Saturday, December 31, 2005
Best Album: Get Behind Me Satan by The White Stripes. Another masterpiece from the best rock & roll band in the world. It's certainly the most eclectic of their albums, but it works really well. With songs borrowing from the Beatles, Motown, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, Queen, soul, the blues, C&W, bluegrass, and calypso, Get Behind Me Satan has foot-stompers, heartbreakers, and catchy pop songs. There is more piano and less guitar in this album than in past albums. Jack White's songwriting is as colorful and imaginative as it's ever been. After this album, there should be no doubt that Jack can successfully write any kind of song he wants: ball-busting rock, hook-laden pop songs, ballads, blues, bluegrass, Lady-Madonna-esque soulful rock, and toungue-in-cheek fun songs. Runner-Up: The Best Little Secrets Are Kept by Louis XIV. Louis XIV is not as well known as they should be, but this album is fantastic. It's harkens back to the days of early-'70s Bowie, the Kinks, T. Rex, and Mott the Hoople. The music is raunchy and sexual, earning a Parental Advisory sticker even though there is not one swear word to be found on the entire album. Get it. Now.
Best Movie: Wedding Crashers. Since I hate crying, I'm pretty sure that I only saw comedies this year. And by far, the best one was Wedding Crashers. With a cast of Christopher Walken, Vince Vaughan, Owen Wilson, and Will Ferrell, how can you go wrong? Runner-Up: The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Steve Carell is hilarious. So is the movie. Watch it. Love it.
Best New TV Show: It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. For those of you who didn't see the 7 episodes of the show's debut season on F/X, be sure to tune in during 2006 for the second season. From trying to pick up women at an abortion rally to purposely serving minors at their bar and then getting invited to the prom, it's all hilarious. Runner-Up: Reunion. Sure, the acting is piss-poor and the costume designer apparently didn't realize that people didn't wear in 1987 what people wear in 2005, but it's still a pretty cool idea for a show. Every episode is a new year, starting in 1986 and building up to 2005, when the identity of a murderer is revealed. Too bad we'll never know how it ends.
Best Sports Story: The White Sox win the World Series. Finally Sox fans were able to feel like their team was the talk of the town. At least for a couple days. Runner-Up: Lance Armstrong wins his 7th Tour de France in a row, then bangs Sheryl Crow, probably doggy-style.
Worst Development: Fecal phantoms. Disturbing, rude, unreasonably expeditious, smelly, and downright filthy. All of these words describe the fecal phantoms that have infiltrated the fair men's bathrooms at my firm. For those of you who do not know what a fecal phantom is, the following four links should get you up to speed: 1, 2, 3, 4. Hopefully 2006 will usher in a new era of shits that last more than 45 seconds and wiping that lasts longer than 5 seconds. Runner-Up: Fox canceling Arrested Development and Reunion. The geniuses at Fox decided that it's a good idea to start their new shows 2 weeks before the MLB playoffs. This means that Fox does not air any new episodes for an entire month while the playoffs are going on. In turn, people forget about the shows that are not staples. Arrested Development is one of the funniest shows on TV. It should never have been canceled, and there's no reason another network shouldn't pick it up and run with it. Canceling Reunion now is like canceling 24 after 3pm. The whole premise of the show is that it's only going to last one season. For the few people that are watching it, for shit's sake, leave it on and take a loss.
Dumbest Fashion Trend: Wearing sport coats with jeans. Nothing evokes my will to stab a throat more than when I see some douchebag at a bar with a sport coat and jeans. It's not 19 fucking 88. You're not a young, hip executive trying to show "the man" that his stuffy suits don't mean he's better than you. You're a piece-of-shit, just-out-of-college worker bee who listens to Coldplay while driving the BMW daddy bought you because he was so proud you eeked your way out of Marquette in 4 1/2 years with a 2.6. I hate you and pray that you're sterile. Runner-Up: Those stupid-ass furry boots that females wear. They look like moon boots, which are only appropriate for Napoleon Dynamite to wear. No mom should allow her daughter to go out in public with pieces of Chewbacca's shit on her feet.
Best Public Humilation: The chorus of boos following Ashlee Simpson's awful performance at halftime of the Orange Bowl. She sounded like a cat being simultaneously raped and murdered. Man I hate that bitch, her recessive genes, and her jaw of steel. Runner-Up: Ashlee Simpson's SNL debacle. I know it happened in 2004, but man I hate that bitch. How she and Jessica came from the same parents is something I hope will be explained in 2006. And in a perfect world, said explanation would come only after Ashlee's death.
Best Day: June 11. I got married. Nuff said. Runner-Up: October 26. Sox win the World Series for the first time since 1917. Holla.
Here are some others:
Most Disappointing Movie: War of the Worlds. So the aliens were allergic to birds? That's it? Birds?
Best Character Actor Who Died: Vincent Schiavelli. I'll never forget they way he called on Lane Meyer in math class in Better Off Dead.
Ugliest Brain-Dead Chick: Terr--no, no, even I can't go that far. Actually, I can, but I've been told I'll be divorced if I do.
New TV Show That Should Already Be Canceled But Isn't: Stacked. Hey look, it's Pam Anderson wearing skimpy clothes and making tired jokes about how she's a moron with big boobs.
Most Badass Hurricane: Katrina. Man, that bitch was shrewd.
Most Shocking Military Surrender: Russia surrenders to Japan at Port Arthur, China (aka Lushun and Ryojun) during the Russo-Japanese War. Oh wait, my bad. That was 1905.
Best Funeral: Hunter S. Thompson.
Best $25,000 Pyramid Player Who Died: Nipsey Russell. That guy was a guaranteed 7 points every round. And God help us all if you got him in the final round--that $25,000 was as good as yours.
Best Celebrity Break-Up: Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson. No pre-nup = Nick is a genius.
Hottest Royal Wedding: Princess Margaret of Connaught marries Gustav, Crown Prince of Sweden. Damn, again, sorry. That was 1905.
Monday, December 26, 2005
The holiday party ended as every holiday party should: with the office manager giving Holt $20 to go to CVS to "get as much beer as you can for $20." Bear in mind that at this point, there are about 8 of us who had closed down the party and had made our way back to the office with drinks in hand. Holt returned promptly with 2 12-packs and a 40.
Apparently drinking scotch starting at noon, accented with a delightful almond-crusted tilapia, followed by several hours of drinking beer has an adverse effect on my stomach. Only through chugging vast amounts of water and ancient Assyrian mind-control techniques did I ward off the often-feared "shit-puke," which I have luckily never had to experience. The night ended with a viewing of HBO's phenomenal show, Cathouse, which is a documentary show about the Bunny Ranch outside of Vegas. And you thought you loved hookers before.
Friday, Jester, Harley, and I headed to the in-laws' (mine, not Jessie's) house in metropolitan Roanoke, Indiana. By virtue of a raffle amongst all family members, we had Christmas Eve dinner at a Chinese restaurant in Ft. Wayne, which was all good with me, even though my entry in the dinner raffle was "linguini with clam sauce." After dinner, we opened presents (such pagan pre-Christmas present opening was strictly forbidden in my house). I guess the rule in their house is that the new guy gets the most presents because I racked 'em up. If you take a look at the multitude of presents by the tree, all but about 2 of them were for me. I got CDs, DVDs, books, t-shirts, a Casio karaoke keyboard, and a bottle of good scotch.
Just when I thought it couldn't get any better, Christmas Day smacks me upside the head with 2009 years of limp dick. I got about 10 hours of sleep, which -- for those of you who have never had 10 hours of sleep -- is awesome. Ari, Jessie, Harley, and I decided to head back to Chicago Sunday instead of Monday. In Columbia City, Indiana, at the junction of US-30 and IN-9, we were stopped next to none other than former first lady Barbara Bush driving a Buick (see below). Man, I can't believe George H.W. Bush married a dude.
We dropped Ari off in the city, then headed to my crib, where the family was just finishing Chirstmas dinner. They had no idea we were going to be coming home a day earlier than previously planned, so you can imagine the confusion and excitement when we sent Harley (my dog) in the back door while we waited outside. My aunt says something along the lines of "oh look, a dog," apparently concluding that the dog had unlocked and opened the back door all by herself and was just popping in for a quick drink and a chat about the market. So then Jessie and I bust in, shouting about Christmas miracles and such. We got to open some more presents and then got to watch the end of the Bears/Packers game (Bear Down muthatruckas!!) Then I watched the 10th anniversary extended version of Mallrats, which was pretty good, although the extra half-hour they added to it didn't add all that much to the movie.
Then today, I got to open even more presents at my dad's house. Triple bonus. If I don't get any presents tomorrow, I'll probably flip out and finally start that killing spree I've been talking about for all these years.
GMYH would like to wish a Happy Hanukkah to our Jewish reader, whoever you may be. GMYH would also like to wish a Happy Boxing Day to all of our Canadian readers, or as ubergenius Tucker Carlson might call you, our retarded cousins. Well, have a good one, and be on the lookout for Mr. 6000's biography coming soon.
Thursday, December 22, 2005
A male associate in his mid to late 20s gets rip-roarin' wasted at the annual holiday party. Also in attendance is an attractive, notoriously promiscuous, female summer associate from the previous summer, who was in town for the party. He told her that, if it wasn't too much of an inconvenience for her, he wanted to "take her back to [his] house and fuck [her] brains out and then bring over some of [his] friends so they could fuck [her] brains out" and that he wanted "to hear [her] head hitting the wall," on account of the hate-fucking I guess. Apparently this offended her, even though the requests were surprisingly not out of the question for her. She went straight to a partner and told her what the guy said, and the partner went straight up to the guy and fired him right there on the spot. Now that he no longer worked there, it wasn't sexual harassment, so the girl ended up going home with him.*
I hope to get drunk enough to rally the other non-bonus-getting associates (i.e., all but about 5) and stage a massive coup. My newly established puppet regime will support lock-step bonuses based on the number of billable hours over the minimum. We will also support polygamy, which I think will ultimately be the firm's downfall.
*That last sentence is complete lie, but man, that would've been a sweet end to the story. Instead, the guy just found a job at another firm in town, and the girl got fired the next year when it turned out that the reason she couldn't sit for the bar was because she never graduated law school.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
I found out today that the higher-ups have decided to close the office on Friday. That 8-10 hours that we'll be missing certainly makes up for the thousands of dollars in bonuses that most of us didn't get. Merry fucking Christmas.
Monday, December 19, 2005
Anyway, Friday night Jester and I went to Palmer Place, the LaGrange bar with the largest beer selection in the Chicagoland area, to share some ales and tales with Chris "Gemkeezi" Gemkow, his fiance Selina "Soon to be a Gemkeezi" Wozniak, and their friend Amy. Good times were had.
Saturday, of course, was the long-awaited wedding of Ryan "King Canute" Knudsen and Carrie "Now Part Danish" Bunting, which took place in Darien. The attendees that I knew read like a who's who of Ryan's friends: Matthew Spring and Volleyball Katie, Jones and Lynch, Sean and Bridget, the Gemkeezis, JD and Tray-C, TZ and Chach, and the Brothers Lenhardt and Their Lovely Ladies. In addition, Ryan's uncle from Rome was there. He is a priest, and actually got a papal marriage blessing certificate signed by the Pope for Ryan and Carrie. Not too shabby.
There was a little over 3 hours between when the wedding ended (about 3:45) and when dinner was to be served (7). The reception hall was across the street from the church, and it had been arranged so that the bar at the reception hall would be open at 4:30. This is nothing short of a remarkable idea. By the time dinner was served, most of the people there were more than half in the bag, including me. Why the bartender didn't cut me off after my 5th or 6th J&B on the rocks is beyond me, although I think I gave him a $5 tip at one point, so that might have had a lot to do with it. As with most weddings, it was a blast. Anytime I drink enough to dance means that I had a hell of a time. I'd tell you more about the evening, but all I really remember is Jessie and Katie were polka'ing a lot, even though no polka music was played, and I told Bridget (pictured to the right, trying to escape the clutches of my camera-phone by dancing away) that I wouldn't post any pictures of her on my blog after she got the DJ to play "Livin' On a Prayer." Great song.
After such a glorious evening, one could only expect a shitty drive back the next day. Luckily I had early taken some Excedrin Migraine, which is the single greatest hangover cure, this side of not drinking 8-10 scotches on the rocks. Jester and I picked up Holt at the Pilot gas station at Exit 201 on I-65, as you would expect. We were making great time on the way back, and it was looking like I would get back in time to see the kickoff in the Bears game. Then we get about 25-30 miles east of Indy and we come to a complete stop. And by "complete stop," I mean that we did not move an inch for an hour. We must have arrived just a couple minutes after an accident a couple miles up because all of the emergency vehicles made their way down the shoulder a couple minutes after we stopped.
After the first 15 minutes sitting completely still, it started to get annoying. My eyes couldn't help but notice the median, which had a prisitine blanket of 3 or 4 inches of snow. Could Rhonda, my totally pimped-out '91 Accord with nearly 193,00 miles, make it across? The consensus in the car was "probably not."
At 30 minutes, the meter had passed the drunk Ohio State fan level of annoyance. SUVs and pick-ups began to cross the snow-covered median to freedom. Meanwhile, about 100-200 yards behind us, a conversion van was not so lucky. It apparently misjudged the speed necessary to get up the other side of the median, serving as a grim reminder to all of us without SUVs and trucks that Mother Nature is a cold-hearted slut who punishes the weak and dumb. But still, that median was just so damn inviting.
At the 45-minute mark, sitting there had become more annoying than listening to a conversation between Suzy Kolber and Kathy Griffin. A brave Ford Focus wagon had turned itself completely around, and got a head of steam on the shoulder and cut across the median at a diagonal. While Jessie tried to tell me that my car wasn't as heavy as the Focus, the median began to look more and more like a really drunk chick who just broke up with her boyfriend--vulnerable, enticing, and conquerable.
When we finally hit an hour, it was full-on Scott Stapp-level annoying. Something had to be done. If I was going to go down, I was going to go down swinging. By this time, the consensus in the car had shifted from "probably not" to "85% sure we could make it." I maneuvered Rhonda so that I was perpendicular to traffic, face-to-face with the median. Once the traffic on the other side cleared, I gunned it, making it across with relative ease. Screams of joy and elation poured from our lungs as the sweet concrete of I-70 West fell victim to my proud and victorious tires. When we looked back, other cars (i.e., not just trucks) had followed my lead. All they had been waiting for was someone who didn't have a vehicle endorsed by Toby Keith to have the courage and foresight to challenge Mother Nature from a standstill. I hesitate to call myself a hero, but nothing else comes to mind at the moment.
We made it back to the previous exit and headed down to US-40 (which runs parallel to I-70), which we took for about 15 miles before hopping back on 70. The excitement of driving faster than zero mph caused me to miss Rhonda's big 193,000-mile landmark. But on the bright side, I got back for the 2nd half of the Bears game, which allowed me to see Lovie Smith finally bench Kyle Orton and his hideous facial hair. And I got to see the Bears defense beat down the Falcons like they were scared, quadraplegic mules. Anyway, this week I don't have anything very pressing to do, which means that I will be looking at the clock every 30 to 45 seconds, waiting for Friday afternoon to get here.
Today, at approximately 10:45 a.m. EST, I made my way to the lavatory in hopes of expelling some urine that had begun to stockpile itself in my bladder past the point of comfort. When I turned the corner to go to the men's room, I heard the door shut. As I entered the bathroom approximately 4 seconds later, the door on one of the stalls slammed shut before I could notice who had gone in. I looked at my watch before I sidled up to the urinal for what I assumed would be a routine piss. The second hand had just crossed the 9.
The expected noises and odors emanated from the stall. When I was zipping up, I heard the unmistakable sound of a toilet flushing. The handle being pounded down. The deafening rush of water carrying human excrement to its final resting place in the Great Miami River. It was all too real. The second hand of my watch stared at me like an angry homeless man. It had just crossed the 3. Thoughts of rational disbelief engulfed me as I made my way to the sink to wash my hands. "Maybe it was just a courtesy flush," I thought to myself, "Because there's no way. It's not possible. It just . . . can't . . . be." I'll never forget the terrifying sound I heard next: the rustling of pants being brought from ankles to waist as a shirt was being tucked in, complete with the jingle-jangle of a belt buckle being maneuvered into the closed position. The Cinnamon Life I had for breakfast was creeping up my esophagus and tears were beginning to well in my eyes. I quickly dried my hands and headed for the door. Before I could get out, I heard the stall door open.
The second hand was at 6 as I sprinted back to my office. I couldn't even bring myself to look at the culprit. The resulting combination of laughter, crying, uncontrollable vomiting, and merciless cock punching would have surely ended my employment with this firm. Until we meet again, Mr. Fecal Phantom. Perhaps then I will have summoned the courage to look you in the face -- assuming you have one -- and tell you what a deplorable, holiday-ruining shit monger you are.
Friday, December 16, 2005
As usual, The OC was phenomenal last night. It was the annual Chrismukkah episode. For those of you who don't know what that means, it's a holiday that combines Christmas and Hanukkah, created in 2003 by Seth Cohen, whose mom is Christian and dad is Jewish. As Seth explained last night, "Every Jewish boy dreams of having Christmas. I gave myself that." Not only is this a sweet idea, but it's also a sweet word combination, which I obviously support wholeheartedly.
Anyway, this year's Chrismukkah miracle was two-fold:
Miracle #1: Seth came up with the brilliant idea to give Ryan an honorary Bar Mitzvah (the "Bar Mitz-vahkkuh") to raise money to give to Johnny so that he can get the knee operation he so desperately needs to get back on the surfing tour. Hesitant at first, Ryan decides that this is a good idea. As you can see, he becomes so delighted with the idea that he actually eats shit and subsequently grins, which is simply out of character for someone from Chino. Needless to say, he's lucky Volchok didn't see this side of him, or else Volchok might not have been so eager to walk away from that fight under the pier when it looked as though Ryan was going to gut Volchok from crotch to throat with a broken wine bottle, keeping Volchok alive just long enough to see Ryan eating his innards with a similar smile on his face as this one.
Miracle #2: It turned out that Johnny didn't want to be some charity case, so he refused to accept the whole Bar Mitz-vahkkuh idea. He told everyone he would take care of it on his own. Apparently he figured, what better way to pay for an operation to repair a torn ACL than by leaving in the middle of your friend's fake Bar Mitzvah to hold up a convenience store? Surely that will reap $5,000-$10,000 and have no consequences. It's this same line of reasoning that allows him to avoid the barber shop.
Miracle #3 was almost pulled off, but just as she was about to sit down to eat something for the first time in nearly 2 years, Marissa noticed Johnny buying the gun with which he eventually was going to hold up the convenience store. Sadly, Marissa got up from the table to go talk to Johnny below the pier, thus allowing the inner lining of her stomach to continue to devour itself.
Anyway, it looks to be a good rest of the season, as Marissa's little sister returns from wherever the hell she's been since Season One's finale. It appears that the time away has been kind to Kaitlin Cooper. She has now become some sort of Lolita, set on turning all that angst toward her nuevo-trailer-trash mom and absent dad into a chance to spread her legs all around town. That'll show 'em! Here are some questions raised by this episode and the preview for the next episode:
1. Will Julie Cooper-Nichol continue to dip alone in her trailer? If so, when will she contract mouth cancer? A related question is whether living in a trailer park actually does force you to buy and use Skol.
2. How many dudes will Kaitlin Cooper do before someone gets arrested for statutory rape? My hopes is that it's hundreds, if not thousands.
3. When the gang tries to petition Harbor to let Marissa back in, will Dean Hess reprise his role as Supreme Cock Chugger? If so, just how many cocks will he chug during each episode? Anything under 50 would be a disappointment.
4. Will Marissa finally eat something? If so, what will it be? Maybe an almond? Or a dried prune? Or a cookie crumb? Or an ice cube? Will she just throw it right back up, since she has conditioned her body to sustain itself without such toxins?
5. Assuming Johnny has the knee surgery, will his head please have to be shaved for the operation?
6. Isn't it about time for Teresa to show up with Ryan's kid?
7. Now that Summer's dad (who I thought resembled a combination of Edward James Olmos and Hellboy) has made one appearance on the show, will he never have to be seen again?
8. How will the show's producers possibly make up a scenario where all of the kids go off to college, but the show stays intact? Will it be like Saved By the Bell: The College Years, where Zack, Kelly, Slater, and Screech conveniently went to the same school, Cal U, while Jessie and Lisa were cut out of the show because they went to school elsewhere? Or will it be like Beverly Hills, 90210, where everyone except the ugliest character (that nerdy Andrea Zuckerman) went to the same school, which I think was also called Cal U? My guess is that everyone except Johnny will go to a school named Cal U because Johnny will die in a surfing-with-a-shitty-haircut-related accident.
Jester and I are off to the glorious western suburbs of glorious Chicago for the wedding of Ryan "The Dane" Knudsen to his longtime girlfriend/fiancé Carrie "I Can't Believe I'm Marrying a Dane" Bunting. It's sure to be a good time. Plus, I'm leaving work around 2. Holla.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
His exact date of birth is unknown, even to him, but as he has said, "I'm pretty much old as shit." Born in what is now Belarus, Kris Karl Kringle (in the 1870s, he officially changed his middle name to Tyrone, so as to prevent any possible inference of affiliation with the Ku Klux Klan) had humble beginnings. His parents, Vladimir and Veronika Kringle, were hard-working and strict. All of their children worked on the family reindeer farm, which, as Kris described, was a "24-7-12-52-365 job." Kris was in charge of keeping track of the farm's inventory. His older brother Claus, who Kris looked up to, was in charge of making sure the reindeer had enough food and enough exercise. The oldest sibling, Natalia, was in charge of birthing, while Olga, the youngest, was in charge of gathering the reindeer's milk each day, which the family would use and would also sell at the market.
Tragedy struck Kris in his early teens. As Kris looked on, Claus tripped and fell while leading the reindeer on their daily run. By the time all 200 reindeer had passed, Claus had been trampled to death. Kris had not only lost his brother, but he also lost his best friend and his mentor.
On the farm, Kris bore the brunt of Claus's death. His parents gave all of Claus's responsibilities to Kris. Tension was high on the farm, as Vladimir and Veronika constantly prodded Kris to be quicker with his work, especially on the inventory side of things. Kris's innate habit of double-checking his inventory was not meant in any way to anger his parents, but it did just that. Kris constantly argued with his parents, trying to make them understand that he needed to check everything twice in order to ensure that the farm was fully stocked. What his parents (and Kris) did not know is that Kris had what today is called obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD.
Kris eventually had enough of the bickering. In the middle of a July 332 night, he left the family farm and headed west, not knowing what the future would hold for him. For several years, Kris wandered throughout what is now Poland, Germany, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, working as a blacksmith.
Then in 335, he met a man who would change Kris's life forever. The man was Nicholas, and he was from Myra, which is in modern-day Turkey. Nick, as he was known to his friends, was a very generous man, who liked to travel around Europe (then called "The Roman Empire") sampling the mead, wine, and women in every town, and delighting each town's children by leaving treats in the shoes of the well-behaved children while the kids were asleep.
Nick and Kris became fast friends, and Kris liked Nick's way of life, as well as the message he sent to kids. As Kringle explained, "Nick and I were drinking buddies. We'd travel all over Eastern Europe and Scandinavia. He had a habit of getting wrecked and going around house-to-house, leaving candy in shoes. Then there was this one little bastard who kept egging Nick's house. Instead of leaving this kid candy, Nick found a big horse turd that he put in the kid's shoes. We could barely do it without busting up. Long story short, the kid killed himself the next day when he found out that he was the only kid in town who got poo in his shoes instead of candy. I guess it was his only pair of shoes. Anyway, that's when he decided to put lumps of coal in bad kids' shoes instead of shit."
Several years passed, and Kris was enjoying his travels with Nick, whose health began to dwindle. He had kept in contact with his sisters, Natalia and Olga. In December of 341, Kris received a disturbing message from Olga: Vladimir and Veronika had died from a bout with dysentery after drinking some sour reindeer milk. She wanted Kris to come home for the burial. At first Kris was hesitant, but Nick told him that going home was the right thing to do. Before Kris left for home, Nick told him that Kris was a good person and that as long as he continued to spread joy to the hearts of children everywhere, Kris would never die. It would be the last time Kris would ever see Nick, who died 2 years later and was cannonized as a saint about 200 years later.
When Kris returned home, the farm was in shambles. Natalia and Olga had tried their best to keep the farm running, but the onset of winter had taken its toll on the reindeer, as well as the equipment. Only one sleigh and 8 reindeer remained (Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blitzen). Kris used the money he earned as a blacksmith to buy out his sisters' shares of the farm, giving them enough money to live on for many years. He then used the reindeer and the sleigh to carry out Nick's work. Traveling across the Empire, Kris delivered toys once a year to the Christian children who had been good throughout the year.
"In the early years, I was pretty modest. A lot of times I would visit houses and accidentally wake someone up. When they asked who I was, I would get flustered because I was pretty shy and because I didn't want someone to think that I was breaking in. So I'd give 'em a fake name, usually St. Nicholas or Santa Claus, in honor of Nick and my brother. Those names stuck, I guess."
Word of "Santa Claus" and "St. Nicholas" soon spread, and Kris found it to be increasingly difficult to keep track of all of the children. "That's when I came up with the idea of the Nice List and the Naughty List," he later recounted, "Of course, I still had to make sure that it was correct, so I started checking it twice a year, rather than just once."
Kris was also finding it difficult to deal with the ever-growing population and the continual growth of Christianity. After a year of rigorous training, Kris had taught the reindeer to fly. This allowed Kris's efficiency to increase 100-fold. However, with the increase in efficiency came an increase in the number of children he could reach, and a resulting increase in demand for toys. To deal with this, Kris hired about 100 elves from a neighboring community. Elves had a reputation as hard workers and good company men and women.
A side-effect of Kris's growing popularity and notoriety was that he was swarmed wherever he went, whether it was by angry children who thought they had deserved presents, good children who were awestruck and thankful, or enamored women who would do anything to make it onto the Nice List. It got to the point where Kris couldn't even walk down the street or go to a restaurant without getting bothered by someone.
This prompted Kris to sell the family farm, using the proceeds to buy the entire North Pole, a region that had not been previously inhabited. Land and labor was so cheap in the North Pole that he was able to build a huge toy production facility, a giant distribution center, a state-of-the-art mail center, heated stables for his reindeer, and a house for each family of elves.
Things went smoothly for years, until one unusually foggy Christmas. Kris's sleigh had no lights, and his 8 reindeer could barely see six inches in front of them. Luckily Donner's son, Rudolph, had a birth defect that made his nose shine like a red lightbulb. Kris redesigned his sleigh so that it would work with 9 reindeer, with Rudolph by himself out front, leading the pack. To this day, Santa has kept that same configuration. Interestingly, Rudolph has developed a bit of a cult following, with at least one song written about his exploits.
Always a perfectionist, Kris became better and better at his craft, to the point where he could deliver presents to every kid on the Nice List in just one night. As his gift-giving prowess became legendary with children, his libido became just as legendary with the world's women. As Dasher explained, "Santa had a way with women like I've never seen before or since. I mean, imagine you're a lady sitting at home late one Christmas Eve, and who comes slidin' down the chimney but Kris fuckin' Kringle with a bag of shit that you want. The irony, of course, was that to get off the Naughty List, you had to do something naughty. Back in the old days, we would sometimes be waiting on a roof for an hour or two, knowing damn well what -- or should I say, who -- that fat son of a bitch was doing inside. Because of his shenanigans we almost had to make Christmas a two-day holiday."
Kris recalled, "I had some great times back in the day. There wasn't a woman I couldn't bag. Back in the '30s, Errol Flynn and I had a running contest. Last I checked, I was way ahead." Kris pledged himself to 2 things: making sure the good little boys and girls of the world were rewarded for their deeds, and making sure he remained a bachelor forever.
But that all changed on December 25, 1942. While visiting an apartment building in Los Angeles, Kris came to the dwelling of a 20-year-old aspiring actress, Missez Claus Jones, known to her friends simply as Missez Claus. "It was love at first sight for both of us," she explained. Luckily for Kris, her presents were the final delivery of that year's Christmas. He and Missez Claus spent the night getting to know each other on a carnal level. They married three days later in the North Pole.
Kris Kringle, the man who once deemed himself "the eternal bachelor," was married. Marriage, however, didn't quell Kris's indelible sexual appetite. Visiting millions of homes thousands of miles from his own home, both on Christmas and during the rest of the year when he tried to keep tabs on who was naughty and nice, Kris succumbed to the temptations of life on the road. Most women just couldn't resist a man draped in red velvet, and Kris just couldn't resist them.
With the burgeoning popular music market, it was especially hard to keep his flings from the rest of the world, much less Missez Claus. In 1953, Eartha Kitt released "Santa Baby," a tawdry song that included an invitation for Kris to "come and trim [her] Christmas tree," which Kris had done the year before. Darlene Love released "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" in 1963, recounting all of the fun she and Kris had on December 25, 1962. And, of course, there was the extremely obvious "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus," which Kris discussed in a 1968 interview with Playboy: "A lot of people have the misconceived notion that 'I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus' is about a kid who thinks he sees his mom kissing me, when it's actually the kid's dad dressed up as me. Well, it was me. The guy who wrote the song, Thomas Connor, saw it when he was a kid, and his mom told him that I was actually his dad dressed up like Santa. Man, she was a good lay."
Eventually, Kris realized how hollow and materialistic these little trysts had become. "They wanted one of two things: one, to be taken off the Naughty List so that they could get a present, or two, the chance to say they got railed by Santa. I was living a lie. For goodness sake, I was telling millions of kids to be good, when I wasn't being good myself."
Kris came clean to Missez Claus in 1965 (and has been faithful since then). After a six-month trial separation, where she went to stay with her sister in Omaha, she returned to Kris and the North Pole. Missez Claus explained, "I realized that he had well over a thousand years of this kind of behavior, and it was silly of me to think that I could just expect him to change at the drop of a hat. It was going to take time, but I know that he has a good heart and that he and I are soul mates."
Unfortunately, Kris's OCD began to emerge in other facets of his life. Beginning in the late 1970s, Kris became a compulsive overeater. He recalled, "Anytime something went wrong, whether it was Blitzen tearing his ACL, another kid who stopped believing, or a toy that didn't come out of the elves' workshop the way I wanted, I would turn to the fridge for solace."
Technological innovations didn't help his state of sloth either. The advent of computerized spreadsheets and databases allowed Kris to update his Lists with ease, rather than by hand. GPS systems meant that he didn't have to spend time getting to know each and every new street in the world. And by 1995, Kris had installed infrared, night-vision cameras in every house to determine whether people were sleeping or awake. The cameras also meant that Kris didn't have to do nearly as much traveling to determine whether people were naughty or nice. As he noted, "All I had to do was sit on my recliner and watch a whole bunch of monitors. Whenever I saw someone on the Nice List do something naughty, I would eat a whole pizza and a pecan pie."
By 2000, Kris's weight ballooned to over 400 pounds. The reindeer could barely support his weight while pulling the sleigh. "I was a complete mess. I could barely walk up a flight of stairs without throwing up the entire turkey and sheet cake I had just eaten. It was pathetic." Kris's problems also spilled over into the bedroom. As Missez Claus recalled, "He could barely survive 30 seconds without being drenched in sweat. It was like trying to ride a wet manatee. So then, we would have to stop before either of us got off or before he had a heart attack, which resulted in him crying, which resulted in him running for the fridge for several gallons of ice cream and a couple pounds of roast beef, which just resulted in him gaining more weight, which resulted in him lasting an even shorter duration the next time we tried to have sex, which sent him back to the fridge again. It was a vicious cycle."
On December 25, 2000, the cycle ended. While delivering presents to a home in Shermer, Illinois, Kris had a heart attack after seeing what he described as two large, living M&Ms. "It was a scary experience. The last thing I remember is saying something along the lines of 'They do exist,' and then the next thing I know I'm waking up in a hopsital bed. That's when I finally realized I had a problem."
Kris underwent therapy to overcome his compulsive overeating. He installed a workout facility at the North Pole and hired a year-round personal trainer. By Christmas 2003, he was down to 185 pounds and could bench press 350 pounds. In 2004, he authored a best-selling book about the battle with his waistline, entitled "You Don't Have to Be Fat to Be Jolly."
Unfortunately, not all has been jolly for Kris in the past few years. Running a multi-national enterprise is expensive, and Kringle's operation felt the crunch of the economic downturn that plagued the first several years of the 21st Century. In 2002, he was forced to lay off several hundred elves, the first such layoffs since the Black Death. In 2003, Kringle outsourced his mail operations. He explained, "Most kids think that when they send a letter to me and address it to the 'North Pole' that it actually goes to the North Pole. In actuality, it goes to our new mail processing center in Bangalore, India."
Fear not, though. He is fully prepared for Christmas 2005 and will make every scheduled delivery. That is, after all, what keeps him alive. Call him a shrewd businessman, call him a misunderstood genius, call him a pagan diety, but just don't call him Kristopher. "I've been called a lot of things, most of which I don't mind: Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Sinterklaas, and St. Nick, even though that's not technically me. But I can't stand when people call me 'Kristopher.' It's 'Kris.' It's only one fucking syllable. How hard is that? At least Missez Claus and I know a telemarketer is calling when they ask for 'Mr. Kristopher Kringle.' Bastards."
So what's next for Kris Kringle and Missez Claus? "Well, we've talked about having kids, but right now we figure what's the rush? Hell, we got time -- we are immortal. But wouldn't that be a trip? Me with kids? They would always be trying to sneak into the toy factory or sneak a peek to make sure they were on the Nice List. At least they would have to believe in me. In the meantime, I'm just gonna keep on doin' what I'm doin', making sure the good boys and girls of the world are rewarded and the bad ones get lumps of coal. And you know what? Even if only one kid on the Naughty List makes it over to the Nice List, then it's all worth it."
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
-Parents who allow their young children to be androgynous. Sure, it's really fun for on-lookers to debate whether your kid is a boy or a girl, but it turns out that boys hate being mistaken for girls and vice versa. So that means that your boy should never have hair that looks like Farrah Fawcett's and girls should not have hair that looks like Brian Bosworth's. If they do, you get an axe to the face. It's only fair.
-Notre Dame fans. And I'm not just talking about the pretentious SOBs and DOBs that went there. I'm also talking about the people who are somehow Notre Dame fans, in spite of the fact that they didn't go there, no one in their family went there, and they've never even been to South Bend. And no, you don't get off the hook if you like them because you're Irish or Catholic.
-Anyone who has ever played in a band called Steely Dan. They need to pay dearly for exposing the world to their music.
-Southerners. No comment necessary.
-People who talk on cell phones in elevators containing more than one person. They should be forced to swallow their cell phones whole while being branded all over their bodies by circus clowns and kicked in the shins by everyone else in the elevator.
-Homeless people. This wasn't my first solution to the homeless problem, but all of the networks (even Fox) rejected my idea for "The Real Survivor," a reality show in which all of the homeless people in America are flown to a deserted island and forced to fend for themselves. The last remaining contestant would get to choose one of the following three prizes: (1) a big bowl of rice; (2) a brand new, top-of-the-line shopping cart; or (3) the chance to run one of Donald Trump's companies.
-Danes. Those self-righteous Scandinavian bastards have been sticking their noses in the air for too damn long, with their pastries, fjords, and fairy tales. From Copenhagen to Jutland, their reign of terror must be stopped.
-Holocaust deniers. Might not be necessary if all Southerners are killed.
-Anyone named Ashlee Simpson. Just make sure to avoid punching her in her bulbous chin of steel, in which case your hand will instantly dissolve, you will start lip-synching your own shitty songs, and then you will be booed out of the room.
-Morbidly obese people who refuse to do anything about it. Or I guess we can just wait 6 months.
-People who back into parking spots. Just thinking about it makes me too enraged to type any more.
Please feel free to add your own suggestions.
I sincerely apologize for not having a fantasy update for the past few weeks. I know a lot of you have asked about how my fantasy football season is going. Well, here you go:
-Corn Hole'ers (1976 Tampa Bay Bucs): 6-8 regular season (4th of 8, 4 games out) (4th seed in the playoffs, which start this week)
-FIC You (The Worst Team Ever): 3-10 regular season (T 9th of 10, 7 games out) (9th seed in the consolation bracket of the playoffs, which started last week, and I am currently winning the battle for 9th place)
-Glenview Gridiron (Angry Pirates): 9-3 (1st of 12, 1 game up) (1st seed in playoffs, which start this week)
-League of Extraordinary Gents (Angry Pirates): 5-9 (T 7th of 10, 5 games out) (8th seed in the consolation bracket of the playoffs, which start this week)
-Pigskin 2005 Pick 'Em (Angry Pirates): 5th of 17 (15th last week)
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Saturday was just an all-around solid day. Jester and I took Harley to the local dog park, where she immediately tried to take on 2 Dobermans and a Boxer/German Shepard mix. Luckily she's fast, or else she would have been dead long ago. Harley, too.
After some Christmas shopping, we headed back home to watch IU unleash 5 years of frustration on Kentucky. That, my friends, was a nice game to watch. Marco Killingsworth is simply a hoss who should not be mocked or even looked at in an unsatisfied manner. I can't wait until he makes James Augustine cry.
Saturday night we went to the hizzie of Kim "I'm Not Really Going to Attempt to Wear a Bad Sweater Even Through I'm Hosting a Bad Sweater Party" Byrum and Casey "Clark W." Mayo (shown to the right, stone cold pimpin') for their annual bad Christmas sweater party. If you've never been to one of these before, I highly suggest hosting or crashing one. It's more fun than getting stoned and watching Captain Ron. As a fortune cookie I got once said, "Good friends, good food, good times, goodbye oppression."
Jessie and I got some sweet sweaters, thanks in large part to Dayton's many deceased grandmothers whose hideous and generally unusable clothes are donated to the Salvation Army. As you may not be able to tell, my sweatshirt says "The joy of Christmas is my grandchildren." My cardigan sweater vest not only keeps me warm, but it also features playful teddy bears dressed in adorable elf uniforms. To keep my feet warm, I went with a dark blue cotton sock, complemented by vintage mid-'90s Eastland loafers. And yes, I am wearing women's size 16 plaid shorts. Jessie's sweater features a delightful array of gingerbread men and women, each one of them with their own costume and, really, their own personality. Underneath is a stylish turtleneck with Christmas trees and skiers in various stages of flipping. As you might imagine, her skirt is red felt, and boy do those green tights say "I'm in the mood for some yule-tide fun!"
Through Casey's many mafia and underwear company connections, he was able to procure many "presents" for a mid-party raffle. Many prizes were given away, including: men's briefs (size S), silk reindeer boxers with matching antlers for Christmastime ribaldry, and a talking Napoleon Dynamite keychain (damn you Kate). At the end, a winner and runner-up for best sweater are named. The fix was on, big time, as the two winners were Casey's family members. I tried to call "shenanigans," but it was to no avail. While I was hurt that I was not the winner, I am also glad that I did not have to accept the grand prize, a used red and white Santa-themed men's thong with what used to be a white puff ball that hangs down right around the chode. Not all was lost, however, as I went home with some spiced pecans and the traditional Christmas dessert, baklava.
So, aside from the Bears laying an egg in Pittsburgh, it was a pretty solid weekend. Let the Grossman era begin . . . again.
Monday, December 12, 2005
A chicken and an egg are lying in bed together. While the chicken enjoys a cigarette, the unsatisfied egg turns away and says underneath its breath, "Well I guess we finally answered that question."
Friday, December 09, 2005
I'd love to talk more in-depth about The OC, which RULES, but I have more important things to talk about. Nonetheless, a quick character-by-character recap is in order. Seth: still sarcastic. Ryan: even though he went to a strip club with Matt, still able to punch through your chest without even moving his arm. Matt: hair looks convincingly like that of Patrick Bateman, and hopefully his demeanor and tendencies will soon follow suit. Dean Hess: still just chugging cock off-screen like it's going out of style (at least 48 a day). Johnny: still refuses to get a haircut. Marissa: 15. That's the number of episodes it's been since we've seen her eat. Summer: apparently finding out that she's a genius means that she has to dress like a 15th Century Flemish peasant. Sandy: still has unruly eyebrows. Kirsten: still waiting to fall off the wagon in grandiose fashion. Julie: still waiting for her to be forced to make stag flicks to get out of the trailer park.
Now, onto more pressing issues. Starting at about 3:30 or 4 yesterday afternoon, it began to snow pretty solidly. By 7 or 8, we had a good 3-4 inches, and I'd say the total snowfall was around 5-6 inches. I swear to God, Dayton turns into a retard factory (or, I'm sorry, a specially educated factory) whenever it snows. It's as if no one in this city has ever seen snow before. Traffic jams occur in places where there is normally no traffic. Schools close. Workplaces shut down early to allow their employees to get home safely. Cars race along at 5-7 mph. Beginning at about 4 p.m., a constant ticker runs at the bottom of every local network affiliate for the whole night, detailing the closings at schools, churches, day care centers, libraries, soup kitchens (because homeless people have TVs), health clubs, comedy clubs, restaurants, bars, brothels, and hospitals. We live in the Midwest, people, where it has snowed at least once a year for the past 4.57 billion years.
Besides the general inability of Daytonians to cope with snow or the prospect of snow, it appears that the City of Dayton is wholly unprepared for even the slightest possibility of snow. We get 6 inches of snow and not one street downtown was plowed. Last night, Jessie and I saw at least 8 snowplows driving down snow-filled streets without their plows down. What the fuck? And God forbid a sidewalk gets shoveled. About 75% of my walk to work was through unshoveled sidewalks. I kid you not, the geniuses who own one of the parking lots on the way actually plowed all of the snow from the lot onto the sidewalk. So now, instead of the clear, shoveled sidewalks you might expect to see in such Midwestern cities as Peoria, Gary, Cedar Rapids, Duluth, Flint, Eau Claire, East St. Louis, or Terre Haute, there are three huge snow mounds that prevent anyone from using a 30-foot stretch of sidewalk in downtown Dayton, not only right now, but for many months to come (because we all know that any future snowfall will be again be plowed to the same spot, making it an impenetrable wall of firmly packed snow and ice that should finally melt just in time for next year's first snowfall).
Maybe there are some odds in Vegas (my guess is somewhere around 846 million to one) that it won't snow each year, and the City is betting their snow removal budget on it every year. It hasn't paid off yet, but boy when it does, the gilded streets will be plowed every single day regardless of snowfall so that everyone's hovercraft will glide along seemlessly, polygamy will replace the soon-to-be outdated notion of monogamy, all previously paid taxes will be refunded with interest, the bums will give you money, the many ghettos will be replaced with Las Vegas, the new mayor (a revived and fully functional Orville Wright) will sign into law the revolutionary Anti-Poverty Bill, the hookers will pay you to have sex with them in Dayton's new Bizarro Bordello District, the Dayton Steelers and Dayton Bears will battle every year in the newly renamed Dayton Bowl, and the rivers will run red with the blood of 1,000 Englishmen.
If you're bored on this fine December afternoon, try your hand at this game. My best is 16.981 seconds. Yeh, I expect you to beat that on your first try. Have a great weekend and fuck Kentucky.
Thursday, December 08, 2005
It was 25 years ago today . . .
Mark David Chapman murdered John Lennon outside Lennon's apartment building, the Dakota, in New York City. Having just turned three a little more than a month earlier, my recollection of the day's events is fuzzy at best. All I can take from it are the stories I've heard or read and the images I've seen in the years since:
-The sullen, cracking, grief-stricken voice of New York DJ Vin Scelsa, telling people for the first time that John Lennon had been shot and killed ("For the first time in my life I'm speechless. I have the sad task to inform you that John Lennon is dead.").
-Howard Cosell breaking the news nationally on Monday Night Football.
-Within an hour of his death, scores of people standing outside the Dakota just bawling.
-100,000 people -- most with tears in their eyes -- gathering in Central Park on December 14, 1980 for a ten-minute moment of silence, then singing "All You Need Is Love" together.
-My History of Rock & Roll professor, Dr. Glenn Gass, who might be the biggest Beatles fan I've ever met (and actually teaches a class on the Beatles), explaining how he didn't cry for a while after it happened, not until he was sitting alone having a meal at Bear's Place in Bloomington when the Beatles' version of "Please Mr. Postman," sung by John, came on the jukebox and he broke down, put his hands over his face, and started sobbing right there in the restaurant.
For those of us in Gen X and Gen Y, it's difficult to appreciate just how enormous the Beatles were and just how important John Lennon was. We don't have a frame of reference that allows us to comprehend the pervasive nature of the Beatles' (and Lennon's) impact on music, culture, and the world in general. Not only was John a member of the greatest band in rock & roll history, but he was also eloquent, brilliant, passionate, and genuine. His influence went far beyond music because, unlike most other rock stars and celebrities, John was so convincingly human. He was one of the first rock stars who, on a nearly global scale, really spoke to the people and who the people really listened to. Since pop music has become so fragmented, it's essentially impossible for there to be another group like the Beatles or another John Lennon.
I know that there are a lot of Gen X'ers and Gen Y'ers (including me) who feel cheated because we don't have anyone like John Lennon in our generation. There is no great voice, conscience, or inspiration for us; no one whose death will still make us cry 25 years later. It would have been nice to see someone with such transcendental influence become a role model for new generations. Who knows what great things he could have done in the past 25 years, in music, charity, activism, or even politics (who wouldn't vote for John Lennon for Senator?). All we can do is wonder what might have been, leaving our imaginations to his songs, the Beatles' four films, the Anthology, random TV clips, and the fond stories those in our parents' generation tell us about him.
On the day he died, Lennon was celebrating a new beginning. His Double Fantasy album (his first in 5 years) had gone gold. He had just given an interview in which he talked about the possibilities that lied ahead in the '80s. He was starting to emerge from the cocoon he had been in for the previous 5 years while his main focus was being a father to his young son Sean. His haitus from public life was ending, and he was becoming a man of the people once again. Eerily, several hours before his death, he even autographed a copy of Double Fantasy for the man who would callously and without remorse put four bullets into his back and chest. The bitter irony, of course, is that Lennon -- the man who sang "All You Need Is Love," "Give Peace a Chance," and the irreverent "Happiness is a Warm Gun," and once predicted that he would "probably be popped off by some loony" -- died such a horribly violent and senseless death, at the hands of a man who he had treated with nothing but kindness, no less.
At that point, the dream was over. Any of the hope or promise that may have been lingering from the '60s was forever numbed. For Julian and Sean, Mark David Chapman killed a father. For Yoko, Chapman killed a soul mate. For Paul, George, and Ringo, Chapman killed a brother. For millions of young people, Chapman killed the brilliant uncle that they never got a chance to know. And for millions of others, Chapman killed the voice of hope, the voice of peace, the voice of love, the voice of promise, and the voice of their generation.
Honor him today, whether that means petitioning the parole board at Attica to ensure that Mark David Chapman never again sees the outside world, protesting the war, going out of your way to do something nice for someone, or just listening to his music throughout the day.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
And just when I thought my rant about people from southwestern Ohio might have been a bit harsh, I've come to learn that the guy shut it down because "a car accident occurred in the midst of the traffic jam caused by the display and authorities were unable to get to the scene." Weak.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
You know you're from southwestern Ohio if . . .
1. You go 5 mph below the speed limit. In the left lane. For 50 miles.
2. You have no idea who the White Stripes are, but you can name every Kenny Chesney song ever made.
3. You are a diehard Ohio State fan, even though you didn't go there, no one in your family went there, and no one who lives on your block went there.
4. To you, a yield sign means that you must come to a complete stop when merging onto the highway.
5. You think the word "crayon" is pronounced "crown," "Versailles" is pronounced "verr-sales," and "Bellefontaine" in pronounced "bell-fountain."
6. At the beginning of every NFL season, you honestly believe that the Bengals have a shot at winning the Super Bowl. The Bengals!
7. Your paralyzing fear of change dominates every aspect of your life, from the way you vote against your own interests to the fact that you've convinced yourself that moving away would in fact kill you.
8. Any sort of precipitation while you are driving causes a temporary loss of chromosomes.
9. You hear a song for the first time on the radio six months after your friends in LA, New York, and Chicago first heard the same song.
10. You have no friends in LA, New York, or Chicago.
11. You think Pete Rose is genuinely a good guy with no more problems than you or me.
12. You've heard the term "turn signal" before, but you're not really sure what it means.
13. You do, however, understand what "Who Dey!" means, and you are not afraid to yell it whenever you see another Bengals fan, no matter where you might be, whether it's in a home, bar, restaurant, church, or funeral home.
14. You think the word "grandmother" is pronounced "Mee-maw" and "grandfather" is pronounced "Paa-paw."
15. You hate the drive to Columbus because it's way too long.
16. You're from Cincinnati and you have no idea how to get to Dayton or even where it is.
17. You're in a NASCAR fantasy league.
18. You've never lived within two miles of someone who is a different race than you are (and no, Irish is not a race).
19. "Touchdown Jesus" means a giant plaster statue of Jesus along I-75.
20. You seriously think that Ohio State is a better school than Michigan.
21. When someone is speaking Spanish, you think they're speaking "Mexican."
22. You cringe every time Ken Griffey, Jr. chases down a fly ball.
23. You have a sticker on your car with Calvin pissing on one of the following: the logo of a car company different than the one that made yours; the number of the NASCAR driver with whose driving ability you are less than impressed; Osama bin Laden.
24. What you refer to as "chili" has the look, feel, and taste of diarrhea.
25. You don't quite understand why any of this is funny.
Monday, December 05, 2005
But no matter, we got there. The party was a smashing success, complete with a wide array of delicious food, many varieties of alcohol, and the IU/Eastern Michigan basketball game. I started off with several Caucasians, in the parlance of our times, then switching to beer later on. But no amount of drinks could have prepared me for what I saw on the roof of what was either Jeremy's or his neighbor's garage: a lone footprint in the middle of a snowy roof. This picture doesn't really do it justice, but you get the point. I have come to the startling, but very real, conclusion that one of the following people left the print: Frank Dux, Michael Jordan (from the Space Jam era), Dr. Richard Kimble, Blanka from Street Fighter, the ghost of FloJo, The Six Million Dollar Man, or one of those motherfuckers from Crouching Tiger.
Back inside, the discussion took an ugly turn as we began to postulate about the star-studded cast of The Outsiders. We thought of everyone: Matt Dillon, Tom Cruise, Ralph Macchio, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, Leif Garrett, Diane Lane. But what was the name of that emaciated bastard who played Ponyboy? It was at this point where we realized that imdb.com is perhaps the greatest website of all-time. How in the name of S.E. Hinton did we forget C. Thomas Howell? I'll tell you who I didn't forget: those fucking uppity Socs and their fancy cars. That SOB Sheldon had it coming.
After the party began to wind down, we went to the Burwood, drank some beers, then ordered a pizza from Papa Romeo's. Yesterday, the ladies went shopping, while I laid on the couch watching the Bears defense dominate yet another team. The picture of Brett Favre wincing after Mike Brown concaved his chest was priceless.
The drive back to Sunny D was another 5-hour trip, which included a stop at Culver's for some fried cheese curds and a butter burger. Two trips around 5 hours in one weekend is almost unheard of, especially when there are 2 females in the car. This of course guarantees that my next drive to Chicago will take between 7 and 14 hours. Additionally of note, on the drive home, Rhonda (my tricked-out, g'd-up, total pimp-ride '91 Accord) hit the big 192,000-mile mark. For you astute GMYH readers, you may recall that I hit the 190,000-mile mark less than one month ago on my way home from B-town during the famed "Weekend of Areola." I hope to be at 200,000 by the end of the year.
Saturday, December 03, 2005
So I hop on the Brown Line, head up to the Belmont stop, where I had to switch to the Red Line. Apparently I just missed a Red Line train because there was a "talker" on the platform. For the entire 15 minutes that it took for the next Red Line train to get there, the guy talked to this girl he didn't know, who was too nice to tell him to shut the fuck up and leave her alone. He was pretty much harmless, but he was also one of those guys who doesn't quite have enough social skills to realize that he didn't need to talk to complete strangers for extended periods of time. He also liked to inform people as they walked up the stairs just exactly how many minutes by which they had missed the previous Red Line (i.e., "You waitin' for the Red Line? Yeah, me too. You just missed one by about [4, 7, 12] minutes." And then he would half-heartedly chuckle and say something like, "Ain't that just how it always goes?" Then I would envision what it would be like to strangle a complete stranger to deafening applause.)
Then when I finally got on the train, I happened to be standing by a homeless man with less than the appropriate number of teeth who was laughing uncontrollably for the entire ride. I had to look down because if made eye contact with anyone, I would have been laughing right along with that dude. I almost did it anyway, but I wasn't sure if he would welcome a fellow laugher or try to eat my heart. Luckily, my stop was only one away. When the train stopped, he was leaning with his back against the doors, so he fell backwards out of the train when the doors opened, barely keeping himself from completely falling. He must have found his near fall to be hilarious because he kept right on laughing the whole time. As I walked past him, I assume the odd smoky smell emanating from him was the sweet aroma of crack cocaine.
So then I walked past that fortress of failure, Wrigley Field, on my way to the Metro. If you've never been to a show at the Metro (like me, until last night), it's a great little place to see a band. It's all general admission, and there is a balcony that give an excellent view of the stage. In addition, there are several bars stationed conveniently throughout the club. Greg and I positioned ourselves along the railing of the balcony, where we had an unimpeded view of the stage. On a random note, I saw Pat Gemkow, brother of Chris "Gemkeezi" Gemkow, at the show.
The opening "band" was Nathaniel Mayer, who apparently had some Top 40 hits back in the early '60s. Mayer, shown here eating a hot dog outside the Dakota in New York, had one of the most grizzled speaking voices I've ever heard. If you put the voices of Howlin' Wolf and Louis Armstrong in a bag, and mixed in somewhere around 367,000 cigarettes, several tons of gravel, and an a few hundred shards of glass, then you would be close to Mayer's speaking voice. Singing, he was fine. Speaking, couldn't understand a word.
His backing band was one of the creepier I've ever seen. First off, it was hilarious because Mayer was wearing a dark-colored western-style button-down shirt with white fringes, along with white pants and white patent leather shoes. The rest of his band was wearing identical Nathaniel Mayer t-shirts. The drummer was normal enough, sporting an Adam Sandler-esque white man's fro. The bassist, in addition to the t-shirt, had on a long, multi-colored scarf, as you might expect. He looked like an older version of Jeremy Piven that owned a van with no windows, into which he lured young children for purposes of inappropriate touching. But he was no match for the guitarist. This dude looked like Riff Raff from the Rocky Horror Picture Show, with a handlebar mustache. He was balding, but had long hair, including a patch on his forehead that most people would just shave off, but his patch was equally as long as the rest of his hair (8 inches or so). He appeared to be someone with whom I would not be able to maintain a normal conversation. Despite the creepiness, it was one of the better opening bands I've had the pleasure to see. Mayer really got the crowd into it.
Anyway, so then the Black Keys went on, and rocked the hizzie. I highly recommend seeing them when they come to a city near you. If you don't know who they are, buy one of their albums (Rubber Factory is my personal favorite). They are a duo (only a guitarist and a drummer) from that flaming pile of shit in Northeastern Ohio known as Akron, and they play blues/fuzz/garage rock. I saw them at Lollapalooza this past summer, and they were even better last night. Patrick Carney, the drummer, beats the shit out of the drums like few drummers I've ever seen, while Dan Auerbach, the guitarist/singer, hops around the stage with his Telecaster pumpin'. Here are some pictures I got (after some bouncers made me delete some other ones I had taken):
After the show, we met up with the ladies at the greatest neighborhood bar in Chicago, the Burwood Tap. Who do I see there? None other than Andy "Balko" Palko. I hadn't seen that SOB in years. He's still a ball of fire.
After the Burwood closed, the ladies headed home and Greg and I made the customary trip to LaBamba, which is only a block from the Burwood. Some drunk chick in there tried to start up Illinois's call-and-response chant "I-L-L...I-N-I." Her foolish attempt was soon thwarted by some dude who explained to her that Illinois sucks. "Oh yeah, well where did you go?," she innocently asked. He responded calmly and confidently, "Indiana." At that point, it became apparent that there were many other Hoosiers in the crowd because he got a rousing reception, culminating in several of us saying "IU 5, Illinois 0," and then a couple hot chicks (that's what IU brings to the table) singing the IU fight song. For you Illini fans out there, here's what NCAA basketball championship banners look like:
So tonight, we're heading to the hizzie of Jeremy "Uter" and Kristin "Butto" Widenhofer for a holiday party. Should be a great time. I'll let you know how it goes.
Friday, December 02, 2005
To say that October 9, 1978 was an important day in the history of the world would be to defy hyperbole. It was the 978th anniversary of Leif Erikson's discovery of North America, the 277th anniversary of the founding of Yale University, the 90th anniversary of the opening of the Washington Monument to the public, and the 59th anniversary of the Cincinnati Reds "winning" the World Series over the infamous Chicago Black Sox. It was the day that Hall of Fame Pitcher Rube Marquard celebrated his 92nd birthday, John Lennon celebrated his 38th birthday while his son Sean celebrated his 3rd, the greatest actor in recent memory Scott Bakula celebrated his 24th, and future NFL Hall of Famer Mike Singletary celebrated his 20th, undoubtedly by administering a concussion on someone. But more important than all of than all of those events combined, it was the day that Anton Szandor Zumpano was welcomed into the world.
For most of civilization, the year was 1978 Anno Domini, but for a young San Franciscan couple, Damien and Esmeralda Zumpano, the year was 12 Anno Satanas. Having come to the Bay Area in 1967 during the height of flower power, Damien and Esmeralda soon after became disenchanted and apathetic. They had come to San Francisco -- a Mayan phrase meaning "Hey, where's Francisco?" -- with visions of changing the world and changing the way people lived through peace and love. What they discovered was that, deep down, everyone was greedy and, in the end, everyone looked out for themselves above all others. In early 1971, they met a fellow San Franciscan who shared their views. His name was Anton Szandor LaVey, who, five years earlier on the pagan holiday of Walpurgisnacht, ritualistically shaved his head and formed the Church of Satan. In LaVey, the Zumpanos found someone who encouraged their hatred of mankind and cynical view of the world. In turn, LaVey found an attractive, fairly well-off, and seemingly normal couple that could spread his maniacal tenets.
By day, Damien and Esmeralda were attorneys with the Sierra Club. By night, they read to each other from the Satanic Bible, hoping and dreaming that one day they would bear fruit that would follow in their uncaring footsteps. As Damien explained, "We had two daughters who failed to realize the power of selfishness and the advantages of showing a complete lack of mercy. They were children of the hypocritical self-deceit encouraged by society, essentially spreading their love to unworthy ingrates, such as dogs, friends, and homeless people, without receiving any tangible benfit in return. Our hope was to bring into the world a child so delightfully evil, completely free of guilt and sympathy, willing to humor every one of his indulgences, no matter how inane or perverse." Satan granted their wish with the birth of their first son, who they named Anton Szandor in honor of LaVey.
Soon after Anton's birth, LaVey performed a Satanic baptism on Anton, officially welcoming Anton into the realm of Satanism. As Anton began learn the ways of the world, he quickly embraced LaVey's views. Under LaVey's guidance, young Anton soon became the crowned prince of LaVeyan Satanism. By age five, Anton was emerging as the face of young Satanists, a demographic LaVey so desperately wanted to reach. In a 1993 interview with The Black Flame, LaVey recounted Anton's : "He was truly a visionary for someone so young. Never before had I seen such self-serving deception in a child's eyes. I remember one time when he was about 6 or 7, he led a drifter into the Church, promising the man some food and a bed for the night. Anton, of course, told the man he could sleep in my office, and when the poor sap fell asleep, Anton was right there with a dagger to carve a pentagram in the man's chest. As you might imagine, this guy was none too happy, so he tried to attack Anton, but Anton did exactly what he should have done: stab the man in the throat and chest 38 times. There was blood all over my brand new white carpet, the half-naked corpse of a homeless man slouched in the corner, and Anton just sitting there going through the man's pockets with a self-satisfied smile on his face whistling some Black Sabbath. I could have stangled him, but he was just so adorable sitting there playing with that man's gold-plated necklace. How could I be mad at him? After all, he was just so damn evil, and if you recall the 9th Satanic Rule of Earth: 'Do not harm little children.'"
Anton's adorable looks, apathetic outlook on life, and surprisingly dry wit served him well in LaVey's realm. By age ten, Anton was the driving force behind (and top model for) the Church's "Handsome Little Devil" line of children's clothing. Additionally, he had authored a series of children's books, aimed at teaching America's youth that, in LaVey's words, "hey, Satanism ain't that bad." The books sold extremely well, as unknowing parents were drawn in by snappy titles and over-the-top illustrations. Here is a list of some of his best sellers:
-The Little Girl Who Cared Too Much
-Seamus the Unhappy Catholic
-The Goat Who Fought Back
-The Adventures of Lex Talionis and His Merry Pranksters
The year was 1989, and Anton was on top of the world. But the same could not be said for LaVey. Holding true to his belief that every human is (and should be) materialistic and individualistic, LaVey became increasingly suspicious of the Zumpanos. Since most of the profits from Anton's books went to the Church of Satan, LaVey assumed that Damien and Esmeralda would want their share.
LaVey hatched a scheme that he hoped would drive the Zumpanos out of the Church. Beginning on June 12, 1989, LaVey began to submit anonymous reports to various newspapers throughout the Bay Area that the Zumpanos were committing good deeds and acting charitably. The headline in the June 18 San Francisco Chronicle read, "Former Church of Satan Members Start Mission for Bay Area's Homeless." "We were devastated," recalled Esmeralda, "Especially after all we had done for the Church. I'd say I was mad or surprised, but who am I kidding? We were Satanists, for Christ's sake." The next day, the Zumpanos filed suit against LaVey for libel, settling out of court just weeks later for an undisclosed amount.
After the settlement, Damien and Esmeralda decided to split from the Church. They simply became sick and tired of the constant pressure to avenge instead of turn the other cheek, sick and tried of not being able to give unsolicited opinions or talk about their troubles without being chastised by LaVey for violating the 1st and 2nd Satanic Rules of Earth, and most of all, they were just sick and tired of the pressure to always be evil. "It got to a point where we would say something nice about a person or a building or a park, and then we'd kind of look at each other weirdly and say, 'just kidding' or something like that," explained Damien, "It just wasn't worth it anymore."
In August 1989, the Zumpanos left San Francisco, heading toward the Chicagoland area in hopes of making a fresh start. As part of that fresh start, Anton began to go by "Tony," instead of his full name, which both he and his parents thought was aligned too much with Satanism. The family settled in LaGrange Park, a southwestern suburb known mainly for its crooked cops, loose women, and a library shaped like an open book.
Tony began 6th grade at Forest Road Elementary School in late August of that year. His unusually large hair, mostly black wardrobe, and occasional fits of blind rage made his adjustment to life in a non-Satanic suburb more difficult than he would have imagined. It was the next spring, however, where Tony would go from "the creepy new guy who brings dead rabbits to school" to "Forest Road Legend."
Through the local park district, there was a weekly floor hockey league at Park Junior High every Saturday throughout the spring. After hearing some of his classmates talk about it, Tony begged Damien and Esmeralda to sign him up, which they did. "Hell, anything to help him fit in," Damien noted, "We had been getting him new clothes and various tapes -- you know, Fine Young Cannibals, Whitesnake, Paula Abdul, pretty much anything non-Satanic -- and we were weening him away from his Satanic tendencies. But he still needed something more to get him over that hump. It turned out that floor hockey did it."
Every Saturday during the spring of 1990, Tony wowed his classmates and the coaches with electrifying goals and monster checks. While he had all but abandoned the tenets of Satanism, while he was on the floor hockey court, he abided by two of the Satanic Rules of Earth: Rule 4 ("If a guest in your lair annoys you, treat him cruelly and without mercy.") and Rule 11 ("When walking in open territory, bother no one. If someone bothers you, ask him to stop. If he does not stop, destroy him."). He had both finesse and power, eventually winning the coveted one-on-one tournament title over the heavily favored returning champion, Eric Simpson.
Known as "The Lethal Lefty," his prowess on the floor hockey court earned the respect and adoration Tony needed to fully transition into life away from Satanism. He made friends, lost his virginity hundreds of times over, and began excelling in the classroom. In the fall of 1990, he entered Park Junior High as a wide-eyed seventh grader. Upon graduation in June 1992, he would leave Park as the school's all-time leading P.E. class floor hockey scorer.
Sadly, though, floor hockey was a sport only played in the gymnasia of physical education classes, not having any sort of organized leagues. It wasn't even offered in P.E. class at the high school he was to attend, the revered Lyons Township High School in neighboring LaGrange, a school that boasted such hideously famous alumni as international ubersensation David Hasselhoff, NBA stalwart Jeff Hornacek, and online t-shirt mogul and former Junior Ulitmate Fighting Champion Greg Weeser*.
Somewhat depressed, Tony entered the summer of 1992 not knowing what his fate would be. On July 17, 1992, fate stepped in and gave Tony an unexpected roundhouse kick to the face, not unlike the ones adminstered by screen legend Chuck Norris. On that day, Tony walked to his friend Jon "Noj Kedud" Dudek's house, where the two had planned on watching the Barbarian Brothers, Peter and David Paul, in their latest movie Double Trouble, which had somehow made its way to video only 5 months after its February 1992 theatrical release.
When Tony turned up Jon's driveway to go to Jon's back door, he was greeted by the Dudek family's dog, Mac. Mac was half German Shepherd, half St. Bernard, and all evil. The fact that Mac was not restrained meant that Tony could very well have been Mac's mid-afternoon snack. Before Jon realized that Mac was loose, Mac charged at Tony, bearing his teeth. If Tony had still been a Satanist, he certainly would have been able to rely on the 10th Satanic Rule of Earth, "Do not kill non-human animals unless you are attacked or for your food." But alas, that chapter of his life had long since been closed, and Tony wasn't about to kill his friend's pet, no matter how menacing Mac was. Instead, Tony danced around Mac like Gale Sayers danced around defenders. Faking left, then going right. Faking right, then going left. Spin moves. Studder stepping. Even a stiff arm or two. For the five minutes it took until Jon finally corralled Mac, Tony did whatever he had to do to keep Mac's razor sharp teeth from piercing his skin.
Across the street, tending to his broken-down rental car, was none other than famed Andalusian bullfighter Antonio Ordonez, who was in Chicago meeting with officials from the White Sox on behalf of his Venezuelan nephew Magglio, an up-and-coming star in the Venezuelan junior baseball leagues. Flat tire or not, Ordonez could not take his eyes off of what was happening in the yard across the street. Ordonez recounted the experience with fondness: "Watching Tony try to elude that vicious perro was mesmerizing. He had the grace of El Cordobés, the flair of Luis Miguel Dominguín, and the moves of -- dare I say it -- Pedro Romero."
Ordonez introduced himself to Tony, and the two formed a quick bond. Not seeing anything wrong with it, Damien and Esmeralda allowed Tony to go back to Spain with Ordonez that same day to train to become a bullfighter. Ordonez took Tony to Seville, where Ordonez trained the best up-and-coming bullfighters, or novilleros. Tony took to bullfighting very quickly, and he was fighting in front of crowds in less than 6 months.
As Tony was making a name for himself, he formed a friendship with another wunderkind of bullfighting, Julian Lopez Escobar, better known as El Juli, whose brash, cocky style and flair ignited audiences throughout Andalucia, which is widely considered the Mecca of bullfighting. Their friendship grew, and they began to make a habit of sharing everything: practice time, an apartment in Seville, women. They eventually partook in the alternativa on the same day, thus becoming full-fledged matadors. In June 1993, Tony and El Juli began to fight on the same card, attracting sell-out crowds wherever they went. Billed as "Los Dos Jefitos," (or "The Two Little Bosses"), they swept through Andalusia's bullfighting arenas. Malaga, Almeria, Huelva, Jaen, Granada, Cadiz, Cordoba -- you name it, and they killed bulls there.
In two years, Los Dos Jefitos had become heroes throughout Spain. The were so popular, in fact, that they masterminded what some deemed the biggest event in bullfighting history. On July 17, 1995, at the grand stage of bullfighting, the Real Maestranza de Sevilla, Tony and El Juli had what was the equivalent of a "bullfight off." In front of over 10,000 people, they would alternate 10 fights each in that one day, competing for the lowest cumulative killing time. Tony had reached the pinnacle of bullfighting, and he hadn't even turned 17 yet.
It was supposed to be the greatest day of his life, but it ended up being the worst. In the 9th fight, Tony held a comfortable lead over El Juli. Because of that lead, Tony began to showboat for the crowd, performing dangerous maneuvers at close proximity to the bull, a particularly fiesty 5-year-old named "Diablo Blanco." While attempting to literally run circles around Diablo Blanco, the bull snapped, kicking Tony in the knees, immediately breaking both of them and sending Tony to the ground in agony. While Tony was on the ground, Diablo Blanco continued his tirade, goring Tony multiple times, resulting in large lacerations along Tony's sides and on his arms. It was the last time he would ever set foot in a bullfighting stadium.
He was hospitalized for several weeks, after which he underwent several months of physical therapy. During this time, Tony fell into a deep depression, not helped by the fact that El Juli had continued bullfighting and was still one of the most popular figures in Spain. As Tony tumbled into obscurity, he turned to drugs and alcohol to numb his ever-present pain.
Still fairly wealthy as a result of his bullfighting winnings, Tony traveled alone around Spain, southern France, and Monaco for almost 9 months. Wherever he went, he left a trail of satisfied hookers and empty sangria pitchers, bottles of prescription painkillers, beer cans, and hypodermic needles. As he wryly explained later, "I sure hope I get depressed again sometime."
But in late summer 1996, Tony realized that he yearned for something that Xanax and a myriad of call girls could not get him: a college degree in physical education. He returned to the United States on July 20, 1996, nearly four years to the day after leaving with Antonio Ordonez. Damien and Esmeralda welcomed Tony back with open arms, and soon Tony was searching for the right college. After bouncing around various colleges in the Chicagoland area for two years, Tony headed south to Charleston, Illinois, where he enrolled at Eastern Illinois University. While there, he started the school's Model CRX club, became the campus's most successful bookie, and successfully petitioned the school to instate floor hockey as an intramural sport.
While at Eastern, Tony met a co-ed named Megan "Chach" Ciaccio, who would later become his wife. In 2003, they would welcome into the world their first child, Isaac Xerxes Zumpano. Tony recently received a Masters in Kinesiology, and he teaches P.E. at a New Lenox junior high. The couple lives in Plainfield, Illinois, a far western suburb of Chicago.
Along with an unnamed silent partner, Tony owns Psycho Houdini's, an extremely successful experimental hybrid driving range, fitness club, and dance club, where the tee box actually faces the dance floor, which is also the workout area and bar. The entire building is lit only by blacklights, and golfers are required to use glow-in-the-dark balls in order to decrease the likelihood of injury. A club goer has the opportunity to hit a bucket of balls or whale on his or her glutes after pounding eight Red Bull and vodkas, all while listening to deafening techno music. Now in its second year, Pyscho Houdini's was named the Chicago Tribune Metromix's "Most Unusual Club." As Tony explained in an interview with Metromix, "I think it was Jack LaLane who said, 'The body is a temple,' and I truly believe that. No one should be forced to go to bars and clubs that only serve alcohol. Those are fixtures of an bygone era. Here at Psycho Houdini's, we serve up fun, fitness, uncertainty, and terror, in addition to alcohol."
Additionally, Tony's love of floor hockey has come full circle. He is the co-founder of the NFHL, or the National Floor Hockey League, a semi-pro floor hockey league with teams in several suburbs of Chicago. On October 18, 2005, his team, the Plainfield Tornados, beat the Wheaton Boozers 18-17 in overtime to take the inaugural Szandor Cup. The winning goal, a screaming wrist shot over the goalie's right shoulder, was made by none other than The Lethal Lefty himself.
Where he will go from here is unknown, but for a former Satanist turned bullfighter turned club owner and semi-pro floor hockey player who teaches suburban youth the ins and out of physical fitness, the sky is the limit.