Thursday, December 18, 2003

AP Headline: Pope Likes Mel Gibson's Film on Christ's Passion

Ow... oh, my head... what happened? How'd I get here on the floor? The last thing I remember, I was reading the news. [PICKS UP PAPER] Maybe it was this: "Carson Daly Likes 'CARSON DALY ROCKS!!!' Web Site." Whaaa? Ohhhhh.... [THUD]

Today's FOCR: "Shock Me," KISS, Love Gun

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

(DING!) You’re Now Free To Hack About the Country

It’s unbelievable that the airlines will claim they are in such bad financial straits, when they clearly saved so much money by bulk printing about five thrabillion paper tickets back in 1987. Why else would there still be a little Y/N box for “SMOKE” on them, a good ten years after the last smoke was smoked on a smoking flight?

Could there really be some poor puffer out there who is still scanning every ticket with a sweaty gambler’s fever, hoping that Thursday’s Houston-to-Cincinnati run could be The One? “C’mon, baby… daddy needs a new pair of lungs! Is it…? Aw, nuts.”

Today's FOCR: "Home Sweet Home," Motley Crue, Theatre of Pain

Monday, December 15, 2003

Albums Which in the Past Have Caused Me To Exercise with Embarrassing Fury [and Vegas odds on it happening again]

Smashing Pumpkins, Gish [1 in 3]

Van Halen, Women and Children First [even]

Shabba Ranks, X-tra Naked [1 in 1200]

Today's FOCR: "Loss of Control," Van Halen, Women and Children First

Friday, December 12, 2003

”All team members: wolf in aisle five…”

A reader [SFX: surprise-denoting BOING!] forwarded this story in response to the last posting about the Wal-Mart trampling. According to this and other reports, Patricia Vanlester has had what would most optimistically be called central Florida’s worst streak of shopping mishaps. Viewed more realistically, it could be suggested to the IRS that they check her income tax forms for deductions on vocational expenses like neckbraces and Chevy Chase movie rentals.

It certainly makes her case seem ready to be cut down faster than Wal-Mart's price on a gallon of Vlasic pickles. However, some interesting things to keep in mind.

1.) I hate frivolous lawsuits as much as the next decaying, child-molesting pop star. They are a scourge of our society. This doesn’t mean it didn’t happen exactly as asserted, as unlikely as it now seems.

2.) Given the Evil Friday atmosphere created by stores like this, the injury seemed extremely plausible. That attests to a truth behind any lie involved here, which is certainly why the original story spread like wildfire.

3.) My main point about the incident – the siren – remains. See (2).

4.) “Paramedics who assessed her condition … determined her injuries were serious enough to fly her by helicopter to Halifax Medical Center.” If she was faking, then what the hell kind of paramedics they got down there? I’ve had priests and English teachers who were better at spotting fake comas.

Despite it all, one thing remains true:

Florida: Home of the Flim-Flam Since November 2000!

Many thanks to the reader. I shall comb previous posts for “President Dewey” references.

Today's FOCR: "Fall Down Easy," Uncle Tupelo, Still Feel Gone

Monday, December 01, 2003

Make Merry, Throw an Elbow

Folks who get their news online may have seen this story about a woman trampled by fellow Wal-Mart shoppers as the doors were thrown open on Evil Friday, a.k.a. the Christmas shopping opener.

In the 6 a.m. blitz for $29 DVD players, the 41-year-old woman was knocked down and trampled by other consumers, who continued shopping their way around her unconscious form. The final cinematic twist: arriving paramedics found a DVD player underneath her body.

They run this kind of story to make you cluck your tongue and decide that consumerism has ruined society, just before you check Amazon for sub-$30 DVD players you can score without that kind of hassle.

But there's the part of the story, glossed over to get to the condemnation of the crowd, that I can't get out of my head.
Patricia VanLester had her eye on a $29 DVD player, but when the siren blared at 6 a.m. Friday announcing the start to the post-Thanksgiving sale...
Whoa, whoa. Wait. "Siren"?

With a group outside obviously insane enough to camp out well before 6 a.m., the Wal-Mart blows a siren? Why not just put pillow-suits on their non-unionized grocery workers and send them outside to throw raw steaks around?
Wal-Mart Stores spokeswoman Karen Burk said she had never heard of a such a melee during a sale. "We are very disappointed this happened," Burk said. "We want her to come back as a shopper." her next life. Mwoo-hah-ah-ah!

Today's FOCR: "Ballroom Blitz," Krokus, The Blitz

Monday, November 17, 2003

Dumbing Down the House

I never fail to be amazed by the number of ways I've heard corporate types encrypt a simple four-word phrase into a paragraph of demographic analysis.

The phrase: "I don't get it."

It's always expressed as concern for the audience's base of knowledge, but do you hear that Kodak carousel click and rumble, and see dust floating across a beam of light? That's them, projecting their own dumbitude onto that teeming mass of morons out there. The ones who disavow anything that happened before 1998, anywhere other than on MTV, to anyone but P. Diddy.

Not us -- we're cool, of course. We just have to keep our audience in mind. Now, here when you talk about Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, why do you mention Don Rickles? What's the connection there?

Why won't people admit to not knowing anymore? Think of the great things ruined by the inability to say "I don't know":
Q: Knock knock.
A: Gee, do people really knock anymore? I think our audience probably just uses their cell phones when they pull up outside.


Q: What's the difference between a dwarf magician and chlamydia?
A: What if it were... SARS? I think our audience will know that better.
Q: No, you see, it specifically has to be an STD, because it's a play on words between "cunning runt" and--
A2 (speakerphone): Or what did Pedro on "The Real World" have?
A: Oh, that's great! Nice and current. We could use that!


Costello: If I mentioned the third baseman's name, who did I say is playing third?
Abbott: No, Who's playing first.
Costello: Never mind first. I wanna know, what's the guy's name on third.
Abbott: No, What's on second.
Costello: I'm not askin' you who's on second.
Abbott: Who's on first.
Costello: Our audience is long gone by now.
Abbott: He's on thir-- What?
Costello: Too many questions.
Abbott: Lou, what are you doing? We're on the radio.
Costello: Radio?! (SNORTS) No, no, no.
Abbott: Listen, you fuck-drunk retard. You embarrass me once more in front of...
Costello: ...Three commuters and a security guard? If you really want to reach the kids these days, you-- Aaack. Choking. Me.

Today's FOCR: "This Is Pretty Funny. I Mean, I Get It. But After All, Most of Our Audience Probably Wasn't Even Born in 1987 :>) What If It Were Linkin Park?," The Replacements, Pleased To Meet Me

Friday, November 14, 2003

Yes, I did. Yet I shame myself and my dorkified youth by missing what I missed.

The lyrics you leave incomplete are returned to you sounding either like "Mad Libs" for burnouts or "Match Game" for depressives.

"Like a drifter, I was born to BLANK BLANK"... Betty White!

Today's FOCR: "Blank Frank," Brian Eno, Here Come the Warm Jets

P.S. Click the Gene Rayburn picture to visit a pretty awesome site. The music gets a little trippy after a while, though.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

"God" Damn, It's Good To Be Home

I traveled quite a bit over the past few weeks, causing a break in posting which I'm sure disappointed the three of you mightily.

This great country of ours, I tell you, it brings me a lot of joy. Ricky "Travelin' Man" Nelson may have had one lovely girl waiting in every port, but I've got my own things I count on while crossing America. Things which bring me my own kind of "homeland security."

No matter the town, I know:

* If it's Tuesday, somewhere on the radio is a Twofer Tuesday.

* If it's October, somewhere on the radio is a celebration of Rocktober.

[What other month can claim that kind of smooth twist? "Groovember?" Get out.]

* If it's a Tuesday in October, my head will explode with rocked-out joy.

* If it's a diner, there will be a breakfast special called "Deuces" something, involving pairs of eggs, sausages, toast, etc. These never, though, come with two orange juices.

* If it's a diner, and I ask for something "venti," they will punch me, as they should.

* If it's a public restroom, the hand dryer will be tactically etched to read PUSH BUTT and RUB HANDS UNDER ARM.

* If it's a late-model Volkswagen, it's in a hurry and sees you as an obstacle.

* If it's a dry cleaner, any requested turnaround time is like asking to rend the very fabric of time and space. I could ask to have my clothes back by 2007, and I'd be met with a Scotty-like plea for reason. "Two pants and shirt, Cap'n! The Martinizer's on the brink as she is -- I kinna do 't!"

* If it's signage involving quotation marks, it's going to be a laugher. A loose cannon with a Sharpie will always try for the five-dollar punctuation and come back with four singles and change.

The best was the front window of a bar on Foster Avenue in Chicago. Amid the posted bucket o' beer specials, the painter exhorted heavenly homeland protection thusly:
It could be a stinging piece of bitter philosophic sarcasm. Or the guy could just be "an" idiot.

Today's FOCR: (Quoth) "The Raven," Alan Parsons Project, Tales of Mystery and Imagination

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

"Home again, home again, jiggidy-jig! Gooood evening, J.F!"

In days of old, survival instinct was riding a horse you didn't think would last, over land you didn't think was friendly, drinking water you didn't know wouldn't kill you, just because you had to, elements be damned.

Compare with yesterday, when I drove a rental Kia through burning California hills, eating a double bacon cheeseburger I didn't know wouldn't cause incontinence, just because I had to get out of Las Vegas, cancelled flight be damned.

I'm a cowboy / On a steel-and-molded-fiberglass horse I ride...

Today's FOCR: "Burnin' Sky," Bad Company, Burnin' Sky

Monday, October 20, 2003

Making iTunes for Windows is like putting Sinista Chrome mags on a Ford Windstar.

Sure, it can be done...

Today's FOCR: "What Do You Do For Money Honey," AC/DC, Back in Black

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Baby Steps Into the Non-Baseball World

Had to share a joke I heard this week:

An engineer sees his colleague riding toward him on a brand new bicycle.

"Hey, pal," says the first engineer. "Nice bike! Where'd you get it?"

"The most incredible thing just happened to me," the second engineer beams. "I was walking through the park, and this beautiful woman rode by me on her bike. She turns around and stops right in front of me. She gets off her bike, walks up to me, and tears off all her clothes."

"Yeah?" prompts the first. "Then what?"

"Then she says, 'Take what you like.'"

A version involving Dick Cheney, a woman in a burka, and a barrel of crude was not completed by press time.

Today's FOCR: "Bicycle Race," Queen, Jazz

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Chicago Expat Report

From my voicemail last night:

"Message received today at 7:22 PM from phone number 310-xxx-xxxx:

[Sounds of a bar] 'Shoot. Me. Now. Shoot me now.'

End of messages."

Foul and Unbalanced

Fox Sports wanted blood last night. There's no other explanation.

It wasn't enough to identify The Fan onscreen. It wasn't enough to keep cutting back to him, saying (essentially):

That's him. That's the one. Boy, I hope something doesn't happen to that guy. Who's sitting right there, looking kinda weak and alone. It'd be terrible if something happened tonight at 741-1/2 W. Dickens, apartment 24 with the crappy deadbolt.

They had to go and draw a circle around his head.

Why not go ahead and fill in the rest of the bulls-eye, fascists?

Sure, the newspapers have the pictures, too. However, the kind of local morons who will torture this guy tend not to read, or even spell "URL" correctly. Fox had the power to make him a national target.

Throughout the playoffs, they've been mocking people in the stands. Shirtless painted freaks, that's one thing. They want it. But Fox sportscasters go after people just sitting there, repeatedly cutting back between pitches to continue their "fun" commentary.

I thought I hated Fox Sports before, with their blitzkrieg of whooshes and epileptic graphics reducing actual sports content by a good 15 minutes per hour. Now, Fox's mean streak has been extended to some of the most innocent spectators in sports.

Fox, you're like school in the summertime*.

* Joke void in the LAUSD.

Today's FOCR: "Fox on the Run," Sweet, Desolation Boulevard

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

From Our California Election Bureau

Today's FOCR: "You Get What You Deserve," Big Star, Radio City

Monday, October 06, 2003


If there's one thing I've learned, it's that I never learn. Over and over again, I "discover" the same common-sense, good-for-you things as though for the first time. And promptly forget them. It's Memen-D'oh:

"Last night I went to bed early, and then it was easy getting up this morning. Huh. Maybe I'll do that more! [WHISTLING] What? 'Goin' Ape!' is on HBO Comedy at 2:35am? I'm THERE."

"Good-fitting shoes sure feel good. [WHISTLING] Outlet shoe store? Outta my WAY."

"Tequila fun. Why me ever shwear off it? [WHISTLING] Uh-oh. [VOMITING]"

And today's eureka:
"Man, there's something about a haircut. [WHISTLING]"

I'll ignore these lessons every day until I'm old enough to pay attention to myself. Then I'll do the correct thing, I'll whistle, and then... I'll do it again! I learned the hard way! I gotta tell somebody young enough to benefit! But -- o, cruel life -- by the time you're that old, you're the only one listening to you. And everybody hates a whistler.

Say, I'm kinda thinking about growing my hair out. All snarly and long. Not that fake-ass Melrose Ave bedhead. Real, genuine, fifth-grade bedhead. Guess it's only a matter of five months to find out... [WHISTLING]

Today's FOCR: "Here I Go Again," Whitesnake, Whitesnake

PS: Despite it all... Governor Jingle-All-The-Way... Cubs and Red Sox in the playoffs... things haven't gotten weird or anything.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Uh-Oh, All-Skate... Must Be Time To Save the World

It's getting grim.

My two Midwestern boyhood teams face elimination by the two teams I most hate hate hate in baseball. Some California moron majority is ready to hand the henhouse keys to a diastematic Teuton enigmacrat. And now, even the Dewey Decimal System is apparently litigable intellectual property.

Somewhere in the 1980s, in a rink called Skate Country, a chubby boy hears the call coming through the speakers. He straps on his chapped leather rentals. He heads out on the floor. For once oblivious to how he appears to the girls, in his mind he rolls to the rescue on nubby wheels of fury as they play...

Today's FOCR: "Eye of the Tiger," Survivor, Eye of the Tiger

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Hecho en Mexico

Sitting in Baja, reading a self-help law book with the following note on its Library of Congress page:

This product is not a substitute for legal advice.
Disclaimer required by Texas statutes.

Texans needing a reminder that personal interpretations of the law should take a backseat to actual legal advice when considering action. Hmmm. Sounds sorta familiar... can't quite place it...

Today's FOCR: "Breaking the Law," Judas Priest, British Steel

Friday, September 26, 2003

Anybody who has a telephone must appreciate the irony of the telemarketing industry righteously defending the principles of free speech. Free speech that doesn't include the words "No," "No, thank you," "I'm not interested," ""I'm hanging up now," "Please stop talking, I'm hanging up," "For the love of god, my long-distance coverage can't matter this much"...

If somebody comes to your door and won't leave, you have the right to call the police. If an individual makes unwanted harassing calls to your house, you have the same right. Yet, if a business entity wants to call your house, tie up your line, and argue with you, that's free speech.

Talk about an industry that does nothing for its own reputation. During a recent radio piece on "Do Not Call" legislation, a telemarketing spokesman tried. He said this, almost to the word: "We work very hard to not be annoying." Our promise to you: Mitigating Our Nuisance Is Job One. Why would a valid industry have to defend its right to irritate? The Small Barking Dog Association. The Loose Fan Belt Guild. Impacted Waistband Boil Confederation. These concerns don't seem compelled to defend themselves, yet their products still seem to flourish.

Of course, the magic word is invoked in the debate: jobs. Oh, the jobs. Jobs will be lost. We can't lose the jobs. Anything that eliminates jobs is evil. At a time when America's economy is bleeding shitty, low-paying jobs, we need to staunch the flow.

So here's an idea. Telemarketers will need jobs with flexibility to work from home. America needs teachers.

[SFX: Phone rings.]
CHILD: Hello?
PHONE (VO): Good day, miss. Am I speaking to a Brittany Sander... ston? Sandington?
CHILD: Sanderson.
PHONE (VO): I am sorry about that, Miss Sanders. I'm calling with some good news from Fractions.
CHILD: I'm not interested.
PHONE (VO): But Brittany, did you know you can say "one-half" instead of "two-fourths"? What's your current expression for half of something?
CHILD: I'm hanging up now.
PHONE (VO): "Two-fourths?" "Eight-sixteenths"? Now, Brittany, let me tell you why saying "one-half" gives you the same great expression while saving you time AND syllables..."

Today's FOCR: "Add It Up," Violent Femmes, Violent Femmes

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

From the Headlines:


"Coalition of the Willing" Increases By One

Today's FOCR: "Me Against The World," Lizzy Borden, Visual Lies

Monday, September 22, 2003

a haiku for gordon jump

now in heaven when
people say, "hey there, big guy,"
two heads are turning

The man who delivered the funniest TV punchline involving turkeys (without "jive") has died. "Mullets," take a lesson: that's how working with Loni is done.

Today's FOCR: "WKRP closing theme," music by Tom Wells, singer believed to be Jimmy Ellis

Double Shot: "Queen of the Forest," Ted Nugent, Ted Nugent
(Reportedly the first rock song played by Johnny Fever)

If only The Man In Black had lived to see this.

How high are the feces, Mama? / Three feet high and rising.

Sunday, September 21, 2003

I know, I wrote about this last week while guesting for The Spoonbender, the Shaolin master of jibes, gambols, songs, and flashes of merriment.

But it's still on my mind. Something is in the air about curses. Particularly, perennial losers struggling against curses. The Boston Red Sox and the "Curse of the Bambino." The Chicago Cubs and the curse of the billy goat. At this moment, these two teams could possibly be on the verge of... ahem.

Yet a hapless, hopeless wonder has broken through. The Hanshin Tigers (Osaka, Japan) have broken the Curse of the Colonel. As in Sanders. Believed to have been cursed for 18 years by none other than Mr. Eleven Herbs and Spells, the Tigers just won the pennant this week.

This has me thinking. Maybe there's hope for our blame-free, shame-free, sue-happy society: curses. Tired of being mocked for suing those who cause you to be fat because you eat their fried food, thrown through windshields just for choosing to ignore seat belts, or unable to avoid being burned when you (as is your wont) pour hot coffee on your loins? Yet blaming yourself is still too alien and weird?

Look no further: curses. You're cursed! Gas prices too high? You're not too dependent on oil... there must have been some tramp who had a heart attack mid-sink-bath at the Arco. Back from the pauper's grave... wreaking revenge on light-truck owners!

See? Vaporous superstition is much easier to deal with than responsibility.

This is big. Curses could be the new biorhythms.

Today's FOCR: "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)," Jimi Hendrix, Electric Ladyland

I would love to be the first person on record to point out my long-held genius discovery that Strange Brew is the funniest take on "Hamlet" not written by Tom Stoppard. Two bumblers, a spooky place called Elsinore, an heir whose father was killed and replaced: it's all there. "Hamlet" with belching. Sadly for my hope, I just saw my genius on All-Movie Guide.

I will now put forth a new theory: Now, Voyager (1942) is the evil, dirtier twin of Fatal Attraction (1987).

Forty-five years older than Fatal Attraction, Now, Voyager has more shocking infidelity action. Sure, a mentally unbalanced woman and an unhappily married man become drawn to each other. Duddle-lah. The movies keep pace there. But then Now, Voyager takes a swift lead and heads down Dirty Bird Lane.

Unhappily-but-devotedly married Paul Henried meets Bette Davis on a cruise while he's traveling on business. They immediately have eyes for each other.

Instead of straddling in a freight elevator, when they get alone, they... smoke cigarettes, after he suavely lights two double-lighty-style and hands one to her! Over. And. Over. Again.

Instead of loosening a pedestal sink with their primal thrusting, the animally attracted couple... remain fond of one another!

Stranded on shore, they camp together, and... don't have sex! He kisses her sleeping lips! Once! For. Almost. Two. Seconds.

Instead of the obsessed woman making his life a living hell and threatening his entire family, she... leaves immediately, and never calls him! Not. One. Time.

And then, when they meet by chance later, still aching for each other, the desperate lovers profess their undying love and... do nothing! And part!

Instead of killing and cooking her unattainable lover's child's pet, she... selflessly devotes herself to his misfit daughter without him knowing! Becoming the girl's best friend, spending a fortune on her, and curing her psychological problems! Free. Of. Charge.

When he discovers her actions toward his child, he grabs... her! And says they can pretend they're married and in love! They can even pretend the girl is THEIR child and confer on her upbringing! And. Never. Ever. Touch.

It's "Hiatal Attraction." A tale of sneaking around and being in romantic, celibate love.

I feel dirty.

Today's FOCR: "Do Ya," Electric Light Orchestra, A New World Record

Friday, September 19, 2003

Lately, the thought of selling plasma has been tempting. But I get furious at the thought that I have to sit there and bleed, just for some rich guy's fancy thin TV.

Today's FOCR: "If You Want Blood (You've Got It)," AC/DC, Highway to Hell

Thursday, September 18, 2003

From the Mess-with-Your-Headlines:

Despite the fact that over 60 percent of Americans were led to believe otherwise, President Bush denied today that he ever made the connection between a "Hertz donut" and something edible.

Critics of shoulder punches rubbed their bruises and swore they'd try it on someone else. Like Lieberman. No, he'd take forever to get around to asking for it. Dean. Yeah, Dean. He looks like he'd like a nice "donut." Heh heh. Ow.

Today's FOCR: "Won't Get Fooled Again," The Who, Who's Next

I'm not saying Wisconsin is fat... but when they have to stop playing "Jump Around" at Badgers games because of structural concerns...

Today's FOCR: "Big Bottom," Spinal Tap, This Is Spinal Tap

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

From the headlines:

Gore to Bush: Tell Fla. Supreme Court To Cancel Calif. Recall,
And Then We Cool. Right? We Cool?

The Chicago Expat Index:

California Words I'm Tired of Hearing (TOH Index)
"carbs" (CRBS) -5 1/8
fog D/B/A "marine layer" (MRNL) -1
"Sig alert" (SIGA) -12 5/8

California Words I Still Enjoy Hearing (SEH index)
"Bustamante" (BSTE) + 7/8
"Topanga" (TPGA) no change

Today's FOCR: "Damn Good," David Lee Roth, Skyscraper

Monday, September 15, 2003

The name? Well, it goes back to the heady days of 2000, back when (to paraphrase, then contradict, Freud) a roll of duct tape was just a roll of duct tape.

In those dying days of the Internet boom, some of us would collect album-rock MP3s during the day, unplug the headphones at five o’clock, and engage in some virtual Jukebox Neroism, fiddling as the Internet money machine burned.

Every day, my friend, every day was a Twofer Tuesday.

Just a little long-distance dedication to the legions who were fooled into sinking the best 18-hour days of their 20s and 30s into a “family-not-a-company,” then found themselves abruptly un-adopted... but only after having generated a whole lot of coin for somebody else.

Today’s FOCR (the one that started it all):
"Frankenstein," The Edgar Winter Group, They Only Come Out At Night
Cough, cough. [SFX: Thump microphone]