Archive for July, 2004

In Which I’m Going On Vacation

July 30th, 2004 No comments

And if I have any sense, I’ll check my email once a day and never look at a computer.

We’ll see

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In Which Does The Right Thing

July 29th, 2004 1 comment

And while I’m running off at the blog –

Good for! compiles a list of recently updated blogs. Depending on what software you use, you can send a ping to to add your Backstreet Boys blog to the list so that random people can know what a FUCKING IDIOT YOU ARE.

A few months ago, if you posted more than one entry within a 30 minute period, you got a message that said –

We’re really glad that you’re working so hard on your blog, but we can only accept one post every thirty minutes. Why don’t you get out from in front of your computer and doing something interesting instead?

Now it just says – We can only accept one post every 30 minutes. I’ve been meaning to thank them for the change.

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In Which It’s The Little Things That Piss You Off

July 29th, 2004 1 comment

I’m not sure what the church schedule is for Catholics, but I know it’s not just for Sundays anymore. You can tell when church is in session because the cars of the faithful line both sides of the street jamming up traffic in the name of Our Lord. And that’s a good thing.

Catholics worship Jesus in lots of different ways. In the Phillipines, they physically nail themselves to crosses on Easter. Americans worship Jesus by parking as close to the church as they can. Easy entry, easy exit.

Surely extenuating circumstances can be found for having to park directly in front of the church. Broken leg, arthritic, gross obesity, blindness? I’d say no. Why? The man spent three days on a cross! Three days! Bleeding, dehydrated and, logically, incontinent. I think the extra 20 feet of slight discomfort pales in comparison.

Jesus suffered so you don’t have to.

[Note: It wouldn’t piss me off half as much if the town didn’t pay not one but two policmen to…to…I’m not sure what they do. But they’re there. Doing something that doesn’t involve parking tickets.]

[Note 2: Sorry, Sis!]

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In Which The Republican Beat…Errr…Sound Off

July 29th, 2004 No comments

In between dashing around Boston trying to get ready for vacation, I’m trying to catch as much of the convention as I can. Mostly, I’m listening to NPR in the car, though I caught Obama last night and OMFG…I think he converted at least 50% of the Log Cabin Republicans because (and thankfully my wife never reads this blog), at a bare minimum, I’d consider going bi for him. Unbe-fucking-lievable! It felt like I was watching a young Clinton. Let’s only hope he doesn’t have the same chubby white chick fetish. (Oh my GOD, that was gratuitous.)

Of course, the Republicans thought it hateful and disingenuous, but they’re all closet cases anyway.

John Edwards kicked some ass tonight, laying out actual policy and politely but firmly drawing out what distinguishes “value” in men. Edwards does nothing for me, orientation-wise, though.

Of course, the Republicans thought it hateful and disingenuous.

The real comedy in the convention lays in the Republican response. Since my own head fits so snuggly up my Liberal ass, it’s hard to know whether others shriek with delight when Ralph Reed says something like –

You noticed that in his speech, Edwards didn’t say ONE THING about how badly he and John Kerry suck. NOT ONE THING! You’d really think that they’d put that right up front in the speech, since they suck so badly, but, instead, they chose to IGNORE IT COMPLETELY! I mean, I don’t know WHERE they got the gumption to paint themselves in a good light, because they’re both such horrible, mean spirited, nay-saying, pandering, flip-flopping LIBERALS that they’d even get kicked out of Berkeley. Another thing they didn’t mention is that they support people having sex with tables and calling that a marriage. That kind of thinking is so far left that I don’t even think anyone’s come up with a NAME for it yet. Instead, they spend a whole lot of time going negative on a President that deserves the respect and admiration of the entire free world whether it’s warranted or not. He’s the President and his approval rating went up by a point yesterday so he wins and they should just return to Sodom and stop wasting everyone’s time.

I’ve heard four Republican commentators say the same thing practically verbatim. And Jeff Greenfield on CNN obviously had too, since he responded, “Yes, Ralph, we know you’ve read the talking points…”

Which leads to the question – What’s more pointless: Preaching to the choir or getting indignant about someone preaching to the choir? Especially when you’ll do the same thing in a month or so.

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In Which They’ll Miss The Best Stories

July 26th, 2004 No comments

As the network news stations scurry around trying to explain Boston to the people in central South Dakota, they will, by neccessity leave out the best tales from the old men in the VFW who all claim to have known JFK personally.

So’s I remember this one time in the White House when I walks into this room and there’s Jack banging three o’ the ugliest broads I ever seen. An’ I says, “Jesus H. Fucking Christ, Jack, what in the name of Mary is ya doin’ there? We gotta goddamn crisis over there in Cuba and you’re cock deep in a couple o’ girls that’d get kicked outta Revere!” An’ Jack looks at me and gives me that big ol’ Mick smile o’ his that’d melt the soul of the Devil himself an’ he says to me, “Sully, ya don’t know what you’re talkin’ about. I’m trying to figure out what t’ do with the Bay of Pigs!” A-hahha! That right there was Jack Kennedy for ya’!

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In Which I May Just Vomit

July 24th, 2004 No comments

I have a habit of showing up late and missing the fun. I’m not sure why, but it happens. And so it was that I completely missed Barbara and Jenna Bush’s live chat session. Gosh darn it!

Now let’s just assume, for the sake of argument, that the twin Bushes actually sat behind a keyboard for an hour and that the questions came from real people in real time.

Dee Meadows from Waycross GA wrote:
With your dad being the President what moment has made you the proudest?

Barbara and Jenna Bush answered:
Hello, Dee. It is almost impossible for us to choose just one moment that has made us proud. There are so many times we are proud of our dad–we constantly meet people that have benefited from him as a person and as a President and we couldn’t feel prouder. Yet, there is no doubt that after September 11, we couldn’t have been prouder of our father. It was so moving for us to see our Dad, and the entire American people, handle such an unbelievable tragedy with such strength and courage. We knew that with our Dad as President, he would do everything he could to make sure that the American people were safe and that those that lost friends and family members would feel comforted.

Hmm. That felt a little forced

What about this one?

Jill Haltigan from New Carrollton MD wrote:
I remember reading during the 2000 election that one of you differed with your father on his stance reguarding the death penalty. How do you approach your dad when you hold a different opinion on a major policy issue?

Barbara and Jenna Bush answered:
Hey, Jill. Like most kids, we do not agree with our parents on every single issue. Yet, this has never been a problem in our family. Our parents raised us to think for ourselves, encouraging us to make our own decisions and formulate our own opinions. They have always accepted all of our ideas and have never discouraged us from believing in things that they do not necessarily agree with. One opinion that we do share is that our father is the perfect person to be the President of the United States.

Pehaps they’ve had a lot of practice on how to spin the really difficult questions, but, hey, they’re Bushes, right?

Now I can only trust that the session went for an hour, like they said. But here’s an interesting thing. If you take out the “Edith Fuog from Miami FL wrote:” and the “Barbara and Jenna Bush answered:” parts, the total words come out to 2051. Divide that by 60 minutes and that means that both the questioners and the answererers (as Daddy might say) would both have to be typing at 34WPM. Taking out the questions brings the WPM down 27, but that’s typing full tilt.

If they can read and respond with polished answers at the rate of speed, then I say we elect them instead of their father.

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In Which I Get A Wrong Number On My Cellphone

July 23rd, 2004 No comments

Him: ‘Allo bonjour
Me: Hi. Bonjour.
Him: [Rapid fire Hatian French for ten seconds]
Me: I think you have a wrong number.
Him: [Rapid fire Hatian French for ten seconds]
Me: No parley French. English
Him: [Rapid fire Hatian French for five seconds]
Me: No French. Wrong number.
Him: Number?
Me: Number. Wrong number.
Him: Number.
Me: English
Him: [Rapid fire Hatian French for five seconds]…Carlo.
Me: Carlo?
Him: Carlo! [Rapid fire Hatian French] Carlo…eez…chauffer in New York.
Me: I am not a chauffer in New York
Him: Oh Ok.

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In Which I Offer A Shortcut

July 22nd, 2004 No comments

Summer to me means ice coffee. Maybe it should be iced coffee, but that’s not what I like. Iced coffee implies pouring coffee over ice which weak, watery and tastes like shit. Ice coffee implies the coffee is already cold or icey. The ice only makes it colder. A proper glass of ice coffee means that the ice cubes remain pretty much in the same condition they were when you poured the coffee to start.

Ten years ago, I realized that not everyone understood the concept of ice coffee. Driving down south, we stopped off at a rundown Howard Johnson’s for some yummy fried clams. The waitress, and it would not be a stretch to call her MayEllen, asked us for drink orders.

“Do you have ice coffee,” I asked.

MayEllen stood there for a minute, her eyes darting back and forth in confusion. Was there a camera around somewhere filming her? What kind of a joke was this?

“A…what?,” she croaked out.

“Ice coffee,” I repeated, fighting against the stereotype of inbred Southerners.

Finally, her hands which held her pad and paper like a statue of a waitress fell to her sides. Somehow she realized that I meant her no harm and she heaved a sigh of relief.

“I…” she started in a voice of wonderment, “have never…heard of that…ever. Ice…”

“Coffee. It’s coffee. On ice.”

“We don’t have that.”

“I kind of guessed that.”

As much as I hate hot coffee poured over ice, I couldn’t really back down, so, still having trouble with the concept, I asked for a cup of coffee and a glass packed with ice.

Occasionally, you find yourself craving ice coffee and forced to settle on this poor substitute, especially at home. BUT – and here’s where the shortcut comes in – there’s a better way.

As a gag gift for my birthday, my kids gave me plastic ice cubes in various Mexican shapes. Ostensibly, they came from my “long lost Mexican relatives”. I put them in the freezer expecting never to use them.

And then, I wanted an ice coffee but hadn’t prepped any. So I brewed up a pot of coffee and dejectedly walked to the freezer for some ice cubes, dreading the weak-assed, watery ice coffee that would result, and found the plastic Mexican ice cubes instead.


I threw the plastic cubes into a huge glass and poured the coffee on top of them. Then, BING again. I took another glass and fitted over the top of the first glass and started the martini shake. Within a minute, gloriously cold ‘n’ frosty ice coffee was mine!

I’m so pleased with myself!

Oh, and here’s a bonus tip for those who aren’t sure whether they want to get their lip pierced – Carefully chew off a fingernail and shape it into a circle. Then fit it over your lip (upper or lower). That’ll give you a preview of how it feels.

You’re welcome.

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In Which Stress Is Stressful

July 22nd, 2004 1 comment

Vacation. Two weeks of pure unadulterate bliss. Kick back. Tell the world to fuck off. Spend time with the family. Nice!

But, of course, you’ve got to get to vacation first. The lead-in sucks. I work for myself, so I’ve got to ensure coverage for all of my clients and pray that the guy doesn’t mess things up. I’ve got to get the car tuned in the middle of trying to crank out as much money as possible before the two week fallow period where nothing is coming in. The sermon is written, so all I’ve got to do is figure out what music to play, what readings to use and make sure that it runs with in the allotted time, since it happens about 18 hours after we get back from vacation. And I STILL cannot shoot under 25 in Mini-Golf on my cellphone.

Oh, and it looks like one of my siblings and I are headed towards a lovely little Eugene O’Neill-ish kind of thing.

It’s times like these when I, more than any other person on the planet, deserve to bang back a nice cold bourbon on the rocks. Or a couple dozen. Really. Who needs this shit? A little break. A little respite from the undulating unctiousness. A mini-vacation, if you will, to the Big Rock Candy Mountain of semi-conciousness.

I miss it. I miss the focused unfocusness of drinking. Once I started drinking for the evening (or day) real life stopped dead in its tracks. Biils, relationships, appointments swiftly slipped away as the glorious fog of beer or the sharp, crystal opaquenss of bourbon seeped in and redirected my angst elsewhere for awhile. To sit in the Regatta Bar sippng a well-made Manhattan and thinking about absolutely nothing – it’s not much to ask for.

But I never drowned my troubles in liquor. I triple packed them in ziploc bags and kept them some place safe. After all, had my troubles actually drowned, what impetus would I have to drink? Anyway, it’s been twelve years and it’s pointless to start up again. As with most things, the fantasy works better than the reality.

So, I’ll stay up late stressing out, wake up tired and grumpy but at least I won’t be hungover. And that’ll be a big help.

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In Which I Post My Almost Final Draft

July 18th, 2004 1 comment

[So, I’m doing a sermon. No. Really. I’m doing a sermon at our church on 8/15/04. I’m SERIOUS! Ok. If you don’t believe me, I’ll post the whole thing.]

Wow. This is a bad idea. I’m not sure who suggested this but…wow…what were you thinking?

My wife’s first reaction to this was – “If anyone had told me when I first met you that you would be putting together a service at a Unitarian Universalist church…” She rarely went farther than this, apparently unable to find words strong enough to convey the absurdity of the situation. Of course, my only response to this was – “You and me both.”

One of the happy by-products of putting this together is that I have the best excuse ever for forgetting things. “Wow, I’m sorry I forgot about that! I’ve got this sermon coming up and…”

When I announced this to the congregation a few months ago, the response was bewilderingly positive. Yeah, there’s a little bit of a self-esteem thing going on.

85% of all comics have low or no self-esteem. The other 15% just simply aren’t funny. Before you get to Comedy Central, there’s an awful lot of sitting around in a blur of squalid, dingy bars waiting three hours for a chance to perform for five to seven minutes to an audience consisting of mostly other comics who have heard your jokes you can easily lip synch to. The fact that these bars are now smoke-free only increases the tedium for many of us.

Comics, unlike other artists working solely on their own, gauge their success on a second-by-second basis. Painters and musicians don’t depend on instantaneous audience reaction. They have the luxury of an audience that patiently waits for the end of the piece before they judge the performance. Imagine if Yo-Yo Ma had to wait for approval before he played each bar of a Bach solo and if the reaction were negative, switch to another tune.

That’s what standup is like. And I have to admit that writing long form like this proved troublesome and not just because of my natural tendency toward procrastination. Two weeks before this big event, the working title of this was “My Dog Ate My Sermon”. Which would work if we had a dog, but we have a cat and the title “My Cat Toyed Playfully With My Sermon” doesn’t have the same impact.

One of the difficulties in writing this lies in the fact that comics exaggerate to prove points whereas ministers stay rooted in reality. Even when they play Ralph Waldo Emerson. Ministers and comics are both performers and, in general, both look to expose some kind of truth. The natural tendency for a comic thrust into standing in front of an audience who
1) are not drinking and
2) are actually paying attention
is to prove to the audience how outstandingly profound and insightful they are. Every comic wants to play it straight. Look at Bill Murray, Jerry Lewis. There’s an inferiority about being funny. A lack of self-esteem springing from the fact that humor is a defense mechanism. You weren’t taken seriously to begin with so ran with the fact that you could make people laugh.

My favorite comics, though, are preachers. Oooh, that didn’t come out right. My favorite comics are the ones who believe so fervently in what they say that they can’t help but preach. Bill Hicks is the James Dean of comics – burning brightly and dying far too young from cancer just before the mainstream found him. He grew up in the Deep South surrounded by fundamentalist ministers screaming and yelling and cursing the devil and carried that style into his comedy. Except he preached for the other team. Hicks mercilessly blasted away at the power structure of the 80’s – Reagan, the First Gulf War and Jesus. Here’s Hicks on Christianity –

“I think that the last thing that Jesus is gonna wanna see when He comes back is a cross? Isn’t that kind of like wearing a bullet casing around your neck to remember JFK?”

Lenny Bruce did several bits on religion. One of the best concerned Jesus coming back during Mass at St. Patrick’s. One cardinal asks – “But He’s…ya know…white. Right?” Another cardinal wants to know if he’s looking for a cut of the offering. And, of course, there’s the problem of getting Jesus away from all those pesky crippled people looking to get healed, disrupting the service and making the congregation uncomfortable.

The odd thing is that Christians find this offensive rather than hearing it as a wake-up call.

Even before I knew who Lenny Bruce was, these same thoughts dogged me through the services I attended as a kid. It always amazed me that the congregation didn’t have more neck injuries, since they spent more time looking behind them to find out what everyone was wearing. My mother fanatically checked and re-checked us before church so that we would look nice for God, as if God only watched over us on Sunday. She never addressed my concerned that God might find lime-green leisure suit tacky.

All of these conventions – dressing up, keeping quiet, belief without questioning – made Sundays unbearable. As much I don’t care for the phrase “small gatherings”, it beats the phrase “Sunday school”. Monday to Friday school was hard enough without the image of God sitting on a golden thrown high in the clouds, consulting a master list of children and endless droning on – “Bueller…Bueller…Bueller”. If you missed Sunday School too many times, we thought, detention must be Hell.

This is what I learned as a kid in a Christian church – You were born with sin and you’ll never be good enough but if you never, ever make a mistake God might take pity on you and not send you to Hell.


As it came time to get confirmed and dedicate my life to the church, I not surprisingly balked. Not necessarily because I didn’t believe in big-G God, but because I knew that I couldn’t live up to the rules laid down. And neither could anyone else but they didn’t seem to care. My parents asked me to sit through the confirmation classes and then make up my mind, which seemed fair. As I sat with the other kids in my high school I noticed that NO ONE wanted to be there. We all sat and yawned and winked and made faces and passed notes about where we’d meet to have a cigarette and whether the woman acted as assistant minister was a lesbian. We all swore under our breath and lusted after each other in the house of God. We were all the same.

Except, the other kids planned on going through with it. I, on the other hand, took it far too seriously. You were devoting your life to CHRIST, for God’s sake! Should you really examine if you were up to the task? I asked a close friend in the confirmation class about this.

“Yeah,” she shrugged, “it’s all a bunch of crap, but my parents would kill me if I didn’t. They’d be so embarrassed.”

So. I turned from the light. After I announced my intention not to join the church, my status in the High School actually decreased, which I hadn’t thought possible as I was pretty low to begin with. One kid actually called me a heretic. In ninth grade, this same kid punched me in the head because I dared to talk back to him. A year later, he’d be arrested for getting drunk and stealing a Christmas tree from someone’s well-tended front yard. It’s not that I wasn’t engage in similar malfeasance, (well, not the stealing part), but I felt that when big-G God tallied up our Book of Deeds I had a bit of an edge. And I got to sleep in on Sundays. Curiously, my Mom stopped going to church shortly after I did.

Old habits are hard to break and I still end up staying home some Sundays. That’s not a reflection on First Parish. It’s just that I’m introverted and socially awkward, which is a sermon for another day. The days that I stay home, I struggle with whether or not I really should be here instead of kicking back with the Book Review. As a kid, I never had that guilt. That fact is – I want to be here. This makes sense to me in a way that Christianity doesn’t. When George Bush talks about Jesus, I wonder if there’s another Jesus that I missed. A pro-business, pro-gun, pro-war, pro-death penalty Jesus. Jesus 2.0. A Jesus that brought down eighteen Roman soldiers before they finally crucified him. And the Christian community, without blinking an eye, affirms his belief. If you’re familiar with some of the born again groups, then you’re aware of the initials – WWJD. What Would Jesus Do? Having gone through confirmation classes, Jesus, I’m pretty sure, would topple the stalls in the temple of Haliburton, not stack naked guys on top of one another for kicks and most likely not support the death penalty, having gone that route himself.

The fact is that all of us are born knowing the difference between right and wrong. The rules don’t really need to be written down and, for the most part, we self-regulate. That we need institutions to remind us to be good people baffles me a little. That we have institutions that endorse policies that blatantly contradict those rules angers me. But then again, I’m a liberal and I hate freedom.

My own measurement of a belief system is how angry people get when you question it. The folksinger, Don White, says the only thing you can’t say to make a UU mad is that God is a tool of the military industrial complex. I don’t agree with everything about Unitarian Universalism but I’ve never heard of UU’s invading countries or stifling somebody’s rights in the name of our religion. That’s a pretty good track record.

When people make fun of me for being UU, I laugh along with them rather than condemn them to a fiery pit of Hell where they’ll no doubt roast for all eternity. Because in the end, all of us are individuals and one size does not fit all.

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