Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Top Ten List - Movies Currently Playing Inside My Head

1. Summer at Camp Sodomy

2. The Grass is Always Greener

When faced with the closing of some kind of factory and/or mine, the irrepressible citizens of a small village in Wales or Ireland or somewhere band together and plan some kind of humorous and crazy event that flies in the face of their otherwise small-town sensibilities. You won't believe how far they'll go to save their town! Seriously, it's un-fucking-believable!!

3. High School Musical 5: Brutal Reckoning

When students are molested by several of their teachers and the local authorities ignore their pleas for help, the students of East High take justice into their own hands. In one of the bloodiest, most exquisitely choreographed dance/death scenes ever captured on film, your favorite high-schoolers mete out their own brand of vigilante justice. The violence is shocking. The songs are addictive. And there's dancing! You'll love the savagery and hypnotic motion of High School Musical 5: Brutal Reckoning!
"Hey, could you guys cool out with the singing and dancing? I'm going through some pretty real sh*t here."
"Tie him down! Get his hands! What do you say now, you motherf#%ker!?! Huh, you like hurting kids now, you sick f#%k!?!"
"Oh my God, you guys, I can't believe we're graduating! I'm totally gonna miss you all so much!!"

4. In Order of Appearance: A Collection of End-Credits From America's Greatest Films

Do you know who the Assistant Executive Producer was on Raiders of the Lost Ark? Can you name the gaffers on Steel Magnolias? Who catered Matrix Revolutions? Learn all of this and more in what critics are calling "3 short hours of magic and wonder." Did someone say best boy? In an exclusive bonus feature: we give you over a thousand best boys from over 700 top American films.

5. Lepers! Lepers! Lepers!

6. Frosted Tip of the Iceberg: A Brave Metrosexual's Struggle for Equality

7. Too Many Butt Plugs!

Mild-mannered accountant, Harold Stevens, lived a simple, but solitary life. That is until he received a mysterious package from his long lost uncle. Now his life has been turned upside down. Because Harold Stevens never planned on having so many butt plugs!!

8. Snakes on a Plane II: Snakes on a Cross-town Bus

"Hey, Man! Who the hell brought all these snakes on this bus!!"

9. Free-Spirited Girl Meets Uptight Boy And Teaches Him the Joy of Life, Then Dies

10. Chimpandemonium!

, a hilarious look at the life of zoo monkeys, is being hailed as a "new American classic" and "one of Disney's best films in years." When young Pambo is taken from his habitat and transferred to another zoo, the monkeys of Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo team up to fling their excrement and shriek wildly for a solid hour and a half. It will have you rolling in the aisles!

Hear what critics and audiences are saying:
"A Masterpiece! Disney has done it again! The artistry of the animated feces was exquisite. It was so life-like, as an audience, you felt like you being pelted with monkey waste, not those groups of unsuspecting tourists and school groups from the movie. Truly amazing!" - Dan Heilman of the San Jose Chronicle.
"I laughed so hard, I peed my pants and soiled my popcorn! Those monkeys were going totally apeshit! Literally!" - Anonymous
"Disney got it just right. They really nailed what it's like to deal with monkeys in a zoo. They are erratic and vicious animals." - Rick Dorffman, retired zoo keeper and survivor of two chimpanzee attacks.

Top Ten List - Sportscasters

Baseball announcers have a tough job. On average, a baseball game lasts about 3.5 hours. That's a lot of pointless babbling and pontification on useless statistics. Now imagine doing that upwards of 80 times a season. Yeah, that is a mountain of BS that a normal person would be buried under. But somehow these brave men do this year in and year out, happily spewing their inanities for hours at a time for the entire world to hear.

But with such prodigious efforts, you figure one or two nuggets of actual information or honest opinion is going to slip out, right? After a few hours in that booth, those guys are on the razor's edge of sharing with us all what they actually think. Just look at what happened to Mike Patrick during the telecast of a Georgia v. Alabama game. When the game went into overtime, his brain melted on national television. If you missed it, check it out here -http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZUB3eJOTos - It's tremendous! And poor Mike was literally only minutes into the overtime session. If Georgia hadn't scored the winning touchdown so quickly, we all might have been treated to a sobbing Patrick breaking down in tears and confessing to some experimental cross-dressing in college or something. You never know.

In that spirit, here's this week's Top Ten:


1. "Holy Titty-fuckin' Christ! Did you see that!?!"

2. "Seeing this group of guys pull together like it has . . . seeing the camaraderie of this team. It reminds me of when I was with Detroit and we had just beaten Oakland in the playoffs. We all went back to the showers and just got all gay with each other. Really amazing stuff."

3. "If you could just bare with me, folks, I am really battling some inner demons here. Ha ha. But I'm sure we'll explore them in depth over the next three hours or so. So let's kick back and relax and get ready for the first pitch. . ."

4. "Unbelievable!!! I don't believe it! I have just witnessed something on the field that is so outrageous that my brain is having trouble comprehending it and is therefore trying to reject it as unreal! I literally do not believe what I just saw!! I'm having problems believing that the sequence of events that I just saw actually occurred! If I didn't have such a tight grasp on my conscious, waking mind, I would believe that I am asleep and dreaming right now, but I know that is not the case, so I am going to be forced to decide whether to believe this or not!! This is shaking me to the core, Al, because I just can't believe it!!. . . . . ."

5. ". . . . . . . . . . I'm sorry. I was a million miles away. I was day dreaming about Derek Jeter in Game 3 of the 2001 ALDS. Now that was a playoff game! Not like this clusterf*#k we have going on here."

6. "This reminds me of my days playing in Cincinnati. We had a guy, Eddie Wilson. "Fast" Eddie Wilson. Eddie was just a little fella. Nervous sort. Kind of erratic. When we were on the road, no matter where we were stayin', Eddie would call up a hooker. And he'd have her meet him at the hotel pool. But by the time she showed up, Eddie would be finished, you see, and he'd just go on up to his room and fall asleep. That's why we called him "Fast Eddie". Well, one day we're playing the Giants and Eddie gets into it with our third baseman, "Wild Bill" Hadley. We called him "Wild Bill" because he had this big ole thick patch of pubic hair. So Bill and Eddie go at it. . . . . . . . .Uh . . . Later on, Eddie took a dump in Harmon Killebrew's batting helmet. Boy, that Harmon Killebrew was some kinda hitter. . . . . . "

7. "I don't say this very often, but he is a beautiful, muscular man."

8. "It's a hot shot to left center. It's heading for the gap! Someone is rounding third. That person will score. Sorry, I don't have my notes. And on the play, the batter. . . . . um. . . . .he will get to second for a double coming with. . . . . .a number of outs. . . . . . .Two. Two outs. Good piece of hitting there by. . . . . . .the dusky gentleman. And now the manager of the. . . .uh. . . . .other team will take a trip to the mound to visit. . . . . . . .um. . . . . . .I don't have this in front of me. . . but, uh. . . . . .And it looks like he'll stay in the game to face. . . . . ."

9. "From all I've seen, I'd just like to go on record now - and I'd like you to note that this is before any allegations have been made by major league baseball or the media and before any kind of evidence or report has come out - but I'd just like to say that that man is unmistakably and unequivocally on steroids. And his mere presence on this field is a black mark on the game of baseball."

10. "Wow, these fans suck! Listen to them. They're completely obnoxious. Can we get a close-up of some of these people? Look at them - they're fat and ugly! It's disgusting. Look at how fat and gross they are. Look at this guy eating a hot dog. Look at 'em. Jesus! If I was going to switch professions, I'd become a cardiologist or a pastry chef in this city. Or maybe I'd run for mayor and put a tax on fat, stupid people and then I'd take all the money and move to a better city to get away from all their grossness. Christ Almighty!

And just for fun, and because I really hate Tim McCarver, Bob Brenly, and Joe Morgan:

"Nothing in all of my years as a player or as a broadcaster leads me to believe that I have anything of relevance to add at this point."

Number One and Still Going Strong

The other day I had a guy say the following to me:

"You know who the number one predator on earth is?" (Pausing for like 5 seconds and smiling smugly) "Human beings." (Pausing again to let it sink in) "Yeah, that's right. Man." (Nodding his head knowingly)

First of all, the pauses pissed me off. It was as if he was giving me time to think of an answer. As if I was feverishly trying to solve his little puzzle - "Umm, #1 predator. . .Uh. . .bear! No, lion! Wait, five lions! That makes no sense. Oh geez, hurry up, he's looking right at me. Okay, focus. It's probably something small, like a rat or a monkey. Monkey! Rabid monkeys!! Syphilis!! Syphilis monkeys!! Fuck, maybe it's birds. A flock of something! A flock of eagles!! I don't know!! Jesus, I hate myself!!"

Screw you, dude. Everyone's heard it already. Where would a person have to be living for the past 10-15 years to be like - "Humans!? Really!? Have you seen what a riled horse can do?? Okay, I'll take your word for it." News flash, guy, you're not blowing any minds.

On the larger point, can we all just agree never to say this to each other ever again? Not only has everyone heard it before, but frankly is it anything to be proud of anymore? Okay maybe some time during the Paleolithic era when man first topped the charts it would be a source of pride - "Hey, Kurg, guess what just came out. No, the latest results on the #1 predator thing. Guess who's #1. I'll give you a hint: it's not that gigantic tiger that ate your family. Get this, it's. . .US!! Yeah, that's right! Man!"

But since that time we've invented the automatic rifle, the armor piercing bullet, and the ballistic missile. For Christ’s sake, we have flamethrowers. And we've endangered just about every animal on the planet and the ones who aren't endangering are the ones we raise in cages to be slaughtered on an assembly line. I think we can stop boasting about our dominance of the animal world now. Look, when the first monkey figures out how to manufacture an AK-47, I'll say "Hey, let's bring back the old rivalry!" and we'll teach that monkey who's boss. But until that time let's cool out on patting ourselves on the back about our aptitude at destroying things. It's like saying "You know who would kick butt in Little League?. . . .Me! That's right, a grown man!"

I guess what got me most was the way that guy smiled so contentedly as he laid his knowledge on me. It reminded me of something from my past, something from an outing I took with my grandfather when I was a little kid (Probably the most ill-conceived day-trip in the history of day-trips). He brought me and all my male cousins to a chicken processing plant in an apparent attempt to permenantly scar us. I was 10 years old and quite happily living in ignorance as to why the chicken on my plate was featherless and delicious. But that's what happens when your grandpa is a little bit redneck.

(Most of my family is from Georgia. At the time, my grandfather lived in the most Georgia-est part of Georgia, the northeastern mountains. Just to give you an idea of what I'm talking about, that's where the movie Deliverance was set and filmed. Don't get me wrong, my grandfather is no back-woods hillbilly. He just enjoyed the peacefulness of the area so he built himself a house and retired there. But still, you don't move out to Redneck Central without being a little redneck yourself. Among other things, he drove a beat up truck, he chewed tobacco and spit it through the hole in his floorboard, and he taught me and all of my cousins how to gut a fish by before we could read.)

Anyway, so we are forced to go on this tour of the plant. The first step, of course, is taking the chickens out of their cages, hosing them down and running 12,000 volts through their bodies. It's Nature's way. After that, the chickens are run through a machine that cuts their throats to drain them of blood, and then (according to our racist tour guide) "the Mexicans pluck 'em" (apparently only Mexicans can perform this job). After that the chickens are beheaded, gutted, and de-footed. Then an angry man cuts them in pieces, and now they're ready to be washed, packaged and shipped right to your local market!! Hurray!

Back at the factory, now that the gross part is done, the workers can move on to the grosser part - the cleaning up, which entails a man with a huge snow shovel scraping everything (everything!) off the ground and putting it in the hot-dog mixer. The whole process is done in a sanitary and efficient manner. . .no, wait. . .Nope, the whole thing was just disturbing and stomach wrenching, start to finish. It was just one horrible sight after another. For instance, as soon as the chickens come out of the cage, they're hung by their feet in these circulating hangers that take them all over the factory. When the feet are cut off, they're left in the hangers. So the entire tour we had to watch these disembodied chicken feet being run back and forth on the conveyer, like some kind of horrific laundry mat, until they reached their final destination. They didn’t show what that destination was, but I’m guessing it was the hot dog mixer. Anyway, after seeing all this, I didn't eat chicken or hot dogs for the better part of a decade.

The grizzliest part of the tour, the part that reminded me of this story, was this one guy at the factory who had what has to be the worst job in the world. This guy in a small room, about the size of a walk-in closet, stood in fishing waders up to his shins in blood and his sole duty was to occasionally slit the throat of a rogue chicken. The tour guide said something like, "Now I'm going to introduce you to Joe who's job it is to make sure all the chickens are fully processed before they're plucked” as we walk up on this guy camly sitting on a bar stool in a pool of congealed blood. He had this weird, far-off look on his face, like he was daydreaming of some other fantasy world in which he worked a job in which he was covered in only a little blood. When he finally realized we were there, he looked at us and said, "Hi, boys. How are y'all?" Oh fine, Joe. We're just dandy. How are you? Can we get you anything? A soda? A moist toilette? 'Cus you got a little something on your pants. How do you answer that? I think Joe should have said "I know how it looks but I can explain." It would have been more appropriate.

He then proceeded to tell us all about his job, which apparently consists of sitting, waiting for the chickens to come through the machine where their throats are cut and if one is still flapping around, he gets up off of his stool, wades through a foot and a half of blood, and calmly slits the thing's throat with a straight razor. Well, actually, he didn't really tells us as much as show us. About halfway through his lecture on the finer points of throat-cuttery, he saw a chicken that had survived both the electrocution and the cutting machine, so he walked over, practiced his art, and walked back over to us as blood just gushed down and the chicken made this awful gargling sound. And he continued on like nothing had happened. I wanted to scream, "Let the poor thing go! Can't you see this chicken's got gumption!? It's a survivor, Joe! You should name it Champ and make it your mascot or beloved family pet! You could fight crime together! Crime!!" But I said nothing and, like my cousins, just stared in horror at Joe and his terrible room of death.

After he'd finished, Joe asked if we had any questions. Could there be a more inappropriate time to ask this question? What are 5 little kids going to ask the most horrible human being they've ever met? "Why yes, Joe, is there some kind of apprenticeship program I can get involved in?” Nope, no questions. We all just moved on and tried to forget that we were ever there.

But to me, that's the face of the world's #1 predator - a smiling imbecile performing minor atrocities on poultry for $6 an hour.

"Trick or Treat!! I've done you the favor of dressing up in a $3 Power Ranger costume and traipsing through your yard, now give me some candy!"

I guess I've lived in cities too long because I'd forgotten how nuts suburbanites get about their Halloween decorations. Seriously, once that first leaf of autumn hits the ground, these people are in their yards glue-gunning everything that doesn't move in orange and black. As I was driving the other day, I saw this guy on a 15 ft ladder adhering a giant bat to the front of his house. The thing was as big as him. The teenager in me wanted to stop and yell "Commissioner Gordon, the Joker's escaped from Arkham again!! He's running amuck in downtown Gotham!!" so that he'd turn around to see who the moron making Batman jokes on a busy street was and possibly fall. But I didn't because, frankly, as far as yelling random crap out of a vehicle, that's pretty lame. Very few people are going to appreciate a good Commissioner Gordon joke. Especially not after a hard day, like this guy clearly had. You don't volunteer to scale your house to staple a giant rodent onto it unless you've got some thinking to do.

But he's just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. There's this family in my sister's neighborhood that, I suspect, spent upwards of $10,000 on their decorations. I was walking Camilla to school and saw this Halloween extravaganza going up in their yard. Seriously, these people had specialty lights being put up and a surround sound stereo system being hidden in the bushes and trees. They had gravestones and witches' cauldrons. They had ghosts and goblins, and a lawn decoration so life-like that, I swear to god, they're paying some dude to stand perfectly still in their yard dressed as the killer from Scream on the off chance he might make a little kid crap his pants a week from now.

I don't get it. To make that kind of effort, you either have to really hate kids and want to scare the bejesus out of them (which I don't understand. Kids are little treasures) or you have to really love them and want to give them a special, special Halloween (which I don't get either. Kids aren't "all that." All they do is waste 40 minutes of your time explaining the plot of the Care Bears Movie which is itself only 45 minutes long or they tell you this endless story about what they would do if they were a pony. I've got some bad news for you - you're not a pony and you never will be!!).

For that matter, I just don't get the Halloween thing in general. I've always seen it as the worst of all the holidays (and yes, that's including Arbor Day). First of all, it gives grown men free license to say "Spooooky!!" which has always creeped me out. But more than that, it's just an artificial creation of the candy and costume conglomerates to sell products of some nature (I'm not really sure what I'm saying here. I read it on some website once and it sounded really smart. I don't think I'm telling it right.) Halloween used to be about something - worshipping our Dark Lord. But now it's too commercial. It's all about eating candy corn until you want to puke and running around dressed as Hannah Montana until you're asked by everyone at David Lucas's party to please leave.

Point is, I've somehow lost my love of Halloween over the years. But most people still have it. Not just the kids, either. Even people my age still get excited about dressing up. So I guess this post is for all the people who feel left out on All Hallow's Eve.

Looking back, I can see how the love of Halloween has been slowly and painfully smothered inside of me. It seems that ever since I can remember those last few days of October have been one train-wreck after another in my life. Here are a few of the more formative Halloween experiences that have made me the bitter, bitter man I am today:

1983, Age 5, Atlanta, GA: My grandparents (my dad's parents this time) take me, my sister and my two cousins to a local haunted house. Apparently good judgment is not a strong suit in my family because this trip was destined for some kind of calamity from the start. First, my grandfather has never, in the time I've known him, been in good health (several kinds of cancer as well as several strokes and heart conditions). Second, this haunted house wasn't some mom and dad in lame costumes making you put your hand in a bowl of spaghetti. This was a hardcore operation run by a bunch of college students. I guess we should have figured it out from the hour long line and the people drinking from a keg on the front lawn. But there we were, a bunch of young kids and our senile companions waiting alongside the varsity volleyball team.

Looking back on it (and I don't know if this is just the effect that time has on the memory) but this haunted house was the single scariest experience of my life. The people who put that thing together were geniuses and I salute them. As you got closer to the house, all you could hear was terror-filled screaming. Men. Women. It didn't matter. Everyone was screaming like little girls. So the anticipation and anxiety grew. When you finally got to go into the house, you entered through the kitchen. There an old lady stood by the stove, stirring a huge pot. She asked us if we'd like some of her soup and beckoned us to come and look. Inside the pot was a real human head. It opened its eyes, looked right at me and pleaded for help. Boom, right there, it's already the scariest thing that a five year old can handle.

My grandparents, aghast at what they've just seen, hurry us out of the kitchen into the hall. Big mistake. The hall is pitch black. Then all of a sudden, a strobe light kicks on and, I kid you not, a maniac with a chainsaw comes at us from out of nowhere! This guy, wearing the Leatherface mask, pops out of the living room and starts waving a real, running chainsaw at us! A real chainsaw! Of course, they'd taken the chain off, but we didn't know that at the time. And you don't stop to ask questions when you're a little kid and your grandparents have just delivered you into a den of hell! "Hey, are you guys operating within the relevant state and local safety requirements?!" Nope, when you're that age, you cry and run like hell. That's what we did. It was pandemonium. All of us kids ran for it in different directions. My grandparents just stood there in disbelief (or having massive heart attacks. Frankly, I didn't care. It was every man for himself.)

I'm not really sure what happened to everybody else because I ran into the bathroom and locked the door. All I know is that I stood there shaking, sweating and gently weeping for quite a while. Apparently they had to close down the entire house to look for me. I remember a bunch of people angrily banging on the door saying "Kid, are you in there!" but I wasn't answering. Not today, Demons! I know your tricks! Anyway, finally my grandparents came and claimed me and we all left that place of great evil. Lessons learned? 1) young southern men are very scary. 2) never trust your grandparents. And 3) being terrified was never going to be fun again.

1984, Age 6, Norfolk, MA:

We had just moved to Massachusetts from Georgia a few months prior to Halloween and as yet my sister and I were still attempting to make new friends. Let's just say that this Halloween did not help that effort. My mother, God bless her - she's the sweetest woman you could ever meet and she means well, but sometimes she just misses the boat on certain things. At that time she was going through this health kick (she'd given up eating meat, she was baking her own bread, she wouldn’t allow us to have sugar cereal and the only soda in the house was Tab. Yes, I know. You don't have to tell me. Our group meets on Tuesday in the basement of the town rec center if you'd like to join us).

So we're the new people in the neighborhood. All the kids are excited to see what the new people will bring to the party. Will they give out those lame Dum-Dum pops? Or will they be like the Metzgers and give out whole Snickers bars and cans of Pepsi? (We really had a house that did this every year. Voted best house in the neighborhood 25 years running) Nope, not us. The new people, well, we're taking the long view. We're looking at the bigger picture. So this year, kids, we're handing out little boxes of raisins and packets of sugarless gum! Hurray for cavity prevention and essential nutrients!! Long story short, we woke up the next day with raisins and gum strewn all over our yard and zero friends. Lessons learned: 1) to avoid picking raisins out of your tailpipe for the next three years, always give out the good candy. And 2) I was going to have to make friends the hard way - bribing them with my best GI Joes. Thank you, Sergeant Slaughter and William "The Refrigerator" Perry limited edition action figures. You've done your country proud.

1989, Age 11, Norfolk:

My parents were never much into Halloween. We always had pathetic decorations. Our pumpkin looked like it was carved as a warm-up for some future and more adequate pumpkin. And we only ever hung up two things, both on our front door - a cardboard spider-web complete with smiling spider and a happy cardboard skeleton whose limbs could be positioned in any number of whacky arrangements, but who only ever hung there limp and defeated. Also, he was missing his left leg at the knee. I liked to pretend that the spider took it and was only smiling due to her ghoulish amputation, but I don't think that that was the obvious storyline for most people. Instead, I think it said, "Welcome to Half-Ass-O-Ween" And about our family, I think it said, "Hey, we're totally non-threatening! Come and knock on our door! This is a happy home which may or may not have candy inside. Come on, take your chances! You could get Blow-Pops! Or you could get pamphlets on the dangers of sugar on a child's development! You never know!"

Point is, I think that's what it takes for a child to really enjoy Halloween - parents who are super into it. It's genetic in a way. Like high-blood pressure or racism. And the gene definitely wasn't passed down to me. Nowhere was this more apparent than when it came to costumes. We weren't big planners in my house. Most costumes were concocted the night before and tended to be more abstract concepts of costumes than costumes themselves.
"What do you want to be?"
"I don't know."
"Let's see. . . .I have a tablecloth. You want to go as that?"
"What, a table?"
"Ooh, that’s it. You could carry a basket and go as a Picnic! That's perfect!"

Other years, no effort was put in whatsoever. One year, my costume consisted of black dress pants and a black turtle neck. You guessed it - I was a Ninja! Sure, I had no weapons and you could see my face, but I was a more laid-back, casual kind of ninja - the kind who wouldn't be all up in your business; the kind of ninja you call up to help you move from your studio apartment or watch the short film you just made for art school. Another year I wore a garbage bag and an old-man mask. We didn't even bother naming it. And to my shame, no one asked me. I guess it was just too pathetic to even be curious about. "What are you little boy, the product of absentee parenting?"

This particular year, for some reason my mom got really psyched up for Halloween (maybe my school called her in to talk to a counselor or something). She handmade my costume weeks before Halloween. She spent days putting it together. It was hand-sewn and really nice. Unfortunately, it was a scarecrow costume (you know, from the Wizard of Oz) with big, fat felt "representations" of straw, a pair of overalls with big, fat cuffs and a big straw hat. The ensemble was completed with some red make-up for the blushing cheeks. This would have been adorable if I was 5 or 6. As it happened, I was 11 and everyone else my age was dressed up as Freddy Kruger (with the realistic glove with knives) or Robocop. It was completely humiliating. We had to wear our costumes to school that day and everyone just kind of ignored me. For the first time I understood what it must have felt like to be one of the weird Turkish kids that went to my school and had to be excused every time we watched a film strip or went to recess. But even those kids had a better costume that day - they were dressed as weird Turkish kids. It was one of the most awkward days in my life - from having my cheek rouge smear after bobbing for apples to getting in an imagination fight with one of the Robocops in which he used his machine gun and I had to explain to him how I was using the "power of straw" to defeat his metal body armor. Lessons learned: 1) straw will very rarely beat titanium body armor, and 2) dressing up for Halloween sucks!

1991, Age 13, Long Valley, NJ:

I had given up on dressing up or trying to be cool. This year was all about candy. It was my last year of trick-or-treat eligibility. I was almost to high school and therefore almost to the cut-off when it stops being cute and starts getting severely creepy. But I put all of those concerns aside because we had moved into candy heaven! The year before we'd moved to the town adjacent to Hackettstown, New Jersey, home of the M&M Mars manufacturing plant. A ton of the people in my town were employees of M&M Mars and, as such, gave away such ridiculous portions of candy it should have been criminal. It was the equivalent of moving next door to a crack house where friendly crackheads would just pelt you with crack and pipes every time you left your house. That's how it felt as a kid, anyway. They gave away every M&M product under the sun. And we're not talking the mini size. We're not even talking regular, human being size. Every family was handing out King Size Twix, MilkyWay, Snickers, Butterfingers, Whatchamucallits, Younameits, Andsoforths, Etceteras. . .

What made this year doubly exciting was that M&M had just had a test product on the market that year that hadn't caught on, so they discontinued it and gave away the entire stock to its employees. What was the product? You probably don't remember this one, but it's engrained in my head like the first time I saw Star Wars or my first set of real, live boobs (Austria, 1985 - thank you, loose European moral standards!) - The PB Max! It was great! If you don't remember it, it was peanuts and peanut butter on a cookie and the whole thing was covered in chocolate. And it was huge (thus the Max part). It was about the size of a cheeseburger. God it was awesome! My favorite candy of all time. People still talk about it. Google it and you'll see conversations of lonely, desperate people still longing for its pound and a half of deliciousness.

Because it was discontinued, families brought home box after box of these things and they were giving them away by the armful. I tell you, people, it was the perfect storm. By this time, I had perfected my trick-or-treating (Can we stop calling it this, please? It's stupid and too hard to write. Can we just call it what it really is, candy grubbing or sugar extortion?). I didn't carry the idiotic plastic pumpkin basket (which is full after, what, like 5 houses) or even the paper bag (which is too prone to ripping) like an amateur. No, I went with the biggest pillow case in the house that could go a solid 6/7 hours and still be only a quarter full. And I didn't bother with big, bulky costumes that only hinder a serious extortionist. I just put some baby powder in my hair and went as an older version of myself. I loaded up, my friends. And my neighbors were happy to oblige. Those people had been gorging themselves on PB Max's for two or three day at that point and were happy to unload what they had on us. I had a guy, towards the end of the night, who just handed me an entire box. He didn't even say a word. We just looked into each other's eyes and we both knew what was happening.

Long story short, I have what doctors like to call "a lack of self control." I went bat-shit crazy with those things. I ate so many that my heart started palpitating. So I drank a soda and continued on. It was brutal. By the end, I had taken three things that I loved dearly in this world - chocolate, peanut butter, and cookies - and made a travesty of them. I made myself violently ill and I couldn't even stand to look at them for months afterward. Lessons learned: 1) I cannot be trusted, and 2) candy was never going to be the same.

And it wasn't. Since that day, I've never really rediscovered my love of candy. Don't get me wrong, I'm no deviant. If I run into a Crackel, you'd better believe I'll be eating it. But I just don't go out of my way for it anymore. That's how all of Halloween is for me. If trick-or-treaters come to my house, sure, I'll give them some candy. But I refuse to play the little head game of announcing what each kid is as I give them candy - as in "Ooh, we have what looks like a Pirate, and. . . .I think, a SpongeBob and oh, is this little Princess? Which one are you, Jasmine?" - because I didn't sign up for this to be a test of my knowledge of pop-culture and Disney cartoons and you already know what you are, kid - you don't need me to tell you. And if your costume sucks (like all of mine did) and no one knows what you are, I feel your pain and won't be asking you. Because I know every other person you've encountered today already has. And I know that basket is part way filled with candy and the rest of the way filled with shame.

So let's just make this painless. I hand you a wad of sugar, you say "thank you" and then get off my property, because I am this close to becoming one of those people who just leaves a giant bowl of crappy candy on the porch and turns the lights out. No one wants that. There are no winners in that scenario. I guess what I'm saying is that I'll respect your traditions, you Halloweeners, but I won't love them. In short, you'll probably never find me in my yard saying to myself "If I put it here, will the ghost block the view of the vampires from the sidewalk?"

If you’re like me, just try to humor those around you. Some day they’ll learn their lessons too. And if you're one of the one's who loves it, then I hope you can keep that love and pass it down to your annoying, spoiled kids. And they theirs. Either way, have a Happy Halloween.

I've Just Got To Get These Hot Dogs Inside of Me!!!

How do you spell danger to himself and toddlers? With a nest of hornets, a propane grill, and a moronic uncle.

So I was going to make my niece, Olivia, hot dogs for lunch today. I go outside and look at the grill to see if there's any gas still in the tank. I turn on the gas and try to ignite the thing with the switch ignition, but it doesn't work. So I open the grill to plan my next step and find a huge hornet's nest and a bunch of pissed off hornets. These geniuses had constructed their nest right at the lid hinge, so when I opened it, it tore their nest in half. They're livid and they know who to blame for the sudden bisection of their kingdom - the giant dick in his underwear carrying a plate of hot dogs. I slam the lid back down and run. Somehow I make it back inside with the hot dogs intact. . .but without my dignity. It's hard to respect yourself while doing the "bees everywhere" dance in your underwear, screaming loudly and holding a plate of wieners. The other thing that I forgot was that I left the gas on. This becomes important later. See if you can guess how.

Anyway, so now I've got a problem. First, this plate of meat ain't gonna cook itself and frankly I'm tired of microwaved hot dogs. Second, my nieces are such girly girls and, as such, are deathly afraid of any kind of insect. Ants freak them out. They scream bloody murder and refuse to go into rooms because there's an ant in there. And we're not even talking fire ants. Just regular black ants. So anyway, if they knew that a colony of hornets was camped out on their deck, I don't think we would be able to get them to go outside for the rest of their childhoods. So I have to get rid of these things. Shockingly, extermination of insects and animals is not one of my strong suits. But I decide to fry these suckers anyway.

I let the little bastards settle down a little bit. You know, go back to their normal lives. . .and then, BAM! I strike. Mistake number one, Mr. Hornet - you got complacent. Terminally complacent. . . .Actually, mistake number one was probably building your nest inches from a source of fire, but still complacency did not help your cause. You just don't know when to quit, do you, Hornet? What's that? Do I expect you to abandon your home? No, Mr. Hornet, I expect you to DIE!

Long story short. I go out there, open up the lid, and toss a flaming ball of paper towel into the grill - the same grill that has been filling up with propane for the last 10 minutes as the pantsless wonder came up with his master plan. The ensuing fireball was. . . .well, breathtaking. I didn't get to see all of it since parts of me were on fire. But Olivia (observing from the safety of the house) assures me that it was unbelievable. Take that, hornets! Needless to say nobody on that deck was all that happy to be there. The hornets, those few that survived, ran for it as their home was set ablaze and their companions were left crackling on an open flame. As for me, I too had lost a few valued friends, like all the hair on my arm and the eyelashes that used to be over my left eye. They will be missed.

Please don't ever let me have kids of my own.

Top Ten List

Top 10 Things You Will Learn in the Coming Months, But Only After It’s Too Late

As the memories of a summer spent drinking shirtless by a pool and screaming “Whoooo!!” at anyone who will listen begin to fade, we are all reminded of two things: 1) God’s glory reflected in the magnificent changes occurring all around us, from the changing colors of the leaves on the trees, to the crisp morning air that fills our lungs as we set out on our busy days, and 2) just how much we hate God.

Yes, Fall is upon us again, my friends. As we all know, Fall is a time of introspection as the colder weather forces us to spend more time indoors considering the year that has past. Chances are you will learn a lot about yourself during this time.

In fact, through scientific observation and careful examination of available statistical data, I’ve been able to develop a list of the most common revelations that you are likely to experience before year’s end. So, without further ado, I present the list that will change your life:

This year, you will learn that:

1. In all likelihood your assumption was wrong and that wasn’t a swinger’s club, but, in fact, a graveyard like the sign said.

2. The worst part of publicly urinating in a pair of nice dress pants isn’t the stain or the embarrassment; it’s the amount of running you have to do to evade the store security guard who wants you to pay for those soiled pants.

3. You and Harry Potter have a lot in common. You don’t have any magical powers or facial scars, but the old man who has taken such a deep interest in you is, in fact, gay.

4. The Maxi Pad Comfort-Flex with Wings may be enough to most women’s heavy flow, but they’re not strong enough for you. Because you are a man and that is feces.

5. When they say that time heals all wounds, they are only speaking proverbially. You do, in fact, need health care.

6. All of the humorous misunderstandings that you’ve been experiencing lately have been caused by the reemergence of your long-lost identical twin . . . but his years in that coma have turned him EVIL!

7. Nothing, absolutely nothing, can prepare you for the moment you discover the purpose of the male nipple.

8. The only way to get back control of your life and manage your 27 cats is by getting. . . .more cats!!.

9. When you discover, weeks afterward, that it was, in fact, on the endangered species list, it will increase your guilt over what you’ve done, but somehow it will also increase the deliciousness.

10. Child Services apparently does not have a sense of humor about that sort of thing.

Charles in Charge is a Lie!! A Dirty, Stupid Lie!!

The whole thing is totally misleading. It's not representative of real life in any way. I mean, they sugar-coat so much. Where's the uncontrollable profanity??? Where are the scenes where the kids see Charles with his shirt off and point and laugh at his body hair and irregular moles??? And (of much concern to me right now) where, oh where, is the episode where the kids wake Charles up and, as he sits up in bed, his balls flop out of his boxers to everyone's shock and horror???

Yes, this happened to me the other day. As you might have read in previous posts, I take care of my nieces during the day for my sister. Yes, I am unemployed. And yes, I am a huge loser. But we don't have to get into that right now. What is of more concern at the moment is the fact that I am scarring two sweet, little girls for life on a daily basis. It hasn't even been that long - I've only been at this for a month or so - and I'm pretty sure I've done untold psychological damage.

So far they've seen me smoke, they've seen me drink, they've seen me almost set myself on fire. They've had to deal with my afternoon "naps" that end up lasting 5 or 6 hours on average, they've dealt with my dog taking a human sized crap on their stuffed animals, and they've dealt with the fact that we can't go to their favorite playground during the day because my car smells like old homeless men and I can't find my insurance info. Plus, the other day they thought I'd abandoned them when they couldn't find me because I was taking a 45 minute dump. And that was all before Homunculus and Lord Jeff decided to make an appearance.

As should be painfully obvious at this point, I have no previous experience with this stuff. Before I started doing this, I was barely able to take care of myself and my various addictions (cigarettes, sandwiches with "melt" in the title, etc). Now two human beings depend on me for their every need. I am unquestionably unqualified. So, naturally, I look to television for a humorous look at life situations that will amuse me, but ultimately warm my heart and help me out of this jam. And the logical choice for guidance would be? That's right - Charles in Charge. But let me tell you, people, he's got no answers - only pseudo-wisdom passed to him from John Travolta's mother. And, of course, whatever he can learn from Buddy Lembeck (which, as I watch more of this show, I'm discovering, is very little). And as hilarious as all of their shenanigans are, none of it is relevant to my real life problem. For instance, I haven't, as yet, missed out on the big rock concert because Adam is sick with the measles. Because frankly, in my experience, as soon as someone gets the measles, they're as good as dead anyway. And no way I'm missing that concert!! Further, I don't have two hot blondes who both want to go to the dance with me. I barely have one! And by that I mean I have none. But that's not the point. The point is, Charles in Charge is useless. Someone please show me a sitcom where a grown man exposes his balls to young children. Is that too much to ask, Network Television??? Am I the only one who wants to learn here!?