Running On

Because we are stressfully busy in a good way, which leaves me with only low levels of spare brainpower with which to write USDA Commercial-grade comedy, in lieu of words, I present to you, lounging in such a way that he allowed me to perfectly capture both his general attitude of lazy malice, (I would have wound up naming him either ‘The Dude’ or ‘Big Poppa’, the latter being out of contention because that is what my niece calls my father and the former being pointless because we had already become accustomed to what we called him, which name’s genesis is not immediately evident in a picture exposing what we shall politely call his ventral side), and his command of the house (that is, or rather was, MY fucking pillow), a picture of the big orange cat:

The World Is Back To Normal

LVRJ News Flash
Van Halen reunion tour to kick off in Las Vegas

By Norm Clarke
A Van Halen reunion tour, with David Lee Roth back in the fold after 22 years, is in the works, with a Las Vegas launch looking good. A late April date at the Palms’ new venue, The Pearl, is “99 percent” likely, a source said.

(Thanks, Honey, for the heads-up.)

Have The Lambs Stopped Screaming?

“Look, princess! In honor of your special day, we tracked down your very favorite person in the whole world and crudely beheaded him! Then we filled his brainpan with banana ice cream! Let’s set him on fire! Go ahead, try to save him! It’s good luck! Now, pretty girl, Gramma is going to divide your dead idol’s skull into nineteen pieces, so all the family can help you eat his head! All because of you!”

Am I the only one who thinks it’s a bad idea to have an Elmo ice cream cake for a second birthday party?

He Is Come

SHREVEPORT, Louisiana (AP) — A female chimpanzee at a sanctuary has given birth, despite the fact that the facility’s entire male chimp population has had vasectomies. Chimp Haven managers said they knew something was up when Teresa, a wild-born chimpanzee in her late 40s, was missing during morning rounds on January 8. Later in the day, she appeared with a newborn chimpanzee in her arms.

“And there were in the same country seven chimps abiding in the fields, keeping watch over their Haven by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all primates. For unto you this day is born in the City of Shreveport, a Savior, which is Monkey Jesus. And this shall be a sign unto you; you shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel, a multitude of the Havenly host, and saying, ‘Glory to Monkey Jesus in the highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men'”.

“That’s what Monkey Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

The Freudian Slip Of All Time

I had lunch recently with the delightful Flutterin’ Thang and somehow the talk came around to the three faces of Honey.

For those of you who’ve not yet been privileged to meet her, or have only experienced one facet, Honey can be neatly trisected. I think of the three of them thusly:

#1 is Honey herself, who is equal parts

#2, Gordon Gekko, the high-powered Type A fuck-you-that’s-my-name/third-prize-is-you’re-fired financier, and

#3, Luna Lovegood, who was named after a character in the later Harry Potter novels, and who is capable — both of them — of the most charming dreamy loopiness. (Luna appears on this page more often than Honey or the Gekko only because she is far, far funnier. I play no favorites.)

That’s the exposition.

So what the Flutterer and I were talking about, specifically, was how much we both enjoy the abrupt switches between Luna and Gordon. They can be disorienting to everyone in the vicinity, when they happen (here and here, for example), but they are an absolute joy to witness. In fact, everything you need to know about Honey’s mind can be summed up in one sentence:

Luna and Gordon do not get along.

Which brings me to the Freudian Slip Of All Time.

Whenever people ask us about kids, Gordon leaps to his feet and talks about what a hindrance they would be to the nascent small business, and how worrisome it is that parenting is not a skill known to be among our prodigious set, and that sort of thing. Gordon does not want children. This is a Known Fact. No one else is invited to speak.

So Honey is at an appointment a couple of weeks ago, and I am picking her up, and I am early. There is a nine-week-old cocker spaniel puppy sitting outside. I have roughly foreseen what will happen, and I park down the block. The Gekko walks out the door and spots the adorable cocker spaniel puppy, whereupon instantly Luna boxes out Gordon and shoves her way to the front. She puts down the briefcase and purse, sits down on the sidewalk (in a power suit), picks up the puppy, and cuddles him for maybe ten full minutes. She gets in the car with a beaming smile and shining eyes, and says:

“I’m so happy. That was so great. I got to hug a baby. I MEAN A PUPPY.”

Seriously, I all but saw Gordon biff Luna on the back of the head.

The Black Hat Is Back In Original Form

1. What did you do in 2006 that you’d never done before?
2004: Probably a number of things. None stand out.
2005: Quite a bit, which was a nice change of pace. I became an uncle, quit a job with a plan in place, moved to another state, part-time, stopped working for pay, started working harder for free, began to seriously contemplate buying a house, was a groomsman thrice, went to a wedding where chicks made out on-demand, started an actual real genuine exercise program, organized the fabulously successful Adult Ditch Day, and adapted to life in a small Caribbean town. Oh, and I saw “Old School”.

2006: Officiated at a wedding, kept a workout log, slept on an inflatabed, threw up so hard I got a nosebleed, and was adopted by a cat.

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
2004: I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions. Too depressing.
2005: I don’t make formal resolutions, but I accomplished pretty much everything I wanted to this year.

2006: I made none. It’s time to start. This time next year, I will not be:
*Bitching about unsuccessful weight loss
*Unable to run a couple of miles
*Being mocked by the unfinished project on my desktop
*Without an apartment in Chicago
*Swearing to resuscitate this blog

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
2004: No, but I am stoked to be an uncle in 2005.
2005: My world is four little girls nicer than it was this time last year.

2006: No. I think, though 2007 is shaping up to be a doozie. (The count presently stands at four.)

4. Did anyone close to you die?
2004: Nope.
2005: No. I got a bunch of those out of the way young. But I’m still riding a hot streak. Don’t be the one to fuck it up.

2006: The streak continues, and might be moving into a phase of “too quiet” ominousness.

5. What would you like to have in 2007 that you lacked in 2006?
2004: A job I don’t hate and Teri Hatcher naked in a hotel room at my convenience.
2005: An Aston-Martin, a minicopter, six or eight torrid affairs, a really good tux, and a trail of dead men in my wake.

2006: An apartment in Chicago, a predictable minimum monthly income, barbecues, and a leaf-blower and toilet-paper cannon like the Kid Scientists did on Letterman last Friday.

6. What countries did you visit?
2004: Vegas is a world tour, at this point — why waste time on a passport?
2005: Canada. I had a nice time.

2006: Saw a real whole lot of Florida.

7. What date from 2005 will remain etched upon your memory, and why:
2004: May 22. It’s my birthday.
2005: 9/8/05 will for me forever be Independence Day.

2006: December 19th, the day the last rope was cut from the safety net. It is amazingly liberating and amazingly terrifying to have no fallback position.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
2004: Not snapping at the office and going on a killing spree, and getting 75% of the way through Operation Eighty Pounds.
2005: Assembling the courage, financing, will, and opportunity to take a shot at the brass ring. Which I don’t have yet, but at least I’m reaching for it.

2006: I embarrassed no one at the wedding I officiated, including myself; and, to close the year, we operated in the black for nine consecutive pay periods. And I’ve finally quit smoking.

9. What was your biggest failure?
2004: Not snapping at the office and going on a tranquility-inducing killing spree, and only getting 75% of the way through Operation Eighty Pounds.
2005: All my failures, this year, seem mild. Not that there weren’t any. But this year was what analysts call an Up Year. Why dwell?

2006: Some of the weight I lost has returned. A task force has been assembled to address the problem.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
2004: Nothing major.
2005: Nothing unusual.

2006: I had the worst flu of my whole life.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
2004: Plane tickets to Florida
2005: This new laptop. I have big plans for you, my pet.

2006: A small business in Florida and an ordination.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
2004: Mine. But I’m the only one celebrating.
2005: Luna’s. Jeez. You think I had a big year, talk to her. I had an Up Year. She had a Career Year.

2006: Ours.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
2004: I’m gonna single out my co-workers and the panic industry.
2005: Everybody’s would if I examined it too closely. So I don’t.

2006: It is amazing how little some people know, or care, about basic human courtesy.

14. Where did most of your money go?
2004: I wish I knew. No, wait, check that, I’m probably better off wondering.
2005: To moving. Way more than I expected to go there. If there is a flaw in the plan we know as Operation Alligator, it is insufficient funding. This issue should be monitored closely in the coming year.

2006: Debt service.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
2004: Fantasy football
2005: Moving to an island. Quitting my job. (Side note: My successor lasted less than ninety days.) Living in Florida in the winter. Some potential new gigs. Being challenged.

2006: My older younger brother’s wedding. My younger younger brother catching up to us, agewise, to a point where we can be brothers instead of weird immature uncles. Fighting, successfully, to keep the business alive.

16. What song will always remind you of 2006?
2004: “Already Gone”
2005: God’s Own Drunk: “…and the next thing I knew, I was on I-75 headed for Florida!

2006: “Gonna Fly Now”

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
2004:
i. happier or sadder? No change.
ii. thinner or fatter? Thinner, but I’m at Pantscon Two after the last month.
iii. richer or poorer? Late surge made it richer, but much of the year was indistinguishable.
2005:
i. happier or sadder? Happier.
ii. thinner or fatter? Push.
iii. richer or poorer? Poorer.

2006:
i. happier or sadder? Happier.
ii. thinner or fatter? Fatter. Why must I always fill this out right fucking after Christmas?
iii. richer or poorer? Technically richer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
2004: Travel. Eating. Many other things.
2005: You can never fuck too much, frolic too much, or spend too much time with friends and family. And I wish there had been more Adult Ditch Days.

2006: I need to have more fun.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
2004: Working. Smoking. (Though I’m down to 3-4 a day.) Rationalizing. Diet-cheating.
2005: I rarely wish I’d done less of anything.

2006: I wish we could have worked less. Which we couldn’t. And had more money. Which we didn’t. And been calmer about the negatives. Which we weren’t.

The most accurate answer here is probably “I wish we’d spent less time financially, physically, and emotionally hangin’ by spit.”

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
2004: Christmas went fine.
2005: The way I always do: A fun old-fashioned extended-family Christmas.

2006: I will be celebrating the end of The Year Of Closed Debts.

21. There was no #21. I don’t know why there was no 21.

22. Did you fall in love in 2005?
2004: Hundreds and hundreds of times, albeit briefly.
2005: No.

2006: Maybe.

23. How many one-night stands?
2004: I have another item to add to #18.
2005: Not enough. Never enough.

2006: *sigh*

24. What was your favorite TV program?
2004: I try very hard not to miss “PTI”.
2005: Bear games.

2006: I don’t have a TV. I will use this space, instead, to plug Dan LeBatard’s radio show, available online at 790theticket.com. It’s a real pleasure on its own merits, plus it is the closest thing I have found to the glory years of the Mr. Tony show.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
2004: Top of my head, no.
2005: No. Life’s too short.

2006: As I adapt to both a new town and working in financial services, I find that I am learning to hate.

26. What was the best book you read?
2004: Gregg Easterbrook, “The Progress Paradox”.
2005: Jim Harrison’s “The Raw and the Cooked”

2006: “Freakonomics”, Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. Can’t recommend it highly enough. Stop reading and go to the library immediately.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
2004: Radio Margaritaville.
2005: I discovered that I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed the two Buffett concerts at Wrigley Field.

2006: MP3s and playlists

28. What did you want and get?
2004: All year? That’s a lot to remember.
2005: I got most of the things I wanted.

2006: Freedom. Though I believe I asked for it without all the Monkey’s Paw-type consequences, I guess I can live with this version. For now.

30. What was your favorite film of this year?
2004: I don’t see many movies. I did watch “Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back” on Comedy Central and found if fabulously entertaining.
2005: That I saw this year? I go back and forth between “The Punisher” and “Batman Begins”.

2006: “Rocky Balboa”. My favorite film of this year, and the newest addition to the all-time favorite list. Maybe it was just the perfect storm of circumstances and movie and mindset, but I don’t often sit in the theater at the end of movies thinking, “Wow, I wish I could see that again right now,” and I don’t usually get weepy, either. What a great movie.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you (optional)?
2004: I don’t recall — not in the way that means I had a great time — and thirty.
2005: I don’t recall — not in the way that means I had a great time — and thirty-one.

2006: Guess.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
2004: An assurance of immortality.
2005: Walking out of my office the way Silvio Dante walked out of Vesuvio.

2006: One good hurricane and I could’ve bought a house.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2005?
2004: I had to spend a horrendous amount of money on new pants.
2005: Effortless.

2006: “Hi, my weight is fluctuating and redistributing based on fitness regimen and travel eating, and I don’t have a lot of spare cash, so forgive the shorts.”

34. What kept you sane?
2004 answer: Frozen vodka.
2005: Lists.

2006: Xanax. Eventually. Wasn’t a strong Q4 for sanity.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
2004: Does “fancy” mean “lust after”? I’m not really the focused type.
2005: Gold Stars in Celebrity: The Chicago Bears’ defensive starters, Kevin Garnett, Tony Kornheiser, Garry Meier, Scoop Jackson, Jimmy Buffett, Gregg Easterbrook, Jeffrey Steingarten, Rachael Ray, and Dr. Hunter S. Thompson.

2006: Elliot Spitzer and Carrot Top. Not having a TV or any free time cuts the list down some.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
2004: The insistence of virtually everyone with a horse in the Presidential race that I needed to spend all my time terrified.
2005: The continued growth of the make-the-event-”prove”-the-existing-opinion school of media coverage-obtainment and political argument.

2006: None. Ahhhhhhhhhhh.

37. Whom did you miss?
2004: I miss the Old Dog, but not as often or as sharply as I used to.
2005: Virtually everybody who doesn’t live in in Florida.

2006: I am getting the hang of this, but I missed la bella anyway. I think it’s because you people don’t change nearly as rapidly as does my favorite toddler. And I missed barbecues. And in Q4, I missed me.

38. Who was the best new person you met?
2004: Ye Gods. Which among you are new to me this year?
2005: This kind of question drives me bugshit with fear that I will omit somebody major, or that I should include those acquaintances who upgraded to friends this year, or that I will in some other way bruise some feelings. I hate doing that. But those of you who are new people in my subset, and those of you who were once here and are now here again, I’m glad.

2006: The woman at Tammy’s Bakery near MIA. Mmmmmmm…eclairs caramello y chorizo empanadas. ¿Como se dice “38-inch waistband”?

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2005:
2004: “Enjoy yourself. It’s later than you think.”
2005: “It can be done.”

2006: “It ain’t over til it’s over.”

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
2004:
“Don’t know where I’m goin’
I don’t like where I’ve been
There may be no exit
But hell I’m going in.”
2005:
“Now when you in the free world talkin’ shit do the shit
Hit the pen and let the mothafuckas shank ya.
But niggas like myself kick back and peep game ’cause
Damn it feels good to be a gangsta.”

2006:
“I give my woman half my money at the general store.
I said, “Now buy a little groceries, and don’t spend no more.”
But she gave ten dollars for a ten cent hat and bought some store-bought cat food for that mean-eyed cat.

(snip)

I walked in she saw me and she took off her apron and she grabbed her goin’-home hat.
She bought a ticket with her tips and now we’re curled up on the sofa,
Me and her and that mean-eyed cat.”

I've Been Here For Years