Friday, December 31, 2004

New Year's Resolutions Courtesy Of

I am exploring becoming a Kabbalah adherent. If it is good enough for Britney Spears, then...enough said. Want to make 2005 more Kabbalah-tastic? Here are some meaningful, useful New Years Resolutions courtesy of (note they recommend you say them out loud to get some added "push" (not sure what that means, perhaps I'll learn more as I delve further into the Kabbalah):

1. I solemnly affirm to make spirituality a priority in my life.
2. I solemnly affirm to think about the people in my life, the benefits I get from them, and the spark of Godliness in them.
3. I solemnly affirm to pray/meditate every day for the world to be a little bit better.
4. I solemnly affirm not to speak ill of anyone.
5. I solemnly affirm to do something for someone sometime without them knowing about it.
6. I solemnly affirm to send an anonymous donation to a charity.
7. I solemnly affirm to feel good about myself, and to hell with what anyone else thinks about me.
8. I solemnly affirm to turn my cell phone off when appropriate to do so.
9. I solemnly affirm not to forward questionable “urban legend” emails to all my friends.
10. I solemnly affirm to give gifts that the recipient really wants, not gifts that I want them to have.

Feeling more Kabbalahish already?

It's a Morbid, Morbid World

Has anyone else noticed the sudden proliferation of books that are comprised of lists of things that one is directed to see, do, visit, or otherwise interact with before death? It's weird. You can buy:

- 1,000 Places to See Before You Die

- 2,001 Things to Do Before You Die. (For the really, really healthy.)

- 101 Things to Do Before You Die. (For the not so healthy.)

- Ten Fun Things To Do Before You Die. (For the terminally ill.)

- Unforgettable Places to See Before You Die.

- 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.

- Fifty Places to Fly Fish Before You Die. (You think I'm joking, but I'm not.)

Bookstores have really become depressing. What's next? "1,001 Cemetery Plots You Should Consider Before You Die"? "Ten Fun Ways To Kill Yourself"?

Am I the only one who fails, on a daily basis, to ask myself whether there is some activity in which I could be engaging that simply must be done before I die? Is there really an army of people out there who, nearly every day, are galavanting around the world and participating in fantastic activities in perpetual anticipation of death (and jamming in a few hundred ultra-classic movies while they're at it)?

I live my life according to a much shorter text, "Three Things To Do Before You Die": (1) Eat; (2) Watch TV; (3) Sleep.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Watch Where You Point That Thing

Man Allegedly Swallows Man's Finger in Bar. More from the story:

"A man allegedly bit off and swallowed another man's finger during a bar brawl, court officials said Thursday ...

Prosecutor Isau Janhi said [Alex] Nyarubakora was arguing with his wife in a bar last week when he became angry at a second man's attempts to intercede.

After the two men began fighting, Nyarubakora is accused of biting off his opponent's finger, chewing and swallowing it. No remains of the finger were found by police at the scene, Janhi said."

No shit no remains were found at the scene. He swallowed the evidence! Wait a few hours, and investigate the secondary crime scene, aka the toilet, to see if any evidence may be found there.

I wonder what Alex is telling his friends about what he did. "Listen, guys, I know it seems weird, but it really wasn't that bad. Fingers are surprisingly tasty, you know, chewy on the outside, crunchy in the middle."


The surrealness of what happened last Sunday has faded, and, for me, grief has set in. One hundred and twenty thousand dead so far, millions displaced, decomposing corpses, and disease and epidemics potentially looming.

For the past week, the tragedy in Asia was an abstraction to me. It was numbers going up, the same or simlar peverse images. The detachement I felt was explicable only to the extent you accept compartmentalism as a natural, not necessary, way of life. It is amazing how shallow we can be sometimes, in the name of the banal. Stuff was happening in Sri Lanka, etc., and it is crazy, but I got to get this memorandum done before the New Year's weekend. Speaking of New Year's I got to hit the wine store, and get some bottles for the gathering and suddenly you realize the nothingness of your every day life in the face of the regular catastrophes of the world.

People don't just sift through sewage for water and food in earthquake/tsunami disaster sites. It is happening in Baghdad, Calcutta, Nairobi, Rio. A comfortable, healthy, satiated existence is the luxury of blissfully ignorant minority on this planet.

You got $5? Give it. Ten dollars, twice as good. Give something. Anything. Some sites to check out when you feel it is your time to share:

Breaking News! Kerry Won!

At least that's what I found on the internet. This forthcoming book is tantalizingly entitled "John Kerry: Our Forty-fourth President." It's number 16,742 on Amazon's sales rankings, and can be purchased for only $28.50. It comes out on January 1, so reserve your copy of this piece of history now!

While you're at it, check out these other titles from this publisher:

- "Learning America's New National Language: German" (published in 1943).

- "President Dewey: Our Hero."

- "The 2000 Election: How the Supreme Court Ensured That the Will of the People Would Be Heard in the Election of President Gore."

- "Iraq: How the United States Is Improving the Lives of Iraqis and Ensuring the Development of a Free and Peaceful Democracy."

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Where is Cotton, Part 1

Some of you may have been wondering where Cotton Mather has been the last few months. Cotton has been on an existentialist journey, a quest where he is searching for the very essence of himself, life, what makes us wonder about "it" all.

We recently received a postcard from Cotton. He is currently somewhere in the wilds of Nepal. Originially, he headed to the sky-high kingdom in search of some spiritual growth, serenity. He then came upon a blind rebel sherpa who is training him to wrestle yaks. According to his latest postcard, Cotton's not so good at it:

"Gang, I write to you from a fetid hospital bed in Kathmandu after having been gored by a most intemperate yak. My clumsy grasping proved no match for his oily hide and sharp horns. My sherpa master's instruction proved to be useless. Turns out he'd only wrestled a yak once before in his life. The result? His blindness. I thought the laughing from the other sherpas as they watched him instruct me was some sort of local "respect cackle." Not so sure I found the meaning of life, but I have developed a newfound, profound understand of pain. It really hurts. Love, Cotton"

We wish Cotton a speedy recovery, and look forward to more stories of his travels and his eventual return.

The Airborne Aristocracy

My wife and I just returned from a whirlwind Holiday tour of the midwest, with all the trimmings: four flights; hours spent lugging bags across barren terminals; standby list frustration; covertly lugging a small dog, disguised as a typical carry-on bag in order to avoid an extortionate $80-one-way pet fee.

Despite all these customary frustrations (the dog problem may not be customary, I concede), the most striking part of my journey was how air travel has become a haven of class-based segregation and discrimination. Remember these rules of the good old days?

- Board from the back of the plane forward, so that everyone can get on efficiently and quickly.

- If you need to fly standby, get on the list quickly, because the first person on the standby list is the first person to get a spare seat.

- You are entitled to some nutritional sustenance, be it a bagel or sandwich or bag of snack mix.

These rules have gone the way of the dodo. Now:

- Boarding occurs according to a cryptic "zone" system. Everyone is assigned a boarding "zone" number, which seems to bear no relation whatever to their seating locations. Instead, it is based on a secret proprietary algorithm that predicts the likelihood that a given passenger is someone the airline needs to please in order to achieve profitability. You're not an ultra-frequent flyer who paid full fare? Forget it. You'll be chasing down the plane as it pushes off from the gate. By the time you get on, the overhead bins will be full of the gold and silver baubles purchased by the rich. If, however, you're a 100,000-mile platinum elite premiere extra-special fat boy club member, you'll get to board at the same time as the bloody mary mix. The overhead bins will be vast, empty expanses, so you can assign a separate compartment to each of your diamond-encrusted cufflinks and your cashmere dickey.

- The standby list, too, has been taken over by a belligerent computer. An airline worker confessed to me that the order of priority on the list has nothing to do with the order of signing up. Rather, a faceless software program crunches numbers on a server located at NSA headquarters, again attempting to predict the profit potential of each person on the list. During our holiday travel, we failed to get seats on a flight for the specific reason that, even though we were chronologically the first and second people on the list, Hal 9000 decided that we would not assist the airline in emerging from the protection of the bankruptcy court.

- And then there's food. This is not news to anyone who's flown in the last 10 years. But the situation has become really dire lately. Now, even a small bag of pretzels or snack mix is not always in the offing -- usually due to the "short duration of the flight," according to the flight attendants. I guess Parkinson's is really on the rise among flight crew members, since they used to be able to pull off the amazing feat of tossing a half-ounce bag of crap to each passenger without delaying the flight. The other recent development in airborne culinary science is the five-dollar meal. Some airlines will give you food -- if you pay. I paid once, and what I got was a cardboard box full of promotional samples that the airline surely got for free, and a piece of cheese and jelly-covered ham encapsulated between slabs of dry bread that spent their best days deep in the bowels of a cold, dark closet. The pricks in first or business class, of course, still get a gourmet meal. The food franchise is thus even more restricted now than when airborne meals first started disappearing.

Howard Hughes, expending some of his limited pool of lucidity, recognized that the success of air travel depended on making it attractive and available to the general public. (Yes, I just saw the Aviator.) And the airlines did a yeoman's job of it for a while. But I sense regression. I sense a resistance to the populist policies and trends that enable the unwashed masses to join together in high-altitude harmony. I see the airlines rescinding universal privileges in favor of carefully dispensed favors, calculated to deter low-margin travelers in favor of businessmen with hundred-dollar bills dripping down their pant legs.

The work-a-day Joe, who patrols Orbitz and Priceline for travel deals, is now a second-class citizen as soon as he crosses the threshold of the security perimeter. An airborne aristocracy is taking over. How long before the discount-fare economy passengers have to pay their way by catering to those who get the extra legroom, brining them Harvey Wallbangers and foie gras? How long before the coach section becomes a climate-uncontrolled cargo hold, with passengers affixed by canvas straps to cold steel walls?

Not long, I think. My advice is to save up for a nice car.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Happy Kwanzaa -- Today is Ujima Day! But, I Just Wanna Play!

Today is the third day of Kwanzaa, Ujima, which celebrates collective work and responsibility. Kwanzaa, like all holidays, is made up, but why would you choose "collective work and responsibility" as something to push during a holiday? What are we supposed to do, some sort of Habitat for Humanity-type work. Work? For other people? Be responsible? For other people?!? This isn't a holiday. It is more akin to court-ordered community service.

The reason why Kwanzaa hasn't taken off as a holiday, quite frankly, is poor marketing. The reason why Christmas is so successful is that you give and get shit in a celebration of frivolity...and, to a lesser extent, Christ. On Kwanzaa, only kids get gifts, mostly books. Books! Seriously, man, its like Karenga wasn't even trying to make Kwanzaa a wide-spread, cross-over holiday.

What is on tap tomorrow? Ujamaa. Cooperative economics. What?!? Sounds like communism to me. Guys: it failed. Yeah, it is definitely time for a Kwanzaa make-over. P. Diddy would be a good person to update Kwanzaa; he has proven able at taking stale standards from other eras and updating them with fat beats and style to turn them into hot, modern hits.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Sports World Finally Takes Notice Of Earthquake Disaster

From CBS Sportsline: Skier Stenmark, others feel impact. Apparently some retired Swedish skier named Ingemar (of course) Stenmark almost got rocked by one of the tidal waves that hit Thailand. The sports world wanted to recognize that 25,000 people not named Reggie White died this weekend, but there was no "hook." Turns out some random skier -- albeit an accomplished one -- was among the Thai, Indonesian, Indian people fleeing the deadly waters, so now it is worth noting.

Look, obviously the earthquake story is not sports page fare, but what a bizarre echo chamber us sports fans live in. Sadly, far more people in this country will know that "the Minister of Defense" dies of an obscure lung ailment than those who will know that upwards of a million people have been displaced by the earthquake and subsequent tsunami waves.

The waves sacked villages, but the NFL does not compile that stat. Only quarterback sacks. And only since 1982. Unofficially, Deacon Jones probably had the most sacks ever, but most of them were recorded before the sack became an official stat. And like the tsunami waves, he even sacked a few towns too, most notably Columbus, Ohio in '76 after taking a sack of Browns quarterback Brian Sipe a little too far.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

R.I.P. Reggie White, State Funeral Planned For Tuesday

I just tuned into NFL Gameday on ESPN, and the guys were talking in very solemn tones about a major tragedy. I thought they were going to reference the several thousand dead from the major earthquake in Asia yesterday. No, they were mourning the passing away of all-time NFL great Reggie White. It was so sad for the ESPN crew that I swear Ron Jaworski was crying.

Reggie White was undeniably one of the greatest defensive ends to play the game. And, apparently a really nice guy as well.

He was also a not-so-lovable religious kook. He made one of the most memorable speeches ever before the Wisconsin Legislature in the late 1990s. Of course, that is not exactly the most impressive achievment because most speeches by Wisconsin legislature are probably about dairy and sausage policy. Some highlights:

  • "Homosexuality is a decision, it's not a race. People from all different ethnic backgrounds live in this lifestyle. But people from all different ethnic backgrounds are liars and cheaters and malicious and back-stabbing."
  • Blacks are gifted at worship and celebration
  • Whites are industrious, "You guys do a good job of building businesses and things of that nature, and you know how to tap into money."
  • "Hispanics were gifted in family structure. You see a Hispanic person, and they can put 20 or 30 people in one home."
  • Asians are inventive, and "can turn a television into a watch."

Look, it's sad when anyone passes away, but the de-contextualized, hagiographic treatment of White and athletes when they pass away is just an inch short of absurd.

Friday, December 24, 2004

I Tried To Care And Failed...

Qatar beats Oman on penalties in Gulf Cup final. (Psst...someone needs to tell Qatar that its missing a "u." How embarrassing.). I understand "Qatar" (when in Rome) beat the Klingons to make the finals. The Borg fielded a strong team as usual, but for the second year in a row the squad faltered in the first round to the suprising team from Oman. Since Oman appears to be a made-up country (I have never heard of it, have you?), the defeat was especially embarrassing for the Borg.

Seriously, though, I am a huge soccer/football fan, and I found myself utterly unimpressed by "Qatar's" accomplishment.

Surviving Webster...

A couple of years ago, I saw that troubling episode of Webster (weren't they all) called "Maybe Baby" where Webster walked in on George boning Ma'am and they have to explain sex to him. It was a strange tone for the show "Webster" to strike only a couple of weeks after a sugary episode where George and Ma'am successfully convinced Webster to stop sleeping with his teddy bear.

Anyway, this all relates to my first New Year's resolution: get over the fear that Webster or some other little person may be watching me during the act. He is not behind me or under the bed. No, I did not hear his high pitch giggle. He is not there. I will be strong this year.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Tom Wolfe Explains Why He Sucks And We All Should Too

As noted a week or so ago, Tom Wolfe won an award for bad sex...writing. Although with his gnarled thin frame, ugly white suits and creepy demeanor, it is probably fair to assume he sucks at real sex too.

Wolfe explains: The Sex May Be Bad But It's Ironic, Says Tom Wolfe.

Yes, yes Tom. That's exactly it. So when my girlfriends complain about bad sex with me, those silly bitches just don't realize I was being ironic. It was performance art, and I was protesting the notion that we humans think that the ultimate joy is shared joy. A minute not enough? Well, tough, because I am a man on the go and I don't have time. If you ask me, those women who want extensive, lengthy carnal experiences are simply inefficient.

Ironic, huh? What a beautiful explanation for failure. Screw up a project at work? "You thought I was trying?" Shake head. "I was being ironic, boss. I didn't realize people who work here are so fucking provincial." After all, success is for Mennonites and other unsophisticated cultural simpletons.

And think about it: our president's career is the height of such irony. He might be the only person to failure upward in his career all the way to the presidency (except perhaps for ineffectual Whig John Tyler who was actually dubbed "His Accidency"). How fucking cool is that, ironically speaking. And twice he beat overachieving chumps who spent their whole lives carefully plotting their political assent, careers built on accomplishment, intellect and hard work. America responded to this silly competency challenge by twice electing an underachieving clown, clearly demonstrating that we are most certainly in the Irony Age. If only they realized this, serious liberals would not be so apoplectic about the way things are these days.

Santa Claus: What a Prick

As I dosed myself with coffee this morning, I found myself involuntarily singing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Maybe it was the caffeine, or maybe it was the slowly creeping realization that the world is a cruel, heartless place, but I began to think of the song in an entirely new light.

Let's get some facts out there. Santa provides room and board to a group of reindeer in exchange for a valuable annual service. These reindeer apparently live and cavort with one another. One of these reindeer has a horrible deformity. The nature of the deformity suggests that he may have been injured, or conceived, in an environment riddled with unsafe levels of radioactivity. Anyway, this deformed reindeer is ridiculed and humiliated by the other reindeer. They actually laugh at him, and call him names. And they don't let him play reindeer games!

Where is Santa during all of this? I'll tell you where: Sitting his fat ass down by the fireplace drinking an endless series of rum-drenched hot toddies, getting sloshed and yelling at Mrs. Claus to get his damn dinner ready. Meanwhile, his reindeer dependents have cultivated an atmosphere of bitter hatred and intolerance. But the Clauses aren't there to set them straight.

Lo and behold, one day Santa needs something from the deformed, radioactive reindeer. Suddenly, that drunk bastard is kind and gentle. "Say, Rudolph, how about sticking that nuclear nose of yours in front of my sleigh tonight, so I don't ram it into a chimney in a drunken stupor?"

In a startling display of magnanimity, the deformed reindeer doesn't say, "Fuck you, Santa, you absentee father. Where the fuck were you when Dasher was branding my nose with that hot poker? Where were you when Donner was sticking that broom handle up my reindeer ass?" No. The deformed reindeer says, "Sure, Santa."

And the day is saved.

Suddenly, the other reindeer like Rudolph. Why? Two reasons. First, he was useful to them. Indeed, he very well may have saved their jobs, or lives. In Rudolph's absence, their flight would have been exceptionally dangerous, what with Santa's tottering ineptitude and the inclement weather conditions. And even if they had made it, what about the next foggy Christmas Eve? I suspect Santa might have considered an efficiency initiative, replacing his reindeer with gas turbine engines and halogen headlamps.

Second, Rudolph was a celebrity. He was, after all, about to go down in history. The other, non-radioactive, reindeer were surely angling to join his entourage, hoping to be guided by his nose into the hottest North Pole clubs and restaurants. Fucking cult of personality, that's all.

So, in short: Santa is a prick whose addiction to alcohol fostered an inhuman (or inreindeer) environment in which the slightest difference was a reason for ridicule and humiliation. His reindeer are stuck-up, sanctimonious assholes whose affections are determined solely by self-interest and short-term gratification.

Hey kids, sing along.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Please Stop That Man Before I Drink Again...

Went to two holiday parties on Saturday, one of which was my former employer's annual event.

If only I could avoid human contact at these affairs. I got stuck in a bunch of conversations with former colleagues where we tried to pretend that we were interested in what each of us had to say. By my third glass of wine, a remarkably effective truth serum, it got harder and harder to come up with small talk and feign interest. "So how do you like it at ___?" was a repeat question. Range ofavailable answers: "Love it." "It's great." "Really liking it." "Its a lot of fun." "Great work." "It's fine, but more importantly I have really gotten into drinking goat milk." (ok, didn't say the latter, butI was tempted twice to do so). These conversations were about a pleasurable as eating glass. Glass, glass...let's see...ah, there was some glass at the bar in the corner. And everyone knows that glass is even tastier when it is first filled with booze. To the bar.

As I enjoyed a glass of a passable Cabernet, another set of people came up to me to say hi and reminisce. I call them the unrecognizables. I referred to the unrecognizables as "man." As in"Hey, man, how have you been?" I can safely report that "man" is/are doing fine. For the most part. Man suggested we get a drink. And so we did. The Grey Goose and tonic did not make them any more recognizable, but the conversation was better lubricated.

About the most scandalous thing that happened at the party was the shamelessly bad dancing. I was traumatized by this one financial expert's spasmatic grooving to "Play That Funky Music White Boy." It was so horrific a scene that I almost wrestled the bass player to the ground; seriously, he was encouraging people by smiling and pointing at them. Sicko. When the managing director started doing something that resembled the cabbage patch mixed with the worm mixed with a seizure, I was driven back to the bar yet again.

So, in sum, I spent Saturday coming up with reasons to drink. And the folks at my old company came up with a variety of justifications for my top shelf descent into inebriation.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Welcome to Our Fuck Pad

One of the interesting things that you get to see when you have a blog is how people find your site. We have a little counter attached to this page that tells us how people got here -- whether they were referred by another site, or have linked from somewhere else, or even found us by a Google search. (Don't worry, privacy hounds. It's all very vague stuff. Unless you sign your name with your IP address, we can't tell who is who.)

Getting to see what Google searches have sent people our way is particularly interesting. For instance, on December 16th, at 11:08 a.m., some poor soul stumbled across our site because they searched for "fuck pad" on Google. That phrase happens to show up in Joseph K's entry about Bernard Kerik. When I saw that someone had found us that way, I felt like I had found a message in a bottle sitting in the sand on the beach. Where did Mr. Fuck Pad Searcher come from? What was he (or she? Nah.) looking for? Rental listings for fully equipped Fuck Pads? Or maybe a site dedicated to the hatred of a man named Pad? Or is he someone who is really, really against Thai food?

Of course, Mr. Fuck Pad Searcher didn't just find Banality Fair after executing that search. He clicked on it. And he did so after cruising through four pages of other responsive links. Here is what you get when you run that search. Clicking through to page 4 of the links, you see our site. And all you can see in the Google search results under Banality Fair is: "... No, it was the fuck pad frequented by competing mistresses and the ties to businesses linked to the mob that's got everyone in a lather. ..."

Now, whatever purpose Mr. Fuck Pad Searcher had for running his search, what could possibly have been in that snippet that would cause him to click on us? Did he say, "Finally -- a Fuck Pad rental agency that allows competing mistresses and mob ties!" Or did he say, "This sounds like the work of my arch-enemy, the nefarious Pad. Fuck him!"

I ask you, Mr. Fuck Pad Searcher, if you return to the site, please let us know. We must know.

A Probably Interesting Place I'll Never Visit

Ever heard of "Hoover-ball," a game invented by President Herbert Hoover, where you throw a six pound medicine ball over an eight foot high net for no apparent reason?

Did you know that Herbert Hoover was married to someone named "Lou?" And that Lou was an avid knitter? It's true.

Did you know that Hoover was a world-class mining engineer and metallurgist? Or that he was made an honorary member of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association?

Did you know that Hoover signed the law making the "Star-Spangled Banner" the national anthem? Did you know that was probably his greatest accomplishment during his presidency?

Did you know that Hoover was one of only two presidents who donated his entire presidential salary to charity (Kennedy was the other)? He did that because he was rich. Bush is rich too, but giving away unnecessary wealth is un-Christian. If you are the right kind of Christian. Kennedy was a Catholic (pagan) and Hoover was a Quaker (weirdos who make oat-based food products, but little else).

Did you know that he was inaugurated on March 4, 1929 and not January 20 (the later date was established by the 20th Amendment). He was sworn in during a heavy cold, rain storm, but thankfully make his inauguration speech relatively short and sweet in light of the weather. Unlike that dimwitted Whig William Henry Harrison who died of pneumonia a month (April 1841) after giving an hour and a half long inaugural speech in freezing weather (many who had to shiver through that pap probably thought, "serves that rapscallion right.")

You can learn more about the afore-mentioned and more at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library ( in West Branch Iowa. Don't want to learn more? Consider yourself normal.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

My Life As a Dog (Owner)

By way of Patricia Williams' column in the Nation, I came across E.B. White's wonderful ode to his dog, Fred. White said that Fred pursued each day "with the complete conviction that through vigilance and good work all porcupines, all cats, all skunks, all squirrels, all houseflies, all footballs, all evil birds in the sky could successfully be brought to account and the scene made safe and pleasant for the sensible individual -- namely, him. However distorted was his crazy vision of the beautiful world, however perverse his scheme for establishing an order of goodness by murdering every creature that seemed to him bad, I had to hand him this: he really worked at it."

Patricia Williams somehow segued from that quote to some thick argument about searching for explosives in airports. I didn't read all of that. I was stuck on what seems to me -- christened a dog owner two years ago -- the finest and most pinpoint-accurate description of a dog's psychology I have read. Anyone who has taken a dog for a walk in the madcap, twisted, utterly random world that ours must seem to be to a dog knows how close to his target White has hit.

My dog, Wesley, is a twelve-pound puff of orange and white, but he can -- and does -- stare down dogs that outweigh him by a factor of eight. He views birds as insurgents, poised to gather their forces around our front door and invade his hard-fought territory. Squirrels? Despicable thieves dead set on infiltrating Wesley's most closely guarded hiding spots and making off with the rawhide fragments secreted there. People, too, are wanton tramplers of ground that in a good and true world belongs only to Wesley.

Each morning, when he stumbles out the front door in the beginning light of the day, Wesley resumes his ceaseless fight against these and other forces of evil. During the day, he stands guard, monitoring the walls and ceilings for the creaks and groans that are the telltale signs of an impending intrusion by monsters who have discovered a weakness in our brick and wood barriers. At night, he is a sentry, barking once if the threat comes from outside, and one hundred times if it seems to come from somewhere closer.

Before I was a dog owner, these obsessive-compulsive behaviors annoyed me, and I couldn't imagine living with a creature that constantly exhibited them. Cats, on the other hand, seemed to be silent Buddhas, cleaning up after themselves and ably assessing the true nature of the threats against them. But once you've become a dog owner, his bark is not merely annoying; it is the voice of a friend who, despite his more endearing qualities, perhaps talks a little too much. At least twice a day, I lather him in accolades for the fact that he has shit on the ground. When he wakes me up because he wants to snuggle more closely against me, I go back to sleep a happier person. A cat now seems little more than a mildly animated toy.

I recommend dog ownership. Right now, it even seems to be an adequate substitute for child ownership. It remains to be seen, of course, whether Wesley will see a future child resident of our home as one of the evils that infect his world and prevent him from realizing his dream of a safe and pleasant realm for a sensible individual -- namely, him.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

The Sexiest Bloggers On The Internet

No, not the crew at Banality Fair. We are decidedly unsexy. Even contra-sexy. Inverto-sexy. Ok, enough.

Instead, we're talking about stud legal academics and newly minted bloggers: federal appeals court judge Richard Posner and law school professor Gary Becker. All you smart ladies drawn to their site will pretend like you are interested in, say, their scintillating discussion this week about pharmaceutical patents. Yet, when Posner writes, "the social cost of patents that was traditionally emphasized by economists is the wedge that a patent drives between price and marginal cost" ... you'll be thinking about being driven by a entirely different type of wedge.

See, ladies, I know you all will really be hopping on the site regularly -- -- to check out their chiseled, handsome mugs and daydream about being their sex slaves...and we won't blame you for it. It's hot!

For Christ's Sake

How the hell is this allowed to happen: Michael Jackson to Throw Kids Holiday Party at Neverland. Given Jackson's proclivity for plying kids with wine, which he calls "Jesus juice," I have this image of a bunch of drunk nine year olds barfing in bushes around the compound and cursing out Santa ("Where......the fuck are you on December 26, Santa?...huh?...when the shit goes back to normal and the toys get boring...what?...wait, don't go, Santa...please take me home with you...that bitch MOM is always telling me what to do...keep me away from the creepy white monster with black hair...shit, where's my Jesus juice?!?")

Fish Out of Water

This morning, as I was lathering up in the shower, my handy water-resistant Sony shower radio -- tuned to our local "traffic and weather on the 8's" channel, WTOP -- emitted the soothing sounds of Tim Russert's voice. What incisive commentary did he offer about the pressing issues of our day?

Okay, get this: (1) Tim Russert -- a political commentator -- was interviewing (2) Antawn Jamison -- a professional basketball player for the Wizards -- about (3) his predictions of the outcomes of this weekend's football games. What, pray tell, was that combination of disparate talents supposed to generate in the way of insight? Not much. It may as well have been, (1) Tim Russert interviewing (2) me, (3) about the latest developments in quantum physics.

I hadn't had my coffee yet, so I cursed, threw the radio against the wall, and after drying off, gave my dog a swift kick in the abdomen.

Of course, WTOP does crap like that all the time. Usually, the Wizards segment is recorded by a man named Arch (Campbell). He, as far as I can tell, has no expertise in anything, and he interviews Wizards about things they know even less about. Most often, he asks them for movie recommendations. How about getting me some valuable advice on mortgage-backed securities, while you're at it, Arch? Maybe the Wizards can even help me fill Russert in on the implications of the Copenhagen Interpretation on Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle.

Why does everyone have an opinion on everything? And why should I care about what Antawn Jamison thinks, unless it's an opinion on the triangle offense? I can't think of a single reason. So, my dog gets a swift kick almost every morning. I really should change the channel.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Now I Feel Petty

If anyone should be rubbing salt in Bill O'Reilly's know, the wounds caused by the publication of accusations that he pleasures himself with vibrators while harrassing should be rap star Ludacris. After all, O'Reilly cost Ludacris an endorsement deal with Pepsi when O'Reilly waged a a war aginst Pepsi's hiring of Luda because of his immoral and misogynistic rhymes, a war with some obvious cultural and racial overtones (O'Reilly is a master race-baiter).

But, Ludacris refrained from attacking O'Reilly recent problemson his latest album: Rapper Pulls Punches with Fox News Nemesis. I keep pointing out how the married O'Reilly was accused by a subordinate of propositioning her and pleasuring himself during phone conversations with that subordinate. And, Ludacris is taking the high road. I should be ashamed of myself.

In any event, O'Reilly has pivoted from attacking black culture to attacking Jews he feels are "anti-Christmas," apparently. For those who may have missed it, here is O'Reilly addressing comments to a Jewish caller to his radio show about Christmas:

"You have a predominantly Christian nation. You have a federal holiday based on the philosopher Jesus. And you don't wanna hear about it? Come on, [caller] -- if you are really offended, you gotta go to Israel then. I mean because we live in a country founded on Judeo -- and that's your guys' -- Christian, that's my guys' philosophy. But overwhelmingly, America is Christian. And the holiday is a federal holiday honoring the philosopher Jesus. So, you don't wanna hear about it? Impossible.

And that is an affront to the majority. You know, the majority can be insulted, too. And that's what this anti-Christmas thing is all about."

Remember minorities: the majority can be insulted too. So just keep quiet and conform already...

Lovely Items from Today's Rush & Milloy NY Daily News Column

Bill Clinton is still the man:

"Clinton repels park snark

Bill Clinton fought back when he ran into a verbal mugging in Central Park.

The former President is said to have been strolling through the park with his Secret Service team recently when a man pushing a stroller taunted, 'You were an embarrassment to the office of commander-in-chief.'

Lakshmi Kumar, writing in Citizen Culture magazine, says she saw Clinton stop and deftly tell his heckler, 'Oh, really? I think I did a helluva job.... I'll admit I misled people about my personal life. And I have even apologized for it, but I never misled the people about policy and I certainly never misled the people about going to war.'

Clinton is said to have spent 45 minutes taking questions from a mostly adoring crowd, then told his detractor: 'I hope your children turn out to be as perfect as you are, sir.'

The group applauded and Bill walked to a nearby SUV, where, Kumar says, Sen. Hillary Clinton looked impatient. "

We have come far from the days when a dude lying about a blow job from a zaftig chick could bring down a presidency...
And then, there was this item:

"A 'Passion' for defamation

There's nothing like ecumenical spirit for the holidays.

Jewish viewers are still agog over Catholic League President William Donohue's comments on MSNBC's 'Scarborough Country' the other night.

Asked by guest host Pat Buchanan what he thought of the success of Mel Gibson's controversial 'The Passion of the Christ,' Donahue contended that 'Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular. It's not a secret, okay? And I'm not afraid to say it. That's why they hate this movie. It's about Jesus Christ.'

Rabbinical firebrand Shmuley Boteach, who was also on the show, shot back: 'That is a bunch of crap. Stop the anti-Semitic garbage.'

Donohue snapped, 'Who's making the movies? The Irishmen?'

The defender of Catholic orthodoxy didn't stop there. While Donohue said he likes 'families' and 'nativity scenes,' 'Hollywood likes anal sex.'"

So, to summarize: Hollywood is run by Jews who like anal sex and hate Jesus Christ. How is this disgusting, anti-Semite the president of any religious advocacy group? If you have the time and are a intellectual masochist, you should check out the group's site at, where you can read pieces that (i) attempt to trivialize sexual abuse by priests (main argument? Protestants and Jews are as bad or worse!) and (ii) vigorous defenses of Pope Pius XII, who was officially neutral on the German's atrocities during the Holocaust, while providing some help for persecuted Jews through private channels.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

The Kerik "Conspiracy"

So, this Kerik story is getting out of control. A lot of over-analytical political junkies are even conjuring up all kinds of conspiracy theories about how it came to passs, e.g., that Karl Rove, cherubic, yet evil, genius, engineered the nomination of a flawed Guiliani ally to undermine a Guiliani presidential run in 2008. Nonsense. Guilani has done enough to undermine his moral stature by publicly dating another woman while he was the married mayor of New York. He lashed out in weird ways at the time by cracking down on jaywalkers and embarking on a Footloosian crusade to crack down on dancing. Those of us who lived in NY in the late 90s know what I am talking about. The city cut down on the number of cabaret licenses one needs to have dancing in one's establishment. A bartender at this one bar that couldn't get or even afford a cabaret license once asked my sister to stop grooving in her chair fearing Guiliani's anti-dance thugs would shut down his place.

So what was Kerik's crime, so to speak? The nanny stuff had the most facial political resonance (given that he'd be running INS), but no one had really had their curiosity stirred by that part of the story. No, it was the fuck pad frequented by competing mistresses and the ties to businesses linked to the mob that's got everyone in a lather.

Let's take the mob-related business stuff. Frankly, we've become immune to notion of powerful people cavorting with criminals. Remember the "Kenny-boy" Bush personally penned to prospective Enron Ken Lay? We all know some sketchy people too, let's be honest. I once knew this dude in law school who liked to go through people's coats for loose change. And for no apparent reason too; he was rich (wealth can be downright pathological at times). I remember walking in on him at a party when he was trying on some woman's coat. You know, he was a real fucking freak.

As for the sex stuff, some of it is weird, some of it is not. The weird stuff -- he had a fuck pad that cost thousands of dollars a month to rent -- on a salary that could not support renting such a place (around the same time he was friends with the dudes who ran the mob-affiliated businesses...not that I am insinuating anything). The not so weird stuff is a powerful man screwing women on the side. At least he's not:

  • R. Kelly -- an ephebophile who likes to piss on teenage girls
  • Michael Jackson -- a pedophile who likes to cuddle with little boys
  • Bill O'Reilly -- who calls up his subordinates to talk about his dick while pleasuring himself with a vibrator
  • Brigitte Neilsen -- who is at least willing to give people the impression that she's screwing Flava Flav. The impression...that is gross enough
  • Al Reynolds -- who is willing to give the impression that he is screwing Star Jones because he wants to. The impression...that is, again, gross enough
  • Marv Albert -- had this obsession for biting hookers

Kerik's already withdrawn his nomination. It is time to let him get back to making sweetheart deals (e.g., the Taser stock deal) and self-indulgent carnal pursuits in peace. Seriously, this story is getting boring and tedious.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Something He Can Do Without...

According to CNN, wildly untalented novelist Tom Wolfe wins bad sex award. Good thing they didn't talk to any of my ex-girlfriends prior to commencing the nomination process.

Jesus Christ: Liberal Freak, Part 3

All the right-wing Christian conservatives are a bunch of sanctimonious teetotaler, who frown upon having some drinks and a good time. But, not my main man JC. The cat was at this wedding around the time that his hype was starting to build, when they ran out of booze. His mom asked him to hook up the party. And, he was like, "Cool." In perhaps most fun miracle he ever performed (not sure getting your sight back was necessarily "fun"), he gave the wedding guests: wine, wine, wine.

From John, Chapter 2:

1On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus' mother was there, 2and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3When the wine was gone, Jesus' mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”

4“Dear woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied, “My time has not yet come.”

5His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

6Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.[a]

7Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.

8Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”

They did so, 9and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”

11This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.

If we are to put our faith in those who provide fine wines, I need to treat and honor the folks at the local wine store better. First step: stop deleting the mass mailings about merlot sales or some such; in them, the Word is perhaps being revealed...

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Jesus Christ: Liberal Freak, Part 2

Woops, spoke to soon about JC not being a big government liberal. Check out what he has to say in Matthew about the propriety of the Caeser's taxation of the Israelites.

From Matthew, Chapter 22:

22:15 Then the Pharisees went out and planned together to entrap him with his own words. 22:16 They sent to him their disciples along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are truthful, and teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You do not court anyone’s favor because you show no partiality. 22:17 Tell us then, what do you think? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

22:18 But Jesus realized their evil intentions and said, “Hypocrites! Why are you testing me? 22:19 Show me the coin used for the tax.” So they brought him a denarius. 22:20 Jesus said to them, “Whose image is this, and whose inscription?” 22:21 They replied, “Caesar’s.” He said to them, “Then give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 22:22 Now when they heard this they were stunned, and they left him and went away.

"Give to Caeser the things that are Caeser's." Whatchutalkingbout, JC? I guess the point is that issues like whether a state should tax its citizens are material concerns and have nothing to do with the message of peace and love he was pushing. Also, the Pharissees were not fans of JC's, so perhaps they were trying to trap into making a "seditious" statement that would lead to his execution by the powers that be. Still... Ugh, JC, Grover Norquist would be so disappointed in you.

Jesus Christ: Liberal Freak, Part 1

This is the first in a series of posts analyzing what Jesus is reported to have said in the various gospels exploring the notion that he would be an out-of-touch liberal freak in today's America.

From Mark, Chapter 10:

10:17 Now as Jesus was starting out on his way, someone ran up to him, fell on his knees, and said, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 10:18 Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 10:19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.’” 10:20 The man said to him, “Teacher, I have wholeheartedly obeyed all these laws since my youth.” 10:21 As Jesus looked at him, he felt love for him and said, “You lack one thing. Go, sell whatever you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 10:22 But at this statement, the man looked sad and went away sorrowful, for he was very rich.

10:23 Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” 10:24 The disciples were astonished at these words. But again Jesus said to them, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 10:25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 10:26 They were even more astonished and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?” 10:27 Jesus looked at them and replied, “This is impossible for mere humans, but not for God; all things are possible for God.”"

What is up with JC harrassing the rich dude who is living a supposedly righteous life (like, ahem, our glorious leader in D.C.)? And, JC is saying that the only way to be truly righteous is for folks who have extra to give up their wealth and distribute it to the less fortunate. Regardless of the tax implications (think of the tax hit a person my age would take if we liquidated our IRA to give the cash Oxfam or something). He sounds like Engels for Chri-- er, his own sake!
There must have been a mistake in the translation from Aramaic to Greek. He probably said, "Rich people will ride into heaven on camels, and given golden needles as gifts," or something like that. At the same time, notice he's saying people should voluntarily give up their wealth, and not have it taken by the state through taxation and re-distributed. So at least he's not a big-government liberal.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Apocalypse Now

Clay Aiken was given a prime time Christmas special which aired tonight, another clear sign that the Apocalypse is impending. It is therefore time to check in with former teen star Kirk Cameron at his website for more tips on surviving the Rapture.

Kirk's partner in the divine is this cat named Ray Comfort. Ray, easily identifiable by his bushy moustache, has this weird obsession with converting truckers; the hairier and more tatooed, the more Ray is drawn to them. Ray's house is the house kids avoid on Halloween, because -- as he explains on the web site -- he dispenses not candy, only the gospel (yuck! might as well give fruit). Anyway, according to Kirk and Ray even lusting after another woman in one's heart is adultery. It is not clear from "Way of the Master" gang whether you have to be married for lusting to be wrong. Nor do they specifically address lusting after a man (or truckers!). But, I should stop with the questions and cynicism because that is going to buy me a one way ticket to hell.

Anyways, they argue that when you are born again, you are given new desires, the desire to serve and please God. Which raises this question: What do you get to please the God who has and is everything, aside from being a crass brown-noser who sweats God all the time? Somehow a necktie seems cheap and tacky. Shoes? I have no idea what God's shoe size is.

Any suggestions about how to please the God who has everything? Post your suggestions in the comments section.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Joseph K Is In Love

I read about this delightful creature, and she melted my heart: 'Black Widow' Wins Meatball-Eating Contest

Her name is Sonia Thomas. She is attractive, sexy, thin, and the greatest eater of our generation. More from the AP story about her exploits:

"Facing a field that included several men who could have fit the 105-pound Thomas into one of their pant legs, she finished off 89 meatballs in 12 minutes, or about one meatball shy of six pounds. The next closest competitor was nearly a pound behind.

Were that not impressive enough, this should strike fear into the hearts and stomachs of her
future foes: guys, she could have eaten more.

'I wasn't that full,' Thomas said after receiving the $2,500 winner's check. 'I had room for more. It was the swallowing that was the hard part.'

Thomas, 37, of Alexandria, Va., is the Lance Armstrong of competitive eating. Since taking up the pastime 18 months ago, she has won more than $40,000 and holds titles in a variety of food categories.

'I'm really competitive, and I knew I could eat more than a normal person,' Thomas said. 'So I wanted to see how much I could eat.'

Among the feats she can lay claim to are eating 11 pounds of cheesecake in nine minutes and 36 dozen oysters in 10 minutes. Last weekend she ate 52 hard-boiled eggs in five minutes at halftime of an NBA game in Orlando. "

She may be the most amazing woman in the world. How many hard-boiled eggs you can eat in five minutes is one of the principal criteria used to evaluate the "most amazing woman in the world," and I defy you to find a more amazing woman. I love her, and I love her proudly.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

More From The Joseph K Fiction Archives

Not only did I write bad poems, but in my youth I also filled wire-bound notebooks with bad fiction. A lot of half-finished weird stories.

This from a story I wrote in about sixth grade for my English class:

"'Ladies and gentlemen, we are back on the Shucky Taylor show. Our next guest is from another world. Literally. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome my next guest who name is unpronounceable in any human tongues. We call him Gerth and he is from the ice planet....'

Shucky holds up a card that reads: cfddfvvfsfbbbbjnrbijnjn

'As you can see, Gerth is from a planet that does not use vowels. Anyways, here is the exciting reason why Gerth is here. He has traveled all the way from...that place with, get this: the secret to eternal peace, happiness and immortality. Gerth, baby, lay it on us. What is the secret to eternal peace, happiness and immortality? Remember, folks, this is a Shucky Taylor show exclusive!'

Gerth rubbed his square head with a tentacle and said, 'rwdhnjkbsszxwq.'

'Fascinating, Gerth. Really fascinating. That about says it all. We'll be back after this message.'"

My English teacher commented: "Well, at least this story was not about snakes like all your other stories."

Your Government Dollars at Work

L.A. television stations are apparently resisting the airing of a government-funded anti-syphillis featuring what one Reuters reporter called "an irascible chancre named 'Phil the Sore.'"

More from the story (L.A. TV Stations Shun 'Phil the Sore' Syphilis Ad):

"In the commercial two shirtless men meet at a bar and go home together. They part the following morning, one clad only in underwear and an open bathrobe, as the blob-like pustule character 'Phil' moves in -- bringing several friends toting boxes that read 'brain damage,' 'rash' and 'HIV pusher.'"

Phil seems like a absolutely appropriate name for a syphillis sore. I am waiting for the line of Phil the Sore toys and stuffed likenesses. The perfect stocking stuffer this Christmas season.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Election Update

I know some Banality Fair readers have been staying away from post-November 2 news. Here is a quick update about one story that some have missed: As it turns out, Bush stole the election, and Kerry really won. Oh well. Cruise on over to DailyKos or MyDD and you'll see what I'm talking about. In essence, just about every vote in every state was converted into a Bush vote, regardless of precinct, machine type, hair color, or voter left-handedness or right-handedness. In a nutshell:

1. Electronic machines were hacked by Diebold, a company whose CEO cryptically commented before the election, "I promise that our electronic voting machines will erroneously count all votes as Bush votes, regardless of the voters' intent." No one knew what to make of his comment before. Now we know.

2. Punchcard ballots were, as in 2000, inscrutably difficult to use. Republican operatives again designed a foolproof strategy for delivering punchcard votes to Bush, with a ploy even more subversive than the "butterfly" ballot gambit in 2000. This year, tiny Republican-leaning nano-machines were attached to Kerry chads, such that when the Kerry chads were pushed out, they operated like miniscule helicopters, displaced a Bush chad, and reattached themselves in the Kerry section. Devious little buggers.

3. Electronic scanning machines -- "Scantron" for those of us who attended high school in the eighties -- were equally rife with fraud. It turns out that the Kerry section of the ballot was coated with an oily plastic substance that caused all ink and pencil marks to ooze over to the Bush side.

4. There was also fraud in the distribution of voting machines. For instance, in Ohio, no predominantly black precincts received any voting machines at all. However, in the white suburbs, each citizen received, by hand delivery, a personal Pentium 4-powered laptop with customized, WiFi-powered remote voting software.

Anyway, all of this fraud simply hasn't been covered by the mainstream media, so even if you haven't been watching it, you haven't missed anything.

Since all voting methods were corrupted in this election, I really see only one answer: Voice vote. At a designated time on the first Tuesday of November, every voter should be asked to step outside and cast a voice vote. Dick Clark will preside over a giant Applause-O-Meter in one of his rockin' Bandstand restaurants. The will of the people shall be heard: loud, clear, and over a hep backbeat.