I No Longer Have Everyday Off

The reason I haven’t written anything in this blog since May 5th is pretty simple and fairly obvious, I got a job. Around the time of my last entry is when my offer became official, making it impossible to write a blog about being unemployed without feeling like Balki Bartokomous in the episode of Perfect Strangers where he thinks he’s going to be a pop star but pulls the plug on his own career after realizing that they’ve dubbed out his voice with that of a much better singer, bringing him to an ethical crisis, an impasse of meaning, a…you get it, I’m obviously just trying to sound smart because this is the last entry in this blog until I become unemployed again and as such, I want the takeaway to be “Boy, he’s smart.” Because I worry about such things. Because I’m worried that I’m dumber than when I was born. Because I’m worried just getting older makes me dumber. Because I’m worried the endless digital distractions make it harder to concentrate than it used to be. Because I’m worried that the internet is changing the way I think, that it’s somehow fucking it up. Because I’m worried my thoughts will come slower some day even though I’ve tried hard to slow them down and shouldn’t be worried. Because I’m worried I’ll stop being funny. Because I’m worried I was never funny in the first place. Because I’m worried about writing about worrying, and who this might worry. Because I’m worried about what you think. Because…wait a second, why am I ending this on some weird serious note? This isn’t a serious blog. Let’s just pretend I never said any of the stuff I just said and instead end with this a high-five.

There, I feel better already.

Lesser Known Cinco de Mayo Traditions

Almost everyone knows that Cinco de Mayo is the annual celebration of the Mexican armies victory over the French in1862 at the Battle of Puebla. The reason we celebrate this holiday in far greater numbers than our Mexican brethren is because Americans have more Mexican pride than Mexicans do. This is often the case in nations around the world. The Japanese have way more Belgian pride than the Belgians do and the Finns pride in India is far greater than India’s pride in itself. What many of you may not know is that aside from the margaritas, Modelos and Arizona avoidance, Cinco de Mayo has a number of specific, regional traditions.

Haddonfield, NJ – Dave, Rick, Bob, Chazz and Other Dave all go to a Mexican restaurant and engorge themselves on a feast of cheese-covered pseudo-Mexican fare before celebrating at Tito Fuente’s with oversized margaritas and fish bowls of beer. As is the tradition, they throw bad compliments and bad jokes at an endless sea of inebriated girls and try to get as many numbers as they can, despite the fact they are all married. As is also the tradition, at the end of the night they all retire to Bob’s house and have large amounts of gay sex.

Portland, OR – Each year the townspeople pool whatever money they have saved in bottles, junk-drawers and milk-jugs and they hire Gallagher to do a live show in the middle of the city. At the end of the show, despite promises it wouldn’t happen this year, they dress up in watermelon suits and chase Gallagher around with over-sized sledgehammers.

Lancaster, PA – For unknown reasons, the Amish of Lancaster celebrate Cinco de Mayo by having an all night rave in a barn. They take large quantities of drugs and continue the party beyond the 5th until someone dies. When that happens, they burn the barn like nothing happen and raise another barn. Every five years an Amishman leaves the fold and writes a screenplay about this occurrence. Such a screenplay has yet to sell for unknown reasons.

Waukesha, WI – Each year Mike McDonnell goes to his local Five Guys and eats five burgers. He then drinks exactly five Mexican beers at a restaurant near his house. He goes home and watches The Big Lebowski five times before eating five spoonfuls of mayonnaise. He counts backwards from fifty-five and falls asleep. Mike doesn’t wake up until May 4th the next year, once again mystified by the random sequence he must complete in order to travel through time.

San Diego, CA – For one day only the entire population of San Diego rejects it’s Mexican influence and instead celebrates the small, but vocal population of Canadian immigrants. The roller-blading masses carry hockey sticks, the maple syrup runs like something not as thick as maple syrup and large groups dress up like their favorite John Candy character. Jack Gable from Delirious is a clear favorite.

Jeff’s 5-Step Business Plan

Money Can’t Buy You Class, But It Can Buy You a Robot

Money may not be able to buy you class, but as that man-voiced woman on The Real Housewives of New York that used to be married to this guy proves, it can buy you a female robot to sing the hook you hired a different female robot to write for you. I have to be honest, it was only a few days ago that I was lamenting the lack of spoken word songs with Garage Band beats. Has it really been 12 years since that ‘Sunscreen Song’ dominated Top 40 radio and played our heart strings like the devil’s own golden fiddle?

To be honest, I can’t say I’m surprised that a person from The Real Housewives of New York was so accurately able to gauge our collective consciousness and give us exactly what we want. She is, after all, on a show that provides a much needed window into the petty arguments of women who are rich because they had sex with rich people.* Obviously toiling every day in that kind of creative atmosphere makes her a cultural bellwether.

And then there’s the music itself. Not only is her sassy-talking catchy, but it’s no-nonsense approach simultaneously refuses to take nonsense, while ignoring that nonsense and somehow slapping the idea of nonsense in the face. The song also has character. To be specific, it has an exact character, Countess Luann de Lesseps, the evil and maniacal matriarch of an etiquette dynasty in an upcoming Disney movie where the matron-saint of ‘being classy’ turns out to kidnap orphaned children and keep them locked away in a floating castle of sadness where they are conditioned to become her door-holding minions. Can’t you see her sing-talking ‘Money Can’t Buy You Class’ as she prances around her gilded mansion, ash from her freakishly long cigarette marking her slow-dancing path through the downstairs, as her sad-sack assistant who hasn’t yet discovered the secret of her bosses success, and in an ironic twist will discover the 101 children she can’t have and has always wanted, follows her every move.

*Wouldn’t a show called Real Housewives of Mobile be infinitely more entertaining? Just sayin…

9 Characters That Had to be Fat

When I’m reading a book or watching a movie I often wonder if the details of a character’s description or the peccadilloes he quietly busies himself with are necessary to who the character is. I feel like, on occasion, the particulars of a person can come off as a writer’s arbitrary decision, a superfluous exercise in making a them more interesting regardless of if it makes them more complete.

It’s with that question in mind that I came up with the following list, 9 characters from books and movies that had to be fat.

9. Sheldon Anapol, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay – The ignominious boss that turns the title characters’ creativity into a an endless pile of money and source of unhappiness doesn’t swell alongside his coffers as you might expect him to, but he struggles, physically and emotionally, against his own tendency towards excess right from the  beginning. All those syllables aside, if he wasn’t always sweating from one thing or another, he wouldn’t have been Sheldon Anapol.

8. Uncle Buck, Uncle Buck – As a foil to the tightly wound center of a quiet suburban family choking on its own precepts, Uncle Buck needed to be larger than life in every way shape and form to break down a few walls and shake things loose. From his giant, mind-blowing pancakes, to his bulbous, chainsaw toting silhouette, he’s a necessarily swollen symbol of the idea that sometimes it’s much better to do before you think.

7. Jabba the Hutt, Star Wars – He or she (we really don’t know that it’s not an amorphous lesbian blob) had to be big to fit its name and role as the oozing arbiter of a hedonistic desert oasis. Plus the underlying chance that it would eat anyone that crossed it made it all the more terrifying and awesome.

6. Falstaff, Various Plays by Shakespeare – It wasn’t that Falstaff needed to be physically large to be the overindulgent, goofy, mistake-making, drunkard he was, but the fact that he was one of the first great ‘laugh with, laugh at’ characters informed the archetype for generations to come.

5. Tommy Callahan, Tommy Boy – Not only would the world not have the ‘fat guy in a little coat’ scene and therefore be that much poorer, but a whole slew of other scenes wouldn’t have ever existed. Just for fun, flip-flop the David Spade/Chris Farley roles for a second and imagine the movie. Case in point.

4. Eric Cartman, South Park - Cartman is, along with many other things, a social commentary on the ‘give them everything’ style of parenting that’s been producing a sub-generation of uber-brats across the country. He wouldn’t be an accurate commentary if that didn’t include letting him scarf down Cheesy Poofs and High-Fructose everything in between insulting his wonderfully obtuse and hilariously slutty Mom.

3. Oscar Wao, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao – Oscar’s weight does more than round out his typecast as a fantasy novel obsessed turbo-nerd, it serves at time as a barometer for his emotional condition, and it sets up the idea that much of life happens to us, making it that much better when Oscar happens to his life.

2. Chunk, Goonies – Chunk maybe could have just been a clumsy kid, an irresponsible clutz who gets left behind and befriends the gentle, abused giant chained in the house. But without the truffle shuffle or the fat camp story or the ice cream or the Baby Ruth or…wait, he couldn’t have been anything else but exactly what he was.

1. Ignatius J. Reilly, A Confederacy of Dunces – There is no main character in any form of fiction for whom appetites, both for food and self-satisfaction, are more important. And there is no character in a book or movie who ceases to exist in a more complete manner than Ignatius J. Reilly when you take away all those pounds. Hot dogs to you, Iggy, you wouldn’t have been the same without them.

You Should Thank Me For Yelling At You

You!

I’m not sure if you realize this co-worker/friend/other guy on the bus or mutual acquaintance, but there’s a reason I yell certain points at you instead of simply discussing them. For one, I was able to surmise with my fearless logic and my brazen, possibly went to graduate school intellect, that whatever you were about to say was going to belie the force of my opinion, requiring I assert it even more powerfully. It’s exactly like when you can’t get something to work so you hit it twice as hard and then you get a new one.

That’s not the only reason. You probably don’t know this, because you know very little and haven’t read all the obscure articles from unnamed publications that I have and that I frequently reference during the making of any point, but the amount I get worked up over whatever the meaningless topic is at hand is directly proportional to my intelligence. It is also inversely proportional to your education, which obviously isn’t as complete as mine because of all sorts of reasons I don’t have the time to explain because I only know how to relate them using analogies related to Proust.

I am getting the sense from the fact that your attention is directed at someone or something else that you still don’t quite understand the reason I’m yelling at you about this subject everyone would just assume I let go. Believe me, I don’t want to yell at you about it. I hate yelling. That’s a big part of why I’m so unhappy, because people like you make me have to yell all the time because they try and say something besides what I’m saying. It’s a vicious cycle, like the one Ghost Rider rides.

To be honest, one day, you’ll thank me for yelling at you about this subject you are pretending to not care about at all and have repeatedly tried to change. Had Shakespeare not yelled at Kafka we wouldn’t call them quotation marks, we’d call them ‘says marks’, and we’d be confused all the time. Imagine it. “Did you hear that says-unsays ‘speech’ from our says-unsays ‘president’ about says-unsays ‘healthcare’?” The world would be devoid of sassy disapproval to say the very least.

To be honest again, I’m getting pretty mad because you haven’t thanked me for yelling at you yet during the course of my yelling. If you don’t thank me soon who knows what I’ll do.

April Fool’s

April O'Neil, Fools!

Every year my Grandmother tries to convince me my Mom is in the hospital in what has become an annual exercise in hilarious cruelty. Following in her footsteps, my Mom has started to try and zing me every year, but she usually tells me something impossible not to believe like, “I just ate breakfast (pause) no I didn’t, April Fool’s!”. In my mind that technique defeats the purpose of April Fool’s. The idea is to craft a story that might be otherwise unbelievable and get the gullible to travel down its road with you. Instead of continue an explanation, allow me to give you a few ideas for great April Fool’s jokes that illuminate my point.

1. Walk around all day with your hands behind your back like one of those old men that walks around with their hands behind their back for some reason until you finally cross paths with one of them. Pretend you are struggling then produce two, free hands and say, “I’ve broke the invisible shackles! AMISTAD!”

2. In the middle of the day, suddenly jump on all fours, run down the hallway of your place of employ barking like a dog and peeing on everything you see while ripping off your clothes and howling “Twwwiiiilllliiight.” Once you’ve got everyone’s attention, stand up and say, “April Fool’s, I’m actually a vampire.”

3. Talk in an Irish accent all day and convince everyone that you were hit in the head with a potato and it made you talk like that. At the end of the day, preferably nearby everyone you’ve told your story, have a hidden friend throw a potato at your head. When it hits you start talking normal again. Kill that friend to cover your tracks and never tell anyone anything.

4. Pick one of your friends who is married and pretend you hate them for an unexplained reason. Cut off communication for the next 5 years to the day, then show up wearing a t-shirt that says, “April Fool’s”. When they start to laugh, take that t-shirt off to reveal one beneath it that says “I slept with your wife.” Then take that one off and reveal one that says, “The 5 years of silence is unrelated”. Then give them a handshake.

5. Write a post on your blog, pretending it’s going to be a long list of funny stuff, then end it suddenly and without explanation.