& Recently . . .

Dear VH1 by Nick Jezarian

A Short Conversation with Hal Sparks about His “I Love the 80s” Appearances as We Wait for Our Drinks at a Los Angeles Starbucks by Bunsen

The Gradual Decline of the “I Love the . . . ” Sidebars by Claire Zulkey

I ♥ “I Love the [X]0s”

My Anti-Depressant Diary by Ken Krimstein

Next time on “The Surreal Life” . . . by Matthew Tobey

Polish Fact

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1 Euro = 4.67 PLN

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July 29, 2004

Dear VH1

Dear VH1 Executives,

So I come home last night and find you’ve commissioned your official nostalgia buffoons to muse about 1999. What the fuck is that? Can I have a moment to breathe here? I felt as if I came home and found my mom in bed with the postman [Note: Mr. Jezarian did not work for the U.S. Postal Service].

I’m royally pissed. I was hoodwinked into buying your two-bit 80s rap, thinking we were both having fun, comparing notes, remember this, remember that, ha ha, yeah, great. I stopped thinking about the fun things that I like to reminisce about with friends over a beer because I was doing that with my new best friend, VH1, you and I, decadal anthropologists. Then it hits me: all along, you were just diverting me into completely ignoring all the fun things that made the 90s good for me, so I couldn’t spoil your rap.

I’ll grant you, your series of manufactured 80s nostalgia provided a forum for discussion and “Oh yeahhhhhhh”s and a decent reason to get high. Additionally, it provided a great service to the public by providing a place for former civil servants to feel wanted, such as Dee Snider, David Lee Roth, Jordan Knight, and Punky Brewster (despite her breast reduction). But the 90s are transparent, VH1. I know “I Love the 90s” is nothing more than a vain and megalomaniacal attempt to one-up everybody. “We have to get to it before someone else beats us to it,” I can hear Mr. VH1 screaming. BANG! What’s that, you ask? That’s the sound of a backfire, bitch! You are now my nemesis. Old man, consider yourself nemesisized!

This is not a role I embrace with delusions of victory, mind you. It is more equitable to consider me the Wile E. Coyote, super genius, to your zany, nonsensical Road Runner. I will be forced to watch in vain as you zoom zoom zoom ahead into decade after decade, meep meep meeping all the way, pointing out the obvious before the viewers have a chance to think for themselves. I will frantically try to warn others and trip you up but you are unstoppable, much like the Road Runner. You zoom along, inconsiderately speeding on the nostalgia road intimidating other roadside dwellers. Well, no more!

Time’s running out suckers, there aren’t that many years left, so your ass is grass. Live it up with the 90s, go ahead. Let Michael Ian Crack talk smack about Y2K, but know this—you gave up your advantage. Talking about things the majority of people don’t remember from the 80s was brilliance. Most viewers only remembered half of the nonsense on the screen so the jokes flew and were witty. That tends to happen when people have only vague memories of what you’re talking about—they laugh uncomfortably to play along. But you, oh-h-h-h-h-h-h-h you (please read this in the voice of Judge Smail from Caddyshack), drafting witticisms about things that are fresh in people’s minds was your fatal mistake. If I can remember it, and your jokes don’t nail—crap! You created too small a margin of error for yourselves. If you cut off at ’94, maybe ’95, I think you’d be alright but in your frantic desperation to corner the 90s market, you farted in the face of your viewers. Sure, your ratings were at an all-time high but that’s only because people watch for 15 minutes before realizing the show sucks! Not to mention if five more people watch one night, your ratings are up. Hey, 2004 is almost over, I hope you have your material ready, you might be able to get it up and running for next week.

VH1, I’m ashamed for you.

Disgruntled but still watching only because it’s like a train wreck,
Nick Jezarian

P.S. Play some frickin’ videos, will ya? A few videos never hurt nobody.

P.P.S. I’ve enclosed my resume in case you decide to go a different route with your hosts

July 28, 2004

A Short Conversation with Hal Sparks about His “I Love the 80s” Appearances as We Wait for Our Drinks at a Los Angeles Starbucks



“You’re . . . Hal Sparks from VH1’s ‘I Love the Whatevers’.”

“Um, yup. That’s me.”

“And also ‘Queer as Folk’.”

“That too, yeah.”

“The gay show.”

“It’s a show about gay characters. So . . .”

“I loved your little riff on Blondie on the 80s show.”

“Oh, did I talk about Blondie?”

“Yeah, you had your shirt off and some guy was licking your chest. And ‘Heart of Glass’ was playing and you made some funny little remark. Then the guy stuck his tongue in your mouth and you really didn’t get a chance to finish the thought.”

“That was probably the other . . .”

“Oh. The gay show.”

“Might have been. Yeah.”

“Well, the Blondie thing was funny. So, are you . . .”

“No. That’s just a role.”

“Ah. So then the making out . . .”

“Um, it’s acting. So . . .”

“I’m not gay either.”


“Well, I acted once, and now I can’t give blood unless I lie about it.”

“The barista’s calling my name.”

“Oh, your real name is Miguel?”

“You know . . . I’m on TV. I can’t give my real name.”

“Ah, more acting.”

“Sort of, yeah. So I’m going to . . .”

“O.K. Also, the thing you did on ‘I Want Your Sex,’ that was pretty fucking hilarious.”


“It’s got to be hard to riff on George Michael’s stubble when a guy’s throwing your legs over his shoulders.”

“Yeah, that was . . .”

“Oh, the gay show.”


“Sorry. You’re a really great actor.”

July 27, 2004

The Gradual Decline of the “I Love the . . . ” Sidebars

“I Love the 80s”:

Babes of the 80s

Hunks of the 80s

Born in the 80s

Stars Then and Now

“I Love the 70s”:

Macho Men of the 70s

Foxy Ladies of the 70s

Things You Could Get Away with in the 70s That Would Get You Arrested Today

Look at This Thing I Purchased in the 70s

“I Love the 80s Strikes Back”:

Nerds of the 80s

Donal Logue’s Extra Thoughts on Whatever

Gilbert Godfrey Yells

Things of the 80s That Were Popular For, Like, a Day, But We Will Still Talk About Anyway

“I Love the 90s”:

Dirty Rocker Boys of the 90s

Extra Footage of People Talking Loosely about the 90s

Extra Commercials (in the ‘Spirit’ of the 90s)

The ‘I’d Better Say Something Outrageous Because I’m on TV and I Might Otherwise Be Forgotten’ Moment of the 90s

“I Love the 00s” and the future:

Dead Air of the 00s

Clips of Previous Shows, Not Necessarily on VH1, of the 00s

The ‘Look I Can Form Words with My Mouth’ Person of the 00s

Uh… Michael Ian Black, Say Something! Moment of the 00s.

July 26, 2004

I ♥ “I Love the [X]0s”

I Love 'I Love the 80s,' 'I Love the 70s,' 'I Love the 90s,' 'I Love the 80s Strikes Back,'
In which Y.P.R. assembles a panel of D-list talking heads to share memories and commentary of the VH1 retrospectives.

I Love 'I Love the 70s,' 'I Love the 80s,' 'I Love the 90s,' and 'I Love the 80s Strikes Back'.

This week, Y.P.R. presents “I Love ‘I Love the [X]0s’,” in which contributors share fond memories of and incisive observations about VH1’s series of decadal retrospectives.

We've assembled a blue-ribbon panel of D-list celebrities to provide running commentary on the shows. Their serialized coverage will run Monday through Friday, with two back-to-back ten-hour marathons over the weekend.

And, of course, there will also be the usual Y.P.R. fare of short stories, personal essays, and the like, each celebrating a series of TV shows that celebrate the recent past.


This is a work of parody, and is not in any way, shape, or form a product of VH1, nor is it affiliated, approved, endorsed, or anything else by the fine network. Duh. Y.P.R.

July 22, 2004

My Anti-Depressant Diary

Happiness comes in many flavors. Read, and learn:


As soon as I got my prescription, I headed straight to my local diner and kicked back one of the tiny tabs with a cup of decaf. “Piece of cheesecake?” asked Demetrios. “Nah, not today,” I said, knowing I didn’t need the cheesecake to make me happy anymore. After three sips, an uncontrollable urge overtook me. I grabbed Demetrios by his grease-stained apron, kissed him on both nubby cheeks and yelled at the top of my lungs, “Why do I dance? You might as well ask why do I live? Why do I breathe?” The next thing I remember is waking up the following morning with a splitting headache and my wife saying to me, “You better call Dr. Kavanaugh and have her change your prescription.”


All I have to say is they should have called it Zo-Crash.


After three weeks, this one turned me into a strange combination of Bob Saget and Harry Belafonte but they sued me so I had to quit.

Lexapro™, Wellbutrin XL™, Effexor® XR, Celexa®:

I lump these together because for some reason they all made me speak Mandarin, and since I don’t understand any Mandarin, I don’t know what I was thinking for two months. One positive byproduct, though: I am a master with chopsticks and that’s a skill you never lose.


“Well, this is the last one we’ve got in our cupboard,” Dr. Kavanaugh said.

“Do we know of any side effects?” I asked.

“Nausea, dry mouth, constipation, erectile dysfunction and irritable-bowel syndrome.”

“We’ll pass on it,” I said, walking out of her office singing “The Banana Boat Song” while knitting a scarf with a pair of jade chopsticks. Day-O. Daaaaaay-O.

July 20, 2004

Next time on “The Surreal Life” . . .

Next time on “The Surreal Life” . . .

Mary Lou Retton becomes incensed when the Indian from the Village People leaves the toilet seat up again, but things are in a decidedly sunnier mood on the other end of the house where Dustin “Screech” Diamond has fallen head over heels for a giant moth pupa. Will his feelings stay the same when she emerges from her cocoon and reveals herself to be a manifestation of his mother?

* * *

Next time on “The Surreal Life” . . .

The whole gang is in danger of being fired from their jobs at the nightclub when they are late again, but Eddie Money has a zany idea that just might stop all of the clocks in the house from constantly melting. Meanwhile, filmmaker Matthew Barney stops by and offers one lucky housemate the chance for an extravagant day away from the house at a swanky spa. With 90 seconds on the clock, who can find the most phalluses hidden in the pool filled with blood and faceless babies?

* * *

Next time on “The Surreal Life” . . .

Birth Death Birth Death Birth Death Birth Death Birth Death Birth Death Birth Death Birth Death Birth Death Birth Death Vagina Birth Death Birth Death Birth Death Birth Death Spatula Birth Death Birth Death Birth Death Birth Death Birth Death Birth Death Birth Death Birth Death Filth Birth Death Birth Death Birth Death Birth Death Birth Death Birth Death Birth Death Birth Death Birth Death Birth Death Christ Birth Death Birth Death Birth Death Birth Death Birth Death Birth Death Birth Death Birth Death Semen. Meanwhile, Ickey Woods and Melissa Rivers plan a special surprise for Jessica Hahn’s birthday.

* * *

Next time on “The Surreal Life” . . .

When the tension over the toilet-seat situation finally comes to a head, things take a turn for the sexy as Mary Lou Retton and the Indian from the Village People finally confess their true feelings for each other and end up in a lengthy make-out session. Later in the day, at the urging of a melancholy German-speaking Boston terrier, Connie Sellecca eats a live dove and instantly gives birth to her father in the form of Arsenio Hall.

July 18, 2004

Daniel Robert Epstein

It's easy to completely overlook the work of Daniel Robert Epstein; after all, his words are surrounded by lots of naked flesh. Pierced, dyed, shaved, and tattooed naked flesh. SuicideGirls, the online 'zine, is probably what Hef would've dreamed up if he were a suburban teenage raver rolling on three hits of really good X: an interactive forum showcasing funky pinups of bookish girls-next-door and devilish dominatrices alike who transform freaky fetishism into punk rock. It's just delicious, delicious smut. Mmmm, smut smut smut.

Oh, also there's some interviews somewhere on the site, if you haven't driven yourself blind. Daniel Robert Epstein is the elusive questioner of the cool and off-kilter.

Sample question by Mr. Epstein:

“Are you going home for Passover?”

[Posed to Gina Gershon, actress and hopeful rock star.]

[ Proletariat, take heed: Before you go clicking all willy-nilly, we're obliged to inform you that many interview-ward hyperlinks land upon SuicideGirls.com, a Web site that is Not Safe For Work. Unless your office is very cool. ]

Y.P.R.: How many interviews have you conducted?

D.R.E.: Honestly too many to count. Over 150 for SuicideGirls.com. Maybe 500 for UGO.com. Then there was the half dozen other Web sites I have written for or are still writing for. Plus that doesn’t count my television background where I produced hundreds of interviews both on live TV and taped.

Y.P.R.: How do you conduct them? Phone, in person, e-mail?

D.R.E.: I’ve done all three but the majority of the interviews I do are on the phone. I also do a lot of movie junkets, which are in person

Y.P.R.: Your subjects cut a pretty wide swath of—I hate to label anything “alternative,” but—alternative artists and performers; really awesome, interesting folks whom you’d most likely never find interviewed in Entertainment Weekly. How do you select your interviewees?

D.R.E.: It’s funny, I’ve had publicists and colleagues who have told me that they see me as the alterative-type person. I say, “I’ll interview Britney Spears and Tom Hanks if someone is willing to pay me.” SG usually wants the alternatively typed people and UGO goes for the more mainstream creators. But I’ve been surprised sometimes when the opposite happens. For example, I just interviewed the director of Tron for UGO, that movie is over 20 years old, I wouldn’t call that mainstream.

But another example is who I can get. If I can’t get Dave Chappelle, who would be the next best representative of “Chappelle’s Show”? Why, it’s Neal Brennan, Dave’s writing partner who writes, acts, and directs sketches on the show. Plus he’s not as high-profile but in many ways just as interesting as Dave himself. In fact, in some ways he’s even more interesting because he can step back and talk about the show objectively, plus he doesn’t feel the need to be constantly funny.

It’s just figuring out who the most interesting people are out there. I think the two guys who created “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” are amazingly interesting. They created a phenomenon that they are only barely aware of. But everyone I know loves that show. So I think they are interesting, they deserve to be on “David Letterman,” and to be interviewed by the biggest magazines. They are far and away much more interesting to talk to than Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt.

Again it’s finding out who isn’t doing a ton of interviews. For example, when Michael Moore has a new book out he does every magazine, Web site, and talk show. But maybe, just maybe, I don’t want to talk to Michael Moore. Maybe I’d want to talk to a Michael Moore type. SG doesn’t want to become a place for people to stop by on their tours; we strive to be a bit more original.

Y.P.R.: To what lengths have you gone to secure an interview?

D.R.E.: Like would I suck a dick? The only dick I would suck is David Cronenberg’s and I didn’t have to.

Y.P.R.: Please describe your interviewing process: how much research you do; how prepared do you like be, question-wise; do you like to just let the Q & A roll freely; etc.

D.R.E.: I do plenty of research—both Internet and magazines off the rack. When I am talking to someone on the phone I like to have a list of questions in front of me. Otherwise I will blank out. Believe me it happens. But I also don’t like to lock myself into them. I try to leave room both on the page and in my mind to let the Q & A flow freely. If we end up having a long discussion about something totally off-topic, I might just include that repartee into the interview or I might cut it down to one quote. When I go to junkets, often it’s me and many other journalists so I might only get a chance to ask three to four questions so I don’t write them down. Unless I want to ask something specific—then I will write them down otherwise I will forget them.

Y.P.R.: Is there an elusive white whale that’s been consistently dodging your tireless pursuit?

D.R.E.: Well I’m zeroing in on a couple of them. Mostly high-profile comic book people. But I would love to talk to Anthony Zuiker (who created the “C.S.I.” TV series). Love to talk to Perry Farrell, Mike Patton, and Darren Aronofsky. But I expect that every person I want to talk to will happen eventually.

Y.P.R.: Of the dearly departed, whom do you wish you could have interviewed?

D.R.E.: Hmm. That’s a good question. I always wanted to know how often George Washington went to the bathroom. I would love to talk to William Burroughs, Jack Kirby, and Alfred Hitchcock.

Y.P.R.: Dish it: Who was the worst interview? The best?

D.R.E.: I fucked up a couple of interviews by not being prepared but I’m better at it now. Who was rude? William Shatner, Andrew Bynarski, Marisa Tomei.

Y.P.R.: Reading the interviews and other such mundane material on the SuicideGirls’ site is kind of like reading Playboy for the articles. Do you ever feel eclipsed by the site’s main attraction?

D.R.E.: This is the second interview that’s ever been conducted with me as the subject and this is the best question! Absolutely, I feel eclipsed by SuicideGirls’ nude pinups. The message boards are a big part of SuicideGirls and that’s where people can comment on my interviews. But I don’t usually get more than 20 comments on any of my works. But the nude pinups get hundreds, maybe thousands. I don’t feel bitter about this whatsoever because that is what the majority of the people are there for: to look at the girls. Hell, I am extremely happy that SG likes keeping me around. Do they need me? Not exactly! But I’ve seen what passes for magazine-like content on the SG clones. It’s not very good. Not very good at all. But I seem to have a bit of a following and I know that I do good work. Is every interview worth its weight in gold? Hell no! The Q-&-A format is very dependent on whether your subject is a good talker and that doesn’t happen very often.

Y.P.R.: Who asks the best questions: Torquemada, the Riddler, or Tim Russert?

D.R.E.: I looked up Tim Russert. He’s the guy on “Meet the Press.” I’ve never watched that show. Torquemada’s questions are more like a test, that’s not right. So by process of elimination I suppose it’s the Riddler.

Y.P.R.: Is there something artificial about an interview conducted via e-mail? Does the lack of spontaneity provide for better or worse answers?

D.R.E.: E-mail interviews suck. The lack of spontaneity and control you hand over to your interviewee isn’t cool. Interviewees who ask to do e-mail interviews are usually paranoid schizophrenics.

Y.P.R.: Who’s your favorite interviewer? Who do you wish would interview you?

D.R.E.: My faves: Television-wise: Charlie Rose. Magazine-wise: I honestly don’t know or care. I wish Kenneth Star would interview me.

Y.P.R.: Ever get a little star-struck by one of your subjects?

D.R.E.: Sure all the time. I got nervous interviewing Peter O’Toole, James O’Barr, Ridley Scott, and David Fincher. That might be about it.

Y.P.R.: If you’ve got one, please share with us a funny or disastrous incident during a job interview.

D.R.E.: Ummm. I shit my pants! Nope never happened. Nothing bad or funny ever happened during a job interview. I usually do pretty well at job interviews, which is why I get the big bucks.

Y.P.R.: What’s up with SG Magazine we keep hearing conflicting controversy over?

D.R.E.: Laugh out Loud. I am probably the last person to ask about this. I am not one to get caught up in controversy. I don’t like to ask questions of that nature to the people I work with that are above me. I learned a long time ago, “IT’S ALL ABOUT MAXIMUM DENIABILITY.”

Y.P.R.: Duly noted. Speaking of maximum deniability, ever kill anybody?

D.R.E.: I used to beat the shit out of people I didn’t like. Never killed anybody. I want to kill lots of people.

Y.P.R.: O.K. It’s Rorschach time: What’s this inkblot look like?

D.R.E.: It looks like two Ku Klux Klan members in their hoods dancing around the devil.

Y.P.R.: If you’ve got a particularly gnarly scar, please tell us the story of how you got it.

D.R.E.: I don’t have any particularly gnarly scars, but I’ve got a few ugly ones. On the knuckle closest to my hand I have a sickle-looking scar that I got from crushing a recycling bin back in college. On the same hand, on the back of my hand, I have a two-inch scar from this metal thing that poked out the wall of the bathroom at one of my old jobs. On the inside of my right thigh there is pencil mark because when I was in fourth grade I was shaking my legs back and froth and a pencil rolled down my desk and fell in between my legs and I stabbed myself.

Y.P.R.: O.K., hot shot, prove your skillz: Ask us a question, and it better be really incisive.

D.R.E.: What commonalities do you find amongst all these people you are interviewing regarding their interviews?

Y.P.R.: Despite the calm and cool professionalism the interviewers exhibit when asking questions to big stars, they're all just as fumbly, fidgety, and friendly as we are on the other side of the Q & A.

So, Mr. Interviewer, how’d we do?

D.R.E.: I despise e-mail interviews, that’s the main problem here. I happen to be pretty interesting but when I reread this I find that I come off kind of boring and secretive. At Radio Shack, there is $12 piece of equipment you buy to record stuff to a tape recorder. Then you transcribe by listening to the tape recorder and typing into Microsoft Word. It’s not fancy.

Also, you don’t really find too much about me personally. Like where I grew up and where I went to school. How did I get this job? Things like that.

Y.P.R.: You're absolutely right; we totally blew it on getting to know the real Daniel Robert Epstein. So: Where'd you grow up? Where'd you go to school? How'd you break into interviewing? Who was your first interview? Do you still talk to your high-school prom date? What's your favorite episode of "Cheers"? Tell us one thing about D.R.E. the world needs to know. Feel free to debunk or start any rumors.

D.R.E.: . . .

July 14, 2004

Assignation at the Tot Lot

JACQUES: Bonjour, Madame.

SALLY: Hello, Jacques. Hi, Amélie-Pierre! Look, Connor, it’s Uncle Jacques with your friend Amélie-Pierre! Can you wave, Connor? Connor, Amélie-Pierre, look at all those shovels in the sandbox! Do you want to dig with some shovels? You’re so clever!

JACQUES: Yes, children, very clever! Yes, dig together in the sand of the sandbox.... Where were you on Tuesday?

SALLY: I was almost here and Connor had a total blowout. I had to go home and throw him the tub and his overalls in the trash.

JACQUES: You had no spare outfit with you. How charmingly negligent. You are almost as much a fool as my wife.

SALLY: Please. I didn’t have a chance to do the laundry because I had to pick up the backup stroller from the storage locker.

JACQUES: The brakes on the Bugaboo, they lock up again? Yes, I see .... Sally, how I suffer in your absence. Marie, she is impossible. She does not understand that the needs of a man do not end with the birth of his child, no, even if a woman’s do. But not every woman. Your Rick, he is a lucky man, the undeserving swine.

SALLY: Don’t worry, Rick’s not getting any these days either. Connor finally dropped his second nap and it’s thrown our whole duty roster out of whack. Look, Jacques, we’ve got to stop meeting this way. I think Rick is getting suspicious.

JACQUES: Not a chance.

SALLY: The other day he found a bottle marked in metric in the dishwasher and asked who we knew from Europe with a baby.

JACQUES: You couldn’t tell him it was from another child on a play-date? A chance mistake?

SALLY: He caught me by surprise. I just played dumb badly. He also asked me why, if I weaned Connor four months ago, I’m still getting milk stains on my shirts.

JACQUES: Tell him the truth. Tell him it is because your breasts flow from the same spring as the wetness below, rising in a tide of desire. Come, Sally—come away with me to the Carousel, far from the prying eyes of the Tot Lot. There, while the children amuse themselves on the wooden horses, we shall indulge our desperate desires in the shadows of the maintenance shed.

SALLY: Jacques, for heaven’s sake, don’t get me started—oh damn it, will you look at that.

JACQUES: Perhaps you should carry a spare outfit for yourself as well.

SALLY: You’re impossible. Sometimes I—Connor, don’t do that, sweetie, don’t step in his hole. No, he’s been digging that. Don’t mess it up, sweetie. Come over and play with Amélie-Pierre, she’s making shells. See? See the lobster shell? And now it’s gone! Do you want to make another lobster shell with Amélie-Pierre?

JACQUES: When shall we meet. I must have you.

SALLY: Come to my house Thursday at eleven-thirty.

JACQUES: Impossible. Amélie-Pierre has Music for Aardvarks from eleven to eleven forty-five. The class is on Union Street, upstairs from the Tea Lounge. I will be at your house at noon.

SALLY: Noon is no good. I’m hosting my baby book club at one and I have to make sugarless cupcakes.

JACQUES: A half-hour is all that you were offering me? Marie, she at least blocks out forty-five minutes.

SALLY: Then maybe you should be talking to Marie.

JACQUES: Now wait a—Amélie-Pierre, non cherie, ne manges pas... do not put the clumps in your mouth, they are not clean, they are the sands dirty. Zut alors, enfant, en moments comme ceci tu me rappelles de ta mère...

SALLY: Goodbye, Jacques. I’m afraid it just wasn’t meant to be.

JACQUES: No, Sally, wait, I implore you—Amélie-Pierre, j’insiste, if you will not behave—give me the hand, give it here ... no hitting, Amélie-Pierre, non, ne sois pas mechante.

SALLY: Come along, Connor. Good-bye, Jacques. Adieu.

JACQUES: Sally, wait—will I see you at the baby CPR refresher on Saturday?

SALLY: Probably. It conflicts with Connor’s swimming class, but I’m not going to have a chance to get waxed until Tuesday at the earliest. I’m totally Helmut Newton down there.

JACQUES: How cruel you are to torture me this way.

SALLY: Oh Jacques … until Saturday.

JACQUES: Until then.

July 12, 2004

We Should Go Hat-Shopping Together Sometime

from: Kent Houseman [kentdman@yahoo.com]
to: Y.P.R. [ypr@yankeepotroast.org]
subject: Hello.

Hello, my name is Kent Houseman. This will be the weirdest e-mail you will get in a while. O.K., I read one of your articles. The one talking about the size of your head? Well I have a big head too and am suffering from severe anxiety/stress and antisocial behavior. It’s hard, maybe it doesn’t look as obvious as some think but it does to me in my mind. How do you deal with it, friend? I will keep this one short cause I can imagine what you are thinking already. Sorry if this e-mail is annoying or anything . . . I am an honest person.

Thank you.

July 09, 2004

Legends of My Fictional Baseball League

Zeke Hurston
Hard-working third baseman who played twenty-two seasons in the Monks Baseball Association. Hit three homers in the deciding game of the MBA World Championship in Season 12. Is the all-time leader in doubles and base on balls. Died during Season 29 after a long bout with colon cancer.

“Dapper” Dan Fitzgerald
One of the more popular players to ever play in the MBA. Had a tall, muscular physique that made his adoring female fan base swoon. Often played while wearing an ascot. Hit for the cycle a record fourteen times over the course of his career. Died of syphilis a broken and lonely man.

Fireball Faulkner
Fast as a gazelle. Stole 1,349 bases during his career. Won fifteen Golden Mitt Awards, the most of any centerfielder. A fan favorite who always went out of his way to sign an autograph. Won Humanitarian of the Year Award in Season 19 for his work with deaf-mutes. Found dead and pant-less in a bathroom stall during the seventh-inning stretch of Season 32’s MBA All-Star game.

Rube Roth
Legendary manager known just as much for his foul temper as he was for his managerial prowess. Led four separate teams to league titles. Was a vegan. Hated the elderly. Died at the age of 56 in a hovercraft accident.

Cody O’Connor
Nifty second baseman who along with shortstop and ex-lover Boo Hancock combined for over 1700 double plays. Career leader in hits. Knocked in 163 runs in Season 48. Owned a llama. Was into Gore-Tex. Had a notable Smurf collection. Killed by birds.

“Big” Doak Chandler
Built like a slab of granite. Had forearms the size of a nine-year-old. Once smacked a homerun that measured 623 feet. Still holds the MBA record for single-season slugging percentage. Took steroids like nobody’s business. Was bald and sterile by the age of 23. Died in a circus fire.

Rennie Garcia Marquez
Fleet-fielding left fielder who took home the MVP Award in Season 25 when he batted .378 and stroked 53 homeruns. Was raised as a Finnish girl for the first eight and a half years of his life. Huge Jackson Browne fan. Lactose intolerant. Missing since Season 32.

Slappy Nabokov
Outstanding hitter who frustrated pitchers throughout his long career. Was named Best Catcher in the MBA eleven consecutive years. Delusional and paranoid. Was convinced he was a ferret for much of Season 39. Thought UPS was a cult group. Played the lute. Bitten by a poisonous snake during a team retreat. J. D. Salinger, Thomas Pynchon, and Shakira attended his funeral.

Kristopher Munks
Easily the most dominating pitcher and batter in the history of the MBA. Once struck out 23 batters and hit six homeruns in a single game. All-time leader in wins, ERA, strikeouts, fielding percentage, hits, batting AVG, homeruns, triples, RBIs, HBP, OBP, OPS, and in being down with OPP. Saved the life of sixteen fans during the salmonella outbreak at Hartford Stadium in season 50. Very well dressed. Flawless complexion. Not scared of bees. Has had sex with virtually every famous pretty woman, including Katie Holmes. Still plays today even though he’s entering his 56th season and my wife thinks I’m a dork—I mean, his wife thinks he’s a dork. By far my favorite player. Ever.

July 08, 2004

The Old Lady Screamed

Look, I’m not sorry it happened. I mean, why regret something that was beyond my control? I’m not God. I’m not some superhuman being who can reverse events with one blink of my overtly rendered, racially questionable eyes. It was just something that happened. Christ, wasn’t like I planned it, you know? I’m not a mean person. I like things that nice people like, things that are soft, things that have cute velvety noses, oblong things that are colorful, things made of cheese. I like that stuff, all of it and more. How about slippers? Slippers are good. And brown M&Ms, those are good, too. Well, not good exactly, but I’m the sort of person who will eat the remaining brown ones without complaining, which, I believe, makes me a nice person. And I swear to God, every time I see Regis Philbin’s impish face, I get all gooey inside. I don’t watch his show, but still.

See? Nice things, all. I highly doubt a mean and antagonistic person would like Michael Landon—I like Michael Landon, watched “Little House” faithfully, even followed him on to his other show, you know, that angel one, that one with Mister Edwards as his sidekick. Weird though it was to see Mister Edwards as his sidekick. Mister Edwards should’ve stayed on the prairie because it was kind of confusing—nay, creepy—to see him portrayed as a modern, belt-wearing curmudgeon as opposed to an olden-times curmudgeon. Mister Edwards should always wear suspenders. I cried a little when Michael died. But, anyway. I’m not going to feel guilty about what happened with the old lady, or ashamed, remorseful, shillymangered.

Well, look at that, would you?—I’m so not sorry that I made up a word to express how not sorry I am.

Oh, but she haunts me still, regardless. I’m willing to bet that if the old woman’s still alive, I haunt her as well.

Ever think back to the days of yore, even though you don’t understand the meaning of “yore”? I often do that. And honestly, when I think back to those yorey days, I admit that I sometimes blush. Like the time when I was visiting a friend after school—Mary was her name. Or Rachael. Something like that. And we were sitting at her dining room table, coloring, eating pie that tasted like dish soap, when her great-grandfather decided to make an appearance. Land sakes, he was old. Very, very old, with old shaky hands and old yellow eyes, old pants that I suspected smelled of Romano. I’m talking old here, not elderly or senior—old, man. He was the most frightening thing I’d ever seen in all my eight years on earth. He slowly walked around to my side of the table, and it was horrible, the way he walked. So slithery and dangerous with his three-pronged cane, inching his way toward me, speaking to himself in turkey-gobble spurts, saying truly heinous things like “I don’t like the roast, Ma. Ma, I don’t like the roast.”

I still shudder when I think about it.

And then, he was there, behind me, his nose whistling, his gums clacking and everything. I knew he was going to touch me, I just knew it, could feel his intent surely as I felt the sweat down my back. I sensed his wobbling fingers approaching, close, closer, closest of all. . .

That’s when I screamed. The universe stopped expanding, the air became thick, dense like pumpkin-pie filling, the Flintstone coloring book in front of me seemed to warp, move on its own accord, twisting Fred’s purple and orange face into a cruel, empathetic grimace. Shame, for shame. I screamed.

Rachael burst out laughing, of course, and it was the most violent, hideous sound ever to be uttered by a human being under the age of one hundred and seventeen. “What is wrong with you?” Mary finally managed to squeak. There were tears running down the sides of her porcine nose.

I froze. I wanted to lie and say I’d just had a flashback of when I was in ’Nam, saw a tarantula skitter across the floor, witnessed the second coming of Christ, anything to avoid the humiliation of admitting that I was afraid of . . . old people! Rachael would not have understood. So I hurriedly went to the sink for a glass of water, something to give me time, a reason to put distance between me and her “Paw-Paw” without appearing obvious about it. And that old bastard, that old pill, why he didn’t so much as blink. Just stood there with his arm raised like a mummified Hitler, a Mengela ice sculpture, muttering the same heinous, soul-scarring things. Ma, I don’t like the roast. I don’t like the roast, Ma.

Which brings me to this: There is always a connection when it comes to past experience and present actions. We are at the mercy, forever and beyond, of first impressions, first experiences, and it’s a bitch to try and overcome them. Paw-Paw taught me that, and I feel that Paw-Paw is to blame for what happened between me and the old lady that Hallowe’en night. Indirectly, to be sure, but the traumatizing incident with that old fucker had branded itself onto my being, my essence, a sizzling, hot object of indignity that will never cool. Thus the old lady and me.

Hallowe’en night. Me with my foot-high Mohawk, neon pink, reaching to the heavens with its proud, rock-hard spikes. Me, pale-faced as the dead, black-eyed and jack-booted and so hungry for a Snickers bar. Me, jonesing for Snickers, minding my own business, ignoring the usual stares and whispers, Boy or girl? Religious freak? Gotta be one of them religious freaks, don’t you think?, purchased my nutty bar of goodness, departed the drug store, and found myself face to face with her, the old woman. She had been entering as I was pushing open the glass door, so I held the door open for her, expecting her to nod her head in thanks, perhaps smile. But no. What does the old lady do? She stood frozen in place, refusing to enter the florescent haven of CVS, that bright, wonderful place that smells of perfumes and ointments and new shiny bags filled with chips and candies and doodads and things.

“After you,” I said as politely as possible, because I am polite by nature, even though I was beginning to feel a certain . . . heat, a familiar and entirely unpleasant searing within my being as she stared at me in apparent shock. “Please, go ahead,” I said, and reached for her gnarly, blue hand, thinking that she might need a bit of assistance. She was old, after all. Very, very old. And that’s when she screamed. The old woman screamed as if in the midst of being tortured by Satan’s minions, screamed like a rabbit caught in a trap (cliché, but that’s how she sounded), a terrifying, otherworldly scream that lasted and lasted, her eyes, no longer rheumy, but aware, as if she’d peered into my soul and seen my shame, my Paw-Paw-induced shame, my fear, my anger and self-hatred. She saw it all, I’m convinced.

I tried to calm her, patted her hand and said, “Oh, dear. Shhhh. Oh, dear, oh, dear.” She slapped my hand away. Slapped my hand. And the sensation was not unlike that of being snapped with a net bag full of chicken bones.

So I slapped her hand back. I did. I slapped her hand as a two-year-old would, an eight year-old who’d once experienced a traumatizing event involving old people would, a “Nyah! So there!” kind of slap. Not hard, mind you, just a tap with my fingertips. She screamed again, again and again, thereby causing a crowd to form. I decided that I should leave, quickly. The old woman pointed at me, accused me, began babbling in old-speak about how I assaulted her.

Yeah, I left then, but before doing so, I made sure to look that old woman in the eye and say, “The hellfires await you, sister. Soon . . . soon you will be mine.” And I laughed the laugh of the insane, laughed in her kitchen-witch face, laughed at her wrinkled terror until I could laugh no more. I disappeared into the night, my trench coat flying up around my shoulders, Snickers bar clenched in my fist.

I am not sorry, not one bit. What I do feel, however, is trepidation. I am dreading the day when I look in the mirror and see myself for the first time, see the face that will be with me for the rest of my life. A face jowly, lined, withered beyond recognition. Old, very, very old. I am afraid that when that day comes, I will look at that face, that unrecognizable face, and scream.

July 07, 2004

A Public Apology from The New York Post

Dear Post Readers,

Like all FOX endeavors, we rely on speed over accuracy and hope that you, the reading public of New York, accept this tradeoff and the mostly minor errors that occur as a result. Longtime readers know that any given edition will carry more spelling errors than the notebook of a dyslexic six-year-old immigrant. For instance, last year a Page 2 headline touted “Bronx Man Finally Stabbed.” Of course, we made the requisite apologies to late victim’s family, noting that the headline should have read “Bronx Man Fatally Stabbed,” but who has the time or the inclination to quibble over such details? After all, we have a paper to publish. Case in point is the Bayside family that we stated had been “gored to death by a viscous pack of nectarines.” Of course we intended “vicious pack of wolverines,” and if you read the story quickly, you probably didn’t even notice the difference. Certainly, it wasn’t noticed by the 96-year-old woman who won the lottery and was “delicious with soy.” (We meant “delirious with joy”; so sue us.)

Stop the presses.These errors beg the question: Do you want your news fast or do you want it right? We’ve examined the options and have pushed all our chips toward the former.

Simply put, we value now over I’m almost done spell-checking. So what if we’ve, on occasion, placed an I before E after C? It’s not like we’re completely fabricating bullshit and calling it news like certain papers of record we know . . . .

Yesterday, it was brought to our attention that, in our haste to deliver our fine periodical to you, our dear readers, we made a minor typographical error on the front page of our July 6th edition, as well as in many subsequent pages, and in several photographic captions. The error occurred in a story about presumptive Democratic Party nominee John Kerry having come to a decision in his search for a running mate. Who broke the story first? That’s right: The New York Post. We gave the exclusive story top billing and smacked 500-point bold letters across our front page—the cost of the extra ink is it worth it because we care about our readers. Unfortunately, our overworked and underpaid copyeditors didn’t pick up an insignificant spelling error before we went to press and, as a result, the leftwing vice-presidential hopeful Senator John Edwards’s name was spelled incorrectly numerous times throughout the late-breaking exclusive which we moved front and center extra fast so that we could get the news to your doorsteps. Also, the name of Senator Edwards’s home state, North Carolina, was inaccurately spelled, as were dozens of identifying personal details.

The New York Post deeply regrets any miscommunication that may have resulted from a mere typo, and it extends its apologies to Senator Edwards and his liberal family. The Post wishes him the best of luck in his campaign, despite his ticket not having a Fudgsicle’s chance in Hades.

Once again, thank you for reading The New York Post and don’t miss “North Shore,” Wednesday nights at nine o’clock (eight Central). Only on FOX!

Rupert Murdoch

July 06, 2004

Freudian Slip

I was in the lingerie section, fingering the goods. I plunged my hands into a pile of panties, the silk, the silk, the silk... A sales woman in a fuscia cashmere sweater stared. She kept her eyes on my face while I opened and closed my fists over and over again.

“May I help you?” she said.

I kept my hands down in the pile, but I thought to compose myself enough to smile at her. Pause, I said to myself, collect yourself, and oh, the silk, the silk, the silk... and then I said, “No thanks. I’m just lurking.”

July 01, 2004

Reasons Why a Bridge over Troubled Water Would Not Necessarily Ease My Mind

  1. Maybe it’s a bridge you haven’t quite come to yet and you’re still waiting to cross it. But now that it’s been mentioned, you just can’t quit thinking about it. What kind of bridge is it? Is it steel or wooden? Hopefully it’s not one of those rope bridges that swings when you walk on it, those are kind of scary. See what I mean though? You just can’t quit thinking about it now. The bridge never should have been brought up in the first place. Ooh, maybe it’s a drawbridge and you really can bring it up. Wouldn’t that be neat?

  2. Maybe it’s a bridge you’ve already burned and the troubled water is actually comforting to you, because it means you’ll never have to go back. Maybe it’s a bridge leading back to the days when your brother-in-law worked as a salesman at your RV dealership and you suspected that he was stealing money from you but your wife wouldn’t let you press charges and after you fired him she made you sleep in the Winnebago for a week. Why would anybody want to keep that bridge around?

  3. The type of bridge is never specified. Perhaps a sturdy concrete bridge capable of supporting several heavy-duty recreational vehicles would ease my mind, but what if it were a bridge, made entirely of Popsicle sticks, as a small child’s art project? That would be a little discomforting. Even more so if you think about the small child actually dangling over troubled water in order to construct the bridge in the first place.

  4. No one even bothered to find out what it is that’s troubling the water in the first place. Maybe it’s still bitter over the fact that its brother-in-law never repaid it that two hundred and fifty dollar loan he said would help him “get back on his feet.” Will just haphazardly throwing a bridge across it really resolve anything? I hardly think so. It’s been almost three years, Ed, by the way. Don’t think I’ve forgotten.