Sabrina stumbles into the frame, holding a tiny man in a space hat.
Sabrina: AAAAAAAAAAAAAALEX!!! Yer space phone’s ringing.
Alex pokes her head into the shot and looks around suspiciously.
Alex: Ahoy ahoy?
Sabrina: How many times I gotta tell you – save that crap for Alexander Graham Bell Assassination Re-enactment Day. The BLOG is ringing!!
Katharine runs in, holding a smoking gun.
Katharine: Is it the neighbors? I just shot their parrot.
Alex: Dammit, Katharine! He was the only one who knew my email password!!
Sabrina: (Looks at the tiny spaceman) We should probably wish them a Happy New Year or something. We’ve neglected the blog for a while.
Alex: What about the neighbors?
Katharine: Taken care of. I told you I just shot their parrot. Why doesn’t anyone ever listen to me?
Sabrina: No, no. Not Jim Nabors and his wife, who coincidentally happen to be our neighbors. It’s time to wish our blog readers a Happy New Year.
Katharine: Taken care of. That was last year. I wrote a Haiku about it.
Sabrina: No. For this year.
Alex: AGAIN??? This happens every time I drink whiskey. WHERE DOES THE TIME GO?? (sings) Sunrise, sunset..sunrise sunset…
Katharine: You really need to stop blacking out. You miss so much. Also, people keep writing “Twat” on your forehead.
Alex: This pop stand blows. Let’s get in the time machine!!
Sabrina: But…but…(looks sadly at the spaceman, who has fallen asleep in the crook of her arm.)
Katharine runs out of the frame and returns with a Vita-Mix with a large pineapple sticking out of it.
Sabrina: We can’t all fit inside there! Tiny Spaceman, you’ll have to stay behind.
Tiny Spaceman: Mumble, mumble, fart, poop.
Alex: Good job Tiny Spaceman! That’s another Adam Sandler script in the can. Stay here and write us a Steve Guttenberg vehicle.
Sabrina: Enough jibber-jabbering! It’s time to go BACK! To the fu—(she begins violently coughing. Alex slaps her on the back and a dead parrot shoots out of her mouth. Somewhere, John Cleese rolls over in his cash-filled swimming pool.)
Katharine: (stroking the Vita-Mix time machine affectionately) I have complete faith that this will work.
Alex: That’s what I’m afraid of! Never tell me the odds! Yippy kai ay motherf— (Katharine slaps her.)
Katharine: GET A HOLD OF YOURSELF!!
Sabrina covers the tiny spaceman’s eyes with her hand and gently carries him off-screen. She returns and the three ladies climb inside the blender, alongside the pineapple. Alex hooks the pineapple up to a computer, and the lights begin to flash. You put a bra on your head and press this link, as it disappears beneath your finger: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDe5Ckt4joQ The screen goes dark, and one-by-one all the lights in your house/coffee shop/office/train car/box of donuts go out. You sit in darkness, wondering what in the Heckleberry Finn you have gotten yourself into, when suddenly power is restored and your screen comes back on. The moonscape is gone. You are now watching the past, a New Year’s party in an old-timey wild west saloon. The date is December 31, 2011.
Alex: (Looks around) What a dump.
Katharine: I don’t think my spleen made it.
Sabrina: It did, but it’s over there, sitting on Mark Twain’s Melba toast.
The camera zooms out and reveals Mark Twain, Shania Twain and Damon Wayans standing in front of a poster of Dwayne Wayne, star of Michael Bay’s remake of Shane.
Mark Twain: All things change except barbers, the ways of barbers, and the surroundings of barbers. These never change.
He eats Katharine’s spleen.
Shania Twain: Men are like shoes! I ain’t got time for the flip flop kind.
Damon Wayans: I was 12 years old when I had my first job, delivering packages.
If you decide to follow Nostalgic Damon Wayans to the nearest UPS, turn to page 15. If you decide to suggest that Mark and Shania Twain are the same person, click this link: http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/Mark_Twain If you think politicians have become way too political, grab some poster board, the ghost of Andy Rooney, glitter glue, and make a sign about it, why don’t you? If your name has any vowels in it, continue enjoying this space blog.
Alex: This Western SUCKS. Where are all the floozies and sarsparilla?
Katharine: Ooh check out this trunk fulla junk!
Sabrina: EXCUSE ME? Just because a lady has a curvaceous derriere does NOT —
Katharine: Wha chu talkin’ bout, Brina? I was just pointing out this mysterious trunk full of Olde Tyme Western Wear I just found.
Alex: I call dibs on the chaps!!
Sabrina: I call the tiny spaceman! Wait, what’s the spaceman doing here? I thought we left him behind.
Katharine: Don’t question it; this is fantasy. And put a kerchief on that spaceman; he’s nude, and this is a family show.
Alex: Isn’t it New Year’s Eve? Sabrina, didn’t you and Don Rickles have a gig tonight?
Sabrina: Crap, you’re right. (turns to the blog audience) Thank you all for coming to the New Year’s Eve Friar’s Club roast of Kadeem Harrison. I would like to take this opportunity to share this eggnog recipe from the restaurant formerly known as St. Elsewhere with you:
6 eggs separated
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1.5 teaspoon vanilla
1 pint milk
1 pint cream
3 tablespoons white sugar
Beat the egg yolks with the brown sugar, salt and vanilla to the ribbon stage. Add the booze and the dairy and mix until incorporated. Set this mixture aside.
Whisk the egg whites with the white sugar to the medium-hard peak stage. When ready fold the egg whites into the boozy mixture. Season generously with freshly grated nutmeg. FRESHLY!
Allow this to sit for at least an hour or two to let the drink separate from the foam a little. Garnish with a pair of round flip glasses and shoulder pads. Enjoy!
Suddenly, out of nowhere, a large crowd begins to count down in unison. The Ladies of the Hatch throw on their Western wear, dress up Mark Twain as a saloon tranny floozie, and pose confidently against the flimsy backlot film set as flashbulbs pop and confetti cascades down upon them. There is a resounding cry of HAPPY NEW YEAR!! Ryan Seacrest makes out with a New York City cop and all is right with the world. Sabrina, Alex, and Katharine clink glasses of eggnog.
Sabrina: (leaning on the tiny spaceman’s rifle) God bless us, every one!
Alex: (through violent hiccups) It really is an (hic) anytime drink…Ann Jillian (hic) was right…(hic)
Katharine: Who’s the dude?
Sabrina and Alex: MARK TWAIIIIN!!
Katharine: Huh. He looks different in person.
Why do you hate me? All I wanted was to breathe clearly and not cough all day long. All I wanted was to be halfmy usual spunk and have the ability to speak sans frog in throat. What did taking the red pill get me? I find myself speaking baby babble while my thoughts sift through a meth withdrawal haze of pure confusion. Every time I blow my nose, my sinuses make a high pitched ‘eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeh’ sound and my eyeball bleeds. My ears are growing cotton and my mouth tastes like earwax. Thank you DayQuil. You have made this day very pleasant. Instead of sleeping on my couch watching another episode of ‘Storage Wars’, I stand in my office slowly dipping to the floor in a heroin nod. You the man.
Xoxo- Katharine “this snots for you” Houston, Brooklyn, NY
Dear NYC Straphangers,
I call upon you this 4th day of the eighth month of the 2011th year of this calendar on my wall, to stand with me against those who defile our noses! We who silently agree to stand back to back, nose to pit and knee to crotch with those whom commute at our same hour each day have had enough! No, I speak not of the soupy body odor that guy with the short sleeves emits while holding his arm up. I speak of a simpler evil. We of the olfactory sensitive stand before the accused, grasping the pole while thumbing our smart phones pleading with you for one thing… Eat when you get off the train!! I do not mean to harass those famished or claiming hypoglycemia. Snack on some quiet fruit. Feel free to nosh on a granola bar. Close your teeth round yon trans fatty chocolate candy yum-yum. These are all non-invasive food types and we bestow them upon you. What we ask for is simple. We think you would enjoy these morsels all the more if you were not traveling in an enclosed tube with some 400 people hovering around you. So actually, we are doing you a favor by requesting that No eggs, No McDonalds and No take out Chinese should be eaten while on the subway. Chant with me, fellow Straphangers! Chant so that we might get the message through!
No eggs, No McDonalds and No take out Chinese!
No eggs, No McDonalds and No take out Chinese!
And if you can’t stop yourself from eating said food on the train, for fuck’s sake, close your mouth when you chew.
Xoxo- Katharine “your Chinese take out smells like diarrhea” Houston, Brooklyn, NY
Fuck you. Sorry, that came out wrong. Fuh-huk You. That is all.
Xoxo- Katharine “raise the fair price again and I’ll cut you” Houschmitzermen, Bronxlyn, NY
There you are in your friend’s backyard on a beautiful summer day. There are balloons and streamers as far as your eye can see. Presents wrapped in cartoon-clad paper lay in a pile on the picnic table, full of mystery and expectation. Your face is sticky from the ice cream cake melted by the sun. You watch your friend standing proud knowing that this is her special day. It is Her birthday! You see the adults laughing with each other as they refill their red party cups. You see the birthday girl watching all the other kids having fun running around and playing with each other in their sugar high hysteria. You are a bit concerned as you see her face start to melt into a self-righteous grimace. You witness her transform into a tiny volcano with steam coming from her ears and eyes as she stares at her guests not paying enough attention to her. You see her tiny hands clench into balls of fury as she starts to shake and grab at the hem of her new birthday dress, slowly revealing her sacred Wonder Woman Underoos. You start to search for the safest place to ‘duck and cover’. But it’s too late. The scream lets out. Mount St. Helens has now erupted for the second time that summer. “It is MY Birthday and You will do what I SAY,” screams the five year old birthday Nazi. It is all very awkward to say the least. Especially since I was the birthday girl.
As a kid, I believed that on my birthday all things should stop and focus on me. I was always a bit miffed when people would deign to discuss anything other than me during this day of mine. No one else was as important as me. Not even other people born on the same day, if they even existed. Of course, as I got older, the tantrums stopped. My mother informing me that I would not have any friends if I continued on that path certainly helped. I would take each turning year in stride with or without party and presents. However, with each birthday I would still feel a tad bitter and sad if people did not acknowledge me. Then came the day when I was in my early twenties and my sister forgot my birthday. The following year, my parents forgot. Not even a phone call came my way. I was starting to realize that people don’t really give a shit about other people’s birthday because to them, it is just another day. This is not to say that I have not had parties thrown for me by my best friends and husband. These were amazing times. But hell, we would celebrate a good BM if it means getting together and having a few good drinks!
So, a day came when I decided to stop my self-pitying birthday thoughts. As a way to acknowledge successfully making it through another year of life without being killed or killing myself, I started to take my birthdays into my own hands. How do I want to spend the day? Do I want to be with or without anyone else? If it is an important day for me, then I need to be my best audience and make sure I’m having a good time even if it is just watching Star Wars for the fifty billionth time.
First things first, I always take the day off from work if my birthday falls within the work week. My office has a ‘floating holiday’ and I feel that the anniversary of my birth is as good a holiday to use that on as anything.
Second, if I feel like an adventure that particular year, I see if my friends are available to come with. If they are not, I go along and have the adventure by myself. Alone is always good, because there is no one to yell at if I’m not paying attention to myself.
Thirdly, I am a whore for massages. I always say that if I become rich, the one luxurious thing I would buy myself is a daily massage. Yes, daily. I did not stutter. But until that day comes, I will always have my birthday massages. It makes my husband’s job of gift giving so much easier. I find the spa and he pays the bill. Presto change-o instant happiness! And let me tell you, there is something very special about the birthday massage. I can’t recommend it enough. If you go to a good spa, they will treat you like a Queen. You get a robe, relaxing music, sometimes a cocktail and snacks. Then you give your birthday the best acknowledgement since the day it first happened, by celebrating it like you did that first time. You physically put yourself in a position not unlike that very beginning day of your life. Your body is pushed and pulled into submission by a stranger, all while your face is peeking through a cushioned hole. And I love every minute of it.
So my dear friends, I hope you get to enjoy your birthdays as much as I do. Not like when I was a child demanding everyone’s attention, but by paying a person to worship me. Happy Birthday to me. Happy Birthday to us all!
I didn’t grow up in a house with video games. After a tense game of Chutes and Ladders which ended with my father flipping the board yelling, “Stupid chutes!” we barely had board games. The first video game console that entered our house belonged to a boy my sister dated. She dumped him before we could get to a second level of any game. Goodbye Nintendo, you had such potential.
So in result, I don’t play video games. I enjoy watching them be played because it’s like watching a choose-your-own adventure movie. However, whenever I grab the controller and try to play, I seize up. I seem to be ocular-pollically impaired; my brain has problems coordinating actions between my eyes and thumbs. I hold the controller in my sweaty palms, eyes big on my confused bobble-head wondering where I’m supposed to look at the TV, while my thumbs move my avatar like it has Parkinson’s disease.
My husband Jeremy, being a gamer, would love for me to get involved with his passion. Every time a new game comes out with “cooperative playing”, he tries to pique my interest. “We both can play this one together,” he would say. “It will be like date night!” I tried playing the game Halo with him and spent fifteen minutes trying to find my way out of a corner. Playing Sims was frustrating, to say the least. This is the game where you create a life that is better than yours and have your wee person live it and succeed more than you ever will. Jeremy and I thought it would be fun creating our own living situation within the virtual world. While he left the house, got a job and partied with the neighbors, I died of starvation because I couldn’t stop sleeping in front of the toilet.
No matter if you are playing a cooperative video game in the same room as your partner or over a headset with some 8 year old kid in Tallahassee calling you a dipshit, the way to succeed in your team mission is with communication. You have to talk through moves and help each other complete tasks. Just like real life! I feel that the gaming corporations have really missed the boat on a prime marketing demographic for these games: married couples. Then again, no dude would ever buy a game that is supposed to evaluate your relationship. Perhaps marriage counselors?
One of Jeremy’s favorite games came out with a cooperative play option and I had to try. Portal 2 is a puzzle game where you have a gun that…ah…shoots a portal that gets you…let me just have Wikipedia explain. “The game consists primarily of a series of puzzles that must be solved by teleporting the player’s character and simple objects using the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device (dubbed the “portal gun”), a device that can create inter-spatial portals between flat planes.” With the co-op play option, you and your partner figure out puzzles together in order for you to continue through the game together. There is a lot of, “you put your portal there and I’ll put mine here. Put your other one there and I’ll jump through to land there…etc, etc.” What I found playing this game with Jeremy was that is totally tested our communication skills. I would ask him to explain to me in words where he wanted me to put my portal (that does sounds dirty) and he would have to practice patience as I constantly fell and died. It was a lot of fun! When we solved a puzzle, we knew we did it as a team and no one died or got divorced.
The first game I was able to really get my head around and fully enjoy was Rock Band. It bridged the gap between playing a game and my strong desire to be Joan Jett. Jeremy would play drums on the hardest level, while I would be fingering salty licks (pressing buttons) on the guitar on medium mode. So I wouldn’t get too frustrated, we would play with a “no fail” option applied. In a regular game, if a song is hard and you are not playing exact enough, the game will kill you off. You can continue to live if the other players hit certain chords or sequences of beats giving you back life. With the “no fail” option, you can suck to high heaven and still keep playing not having to rely on anyone else. My type of game!
The morning of January 1, 2009, Jeremy and I decided to start the New Year with a challenge. Rock Band has a level called The Endless Setlist where you can play every song the game has in its collection, a total of 84 songs. The difficulty of play increases with each song and you can’t play with “no fail” so if you die, the game is over, you have failed and brought shame upon your family. We said fuck it and decided to start the year as rock stars.
The day was long and our hands were cramped, but we were “performing” well. We could taste the victory of completion. We had been playing for almost 10 hours straight, had one pee break and were surrounded by cracker wrappers and any food you could stuff in your mouth with one hand between songs. Then the last three songs came to view.
These last songs were not only the hardest level, but they were songs neither of us knew, had no logical tune and no consistent rhythm. The bands and their song titles were Abnormality – “Visions“, Dream Theater – “Panic Attack” and last but not least, Judas Priest – “Painkiller“. These “songs” are total “batshit”. Until this point neither of us had come close to “dying” or had to “save” the other. When the last three songs hit, we were toast. Sweat was flying off of Jeremy’s arms as he flailed around trying to get the nonexistent beat on the drums. I was audibly grunting and begging my ears to pick out a playable tune. Panic crept in at the thought that we might start the New Year as failures and not the fake rock gods we were meant to be. We had to get through this together. These were the phrases that were yelled out by one or both of us at different times:
“I’m going to die!”
“No you are not!”
“I’m working on it!”
“We should just quit.”
“We will never quit! Not after all we have been through!”
When we completed the last of 84 songs, stillness filled the room. All you could hear was our heaving breaths and the applause of our adoring Rock Band fans on the TV. Jeremy and I looked at each other and dropped our fake instruments. “Since the invention of the kiss, there have only been five kisses that were rated the most passionate, the most pure. This one left them all behind.” And then we went to separate rooms and did not speak to each other for the rest of the day.
We’re not going to assume anything here, but we’re pretty sure that if you’ve been keeping up with the Joneses, you have a computer and a bunch of free time on your hands. And, it’s not like we’re tracking your hits to our website or Facebook page or anything (Hi Jim), but we totally know that you like to sit and look at pictures of us sometimes. Maybe you even let your mind wander and try to imagine what was going on in some of the shots? A few of you may have even signed up for a class at the Learning Annex and are working on some short stories based on them. Well, step away from that there imagination, friends, because we are about to give you the true, behind-the scenes story…
Sabrina: All I can say is that this kid is everything I want to be. If I do a decent job with this life, perhaps I will be reincarnated as this kid. Check him out. He has some kind of onesie superhero costume going on, complete with a padded six-pack, a Freddie mask, a Zorro sword, and reasonable shoes. If he is not my hero, his mother sure is. The best thing? The thing you don’t know? This kid was growling when we took this picture. He had this low, consistent, wolf-growl going for about three minutes. We told him that this picture was of him “protecting” us, and he just knew what to do. You can’t make me stop loving this kid. Just try. Just you try. That kid will show up and karate chop you in the balls.
Katharine: Yah, I didn’t want to work with the kid at first. I mean, his mother was standing just out of frame. Such a Stage Mother too! Here she is enjoying a lovely sunny day when three freezing (it was early March) obviously crazy ladies come traipsing by and demand that they take her child. And she said yes! What a demanding diva! The boy? We’ve been dating for six months now.
Alex: All true. But this kind of stuff happens to us all the time: we were just minding our own Weewax, being fabulous in Brooklyn (as we do), when this pocket-sized Jason/ penguin/ Inigo Montoya approaches us, growling. We immediately recognized his high-Q potential and asked if we could pose seductively behind him. I was surprised that his Mom said yes so quickly! I was even more surprised when he said yes to a date with Katharine. When she gets out of jail we’re holding a little reunion at the Outback Steakhouse.
WHERE IS THE FOOD?
THAT’S NOT OUR FOOD, SILLY!
Sabrina: All I can say is that this pizza guy is everything I want to be. If I do a decent job with this life, perhaps I will be reincarnated as this pizza guy. I mean, are you kidding me?? Check him out. This sweet man was trying to deliver a pizza, and three crazy ladies in formal wear show up and assault him verbally. “What’s in that box?” they demand. “It smells like pizza!” they accuse. This Zen warrior is unfazed. His smile is like a butterfly on a raindrop, even when it appears that he has been screwed over by the nerdy guy who didn’t tip him and that strange women are trying to do prop improvisation with his bicycle . His heartbeat murmurs “all will be well,” and, as soon as his detachment kisses the face of the universe, the door immediately pops open and Professor Nerdington remembers to hand him a tip. The butterfly’s wings flutter gently in the wind as the pizza guy reaches over our mugging faces and takes his three dollars. The universe makes sense, especially when it doesn’t make sense, see?
Katharine: Typical New York City. No one blinks an eye at yet another photo shoot being done on top of their bicycle. Another day, another dollar that isn’t worth crazy people running up to you and posing with your transportation. The least we could have done is bridge the gap and hand the dude his tip. Did we? No! Because it would have ruined the shot. Dammit people, you have to understand that when opportunity knocks, only the strong and demented survive.
Alex: The guy in the hoodie is my biological father. I THOUGHT WE AGREED NOT TO USE THIS PICTURE!!
THE AUDITION: A Totally High-Tech Video Shoot
Sabrina: All I can say is that this director is everything I want to be. If I do a decent job with this life, perhaps I will be reincarnated as Lila. Check her out. She has turned a Broom into a BOOM with an exclamation point. And she is able to hold it steady as that hot guy unbuttons his shirt. That’s the way–uh huh, uh huh, I like it!!! Also, who was that hot guy? Did anyone get his number? Ring-a-ding! Soup’s on!!!
Katharine: This is an example of why I love being involved in video production. At no point did anyone sit and cry out “Why couldn’t we find a sound person?!” Ok, well maybe that one person asked. But she was a jerk. The rest of us decided to work as a team! When we realized we could not mic a stripping man, we got to problem solving. We put our heads together and looked at Lila for an answer. Lila, the ukulele playing super director, didn’t sit in her non-existent director’s chair and let everything fall apart. NO! At 4AM, her arm and the friggin broom were going to be the best sound capturer in the history of sound capturing! Hizzah!
Alex: Ah yes, this old chestnut. The old “tape a mic to a broom” sound-recording technique. It’s how I do all my audio surveillance, except that I cleverly disguise the broom handle in the sleeve of a veeeeeeery large trench coat (what? I used to be a Little Rascal we were always getting into hilarious scrapes!) I’m just glad those wacky adventures finally came in handy at the business end of a night shoot, when we were all out of bourbon and good ideas. Let’s hear it for American ingenuity!!
There it is. You’re welcome.
So, now, true believers, it’s YOUR TURN. Come up with a story for this shot and win a prize. You can’t win if you don’t enter! We’ll reveal the true story in next month’s BH blog, so, until then, keep stalking!
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.
“You’re going to love my nuts” was the phrase that almost got me to buy a Slap Chop off the TV. I didn’t need a Slap Chop, as I had knives and never cooked; but the spokesman Vince said “you’re going to be in a great mood all day, because you’re going to be slapping your troubles away with the Slap Chop” and I wanted to believe him. But as I reached for my phone, I paused. Something started brewing in my mind and it felt like a warning.
This wasn’t my first adventure with telephone shopping. By this point I was an old pro at calling within the next three minutes in order to get my free gift with purchase. I kept a pad of paper and pencil next to my couch for easy access when a toll free, ten digit number flashed on my TV screen. I had developed a theory that if I saw a commercial more than once and I still really wanted the thing they were pitching, it was meant to be and I should call. I was destined to own this or that bric-a-brac made in Taiwan.
When I was six, my mother opened my eyes to the world of television shopping. I don’t remember the name of the object she bought, but I do recall that it was made of four red, plastic bungees that attached to a door handle and you were suppose to be able to do a full body workout with it. You may recall a similar product written into the Larry Sanders Show called “The Hankerciser 200”. “Too good to be true” should have been the lesson I learned from my mother’s purchase. Especially after I watched her give an assertive tug to one of the bungees, only to have it slip off the door handle and smack her in the face. Unfortunately, the lesson I mistakenly learned was that with a little piece of plastic, you could order anything over the phone and have it delivered to you like a present from God in only seven days.
When it was my turn to start making the calls, I was the perfect demographic for television shopping. I was just out of college, lived alone in a studio apartment and had my first credit card. I was going from one “romantic” three month relationship to the next and rarely saw my friends due to an odd-hours job in retail. Good times. I also might have been slightly depressed.
So there I would sit, futon facing the TV and take out on the table. Zoning out and barely watching the show I had flipped to, I would be jarred awake with a flashing light and booming voice. “You NEED to BUY this!” yelled the commercials. You are a cigarette smoking, morbidly obese, stressed out, old and ugly, overly busy person who needs a quick fix! You will be so happy with the results you see with this plastic metal machine miracle video and/or dvd!
I knew these commercials were lying. I knew that what they were selling would most likely not work. But I wanted to buy into the hype. I was unfulfilled and needed something to fill that void. And it worked, for a while. I got presents that occasionally did what they advertised they’d do. I would say 1 out of 5 items worked, as long as I used them as directed. The other 4 were pieces of shit and only good as a pre-paid “surprise” in the mail.
Luckily for me (and my wallet), my life started to change and the hold that ‘As Seen On TV’ had on me started to fade. One evening, two of my closest friends who had been actively working on getting me out of my self-inflicted seclusion came over to my studio for a visit. After getting really, very high and watching embarrassing childhood videos, I decided to up the ante by showing them one of the items I had purchased off the TV. Not only were they surprised that I had outed myself as an infomercial junkie, but they could not believe what I had paid actual money for: “Facial Magic”
“Want to reverse sagging facial muscles, and maintain your youthful appearance-without surgery? Then you must try Facial Magic! It tightens and firms double chins, jowls, sagging lids, droopy necks and more.” I was 23. I didn’t know what a jowl was. But I haaad to buy ‘Facial Magic’! I mean, it has the word magic in its name and it comes with white freakin’ cotton gloves! Basically, you stick your fingers in your mouth and make faces as you tighten your face muscles. Please enjoy a demo of the Facial Magic technique by clicking “MAGIC”.
It didn’t matter if I was high as balls or not, the faces the women were making in the instruction video were mesmerizing. My friends asked me if I bought stuff off TV often. I shrugged nonchalantly and said, “Nah.” But then they asked me to list what I had purchased. The list kept growing and growing and I got more embarrassed and ashamed. That’s when I started to realize I needed to get a grip on my purchasing habit, put the phone down and lock up my credit card. Four years later, memories of our laughter kept me from buying that Slap Chop.
Let me just say, I feel for the people who are still trapped in infomercial hell. Those packages that appear on your doorstep (even though you paid for them) sure do make you feel special. But it is a false happiness. What’s really special is experiencing life outside of the television. The good news for me is that I can laugh at myself now! God damn, I bought some stupid shit. So, for my personal development and for your entertainment, here is a list of some of the crap I bought through infomercials in no particular order. Enjoy!
- A ‘stop smoking’ device that punctured holes into a cigarette’s filter. -The theory was that less smoke would reach your lungs because it would go out the hole in the filter. However, if you cover the hole with your lips, you get the full drag and the plastic piece of crap you bought is a waste of money.
- Facial Magic -I pulled a cheek muscle and stopped using it.
- ProActiv acne treatment -I got it so long ago, Judith Light from “Who’s the Boss” was the spokeswoman.
- A “magnetic reflexology” shoe insert made of plastic. -A piece of plastic with sharp magnets glued to it. It was bumpy and hurt to walk on.
- Tony Little’s Gazelle “You can do it!” -I didn’t actually get this off of the television, but I wanted to. I got it for $150 cheaper on Craig’s List.
- 8 Min. Abs and Buns VHS video -Turns out 8 minutes were too long for my lazy ass.
- Winsor “Gotta keep both cheeks even” Pilates -The plastic band that came with the dvd snapped in half and hit my face. (like mother, like daughter…)
- Billy Blanks Tae-Bo VHS -Lots of fun, but one must continue to use it for results to happen. I chose pizza.
- Q-Ray -I have pain, I thought it could help. It didn’t. It also made my wrist green.
- Smooth Away: removes hair instantly and pain free -Who really thought sandpaper was a good way to remove hair?
- Abtronic Electronic Fitness System: Tones and tighten your muscles with gentle electronic stimulation! -Yes, I tried to shock the fat off my stomach. However, this was the last thing I bought off the television. My future husband’s finger pointing and laughter was shame enough for me to never do it again.