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Thursday, December 31, 2009



I had my annual physical last week, which has over the years been reduced to a yearly platform for cheap comedy. Less cheap than it used to be, since my co-payment keeps going up.

First come the delicate negotiations with the nurse. She tells me to put on one of those ridiculous gowns where everything but your fat ass is covered. Those seem silly and degrading, and even if I am undergoing surgery I try to wake up in the middle and remove it. So I of course refuse, and opt for my underwear instead. She measures my height, and she starts to write down 6-foot-two, but I keep her there as I lean in every direction until it comes out 6-foot-two and a quarter. I almost fell over, which caused her to write a few things that she would not show me. My weight isn’t bad, especially when I tell her that my watch weighs 5 lbs. She again made a couple notations that did not look like subtraction. She takes my blood pressure, which is exemplary, and I keep her there, threatening to walk out in my underwear unless she agrees with me. In the interest of decorum, she does, but I can see HER blood pressure might be rising dangerously. Then, inexplicably, even though I have been technically alive for the past 10 minutes, she takes my pulse. I figure I must be exhibiting dangerous vital signs, but even so I can’t resist shouting out indiscriminate numbers to try and throw her off. She looks at her watch for an entire minute, but I am still alive.

Then the doctor finally shows up, we shake hands, and he gives me a cold as usual. He says, “Time to check your ear,” and I bend over the table, misunderstanding him. He sticks in that cold ear-checking device which is shaped like a Pez dispenser. Sticks it in my ear I mean. He tells me something that I can’t hear because there is a Pez dispenser in my ear, but I bend over again just in case. He puts the ear thing away and tells me to open wide. My mouth he means. I say “Ah,” and not in a good way, as he puts that popsicle stick in my mouth, which my tongue finds depressing. I picture him eating a big fat popsicle before he sees each patient. Then he puts the freezing stethoscope on various parts of my body as if I am a lumpy checkerboard. He tells me to cough, which I have already been doing since he gave me the cold. He doesn’t ask me to sneeze but I do anyway just in case.

He tells me to sit down, and whacks my knee cap with a little hammer as if I didn’t pay back a teensy weensy loan, and so I kick him in the nuts with my other foot and he stops. Then he says it’s time to check my prostate. I bend over again, and this time he reads me my rights ands slaps a set of handcuffs on me.

Then he sends me down to the lab where they tell me they are going to do a couple tests, draw my blood, and that I have to pee into a cup. First they hook my nipples up to a machine. I assumed that there was a similar machine hooked up to a chimpanzee’s nipples, and that after they treated me with this machine, my nipples would then take on the characteristics of the chimpanzee’s nipples, and vice versa, since I saw a similar thing on Gilligan’s Island once. But it turned out to be just an EKG. By the way, wouldn’t EKG stand for Electro- Kardiogram? Seems sort of Krispy Kreme-y kutesy to me. Anyway, it measures your heart function. I asked the tech a question: What if I have a heart transplant- wouldn’t I then be likely to fall in love with the former owner’s widow? The lab tech said not to move, especially my lips.

Then she hands me a little plastic cup and tells me to pee into it. I tell her I misunderstood what she said earlier, and that she better wash her coffee cup. The one they give me is like a little plastic shot glass- it takes me forever, since I suffer from anxiety that it is going to overflow. Then it’s time to draw blood. I tell her I’m afraid of needles- I don’t even like pine trees, and can’t she get the blood another way? She says she has to do it this way so I tell her that her rubber gloves make her look fat. She punches me in the nose and we don’t need the needle after all.

She sends me back up to the doctor’s office. He asks me if I smoke, and I reply only if I’m close to bursting into flames. He asks me if I do drugs, and I say why do you have anything? He asks me if I drink and I say I do get shit-faced but only in moderation. Then we discuss my medical history, which means didn’t I use some of these same jokes last year?

Incidentally, It is also recommended that you give your pet a thorough going over at least once a year, or every seven years, depending on your point of view. For instance, if you notice an unsightly discharge coming from the mouth area, that’s pretty much normal. Also, if you detect a foul odor coming from the coat, that means your dog probably sat on it.

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009



We went to a Thanksgiving party which was cleverly disguised as a 50th birthday party, but at which you can still give plenty of thanks that you are still vertical.

It came out that back in the day, one of our friends was a Miss Teenage New York. It’s no wonder since she is so beautiful, but apparently she hated every minute of it, and only did it to fulfill some unmet fantasy of her mother. Which gave me a great idea for a reality show, where they stage a beauty pageant for young girls, but the actual competition is really for the mothers backstage, without them knowing about it. The audience votes and prizes are awarded for things like, “Biggest Pain in the Ass.” “Stagemom Who Looks Most Like Olympia Dukakis.” “Stagemom Who Looks Most Like Michael Dukakis.” “Stagemom Who Seems Most Bipolar.” “Stagemom Who Cries Most For No Reason.” Stagemom Who Smiles Most at Inappropriate Times.” “Stagemom Who Brags Most About Never Spanking Her Kid, But Yet Her Kid is By Far the Brattiest.”

I could go on and on. I even have a title for this: “The Biggest Loser.” What do you think??

By the way, they are starting these pageants way too early. They even have a pageant for babies. The backstage area is rife with hectic banter, the babies frantically involved with hair and makeup. And when I say hair, I mean just the one:

“What should I do with my one hair? Should I go with the ribbon, the headband, or that little ‘flapper’ hat? Should I put it in a bun? And if so, a hot dog bun or a hamburger bun?”

“I should have gotten botox.”

“Does this diaper make me look fat???”

“What should I do for the talent portion? I am thinking of taking a crap standing up.”

The swimsuit competition is a bummer, but they have them anyway because they are popular with creeps, some of whom are major sponsors.

I think eventually they will start the competition even earlier, at the zygote stage of development. Call it the “Miss Conception” pageant. The whole thing will be done through ultrasound photos. The “Miss Photogenic” award shines in this pageant. “Hey- I don’t think that’s even a girl- that is either a penis or an elbow right there.” “Hey what about this for a talent- two heartbeats!”

Even the current Miss America pageant is more of a tribute to winner’s coach and plastic surgeon than to the girl herself. They put her together like a Mr. Potatohead. One surgeon attaches the nose, another the boobs, one pins her ears like a Doberman pinscher, and another sucks the fat out of her ass and puts it into her calves. Sometimes they take out a rib or two so food can’t stick to it, and then somebody attaches a boatload of hair. Someday there will be the first ribless, assless, thighless contestant, which will resemble a sea cucumber, only hot and with unusually white teeth.

They also have a coach that tells her how to answer the questions so that she just looks dumb rather than just stupid. Remember this question and answer?:

Q: A fifth of Americans can't locate the US on a world map. Why do you think this is?

A: I personally believe that US Americans are unable to do so because some people out there in our nation don’t have maps and that I believe our education like such as South Africa and the Iraq, and everywhere, such as, and I believe that they should our education over here in the US, should help the US, or should help South Africa and help the Iraq and the Asian countries so that we will be able to build out our future for us.

That kind of complicated answer has to be coached by a qualified professional; you can’t leave it up to her to make it up by herself. Obviously before the pageant they meticulously went over the countries in the world by using a big puzzle, which she then took into her bedroom to study, the night before showtime. On her way, she tripped over the cat, spilling countries everywhere and asunder. When she put it back together, it resembled the above answer.

And don’t get me started on the Miss Universe Contest which should NOT be so named unless they are going to open up the competition to other planets. If women are from Venus and men are from Mars, let’s see some of them. Let’s see some exposed antennae in a wardrobe malfunction. Let’s see a disqualification of an eight-armed juggling contestant during the talent portion. Let’s find out once and for all if they are just here for their green card.

Incidentally, the Miss America representatives dislike the phrase “beauty pageant,” since the Evening Wear and Swimsuit competitions comprise only 35 percent of the scoring, and also since some of the girls are ugly. The other 65 percent of the scoring is based on the size of their cans. By the way, if you are scoring at home, congratulations.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009



I feel I have let down an entire franchise, their fans and their players. My friend Phil squanders at least one set of tickets every Giants football season on me and my wife. At first I thought he enjoyed my company. But when I was extremely annoying game after game, season after season, and he still invited me, I grew suspicious. Then I realized it was my record. I am lucky like a rabbit’s foot (a rabbit’s foot is luckier for humans than for rabbits). Dating back to the 1986 championship season, I estimated that the Giants’ won/loss record for games I attended was 26 and one. Every once in awhile I am called upon to save the Giants’ season at a critical time, and this was one of those moments.

Things were going well, and the Giants had engineered a seemingly safe comeback in the late stages of the game. But a last minute scoring drive by the opposition left me with my jaw hanging lifelessly like an empty windsock. My wife looked at me like I had just tracked in dog-do. I glanced over at Phil and he had a look of disgust on his face like I just dropped a cigar butt into his Cheerios. Even his 8-year-old kid looked at me like I had just stolen his Halloween candy. I looked around the stadium and everyone was looking at me like I had just run over their cats, and the ones who hated cats looked at me like I had failed to run over their cats.

I myself was stunned, and I immediately looked to blame others. For instance, how come the Giants have no cheerleaders? How do we know when to cheer? There are specific rules about it. You are supposed to cheer very loudly when the home team is on defense, so the opposing quarterback can’t hear his cellphone ringing. While the Giants are on offense, you are supposed to cheer in a kind of whisper, and clap so that your hands stop when they are an inch or so apart. Even that is too loud and Eli Manning flaps his arms, telling the crowd to “Hey- hold it down over there.” He flapped his arms so fast that he actually lifted four feet off the ground, and flew around the backfield. The crowd that witnessed this was amazed, because they figured the Giants would just go for the field goal. Then Eli landed flawlessly behind center in just enough time to get a delay-of-game penalty.

I wanted to watch it on instant replay, but they don’t replay things instantly in live football. Luckily, since the Giants have so many penalties, they replay each down at least twice, so I am MORE than satisfied. They do have a huge Jumbotron on each side of the stadium. If the Giants make a spectacular play, you can look up afterward on the big screen and see a replay of a Geico commercial. At the stadium in Dallas they have a Jumbotron so big that runs the length of a football field. I happen to know this because there is a football field right underneath it.

In Seattle, the crowd does a thing called “The Wave.” It is a cheerleading phenomenon whereby everyone in the stadium, in succession, rises from their seat and waves their arms. From far away it looks like a big tidal wave. I was at the beach and thought I saw the same thing, but it was just an actual wave. At Giants Stadium they do not have the wave- any spontaneous acts of cheering that don’t involve the words, “You DICK!” are frowned upon. But New York fans have their own version of the wave where somebody finally has to get up to pee, and everyone gets up in succession to let them out, throwing up their arms at the same time because their foot has been stepped on.

Once you get to the Men’s Room you run the risk of standing behind a slow pee-er. I always look for a guy who looks like either a Mormon, a recovering alcoholic, or somebody who has been out all day in the sun and is dehydrated. But I always end up behind a human fire hose directly connected to the water table. The worst is getting behind a guy who has a kid, because then he stands there and teaches him how to pee. And god forbid the kid is hard of hearing, and has to turn around to hear what his dad is saying.

And all this is if you even get into the stadium. It takes so long to park because if you are a TRUE BLUE Giants Fan you must arrive two or three meals before the game and “tailgate.” This is a ritual that involves a barbecue, a cooler of beer, an underinflated football, and the parking space that I WAS GOING TO TAKE. Ironically cars don’t have tailgates anymore, so most people “hatchback.” Tailgating has become so high-tech and overblown, it’s hard to believe anyone would ever leave ribs and a barcolounger to go watch the game in those uncomfortable seats…. People even had these giant blue Giant blow-up dolls. The people who blew them up were also blue in color.

Incidentally, legend has it that Wellington Mara purchased the team in 1925 for $500. It came in a big box with a lot of instructions, and he had to put it together himself with some help from his big brother. It was either buy the NFL franchise or buy France, and I think he made the right decision.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Friday, November 13, 2009



I can’t get over how different Halloween is now than it was when we were growing up. There is just no longer the inner desire to try and procure by any means available as much candy as is humanly possible. Is there a glut on the candy market? Are many more moms now candy-shunning vegans? Or is it just laziness?

We live in a picture-perfect neighborhood, all the neighbors dress up their homes for Halloween, they have more than enough chocolate-related products, and the only thing missing is children to give them to. This year we had three trick-or-treaters ring our bell, and they made the trip all the way from the house on our right. They did not make it as far as the house on our left, as I found out the next day. The house on the left had one group of seven, who didn’t get as far as our house. We had three bags of candy, and my wife said we should have given each kid an entire bag and gone to bed.

When I was a kid you made damn sure you had enough energy to get up and down the driveways of at least 20 or 30 houses. Even if it was up a hill. Even if there was five pit bulls guarding the door, a chicken-wire fence, and a chicken. If something about the house seemed a little scary, hey- IT’S HALLOWEEN! It’s supposed to be scary. There were no pedophiles back then, just gym teachers and clergymen. The most dangerous threat was the presence of other rogue groups of kids who might seek to unlawfully gain access to your candy.

And if god forbid we ever received anything healthy, like a candied apple or something, you should expect it to end up in your mailbox, minus the candy. And don’t even talk to me about a box of raisins. We never went out while it was still light out, especially if we didn’t spend a whole lot of time on the costume. Since it was impossible to see through your mask anyway it didn’t make much difference.

This year our young guests arrived with UNICEF boxes, which I hadn’t seen since the last time I trick-or-treated myself, age 18 or so. I remember getting the boxes in school, and spending about an hour and a half trying to figure out how to put the damn thing together, tab A into slot B, fold here, etc. I can’t even get a newspaper to fold the right way, so I just scotch taped the damn thing into the general shape of a box and called it a day. When I was through I couldn’t find the slot that the coins were supposed to go through so I had to cut a new one.

When the kids arrived with UNICEF boxes, I had to wrack my brain to figure out how much to put in it- back when I was a kid you would put a penny or two in. Adjusted for inflation over the years, I figured out that today you would have to put $187.30 into each box.

I keep trying to think of a way to make Halloween work better financially for me. In my own mind I think of candy as a charitable donation. I wrote on my 1040 that we gave away 6.2 million dollars in $100,000 bars. One year a kid took so much candy we claimed him as a dependent.

The day after Halloween re-donned my Jesus outfit and went on a mission of “Reverse trick-or-treating,” whereby I give candy to the neighbors who may have run out already. You can’t keep that stuff in the house, especially if you are Jesus, trying to set examples about gluttony and avarice. No one likes a corpulent Christ, a meaty Messiah, a swollen savior…. I know I was only pretending to be Jesus, but it gave me some great ideas. Like what about a handy reference section in the back of the bible, with a conversion table that tells you how many locusts make up a plague, or how many inches in a cubit (about 18).

Incidentally, if an owl sees you through the window, it is considered to be bad luck for you. If the owl sees you naked through the window, it’s his own bad luck. If you are an owl yourself and another owl looks at you through the window, it’s a “push.”

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Monday, November 2, 2009



Halloween isn’t a national holiday but it should be. When else can grown people get all dressed up, drink to excess, say scary things to one another and eat fattening foods? Well besides their wedding day? We went to a party on Saturday night at Matt’s vintage guitar store- what a cool idea to have a party in a place where one can do the MAXIMUM amount of damage to irreplaceable objects? About 500 beautiful guitars were hanging up in a row, and I pictured myself getting really drunk and knocking one of them over. But that one bangs into the next one and knocks it over, and all of a sudden all the guitars are falling over like one of those playing card displays that goes around and around the room each card knocking over the next... Or like one of those movies where the Hells Angels are all inside the bar and they come out just in time to see Chevy Chase or somebody knocking over all their motorcycles. Or like the economy.

I went dressed as Jesus, because I hate wearing a mask or a wig. I don’t mind stockings or a push-up bra or Manolo pumps (size 11EE). I understand that Jesus didn’t wear stockings or a push-up bra, but I figured who’s going to know? My wife was dressed as Janis Joplin, but she did not realize that it was a costume party. There was another jesus there already, and they were about to hold a jesus-off, but I whipped out my drivers’ license with my birthday listed on it, and won that one hands down. Plus I out-annoyed the other jesus with bad jokes about me talking things over with my staff, and that back at the manger there is a sheep in wolf’s clothing (hey it’s Halloween for them too).

I grew a beard just for Jesus, and it’s one of the few things I have ever done for him. Only it came in half gray, and made for a geriatric jesus, a senior savior. So I got my hands on some “Just For Men.” The directions said to brush it onto the beard and leave it on for less than 5 minutes. Unfortunately, at that moment water from the rain outside started streaming in through the improperly installed windows. 35 minutes later, I looked like Osama Bin Laden. And my beard did not grow in evenly- it looked as though some parts of my face got more sun than some others. Another thing I always forget is that food always ends up in my beard, and I wonder if the same thing happened to Jesus. I went back and looked at the famous painting, “The Last Supper,” and sure enough you can make out what looks like a sprig of broccoli in his beard.

The party was fun, and I enjoyed jamming with the guys. As Matt was saying, since drunk people have no conception of time, each song can last an eternity. The songs have no discernable beginning or end, only a middle. Sometimes after a 20 minute lead break, no one can remember what song we started on. Most likely you will hear 5 or 6 people singing a different verse at the same time, although sometimes a moment of kismet will cause one word to overlap. Typically a song lasts until someone has to go to the bathroom. Sometimes it goes on just past that point, but hey- that’s rock n roll. One Led Zeppelin song would still be going on right now except the lead singer passed out.

The strange thing about Halloween is that after a while you forget you have the costume on, and you may find yourself engrossed in a very serious conversation. And if someone from another country that does not celebrate Halloween walks in it could be very confusing. He could see Jesus talking to General Custer with an arrow through his head talking to an M & M about global warming. He may wonder what qualifies an M & M to converse freely about global warming, but if the polar ice caps could be made to melt in our mouths and not in our hands, it may do some good.

Incidentally, traditional games such as “bobbing for apples,” already known in Ireland during the festival of Samhain, became popular in the U.S. in the middle 1800s, when immigration dramatically increased. Participants would fish for apples bobbing in a water-filled tub using only their teeth. In a variation for senior citizens, players would fish for their teeth in a water-filled tub using only an apple.

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Friday, October 23, 2009



I recently turned 50, and I just had a routine medical procedure done. I don’t want to gross anyone out, so I won’t say what it was. Suffice it to say that they stick a tube up your ass and look around for half an hour. If they like what they see, they invite you back to do it again over and over. The tube has a camera in it, and they take pictures that you can post on Facebook if you like. If you are on Assbook, so much the better. They print the photos out in color, and they are really quite beautiful. Mine had a thing on it that looked like the Sea of Tranquility. I looked at it with a magnifying glass, and I thought I could make out a little American flag that someone had planted there years ago. It turns out that eating more fiber will get rid of the Sea of Tranquility.

The better your medical coverage, the more painless the procedure is. Working as I do for the television industry, my basic plan covers a colonoscopy that utilizes not exactly cutting edge technology. They took an actual VHS camcorder from the 1970s and barged it right in there. When it came time to change the tape, enough said.

First the nurse subjects you to a battery of questions, most of them “true or false,” relating to your medical history. She asks you if you have any allergies. And I told her yes, I am allergic to people sticking anything up my ass. And also, cats. “Are you on any medications?” Yes, I am currently on a prescription called cyclobenzazoxlazone. It doesn’t say on the bottle what it’s for, but I have been taking it since 1987 and I haven’t had whatever it cures since then. They ask if there are any medical problems in my family, and I tell them my parents are both dead so I would say a big YES on that one. They ask if I have any diabetes, and the answer is never even ONE diabete.

Then the anesthesiologist waltzes in and asks the exact same questions, and just for fun, I mix up the answers. He doesn’t even notice. But I feel like he knows a lot of personal information about me, and I know nothing about him. So to even it up I ask him some questions: Who was the 27th president? (Taft) What is the capital of North Dakota (Bismarck). He got them both right so it was time to begin.

This isn’t one of those deals where they ask you if you want to watch the procedure on TV, like my knee surgery. I didn’t want to watch that either, so I asked him to flip to The Price is Right, and he totally agreed. The anesthesia is very fast-acting, so he asks you to count backwards from one. When I woke up, the damn thing hadn’t even started yet- turns out I had fainted from him putting the IV needle into my arm. This is an unpleasant examination, and I don’t think it’s any less unpleasant for the doctor either.

The preparation is the annoying part. You can’t have breakfast the day before the procedure for instance. I got around this by delaying my dinner from the night before until 7AM the next morning. You are not allowed to eat any foods in a solid form the whole day. So instead I cooked my hamburger so well done that it ended up in a gaseous state, then I just inhaled it. You can eat Jell-o, and it didn’t say you couldn’t have Jell-o shots, so I did plenty of those. In fact I had a lot of intake in liquid form. Then starting at 6PM you have to drink this stuff that gives you diarrhea. Obviously it also gives me diarrhea of the mouth.

The anesthesia wears off quickly, but you are still not allowed to drive or use heavy machinery- anything over, say, 15 pounds. The doctor also told me not to sing, but I think that was unrelated to the procedure.

Incidentally, March is National Colon Cancer Awareness Month. Hopefully it also the month of something less ridiculous-sounding. The colon is 5 to 6 feet long, which means it can probably dunk a basketball. If you have a semi-colon it’s about half that; the semi-colon is the one that winks at you at the end of cute emails.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009



My band played at a gala benefit recently for the Hudson Valley Writers Center, for which my wife is a sitting Board member, mostly because of her back. Even the band had to wear a jacket and tie. Nobody said anything about pants, so I didn’t wear any. Every time I put on a jacket and tie it feels like I am pretending to be something I am not, namely a functioning member of society. One look at me should tell you that I just don’t belong in formal wear. It always seems like I am back at my Senior Prom, maybe because it’s the same jacket. This was even more like a senior prom because of all the senior citizens.

And I don’t know how to act among rich people either. For instance, the table setting has too much silverware. A knife and a fork is all I know how to use. I don’t even need a spoon, since anything you can eat with a spoon you can just slurp into your mouth by tipping the bowl. There is always a really small fork, which I avoid because I’m afraid they will serve me a really small dinner. But I guess they have to put it there because babies could be eating there also. There are usually two knives: one is really dull, and the other even duller. In order to kill someone with this knife you would have to turn it around and beat someone over the head six or seven hundred times, and after the first couple hundred times they would just end up getting annoyed. There is also a really small plate, and invariably just as I am about to put something on it someone takes it away. The better the restaurant, the more plates they have that they take away before you are able to use. Usually there are two or three glasses. I think one is for wine, one is for water, and the other one they never fill so it’s a mystery. Which one is for beer? If only I could get them to fill the beer glass like they fill the water glass- after each sip I took of the water a guy would appear from underneath the table and fill my glass as I was putting it back on the table, and then quickly duck back underneath. And then I’m looking for butter for my bread, and somebody hands me a plate of oil. I didn't have any use for it eating-wise, but I did dip my reading glasses into it because they are hard to open. Am I supposed to put it on my bread? When I bring my car in for a tune-up, do they put butter in my crankcase? Well my mechanic sometimes does so bad example.

I don’t know how to converse with rich people. Since they are not concerned with the problems of the proletariat, their discussions are loftier. As soon as someone says, “Did you see that piece in the ‘Times’…?”, I am always too embarrassed to join in. I only saw a piece of that piece, since my attention span is so short. The “Times” always has so many words in it, but aptly named, since it takes so friggin’ long to read. Rich people can talk about food for hours. The word “hummus” always comes up, I’m not sure why. Rich people all seem to know what a “haiku” is. There are specific rules for a haiku, and if you break them people will scoff at you. There was a piece in the “Times” about it.

They had a silent auction to raise money, in case there were deaf people. They also had a louder auction, and then an even louder one. Thank god they didn’t have one of those auctioneers who talk really fast. So fast that if you raise your hand to ask them to repeat something you have already bought it. They had a couple speeches, but you could only hear every other word, because the P.A. was malfunctioning. I had to spring into action and hook the microphone up to the band’s P.A., which was about 500 feet away. So then you could hear the speaker talking, and then it came through the P.A. really softly about three seconds later. I’ve found that people don’t know how to talk through a mike. They always hold it really close to their mouth, confusing it with an ice cream cone. Some orators even took a lick or two from it. And every time they pronounced a word that begins with the letter “P,” pieces fell off the chandelier. And for god's sake don't blow into the microphone. Did you ever blow directly into your dog's face? A microphone reacts the same way- it doesn't like it and it makes a loud noise. But then it forgives you and licks you.

But we played, and people danced, and they seemed to have a good time, although it’s really hard to tell with rich people.

Incidentally, the history of auctions dates back to biblical times, where maidens were auctioned off in a “descending auction,” where the price started high, and came down to an affordable option at some point. But, as in a singles bar, the more alcohol they served, and the later it got towards closing time, the price went back up again.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009



I threw out my back two weeks ago. I always figured that if this happened to me, it would be because I was doing something I shouldn’t have done. Something that seemed important at the time, but in retrospect was not. Lifting a car off an injured guy who was changing his oil, for instance. I could handle a Yugo, but you don’t need to change the oil in a Yugo- you simply wait until it leaks out. Or carrying 5 or 6 boxes of paper over to the copy machine. Which would be a wasted trip since I don’t know how to clear the paper jams. Or changing out the empty jug in the water cooler.

In reality that describes my injury exactly. As I was about to play a game of doubles tennis, I hurt my back performing what would have been a very very funny and topical imitation of Serena Williams chasing around that little Chinese lines judge at the US Open semifinal. As you remember if you saw it, the lines judge inexplicably calls a foot fault on Serena at 15-30 in the final set, which costs her the point and brings up match-point. Serena walks over to her, and says something to the effect of, “I wanna stuff this tennis ball right down your friggin throat.” And she actually shows her the tennis ball, so that she can see how big it is. The lines judge is a small Chinese woman, with a small friggin throat, and even a squash ball or a racquetball shoved down there might have killed her. So she runs over to the umpire’s chair, because Serena is friggin’ huge, and she is armed with a large tennis ball. Then Serena goes back to serve at double match-point down, thinks about it again, and walks back over to the lines judge and points her raquet at her, presumably to also shove that down her throat. The lines judge runs away again and hides under a plant. Serena returns three of four times, each time with something bigger to shove down the girl’s throat, and chases her around the umpire’s chair, or at least that’s how I remember it. Then the US Open officials come out and tell Serena that she has defaulted the point, and so the match, on the grounds of unsportsmanlike conduct and attempted murder. The next day Serena is told that she must forfeit an entire moment’s pay, never go within 50 feet of any lines judge, and not grunt so loud that it scares people. She immediately issues a heartfelt apology through her agent, saying that she is sorry she foot faulted and had to pay all that money, and that she is very passionate about her sport and might hurt anyone at any time in the future.

So my imitation would have been very important, since comedy often has a healing effect. In this case it had quite the opposite effect, since I felt like I dislocated my back. Once I located it again, it hurt like hell and I should have left it where it was. I was writhing around the ground looking like I was break dancing, and the rest of the foursome was laughing at me, marveling at how lifelike I was.

So I could hardly stand up, and everything I did for the next two weeks was extremely painful. I was walking around at about an 80 degree angle, and on the plus side I never stepped in any gum. In order to put on my pants I had to lie on the floor with one leg up, throw the pants into the air and stick my leg underneath it, hoping that the right leg would land in the right leg. There is still a pair of pants hanging from one of our overhead lights because we don’t have a ladder that tall.

So I finally went to the doctor. She poked me in the back and I went, “AAAHHHKKK!” She said, “Was that painful?” I said, “No I am ticklish there.” So she tried another place and I went, “AAAHHHKKK!” And she asked, “Is that ticklish?” And I said, “No- painful.” So she thought I should get an X-ray. I asked, “For my back?” And she said, “No, for your brain- you seem like an idiot.” She also prescribed muscle relaxants, and after two of those I resembled a large puddle, and had to be poured into bed. And then at physical therapy they made me lie on my back and move my legs in a way that if I was a girl on “Melrose Place” would be hot, but for a guy just looks embarrassingly dumb.

The moral of this story is that there isn’t anyone on the planet who doesn’t have a remedy or advice for back pain.
“Try my chiropractor! He doesn’t take insurance so just give him your ATM PIN number!”
“Go to an acupuncturist! Don’t drink any milk for a couple hours afterward!”
“Get a massage- you don’t need the happy ending, but don’t get the UN-happy ending!”
“Put heat on it!”
“Put ice on it! For god’s sake don’t use heat!”
“Lie on your side and lift your hand and leg up and down simultaneously for two minutes straight!”
“Go onto your hands and knees and make a noise like a raccoon!”
“Swallow an entire glass of water, then hold your breath until you start to get a little hungry!”
That last one might have been for the hiccups, I forget.

Even before the injury my wife was constantly badgering me. Before tennis: “Don’t forget to stretch!” I am 6’2” tall, and I think that’s tall enough. And every time I would bend down to pick something up, she would yell: “Use your legs!” I tried and tried to use my legs to pick things up, and sometimes I was able to, but often I just gave up and used my hands.

Incidentally, Astronauts in space can grow 1 ½ to 2 ½ inches, as zero gravity causes their spines to lengthen. Their noses can also grow if they lie in the spacecraft.

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Monday, September 21, 2009



So I was swimming around the pool naked last week and noticed about six zillion bees flying in and out of one of the planters on the deck. They were wearing what appeared to be small jackets of the color yellow. I couldn’t tell what type of bees they were, but I noticed that the horizontal stripes on their jackets made them look fat, so I scoffed at their undeveloped sense of style.

Then I realized in a panic that being naked, they could sting virtually EVERY part of my body! Making body parts swell to THREE TIMES their normal sizes! So I wandered over much closer. It turns out as I looked at their faces that nothing could disgust them more than seeing me naked, and they avoided me like the plague. They seemed very busy; they were flying in and out of that planter with a sense of purpose. I couldn’t guess what that purpose was, but they were clearly not interested in me, even though yellowjackets are reputed to be very aggressive and predatory. There were minding their own beeswax.

Still, the situation seemed dangerous, especially right by the pool. If you are not even allowed to run by the pool, think of the extra peril added by this situation: What if a small baby walked up to our house, jumped over the fence, got stung by the bees, fell into the pool and drowned? What if an adult, weakened by trying to swim in the pool less than 30 minutes after eating, was stung to death? What if they flew into and clogged up my BRAND NEW pool filter? Any of these, or even worse, all of them happening on the same day would be tragic. Clearly I needed to address the situation.

With a delicious sneer on my face, I doused the entire area with Raid Wasp & Hornet spray. Well actually, I also doused our side door and one of our lounge chairs with it, since the first minute or so the can was faced the wrong way. We have never had a bee problem on our side door or lounge chairs, and I’m fine with keeping up that perfect record. I waited 15 minutes or so, laughing diabolically, until one of the neighbors told me to shut up.

It didn’t slow the bees down one visible iota. I sprayed again and again. And again the neighbor told me to stop with the laughing. This time it was not me laughing, it was the bees.

I heard somewhere that bees don’t like smoke, and true enough I have never seen any bee smoking, so I set up my trusty Off Mosquito Coils in an ash tray right next to the nest, and lit them up. I fell asleep for about half an hour, and when I woke up, the bees were still there and the ashtray was broken into 20 pieces. This made me not a little frightened, because they seemed to have little regard for my personal property. I checked all the other ashtrays and china in the house to see if they had broken anything else.

I took to standing in the pool and spraying them individually with Raid Flying Insect Killer. I must have sprayed five hundred bees individually (It’s possible I sprayed the same one five hundred times). Not a thing. I thought I caught some of them yelling things at me on the way by. One of them called me a “drone.” One did a feint and roll, as if it were dying, then just laughed and sped away.

I considered spraying the nest with pepper spray, but the fact is I don’t want to waste it, since I keep it in the closet in case a recipe calls for hot pepper and I don’t have any on hand.

I considered befriending them, maybe even making a “beard of bees” out of them, or possibly just sideburns. They didn’t show any interest in my face at all.

I researched them online, and printed out instructions for an “Eco-Friendly Yellowjacket Trap.” You cut a two inch hole in a plastic 2-liter soda bottle, fill it with eco-friendly dishwashing liquid (bees hate doing the dishes), then smear jelly and jam around the sides of the hole. The bees are attracted to the jelly, climb into the hole, then drown in a sea of sorrows en masse. First of all, when I cut the hole in the soda bottle I got Dr. Pepper all over my pants- the soda bottle should be empty first it turns out. After I was done, not one bee flew into my trap, and it wasn’t even eco-friendly, since I got angry and threw it about a mile into the woods.

I was just ready to try to find instructions for a “bunker-buster” bomb, like the ones they kept trying to use on Saddam Hussein, but just then my wife arrived with a spray guaranteed by the guy at the hardware store. It’s called triamethylchloraflorylhydroflummoxoline, or something just like that. I doused the entire area for about a two mile radius and haven’t seen any living thing now for about a week and a half. On the plus side, I think I also might have killed Saddam Hussein.

Incidentally, every winter the entire yellowjacket bee colony dies, with the exception of the queen. If you have a nest in your closet, and you see a queen there, well, just fill in your own joke I need a nap.

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Wednesday, September 2, 2009



This week {actually last week} I got in all my “brushes with fame” for the whole year. Yesterday as I walked down 53rd Street I saw a large mass of people around the stage door for the Letterman Show, as I often do. The stage manager yelled out “Any second!” so I hung around. Out popped Letterman, Andy Roddick, and for some unknown reason, Rachel Ray (she turned out to be the ballgirl). They had stretched a tennis net between two light poles on 53rd, and Letterman was going to try to return Roddick’s serve. If Andy Roddick was serving tea I don’t think Letterman could return it. He was serving at 90 mph, about 2/3 the speed of his U.S. Open best. I don’t think Letterman ever got a racket on it. I yelled out “I hope you’re wearing a cup!” but I don’t think he heard me- I was serious!

I could sense confusion on the faces of all the tourists as they tried to convert miles-per-hour to kilometers-per-hour, but before they could figure it out some guy got nailed! I caught one of the tennis balls that they lobbed into the audience, nearly killing some people who were not expecting it, but I was not able to convince my dog that this ball was “special,” so there is drool on it now, some of it from the dog.

Then the day before that I was walking next to 30 Rock and I notice a bunch of protesters picketing. I thought it was the Rainbow Room not paying their employees again, but one of the sign said, “Pages are People Too!” so I got suspicious. Sure enough, there was that goofy red-headed guy from the Tina Fey show out there looking goofy. I probably could have gotten into the scene but I didn’t want to miss my train, and besides I believe that pages are overpaid.

Then last weekend just as I was finishing my tennis match, two kids and an old guy come onto the court. I did a double-take then said to the old guy, “I don’t suppose anyone ever told you that you look exactly like Sean Connery!” He said, “Yes my mother told me that!” I told him it was nice to meet him, and left. I guess one of the players was his kid, who belongs to Saw Mill. Not as interesting as Jill Clayburgh seeing my wife naked, or the time Chevy Chase said hello to me and I barely gave him a nod (clueless as usual), but not bad.

So I was kicked off the court by James Bond, almost was an extra in “30 Rock,” and told Dave Letterman to wear a protective cup. This was one of my more productive weeks.

Incidentally, Sean Connery was filming a movie with Lana Turner in 1958, only to have her gangster boyfriend storm the set, point a gun at him and accuse him of having an affair with her. Connery disarmed him and diffused the situation. He gave the boyfriend his arm back and got him to leave, but held onto the gun.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009



This Saturday marked the 40th anniversary of the "Woodstock Music & Art Fair," or in its very shortened form: "&". I kind of missed the boat on the whole Woodstock thing, being as I am so much younger than you. I am 50, which is the new 30, and the even NEWER 20. Which means I am much more interested in free beer. But I do remember I was very intrigued by the soundtrack album, and some of the great bands that were on it. And I remember thinking: “Man this SUCKS compared to the studio version!”

Yes, there was rain. Yes, there were drugs. Yes, there were inadequate toilet and dining facilities. But there was also something more. Something even bigger. And that something was: really bad parking. What a muddy friggin’ mess. I can picture me trying to parallel park on the middle of the NYS Thruway, and there are no meters or anything there, so I write one of those “notes to the cops,” hoping that they will show you some mercy: “PLEASE DON’T TOW- CAN’T GET THRU AND OUT OF ACID”

Of course I wanted to hear the Who, Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, Crosby, Stills Nash & Young… But there were also so many lesser known acts there that made a big splash. For instance, a band called Canned Heat really made a name for themselves, and their lead singer, Kermit the Frog. They were an LA blues band named after Sterno.

I know it’s hip to say how GREAT Richie Havens and Joan Baez were, but jesus to me that whole first day was a snorefest. I guess I am just not a folk music guy. After Richie led off the festival, Swami Satchidananda gave an invocation. I would hate to be a Swami and try to follow the Who, so this was probably good scheduling. He did a lot of blah-blah-blahing then made the whole crowd chant “Rama Rama Rama Rama Rama Rama Rama Ram.” So it turns out he put the “ram” in the “rama-lama-ding-dong.”

Joan Baez closed the first evening with some protest songs and such. She always sings like she is driving over a REALLY bumpy road.

The next day had some good bands. Santana was reportedly high on mescaline the whole set, and he still killed. Creedence Clearwater Revival was one of the headliners at Woodstock, hugely popular at the time, but nobody knows it because they weren’t on the soundtrack or the film. They took the stage at about 3AM, pissed off at the Grateful Dead because they droned on way past their allotted time until everyone went to sleep.

Country Joe and the Fish famously offered the “Fish cheer,” where he calls on the audience to spell “FUCK” in cheerleader style. I can imagine how I would have screwed up Woodstock if I had been in the band. Since this was in the days before spellcheck, I would have spelled “FUCK” wrong, and Country Joe would have brained me over the head with a microphone stand. Hey- whatever happened to 3 days of peace and love? Or he would have yelled, ‘GIVE ME AN F!” And me, not paying attention of course, thinks he means the note, so I blare an F on my bass, obscuring the whole “Fish cheer,” and ruining Woodstock.

With my sister I attended Woodstock ’94, a cheap imitation of the original, and when I say cheap I mean we didn’t pay for our tickets, which she won in a radio contest, and we didn’t use them anyway since we snuck under the fence because it was so “establishment.” We got to the main stage and there was Melissa Etheridge singing a medley of Janis Joplin songs, and she killed. It was then that I realized we had come full circle. Meaning that we had gone the entire perimeter of the grounds and still not found the bathrooms. We saw Crosby, Stills & Nash perform the song, “Woodstock,” which of course was not written yet for the original Woodstock.

But it was fun; the intermittent rainstorms lent a sense of déjà vu to the proceedings, and also made things very wet. People were sliding around in the mud, going nuts, and you had to steer clear of the mud people or else they would push you right down the hill in the slime and soak you right down to your undies.

Incidentally, Martin Scorcese was one of the editors for the Woodstock documentary. Since the Band, Blood, Sweat & tears and the Grateful Dead were left on the cutting room floor, they are probably pretty pissed off at him.

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Monday, August 10, 2009



On our trip to Maine last week, since we had mistakenly put the wrong Portland into the GPS and didn’t notice until we were in Ohio, we had to actually open up a map. We have a big map book with a big map of each state in it, and even though the map is big since it’s a big map book, you can’t read any of the names of the towns without a magnifying glass and reading spectacles. And a monocle. With halogen lighting. The lighting is great in our car, but only if you are sitting in the back seat, which is great for back-seat drivers like myself. We couldn’t see a damn thing on the map except that up in margin of each page was hugely written the motto of each state. Appropriately, since we were driving to Maine and didn’t know which direction it was, the state motto is: “I Direct.” It didn’t give a phone number or anything, so we just kept driving, and it worked- we eventually got there.

New York’s motto is “Excelsior,” which means “ever upward” in Latin. And if the elevators are ever out in your building, you know exactly what they are talking about.

But as we looked into this further it’s clear that no one actually tried these state mottoes out on anyone. They should have left them all in Latin so that you can’t see how stupid they are. For instance, the Arkansas state motto is: “The People Rule!” Dude that is TOTALLY awesome! The people are stoked. However, South Dakota declares: “Under God the People Rule.” Dude now you’re bumming us out because it probably means we have to go to church.

New Hampshire’s is “Live Free or Die.” How would you like to be in that legislature session that has to raise the real estate taxes? No thanks. The state motto of Vermont looks exactly the same as New Hampshire, only upside down and to the right.

Washington’s is “By and By,” which added together is: “Bye-bye.”

Virginia chimes in with: “Thus Always to Tyrants.” Thus what? I think they were right in the middle of writing this one and the phone rang or something.

Connecticut: “He Who Transplanted Still Sustains.” This one seems grammatically awkward to begin with. Should it be “Who” or “Whom?” I can never remember, but I think in certain situations the Pete Townsend rock band when used as a predicate should be “The Whom.”

Some are quite violent-sounding. Mississippi’s is: “By Valor and Arms.” And probably not necessarily in that order. Massachusetts: “By the Sword We Seek Peace, But Peace Only Under Liberty.” If you go around seeking peace with a sword you are likely to find it eternally. Ironically, Texas’ is “Friendship.”

New Mexico: “It Grows As it Goes.” Sounds like something Billy Mays would say. HOWEVER: If you ACT NOW, we’ll throw in ANOTHER THREE, FOR FREE! Just pay shipping and handling.

Montana gets right to the point: “Gold and Silver!” Enough said there.

We held a contest for the winners of the stupidest state mottoes, and the winners were, in reverse alphabetical order: Michigan, with: “If You Seek a Pleasant Peninsula, Look About You.” (Hell that doesn’t even work for my glasses.) And Maryland, with: “Manly Deeds, Womanly Words.” I couldn’t even begin to guess what they were thinking.

Florida put the least amount of time into it I think. Theirs is, “In God We Trust.” They were trying to choose between “If You Seek a Pleasant Peninsula, Look About You,” and “Manly Deeds, Womanly Words,” and somebody said, “Flip a coin!” When they looked closely at the coin it came to them.

Incidentally, Benjamin Franklin wanted to make the turkey the national bird. Let’s face it: the guy was a big fatso, and if he could have named the national bird the turkey sandwich, he would have done so.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009



Well, President Obama has sponsored his now-famous “beer summit,” and so much do I have my finger upon the pulse of the nation that it is almost like I was there. The conversation went EXACTLY thus:

Obama: I’d like to thank both of you for coming, and I think we can find a common thread of-
Crowley: CHUG IT!
Obama: Huh?
Gates: Chug-a-lug!
Obama: Damn that went down easy!
{four beers later}

Gates: You are the best black damn president I ever had!
Crowley: He’s just as white as he is black! He’s the best damn white president!
Gates: Hey Obama! Your mama is a llama with a lot of drama and no pajamas.
Obama: THE HELL SHE IS! Wait- What?
Crowley: That is a sissy-ass beer you drink Big-O.
Obama: I know my- staff made me choose it- it’s politically correct and tastes like piss.
Gates: That reminds me I gotta pee.
Crowley: Let’s piss out the eternal goddamn flame!
Obama: That’s the first sensible thing you’ve said all goddamn day.
{another three beers}

Crowley: Big-O you are fitshaced!
Gates: Faceshitted!
Obama: Sarge is that a taser in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?
Crowley: I AM glad to see you, but this IS a taser.
Gates: Let’s nail that Secret Service guy!
Crowley: We can’t zap him without due cause.
Gates: He got an ugly tie!
Obama: FIRE!

This “diplomacy by beer” idea is going to catch on like wildfire. My guess is that from now on Obama isn’t going to sign any bills without 4 or 5 beers first. Ketel One on Air Force One? You betcha! And the bigger the diplomatic challenge, the more he is going to have to up the ante. If he administers a debate between Donald Trump and Rosie O’Donnell, he will need Long Island iced teas, and plenty of them. To even show up at talks with the deposed Honduras president and the newly posed president, it will take about half an ounce of pot. A summit between Hamas and Israel will warrant two or three good quality rocks of crack. But I bet they make some progress.

Incidentally, there have been many instances of drunken presidents in the past. Franklin Pierce, Martin Van Buren, and Grover Cleveland, with his big beer belly, were known tipplers. Ulysses S. Grant was a reputed alcoholic, and even looks wasted on the 50 dollar bill. Obama is by all measures a workaholic, which means he only works drunk.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009



I was walking back to Grand Central the other day and wandered into this huge crowd in Midtown- I mistakenly thought it was the unemployment line, and even though I am employed at the moment I figured I would hang out there for awhile, and when by the time I was unemployed I would have a good spot in the line. Then all of a sudden I hear a really loud Paul McCartney song and I think, “DAMN- PAUL MCCARTNEY is out of a job!” And he probably has no marketable skills to fall back on. My dad used to cringe when I told him that I wanted to be a drummer. He wanted me to make sure I kept up my math skills so I would have something “to fall back on.” If I ever had to fall back on my math skills, I would end up squishing them, if there even is more than one of them.

But it turned out the whole thing had nothing to do with unemployment- McCartney was doing a free mini-concert for the Letterman Show on top of the “Late Night” Marquis. For an older gentleman he sounded pretty damned good. I was only close enough to make out what instrument he was playing- he still plays that Hofner Beatle Bass. I had a friend who had one once, and it’s very light, which is good, because if you’re in a band with McCartney you are going to get hit in the head with it. Why? Because he’s left handed. George Harrison always stood to his left so he wouldn’t get brained by him, and Lennon stood way to the side to avoid the whole lot of them.

Anyway, I was amazed by how fresh the music still sounded. He played “Get Back,” “Coming Up,” “Let Me Roll It To You,” “Band On The Run, “Helter Skelter” and “Back In The USSR.” Even the lyrics still seemed relevant. For instance, in “Get Back:” “Sweet Loretta Martin thought she was a woman, but she was another man.” This kind of thing still happens today, and it’s just as confusing. Loretta Martin, whoever that is, didn’t end up to be a man, but ANOTHER man. Weird, that. And okay the USSR as we know it does not exist anymore, but certainly the CCCP is probably still over there, whatever that is. There must be something over there because tennis players keep showing up with unpronounceable names. Anyway it was a good concert featuring actual music.

Incidentally, Paul McCartney is involved with charities for land mines and seal slaughtering. I’m not sure if he is for them or against them, but if you mention to him that you slaughter seals with a land mine I bet he would punch you right in the face.


I went to Maine last week and was truly impressed with what a polite state it was. Every intersection I came to, people were prepared to let me go first, especially if I was not in a car. If you come to a four way stop and you are able to read lips, the conversation goes like this:

“You first…”
“No- you go ahead.”
“That’s okay- I don’t have much planned for today.”
“Not for nothing but I don’t either- if I get through this intersection I’ll be happy.”
“I’m going to do the puzzle for a little while so you go ahead.”
“That’s a good idea- do you know a three letter word for a sea eagle?”
“Well there’s ‘erne’ but that’s four letters, although you can leave off the last ‘e’ and no one is really going mind that much.”

That goes on for a half-hour until you both go at the same time and crash into each other.

In New York, we still adhere to traditional values also, such as letting a girl exit the elevator first. Only in New York, it’s mostly because we want to check out her ass. Even if she is buried in the back of the cab behind a UPS guy with a hand truck full of boxes of paper, we will sit there and wait until everyone moves around like a Rubik’s cube so she can get out. That reminds me of something else- why does every ship captain insist that we save women and children first? Is that so the human race can continue? If the whole planet has only women and children who is going to kill all the spiders? The whole food chain will end up being readjusted with spiders on the top, and then humans, then apes, then fruits, and finally Good Humor bars. I think I might be mixing the food chain up with the food pyramid, but it seems to work out my way also.

Incidentally, according to the USDA, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter count as 1 ounce of lean meat. So if you are out at a restaurant, and you don’t want to eat red meat, instead of a 16 oz. steak, you can order a 32-tablespoon peanut butter sandwich.

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Monday, July 20, 2009



My friend Glenn took me skeet shooting last weekend. Is there anything more fun than shooting something that can’t shoot you back? You walk around to different stations, and shoot at “clay pigeons” that they catapult into the air from all directions like little Frisbees. So you follow these targets along the sights of the barrel and shoot at them. It turns out that in my case a clay pigeon is a little small. Something along the lines of a “clay ostrich” would work better for me- any flightless bird would help. They are hard to hit, especially the ones that travel from side to side. My technique, which is hard to pull off believably, was to wait until just before it hit a tree and broke, and fire at it, then pop the casings and blow into the chamber. If anyone had a problem with that they kept it to themselves, because I reloaded quickly and affected a kind of psychotic look, as if I didn’t know quite where I was, like maybe Peter Falk on Demerol.

You are supposed to lead the target as you aim, and fire just ahead of it. I couldn’t master that, and so I just used the “Superman” technique (anyone who watched Superman on TV knows): You empty the whole chamber at Superman, as he smiles smugly at you, and when there is no ammo left you throw the gun at him as a diversion and run like hell. This worked for awhile but I got tired of looking for the shotgun in the woods.

In life I always aim high, and I think I killed some real pigeons. Incidentally, aside from firing pellets known as “shot,” the shotgun can also fire a solid projectile known as a “slug.” This form of ammunition is especially feared, since if you have ever worked in a garden, you know that if you get one on you it’s gross.


They just had the annual “Running of the Bulls” in Pamplona, Spain. This yearly event coincides, strangely enough, with the annual “Running even faster of a Bunch of Drunken Idiots,” also in Pamplona, and on the SAME street! What a scheduling SNAFU that is!

This is exactly the kind of thing that I can see myself getting caught in while I am late for a concert or something on vacation. There I am, in a rental car, and I see that traffic is going NOWHERE, so I pull off onto a sidestreet, and all these crazy-looking numbnutzes go running by, but at least they are moving in the direction I want to go, and they are going pretty fast, like 20- 25 miles per hour. I think to myself, damn these guys can run fast! So I fall in right behind them at a safe distance, and I hear this rumbling. I assume it’s coming from the rental car, so I do what I always do when I hear a noise coming from my car engine, and I turn the radio up loud. But the rumbling gets louder also, and I look in the rear view mirror and see about 45 bulls following my car. My first reaction is DAMN- I should have gotten that supplemental insurance that I always waive… They start passing me and rubbing against my car, and I am getting hoofmarks on my fender and snot-stains everywhere. They are smelly, so I have the owner’s manual out trying to find out where the “air recirc.” button is on the rental car. And I realize you are supposed to keep at least one bull-length between you and the bull ahead of you, but it’s impossible to keep track, the whole thing happens so fast, and no one is using turn signals at all. Then rubbernecking forces traffic to a halt, and I seize my opportunity, get out of the car, lasso the nearest bull and put him on his back tying up 3 out of 4 legs in the traditional rodeo style. Of course in my case, he takes that 4th foot and kicks me to kingdom come.

As you watch it on TV, what’s amazing is that the drunken idiots, if the bull closest to them is ignoring him, will try to goad the bull a little bit- a little trash-talking if you will. The opportunity for bullshit is at its all-time high. Usually the bull will just ignore him or kill him- there are very few options in between. Sometimes the guy will touch the bull, or slap at him, knowing that the bull is not in any mood for silly games. What is unclear is what the bulls are running from in the first place? And to the idiot who left the door open, I have one question: “Do you live in a BARN?”

Incidentally, since 1910, 15 people have been killed during the running of the bulls, some seriously.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009



We were watching the Home Run Derby last night on ESPN- we figured it might be a fun way to kill an hour or so, but it turns out that this thing can kill about 4 hours at a clip. It goes for 17 or 18 rounds, the not-quite-the-best home run hitters in the game going head-to-head (the real sluggers want no part of this). After the first 11 or 12 rounds, the players are dying to get out of this thing. When nobody hit a home run in one round, they had a “bat-off” where the worst of the bunch competed just to get into the next round, and man did they look crestfallen to have to go through it again.

In a regular baseball game, the most fun and exciting thing that can happen is that someone hits a home run. In the Home Run Derby, you are rooting for just about anything else. A pop fly that hits a bird, a fight in the stands, even a squirrel would perk things up. After a while we started focusing on the little kids that run down the balls that aren’t home runs (a surprisingly large number of them). Every time a fly ball was hit these little weasels would scatter like roaches when the lights come on. “Holy crap! There’s a ball coming this way! Let’s get the hell out of here!” Couldn’t little league teams or schools nominate the best fielders on their squads to participate, so that we could see some good plays out there? Think it over, MLB. The only good catch you’re likely to see is one that bounces off another kid’s head.

Then there is the pitcher. My theory is that there is a pitcher in every minor league system that it’s impossible to get rid of because of the Union. A guy with marginal talent, who keeps fleecing the refrigerator of Evian, spits sunflower seeds all over the place, and always leaves the toilet seat down. At this time of year, the manager calls him into the office and says, “Kid, you’re going to the bigs. You’re pitching in the ALL-STAR BREAK!” And the kid grabs about 20 waters and gets on the bus, and pitches his heart out. The next day, the manager calls him back and says, “Kid? I’ve got some bad news for you: You gave up 233 homers last night, and we’re going to have to ship you down to 1/3-A ball. Here’s some Evian water- it looks like you may be choking on a seed.”

Incidentally, the teams to host the All-Star game most often are the Indians and Pirates, with five times each. And by the way, it is politically incorrect to use the term “pirate.” Instead, the phrase, “Native Somalian” should be used.


I saw the Jonas Brothers on Regis and Kellie Lee the other day, and found the experience very strange. First of all, what a coincidence that all of their names are “Jonas.” Secondly, at the end of every note, the Jonas who was singing at the time squeaked like a faulty clarinet. It seemed obvious that he was either doing it on purpose, or had not soaked his reed enough.

It also was painfully apparent that the band does not drink nearly enough beer, although they did not look old enough to buy it themselves. I can offer a few tips on that from experience. When I was in college I think the minimum drinking age was 11 or 12- you would take a six-pack with you to your driver’s license test, and give one to the guy grading you. But times have changed- no more drinking and driving, or you would never be able to text a coherent sentence while operating the turn signal with your knee.

Anyway, the Jonases seem to already have a wealth of life experience, judging from their song lyrics. And it is these pithy croonings that lead me to believe that they may be taking themselves too seriously, and I think seven or eight beers apiece, administered by a qualified professional, could help.

They also seem to have mastered the art of looking like they are lip-syncing, even when they are actually singing, so that you can never tell the difference. It’s like watching a Godzilla movie. It’s daunting what you have to know how to do these days in order to succeed in a band: dancing, posing, hair & make-up… Actually playing is not really necessary, since there is a full band of adults behind them, who definitely look old enough to buy beer.

Incidentally, the Jonas Brothers appeared in Washington to sing the National Anthem for the annual White House Easter Egg Roll. Better that than to throw out the first pitch, or worse, catch it.

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Wednesday, July 8, 2009



Last weekend they celebrated the 70th anniversary of Lou Gehrig’s famous speech delivered at Yankee Stadium by having people at each stadium read his famous words. 70 years doesn’t seem like a very round number to me. What I think happened is that some people wanted to celebrate the 68th anniversary, and others wanted the 72nd anniversary, and they compromised.

The original speech was delivered only to the fans, not to the media. He mentions how lucky he is to have played in front of them, and he lists his owners and some of his teammates by name, and says he was fortunate just to have associated with them. Then he goes on to include his mother-in-law, and how nice she is to side with him in squabbles with his wife. This is where things go south. I can’t imagine him being the luckiest man on the face of the Earth the next day, when the wife has had a chance to let that sink in a little…

This guy played 2,130 straight games without complaining. Anything less than his own disease named after him probably would not have gotten him out of the lineup. I would like to have a disease named after me, but I don’t want to actually HAVE the disease. Maybe if I could discover it in someone else who I don’t like? I don’t need to be the luckiest man on the face of the Earth- it’s fine with me if I just have acid reflux and a sore knee, and I place in the top 20.

Incidentally, there is no gift listed on the modern or traditional gift table for 70 years. I guess if you live that long and are still drawing breath, you can use it to blow out the candles on the anniversary cake.


Last weekend we were fortunate enough to celebrate the 4th of July in the town that hosted General George Washington’s headquarters during the last years of the Revolutionary War, Newburgh, New York. No matter how old you are, fireworks displays are still satisfying, at least until you get back to your car and go, “Holy crap! It’s going to take at least an hour to get out of here!” We have not gone to a fireworks display in the last 20 years that did not include a bicycle or a motorcycle- two wheels is the only way to fly in Independence Day traffic. This year we added a new dimension to traffic avoidance, and motored up to the Newburgh Yacht Club on our yacht, the ScapeBoat.

Every year there seems to be a new shell that catches your attention- one year it was the one that explodes and then provides its own applause. This year they set off a variety that looked like an impressionist painting of itself. Nice!

There are all kinds of rules that you need to abide by if you are handling the American Flag on the 4th or any other day. For instance you should never fly the American flag on the same staff as another flag. You should never wear flag shorts, or a flag poncho, as Kid Rock once did. Flag underwear you can forget about, and don’t even talk to me about a flag thong. Unless you are Rosie O’donnell you’re only going to get one star and one stripe on it anyway.

You are allowed to burn the flag if it is tattered (not when it touches the ground), or if America takes over your country without asking first.

Using napkins printed like little flags is a violation of the flag code, but making a cake that looks like a flag is not a direct infraction, since there is no mention of the flag as food in the regulations.

There are rules about how to properly fold the flag. When the day is done you are supposed to fold the flag into little triangles until it is the size of a Chiclet, then pop it into your mouth.

Incidentally, only the president can order the U.S. flag to fly at half staff. Now due to budget cuts, if you only have half a staff to work with, you’re on your own.

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Wednesday, July 1, 2009



So many big players are passing on one after another that it’s impossible for any one of them to enjoy more than a few moments in the spotlight. First it was Ed McMahon, and hearing Johnny Carson and Fred DeCordova weigh in on his life and career was truly amazing, since they are both dead also. Somewhere after McMahon was given credit for Brittney Spears’ success, but right before they got to coverage of the “Alpo years,” Farrah Fawcett died. So the media quickly switched gears, and Ed was left in the dust. We relived Farrah’s breakthrough as a Charlie’s Angel, her iconic poster, and her switch to meaty roles in television and theater where she sought to prove she was more than just a “dumb blonde.” Right before we got to discussing her Letterman appearance, where she sought to prove she was nothing more than a “dumb blonde,” Michael Jackson died. This was certainly expected, since the life expectancy of someone without a working nose is exactly 50 years. But poor Farrah was deprived of a proper remembrance- she was mourned for exactly one morning. We were able to get in enough Michael Jackson coverage to become fully sick of his music once again… Once we covered what an influential artist he was, and just started to get into what a weird person he was, an even LARGER icon left us. Billy Mays has been personally credited with advancing such modern marvels as OxiClean, Kaboom and Mighty Putty. He has also been proven responsible for the invention of a button on post- 2008 television remote controls that mutes the volume by 50 percent. Mays was fondly remembered by his arch-rival, the “Shamwow guy.” After reliving some of his early ads, we were about to revisit some of his meatier roles where he proved he was more than just a “dumb blonde,” when lo and behold, Fred Travalena dies. He was possibly imitating Michael Jackson and Billy Mays at the time of death. Now I think it’s safe to go back to talking about Ed McMahon.

Incidentally, Ms. Fawcett’s real first name was not Farrah; that name was made up by Farrah herself. Her real first name was Ferrah. That name was made up by her mother.


Last weekend the Yankees outscored the Mets 33-3 in the last four games, most of the runs coming on defensive indifference. Even though I am a Yankee fan, I started actually feeling sorry for the Mets. Manuel, the manager, made frequent visits to the mound, sometimes bearing flowers or small gifts, trying to talk the Mets pitching staff down from the ledge. I am not a lip-reader, but at one point I even thought I saw him mouth the words, “Don’t worry, everything happens for a reason…”

It will be nice to watch baseball again without pitchers trying to hit. Every time a Yankee pitcher came to bat it was a goofy adventure. When a professional player is at bat, and other players are peering out of the dugout snickering at him, you know that sports is not being played at its highest level. Here is a guide to broadcasters’ accounts of interleague pitchers trying to hit:

“He had quite a hack at that one…” TRANSLATION: “He struck out with his bat flailing like a cow’s tail at a bee.”

“He really got good wood on that one…” TRANSLATION: “His grounder barely made it to the infielder, who had time to check his emails before throwing him out.”

“Wow, that was a great effort trying to sacrifice bunt…” TRANSLATION: He bunted foul with two strikes and is therefore out.

Incidentally, AL pitchers in 2008 batted .114, with more sacrifices than the Aztec Empire.

Friday, June 26, 2009



Yesterday we lost one of the great icons of our generation: the swirling hair, the chiseled nose, the ultra-femininity will be forever remembered and emulated. I am talking of course about Michael Jackson. When you come from a large family you realize very early on that it defies the odds to have an entire family that isn’t odd. Michael Jackson seemed destined for a wild ride; all the ingredients were there: a nutty family, incredible early success, recovering from the incredible success only to have incredibler success, ambiguous sexuality that was never defined one way or the other, an affinity for exotic pets… The list goes on and on.

Unfortunately for the poor guy, it was like he gave everyone in the world press a microscope, and said, “Wow! Check THIS out!” And then he seemed genuinely surprised when the front pages were plastered with him holding a baby out a window. If it were my dad holding me out the window, and you saw it, yes, you would say, “HEY YOU! Don’t hold that baby out that window! Are you NUTS? Can’t you see my car down there??”

Since Michael Jackson, Madonna and I are the same age, I guess I have sort of followed their careers as I secretly gloated about being the only one who has not had extensive plastic surgery (although I do have a large plastic screw in my knee).

Incidentally, Stevie Wonder is the only remaining original artist still signed to Motown.


So we found a duckling rolling down the street like a tumbleweed at the bottom of our driveway. The whole concept of walking seemed relatively far-fetched to this thing; it could perambulate only by lying on its back and wiggling everything that moved until it pitched in one direction or the other 5 or 6 inches. Even when it was upright on its legs its main focus seemed to be to get back on its back and flail around again. We assumed was a duck. If it looks like a duck, talks like a duck and walks like a duck, it’s a duck, but this thing walks like a flounder. We figured that if this one is representative of the species, it is unlikely to evolve one iota. It seems dumb as a post, and would never last in the wild. So we did what we used to do when we were kids, and stuck it in a shoebox with some grass. With an awl we poked holes in the top of the shoebox for air. One thing to remember is to remove the duck before doing this, as we almost found out the hard way.

We put a large ashtray filled with water into the shoebox, until we learned online at one of the many duck-raising sites that this thing can apparently drown in a quarter inch of water. Which made me wonder how you could possibly childproof its home in the wild. On the plus side, after drinking from an ashtray, I doubt it will ever take up smoking.

We consulted a friend who is a duck expert, herself having raised many ducks from scratch. On her advice we found a lamp to provide warmth. According to her it was either that or let the duck sleep in bed with us. Anyone who owns a car windshield will realize that that is out of the question.

So I guess the idea is to nurse the thing along for a little while, and see if it will do anything that would lead you to believe it could survive more than a half hour.

I think deep down we picture a possible future reunion, like Born Free, where we return and visit the duck in its natural habitat, and it writhes toward us on its back, occasionally rolling a few inches or propelling itself in circles with one leg. I don’t think either of us believes it will ever learn to swim- maybe a dog paddle at best.

Remember: If you love something, set it free. If it was meant to return to you, and it gets around as slow as this duck does, we’ll be here all friggin’ day.

Incidentally, ducks’ feet have no blood vessels or nerves, which is why they don’t get cold swimming in the winter like those idiots in the Polar Bear Club. It also explains why Donald Duck never noticed that he wasn’t wearing pants.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009



After spending the weekend at the Jersey shore I realize many things about myself. The first is that any ride at an amusement park that does not have a height requirement is not for me. I need the G-est of G-rated rides, preferably something where you ride inside a hippopotamus or a helicopter. I will not ride in a teacup; that’s for babies. Even the giant swing upset my stomach, and even more so after I went on it. Little children were laughing and having fun, and I was just trying to keep my insides inside. There was one little girl who was crying afterwards, the little wuss, at least I didn’t do that, but I did have to sit down for a few minutes.

There didn’t seem to be anything available for serious adults who want to go on a ride, but don’t want to spin, turn upside down, go sideways, up and down or make any sudden movements. Or even worse, for no good reason start going in the opposite direction than the one you started out in. One ride goes about 400 feet in the air, and with the modern technology of computer assisted hydraulics, drops you 399 feet, faster than the pull of gravity. Meanwhile, some of your organs, and your hat if you were wearing one, are still up there, and before they can think to come down, you are back up there to visit them. The ride is tremendously popular with people who love airplane turbulence, and who doesn’t?

We ended up on an electric train that wanders around the perimeter of the park at a speed slightly slower than you could walk it, and even that seemed a little scary to us. It was the same basic idea as a roller coaster; it rolled, it coasted, so sue us.

Incidentally, one of the first “roller coasters” in the U.S. was actually a tram car that delivered coal on a downhill track from Summit Hill, Pennsylvania to what is now Jim Thorpe. In the 1850s they charged 50 cents a ride to thrill-seekers, and probably considerably more to coal-seekers.


The aftermath surrounding Iran’s “election” is still making waves around the world. Sarkozy of France has called the results a “tragedy,” which I think is exactly what he called the Bush election. German Chancellor Merkel admonished the Iranians to “stop using violence against demonstrators and free imprisoned people.” Which makes no sense: if they are free how can they be imprisoned?

The press is on Obama’s case for not being stronger in denouncing the harsh treatment of protesters. They are reportedly using tear gas, which seems ineffective against people who are used to crying a lot. In Obama’s defense, he probably doesn’t want to offend anybody just yet, before he finds out who is actually going to be in charge. I think it’s a smart move- just wait it out. If Iran devises a nuclear bomb anytime soon, you don’t want to be in the position of having to say, “Hey! We were just kidding about all the election stuff!”

The government reminded the dissidents that protesting the elections is punishable by death under Islamic law. Which brings me to a great career choice for those people looking for a new beginning in the face of the struggling economy: Islamic lawyer. If you lose a case, and your client is executed, malpractice is pretty much out of the question. Also every day is like casual Friday, a robe and some headgear should do it- no tie.

Incidentally, “Sharia” is the term that refers to Islamic Law, which literally means “path to the water source.” About one out of four people in the world is Muslim, so whenever I am thirsty, and I forgot to bring a water, I find a group of at least five people, to be on the safe side, since I don’t like carbonated water, or water with a piece of lemon in it. One of them is sure to know where the water source is. I’m not as dumb as I look.

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