Monday, November 30, 2009

Who are the Stooges?

(I know Ted Koppel isn’t on Nightline anymore. But bear with me, I don’t watch much tv these days and couldn’t tell you who anchors the show if you showed me a picture and spotted me the vowels, and S, T, and R. And if you flat out told me, I still wouldn’t recognize him/her.)

TK: Good evening, this is Ted Koppel and welcome to Nightline. Tonight: Crashing the White House. We have heard a disturbing report that some ordinary citizens walked into a State Dinner with no invitations. We now go live to our white house correspondent: Helen Thomas.

(I know Helen Thomas doesn’t work for ABC. But she does/did cover the White House and I can’t make up an interesting name.)

HT: Ted, in a shocking display of bravado, three middle-aged men attempted to gain entrance to the State Dinner thrown in honor of Togo. Quick thinking service agents discovered them as the last one tried to enter and after a lot of eye gouging, escorted them from the premises. With me now is Dash Thoroughgood, head of the secret service detail. Dash, can you tell me how the men almost slipped past security?

DT: Well Helen, the men came cleverly disguised as members of the media. When asked for their invitations, the first two displayed buttons that read "Press".

HT: So they obviously didn’t have the proper credentials like I’m wearing around my neck right now, and your agents moved in.

DT: No, we let the first two men in. It was when the third man displayed a "Pull" button that we figured something was up. The third man, one Curly Howard, then did this thing snapping his fingers against his open hand, then drummed his fingers against his jaw making an odd popping sound. Then the second gentleman, Moe Howard, hit his fist with the opposite fist, causing his entire arm to rotate up in an arc and boink an agent on the head. We quickly neutralized them at that point along with the other conspirator, Larry Fine.

HT: How close did they get to the President?

DT: Oh not very. We have every reason to believe they intended to start a pie fight. They did go through the metal detectors and had no weapons. We believe they stole those "press" buttons from the condom machine in the men’s restroom in the White House.

TK: Dash, this is Ted Koppel in New York. Can you elaborate on how guests are screened for these functions?

DT: Well, we don’t really want to give away any secrets.

TK: I assume everyone must present some sort of official invitation?

DT: Oh no, that would be crass. We train our agents to just kind of spot check people and see if they belong. You know, like for a Togo function, you’re not going to let in someone wearing a kilt.

TK: And how does one dress for a Togo function?

DT: Usually brightly colored robes. Right before an event we have everyone look at the wikipedia entry for that country to get a feel for how people should look, act and talk. By the same token, we probably wouldn’t let someone in that was whistling sea shanties.

TK: So is it safe to say you do a little racial profiling?

DT: No, these men were white.

TK: Thank you Dash. We’re now joined by a special guest in the studio, an acquaintance of the gate crashing suspects. Please welcome Shemp Howard.

SH: Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh. Glad to be here Ted.

TK: Is it true that you were supposed to be the fourth gate crasher?

SH: No, it was always a three-man show. I got voted off by the focus groups. They liked Curly better.

TK: Focus groups? You’re saying this was essentially a tv appearance?

SH: Oh absolutely. But audiences think fat, bald men are funnier.

TK: Oh I don’t know; I’m very amused by your bulbous nose and greasy hair. Anyway, what was the reason for the gate crashing?

SH: Laughs. The goal was to start a pie fight and maybe somehow trigger the sprinkler system. Wet, pie fights always score well with audiences.

TK: But what about the President? How can you bring such low-brow humor to an important state dinner?

SH: He was in on it.

TK: You don’t say.

SH: I do. In the grand finale, Moe was going to eye gouge the President.

TK: That’s outrageous!

SH: But the President would be ready, and he’d place his hand perpendicular to his nose to block the gouging. Then he’d spray Moe with a fire extinguisher.

TK: I don’t know what to say.

SH: Say nothing. Just laugh.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Three Notes to Riches

Back in the mid-eighties, an acquaintance stated that "Hall and Oates are the biggest threat to the future of mankind." I didn’t necessarily agree with the bold generalization of the statement, but it stuck with me and pops up from time to time when I reflect on music.

As easy as it is to imagine Hall and Oates ready to turn the keys on mass destruction of earth (or Lionel Ritchie or Christopher Cross or Chris Deburgh, remember this was the eighties), the bigger problem was the spawning copycat artists signed to record deals to further pollute the airwaves. Finally, some years ago I realized that Dave Matthews had seized the title of "biggest threat to mankind" followed by Coldplay because of the numerous bands that sounded the same. At that point I had stopped listening to the radio anyway, and I was saved (like the cockroach who will survive nuclear war).

But recently I have been forced to listen to the Delilah radio show which plays the latest adult contemporary music between listener pleas for unrequited love, tough time rants and dedications to the best husbands/boyfriends in the history of the world. (Surprisingly, I have not received such a dedication.) However, it has opened my eyes to the latest trend in music, the three note piano pounding dirge. It started out with Sara Bareilles ("I'm not gonna write you a love song", yeah, now it's stuck in your head!), followed by Colbie Caillat, and then Michael BublĂ©. But who’s next? I am. Yes, I want on that gravy train.

So here’s my song; it goes to the tune of any 3 pounding piano chords something like

Producers, record company executives, video directors, talent agents can contact me here.

Three Notes to Riches

I have mastered text messaging
So how hard is a piano?
Just like a cell phone keypad
Except bigger and louder

I have loved and lost
I know girls that hate me
Wouldn’t date me
Filed restraining orders

But I’m super sensitive
You can change my last name
To something French Canadian
Cause chicks dig that

So I wrote you a 3 note song
Mr. Record Company exec
It doesn’t have a fourth verse yet
But I feel one coming, so hold on

It’s about a guy that’ll never see the girl again
You know, the one who never really liked him
Didn’t even notice him
Maybe he was stalking her

But it’s a sad song
Cause she’s gone, like to Parsippany
But wait, there’s another one
Coming down the street, he waves
But she’s got pepper spray

So now he’s crying
And the tears are big and real
For the girl he’ll never have
And the pepper spray

Make the check out to Dexter (with one X)
Or Direct Deposit
Gimme an I-Phone commercial
And a video shoot, with slutty leather girls
With Double D Knockers
Check ‘em for pepper spray

I’m trying to end it now
But it won’t stop,
Cause those three chords
Just keep going on
And on and on
Like a pounding migraine

So that guy’s just lying in bed
Thinking ‘bout her in those tight jeans
Leather mini-skirt
Tank top sundress, stiletto heels
Not the girl in the bleachers
In the white keds

He can’t sleep, he flicks the tv on
There’s Dick Vitale and college b-ball
Yeah, it’s Kentucky
But they’ll probably show Ashley Judd
And UK blond cheerleaders
He forgets the girl
And lives happily after

So I wrote you a 3 note song
We’re approaching 4 minutes
Barely radio friendly
Can go straight to itunes
Make the check out to Dexter

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Fawning Season

I don’t watch much football on tv these days so perhaps the lionizing of assistant coaches is a new thing. Never has an assistant coach gotten more television airtime than Will Muschamp of the University of Texas football team. He must hire his own PR team. He’s approaching Bob Seger "Like a Rock" territory. A sample UT telecast:

Brent Musburger (BM): We’re live at Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco, Texas as the Baylor Bears host the University of Texas Longhorns.

Kirk Herbstreit (KH): You can see UT getting ready to come out of the tunnel.

BM: Hopefully, we can get past those white jerseys and that old guy in the orange shirt… wait there he is, Will Muschamp, excitable as ever. Looks like he’s ready to buckle the chinstrap and get out there himself.

KH: It will be interesting to see if the Baylor gameplan has come up with a way to stop him.


BM: And UT has won the coin toss. Let’s go to Andrea Kramer down on the field.

Andrea: Brent, I asked Coach Muschamp if he made the call on the coin toss, and he said that he was not part of that decision, but that if it were his choice, he would choose tails.

BM: Wow, what an underdog! Going against the mainstream!

KH: And the genius of that decision is that he’s right 50 percent of the time. I mean that’s a well-prepared coach always playing the percentages.


BM: And the Baylor Bears complete a 23 yard pass for a first down. And that will get this crowd fired up for what has been a dismal first half for them.

KH: They’re not the only ones fired up, look at Will Muschamp stomping around on the sidelines.

BM: Let’s go to the replay.

KH: Here you see Muschamp signaling in the defense.. he turns his back for a second… now he’s waving in a new signal… but there’s the snap… and he flings his clipboard to the ground. Looks like he was trying to wave off the signal and change the play.

BM: So it was the players’ fault?

KH: Indeed. Had they seen that last signal, I bet that would have been an interception.

BM: Okay, well let’s focus on him during this next play. The play clock is down to 8 seconds… Muschamp is rolling his hands, signaling his defense… now he’s telling the referee to get out of the way… and now it looks like he’s spit out some gum, we’ll get Andrea to check on that… he’s grimacing… now jumping up and down… waving his hands and slapping players on the back as they come off the field. Meanwhile, the Baylor quarterback was sacked for a 16 yard loss.

KH: Another great call.

BM: We’d show you a replay of the sack but unfortunately all of our cameras were focused on Muschamp during that play.

KH: We had dinner with Muschamp last night, and he told us he’d be changing a lot of plays at the last second.

BM: Dinner? It was more like a slumber party. And folks, you can guess who won the pillow fight. Muschamp faked high with his pillow then nailed Herbie in the gut.

KH: Then he hid your bunny slippers later, remember?


BM: Time winding down on a beatdown dished out by Will Muschamp and company.

KH: I think Baylor would probably just like to set the clock to zero right now and get out of here.

BM: But they’re still passing and trying. There’s a receiver open down the middle … and …. Ooooooohhhhhhh! He was leveled by a Texas defender.

KH: Look at Muschamp! He called it! He was pointing at the player and by reading his lips, you can make out, "tackle him!"

BM: The Baylor player is shaken up. Medical personnel are checking him out. Gee Willikers, you hate to see that. I’m just glad he wasn’t out of bounds and slipping on the track that’s so close to the field. Yikes, now they’re bringing out an ambulance. And a minister. My God, they’re hanging up blankets around the scene so the fans can’t see what’s happening.

KH: This looks serious.

BM: Coach Muschamp runs out to see if he can help. The stadium is eerily silent. Wait, they’re dropping the blankets… the ambulance is driving away… and there’s the Baylor player up and walking toward the sideline. The crowd is going crazy! Let’s go down to Andrea on the field.

Andrea: Brent, I talked to the paramedics, and they still can’t believe it. When the minister came out, they were actually declaring the player dead! There were no signs of life. But then Will Muschamp came out and whispered a few words to the player, waved his arm over the body, and the player came back to life! In fact, injury free!

BM: Wow! Amazing! I mean what a good sport, helping players from the other team.

KH: You think he would have at least left him injured. That player may come back to score a touchdown to cut the lead to 40. A few onside kicks and Baylor is back in this.

BM: Herbie, now’s not the time to question such mundane matters when lives are at stake. I think we can all agree that no one is prouder than Coach M…M… Ma… Ma…….Mack….

KH: Davis?

BM: Yes, Coach Mac Davis has a lot to be proud of today.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Hooterization of America

Who is teaching restaurant service etiquette these days? Cinnamon and Chiffon from the local exotic dance Club?

My wife and I recently went to a restaurant, which shall remain nameless, but their toilets flush counter-clockwise compared to other Northern Hemisphere toilets if you know what I mean. We were immediately seated in a booth and Amber, our friendly waitress, introduced herself. For some reason, she hunkered down, crouching just above the floor while taking drink orders. With her chin resting on the edge of the table, she looked like a gopher in one of the Wack-A-Mole arcade games. It felt really strange ordering wine from a twenty-year-old three feet off the floor.
After we perused the menu for a few minutes, Amber came back to take our order.

"I’ll just sit down, if you don’t mind." She sat on the edge of the booth next to me. "Well, move over you big lug." Amber elbowed my shoulder then thrust out her hip pushing me further into the booth.

Before I could think this was strange, my male genes kicked in. "Sure, sit down," I said with a smile. Luckily, I saw my wife glancing at me sideways before I could pat Amber on the thigh and ask when her shift ended. I made sure to hold my hands above the table in plain sight of my wife. I wondered if I were in a chair instead of a booth if she would have just sat in my lap. Mental note: request regular table next time.

Amber looked into my eyes and told me about the delicious Creole shrimp appetizer.

"That sounds great, Amber. Bring us a plate of that," I said. This time my wife frowned. We had discussed the Holy Grail appetizer, four pounds of onion rings shaped like a chalice. How could she argue with Amber? Shrimp is healthier. And she works here; she knows food.

Amber skipped back to the kitchen with our order.

"Can you believe this?" asked my wife. "I wonder if there’s a two drink minimum?"

I didn’t respond. I contemplated knocking my silverware on the floor so Amber could replace it, then console me. I watched her handle the couple at the table behind my wife. Sure enough, Amber hopped into the booth next to the man. He turned his bright red face to her and smiled. They rocked back and forth in perfect rhythm. I discretely checked my wallet wondering if I had enough cash for a lap dance.

I folded my hands on the table. "She’s doing it to everyone," I said matter-of-factly.

My wife slapped me on the side of my head with her menu. "Duh, Tom Cruise."

We ate the shrimp appetizer which was deep-fried fresh from the frozen box. Next came the salads. By this time, my glass of wine had gone dry. Amber to the rescue.

She sat next to me and pulled the wine list from my hands. "What do you like?" She asked. "Red? Sweet? Hmmm, I bet you like zinfandel. Big and bold." She ran her hand over my flaccid biceps. I couldn’t wait to hear the rest of this list. But by the look in my wife’s eyes, apparently I could wait. Another day.

"House Merlot sounds great," I replied.

While eating our entrees, I watched Amber take the order of a lone man in another booth. Poor guy. She sat across from him. But she spent a good ten minutes in the booth. I grew jealous. How could she? We had come so far! I flagged down another waitress. She sat in the booth next to me too.

"Could you have our waitress bring me a new fork? This one’s kind of dirty. It has ketchup all over it."

She glanced at the ketchup globbed over my French fries. "I can get you one," she said then walked away.

I sulked and never thanked her for the new fork. I dragged French Fries back and forth across my plate creating ketchup streaks. Having finished her dinner already, my wife just watched me. When the busboy asked if we were through, she nodded.

With the plates gone, Amber sat down and asked us how we felt about dessert. "I don’t know, can you show us the dessert cart?" I asked. My wife shoved a dessert menu in front of me. Amber helpfully ran her finger down the list in front of me telling us her favorites. I had decided on something like the Chocolate Decadent Orgasmic Fireworks. Glancing at my wife, I realized there would be no dessert tonight.

Amber pouted then walked away. I looked up and saw the lone man from two booths down glaring at me. I pretended to look away, but he kept a cold, steel gaze in my direction. Amber had spent a good ten minutes in his booth; I don’t know why he would be upset. "I think that guy is mad at me," I said.

"Who?" My wife turned around to look.

"No! Don’t look!" I grabbed her arm. I peeked around her head to see him nodding. He punched his fist into his open hand. He pointed at himself, then me, and then the parking lot. "Oh my God. I think he wants to fight me."


"He seems to think I’m trying to steal his waitress."

I tried to relax but never did escape his stare. Amber sat next to me and dropped the check on the table. I jumped to the far end of the booth.

"What’s the matter? I don’t bite," Amber said.

I pulled some twenties from my wallet and dropped them on the table. "Let’s go honey. Don’t wanna be late."

"Late for what?"

Amber stood up and let me out of the booth. I could feel that lone diner’s eyes penetrating my soul. My wife got up and headed toward the door.

"Thanks for coming," Amber said, squeezing my shoulder.

I saw the steam erupting from the other man. I pulled another five from my wallet. "Amber, this is for you." I stuffed the bill in the side of her jeans then ran out the door.

Friday, November 13, 2009


It happened after a dinner party or during, I don’t know. The guests had departed, and my wife and I had finished cleaning the dishes. We deemed the party a success; no one stayed too long, and no one got rip-roaring drunk challenging the other guests to arm wrestling matches. As I walked down the hall, a familiar smell came over me. It started with cinnamon, then vanilla and finally petro-chemical. I poked my head in the bathroom. After a few seconds, I knew I had to pull out without benefit of an oxygen mask.

"Has Rolf (her teenage son) been here?" I asked my wife.

"No," she said. "Why?"

"The bathroom smells like a spontaneous Calvin Klein/Chanel convention."

I thought back to the days when Rolf turned sixteen. Driver’s license, wheels, parties, girls. A very short list of things to accomplish in life. His friends would come over, and hang out for awhile. After fifty or sixty phone calls, they decided on a venue. Suddenly, they would disappear from sight. They would go to his bedroom, slam the door and hold council. When they emerged, a cloud of cologne lingered in a haze just beneath the ceiling. By that time, they were out the door leaving my wife and I to face the scourge alone.

It came down the hall slowly, like the blob, devouring any scent in its path. We lit candles and incense, dropped old chicken bones in its path, but the scent would not yield. I could only imagine them in the room spraying cologne like champagne after winning the World Series. Dousing bottles over each other’s head, squirting it on their shirts in some kind of Ralph Lauren wet t-shirt contest. It must have dulled their olfactory senses. How could they not smell it? Like a drug, they had to pour on a little more each time to catch a whiff.

But those days were long gone. At some point I figured a really cute girl spoke the truth: "you smell worse than a department store perfumery." Since then, the blob of cologne had receded. Until tonight.

My wife came down to check it out. I saw her nostrils flare for not even a second. She buried her face in my neck, pounding on my shoulders, "Why, why, why?" Later, I put a wet rag over my face and entered the bathroom determined to find the broken bottle of cologne. But there was nothing even out of place. Trash can empty. I looked outside the window, nothing on the ground below.

Within an hour, the cologne smell had passed to the living room. I flicked off the television.

"What happened?" I asked. "No one reeked of perfume at dinner."

My wife, the detective, thought for a moment. "Unless, someone was trying to cover up something."

"Cover up what? I’d kill for the wonderful smell of fried oysters. You could take the spent shells, rub them all over my face, and I’d be in heaven."

"Remember Cindy? She went into the bathroom right after dessert. Gone a good twenty minutes."

I did note to myself that she had been gone a long time. But that’s life. No need to make a big deal of it.

"What if," my wife continued, "she sprayed the cologne trying to cover up something else?"

"Really? Someone would do that? Wouldn’t you just leave instead?"

The more I thought about it, the more sense it made. Cindy was cute, vivacious, and outgoing. She had blonde hair and a figure that froze everyone in place when she entered a room. She couldn’t afford to let anyone think she gave off any kind of human odor. Or horse, whatever.

I laughed. She went through all the trouble to cover up her smell and yet here we sat ready to sell the house for a dime on the dollar. But then I thought deeper.

"Have you heard of the saying about a hot woman, ‘she poops petunias?’" I asked the wife.

She frowned and rolled her eyes. "No."

"What if it just smells like cologne?"