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Coney Island Fantasy!

Well. It’s been QUITE a month, hasn’t it boys and girls? First, Booby Hatch held our first annual country bear reunion jamboree, where we chewed some scenery, sampled local culture, got charmed by a tiny bald dude, and met Ned Beatty:

And if that much fun wasn’t enough, the 2011 Coney Island Film Festival bestowed the hallowed Best Music Video distinction on our saucy little baby, Suck It!

Katharine and Alex happily accepted the hand-painted plaque, spurred on by several generous gin & tonics and heads full of adrenaline (earned the way Jebus intended: on the Cyclone and the Wonder Wheel!)

But something was missing.

Instead of basking in much-deserved glow on a Brooklyn Boardwalk, Sabrina was blissfully ensconced in her family-size comedy space farm, and unable to join her fellow Stooges. So we would like to take this time to imagine what our acceptance speech might have been like, had all three Darrens been present at the reunion special:

>>> Wiggly visuals! Harp Music! Time Travel!! <<<

KATH: (runs up to the mic, breathing heavily) WHOOO! Kibbles and BITS this is awesome!!! USA! USA!

SABRINA: (tackles Kath from the side, tearing off her weave) This one’s for all the LADIES!! My hotel room is number…(squints at her car keys) One…Nine..Subaru?

ALEX: (stumbles up to the mic clutching her fourth martini) I can’t…I just…I feel like for the first…this is so…you guys you just…you GET us, you know? YOU GET US. (Cries.)

(mic squeals. Kath grabs it away.)

KATH:  If I had known we were going to be accepting this major award, I would have worn spanks. That said, why is Sabrina still skinnier than me and she pooped out a baby?

SABRINA: I’m not. I’m just standing in front of a fun house mirror. The GOOD fun house mirror. (Sabrina winks at a Carny)

KATH: Enough already yous! They want to hear about our Sucking It geniusnessnesses.

ALEX: (frowns at Kath) Uh…

SABRINA: (also frowns; begins to say something, then stops herself and winks at the Carny again.)

ALEX: (clears throat, straightens tie and drains her martini) I just wanna sssay…that I couldn’t have done it without my number one girl, the love of my liffffe…the creeeeam in my donut —-

SABRINA: Alex!! Get to the point. This carny’s getting cold. No, seriously. Somebody poke this guy with a stick. He might be dead.

ALEX: Right! I wanna take this opportunity to ask a very special lady here…(Kath smiles and begins smoothing her dress.)

ALEX (looks out at the audience): You know who you are. You’re my everything. (She stumbles down onto one knee. Kath gasps) Will you…make me the happiest lady on the planet, and —

KATH: YES! YES! I will! (Alex knee-walks over to a rubber tree plant in the corer of the stage and tries to shove a diamond ring onto its leaves) Wait…what?

SABRINA (taking hold of the mic) I’m sorry, ladies and gentlemen; we’re all a little overwhelmed up here.

KATH: (to nobody) I knew she loved that plant. I knew that… (She coughs casually, covering her pain.) I have a husband.

SABRINA: Focus, you silly kites. They’ll be plenty of time for making out with plants and dead carnies and us when we get that golden diamond award thing. So, before the sweet and kind citizens of the Island of Coney give us our giant diamond encrusted gold medallion pirate ship, we would like to thank John Des Roches for being the director whose name was painted on our award.  You did real good, kid.  Space Wipe!  Ha. That’s an inside joke between me, John and Jesus.  We also want to thank Dylan for having a fantastic camera and knowing how to use it.   Thank you also for climbing up walls, for taking your shirt off, and for wearing shiny silver ass-tro-nut underpants.  Are you going to be in the next X-Men movie? Because you should be. (She winks at the dead carny. A sea breeze ruffles his hair, and for a moment he resembles a young Robert Goulet.)

ALEX: (still cuddling the plant, suddenly remembers something)  Megan Steer! You made us bee-yooootiful and for that we thank you. I mean, HD is a harsh mistress am I right everyone? (Silence.) I mean this thing (points to her own face) looked like a bag of old Band-aids before Megan got a hold of it! And these two (jerks her thumb towards Kath and Sabrina) …woooo! They were….just…

KATH: (gives death eyes to Alex) I want to thank the Coney Island Film Festival for asking important questions during the Q & A talkback – questions like, “Who’s that guy in your video who takes your picture on the subway? He looks so familiar.”  And we told ’em, “That’s E. James Ford from the web series Pioneer One! Yeah, we know him. Any other questions?  About the process? No?”

AUDIENCE: (Chants) E. James Ford! E. James Ford! E. James Ford!!!

SABRINA: Ok, we get it. You like the sexy man. But before they play the exit music, I would also like to thank David Crittenden for letting me wear the underthings that one Beyonce Knowles wore in some kind of fancy magazine something. Her ass sweat gave me courage and fire. I haven’t washed my butt since. I liked it, and now it has got a ring on it! HA-WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Say, is that funnel cake?

ALEX: You looked like Ann Jillian!

KATH: In a Lifetime movie!!

SABRINA: What if I AM Ann Jillian?? And what if this is all just part of a very elaborate Lifetime movie??

ALEX & KATH: Nooooooooooooooooooooo!!!

ALEX: (too close to the mic) Although if there IS anyone from Lifetime here I will gladly star in one of your movies. For free. I do nudity. And animals.

SABRINA: Also, whatever happened to that Narnia thing we shot? That actually happened…right? I remember Ethan Hawke eating bagels and Kath throwing up. Or was that just the after-party?

KATH: It was the after-party. I was strapped to his chest in a Baby Bjorn. You know, for the government.

ALEX: So THAT’S why there was only one set of footprints in the sand! That’s the last time we have an after-party on the beach. Too confusing.

JESUS: (in audience) You suck! Get off the stage and let some real musicians get an award!

ALEX: DJ! Play us off! (Silence. the “DJ” glares at them from the orchestra pit)

SABRINA: Hey, is that DJ Henry Mancini? (Henry Mancini plays them off with a vengeful version of “The Pink Panther Theme”. They sing over the music.)

ALL: Oh Baby YOUUUUUU, you got what I NEEEED…but you sssayy— (A horrible noise as all three fall into the rubber tree plant.)


In closing, The Management would just like to say that if we HAD gotten that ill-fated tattoo on our trip to Sabrina’s space station…it woulda looked something…like…THIS: 

Lost in Space

In New York City, no one really has a home base. Most of us don’t travel to work in cars so we spend part of each day marooned far from comforts and conveniences we could easily toss in the back seat if we had one: a fuzzy sweater, a comfortable pair of shoes, library books, a family-size box of Little Debbie Oatmeal Crème Pies (what? I’m a family.) Instead we carry this stuff on our backs or slung over a shoulder in a giant tote bag that pulls relentlessly at our weak urban arms, stretching them towards the pavement like orangutan limbs.  We defy common sense and lug bulky items onto the subway – things that should never be taken on a moving train: coffee tables, king-size comforter sets, pool cues, a chipped wooden headboard that probably has bedbugs but really looks like it’s worth something, a twin stroller the makers swore could be folded with one hand, because we know that squeezing them into a cab would be a hassle and we’re New Yorkers dammit – we can DO this!! Gamely we struggle, up subway steps, through the turnstiles and past train doors, overbalancing and apologizing but never giving up…mostly because it’s illegal to dump a 6 foot plaster giraffe on a subway platform.

I think about this in the Duane Reade, looking at their line of “Help!” products:  adorably-packaged single-serving items one commonly needs in a pinch. Pain killer! Band Aids! Opaque nipple covers! Ok that last one is made up but if you’re wearing a summer-weight top they’d really come in handy during a flash thunderstorm (think about it.) For city dwellers already weighed down by other necessities (running sneakers, tins of cat food, rape flute) and tourists burdened by distinctly unnecessary items (I Heart NY t-shirts, Magnolia cupcakes, a caricature drawn on a grain of rice, tickets to Stomp) these products are life savers. I’m just surprised it took Duane Reade so long to come up with a way to commodify our needs. Sure, every drug store carries travel size items, but how often do you really need a palm-sized bottle of conditioner? Or a tiny can of Barbisol? On a given day, chances are the urban emergency you’re experiencing is more along the lines of a giant heel blister or a jacket stained with A/C leakage than a five-o-clock shadow or scarecrow bangs.

In my ideal world, I wouldn’t have to make a drugstore pitstop for emergency basics, because I would have a dedicated space, outside my apartment, of my very own. The stationary equivalent of a suburbanite’s car packed with Capri Sun and Paul Simon CDs, it would be strategically located to wherever I spent most of my time for easy access. I could go and recharge, or sit and think, or nap, or – just for a miraculous second – put down the giant fucking duffle bag of old heels and t-shirts destined for the Salvation Army across town. Having a space like that would make me feel great – like Little Orphan Annie when she arrives at Daddy Warbucks’ mansion. I would spin around grinning under my bad perm and jitterbug with any gay gardener or turbaned doorman who’d have me.

And that’s for a space as tiny as a bus locker. (Those don’t exist anymore, do they? Shame, because the idea that I could leave something heavy at Port Authority and skip away holding a key makes New York in the 70s seem like a utopia. THANKS TERRORISTS.)

The sad thing is, if I was a person with more ambition my Annie Warbucks dream might have come true. Right after I finished college I had the idea for something called “Siesta Village”. It was a place in the city – perhaps a single floor of an office building – where anyone could go to take naps, any time of the day, for as long as they wanted. I envisioned the space as a network of cubicles, separated from one another by hanging drapes or woven tapestries. Each unit would be carpeted, with a cot, a nightstand, a cubbyhole, and a place to hang your clothes. Nap sessions as short as a half hour could be purchased on the spot or booked in advance. (I envisioned a “frequent napper” card, embossed with the image of a sleeping kitten, where the 10th snooze was free.) The vibe at Siesta Village would be as quiet as a library, with no infuriating chimes or whale songs. Everyone would wear slippers, and pad around in an alpha-brainwave state of blissful half-consciousness. It would be a soundproof oasis at the center of a honking, angry, grit-caked city. I wasn’t sure how much to charge for a nap, but honestly? There were days when I would gladly pay $50 for a place to drop my bags and zone out for an hour before schlepping to my next appointment. It was a scheme that could only have been born of post-college culture shock combined with the trial-by-fire of producing theater in New York City.

Even though I never had any intention of trying to make Siesta Village fly as a business, I spent a lot of time thinking about the practicalities (because in any city fantasizing about real estate is just another form of porn. ) I realized that discouraging squatters would be a problem, ditto masturbators and people engaged in illicit affairs who wanted to use my carpeted temple for a lunchtime quickie. I thought of all the good people: the weary, sincere nappers who would be disturbed by the interlopers’ animal grunting, and the amount of time I’d spend with a blacklight and anti-bacterial wipes. It occurred to me that Siesta Village was an idea best preserved in dreams, as I dozed on the subway or hauled dirty clothes to the laundromat. Nevertheless, when a facility called MetroNaps sprang up a few years later, I was slightly envious. I consoled myself with the thought that a hooded La-Z-Boy is no substitute for a room of one’s own. Even if it’s just a bus locker.

The Rage Haiku: An oxymoron, or just moronic?

What, you may ask, is a rage haiku? It’s a wonderful thing which, yes, yes, I invented. It recently came to me in the shower (the crucible of all brilliant ideas) that the haiku, though long-reputed as a poetic form best suited to the subtle, rosy-hued observations of intellectual gurus, would in fact be the ideal form in which to express unalloyed, vitriolic anger. The kind of anger that would vindicate your long-repressed misanthropy, redeem you in your father’s eyes, and finally pay off all those pesky student loans. I mean, think about it: by definition, haikus are:

  • Brief: just 5 syllables, then 7, then another 5; YOU’RE DONE!
  • Vivid: sunsets, delicate petals, and dewdrops are all popular subjects.
  • … according to intellectual guru Natalie Goldberg, textual gems that should contain a “hint of epiphany” in which something powerful and unexpected is revealed about the subject.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could channel your righteous anger about subway etiquetteorange juice, or criminal trial verdicts, into something with the thought-provoking, bone-crushing CH’I of a fucking haiku? Your enemies would fall like flabby mall walkers to your dragon-veined, 17-syllabled katana! Faster than a zinging comeback, more powerful than a made-up curse word, wittier even than the Drunk Hulk twitter steam, a hail of meticulously-crafted poetry would stun the most seasoned nemesis into a shocked stasis, allowing you to slip away unnoticed or exit to rapturous applause from the assembled crowd.

Allow me to demonstrate, via a series of common, everyday situations:

You buy a newspaper at the local bodega and the gentleman behind the counter hands you change for a five dollar bill when you clearly paid with a ten. You object. He insists. You skool him with a little 5/7/5:

“Dishonoring me
Will mean a holocaust for
Your Chifles* display”

*For the uninitiated, “Chifles” is a popular brand of plantain and cassava chip, which according to some, “tastes like cardboard.” Me, I love them.

Your ex-husband’s birthday party. It’s been a while. He’s remarried; you’re not. You look hot, there’s no denying that. But there’s also no denying you’ve had four martinis. Your index finger is suddenly on his sternum.

“You know your problem?
You could never loosen up!
Yo Chex mix LET’S DANCE!!”

A tense situation in an abandoned building ends with the drawing of guns in a Mexican Standoff. Your tummy rumbles.

No one gets hurt if
You motherfuckin’ get me 
A Royale with Cheese!!!

See? RAGE HAIKU. Try one. Keep a few in your pocket. And leave those anger management classes to the proletariat.

Manimal, get thee behind me!

Oh hello. Nice to meet you. I’m a grown woman. Who is afraid of animals.

Well, not animals per se. Specifically, I am petrified of a fictional genus of animals that I like to call “human-animal hybrids”: Man-imals if you will. Their natural habitats are children’s TV shows and films starring Marlon Brando, although they can occasionally be found grazing outside used car lots and chicken restaurants.

Not sure what the hell I’m talking about? Allow me to ‘splain. It comes down to this: whenever I see a human dressed up in a realistic animal costume, I have the urge to run in the other direction, or if that option isn’t available, cower like a child with my head tucked into my shirt. (Notice I said “realistic” animal costume – this is not a reaction prompted by mouse ears from Disneyland or those knitted hats with gerbil ears that hipsters wear; only by the combination of prosthetics, head-to-toe fur, and the kind of faithful animal imitations that most actors left behind in Strasberg Level 3.)

Still not sure what I mean? Check out the horrifying examples below. With any luck they’ll make you just as phobic as I am!

Bob Dog, from Mister Rogers Neighborhood: truly the Famous Original Ray’s of terrifying Manimals, and the bête noir that started it all. Like many of my peers I watched a lot of PBS as a child, and Mr. Rogers was a frequent visitor to our tiny black & white TV. Though I remember thinking Fred was a little wussy at the time, I now credit him with helping build my delicate semblance of self-esteem. I also credit (blame?) him for introducing me to Bob Dog – a seemingly innocuous inhabitant of the Neighborhood of Make-Believe who sported a spirit-gummed canine nose and footy pajamas, walked around on his “hind legs”, and howled and woofed his way through lessons on being nice to others. I never absorbed any of his teachings, however, because I was too busy screaming. Seriously. My Mum used to tell me that she’d have to anticipate Bob Dog’s appearances in every episode of Mister Rogers Neighborhood (not that hard considering each character had its own theme music) and distract me, or she’d end up spending the next hour talking me down from a psychotic break.

Zoobilee Zoo: Apologies to Ben Vereen upfront, because though I love him I can’t stand even the thought that this show existed. Actually, Hallmark should apologize for making him prance around moronically in a leopard suit, mug to the camera and sing songs like “Rhyming is Fun” with the other – ahemZoobles, but they never will. Plus the costumes all look like they were pulled out of some crazy old woman’s basement where they were used as cat beds. Can someone tell me why human-animal hybrids seem to be the inevitable default setting when networks are coming up with kids shows?? Are lessons about sharing and counting somehow easier to absorb when delivered by a terrifying freak? I have to assume they are. Because as much as I try, I will never get the damn theme song out of my head.

The Island of Dr. Moreau: I actually can’t believe I’m bringing up this film, because writing about it will require me to do a Google image search for stills, the thought of which makes my hands shake. It’s the stuff of nightmares. Well, my nightmares anyway, and I don’t even know what the movie’s about. I once saw some scenes from it by accident when I was channel-surfing and the memory of those ungodly creatures is branded forever onto my brain grapes. And yes, I understand that’s part of the point: that Dr. Moreau is some kind of twisted evil man who populates his island with homemade animal deviants by blending DNA like a breakfast smoothie. Well done, Island of Dr. Moreau! You have succeeded in arousing in me the kind of deep-seated Jungian revulsion normally reserved for Real Dolls, and guaranteeing that whenever I pick up the remote with one hand, my other hand will be hovering over my eyes.

SpliceI am a HUGE fan of Sarah Polley, but the preview for this film forced me to cover my ears and hum loudly whenever it appeared on TV. ‘Nuff said.

So…yeah! Hope you enjoyed the forced thrill ride into the darkest corners of my neuroses.  I certainly feel better for having heaved a little mental poison onto your collective laps. And if by admitting my phobia I can prevent one more adult from donning a latex nose and whiskers in the name of entertainment, well…then my work here is done.

Great Cultural Milestones I Have Missed

Storytelling, or “bragging” as it’s more commonly known, is a popular pastime for humans.But unless you fought in a war or dated Mickey Rourke before 1995, the only bragging worth doing is about the cool cultural events you’ve attended in your lifetime. True, a kick-ass scar beats a stupid concert any day, but for many of us these stories are all we have: they build street cred in the right circles, and make city-dwellers feel that our cranky, pocket-sized existences are somehow worthwhile. Age is a factor too: as far as I’m concerned, one of the perks of making it out of your twenties is that you earn the right to self-mythologize a bit. It will certainly come in handy in writing the memoir that every single one of us will eventually publish! (You know, the collection of semi-true, moderately humorous confessional essays about summer camp and bulimia that yields average sales near the check-out counter at Books-A-Million? Start jotting down notes now is all I’m saying.)

But myths aside, flashing my own cultural achievement scorecard is not the purpose of this post. Instead I’d like to eulogize the many, many milestones that I wish I could say “I was there” for. Regret is healthy and it’s honest.  instead of leading people to believe that my world-weary, Sam Shepard-esque, taken-by-the-wind brand of sexy cool is anything but the result of years of practice and wishful thinking, I can come clean with exactly the kind of square I am.  So here are my regrets, in reverse chronological order, and spiked with a jigger of professional jealousy:

January 2011: P. Diddy graces the stage at Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre New York
I will confess upfront that I’m not a huge fan of Diddy, Ciroc, or the crowded, smug conditions in the UCB basement theatre, but I am a fan of comedy stunts, and feeling like a cool kid. So it was with MUCH regret (and some loud ranting that disturbed my cats) that I awoke the morning after enjoying a friend’s sketch show at UCB, to the news that I had missed Diddy’s heavily rumored and tweeted-about surprise appearance on the Chris Gethard Show by AN HOUR AND A HALF. (Ah, so that’s why the UCB staff shooed us out after the show like feral cats – DIDDY WAS IMMINENT.) Had I faked hysterical paralysis and refused to leave my seat, I might have caught a glimpse of Puff the Magic Mogul. Alas.

November 2007: The cast of 30 Rock performs an episode live on stage
The WGA writers strike was on, and this sweet comedy antidote was announced very quietly through a handful of comedy nerd news sites…which of course immediately spilled over to EVERY MEDIA OUTLET IN EXISTENCE. Tickets were sold online to the general public, but predictably, they sold out in a nanosecond. I had one or two strings I could have pulled to get in, which I now realize I should have not only pulled, but swung upon as if they were the bells of Notre Dame and I, Quasimodo. That I was too busy pining after a young gypsy dancer is the only excuse I can think of.

October 2001: Jane’s Addiction plays Madison Square Garden on their Jubilee Tour
Normally I would feel fine about missing this concert, since tickets were harder to get than a fingerbang at a Christian Rock show. Normally, that is – except for the fact that a group of my (infinitely cooler and better-looking) friends got in without tickets by a crazy stroke of luck. They had been waiting outside MSG in the freezing cold, with throngs of other vinyl-corseted freaks for hours. Then, straight out of a Rolling Stone essay titled I’m with the (Pidgeon-chested Guy in Eyeliner and a Wrist) Band, the stage door opened a crack, and a roadie beckoned for them to come in. Two of my friends managed to slip in before the door slammed shut, and they joined the teeming audience for a night of transcendent druggy mayhem. Granted, one of them left behind his girlfriend (later the mother of his child) without so much as a glance, but hey – in the pursuit of “I was there” stories, sacrifices must be made.

Early 1990s: Seattle Grunge/ Riot Grrl Music Scene
While I didn’t technically miss it, I do think it sucks that I lived smack in between Tacoma and Seattle during the years leading up to the scene’s explosion, and then we moved to the East Coast right at the moment when:

  1. The music was taking off, and
  2. I was entering my iconoclastic, moderately angry teen years, outfitted in clunky boots, Dad’s motorcycle jacket and a suburban scowl.

The significance? Had we stayed in Washington I COULD HAVE BEEN KATHLEEN HANNA OR CORIN TUCKER. Or at least the girl they experimented with backstage.

1985/86: Singing with Placido Domingo and the LA Opera
Ok this less a cultural milestone than a missed opportunity, but it totally fits the “Look Back in Anguish” theme. When I was ten years old our school choir auditioned to sing with Placido Domingo at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. I don’t remember which opera it was, but my mother, a HUGE Placido fan, was thrilled and kept talking about how proud she’d be to see me on stage with him. In preparation for the audition I rehearsed a french folk song with a friend, in addition to the ancient choral number we sang as a group. Although mostly on-key, my voice could at best be described as “reedy” – I was always being told to “Sing OUT!” by our enthusiastic music director. Nevertheless I had the optimism of childhood on my side, and I envisioned myself at the stage door after an exhausting performance, graciously smiling at my admirers while clutching armfuls of roses. At the audition, I did my best but was not chosen for the “angel choir” in the opera. I bravely put the snub behind me, until the day a few weeks later when I came home from school to find my mother glowing, with a letter in her hand. I had been offered a walk-on role in the opera with Placido!! I asked my mother what “walk-on” meant and when I learned it meant pantomiming in crowd scenes I immediately refused – I would have a singing role or nothing! Her disappointment in me eventually faded but I have felt like a complete, utter jackass for 25 years and counting.

1981: Simon & Garfunkel Reunion Concert in Central Park
Yes, I was six years old. And we lived in LA, and my parents were bigger fans of latin jazz than folk rock, and were never the types to fly cross-country for a music event, but I still resent them for not taking me to New York. The video of the concert shows TONS of blissed-out children on their parents’ shoulders – WHY NOT ME??? Oh right: my fear of heights meant I was too scared to sit on my Dad’s shoulders, and I probably would have spent the entire concert screaming. Sounds of Silence indeed.

So that’s my list of regrets, may they rest in peace. I could probably think of more if I wracked my brain, but I’m saving the real gems for my memoir, tentatively titled Fumbling Towards Mediocrity: My Life in Slipper Socks. And now I’m curious: what are your biggest cultural regrets? Let’s share. I showed you mine!

Ides are the Devil’s Playthings!

Dear Ides of March,

It may be tempting fate to say it, but I am not scared. Not the least bit wary. Should I be? How did an expression that originally meant “Look out Caesar! You’re gonna get stabbed today!!” turn into some kind of universal superstition about March 15th? Ok, I wouldn’t call it a universal superstition – it’s not like the average person gets out of bed today and worries that a ladder’s gonna fall on them, or their cat’s gonna develop a cocaine habit, or that the milk that was juuust this side of fresh yesterday will SUDDENLY TURN WITH A VILE AND PUTRID VENGEANCE. “Beware the ides of March” is something only your Nana says anymore, to no consequence whatsoever. (Except for a roll of the eyes and a mental note to start doubling her meds.) Yup, “the Ides of March” can pretty confidently be added to the pile of obsolete expressions without too much worry that it’s going to spring back into vogue any time soon.

(…unless toga parties regain their 70s appeal. According to Wikipedia, in Rome the Ides are celebrated with an annual toga sprint through the streets, and there’s nothing like a boyish frat prank to make me fear for my life! I don’t know about you, but an all-male street riot with optional bed sheets would give me MORE than enough reason to “beware” –  I’ve lived through St. Patrick’s Day in midtown Manhattan.)

Anyway, I was thinking the other day about obsolete expressions: phrases like “radio silence” that, by virtue of the ever-accelerating march of time and progress, will be entirely meaningless to any person born after 1990. They may use the expression, in air quotes, as a quaint tip of the hat to their parents’ generation, but they will have no visceral sense of what it actually means. Not that that’s a bad thing – I mean why would they need to? Radio barely exists for ME anymore (aside from a few local or indie stations that I REALLY wish I could arm with enough money and wattage to blow the morning cockjocks and adult contempo shitpeddlers off the airwaves for good.) But I digress.

It was less a thought about linguistic nostalgia, and more about becoming aware that expressions I use with some – ahem – frequency (ie I repeat myself – like a certain parent I could name) are becoming extinct. Basically, the cognizance gap between me and the Millennials is widening, and into that gap is falling all kinds of sayings and figures of speech that shoot off bright metaphorical fireworks spelling out “OLD LADY HERE! DON’T SPEAK TOO LOUD OR EXPECT ME TO UNDERSTAND DONKEY PUNCHING!! JUST TURN ON DR. PHIL AND HAND ME A TUB OF ACTIVIA!!”

(The Millennials are the kids under 25, right? I can never remember if they’re separate from Gen Y or not. Either way, whoever thought of that label shafted an entire generation. You think “Generation X” is bad? “The Millennials” sounds like a straight-to-video buddy flick starring Chris Kattan and Keifer Sutherland as aliens who perform vaudeville in space.)

So yeah. I’ve been getting pretty cozy with my mortality lately. In its honor, I’ve assembled a list of expressions that, to me, represent the border of comprehension between my generation and the next; expressions that will drop dead right when we do* (then probably rise again once the Sexicentennials – or whatever the following generation will be called – discovers retro-irony and starts wearing Skechers the way 20-somethings today wear sweater vests and monocles.)

*Btw, it’s much harder to think of expressions that the next generation won’t get than cultural references – if it was a cultural literacy test I was after, I’d need go no further than one of the 3,000 facebook groups called You know you were a child of the 80s if you had a crush on Skeletor and wanked off to a Muppet . Finding figures of speech is MUCH harder. Just so you appreciate what I’ve done here…


  • Radio Silence (now a modern classic!)
  • Rolodex (as in “Open my Rolodex and help yourself to a cigar”)
  • “Doing” lunch (I’m pretty sure lunchtime cuddling has supplanted lunchtime sex among the young)
  • To “nuke” something (as in “I need to nuke this tomato soup; it’s a threat to our national security”)
  • Dial Tone (as in “I’d like to paint my bathroom walls Dial tone, to match the soap”)
  • Reasonable facsimile (as in “Saying that a document is ‘like the original’ is a reasonable fax simile.”)
  • To “crunch numbers” (in the future all numbers will be smooth, like peanut butter)
  • American Craftsmanship (ha!)
  • Writing in “cursive” (redundant; in the future, written language will consist exclusively of swear words)
  • “Telemarketing” (instead of marketing by phone, it will refer to buying groceries using one’s holographic avatar)
  • To “carbon someone” (as in “I don’t know how to use this bong. Please carb me on it.”)
  • Going postal (once postal mail is obsolete we’ll all be free to antagonize ourselves!)

Being the pretentious logophile that I am, a part of me actually enjoys the idea that someday no one will be able to understand what the hell I’m saying. My outdated witticisms will make me and my contemporaries seem wise, mysterious… adorably senile. It’ll be like having a generation-specific version of creepy twin language, or Vulcan! (Actually it’ll probably sound more like Vulcans speaking English – they do it with such a sexy, stoic formality, am I right?) I’ll be the cantankerous (but funny!) great aunt who all my nieces and nephews bring their friends to interview for their Technology Pre-History class. I’ll say “Speak through my ear chip; I can’t hear you! It’s like radio silence in here!” and they’ll laugh, recharge my electric heart, and fill my IV bag with bourbon (“Irished up” with a little whisky.) And once their kids are old enough, they’ll rediscover the quaint  joys of speaking like an 80-year old in skinny jeans and Uggs. And me? I’ll just smile and tell them all about the Ides of March Riots of Twenty-Ott-Twelve.

A Valentine Hosanna to Andy Richter

On this day of chocolate-fueled hysteria, mylar burn, and obligation sex, I’d like to shift the focus away from the man who was clubbed, stoned and beheaded for marrying people against the state’s will (which maybe accounts for all the red?) to lavish praise on a man who is perhaps less obsessed with labeling relationships, but whose unique talents are criminally undervalued in our age. That man is Andy Richter. 

Let me begin by saying…we’re all married here. St. Valentine would be proud. Andy’s spoken for; so am I. And happily so. No one’s going to show up on anyone’s doorstep with a batch of homemade Roofycakes iced to represent the milestones of an Illinois boyhood. Nope; I’ve learned my lesson where antics like that are concerned (plus buttercream doesn’t travel well.)

But Richter deserves serious props. The guy is really, really funny. Let me count the ways:

First, he’s versatile. His funny can be stingingly acerbic or sweetly self-deprecating, cerebral or completely silly. Andy is as comfortable on Conan’s couch as he is helming a (sadly short-lived) comedy series. He can play a tough, ladykilling private eye named Andy or an adorably unassuming short story writer named Andy That’s range, people!

Second, he’s an assured, nimble improviser, the true litmus test of which is his ability to support Conan and get laughs of his own, night after night. It was a crabby college acting teacher who once remarked that it’s a much harder job to be Ethel than Lucy. And he wasn’t just talking about ego. The second banana on a talk show needs to have a razor instinct about when to interject, when to spar, and when to rescue the host by changing the subject, all while never stealing focus or making it look contrived. Lucy wouldn’t be Lucy without Ethel. And Coco wouldn’t be Coco without…his…Nut? Crap. Failed metaphor. Cut to a bullet list!!

Facts that I enjoy about Andy:

  • May look pocket-size next to Conan but is actually a brawny 6’2”
  • Played Mike Brady on stage opposite Jane Lynch in The Real Live Brady Bunch
  • Does a voice on the Amy Poehler-written/ produced animated series The Mighty B!
  • Was on the wishlist to play Mitchell in the original cast breakdown for Modern Family

It was another, slightly less-crabby college acting teacher who once dropped this nugget of truth: “If you look at the puppet, the audience will look at the puppet.” While you could argue that many of the celeb guests on Conan have one or more parts of themselves shoved WAY up their own sock-holes, that’s not the comparison I’m going for. My point is this: Andy’s attention never leaves the guests. After some brief camera-time during the monologue, and some banter after the first commercial break, he cedes the couch and the spotlight  to every sports thug or model-actress-hyphenate who struts through the curtains. And for the rest of the show he listens. Pays total attention to whatever banality they’re plugging. And as a result? They become the most interesting people in the room.

Third, he’s fucking adorable. I mean, look at his face. LOOK AT IT – how could you not fall for that picture-day hair, that impish smile? That’s a smile that helps you pick up your groceries when you trip over a sleeping Schnauzer double-parked in front of the Whole Foods. It’s a smile that listens to all your Dad’s golf stories and then makes an insightful comment about them later that makes you tear up juuuust a little. But most importantly, it’s a smile that’s ready and willing to marinate in a bathtub of coffee for a 30-second gag – IN A SUIT MIND YOU. (“Sure”, you’re probably thinking, “I’d lower myself into a piranha bubble bath if the price was right.” So would I! But COULD YOU CONVINCE US YOU ENJOYED IT? Yeah. That’s what I thought.)

According to Andy’s Wikipedia page he was voted prom king in high school. I would KILL to have heard his acceptance speech and watched his ceremonial cry-walk through the gym, because I’ll bet it was funny, humble, and probably made everybody there feel like the most interesting person in the room.

Happy V’Day y’all.