I Was In Vietnam Too: A True Story

I served along side Richard Blumenthal in Vietnam, and like him I still have vivid memories of those days where I served my country so valiantly. I’ll never forget the one afternoon we found ourselves surrounded by what we assume was Viet Cong. We were in the cafeteria at Harvard, preparing for what we in the military call “grub”: sirloin steak, mashed potatoes, truffled string beans, some lobster bisque, salad, Key Lime pie and Jello. I was famished – the last time we’d eaten was in the morning, and it was already nearly half-past noon. For two or three hours we’d been stapling papers and organizing folders. I even had to read several chapters of a book. We were numb. Exhausted. And our nerves were on edge because Richard was certain the VC would attack at any moment. As you know

, they were guerillas and blended in with the populace. Presumably they were all over the campus in Cambridge. That’s the thing with the VC, you always had to be on guard.
I was only a few bites in to my meal, I mean “grub,” when Richard sat bolt upright and dropped his silverware. He had an uncanny sense for trouble. “Incoming!” he yelled. We dove under the table. He was certain the VC would be shelling us at any moment. We prepared ourselves for the concussive effects of the mortar rounds and wrapped our cloth napkins around our heads to protect us from fragments. We stayed under the table for what seems like an eternity

, but was actually several minutes. Lucky for us, the attack never materialized. Finally, Richard gave the all-clear. We resumed eating our grub, which by now was a little cold. But that’s the kind of sacrifice you make when you are in enemy territory and serving your country as we noble warriors did.
We resumed our lunching. Richard’s eyes scanned the horizon, evaluating any threats that might be materializing. To me it looked like a bunch of Harvard students milling about. But he saw danger. “The VC could be anywhere,” he said, “Looming in the distance, waiting to strike. Or 14,000 klicks away.” I chewed my delicious, mouthwatering, albeit lukewarm sirloin tensely and barely enjoyed it. Richard inspired me with his fearlessness and ate his meal in a leisurely fashion. When it was over, we left the cafeteria, which Richard called “Vietnam” and took a refreshing nap. I will never forget those times. Semper Fi.

Grammar Cop: National Don’t Move Show at Javits Center

Defendant: The United States Postal Service
Count 1: Negligent spelling.
Count 2: Reproduction and distribution of grammatical malfeasance on federal property.
Report: Officer was attempting to mail a small package – a process made complicated


, frustrating and time-consuming by the United States Postal Service. While standing in a line rivaling the size of Disney World’s Magic Mountain attraction on a Spring Break holiday


, officer noticed criminal signage (Exhibit A) and apprehended it digitally. Despite the length of time spent in line, officer was seemingly unable to take a decent photograph, which he blames on the iPhone’s shoddy camera.
Fine: $110 worth of Simpsons stamps. Or a functioning automated teller machine in the lobby that can take the place of ten postal clerks by working efficiently, not stopping for lunch breaks, and communicating in English.

Somebody Saw Something, Said Something

I know, I know. New York is a target and the terrorists hate our freedoms (but I’m certain they love our foreign policy) and something terrible is bound to happen in the city some day. Yes

, and there’s not much you can do about a determined, evil person who has opted to engage in martyrdom operations because some sexually frustrated old man with a beard and spectacles radicalized him. But if we’re going to pull the fire alarm and close down Broadway every time someone litters, well, even the half-assed terrorists have already won.

Yelp Review: Children’s Museum of Science and Technology

I can’t remember who told me to come here but they’re dead to me now.

The museum features a slapdash collection of things, several of which are out of commission.

A bell. Kids can ring a bell. The bell is next to a snake. I felt bad for the snake because every five seconds some kid was ringing a bell next to its head.

Some fish.

A television “green screen” which allows kids to see themselves superimposed over a video of weather. You can do this with iChat without having to leave your home.

Some mirrors.

A display on solar energy. And one on wind energy.

Some animals confined in small cages

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, living out their lives under fluorescent lights and the gaze of children.

Some computers with educational games, like the computer with educational games you have at home.

A planetarium show that costs extra, even though you paid $15 for your two kids to see the above.

Within minutes the kids were ready to go. My 5 year-old called it “the boringest museum.” Not the best English, but you get the idea.



Like everyone else


, I have reviews on Yelp.

Yelp: Perilla

Boy howdy. I was chosen for another Review of the Day listing on Yelp

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, this time for a review of Perilla. Damn fine restaurant.
This doesn’t pay a damn thing of course, but I figure with several ROTDs under my belt already I’m well on my way to being qualified to teach a course on writing profitless award-winning reviews. Perhaps for the Learning Annex.
Once I start teaching there

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, I’ll be in the same league as the intolerable Donald Trump who teaches you how to make millions (hint: start with millions) and Chad Rogers, who can tell you how to get rich in real estate but apparently has no idea where to find a decent barber.

The Headline That Wasn’t – 05.07.2010

For many years I’ve thought that coming up with headlines for the NY Post was one of the greatest jobs in the world. To be paid for puns is lovely. I haven’t been paid for puns since I stopped working on billboard advertising. Most puns are godawful: Hail Caesar and five other new salads is a good example of a pun you should be put to the sword for.
Occasionally the Post comes up with something brilliant. And to be paid for puns that half the city gets to see. That’d be a sweet gig. Anyway

, it occurred to me that I have Photoshop and know how to use it well enough that I too can come up with NY Post headlines whenever I want. Though the pay is crap and I don’t have their circulation.

It’s Denise and I Am In Dougie

I pay the PhoneTag company $10 a month for their service which transcribes voicemail messages and emails them to me. This comes in really handy as I can look up messages for reference, keep a record of when calls came in and store unnecessary MP3 audio copies of messages which I can drag out at a later date “On August 22nd, 2009 you said you loved me. Here’s audio proof!”
PhoneTag uses both humans and computers for the sake of accuracy, and according to a recent study it’s accurate about 86% of the time. The other 14% of the time it leaves me wondering what country the transcriber lives in, and what the hell the caller actually meant:

  • It’s Will calling from Abraham regarding dairy clean for tomorrow, they need more of your time to two ten so afternoon two ten and lets not leave the office for dairy clean.
  • Hey, Brian. My name is Sarah. I work for the Shield Skin City. You had met one of my partners over, Joe over in the park.
  • After much consideration and hearing about all New York city public schools will be closed we have decided to close disney for tomorrow due to the storm.
  • I just want to know how Rob hard wipe your ass. Yeah

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    , Grog will be there, probably Berlin and it might be in 3rd place of course I know.

  • It’s just about that idea


    , we’re not gonna go to the park. I thought it was, no the park the sales. I’m up there with Weng but we’re just gonna go to a plan thing but not the thing that you’re at but then, ’cause I realize I’m not as supposed that I thought calendar.

  • It’s Denise and I am in Dougie.
  • This is Cristy Yales at Ranch Canada on me. It’s gonna be 5 contract solo paying in FoxGal. A complex eyelet erect to have dysfunction medication, ships December 9th to the 12th in Miami.
  • She had may had swelled your coat that was stuff in that corner when she had her accident. But she’s worried about that.
  • It’s Jamie. 9:30, Saturday morning. I’m gonna be down in gent collecting small pot bills.
  • I wanna talk to you about the bomb monopoly.

FAQ: The Back Cover of Shel Silverstein’s classic, The Giving Tree

The Giving Tree is Shel Silverstein’s 1964 classic children’s book which has been translated into over 30 languages. In it, a tree is so in love with a little boy that it ultimately sacrifices everything for him. To this day, it is perceived as either a tale of selflessness and undying love (the tree), or one of selfishness (the boy). The book is encased in a green dust jacket that features a large, terrifying photograph of the author on the back.
Is the terrifying photograph of the author a mugshot taken of the author after he was accused of murder or something?
No. This is presumably the 1960s publicity shot of the author, Shel Silverstein.
Who took the terrifying photograph of Shel Silverstein that the publisher decided should be on the back cover?
Hard to say. One can probably assume that the photograph was taken by someone who marketed themselves as a professional photographer, in the same way that Ashlee Simpson markets herself as a professional singer.
What is the reason behind enlarging a terrifying photograph of the author and putting it on the back of a children’s book?
Publishers do many things that neither readers nor authors quite understand. In this instance

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, the publisher decided that children might like to see that the man who wrote the book 40 years ago was somewhat intimidating and had chipped teeth. This could serve as inspiration to children that they too could one day scare children and write books for them.

Reading at KGB

Tonight I will be reading at KGB, an East Village bar named after Russia’s hilarious secret security apparatus. My last reading here was for In the Event of My Untimely Demise


, and it was a heck of a lot of fun.
I will be reading a chapter from my new book which is a non-partisan primer in American politics. Since Congress has an 8% favorable rating, that means that 92% of the crowd should find it enjoyable.

Deposition at the Durango Independent Film Festival

Do you live in beautiful Durango, Colorado? Are you going to the Durango Independent Film Festival this weekend? OH MY GOD! That’s completely awesome because my short


, swear-laden, kind of violent mob comedy The Deposition of Lou Bagetta will be screening there this Friday and Saturday.
The Durango Telegraph’s Willie Krischke declared Deposition “my favorite short in the festival” and there’s a lover-ly photo of lead actors Patrick Gallo and Dan Olivo in the Durango Herald. So they’re totally famous there now and they can walk around saying, “Yeah, that’s right.”

Grammar Cop: …And Irony Is Priceless

Defendant: Chili’s Restaurants, a wholly owned subsidiary of Brinker International (NYSE: EAT).
Count 1: Negligent apostrophe usage in the construction of a possessive.
Count 2: Mass distribution of grammatical malfeasance.
Count 3: Distribution of grammatical malfeasance across state lines.
Report: Officer Graeber of the SFPD Morphology & Syntax Crimes Unit was off-duty and, unfortunately, at Chili’s. Officer was perusing the drink menu in an effort to find a sugary alcoholic beverage with a name concocted by an advertising agency, with which she intended to dull the pain of being inside a Chili’s. It was during this time that the officer spotted the infraction and recorded the evidence so that she could report it to her superiors when she was back on-duty and not at Chili’s.
Fine: Seizure & destruction of all offending materials. 85 pounds of baby back ribs.

Kanye vs. Kenya

Can a self-described musical genius possibly compare to a small East African republic? Sure! In a world where the Pope can have an opinion on airport body scanners, absolutely anything is possible. We put the post-colonial nation and the tiny-penised Grammy hoarder side-by-side and here’s what we found:
Kenya is slightly more than twice the size of Nevada. But Kanye’s ego is larger than life itself. No contest. Point: KANYE
Though Kanye considers himself priceless his net worth is actually in the neighborhood of $25-30 million; certainly not too shabby for a semi-literate, boorish, megalomaniac. But, with its 2008 GDP of $62.4 billion Kenya could buy Kanye many, many times over. It could even afford the hefty $50 million price tag Russia’s space agency would charge to launch Kanye into a geosynchronous orbit. Point: KENYA
Kenya’s diverse climate ranges from tropical on the coastline all the way to arid on the interior. That’s actually not too much different from Kanye who ranges from heated/angry on the outside all the way to empty on the inside. Point: DRAW
Kenya’s infant mortality rate is 54.7 per 1,000 live births, putting it right ahead of Cambodia and right behind Azerbaijan. Kanye finds himself above top-rated Singapore (2.31/1,000) because, as far as we know, the Grammy-winner has neither produced any babies nor killed any during childbirth; a fortunate fact not only for Kanye but for the whole world. Point: KANYE
Kenya was originally called the British East African Protectorate, but since 1920 has been known by his current name. Though originally called Kanye in 1977, the Atlantan has also acquired a variety of colorful names ranging from asshat to festering twatwaffle. Point: KANYE
Kenya is home to a variety of religions including a majority of Protestant and Roman Catholic faithful, as well as Muslims and many indigenous tribal religions. Unfortunately, Kanye’s unwavering faith in himself as the center of the universe is incredibly powerful but not technically a religion. Point: KENYA
Kenya’s official languages are English and Kiswahili. Numerous indigenous languages are spoken throughout the country. Kanye’s official language is English (not fluent) and ALL CAPS which he uses in email correspondence. Point: KENYA
The nation of Kenya is subject to recurring drought and flooding during rainy seasons


, both natural disasters that can not be avoided. Kanye is subject mainly to man-made disasters, including but not limited to: disrupting benefit concerts with tirades, disrupting awards shows with tirades, playing the race card, pouting and stomping, and general behavioral malfeasance. Point: KENYA
We hope Mr. West will take consolation in the fact that he’s totally special and really, amazingly talented and probably should have won if the world wasn’t out to get him but the wee East African republic managed to – just barely, Kanye! Don’t be upset! – squeeze past history’s greatest musician ever. Match: KENYA

Must Be A Good Casting Director

A “breakdown” is industry parlance for a list of the characters in a script that a casting director is looking to cast. Actors and their agents read the character descriptions in a breakdown to see if there are any roles they should audition for.
Breakdowns can range in size from one sentence to a whole paragraph. Here’s one:

DENNY – Male, 18 to play 15-18, open ethnicity. Asthmatic, heavy breathing, loud, overly nerdy, & socially awkward. He could tell you what Captain Kirk said in scene three, line two, of episode 43. Improv experience preferred. Knowledge of comic books, video games, computers, & anything geeky preferred.

And here’s another one. It’s shorter, but you still can get a sense of what they’re looking for:

JONES – African American male. Age late 30’s to early 50’s. He is Taja’s ‘bad boy’ boyfriend.

And here is the worst

, laziest breakdown I’ve ever seen: