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Tuesday, November 30, 2004

End of an Era

My Ass

In the wake of the recent announcement that two of the three major networks are losing their news anchors I saw this ad in the paper.

WANTED: TV ANCHOR PERSON
SALARY: ASTRONOMICAL
QUALIFICATIONS: MUST BE ABLE TO READ

The retirement of Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather is being treated like the passing of two heads of state. I don’t think that I have ever watched the evening news unless I was out for a laugh. There isn’t anything funnier than seeing Dan Rather parading around in a safari vest pretending like he is a reporter. I think he must have seen an old movie in which a reporter wore a safari vest so that’s how Rather gets into character. Tom Brokaw is probably a little bit less of a jackass than Rather but I really wouldn’t know. I can’t recall ever watching one of his newscasts. I have never felt the need to hear either of their comforting voices in times of national peril. In those times I am too busy trying to get informed to watch TV.

The nightly news, for which we are supposed to feel such gratitude, is a one half hour broadcast, the last time I looked. Remove the commercials and you are down to 22 minutes or so. If you were to read it out loud it would take you about that long to read one main feature story in the New York Times. If the particular news story that Rather/Brokaw/Jennings is reading doesn’t interest you, the option of turning the page isn’t available with television. Watching TV news is a very inefficient use of your time if you are looking to become informed. Television news is usually third-rate because they are generally only concerned with stories that have cool video, which is why Americans know so little about health care and economic issues.

Do you really think that you are better informed because you watched the World Trade Centers fall down about 1,000 times? In case you forgot, TV news was positively obsessed with the OJ Simpson trial yet this “story” barely rated coverage in newspapers.

The most trusted name in fake news, The Daily Show, constantly points out the disservice to the American public being done by network news. TV lacks the attention span to cover any news item weightier than a car wreck or a celebrity drug overdose. TV is not really conducive for broadcasting the news which is why I think you should only turn on your set to watch The Simpsons or The Sopranos. To get your finger on the pulse of the situation in the Middle East I would suggest that you switch the channel from the news to the station playing the Rambo movie where he kicks ass in Afghanistan.

Entertainment masquerading as news seems to be one of the main forces in the great political divide in this country. The airwaves are full of kooks of every political persuasion dealing out misinformation while they spew out extreme, ill-informed opinions on every subject under the sun. For the life of me I can’t understand how anyone could be entertained by a broadcast of the Rush Limbaugh Show, ditto that for Al Franken’s thing on Air America. I’d rather listen to a two hour drum solo and I’d probably learn more about politics with that option. I find it sad that while America comes to grips with the loss of two news readers, most people couldn’t even name a real journalist.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Why Can't Everyone Be Just Like Me?

I drove my car for the first time in several weeks the other day. I didn’t go very far, the whole driving experience was brief, perhaps 8 miles total. I could barely justify putting the face-plate on my car’s mp3 player, but I did, just because I want to get my money’s worth out of that little extravagance I installed this summer when my radio died and I needed a new system to listen to baseball in the car. There is no baseball on the radio in these grim months so I quickly became bored with my new toy and turned it off. I have never really liked to listen to music while driving.

I worry about leaving my car abandoned for weeks at a time but it always starts right up and runs well after the periods of neglect. A bigger problem than anything mechanical with my car is simply remembering where I parked it the last time I drove. When I do find it I spend a minute or two removing the accumulation of club flyers and take-out menus from the windshield wipers. On this day I had to practically dig the car out of the pile of leaves and branches that had fallen during the last big windstorm. A few weeks ago I had the apartment landscaper hit my vehicle with his leaf blower for a free car wash.

I had to get gas along the way which cost $2.05 a gallon—not that I give a crap how much gas costs. I wish I knew the exact date of the last time I put gas in my car but I think it must have been sometime in early September. I have never figured out my car’s gas mileage but I think a more fitting measure of fuel economy would be to calculate my weeks per gallon (WPG). Most people I know probably can’t tell you what kind of car I drive—if they are even aware that I own a car—but they can sure tell you what my bike looks like.

There is a local business that I frequent one or two times a week. It is run by an immigrant guy who is probably around my age. Every time I am at his place he is there and every time I ride by I see him working. He is open seven days a week and he works every day. The other day I saw him unloading supplies for his business out of the trunk of his brand spanking new Acura coup. Instead of the normal response of thinking “Nice car” all I could think was, “You work seven fucking days a week so you can own an expensive car? Take a day off and drive a piece of shit!” To each his own, as they say.

Maybe you wouldn’t trade your car for mine and I wouldn’t blame you. I probably wouldn’t trade my cardio-vascular system for yours, so we can call it even. I think that you are either a bike person or you aren’t. I think that it is sad that we haven’t done much in this country to convince more people to become bike people. My favorite thing about Amsterdam, what I like more than the incredible architecture, what I think is cooler than the pot bars and the red light district, is the fact that everyone rides bikes. The city is defined by bicycles.

I remember sitting out on the steps of my beautiful town home hotel late one evening in Amsterdam and watching as the late night bike commuters pedaled by. Every cyclist who passed was really cranking, these weren’t people out for a leisurely ride. Ride like that every day and you are going to be pretty fit. One of the side effects of so many people riding bikes in the Netherlands is that you quickly notice that just about every woman in that country has a great ass. Drive a car and your ass just gets bigger.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Shop, Shop, Kill, Kill

THOUGHTS ON HOLIDAY SPENDING

SEATTLE, Washington – Area retailers called the first day of the Christmas shopping season, or Black Friday, a ‘madhouse’ and were relieved to hear that there were only 49 shopping-related fatalities this year, far bellow body-count predictions. “With less than 50 deaths you can’t call it a massacre so it was worth it as far as sales figures go,” reported one Alderwood Mall employee adding, “What really got massacred was our inventory. It was a beautiful day.”

Other areas of the country had less peaceful conditions at their shopping centers. At the D & M Mall in Salt Lake City, Utah desperate shoppers disguised as elves opened fire on a group of 30 department stores clerks, killing them all and making off with the store’s entire supply of HALO Xbox games. A spokesperson for the department store said that the marauding elves had “shot themselves in the foot” because they would not be eligible for the $25 mail-in rebate on the HALO games. The spokesperson was killed later in the day when an improvised explosive device (IED) concealed inside a giant candy cane was detonated near his desk.


So I made up some of this but the part about the shopping scene described as a ‘madhouse’ was on the front page of today’s Seattle paper. Without the presence of heavily-armed National Guard troops the situation at area malls could very well have turned into a bloodbath.

Christmas shopping is the most important time of the year for retailers, as you will hear about a thousand fucking times between now and the end of the holidays. You will listen to a parade of economists explaining the need for a huge shopping season in order that the United States of America shall not perish from this earth. They will say in so many words that if you don’t shop, we will all die. It is as if our entire economic system, or our entire way of life is based on the Christmas shopping season. It is like how people in pagan cultures would pray for bountiful crops. I have heard these economic prayers every year of my life.

What you never hear is the flip side to the shopping coin. What benefit is there to the individual and to society if someone chooses not to shop? Surely there must be some advantage to consumers for living within their means, of not over-extending themselves at Christmas, of not maxing out credit cards to be paid back at 18% interest, of actually SAVING money during the holidays instead of going bankrupt. You never hear these stories in the news; all you hear is how well or how poorly the shopping season is going.

The next time you hear some retailer talking about how desperately important the X-mass shopping season is to our economy think about where a lot of those dollars are going. If you think the people at Wal-mart give a shit about the U.S. economy you haven’t been looking at where most of their inventory is manufactured. With its utter dependence on Chinese manufacturers and plans for 1,000 retail stores in China, Wal-mart sees America as merely a quaint little colony in its vast imperial realm. What is good for Wall-mart is not necessarily good for America; many would argue that Wal-mart is bad for America.

Wal-mart is one of the country’s biggest employers but most of its jobs are low paying and offer little in the way of benefits, so a dismal holiday shopping season would mean a loss of jobs we can probably live without.

If you hear that this shopping season isn’t setting any records you can find solace in the thought that many consumers are choosing to pay off debts rather than falling deeper in the hole...or maybe they just have something better to do than shop.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

En Memoriam

I saw a whole NY street filled with cheerleaders at the parade so I dug out two previous works and spliced them together.

Every year more than 200,000 teenagers are killed in cheerleading accidents in America--more than any civilized country on earth. Australia has over 250,000 cheerleading deaths annually but most of those are alcohol-related so they pretty much have it coming to them. This horrible slaughter of our nation’s best and brightest (and mostly sober) goes largely unreported in the mainstream media.

OK, I made up that part about there being 200,000 cheerleading fatalities but even a single death is unacceptable. Well, that’s not entirely true either. If no one dies in a cheerleading accident then you have to wonder if the kids are really trying out there, you know, pushing the edge of the envelope and all. I think that somewhere between 1 and 200,000 deaths is an acceptable amount of casualties to raise team spirit. Less than one death showing a lack of commitment and over 200,000 deaths could cause serious public health problems like a cholera epidemic. Try having team spirit in the middle of a cholera epidemic. It ain’t happening.

I can live with 200,000 dead cheerleaders a year. It’s a risk I’m willing to take for so much pep because pep is short for peppy and peppy is something you can’t put a price tag on or wrap up in a body bag. Peppy is what separates us from the animals. Not all animals because I saw a nature show on TV about otters and they were sliding down a snow bank into the water and that looked pretty peppy to me. I mean animals like cows that are never peppy and just stand around all day and eat grass and crap and that’s why we eat them. You don’t see people eating peppy little otters or cheerleaders. That would be gross. That would make me sad, but eating a big rare steak makes me happy.

I was watching ESPN and some college basketball game was on. The cheerleaders looked so incredibly upbeat. Upbeat, sure, but what if one of them died? What then? Can you even imagine a world without cheerleaders? Wake up, America! Wake up before it’s too late! Perhaps it already is too late. What have we done?

Only moments ago you were shouting words of encouragement to the team. Things like "go team" and "steal that ball" and "For fuck’s sake, can you at least pretend to play a little defense?" Now your mangled corpse lies sprawled on the gym floor, your little hand still clutching a pom-pom. But wait. You're moving. Thank goodness, you're alive. No, it's just that gross nervous twitching thing that dead things do. Can we get this body out of here? We still got another quarter to play.

The game must go on. Nobody knows that better than the lifeless heap with saddle shoes the janitor is dragging feet-first out the fire exit. What a trooper, a real team player, right up until the fatality. There will be a burial, stop being so impatient. This is the week of the state finals so right after that we'll take proper care of the body. A week or two won't make any difference, what with as cold as it's been lately.

On a recent visit to our nation’s capital I visited the National Cheerleading Memorial on the Mall. It was a bitter cold winter day. I walked past the memorial teary-eyed, and read the names of the fallen: Britney, Brittany, Britni (How many ways can you spell that, for Pete’s sake?), Tammy, Bobbi, and a lot of other names that all end in a vowel. I was overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude and wished that some guy like Tom Brokaw would write a smarmy book to recognize their obvious contribution to our modern society. The silence is practically deafening.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

What Do You Expect for Free?

“His writing is the moral equivalent of a really bad, really long drum solo.” …Seattle Post-Intelligencer

“How do you say ‘Not Funny’ in French?” …Seattle Weekly

“Never have I found the words ‘The End’ to be so comforting.” …Vegetarian Times

“My only hope is that through the miracle of recycling, this website will end up as something remotely useful…like a drink coaster.” …National Review

“If Police Academy VI were a blog, Leftbanker would be the sequel.” …Entertainment

These are just some of the reviews for this website that came out this past week. As you can see most of what was said was less than favorable and I didn’t even bother to post the reviews that contained death threats. I think that my lack of popularity puts me in good company. I am encouraged by the fact that Van Gough didn’t sell a single painting in his lifetime and had to resort to donating body parts to pay for art supplies. I already own a computer so I won’t need to trade an ear to continue my work.

Call me thin-skinned but a barrage of lousy reviews, more than a dozen death threats, and a brick with a note attached telling me to stop writing, tossed through my window are enough to put me in a bad mood. To add to these insults, someone burned me in effigy in my own yard. I don’t have an actual yard but they burned something that bore a passing resemblance to me near the dumpster behind my apartment building. I thought that the effigy made me look unfairly fat. The worst part is they stole my favorite shirt out of the dryer to make it. How can you not take that personally?

I don’t mean to change the subject but I have something that I think needs saying since no one else seems to have the guts to say it. There really is nothing funny about bulimia. Now this is completely off the subject but nothing rhymes with bulimia. I guess leukemia sort of rhymes with bulimia but leukemia is even less funny than bulimia and if it was funny I would never stoop to cash in on the humor content of a disease that kills thousands each year. No one actually dies from bulimia but it is still gross and I wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot mop handle, comedically speaking.

As a comedy writer I spend hours pouring over medical journals in search of diseases or conditions that, under the right circumstances, could be funny. Spend about ten minutes looking at medical books and you will come to the same conclusion I have: The human body is disgusting. If you disagree with this assessment, if you feel that all of God’s creatures and everything about them is beautiful I have two words for you: number two. Or how about ‘upchuck?’* Game, set, and match.

I was going to write a long essay about the Palestine Liberation Organization’s struggle to find a successor for Arafat but finding humor in that arena would be harder than finding a shred of human dignity in an episode of “The Price is Right.”

*In my original draft I wrote ‘upchuk’ and my spell-check pointed out the error. I was impressed that ‘upchuck’ was even in the dictionary.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Tears of a Clown School Dropout

or
ORANGE HAIR, BLUE BALLS


Good, evil, highbrow, lowbrow, snob, and slob; we all have these things within us. The idea of polar opposites is clearly illustrated in my apartment by two objects that sit side by side: my computer desk and my piano. In the competition for my butt, my desk chair beats out the piano bench by a wide margin. If I spent as much time practicing the piano as I do looking for humor on the internet I’d be the next Glenn Gould. I love Bach but I love video clips of little kids hitting their fathers in the nuts with a football even more. In the battle for my soul the wiseass has a commanding lead over the musician. The inner me would rather scrawl a funny limerick on a bathroom wall than perform with the local symphony. I am what I am.

I am athletic but I would rather make you laugh than beat you across the finish line. I would especially like for you to cross the finish line in front of me if the finish line was a length of neck-high piano wire. Try putting on the gold medal when you don’t have a neck, Mister Competitive. That shit would be funny, but only if in the next scene your head was back where it belongs. I’m a wiseass but I believe in nonviolence, unless it’s cartoon hyper-violence, with no consequences except a good laugh.

As a kid I used my skills as a wiseass to defend myself, not that I was ever shy about throwing down and kicking butt. As an adult I have attained a certain amount of skill as a martial artist, although I would rather make fun of the bully than choke him unconscious. For the most part my smart-ass armor has allowed me to keep my martial arts sword sheathed.

Ask women what characteristic they most desire in a man and 99% of them will say a sense of humor. This in itself is funny because although I have a certain talent for making women laugh I have never (to my knowledge) had a woman throw herself on me because of my wit. To be perfectly honest with you I’d have to say that my life has had a decided lack of women throwing themselves on me so go ahead, throw yourselves. I speak Spanish so I could go the rico-suave Latin Lover route but I’d probably fuck that up by over-doing the accent just for a cheap laugh. Come on, do I want to get laid or do I want to get a laugh?

Do you think that rodeo clowns get a lot of action? Are there rodeo clown groupies who go crazy for guys who fend off 2,000 pounds bulls with a bicycle horn? I think being a rodeo clown would be perfect for me because I could mix my macho side with my anything-for-a-laugh side. Or maybe I could play piano and tell jokes like that one extremely unfunny guy whose videos they peddle on TV? Maybe I could be the world’s funniest porn star? We all love sex but screwing in front of a camera crew has to be the most ridiculous thing in the world. How about a Latin rodeo clown porn star? You’d think that if they already have transvestite midget porn they could open up one more niche in their market. I’m just asking for a chance. I already have a bike horn that vibrates. Honk, honk, buzz buzz.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Arafat Est Décédé

It doesn’t matter who you are. You could have been a revolutionary leader your entire life, complete with camouflage headdress and a pistol on your belt. You could have led a life completely devoid of levity; you could have spent every waking moment committed to your cause. You may have sent men to do battle and ordered the death of innocent women and children. Who cares if you were the one that put your struggle at the front of the world’s stage because in death we are all stripped of any dignity we may have still been preserving and rendered into feed for the world’s humor mill.

History will be the judge of Yassir Arafat but that won’t stop all of us from putting in our opinions. I loved the part where after a few days of speculation concerning the PLO leader’s health, a French military official gave this brief statement to the world press, “Monsieur Arafat n’est pas décédé.” The news of his demise wasn’t greatly exaggerated but no matter what you think of the leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization, I think that if before I die someone announces publicly that I am not dead then I would have to say that my life was a success.

Perhaps it is Arafat who laughs last. After all, even if I, as a humor essayist, reach Arafat’s stature, I doubt that upon hearing of my demise readers of Leftbanker will shoot AK47’s into the air or burn tires. My greatest hope is to live long enough so that when I enter into the void people will simply ask, “I thought he died years ago.” Most people will probably just say, “Left who banker?” Life is hard, death is cruel and, according to my sources, this is all we got.

People cling to religion with the hope that faith will allow them to side-step the absurdity of dying. Sorry folks, religion isn’t going to shield you from the indignities of death. One of the most religious men the world has ever known, the Ayatollah Khomeini, spiritual leader of the Iranian revolution, had tens of thousands of mourners at his funeral. As Khomeini was carried to his final resting spot men fighting to be near the deceased cleric knocked over the pall bearers and the body landed on the ground. For this I should lead a life of piety? The Pope has been dead for years, yet the Cardinals in Rome keep doing this horrible Weekend at Bernie’s thing with him, so if you think religion will give you some dignity at the hour of death you’d better think again.

I’m always afraid that I will die unexpectedly, without time to sanitize my life. I’m afraid I will be struck down and someone will find the music for Titanic prominently displayed on my piano. I want people to see that I was working on a Bach prelude or a Chopin mazurka right before I checked out. I want time to take out my garbage which is filled with empty vodka bottles. And yes mother, I always wear clean underwear. I hope Arafat had time to delete all of the naked pictures of Britney Spears off his computer before he left this earth.

Perhaps someone could start a business called Death With Dignity. Subscribers to this service would have a chip implanted in their bodies and at the moment of death the people from Death With Dignity would launch into action. They would locate your corpse and make sure that you don’t look ridiculous while another member of their team is dispatched to your living quarters to sanitize your apartment, removing any embarrassing objects and cleaning the place up so others don’t see that you were living like an animal. It is one thing to live like a slob but when company comes over you have to straighten up a little.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

The New and Improved Me

I’m nothing like I used to be. Do you remember how I used to be? Wasn’t I just awful? The things I used to do! The way I treated people! I can’t believe how mean I was back then. Sorry about your cat. That was the old me, now I’m a completely changed person. The difference in me is like night and day. I’m a much better person and I think everyone would agree. I should get some sort of award for most improved person. Nice kitty.

Not to obfuscate my problem in abstruse medical jargon but before I was what psychologists would call a “shit heel.” I was only looking out for number one and guess who was number one? I was #1 and according to the doctors looking out for number one—me—was not making me happy. Sure, I was making a ton of money. It goes without saying that my sex life was completely off the charts and probably completely illegal anywhere but in the Red Light district of Amsterdam. So what if I could snap my fingers and have my enemies brought to their knees. The doctors told me that I wasn’t happy. I didn’t believe the first few doctors who told me this; I had them killed.

But deep down inside I think that I always knew that something was missing. My excesses made Michael Jackson look like a Buddhist monk. I should have known that I had gone too far when Michael Jackson brought charges against me, alleging that I groped him when I had him over for a sleep-over at my palace. When MJ says you are a pervert you should probably stop and listen. Instead I paid him off and accelerated my decadent lifestyle. I tried to convince myself that at least I was boosting the economy.

As I led my armies across the steppes of Asia, playing polo with the heads of my vanquished enemies, I tried to block out the lamentations of their widows and the cries of their orphaned children--my new 40 gig I-Pod® made this easier. Slowly I was becoming dissatisfied with my way of living and I didn’t exactly know why. I once derived so much pleasure from watching a village burn while a Kenny G song played through my headphones. Now I look at the flames rising above the rooftops and I think, “What is the point?” and, “What the hell happened to Kenny G? Is he dead or what? I hope I didn’t do it by accident.”

I tried to ignore the warning signs of my behavior: high blood pressure, trouble sleeping, lack of communication with loved ones, and war crimes tribunals. I started to take notice of my problems when I narrowly side-stepped a Mossad assassination attempt and later I was forced to flee to Brazil to avoid a firing squad in The Hague. Safe from extradition I carried on with my decadent ways, but a sense of emptiness continued to gnaw at the heart of my being. I thought I could counter my existential dread by clear cutting a Pennsylvania-sized swath of the Amazon rain forest just for fun. It was fun but I still didn’t feel right. I had a problem, a problem a new squadron of F-20 fighter aircraft couldn’t cure.

My new doctors, who had witnessed the fate of the last group of my personal physicians, assured me that I was completely normal, so I had them imprisoned. Under torture they told me that my problem was that I was a selfish prick. I thanked the doctors for their honesty and they said “you’re welcome” and that I could pay their receptionist by check or credit card. It was time to let the healing begin so I began by ordering an extra ration of gruel for my grandfather who I had thrown in prison some years before. I was told he had passed away but I still felt good about my gesture. It’s the thought that counts, right?

Now I’m all about Toys For Tots, Make A Wish, Big Brother, Guardian Angels, Boy Scouts, Little League, Sunday school, mentoring, volunteering, donating, sharing, giving, caring, and loving (but not in any sort of inappropriate, nonconsensual manner, like before). Now I am the benevolent type of dictator. Although I still pillage and plunder, there is no longer pleasure for me in these anti-social acts; I just don’t like paying sales tax.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

How Do I Love Thee: Rating Your Stalker

First let me begin with a brief history of love. Forgive me if the dates aren’t exact but have you ever tried working with fact checkers who have been outsourced to a customer service center in Huancayo, Peru? The company is saving a bundle so they tell me not to sweat the small stuff like accuracy. Has anyone in the office seen the Quechua/English dictionary?

1200 A.D. Troubadours in the south of France disseminate the idea of love through popular songs. Men other than troubadours plagiarize their songs and hook-up right and left.

1600’s Shakespeare raises the bar on romance and mushy-ness with his sonnets and plays. Because copyright laws are invented men are forced to actually express themselves to women in their own words. Most men don’t even bother and hence there is born a huge market for a 24 hour sports channel for guys with no charm. Until technology advances to meet this need guys who don’t have dates stay out of trouble by waging world wars and doing yard work.

1945 The greeting card is invented and men are off the hook again. Cards are sold in the same aisle of the store where you find beer and snack products. This is even easier than ripping off lines from the troubadours. A lot of women seem to think it’s cute and heart-felt even if the cards often come with slurred signatures and covered with Cheeto stains.

1980 Men’s notion of love founders on the barrier reef of modern society. In response to this alienation the rock group Air Supply releases its love anthem, I’m All Out of Love. Are men truly “all out of love?” Many people feel this song to be the height of kitsch but it proves to be a turning point in the way in which men would express their romantic ideals. The intense outpouring of feeling resulting from the Air Supply tune leads directly to the birth of stalking—the new romance.

But this isn’t a history lesson. This column is directed to the female readers.

Women, do you ever feel that your stalker isn’t really trying very hard? I mean, how committed do you have to be to call someone on the phone a few times a day and hang up? Maybe loser-boy shows up at your work and screams out “If I can’t have you then no one can,” as he is escorted out of the building by security. Yawn. If only you had a nickel for every time you’ve seen that one before.

Christo covers the Reichstag in a paroxysm of creative energy and all your stalker jerk can muster is a poorly-written note left under your car’s windshield wiper? Maybe it’s time the two of you had a talk about where this relationship is going. Let him know that you felt a tinge of jealousy when you heard that the blond tramp in the temp pool has a stalker who sends her a bouquet of flowers every day. Admit to him that you actually pulled a bunch of orchids out of the dumpster and took them home. One girl’s stalker garbage is another girl’s center piece. It’s stalker envy, it’s pathetic, and you’re sick and tired of it.

Other women show off their restraining orders like jewelry. The lame antics your stalker has been pulling aren’t even worth the effort, unless he’s willing to go down to the courthouse and wait in line for you. His brand of obtrusiveness is about as threatening as a shy Girl Scout selling cookies. If he really wants to get your attention he should try 24 hour surveillance, seven days a week, rain or shine. He should send disturbing letters written, if not in blood--which is just totally gross--then at least in red ink. If he’s old school perhaps a self-inflicted tattoo. Or how about a tasteful gift once in a while; something practical like a nice sauté pan with a lid? Is that asking too much?

Where is the commitment? Where is the obsession? He doesn’t even call in the middle of the night like any other self-respecting creep but phones between 6 and 8 in the evening like some love-sick telemarketer. It’s time to lay down the law with this sicko. Either he needs to bring his stalking to a new level or you're going to fix him up with one of your desperate single friends. Let’s see how much energy he has for bothering you when he has to help his new girlfriend paint her kitchen or take her cat to the vet.

The End of Politics

Not only has Bush won a decisive victory but the Republicans have an even greater majority in the Senate. Congratulations. I don’t expect Bush to care what almost half of this nation feels about our political situation since he didn’t have much regard for it during his first term in office. That’s the way democracy works in this era. Fantastic, I’m OK with that.

I expect our troops to enter Fallujah any time now and I imagine that it will be bitterly contested and there will be a lot of civilian casualties. That hasn’t seemed to bother many people before. One aspect of war we definitely are good at is the heavy-handed approach. Let the bombs fly. I only ask one thing. I ask that the people who voted for Bush, especially the wealthy who have benefited most from the fruits of this rich country, I ask you to send your children into the armed forces so that they can do the work of your president in defending this country.

Recruitment is way down and our military can certainly use the skills of your well-educated, ambitious children. Many of them will die but what we stand to gain is worth it--that’s why you voted for Bush. It is a time when we all must make sacrifices. Maybe you will be one of the lucky parents whose child returns with only severe injuries.

Not only am I not a Christian but I am an atheist, yet in the aftermath of September 11th I thought the best policy would have been to secretly hunt down the perpetrators and overtly inundate the Middle East with American goodwill. Turn the other cheek is the way one person put it. I was wrong, you were right. I have already performed my service in the military and I am too old to go in again. It is time for you to do your part.

This is the last thing I’ll write about politics. What station carries Rush Limbaugh here in Seattle?

Monday, November 01, 2004

Identity Theft: I Should Be so Lucky

Identity Thief Wanted:



Ideal candidate should be an inch, perhaps two over six feet tall, handsome but not a pretty boy, intelligent, urbane, witty, charming, a good dancer would be a plus—in other words, all of the things I’m not.

To all the prospective identity thieves out there beware: mine is hardly worth stealing. You're better off fixing up the one God gave you than moving into my condemned space. Just think of this essay as the moral equivalent of those “No Radio Inside” signs people put on their car windows to prevent break-ins.

Do people who steal other people’s identities then have to take on the responsibilities of two people? Yikes! I can barely keep up with the one I have. I can’t imagine any reward big enough to get me to renew my driver’s license twice. Can you keep two identities without having a cleaning lady come in at least once a week? Do you have to get her two Christmas gifts even if one of your identities is Jewish? Do you have to pay double car insurance or does one policy cover both people? I have been driving without insurance for a while so don’t say I didn’t warn you.

If in spite of this warning you are determined to steal my identity, at least make an attempt to do a better job using it than I did. Stay in school (graduate, law, or clown), cut down on red meat, say no to drugs, and try to be a rock star so you can get more girls than I did (although becoming a rock star will be difficult, at best, if you say no to drugs). I will be happy to show you around my life for a couple days to get you up to speed. Can you start tomorrow? If you start tomorrow you can go to court for me and take care of that trumped-up shoplifting charge.

While you are at it you can repair everything in my life that I’ve messed up. My doctor says my cholesterol levels are “epic.” Sometimes “epic” is a good thing. The movie Titanic was epic but I think my doctor meant it as a bad thing and not staring Leonardo DiCaprio. I think he meant that my cardio-vascular system is due to hit a vast arterial iceberg any time now.

I’m sure you are better at stuff than I was. Maybe you were the star of the high school football team. Even if you were a loser like me, when you start being me can you tell people you were a sports hero in high school? Pretty much everything I do leaves a lot of room for improvement although I think I’m a pretty good parallel parker. Do you think there is any chance I could make a living parallel parking in my new life? Maybe after you’ve fixed up my life you’ll move on and I can come back to a new and improved identity. Be sure to write down somewhere how many touchdowns you made in high school so we can keep our stories straight.

Under new FCC regulations I am allowed to keep my old phone number if someone steals my identity so if you have any questions you can reach me on my cell. I’m overdrawn on my bank account but I’ll leave my checkbook on the table by the front door just in case you want to make a deposit. I was going to ask you for your identity but then I got to thinking that anyone who would rather have my identity must have had a really lousy one. I think I’ll just make up a new identity out of thin air and run with that one for a while.

Make yourself at home and have fun. Sorry there isn’t anything to eat around the house and don’t forget that rent paid after the third of the month is late and must be accompanied by a $70 late fee.

P.S. The rent is late and must be accompanied by a $70 late fee. Can you return the DVD’s? I think they are overdue. If a guy with a funny accent named Igor Something-Something-inski shows up at the door you should be polite to him and work out a payment plan for the $2,000 I lost betting on college sports last weekend. Have a wonderful life!