NEVER AGAIN

It seems my local post office has decided to add its own methadone clinic, in a small area right near where people are supposed to fill out forms for postal insurance and international shipping. I don’t know whether this was done for reasons of necessity (a waning interest in commemorative stamps?) or convenience, but it really does brighten up the place!

Why just today, while waiting (for seventeen hours) to purchase stamps, the normally boring drone of postal service transactions was enhanced by the expletive-sprinkled screams of a very insane and emaciated black man. (wearing, among other things, a powder pink wool scarf with matching gloves) When he wasn’t amusing all of us with tales of “bitches” who “better not step to me,” he was rooting through a trash can and stuffing whatever he found into a small, plastic shopping bag from the Virgin Megastore. His Virgin bag was practically bursting at the seams with all the trashy delights contained within. Everyone was entertained, but none more than the woman standing at the nearby “postal forms” counter, where she was filling out forms and, from what I could hear, crying hysterically.

Special thanks to the post office for giving these two dangerous addicts warm shelter, and allowing them to pretty much block the exit. After all that Christmas ham, I think I needed the extra exercise as I went out of my way to leave the post office through a different door for fear of being cried on or bitten in the face.

PRESSING QUESTIONS FOR ‘I AM LEGEND’

  1. Who am legend?
  2. In the script, next to the part where Robert Nevil mentions his favorite album is Bob Marley’s Legend, did the Akiva Goldsmith (more like “Shitsmith”!) include a parenthetical note that said “(get it? LEGEND. Because he am legend???!!!??)” And then, later, did Akiva stick around the set to make sure that bit of character information was retained, and lock himself in his 5-star hotel suite for several hours when there was some concern about getting the licensing rights to all those Bob Marley songs we used to listen to in the common area of our dorm? And does Akiva Goldsmith still ask people if they caught that connection, between the album title and film title, after they’ve seen the film?
  3. Before you added all those vampires with cancer, was I AM LEGEND an unofficial sequel to Mannequin? There was a lot of mannequin screen time in the film, and a lot of good human-mannequin repartée, is all I’m saying. I couldn’t help thinking about how much fun it would have been to watch Robert Nevil go on a blind date with that mannequin he had his eye on, and try to feed her soup. Or slow dance, or maybe take a carriage ride around Central Park. Just saying. Follow-up question: Was the role of Robert Nevil originally written for Meshach Taylor? Did any of the crew slip up and call Will Smith’s character “Montrose?”
  4. How many push-ups can Will Smith do without taking a break? Will that be in the DVD extras? Did Will Smith fight to include that full set of behind-the-neck hanging pull-ups?
  5. Dash Mihok played one of the Geico Cavemen in the original ABC pilot. In I AM LEGEND, he plays a fully CGI vampire with cancer. (or is it cancer patient with vampirism?) I guess my question is, during the filming of I AM LEGEND was Dash Mihok on suicide watch?
  6. Why didn’t any of the trailers and commercials for I AM LEGEND include scenes from Shrek, particularly since I AM LEGEND itself contained (from my estimation) almost 45 minutes of footage from Shrek?
  7. Is it OK to bring my kids to I AM LEGEND, just for the extended Shrek footage?
  8. In addition to Robert Nevil and Cancer Vampire Leader action figures, are there any plans to include sell I AM LEGEND special edition Shrek figurines?
  9. Since Will Smith is a Scientologist, were all the cancer-pires “clear”? Was his character entitled to a daily, free stress test?
  10. If Manhattan was quarantined, and all road access between the island and everywhere else was eliminated, then how did that lady–oh, forget it.

RADAR 100: GIVING DANGEROUSLY

Now online, just in time for your company’s grim holiday party…RADAR Magazine’s 100 Secret Santa Gifts You Should Probably Steer Clear Of. I hope you have a nice time reading our stuff.

I’M JUST SAYING

Sure, Mike Huckabee has been gaining a lot of momentum as a Republican candidate for President. And why not? He’s well-spoken. He’s straight-forward. He doesn’t have a lot of corporate special interest groups in his pockets. He believes people with AIDS should be sent to a special AIDS island where they can’t bite us. He doesn’t believe in evolution and thinks the world is exactly as old as Jesus. What’s not to like, right?

Well, how about this? Ever since Huckabee’s dramatic weight loss (by the way, we get it. you’re not a fatty anymore. if we all agree on that point, will you please stop hurting our eyes and sex drive with all those videos of you in free-flowing jogging shorts?), he has started to look like the sniveling, craven fictional President from the televison show ’24′–Charles Logan. I can’t be the only one who sees this. Internet genie, I wish for Google-based evidence!

Whenever I see Mike Huckabee these days, when I’m not thinking about his pale, ashen legs poking out through the generous cut of his jogging shorts’ leg holes, I can’t help but think of him locking his cuckoo-bananas wife in the Lincoln bedroom the minute she goes off her meds, only to have his wife stab him and make love to their secret service guy many years later. (Again, I realize Mrs. Logan was living in a very upscale, private home for people with mental problems, and that comes with certain freedoms that normal institutions do not provide–things like shoelaces, belts, leave-in conditioner, etc. But did they really need to provide her with her own kitchen, full of gigantic, unsupervised knives? Come on, hippies. It’s OK to crack the whip just a little bit. The woman is insane, after all.)

All I’m asking is, do you want to bring that kind of drawn-out and implausible drama to the White House? Neither do I.

SAY CHEESE, INTERNET

The talented and diminutive photographer, Anya Garrett, recently did something more incredible than she probably imagined. In a photo she recently posted on her Flickr page, she has actually managed to capture the precise image I have in my head whenever I hear someone say the word “blogosphere”: PERFECTION.

Coincidentally, Lisa recently posted a picture on her Flickr page that perfectly captures the image I’ve had in my head whenever I run into someone and they ask me what I’ve been up to lately. I usually answer, “oh, just writing a ton. Really focusing on the writing. Not doing a lot of shows these days. Guess it’s just not a priority for me right now,” but the answer in my head looks a lot more like this. (The only thing missing–and this is technically impossible with Lisa behind the camera–is Lisa in the background, performing and holding multiple yoga positions in order to divert my attention back to her.)

JUST A BIG OLD HOLE IN MY HEART

Went to see Juno today and I really liked its heart, which thankfully cut through all the oppressively snappy precocious dialogue. (While nicely written, I could have done without the screenwriter squeezing all the cool pop culture she knows into the tiny body of an adolescent. I knew a few things when I was 16 but I could not possibly imagine my 16 year-old self telling an adult–particularly an adult I already perceived to be cool–that I knew more than he did about punk music or legendary cult horror film directors. I would tell my parents that, sure–as I was peeling out of their driveway in their Pontiac 6000–but when I was around grown-ups with cool record or movie collections I was a patient sponge. So, in movies and TV shows, I can suspend disbelief over all kinds of scripted conversational loop-de-loops, but my jaw tenses up and my shoulders creep north when I hear an on-screen teenage character recite lines like, “Are you kidding? Dario Argento is my GOD!!”)

One of the things I really loved about the film was its choice of music. A well-curated pop soundtrack means a lot to me, and I was really happy to hear Juno dominated by the music of Kimya Dawson. I thought it was a very fitting soundtrack for a character who protects her soft heart with humor and irony.

I’ve been a fan of Kimya’s music for a long time, I think ever since buying the self-released Moldy Peaches album on consignment at Other Music in NYC. A few years ago, when Bob and I were still putting up How to Kick People (sigh), Kimya was nice enough to perform a few songs on one of our shows. It was a pretty big thrill for me, and she was as nice and totally without guile as her music might suggest. It was one of the few shows we ever recorded for posterity and I’d been meaning to post Kimya’s contributions for a long time anyway, so this seemed as good a time as any. Maybe even a better time than any.

A couple notes about these recordings:
- We recorded directly from the mic line, which was good and bad. It was good because the quality of sound on that mic is really nice, but bad because we didn’t have a separate track for her mic’d guitar or for the audience, so it’s hard to hear their applause except from those people sitting closest to the stage.
- The theme of that show was “international male,” which you might hear Kimya reference once or twice between songs.
- I cut out a bunch of her in-between song banter. While I really enjoyed hearing it, as did the audience, I was afraid some of its meaning might be lost out of context, and I was trying to keep the songs intact and as pure as possible.
- Kimya performed four songs in all, but I decided to only include three of them. I didn’t do this because one of the songs was weaker or anything–it wasn’t–but because I think you should always keep something precious, something the live audience was able to experience in the moment that can’t be replicated. Gay, I know.
- I emailed Kimya to make sure she was OK with me posting these. I suspect she’s pretty busy these days but if she tells me she’s not cool with these MP3s being posted, they’re coming down.

I hope you like them. I think you will.

- Kimya Dawson – Viva La Persistence
- Kimya Dawson – My Heroes
- Kimya Dawson – Being Cool

AN HOUR WITH SLASH, ANDREW BIRD, AND ME

Lately, I’ve been doing on-air pieces for a fun, daily public radio show called “Fair Game.” I like them over there, and it’s pretty rare that I write (or talk [or think]) about anything remotely topical.

Anyway, my most recent piece is on yesterday’s show, which also featured an interview with Slash and an in-studio performance by Andrew Bird. So there’s that. My piece is at the top of the show and I apologize if my razor-sharp comedic “asides” are a bit mumbly on the microphone, but that’s only because I’m a very passive-aggressive improviser.

You can here the archived show as a podcast or MP3, online right here at this wordlink.

THIS MONTH’S ‘MR. CONFIDENCE’ AWARD GOES TO..

…Home Depot, for their extremely confident hiring practices!

My sister brought her husband and two young boys, aged 5 and 8, to NYC last Saturday, and we spent a very relaxing day snaking around for hours in line at the Empire State Building and having our souls raped by stampeding tourist foot traffic in and around the Times Square Toys ‘R’ Us. I got a real kick out of watching my nephews, Oliver and Avery, react to the many weirdnesses and social extremes they experienced throughout the day. Avery was observant enough to note that Oliver sat next to a “Chinese lady” on the subway. (at five Avery is already a world-class racist.) Near Rockefeller Center, we passed a fleabag group of beloved children’s characters soliciting donations in exchange for free balloon animals. My nephews dealt admirably with the fact that the guy dressed as Santa Claus looked like he hadn’t slept in five days or that the Elmo costume has some burn damage. Oliver even had a laugh when he saw Spongebob Squarepants’ left arm fall to the pavement, leaving only a hollow shoulder joint in its place. It didn’t even get weird when we watched Spongebob accidentally step on his fallen limb before realizing it was missing, then pick it up off the ground and carry it away.

However, things did get weird outside Home Depot, when a crazy old man carrying a wooden tray ran up to my sister and started yelling at her to (and i’m paraphrasing but pretending to quote) “bring your children to my secret, sound-proof workshop filled with saws and hammers, where NO GROWN-UPS ARE EVER ALLOWED!!!” The old man was small, his height truncated by twisted, bowled legs, and he was wearing a flannel shirt, beneath which was a very large, square torso that crept up all the way to his chin–common among sufferers of spina bifida. His face was weathered–creased with angry lines–and round fleshy nubs of cystic tissue blossomed in various sizes and lengths all around his cheeks and neck, like a five o’clock shadow of boils. In short, he was the kind of person who, when he approaches with a wooden tray and is screaming at you, you might pull your child a bit closer, which is exactly what my sister did.

This did not please The Man Who Was Covered In Boils And Also Had A Gigantic Torso. As we passed, we overheard him yelling, “I work at Home Depot, STUPID!!” Later, we were able to piece it all together. He was an employee of Home Depot (as evidenced by the freshly-sanded wooden tray in his scabrous hands, and nothing more) who was asked by the very wise, very prudent management to stand on the street, yell at passersby, and plead with them to bring their children to his workshop in Home Depot where he might teach them how to use power tools and sandpaper until they’re proficient enough to make a wooden tray. That was the pitch, and my sister was obviously too stupid to realize it. Instead, she saw a man with wild hair and a serious, possibly contagious skin disease, brandishing a piece of wood at her children.

Did I mention he wasn’t wearing a Home Depot uniform of any kind? Well, now I am, because he wasn’t, unless you count “possession of unpainted wood” as an official store uniform. But if you count that, you would also have to allow for someone promoting a steakhouse by running around the street with a bloody steak knife, trying to drag people inside.

It is with great pride that I honor Home Depot with this month’s ‘Mr. Confidence’ Award for apparently being OK with placing the following job listing on CareerBuilder.com:

Seeking competent woodworking craftsman with short temper and poor hygiene to drag children off the street. Must not take no for an answer! Uniform, comb not necessary. Wet leprosy a plus.

Homepage photo: Lindsey Byrnes
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