Friday, January 06, 2006


Since I was a kid I’ve always wanted to write a screenplay about a special remote control that gives people the power to stop time. I’d dream about what I would do with it and how I could change the world if I could start and stop time on a whim. But, like most of you, I am an enormous underachiever and procrastinator, so I am still on page one of that screenplay, at the top of the page, watching a lonely cursor blink and blink and blink.

Recognizing the probability that my screenplay isn’t going to write itself, I suppose I ought to be happy someone got around to writing it for me. You can play the trailer here. The name of the movie is “Click” and it’s scheduled for release in June of 2006.

Despite starring Adam Sandler, it actually looks like it might be good!


Just been sitting here at work seeing how many nose hairs I can pull out with a single tug. My record so far is 4. As soon as my eyes stop watering I’m going to go for cinco. How do these things keep growing back so quickly? Maybe I need to stop sniffing the Rogaine.


In case you’ve been sleeping off New Years all week, a dozen miners were trapped in a West Virginia coalmine following an explosion on Monday. After 42 hours, rescue teams finally located the men and news spread of their miraculous survival. Unfortunately, the rescue teams never said they’d located the men ALIVE. This glorious miscommunication, which was irresponsibly broadcast by an eager media all over the country, resulted in much anguish when it was discovered that 11 of the 12 miners were actually dead. It was like the 2000 election all over again – journalists jumping the gun in a mad dash to break the news, more concerned with being first than being accurate.

This is the danger of words. Once uttered, they spread like brushfires and can prove impossible to contain. Reputations get ruined. Hearts get broken. Minds get poisoned. News agencies in particular, because of their ability to influence so many lives so quickly, must find a way to be more responsible with words.

I, on the other hand, have free rein to be as irresponsible with words as I want. I am just a silly monkey.

I poop now.


Walmart had to apologize this week after its website directed people who bought “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “Planet of the Apes” DVDs to consider other DVDs with African American themes. Nice. The problem, according to Walmart, was with the company’s cross-selling system that automatically makes recommendations based on themes. Unfortunately, some of the system’s “allegedly” random recommendations were not so well received by shoppers.

How about a cross-selling sytem that tells the TRUTH instead of making every movie sound like the best movie you've never seen:

People who liked "Mr. & Mrs. Smith," also liked these titles:

Boob Raider

Mumbling Pitt & the Mediocre Plot

Gratuitous Skin, Part IV

How to Waste $20 at the Movies

Hype Over Substance

The Chronicles of Ass

We're sorry, but no users reported liking this movie.


On the world stage, Israeli Prime Minster Ariel Sharon suffered a stroke and had to undergo emergency brain surgery. Palestinians didn’t know whether to celebrate or panic, as changes in Israeli leadership have always come with a mixed bag of hope, fries, and supersized despair. It is not anticipated Sharon will be able to serve in the same capacity as before the stroke, so the government in flux is expected to settle matters as it always has – with rock, paper, scissors.

In related news, there has been no formal announcement regarding the report NBC television has booked Sharon to host next year’s New Years Eve Countdown. Scheduled to air opposite Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Years, Sharon’s program would be called “2007: The Other Stroke of Midnight.”

I know…I know – hell awaits. In all seriousness, good for Dick. His amazing progress and recovery over such a relatively short period of time is a triumph for us all. My monkey wasn’t aware that he’d suffered a stroke when he posted earlier this week that Dick looked like Gollum in a jacket and tie. That was mean, and my monkey was spanked several times for that insensitive post. Don't bother looking for it, incidentally - it has been removed to comply with self-imposed decency standards. I'm hoping it gets me into first class when my handbasket to hell finally takes off.

“It’s time we ring in the New Year. Ring. Ring. We need to ring in the New Year. Give it to me. Give me the ring! It's so precious!”

If the American cultural icon had simply been old, that kind of mean-spirited humor works. But in light of his medical condition, it was simply cruel. I guess I need to go back to picking on booze-swilling Hollywood starve-lets. It's just not the same! *sigh*

Thursday, January 05, 2006


Here’s another fine jibjab production. Make sure you click around to get the full effect.



How do you feel? Are you feeling okay? Do you feel great? Like shit? Tired? Hungry? Disappointed? Sick? Pissed? Bitter? Depressed? Ecstatic? Relieved?

How you are feeling is one of those things you probably don’t consciously think about very often, yet how you feel influences your every waking moment. That’s because how you feel dictates how you behave. If you’re feeling cold, you’ll put on a sweater or brew up a cup of hot tea. If you feel lonely, maybe you’ll make a phone call or turn on the television. If you feel tired, you’ll suck down a Starbucks or squeeze in a nap. If you feel happy, you’ll smile. Feeling is like a real-time performance analysis on living.

So how do you feel right now?


I just want to feel good.

So much of our lives is spent trying to feel good. And that’s okay because our forefathers guaranteed us, in writing no less, the right to pursue happiness. Swell guys, those forefathers. Some governments don’t care if you’re miserable from the cradle to the grave so long as you’re contributing to GDP. And in countries like North Korea, feeling good is expressly forbidden and punishable by imprisonment. Speaking of forefathers, incidentally, I've been working on a television pilot for a sitcom called ‘Our Four Fathers.’ It's going to be a show about four kids who all had the same mom but different dads. When the mom dies suddenly in a mysterious cheese grater accident, the four dads decide to bunk up so they can raise the kids together and, as you might imagine, many hijinks ensue. I guess it's sort of like that show “My Two Dads,” but “Our Four Fathers” has, not surprisingly, four dads – so the show is going to be TWICE as funny, which, now that I think about it, isn’t really saying a whole lot. But now I’ve meandered grossly off point.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all feel good all the time? Unfortunately, as I’m sure you know, life is full of pain, disappointment, and frustration. Some of these ills stem from natural causes, such as sickness, disease, and the weather. Other ill feelings are derived from the fact that we are social creatures living in a service society – and interacting with other people, while necessary, isn’t always a pleasurable experience. Ask anyone who works in customer service. The decidedly negative byproducts of human interaction are many: traffic, crime, legal disputes, domestic conflicts, power struggles, physical altercations, manipulation, coercion, competition over resources, and so on.

But in addition to the many identified natural and social sources of pain, disappointment, and frustration, there’s a third source that merits mention: Your mind.

The next time you’re in a bad mood, stop and ask yourself WHY you’re in a bad mood. Chances are it has little to do with the freezing rain, the high school kid who screwed up your order in the drive-thru, or the flake of a friend who cancelled dinner plans AGAIN. No - bad moods are more often products of our minds. We LET things get to us. We LET the weather – something over which we have no control – sour our mood. We LET the behavior of other people, something over which we have dubiously little control, ruin our day. We LET unmet expectations spoil our appetite. Our permission is subconscious, but if we can elevate it to a conscious level, it becomes clear that feelings of ill-content are enabled, and often created, by the mind.

Like most people, I’m quick to blame pain, disappointment, and frustration on external forces – bad luck, bad karma, bad people, bad genes, bad weather, bad vibes – all things over which I have no control. When the truth is that the way I feel is largely a function of my mind. To change my mood, I need to change my mind.

Whenever I feel flustered, upset, or out of control, there’s a phrase I look to for instant solace. It’s simple, but helps me put everything in perspective:

“As long as I’m still breathing, life is good.”

I’ll say it, take a deep breath and – wouldn’t you know it? – life IS good. Of course, I’ll still be stuck in traffic, waiting in line, coughing up a lung, or lamenting the loss of my beloved Illini, but I recognize these disappointments and inconveniences for what they are….or rather, for what they aren’t: life-threatening. It doesn’t work all the time, but it definitely moves me one step away from misery. Try it some time. See if it gets you off the ledge and back inside the building.


There is a popular saying that, “Misery loves company.” I don’t know that that’s necessarily true. Miserable people just happen to be stuck with other miserable people because happy, well-adjusted folks don’t want anything to do with crabby whiners, bitter complainers, and steamed pouters. Do you know anyone who’s actually PLEASANT to be around when they’re in a bad mood? Besides me, of course. I didn't think so.

Geri told me the other day that one of the million things she loves about her 5-year-old is that he always wakes up in a good mood. Always. That kid wakes up and he’s ready for the world. Singing. Dancing. Laughing. Playing. How many of you approach each new day with that kind of enthusiasm? I know I don’t. I wake up more irritated than Andy Rooney. I’ve got to ease into my day…which requires a long hot shower, a mighty grail of strong coffee, and a trip to the Super Bowl with the Cleveland Browns. Then I can at least tolerate the hypnotic monotony of everyday life.

It seems to me, the older we get, the more misery we collect. Kids are wide-eyed and excited for every day – and why shouldn’t they be? They haven’t lived long enough to experience life’s most daunting ills. By the time we retire, though, we’ll have been through some serious shit. You want to see some misery? Visit an assisted living community. There you’ll find a diverse collection of downtrodden, heartbroken, and woebegone folks who can collectively say they’ve seen it all. From war to illness to natural disasters, misery has a way of sticking with you. If it didn't, retirement homes would more closely resemble dorm floors than hospital wards.

“Here’s your prune juice, Ed – now DRINK mother fucker, DRINK mother fucker, DRINK mother fucker, DRINK! Hell yeah! Who wants to do a body shot? Woo hoo! I am going to kick your ass at Backgammon, Margaret.”

Not only does our misery collect like hair in the tub as we get older, pursuing happiness gets harder, too. Kids are easy – it doesn’t take a whole lot to make their day. When was the last time YOU shrieked and danced around at the mention of the name “Chuck E. Cheese’s”? I admit I got excited about it on Sunday, but I'm a strange bird. For most people, the stuff we got excited about as kids doesn't do it for us anymore. Cardboard boxes. Weekends at grandma's. Pixie Stix. Not so exciting anymore.

Even the stuff we got excited about just a few years ago is old now. But the soul doesn’t stop wanting - it's insatiable. We fill our lives with meaningful experiences, accumulating fond memories along the way, but the more we see and do, the more difficult it seems to become to find happiness. You can only fly on an airplane for the first time once. You can only go skiing for the first time once. You can only go to Hawaii for the first time once. You can only have sex for the first time once. You can only get married for the first time once. You can only have a child for the first time once. You can only drive a Porsche for the first time once. You can only buy your own home for the first time once.

The more you do, the more you’ll have done. And the thrill, as a result, as they say, is soon gone. Meanwhile, your joints get a little stiffer each day. You eyesight gets a little weaker. Your memory gets a little cloudier.


So here we are, a bunch of living, breathing organisms constantly seeking comfort and happiness, regularly bombarded by pain and misery, trying to make the best out of our situations given what little we have.

Is there any way to maintain a peaceful, easy feeling?

I was thinking the other day about all of those little things I know make me FEEL good. The idea being, whenever I sense I may be slipping into a funk, for whatever reason, I can take immediate action and thwart the onset of pain, disappointment, and/or frustration. So what do I enjoy? What brings me instant comfort or relief? Here’s an incomplete list of the THINGS I know make me feel good, in no particular order:

A nice, long shitbreak
Teaching someone something new
Two beers
A good hug
Making someone laugh
A long, hot shower
Writing something brilliant
Taking a nap
Marijuana (Just smelling it, of course)
Three beers
A good back scratch
Sinus medication
Eating pizza, tacos, or deep-fried anything
Wearing new shoes
Making music
Playing games
Crossword puzzles
Watching sports
Getting a haircut
Breaking wind
Hamachi Carpaccio

There are so many other things that bring me joy - and if I wanted to extend this exercise to include PEOPLE, it would quickly grow. Any therapist will tell you that depending on others for your happiness is not a healthy thing, but we all know people who can make us feel good. Close-knit relationships can be powerfully comforting. Lying on the couch with Geri, for example, is far more therapeutic at the end of a frustrating day than any shit, shower, or television show. The important thing is to recognize the things that bring YOU well as the people, things that you can do and enjoy right now...and people you can call for a laugh, or visit for a nice, long hug. And when you need a little jolt of happiness, pop one like a pill. Now that's chicken soup for the soul.

And don't worry if you're not contributing to GDP - your four fathers won't mind. I promise. I wrote the show.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


For the person who’s got everything, how about a custom plunger? Yes, here’s a site where you can buy custom and novelty plungers. I shit you not. Check out the clear hollow handle plungers and novelty lines. Great shit!


Man, these chicks are hot - a bunch of head-turners. Check out the "eyes" on Miss December!


CARDJUMPING: The frantic act of adding your signature to someone else’s greeting card at the last minute because you forgot to buy a card or gift of your own.

One who cardjumps is called a cardjumper.

Think of all those parties you went to but forgot to get a card or didn’t think to bring a gift. So your eyes dart about the room looking for someone who hasn’t sealed their envelope yet so you can quietly ask to jump on their card. It happens all the time. I’ll realize on the way to a social engagement that I forgot to send a card to someone and ask my sister if she wouldn’t mind signing my name to her card. Or someone will catch me on the way into a party and ask if I brought anything, then politely suggest they give me some cash to add their name to the gift because they forgot to get one.

Cardjumping is embarrassing, but it spares you the shame and humiliation of failing to formally acknowledge a baby shower, housewarming, holiday, birthday, wedding, or graduation.

Cardjumping can be blatant, like when someone asks you a week in advance if they can hop on your card – when there clearly remains plenty of time for them to get their own card. Sometimes you’ll try to get out of it by lying, “Oh, I would be happy to – but I haven’t picked up a card yet either.” An experienced cardjumper will not be discouraged, responding, “That’s okay…just remember to add my name to it when you do. Thanks!”

Cardjumping can be desperate, like when you’ve got to steam open an envelope in the bathroom just so you can tack on a Hancock.

Cardjumping requests by immediate family members must be honored – that is a rule.

Cardjumping should not be abused. If you become a chronic cardjumper, people will learn to avoid you prior to social gatherings. Few people mind sharing signature space with a friend or family member every once in a while, but nobody likes a perpetually thoughtless freeloader. Unless, of course, he happens to be your son and lives in your basement. People don’t get any more lovable than that.

Over the holidays I had the opportunity to catch some prime cardjumping in action. On our way to a 50th anniversary party, Geri deftly jockeyed for a spot on a card, calling everyone she could think of at the last minute as we drove to the country club. Two of her sisters had already sealed their envelopes, but a third had not – disaster was averted! Or, at the very least, an impromtu Walgreens run.

One rule of cardjumping etiquette is that you should always ask the cardgiver first. Signing, sealing, and sending in secret is frowned upon. Nobody likes a conniving cardjumper presuming it’s okay to share in the glory of your thoughtfulness.

Personally, I’m done with cards. I prefer hand-scribbled notes that “tell it like it is.” Why waste all that time in the card aisle at the supermarket fishing for the perfect poem when you can write whatever the hell you want on a piece of paper?

“For my dearest George,

I think you can be sweet sometimes. You forget things a lot and don’t always have the most thoughtful things to say, but you make sure the mortgage is always paid on time and walk the dog when it rains. So Happy Valentine’s Day.

Yours truly, Jane

P.S. The garbage stinks…you may want to think about taking it out one of these days”

Tuesday, January 03, 2006


Do you ever wonder how many years of you’ll life you’ll end up navigating automated telephone systems? Neither do I. But I bet it’s at least 5 years. Seems every time you call a customer service number these days a recorded voice prompts you to indicate your intentions with the push of a button. First you’ve got to choose your language of choice, which for some reason always makes me stop and look around to make sure I’m still in America. Then, the call is transferred and the phone rings again and you get another recorded message. This time they want you to enter your account number so they “can service you better.” Then the call transfers again, there’s more ringing, and another machine answers, this time it’s playing music. “Your call is important to us. Please continue holding and your call will be taken in the order it was received.” After a long wait, the phone rings again and another message: This call may be monitored for quality assurance purposes. Sometimes they’ll even ask you if you want to take part in a survey following the call. I always say yes so I can bitch about how long I had to wait for a live person.

Well, my friends – wait no longer! Some guy has posted a list of the quick key commands you can enter to bypass the automated system for a large number of retail and financial industry companies. Now you can get a live person on your first try!

It’s bloody fucking brilliant, and I’m not even close to British.

Monday, January 02, 2006


There's no such thing as too much cheese.


The problem with shaving your testicles is that when all of the stubble starts growing back, it starts to itch something fierce. Do it once and you’re basically looking at a lifetime of sac waxing.

Sometimes I do not make the best decisions.