Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Bad Commercial

I enjoy bad TV commercials. The kind where you can sit around and drive trucks in and out of the logic they have set up. Sometimes the commercial is just dumb and other times it leaves me with questions. When I can sit around and dissect something that is only on for 30 seconds, it means I have too much free time. Still...

Yellow Book Commercial.
A woman is getting married. Looking in the mirror as she tries on her wedding gown, she notices that on the small of her back is the name Mike. It's a tattoo that is hard to miss for it's size and cursive font. It's the future in this commercial, so she goes to a wall sized visual phone book and looks up tattoo removal. A man comes on and asks, "What can I do for you?"
The girl turns around and shows the name tattooed on her back.
The man asks, "So. When do you marry Mike?"
The girl says, "Umm. Tom."
Let me get this straight, you are getting married to a guy named Tom, and this just now has become an issue? How much does this new guy really know about you? You have a guys name scrawled out in some 12 year old girl's Myspace font right above your ass and he never mentioned anything to you? Either you have not had sex yet, he hasn't done you doggy style or he is the biggest idiot that ever lived.
"Hey. When I was pounding you from behind last night, I couldn't help but notice another guys name looking back up at me."
"So what? You got to fuck me, right?"
"Well, yeah. But were getting married and I thought it might be nice if you at least don't wear a backless gown so as you walk down the isle toward me at the altar, everyone sitting down doesn't see another guys name above your ass when you walk past them. Cause that sorta makes me look like an idiot."
"Whats the big deal, George?"
"It's Tom!"
At least this is the back story I think happened.

Terminix commercial.
We see a bug climbing over rubble. A voice over tells us, "experts say that bugs could someday rule the world. Not if Orkin can help it!"
The commercial ends on this stark visual; a twisted blackened tree stands by a road that leads to a modern city in ruins. The very last thing we see is the Terminix van, a contrasting white, driving toward the fallen city.
What kind of moron decides to keep killing bugs after an apocalypse? The world is gone, Dude! We don't need a bug man anymore. You have gas in a clean van. Let it go, man. Let the bugs go.
Is it comforting to know that in the event of society being destroyed you will still have a guy out there killing bugs for as long as he can? There is commitment and then there is crazy. This is crazy. What Terminix is telling you is, our people are so brain washed that even if the world goes boom, we will still do our job. I don't know if I want a guy like that in my house. Do you?

I drive a lot and my other joy is the bad radio commercial. Kaiser seems to just pour these things out. They don't run it anymore and I like to think it's because someone pointed out the flaw in it. Basically, the commercials tells you how much they care about their patients and how much they believe in prevention over anything else. It ends when the comforting female voice says, "We believe laughter really is the best medicine."
God damn! Here is a giant HMO telling you that they think laughter is literally the best medicine. How nice. Don't go to the emergency room if something is wrong, go to a comedy club instead and be sure to laugh really hard!
Laughter is seldom thought of as a medicine. Laughter is pretty fun and very enjoyable, but I don;t think it cures things like cancer and broken legs.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Tattoo You?

Have you heard this story? A woman wakes up after surgery and finds the doctor has placed a temporary tattoo on her in a decidedly private place. It's true. Now of course she is suing the Doctor, the Hospital and maybe even Miami Ink.
She goes in for a herniated disc. She is on her stomach for the surgery. The next day, her husband comes to the Hospital to help her dress. Thats when they discover a red rose tattoo below her tan line and well bellow her navel. Got the place in mind?
Thats not the best part yet.
The Doctor doesn't understand what the big deal is!
He has done this to other patients and is thought of as a fun loving jovial guy. I bet. He sounds like a riot. What woman wouldn't want a man that waits till your knocked out before turning you over and adding a little welcome mat to your front door? Sounds great.
He doesn't understand what the big deal is? I don't want to go in for some simple operation and come out with a scar and a barb wire tattoo around my arm. (Thats like a members only jacket from the 80's that doesn't come off people. Barbed wire around the bicep; very 90's.)
The woman freaked thinking someone had come into her room while she slept after the surgery. The police were called, she was checked out for any signs of rape. It was only when the Doctor heard about everything going on did he walked into the situation and explain.
Oh no, it wasn't anything like that at all. You see, after the operation I simply rolled her over, opened her hospital gown and applied a temporary tattoo to my patient. Thats not weird. Is it?
Yes. It's a little weird.
Now the hospital is asking if any other patients of this Doc have had this happen and did they also feel violated. Cha-ching! I know I would feel violated! Bring on the lawyers.
Seriously though. You go to the hospital and find the Doctor who operated on you put a tattoo on you? "Hey, check this out. I got some Japanese fish tattooed on my arm in the hospital. That is so not what I went in for!"
It's the Doctors reaction that is the funniest. His whole, whats the big deal attitude? really Dude? You don't get that? You put a red rose tattoo right above a woman's vagina after you operated on her! In the history of creepy, this gets its own special award for being creepy.
A lot of people get tattoos when they go through something traumatic. After this woman wins, I wonder if she will get a tattoo of the Chinese symbol for money?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

McDonald's, Gay Rights and a Very Happy Meal Indeed

OAK BROOK, Ill. — A Christian group that opposes same-sex marriage launched a boycott of McDonald's because of the fast-food chain's support for the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.

McDonald's probably gets sued the way you and I breathe. You also can't prevent everything with a warning label. After the coffee spilling incident, thats how most companies get out of being taken to court. How would you handle this one? What warning label do you put on the side of a Big Mac so people will be able to handle gay rights? So what. They gave some money to gay people. It's not like McDonald's started putting butt plugs as toys in happy meals.
"Daddy, this looks like what you and Mommy keep under your bed!"
It's not like the Golden Arches are suddenly a double rainbow and everyone wears assless chaps to work in the Playland.
"Who wants to jump into the room of colored balls with me?"
They just gave some money to a group that helps Gay Business owners out.

Warning: A portion of the money you have spent with us today will go toward making leather straps and rainbow flags in San Francisco. If you are closed minded and eat here often enough that this is an issue for you, try Burger King instead. But have you seen their guy? His face is plastic, never speaks and has a cape. I don't know what he's selling, but I wouldn't want my kid around that robo-homo. Would you? Stay with us. Get fat. I bet you think gay people look at you and this bothers you. Have you seen yourself? You have eaten at McDonald's three times a week for the last twenty years. No one wants to fuck you, Dude. If you can't get a girlfriend, then a man who spends money on make-up and gym memberships is not going to give you a second look other than to say, "Ahoy! Check out that beached whale getting his order super sized!" Not eating with us will help you and let's face it, Were McDonald's. We can loose the entire nation of Canada and Americans will still line up at our drive thrus to hand us billions to give them health trouble. It's cool. Take your business else where if you like. We will be fine homophobes.

That would be my warning label idea. Probably not McDonald's.
Eventually the protesters will just go back in. Maybe they will realize that for years they have been saying to a teenage boy behind the counter one of the gayest sentences ever uttered; "I want a Big Mac with everything on it."
Really. Is there a more gay phrase?
That has to be code in at least one bar around here. If not at a bar, then it has to mean something in the craigslist personals. By being homophobic, they are actually going to do something good for their bodies. Well, you can't have everything. Nutritional awareness and a healthy work out program for the body, or hatred for those who are different eating away at your soul like the cancer it is?
Tough call. You know, you could have it all. Crazy, I know! What if you stopped eating at McDonald's, worked out and opened your mind? Too bad there is no machine at the gym to work on that. Actually, it's not a machine. It's called the steam room.
Build up to it. Sit with a towel around you for five minuets next to a naked gay man. Next week, try seven minuets. Eventually you can build your tolerance up to not giving a shit what gay people do at all and you can still get a milk shake every once in a while. But don't say Milk Shake while you are in the steam room. It could result in a misunderstanding and we would have to start all over again.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

First Amendment. Good-Bye.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Hope you recognized that. It is the first amendment. Commonly thought of as the right to free speech. In the grocery store, two men were talking. One of them turned to me and said, "Excuse me Sir. Is the first amendment the one that is about free speech?"
"Yes it is." I answered.
I felt a little dumb. I knew there was more to it than free speech so I went home and googled it. Sure enough, there is indeed a lot more to it.

-The government cannot legally tell you to belong to any religion and it cannot legally tell you to not belong to a religion.
Seems straightforward enough. The idea, so we have been told in the writings of those who crafted the constitution, was to keep religion separate from government. Remember, these were people from Europe. They had seen what hundreds of years of religious dispute could do. They also thought anyone should be free to worship as they please. Today, we have the office of faith based initiatives. Religion in government. Any time anyone asks me what is so bad about faith and politics mixing I point to two events every Christian, Jew and Muslim believes happened.
1. The crucifixion of Jesus.
2. 9/11
So we lost that part of the first amendment already.

-It then goes on to tell us we have the rights as Americans to say what we want, that the press is free from propaganda, and we can gather in groups for whatever causes we believe in.
Well, you pretty much can say what you want. Thats what the Internet is for. It is also a very easy way for "them" to keep track of "us." It's not like we lost the right to free speech, we have just lost privacy. But thats the fourth amendment. It got killed when the president started telling congress he could wiretap anyone he deemed needed wiretapping and didn't have to tell a court, a judge or congress what and why he was doing it.
But I digress.
The press, under the careful yet sometimes ham fisted control of Bush, got lazy. They took what the White House said at face value and didn't ask the follow up questions they should have. Intimidation, no comment, lies and half truths pushed the story the way the administration wanted it told.
Under Bush, conservative radio hosts were paid by the department of education to say how good they thought Bush was doing with education in Black Communities. Retired generals hired by the TV news to be "experts" were given Intel by the Pentagon they wished to disseminate.
In other words, the free press became a tool of the government to tell the story the way they wanted. You can't trust anything in the mainstream media as impartial and you can't trust anything on the Internet as fact.
Anyone who has been to a protest in the last ten years knows that you cannot simply demonstrate in front of the leader who is there to speak. The police set up what is called, free speech zones. These are small caged areas out of view of any of the intended targets of the protesters.
A free press and the right to peaceably assemble; gone.
Whats left? The right to petition the government with redress to grievances. Yup. You can still write a letter that starts out, You Bastards!
We still have that America. You can still send an e-mail to an elected official.

Republican Song

OK, it's Florida. No one should be surprised that anything shocking and political comes out of that State anymore. It would be one thing if it was a Republican billboard. It's not. It was put up by one man with a mission, Mike Meehan. Among other things, Mr. Meehan wants to warn the good people of American that voting for a Democrat has dire consequences. What better way to show that then using 9/11. An attack, for the record, that Bush ignored all warning signs about.
But thats not really what this tasteless Billboard turns out to be. It's an add for his website. A website that exists so you can listen to and buy a copy of his song. I always thought if the Republicans had a song it would be a march. You know, something with a goose step rhythm to it. I haven't listened to it, but here are some of the lyrics I got from his page:

The Democrat secular progressive move,
political correctness is killing us too.
They want to take the money from the hard workin man,
and give it to the lazy folks that don't give a damn.

You can see now why he went with the twin towers instead of just putting these words up on a Billboard. It's a commercial for his song. Thats it. Thats all it is. He using 9/11 to get people to his site so they can buy his undoubtedly shitty little tune. Oh, and the guy is no genius when it comes to grasping foreign affairs either. On CNN, he said, "I believe 9/11 could of been prevented if we had a Republican president at the time."
You fucking moron, we did!
He also went on to say that Clinton, should of done more to catch Osama. Yeah. Like the time we bombed a milk factory with 40 something cruise missiles and the Republicans screamed, he is diverting attention away from Monica Lewinsky! You mean like that?
Turns out, Clinton was going after Osama. He also did something Bush has yet to do, catch anyone who plotted a terrorist attack. All the people who participated in the first attack on the world trade towers, were found, tried and convicted where they now sit in prison for their crimes today.
After thinking about this for awhile, here is the Billboard response I would put up next to Mr. Meehans commercial:

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Irony is a Cluster Bomb

Irony is like a cluster bomb. Sometimes the exact people you agree with become the very people hurt by the joke. I don't always have to get the joke to get that it is a joke too. Understand?
What I am talking about is the cover of The New Yorker. Obama and his wife have been given every cartoon fear the right thinks about them in a cover illustration meant to demonstrate how ridiculous those fears are.
Anyone old enough to remember when All In the Family was on TV? It was a show about a loud mouth, racist man who was watching his world change and lashed out in cruel words rather than be part of that change.
It was a comedy. It was an ironic comedy.
It was meant to demonstrate how ignorant Archie Bunkers mentality was. His character said some truly awful things. The kind of things that would get a network sued now days. In fact, when Cartoon Network began to air them again, they had to put up a disclaimer. In one generation, the comedic tool of irony was destroyed in the name of Political Correctness.
It's not good enough to say, that is dumb. It's not always enough to simply say, they use bad words. You can't always tell people what is dumb or bad.
But you can show them.
Irony has always been a dangerous tool. Either stand-up, illustrator or author, it has a way of back firing on you.
Tom Sawyer is considered an American classic. However, every few years a school makes the news for trying to ban it because the N word appears in it. Thats the thing with irony and truth; you have to actually use the words of the people you want to make fun of. You have to hope your audience is smart enough to understand you don't mean those things.
Tom Sawyer was considered trash when it was published. Not because it had the N word in it, but because it was written as people spoke out in the street. Language that was course and unrefined was put into the dialogue. People thought it was a scandal that an author would resort to actually writing the way people spoke. Imagine that.
It became a work of art because later generations understood that Twain captured a time in America as it really was. Racist thoughts and all.
The cover of the New Yorker might not be funny to you, but I can tell that it was meant as a joke. Twain was just telling the truth and he landed in trouble. Archie Bunker was a comedic device designed to demonstrate how ignorant his thinking really was to a nation bleeding with change. The cover of the New Yorker is an attempt to show how foolish all those rumors about Obama really are. Thats all.
Maybe it's a failed joke, but the audience it was intended for are the same ones voting for him. Ah Liberals. Once again we create our own issues and waste time on them. Once again we have proven to be the good little self deputized thought police that Orwell envisioned. Instead of going after all the failed old ideas coming from McCain, lets worry about offending ourselves.
Great idea!

Show Biz

Ever since Last Comic Standing aired, I have been waiting for my check. It's not a huge amount of money, but it's money I earned that hasn't arrived yet. Larry "Bubles" Brown also appeared on the same show with me. He recommended I call a guy in the local AFTRA office. I did. He gave me the name of a woman in L.A. Just as I was about to call, Robert Mac, who also appeared on one episode called me. He told me the woman I was about to talk with would tell me that I would have to prove I was a professional comedian by sending a resume for me to get paid. Amateurs did not get paid.
I see.
Dear fellow comedians working your way up the chain. This is how it is. It never stops and it never goes away. One dick leaving the scene is replaced with a bigger one. This kind of petty, self-esteem diminishing, passive aggressive excuse for doing business never stops. The money gets better and the stakes higher, but this kind of petulant, we didn't know you were a professional shit, never goes away until you are famous enough to surround yourself with people who tell you all your choices are correct. How else do you explain Eddie Murphy making, Meet Dave?
The woman in the AFTRA L.A. office called me back today. She asked for a web site and if I had anything on it that proved I was a pro? Ah, there is the first video clip of me being introduced on Comedy Centrals, Live at Gotham. Does that count?
Yes, she tells me, that will work. Then she lets me know that the Producers will now have seven days to scrutinize my "claim" of being a professional. If they find that I am, I will finally get a check for appearing on the most rigged show since the Bush 04 election. If they decide I am not a pro, there by saving the show enough money to buy lattes for all the A.P.'s on one special day, then at least I still have the experience of standing next to Bill Bellamy.
This could be a whole new reality show to pitch; Trying to get paid from appearing on Last Comic standing. Each week, we watch as another comic gets kicked in the self-esteem one more time by being asked if he is a pro or not after 15 years. Then, he has to go through hoop after flaming hoop to get the carrot at the end of the stick.

Not gonna fly

ALBUQUERQUE - John McCain says the troop increase strategies used in Iraq should also be applied to Afghanistan, and that he knows more than Barack Obama about "how to win wars."

McCain has told a town hall crowd in Albuquerque, N.M., that the U.S. military effort in Iraq is working. He argues a similar approach — more troops, more counterinsurgency programs, and more coherent military organization would arrest the growing violence in Afghanistan.

The Republican nominee-to-be charges his Democratic opponent, Obama, is offering misguided military plans for the region before he's even set foot in the country.

McCain says more U.S. troops should be sent to Afghanistan, particularly the southern part of the country where the Taliban is strongest.

First off, McCain doesn't know more about how to win wars. Obama was 6 when McCain was shot down over Vietnam. Not a war I would bring up when trying to prove I know how to win one. Please, no passive aggressive e-mails about McCain is a national hero. No one is disputing his service to America under unimaginable conditions. General Wesley Clark did say in an answer to a direct question that, "being shot down does not qualify anyone to be President."
That doesn't seem like such a horrible point to make. Especially if you are using Vietnam on your resume to be President and your counting it as a win.
How about McCain's revolutionary idea on how to win in Afghanistan? You know, send more troops! Why does the Taliban have any strong hold in that country after 7 years of being there? Oh thats right, troops were pulled away from Afghanistan and the search for Bin Laden to invade a country that had nothing to do with 9/11. Perhaps if we allowed the military to conclude operations in Afghanistan, like all the commanders on the ground said we should do, then we wouldn't need to think of Taliban attacks as seasonal. So even though the military has been stretched to the breaking point and units in the field that have been told they are going home have had their tours extended three and four more months now, McCain wants to send more US Troops into a country where the only thing that has changed since America took control 7 years ago is that heroin exports have gone up more than 100%.

Monday, July 14, 2008

All In Our Heads

IndyMac is open for business today. If you don't know who they are or why it's a big deal that they are open, then you are lucky. They are a bank that specialized in mortgages for credit challenged individuals. The next time someone on the right says we should not bail out people who are loosing their homes because they got themselves into the mess, remind them of IndyMac. The government just stepped in to bail out a business that got it's self into trouble with questionable practices.
The federal government locked the doors Friday afternoon. No one could get their money. It is the second largest financial institution failure in the history of America.
Thats really saying something when you factor in the great depression and the 80's disaster with Savings & Loans.
Accounts $100,000 or less are insured by the Federal Government. Anything over the $100,000 mark, and you might get half of that. Might.
Last week, Phil Gramm, senior advisor to the John McCain election, was quoted as saying that we are not in a recession. In fact, he said it was all in our heads by saying we are in a "mental recession" and America has become a "nation of whiners." Good to know that McCain is surrounding himself with the same reality based group of experts that Bush had on the payroll.
I don't know if Gramm is aware that we just had the second largest collapse of a bank in America or that gas prices have risen faster in the last eight years than at any other time in our history. I don't think any of this is in our heads. Do you?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A Car Accident

I have a day job. I like health care and I hate the "road."
The other day, I am in the normal routine. A member and friend was sitting in my office talking to me. Then, as they say in novels, there was a great crashing noise! Any chance to break up the regular day with the promise of something that starts out with, there was a great crashing noise, I'm going with the great crashing noise story.
Thats what it was!
A smashup like I use to envision with my matchbox cars as a kid. Just a little past the intersection, a SUV was on it's back. Black, shiny, like a beetle upside down, broken window glittering on the pavement around it.
I ran directly toward it.
It only occurred to me latter that this had just happened. We literally heard the accident and now, seconds latter, here was the result.
After thinking about my boy scout reaction, I realized more than anything that I was just fascinated. My first impression was how still everything was. I never thought that about a car correct side up. It seemed like it should radiate cartoon like lines or something to imply the action that just took place. It didn't. Being upside down was evidence enough of what happened.
I bent down and placed my palm on the passengers door. It was hot. It had been in the eighties most of the day. Any car would feel hot if you laid your hand on it. This whole thing was so out of the ordinary that every normal reaction seemed heightened, reinforced by how not ordinary this was.
I tried the handle. It didn't budge. The roof was crushed slightly into the frame of the door. I went to the back door next. It opened. Everything was upside down. Seat belts hung in the air useless. The driver, a man whose name I never got, was on all fours crawling out. I remember not smelling anything. No gas, no engine fluids, nothing. I thought, that makes it safe. Right?
I looked around to see if there was anyone else inside the car. Nope. Then I backed away to the curb to see the man who just crawled out. His expression was human. Everything I have come to think of as mellow dramatic, eyes wide and mouth open in shock, this guy was doing. But I realized that what has made them so mellow dramatic is that I have only seen the expression on actors faces. I can't remember the last time I was around a situation where people made this face for real. This was real. This wasn't an episode of Law & Order.
His eyes were lost. You could tell he was getting all this information. It was going in, but he hadn't reacted to it yet. He was in shock. There was too much to process. People were yelling at him, "Are you OK!?"
No reaction. Just blinking.
A fire truck was pulling up. They were out of the truck and rushing to the upside down car at an impossible pace. A firemen yelled, "Don't move your head!" I assume he was talking to the driver. I thought, that is a sentence that wouldn't bring you comfort if it was a cop yelling it.
And that was that. He was unhurt. Not a scratch on him.
He had tried to beat the light. In doing so, he caught the edge of another cars rear bumper moving through the intersection. This seemed to abruptly pull his front tires in one direction. Being a small SUV, it was top heavy. True to all warning reports, it flipped over. The front door guard who saw it all told me latter the car flipped twice.
I felt like a little boy again. Is that strange? Like a lot of kids, I had matchbox cars and hot wheels, growing up. I honestly played with them a lot in a sandbox we had in the back yard. Isn't that sweet? Can't you just picture it? Me, in a tree shaded back yard, sitting in a sandbox making speeding engine noises and holding shinny little cars. They were made with actual metal back then. You could feel their weight and the sun made them warm when you picked them up. The wheels were real rubber too. None of this all plastic shit like now days. That made the cars more tangible to me. They had real weight. Real presence. The fine detail stood out. It wasn't blurred like it came out of some mold in a factory with the small parts not properly cut out. Even though it did. The molds were better then I guess.
I spent many summer days sitting there staging accidents on mountain roads. I would dig the sand into piles with a little shovel our father had left there for us. Once in a pile, I would use the side of my hand to smooth out roads that followed the contours of my pretend mountains. The sand that I uncovered was still cool to the touch. It had been hidden from direct sun by the benefit of it's depth. Using my hand to carve out the roads in a long slow gesture and feeling the cooler sand take shape under my palm was the most supremely satisfying feeling ever. I would make and remake these roads for hours.
You couldn't push the cars along the sand roads though. The sand was too loose and the wheels sunk in. I had to hold the cars just above the surface and pretend they were headed toward each other. It was going to be a catastrophe. On these mountain roads, twisting and turning, you had to be careful. It wasn't the accident I was interested in. It was the change from ordinary to extra so. Thats what every kid wants to see. Thats why all modern super hero movies end on a city street with spectacular collateral damage. The wanton destruction of buildings and cars is cool, but I think what we all like is how exactly opposite that scene is to our daily lives. Same thing with this car accident outside my work. It was different.
Later, alone in the office, I felt my hand tingle. What if it had been a broken bleeding body inside instead of a confused man crawling out? I didn't want to see that. My hand tingled because touching the warm surface of the car brought the vivid memory back of playing with cars in the sandbox. I could remember how contend it made me feel when the little cars were hot from the sun. They were hot like real cars got hot. If they shared that in common with real cars, it made them more real to me. Sculpting those narrow roads really was satisfying. The texture of the sand, the flow of my hand cutting into the mound, the feeling of individual grains compressing to the shape I saw in my head and the contrast in temperature all made sense. A kind of sense, in fact, I have not found as an adult.
Strange. A car accident brings on a memory from such a slender connection. We are wired in ways that are hard to navigate. I don't mind this one though. This one brought back the childhood sensation of feeling satisfied. Can you remember the last time you felt completely one hundred percent satisfied? I can now.