Monday, February 27, 2006

celebrity deaths: the rule of three

Don Knotts, Darren McGavin, and Dennis Weaver passed away over the weekend. All three Ds were in their early 80s, all three were part of successful TV series at one time or another, and all three had torrid love affairs with Marilyn Monroe. (Trust me, I have information you don't.)

Saturday, February 25, 2006


Dear scientists,

I realize male pattern baldness isn't a top priority for you, but neither is a cure for cancer, right? There's no money in a cure, right? That's no big secret. Jonas Salk really dicked over the pharmaceutical industry with that stupid cure for polio back in the 1860s (although it did make a lot of recently emancipated slaves happy), and I can understand if you guys are still taking a lot of heat for his screw-ups.

But here's how you can make money for the growing health-and-fitness industry, who will hopefully kick some money back to you guys so you can buy a Stairmaster or treadmill for your home, because I assume you're all pretty homely and therefore shouldn't step foot into any health clubs or gyms, which are generally full of beautiful people doing their beautiful thing. Okay, here's my idea: Find a way to link male pattern baldness (forget female pattern baldness, since women love to wear wigs in the first place, right?) to weight. For instance, if a man gains five pounds in a month, a bald spot will begin to appear. But if he works out and eats healthier food and cuts back on drinking and smoking, his hair will begin to grow back

Genius, yes? You're welcome.

Let's face itmost people can lose weight by dieting and exercising if they just discipline themselves, but who can grow their hair back without resorting to using snake oil advertised on TV, usually late at night when I'm still awake because my usual routine of crying myself to sleep hasn't done the trick? But if you scientist types were able to hook up hair loss and weight gain, balding guys all over the world would strive to get healthy. Okay, so the 5-foot-11, 120-pound cue ball might just have to live with his hair loss; sorry, stringbean, but I'm not proposing this idea so that average Americans can starve to death when there are plenty of people in this world already doing a fine job of that.

All I'm saying is, think about it, scientists. And then give me full credit for whatever you come up with.


Friday, February 24, 2006

gift horses that run away

I have a pretty good memory. I mean, I ain't the type to brag or nothin', but there you have it. Here's how my good memory can work for you: If I say I'll burn you a CD or make you a copy of an article or put you in my will, I'll do it. I won't just say, "Oh yeah, I'll bring that next Sunday," and then never follow up. I'm not a man of empty promises. Okay, sometimes I'll take my time, like with that Bill Hicks mix CD I promised some people a few months ago, but that's going to take some time, okay? Lots of editing will be involved in that endeavor, and frankly I don't have the time right now as I write a blog entry about how people aren't giving me stuff.

Where are my free promotional copies of new albums by established bands that are sent to my employer all the freakin' time?! Where's my DVD copy of all the Replacements' TV performances in the '80s?! Where's that copy of Office Space that was going to be lent to me in exchange for an article about the movie's growing popularity as a cult hit—a deal in which I upheld my end of the bargain to no avail?! (The guy who said he'd let me borrow the movie was happy to receive the article yet seemed to have no clue one week later that he'd offered to lend me the movie. There's one reason why marijuana shouldn't be legalized.) And where's my Tom Petty mix tape, which I didn't really care to receive anyway, but a promise is a promise!

Speaking of "petty," if you're out there, Banana Funningham*, I know you finally found that videotape I let you borrow in 1997. I know you found it one year later after thinking you'd lost it. I know you had my address in Atlanta as of December of '98 and could've easily returned the tape to me at that address. But you never did. May that tape take on some sort of weird life of its own, a la The Ring. No, I don't want it to kill you, Anna, but if it were to make you permanently ten pounds heavier, so be it. "Why won't these ten pounds come off? How much time do I have to spend on the treadmill to get rid of them?!" Hahahahahahaha!!!!!! Should've returned that tape back in '98, fattie!

* Not her real name. But it should be.

great moments in cinema as filtered through the golden haze of memory

Oh, man, remember that scene in The Abyss where Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio Stuart Masterson Louise Parker has drowned and Ed Harris is trying to revive her? Everyone's like, "She's dead, dude. Let it go, alright? We're already bummed out enough as it is." But Ed's like, "Screw you guys! You don't know nothin'!" So he starts pounding on Mary Stuart Louise's chest and giving her mouth-to-mouth to the point where it's just sad and weird, and ...

... And then Ed Harris starts screaming his lines and losing his voice as he says the word "fight," and it's just a really great, raw moment of acting that's completely "in the moment." You wonder how many takes James Cameron shot for that scene. I remember reading how tough of a shoot The Abyss was, and how Harris once burst into tears while driving from the set back to the hotel after a long, stressful day of filming. But good or bad, all that stress did produce that one scene and that one moment I'll never forget. If I'm remembering it correctly, that is. But isn't my hazy memory from the spring of 1990 more important? Yes. Because I was 14 back then, and anything was possible. Anything is still possible, but you know what I mean. And if you don't, pretend to be 14 again and watch The Abyss.

public transportation

Here's something I read the other day in an e-mail at work:

Recently, on two separate occasions, I have found myself seated on a [Chicago] bus with roach infestation. I understand that it is not always the easiest job to keep the buses clean due to rider negligence but I am unaware if routine bug spraying takes place. On the first incident, 5 roaches found their way out of a back panel on one of the newest buses. While in the second incident one roach found its way along the back of the chairs in the rear after emerging from another enclosed section.

So in case the woman with X-treme bad breath sitting next to you, or the guy with the Discman turned up way too loud who's singing random bits of songs for the listening pleasure of no one, or the man throwing his trash on the floor of the bus, movie theater-style, isn't enough for your daily commute, now you also get to deal with roaches. So far I haven't seen any roaches on the bus. Not the insect kind, anyway. (Sorry, roaches, but even you know your reputation isn't good. Yeah, yeah, I knowyou'll show us all during the upcoming nuclear winter. But you've been saying that since the late '50s. It's lost some of its oomph over the years.)

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

cameras and cadavers

TOKYO (Reuters, 2/16/06) — Japan's obsession with camera-equipped mobile phones has taken a bizarre twist, with mourners at funerals now using the devices to capture a final picture of the deceased.

Dear people of Japan,

If I ever die—and you can't prove that I will—please don't take pictures of my corpse with a cell phone. A professional camera with actual 35mm film is preferable. My corpse deserves respect. And soft focus if you don't mind. 'Preciate it, east side!


Monday, February 20, 2006


Now that I'm 30 years old, shouldn't I be able to sign my name in cursive without screwing it up every single time? I still have a fourth-grader's signature for the most part. And if someone's waiting for me to sign something—say, a check or a lease—I get performance anxiety and screw up my signature even more. If people were to look very closely at my signature, they'd see that I sometimes spell my first name "Robet." Even though most new technology makes me feel sad and old (and a little angry, since most new technology is supposed to make life more convenient, and therefore some of us—I won't point fingers, especially not at myself—become even lazier than we already were), I was grateful when my bank gave me my first check card in 2000, because writing checks at the grocery store was always a ticking-time-bomb experience for me.

And in other equally unimportant news, I lost my hat on the bus today. Not good in this winter weather. Two Sundays ago my scarf was taken from the coat room of a theater where I was performing. Probably taken by accident, especially since there's hardly any light in that coat room, but had the scarf been returned by last night? No. Thanks, accidental thief (and fellow performer, so don't think I won't be able to sniff you out ... if I had the time or inclination to do so, that is ... which I don't ... bastard).

Sunday, February 19, 2006

weekends that were free

Whatever happened to HBO or Showtime or Cinemax or The Movie Channel's "free weekends"? Those were always fun. Do those networks still do them? I can't imagine Cinemax doing them anymore now that its reputation is that of a soft-core porn peddler for the most part. "Sign up for Cinemax and see Hollywood's biggest hits from one year ago! Um, plus a boatload of somewhat titillating erotic thrillers. Actually, there are lots more of those than there are Hollywood hits. Do you have kids? Oh, you do? Yeah, then you might want to reconsider. Sorry for wasting your time. But if you ever get divorced and have to move into a one-bedroom apartment, look us up."

Of course, these days HBO has about a dozen different channels of its own—HBO2, HBO West, HBO Signature, Plus, Comedy, etc. And Showtime ... well, Showtime's still hanging in there. Good hustle, Showtime!

You could argue that a free weekend of HBO would still be worthy of the network's time if they showed episodes of their original shows, which are clearly their bread and butter now. (Waiting a year to see Hollywood movies after they'd left the theaters wasn't even a big selling point as far back as the late '80s, when you could find those movies in video stores six months after they'd left the theaters.) Actually, now that I think about it, I do remember Showtime having a free weekend as recently as the summer of 2002, and they premiered one of their original series that weekend, I believe. Something with Rob Morrow, who's now on a CBS show called Numb3rs (you know, like Se7en or The T10n Commandments), so I guess it didn't last that long. I remember that I got to see Katie Holmes sans shirt in The Gift that weekend. Sure, I'd already seen this movie, but I had to pay to see it the first time. This time it was free. And that made it so much sweeter.


You've waited long enough. I'm going to tell you where the gold is hidden. It's right next to the dead body. 

But that's another secret for another day.

Friday, February 17, 2006

pencils (pt. 2)

More on pencils ...

I don't care for the colored kind. And before you say, "Oh, I see where this is going," let me reassure you this isn't some kind of anti-Bush rant. I love Bush. And before you say, "Well, no, that's not where I thought you were going, but now I see where this new tangent is going," let me offer some advice: ease up on the italics. Yeesh.

Okay, more on pencils, since I got sidetracked thanks to you ...

I use regular pencils at work as well as blue "col-erase" pencils. If I was trapped on a desert island with only those blue pencils, it wouldn't be pretty. I don't care how sharp they might be when I arrive on the island—trust me, they don't write as well. Their points become dull much faster than regular pencils', and it takes longer to write words with them. Blue "col-erase" pencils are the Bic "round stic" pens of the pencil world. That may sound harsh, and maybe you're a fan of Bic "round stic" pens, but who has time to retrace every letter when labeling a Maxell cassette cover? Not me. I live in the twenty-first century, thank you very much. (Now, that's how you use italics.)

Maybe it's because I'm left-handed, and that's why I can't get as much out of a Bic as other people can. I sometimes see right-handed parents and their children in the park enjoying their Bics, or young right-handed lovers enjoying their Bics behind half-closed miniblinds, and, I admit, I get a little jealous. But seriously, Bic "round stic" pens are no match for my Pilot V-Ball Grip pen. It's unstoppable. And it won't let just anyone use it. Yessir, you have to go all the way to Office Depot to get one. That's how you know it means business.

By the way, the regular pencils I use are Mirado Black Warriors. Can your generic pencil touch a name like that? Maybe if you have some of those NFL pencils from my childhood that say "Los Angeles Rams" or "St. Louis Cardinals" on the side and are adorned with team colors. Man, those were so awesome. And I didn't even like football. Still don't.

Okay, tell you what—if you own some of those pencils, you win. But when the Utah Black Warriors begin their NFL dynasty in 2016, we'll see who's laughing.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


I really like using a sharp pencil. But once it's dull, forget it. Sure, I could sharpen it again, but the thrill is gone. Time to move on.