Monday, March 28, 2005

Links: Polly Esther/Heather Havrilesky

Back in the day when the web was new, The Onion was top dog, and content-driven web pages were the norm (before it all became condensed to a few online-magazines and countless blogs), there was a site named

Suck was created by, and for, the wisenheimers of the web. Its content would occasionally be caustic in intent, but more often than not, they provided an informed, if often jaded, viewpoint on the world at large (be it pop culture, business practices, or esoteric topics). Sometimes it was funny, sometimes not.

In fact, Suck was, essentially, a side project for those involved (I never bothered to find out what their primary source of employment was). Its staff were contemporaries of Dave Eggers (who was running Might magazine at the time in San Francisco, which was also home to Suck).

A favorite feature of mine was named Filler written by Polly Esther (obviously, a pseudonymous Heather Havrilesky).

The new Filler would come out on Wednesdays, and was essentially a series of one-panel comics (drawn by Terry Colon), and narrated by Polly's writings/rantings. These were usually obsessively on topic, though not all of the time.

Her obsessions were the sort of thing you'd expect to be written about at the time: the foibles of the GenX generation, the pitfalls of the single stoner in their 30s, and the joys of slackerdom.

What made it unique, outside of the artwork -- which was very distinctive, was the no-holds-barred approach to Polly's humor. Cutting doesn't even approach it. Polly's broadsword would slash away at the pretensions of her topics, whether it was dating, gender issues (for both men and women), even (and most importantly) herself.

(TBO's Note: I wish I had the time to be specific, and give you some links to follow as examples of what I'm talking about; it's probably best if you just checked out the Filler archives.)

Brilliantly unforgiving and self-knowing, her writing best exemplified, for me at least, the kind of attitude prevalent amongst those who were starting to feel their oats during the mid-to-late-90s.

These days, she writes about television for Salon (just do the Site Pass, if you're not already a member), under her real name. And while these are nowhere near as biting as her earlier work, the old sense of self-knowing humor is still there. Her blog (linked above and also in the Links field), is updated at least once a month, and usually gives us a much more concentrated form of her humor.

[TBO's note--For a complete history of, check out this story from -tbo.]

[Click here to go to the next in the "Links" series.--tbo]

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Mercury: 5,897 Calm State of Mind: 0

Just found out from a workmate that Mercury is, once again, in retrograde. Started on Saturday, will end on April 2nd.

No wonder I've been such a gibbering mess of late.

While commiserating with said co-worker, I came up with a solution to this whole Mercury/Retrograde nonsense: Push Mercury into the Sun.

Think about it: It's the closest planet to the sun, so it wouldn't take much to just shove it into place.

Also, what has Mercury done for any of us, besides making life unbearable for a few weeks every third or fourth month?

Fuck Mercury.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Links: Sars/Tomato Nation/The Vine

Most of the links that are in the Links Field are there because I know the people who've created the sites and want to increase awareness of their work. Others (like the Miss Alli/TWoP entry) are here because I go to these sites frequently. Even though it is highly likely that people are already aware of these sites, I put them here in hopes of finding the elusive person who hasn't heard of them.

Case in point: Tomato Nation.

I mean, what can I tell you about her that a) you don't know already or b) she couldn't tell you herself?

Simply, Sars (as she is usually identified) is an up-front, unassuming, and incredibly funny woman from Jersey. She co-founded and runs the TWoP site, has two cats, is a freelance copy editor, is an occasional playwright, and an unapologetic Yankee fan. Her advice column is remarkably clear of bullshit, and spends just about equal time talking sense to the romantically questionful as she does discussing the finer elements of grammar.

And did I mention that she's funny? Because if I didn't, she's funny. Really funny.

She's also pretty accessible, I don't think that any of the emails that I've sent to her over the years have gone unanswered, which considering how busy she is, is pretty impressive.

Mostly, though, I think she's phenom. The very complete-ness of her site is inspiring.

Someday, I hope that this li'l blog that could grows to such a self-contained size as that of Sars'.

[Click here to go to the next in the "Links" series.--tbo]

Monday, March 14, 2005

Links: Miss Alli/TWoP

I'm not going to lie: I'm a huge fan of The Amazing Race. Huge.

In fact, there was one season where they didn't air it during the normal span of a season, and it didn't come on until July. It hadn't aired in over a year, basically, and I was jonesing. I would watch whatever episodes I had on tape to try to tide me over.

TAR remains the one show I have to set aside time for. I love 24 and Alias, Lost and Battlestar Galactica have made an impression on me, but if I miss an episode of these shows, it's nothing I can't get over. Not so with TAR, a status it used to share with Buffy/Angel/Firefly, but since those are no longer on the air...

I remember watching my first episode (ep. 2 Season 1), and being unexpectedly sucked in. The next day I went in search of whatever I could find on the show. Then I remembered the old Mighty Big TV site, and went there to see if they had anything. This was when I found out that they had morphed into Television Without Pity, and discovered Miss Alli's recaps of TAR.

While I dabbled in other recaps for other shows, I found that TWoP's M.O. (much like local rag The Stranger) was simply to be snide about whatever it was they saw. Occasionally you'd run into a recapper who'd be sort of in tune with their assignment, but more often than not, not.

With Miss Alli, it is like I have someone who is putting even more thought into the show than I am, and writing about it in a fashion that complements the show, rather than being snide for the sake of being snide. It's not like I agree with everything she says, but I do agree a good portion of the time.

And now that the show has become more of a ratings winner, there is reason for alarm. Over the last few seasons, the producers have been tinkering with the formula of what has made their show stand out. The result is a product that inches closer and closer to Survivor-style manipulations that just don't gibe with the show's premise.

Who has time for "alliances" or to be scheming against a member of another team, when you have to make sure you're not last for the leg? And yet, this is exactly the kind of thing they had in mind by creating the Yield, where a team has to consciously decide to stab some other team in the back. Does it make the race more interesting? Marginally. But not as interesting as watching two teams compete for the Fast Forward (an "advance directly to go, collect $200" device that allows a team to go right to the end of the leg without doing any of the tasks for that leg), knowing that one of the teams will be screwed should they not get it.

Also, what's with all of the volume eating all of the sudden?

Anyways, if you're a fan of the show, you could do much worse than checking out Miss Alli's humorous and insightful deconstructions. And if you're anywhere near NYC, go to their TARCons, which coincide with the airing of the last episode of the race. The majority of the racers from the current line up (along with more than a few from past seasons) end up showing up to mingle and get drunk with the fans. A raucous affair, by all accounts. Someday, I'll attend.

[Click here to go to the next in the "Links" series.--tbo]

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Flores Para El Hillbilly Muerto

I'm gone to git that sumbitch. I'm gone to git 'im.

I was in the honey hole when I heard her voice screamin', an' started to wonder what could have made my sweet EllaMae holler like that. I stand up and look out the door and I see tears flowin' on EllaMae's face.

"NO! Please don't. Don't! What do you think JimmyBo'd do when he find out?"

"I can take care of JimmyBo just like I gone take care of you."

He done hit her jaw, knocked her out an' dragged her away, an' by the time I was done with my bidness, I couldn't find whedhego. This was the last straw.

I walk home. I walk home an' think about what I'm gone do. This man, this man. I was out by the still one day when I got hit in the back of the head. Next thing I know, my still is gone, without a trace. I had a couple friends who say that they saw the still out by his prope'ty. I went looking for it, but couldn't find it.

One day, all the boys from the holler went out huntin' some coon. There was a shot, an' everyone went over to see who had shot what, on'y to find out it was my coon dog. No one took credit, but he had a look on his face like he was 'bout to bust from tryin not to laugh.

I was sleepin' out in the shed one mornin', when I feel this wetness landin' on my face, all sticky and somethin' like a hot dog slappin me around. I wake up to see him puttin' it back in his pants and headin' out the door. He sees me an' says, "shit, boy, was that you? Huh. I thought you was one of yore pigs, you did that so good."

That was yestuhday, and now tonight he doin this shit. Oh, he wus askin' for it, and now he wus gone get it.

I make it home. "Maw! Maw, where the hell is my coon gun?" "'Cus I need it, that's why? I'm gone to get me a coon."

I found the gun, and head out. That man was gone to get his good an' proper...goooood an' proper.

I make it back to the honey hole, just as I hear some russlin coming from the woods. It's them. EllaMae was cryin' I could tell. In just a couple minutes, they'd be out in the clearing, and then I coud get the sumbitch.

"Stop right there, dickcheese...stop. right. there."

"Now, son, I don--"

"Shut up, paw! I'm done sick and tired o' yore shit. EllaMae, you all right?"

"JimmyBo, what you gone do?"

"I'm gone get rid of some bad blood in the family, s'what I'm gone do."

"JimmyBo, son. You done wanna be doin' this, son, you coud get in trouble, hear?"

"With who? The Sheriff done hate you. Ain't no one in the county gone to be sad to see yore sorry ass go. Now step away from EllaMae."

"She's yore niece, son."



Somewhere EllaMae screamed. Somewhere, my head split open. Somewhere, my paw wus laughin. I should have knowed he had his own gun.

I open my eyes, an see the sumbitch standin' over me. He spit his chaw in my face, an' start laughing, again. He says, "you wus always slow, JimmyBo. You was always--"

I pull the trigger.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Links: Anonymous

There are times when indentity is not important.

I believe that this is especially true for this short-lived blog.

Would it make a difference if you knew any of the details of Mona Lisa Smiile's life? No. And what is up with the juxtaposition of the title and the content of said blog?

Ultimately, who cares? This Mona isn't writing anymore (as evidence would suggest), and I'm perfectly happy with that.

The reason I have this in my links field is that, whether Mona intended to do it or not, this is the funniest thing I've read in some time. And due to its brevity, there are no expectations to live up to. These two entries consistently crack me up.

Should you follow the link, please do me a favor and leave it alone. Please don't post any comments, what have you. There's something about the preternatural quiet that this site exudes, and I'd loathe to disrupt it.

[Click here to go to the next in the "Links" series.--tbo]

I'm soooo tired...

I haven't slept a wink...

yes, indeed. Anna opens tonight.

It should be grzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Links: Deni M.

Ahh, Deni. Deni fucking M.

I first met this chump in the autumn of Aha! Theater's run at the top of the Seattle Fringe scene, where he was an occasional stage manager. More consistently, I would run into him when he SMd for Bald Face Lie.

Deni, like many an actor in the mid to late 90's--myself included--scratched out a living as a temp in the .boom-crazed, laizze faire environment that was Seattle back then. What this meant was that he and I would frequently be broke. Fortunately, we wouldn't be broke at the same time, so there was a symbiotic debt cycle between us.

Deni is what is known as a character, like many of my friends. The number of stories I could tell--or more importantly, that I can recall to tell--is impressive. Out of respect for his current marriage I won't divulge too many of them.

Though the very fact that he is currently married is mind-boggling. L must have a ton of patience. To be fair, my friend M has reported that he has been tamed by her influence, and I mean "tamed" in a good way, people. Man can't live in excess all of his life.

I could also go on about his liberal extremist tendencies, and thought process (ergo "Left-Wing Nut"), and if I call you a liberal extremist...A favorite memory is the one where he sends in his notice, via email, to the entire company (a law firm). Phrases like "right wing demagogue," and "cryptofascist" were to be found, amongst many others, in the text.

Deni, it must be said, is also something of a music freak. His tastes, which don't exactly mesh with mine, is eclectic enough that his recommendations are worth a listen, at least. He's also pretty good at sticking his foot in his mouth, and it's fun to poke at his selective leaps of logic.

He's a good egg, truth be told, and an excellent judge of character. Without him, I wouldn't have met Joe (TFO), and that has been a rewarding friendship.

I had just met Joe, when Deni, who was directing a show Joe had written, called me in to audition. I was cast, and TFO and I had a scene, along with C, that required us to play stoners. Not that hard, one would think, considering the company.

Well, apparently Deni felt that there was still something missing, and called a special "rehearsal" that required the need for merchandise. C, being a non-stoner, bowed out of the research portion of the rehearsal. TFO, Deni and I somehow managed.

There's really no point to this story, as we only did the scene twice, due to stoner inability to deal. The first time was somewhat succesful, second time, not so much. I just recall having to stop a number of times, which included having to rewind an episode of ST:TNG to the opening credits (stoner OCD), because we'd get the giggles. We went through a considerable amount of merchandise.

Anyway, go to his site and give him the piss. He deserves it.

(ps - Punk still owes me money, though, no matter what he says to the contrary.)

[Click here to go to the next in the "Links" series.--tbo]

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Women: Prologue

I am surrounded by women, in nearly every aspect of my life. Now, I'm not saying that to be all "check my shit out, bitches, now suck my dick," or to proclaim that I'm some kind of Casanova...

(me and Romeo ain't never been friends/
now you know how much I really love you/
let me say it to you time and time again/

WHAT is THAT doing in my head?)

It has always been this way, as far as I can remember. My life has been filled with interesting women, which, in and of itself, is both a blessing and a curse (thank you, you ancient Chinese fucks).

Right now, for example, the office in which I'm working, there are 7 women (two in my age range, the rest are probably at least 10 yrs. older than I), and one man. This guy is the Medical Director of our deparment, so I rarely get to see him, let alone have any kind of meaningful discussion about anything. So, in effect, I am working with women solely, a fact that extends itself beyond my office and into the rest of the hospital at large.

(More about them in a later post, hopefully.)

As I mentioned, it's always been like this. I find that striking friendships with women to be generally smooth sailing.

I'm sure a good portion of this can be traced back to The Formative Years. Simply, I didn't know any different.

I mean, in the ten years in PR, my dad was around for maybe a third of it. When we reached Denver, dad was in Germany, and my uncles, being swell guys both, just didn't know what to do with me. In Germany, let's just say that the relationship between my dad and I wasn't exactly ideal (as it would remain until a little over a decade later).

When the family arrived back in Colorado, I was about 13 yrs. old. My uncles had more of a clue this time around, but their advice and influence in matters gender related consisted of introducing me to porn, and urging me to learn the art of cunnilingus, for if I did that well, everything would be fine.

All well and good, I suppose. But in terms of day to day, getting along with women, etc. there wasn't much there for me to get. At least from that half of the species. The fact that I wasn't exactly Mr. Popularity during these times, and that I would usually spend my free time at home (when I wasn't rehearsing) watching TV did nothing to alter the situation.

And so, on weekends, when other kids would be at the movies/hanging at the mall/what have you, I'd find myself bored with nothing to do. My mother would usually have her girlfriends over during the weekend, and more often than not, I would gravitate to the dining room and listen in on their conversations.

I really don't know what they thought of all of this, outside of my mother's fear that I was gay. However, it would be the girlfriends who'd include me in the conversation. "Honey, don't you ever do that to anyone. Promise?" "Always bring a gift to a date, it doesn't matter how small." "Call if you say you're going to call." "Be romantic, write a letter, let her know how you feel." "Never ever ignore the person you're with."

Good advice? Great advice. For someone in a relationship. The kind of attention they encouraged me to lavish on a woman is just antithetical to starting something out. This latter type of advice just wasn't forthcoming.

But, the advice they gave did come in handy: Whenever one of the uncles would bring a date down to meet our fam, it was nice to impress these women with the kind of attention they weren't getting, though I wasn't aware of this at the time. (One even confessed to me, by whispering in my ear [shudder], that if it weren't for whichever of my uncles' being there, and my mother's strict christianity, she would teach me a thing or two...fueling at least a month's worth of masturbatory material, and adding to the list of reasons to hate christianity.) I do wish someone would've defined this as flirting at the time.

Another benefit of hanging with these ladies: It taught me how to commune with women. I became adept at the flow of conversation, gossip, and how to listen when it was appropriate.

They taught me to be Mr. Sensitive. Not Mr. Well Rounded, or Mr. Confident, or even Mr. Let's Go Fuck, but that wasn't their job.

I am eternally grateful for the wisdom they imparted.

[Click here to go to the next in the "Women" series.--tbo]

Monday, March 07, 2005

Big City: 349 Town: 0

I'm out for my smoke break, and a guy comes up asking for a cigarette. Out of the group milling around, only one is able to oblige. The guy offers to give the smoker a quarter for his troubles, and is turned down.

The guy is grateful and jokes, "yeah, just put it on my tab." They share a laugh, when the smoker notes the guy's guitar and asks for a song in return.

The guy starts playing some better than decent blues on his guitar. I am reminded of the moment in Blues Brothers where they do a bunch of establishing shots in Chicago's South Side, and they cut to a legendary blues guitarist, who is hamming it up as a street performer...

It's when stuff like this happens that I get all Romantic, and claim that it is more proof that this self-hating little burg is becoming a city, regardless of what the locals want.

Friday, March 04, 2005

The $40 (Canadian) Sock

It's the beginning of September 2001, and our group just traveled from Seattle to Vancouver. I had spent the day driving my car, "grandpa" (a 1985 sky blue Ford Thunderbird, which used to belong to my friend Nellis' grandfather), along with T, the TFO and The Pretty Pretty Princess.

The PPP started the day trying to jam his much-too-big suitcase in the trunk, nearly twice the size of any of the luggage everyone else brought. He refused to condense. He then spent the day bitching about how he wasn't comfortable in the car, how my car sucked because it didn't have a CD player, how tired he was, and how he needed a shower.

Upon arriving in Vancouver BC, I ended up having to break down the back seat to be able to get to the trunk, for the lip of his suitcase got stuck in the lock of the trunk. Nary an apology or any kind of gratitude from PPP.

Needless to say that by the time we got to the front desk of the hostel the group was staying at, I was in a mood. So, I decided to take a nap.

Meanwhile, the rest of the gang decided to head to a nearby "cafe", to unwind. J told me that it was a block and a half from the hostel, and that it was "over that way."

About 45 minutes later, I wake up, still cranky and tired, and head out to try to find the place. I get up to the corner, and blissfully turn left, where I should've turned right.

And I'm walking, looking for the place, wondering where it was, though not too preoccupied by it, because I was revelling in the fact that I was in Vancouver. Vancouver is to Seattle as Seattle is to Portland, OR, though Portland has more in common with Vancouver. At this point, I realise that I'm woefully unprepared for what I was about to do at the cafe. I needed to pick up some merchandise, and quickly.

I wasn't worried, though, for I had the sage advice from my friend, Jerk Angerson. Jerk had regaled me with stories of just how easy it was to attain merchandise in Vancouver. Something akin to: "You just walk down the street, and people will offer to sell it to you. It's fucking awesome."*

So, I reach a corner. And, no sooner do I recall Jerk's tale, when I hear from behind me: "who's looking for [merchandise]?" I turn around, marvelling at my luck.

What was that?

He confirms what I thought I heard, and I ask how much it'd be, and he says, ominously, "you new here, right?" Yes. "For you, just $40." Doing the math in my head, I realised I was going to get merchandise for a fraction of what I usually paid. Okay. "All right, then, follow me."

I walked with him. By this point, I realise that I'm about four blocks away from where I started, and I still hadn't found the place. I ask my new connection, and he tells me that I overshot it, that I needed to head back where I came from.

Now we reach a park. He turns to me and says, "look man, I'm gonna go see my guy. Now, he's expecting me, but he doesn't like when strangers come to see him. So, give me the money, and wait here. I'll be right back."

In retrospect, I'm not sure what he was expecting me to do, but he was about to find out how stubborn an ass I can be. The promise of merchandise kept me waiting patiently for 10 minutes. At this point, getting pissy, I think to myself that I can wait until I finish smoking a cigarette. Then I was going to take off.

About halfway through this cigarette, the man turns the corner. I catch his eye, and notice but don't register the look of surprise on his face. He says, "all right, man, come with me." I tag along. We're walking back the way we came, and he's talking a mile a minute about how cops know him, and so we had to do a trade all subversive like. He says, "I'm walking up to this stoop, I'm gonna put it in your sock, all right?" Sure.

He heads up this stoop, and at this point, other dealers notice me and start soliciting me "man, what you looking f--" when they notice who I'm with, and immediately back away with a smile on their face. On the stoop, the man pretends to tie his shoes, as he stuffs the delivery into my sock. Says, "all right, man, you're set, now don't check on that, until you get back to where you're going."

I then shake his hand, in thanks for the service he provided.

I'm walking back, and when I get about a block away from the hostel, I start to think, for real this time. When I reach the fateful corner, I imagine that I look like the biggest fucking Blowpop in the world. Crossing the street, I notice the gang walking back to the hostel.

"Hey, man, where did you go?"

You said it was a "block and a half away, up that way."

"It is."

But I needed to turn right, not left.

"Ohhh. Sorry, man!"

I couldn't stand the suspense anymore. I found a ledge I could sit on, pulled down my sock and pulled out the package. It's a sock, it must be in the sock. But I knew. I knew I'd been suckered.

Sure enough. Inside the sock was its mate.

At least they were clean socks, though this didn't stop me from throwing them away in anger.

I still get shit for this from my friends.

*(Knowing Jerk, it's entirely feasible that this actually did happen to him, much like it did for me towards the end of our stay in Vancouver--9/15/2001. I was a lot wiser about this procedure then.)

[TBO's Note: In writing this entry, found out that the cafe where my friends were hanging out has burned down in a fire in April '04. A damn shame, as it was a pretty cool place to hang out. They do have an online presence. If this kind of thing interests you, check them out here.]

Maybe he just needs a hug...

or a stern talking to.

From the AP Wire:
WILLIAMSBURG, Va. - Police arrested an 8-year-old boy who allegedly had a violent outburst in school, head-butting his teacher and kicking an assistant principal, when he was told he couldn't go outside to play with other students.

The 4-foot pupil was led away from Rawls Byrd Elementary School in handcuffs Tuesday and charged with disorderly conduct and assault and battery.

"It's not something that happens every day," Maj. Stan Stout said of what could be the department's youngest arrest ever.

Stout said the chair-tossing, desk-turning outburst occurred after a teacher, and later the assistant principal, attempted to stop the boy from joining his classmates.

The child was later released to his parents.

Apparently these cops have nothing better to do, I wonder if they at least tried to scare the kid first before placing the cuffs on him. Meanwhile, how the hell are the parents raising this kid?

It's because of stories like this, that I don't necessarily agree with stances like those of my friend Deni. Though now that I think about it, it may be that this is exactly how the kid mentioned above was raised.

It's not that I'm for child abuse in the forms he describes, I just want to differentiate between it and the need for discipline. It doesn't have to end with physical contact, but if it's used sparingly, it can be an effective tool.

I'm fairly positive that this is what Foxx was talking about.

I mean, how do you solve a problem like this fucking brat? (Funny commercial, btb.) And, no, spanking him in the store is not the right answer.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Short, but wow...

Just read the first letter.