me if in my rendition, I leave out all the motorcycle stuff and driving around business and just cut to the chase of gettin' me some ass.

Thanks in advance for helping out my sex life.

Curly McDimple

September 02, 2004

celebrities i hate for no good reason

I just found out that Mark McGrath of Sugar Ray fame is going to cohost Extra. I really hate Mark McGrath. Does he ever say no to his agent? Seriously, Mark, make yourself scarce, please! I'm really surprised he hasn't hosted any of the televised beauty pageants. Or has he?

I'm not sure why he bugs me so much but he's definitely in good company. I get supremely irritated by certain famous people. They make me ridiculously angry and my skin crawl. It's not a rational hatred at all but it exists nonetheless. So here, in no particular order, are the people who annoy the crap out of me. Some get an explanation but others speak for themselves:

:: Adam Sandler

:: Geraldo Rivera
He's most definitely grotesque but this is more of a personal grudge as I interned for him in college... but that's a whole other blog entry.

:: Al Roker

:: Rosie O'Donnell [Update: See here and here.]

:: Garth Brooks
Years ago, Entertainment Weekly accused him of possessing "messianic hubris." Once I found out what it meant, I totally agreed.

:: Robin Williams
Sorry but I just don't find him funny. I think people laugh at him more out of expectation and habit. To me, he's manic and totally uncomfortable to watch. Ritalin, Robin. Ritalin.

:: Burt Reynolds
Slimy son of a bitch

:: k.d. lang
Yes, she's a sister and has a gorgeous voice but I once read that she's a cheap tipper and I can't quite get over it.

:: Tom Hanks
Sheila wrote an interesting piece about Hanks. Unlike moi, she doesn't hate him but questions his recent movie roles. But like moi, she despises Forrest Gump. Rock on!

:: Jeff Goldblum
Good actor but irritating nonetheless.

:: John Tesh
Any easy target but I couldn't resist.

:: Mary Hart of Entertainment Tonight
If that woman has an ounce of wit, I have yet to see it. But she's all about the legs I guess. While I'm on the subject, I hate any celebrity who hums the ET theme music when being interviewed on the red carpet. Stop. It's not clever. It's not original. So cut that shit out.

:: Judd from Real World: San Francisco
He was the frizzy-haired self-righteous cartoonist. Not long ago, I took a few other cast members to task but my distaste for Judd definitely has the most staying power.

:: Bob Costas
I actually heard him use the term "slender Panamanian"... more than once. Um, what?

:: Michael Kay
The local announcer for the NY Yankees. He's like Costas with his incessant yapping and ridiculous hyperbole. Argh, I want to crack both of their skulls together.

:: Hootie and the Blowfish
I know they're passé (thankfully) but they left such an impression on me in the 90s and I can't get over it. Ditto goes for The Goo Goo Dolls, Matchbox 20, The Gin Blossoms, Toad the Wet Sprocket, The Verve Pipe and a lot of those other pseudo-alternative boneheads of that decade. Don't know their names but those guys who sing "Closing Time" and "Sex and Candy" better never encounter me in a dark alley. I'll beat their asses something fierce.

:: That Short, Stout Guy with the Pony Tail Found in Infomercials
Don't know his name but I think he shills exercise equipment. Creepy.

:: The Dude with the Accent Who Does Aerobics on the Beach
Don't know his name either but he's always joined by two other people standing on circular mats doing moderate and low-impact aerobics behind him. He's tan and has curly black hair with freakishly thin legs. As a rule, I don't like it when a man's hair is wider than the rest of him.

I'm sure I'll think of more so check back for updates.

September 01, 2004

here kitty, kitty, kitty

At the risk of incurring the wrath of cat people everywhere, I'm going to just come right out and say it... I'm not a fan of the species. I'd even go so far as to say that I HATE THEM. That standoffish, sneaky air about them just doesn't sit right with me. I'm also somewhat allergic which I admittedly milk to mask the truth that I'm just plain scared. Granted, some of my friends have cats and I've managed to forge a relationship with them. And by forge a relationship, I mean that I refrain from kicking them. I KID!!! But seriously, I do get along with some cats. In fact, my friend Filomena's cat, Pumpkin, often camps out on my lap and nuzzles and purrs at me when I visit. I generously return her affection.

I dig Pumpkin because unlike some other felines I've encountered, she doesn't stare at me, scratch or hiss. These are good qualities in a cat. The staring really gets me, I have to say. When a cat glares at me, my blood runs cold. If it happens, I find myself nervously talking to the cat trying to get on its good side or at the very least, suppress its urge to unleash its inner psycho on my ass.

But because I'm a good friend, I agreed to look in on my friend's two cats this week. After greeting the little fellas, I filled up the automatic feeder, changed the water and even scooped numerous clumps of funk out of the litter box. I dry heaved and cursed with each scoop but I persevered. Those lucky cats have an immaculate place to poop for the time being.

Prior to my providing the grub, the older cat (Little Kitty) meowed at me and rubbed up against my leg to make nice. Once the food was out, she had no use for me. Her attention towards me was a means to an end. She got her goodies and then hit the bricks. Little Kitty is a slut.

The younger cat, Luigi, is a feisty kitten. Oh who am I kidding? Luigi is a prick. Like his whore of an older sister, he also had his way with me. I know he likes to be picked up and requires face time so after my chores were done, I hung out to service him. The little fucker had the audacity to nip me during some heavy petting. I realize he was just "being a kitten" but for a cat to playfully scratch or gnaw on me is the equivalent of shoving a claustrophobic into a closet, you know, just for fun. It's traumatic and scarring. I don't need that kind of stress. The rough-housing was getting a bit too much for my taste so I said, "Okay, Luigi, that's it. Stop or I'm going home." 'Cause, you know, he understands and respects ultimatums.

I had been warned that Luigi likes to make a break for the front door so I tried my best to get out of the apartment while strategically placing my hips, legs and belongings in such a way as to block all access to the hallway. Despite my best efforts to simultaneously barricade and exit, Luigi pulled a Houdini on me and escaped. He went down the first flight of stairs and looked up at me. I went down after him and tried picking him up but he fought me. I have to say that I didn't put up much of a fight because, again, I'm scared shitless of all cats, nevermind ones that actually bite. I somehow managed to get my hands on him and get back up the stairs before he wiggled free. And again, down the stairs little Luigi went. But this time he was armed with the knowledge that I was a pussy. And he totally capitalized on it. He ran down yet another flight of stairs and we resumed our game of I Chase/He Nips/I Surrender.

I really don't have a bag of tricks to dig into when it comes to handling a misbehaving cat so I really had to wing it. I tried herding him up the stairs with my foot. He paid no mind. I jingled keys. Nothing. I cursed at him. His response? Sprawling out on the tile and making himself comfy. There may have even been a yawn. As you can imagine, being mocked by a cat doesn't do much to improve one's ego and sense of worth. So I tried being firm with him: "Luigi, come on! I don't have time for this. Let's go!" while clapping my hands for emphasis. My attempts at being a disciplinarian once again were ignored. He descended yet another flight of stairs... and discovered an open window. He went as far as the ledge and managed to position himself in such a way that I couldn't reach out and pull him back in. I started to panic that he would either bolt or take a header off the ledge. Miraculously, he rethought his escape and joined me back inside. At this point, I had sweated through my clothes. Envisioning my friend's heartbreak over her lost/dead cat while running up and down stairs after it on a humid August night will do that to you.

I'm sharing the catsitting duties with another friend. I know she had a similar problem with Luigi on Sunday so I busted out the cell phone and called her seeking advice. She graciously agreed to come over and help me out. After I got off the phone, I noticed Luigi staring at it. He liked the blue light on it so I dangled it in front of him. I took full advantage of his curiosity and made him climb three flights of stairs to get a closer look. I felt like the Pied Piper. I mistakenly thought I could lure him all the way back into the apartment but he got wise to the ploy right outside of the apartment door and back down the stairs he went. I chased after him saying, "Luigi, you're a little fucker, do you know that?!" I knew it was pointless and that help was coming so I just resigned myself to defeat and hung out in the hall with him. Thankfully the friend came a few minutes later and she was able to subdue the obstinate little beast by throwing a towel on him and carrying him while I opened and shut the door. The tag team effort worked really well so we're going to combine forces again on Thursday to properly deal with him.

In recent months, I've had some major accomplishments at work. Things have been falling into place on several fronts. I've been feeling good and confident in my abilities to take on just about anything. Leave it to a fucking cat to come in and blow it all to shit by terrorizing me and holding me hostage in the lobby of a building in Downtown Brooklyn for an hour. Little bastard.