The Crazy Walk That Launched a Dream

Okay, now I'm excited. I'm excited because I'm going to be RICH. I'm not sure how the licensing on this is going to work, I have to talk to my friend Reb, his brother's some kind of paralegal and he might know, but I don't want to think too far ahead. Anyway, what happened was that I've come up with a totally original crazy walk, and I feel it's safe to say there's not a street lunatic in the world that wouldn't trade everything they had to get it. (I guess street lunatics don't actually have much to trade, no, but it's just a figure of speech.) What I do is I walk along normally, right, but as I go I have my arms down at my sides and I sort of slowly revolve my arms over and over again, always pointing generally at the ground but always rotating in wide circles, so imagine I'm just walking down Constitution Avenue, dee dee dee, and for some reason my arms are down beside me but rotating in circles like I'm using them both like some kind of robot scanning for dimes on the street. I could even have one arm rotating one way and the other arm rotating the other way. So yeah, the plan is to license this walk out to street lunatics, you have to pay like, I don't know, ten bucks a month to use my walk, and it'll be worth it to them too because now they can really stand out. Such is my plan. With the money I make I'll buy a place where you can get refurbished board games, and it will not suck.


The Condiment and I

Whoo, what a tiring and frustrating day. Since eight this morning I've had contractors shuffling in and out of my kitchen. I swear, half of what they say just flies right over my head. But the figures they throw around....I'm terrified. I had no idea that trying to find someone reputable to help me finish off the huge tub of Shedd's Spread I bought in May would be such a big idea. Granted, I was an idiot for thinking I could get through such a massive amount of Shedd's Spread, but you never think about these things when you're in Safeway. You never look down the road to the moment when some guy is pressuring you to sign a deal that promises to use up the remainder the tub in six weeks, all for a "mere" $4600. I'm already having nightmares about strange dudes in my kitchen at all hours of the day, putting the stuff on toast and vegetables and taking forever, and getting stuck on weekends with no one to help me slather more Shedd's Spread onto anything. I had a friend who hired a company to help him get through a seemingly endless jar of Smuckers because his wife was getting on him every day about it, complaining she just couldn't stand the sight of her kitchen anymore knowing they were never going to finish all that goop, and he told me there were days, even weeks, where it just didn't seem like they were making any progress at all, like they were happy to do nothing but make a big mess and lots of noise. And their attitude was always like, "Duh, we know what we're doing." I'm half-tempted to hire some company to just haul that Shedd's Spread right out of here and dispose of it. I can't find a quote for less than $800 for that, though. Don't tell me nobody's making money in this crazy economy. Sheesh.


I Salute You, Long Stringy Meal

Hey, I know it's an unusual request. But I'm not asking you to spend a whole lot of time on it, and you're not losing any money. I'm just asking you to get down on your knees for five lousy minutes and thank almighty God for the stupefying miracle that is spaghetti. That's all. That's it. None of us ever do it, and let's face it, it's about time. Spaghetti. Spa-effin'-ghetti. A huge bowl of it costs what----thirty cents to make? And how many different kinds of pasta are there that are virtually the same damn cost? And what's sauce when it's on sale: two bucks a jar? My God, what a sly food. What a clutch player. How many nights has spaghetti saved your hide? You come home tired, bitter, surly, your head throbbing like George Foreman trying to punch his way out of a lemon, not in the mood to make anything complicated, despising the universe and all the creatures in it, and WHAM! There it is in the pantry, a ninety-nine cent box of pasta and a thing of Ragu, waiting patiently to leap into action. You dump the pasta in a pot and the sauce in another, and how much attention do you have to give it all? Um, like NONE. Go ahead, watch indoor soccer on cable while it's practically MAKING ITSELF. I know, I the pots can be sort of a chore. But I beg you, for just once in your life, just ONCE, try to see the forest for the trees, know what I'm saying? Can you understand, just for my sake, just to humor me for one damn minute, the flippin' miracle of miracles that is spaghetti? The Eternal Giver, The Food Without Flaw, The Zesty Hand That Offereth?

What's that you say? You don't even like spaghetti?

Oh....oh. That's weird. I mean, I specifically asked the escort service to send over a girl who likes spaghetti. Jeez, I'm sorry. Here I am going on and on like an idiot. Okay, so, I'll just take the sex then. Ha! Wait'll the guys at the batting cage hear about this one!


Eight Essential Vitamins and Minerals....But Not For Me

Today, I sat down and tallied up the raw mathematical figures which tell the chilling story of my thirty year battle to achieve the proper milk-to-cereal ratio at breakfast. This small but vital skill has eluded me like some sinister villain darting through the shadows as I pursue him, begging and pleading to please, please show me how to put just enough milk in my cereal in the morning so that there's almost no milk left when I swallow down my last biteful of Alpha Bits. And here is the damage this folly has caused me:

$13,300 for the hiring of supposed "experts" in the field of milk-to-cereal ratios for a bunch of bloated, ineffective advice, and another $3100 to some jerk calling himself The Kix Whisperer, who was not only unhelpful but said disrespectful things about the defensive secondary of my beloved St. Louis Rams,

$4000 on test cereals and $2800 on test milk for my own private work with the ratios, work which has gotten me exactly NOWHERE, except I think I may have come up with a new cereal I call Oats Versus Chocolate,

$480, not counting the lab fee and parking sticker fee, for a class in introductory physics at the community college so I could understand just why the hell I always wound up with either way too much milk left in the bowl or not enough to cover my last couple of sad, hideously dry bites, dry as the desert in summertime, just dry, dry, dry, and no damn good to anyone

$2400 in reduced enjoyment of the milk and cereal I have eaten every day for the past thirty years. Because of my continuous ratio imbalances, I figure I have enjoyed each bowl of cereal exactly 25 percent less than I could have if I had just gotten the freaking mix correctly. Assuming each bowl of cereal cost me ninety cents, I have lost twenty-two cents per day in enjoyment for three decades. Add it up. Feel my pain.

I have now officially stopped caring. I'm switching to yogurt and a raisin bagel in the morning.

Except, you know what, I can never quite swirl the flavoring at the bottom of the cup around in just such a way so that it's spread out all through the yogurt but there's still a dominant, unsullied swirl up top so that I can begin my yogurt experience with a nice little bolt of delightful fruit flavor.

Did you think that Bram Stoker would have been down with the whole Count Chocula concept?


How about Grape Nuts?


Who Says My Heart Is Ten Sizes Too Small?

Sometimes we experience moments in life that touch us at the very core of our beings. I had such a moment this morning, as witness to an act of remembrance and forgiveness that I shall never forget.

The air was tense on the airstrip, and we who had been invited to be there for the event were understandably nervous. We had no idea what would happen. The private jet touched down at exactly eight a.m., as promised, and Michigan J. Frog emerged from the cabin and descended the steps to the tarmac on his small frog legs slowly and carefully, all of us reminded of his age. When he saw the construction worker who had discovered him in a time capsule so many years before, he hesitated, but then allowed himself to be hugged by the now elderly man, and M. J. Frog even hugged back. All of us applauded, tears in our eyes.

The two old foes, old enough now to perhaps let bygones be bygones, exchanged words that none of us could hear. We watched them become friends within minutes. The man who had dug up the freakishly talented frog only to be so cruelly taunted with mocking silence had finally let go of the immense hurt which that silence has caused him. Time's inexorable onward march had made such wounds unimportant. When a man sees his own mortality looming in front of him, even the most enduring injuries fade away to nothing. Still, he could not help but pose the question we had all wondered about since we were kids.

"Why, friend," he asked gently, "why didn't you just sing and dance for me in the top hat when I wanted you to? I could have made millions....we both would have been so life was ruined....I took to drinking and lost my job....became unimaginably violent....."

Michigan J. Frog shrugged his shoulders wearily. "Eh," he said simply. "I didn't like your face. Sue me."

With that, they embraced again. Overcome by glorious emotion, I walked away. Before I left, though, I saw even Elmer Fudd wiping away a tear of appreciation. And lemme tell ya, Elmer's one of the meanest bastards you could ever hope to meet.


A Rant, With Jesus Backing Me Up On This One

You know, ladies and gentlemen, I hate to turn this blog into a soapbox, but I have to bring up a sensitive topic: What happens to your child eight months after I perform an exorcism is not my problem.

I am paid to provide a service. When that job is complete, if your kid starts talking to onions or living inside your chimney, you know what? Break out your Discover card, I'm not Jiffy Lube, I don't top off your fluids if you pull back in within three thousand miles. Also, please, people, make sure there is some valid basis for an exorcism investigation before logging onto my web site. The following habits, when exhibited by a pre-teen, do not necessarily suggest the involvement of the devil:

1) smoking Newports.
2) stealing hair gel from Walgreen's.
3) rewinding to certain parts of Basic Instinct again and again.

Something else: house numbers, people, house numbers, make them large and make them visible. Nothing makes me look stupider to Satan than packing up the cassock and the purple stole and the holy water and standing in front of your driveway for fifteen minutes trying to figure out if that's a one or a seven.

Now, when I show up, kindly remember that there is nothing in the Roman Ritual about a dress requirement for priests. Personally, I happen to have a fondness for NASCAR-themed ballcaps and sweatpants with Ziggy on them. Your kid's gonna get levitated whether I wear a white collar or a fruit sombrero, dammit, so stop with the criticisms!

Finally, since I'm the one who printed up the coupons to begin with, let me assure you I am well aware that they say a failed exorcism entitles the bearer to a free regular roast beef sandwich at a participating Arby's. But it bears no mention, no mention of french fries!

Fruit sombrero!


Stuff Dawns On Me, Which Is Never a Good Thing

I just had a horrifying thought. When I was nine years old, I was full of vim and vigor.

When I was twice as told as that, eighteen, I was still full of vim and vigor.

Now I'm twice as old as that, thirty-six, and I still am filled with vim and vigor. Watch me on the dance floor, man---I tear it up every time!

But my God, when I'm as twice as old as that, someone will be placing a scarf around my shoulders and pushing me in front of a big window that looks out over the back end of a strip mall so that all you can see is the rear loading doors of a Payless Shoes and a B. Dalton Books and a Chesapeake Bagel Bakery and a Baskin Robbins and a Jenny Craig Weight Loss Center and a Petco Pet Supply and a Blockbuster Video and one other store which keeps showing signs of opening up but never really does, all of this bordered by of those weird little trenches that kind of forms a dirty brackish pond and is surrounded by swampy weeds and a big black chain link fence with horseflies buzzing around an old plastic Slurpee cup and an unexplained empty white plastic trash bag which obviously once contained something because there's a knot at the top and it's all stretched out but the contents must have fallen out somewhere along the line, God knows where, and I'll just sit there for seven hours or so trying to remember the name of that one show I really used to like. Depressing. Depressing.

Are you gonna eat the last of that melon?


My Hollywood Memories of Grunting and Sweating

This new job of mine is not too bad, not too bad. I mean, it'll be okay for a while. It's only two days a week, and Mr. Spielberg tips me very well on Fridays. Today was kind of a frustrating day, though. It was a nice trip up Mulholland Drive, kind of tough on the truck to go so far uphill but the paving is really good, and I got buzzed onto the estate with no problem. I nudged a trash can when I backed the truck up to the porch, which I keep doing out of sheer clumsiness, and there was Spielberg, greeting me with a friendly wave just like always. I got out and came around to work the lift gate and he and I shot the breeze about the Dodgers for a couple of minutes (who'd think that such a big time director would follow baseball so closely!), and then I lowered the lift gate all the way and climbed into the rear of the truck as Spielberg went back inside the house. The problem today was that when I wheeled the first wheelbarrow to the edge of the porch, someone at the studio had loaded the damn thing so heavy that I couldn't even tilt it forward all the way, so the thousands of gold coins, loose hundred dollar bills, and shiny red rubies and emeralds spilled over the side a little as I shoved it forward, grunting. Finally I managed to get it all the way onto the porch and I dumped it. That avalanche of clinking as the riches skitter across the porch always kind of perks me up; it's a nice sound. The second and third wheelbarrows full of gold coins and loose hundred dollar bills and shiny red rubies and emeralds went over much easier, but I really have to talk to someone about portioning out these loads. Then the lift gate stuck a little on its way up, God knows why; I just had it serviced. Traffic was unexpectedly heavy today too. But all in all, it's a good gig. Spielberg always waves at me from the house when I leave. Nice guy. Really nice guy. I guess he has somebody to haul in the money after I go. Or maybe he does it himself. Wouldn't surprise me, actually.


Saving the Publishing Industry One Book At a Time

You can call me overly critical, but the endings of these Little Golden Books are always just ridiculously unsatisfying. I just slogged through Baby Farm Animals, which was the standard fare we've all come to expect, sixteen illustrated cardboard pages showing various baby farm animals and describing what they do and think in two sentences or less. The art is more than adequate and the animal babies are undeniably cute, but where's the payoff? The last page of the book shows a small chicken. The text reads, "The baby chicken is called a chick. When she grows up her feathers will be the same color as her mommy's!" And then.....that's it. No wrap-up, no conclusion. The book ends and there's a list of other Little Golden Books you can buy, as cynical a capper as you could imagine. And what about The Fire Engine's Coming? Okay, great, the story begins and various types of people are watching the fire engine go by. Neighbors, schoolkids, the elderly. There might be a fire! Or a cat up in a tree! Or a busted water pipe! What's going on? The suspense is ready-made and no thinking reader can possibly put this story down. But again, the finale is non-existent. The last page features not the conclusion of the fire engine's journey, but the lame coda, "Wouldn't it be exciting to ride the fire engine?" Well, duh, of course it would be, but where is the damn thing going, people? Why do you think I spent my money on this book? Because I like the color red? And please, just get Let's Play Baseball off my shelf entirely. The author gives you the basics, but then instead of setting up some sort of conflict, i.e. perhaps a game seven of a World Series or at least some underdog overcoming some odds to get to a big game, the ending shows a kid grinning and picking up an oversized bat while big block letters tell us that "The best part is, baseball is a sport for both boys AND girls!" Really? Well, that's super, but that leaves the drama where exactly? What have you done for me here? Taught me that baseball exists? I could have figured that out reading George Will's trenchant Men at Work, thank you very much. That little blonde-haired boy in the blue cap---did he suddenly fall off the face of the earth between pages 4 and 12? Could he not have returned to at least give the tale some symmetry?

Oh, I'm sorry, you asked me about my cholesterol level. Yeah, it's been all right. I apologize. No, there's been no real change since my last appointment. Um, what's that needle there? Why is that moving toward my hip? What....whoa, did I miss something? I got off on a tangent, I know, but.....hey....let's discuss this.....Jesus....good God the pain,


I Thought I Had a Friend. Nope.

I was speaking to my genius the other day. (I often have conversations with my own genius.)

"Genius," I said, "I summon thee."

My genius awoke and said, "Yes, my master?"

"Genius," I said, "let's talk some trash. You have served me well over the years, provided me with deep insights, and even acclaim from Boy's Life for my memorable article 'The Kindly Bear of Willow Creek.' But, genius, it has come to my attention through watching popular programs such as Access Hollywood that if I were to attract a certain celebrity status currently beyond my grasp, attractive young females would, in fact, begin to pursue me with ardor. Ergo, genius, from now on you must work double time to secure for me this goal. No more breaks, no more flights of fancy into the realms of opera and Sudoku. From this day forward, you shall concentrate solely on getting my mug onto the cover of Entertainment Weekly. What say you, genius? Eh?"

And my genius thought for a moment, and responded thusly: "You pathetic hack. My purpose is to provide you with a grasp of life's mysteries and general artistic brilliance, not to become some sort of glorified escort service. Jesus!"

I cleared my throat and said: "Genius, I gave birth to you. I developed you. You shall do as I say. Now, by the time I get up tomorrow, I expect some script ideas that will absolutely bowl over some suits at Warner Brothers."

And my genius said: "Listen, you pickle-looking geekoid, if it weren't for me, you'd still be coming up with ideas like 'make a tape of funny Darth Vader noises' and 'how about a story about pirates living inside the earth's core'. I answer to the highest forces of creativity and divine inspiration. You want some girl action, you pay for it like everyone else."

And I replied, "Genius, I got two words for ya: Scarlett Johansson."

And my genius said, "Okay, I see what you're saying."

"Genius," I ventured, "if you can procure for me the fame necessary to meet and woo such comely lasses, I shall allow you to stretch out on weekends to ponder the ancient conundrums of the cosmos, to question our social fabric, to challenge the very philosophical foundations of life itself. Then on Monday it's back to fame and chicks."

With that, my genius agreed, and was sated.

That was two and a half years ago.

The best thing my genius has come up with in all that time is a children's book about a piece of bacon looking for its mother.

My genius is retarded.


Ten Movies I Will Never Make

1) "It's an out-of-this-world holiday romp that'll have you on a rocketship to fun!"

2) "Shelley Long hasn't been this funny since Cheers"!

3) "It's good to see Tim Allen back on the screen in a family comedy, even though some may cringe at the way Raul Julia's voice is transplanted from beyond the grave into a homophobic robot."

4) "Disney works its working-class-underdog-achieves-a-dream-by-rising-to-the-top-of-the-sporting-world magic once again, with every wonderful cliche intact, and this time it's three and a half hours long!"

5) "I don't know how many naked butts are shown in this movie----maybe a thousand, maybe two----but of this I am certain: I am done with reviewing films forever."

6) "No one has ever edited Manon of the Spring and The Howling together so seamlessly."

7) "A nitro-fueled, turbo-charged, lightning-bolt jolt of Christian action and comedy!"

8) "This bizarre sequel to Havana is comprised entirely of footage of Robert Redford playing solitaire between takes of the original....and for the most part, it works."

9) "No film in recent memory has ever been so strangely condemnatory of minotaurs."

10) "Watch out, Match Game '78---this is the documentary that uncovers all the behind-the-scenes secrets you never wanted known!"


Desperate Measures Just Before Lunchtime

There's not much oxygen under my desk, oh no. But that's where I'm staying today, and that's where I'll be if you need me. I've taken the phone under it with me, so I can answer it and even have a conversation if I keep my voice low. I figure I can come back up for air at about six or so. And then I may just drive right to the airport and fly home to Michigan where I belong.

Oh, why did I decide to become a financial planner, and why did I agree to come to Los Angeles to handle the legal end of the bigger accounts? The second I saw Flitsy Little go by in the hallway six weeks ago, I should have made a run for it. Flitsy, star of three crappy teen films and "co-producer" of her first excruciating pop album, Loving You Is Like Homework. She was in Reggie's office for so long that day.....they talked for two hours as he sat there with that smile plastered on his face....and then this morning the call came. Fingers pointing in my direction. Hushed whispers about unknown things. Sad, pitying looks into my office. My boss needing to "talk" to me before the day was through. It was then that I knew the worst was headed my way. And without any proof of what it really was, I got right under my desk, and if I die here from dehydration, then so be it. But I did not, I repeat, I DID NOT GO TO LAW SCHOOL AT NIGHT FOR FOUR YEARS AND THEN SPEND THREE MORE AND EIGHTY-FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS OF MY SAINTED MOTHER'S RETIREMENT MONEY GETTING AN M.B.A. FROM ONE OF THE FINEST BUSINESS SCHOOLS IN ALL OF EUROPE SO THAT I COULD SPEND AN AFTERNOON LISTENING TO FLITSY LITTLE'S IDEAS ABOUT SETTING UP A COMPANY THAT WILL MANUFACTURE APPAREL BASED ON HER DUMBASS TEENAGED IDEAS FOR CLOTHING DESIGNS, TO BE CALLED 'FLITSY'S MAX' OR 'THE EDGE OF FLITSY' OR WHATEVER DAMN THING SHE WANTS TO CALL IT BECAUSE SHE SAW A NICE SHIRT AT NORDSTROM LAST TUESDAY AND SUDDENLY DECIDED THAT OF COURSE SHE HAD ALL KINDS OF GREAT NOTIONS FOR EVERYTHING FROM HANDBAGS TO SKIRTS TO THE KIND OF HAIR NETS CAFETERIA WORKERS WEAR, SO BY ALL MEANS COME INTO MY OFFICE, FLITSY, AND TELL ME ALL ABOUT YOUR 'VISION' AND SHOW ME YOUR MEAD NOTEBOOK WITH THE FIRST TWO PAGES HALF-FILLED WITH INCOMPETENT PENCIL DOODLES OF JEANS FROM ONE FIFTEEN MINUTE BRAINSTORMING SESSION WITH YOUR SKANKY FRIENDS AND OH WON'T YOU PLEASE TELL ME HOW YOU ALONE WILL RE-DEFINE FASHION FOR A GENERATION OF GUM-CHEWING GIRLS SO BRAINLESS THEY'LL SPEND THEIR BABYSITTING MONEY ON ANY SLAVE LABOR-PRODUCED CRAP THAT HAS YOUR SUSPICIOUSLY LARGE-CHESTED IMAGE ON IT.

I hear my co-workers giggling. I'm sure they'll mock me for the rest of my life for this. A forty-three year old man, a respected professional with a wife and children, a decorated veteran of the first Gulf War, hiding under his desk. But I am not exposing my head, not for the world. What Flitsy can't see, she can't talk to. And if she does spot me somehow under here, well, if I have no ears, I can't hear her speak, right? Right? I'll take the ears right off, I really will. Watch me. Watch me.


I Still Haven't Even Really Mastered The Eleven Point Turn


1) The TERRIFIC parking lot I just saw is ENORMOUS, you could learn to parallel park all over the place if you wanted. The LOUSY one I had to learn in was tiny and bumpy, and so crowded that you felt guilty for blocking a few spaces for even fifteen minutes.

2) The GREAT parking lot I saw has a pizza place and a Starbucks if you want to take a break from learning how to parallel park. The CRAPPY one I had to learn in only had one of those creepy Hostess thrift stores where you could get Wonder Bread or something for half price.

3) The AMAZING parking lot doesn't have the Wolfman in it. The SORRY one I remember, it was like the Wolfman was everywhere that I and Mr. Frankel looked. As soon as Mr. Frankel saw him in the rearview mirror, he dove out of the car and tried to grab one of the pylons he was using to teach me how to parallel park, thinking maybe he could use it as a defensive weapon, but the Wolfman pounced on him in a second, and Mr. Frankel didn't have a chance. As his blood gushed out and flowed across the parking lot, the Wolfman came right at me, and I tried to move to my right, toward a nearby Kia Sedona, but the Wolfman anticipated this and his claws swiped at my arm with awful success, the wound nearly killing me immediately. Only the sudden appearance of a rival Wolfman, who leapt upon his foe from behind, sinking his teeth into the first Wolfman's neck, saved my life, and I crawled a quarter mile into a ditch, passing out before someone finally found me, raving and near death.

4) The EXCELLENT parking lot has some loose trash cans in it that you can use if you don't have pylons to mark your parallel parking space. The STUPID one I learned in not only didn't have any trash cans, there were all kinds of buildings around it so people could stare at you and make fun of you if you did something wrong like knocking over one of the pylons, and I'm sure they did, even though I couldn't actually hear them.

5) The FANTASTIC parking lot has probably never seen two police officers beheaded by the rival Wolfman in a grisly November parking lot attack, leading to a desperate, all-out, six-day police offensive on the rival Wolfman, who turned out to be even spookier and nastier than the first Wolfman and only went down in a hail of silver bullets after mangling three more people in the cruddy parking lot I learned to parallel park in. Plus the nice one has good drainage, so your driving lesson would never be cancelled because of giant puddles which make it impossible to teach anyone how to parallel park.

6) About half of the swell parking lot doesn't have the nice thick white stripes I like to see spaces painted with, which isn't very good. So I'm still undecided as to which one is technically better. All I know is, if I had to give one award for Best Lot To Teach Parallel Parking In, that Starbucks really tilts the scales.


Streamers. We forgot streamers. Maybe that was it.

It's sad how some people always have to ruin everything. I mean, I thought everyone was having a nice time on Tuesday afternoon. Out of the kindness of their heart, our bosses at Advanced Insertion Technologies, Inc. threw a delightful retirement party for Ned, the sweet man from down in Fold Checking. I hadn't said much to him over the years, but after all, though he worked for A.I.T. for forty-eight years, I've only been there six months! Anyway, everyone seemed to agree that Ned was a very good fold checker and hadn't caused any problems at all, ever. Mr. Tibbits went to the front of the room after the balloon animal guy did his thing and he congratulated Ned on forty-eight years of fold checking, and then he pushed Play on the VCR he'd set up, and there was a little video someone had assembled from the surveillance tapes over the years, footage of Ned going all the way back to the late fifties showing him checking folds on outgoing tagboard before putting the pieces into a Brown Container D, again and again, probably hundreds of thousands of times as time marched on and he matured before our very eyes! I thought it was certainly a nice gesture to make that tape. Then Mr. Tibbits gave Ned one last fold to check there at the front of the room, and Ned took it and checked it and put it into a Brown Container D, and then Mr. Tibbits asked him to say a few words, and there was a strange couple of seconds of silence, and then Ned very unpleasantly (and ungratefully) opened his mouth, cocked his head to the ceiling, and let out a piercing, agonized scream of all-encompassing regret and failure that went on and on and on into horrible infinity, him just standing there and screaming like a crazy man in loss and abject sadness for what might have been as he stared into the depths of the Brown Container D and realized his life had been a total waste of time, a cruel joke that would finally and mercifully end only with his unnoticed death sometime in the near future, a death marked only by memories of strangers who would note that he was pretty good with the folds and then move sluggishly on through their own days of quiet desperation. This happened right in the middle of the retirement party! How rude! We all started to file out of the kitchenette, embarrassed, and Ned kept going and going, and the last anyone saw of him he was still standing beside the coffee machine as his howls leapt up from the depths of his soul. When Barry opened the office on Wednesday, he said he could still hear Ned yelling, even through the ceiling, so we all decided to just not go into the kitchenette for a while. Now you tell me, how is Ned's behavior a good way to thank the bosses for throwing such a swell shindig with cake and a balloon animal guy and at least six people, not including myself, invited from down the hallway? Can you believe that guy?


Is Green Lantern Looking For Something Part Time?

Put yourself in my shoes: You're a superhero doing daily battle against the forces of darkness, staving off the world-dominating overtures of everyone from Dr. Prospectus to the Sinister Lemon People of Clavius-9, and you decide to take on a sidekick, who seems promising turns out to be more of a burden than anything else. So what do you do? I should go down in history as the first superhero ever to let his sidekick go because of poor job performance? That's what I want to be remembered for? But I just don't know what else I can do. Yesterday, I found myself in another life and death tussle with The Robot Bastard (not a great name I know, but he chose it himself, and it's pretty fitting), trapped in his lair by his fiendish henchmen, dodging bullets and kicking away flying fists of fury, and here comes RockBoy jumping down onto the scene at just the right moment to take the heat off me a little. Bang, he does exactly what he's supposed to do: shrink himself into a rock. There he is, a rock about the size of a volleyball, poised for an offensive in the middle of the action, so I run over to him to prepare to hurl him at four onrushing evildoers, thus ending the fight. And it happened again. I couldn't budge him to save my life. "You made yourself too heavy again!" I yelled at him. "I can't pick you up!" I was literally unable to move him three inches.

"I can't help it," RockBoy said. "This is the weight I get when I shrink."

Meanwhile, more bullets are flying at me, and in my capacity as The Lone Adhesive, I'm able to jump onto the nearest wall and stick to it just long enough for them to pass me, and then I cling to the back of one of the henchmen and start whaling on him, my arms completely free to strike blow after blow since my legs adhere to his waist perfectly. And I can tell that everyone's impressed, even The Robot Bastard. But without a nice big rock to throw at some people, my advantage was clearly running out. I looked down occasionally from the action to see RockBoy grunting with effort, trying to lighten himself somehow. No dice. By some complete miracle, The Robot Bastard developed some kind of kink in his wiring and he started overheating like he does a lot and we got away, RockBoy returning to his human form and running like hell. And that's the situation I find myself in today. I'm sorry, but the kid is without value. This morning we went through some exercises to try to make him useful, but he's only been able to shave off about ten ounces off his total weight when he shrinks himself, which makes him still about twice as heavy as he needs to be. I swear to God, it broke my heart to see his little eyes staring at me sheepishly from the rock-like material that his body had become, but I am not a charity. I have work to do. So I'm writing a letter of dismissal and I'm going to need you to sign it. And I need you to give it to him too, because let me tell you, I have no stomach for that kind of scene. I remember when I was managing a Foot Locker and I had to let some girl go because she was late all the time, and it just tore me up, she started this one's on you. I'll give you forty dollars to make it happen. You can do me this one solid, can't you?


You Know What Else Is Not Good? Jujyfruits.

Look, I know that summer is the time when you relax your cinematic standards just a little bit, because what it's all about is just going out on a Friday night with your friends, kicking back in the air conditioning with a tub of popcorn and a soda, and turning off your brain for a while. But I would be remiss in my responsibilities if I didn't express my honest opinion about what I see at the movies. With that in mind, I just can't bring myself to say a single positive word about the new Exit Awareness theme music now playing before every film at Regal Cinemas. This derivative piece of uninspired electronica may certainly have an effect on you; its production values are top notch, of course, surpassing even the trend-setting Exit Awareness music that United Artists Theaters gave a grateful public in 2003, but looking for the nearest exit will not be foremost in your mind when you hear it---and isn't that what it's all about in the end? As if it weren't bad enough that the male voice reminding moviegoers to spot that all-important door is mundane and unenthused (Gerard Del Toro from the Hayden Planetarium's closing time announcement; this guy has done good work before, but he's phoning it in here), the music possesses a tragic lack of urgency, as if its message were of no particular importance to anyone and it was just there to pass the time before the show starts. If you're looking for a piece of film that truly conveys the drama of making sure you know your way out of the auditorium in case of fire, check out the few minutes before anything playing at K-B Cinemas, where a cartoon fox and hound delightfully sniff out the nearest exit to the strains of a catchy yet cerebral piano and trumpet piece written by new age powerhouse Shadowfax. It's a sleeper and a keeper.
Next week, I'll review the latest crop of Screen Sayings at the Uptown Twin Theaters and give you the real backstory on the new Anderson Dental ad slide. (Hint: Your ticket stub may not be worth 25% off a cleaning after all!)