Monday, February 27, 2006

Mazel tov!

This past Saturday I attended my first Bat Mitzvah. It was for the daughter of some good people that Tanya and I met down here in LA.

Because of my curiosity, when Tanya asked if I wanted to go to the actual ceremony I opened my big fat mouth and said “yeah, of course, I think it would be fascinating to actually attend a Jewish temple service!”

And then I learned that the ceremony was going to take two and a half hours. Too late, the RSVP had been sent. We had to go. But it was actually fascinating – for about the first hour and a half. If you’ve never been to temple, you have to know that the first part of the service is spent singing. The last half of the service is spent…well…singing. But the singing takes on a more specific purpose in the later part of the service. They’ve got a Cantor up there near the Bima and a little book to follow along with to make it look like you actually know how to speak Hebrew, well, sing it anyway (I sing Hebrew like a champ! I’ve got that “ch” thing down, baby!). Plus, they made me wear a kippa (yarmulke thingie) so I fit right in.

(A little note about the Cantor. The Cantor for the service was a woman who also played the guitar. Imagine if Yentil and Joan Baez had a baby. With her folksy cantoring, she would have rocked Jewish Woodstock.)

Somehow, even though my head was covered with the kippa, the others seemed to be able to tell that Tanya and I weren’t really Jews. Maybe it was the lost expressions on our faces. Maybe it was Tanya’s “Gentile” pronunciation of the word “amen.” Maybe it was the fact that not once did I say the word Amen. I mean, I’m an atheist and I have my convictions.

Sure, I’ll sing a song about the glory of god and his awesome love and power, but only if the song is in Hebrew (or it’s Cristmas). Singing about god in Hebrew is very meaningful if you’re Jewish, but when you’re not, it’s like singing gibberish children’s songs. And I like to sing gibberish children’s songs. Plus, and this always happens to me, I felt like it was my duty to sing along. Especially since most of the others there seemed like they weren’t even paying attention.

That’s another thing that was unexpected about the Jewish service. Just how relaxed the whole thing was. People seemed to show up whenever the hell they felt like. Of course by the end of the marathon service I understood why. They also let you bring in snacks. I was raised Catholic and you don’t bring snacks to a Catholic mass. I’m pretty sure that it’s a deadly sin. Yeah, people still do it, but if you get caught there’s big trouble. Evidently, the Catholics feel that snacks infringe on their traditional “concessions.”

“What are you eating?! Good and Plentys?! Put them away! Can’t you wait?! You’re going to ruin your appetite! We’re having the body and blood of Christ later!”

So no Good and Plentys. Catholic God loves him some bingo though.

But because none of the others were singing (except for a couple older people and one real tone deaf guy sitting right behind me), I felt a lot of pressure to let the Rabbi know that we were paying attention to her (yes, the Rabbi was a woman. Take that Catholics!). Most of the time though, I was forced to just mouth the words. At least I looked like I was contributing.

As the morning wore on however, I became less and less concerned about what the Rabbi thought. My ass was starting to hurt. And as far as I could tell, it was the Rabbi’s fault for not getting to the damned point.

Sadly, though, the point could be summed up in the first three seconds (as long as you don’t count the 50,000 rules for being a good Jew as “the point.”).

My biggest discovery about Judaism was that it’s pretty much the same as Christianity. The Jews seemed to be friendlier, Judaism isn’t afraid to point out its hypocrisies and of course there’s no Jesus or the New Testament. But other than that (and dietary restrictions and the whole Kippa thing), Christianity and Judaism are pretty much the same. I suspect that if I were to go to most major religion’s services, I’d discover that they’re pretty much all the same (maybe not Buddhism).

God is great. We need to worship him or he’ll get mad.

I really enjoyed my brief stint as a Jew impersonator, but I think I’ll stick with atheism. Atheism is fantastic. You never have to drink anybody’s blood or eat anyone’s body, but you can enjoy plenty of wine and bread. You still get all of the guilt associated with religion, but with Atheism, you know that if you fell guilty, you probably actually did something pretty wrong. Judgment doesn’t come from some ethereal force, it comes from the jerk-asses around you based on personal biases and prejudice. There aren’t long services to sit through. If you ever get a sore ass, it’s not because you had to sit through hours of worship, it’s probably because you’re just really lazy – or you’re some kind of hedonist…

…which is totally cool if that’s what you want to be.

Hedonistic freak.

Fun Fact: Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to have a Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah ceremony to become a Jewish man or woman. It’s just happens to you around 12 or 13 depending on whether you’re a boy or girl. Like puberty. And it’s something that every Jew has to go through. There’s no shame in it. So you’re the only boy or girl in your class who reads from the Torah. So what? Your friends will all eventually read from the Torah too. Don’t let them tease you.

Let’s get some ice cream, huh?

Oh, and mazel tov again, Rachel!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Yuppie Elitist Me

I’m moving up in the world. High society here I come! And I did it all without getting a real job.

Finally, the who’s who of Hollywood royalty have recognized my unlimited potential. I’ve been invited to possibly be invited to join an exclusive country club. I’m not going to name which country club that is because I don’t want to ruin my chances for membership (I’ll let my complete lack of money do that for me).

Even though my talent, education, success and sociability make me a shoo-in for membership, I was a bit puzzled as to why they would send me a letter of interest. Especially since they sent it to an apartment. I mean, if I can’t even afford to buy a house, what the hell would make them think that I could possibly pay the $30,000 or so in membership dues every year? Even if the letter does say that membership is “much more affordable that you might think.” They’re making another assumption here. An assumption that I have one single idea just how much an exclusive country club costs these days.

But upon closer inspection, I noticed that the envelope didn’t actually have an apartment number listed on it. I’m just lucky that my mailman put it in the right slot. Actually, I’m pretty lucky that my mailman put it in the right slot and it didn’t end up in a crumpled heap like the rest of my mail. I have a bad mailman. Does that disqualify me for membership? It should. Rich people don’t have bad mailmen. Rich people don’t have to flag their mailmen down, waiving that little pinkish “attempted delivery” notice, to get a package even though you just watched him deliver the mail and he didn’t make a single “attempt” of any kind to walk that package up your one flight of stairs! Rich people don’t have to stand in line at the post office for a half hour just because their mailmen are too goddamned lazy to carry a small box up some stairs!

I’m getting off task here.

I just really hate my mailman.

But really, what would inspire a famous country club to court me for membership? I mean, I did go to college for eight years, perhaps they assume that I’m some kind of doctor? They’re going to be real disappointed. Just ask my mom.

Perhaps they heard about my film “The Social Club” and thought that I was ripe for membership? After all, it is about a “club” of sorts. But the women in “The Social Club” are far less cutthroat than the people in Beverly Hills (I’m still not giving away the name of the Country Club, but you could probably make a few good guesses).

It’s not that I couldn’t “hang,” mind you. The letter lists their Board of Governors. I would totally fit right in. I mean what do Matthew Perry, Jimmy Connors, Barbara Eden, Merv Griffin, George Hamilton, Tommy Lasorda, Dr. Phil (mom, I could probably get you those tickets to his show if I joined), Jim Nabors, Wolfgang Puck, Tom Selleck, Nancy Sinatra, and America’s #2 Astronaut Buzz Aldrin have that I don’t have?

…Oh yeah.

So my dreams of hobnobbing with film royalty (and more than a few plastic surgeons) will have to wait. Maybe if I start saving my pennies now, I’ll be able to join soon. But I think that there’s more chance that I’ll accidentally become famous (and therefore a real membership possibility) than there is of me just saving money to join without the hard work it takes to make some cash.

But if this invitation to a possible invitation to join has taught me anything…

It’s that I’m way better than you.

Wait! I’m starting to feel like a member already!

Fun Fact: Believe it or not, I’m not the only one I know to get an invitation from this same country club. My friend David also got one. I’m guessing that they’re trying to fill their “early 30s Caucasian Non-Jew” quota. But David at least has a good job. So he’s got a better chance.

But I would like to remind the membership committee at the country club that I am way more egotistical that David! And I won the “Thespian of the Year” award two years in a row at Central Washington University!

The only thing Matthew Perry ever won was some stupid TV Guide “Editor’s Choice” award in 2000. And he had to share that with rest of the cast of Friends!

Screw you Matthew Perry and your stupid country club.

“Vote TAM!”

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the letter:

“Many have found it a ‘safe’ and private place to meet, socialize and recreate away from the demanding public.” – Finally!

“…members find the Club a wonderful place to dine, socialize or merely escape the world ‘outside’ that so demands of our time and energy.” – That would be great. Especially if the cops have found a dead hooker in your hotel room.

“[The Club] is not for everybody or every family. If it were, it would not be a privilege to belong.” – That’s the same thing I was told when I tried to join the “Jr. Astronauts” in the 7th grade. As true today as it was then.

“The Members and staff…invite you to become acquainted with our friendly, neighborhood private club.” – Neighborhood private club? How private can it be? If the whole neighborhood can come? One question, is that guy who collects aluminum cans and yells at clouds going to be there?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Call the National Guard

I’ve had a slew of cats in my lifetime, but I’ve only ever had one dog that I could call mine. An Irish Setter/Golden Retriever mix. I was in the fourth grade at the time. Sadly, after about three months of Houdiniesque escapes and holes dug in the front yard with such depth and breadth that they would make a Boston MTA engineer green with envy, I was forced to give him up.

His name was Irie and I cried on the porch with him all night before he went off to live happily on some farm somewhere.

But the important thing here is that we “got” him. I don’t know where my mom picked him up, but Irie was “gotten.”

It seems that nobody “gets” a pet anymore. It’s just not something that people do. After all, people “get” cancer, they “get” herpes, they even “get” audited. So the last thing you want is a pet that you’ve “gotten.” That pet may walk around its entire short life thinking that it was some kind of affliction. And, trust me, you don’t want a pet with low self esteem. They’ll only end up escaping to have midnight rendezvous with every floozy in town and try to fill the void in their soul by obsessively digging holes that mirror the emptiness they feel inside before they’re finally shipped off early one stupid morning to go and live stupid “happily” on some stupid farm somewhere!

For a while, people started to worry about their pets’ mental well being. Pets were no longer “gotten,” they were “adopted.” And that was fine for a while, but that Yorkie is going to grow up someday and he’ll want to have some very important questions answered.

And while I do believe that adoption is a great show of selfless love, and you can explain that to your pet, there’s still a very good chance that you’ll wind up downing another scotch on the rocks while pouring through countless puppy farm birth records looking for Nigel the Yorkie’s “real” parents. Oh sure, Nigel will tell you that he’s just “curious,” but there’s still a big part of you that will worry he’ll prefer his real parents. At least there’s one thing you can take solace in – his birth mother will invariably turn out to be a bitch. And the scotch doesn’t hurt either.

It’s obvious that these terms are obsolete. No one wants a pet that hangs out like a venereal disease, and no one wants an unappreciative little bastard who doesn’t understand the sacrifices that you went through to raise them even though they didn’t actually spring forth from your womb (thank god).

So how do you make a pet feel special and still maintain a level of superiority so high that they will never again question your commitment or authority?

I was reminded of just that very term this morning while I was taking a walk around the neighborhood. There was a woman walking a dog in front of me, at the corner she met up with a man who was also walking a dog. Among dog owners, there exists a fun fantasy; it’s called “hey! Let’s pretend that our dogs are making friends.” It’s cute. It’s incredibly nauseating, but it is somewhat cute.

When dogs “make friends” there’s usually a lot of sniffing, growling and jumping around involved. All the while, the owners go through the usual conversation. “What kind of dog is that?” “How old is he/she?” Interrupting themselves every once in a while to yell “stop that Fifi!” “No, Fifi, don’t bite!” “Fifi! They’re just trying to make friends…”

Really fascinating stuff.

The man asked what type of dog the woman’s was. She didn’t know. But instead of saying “oh, he’s a mutt.” She said, “I’m not sure…he was a rescue dog.”

Rescue Dog!

Of course, the perfect term. Well, almost perfect. As you may know, I’ve had some confusion about this in the past. But now I know that “rescue dog” has actually been rescued, they are not trained to rescue others.

So now we are rescuing our pets. At least those of us are who are heroic enough to get our pets at the animal shelter.

And we can all feel better about ourselves now. I mean, most of these “rescue” pets come with a really touching story. “This cat, we call him Tom, was placed in a burlap sack and thrown off an interstate into a river!” “This dog, Rex, was beaten with a pool cue until his right front leg just fell off!” “This fluffy rabbit, we named her Beatrix Potter, was actually butchered into bite sized bunny nuggets, deep fried in her own artery clogging lard, secretly dusted with gluten and dairy products to make her more enjoyable and served at a banquet of former Enron executives before she was found, taped back together, and placed in this cage!”

Touching stories.

But here’s the thing. The pet’s owners don’t actually do too much rescuing. Really, their work is pretty much done for them by the time they walk down to the animal shelter and point at a cage full of taped-together bunny nuggets. But that’s okay. If you want to feel like you dove into a pool filled with man-eating sharks to get your new Pomeranian, go for it. We all know that you’re an exaggerator, but if you’re able to live with that, who are we to judge?

And you can always use it to lord over a disobedient pet. “I rescued you damnit! Let’s have a little respect for the leather couch! If it weren’t for me, you’d still be dangling from your old crappy paper dog collar from a comically tiny branch over the deepest gorge in the Grand Canyon, thank you very much!!”

Well done, pet rescuers of the world. It really takes a special kind of human being to care for and love another living creature. Especially if it’s cute. Kudos. You’ve rescued my heart.

Fun Fact: This past weekend was a busy one. We hung out with a lot of friends and ate out every night (happy late birthday, Kathy!).

But there was one thing we did that was a bit unusual. Tanya and I hung out with Kevin and watched him take his shirt of repeatedly in front of a green screen while I videotaped and Tanya played music.

It sounds more sordid than it was. Here, you be the judge. Kevin’s latest music video parody, with playback by Tanya and camera work by yours truly, TAM. But really, this video is all Kevin, he even went out and bought clothes and a wig for it for god’s sake. Check it out.

And here’s the video that it’s parodying.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Happy Birthday, Mother

Yes, it’s my mom’s birthday today (it’s also Vince’s birthday and my brother-in-law Josh’s as well, happy birthday Vince and Josh).

So it’s a busy day for birthdays. I’m coping with that by not buying a single present for any of them. I feel like that’s the best possible way. It’s bad enough that I’ve had to remember that it’s all those peoples’ birthdays, I figure why add stress to my day by being truly thoughtful?

My birthday is in August and, the closest holiday being the Fourth of July, I’ve never had to compete with a major gift-giving event. So I’ve always felt a little bad for people who were born near big holidays. The worst are those unfortunate jerks to have been brought into this world in late December and early January. That’s got to suck for them. Not to mention for their parents. I’m sorry, but if my kid was born on, let’s say, December 24th, I would probably just celebrate his/her birthday on Christmas Day and make them think that the whole world loved them just as much as I did. By the time they were old enough to learn the truth, their ego would be so large that my white lie would be like water off a monstrously egotistical duck’s back.

Sure, you’re thinking, “Valentine’s Day is not Christmas.” And you’re right. You’re needlessly pointing out the blatantly obvious…but you’re right. If born near Valentine’s Day, most people could probably manage to get the usual amount of birthday gifts and still score a box or two of conversation hearts.

But my mother is single.

Now, I haven’t been single in a long time, in fact, living in constant fear of being alone, I’ve worked very hard at not being single – ever – even to the point of poor judgment and a few instances of “girlfriend hoarding.” But I do realize that there a few days of the year when a single person can grab as much attention as they possibly can and still not come across as desperate (and I’m not saying that my mother is desperate).

Valentine’s Day and Birthdays are not only good for grabbing a little extra attention; they’re also perfect tests of a potential girlfriend/boyfriend’s commitment capacity. If a person asks you out on a date for Valentine’s Day or your Birthday, chances are that they’re ready and willing to become a more permanent fixture in your life. And that leaves the ultimate decision about the relationship up to you.

But when those two special days are right next to each other, there’s a problem. Because while having someone new ask you out for V-Day or B-Day can be something really special, when those two days become two nights in a row, signals can be muddied.

Either your potential girlfriend/boyfriend just wants you to feel special, realizing that it’s not your fault that your birthday happens to be the day after Valentine’s Day and you should not be shorted out of either based on proximity and therefore, even though the relationship is very new, asks you out both nights because he/she is genuinely interested in making you happy no matter that it makes them look a little desperate to get your attention.

Or, holiday’s aside, they would have asked you out two nights in a row even though they hardly know you because they are desperate.

And they want to make a lampshade out of your back-skin.

So what am I saying?

Happy Birthday, Mom. Keep an eye on your back-skin.

Fun Fact: Skin is the largest organ of the human body and if treated properly can make fine lampshades or leather book covers.

As an adult, you might have up to 20 square feet of skin on you right now! That’s enough to make a blanket!

There’s nothing finer than curling up with a good book in the soft diffused light of a nice lamp under a warm blanket, especially if all of those things are made of skin.


Happy Birthday again, Mom.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Best News Ever!

The Latest TAM Cartoon is up! Rattastic!

Isn't that just the best news you heard all day?!

Fun Fact: The latest TAM Cartoon is up!

What? Oh, you heard about that already? Well, excuse me. I can't keep track of everything you already know! Sheesh. Yeah, smartie, we're all really, really impressed with how informed you are.


Oh, and happy Valentine's Day.


Monday, February 13, 2006

Guilt Trip to the Past

When I was 15 I had my first “real” girlfriend. By real girlfriend I mean that we fought, we made up, we hung out together every spare second of the day, we were “in love,” and she had a car.

Yeah, she was an older woman. 16 to be exact. It was a typical teenage romance. I made a lot of passes at her, she deflected the most inappropriate ones. We talked on the phone until 2am. We both had emotional problems. My biggest emotional problem at the time was that I just couldn’t get enough of her emotional problems. And trust me, there were plenty. But it wouldn’t be a true high school relationship without the drama.

To protect her identity I’ll call her “BS.” Not to mean, mind you. Those were her initials. They might still be. I don’t really know.

Anyway, since BS had a car (a car which she would let me drive, until one day her father found out that I was doing it – without a driver’s license. That was an awkward confrontation let me tell you). I no longer had to rely on my mom to drive me to social events which meant that for the first time in my life, I was a free man! Well, relatively free. I still had to rely on BS for a lift (thus began my unrelenting dependency on the charity of women…who didn’t give birth to me).

BS was always late.

I hate being late. But when you don’t have a car or a license (and when your girlfriend’s dad threatens you with bodily harm if you ever drive her car again without one) you have no choice but to put up with lateness. My only recourse was to pour on the guilt. Sulking usually worked. And I can sulk like a freaking champ.

Until I was out of high school, I used to go to my father’s house in Wheeling, West Virginia every summer for two months. Two months is a long time for a 15-year-old. It’s excruciating for a 15-year-old in love.

The summer was coming fast. I was supposed to leave town in a couple days. That meant that I had very little time to spend with BS before I would have to endure 2 months without her, sitting at my father’s house crying at the radio, waiting for love letters in the mail and writing bad, bad poetry (that rhymed).

But we had some big plans, BS and I. Every second until I got on the plane was going to be spent together.

One night in particular, we had a lot of time to spare. I was very excited. I was a man who was about to go away for a 2 month tour of duty in West Virginia. It was like I was going off to war (if you’ve ever swam in the Ohio River, you’ll know that there was a chance that I might not return alive). And we all know how women treat men who are going off to war.

I was going to be one lucky boy that night, I knew it.

But BS was late.

I was running out of time. When you’re 15, sex can be a time-consuming endeavor. There’s the sex itself, which doesn’t take much time at all, but talking the girl into it can sometimes take all night. There’s a lot of planning involved.

BS’s lateness was cutting into valuable “convincing” time.

There’s something strange that happens in the mind of an adolescent male when they can see sex on the horizon only to see it slip further and further away. It like being a child on Christmas day and realizing that you’ve opened all of the presents under the tree and while you have gotten fifty pairs of socks and twenty hand-knit sweaters, Santa was cruel and refused to bring you that one thing you’ve looked forward to playing with all year – a vagina (with kung-fu breasts).

It’s just like that.

So as the hours kept crawling by, I continued to re-apply my cologne and got angrier and angrier.

When BS finally showed up, she was 4 hours late and I smelled like a Greek brothel. The latest she had ever been. And I was feeling more indignant than I had ever felt before (and that’s saying a lot for a teenager). I was like the Pope at a gay pride parade. So angry in fact that I just sat there in her passenger seat and sulked with the ferociousness of 20 men!

Of course, being a teenager herself, she couldn’t just let me sit there and pout. She had to know exactly what I was feeling. I would think that it’s pretty obvious what I was feeling, (I mean she was 4 hours late to pick me up on the most important night before I had to go to West Virginia and possibly die! She would never see me again and then wouldn’t she feel bad about missing those 4 hours!) but BS had to be sure.

“What’s wrong?” she asked as sweetly as she possibly could.

“Why were you so late!” I accused.

“I was hanging out with Crystal and Lisa and we…lost track of time…” was her response.

“Lost track of time?! How do you lose track of 4 hours?! What are you, a character in an H.G. Wells novel?!” I would have shouted, if I had ever read the Time Machine and if wasn’t so blinded with rage that I could still be clever.
“Well…the truth is…that Lisa’s mom caught us…stealing.”

BS had been notorious for doing things that she wasn’t really supposed to be doing and I was notorious for laying heavy crap on her about it. Really heavy crap.

“Yeah…we stole some money out of her sock drawer and…we got caught.”

Well, this was my chance. My shit-headed chance to make BS feel so small that she would never be late to pick me up ever again (if she ever decided to put up with me and my self-righteousness anymore. No! Screw her! She was late, not me!). I went into a tirade about trust and responsibility. And I was really good.

BS felt like crap about stealing Lisa’s mom’s money. She broke down in sobs more than once. I was feeling pretty proud of myself. Very holier-than-thou. After 2 hours of sitting in the parking lot of my apartment and arguing, we were finally ready to get the evening started. BS had progressed to crying fits. The kind of jags that didn’t require any direct stimuli to start. Just a thought would do it.

As she drove to our friend’s house, bawling intermittently, I sat there with a shit-eating grin on my shit-eating face. I had really outdone myself this time. But she shouldn’t have been so unapologetically late, should she? And she should definitely not have stolen that money from Lisa’s mom’s sock drawer.

BS was still crying when we got to our destination, Lisa’s house, the scene of the crime. BS was still crying when we walked through the front door.

In fact, BS was still crying when all of my friends jumped out from behind the furniture and yelled “surprise!”

As I stood there looking at the big “We’ll Miss You” banner that stretched across the living room I felt like an ass. A huge ass.

But there was something else on my mind too. I just looked at BS, drying her tears, and thought to myself, “what kind of fucked up moron uses ‘I got caught stealing’ as an alibi for setting up a surprise going away party?!”

The most perfect fucked up moron my teenaged eyes had ever seen, that’s who.

It was a long two months in WV I tell you.

I don’t miss high school.

Fun Fact: I’ve held off on this story for a while now because I was attending a surprise party for Vince and I didn’t want him to catch on that something was up.

The party was a Chuck-E-Cheese’s. Sure, Vince is turning 35 (in two days), and that place is like my own personal hell, but Vince is my friend so I went happily.

Besides, I wanted to see if anyone would show up crying.

They didn’t.

Damn. I’m the only asshole.

Friday, February 10, 2006

What About Our Terror?

For too many years those of us living on the west coast of the United States have existed without our fair share of fear. Finally, our magnificent president has tried to remedy that.

Behold the latest terror threat to grip Los Angeles; a thwarted plan to bring down the city’s tallest building, the Library Tower (or the US Bank tower, as the people at US Bank would like you to call it). An attack that the crack people in the Department of Homeland Security put the kibosh on…

4 years ago.

So why bring it up now? Does it have to with criticism that the president has received lately (for about 2 years now) on his handling of the “war on terror?” Does it have anything to do with the fact that he’s now the target of an investigation into his controversial, and possibly illegal, secret domestic spying program?

Aw hell no. It was just time to let that tidbit of information out. The president had no political motivations whatsoever. He just thought we should all know. Just FYI. A heads up. Just in case you were curious.

Besides, it would be inappropriate for the president to use terror as a diversionary tactic to draw attention from his almost total ineptitude, wouldn’t it?

Yes, it would. That would make him just as bad as the terrorists he claims to be fighting against, wouldn’t it? I mean, if you can capitalize on the terrorists, doesn’t that make you part of the problem? Yes it does. And our Commander-in-Chief would never exploit the war on terror for his personal gain.

I believe that he was re-elected based solely on his fantastic domestic policies like Social Security reform, the upper-class tax cut, deregulation and fewer support programs for the poor. And whatever you do, don’t forget the “No Child Left Behind” initiative. Cracking!

Oh, yeah, and “faith in God.” The president is deeply spiritual, you know. Christians never use fear to manipulate their followers. It’s all love and stuff. Sure, there’s hell, but who’s really afraid of eternal damnation?

That president of ours, man, he’s one stand-up guy. So straight-shooting that he can take time out of his busy schedule of trying to keep his ass out of a sling just to inform the country of a thwarted terrorist attack 4 years ago that could have been dreadful. And how nice of him to point out (without any political undertone, mind you) that the sinister plot was thwarted in direct correlation to his own brilliant leadership.

President Bush. What a guy.

Bush in 2008! (Hey, it could happen, we’re at war aren’t we? You don’t want to die do you?)

Fun Fact: They’re taking down a telephone pole outside my apartment. As far as I can tell, the people doing it are actual DWP employees and not terrorists.

But can I really be sure? That telephone pole would make a good target.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

You Mean That Penguin from Bloom County?

Of course not, I’m talking about Opus Dei.

For those of you who may not know, Opus Dei is a faction of Catholicism. And they’re on the march against the bad image they feel they’ve obtained from the hit book “The Da Vinci Code.”

In the novel, the secretive organization is represented by a fictional character named Silas, a murderous albino with a penchant for self-flagellation. But the members of Opus Dei want to set the record straight once and for all. Oh no, they’re not opening their doors to the public. They are a secretive organization after all, but they’re putting out some pamphlets.

I always love it when these types of organizations go on the defensive. They always try to present themselves as “just people.” And I’m sure that the members are just people. They just happen to be the kind of “just people” who belong to an ancient secret society of people who beat on themselves. You know, like 98° fans.

Opus Dei had a representative on GMA this morning to refute the claims that weird crap goes down in their organization. Exhibit A: a stockbroker from New York, just a regular guy. Exhibit B: a mother of seven (obviously a good catholic). Just people. And as for the self-abuse? The representative admitted that some members do practice self-flagellation, but they don’t beat themselves too hard. Well that clears it up. And what about claims that the organization is a little too exclusive? Well, they were quick to point out that there are 3,000 members – in the US alone!

3,000 members! Man, they’ll just let anyone in this thing. That’s like 0.0000001% of the population! Freaking joiners.

There’s no weird secrets going on. Their NY headquarters is a structure that cost 70 million dollars. And much has been made of that, but they could easily cover the cost if each member just kicked in $23,333.33.

That’s cheaper than being a Scientologist.

But every year we have to find some religious freaks to needle and point at. But I don’t feel too bad about it really. After all, no one likes secrets. And a secret organization is just asking for unwanted attention. If they want to be left alone, just let the secret out. That’s what I say.

If people in Opus Dei beat themselves, go ahead and admit it. There’s no shame in that is there? The members aren’t embarrassed are they? If the Scientologists want to believe that we’re all infested with residual alien spirits, so what? Go ahead and say so. If the Mormons want to wear special underwear and baptize people posthumously, go for it.

But that’s not the problem is it? There is certain information that these groups will give out easily. It’s when you get to the top of the organization that people get tight-lipped. And I’m sure that it’s not because the salvation they offer is for privileged eyes only. There’s usually some money stuff happening that they don’t want you to know about until it’s too late and your completely assimilated to their way of thinking.

I mean if you’ve already given years of your life trying to attain a Scientology ideal of “clear” I would assume that you’ve got a pretty good investment going there. And you’ve probably been steered in a certain direction. After all, they don’t want you to bolt for the door when, 20 years and $3,000,000 later, they finally tell you that the whole thing is just a giant tax dodge. They want you to share in the funny, have a good laugh and start recruiting some more saps.

I’m not saying that’s what the Scientologists do, mind you. I don’t know. They’re secretive!

So…the moral of the story?

Always make sure that your special underwear can’t be seen under your clothes, never air your dirty residual alien spirits in public and if you’re going to participate in self-flagellation, don’t leave any scars.

Fun Fact: Dan Brown’s book “The Da Vinci Code” has aggravated the Catholic Church. They feel that Mr. Brown has misled his readers into a false sense of history.

Personally, I’m a little more worried that there are people out there who get their history from a fiction novel.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to catch up on the news of the day.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Rant by Proxy

So, as you will soon realize, this post is not being written by TAM today. I am filling in for him as repayment for TAM driving my workout clothes to me this morning, effectively making 2 trips to my work (although I would like to point out that I never ASKED him to do this. He's just really nice).
Obviously I owe him one and he decided payment would be me writing his post today. I am going to write this in first person, just to make things easier for me, but let me just preface this by saying I know I am not as funny as he is, so, here goes…

I am in need of a passport. Don't ask why, just know I need one. So, due to The Girlfriends suggestion, I go to AAA to have my passport photo's taken because they only charge $8. Why passport photos are so damn expensive every place else is just beyond me.

So, I drive The Girlfriend to work (which included traffic on Avenue of the Stars being horrific because they closed down TWO LANES for a shoot for a car ad), took off my chauffeur hat and headed to AAA.

AAA is probably the most unexcited part of my day due to the fact that everyone there was actually nice and helpful. Especially since their computer system crashed and they had to do everything the old fashioned way, which meant writing down people's name on a card and handing it off to the next person.

About ½ hour later, photo's in hand, I head home to park the car. Why, you ask? I told you not to ask questions! But, I will tell you that walking to the post office is easier than parking at the post office. So there.

I hoofed it to get there by 10, their posted opening time for the Passport part of the office. On my way, I see my second movie type shoot of the day, right next to Kevin's apartment.

When no one was around by 10:10, the guy in line in front of me asked if they were going to open today. Since Mushmouth answered, the closest I could hear to words was something like "I don't know! It's not open? Maybe 10:30. I don't know." (that sentence should be hear something ala the bad guy in Silence of the Lambs. Only angrier.)

I begin talking to the guy in front of me about how awful this particular Post Office is, how we both try to never come here, but it's better than going downtown to the courthouse and basically how everyone that works here seems to be the last person that should ever work in a customer service type job. A very exciting conversation I know.

I mean, the whole time I was there, they had a line out the door. Not because they were all that busy, but because the Postal Workers would take time between each customer to chat about their lives. NEVER MIND THAT THERE IS A FREAKING LINE OUT THE DOOR. It's WAY more important that they get to share such important things like what they did last night and what they thought of the Super Bowl. I can’t believe the Postal Service can't figure out why people don't mail things anymore.

We continue waiting. Now there are several people in line waiting for the Passport Office to open, which includes:
The guy first in line who happens to be Asian.
A very nice lady with a baby.
A crazy Indian lady that I was sure was going to try and cut in line in front of me
A married Hispanic couple

I can't help feeling I am standing in line in a sitcom.

The passport office FINALLY opens at 10:30, just as I am thinking about walking home. No "sorry we are so late", no explanation as to why we were forced to wait around, no anything. Except the person helping us was obviously sick. Like "hacking all over everything" sick.

Finally it's my turn. Guess what, the post office doesn't take credit cards as payment, EVEN THOUGH THEY SAY ON THEIR WEBSITE THEY DO! Stupid, stupid me for believing anything on a government website. They don't open at 10, they don't take credit cards, they aren't helpful, blah blah blah.

And that was two hours out of my day.

The end.

Fun Fact:
While on my way to the post office, I had a star sighting. I watched walked by the dedication of a new Fire Station and saw Mayor Villaraigosa with a golden shovel. Then, on my way home, I watched someone throw the golden shovel in the trunk of their car. I felt sad for the shovel.

Also, the new TAM cartoon is up. Goldenshoveltastic!!

Friday, February 03, 2006

Come on Baby Light My Fire...Seriously…Light It!

At 4:00 this morning I thought I heard someone breaking into my car. I couldn’t be sure of course, after all, it was early and I was slicing mushrooms and there was this fat kid who had run away leaving the skinny woman to writhe her hands and debate whether she should go after him.

I told the skinny woman she should do what she feels is right, but I knew the fat kid was lost. So I woke up to check if my ford escort pony was still in tact. The weird dream aside, I could tell I was delusional, fat kids and skinny women, sure, but I should have known that no one in their right mind would break into my escort. I haven’t driven it in about 5 months; it’s so covered in dirt that any potential vandal would probably just mistake it for a giant dirt clod anyway.

Careful not wake Tanya, I went to the front window and looked out. Nothing there. But someone was in the construction site next door. For a better vantage point, I went into the bathroom and climbed up on the counter (risky behavior for someone half asleep in their underwear).

There was a blonde girl rooting around the cinderblock foundation next door. The only thing that’s built so far is the parking garage, and that’s not even finished. They have scaffolding set up to create a form in which they’re going to pour concrete and create the sub-floor for the living areas. All I could see of the woman was that she was youngish, blonde, dressed like a beatnik (beret and tight black clothes) and talking to a guy who was obviously hiding out under the scaffolding. I used my powerful deductive skills once again to figure out that her partner in crime was a man.

It helped that as she was walking around she blurted out “dude, I feel kinda’ bad…and not in an ‘in my body’ way.” So unless she calls everyone dude (I had a girlfriend like this actually, she called everyone “dude,” guys, girls, appliances, it didn’t matter) the person she was with can only be assumed to be a dude. And I couldn’t rule out the beatnik thing.

So I did what any other LA resident does when they see someone break into something, I shook my head…and went back to bed.

But then it started to smell like an oil refinery in the bedroom. The beatniks were burning things next door.

This time Tanya got up with me to investigate. Sure enough, as I watched from the bathroom window, I could see an orange glow emanating from the cinderblock window of the parking garage. It was probably time to call the cops.

What constitutes an emergency? Do pyromaniac beatniks warrant a call to 911? Tanya and I thought so.

The 911 operator had different priorities.

But eventually Tanya was conferenced into the police and the fire department. When you’re conferenced into two public safety organizations after calling 911, there’s a lot of pressure. Those beatniks had better be members of Al Qaeda attempting to enrich Uranium in that half built parking garage.

I could tell that Tanya was worried that our threat wouldn’t measure up. She was doing a good job of talking it up on the phone, but she had her doubts. After all, the orange glow had disappeared.

And then I saw it.

Another orange glow! Sweet vindication! The fire department was on the way! The cops were on the way!

And then the second orange glow went away too.

And the fire department was on the way.

The cops were on the way.

We didn’t have a fire.

At least they would catch the beatniks and throw them in prison for trespassing. That’s something. If you’re forced to wake up at 4 in the morning, the least you can ask for is to see two beatniks get incarcerated. So we waited for the cops to come.

In a remarkably quick time, the fire department showed up – sirens blaring. There’s no one on the street at 4am. I’m not sure what the logic behind the sirens was. But it did have a couple of effects. It woke up the entire neighborhood...

And scared the beatniks away.

The fire department stood around the chain-link fence, shining their ridiculously huge flashlights into the construction site. They saw nothing. I knew that’s what would happen. They scared the perps away with their totally uncool siren-blaring. And they never entered the site, and I know that their flashlights have the power of 20 suns, but unless they can shine through walls, a more thorough investigation would have been needed to turn up evidence of the fire.

I was doing just as good a job investigating as they did. And I was standing in my kitchen!

Then we get a phone call. It’s the fire department. They found nothing. Duh. Would I come down and tell them what I saw? Sure. I’ll tell them all about the beatniks and their bad grammar and orange glows.

So I get dressed and head down to the fire truck, trying not to be seen by the criminals so as to avoid any retaliation at a later date. And I tell them what I saw. They guy looks at me, his eyes red and tired and says “well, we didn’t see anything.”

And they drove away.

Why did I have to get dressed and go downstairs in the cold just to be told the exact same thing they told us on the phone?!


That’s the only thing I can think of.

And then the cops showed up. And they saw nothing, but we never got the chance to explain to them how the fire department scared off the perpetrators. Morning was coming, and frankly none of us gave a crap anymore.

And that’s why I skipped the gym today.

Fun Fact: We never found the fat kid.