Saturday, December 31, 2005

To crumple or to shred? ...'tis the brotherly question

Nine years my junior, Mark, my brother, moved into his new place in September after having to move back to our folks' place following a burglary at his old apartment early this year. We're all happy for his new beginning.

I enjoy spending time with Mark, who possesses a proficiency for dazzling leaps of logic that link seemingly disparate pop culture references with everyday life. It's a blast to hear the stuff coming out of his mouth, and when this stuff mixes with my own twisted brand of comedy, well, "surreal" takes on a whole new meaning. The conversations we share routinely lead to inadvertent, arcane humor that makes us both laugh our asses off.

Mark agrees with me that most people wouldn't understand our jokes. We take snobbish pride in this, and the exclusivity of it all makes these moments all the more satisfying.

A few weeks ago I was driving him home. We had gone to see "Good Night, and Good Luck," a film I thoroughly endorse and recommend. Here's how the conversation, which had nothing to do with the movie, went:

Mark: Dude, I'm trying to clean up my new place. There's sh!t all over the place. But it's so tough. There's so much sh!t. Know what I mean?

Brent: Dude, I totally know what you mean. Seriously man, it's huge.

Mark: Yeah. It's like, I want to take pride in the place. I want it to be, like, my place. But with all the crap around, it's like I'm not in my own place or something.

Brent: Dude, I know. Check it out, man. You need to get a paper shredder, dude. Seriously. I'm telling you. I just got one. It's awesome.

Mark: Dude, why the f#%k do you need one of those? Just crumple stuff up. I just crumple it up.

Brent: Mark, that's what I'm saying. You're having trouble precisely because you have to crumple this stuff up. It's unsatisfying and feels insurmountable. You need the satisfaction that comes from a machine completely tearing up a piece of paper to the point of no return.

Mark: [laughs] Dude, come on. That's stupid. I don't need a paper shredder. In fact, that sounds violent, like that movie with that guy shredding up people. That one with Steve Buscemi in it. What was that movie?

Brent: Yeah, what was that movie again? "Fresno"? Yeah, that was the movie! [laughs] You need a paper shredder, like in that movie "Fresno."

[more laughing]

Mark: No, dude! It's "Fargo"! Now I remember. Geez...that's actually funny, though, 'cuz we're talking about a paper shredder, not a wood chipper cutting up people. So it would be a different movie: "Fresno."

Brent: Yeah, right. Dude, that's funny. Seriously. In fact, that could be a line from some independent film comedy: "Dude, you need a paper shredder, like in that movie 'Fresno.'"

Mark: Perfect. Let's produce and direct it.

Maybe we will.

Friday, December 23, 2005

It's good to be a Patriot

Courtesy of an Indianapolis Colts loss last weekend, the 1972 Miami Dolphins remain the only undefeated team in NFL history since the league began playing the Super Bowl. My football history chops are shaky, so I don't know what happened before then. But I do know that at least one of this season's teams that someone told me was superior to the New England Patriots got their asses handed to them by those very Patriots last weekend.

Sure, Indianapolis may be playing it safe now that the team has more than guaranteed itself a playoff berth, but this is mere conjecture. For all we know, Indianapolis is losing momentum going into the playoffs.

A few things are certain:

The New England Patriots are gaining momentum. Tampa Bay is a tough team. We shut them out. That's a media spin-proof victory. Look for New England vs. Indianapolis in the AFC Championship. I won't predict the outcome, but mark my words: It's gonna happen.

The Christ in Christmas

This week a business colleague of mine gave me a call. He was leaving to visit family, and when the awkward moment inevitably came, I fell into the "Happy Holidays" fold, not wanting an encounter of the Bill O'Reilly kind.

My take on it is a clumsy joke that, quite frankly, sounds stupid. Sensing the social anxiety that corporate media had managed to instill in my psyche, my colleague responded with one of the funniest "gotchas" I've yet to hear for this whole "Happy Holidays vs. Merry Christmas" hogwash.

Brent: "Well, OK then...have a great trip, and if I don't speak with you later this week, Merry Christmas, or Kwanza, or Happy Holidays, or whatever it is you celebrate." [nervous laughter]

Colleague: "You know, I've been struck by this whole debate, too, and I've resolved to ask myself, 'What would Jesus do?' And, seeing that Jesus was a Jewish Rabbi, I think he'd say, 'Happy Hanukkah.' So, Happy Hanukkah, Brent." [chuckling]

Brent: [more chuckling] "Hey, that's pretty good. You're right. The Festival of Lights [spoken in mock Adam Sandler fashion]. Well, Happy Hanukkah, [insert colleague's name here]."

This colleague, to the best of my knowledge, is not Jewish. Either way, it's pretty damn funny.

Later I got to thinking a bit more about the whole, stupid debate. I asked myself, "What would Jesus do?" After telling myself he most certainly would not have gone to play for the New York Yankees, it occurred to me that the bloke wouldn't have given a shit about his birthday celebration, either -- and probably would have told anyone who did to bug off and stop buying crap for it.

In fact...

I follow politics just like everyone else in my microcosm of a blogging community -- i.e., more than Average Joe does. Every once in a while, when I need a political reality check, I like to visit the Annenberg Political Fact Check. And you should, too.

Something has set off my "hey, waitaminute" meter lately. Left-wingers are saying the media have a neoconservative bias.


Go to any right-wing site, and you'll see just as many people believing the media have a liberal bias. Which is it? We can't have a dual bias. Last time I checked, this would go against the definition of bias. Come up with another word to describe the situation. I'm game.

Here's the interesting thing:

Each side sees a bias against its cherished beliefs. And everyone keeps watching.

Chris Matthews gets to play more "Hardball." Rush Limbaugh gets to snooker more listeners. Al Franken gets to sell more books. So does Bill O'Reilly, and John Stewart gets to tell more jokes.

Oh, and have you ever watched the commercials on primetime cable news? GM gets to sell more SUVs, too.

Talk about another spike for the "hey, waitaminute" meter. Maybe I'm on to something, and maybe you should put away your liberal or neconservative toys for a minute. It's easier to pay attention, after all, when you're not high on political crack.

The corporate media have no liberal or neoconservative bias; they have a money bias. I imagine intelligent debate based on the facts makes little money. But stuff like intelligent design and deliberately misleading claims of "corrupted intelligence" in the march to war with Iraq certainly do.

Cable news channel junkies love to shout at the villains on the television screen. Most networks (even FOX) air just as many liberals as they do neoconservatives. It's equal opportunity sophistry coming at us from both sides. And each side of the audience sees the opposing viewpoint as an overpowering specter of evil that demands equal opportunity counterargument ASAP. We then blog for these counterarguments with religious zeal, hoping that we might stop this world from going to hell in a handbasket.

The whole situation begs the question: If both sides of the advertised, televised, money-making debate are wrong, then are we not all mistaken, conservatives and liberals alike, for aligning with whichever of the two lies best suits our tastes? I think so. We consign ourselves to a binary debate with increasingly taut polarities. To our true peril, we ignore the living kaleidescope of ideas that might actually improve the human condition.

What would Johnny Damon Do?

Go to play for the New York Yankees, apparently.

I don't think Jesus would have done this.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

I have seen the world's best ass

Today I saw the best ass ever. You have not seen an ass better than the ass I saw this evening.

Stop right there. You're wrong.

Whatever ass you've seen that you think competes with the one I saw, quite simply, doesn't. I've seen plenty of ass in my day, and tonight's takes the cake.

The ass belongs to an unassuming young lady at the nearby bookstore. An ass so perfect, it surely sends breast men everywhere back to the drawing board, where I am this very moment.

Frankly, I wish I'd never seen this ass this evening, for ignorance is bliss, and ass from this day forward, for me, will never be the same.