Thursday, November 27, 2008

Merry Hanukkah, from the White House!

The president and the first lady invited leaders of America's Jewish community for a Hanukkah reception at the White House next month.
One small problem.
The message reads that the couple "requests the pleasure of your company at a Hanukkah reception," written beneath an image of a Clydesdale horse hauling a Christmas fir along the snow-dappled drive to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Why did they let the guy who invaded the wrong country send out the Hanukkah invitations?
Actually, They didn't. Or at least they blamed it on Laura's people.
When reached for comment, Laura Bush's spokeswoman, Sally McDonough, said the White House usually prints separate cards, but in the waning days of the presidency, there had been an oversight.
"Mrs. Bush is apologetic," she said. "It is something that just slipped through the cracks."
In other words, they just don't give a fuck anymore.
It's interesting to note that the Bush White House not giving a fuck isn't that much different than the Bush White House at war. You know, when they really care about something.
Mistakes happen. Details fall through the cracks. Laura's people will take care of it.
Wait till the Easter cards go out to the Muslim leaders.


These are troubled times and the world looks for answers. Now is the time to ask yourself, What Would joe Do? Well, I can tell you. God, if there is one, sees our prayers like status updates on Facebook. I will listen! I can respond. Ask me anything. I will apply the vast storehouse of knowledge that is me to your unique and special problem. joe is not just a person or a way to think; joe is a philosophy!
So go ahead. Truly ask yourself, What Would joe Do?
Its not hit spellcheck. Am I right, people?
Maybe that explains it all? God only speaks to people who have learning disabilities. Dyslexia might of been the way of at least one scribe along the way.
And look people, if Jesus was gonna comeback he would of done it by now. God sent his only son to Earth to die for our sins. Shit! You think that isn't gonna give him issues? What are those Thanksgivings like? I mean, I still resent my dying Father for making me shovel snow for a neighbor once when I was eight.
Let me get this straight. This dudes Dad had him sent here to be murdered in a horrific way to make up for something that by definition he created when he made our nature and this is the guy who is love and forgiveness?
I don't think so.
Anyway, got a little off message there.
It will change your-life;)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Worth Our Salt

People who eat health food are always trying to get me to eat some healthy version of whatever it is I am enjoying. It's always the same pitch. "This is just as good as your chips." Or, "It tastes just like those!"
It never tastes like potato chips are suppose to taste. They know this. Thats why as a last resort they will tell you, "It doesn't taste like cardboard at all."
Bull Shit!
Now I know it tastes like cardboard. Its the same thing as a cute flirty girl at a bar whispering something the location of her tattoo and then issuing the blanket statement, "I hope you don't think I am being a tease?" Well now I do.
If you say it, you are being one. Same as if you tell me the health food store chip doesn't taste like cardboard.
It does.
In a final effort they will attempt to sell you on it's healthy properties and it's amazing flavor. Careful health food people, this is where you can drop the ball hard. For instance, I was recently asked if I wanted to try a healthy alternative to the lay's potato chips I grew up with. After we went through all the above steps mentioned it came time for that final pitch.
"It has flax seed oil to keep you regular and it has delicious spices!"
It tastes good and it's good for you!
Desperate attack.
Flax seed oil is like fiber and bran mixed together in a potent natural colon cleanser. The "spices" were the real thing, just organic varieties of peppers, oregano and paprika.
Alright, what the hell. It has tasty spices and it will help me shit. Well, thats exactly what it turns out to do perfectly; it helps you shit spices. Hot, burning on the way out spices.
Put that on the outside of the bag.
Look, if a diet rich in fast food has made things painful, this made it burn. Sorry to put that in your head people, but I am writing this as a public service.

American food has always been safe. Healthy? No. But you knew where you stood with something. The goal was always to make things look the same and taste easy.
Wonder bread.
It brings a smile from childhood to your mouth doesn't it? The real wonder is calling it food at all. They tell you on the bag that it is fortified with vitamins and minerals and you think, how can this be bad? The reason they add those vitamins and minerals is simple. To make wonder bread they have to render edible food virtually devoid of any nutritional value. So before they finish making it they have to pump artificial versions of those good things back into the bread. Umm!
What you get is a white, bland, doughy bread that is little more than a condiment delivery system.
If you had wheat bread back when I was a kid, that was excuse enough to get beat up during recess and called a faggot!
We have come along way indeed.
Then there is that other marvel of modern science I grew up with; American Cheese!
Flat, orange squares pressed out perfectly and stuck to plastic, they were a 1970's main stay in any school lunch room. Stick one of those onto a slice of wonder bread and you have yourself the quintessential American snack; grilled cheese sandwiches! Um um good! Bland, but good.
If you ever wanted more flavor, you could always add a dash of Ranch dressing. But lets not get too excited.

I think you can tell how open we our to others as a country by what food does really well. For a long time the typical kid ate American cheese sandwiches made on wonder bread and potato chips for lunch. You could just as easily use peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for this example too.
Bland? Sure. A little boring at times? Yes. But you knew what you were getting and the message to the world was easy; we will remove flavor, nutrition, taste and anything that makes you stand out to create a uniform easily digestible unit of food.
Conform to our ethnic palette cleansing!
Resistance is futile!
Then, somewhere in the 80's, salsa hit the Midwest!
Suddenly, flavor was actually flavorful! Then came curries and more exotic spices in jars with strange labels. Some of the words weren't even in American.
As immigration became an issue in our modern culture, our culture began getting alternatives to boring bland casseroles, meat-loafs and hot dogs. It was an exciting but dangerous time to be shopping for food in America. That divider bar at the grocery store wasn't just a bar anymore; it was a border!
Just exactly what was that Taco version of Hamburger Helper doing north of our border?
As I was weaning my taste buds away from ranch dressing and cheetos, the health food thing went mainstream. Now even exotic foods from different parts of the world could have the joy sucked out of them and sold to us on the merit of being good for us. Being American, we fell for it of course.
What makes something healthy now?
It's organic. That means it was grown with out pesticides or fertilizers. Most of the time.
It has added vitamins and minerals.
It has no flavor because as well all know anything that tastes good has been chemically engineered in a factory somewhere. You want something to taste good? Then you need Red Dye #5!
Funny thing is, most health food labeled "Health Food" simply isn't.
It's not made from organic sources nor is it free of added healthy sounding stuff like "vitamins" and "minerals."
In other words, were back to wonder bread, only now; it comes in Wheat!

It's not enough to just be food anymore either. If your a snack food, you gotta have a web site baby! Cheetos has a site with games, health advice for kids, a break down of the ingredients for parents and even a cheesy fact of the day. Thats where I learned that the first true cracker was made in Massachusetts! Oh sure, you can get a pun from the inside lid of a yogurt, but they don't have the graphics's a web site has.
Lets not forget the most famous American snack food ever brought down from the Heaven's for mans mass consumption. Of course I speak of; the Twinkie!
When contemplating the Twinkie, with its golden sponge cake and vanilla cream filling, it is tempting to think it is the peak of perfection. But you would be wrong my friend! The fried Twinkie is where its at!
Every culture fries food, but in America we fry just about everything to delicious perfection. There is nothing that a vat of boiling animal fat can't make better.
You want to see the great American melting pot in action?
He's the immigrant working the fry station at McDonald's.

You want to know everything about us? Go to Wendy's, Burger King, Jack in the Box or any other number of cookie cut out fast food places. What do you learn? We want it hot. We want it fast. We want it cheap. Flavor? Yeah, there is ketchup and mustard.
That was it for a long time. A side of ranch would get you looked at weird and a request for salsa might get your ass kicked as a Communist! Taste is almost a second thought to fast food. They know it will be desirable because no matter what progress they have made to coming up with healthier Whoppers and more nutritious Big Mac's, its still the fat, salt and marketing that drives us to them with open mouths like moths to a flame. We mistake speed for quality. We take flavor, any flavor and blow it up to its most basic description. Food is now spicy, hot or fiery! Lets not confuse things with talk of different peppers or types of spices from regions other than here. Too confusing! If I see flames next to it on the drive through menu then I know what I'm getting. Besides, if it gets too hot, I can just dip it in some Ranch.
Ah Ranch!
Is there nothing your pudding like consistency can't drown into submission? Maybe America isn't a melting pot. Maybe its more like a blob of ranch dressing. Everything and anything it touches is over powered by its white, friendly and mild flavor. You can put up a fight, but it will just be there, always tasty and always good with new things.
The statue of liberty shouldn't be holding a torch anymore. It should be a waitress holding a menu in one hand and a side of ranch dressing in the other. Why? We don't make anything anymore. We have become a service industry nation. We are all waiting on each other, tipping each other and secretly dropping each others orders on the floor when no one is looking.
Think what you will about this, but remember that the phrase, as good as his salt, came from Roman Guards. They were paid in salt. Might not sound like much but salt was not only a form of currency, it could preserve food for long trips. The better you were the more salt you got. Hence the phrase.
Are we worth our salt these days?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Viva Viagra!

A friends girlfriend is a Bra fit specialist.
She touches other girls boobs all day. Technically, when he is with her then, it counts as a three way. Right?
I wish I was even half kidding about this. This is the male mind at work. Or at least, this is my mind at work. Christ, when do you grow out of this shit? The average American male is said to have a sexual thought every three seconds. Every three seconds? Are you kidding me? I am so above average then. How does anything get done?
I have a theory about our current economic collapse and the rise, excuse the pun, of erection aids and organic penis enlarger products.
Viagra first appeared on the market in 1998.
The Clinton years!
American prosperity!
The Internet and alternative music!
Good times!
Now jump forward to the post 9/11 America. On line pharmacies sold more Viagra in the months that followed 9/11 than at any other time in the drugs history. It is literally as if everyone at once said, fuck it!
Even the most casual Internet user or late night TV viewer has noticed an increase in commercials for anything having to do with the size or function of a mans dick. For the last several months if you clicked FOX news on line, a quarter of the page was taken up by a woman with photo shopped exaggerated sized eyes and a caption that said something like, never let another woman make you feel inadequate again.
I thought Fox news already had enough big dicks over there but I stand corrected.
Go on Facebook, Myspace or your spam folder and you can see add after add for various all natural penis enhancement products or different versions of Viagra. The reason the economy fell apart seems pretty clear to me now. Every guy was getting something to make his dick bigger, harder, ejaculate larger loads, improve stamina, prevent premature ejaculation and so on and so on. Of course the economy fell apart. No one was doing any work accept the people filling these orders.

Prayer Booth?

I lifted this off the FOXNews web site. They are desperate to feed their regular readers something, anything now that their side went down in flames this election.

New York City officials this fall launched an art project called "Public Prayer Booth," which features a modified phone booth rigged up with a flip-down kneeler. Passers-by, if they're in the mood, can bend to their (padded) knee and say a prayer — a private moment in a very public atmosphere.

To cover the story, NPR sent reporter Margot Adler, a Wiccan priestess and author of two books on paganism. Lo and behold, she happened upon the president of the New York City Atheists, Ken Bronstein, an outspoken opponent of public religious displays.

"I just happened to be walking by at this exact moment," Bronstein told Adler. Then he denounced the display of what he called a "supernatural situation" on city property. Bronstein said that it was inappropriate for the public sphere and had to go.

"You know, if they want to put it on private property, that's where it should go — but not in public space," said Bronstein.

Critics are calling the radio report a biased assault on religion — one that's being supported in part with public funds.

"There are serious efforts under way right now to erase religious expression from the public square," said Father Jonathan Morris, a Catholic priest and FOX News contributor. "I don't understand why these groups would be so fascinated with taking this [religious expression] away."

NPR vehemently denied that its coverage was opposed to prayer or organized religion.

"There's no bias in this story and to imply that there is because of a reporter's religious beliefs is absurd," said Anna Christopher, an NPR spokeswoman. "[Adler] spoke with several different people with several different viewpoints on the booth."

Adler said traffic was sparse by the booth and she had trouble finding someone who took it seriously enough to pray there, but she interviewed a woman named Francesca Richardson who lives on disability payments and stopped to say a prayer. Adler compared her to Avery Williams, 7, who said grace for her ailing pets.

"Well, my gerbil died so we prayed for him, and my dog had a very bad leg so we prayed for that too," said Williams.

Asked whether their reporter was taking snipes at the faithful on the government dime, NPR was adamant that she wasn't and explained that only a minuscule amount of its funding comes from the government.

"Less than two percent [of NPR's budget] comes from competitive grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Arts," Christopher said.

"There's no disrespect for religion at all. Our reporters are able to separate their private practices ... and their standards as journalists, and in no way does [Adler's] religious affiliation affect that."

Religious groups were enthused about the project, saying it provided an opportunity to discuss religion in the public sphere.

"Any respectful artistic expression that gets us thinking about spiritual realities, respectful artistic expression is good," said Morris.

The public flare-up is just what Dylan Mortimer — the 29-year-old artist who created the installation — was hoping to stir up with his work. Religion is "just one of those topics you don't bring up at the dinner table," he said. "My hope and my dream would be that there will be a respectful way to engage in dialogue."

On that front, Mortimer's work has been a smashing success.

"Some people love them, some people use them sincerely in prayer, some people use them jokingly. Some people laugh at it, some people are offended, some people have put graffiti on them," Mortimer told "All of those reactions are totally valid."

Mortimer's installment, which is set to come down later this month, is sponsored by New York City's Department of Parks and Recreation as part of its 40-year-old Art in the Parks series. Asked about the controversy over the artwork, the city said it stood by Mortimer's piece.

"[Mortimer] is working independently and his work raises questions about religion in the public realm, but he does not take a position on it," said Christina DeLuca, a spokeswoman for the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. "As he says, the goal is to spark dialogue, and we hope New Yorkers receive the work in this spirit."

Monday, November 24, 2008

Of Pianos and Ass Print's...

The Vatican has officially forgiven John Lennon for his comment, “The Beatles are more popular than Jesus!”
That only took 42 years.
Lennon should feel pretty good about that. It took the Vatican 360 years to forgive Galileo for making the crazy suggestion that the Earth went around the Sun.
The Catholic Church is big on forgiveness. Just not in peoples’ life times.
I can’t imagine John Lennon, where ever he is and in whatever incarnation he is in, caring that much about it.
When he said it to a London newspaper in 1966 it caused a huge backlash against the Beatles in America. Radio stations held public burnings of their albums. Protests broke out and kids willingly tossed Beatles albums onto pyres. There is something hilarious about the whole episode; people burning songs about love because one of the writers of those songs made an off handed comment about being more popular at the moment than another guy who talked about love.
You gotta love that!

My hero in civil disobedience has been captured! For the last year and a half someone was going around the town of Valentine, Nebraska committing acts of vandalism. Sort of.
He would smear K-Y jelly or lotion onto his ass and then press his ass to the windows of buildings leaving behind an imprint of his behind. In one brazen attack, every window in a hotel had fallen victim.
I don’t have a clue why this guy did what he did. For all I know he might legitimately be nuts. All I know is that the cops couldn’t catch the guy for a year and a half! The town is in a small corner of the state and has a population the size of an average skyscraper in down town San Francisco during a workday. For those reasons alone, he is my hero!
Maybe he got some sexual pleasure out of it. Maybe it was his way of protesting something. Maybe he just did it because it is a small town in the middle of nowhere and he was bored. Doesn’t matter what the reason is; you have to admire his ability to evade the police with his pants literally around his ankles.

Then there is this mystery. Police in Harwich, Massachusetts, are probing the appearance of a piano, in good working condition, in the middle of the woods. Discovered by a woman who was walking a trail, the Baldwin Acrosonic piano, model number 987, is intact -- and, apparently, in tune. If for no other reason other than it adds a bit of wonder in an otherwise gray feeling time, I love this! It’s not easy to move a piano so the cops think that who ever did it had help. No reports of a missing piano or any pranks have been reported so somebody moved this thing out into the middle of snow-covered woods for some reason no one can figure out. Listen, on a shitty Monday when the news is nothing but grim reminders of just how badly greed is working to unravel the American dream, a strange and romantic scene like a piano in the middle of snow covered woods makes me smile a little thinking there are still souls on this planet who are motivated to act out in ways sublime and beautiful. If they find a butt print in lotion on the bench in front of it I will die with a smile on my face when the time comes.

The Near Perfect Weekend Gig

Thursday night I get a text message from the Punch Line Booker.
"Are you available this weekend to headline the Punch Line?"
I don't know much about the headliner who had already been there for two nights. I don't know much about the reasons why he couldn't finish the week either. Thursday night, after a performance that suggested no turmoil inside the man, he left the stage, walked out the door and ran from the club.
A few hours later after managers, excuses and ego's were dealt with, I'm getting a text for the gig. Good for me, sad for him. Comics are not the most stable lot. No secret there. But to be at a point where you are about to blow up big and not be capable of emotionally handling it is sad. I feel for the guy, I really do. But I wish I was in a position to blow off choice gigs in great cities and then have my managers explain it away.
Whatever the reasons, it was now my weekend. Friday and Saturday night at the San Francisco Punch Line! It really doesn't get batter than that.
One small hiccup in the whole thing. Months ago I agreed to headline a benefit for an organization in Oakland that gets Athletic equipment for kids. I can't cancel. My Karma couldn't take the hit. Lately when ever I get a Booking in the city, I can almost depend on another call coming in with a show for that same night. If you hear me complain about being stuck in San Francisco, you have my permission to tell me to shut up. If you are double Booking yourself on a weekend night regularly, you really can't bitch about your career so much.
Here is how it worked.
I should be going on at the Punch Line's first show at about 8:45. I come off stage at 9:30, make the 20 minuet or so walk from the Punch Line to the Comedy College about six blocks away. I go on there at 10:00, do my set till 10:30 and when I come off that stage, I turn around and make the easy walk down hill to walk in the Punch Line at 10:45, right when I should be going on for the late show.
I learned two things during this marathon. One, I am desperately out of shape and two, I could of just walked. No show ever starts on time.
I made it!
All the shows were a hit. Some sets I liked better than others, but nothing to out of the ordinary. All in all, a pretty good weekend. I get my check after the Saturday shows and as I make my good byes I get accused of stealing a joke. It's something I have never been accused of before. It is also something that you better be sure about saying. Calling a comic a joke thief is about the worse thing you can say to a comic. Any time these things happen the people and the jokes in question are never around to end the debate. In this case however, they were. Here is the extra ridiculous part of this story. Its a dick joke. Thats all. In fact, its a jacking-off joke. A joke that I gave tags to the comic for.
Think about this for a second. IF I was ever going to steal a joke, something I have never done or been accused of doing, do you think I would do it literally in front of the other comic standing behind the bar during my set? Even I don't have balls that big.
It started simple enough. I was talking to a guy in the front row. I asked him if he was married and in one of the most unintentionally funny things I have ever seen, he looks at his hand for a ring first and then responds no. If you can't remember if your married or not with out having to look for a ring on your fingers, your in trouble! No way I was going to let that comedy gold go!
When I riff, I like to create a personality sketch of the person I am talking too. Then, I can talk into the Microphone as that person. When it works, it kills! When it doesn't, it means the crowd is dumb. Tonight, it works. I go off on this dude being asked if he is married and having to look at his hand every time. From there it's not a far stretch into masturbation jokes. In the middle of that I reference the joke in question. Actually, I just mention the product the other comics joke is based around. I referenced it because I know the guy is there!
When I finish my set I go up to him and ask, "Did you see that?" I didn't ask because I thought I was in trouble. I asked because I hoped he saw it. I think it is cool when comics throw some part of my set into their act when I'm in the room. Other comics like it too. He smiled and said yes and that was that.
That was that is rarely the end.
As I made my good byes his girlfriend confronts me about it. She is strident. She insists I stole it. The bartender looks at me as well. Before this scene goes any farther I realize, hey the guy is in back. Lets ask him what he thinks even though I already know. I go into the back and ask, "Did you think I stole that joke from you tonight?"
"Then talk to your girlfriend because she does."
His reply, "Punch her in the face."
I think that means I was right but I will pass on the face punching.
All this just reminds me that a lot of people who are around comedy are not comics. They don't get it. They are never the ones on stage but always the first to have "notes" for you. They don't understand the concept of tossing inside jokes over the head of the crowd to the one or two people who will get them.
It bugs me. At the very end of a near perfect weekend the person I made a point of going up to for a quick chat and a good bye tells me I stole her boyfriends joke. Wonderful!
I head home with this burning a hole in my head. I am pissed! How is it that at the very last second an entire found money weekend can get fucked up by one comment from one person who has known me for years? Such is life. Because as this thought is eating me up I realize, fuck them. It was a great weekend. The guy whose joke it is doesn't think I stole anything. End of story.