The Numbers Don't Lie


1) EYES - 11 points - My eyes generally delivered the goods in April, picking out the words on distant road signs with their usual aplomb, but occasional morning blurriness makes them anything but a must-have
2) EARS - 6 points - Low talkers in Tuesday night book club continue to challenge my ears, while their jug-like appearance from rear forty-five degree angles remains a focal point for wavering self-esteem
3) ELBOWS - 2 points - Taking a hard hit on the cement after falling from my little brother's skateboard in an alcohol-related incident may cost my left one big points in future months; leave both of them out of the equation to be safe when betting on my body parts
4) LEGS - 14 points - Never in better shape, thanks to enforced climbing of Metro station staircases; the legs have yet to disappoint and you can pencil them in for May with confidence
5) FEET - 3 points - Stubborn refusal to clip toenails until sharp pains are felt upon the slightest contact with socks or flooring makes the feet a dubious proposition for the anatomical lineup
6) HANDS - 8 points - Several key drops in April (clock radio, bowl of spaghetti, half a watermelon) are leading even the most charitable of body part analysts to question my hands' age and ability
7) SECONDARY PARTS - Keep a cynical eye on my hair (3 points), which has yet to overcome its unwise April 14 encounter with the shampoo I got from the Spanish dollar store, but make way for my nose (10 points), whose breakage due to an alcohol-related incident seemed to spell months on the disabled list, but which instead has come back faster than anyone expected and whose new indentation adds a manliness factor which could rejuvenate my entire face, and as always, it's anyone's guess about ol' Mr. Dangly (4 points), pondering retirement and essentially mothballed since October, but anxious to prove itself once again if Marla from Accounts Payable stops acting like she's all that and realizes I'd be doing her a favor.


Eight Inches High and In No Mood For Nonsense

Oh, trust me, dude, you don’t want to go anywhere near that field. Seriously. Total waste of time. I went there last week. I was like you, I thought, “That field’s gotta be good, look how green it is,” and I was just flapping around killing time, so I landed on it and got all excited when I saw that I was the only bird there and it turned out to be as soft and plush as you could ever want. And big, too! Well, it was all downhill from there, let me tell you. First off, there wasn’t much of anything to eat. Seeds, zero, worms, zero. Just a few stray pretzel crumbs. Then there’s the fact that for some reason there’s a building full of losers gawking at you about a hundred feet away. But worst of all is the intrusion on your privacy in this apparent paradise. I was standing there trying to get a hold of anything edible when I hear this THWACK and I look up and this group of humans nearby who seemed to have been minding their own business suddenly starts running around like mental patients with no apparent purpose, and then some HUGE sonofabitch wearing all white comes running RIGHT AT ME at about a hundred miles an hour, trying to get to a small ball that’s falling out of the sky. Doesn’t even see me standing right there, minding my own damn business. So I flutter a few feet to the left to get out of his way before he totally steamrolls me, and the ball hits the grass in front of him, and this mysteriously causes every one of the people in the building nearby to go AWWWWWWWWW, like they had just witnessed some great tragedy. Yeah, that seems real awful, that monstrous dude not getting to the ball in time. Every bit as disturbing as, I don’t know, my struggle against STARVATION each and every day. So this gigantic freakazoid throws the ball to somebody else in white and then starts walking back past me to a spot on the grass where he had been hanging out. He looked at me and said, kind of under his breath, “Sorry about that, Mr. Bird,” and kept walking. (My name is Glen. GLEN. God forbid he should even ask.) I saw that he had the word BONDS written on his back, whatever that’s worth. Watch out for him, he’ll just start running at you out of nowhere. Not that you should even be in that field to begin with. It’s all color, all texture, no substance, and nothing but irritations. Take it from me. You want a good place to land and stretch your legs? I know it’s hackneyed and touristy, but you simply cannot beat the city dump.


The Blog = SAVINGS

We live in a magical age when nothing you were born with has to be stuck with you forever. You can change your name, get a new social security number if the one you have has three sixes in a row, and even disown your parents if you feel like really putting forth the effort. So why should you be stuck with the same default facial expression all your life?

Yes, everyone has a default facial expression, and now, through the miracle of cosmetic surgery, you can have a new one for as little as twenty-eight thousand dollars! Through this blog only, Dr. Herbert Blockington of Mumbler’s Pipe, Alaska is offering to alter your visage to any one of FIVE exciting default facial expressions to improve your life by up to forty percent. Here are your options:

* Bemused humility!
* Contented complacency!
* Mild surprise!
* Creepy secrecy!

And, for a limited time only,

* Freakish gaiety!

Payment plans are available! And best of all, with any of the default facial expressions offered by Dr. Blockington, your mouth can default to very slightly open OR entirely closed!

But don’t trust us about this fantastic new verizon in cosmetic surgery---listen to what actual patients have said:

“People used to say I always looked vaguely amused by something. But now, after a twenty-hour procedure in which my heart literally stopped on the operating table for twelve seconds, my face has defaulted to an expression of vaguely artistic brooding, and I’ve never been happier!” - refused to give name or location

“I understand now that Dr. Blockington currently has the legal right to practice medicine under the Temporary Licensing clause described in the American Medical Association’s one-time exemptions charter, and there will be no further contact or petition from this office.” - voice on answering machine

NONE OF THIS IS A DREAM; IT’S ALL TRUE! So the next time you look in the mirror and think to yourself, “Hmm, I always seem to look like I’ve just tasted something salty,” give the blog a call and we’ll send you a stack of brochures thicker than a prize-winning Angus steak!

A recovery period of 18 to 24 months is usually required after default facial expression alteration surgery. For insurance reasons, we prefer that the procedure take place during an eerie thunderstorm with occasional ominous crashes of lightning. See our ad in Golf Digest.


Once in a Generation Comes a Visionary

WELL, Mr. Kopelson, now that you mention it, there IS something more I demand in addition to a twenty-five cent raise, and quite honestly, if my requirements are not met, I can walk right down the sidewalk to Grocery Gil’s, where a twenty-hour-a-week position has all but been secured for me by my friend Nat from the community pool, who happens to know the manager from church. As LEAD TUESDAY NIGHT CASHIER until Janice comes back from college, I believe I have, through my strenuous and efficient efforts, earned certain inalienable rights, and these rights, as I perceive them, are as follows: 1) the right to question each customer OPENLY and DIRECTLY about any and ALL of the following: A) the reason for the purchase of items which may contribute to long-term obesity, B) the reason for the purchase of items which may suggest current or past medical problems, C) the reason for the purchase of specific magazines and other reading material, D) the reason for the purchase of school supplies or sugary cereals if something about the customer suggests they do not have children of their own, E) the reason for parking farther away from the store that seems necessary if parking seems easily available closer by, F) the order in which the customer intends to complete their daily errands, G) the reason for purchasing fruits and vegetables if the season does not seem appropriate, H) the reason for purchasing implements suggesting an imminent outdoor cookout if the weather does not seem agreeable to such an event, I) the sex, nature, and disposition of any pets they might have, and where they are at the current time, J) the diet and sleeping patterns of the customer if they seem fatigued or otherwise out of sorts, K) the reason for a customer’s hurried manner, or, if lethargic, for their slowness, L) the annual income of the customer as it compares to my own, M) the origin of the customer’s visible clothing, and N) the origin of any scars, deformities, cuts, or bruises which might be visible to the naked eye. Yes, I say to you now that the time has come to SHATTER THE WALL separating customer and cashier, and I will no longer stand by mutely and passively as consumer after consumer leaves this place of business utterly unquestioned by the person who is asked to wait on them but never utter a single peep about any issue other than what form of payment they wish to use and whether paper or plastic meets their so-called “needs.” Mr. Kopelson, I tell you on this day that if a SINGLE one of these rights is denied me, all I can say is, good luck making Sylvia the lead Tuesday night cashier, and good luck especially when someone needs to do a void on a C12 produce transaction without checking the list taped to the register for the right code to use, because GOD KNOWS SHE’S NOT CAPABLE OF EVEN THAT.


Knowledge is Power

Well, boy oh boy, do I EVER owe an apology to my daughter today. Wow. Man. I mean….good GOD. If ever a situation called for an apology, this is that situation. Sometimes in life you just wind up being completely wrong about something, and this is one of those times. This is one of those times in HUGE, NEON LIGHTS. I now officially, and without any excuse for myself, take back EVERYTHING that I ever said about there being no monsters under my daughter’s bed. JESUS, was I proven an idiot on this one. So, to my daughter, all I can say today is: now I know. DAMN, do I ever know what the real story is now. YIKES. Ouch. Hooooooo, baby.


Hopping Mad and Out of Paper Towels

Dear friends:

I write this to ask you to please join me in my fight against the Face Tax, in the hopes that we can send a strong message to Congress that we will not tolerate this sort of highway robbery against citizens who want nothing more than to enjoy their own faces without being subject to financial penalties. The proposed tax is an affront to the 99.9 percent of Americans who possess a face, and grossly favors those who do not, letting them all but skate free of this officious regulation. I believe that it is the birthright of every person who abides by the laws of this country to freely wash, touch, and display their faces free of charge. But Big Government now wants to change all that. If our very faces are taxed, what’s next---the high-priced luxury items we purchase, or stays in expensive hotels, or the very property we own? Furthermore, I can envision this tax leading to the perception that faces are a bad thing, leading eventually to the outright ostracization of those who dare to walk our streets exposing them to public view. I do not want to live in a society where I wake up in the morning and the entire staff of the Internal Revenue Service is standing over my bed, peering judgmentally at my eyes, nose, and mouth as they hold their grubby hands out and say with a sneer, “Pay up, Nancyboy, it’s still there.”

Looking down at the Sacramento Bee article which has stirred in me such a riot of emotion, I see that I may be somewhat misinterpreting the facts as I first understood them, and that what has actually been proposed is something called the F.A.C.E. Tax, which is short for Federal Emergency Casualty Exclusion, which I guess would be something quite different from what I’m thinking of, yet I cannot help but still feel a rage burning within that the government would even CONSIDER a tax on our faces, and this rage inflicted upon me will almost certainly destroy my ability to concentrate on the foosball semi-finals at the rec center today, which I had every hope of winning, a victory which now, in my weakened state, seems like an utter impossibility. Thanks again, Bush White House, for ruining yet another day.


A) The first part
B) The part after that
C) The part after that
D) The part where it was all over

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Mayhem in Suite 500-H

God called me into his office today. As soon as I heard his voice on the intercom, I put my head in my hands. It is now officially two days until the entire universe and all of mankind has to be officially underway, all the galaxies and species and circles of life created, and every delay means big problems. The thing is, he knows this.

He had his feet up on his desk when I came in. “I came up with something I think has real potential,” he said. “How about….random aging?”

“Random aging?” I asked tiredly.

“Yeah,” he said. “Get this: instead of just a boring, straight linear progression of aging, people go to sleep at night having no idea what age they’re going to be the next day. So on Tuesday you might be sixteen, then on Wednesday you could be fifty, and the day after that, twenty-nine…or five….”

I just nodded throughout, then asked, as gently as I could, “Um….what would that do, exactly?”

He rolled his eyes. “It juices things up,” God said. “It gives people the unexpected. You have to think outside the box once in a while. How do you think Apple got so big? They don't settle for the ordinary.”

I gave God the courtesy of a long pause before I spoke again, as if I were seriously considering this nonsense. “I just think it’ll be, you know, too confusing,” I said.

“But that’s the genius of it,” he protested. “It makes you think, re-adapt, always be on edge.”

I shook my head. “The thing is, there’s really not any more time to be shuffling around with all that,” I said.

Now I could see God was getting perturbed. He stroked his chin like he does when he wants to seem deep. “I just think sometimes that I’m the only one around here who’s interested in lifting the quality of this project instead of just getting it done and playing it safe,” he said. “I mean, do we want a good universe that’s entertaining but forgettable, or do we want to roll the dice and push ourselves and maybe wind up with a masterpiece? Because I didn’t get into this to do okay work.”

“We all want the best possible universe,” I told him, “but given the time frame you set down…the six days is almost up. I’m still not sure why you didn’t think five or even ten years was more of an acceptable---“

“I’ll tell you why I made it six days, it was to light a fire under everyone around here,” God said. “How do you think Apple gets such results out of its staff? By setting expectations as high as they can be. Now, let me tell you a little bit more about this random aging thing, because I’m sensing that you really don’t get where this could go. Say for instance…”

I let him prattle on. Sometimes it’s best to just humor him and then he drops his crazy ideas an hour later. I’m sad, though, because I know exactly what’s going to happen. Ten days after the universe and mankind are created, he’s going to call us into his office and tell us that the point of this meeting is not to assign blame to anyone for what’s gone wrong, no no, we’re not here to make accusations, the only point of this meeting is to look at where we went awry and avoid mistakes on future projects, blah blah blah, together we can make the system work better, yada yada yada. That’s exactly how it’s going to go. I can even tell you what lame snacks he’ll have in the room to make us think there’s not going to be any finger-pointing: pretzels and baby carrots. There’s always pretzels and baby carrots.


Like Everyone Else, I Was Much Happier in the 1830s

Far be it from me to tell people how to live their lives, but when I went past the Pedestrians Crossing sign today on Schmeb Street during on my weekly walk down to the creek to rinse out my toothbrush, I almost got sick to my stomach. It’s one thing for cheesy celebrities to lose weight until they’re not much more than stick figures, but when the stick figures start doing the same nonsense, I have to cry foul. The couple on that Pedestrians Crossing sign used to be hearty, even robust, and even though their bodies were nothing to remember, being little more than black lines with a dot on top of them to signify heads, now suddenly they’ve each dropped about a third of their weight in this insane Hollywood-driven chase to be as skinny as possible. Dudes, you’re on a Pedestrian Crossing sign in the middle of Blankenship, Iowa; your careers aren’t going anywhere, so eat a sandwich or something and be normal, for God’s sake. I thought they were the end of it, but when I went into the library later on to see if that copy of Ahoy, Israelite! had been returned, the freaking silhouette over the water fountain with her finger pressed to her lips to signify silence was about two dress sizes thinner than at Christmas. So you can brush off the influences of Cosmopolitan and Teen People and General Motion Picture Information Magazine, but this has gotten insane. Do I find the faceless stick figures on these signs ten times hotter than I used to? Of course, yes, obviously. That doesn’t mean they should starve themselves to get my attention. Just my two cents.

I’ll tell you what else I’d like to see ended real soon: these spooky dreams where George Plimpton is my boss at Dunkin’ Donuts and he is NOT happy that I over-fudged the double chocolates. Seriously, I have never seen anyone so angry. He’s, like, shaking.


No More Work For Danny Aiello

Yeah, I remember when Hollywood stopped making movies. It wasn’t any great cataclysm or anything, it just kind of happened. I remember that the last movie ever put out in a theater was that Hilary Swank thing, The Reaping. Then after that, there was just nothing. People walked out of that movie with expressionless faces, put their popcorn bags into the trash, and just didn’t really feel like coming back to the cinema. The studios sort of seemed burned out, too, like they’d reached the end of it all being fun, and they simply didn’t produce any more movies. It was as if there was some sort of collective realization that things had kind of bottomed out. We were right on the verge of another summer filled with dumb sequels and such, and no one had the energy anymore. So the movies that were already in production were stopped, and the casts and crews were given Barnes and Noble gift certificates to make up for the lost pay. The multiplexes quietly closed their doors and played out their leases by selling off what concessions they had and opening the theaters up to business meetings, and movie stars started their own media companies or went off to teach acting for the theater, and some of them just plain retired. It was no great loss. There were plenty of other things to do. There was actually a quiet sense that movies had stopped at just the right time, before they reached a level that no one even wanted to think about.

They interviewed a bunch of studio executives a few years later and asked them about the movies being stopped, and they all basically just shrugged and said that people lose interest in things all the time; you get a little more mature and you grow out of things, or at some point one person says they’re too tired to come over and help make a movie, and someone else says Yeah, the vibe isn’t there today, and suddenly it’s been five days and everyone’s been doing other things and the movie’s not getting made, and the next thing you know the whole industry agrees to pack it in. I can understand that. I lost interest in Dungeons and Dragons when I turned twenty-eight. One day I realized that there were other role playing games out there (Vampire: The Masquerade is freaking awesome), and that was pretty much that. You can’t do the same stuff over and over again without eventually getting bored. Human nature.


Walking Tall

Am I happy with the way America sees me? Well, no, I’m not going to lie to you. It makes me angry sometimes. I mean, the stereotype that has grown up about our kind…you can feel it every day. Just yesterday at work, I was in the elevator on my way up to the eighth floor (The firm of Harrelson, Tripton, and Kaiserdale just moved there from the sixth) and a bunch of people crowded in, and some guy said the obvious thing, that he felt like a sardine, and then he looked at me and got all red in the face and muttered, “Sorry.” Like that’s going to make up for decades of that kind of thing. So apparently that’s what I worked my way through law school for, so I could be seen as nothing more than a slim, salty fish capable of nothing other than being packed into a small space. It’s the year 2007, and we’ve had a sardine Supreme Court nominee, a sardine Cy Young winner, and a sardine Oscar nominee for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, but you know what? Nobody cares. Nobody cares about accomplishments. They just want to pigeonhole us. I was stuck in traffic on Sunday, in the middle of a bunch of cars, all of us pressed in tight, trying to inch our way out of the right lane because of construction, and some moron yelled out, “Hey, you must be used to this kind of thing!” Yeah, that’s freaking hilarious. The worst part is that it’s all getting internalized by my kids. When we took them all camping in May and Jeremy and Jake’s tent broke and we all had to sleep in the big one together, you could feel everyone who passed by on their way to the bath house checking us out and nodding to themselves in that self-satisfied way that makes me just want to slap them, and Jake refused to sleep with us the second night because, as he put it, “I don’t want to be a joke to everybody.” I’ll tell you, that broke my heart. That’s the kind of society we live in. It’s all about labels, the easy labels. Well, guess what? Billy has a soccer game tonight and there’s only bleacher seating at the park and there’s never enough room for all the parents so sometimes the family has to squeeze in together all in one row, and I’m going to go and sit there and be proud of being a sardine, because dammit, I have something to offer this world, and if you want to look at us and only see a bunch of closely packed fish, then go right ahead. Make your jokes. It won’t be so funny when I sneak into your house later on and beat you over the head with those stupid Muppet slippers your wife bought you for Christmas. (Oh, did I go too far? Did I go too far? Huh? Never thought you’d get threatened here on the White House tour, did you? Just goes to show you, I’m tired of the nonsense. Now please, move out of my way, I’m trying to get one decent shot of the Jefferson Room before my damn camera battery dies.)


You Claim to Be Fascinated---Yet You Deceive!

Today I am excited as only a scholar on the brink of a great discovery can be excited. After five years of study, I am finally ready to give a scientific name to the psychiatric affliction which has befallen Mr. H. I call it Bacondale-Mastinger Syndrome, defined simply as the inability to distinguish everyday objects, concepts, and people from The Shining.

Mr. H’s disease first manifested itself in 2001 when he briefly confused the Vincent Price film The Fall of the House of Usher with The Shining, a not terribly disturbing mistake that he laughed off quickly. But as the months and years passed, Mr. H began to believe that every film he saw was The Shining---even Talladega Nights and Legally Blonde. One night while listening to the radio at his job as a night watchman on a beet farm, he mistook Billy Joel’s 'Uptown Girl' for The Shining. Soon after, when I asked him during one of our sessions if he had read anything good lately, he held up a copy of the tender children’s classic Tuck Everlasting and said, “Let me tell ya, this thing will scare the pee pee out of you. Haunted hotel, man under the influence of ghosts, evil hedge creatures---it’s all gold!” In May of 2004 he mistook a battery-operated can opener for The Shining, and in December of that same year he spoke of his next-door neighbor thusly: “A nice enough fella, the wife and I have eaten dinner at his house a few times, but when Scatman Crothers took that axe to the chest at the two hour mark, that’s when I knew it was a classic.” Finally, and most tragically, Mr. H was seen to weep at his daughter’s high school graduation while at the same time whispering to his wife, “Look at her, so beautiful…I just know our little The Shining is gonna go far in this life!” That very same day, he remarked off-handedly that he just wanted to read a few chapters of The Shining before heading off to the grocery store, at which point he stood at length in front of his Ford Festiva, staring at the hood intently, his eyes moving left to right and his lips moving silently, enjoying very much the scene where Jack Torrance pulls the guts out of the Snowcat, stranding he, Wendy, and Danny at the Overlook forever.

I have, sadly, long since given up hope of curing Mr. H, and he seems to have come to terms with his ailment. For a stretch of six months I used flash cards in an attempt to get him to see the difference between The Shining and everything else in the world, but his progress was only intermittent, and in the end the only thing he never confused with The Shining was the made-for-TV remake of The Shining, which he called “the worst piece of %$#@ ever made.” Yes, yes indeed. He has now begun to confuse me, his therapist, with The Shining, and until my paper for the Tottenham symposium is complete, I fear our sessions will consist mostly of Mr. H regarding me with mild curiosity and asking me again and again what Lloyd the bartender is really like, what I ate during my stay in the food locker, and whose job it was on the set to type up all those pages that said All Work And No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy. The most distressing thing about this whole situation is that yesterday I myself briefly mistook Mr. H for the 1985 Val Kilmer vehicle Real Genius. I do worry.