Friday, August 29, 2008

Satan Wears A T-Shirt

How evil? So evil. It’s gotten to the point where I—and I think I speak for every New Yorker here—throw up in my mouth a little when I see this hideous image on the street.

And since this image is more ubiquitous than teenage girls at a Backstreet Boys concert (yes, I know that reference is a little dated but cut me a break here—I try to stay as far removed from that world as I possibly can without being on another physical planet, and I know the Backstreet Boys only because I was a teenage girl when they were hip, and thus absorbed a little of the auditory cruelty by purely involuntary osmosis), you can no doubt deduce that I spend a lot of time popping antacid tablets like M&Ms.

By the way, it’s not just on T-shirts. Oh no. The makers of this brilliant little icon (does anyone know who they are, by the way? I’d like to have them dragged into the street and shot, then burned in a pile of I “Heart” NY T-shirts. Or would that be overkill?) have somehow managed to work that image into every conceivable tourist item, including:

-Stationary (“Oh yeah honey, we got your letter, but Daddy accidentally left it too close to the lighter fluid while he was barbequing. Ha ha! Isn’t Daddy silly?”)

-Cattle brands (“A Taste Of New York”)

-Condoms (pretty much guarantees you’ll never get laid by a New Yorker)


-Cell phones (ringtone: the “I Love You, You Love Me” song by Barney)

-“Business cards”

-M&Ms (it’s really, really small, but it’s on there)

-Spray tattoos (I have also seen it on real ones, God help us all)

-Window stickers (bring the tourism home to Kentucky!)

-Fake nail polish for little girls (the stick-on kind)

-Keyboards (hopefully you’re a good typist, because every character was replaced by the icon)

-The Statue of Liberty (you have to get up close to see it, but it’s there, millions of times. Kind of a Magic Eye sort of thing)

-Magic Eye posters

Okay, maybe that last one was just a feverish part of a particularly gruesome nightmare. But I’m pretty sure about the others existing.

Some initial thoughts:

1. I don’t know who said, “A fool and his money are soon parted,” but I would guess that it was one of the creators of this icon on the day of its conception, and he was probably rubbing his hands together and laughing so hard tears were running down his face as he said it.

2. Since no one who lives here would ever be caught dead in one of these monstrosities, it makes it really easy to spot the tourists. However, that hasn’t done us much good since New York outlawed that sweet "as long as they’re being REALLY annoying and taking WAY too many pictures of tall buildings and you run away REALLY fast” exception to the murder rule.

3. However, think about this, New York Tourists. That heart is designed to sit right on top of your actual anatomical heart. Do you want to wear such a wanton target right on your body? No, of course you don’t.

4. Question—what happens to these shirts after you go home? I assume they go where all the other embarrassing, “I Got The Crabs At Big Dick’s” vacation T-shirts go to die, the back of your closet. When you see it there, does it assault you with warm fuzzy vacation memories the way a bookie assaults your knees with a baseball bat? Or does it inspire you to take a moment and really examine your drinking habits?

5. Since I’m totally convinced that Satan wears one of these things even on days when he goes to court (to the Prince of Darkness, what's not to "heart"?), doesn’t that mean that we should immediately arrest everyone wearing one and take them in for questioning until we find the right fallen angel? Please?

Just a little tip, people: If you want to go around New York dressed appropriately (in the sense of not making everyone around you want to accidentally shove you into oncoming traffic), there’s one simple rule you need to follow: Wear black. Lots of it. Even in July. That’s how New Yorkers dress. That’s how decent people who visit our fair city SHOULD dress. You should blend in so that we don't know you're here. No one needs to know you're here. Let's just keep it an appalling secret.

And if you’re wearing this T-shirt underneath your black sweater, I don’t want to know about it.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Who's The Punk?

So who’s the ‘little punk’? You? Ha ha!
-A friend, upon being told about my blog.

Thanks, buddy. First of all, air quotes make you look "gay." Everyone knows this. Secondly, the next time I hear you talking about your “jump shot,” I am going to use air quotes. Being a girl, this won’t make me look gay (it’ll just make me look like a bitch, and I can live with that).

But seriously. You don’t know everything about me. Just because you’ve only ever seen the establishment side of me doesn’t mean that I don’t have another one. For example, you have never seen my homicidal psychopath side, and believe me, that could change.

Broken down for your convenience below so that we never have to have this conversation again are the explanations of the two main sides of my personality.

Little Establishment Me:

-I go to work. Consistently. I like it. ‘Nuff said.

-I am somewhat of a financial freak show. Money is one of my favorite topics. Not in a “Let’s compare paychecks” sort of way (that really would make me exceptionally boring). More like in a “let’s get together and talk about retirement plans” kind of way. That’s a fun evening for me! Sometimes other people give me their budgets to look over. That’s just about on par with handing a double-chocolate ice cream cone to a five year old. It makes me that happy.

-I’m totally comfy in a suit. Sometimes I wear one when I don’t have to. Today, as an example.

-I’m very at ease with the idea of authority. Part of that may stem from the fact that I’m in charge a lot.

-I'm annoyingly punctual. Like, to the point where it annoys me. I've tried so many times to be late for work, and the best I've ever managed is 8:50 am.

-My politics tend to lean toward conservative, which is mainly due to my near-fanatical belief in personal responsibility. Live however you see fit; just be prepared to deal with the consequences.

-I like things to be quiet and orderly and clean. Concerts and crowds make me crazy.

-I’ve never done drugs.

-I do give a damn about my reputation.

-Tradition is good, and standard paths are so because they tend to work.

-I can be a total sellout. This is mainly because money is a cool way to make other goals happen.

Okay, Mr. Hyde, what have you got?

Little Punk Me:

-Let’s start with music, the backbone of punk. Some of my favorite bands include: AFI, New York Dolls, Dropkick Murphys, The Descendents, Rancid, Alkaline Trio, Social Distortion, Street Dogs, The Clash, Stiff Little Fingers, Bad Religion, The Cramps, Funeral Dress, Goldfinger, Green Day, Misfits, and The Ramones. I have my former roommate to thank for a good 70% of this list.

-I don't like school. Generally speaking.

-I have one tattoo and one non-ear piercing so far. When my life circumstances allow it (i.e., the establishment environment has gone bye-bye for awhile), I would quite like to get another of each, and buzz my hair. I also think eyeliner on (certain) guys is very sexy.

-Ripped jeans, wifebeaters, army boots, etc-- also preferred attire.

-Sometimes I feel the need to shake things up and change my entire life at the drop of a hat. Then I do it.

-I’m a rebel, and there are times when I refuse to take the standard path. I definitely don’t mind being a troublemaker when there’s good reason.

-That whole personal responsibility thing happens to work in both the establishment and the punk world. Since I admit I can be a sellout, it means I’m not a poseur.

-I’m a minimalist. I like being able to fit all of my belongings into a car and I hate lots of stuff. The idea of wandering around the country with no particular destination and crashing on random couches for a year or so holds a very bohemian appeal for me.

-I’m a newly minted vegetarian. Something else that fits handily into both worlds. Many punks are vegetarian. Little known fact.

I’m mainly sticking with the superficial/obvious stuff here. There’s a lot more to both aspects of my personality, but I think you get the idea. I have a foot in both worlds, I can relate just about equally to both worlds, both worlds appeal to me for different reasons.

In other words, dude, your “jump shot” has nothing on my “punk side.”

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Greatest Nanny In The World

Yes, this is a repost, and yes, I'm being lazy. I wrote this a couple of years ago. At the moment I'm still adjusting to a people-free apartment (it's so quiet-- I live like this all the time, really?) and missing the wonderful people that stayed with me last week (though they left so much of their stuff behind, I'm questioning whether they really left, or just pretended to). So hopefully I'll be able to start blogging much more regularly, as that was my last major vacation-type week for awhile.

People seemed to like my Little Mermaid analysis, so without further ado, I give you my interpretation of...

The Greatest Nanny In The World!

I'm watching Mary Poppins right now. (This is how one spends one's Saturday night when one has no life.) It came up randomly in my Netflix queue. I haven't seen this movie in years. It's incredibly funny, although I'm pretty sure that everyone involved was on acid.

I think my favorite scene so far is the one where the top-tier bankers in the (to be specific) Dawes, Tomes, Mousley, Grubbs Fidelity Fiduciary Bank-- who apparently have nothing better to do all day-- try to convince a six year old how much money he can make by investing tuppence in the bank.

Or maybe the one where Bert pulls the crotch of his pants so low he bears a startling resemblance to a modern-day rapper. (He did this so he could blend in better while dancing with penguins. I'm sure that made a lot of sense at the time, but I don't think this look is ever going to catch on, do you?)

Of course there was the scene where the openly gay man (were men allowed to be gay in 1910?) with a lisp couldn't stop laughing, resulting in levitation. I've had a giggle fit or two in my day but they have never ended in me having a tea party next to the chandelier. That is only because I am not as cool as Mary Poppins, though.

Speaking of the lady herself, she may have been the "dream nanny" and all that, but I think she had rather questionable morals. First she uses her godlike power to send a special wind to blow her competition away. The old biddies waiting outside the door of the Banks mansion were probably living on steps of St. Paul's Cathedral trying to scrape a living by feeding the birds, just wanting to make a life for themselves, and you notice that the movie is never real clear on where, exactly, they're blown away to?

Next she uses her snake-charming hypnosis talent to convince Mr. Banks that no one else would have been suitable anyway (the bump on the head probably didn't help matters). Then she takes these highly impressionable, apparently retarded youngsters and makes them witness her nauseating flirtation with a guy that she met on the street one time. Then she sets up the aforementioned Mr. Banks to lose his job so that the children would hate him and end up on the street in the end anyway. (No worries for her, she lives in clouds with any furniture or possessions she might require in a carpetbag.) Bitch.

Also, she leads a cult. All of the imaginary characters (they seem to disappear after the scene in question is over) worship her. Don't know about you, but I've never had 100 people (and animals) sing the following to me with quite this level of feeling:

"When the day is gray and ordinary, Mary makes the sun shine bright! When Mary holds your hand, you feel so grand, your heart starts beating like a big brass band! It's a jolly holiday with Mary, no wonder that it's Mary that we love!"

Actually, none of the women in this movie seem too keen on actually looking out for the children's best interests. I don't have children myself, so I can't say for sure, but it seems to me that if you are a normal mother, living in a city with two children, and those children are supposed to be with their father, when they instead show up at the door with a strange man covered in soot who never stops singing, you are going to have some questions. You are going to be curious, maybe a little upset. You are probably NOT going to say, "I have to go to my little meeting. Why don't you look after the children, sir [I don't even know your name, and it doesn't really matter]? You've been so kind in bringing them home." Bert-- for of course, the soot-covered man is he-- appears to move in after this.

Mind you, this particular mother is about as empty-headed and Stepford-parrotlike as they come, accepting it without question when she comes back home a couple of hours later to find at least 50 men also covered in soot singing, dancing, and generally gallivanting through her living room.

On the whole, I'd say this movie dampened my enthusiasm about one day living in London. Granted, it might be fun to hang out with a bunch of West Side Story rejects who tap dance on roofs while singing "Flap like a birdie! Step in time!" but the ever-dependable chorus of "Chim chiminee, chim chiminee, chim chim cheroo!" would drive me to drink in a matter of hours. It's worse than "It's A Small World."

But I suppose anything makes sense when most problems in the world can be solved with unemployment and a talking umbrella. When your supercalifragilisticexpialidocious nanny is Practically Perfect In Every Way. (Oh, speaking of her self-ascribed attribute, I almost forgot-- MP is narcissistic as well. What, her special measuring tape just happens to point out everyone else's flaws, but her height shows that she has none of her own, plus her full name in prettier script? Where do you think she got that special measuring tape?)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Lessons In Camping

1. Blankets that you use on your bed at home are not going to be warm enough while you are camping.

2. Wet firewood tends not to catch fire.

3. There will be spiders. They will stay in your tent, with you. Sometimes they will get cute and try to snuggle with you. Keep the hysteria to a minimum; it annoys fellow campers. These are not folks you want to piss off. They know how to wrestle with bears—successfully.

4. Remember when you were a kid and you didn’t mind being dirty and/or smelly and/or going for days without food more sustaining than trail mix and juice boxes? Those were good days, weren’t they? Well, they are over now. You are a grown up and it’s okay to admit that you’ve grown used to bathing. Everyone else has grown used to you bathing as well.

5. Never underestimate the power of a good meal, warm bed, or crisp $20 bribe to dispel many an unpleasant situation.

6. The best garlic knots you will ever eat in your entire life are located in a pizzeria in Hadley, Massachusetts. Not technically a camping tip but more of a public service announcement. Hey, you’re welcome. My pleasure.

7. Bringing flashlights is a good plan. Something that also works is reaching and setting up your campsite before dark. However, some of us like the challenge of building a really huge tent for the first time in the dark by headlight. Speaking of which…

8. You do not need a three-room tent which is big enough for ten people if you’ve only got two. Especially if one of those two is a really big scaredy-cat and could not sleep by herself in the woods if there was a SWAT team stationed around her.

9. No, you cannot get a Wi-Fi signal in the woods.

10. If you’re going to get insect repellant all over your hands, and then you’re going to rub those hands in your eyes like an utter fool, and if you are also going to have a secret allergy to said insect repellant, and if that allergy is going to cause your eyeball (not the skin around your eye; your actual eyeball) to swell and actually start oozing out of its socket a little bit, alarming the hell out of your traveling companion and causing you yourself to worry that maybe you’re going to go blind, then for God’s sake at least make sure that this happens somewhere that a) a hospital or b) a kindly pastor is likely to be located. In my case, we had (b) and it was a damn good thing, because the nearest hospital was a half hour away and we never would have found it without divine intervention.

More details to come, and I am sure you are all on the edge of your seat.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Too Fat To Die

First, a bit of business. As you’ve probably gathered, this isn’t going to be a daily blog. I am crazy busy at the moment, yes, but no matter how busy I am, I make it a point to write something every single day (and have done for more than a decade). Writing is as much a piece of my nature as sleeping, and I do it more or less constantly. It just can’t always be this blog. For one thing, as everyone who writes humorously knows, the funny juice doesn’t flow every day. For another, I’m usually (and currently) in the middle of several different writing projects, one of which I’m trying like hell to get published.

I just wanted to make that clear in case it comes up later. I started this blog for a very specific purpose: to write snarky. I don’t often have the chance or the inclination to write funny stuff, and as such, those particular mental muscles are a bit stiff, and I would like to see them strengthened. That’s it, that’s all, hopefully I’ll never be this serious again, now on to the subject of capital punishment. After all, what’s funnier than a lethal injection?

What can I say about this great nation of ours that hasn’t already been said? We’re the greatest superpower in the world! (Kind of.) We rush to the aid of nations in trouble! (Except when we don’t.) We have term limits (thank God for those, huh?).

Not to mention, we are the only nation to have such freedom of ideas, expression, enterprise. Just for fun sometime, try drawing a cartoon of Hamid Karzai looking like Alfred E. Neuman and distribute it all over Kabul. Let me know how that works out for you.

The point is, we have a lot of freedom and a lot of say over how our lives should proceed, and we should be very grateful for that. I know I am, and I’ll bet Richard Cooey is as well. At least, he should be. Everything he’s received for this insane supplication is an example of the best and most absurd points of our justice system.

Here’s what he did not receive: a response of, “Okay, let me go find those, whaddayacallem, ropes we used to use and we’ll, whaddayacallit, hang you instead! Bet you’re not too fat for that!” (which was barely audible over the raucous laughter).

That is what my response would have been. But no, instead Cooey got to chat with the US Supreme Court over his inalienable right to bite the dust with the very least possible amount of discomfort.

Let me start with the obvious. No wonder the nation is such a frigging mess if the US Supreme Court has nothing better to do with their time than split hairs over the amount of pain a rapist and murderer endures as they die. There is a really, really easy solution to this (besides not caring, of course)—give the guy six months to lose weight. I’m sure he’ll be throwing in random appeals until the very last possible second anyway, so a six-month extension is nothing he wouldn’t get as it is. If he hasn’t lost weight by then, he gets to contemplate a little concept called personal responsibility on his way to the afterlife.

Oh, but wait! That’s not the only reason the execution will be “excruciating.” He doesn’t have good veins to begin with. Even if he does lose weight, they still might not be able to find a vein. After all, a prolonged execution of this sort for that reason is not without precedent.

Gee golly gosh, Mr. Cooey, is that so? That would suck. Perhaps you would prefer another method of execution that has a little bit better chance of killing you nice and dead the first time? I hear that electric chair is pretty reliable. Or maybe we can borrow a garrote from Spain. Just because they don’t use it anymore doesn’t mean we shouldn’t.

In fact, why don’t we just let you (and your fellow death-row inmates) choose your own method of execution outright? Let’s see how long it takes an inmate to request the “natural death” option. And while we’re at it, in addition to choosing a last meal, why don’t we let you out for a few days before your execution, so you can enjoy your final week of life in peace with your family in the sunshine? (If your execution is scheduled for winter, why then, we’ll just have to reschedule it.)

Hmm. That does sound very humane. Yet there’s still an annoying little detail tugging at my brain… can’t quite get at it… oh yes, there it is. Didn’t you, like, rape and murder a couple of college coeds or something?

Right, right, that detail.

Let me clue you in, buddy. It’s only in the last half-century or so that anyone gave a shit about routinely anesthetizing people prior to killing them. In most countries, most of the time, not only does anyone not care how much pain a prisoner is in pre-death, a whole bunch of people get their jollies from watching a condemned person struggle in agony. What’s more, I would bet my rent money that you are one of those people yourself. Let’s remember why you’re in this position to begin with.

I happen to be against the death penalty. But considering the historical alternatives to state-mandated death, I’d say you’re getting off pretty damn lightly even if it takes them two hours to find your vein through that blubbery mess. Would you rather be beaten to death? Drowned? Skinned alive? Stoned? Burned at the stake? Broken on the wheel? Drawn and quartered? Or hey, killed the way your victims were? You get the idea. I hope.

Be grateful that you have a chance to be heard, however pathetic and transparent the attempt to skate on your penalty. Remember as well that you brought this on yourself, every step of the way, from the extra poundage on the body to the body’s current location. I’m against the death penalty, not personal responsibility.

Hmm, now that I’ve written this, I’m wondering just how funny the whole thing really is after all. Perhaps we should consider this my token serious entry.

In the interest of authenticity, I’ll leave it in. But I’ll try to keep these to a bare minimum.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Ashes, Ashes, All Fall Down

On the way to Nevada, my mother and I had a rather morbid conversation concerning instructions for our bodies after the big car crash or the heart attack or the way I'm going, the liver failure, in the event that one of us goes first (and historically speaking, one of us probably will).

I have to admit that I brought this up. It’s something I think about a lot. This is because I desperately want to be cremated when I die. Every other option available makes me freak out and cringe and yes, I know I’ll be dead when these things happen to me, Smarty-Pants, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a right and wrong way to do this.

So I make it a habit to bring this up in polite conversation with the people in my life who will be deciding through Which Door I enter the afterlife—namely, my family. As in, “Grandpa! It’s so nice to see you! Happy birthday! I would like to be cremated when I die!”

Things like this really stick in your family’s memory. Granted, over time you might be invited to fewer functions, but that’s the price you pay for not having maggots eat your skin.

Oh, what’s that? You haven’t decided what you want done with your remains? Or maybe a loved one just died and you haven’t called the undertaker yet because no one’s sure what the old boy wanted and it’s been over a week and the color’s really gruesome and the children are getting sick from the smell of decay? Never mind, I’ve compiled a handy list to help you make your decision.

Things To Do With A Body When It Has Ceased Function


-Cremate it. As noted, this is the only way to go. Normally, having your flesh burned to this extent would hurt an awful lot. But the lovely part is that you are dead when you go into that big fire. Unless you’ve been working with Hermione on some really cool new spells and “certain people” have found out about it. In which case you are screwed because this must be a really, really painful way to die. But if you are dead, this is a great way to have your remains handled. It leaves only your “essence” around in the form of ashes, which your family can put on the mantle and use to pretend that their cherished child is still around in some form (not too many cherished children are deaf, mute, small enough fit in a bottle, and silver in hue, so this one requires some pretty committed self-delusion). Or they could scatter your ashes over a location that had meaning to you, like the tree house your Daddy built you or the local bar.

-Bury it. Here be nightmares. Burial, seriously? Do you not realize that the earth is a finite resource and that people have been around and dying for quite some time and there just isn’t tons of extra space for new people to be buried? Think about that for a second. Let’s forget about the fact that you are in a coffin and it’s really, really quiet and dark. Forget all those zombie and vampire and undead movies which seem to imply that people don’t do too well stuffed in a tiny box and shoved under the ground. Let’s not even consider the fact that you’re going to start rotting right away and you’re never going to stop, and there are all kinds of maggots and worms and horrible small creatures that will be more than happy to aid this process.

Forget all that (I find a heavy-duty tranquilizer helps). You’re going to be underground with legions of dead people. People didn’t always mark graves, you know. Way back when, they just kind of threw people into a haphazard hole and let nature do what it would. You’re more than likely to be buried right on top of someone (or many someones) that are none too pleased to have you, Mr. Modern with his coffin and his gravestone and his grieving family, infringing on their moribund territory. They are going to resent you. They are going to be pissed off. They are going to eventually open your coffin and help themselves to the Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card that you just had to be buried with instead of giving it to your son like a nice dead father.

Not Acceptable:

-Weigh it down and throw it in the ocean. Um, sure, if you had more of a factor in the dude’s death than you’d be willing to admit to in a court of law. Because if that’s the case, you are in for some serious haunting/bad karma anyway. If not though? I’d stay well away from this one. Not only does it seriously suck for the drownee (it’s just one teensy, tiny step above burial), but what kind of service can you have here? Are you all going to be on a yacht as the body is thrown overboard? Will you put the grave marker on a buoy? Exactly. It’s disrespectful to be partying when a loved one is sinking into the calm, black waters. And don’t think they’re going to forget it either.

-Cut it up and hang the body parts from bridges as a warning to other wrongdoers. Come on. This is so 1305. I mean, yeah, of course it makes a bold statement, but it’s also really gross. Who’s going to pry the head off the spike in eleven months? You? I don’t think so.

-Stuff it. Why, so you can put it in your living room and talk to it and pretend the person in question didn’t really die? Yeah, that’s not sick at all.

-Eat it. Are you Aztec? Because I can appreciate taking your religion really, really seriously (I would too, if beating hearts of law-abiding citizens were required as a routine sacrifice and not some kind of penalty—what did this dude do to people he didn’t like?), but I cannot think of a single other legitimate reason to do this. Period. If you are the progeny of Jeffrey Dahmer, for example, that doesn’t excuse anything. Didn’t you see what happened to your daddy? NO EATING DEAD BODIES.

So in summary, we see that cremation is really the only way to go. As I’ve said for years. Family members reading this? I want to be cremated. You can consider this my final word on the subject, and once I am confident that you'll do it, I'll quit bringing it up all the time.