Thursday, February 28, 2008

Tiny Letters to Strangers, Volume 1

Dear Thirtysomethin' Mall Walker,

First, I appreciate your dedication to a fitness regimen, especially one that allows you to stop making laps long enough to purchase a candle the size of a tractor tire. I'm writing because your outfit was a bit unsettling to me and the other Food Court patrons. No, not because you'd wriggled yourself into spandex Under Armour separates that covered you from collarbone to calf--who among us doesn't dig seeing a woman in garments tight enough to showcase her endocrine glands? Speaking of which, we saw you ovulate somewhere between American Eagle and Old Navy.

No, Slim Goodbody, it's just that if you require a sweat-wicking fabric for an activity you can perform while simultaneously sipping an Orange Julius, perhaps you have some other issues that need to be addressed. Like a thyroid problem.

Respectfully yours,

Dear Guy Who Shouted Out His Car Window At Me While I Was Running,

I always appreciate it when passing drivers take the time to roll down their windows to yell at me, especially when it involves such subtle turns of phrase like "Don't stop, Saddlebags!" or "RUN, FORREST, RUN!" or "Stop pissing in my yard!". Your thoughtful suggestion to "Get on the fuckin' sidewalk!" yesterday was a new one, especially since the quiet residential neighborhood you were speeding through doesn't even have sidewalks, a detail you might have noticed if you could've seen through the giant American flag decal pasted on the rear window of your Isuzu Trooper.

Ignoring for a moment the subtle conflict between your Dollar General patriotism and your rusted Japanese car, let's focus instead on the reason why you'd be racing a qualifying lap down this street lined with swingsets and SLOW signs. It had to be something special, like the arrival of those gladiolus bulbs you'd ordered or because the library called to tell you that the Pearl S. Buck anthology was now available.

But back to your sticker. "These Colors Don't Run", it said. And from the look of the fleshy, fluid-retaining middle finger you extended in my direction, neither do you. Regardless, I understand your hurry and I apologize for making you swerve from the straight line you'd been driving down the center of the road. Had you not shown me the error of my ways, you would've spent the rest of the afternoon peeling pieces of me off your Bug Shield instead of savoring the saffron risotto you'd so lovingly prepared for your evening meal.

Admittedly I returned your gesture, although it wasn't evident since my little paws were swaddled in fleecy GapKids mittens so it probably looked like I was challenging you to some Far and Away-style fisticuffs. Not that you noticed, since you were probably lost in your own personal interpretation of the Jupiter Symphony.

Yours in Christ,

Dear Amanda Overmyer,

Your hair looks like Michigan's football helmet.

Fig. 1
That is all.


Dear J-Money,

You either need to buy more toilet paper or install a bidet.


Monday, February 25, 2008

Dr. Phil Haiku 23-25

After yesterday's run, I caught up on my three unhaiku-ed eps of Mr. Doctor Phil, a period of 180 minutes that was infinitely more painful than the 20 miles that preceded it. I urge you not to try this at home, lest you find yourself doing Web M.D. searches for "weeping brain".

On Wednesday's episode:
He calls his wife fat??
He's bigger than Michael Moore
Riding Oprah's back.

Won't have sex with her.
"Thank you", says his wife's ribcage.
"For not crushing me."

On Thursday's episode:
Mother and daughter
Suing each other. Mom wins.
We lose for watching.

The daughter's lip gloss
Looks like she has been drinking
Blood. Or wood varnish.

I'm delirious.
Phil's eyes too small for his face.
Sprinkles on cupcake.

On Friday's episode:
He did tequila
Shots right before his wedding.
Drink till she's cute, dude!

"Bridezilla!" Phil says.
'Cause she's a bitch or 'cause she
Destroyed Tokyo?

Cannot wait for the
Sequel when she gets divorced,
Then battles Mothra

Author's Note: I'm never consuming that much Phil in one sitting ever again...butI am considering holding all of the haiku until each Friday, to create a five day 85-syllable MegaMcGraw retrospectacular. What do you guys think? Or do you dig 'em daily?

Programming Note

Today you can read some of my words over at the uber-rad Indie Bloggers...

That's all.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Workout Summary #2

Time Spent Running: 2 hours, 34 minutes, 50 seconds
Miles Run: 20.01
Pace Per Mile: 7:44
Songs That Kept Me Pumped-ish (With Clicky Links to Download Them):

"The Plot"-White Rabbits
"You Are The One"- Shiny Toy Guns
"Far Behind"- Social Distortion
"Young Turks"- Rod Stewart
Songs That Did Not: "The Funeral"- Band of Horses
But Did It Make You Want To Ride in a Ford Edge?: Yes, while staring at skyscrapers until my asshat friends left me in the car
You Can't Be Serious About the Rod Stewart Song: Oh, but I am.
Most Frequent Pain-Distracting Fantasy Object, Miles 1-16: Jason Statham
And Miles 16-20?: Jason Voorhees
Snickers Bars Consumed: 2
Ounces of Pedialyte: 16. It's better than Gatorade. And by "better" I mean "cheaper".
Advertising Slogans Written: 1- "Pedialyte- Not just for hangovers. Or babies. But mostly hangovers."
Catchy. Haven't You Been Fired from an Advertising Job?: Yes
Is that the One Where They Fired You While You Were Sitting on the Toilet?: No, that was a different firing
Wow. You're Not Very Good at Life, Are You?: No

Friday, February 22, 2008


We're under a warning for one of those freakish southern snow storms, one sure to leave my neighborhood littered with Miatas who have crosschecked each other into the mailboxes or the sugar maples.

The problem? I needed to go to the grocery store and my list included milk, bread, and eggs* so today's routine run was gonna make me look like the wild-eyed housewives who, upon the first dispatches from Super Doppler 12, scream into the parking lot hellbent on Bunny bread and 2%, like they'll be spending the weekend trapped inside, consuming nothing but French toast and milk sandwiches.
I unloaded my cart and considered making a winking aside to the cashier, some "isn't this weather cuh-raaazy?” talk. But the cashier is fifty and tired. She’s wearing an apron and a button promoting a roasting pan giveaway. Her face is lined and worn, like a road map that’s been folded too many times in the wrong directions. She’s obviously too busy revisiting every bad decision she ever made to give a shit about my motivation for buying eggs.

There's no conclusion. I just overthink everything. But four more weeks of forty dollar receipts and I'll snag a roasting pan of my own.

*aka the Holy Shit! Trinity because any time the local radar wears the pink and grey ice-n-snow camouflage, everyone's all "Holy Shit! We need more milk! And bread! And eggs!"

Thursday, February 21, 2008

So Far...

The best thing about owning a dog is the following incident, just fifteen minutes old.

Pigpen's walk was early today since I'd gotten tired of sitting inside watching him plunder the guest bed with Plainview-style fury. So when we reached the school that marks our halfway point, the middkids were outside during a class change. On the sidewalk in front of us I'm not sure what's the A-OK term for Channel subject. Are they called dwarves? Fun-sized? Seacrests? Anyway, there was a child in front of us who would have fit comfortably inside a snow globe and--even better--he seemed to be the school bully, slinging insults and bouncing rocks off the other kids' backpacks. I was momentarily impressed by li'l Arnold Drummond's reign of terror when his Bape-rocking classmate shouted "Yo! Tell your dog to bite his forehead."

Aaaand scene.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Tiny Tidbits: Wednesday

1) I've had brainclouds all day today because I spent huge chunks of last night being battered by Pigpen's little feet. He was dreaming about something that made him go all World Cup on my kidneys, either chasing rabbits or--more likely--tearing up my shit. I'm certain that he can be destructive even when he's conked out. Unfortunately, he dreamjacked me again, tearing me away from my latest sleepytime lust object. This time it was one of my local news anchors. He was the last thing I saw before falling asleep, this perfect piece of Anchormeat--all porcelain veneers and Mattel hair--sending me off with the world's only bedtime story involving the phrases "recalled beef" and "gutter fire".

2) Why, if I'm wearing something other than pajamas and a snarl, don't Pigpen and I ever see any other people on our walks? If I've brushed my teeth, we roll out the door into I Am Legend, but this morning--when I looked like Nosferatu in a Gap scarf--Pigpen managed to attract the attention of a Clive Owen lookalike who was clutching a coffee and waiting to cross the street. I tried to turn away, in the hopes that maybe tomorrow I could make a first impression that didn't shriek "Good morning! My gums smell like coleslaw and mulch!" but walked directly into the branch of a recently-planted dogwood. Nothing says 'casual nonchalance' like screaming an obscenity as you remove a piece of bark from your cornea. I am never having sex again.

3) I had lunch at K.F. Chicken yesterday because I was craving crispy poultry and also because I hate myself. I walked in and took my place in line behind an elderly woman who seemed to be altogether unfamiliar with the menu, with the new horseless carriages, and with this magical land of "Ken Tucky" that they spoke of. I stood there watching as all of the fresh biscuits were bagged up and handed out through the drive thru window--leaving nothing but flour and fiberglass for me--and wondering if she was going to make a selection before her facial features slid completely off her skull. I could have unfurled her neck skin and used it as a Slip-N-Slide.

Miss Daisy finally bought some chicken and tentatively shuffled toward the bev dispenser. She stood in front of the Pepsi products, investigating her nasal passages with a Kleenex she'd conjured from somewhere in her sleeve like the world's shittiest magic trick. Sigh. I ordered my meal- two thighs and a leg (aka the Heather Mills Special) with macaroni and--whaaaaaat? The Colonel has decreed that you only get one extra now? No mashed with a side of mashed? I don't understand why this decision was made but I'm sure it's not because of health concerns. This is a place that uses the 'bucket' as a serving size.

4) I watched four miles worth of VH1 Classic while I treadmilled today. After the Rod Stewart Rock Block (which is probably how he refers to his penis) there were back-to-back-to-back commercials for eDiets, Tostitos, and Taco Bell, so the target audience is apparently people who need to lose weight and also people who like to smoke pot.

This was my favorite video because I both like the song and Rowdy Roddy spends five minutes wearing his "Ellen DeGeneres: The Early Years" costume. And because it looks like the director just said "Fuck it, let's use ALL the special effects!" And because I have those same slip-on Keds.

5) Of course I tuned in to American Idol--just to feed my Cowell crush--but did not dig his new haircut. It makes his head look like a can. A friend and I had a running textplanation of the ep... here are the highlights:

Him: Paula's outfit is so shiny. She's going to attract raccoons.

Me: I think Robbie Carrico sold me a burrito at a Widespread show.
Him: Axl Rose just called. He wants his head back.
Me: It's like he raided the closets of Brett Michaels and Aunt Jemima.

[on Danny Noriega]
Me: Is this Tegan or Sara?
Him: Both.

Me: Paula said he made her hear colors? What's in that cup she's sizzipping?
Him: Maybe Robbie sold her something.
Me: Why is Randy wearing beaded friendship bracelets?
Him: Maybe Robbie sold him something.

Me: I don't understand this commercial. "I must have sent a picture when I was high!" A picture of what, herself eating a bag of Cool Ranch and arguing about the best Genesis album?
Me: It's "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway", btw.
Him: The hell it is.
Him: "Selling England By the Pound", biznacho.
Me: We are no longer friends.
Me: And...biznacho?

[on Luke Menard]
Him: Nice tug on the hoodie to emphasize the "going where the weather suits my cloooothes" line.
Him: "Get the hood. There's a 40% chance of wind, rain & Hollister."

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Dr. Phil Haiku #22

On today's episode*...

The Dr. Phil House:
It's like Melrose Place but with
Uglier couples

"What do you give eachother?" Phil asks Stephanie.
Probably herpes.

One pair is getting
A brain scan. Beats the shit out
Of a fondue set.

*'The Dr. Phil House' is a recurring gimmick. It's been haiku-ed before.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Dr. Phil Haiku #21

On today's episode...

Alcoholic mom
Needs to stop drinking red wine
Also needs Whitestrips

She can't pay her bills.
Big deal, I can't either.
Let's have a party!

She drinks vanilla
Extract when there's no booze. At
Least she's a cheap date.

Phil's super upset
Could be pissed about wearing
A lavender shirt

Tiny Tidbits: Monday

1) So today is Presidents' Day and some of you may be off from work and/or saving an additional 15% on new hand towels. Surprise! I am too! Through the magic of funemployment, I've gotten to celebrate a shitload of Prez Days. Just last week, I took the time to memorialize Martin Van Buren and Franklin Pierce, two men elected during ye olden days when you could be President if you were one of the eight or nine people who knew how to read and owned two pairs of pants.

2) As I twittered last week, the postal demon delivered the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue on Valentine's Day. Thank you, Mailphistopheles. Nothing made me feel better about spending VD alone, eating a can of Beefaroni and cleaning out my lint trap (not a euphemism, although it should be) than seeing pictures of flawless bikini-clad women with tits the size of Mini Coopers dangling from their sternums. I also failed to appreciate the pages where their Grand Tetons had been painted to look like bathing gear. Only models can pull that off; if I stepped out of my apartment covered in paint, someone would call the authorities, assuming that I'd wandered away from the Adult Education Center.

Respect to 'em, though, for figuring out how to rock the wearable art... Within ten minutes of being brushed, my paint* would be smeared and flecked with dog hair as I debated whether I could still eat the pigment-coated Sour Patch Kid I'd dropped onto my chest. Perhaps this is why SI hasn't called me. That and the fact that when I take my shirt off I look like E.T.

3) Every day on our walk, Pigpen and I pass a travel agency that advertises their destinations not with actual photographs but with horrible little paintings of islands and sunsets**. I'm not sure whether the owners don't actually leave their homes or if the biz itself caters to virgin travelers, the kind of people who could be dropped off in the Home Depot greenhouse and told "Bienvenidos! You're in Brazil!

4) Again, walking Pigpen, I saw a dude I know from the gym--well, I saw his face anyway--blown up and slapped on a billboard advertising something innocuous, like a doctor's office or a mortgage company or The ManHole Dance Club & Gift Shop. I wasn't shocked to see him working as a pitchman 'cause I've always thought he was good-naturedly handsome, like the son of Richard Gere and a Golden Retriever.***Anyway, when I saw him on Saturday morning (in person), mentioned the 'board and made some joke about his modeling career, he racked his weights and said, "Yeah, that's just a something I've been into for 14 or 15 years". For some reason, this made me like him less.

5) Finally, Nate--one of my fave blogsmiths--tagged me with this meme last week and because I've been so busy with all of the President's Days, I'm just now hitting it. You're supposed to open a book to page 123, find the 5th sentence, and then type the next three sentences. I'm not sure what this ritual does but if it summons Candyman, I'm going to be pissed.

The book I'm currently reading is One Train Later by Andy Summers, guitarist for the Police. Here are his insanely long sentences:

"The drugs make you love everyone and everything: you reach out to spout little bits of spiritual wisdom and knowingly smile at one another...this is the sixties...this is our time...the lights from the Whiskey swirl across our faces and I feel happy--blissful, stoned. I pull a young girl closer, and Eric turns to me with a scared look on his face and says, "Help me man, I forgot who I am--you gotta help me." We go outside and sit in the Sting Ray for an hour as I guide him back down from the narcoticized altitude that he is cruising in: no face, no name."
There was a time when I thought that Andy was the best looking member of The Police, but unfortunately, now he looks like a lawn gnome. So I've switched my affections to drummer Stuart Copeland because, honestly, I think Sting may be a Replicant.

*I would not be painted with a bikini. The artist would most likely go for something more full-coverage, like overalls. Or a prison jumpsuit.
** I think it's supposed to be a sunset. It could just as easily be cat vomit.
*** This is a union that may have actually happened.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Workout Summary

Time Spent Running: 2 hours, 19 minutes, 4 seconds
Miles Run: 18
Pace Per Mile: 7:43
Songs Listened To: 37
Number of Huey Lewis Songs: 4
Number of Snickers Bars Consumed: 2
Number of Bathroom Breaks: 2
Number of Bathroom Breaks That Didn't Involve Holding On To A Tree For Leverage: 0
Number of Gloves Inadvertently Peed On: 1
Number of Gloves Abandoned: 1

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Dr. Phil Haiku #20

On Friday's episode:

He says the Lord tells
Him not to work. Who told him
To grow a mullet?

They have seven kids.
Maybe the Lord forgot to
Suggest pulling out.

He made book holders
For Nordic Tracks. His place in
Heaven? Guaranteed.*

*Rarely do I feel the need to elaborate on the haiku but, for serious, this man once ran a business that designed and sold acrylic book holders for the Nordic Track. Read that sentence again. He is currently trying to market a product that blocks your license plate from being seen by red light cameras, because as the Bible says "The Lord helps those who help themselves evade police capture." So sayeth the Book of Jamaicans.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Dr. Phil Haiku #19

On today's yesterday's episode:

Marriage based on lies!!!
How is that different than
Other marriages?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Click and Treat

At about 3:30 this morning, a shirtless Simon Cowell* and I were alone on his squash court and were thisclose to covering each other with brownie batter when I was awakened by a sudden pressure on my face and a violent shaking of my pillow. My eyeshades snapped open but the world stayed Sharpie black. I tried to sit up but couldn’t. The shakes continued…followed by a hack and a muffled bark.

Sigh. My dog, Pigpen, had apparently just decided to drop his entire body onto my head so he could tear through the pillow like Marc Summers had hidden an orange flag inside. Cheesed that his Physical Challenge had interrupted the one I’d planned for Simon, I shoved him off my forehead and toward the foot of the bed, a move that was met with a weak growl and, most likely, a mental note to fill one of my boots with partially-digested Pedigree later in the day.

I adjusted my pillow, plopped my head back down and immediately felt something sharp digging into my facebones. I bolted to the bathroom, flicked on the light and saw something small and white jutting out of my cheek. Jesus. Frankenberry. Christ. My precious little beast had dropped a baby tooth into my pillow and it was now EMBEDDED IN MY SKIN.

The best part of waking up. (This is my hand, btw, not my face).

“Nice work, Douchecake”, I said to the puppy, who was still beaming like he’d presented me with the Hope Diamond and not something that had—just hours earlier—been used to pick up a dead bird. I flicked the tooth off my face, applied a bucket of Neosporin, and stomped back to bed for another few hours of sure-to-be-Simonless sleep.

Having a dog is a full-time, rock around the clock job**. The Pig is four months old and adorably misbehaved in that clumsy, puppy style. He hasn’t grown into his feet or his ears yet (much like Fresh Prince-era Will Smith) which makes it insanely hard to keep my Pissed Face*** on, even when he both tears the blinds down and devours them, giving me the opportunity to relive the incident one baggie of poop at a time. He also has a habit of greeting everyone—from my friend(s) to the Fed Ex guy to potential home invaders—by jumping up and enthusiastically pawing at their thighs, a behavior that won’t be as adorable when he grows to the size of, say, Christian Slater (who probably behaves the same way around strangers, nipping at their hands and demanding a script for Kuffs 2).

So I recently signed us up for Puppy Kindergarten, a Wednesday night commitment that was as much for my benefit as for his. In addition to getting Pigpen under control, I hoped that the class would contain at least one single and/or legally separated dude with an incontinent Airedale Terrier and a thing for scrawny girls with Thom Yorke haircuts. Our eyes would lock during loose leash walking, we'd share a laugh and by the end of the course, we'd be tangled together like a ventricle full of heartworms, the most romantic of parasitic nematodes****.

Anyway, for eight straight weeks, the Pig & I would roll into PetSmart to get our Westminster on, surrounded by squeaky toys, mattress-sized bags of puppy food, and...women. Walking into the pee and chew-deterrent scented*****training area, I saw nothing but girls, girls, girls. I did not anticipate this being a total egg carton and puh-raaaayed that all of the men were just a bit late. At ten till, a flannel wearing figure—and Neil Young lookalike—dropped a Dachshund into the ring. My head turned, but a second glance confirmed that Neil checked the "F" box too. The instructor (XX, of course) walked in behind her, locked the gate, and announced that the class was full.

Yeah, full of vajays. Welcome to Lilith Fur.

There are only five of us in the ring: Pigpen & me; a Sheltie named Robbie whose owner caressed him in a way that made me feel uncomfortable; Neil Young & a mini-Dachshund (aka a Cocktail Weiner); a dog composed of several different breeds, sort of like the Rock; and a four-month old Doberman named Oprah, a name that I found both disturbing and hilarious.******

The instructor was a small, stern-looking woman whose face gave the impression of a life lived at a grueling pace with rations set at bare bones. "What's the one thing you can do to a person that you shouldn't do to a dog?" she asked, by way of introduction.

We all stared at our animals and waited for the answer. "Kill them?" volunteered Neil Young as I reminded myself to both avoid eye contact with her and to park in a well-lit area. "HIT THEM!” shouted the instructor, “You never, ever hit them!” A visible look of relief crossed Robbie’s owner’s face.

The instructor handed out official PetSmart binders decorated with a photograph of a smiling woman shaking the paw of a well-groomed golden retriever. Oh, sure, her dog has good manners but her home is decorated like “The Best of Econo Lodge”. Nice sofa, you smug bitch.

We were also each given a clicker, a training device that, when you press it, makes a sound like you’ve cracked open a can of PBR, but without the cloying scent of hipster. You’re supposed to make this sound whenever the dog does something praiseworthy. We spent the remainder of the class acquainting the dog with the clicker. If you click and the dog looks at you, you have succeeded and you give him a treat. We were supposed to repeat this exercise for the next forty minutes, click and treat, click and treat. Pigpen and I got bored with each other, so we started rewarding other behaviors. Oprah tries to mount Robbie. Click. A child throws herself down in the ‘Cat’ aisle, demanding a plush bird. Click. Neil Young pulls at her crotch like it’s the string to a See-And-Say. The cow says CLICK.

We were dismissed with the promise that next week we’d be learning how to sit. Screw that. I paid $99 so Pigpen would learn to roll onto his back when I say “Show me your weiner”. Once that happens, we’ll sure as hell be the picture on next year’s PetSmart binder 'cause that beats the shit out of shaking hands.

Until then, I’ll settle for three hours of uninterrupted sleep. And another box of brownie batter.

*As I've said before:
I think Simon Cowell is smokin’ and if I ever bumped into him at Big Lots, I would totally try to seduce him. I read that he’s slept with 200 women but I’m unsure what kind of woman would stick around for the post-coital analysis where he’d wrap himself up in his (black) sheets and say something like, “That was absolutely dreadful. I would rather spend time alone with a jar of Noxema and some clothespins than to ever endure that again. You make me wish that at the 11th week of gestation, I’d developed a second X-chromosome so I would have never been sexually attracted to a malignancy like you.”
** Yes, this is my only job, which would rock if I could use chewed up chair legs and empty bottles of carpet cleaner to pay my cable bill.

***My "Pissed Face" looks a lot like Larry King.

****That’s the way it would work in, like, a Drew Barrymore rom-com. Of course, she doesn’t have pores large enough to store her lawn furniture in, nor does she ever go out in public wearing pants that are stained with Pop Tart filling.

*****It smelled like Britney Spear's "Curious" perfume. And probably like Britney herself.

******The main reason I will continue to attend the class is because it is awesome to hear this woman shouting "No, Oprah, NO! Stop it Oprah! Off, Oprah OFF!". No, I don't get out often.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Dr. Phil Haiku #18

On today's episode...

Whenever Phil said
"Predator", I thought about
Nashville's hockey team.

Sorry. I can't make
Today's show funny. Come back
Tomorrow for jokes.

Until then, think of
Things that make you laugh. Like old
People falling down.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Dr. Phil Haiku #17

On today's episode...

More celebration!
Leno drops by. Not funny
On Phil's show either.

Jordin Sparks singing.
She's beautiful. Her teeth make
Mine look like golf tees.

A great drinking game:
Shots when Phil mentions Oprah.
Dead in ten minutes.

A Ford Escape for
His biggest fan. Incentive
To stick with haiku.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Dr. Phil Haiku #16

On today's episode...

One thousandth program
Behold! The Oprah is here!
The crowd O-gasms.

Celebrating Phil
Thank God! They showed the clip from
Scary Movie 4

The Audition: The Part Two

Author's note: This will make more sense if you start here.

Over the past several hours, the line has shifted enough to place me across from a guitar-wielding 8 year-old who is wearing a fringed leather suit--the kind rarely seen outside of Frontierland or Barbeque Festivals--and solemnly playing Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man” over and over. His identically-fringed mother plucks a wad of Juicy Fruit from her mouth and slings it into the hedge. “Sounds real nice, Taylor, now let’s do the other one”.

He launches into a song I don’t immediately recognize until Mom starts screeching “Ooo ooo that smell! Can’t you smell that smell!” Actually, I can. It smells like Summer’s Eve and a trial separation. Sigh. I wonder if reporting them to social services would get me inside any faster.

“Keep goin’, son. I need to save my voice,” That Smell says as she pulls a pack of Camels out of her purse and steps out of line.

Taylor switches back to “Simple Man” and stares at me with a well-practiced, intense expression that aimed for RAWKSTAR! but landed somewhere around CREEPY!, like one of those costumed dolls advertised in the back pages of Parade magazine. He continues to look at me, but I refuse to be charmed. Sorry, Taylor. There’s a reason I didn’t see August Rush.

BeBop blasts another list of numbers through his megaphone and—holy snappin’ assholes!—I’m finally going inside. After hallways and stairways and chutes and ladders I reach…another line. Taylor, That Smell and I are stopped by yet another polo-clad PA who gives us an exaggerated “none shall pass” hand signal while gesturing to a douchetastic earpiece that probably doesn’t broadcast anything but other PA’s making fart noises and giggling.

Some enterprising members of the hotel staff set up a refreshment stand beside the PA and after catching one deep fried whiff, I realized that I hadn’t eaten since breakfast, that pre-dawn fistful of Cocoa Pebbles I’d crammed into my mouth. Unfortunately, my choices were to pay $8 for the last dessicated chicken tender or let my stomach eat itself. That Smell ganked the batter-dipped orphan before I could make up my mind, but seeing it exhumed and dropped into a checkered paper casket made me think that being a hungry hungry hippo was the better option.

A few more ticks on the Swatch and I was waved through to The Holding Room, aka the hotel ballroom, which had been specialed up for the occasion by taping handwritten “America’s Got Talent” signs on the door. People who’d been called inside hours ago were sitting glumly on the floor picking at uneaten bits of chicken. It was like the Waiting Room of Lost Souls with more karaoke singers and card tricks.

Artist's Representation. In truth, her dress was blue.

Unlike Idol (because—all together now—THIS IS NOT IDOL), whose holding area is arranged with Annie Wilkes levels of OCD (“My little ceramic penguin always faces south, Seacrest”), this was chaos. Things couldn’t have been more bungled if they’d just beaten a piƱata until chairs, confetti, and a capella groups tumbled out.

A bored-sounding Brit intermittently announced a handful of numbers for the actual audition rooms, each one accompanied by “You are NOT the father”-style shrieks of joy and relief. I snagged one of the few open seats, beside a disheveled man who was talking to a woman wearing a Viking helmet. “That’s the thing about fate,” he said in a voice weighed down with an accent. “I would have met her in 2004 if I hadn’t been deported”. I pretend not to listen, while secretly hoping his talent involves hiding in the trunk of her car.

The producers made an announcement that we needed to channel our inner Madeline and arrange all of the chairs into two straight lines to film the show’s intro, those staged scenes where all the participants showcase frenzied of levels excitement, reachable only by being on a reality show or stepping into a bear trap.

A tiny little drum line was selected to march down the aisle for the money shot, shouting “America’s Got Talent!” into the camera. The kids nailed it, but we still had to reshoot several times because of the pawing in the background, people clawing past each other trying to get one of their Crocs on the tee-vee. I was schmooked out of the scene by That Smell who was foaming at the vag to be on camera. “This is my shine time!” she shouted in my face. “This is my shine time!”

After that we shouted the name of our city, declaring that it, too, had talent. Then they made us scream other places: Nashville has talent! Chicago has talent! Tulsa! Austin! Oklahoma City! Seattle, San Francisco too!* If they use all of those shots, the serious AmGoTa viewers may wonder why the same roller skating skeleton attended every single audition.

FINALLY at about 5:30 I hear my number. I queue up with a woman who tells me that she hasn’t eaten since Thursday so “If I’m on TV, I’ll look skinny.” It was good idea in theory, but maybe she should’ve started sooner. Like 1985.

We’re led down yet another hallway, parked in front of another closed door and another group of chairs and told—sigh—to sit tight until we hear our numbers. Sorry, Mario, your princess is in another fucking castle.

At this point, my bladder has reached the “find a toilet or call the National Guard for sandbags and temporary shelter” stage. I make a move toward the bathroom and am immediately stopped by a PA. “Sorry,” he says, guiding me back to my chair. “That’s being used as a rehearsal space.” I’m delighted by someone’s selection of “shitting” as audition material.

But no, apparently there’s a bagpiper warming up her pipes** in there. It’s either that or a violent reaction to the chicken tenders, shat to the tune of “Amazing Grace”.

The crowd thins as each remaining contestant is called behind the door to see the judges. Before going in, the PA repeats the same paragraph to each contestant: the audition is 90 seconds but if you razzle dazzle, you might get a few extra ticks, an arrangement that reminds me of losing my virginity.

I hear my number and the door opens. I walk in—wishing that I didn’t have a second trimester pee baby—take my spot on the X and get to tell jokes to three people. Shoving the funny into 90 secs is hard for me, since my act is based on rambling setups told as I fidget, jam my hands in my pockets and laugh at my own cleverness***.

After 90, they tell me to keep going, so I launch into the rest of my set. I go through the bits about babies and travel and movies and then, right after the dead hooker joke, they were like, “OK, that’s probably enough”.

There was some shuffling of paperwork, some questions about where I’d performed, and they told me that they’d be in touch in eight weeks. EIGHT WEEKS. What the foccaccia?!?! I wanted immediate gratification—a golden piece of Inkjet paper I could wave in the face of the obviously jealous bagpiper—or crushing rejection that drove me into the cheesy, beefy arms of Taco Bell. I wanted them to say SOMETHING! But instead, I listen to Simon & Garfunkel-approved sounds of silence for the next sixty days.

I peel off my number, grab my bag and try to remember how to get back to my car. This is my shine time.

*The heart of rock and roll? Still beatin'.
**This? Is my new fave euphemism, narrowly edging out "checking for squirrels".
***These are my major foreplay ingredients too.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Dr. Phil Haiku #15

On today's episode...

Valentine's Day gifts:
Candy is good. A box of
Scorpions is not.

Doctor Phil says that
Girls fall in love "with their ears".
So do blind people.

The Audition: The Part One

So last Saturday, I decided to take a break from my busy schedule of watching "The World’s Cutest Puppies" and washing my sweatpants to go audition for America's Got Talent. I’ve been doing standup for a couple of years and haven’t ever been urged to get offstage or pelted with handfuls of gravel, so why not give it a go? Gettin' on the tee-vee would be great exposure, could make it easier to score gigs in better clubs* and the show's winner gets a million bones, which might be enough to convince Hugh Laurie to make out with me. Also, this year’s host is Jerry Springer, giving me the chance to share a stage with him without being slapped, marrying a sailboat, or having sex with an elm tree.

I mistakenly assumed that since I pre-registered online, I’d just roll up at my assigned time, show my skillz and drive home in less time than it takes to assemble most IKEA furniture. Um…not quite. What they forget to mention on their site is that you’ll be standing in line with several thousand other pre-registered people, slowly snaking between lines of caution tape like the world's only Dreamgirls-spewing crime scene**.

I checked in, which meant that one of the megaphone-wielding men (think BeBop and RockSteady with polo shirts) skipped eye contact in favor of shouting "TAKE YOUR PLACE AT THE END OF THE LINE" in my general direction. My place was directly behind a twitchy fortysomething man who was wearing enough velvet to craft a dozen Elvis paintings.

“Hi! What’s your talent? Singing? Are you a singer? What do you think I should sing?” Black Velvet immediately yapped. I wasn’t sure he was talking to me since I was wearing sunglasses, headphones, and an expression I borrowed from Bea Arthur. “I just don’t know whether to do Michael Buble or Josh Groban? Buble or Groban?! I just can’t decide!” and he stomped a tiny, velvet-covered foot for emphasis.

“Either way,” I shrugged, because both of them remind me of waiting for the next available bank teller.

“Are you a singer”, a claw-banged woman swooped in and asked. “A singer? What are you singing?” If I got a buck for every time those questions were slung, I could’ve stuffed my wallet, skipped out of line and gone straight to Hugh Laurie’s place. “Oh. You're a comedian." She spat out the word like a piece of riblet gristle. "I'm a singer.” No shit. Other than me, everyone was a singer, leaving me disappointed that America didn't have other talents, like sorcery or arson or corpse reanimation.

A team of nicotine-scented production assistants worked the line constantly, handing out numbers and release forms, taking Polaroid pictures (Polaroids, really? Moving away from dagguerotypes for Season 3?) and barking “THIS IS NOT IDOL, PEOPLE!” in response to any question, whether relevant (Can I step out of line to pee? Where exactly would I pee? Since we're four inches apart, is the megaphone really necessary?) or not (Is Simon here? What’s the capital of Uruguay? I’ve forgotten, is this Idol?).

They’re right, though. It’s not Idol, because there isn’t an age limit. Unlike "The Show We Do Not Speak Of " who saves their auditions for the under-28 set, AmGoTa will see anyone with a release form and a Polaroid, as illustrated by the shriveled old bat behind me whose talent appeared to be just making it through the day without crumbling into dust.

Actually, the middle-aged set made up a larger percentage of the crowd than I would’ve expected, which made some chunks of the line completely interchangeable with the Housewares department at Sears. Are you here to perform, sir, or just to pick up a new Crockpot and a socket wrench?

By 2 p.m. I had inched closer to the door. BeBop spotted my Blackjack and bellowed “IF THAT PHONE HAS A CAMERA, YOU WILL NEED TO RETURN IT TO YOUR VEHICLE. YOU CANNOT RECORD ANYTHING YOU SEE HERE TODAY. THIS IS NOT IDOL.” Well, of course, because inside there could be nuclear prototypes and cloned embryos and maybe a fucking hula dancer. By all means, allow me to trek back to my car, lest I inadvertently steal a secret. I’ll detach my retinas while I’m there.

The morning had shaped up to be one of the longest of my life. At this rate, I would reach the hotel in time to audition for season 84. Old Dusty Springfield behind me has no chance. On cue--as if she'd intercepted my thought--she creaked her head towards me, coughed out a cloud of locusts and rasped, “So...are you a singer?”

To be continued...
UPDATE Continued here.

*Clubs where I may get paid in actual money instead of with handful of Chex Mix and a guest pass for DJ Thumper's All-Nite Ball-Nite Featuring DJ Scrote, DJ Pockmark, & DJ Limbic System
**After 6 hours of hearing horrid Jennifer Hudson impressions, I have written a coda to the song entitled “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going (To Bludgeon You With A Folding Chair Unless You Keep Squawking Out These Lyrics)”.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Dr. Phil Haiku #14

On today's episode...

Yesterday's sisters
Off to rehab; I hope they
Get hooked on showers

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Dr. Phil Haiku #13

On today's episode...

Pill-addicted twins
Twice the methodone, twice the
Greasy ponytails

Consumer Reports

I made an impulse purchase this morning...but keep in mind that my withered bank account means that my splurges are less frittata pan or Neil Diamond box set or Slovakian baby and more items available at Texaco. Last week's find was a Larry the Cable Guy air freshener.* This week? The new, limited edition Cherry Chocolate Diet Dr. Pepper**.

As a long-time patient of Dr. Pepper's I yoinked that 20 ouncer (and four coins from the take-a-penny dish) with high hopes. The label itself was appealing...I dug the pink and brown Limited Too color scheme and the prominently-featured dripping cherry logo would make a sweet tattoo, if I were a whore.*** Also, the ingredients promise both natural and artificial flavors--my two faves!--although maybe they could be more specific about the composition of said flavorage. If I'm consuming bat dander and carpet remnants, I'd at least like to know about it before I slurp a second can.

But back to the ChocoCherry...the bevo itself is a sickly reddish-brown, like uncooked ground beef, but the smell is a blast of pure synthetic sweetness, like sniffing a whiff of dessert-scented shower gel from the Bath & Body Works "Lonely and Menopausal" collection. mouthful was more than enough (of the soda, not the shower gel) to get the idea and, yes, it does taste like a chocolate cordial....a cordial full of Robitussin and regret. Diagnosis: Nasty.

I still don't understand why--after 120 years of original recipe success--the good Doc Pep started practicing mixology, resulting in this disappointment or his previous attempt, Berries & Cream & An Earthworm-like Aftertaste. Congratulations! You've made the Wuzzles of Soda.

I considered licking the Goodwill drop box to get the taste out of my mouth but instead settled on a pack of Ice Breakers Ice Cubes gum, which are as minty and cool as face-grinding Mr. Freeze (George Sanders version, please) for about 18 seconds. Then they go limp and flavorless, like a millipede slowly expiring on your tongue.

But those 18 seconds are fab, thanks to "cooling XYLITOL"**** which, after eating four boxes of Cubes, I sincerely hope will never be exposed as "carcinogenic XYLITOL", causing me to grow an additional ribcage. On my face.

Next time, I'm just buying the baby.

Final verdict (American Idol-style):
CCDDr.P: No, no, no. You aren't ready, dog and I'm not even sure that was a serious audition.

Ice Breaker Ice Cubes: Yes, yes (Randy & Paula); No (Simon)

*It smelled like direct-to-DVD entertainment. And Bill Engvall's back.
**Or Diet Dr. Pepper Cherry Chocolate. I can't figure out which order the words go in.
***And Cherry Chocolate would be an excellent nom-de-poon...and I think was also the name of Punky Brewster's best friend.
****These are the exact tiles I have gotten at the beginning of every Scrabble game ever.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Dr. Phil Haiku #12

On today's episode...

"Should we get married?"
The couples ask Phil. Who cares?
You are all douches.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Dr. Phil Haiku #11

On today's episode...

A secret daughter?
Not cool. That only works for
Thomas Jefferson.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

"This Is NOT Idol, People"

I spent all day yesterday standing in line, moving to holding rooms, moving to smaller holding rooms, and sitting on various upholstered chairs while waiting for my chance to audition for America's Got Talent. A full report is coming...until then, feel free to guess my talent in the comments.

Also, from the McSweeney's Cover Band:

Other Things America's Got Besides Talent
An ill-advised combover
A drinking problem
The empty case to a Bel Biv Devoe CD
A subscription to Redbook
A spare room where you can crash for a couple of days
An estranged brother
A coupon for Oreos Cakesters
A knockoff Tiffany lamp

Friday, February 01, 2008

Dr. Phil Haiku #9

On today's episode...

Sixteen and pregnant
Giving the baby away
Juno was better

Oh, Dreeeeeeamweaver

This morning I spent an excessive amount of time (think 'mini-series' not 'very special episode') trying to find a job. In London.* I officially started hating my hometown yesterday when I learned I'd been rejected for a job at the Fresh Market. Obviously, disappointment has been in my Top 8 since forever--I've spent 10 months being turned down more than the comforters at La Quinta--but I thought I was a lock for that green apron and maybe even a "Lettuce Help You" button.**

But noooo, I'm apparently not qualified to be a 'Produce Supervisor'. I was unaware that it took such an advanced skill set to maintain order among inanimate objects. Maybe they thought I was too weak to prevent the artichokes and the eggplants from having some type of nutrient-fueled turf war. Or maybe they just thought I'd grab a large onion out of the bin and wave it around in a customer's faces while shouting "Look, I'm taking a leek! AHAHAHA!".

Yeah. It was probably that. Stupid homophones.

So. England, because I'm reasonably obsessed with English things like their muffins and Springer spaniels and also Hugh Laurie*** who managed to invade my subconscious the other night. I had an incredibly vivid dream that Mr. Laurie was filming a movie**** down the street from my parents' house. Since we'd previously dated,***** I still had his phone number in my cell phone. So I called him and he gave me a very warm "hello" before telling me that he had just started a new relationship and wasn't sure that it was a good idea to see each other. I interrupted him mid-sentence, thanked him for his honesty, and said "I really just wanted to know if you could watch my dog."

It's nice that I remain loser-scented even in my sleep. My stupid brain had full control over the fate of Hugh Laurie, a man composed almost entirely of sex and stubble (Fig. 1)

...but rather than, say, covering him in blackberry jam or riding on a Ferris wheel naked, I asked him to pet sit. I woke up incredibly disappointed with myself.******

Maybe Fresh Market knew what they were doing.

*I meant England, not Kentucky...but that was before I learned about the World Chicken Festival and giant skillet.
**Only slightly better than "Mango Away, Asshole."
***Not in a Glenn Close "invite him over for dinner, Madame Butterfly, and wrist-slashing" type of way. The healthy kind of obsession, like people have for exercise or cigarettes or vandalism.
****Involving animatronic bears. Yes, I'm serious. Confidential to Hugh Laurie: If you are interested, I have already written the treatment.
*****I cite the Lovett Act of 1993-1995 when I say that it is entirely possible for me to date him.
******I haven't been this upset with REM since "Around the Sun". YES.