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Tidings of Joy

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by Josh Abraham

The Other 45* Ways to Leave Your Lover

No. 9 Dream by Josh Abraham

The Roastee Responds by Neal Pollack

“Social Studies,” if You Know What I Mean

Polish Fact

Gross Domestic Product:
$373.2 billion (2002 est.)

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Was ist im Leben am besten? Ihre Feinde zerquetschen, sie sehen, gefahren vor Ihnen und die Wehklage der Frauen hören!
What is best in life? To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women!

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December 21, 2003

Yum, pt. II

from: John Anderson [john.anderson1@rcn.com>]
to: Y.P.R. [ypr@yankeepotroast.org]
subject: Scrumptious Yankee

Hey, you guys . . . I just want to thank you from the bottom of my bottom round roast for that luscious recipe. Yankee Pot Roast will live forever in the annals of our recipe boxes. I found it in your Web site, drooled over it, and printed it out. THAT is the most delicious meal we've ever had. Thank you so much for your dedicated work. Happy Holidays. Ejoy!!!!

Linn Sheeran
Glenolden, PA

December 15, 2003

Tidings of Joy


Yankee Pot Roast is calling it a year. In 2003, we had many good times and only a few bad. We made many new friends and some enemies, too. We thank all our readers, all our writers, all our grinchy critics. To all, friend and foe, we say: May all your bah humbugs he little ones.

Y.P.R. will return in 2004, bigger, better, stronger, wiser. In the meantime, while we're busy with latkes and eggnog, we leave you with “May You Always,” a sappy little poem written by Harry Harrison, a disc jockey who spent over 40 years on New York's airwaves before retiring earlier this year:

May You Always

As holiday bells ring out the old year, and sweethearts kiss,
And cold hands touch and warm each other against the year ahead
May I wish you not the biggest and best of life,
But the small pleasures that make living worthwhile.
Sometime during the new year, to keep your heart in practice,
May you do someone a secret good deed and not get caught at it
May you find a little island of time to read that book and write that letter
And to visit that lonely friend on the other side of town

May your next do-it-yourself project not look like you did it yourself
May the poor relatives you helped support remember you when they win the lottery
May your best card tricks win admiring gasps and your worst puns, admiring groans
May all those who told you so, refrain from saying "I told you so."
May all the predictions you've made for your firstborn's future come true
May just half of those optimistic predictions that your high school annual
       made for you come true
In a time of sink or swim, may you find that you can walk to shore before
       you call the lifeguard
May you keep at least one ideal you can pass along to your kids.

For a change, some rainy day, when you are a few minutes late
May your train or bus be waiting for you
May you accidentally overhear someone saying something nice about you
If you run into an old school chum
May you both remember each other's names for introductions
If you order your steak medium rare, may it be so
And if you're on a diet
May someone tell you "You've lost a little weight," without knowing
       you're on a diet.

May that long and lonely night be brightened by the telephone call that
       you've been waiting for
When you reach into the coin slot, may you find the coin that you lost
       on your last wrong number
When you trip and fall, may there be no one watching to laugh at you
       or feel sorry for you
And sometime soon may you be waved to by a celebrity
Wagged at by a puppy
Run to by a happy child
And counted on by someone you love
More than this, no one can wish you.

December 12, 2003

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Under the bed:
Two jumbo Tupperware crates overstuffed with assorted action figures from collided universes: Cybertron, Eternia, Tatooine, Third Earth. A big plastic tub full of Legos; mostly generic bricks and boards and little people with interchangeable torsos, but some chunks of prefabricated sets, too—a police station, a fireboat, a chopper, some spaceships. A huge Japanese-looking robot that wasn’t a Transformer or even a Go-Bot, but could turn into a gun and a spaceship and some weird sort of land vehicle. And two Tonka trucks.

Up on the shelves:
Monopoly, Scrabble, Clue, Battleship, Boggle, Yahtzee, Sorry, a Ouija board, Trivial Pursuit, Hungry Hungry Hippos, Don’t Tip the Waiter, Connect Four, Strategy, Streetwise, the Scooby-Doo game, Rummikub, Ipswich, Upwards, checkers, Chinese checkers, Backgammon, Othello, Perfection, Pictionary, Tri-Ominoes, Tinker Toys, a magic set, some translucent geometric shapes with interconnecting slots and tabs, a job fair of Smurfs, a Star Wars Give-A-Show, some Pick-Up Stix forever rubber-banded, a Play-Doh factory, Shrinky Dinks, Simon, Etch-a-Sketch, Spirograph, Swirl Art, View-Master, Mr. Potato Head, Rubik’s Cube, Rubik’s Magic, Rubik’s Snake, a metal Slinky and two colored plastic ones, 2X-L, Colorforms, Presto-Magix, Lite Brite, a small garbage pail full of marbles, some Frisbees, a pair of Nerf paddles and a Velcro ball, a human target and a suction-cup dart gun, an Erector set, a triceratops and a stegosaurus, some Zoids, Speak & Spell, a stack of jigsaw puzzles featuring “Peanuts,” “The Muppet Show,” “Looney Tunes,” “The A-Team,” and “M*A*S*H,” a microscope, a telescope, a baseball mitt, Magic Sand, some handheld Tiger Electronics gadgetry, a bucket of little plastic jungle animals, and a coconut carved into a creepy face that, in retrospect, resembled X’tapolapocetl, the Olmec god of war (a.k.a. ‘the Big Ugly Head’ from “The Simpsons”). Also, an “Island of Misfit Toys” shoebox full of displaced puzzle pieces, stray Legos, tiny plastic guns and swords and shields, little translucent pegs, some dice, jacks, dominoes, assorted chips and markers and those little nonspecific pawns that are indigenous to a dozen different board games, and whatever limbs, wheels, wings, or tiny bits of plastic had broken off other playthings but could not be thrown away, because someday, eventually, there would be a gluing back to where they belonged.

In the closet:
An enormous cardboard box, weathered and beaten and torn through at the corners and just barely held together with half a roll of masking tape, housing enough Hot Wheels and Matchbox vehicles to create a hundred-car collision and an ensuing traffic jam that stretched from the living-room window all the way my parent’s bedroom.

December 11, 2003

The Other 45* Ways to Leave Your Lover

  1. STD, Lee.
  2. Ask her if she'll give a threesome a whirl, Earl.
  3. Keep up your skirt chasin', Jason.
  4. Introduce her to kiddie porn, Björn.
  5. Tell her you're gay, Jay.
  6. Convince her she’s a dyke, Mike.
  7. Eat some garlic knots and breathe in her face, Ace.
  8. Demand you be golden showered, Howard.
  9. Respond to an e-mail offering penile enlargement, thus rendering you to much man for her, Wilbur.
  10. Fuck her sister, Mister.
  11. Videotape yourself having sex with a millionaire heiress and "accidentally" leak the tape onto the Internet, Brett.
  12. Don't shower till you develop a pungent smell, Mel.
  13. Don't wash down there, mon frere.
  14. Give her a 'Dirty Sanchez,' Sanchez
  15. Ruffies in her orange juice, Bruce.
  16. In public, hump her leg, Greg.
  17. Suggest that she stop eating all that bread because her ass is getting fat, Matt.
  18. "You're turning into your mother," Brother.
  19. Fartin', Martin.
  20. ‘Innocently’ sleep in the same bed with sick children and get arrested at your Neverland ranch, you sick, psychotic fuck.
  21. When she asks if she looks fat in that dress, just say, “A li'l,” Will.
  22. Fake a terminal illness, um, Bill... ness.
  23. Introduce the kung-fu grip, Chip
  24. In the backside, Clyde.
  25. Wham bam, thank you, ma’am, Sam.
  26. Recommend that she fix that big Jewish honker with a nose job, Rob.
  27. Also, a boob job wouldn’t hurt, Bert.
  28. And, while you're at it, how 'bout lipo, Joe.
  29. And that acne would clear up with a chemical peel, Neal.
  30. "The back of your thighs look like cottage cheese," Cochise
  31. Keep up those fat jokes until she develops a complex, Rex.
  32. The complex will work because she’ll be all agitated because she’s starvin', Marvin.
  33. Give her the old "It's not you, it's me," Heavy D.
  34. Make a clumsy pass at her mom, Tom.
  35. Make that bitch clean the house, Klaus.
  36. Abandon her in the car at the parking meter, Peter
  37. Catch your commuter plane, Blaine.
  38. Take her to gay bars, Lars.
  39. Vomit on cue, Stu.
  40. Demand she scrub the crapper clean, Gene.
  41. Only take her out to polka dances, Francis.
  42. Eat, drink and at least three times make her be merry, Jerry.
  43. Scratch your ass, pick your nose, belch, fart, Bart.
  44. Break down and admit that these boorish, vaguely misogynistic displays are just a feeble attempt for you to get out of a doomed relationship because you are commitment-phobic and have issues with intimacy, and you immaturely thought it'd be easier to just pretend to be an asshole and make her hate you than to actually sit down and discuss what's wrong with this relationship, Skip.
  45. Spank, Frank.

* Paul Simon's song, "50 Ways," only lists 5: Bus, Gus; back, Jack; coy, Roy; plan, Stan; key, Lee.

December 10, 2003

No. 9 Dream

Doctor, I’m having that dream again. I’m in a band—an old-timey band from, like, the 50s, and we’re on stage, behind the curtain, just moments before showtime. Ed Sullivan is introducing us, and I’m freaking out, because I’m on drums—and I can’t play the drums. I can’t even read music. I’ve got no idea what I’m doing, and I’m about to make a complete fool of myself on live, national TV. So, the curtain raises, right? And the spotlights go on. And the audience explodes! Cheers and shrieks and teenage girls are swooning, and I’m sweating profusely and just hoping to God I don’t pass out. I look over to the bassist, the guitarist, the singer… everyone’s backs are to me. Nobody knows I’m not supposed to be here. My mind is racing through scenarios—I can fake an injury or something. Maybe I can yank out the cord leading to the mike and at least cause a little delay—no, we’re starting. We’re starting, and I don’t know what to do, so I just blindly swing my drumsticks, haphazardly smacking, I dunno, kettles and that big one in the middle, and I’m pumping my foot on that gas pedal thing, and I’m striking that little tin thing that looks like a Chinaman’s hat—you know, that thing? Cymbals, whatever. I’m just making a racket and, miraculously, nobody’s yelling at me to stop—and then I see the bassist, he turns to me, and the bassist is me. Doc, the bassist is another me! Why are there two of me? I don’t know how to play bass! And the guitarist, that’s another me, too! And the guy singing and dancing up front? Me! There’s three of me singing backup chorus. I’m the whole band, and none of me knows how to play an instrument! But, still, our noise is catchy. It’s infectious. The crowd loves it. And, before I know it—that’s it. Finished. Over. Done. *Sigh.* Doctor, am I Andre 3000?

December 09, 2003

The Roastee Responds

Imagine if you were to wake up from an innocent sleep on Monday morning after a nice weekend with your family only to find that a bunch of strangers were waiting at your front door to kick you in the genitals. Or to beat your stomach with socks stuffed with tennis balls. Or maybe they were writing things on the Internet, without your permission, that were deliberately meant to insult you. Well, that’s what happened to me this week.

I suppose you who roasted me want me to thank you for your misguided affection. And I do appreciate those of you who wrote me personally to say that it was “all in good fun” and that I’m “adored.” That’s nice to know. But the roasts I read ranged from the sort-of-amusing to the nonsensical to the downright mean, and, in one case, jealous, bitter, pathetic, and near-stalker-like. One would have to have a strong nose indeed to detect any whiff of adoration.

The maxim goes, as maxims do, that satire is supposed to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. I know for a fact that you all are afflicted. I’ve met many of you in person, and boy, are you afflicted. But I, too, am far from comfortable. Would you assail a man as he sat, weeping, disappointed in himself and his work, by the side of the road? Perhaps you would. I personally would not. I would take that man into my home, give him something warm to drink, and watch a basketball game on television with him. Next time, when you as a collective choose to focus your satirical ire, why not make fun of old women, or mentally disabled people waiting for the bus, or dogs with kidney problems? That would be hilarious, too.

I wish you all nothing but happiness in the coming year.

Yours truly,
Neal Pollack

P.S. Just to show there are no hard feelings, I present to you, free of cost, my list of the Top 10 Books of the Year.

--The Secret Life of Beets, by Sue Monk Kidd. A vastly underrated vegetable helps a white girl and her black nanny endure the trials of the civil-rights era.

--Enemies of the Realm, by Ann Coulter. The Democrats helped Osama bin Laden escape.

--The Five People You Eat in Heaven, by Mitch Albom. Through the wisdom of his dying high-school math teacher, a thinly fictionalized sportswriter discovers the hidden joys of cannibalism.

--A Roll of the Dice, by William Bennett. A look inside the fascinating world of high-stakes gambling, told as a fable by someone who knows.

--Lies, Lies, Lies: How the Deceptions and Untruths of a Bunch of Bastards Have Derailed America, by Al Franken with Joe Conason, Paul Krugman, and Eric Alterman. Medical examiner Kay Scarpetta plays a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse with a serial killer.

--The Dark Tower, Volume 6, by Stephen King. An enigmatic time-travelling gunslinger continues his quest to simultaneously annoy and endear himself to the literary establishment.

--Please Don’t Tell My Story, by Jessica Lynch. The former P.O.W. recalls how she managed to prevent the entire world from using her life for propagandistic purposes.

--The Picasso Puzzle, by Dan Brown. A murder at the Prado reveals a bunch of Christian mumbo-jumbo and also something about the Bilderbergers and Guernica.

--2 Fast 4 Democracy, by Michael Moore. Survivors of 9-11 allow a left-wing megalomaniac to turn their grief into a screed against the Bush Administration.

--The Bat Cave, by Jonathan Lethem. Two mixed-race boys in a gentrifying 1970s Brooklyn neighborhood discover an invisible plane that gives them the power to write 500-page novels.

December 04, 2003

“Social Studies,” if You Know What I Mean

Names of Some National Parks that Sound Like Titles of Pornographic Films

The Badlands
Big Bend National Park
Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area
Cumberland Gap National Historic Park
Dry Tortugas National Park
Grand Teton National Park
Hot Springs
Little Bighorn Battlefield
Longfellow National Historic Site
Lava Beds
Mammoth Cave
Minute Man National Historic Park
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
Scotts Bluff
Virgin Islands National Park

Conflicts That Sound Naughty

Trojan War
Punic Wars
Battle of Bunker Hill
Battle of the Bulge
The Children’s Crusade
Battle of Hastings
Battle of Midway
Battle of Little Bighorn
Gulf War

Names of Some U.S. Senators That Could Be Good Porn-Star Names

Sam Brownback (R - KS)
Barbara Boxer (D – CA)
Thad Cochran (R – MS)
Michael Crapo (R – ID)
John Ensign (R – NV)
Bill Frist (R – TN)
Orrin Hatch (R - UT)
Tim Johnson (D – SD)
Don Nickles (R – OK)
James Talent (R – MO)
Saxby Chambliss (R – GA)
Lincoln Chafee (R – RI)
Bob Packwood (R – OR, Ret.)

Names of Some U.S. Congresspersons That, if Not Porn-Star Names, Are Probably Totally Made Up Anyway

Spencer Bachus, Alabama
Norman Dicks, Washington
Fortney Stark, California
Roy Blunt, Missouri
Judy Biggert, Illinois
Marion Berry, Arkansas
Marsha Blackburn, Tennessee
Bob Goodlatte, Virginia
Sanford Bishop, Georgia
Elijah Cummings, Maryland
Christopher Cox, California
Mac Collins, Georgia
Calvin Dooley, California
John Dingell, Michigan
John Doolittle, California
Chris Chocola, Indiana
Lloyd Doggett, Texas
Eni Faleomavaega, American Samoa
Anna Eshoo, California
Rodney Frelinghuysen, New Jersey
Rush Holt, New Jersey
Baron Hill, Indiana
Doc Hastings, Washington
Gil Gutknecht, Minnesota
Bobby Rush, Illinois
Ike Skelton, Missouri
John Spratt, South Carolina
Melvin Watt, North Carolina