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Mr. Wolinetz Goes to Houston: Geoff's Wacky Super Bowl XXXVIII Adventure by Geoff Wolinetz

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January 30, 2004

Mr. Wolinetz Goes to Houston: Geoff's Wacky Super Bowl XXXVIII Adventure

Friday, January 30

3:56 p.m.

I’m sitting in the airport waiting for my flight to board. Sitting across from me is a man reading a book entitled The Lighter Side of Rectal Surgery. I’m unable to determine whether this is a novel or a medical text but either way I’ve shifted uncomfortably in my seat about six times. A couple of questions:

  1. How does anyone thumb through a book like that in an airport? It can’t be light reading.
  2. Do you think he notices my penetrating stare? He hasn’t looked up yet but I’m really unprepared to answer why I’m staring. Perhaps I should say, “Oh, I was just staring at your book on the riveting subject of ass surgery.”

6:42 p.m.

When they say choppy air, do they mean, “There’s a 50/50 chance this plane will be plummeting to Earth?”

8:22 p.m.

After a brief layover in Atlanta, I’ve reboarded the plane. In front of me sits two-time former heavyweight champion of the world, Evander Holyfield. For those of you who don’t enjoy the boxing, this is a man of impressive size. He’s probably 6’1” or 6’2”, about 240 lbs. and, from the looks of it, solid fucking muscle. Of course, all I can do is stare at his ear, which despite the plastic surgeon’s best efforts, still looks like it had a chunk bitten out of it by an insane man that looks a little like a bulldog. The ear is transfixing. Really, the best part about seeing him on the plane (other than the ear) was the fact that he was eating Manchu Wok out of a Styrofoam container when I boarded the plane. Imagine that. Evander likes the orange chicken.

10:30 p.m.

I’m at the hotel. The Hilton Americas in Houston, TX, is not only my hotel, but also the N.F.L. HQ for Super Bowl XXXVIII. This means that not only is the hotel really nice, but it’s crawling with celebrities. I don’t generally like to bother these people but my colleagues have informed me that everyone famous who’s down here has the expectation that they will be approached. Excellent.

Quick story: I walked down the street to get myself some barbeque for dinner because neither flight that I was on had any meal service. As an aside, I don’t know how any airline could, in good conscience, fly people for five hours and not give them any food. It helped that I was in the row directly behind the first class cabin and could smell the food coming from there.

Anyway, I’m walking back from the barbeque place with some delicious pork wings and I notice that at the front of the valet line there’s a bit of a skirmish occurring. I walk up a little closer to see what’s going on and I see a way-too-thin blonde girl with a cigarette in her hand is screaming at the valet guy. From the sound of it, they were a little slow retrieving her car. She was screaming bloody murder.

Turns out that Paris Hilton actually is a bitch.

Saturday, January 31

10:15 a.m.

Apparently, in Houston-speak, “ham” means “bacon” and “breakfast” means “shitty meal.”

This lobby is awesome. The people-watching potential here is off the charts. My favorite one is the guy that sends his kids off to get someone famous to sign the football for him. Well, they are your children. They should work for all that food and those clothes. Real classy, dude.
As a side note, Patriots fans are the most disgusting, despicable group of people on the planet, save maybe for Red Sox fans. Since there’s considerable crossbreeding in that shallow gene pool, let’s just say “Boston fans.” I know there isn’t a hell of a lot to do up there in Boston except listen to sports radio, go to sports bars and watch sports on TV but there has to be something else in your pathetic, meaningless lives. These are loud, disgusting, obnoxious idiots who dress as if they just walked out of Nike’s Factory Reject store.

Ready for an exciting day on the town!

12:15 p.m.

In the lobby, people-watching.

A police escort, Troy Aikman? Isn’t that a little much?

1:18 p.m.

This is the lamest fucking city on the planet. We went to “The Main Event,” which consisted of one stage with the worst cover band ever and a bunch of tents offering “sausage on a stick.” Um, paging Dr. Freud…

There’s absolutely nothing to do here. The best time that I had was watching this fat piece of white trash try on a leather jacket with the Super Bowl XXXVIII logo on it through the window of a department store called Foley’s. My buddies and I stood by the window cheering him on, making snide comments like, “Do you feel that leather? That’s fine Corinthian leather,” and “Come on, big fella. Slide that arm in there.”

After a while, standing outside wasn’t enough, so we went inside and watched him for a bit. My buddy Craig kept telling the sales clerk that the jacket was “gorgeous.” And she kept agreeing, “Isn’t it though? It’s gorgeous.”

No, I’m not making this up. Yes, the white trash guy bought the jacket.

2:06 p.m.

Now we’ve hit the mother lode. Cadillac sponsors the 2nd Annual Celebrity Super Grand Prix here in lovely downtown Houston. Essentially, this is a bunch of celebrities riding around a parking lot in Go-Karts. There’s so little to do here that this has drawn a crowd that will probably rival the amount of people that attend the actual game.

The first person that I saw was Paris Hilton (again). This chick is all over this scene, much like all the guys she’ll be fucking later on, I suppose. Anyway, she’s getting into this Cadillac, so I say, “Hey, Paris, turn around so I can tell you to go fuck yourself.” Sadly, she didn’t turn around.

We swung over to the other side of the Grand Prix, down by where the starting line was, so we could check out who was there. The first race contained the following lineup: Dhani Jones of the New York Giants, Adam Corolla, Jimmy Kimmel, Petra Nemkova and Shannon Elizabeth. Not too bad but not exactly what I’d call a who’s who of Hollywood, given the sheer amount of celebrities here. They all get dressed up in these racing jackets and helmets and start walking down the track toward their Go-Karts, like that scene in Top Gun where they’re all walking away from the planes. This was the best laugh I had all day, until someone flashed Jimmy Fallon the peace sign and he shot it right back at them.

The guy next to me is loving this. He keeps nudging his wife and saying, “Honey, look. It’s (insert name of D-list celebrity here).” The second race begins, with participants Nicky Hilton, Leeann Tweedon, Charles Woodson of the Oakland Raiders, Pat O’Brien of "Access Hollywood," and someone else that I’ve never heard of. The guy next to me has started charting their laps around the track.

3:07 p.m.

Back in the room. We’re watching Dickie Roberts, Former Child Star, and to show you just how bored we are, I’m actually laughing.

5:44 p.m.

We’re still in the fucking room.

Craig just asked me if I’d consider naming my first child “Diarrhea.” I told him I’d consider it, but only if it’s middle name could be “Cha Cha Cha.”

From: [betty c] Date: Sun, 1 Feb 2004 01:23:04 EST Subject: Geoffrey Wolinetz To: geoff@yankeepotroast.org

If Mr Geoff Wolinetz can't find anything good about Houston, Boston, the airlines, etc. maybe he ought to try Hoboken or Lower Slobovia or crawl back into his hole in the ground where he probably would feel more at home. We don't like him either.
Betty C

6:26 p.m.

A true cynic would never describe himself as “cynical.” I think it’s more likely that they’d describe themselves as “practical.” I realized, upon rereading this (thanks to a remarkably responsive reader; more on that in a moment), that I’m painting a very narrow view of this experience. Clearly, it’s more fun to mock the whole thing. Given the sheer amount of people here, chances are that many, many stupid things are happening in any given hour.

However, this is truly a unique experience. I haven’t stopped laughing since I landed because I’m here with some great folks. Though the food is suspect and the place isn’t really a hot bed of activity, it’s all a prelude to the biggest televised activity of the year, which is the real reason I’m here. And that gives this place an energy that really cannot be described.

The town had a football team years ago that picked up and moved to Nashville, leaving a football-sized hole in the heart of the whole town. They have a new team now, with a new owner and a brand new facility. It’s really a thrill to be surrounded by people who embrace the game like this city does.

That said, I refuse to believe that there is anything to do other than eat when the biggest sporting event in the country, perhaps the world, isn’t here. And to the person who said that I should go to Hoboken or Lower Slobovia and report what’s going on there, why don’t you come down here and try to kill a few hours? I’ll show you around. Oh, and look for my report from Hoboken this week. I know that the opposite of love isn’t hate. Oh, no. It’s indifference. Keep the letters coming, folks.

[Editor's note: Mr. Wolinetz will be in Hoboken, New Jizz, this coming Thursday. Ah, ironic comeuppance!]

8:13 p.m.

Now we’re talking. We’re sitting at the table at the Capital Grille. This is a great freaking steakhouse. I’m sitting in front of an excellent piece of fish, with some delicious asparagus. We got six guys sitting around the table goofing off. This is what I was expecting.

The Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder reserved the whole back of the restaurant. In by far the coolest moment of the weekend to date, I looked up and Sonny Jurgensen walked right in front of me. For those who are not football fans, this is one of the greatest pure throwers in the history of the game. For the first time, I was speechless.

10:23 p.m.

Our parties all have lines that rival Depression-era bread lines. I’m not terribly surprised but despite my sadness at not really getting in, my colleagues assured me that these parties are not fun for any reason other than gawking at celebs. This can be done on really any street corner here, so my buddy Andrew decides we should go to a strip club.

10:27 p.m.

Andrew just wiped out while walking to the strip club. Somehow, Craig’s shoe ended up in the middle of the street.

10:45 p.m.

After we paid the outrageous $100 cover, we went into one of the largest strip clubs ever. There’s really nothing quite like the revelation of looking around a room and realizing that, despite having no shot at sleeping with any of them, you could potentially see every single woman in the room naked.

11:06 p.m.

One of the strippers just told me that Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne are upstairs in the champagne room. O.K., guys, if this is the Matrix, leave me alone.
11:37 p.m. Andrew just got his eighth dance from stripper. Craig and I have a bet running. We set the over/under at 14. I took the under.
11:56 p.m.
Lap dances 9 and 10 were just purchased, one of them by Craig. We got into a fairly extensive discussion on why that one shouldn’t count. Eventually, he conceded. The count stands at 9.
11:58 p.m.
Shaquille O’Neal is also in the champagne room. One of the strippers told me that his penis is the size of my forearm. I looked at my crotch and said, “Mine’s the size of his.” There’s nothing more reassuring that the laugh of a Texas stripper.

Sunday, February 1

12:17 a.m.

Well, a very pretty girl just came over and, 3 dances later, the count stands at 12. Don’t get me wrong. I love strip clubs as much as the next guy. 12 dances in an hour and a half is a lot of breasts.

12:18 a.m.

13. I can’t believe it. I’m totally jinxing myself right now. For those gamblers out there, is there anything more frustrating that betting the under in anything? This is the last time.

12:36 a.m.

In a sneaky attempt to get everyone to leave the club before Andrew can get to dances 14 and 15, I feign a crippling stomach flu. Once I realize that I’m rolling on the floor of a strip club, I leap to my feat and the ruse is exposed.

12:49 a.m.

Dance number 14 comes from a woman that I’d swear was a transvestite if I didn’t have contrary evidence in front of me.

1:12 a.m.

I’ve resigned myself to losing this bet, and sure enough, dance 15 comes along in the form of a tall, leggy Texas blonde. Say what you want about Houston, Geoff, but the women here are all tall and gorgeous.

1:15 a.m.

Time to settle the bet, which consists of me standing on my chair and screaming that I’m gay to a bar full of testosterone-pumped Texans. Can we go home now?

10:15 a.m.

Wake-up call says to “get our asses down to the lobby in 15 minutes.”

12:15 p.m.

We board the buses to the stadium. This was an ordeal in and of itself, but since I’m going to the Super Bowl, I cut it some slack. We push off and the buses roll toward the stadium. The city is pretty vast and expansive (despite there being virtually nothing at all to do there) but the stadium is only about 15 minutes away. When we arrive, everyone takes note of the Apache helicopters circling the stadium’s airspace, including the guy sitting behind me who managed to throw out every war on terror buzzword there is. He said something like “You see that? That’s F.B.I./C.I.A. surveillance terrorism WMDs Al-Qaeda.” I turned around but I figured I’d be better off just laughing, which I did a lot of.

We were all set to go to the N.F.L. Tailgate, which starts at 1:30. Plenty of time to get into the stadium, right? The tailgate is barbecue, and I’m a man who loves his barbecue.

1:30 p.m.


2:00 p.m.

Still wrong.

3:15 p.m.

O.K., we’re in. And they wouldn’t let me get patted down by the lady security staff, which was disappointing. But the large Latino man that “shook me down” was far more gentle than I would have expected.

3:18 p.m.

They have 15 of the area’s best barbecue places all giving out samples of their wares. All I remember is a blinding white light and then my face was covered with sauce. This is what I thought I was getting when I came to Houston, some of the best barbecue that I have ever eaten. I’ll highlight some of the best:

Pitts & Spitts: The sauce is so good that I drank it out of the bottle.

Katy Kookers: Dear god, the pork was so soft that it just fell off the bone and melted in my mouth.

Dickey’s: Dickey, I don’t know who you are and your food is alright, but I mention you because you voluntarily walk around with the name “Dickey.”

Houston is beginning to redeem itself a little bit.

4:36 p.m.

We’re at our seats.

A little bit about the stadium first. It is two years old, so it’s about as modern as you can get. It is absolutely gorgeous. A state of the art facility with a retractable dome, the field is the field turf stuff that’s been getting so much press lately. The weather is overcast and threatening rain so the roof is closed, which is a shame because we won’t get to see the choppers fly over after the national anthem.

Now about the seats. These are unbelievable seats. We’re on the 15 yard-line, on the Patriots side of the field toward the Patriots end zone. Two rows up in the 2 tier, which here is the Club/Suite section, so it’s carpeted and there are couches with mounted flat-screen TVs near the concession stands. You know, just in case the unbelievable live view of the action isn’t enough for you.

I’m expecting a very low-scoring defensive game. Also, I am rooting for Carolina with every fiber of my being.

5:24 p.m.

Kickoff. He Hate Me receives the kick and gets tripped up around the 17. If he’d avoided that one, he had some field to work with.

Does anyone in the locker room let him live that down? He could put anything in the world on his jersey and he put “He Hate Me” there. And the explanation was classic. “Why He Hate Me? Because He Hate Me. You know who ‘he’ is. He’s the man. And He Hate Me.” OK, Rod Smart. Whatever.

5:42 p.m.

Marcus Allen almost fell out of the luxury box above my section.

7:15 p.m.

The first 26 minutes of the game: 0-0. Then Brady lets off a beautiful ball fake to Antowain Smith and hits Deion Branch over the middle. 7-0 Pats. The replay shows that the Panthers bit on that ball fake harder than Mr. Magoo.

7:26 p.m.

Holy shit! JAKE DELHOMME! He just hit Steve Smith, who beat Ty Law down the sideline, in stride for a TD. 7-7 and the Carolina fans quietly clap to show their support. I don’t even really root for this team and it so quiet in here, I think that the teams can hear me screaming on the field.

In week 2, during the Carolina/Tampa game, where the Tampa PAT was blocked at the end of regulation to force overtime, the Dick Stockton/Brent Jones announcing team came up with this gem:

“Sometimes, you just gotta let a guy like Jake Delhomme loose.” When I caught my breath from laughing, a Carolina fan was born within me.

7:28 p.m.

Brady hits David Givens in the back of the end zone for a TD. 14-7, Pats. The Carolina D, with the notable exceptions of Will Witherspoon and Dan Morgan (more on these guys later), are showing none of the grit that they showed during the season. They are getting walked all over.

7:30 p.m.

Delhomme takes the Panthers 35 yards and John Kasay hits a 50 yards field goal (only the 4th in Super Bowl history, the screen tells me) for a 14-10 halftime score.

If you are keeping track at home, first 26 minutes: 0 points. Next 4 minutes: 24 points. And the over is beginning to look like a safe bet.

8:07 p.m.

O.K., we need to talk about two stunning events.

1. That was Janet Jackson’s boob that I saw, wasn’t it? Justin Timberlake (the N.F.L.’s halftime “surprise”) just ripped her top off. In the history of N.F.L. halftime shows, this has to rank up there among the best despite no one singing a song recorded after 2000. In addition to crossing “Super Bowl” off the to-do list, I can cross “ogle Janet Jackson’s breasts” off as well. Hmm, while we’re crossing things off the to-do list, where’d Paris Hilton go?

2. I know not a lot of people know about this because it wasn’t broadcast, but the streaker was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. He’s dressed as a ref. He blows a whistle and runs out on to the field. When he gets to the kicker, he rips off the ref clothes and starts dancing a jig in front of the football that’s about to be kicked off. This goes on for like a minute before finally a police officer comes out onto the field. Security starts chasing him toward the Panthers end zone, and all of the sudden, #58 Matt Chatham of the Pats steps out, puts up his shoulder and knocks the guy flat on his ass.

January 29, 2004

How to Wear Battle Dress

Week in, week out, when a problem calls for battle-dress expertise, my buddies come, cap in hand, whining to yours truly. You’d think its something that 21st Century hippolatas would have a handle on by now—some of these things have been around 3000 years, for crying out loud—but still some schmucks can’t tell their gauntlet from their glave. Well, no more! Here is my no-holds-barred guide to the most commonly asked questions regarding battle dress:

What is the best item of battle gear to bring along on a first date?

Without a doubt, a solid beaten-leather coif. Beaten leather is important, as the scored kind gives a ‘serf pressed into battle’ look that is hardly going to inspire that hottie from Roxies. Oh, if you’re a chick, then a breastplate. What else?

If I am going into battle [x]; what should I wear?

I get this so often. “Al, what’ll give me a fighting chance against a maniac with a hand-and-a-half sword?” “Al, can chain mail coupled with a quilted vest lessen the impact of velocity weapons?” Or the one I keep getting from Rueben: “Al, will a cap or helm stop a .44 bullet from piercing my head and making my vital functions cease vitally functioning?” Guys! Take a hold of yourselves. It’s been over a century since armour was used seriously in any military campaign. Get a sense of perspective, for Christ’s sake.

When is full-plate armour appropriate?

Full-plate armour is always appropriate. It’s the ‘fashion police’ who tell you otherwise. Mine is black with red decal on the helm, and an edged extended visor. I look like the fucking black prince.

What is a nice understated accessory to an outfit of medieval armour (say 14th C)?

I’ve always found that a pouch of caltrops works pretty well with anything. As long as you’re not all “Here I am with caltrops”—Who can stand that? Also plaque belts. Smooth.

Should I research heraldry, or is it O.K. to just go with what looks nice?

Opinion is divided on this issue. If you are lucky enough to have a distinguished and noble ancestry that means you can dig around and find something genuine and rock-and-roll, then that’s the nuts. Rough luck if you end up with some martlet cadency, with your trefoil diminutive! Sorry, I had to get that one out! Seriously, if you want to have a snake-headed dragon coming out in 3-D from a volcano, in Global Hypercolour, go for your life. Heraldry is gay anyhow.

On the occasions I have tried wearing battle dress, I have done it under my clothes and not worn a helmet. Does this mean I am a pervert?

I think this misconception is very, very common. They see someone walking cap-à-pied, maybe on TV, and they think, “Maybe it’s me.” It then takes them weeks, or even months before they do something about it—maybe they Google ‘armour’, or visit an armoury. Maybe, like myself, they invest in 40 kilos of wrought iron and lock themselves into their garage for 60 consecutive hours, emerging like a phoenix from a flame of their own making. It’s empowering to know how it feels to have an erection press against still-hot metal.

I will level with you—that first step can be pretty daunting, and awkward, sure. But the best way to deal with the devil is to stare him out. So get a proper headpiece—a sallet, or barbute, but make sure it has an open face. Then you can stride into your local, look the bartender in the eye and say “Yeah? This is me. And I’m carrying more weight on my neck than an overfed child with elephantiasis of the head. So?”

Is it permissible to wear Japanese armour, such as the ô-yoroi, amongst European forms of armour?

No, you’ll look French.

January 23, 2004

I Love Scrushy

This unforgettable sitcom lasted six seasons, during which the wacky, dictatorial but lovable star, HealthSouth C.E.O. Richard M. (“Red”) Scrushy, stole millions and delighted millions more with his corporate shenanigans and auditing antics. The shows featured Scrushy’s zany attempts to satisfy his dreams of being a country music star, to meet celebrities, to make himself look important to the people of Birmingham, Alabama, and to surround himself with as much luxury as possible.

The four major players employed brilliant comic timing in plots involving the screwball Scrushy, founder and head of a chain of rehabilitative hospitals; his shopaholic third wife, Leslie; Scrushy’s best pal, former child star Jason Hervey (Wayne on “The Wonder Years”), HealthSouth’s inept vice president of communications; and Jason’s ditzy spouse, Shannon.

Classic shows include:

Episode 7: “Scrushy’s Band”
Leslie and Shannon are annoyed that Scrushy keeps hogging the spotlight at work-related functions by performing with his new band, which he’s named “Proxy.” They disguise themselves and convince Jason to hire them as musicians to play alongside Scrushy’s band at the annual shareholders’ meeting. The resulting “battle of the bands” creates such chaos that Scrushy’s plan to fill the board of directors with his stooges almost fails to pass.

Episode 19: “The Accountants’ Party”
Leslie’s correspondence course in hypnosis seems like an utter waste to Scrushy until Jason tells him they need a new ploy to inflate the company’s earnings. Scrushy arranges a party for HealthSouth’s outside accountants and hires Leslie to be the entertainment—in the guise of “Marcella the Mesmerizer,” who will hypnotize the audience and order the auditors to cook the books. Unfortunately, the Ernst & Young employees take that command a little too literally and Scrushy must work fast to prevent his private library from going up in flames.

Episode 26: “The Museum”
After Leslie waxes enthusiastic after a trip to Atlanta’s Coca-Cola Museum, Scrushy decides that she will be impressed if he creates his own museum—dedicated to the creation of the HealthSouth Corporation—just beyond the main elevator bank in the company’s headquarters. But when Jason is busy schmoozing Wall Street analysts, Shannon misreads the message on Jason’s BlackBerry and assumes that the Scrushy wants them to start an art museum and use corporate funds to buy pricey paintings by Picasso. Unaware of the switch, Scrushy calls a press conference and unveils what he says is a picture of himself at the opening of HealthSouth’s 1,000th rehabilitation center—only to discover that it is a Cubist painting of a woman with three breasts.

Episode 35: “Scrushy’s Highway”
When he finds out that a stretch of highway near Birmingham is being named for “Gomer Pyle” star Jim Nabors, a jealous Scrushy schemes to have another part of the highway named for himself. After plying local politicians with food, drink, and campaign contributions, Scrushy gets his highway. Jason relishes the positive publicity, but the plan backfires when Leslie thinks the road named for Scrushy is a private drive like the one he uses to get to his offices at HealthSouth. Scrushy and Jason end up in a mad rush to stop Leslie from racing her Lamborghini against Shannon in Scrushy’s Rolls Royce Corniche.

Episode 47: “Scrushy’s Bathroom Adventure”
Delighted by his successful plan to tap the phone of a female executive and blackmail her into faking invoices, Scrushy celebrates by building a 14-by-8-foot bathroom in his executive office. But when a claustrophobic Scrushy finds himself locked in the loo, Leslie is too busy with a fashion show for her pajama company, Uppseedaisees, to get him out. So Leslie gives scatterbrained Shannon the special elevator pass to the fifth floor of the HealthSouth HQ. Unfortunately, Shannon loses the pass in the building’s lobby, where it’s found by the very employee who’s mad at Scrushy for making her a white-collar criminal.

Episode 54: “Copter Caper”
The girls want to use “Bonus One,” HealthSouth’s corporate helicopter—bought in a year in which the company stopped paying bonuses—for a spur-of-the-moment shopping spree in Atlanta. But Scrushy and Jason want to take the chopper to Scrushy’s luxury family compound on the shore of Lake Martin so they can speed on Scrushy’s 38-foot cigarette boat and enrage the locals in their tiny vessels. When Scrushy and Leslie give the spaced-out copter pilot (guest star Cheech Marin) conflicting flight plans, pandemonium ensues.

Episode 69: “Scrushy Meets Bo Jackson”
Scrushy uses some of the millions he’s pocketed in stock options to build a statue of himself in front of Birmingham’s HealthSouth Medical Center. When Jason gets native Alabaman Bo Jackson to help dedicate the sculpture, Scrushy’s bragging to the superstar about his own athletic prowess leads to a bet that forces Scrushy to put his beloved 22-carat diamond-and-platinum ring in jeopardy. This episode features a song by “3rd Faze,” a girl band of Britney Spears look-alikes that Scrushy created for his “Go For It” corporate roadshow.

Episode 80: “The Scrushy Network”
Scrushy orders Jason to start an in-hospital TV channel for HealthSouth that will deliver programming to patients at HealthSouth outlets. Jason assumes that the network will feature shows related to medical care and rehabilitative therapy—only to learn that Scrushy is more interested in appearing in his own music video, “Honk If You Love to Honky Tonk,” from a CD that Scrushy made with his former band, “Dallas County Line.” Furious with her C.E.O. husband for refusing to buy her a fourth home, Leslie tricks Jason into letting her put the lyrics on cue cards. When an unwitting Scrushy sings the words Leslie has written, he finds himself rapping about the adultery, embezzlement and suicide of his chief financial officer.

Episode 88: “Bad News Bear”
Jason and Shannon fret over how to tell Scrushy the bad news that eleven former HealthSouth finance and accounting executives have pleaded guilty to participating in a scheme to inflate the company’s earnings over many years. The Herveys concoct a plan to take Scrushy and Leslie on a rugged camping trip and fake an attack by a vicious bear (really Jason’s former “Wonder Years” co-star Fred Savage in an animal costume), after which Scrushy will be so grateful to be saved from death that his imminent indictment on won’t seem so bad. Unbeknownst to Jason, his old cast-mate never shows up, and the bear he’s about to “rescue” Scrushy from is very real.

Episode 95: “Scrushy in Court”
Because Scrushy is so nervous about his next day’s appearance at a hearing in federal court, Leslie gives her husband a double dose of Xanax. Unaware of this prior medication, Jason gives Scrushy some Valium, and then Leslie gives the embattled ex-C.E.O. a few of her Klonopin pills. When the judge orders Scrushy to answer questions about HealthSouth’s accounting scandal and his lavish lifestyle, Scrushy is so calm that instead of pleading the Fifth Amendment, he pleads the Twenty-First—the amendment that repealed Prohibition—and declines to testify on rounds that he might “incinerate” himself. Look for Leslie’s “Slowly I Turned” burlesque comedy routine when the judge refuses Scrushy’s request to unfreeze his assets and get $10 million in emergency living expenses.

Episode 119: “The Comeback Attempt”
Despite Scrushy’s indictment and dismissal, his madcap lawyer (Donald Watkins) announces a plan to line up financing to buy HealthSouth, using Scrushy as an adviser. When Leslie reads in USA Today that this just adds to a “circus-like atmosphere” surrounding Scrushy’s battles, she decides to get even with the press by hiring a posse of clowns with seltzer bottles to spray lye on reporters. But Leslie’s scheme goes awry when a bad cell phone connection causes Jason to think she wants the clowns to “spread lies” instead.

January 22, 2004

Dear Regal Cinemas

Reply from Regal
Michael L. Campbell
Regal Entertainment Group
7132 Regal Lane
Knoxville, Tennessee, 37918

January 22, 2004

Dear Mr. Campbell,

While we may have had our scuffles in the past, this time you have gone too far with your latest pre-movie push to rake in more advertising bucks. Your onscreen intifada, “The 2wenty”: 20 freakin’ minutes of advertising for loosely related entertainment crappery put on screen for the captive audience of Average Moviegoers awaiting their movie. But in reality, what the hell is it? The unspoken agreement between screen and audience is clear; we can talk during the commercials, the amoeba-shaped blobs, and the trivia slideshow that asks us to unscramble Harip Silton*, but our comments are generally limited to only an affirming “Hmmm?” or a disapproving “Blecch,” (unless one has a really smart-alecky instant judgment, like “That preview makes my duodenum hurt”). But now with “The 2wenty,” Average Moviegoers like me are utterly confused. Do we sit there and accept these twenty terrible minutes of onscreen affront worse than watching Ashton Kutcher doing anything at all. Are you movie-theater owners not happy enough that we Average Moviegoers finish all our snacks and wind up buying seconds before the movie begins? You’ve soured the cinematic experience more than the collective insult of Pauly Shore’s gamut of wide-ranging performances, from his role as irritating goofball turd-monkey with a cave man, to irritating goofball turd-monkey on jury duty.

In theory, “The 2wenty” may sound like a decent idea. Maybe you thought you were rewarding those movie-going early birds with infotainmentmercials? Well, you’re wrong, so stop it! Those of us that make an effort to arrive early have a reward already: choice seats and glorious coming attractions. Wonderful, bite-size samples of the films to be, the cleverly cut-and-pasted good parts of an upcoming Farrelly brothers’ picture, that will lure us back next week to happily throw another 10 bucks at Eddie, the pimply teenager behind two inches of glass and an incomprehensible speaker box.

The recent advent of pre-preview commercials has already tarnished the coming attractions’ sanctity. Moviefone . . . fine . . . it has a place onscreen. Helpful reminders to shut off your beepers and cell phones? Yeah, that makes sense. I’ll even admit that I have come to love the brown-paper-bag puppets in the Fandango commercial gems. But still, I came and paid to see one movie, not an onslaught of your theater chain’s tactical efforts to gain more advertising dollars. There’s still the same amount of gum on my seat and soda on the floor creating that all powerful stickiness that locks my feet in place, so where’s that extra money going? Do I, the Average Moviegoer, see any benefits of it? No.

And now, with pre-preview commercials commonplace, you have the audacity to delay the movie further with “The 2wenty.” 20 minutes of advertisements for NBC’s new must-see crap and TNT’s original film (airing Friday, Saturday, and Sunday!). Well, well, you’re quite clever. And perhaps the cleverest ruse is that within the 20-minute-long string of commercials, there’s even a break for more commercials! You actually warn us that “The 2wenty will be right back in a moment!” just before we see the latest celebrity-sellout endorsements for Coca Cola. If we leave, we’ll give up our good seats, or miss the decent previews. You’ve got us Average Moviegoers captured!

I’m not a reactionary. I’ve come to terms that there are no quality shorts, or cartoons, or newsreels, or any of that old-timey stuff before a feature film anymore. The days of Average Moviegoers putting on fancy suits and hats are long gone. But why can’t we all stay put at the handful of previews, and maybe just that one clip of the guy’s head popping out of a bucket of popcorn to remind us that there are plenty of overpriced snacks still available in larger sizes for just a quarter more?

So pat yourself on the back, largest movie theater chain in the country, you’ve made my Lord of the Rings moviegoing experience an unaverage six-hour ordeal. Since you’re omnipresent in all but six or seven independent theaters remaining, I know asking you to end “The 2wenty” is laughable. But couldn’t you do something to soften the blow? Maybe add one of those counting-down clocks so that we, the Average Moviegoers, can endure Hootie and His Blowfish’s latest direct-to-The-2wenty music video, knowing the torture must come to an eventual end? You could even blatantly lie to us Average Moviegoers and call it “The 10en” but show it twice consecutively. Don’t you realize how long “The 2wenty” sounds? It’s a quarter of a Disney movie, an entire commercial-free sitcom on Disney-owned ABC, or 100 bucks’ worth of hookers from the Disney-run Times Square. What do I do with all these leftover Disneybucks, anyway?

I’m an Average Moviegoer and I’m not gonna take it any more.

David Abraham,
Average Moviegoer

*Answer: Paris Hilton!

January 21, 2004

This Is the Ultimate Y.P.R.*

*”Ultimate” doesn’t always mean ‘best’; sometimes it means ‘last.’

Goodbye, mama and papa
Goodbye, Jack and Jill
The grass ain’t greener
The wine ain’t sweeter
Either side of the hill.

“Ramble On Rose,” the Grateful Dead

Friends, Romans, carniefolk:

Life is but a series of adventures and it is time for this (mis)adventure to come to its inevitable end. Y.P.R. has been a part of your lives from nearly eleven months now. Over the course of that near year, we’ve shared good times with each other. Remember when Josh ate all of those olives? He threw up for hours and now he can’t even walk by the olive store without gagging. There was the time that Nick found those sweaty old gym socks in the back of his desk drawer. He couldn’t stop vomiting for days because the stench was so putrid. Also, remember when Geoff fell face first into that vat of months-old blue cheese dressing? He’s still vomiting! All those good times. All that vomit.

It’s been fun, this thing of ours. It really has. But the time has come to move on to things bigger and better. Y.P.R. will cease operations, effective immediately. This is not a joke. We’re out. Kaput. Over. Done. Gone. Sayonara. Adiós. Au revoir, Auf Wiedersehen, arrivederci. Lata, alligata.

You may be asking, “Why? It seemed like the good stuff was just beginning,” or “This all just seems so senseless. Why now?” or “I just gave those bastards my money for Graphology. I hope they aren’t moving to Guatemala to become cattle ranchers.” This decision may seem to your outside eyes as capricious and arbitrary, but Y.P.R. assures you there are reasons. Oh, there are reasons. The time & effort it takes to craft such an endeavor, even a modest one completely devoid of high-tech gimmickry, is exhausting our spirits. There are too many submissions to read, and reading too much pixilated literature gives us headaches. It probably causes blindness, too, but trust us on the headaches.

Also, we’d been totally ripping off Haypenny’s gig this whole time and since they’ve thrown in the towel, what choice is there for us, really? If they feel it is the right time to go, then we feel the same way. Not only is there going to be a dearth of witty lit for us to swipe, but also we’d like to adopt their classy sign-off by going out with a bang at the top of our game. And since it’s clear Y.P.R. ain’t never getting any better, today is as good a day as any to shut down the site. The Oglala Lakota Sioux tribe has words for that: “Hoka-hay”. It means “Today is a good day to die,” or something approximate. We learned this from a movie. We think it was Flatliners.

Do not try to stop us, loyal Y.P.R.colytes. Do not flatter us with kind words; do not beg us to reconsider. Trying to stop us would only further infuriate the goddess Fortuna, and we cannot afford to be looked upon any less favorably than we already are.

To all of our dear readers, our contributors, our friends and enemies, the corporations we’ve antagonized, the celebrities we’ve celebrated, the stereotypes we’ve mocked, the clichés we’ve milked, the boundaries we’ve broken, the writers we’ve satirized, the Web sites we’ve parodied, and the Neal Pollack we’ve roasted, we say to you: thank you, sorry, good-bye and goodnight. It’s been fun. We ask that you never return to this U.R.L. If you do, an intense sorrow is likely to befall you, and no one will be there to ameliorate your grief. Some doors lead to dark and mysterious places, friends. You might not want to open them. Our Internet friends will carry the torch. They have the accumulated knowledge and the wherewithal to continue what we’ve started with our little journal of literary satire. Don’t cry for us. We are already dead.

Your humble working boy,

P.S. This is not a joke. We mean it: Over and out.

Some Parting Words from Friends & Foes

“When I lost my funk, Y.P.R. was there. When Nicole needed heroin, Y.P.R. was there. They astound me with their generosity. I’ll miss them.” — Lionel Ritchie

“Damn! Those Y.P.R. motherf*ckers were funny cats. Shut yo mouth! Jive!” —U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, doing his terrible Shaft impression

“Connie wouldn’t let me read it but I heard from all my friends that Y.P.R. was really hysterical. I’m kidding. I have no friends.” — Maury Povich

“I’ll miss Y.P.R. They were easily among the top 2- or 300 literary satire journals on the Web.” — Winnie Mandela

“I’m going to miss George dearly. He had a wonderful sense of humor and was a beautiful writer. I’d known him for years ... wait, Y.P.R.? What the hell is that? I was talking about George Plimpton. Ah, screw all of you, I’m going for a drink.” —John Updike

“Y.P.R. was the only journal who would publish my ‘Sunglasses At Night’ parody. I’ll miss them dearly.” — Corey Hart

“Y.P.R. was like a rotten outbreak of hemorrhoids: nagging and all over my ass. Good riddance to Y.P.Crap. De-funct. And so it goes. Speaking of which, here is a picture of an asshole:


— Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

“I love Y.P.R. They are strong but gentle lovers, and they can last all night long. Ooh, rock me, Y.P.R.” — your little sister

“I love Y.P.R. They are strong but gentle lovers, and they can last all night long. Ooh, rock me, Y.P.R.” — also, your mother

“I’m so glad I invented the Internet. Thanks to me, Y.P.R. is possible. Blah, blah, blah. Bo-o-o-o-ring.” — Lou Ferigno, doing his Al Gore impression.

“Since I am the Gov-ah-nah of Cah-lee-fore-knee-ya, I demand that Y.P.R. stay on the In-tah-net.” — my grandmother

“I fucked Y.P.R.” — Paris Hilton

“Me too.” — Monica Lewinsky

“Yup. Same here.” — Brittany Murphy

“Ditto.” — Arianna Huffington

“Hell, who didn’t?” — Abe Vigoda

“I married Y.P.R.! For hours!” —Britney Spears

“Stop ripping off our bits, assholes.” — the ghost of Haypenny, angrily rattling its chains

January 16, 2004

The Metamorphosis

One morning, Gregor Samsa awoke to find he had turned into a Jean-Claude Van Damme. He was frightened at first, not sure what all this meant. He had spent the previous evening watching Timecop, the film in which Mr. Van Damme traveled back through time to foil Ron Silver for some reason. Gregor had admitted to his family, who also watched the movie that night, that he couldn't follow the logic of the film, and all that night he was haunted by the image of Van Damme straddling a kitchen counter to avoid a laser beam.

Gregor laid still in his bed, unsure if his being Van Damme was only in his mind. His mother came to the locked door, inquiring whether he was awake yet. Gregor remembered that he had to take the train from Prague that morning, and he tried to answer her, but all that came out of his mouth was a low grumble, an answer in halting English with more than a hint of a Belgian. Thankfully Mrs. Samsa was hard of hearing; she took Gregor's garbled, indecipherable speech for just his usual morning grumbling. Gregor knew he couldn't stay in bed all day; he had to travel. His family was depending on him.

Just then he heard the voice of his employer, Mr. Hilter, who came by to check on Gregor, saying that he was supposed to be on the six o'clock train that morning and was thirty minutes late. Gregor panicked. He had forgotten the time and he sprang from the bed in a hurry to collect himself before Mr. Hilter came to the door. He looked in the mirror and was horrified at his appearance: Gregor had taken on the physical appearance of Van Damme almost identical to the way he appeared in Timecop. He closed his eyes, hoping that when he opened them the mullet, steely jaw, and five-o'clock shadow would be gone, but when he opened them he was still Van Damme.

Mr. Hilter was at the door now, knocking and yelling Gregor's name. Gregor knew he would be fired if he didn't answer the door, so he slowly undid the lock just above the doorknob. Mr. Hilter, hearing the lock being undone, began to berate Gregor before he could open the door. "Samsa, I warned you last time—"

"Yes, Mr. Hilter, I apologize," Gregor said, still unwilling to open the door.

"What? I didn't understand anything you just said! Madam Samsa, is your boy well?" Mother had accompanied Mr. Hilter to Gregor's room, and Gregor worried that her poor heart could not take the shock.

Gregor decided it was best to get it over with, and began to open the door. "Mr. Hilter, I can still make the eight o'clock..."

Gregor never got to finish his sentence. Upon catching site of him in full Van Damme mode, Mr. Hilter turned sheet-white, and ran screaming from the Samsas' tiny home. Mother, clutching her chest, began to cry. "What have you done with my son?!" Gregor hastily tried to assure her that he was hers, but all that came out of his mouth was thick and incomprehensible Belgian. He shut the door hurriedly, and decided it would be best to remain out of his family’s sight.

Gregor knew what he must do to fix all this: he had to go back in time and kill Ron Silver.

January 15, 2004

It's an Honor Just to Be Read

from: Todd Piepenbrok [thechinman@ameritech.net]
to:: Y.P.R. [ypr@yankeepotroast.org]
subject: Best Boy Nomination

Hello there, Y.P.R.,

I was doing the ol' Google serach on my name and found that your Web site is the second listing. You have me nominated for BEST Best Boy for 8 Mile. May I ask who you are and how you know of my work on the film?

Todd “Chin” Piepenbrok

January 14, 2004

We're Working on It

from: John Graves II
to: Y.P.R. [ypr@yankeepotroast.org]
subject: an inquiry without capitals

Yankee Pot Roast,

As an admirer and appreciater of your online publication I wonder if there is a printed collection of the best daily pieces. I very much would like a volume if so, to have and to hold, to love and to cherish, to laugh with and learn about my body with, to fawn and dote over, to develop an attachment bordering on dependence with, to become jealous of the power and hold and sway its opinion of me means to me, to accuse of infidelitous thoughts, to push down just once, and only because I’m so afraid of losing it, to stand in the rain across the street from at late, long hour intervals, to call in moments of drunken longing and cynicism, to wonder if, after so many
months without contact, it has my favorite green sweater, the one I’d been looking for earlier that week.


January 12, 2004

Girl with Pearl Drops Toothpaste

“Girl With Pearl Drops Toothpaste” (1978)

One of the finest of Ed Kligenstein’s commercials for Doyle Dane Bernbach, this sixty-second spot creates a mood defined by the radiant, all-American glow of the girl as she turns toward the viewer to hawk the tooth-whitening product. Her ash-blonde hair and the blue blouse that clings to her ample teenage bosom enhance her completely disarming row of glistening teeth.

In a departure from the time-honored practice of TV toothpaste ads, Klingenstein has eschewed the usual white background, instead placing the girl in front of a plain black wall that suggests the blackboard of a high-school classroom. Instead of the traditional headshot (as in the classic Close-Up commercial featuring a young John Travolta), the money shot here presents a bust-length portrait of the girl, her body accentuated by the three-dimensional effect of the receding dark background.

In its immediacy and image, “Girl With Pearl Drops Toothpaste” demonstrates how different Klingenstein’s approach was from other commercial directors’ of the period. Avoiding an extreme close-up, the camera relies on the actress’s subtle gaze to suggest an altogether fresh but somewhat bratty demeanor that could indicate that we are in the presence of a girl who would not be caught dead with Marlboro-stained teeth.

Also evident is the patient manner Klingenstein must have employed doing the shoot; here, the TV does not merely delineate the forms of youthful bleached incisors but instead embodies and defines them.

Klingenstein’s lines are even more freely executed, as when the girl asks the viewer, “How do your teeth feel?” and, barely waiting for the reply, suggestively flicks her tongue over the top row of her spotless teeth and intones the timeless Pearl Drops slogan, “Mmmm... It’s a great feeling.” The composition of these five words, coming immediately after the flitting tongue movement, creates an unforgettable icon, complete with fresh breath, a sparkling smile, and an invitation to a kiss.

While the girl’s pose suggest a portrait, the features here are purified so that the viewer does not think the actress represents a specific female; instead she is presented as an idealized version of the American teenage girl. This refined figure of Klingenstein’s mature work for DDB stands as an eternal reminder of his place in 20th Century advertising.

January 09, 2004

Tighter Abs in Six Weeks

Use the Ab Cruncher 3000 Three Times a Week
and See a Whole New You!

Week 1, Day 1

My Ab Cruncher 3000 came today. Sandy says you're supposed to keep a diary and write down exactly how many crunches you do a day. Sandy lives next door and recently lost 50 pounds. She thinks Paul Winston, who's 41 years old and lives across the street with his mother, is going to be attracted to her now. Sandy needs to have her head examined.

I thought my Ab Cruncher was going to arrive yesterday, which would have been great because Colin was home and could have put the darn thing together. I tried to do it myself but can't tell which pole is A and which is D. They should mark these things.

Week 1, Day 2

Colin promised he would try to come home early from work today and assemble my Ab Cruncher 3000. Sandy thinks I should demand that Colin spend more time at home. I told her he's a foreman for god's sake, and has to work when he has to work.

Sandy has her own version of reality. She thinks Paul Winston is going to want to go out with her. Look at the way he walks, I tell her. You're not his type.

Week 1, Day 3

Ab Cruncher 3000 still in pieces on the floor. Colin had to work late again yesterday. Sandy said no one has to work late that often, honey. I said just because he wasn't in his office when I called doesn't mean he's fooling around. He's a foreman. He doesn't just sit at his desk all day. He has responsibilities.

I think it drives Sandy crazy that I have a good marriage and she could never make hers work.

Week 2, Day 1

My Ab Cruncher 3000 is together! I couldn't really get the hang of it, though, and only did three crunches today. Sandy says she did fifty. I'm not sure I believe her. She also said Paul Winston was flirting with her when she stopped by his florist shop yesterday. He was probably just trying to get her to buy a more expensive arrangement.

Week 2, Day 2

I did it! I got on the Ab Cruncher this morning and did 157 crunches before Colin even woke up! Colin says he's real proud of me, and thinks I'll be skinny in no time.

I got on the scale after he left and saw that I gained three pounds. I threw away the leftover cake and the Fritos. I'll weigh myself again next week.

Week 2, Day 3

Too sore to get back on the Ab Cruncher 3000 today. Will try again tomorrow.

Colin worked late again last night and I wound up eating a whole chicken myself. Sandy says that's not bad because it's protein.

Week 3, Day 1

Sandy claims Paul asked her out on a date. They're going bowling on Friday. I said watch the way he throws the ball. If his back leg goes up, you'll know.

I did 17 crunches today and feel great!

Week 3, Day 2

I got on the scale today and gained another pound. If Colin would come for dinner more often I know I wouldn't eat as much. But I think I'm getting my period and likely it's just water weight.

Too crampy to do crunches today.

Week 3, Day 3

Sandy had her date with Paul last night. She said he didn't kiss her good-night and I said, see? And she said I should pay more attention to my own relationship. And I said what is that supposed to mean? And she said I should take my head out of the sand is what it means.

I did 35 crunches today even though I have my period.

Week 4, Day 1

Colin came home late again last night, so I called Sandy to see if she wanted to come over for dinner. She said she was going out with Paul again. I said why didn't she tell me? She said if she thought I would be happy for her she would have told me. I said how could I be happy for her when she was barking up the wrong tree? She said I should worry more about what tree Colin is barking up. I said, does she know something I don't? She said I should keep my eyes open is all.

I didn't eat any dinner last night. Today I did 50 crunches, I think. I lost count.

Week 4, Day 2

Lost two pounds! I called Colin at the office and asked if he could come home early so we could celebrate. He said of course. I'm going to take a shower before he gets here, just in case. It's been a while for us.

I called Sandy and told her about Colin. She said sometimes men act really nice to their wives when they're feeling guilty. I said what does she know about making a marriage work?

I did 78 crunches today.

Week 4, Day 3

Colin brought me flowers last night, which was awfully sweet. I asked him did he get them from Paul's shop and did he think Paul could possibly be interested in Sandy. He said Paul is as queer as a three-dollar bill.

I thought maybe Colin would want to have sex last night since we had such a nice dinner together and he didn't have to get up early the next day, but he was too tired.

I did 22 crunches today.

Week 5, day 1

Sandy called to say she slept with Paul last night. I wanted to ask did he do it from behind, but I didn't have the nerve. I just said great, I guess he's not gay then. And she said no, he is definitely not. I told her Colin brought me flowers, and she said okay, honey, but be smart.

She's very suspicious, that Sandy. If she were still married, she'd probably think it would mean something if her husband sometimes stopped for a drink on his way home from work.

I think my Ab Cruncher 3000 might be broken. I couldn't get it adjusted right today.

Week 5, Day 2

Ab Cruncher still not working. I called the 800 number but got put on hold for twenty minutes and finally hung up. Nibbled away almost a whole pound of cheese while I waited.

Sandy called to ask if she could come over, she has something to tell me. If she and Paul are getting engaged or something I will laugh my head off. Anyway, Colin is working late again tonight so I told her fine, come over if you like.

Week 5, Day 3

Everything I said about Sandy is right. She is so suspicious; it could ruin a woman's life if she'd let it. Just because she saw Colin talking to some big-assed blonde in a bar near the factory doesn't mean he's having an affair. I asked Colin about it when he got home and he said she was just one of the girls from the back office who was asking questions about work. And when I asked how come he was at a bar when he said he was working late, he said he did work late and just stopped at the bar for a quick pop.

Called the 800 number again for the Ab Cruncher 3000 and held on all morning while I made the beds and did the laundry. Hung up when my neck started to hurt and ate three slices of cold pizza.

Week 6, Day 1

Sandy called today to say she never uses her Ab Cruncher 3000 anymore and did I want hers since mine is broken. I said why would I want something from someone who is hell-bent on causing trouble in my life? Sandy said honey, I'm just looking out for your best interests, that's what friends are for. And I said with friends like that, and hung up the phone.

I called the 800 number right away and am still on hold. I'm not hanging up this time.

January 07, 2004

The Ten Most World-Famous Belgians in the World

Can I name 10 world-famous Belgians? Not including tennis players? Are you serious? Belgians!?! You do mean Belgians, as in ‘citizens of Belgium,’ n’est ce pas? Oui? Pas de problem, dude. Sure I know where it’s at. It’s in Europe that’s where, between Spain and Deutschland, and the capital city is Flanders, which is a very historical place and dates back to before the war, whichever, I don’t know, stop changing the subject, no, I’m not buying time. You doubt me? O.K., let’s go, and don’t interrupt me this time, O.K.? O.K.??? Alright, so I’m gonna start now, here goes... are you sitting comfortably? O.K., O.K.! Here goes:

The World’s First and Foremost Most Famous Belgian:

Tintin. Yup, the boy detective—that’s right with the fluffy dog. Huge gay icon, at least in Belgium. Also Latvia I think. What do you mean he’s not a real person? Of course he is! I thought you read The Life of Tintin? Get outta here! Essential reading. No, it wasn’t reviewed in Sports Illustrated, no excuse. But let’s move on to:

The World’s Second-Most Famous Belgian:

Hergé. Whaddaya mean ‘Hergé who?’ The guy with the pencils! He animated Tintin’s life into comic form so that people who never pick up a real book could get to know him and his adventures. Funnies without the laughs, mostly. We owe him big time. Talk about service to humanity! O.K., let’s see, that’s two down, seven to go—yeah, of course I mean after—

The World’s Thirdest-Most Famous Belgian:

Maigret. No, not Manray—Maigret! ‘Meg-ray’. He was like the totally awesome Belgian Columbo-type cop. Real smart, always figured it out. You’ve never seen those movies? We need to get you some culture, shame shame shame. There is life outside of Hollywood. But let’s move on.

The World’s Fourth-Most Famous Belgian:

You’ll like this guy. No, they’re not all guys. Yes, the list is inclusive. Like I was saying—Aldo Sax, the one and only. No, not Tenor’s baby brother. A-l-d-o, Al-do as in “d’oh”! The man who gifted the world the sexiest musical appliance to date was Belgian. I say ‘to date’ because it’s been a while since anyone invented a new instrument. Computers don’t count. I know I said ‘John Coltrane made the sax’ but I didn’t actually mean that he created it. Sure he was talented. But he was totally a musician, not the inventor! Now listen, sweetheart, it’s getting late and Daddy has to go to work tomorrow, so say nighty-night. Of course Daddy will pay for tennis lessons for his princess. I am not buying time; it’s late. Yes, we can talk some more about Belgium tomorrow. Don’t worry, the list is in my head. You’re gonna love number 6. Yeah, I know but number 5 isn’t as interesting as number 6.


January 06, 2004

Our Disastrous Brunch

The inexplicable ruination of the BROILED PINEAPPLE RINGS had the precise fingerprints of the Illuminati all over them. Or was it the anti-Illuminati?

At any rate, it was clear that the mystical alignment of the seven rings spelled out apocryphal meanings that someone, someone very, very powerful didn’t want spelled out. So palms were greased, influence was peddled, and the turning off of broilers was forgotten. Inedible? Yes. Secret society? Need I say more? Disaster number one.

As for the MACEDOINE OF PEARS AND MELON BALLS IN PORT, anyone could see how the same guys who hid the alien spaceship in Roswell, New Mexico, would have been all over that one. The defilers of the melon balls were clearly the same organization behind all the doings up at Groom Lake, Nevada, the men and women behind the sunglasses who sport all-access privileges to Area 51. One need not dip too deep into the literature to see just how paranoid these UFO co-conspirators can be, especially when it comes to brunching. (Think about it: that famous forgery of the flying saucer? That was a photograph of TWO PIE TINS TAPED TOGETHER.)

The facts are these: We bought those melons crisp; we know how to tap a melon with the best of them. No, the vandalization of our prized dish leads to only one place -- that super-secret arm of the N.S.A. responsible for safeguarding UFO secrets. They messed with my melons. No doubt about it. Disaster number two, traced.

Next, what’s the first thing you think of when you think of SHIRRED EGGS? Exactly, the Trilateral Commission. These insidious world leaders were simply not going to sit idly by as little ramekins and cocotte dishes are dolloped with fresh eggs. They have a vested interest in scrambled eggs, sunny-side up eggs, even poached eggs. They will not blithely allow shirred eggs into a brunch unmolested. Doing so would put the new world order in question. The nefarious agents of this super-secret organization didn’t let us account for the thickness of the ramekin, resulting in an untraceable act that caused an unreliable estimation for the retained heat of the tiny casserole, and causing the delicate eggs to cook just too damn fast. Disaster three. Mission accomplished for them. Any questions?

Regarding the FLAT PERRIER, the LIMP CHIPS, and the TEPID COFFEE, well, all the evidence points toward NASA. I mean, if they could fake the entire moon landing, they certainly have the resources to sabotage a brunch at our home, don’t they? (Oh, and don’t go asking Buzz Aldrin for any corroboration on NASA’s innocence regarding the flat/limp/tepid conspiracy. Buzz’s part of the cabal.)

It’s a scary world out there to hold a brunch in. We tried. We really did. But there are forces at work, invisible hands that can mess up even the most resolute entertainer. And don’t think that by opting for something simple like pancakes or lox and bagels you’ll be able to dodge these evil ones. Their tentacles reach long, and they reach deep. Nobody is safe. Be warned. Be vigilant. But, whatever you do, don’t back down.

January 05, 2004

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy SquarePants

Captain: Ooooooooooh, who lives in the tissue of sick Holstein spines?
Children: Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy SquarePants!
Captain: Stripped by a machine in guarded confines!
Children: Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy SquarePants!
Captain: If neurological infection is something you wish--
Children: Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy SquarePants!
Captain: Then try some ground up frontal lobe in your dish!
Children: Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy SquarePants!

Captain: Ready?
Everyone: Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy SquarePants!
Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy SquarePants!
Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy SquarePants!
Encephalopathyyyyyyyyyyyyyy SquarePants!
Flute: Toot-Toot-Toot-Toot! Toot-Toot Toot!
Captain: *cough cough*

It's Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy SquarePants!

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy SquarePants artwork by Dan Engler