Friday, July 01, 2005


Have you heard about the ongoing battle between Tom Cruise and Brooke Shields? Yeah, it’s been a real “war of the in-my-own worlds.”

In case you missed any of it, I have included dialogue from a recent encounter between the two. You’re very welcome!

Shields: Drugs are helpful in dealing with depression.

Cruise: Drugs DO NOT help and telling people they help is irresponsible.

Shields: Just because you’re in some high-budget blockbuster summer movie doesn’t give you the right to lecture me. Drugs helped me tremendously and I believe they can help others. I stand by what I wrote in my book, which you should buy and read. You might learn something.

Cruise: Not only are you irresponsible, you’re just plain wrong. I know everything there is to know about psychiatry and can tell you that drugs are not helpful. Did you know the human head weighs eight pounds? I know stuff like that because I’ve done the research. And when you continue to insist drugs are helpful, you merely serve as a mouthpiece for the drug companies who invented these drugs (as well as the myths that they are helpful).

Shields: Spout off all the meaningless statistics you want, Rain Man. You wouldn’t know the first thing about post-partum depression – and what’s more, you’re short.

Cruise: Post-partum depression is a figment of your imagination. Such delusory conditions can be safely handled by vitamins and exercise. Relying on synthetic chemicals to achieve mental, emotional and psychological wellbeing is risky business.

Shields: That was a pretty clever reference, Maverick, but you’re still short. Go have a baby and get back to me on how you feel afterward. Emotions can be intense, and mood varies wildly. There are nights of ecstasy and days of thunder.

Cruise: You’ve merely assigned these feelings to a false condition. Perhaps the fact that you’re a washed-up nobody has more to do with your state-of-mind than childbirth.

Shields: You may have been the Last Samurai, but you’re NOT the last word on mental fitness. Why don’t you try honoring and respecting my rights here? If you insist on preaching to the world with your holier-than-thou attitude, you’re going to make an outsider of yourself.

Cruise: You certainly had a right to speak out in your book. Just as I have a right to speak out here, too. and I’m telling you that drugs do far and away more harm than they do good. There’s a lot of collateral damage these companies aren’t telling you about. If you want to do them – go nuts. But don’t poison your children with these toxins, and don’t poison the public by haphazardly recommending their use.

Shields: That’s nonsense. You are clearly in the minority. Reports by more than a few good men and women have advocated the controlled use of pharmaceutical therapy in treating depression, anxiety, and a host of other mental diseases and disorders.

Cruise: This mission is impossible! Let me explain something very basic. I’ll go slow so you can follow.

Shields: So *I* can follow? You’re the only follower here.

Cruise: Listen. There are a lot of young guns in the scientific community, and most of them are in the pockets of the large drug manufacturers who fund their “studies,” putting roofs over their plasma televisions and Mercedes convertibles. What you’re failing to understand is that these “diseases” and “disorders” don’t exist. Society has invented them. All kinds of people get down in the dumps for all different reasons ALL THE TIME. It can happen to anybody, anytime. It can happen to a mother after her child is born. On the 4th of July. During Christmas. Before a birthday. Random Saturdays. Feeling down is part of life. We can’t be treating every little twitch and mood swing with a new substance. It's not natural. Designer drugs are part of the problem.

Shields: How nice it would be to go through life with eyes wide shut. Countless reputable scientists have studied our bodies extensively. They’ve probed our brains. They’ve analyzed the chemical composition of our blood. The firm reality is that there ARE psychological disorders. They can be observed, and they can be safely treated with the right medication. Keep up your ridiculous argument all you want, but you’re losin’ it.

Cruise: Take all the drugs you want. Getting and staying in shape is a matter of simply making all the right moves – through diet and exercise. What’s good for the body is good for the mind.

Shields: I don’t think I can handle any more of this garbage. You’re sucking the life out of me with this inane drivel. I feel like I’m on an interview with a vampire.

Cruise: Come on, Brooke – it’s just a friendly disagreement. Your position on this really taps my curiosity. What do you say we continue disagreeing over a cocktail?

Shields: Strangely, I AM rather enjoying our little war of the worlds here. And I COULD go for a vanilla Skyy and tonic.

Cruise: I know a great place around the corner called Magnolia. You in?

Shields: Sounds fab.

Cruise: I wonder if there’s anything we would actually agree on.

Shields: That’s a tough call. How about the color of money?

Cruise: Seafoam green.

Shields: I’m thinking it’s more of a jade.

Cruise: No, no. That’s the actual name of it. Seafoam green. I’ve done all of the reading on it and know for a fact the color of money is seafoam.

Shields: How does Katie deal with your legendary ego?

Cruise: Ah, yes – my dearest Katie. We are in joyous love, Brooke. Endless love.

Shields: You’re a real pill, you know that? And not the good kind.

[Background: Brooke Shields spoke publicly about the merits of pharmacy, and wrote about her experience with anti-depressants in a book on post-partum depression. Cruise later criticized her for taking the drugs, and became particularly passionate about the issue in an interview with Matt Lauer on the Today show. Cruise, as you may know, is a hard-core believer in Scientology – the modern quasi-religion founded by L. Ron Hubbard. I went to their home page and could find no information on what these people actually believe. It’s all a bunch of slick marketing jargon and links to buy things that promise to help you live a richer, more fulfilling life. From what I could gather, their major push is to cleanse the body of unnatural, foreign agents in order to achieve physical and psychological harmony and balance (my interpretation). Not sure how this qualifies as a religion, but whatever floats their armada.]

My thoughts: Do whatever makes you happy as long as it doesn’t interfere with someone else’s happiness. And that’s all you need to know.

(BONUS: There are 27 references to 27 Tom Cruise movies in the above dialogue. They are not all easy to find. Spot them all and win a handshake from me – a $39.99 value! No, not REALLY. You think I'd really shake your hand? Please.)

Thursday, June 30, 2005


I know how you people love a good link. Here's one I found particularly interesting. It's called 10x10™ and it creates an evolving photomosaic of our world. Curious?

Here's the text from their website:

"10x10™ ('ten by ten') is an interactive exploration of the words and pictures that define the time. The result is an often moving, sometimes shocking, occasionally frivolous, but always fitting snapshot of our world. Every hour, 10x10 collects the 100 words and pictures that matter most on a global scale, and presents them as a single image, taken to encapsulate that moment in time. Over the course of days, months, and years, 10x10 leaves a trail of these hourly statements which, stitched together side by side, form a continuous patchwork tapestry of human life.

"10x10 is ever-changing, ever-growing, quietly observing the ways in which we live. It records our wars and crises, our triumphs and tragedies, our mistakes and milestones. When we make history, or at least the headlines, 10x10 takes note and remembers."

Click on the header to check it out, or cut and paste:


For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of a web log, the little "comment" link that follows each post is for your utility and amusement. By clicking on it and posting a comment, you can invite fame and/or public ridicule pretty much whenever you want a little attention of your own.

For years, I was the keeper of all comments - sharing only select e-mail correspondence, and editing content I felt undermined my authority as Minister of Frivolity. No more!

Enter a democracy of communication. Got something funny to add? Want to tell readers about a related link? Like to share a personal story with the unseen masses? Want to make a correction/addition to something I've posted? Jus want to tell me how awesome I am? Hit the button - I'd love to hear from you!

Not only that, but others would love to hear from (and respond to) you as well.


Or does the William J. Clinton Library & Museum look like the envy of every trailer park?

Yeah - this thing has got "tornado alley" written all over it. I give it 3 years tops.


Oh let’s have a look at what’s going on today. Oh my – did you see this one? A woman named Kari Smith in Salt Lake City, Utah had her forehead tattooed with the web address of a gambling website for $10,000. This is a true story.

Apparently, she put her forehead up for bid on eBay where placed the winning bid by matching her asking amount. Kind of makes me wonder how much higher they would have gone. And now the part of the story you really want to know - why.

She said the money will give her 11-year-old son a private education, which she believes he needs after falling behind in school. Here is her quote:

“For the all the sacrifices everyone makes, this is a very small one,” she said. “It's a small sacrifice to build a better future for my son."

Kari, come on. You just had a web site permanently inked into the skin on the top of your face for the cost of a ’99 Accord with 75,000 miles. Are you shitting me? But I'm curious, so go on.

“To everyone else, it seems like a stupid thing to do. To me, $10,000 is like $1 million. I only live once, and I'm doing it for my son,” she said.

Sadly, it sounds to me like SHE’S the one who could use the better education. If her son is related by blood, quality of education may not be the problem. But I admire her desire to provide the very best opportunities for her boy. I really do. But now she's got to live with moc.ecalapnedloG.www on her forehead for the rest of her life. Anything short of straight A's for that kid from here on out would be a disappointment, I think.

Don Brouse, the tattoo maestro who did the deed, said he and his staff spent nearly seven hours trying to talk Kari out of turning her face into a billboard. When he finally relented, he made sure he kept the inch-tall letters close to her hairline so long bangs or a hat could provide some cover.

For the record, I would eat a piece of my own crap before tattooing the name of some company across my forehead. How about you?

Wednesday, June 29, 2005


People read some of the shit I write, like the post that precedes this one, and wonder what the hell happened to me. An e-mail I received from my dad this afternoon may shed some light on that. Here it is, posted in its unedited entirety for your deep and joyful consideration:

"I was just thinking of you today as I was sitting on the toilet. I did a little kid thing earlier, and fell down on my bike. The details are boring, but the key here is that my thumb was injured, and is quite sore (especially every time I hit the space bar).

So anyway, there I was sitting on the toilet, and getting ready to use the toilet paper, when I realized how important that thumb is when cleaning things up. I also realized that I'm not ambidextrous.

Try doing without it sometime."

Like father, like son - eh?

Dad: Thinking about ME while on the toilet? Dammit. That's MY line!

Friendly tip of the day: Your thumb won't hurt as much if you only hit the space bar ONCE after a period, which has been the typographical standard since the advent of modern word processing. :)

(I know - I'm an ass. Maybe that's why I so frequently come to mind during your newspaper sessions.)

Here is a picture of my dad holding me as a baby. Wasn't I handsome? I think I got my hair from the Italian side of the family.


I am in the habit of browsing all the major news sources day after day for interesting shit to tell you curious people and it dawned on me today that there are scientific studies for damn near everything. Global warming. Pubic opinion. Health risks. Traffic flow. Crime rates. If you can dream it up, a team of researchers is already on the case. Seems we humans have an insatiable desire to know stuff. We’re obsessed with learning more about everything: who we are, the world we live in, and the impact all of our dirty dancing is having on it.

And all these studies aren’t just taking place in a vacuum. Someone is funding them all. Universities are lobbying for both private and public monies to support their thirst for the truth (or at least their VERSION of it!). I started to wonder if I could dream up a study that would really benefit mankind in some way. That’s when I remembered an old idea of mine: The Pickens Diet. Try to follow me here.

How many boogers are in a pound? Think about it. How many boogers, crusty or slimy, would you have to extract from your nose to get to a pound? That’s a tough one, I know. Hard to even guess at. But if we did a study – got some money, wrote up a plan, hired some researchers, and crunched the numbers – we’d have a really close idea. And that’s something worth knowing because it could be the secret to a healthier you. Stay with me.

Here’s how I’d do it:

I’d get a sample size of a couple dozen or so pretty reliable nose-pickers. People of all backgrounds if possible. People with big noses, small noses, thin noses, button noses, hook noses, Roman noses, flat noses, stuck-up-in-the-air-with-perpetual-contempt noses, etc. Then I’d send them all home with “log sheets” on which to log their boogers. Logging would be done by removing the booger and placing it (or wiping it, if necessary) on the log sheet. Each time a booger is added to the log sheet, it is tallied on a separate piece of paper.

At the end of the week we would collect the log sheets and weigh them. Subtracting the weight of the paper (which will have been measured prior to distribution), we would have a total booger weight, or TBW. Dividing the TBW by the number of tally marks logged will give us an average weight per booger, or WPB. We would then take an average of all the WPB figures for all participants to derive a statistical mean - an AVERAGE average weight per booger, if you will. This mean WPB then becomes our basis for calculating how many boogers are in a pound.

First we divide the mean WPB into a single ounce, then multiply that figure by 16. Voila! That’s how many boogers are in a pound.

Once we have this figure, we can put together a weight loss regimen I call The Pickens Diet. The Pickens Diet would consist of nose-picking techniques for maximum extraction. The idea is that if you pick your nose enough, you will lose weight. Hey, don’t knock the diet – it will have been scientifically proven!

I’ve already got the print ad done:

It’s easy. Everybody does it. Do it a little more and it could mean a big difference in your life! It’s called the Pickens Diet – you keep eating all the same foods you love... just pick your nose a whole lot more.

Nose picking isn’t just for the car anymore. Do it on the train, on the sidewalk, in the shower, on the couch, at the dinner table. The more you pick, the more you lose. Here’s why!

Clinical studies have shown that nasal discharge measurably contributes to total body weight. Responsible, supervised removal of proboscis mucous can mean inches off your waistline. By following our step-by-step program, you can clean house like never before and get the body you’ve always wanted – without giving up the foods you love!

Order your Pickens Diet starter kit and get started today!

Please note that eating your boogers is not recommended by the Pickens Diet. Please see your nasal hygeinist for more on which boogers can be safely eaten for optimal calorie burn.

I just need someone to fund this bad boy and we’re off to the races. There’s a mint in this, I can feel it. I love science.



The rest of you can mind your own business - this post is for Cleo, dammit.


Another one of my brilliant ideas made a reality by someone with the resources and motivation I always seem to lack.


But I wish I did. Good stuff forwarded to me as SPAM. I post it now for your reading pleasure.

You're very welcome.

Zen For Life

1. Save the whales. Collect the whole set.
2. A day without sunshine is like night.
3. On the other hand, you have different fingers.
4. I just got lost in thought. It wasn't familiar territory.
5. 42.7% of all statistics are made up on the spot.
6. 99% of lawyers give the rest a bad name.
7. I feel like I'm diagonally parked in a parallel universe.
8. Honk if you love peace and quiet.
9. Remember, half the people you know are below average.
10. He who laughs last thinks slowest.
11. Depression is merely anger without enthusiasm.
12. The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.
13 I drive way too fast to worry about cholesterol.
14. Support bacteria. They're the only culture some people have.
15. Monday is an awful way to spend 1/7 of your week.
16. A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
17. Change is inevitable, except from vending machines.
18. Get a new car for your spouse. It'll be a great trade!
19. Plan to be spontaneous tomorrow.
20. Always try to be modest, and be proud of it!
21. If you think nobody cares, try missing a couple of payments.
22. How many of you believe in psycho-kinesis? Raise my hand...
23. If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something.
24. When everything is coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.
25. Hard work pays off in the future. Laziness pays off now.
26. Everyone has a photographic memory. Some just don't have film.
27. If Barbie is so popular, why do you have to buy her friends?
28. How much deeper would the ocean be without sponges?
29. Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.
30. What happens if you get scared half to death, twice?
31. I used to have an open mind but my brains kept falling out.
32. Why do psychics have to ask you for your name?
33. Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what the hell happened.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005


You're probably already familiar with the concept of this game. You think of something - virtually anything - and players can ask up to 20 questions in guessing what you're thinking of. Each "yes or no" question is designed to narrow the field of possibilities until you're comfortable fielding a guess.

There's now an online computer program that will play with you - and it's pretty damn sharp. I managed to stump it 5 or 6 times, but it wasn't easy. I had to dig real deep.

Check it out here: or click on the header to this post. It's a great time waster...and the best part is, the program learns from playing with you. The more people who play the game, the smart the A.I. gets.


Monday, June 27, 2005


It was sunny and hot yesterday afternoon as the five of us trudged slowly back from Chicago’s annual gay parade (which is a story in itself, let me tell you).

As we approached the intersection of Lincoln and Southport, I noticed four guys in the street heading right for us. The tall, shirtless guy in the middle with dark hair had a real familiar look. I definitely knew him from somewhere, but couldn’t for the life of me remember his name. To make matters worse, we were on a crash course. I racked my brain in vain, desperately trying to place him before our impending crosswalk rendezvous. Was he a friend from college? Why couldn’t I remember his name? I seemed to recall having a LOT to drink with this guy somewhere. Maybe he was a regular at one of the bars I used to go to? It was driving me mad. Did I work with him? Was he a friend of a friend? Which friend?

It didn’t finally hit me until my girlfriend whispered in my ear, “Is that Vince Vaughn?”

Sure as shit – there was Double Down himself, just cruising down Lincoln Avenue with three of his buddies in the middle of residential Chicago on a Sunday afternoon. I made eye contact as his entourage met mine, half expecting him to recognize me as well as I recognized him. I will spare you the suspense - he did not.

My quick-thinking girlfriend announced suddenly to her 5-year-old son, who was perched upon her shoulders at the time, “Hey – remember that guy in the movie we saw the other night? That’s him! Recognize him?”

She was referring to the movie, “Be Cool,” one of the worst fucking DVD rentals either of us had the satisfaction of returning unfinished.

“Remember?” she went on excitedly (and presumably for her son). “He’s the guy who said ‘twinkle, twinkle.’”

Upon hearing this, Vince Vaughn smiled wide, reached out to tickle our adorable star magnet (who was more confused than anything else) uttering playfully, “Twinkle Twinkle, baby! Twinkle, twinkle.” Everyone laughed in appreciation as Vince & company continued down the street – toward a bar, we were certain (but did not follow to find out which one). I hastily pulled out my Samsung camera phone and snapped two quick pictures of the Hollywood hotshot as he and his inconspicuous posse meandered south. Much to my disappointment, he resembles a small speck of white sand in each. [PHOTOS ATTACHED]

“See that little white spot there?” I’ve been telling everyone at work today. “Yeah, that’s Vince Vaughn. We hung out yesterday. It was cool.”

Turns out Vince is in town doing a film with Jennifer Aniston called “The Break-Up.” Notes on this, and other, film/s being shot in the beautiful city of Chicago, including information on how to become an extra, can be found here:


The Supreme Court ruled last week that your home can be seized by the government if it is determined to be in the public’s interest. Can you guess what constitutes the public’s interest? Go ahead. Guess. How about a brand spanking new Chuck E. Cheese restaurant?


In fact, anything that generates more tax revenue than you is considered “public interest.” No joke - according to this ruling, your home can be bulldozed so they can put up a shopping mall. Resident defendants in the case argued that cities have no right to take their land unless it is for clear public use, such as roads and schools. But the 5-4 ruling in favor of local government means communities can decide they’d rather have a Wal-Mart where you live and vote you out - not unlike Survivor.

“Mr. Homeowner-for-43-years…sorry, the bribe has spoken.” Then they'll put out your torch, tear down your porch, and bring the wrecking ball down on your life. You’ve been voted off the urban island.

I guess I’m old school with regard to this public interest crap. If it’s my house and my land, it’s my fucking house and my fucking land. You want a mall? Build one around my fucking house. And knowing local government pinheads – they probably would. They’d construct a 4-story enclosed mall around my house. I’d wake up everyday to the sound of screaming children on a carousel. I’d open my windows and smell Cinnabon. My backyard would be populated with a noisy fountain, a Sunglasses Hut, and a Piercing Pagoda. And every day I’d have to drive through Sears to get to work. Who hasn’t wanted to do that?

Public interest my ass. The public doesn't make decisions on what's considered "public interest" - politicians do. And politicians are paid for by special interests. Tearing down a townhouse to put in a Starbucks and a Supercuts is in the best interest of Starbucks and Supercuts. While I welcome the convenience of being able to pay too much for average coffee, I'm not going to tell my neighbor he's got to move so I can enjoy that convenience. Yesterday it was someone else's house - tomorrow it's yours or mine.


I saw the movie “Saw” last week - a relatively new release starring Danny Glover and Cary Elwes. When I rented it, I had no idea what the hell it was about – only that the cover of the DVD case displayed what appeared to be a severed hand and foot. And that was more than enough to pique my twisted interest.

So how was it?

It was a real slice. Seriously, though – it wasn't at all what I expected. It was good. VERY good. It’s not a slasher flick, or a horror movie. It’s more of a crime drama, much akin to the hit film “Seven” starring Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman. If you liked “Seven,” I highly recommend you see “Saw.”

Get it? See Saw?


It is a bit disturbing in a couple of spots - but the storyline and storytelling are both very well done. And when you get to the end, you'll shit your pants in a fit of surprise and have to watch the movie all over again. Really. Wear a diaper.

And if you don't already know what it's about - DON'T read the box. Just watch it.


What exactly constitutes premature ejaculation? Who decides what’s normal and what’s premature? How long do you have to go before you’re considered a mature ejaculator? And will too many margaritas make me a post-mature ejaculator?

You’ll be excited to learn that a handful of curious scientists recently committed to hammering out a definition. In setting up the study, however, measurement was a concern. Specifically, how would researchers be able to count on men to provide honest, empirical data as it relates to sexual performance? (Or should I say, “perceived” sexual performance) Relying on the truthfulness of men in general isn't typically advisible - how could it make for good science?

To combat what I call “Pinocchio Penis,” or the making of dishonest statements in describing the size and/or activity of one’s own genitalia, researchers decided to arm women with stopwatches. A reasonable methodology it would seem. If you’re going to measure for duration, keeping time with a mechanical chronological instrument is always more accurate than making a “guesstimate.” Right? Still, I can’t help but question this stroke of objective brilliance.

Gentlemen, imagine you’re in bed with a woman and a stopwatch. No pressure there. On your mark, get hard, go! I question the efficacy of the study given the potential psychological imapact timing might have on otherwise normal coital performance. But now I'm just being a wet blanket. This is a fun fuckin' study, if you'll pardon the pun.

Researchers outfitted a sample size of more than 1,500 couples with timekeepers and told them to keep track. Are you ready for the results? Of course you are.

About 200 of the subjects suffered from “premature ejaculation.” Members of this group ( let’s call them sprinters) finished just 1m 48s after beginning intercourse. Yes, speedy, that is considered an early finish.

The rest of the men passed the checkered flag line around 7m 18s. Now you know if you (or your partner) would be considered a tortoise or a hare.

Personally, not that it’s any of your business, I’ve found I’m different every time and the duration of the act can last anywhere from between 23 seconds flat to 14 hours, 17 minutes or so. There are a lot of variables involved. Fatigue, hunger, sobriety, time since last O, condom, diet, mood, whether she’s holding a stopwatch, if the forest preserve is crowded, etc.