Get Yr Blink On.

The Y.P.R. Book Club solicits your spur-of-the-moment, off-the-cuff, split-second, ad-lib snap judgements regarding Malcolm Gladwell's Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking.

Send us your reviews, parodies, deleted chapters, etc. by February 28th, 2005. Blink!

100 bonus points if you write it in under one minute. 200 if you write it under 30 seconds.

As always, our inbox: ihave30secondstospare

This Is the Week That Is

BTdingbat3.gifIncoming! February 14, 2005
by your humble coëditor, Geoff Wolinetz, over at The Black Table.

& Recently . . .

One-Sentence Stories by Timber Masterson

I Play a Jaw-Harp by Thom Verratti

When Yakov Smirnoff Was King by Jonathan Stern

Sasha Frere-Jones, music critic

Brushes with Llamas by J. Sallini-Genovese

The Tragedy of Two Bills by Calvin Liu

Polish Fact

Land Area
304,465 sq. km
(slightly smaller than New Mexico)

Learn a Foreign Tongue!

Impari L'Italiano
Wham, bam, grazie, signora.
Wham, bam, thank you, ma’am.

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February 25, 2005

One-Sentence Stories

Happy Christmas

Darkening my day is the story already having leaked of Comet and Blitzen, selling their meaty, raw, tiny charges into slavery—their rotten and embarrassing behavior, now dubbed ‘Reindeer Syndrome’ by some Eastern Syndicate—the latest en vogue disease to get all flustered about.

Music to My Ears

I long for the parades of youth, the earsplitting “Charlie Brown Christmas” music, performed by an astonishingly talent-free and all-too-tinny, out-of-step and visibly nervous—and perspiring—ninth grade all-brass band.

The Passing Parade

The amount of papier-mâché involved in this weirdo frightful event is amazing and I’m feeling too much like Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver, pacing amongst the crowd, looking for an opening, too easily lost in film noir reverie ... in pursuit of a victim, one that warrants it, like those gargantuan wavering snowmen with blistering swollen heads—perfect bludgeoning targets, easily pummelable, zooming in on carrot noses; baffling tall gents in sweaty-antlered-outfits that only bring harm to children’s defenseless minds, now all smashing to the ground, all left deranged, damaged, and tainted with everybody’s brains and bodies seem barricaded, bewildered Christmas wanderers deserving of what’s coming to them (at least that’s what would happen in the movies), this from my bruised and purpled perspective.

The Other Planet

One day I will return to The Planet of the Large Underpanted People and reclaim my namesake, as I am half the man I used to be without my down fleece and flannel thingamies.

Being a Minotaur in Modern Times

I look in the dictionary and I see that I am supposed to be devouring a hell of a lot more youths than I can really take credit for, and I say aloud in this library, “GOSH!, the maze, that old labyrinth, ain’t what it used to be, things have gotten complicated.”

Being a Minotaur in Modern Times
(Pt. II)

My frisky cousin, The Cyclops, (who by the way positively hates ‘The’ in front of his name) is trés sensitive and he weeps to me late at night into the phone about how it makes him sound so “monsterly” and I respond, “You’ve got to develop a tougher skin, kiddo, this ain’t the old world, ya know, I mean plain old North Star running shoes in my size (and width) are pretty much a no-go. And bathing caps, as well.”

A Closet Too Close

I’m going to need a helium tank that never runs out of steam, sounds about right for the job, to compliment my eternal airbag full of self-righteous, disfigured dragons, them chasing me in a dirtied vacuum bag, far past the proper emptying stage; this, to say nothing of the skeletons and Shoe Tree People in my chaotic closet that scream at me night after night to do something with them.

Inhaling Substances at the Tennis Club

I’d sniff it all up using cut straws from the snack bar, as though I was drowning in their bubbly Jacuzzi, dreadfully past my allotted break time, sinking in the tar pit un-oasis, all that chemical compost flowing through my nostrils and suffocating any chance of advancement.

Where’s Dad?

All could have served to build in me a glow, some monumental warmth, though the moment did nothing but fill me with a strange, tremulous and bitter sadness, only conjuring up Dad’s absence, my tragic similarity to characters in books I loved and saw myself living in, convinced I was like-minded, feeling entirely simpatico with the hero in a story, right there along with him, and I absolutely knew what would occur or be said next.

The Dreamy Tennis Club

Often, I was left unsupervised to saunter in and out of empty offices, amidst the backdrop of plastic pool chairs drenched in dew, making sure all was safe and locked, feeling much the mischievous mouse, while some feline boss-man was away, off playing, while I kept my own time—sometimes even forgetting my addictions in the infinite splendor during after-hours moments, by myself.

February 24, 2005

Kennedy, Gideon C.

Gideon C. Kennedy has a sixteen-year-old, single-barrel, single-malt scotch whisky named after him. No shit. The “C” stands for Carson. The irony is he’s still a starving poet who can't afford to drink his own scotch.

Tolley, John

John Tolley is a file clerk for the government. His work has been published at,, and He is an editor is an editor at the hastily titled Girls with Insurance. He's from TN.

I Play a Jaw-Harp

I play a jaw-harp. You can call it a trump, a drumbla, a génggong, or a scacciapensieri; a vargan, a marranzanu, a kubing, or a good ol’ jew’s-harp, but there’s no mistaking the rhythmic, aggressive, driving beat of a metal or bamboo tongue vibrating like mad through the embrochure clamped firmly in place against my upper and lower teeth. By varying the force and direction of airflow past the tongue, I can make my jaw-harp weep, like an Appalachian man who has lost all hope in a folk melody unearthed by Pete Seeger, or make it sing with exuberance, like Snoopy and Woodstock dancing past to a Vince Guaraldi score in a Lee Mendelson/Bill Melendez cartoon. The jaw-harp is my soul. It is the soul of all of us.

I once killed a man with a jaw-harp. His screams lingered on the wet Miami air as I plunged the metal (or bamboo?) tongue repeatedly into the soft spot just below the jaw line, where it would eventually puncture his windpipe. My trump (or drumbla, as I was calling it in those days) flashed in the lengthening shadows and his blood darkened as it flowed. He wept like the hopeless Appalachian he was, and I laughed an exuberant laugh, as if I were enjoying a classic Lee Mendelson/Bill Melendez cartoon. With only my jaw-harp and a couple of twenties from his pocket, I struck out for Reno.

I eat jaw-harps. There’s nothing better than a bowl of jaw-harp stew, simmered in its own aggressive, driving juices; or the traditionally Italian plate of scacciapensieri and clams. Seeger once expressed his disbelief that an instrument as traditionally rugged as a kubing or vargan could be ingested, but he’d never unearthed the age-old family recipes I’d discovered during my time in the corners of Appalachia. I don’t recommend cooking your own, but if you ever get the chance to sample skillfully prepared jaw-harp, by all means, do so.

My wife left me for a jaw-harp. As I stepped out of our cold-water flat in Pittsburgh for what would turn out to be the last time, I thought I recognized the faint snigger of a génggong holed up in what would turn out to be our closet. If you’d told me I’d be cuckolded by a marranzanu, or even a good ol’ jew’s-harp, I’d most likely have been more philosophical about it all. Instead—when I realized she’d had the locks changed—I pounded and pounded on the door, rhythmically, aggressively, while I raved and wept like an Appalachian. Later, Vince Guaraldi took me in. Thank God for that jazzman.

I’ve never seen a jaw-harp. Oh, I’ve been known to talk about them from time to time, and I swear I’ve heard their rhythmic, aggressive, driving beats float by on the cold dry Appalachian breeze. But sometimes I find myself doubting that trumps, drumblas, vargans or kubings even really exist. When all is said and done, you can’t prove that anyone’s ever actually plucked a bamboo tongue suspended within an embrochure—or even a metal tongue. Some will say that pictures don’t lie, but those Mendelson/Melendez/Guaraldi cartoons are just that—cartoons. Plus, I’ve never seen them. Or Snoopy and Woodstock, for that matter. I’ve also never been to Appalachia. Is that in a state?

Get Yr Blink On.

The Y.P.R. Book Club solicits your spur-of-the-moment, off-the-cuff, split-second, ad-lib snap judgements regarding Malcolm Gladwell's Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking.

Send us your reviews, parodies, deleted chapters, etc. by February 28th, 2005. Blink!

100 bonus points if you write it in under one minute. 200 if you write it under 30 seconds.

As always, our inbox: ihave30secondstospare

When Yakov Smirnoff Was King

What a country!

Date: December 26, 1991

yakov smirnoff: I just wanted to stop by in person to thank you again, Morty, for the booking at the Flamingo. This is a big one; I couldn’t be more excited. Back in Russia, they never allowed that many people to gather in one place. Unless it was a bread line!

his agent.: Listen, Yakov, sit down. I have some ... consequential news for you. Gorbachev has declared Russia a democracy. The Soviet Union is no longer.

y.s.: (Long, long pause.) Oh, fuck. Yob tvayu mat.

h.a.: How are you doing for money, Yakov? Do you have anything saved up?

y.s.: It’s all invested in my act, you know that. There’s nothing in the bank.

h.a.: When you were in Russia, did you ever study juggling?

y.s.: Yes, of course. We all did. But I can’t keep that up for ninety minutes.

h.a.: I don’t see how you can work the Flamingo, much less—

y.s.: The act still works fine, Morty. Just a few tweaks here and there. I’m still relevant.

h.a.: But—

y.s.: Try this—“In California you can always find a party. In Russia, the Party always finds YOU. In order to register you ... to vote. In their free, democratic elections.”

h.a.: Hmm, it’s not quite—

y.s.: “In America, you watch television. In Soviet Union, television watches YOU. To get the Nielson ratings. So they can calculate how much to charge for commercials ... since it’s a for-profit business now.”

h.a.: Maybe there’s a—

y.s.: “In America, people wait in line for hours to see Meat Loaf. In Russia, they wait in line to eat burgers at the new Moscow McDonald’s. Because it’s such a novelty. And they like anything that has to do with America.”

h.a.: Yak—

y.s.: “In Russia is freedom of speech. In America is also freedom AFTER speech. Then in Russia is also college lecture tour in the U.S. to talk about our new freedoms in Russia.”

h.a.: Yak!

y.s.: “In Russia there were two TV channels. Channel One is propaganda. Channel Two consists of a K.G.B. officer telling you to turn back to Channel One at once! Now Channel Three is MTV. Channel Four is reruns of Mary Tyler Moore. Channel Five is local programming: kids shows, sports, public interest. Channel Six is all puppets.”

h.a.: I think I have a solution. You need to perform somewhere where the audiences have their heads so far up their asses that they don’t even realize that the Iron Curtain fell.

y.s.: But what about the Flamingo?

h.a.: Forget about the Flamingo. I’m sending you to Branson, Missouri!

Today, you can see Yakov Smirnoff in his own theater in Branson, Missouri, seven days a week, where he has twice been honored as “Branson Performer of the Year.”

February 23, 2005

Sasha Frere-Jones, music critic


1. You’re in a time machine that’s powered by musical zeitgeist: it can traverse the time-space continuum, but its landing coordinates can only be programmed for, say, Manchester, late 70s, or Seattle, circa 1991, etc. Which music scene would you visit, and why?


I’m afraid I wouldn’t get into the machine. I like confronting the present moment. I am here and have been here for a while. This means I have a good shot at keeping track of the many factors that frame and squeeze music into social and aesthetic places. Another time and place might appeal to me, but I’d simply project my fantasies onto the artifacts of that time. I am also fairly committed to checking nostalgia, inasmuch as it is a necessary function of life and needs to be reserved for that purpose. In criticism, nostalgia is deadly acid death juice. 99% of the time, it is simply an excuse to avoid the present, wax lovey dovey about youth (which was pretty great, I admit) and abandon critique. I think people should absolutely do that and have a beer and celebrate the moments of their lives. I do it all the time. At home. But critics need to check that shit. If forced, I would go back to the early 80s in New York to do some fact-checking.

Sasha Frere-Jones is a music critic for The New York Times, The New Yorker, and elsewhere. He keeps a Web log at S/FJ.

Brushes with Llamas

Everyone in my neighborhood, I suspect, leaves for work at the same time. We drive along the main road between our development and the highway, where the funnel of an entrance ramp backs us up as far as the llama farm.

The animals looked miserable all summer, their coats far from show quality. Usually, a few clung to the shadows of a tin roofed shed. Others scattered themselves among the weeds, where they chewed on a clump and watched our vehicles creep along while I wondered what kinds of problems they were solving.

I have always liked the llama and often think of them first when asked to name a domesticated animal. Upon request the pop artist Keith Hering once drew one for me on the back of an envelope. I went through box after box in my garage looking for it after he died. Never found the damn thing. Never found my pop llama.

The Incas discovered long ago what terrific pack animals these new world camelids make up there in the oxygen deprived Andes. Even today you can buy Llamas brand cigarettes in the Machu Picchu gift shop, along with imported pecan logs. That’s what my Peruvian friend, Harold, told me. I thought of this fact on the day my sedan stranded me along the eroded highlands of northern Ohio and I decided to return home on foot, which took me directly past the field. I stopped at the fence to stare. While I considered the modern benefits of transportation by llama, one of the males zigzagged toward me, as though the weeds tasted better in my general direction.

My attempt to engage him proved unsatisfactory. “Aren’t you Fernando Llamas?” I asked him. “You know, the actor, married to Esther Williams, the swimming star.” I would have listed selections from his filmography but I couldn’t think of any. I tried to get more personal. “Say, between you and me, isn’t that synchronized swimming about the silliest idea of an Olympic sport there is?”

Since he remained reticent I decided to move on. I needed to call into work and let them know of my status. That’s when I felt it, like a bug splattering against the back of my head.

I think that bastard Fernando spat at me.

February 22, 2005

The Tragedy of Two Bills

William, a boy
Billiam, a boy
Six attack dogs (more optional)

Springtime. William and Billiam play stickball in a small, fenced-in yard, with William pitching and Billiam at bat. The fence is about as tall as a very tall adult, and it is completely fire-engine red, except for the white rectangular "strike zone" that looks not unlike what might be painted on a basketball backboard. This "strike zone" is on the portion of the fence just behind Billiam. This fence is lined with young and newly blooming dandelions. The air is calm. William delivers a pitch, and Billiam swings and misses. It is a big miss.

(Pumps his fist.) That's right, snatch!

(Picks the ball up, but doesn't throw it back.) What did you say?


Did you just call me snatch?

Yes. (Pause.) Face on you. (Palms face.)

Oh. (Deflated.) Got me.

Enter attack dogs who crash down the fence. One attack dog is saddled on another, riding it fiercely like a bucking bronco. Two others maul William and Billiam. The rest fight for the ball. The attack dog being ridden like a bronco has a gold chain that slaps wildly around its neck as it tries to buck its rider. Attached to the chain are big diamond-studded letters that, when seen clearly, say, "Play on, player." The diamonds sparkle.

Carnage continues awhile.

When there is some certainty of the boys' death, there is an unusually long pause, and just before the moment of it becoming unbearably silent, a young dandelion decides then to bloom. It is something of a rare thing to see.

Fade out.

Liu, Calvin

Calvin Liu joined the Lamorinda Hotspurs 9-and-under traveling soccer team in 1985. After scoring an astonishing goal with his typically fumbling left foot in an intersquad scrimmage, he was then moved to his new position at right wing, where he scored no more goals for the rest of the season. He now edits Bullfight literary review. and The Glut with a brittle confidence and colorful knee-high socks.

R.I.P., H.S.T.


February 21, 2005

Disquieting Modern Trends Return: Hollywood Edition

Hey, again, folks.

We really don't mean to rain on the sunny parade that 2005 has already become, what with burgeoning democracy and compassion abroad and unprecedented goodwill here in the U.S. of A between Republicans and Democrats, evangelicals and normal people, maniacal homophobes and the rest of us.

Really, we wanted to do as we were told: to sit back with a lukewarm can of Coors Lite, take in a bracing new episode of “Joey”, and then vigorously refrain from tapping our heels while listening to a Josh Groban CD.


As much as we like to drown the complexities of life in a meal consisting mainly of the Silver Bullet, there are certain trends in contemporary America that make it impossible for us to sit on our hands. Under current conditions, we roll out of bed hungry for justice or, failing that, at least one of the violent forms of pointless revenge. Grrrr.

Here we continue our list of the disturbing, the infuriating, the nail-on-the-chalkboardesque—the latest creeping mildew on the otherwise spotless bathroom wall that is our glorious American experiment. In short: more disquieting modern trends.

Fairly-Priced, No Haggle Car Dealerships
There's never a bad time to shop for a car in America, what with End-of-Model-Year Close-outs, New-Model Specials, Presidents' Day Blow-Outs, and 24-Month Zero-A.P.R. Financing. When it's time for a new set of wheels, we spend a week prepping like an all-pro N.F.L. noseguard—steak for breakfast, three-a-day workouts and an absolute ban on all activities that could result in an orgasm (including the consumption of Mounds bars and window-shopping for flat-panel TVs)—so that we greet the Pontiac salesman on equal terms: as an angry, aggressive, untrustworthy-but-smiling dickwad. But something has changed. Suddenly the exhaust-choked highways of America are dotted with "friendly" car dealerships, Saturn showrooms swathed in George Winston music and reasonable prices for cars that actually work. Where's the sport? Where's the fun? Remember kicking the tires of the car you were gonna buy? Doesn't it seem wrong that there is no longer a chance that a tire will fall off or, at least, make a sound not unlike the one your ex-wife used to make when you suggested a evening of "fun"? Really, what's the union coming to if you can't get triple-fucked on a LeBaron by a dude in polyester blend named Hal?

Holiday Music Performed in Cool, Cutting-Edge Styles
Well, the big end-of-year holidays are long behind us, but some recent holiday-related trends are still scratching our metaphoric corneas. We know it's common for people to complain about the Christmas carols starting too early, but we disagree. We love those stupid songs and, in fact, we feel it's wrong for radio stations to cut them off at the stroke of midnight on December 26th. It's not at all unusual for us to be in the backyard a week or two after Christmas, picking off squirrels with our new cross-bow while whistling "Little Drummer Boy."

That said, we're absolutely done with hearing superhip new versions of the old classics. Spend a half hour in The Gap (if you must), and you'll hear, say, a trip-hop "Let It Snow" or a heavy-dub "Silent Night." We all cry foul, and compellingly so, when a traditional pop singer like Mel Torme records a rock album. We should be equally upset when Ludacris tries his hand at "O Holy Night." It's only fair to leave that stuff to Andy Williams and Perry Como, forbidden as they are from covering "Smells Like Teen Spirit."

Claiming "The O.C." is Actually Good
Do you like "The O.C."? Cool either way, as far as we're concerned, but DO NOT try to make the claim it is actually good. We have no beef with "The O.C." and although we do not watch "The O.C." 1, we suspect it is just the kind of high-endorphin empty-calorie thing we would like very much. We in no way eschew lowbrow pop culture; indeed, its rapacious consumption is all that gets us out of our crusty sheets some mornings. But we recently heard a TV critic snarkily proclaim that he not only liked it but also thought it was one of "the best things on TV." He said this with the "Oh, I really surprised you there, didn't I?" tone that highbrow critics use when they want to confer some intellectual heft to something they like for their own secretly crass reasons2. This is like making some elaborate nutritional claim for the Krispy Kreme doughnut—total bullshit that any four-year-old can see through even with a booger hanging off his index finger. Hey, kids, it's cool to like something for superficial reasons—the people are good looking, there's some cool music, and it's a soap opera. We watched "Dallas" and "Falcon Crest" in our youth, and we understand. Making some lame stab at "O.C." "significance" (particularly if this cheesy rationalization includes the word "zeitgeist") will only make it clearer that you are ashamed of your own appetites. As far as we're concerned, you should proudly watch "The O.C." while eating a half dozen Krispy Kremes. You got a better idea?

The Passing of Téa Leoni from National-Level Consciousness
We know it's hard to recall it now, but there was once a time when people didn't get famous by getting married on TV while eating puréed cockroaches. Think back, if you can, maybe 7 or 8 years, to the days of scripted TV, Madonna without the Kaballah, actresses who did not also release albums/get married to dancers/write children's books, and so on. In that hazy celebrity past, it was enough to be a brazen blonde bombshell, land a couple decent roles and then marry "X-Files" star David Duchovny.

We will be frank: Actress Téa Leoni gave us a gargantuan woody back then, and she still does today. She of the sharp features and feline grace3 once coaxed this reaction from many, but then a series of questionable career choices and just plain old celebrity burn-out turned her into a figure of only cult-level obsession. If we were giving her career advice, of course, the first thing we'd tell her is to engineer a messy divorce from Mr. Has-Been and start dating, like, Topher Grace from "That 70s Show" (as simply starring in the box-office flop Spanglish isn't going to cut it). But the truth is, we like her the way she is. What we find so eerily disquieting is that no one else, apparently, feels the same. Fine. More for us (and, we guess, for David Duchovny).

The Bill Murray-ization of Adam Sandler
Speaking of Spanglish: Adam Sandler, what the fuck? We are very sophisticated people, and we are fully capable of asking our date to wear some nerdy Lisa Loeb/Velma glasses, put on a tight black turtleneck, grab our hand and stroll with us to the art-house theater for an espresso and an Almodóvar flick. But every ecological system requires balance: hence the fart joke. Mountain lions hunt with cold compassion; earthworms slither on the ground, just waiting to be torn from the earth and turned into robin-poo. We thus assert that it is a rule of nature that Adam Sandler should make stupid movies.

The Waterboy and Billy Madison are classics of a sort, and we are not embarrassed still to find "The Hannukah Song" funny. We consider his uncredited appearance as "The Bongo Player" in Rob Schneider's Hot Chick to be the cinematic highlight of 2002 and infinitely preferable to his starring role in the artistically ambitious Punch-Drunk Love. But even there, Paul Thomas Anderson had the sense to cast Sandler as an awkward and spasmodic dork. In Spanglish, however, Sandler is a "good guy." He's sympathetic. He's real. Only James L. Brooks, the man who perpetrated the artistic crime called Terms of Endearment, could do this to American culture. Fuck—at least he didn't give Sandler terminal cancer.

We've already lost Bill Murray to this disquieting trend (and we confess to fearing that, someday, Pauly Shore will be cast in Hamlet), but there may yet be a way save Happy Gilmore.

Next installment: Why you must NOT get a ringtone of the U2 song "Vertigo."

1 We do not watch "The O.C." for two reasons. First, we have children to raise and wives to argue with and cranky Internet bitchfests to pen and thus do not have the kind of crazy disposable time that allows America's youth to indulge in this lavishly produced Peter Gallagher vehicle. Second, when we make time for TV it is usually for shows either (a) are even more deplorably low-brow than "The O.C.", or (b) consistently reaffirm our own worldview by being so cynical and wise-ass that our wives make us watch them in the basement, which is to say, "Curb Your Enthusiasm." We would add "The Sopranos" to this list of exceptions but for the fact that only Will has HBO and, more importantly, "The Sopranos" is only broadcast every third decade, and even then only during solar-eclipse weeks.
2The best example of this we can think of is the rash of books and academic papers that emerged five to ten years ago proclaiming Madonna to be a brilliant postmodern artist whose subversive appropriation of the media language of exploitation was not actually cheap exploitation but rather a form of empowering self-exploitation with Derrida-ian and Lacanian implications. Our reaction to this the academic industry of Madonna Studies is: have you heard the fake Irish accent she's sporting these days?, and what was wrong with just thinking "Borderline" was a great song sung by a sexy woman making a buck?
3 Born, we might note, Elizabeth Téa Pantaleoni, making her marginally cooler still. We know her ass is big as a truck since the twins. We call that “voluptuous.” In French she would be called La Renard and have only her cunning to protect her. Shine on, you crazy Téa.

February 20, 2005

salomon, rick

February 19, 2005


There is no help.

There is, however, hope.


The source of Yankee Pot Roast's power lies in a wooden staff that was presented unto Y.P.R. by a Nordic wizard. The staff was carved from solid balsa, and contains within power of immeasurable might. It can glow as brightly as the sun and sometimes emits a warm, gentle hum.

The staff is not to be used recklessly.

February 18, 2005

What It's Like to Have Sex with Me

It’ll all start after you notice that I’m wearing a smock, a smock I use to lure in people that I’d like to have sex with, like you. I forestall any questions you may have by saying, “I’m a messy painter.” This obviously makes you hot and we make for my Ford Taurus with that self-assured pre-sex élan that for me is always frenzied.

“What a daft baby I’ve been,” I say because I can’t get over not being molested as a child.

You say, “The way you touch me is redolent of a Humean existential quandary.”

“Stick to the script,” I admonish, “I’m not paying you to ad lib.”

“Agreed,” you say.

“You are a black French rapper named Bete (pronounced Betty) Noire and we are vacationing on the Riviera,” I say, “Put on this wig and stop crying.”

I attempt to cheer you up by rejoining with, “If I had a nickel for every time… you know the rest.” You smile and we both guffaw at my sexual absurdity. Shortly after we get our chuckles at my expense, I slam my hand on the car horn with great zest and say, “Playtime’s over.”

You eagerly pick your script back up and begin reading, “I grew up near a small river and used to eat daffodils as a child.”

I soothingly whisper, “Remember when I told you I’d show you the Riviera, Bete? Well there it is.” I point to a shopping cart out in front of Nordstrom’s. “Ah, my sweet, rap to me in French. You know how I love to listen to you rap in French.”

You say, “(Pretend like you’re rapping in French).”

I say, “Those are stage directions. Notice the parentheses.”

You then festoon me in aural delicacies. You tell me nervously that you haven’t shaved in a while to which I say, “Hush, child,” following it up with a thesis on my favorite ABC Sunday Night Movie, Fluppy Dogs, my fingers wild in the thick of your flesh. I tell you that I can almost see God but leave out the fact that He’s solemnly applauding me.

After all this foreplay I always need something, anything by Buffalo Springfield. “Feed me, Buffalo, lend me your power,” I murmur below your range of hearing. A Vietnam song is just what I need to sign this fucker on the dotted line. Fait accompli, “For What It’s Worth” is sonorous and commanding. We do not stop though, we do not look around at what’s going down. This is what’s going down, you and I are going down, if you catch my drift, Bete.

All in all it’s beautiful. I remind you that I’m not always so rigidly stylized when it comes to coitus. I’m flexible about certain things, like sometimes I’ll leave out the part about my exegesis vis-à-vis the denouement of Fluppy Dogs and how this relates to my father’s wainscot-related death. I also remind you that maybe one day we’ll even see each other again. And if you’re good, next time I’ll even do my Garry Shandling impression.

Rapid Eye Movements

Dear Y.P.R.,

Seriously—that blinking Malcolm Gladwell freaks me out. Make it stop. I'm going to have trouble sleeping tonight.

Brian Graham

February 17, 2005

Y.P.R. 3.0


Welcome. As you can see, we've finally caught up with late-20th Century technology. Our upgrade is still underway, and you'll notice most of our archive links go nowhere. Please be patient with us as we rejigger our gears over the coming weeks, during which the old archives remain browsably perusable.

Meanwhile, keep them submissions rolling!

Thanks for loving our awesome Web site.


David Foster Wallace, TV Guide Synopsist

Monday 9:30 p.m. – CBS “Two and a Half Men”
Is anyone else so grammatically vexed by the absence of hyphenation in THM's title that they completely forgo watching 80s casualties Chaz Sheen and Jon Cryer's antics in this “My Two Dads”/“Full House”-minus-the-homoerotic-subtext-rehash? Charlie1 and Alan organize a bake sale for Jake's school, but run into problems with the jealous head of the P.T.A.

Tuesday 8 p.m. – FOX “The Rebel Billionaire: Branson's Quest for the Best”
The effects of late global capitalism are extrapolated and entertained through Trump-lite Virgin mogul Branson’s H. Hughes–a wannabe herding of his photogenic charges through time-delimited, logic-deficient stunts in far-flung environs meant to render awed the audience w/r/t grandiosity of sybaritic quality of life of the contestants and the contrapuntal circling-flies poverty/preposterously rich oral culture of the natives: tonight in Fiji, the teams have 24 hours to design and market a new children's toy made only of straw, grass, and steel.

Wednesday 11 p.m. – PBS “Charlie Rose”
You know you should watch intellectual-by-TV-standards Rose chew the fat about Third World debt relief with renowned economist and Bono pal Jeffrey Sachs, but look me in the face and tell me you'll somehow pry yourself away from the 11 p.m. “Seinfeld” rerun and Britney on Leno at 11:35 (though as everyone knows his unsubtle-to-toddlers monologue sucks the air out of the lungs of comedy itself and the first guest doesn’t get going until 11:50 or so,2 in which case you might as well watch minutes thirty to forty-nine of Rose/Sachs).

Thursday 8 p.m. – FOX “The O.C.”
Seth, Ryan, Summer, and Marissa enact various courtship rituals in the domain of the homecoming king/queen-, glossy magazine-, you-should-really-model-, no-I'm-serious-you-should attractive set, expressing insecurity only in the unctuous way truly confident people do--you know what I mean, and if you don't, then you probably also express insecurity in the UWTCPD--while Sandy and Kirsten defy mortality via Botox, pilates,3and sex that, were it just a tad more randy, might sic the censors on R. Murdoch.

Friday 12:30 a.m. – USA Weekend at Bernie's II (1993) *½
Notable only for the continuing career slide of former 80s WASP wet dream Andrew McCarthy (see role opposite 2.5 Men's Cryer in far superior M. Ringwald vehicle Pretty in Pink), and for the fact that it was his third starring role with a partially or fully inanimate object/human in six years.4

Friday 7:30 p.m. – UPN “Girlfriends” (rebroadcast)
Ghettoized to both UPN and this dire pre-UPN Friday Night Movie timeslot,5 when no one but the anhedonic losers who have no exciting weekend plans are settling in for a long stultifying night in front of the old CRT,6 “Girlfriends” widens the of-Mexico-sized racial gulf as Middle Americans are fed convivial images of what black people are “really like,” if by “really like” one means non-threatening jocose one-liners that prop up stale black myths while preserving white hegemony, symbolized most comprehensively by “Girlfriends”’s chasing the tepid 7 p.m. heels of pseudo-“Honeymooners” pabulum “The King of Queens.” Toni and Joan clash over relationship advice for Maya.

Sunday 4 a.m. NBC – Paid programming
Either the ravages of insomnia, the diminishing effects of the eight Miller Lites you shotgunned at the bar for the prerequisite Bogartesque detachment needed to discuss the on-stage Kinks-derivative band with the E.A. Poe-raven-haired neo-punk chick who revealed just enough lower back to titillate you with both flashes of tanned flesh and a portion of, thank God, a non-Chinese calligraphic tat, or your deferred childhood dreams of wanting to create your own V8-knockoff may lead you to call in and purchase Jeremy Winslow’s Amazing Veggie Juicer as you watch the weathergirl-pretty host (the flawless generic beauty of which host leads you into gauzy contemplation of a fantasy life with her, who must surely be less disingenuous and prone to excessive exclamations when not in the headlights of a camera) chant overdetermined bromides about the superb taste and color of the product while J. Winslow rattles off specious facts about carcinogens and free radicals in good old A.&P.-bought vegetable juice, and but so you suspect that he subsists on a liquid diet solely of non-free trade Kenyan coffee to maintain his Kelly Ripa-on-amphetamines aura of frightening peppiness.7

1Note liberal Hollywood scion-cum-former Fleiss client Sheen’s pull in securing further fourth-wall recognition by sharing a name with his character, while poor Duckie withers anonymously on the periphery.
2Plus has anyone on “The Tonight Show” reconsidered the radically uncomfortable arrangement of forcing earlier guests to remain on stage as later guests are being interviewed, unlike in the separatist universes of Letterman, O’Brien, and Kilborn? An armada of inconveniences attack all guests involved, including: visual awareness of chronological order (and, consequently, relative importance) of the guests; awkwardness of earlier guests’ forced smiles/laughs/verbal jousts during later guests’ canned anecdotes about on-set high jinks; lack of chairs for larger groups, esp. music groups, such that the marginalized members must hover conspicuously behind the chairs like hormonally-inflected teenagers crowding around their first porno mag.
3Or if not pilates, some equally exotic yet salubrious exercise that has quadrupled in popularity in the last half-decade because of A-list celebrity endorsement.
4Cf. Weekend at Bernie’s (1989) and Mannequin (1987).
5And you just know the bottom-feeding execs at UPN aren’t quite springing for even Golden Globe-nominated fare.
6Cathode ray tube, K.F. Braun's 1897 Frankensteinian creation that allowed such later devices as the radar screen and television.
7Having once sat in on an infomercial taping in the late 1980s for a product I cannot recall but which was similarly ludicrous and existent only through the medium of advertising, I can assure you that the in-person preternatural sunniness and hyperactivity of these infomercial hawkers is even more terrifying and dread-producing than it is on screen, although you are compensated for your time and can experience the sensation of being forced to clap in Pavlovian fashion when the “Applause” sign lights up for things that by no stretch of Jules Verne’s imagination merit applause.

February 15, 2005

This Is the Week That Is

BTdingbat3.gifIncoming! February 14, 2005
by your humble coëditor, Geoff Wolinetz, over at The Black Table.

Music for the Masses

500 Best Songs!

Hey, kids! Do you like the rock 'n' roll? If so, head on over to
Matthew Tobey's City of Floating Blogs
to check out the O.C.D.-enabled megalist of 500 bestest songs ever, compiled from suggestions by the Internet's finest music dweebs, among them your humble Y.P.R. coëditors.

February 14, 2005

The Y.P.OscaRs

The Sexist & Xenophobic Awards are traditionally handed out in a separate ceremony, after the Technical Awards and before the Main Event.

[ Red = Should win   |   Bold = Will win ]


Best Round-eye Gaijin in the Orient:

  • Uma Thurman kung-fu-kicks; Kill Bill, Vol. I
  • Bill Murray karaokes; Lost in Translation
  • Tom Cruise kowtows; The Last Samurai
Best Gringo South of the Border:
  • Johnny Depp actually says "Are you a Mexican or a Mexican't?"; Once Upon a Time in Mexico
  • America's college students cowboy it up; The Real Cancún
  • Captain Jack Sparrow "drinks rum on the beach"; Pirates of the Caribbean: the Curse of the Black Pearl
Best Honksploitation of a Whitey Playin' Gangsta:
  • Lisa Kudrow embarrasses all races; Marci X
  • Jamie Kennedy, ditto; Malibu's Most Wanted
  • Adam Goldberg, self-hating Jew; The Hebrew Hammer
Best Wackily Mismatched-Ethnic High Jinks:
  • Chop-socky Asian instructs clumsy white hillbilly; Bulletproof Monk
  • Chop-socky Asian instructs clumsy white hillbilly; Shanghai Knights
  • Chop-socky Asian befriends gangsta rapper; Cradle 2 the Grave
  • Irish émigrés befriend scary black dude; In America
  • Those swarthy subcontinentals stole my house!; House of Sand and Fog
  • American white trash vs. Eurotrash; Just Married
  • Old white fuddy-duddy & sassy sista; Bringing Down the House
Most Confusing to the White Man:
  • Wait, Kingpin's a black dude?; Daredevil
  • Wait, God's a black dude?; Bruce Almighty
  • Is Jessica Alba multiëthnic?; Honey
  • How 'bout Vin Diesel?; A Man Apart

Best Mangled Foreign-Language Title:

  • Padrone e Comandante: Il Lato Lontano del Mondo
    (Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World)
    ; Italian
  • Meisje met een Oorring van de Parel
    (Girl with a Pearl Earring)
    ; Dutch
  • Was ein Mädchen wünschen
    (What a Girl Wants)
    ; German
  • Un Pescado Grande
    (Big Fish)
    ; Spanish
  • Les Anges de Charlie : Pleine Commande de Puissance
    (Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle)
    ; French


Most Uncomfortable Homoerotic Moment:

  • Russell Crowe winks at a dirty South American hooker from the boat, but otherwise prefers the company of young boys; Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
  • Frolicsome hobbits pillow-fighting; The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • Johnny Depp's fabulous eyeliner; Pirates of the Caribbean: the Curse of the Black Pearl
  • Shirtless, pubescent lost boys and a fairy; Peter Pan

Most Frightening Nudity:

  • All them old hags' gnarled corpses; Calendar Girls
  • Diane Keaton's saggy bags; Something's Gotta Give
  • Meg Ryan's squandered youth; In the Cut
  • Danny DeVito's pale, post-lycanthropic ass; Big Fish
  • That dude's sickly member; 28 Days Later
  • Frank the Tank streaks; Old School

Best Black-Leather-Clad Masturbatory Material for Geeky Comic-Book Fanboys:

  • Carrie-Ann Moss as Trinity, the leathered, neo-Luddite freedom fighter; The Matrix Reloaded & The Matrix Revolutions
  • Jennifer Garner as Elektra, the leathered, Greek, ninja assassin; Daredevil
  • Famke Janssen as Jean Grey, the leathered, telepathic, mutant X-woman; X2: X-Men United
  • Halle Berry as Storm, the leathered, weather-controlling, mutant X-woman; X2: X-Men United
  • Kate Beckinsale as Selene, the leathered, British bloodsucker; Underworld

Best Heaving Cleavage in a Period Piece:

  • Keira Knightly's knockers; Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
  • Liv Tyler's spry, elfin rack ; The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • Scarlett Johansson's Old Master jubblies; Girl with a Pearl Earring
  • Monica Bellucci's massive bosom; The Matrix Reloaded & The Matrix Revolutions*

Special Uncle Grambo Award for So Effing Best Hott Underage Ingénue Jailbait:

  • Hilary Duff; The Lizzie McGuire Movie
  • Lindsay Lohan; Freaky Friday
  • Amanda Bynes; What a Girl Wants
  • Keisha Castle-Hughes; Whale Rider
  • Evan Rachel Wood; Thirteen
  • Nikki Reed; Thirteen

Hey, remember last year's Oscars?


Complete List of Nominees

What's in My Oscar Goodie Bag?
Crappy Oscar Song That Is Not Clever But Shoots for Cheap Laughs Based on Recognition of Pop Melodies and Juxtaposition of Movie Titles
A Postcard from Joan Rivers

Bruce Vilanche's To-Do List

Henny Youngman's Lifetime-Achievement Award Acceptance Speech

* The Matrix is a period piece, too: the future. Duh.

February 11, 2005

Dear Wikipedia

Dear Wikipedia,

Recently we took off on an endeavor for a publishing house that required one single piece of information about nearly one thousand individuals: We needed to know their date of birth. Since we live in a nation with excellent records, certainly the hospitals across our fine land would be in a position to provide such data. However, given the scope of our project, such an effort would be far too time consuming. Likewise, contacting everyone’s mother by telephone would be similarly onerous, particularly since this would entail gathering the phone numbers of many private residences and our mole at the F.B.I. could be only so coöperative. Also, old people have bad memories. It would be difficult to rely on their information about their children.

Enter the Internet and, more specifically, Wikipedia. You have a comprehensive library of trivia about a vast number of subjects ranging from Hank Aaron to Ian Ziering. For the record, Hank was born on February 5, 1934, and Ian March 30, 1964, which we easily discovered thanks to one Wikipedia click. We were, in a word, ecstatic. Wikipedia provided not only the birthdays for every major (read: “minor”) celebrity, but also every pope, professional snooker player, member of any royal family, and Bollywood actor in history. It’s a birthday searcher’s paradise.

It seems that in our elation, we took the “pedia” part of your name too seriously (from the Latin for “foot”). We assumed that those feet were concretely entrenched in fact. It appears that we mistook concrete for clay. We should have realized that this was too good to be true. You state your birthdays as fact. And they are, if by fact you mean “the best guess of the person that wrote this Wikipedia article.” It seems that Wikipedia is edited by its users, and its users are either too slow or too stupid to fact-check themselves. These are people who would rather spend their time bickering over the correct words for “pretty girl that I’ll never kiss” in Romulan or Klingon or reporting the sexual history of pornographic films stars in long, graphic detail, in lieu of figuring out the correct dates and information of the large amount of people and things that don’t fall into those two categories for a publication that’s purportedly a reference tool.

But the blame is not limited to users. No, Wikipedia itself is either too lazy or indifferent to root our conflicting reports of birthdates and take 13 seconds (the time it takes to Google a person and check a couple of other Web sites for some sort of confirmation) and publish the correct date, thus rendering the information gleaned useless. If one date is incorrect, the possibility exists that all dates are incorrect, and therefore must all be double-checked, eliminating the time saved by consulting a central “reference” book. “Charo: January 15 or March 13? Who cares? We’ve got all you need to know about Gaelic handball and Super Mario Bros.”

To be fair, even incorrect dates wouldn’t be a tremendous deal. However, when one looks at your listing for February 15 and sees Kim Jong-Il listed as having been born on that day, one takes that answer as on the level, until they flip to February 16 and see “Kim Jong-Il” listed as having been born on that day. Kim Jong-Il is a powerful man, but I doubt he’s powerful enough to bend the space-time continuum. And unless he came out of his mother’s womb, then dove back in and came out again 24 hours later, one of those days is wrong.

While you’re at it, double check these folks: Joan Rivers, Geraldo Rivera, Kathy Ireland, Kenny G, Dennis Miller, and the entire roll of Menudo.

Thank you, Wikipedia, for making three grown men with four hours of sleep in five days directly question their sanity by blurring the line between fact and fiction.


February 09, 2005

How to Write a Book

This is Millie Von Kruesenstein, Y.P.R.'s typist.

  1. Do absolutely nothing until you can see the whites of your deadline’s eyes.

  2. If you’ve got cowriters, try to disagree as much as possible. If you’re of the same opinion regarding a section of text, bicker about dinner choices.

  3. Criticize what little progress you’ve achieved and doubt what little talent you possess.

  4. Do not write any new words when there are still old words that have only been rewritten twelve times. No sentence is complete until it’s lost all traces of your original thought.

  5. Complain about the pressure of a looming deadline to everyone you know. This will ameliorate the jealousy and bitterness felt by friends without book deals. It will also put an end to social invitations that may hamper your writing progress, as your former friends will now hate you.

  6. Stop sleeping. Complain about how tired you are too.

  7. Never have a mental breakdown before 11 p.m.

  8. Do not postpone other projects so that you can focus on the current one. It’s better to spread yourself so thin that you produce an evenly distributed amount of complete crap.

  9. If you’ve gotten this far without a single technical foul-up, now’s a good time to download something viral.

  10. Make a schedule for yourself, but do not even remotely follow it. Instead, continually do some mental math that divides your remaining pages by the rapidly dwindling number of hours.

  11. The best writing is that which is compiled from dozens of different documents, including things you’ve e-mailed or text-messaged to yourself. Try to create separate documents on as many different computers as are available. Some things will be irrevocably lost, and hours will be spent cursing. Learn a lesson about orderliness, but do not act upon such knowledge.

  12. Some terribly constructed sentences always make good low-hanging fruit for your cowriters to edit, thus protecting your awful idea from their meddling.

  13. Were you napping? Stop that. It’s 11 o’clock already. Start freaking out, hard.

  14. If you’ve worked hard three days in a row, take a hard-earned day off. And it looks like snow tomorrow, so you might as well take the whole weekend. But a day off from writing is not a day off from complaining!

  15. If you haven't drastically gained or lost weight, you're just not writing well.

  16. Assume your sources are reputable. When some accidental research reveals the source that serves as foundation for your work to be as reliable as grandma’s memory, briefly consider the amount of work it will take to correct things at this late hour, then fuck it and move on.

  17. Pick up any book on your bookshelf, skim a few pages, and admit that it's a terrible book... but better than anything you'll ever write. Cry.

  18. If one of your cowriters is something of an optimist, shit in his hat.

  19. If you’re not panicking, call your agent and request they he or she panics. You’ll have no problem panicking afterward.

  20. Call your mom.

  21. Your time is more valuable than your money. Spend as much cash as you've got in your pockets.