lundi, mars 31, 2008

Roasting Keith Lowell Jensen

They were billed as "professional comedians." That was the death knell.
Or maybe their usual modus operandi (flying by the seat of their pants) had at last been exhausted with their last gig, which had, once again, gone surprisingly well. Some one must have called the Karma Police.
Or maybe it was that the majority of the other participants were already drunk when they got there, and had known the recipient of the roast for years. They got up, one by one, and rattled off a series of increasingly hilarious and embarrassing true stories, all perfectly gilded with sincere fraternal affection. It was not an act you'd want to follow.

It was during the prepared remarks of the life-long friend that the comedy writers exchanged the questioning glance with undertones of panic. "How the hell do you roast somebody?" They realized that even if there was a way to live up to their billing, they were not about to discover it in the next ten minutes. Mostly because the next roaster was the Jewish/African-American Uncle, who got the joint roaring with material that only the black uncle of an irishly white bachelor could sell. Ten seconds into his remarks, they were laughing too hard to worry.

Then came the fateful words: "And now, two professional comedians . . ."

The primary problem was that the format of a roast is eerily identical to stand-up comedy, which is something the comedy writers had never done, of which they had in fact lived in abject fear. They were, ergo, a little flustered. The subsequent problem was that they somehow decided not to go up together. Stupid for two "professionals" who had rarely worked a room separately. They exchanged another glance, in which comedy writer number 2 must have communicated a more immediate disability of fear, since the brave comedy writer number 1 ascended into the roasted one's lap without apparent hesitation. He got off to a great start, as he literally sat on the subject's lap. He was the first and only roaster to offer the lap dance. An ingenious way to exploit the blessed absence of the usually obligatory stripper.

Comedy writer number 2 did not hear the remainder of his partner's roast. He did manage to laugh really loud at intervals he assumed were concurrent with punchlines. But in truth, he was madly concocting a formula in his head. It went something like this:

Rules of the Roast:
A) Go Blue. Even if you are dedicated to the proposition that Keepin' it Clean is Keepin' it Real, forget about all that and go straight for the genitalia. A bawdy reference to the subject's sex life is crucial. Bodily functions, while not mandatory, are also prime material.
B) Be affectionately cruel. You have to be mean, or it isn't a roast. But you have to do it in a way that is generic, and could be transplanted to almost anyone in the room. Any real indictment of behavior or character will get uncomfortable. It is a really fine line. Talk about the past, because everyone has one. And remember that only members of the family need tell the truth. They are the only ones with stories that go far back enough to have that halcyon days of yore feeling, thereby making them cruel because they are embarrassing, and hilarious because they are sepia toned and untouchable. You only need a few touchstones and then you can embellish. Ideally, your remarks will be almost complete fiction.
C) Recycle. The roast master sets the tone, then everyone essentially retells the same set of jokes with a slightly different flavor. In the case at hand, the mandatory references were: 1)The subject's veganism; 2) his colon (or "butt problem"); 3) his apparent gayness; 4) his prospective bride outclassing him; and 5) his second life as a minor local celebrity. (The other main reference, his childhood, is not on this list because it was not accessible to the person desperately formulating this recipe.)
D) Close with Love. Words to the effect of "Seriously, I really do love this guy. He's great" seem to make everything OK, and therefore constitute the button on the cap of every roaster's remarks.

With this list in his head, the comedy writer felt calm. He marched up there and did what he had to do. And even as every moment convinced him that "professional comedian" was not a title he would ever put next to his name, he proved that, armed with the correct formula and a little aplomb, even a cloistered hack can get juiced men at a bachelor's roast laughing.

It was, all in all, a great time.

mardi, mars 18, 2008

Apologies to Ponce de Leon

I have found the Fountain of Youth. The first thought was to put it into book form and sell it as the next health craze. But you might remember the failure of my one page diet book, whose title and only sentence was: BURN MORE CALORIES THAN YOU CONSUME, IDIOT! It didn't catch on. Sometimes a message is too compact and timely for the masses. The masses don't read this blog, so this is the perfect place to publish my discovery.

The F.o.Y. (as it shall come to be known) consists of three elements, which, when mixed together, will assure that you remain young, no matter how old you are. (You still have to die and everything. But you can leave a beautiful corpse.)

1) ACTIVITY. Get your heart pumping, your limbs flailing. Even the numerous and serious injuries you suffer will not derail the effects of the truth: Active people stay young. Sedentary people would do the world a favor by dying young and getting out of the way.

2) ADEQUATE HYDRATION. Drinking plenty of water not only makes the above-mentioned activity more effectual, it also keeps the skin supple. Having to pee all the time is a little inconvenient, and drinking more than 64 ounces a day is obsessive overkill, but nothing can replace the old Adam's Ale. You may have observed something like this yourself: at a recent training for work, refreshments were provided at the lunch break. On one side of the spread was a tub full of bottled water. On the other was the soda. Guess to which side the healthy, vibrant people flocked. By contrast, a friend sat next to a large woman who actually replaces the water in her bottle with tapioca pudding. Sad and disgusting as that is, you can be comforted by the fact that anyone who routinely substitutes pudding for water is not long for the earth.

3) ABUNDANT FIBER. Make no mistake: Death starts in the colon. In a last ditch effort to preserve his digestive tract, my curmudgeon father recently tried to achieve the FDA recommended daily allowance of fiber. He discovered that he had to eat a high fiber cereal in specially fiber enhanced soy milk for breakfast, enhanced fiber bread at lunch, and a fiber focused salad with dinner. What a chore, I know. But remember that happiness comes from the inside. (Specifically, the colon.) Happy innards make the whole soul smile.

There are other ingredients that people associate with the Fountain of Youth, (laughter, sex, etc.) but they are mostly philosophical seasoning. You wouldn't eat lemon pepper by itself, or eat sugar by the spoonful, would you? Wait, some of us might. Just remember that without the three fundamentals, "young at heart" means simply immature. And immaturity is not eternal youth, no matter how many sitcoms are based on that premise.

samedi, mars 15, 2008

action, redaction

The most recent post must be amended: The day after it was written, news stories began popping up about Obama's pastor.
Good for the press and all that. But I hope he get's through this. Hating America is super hip. Sadly, it will NOT get you elected. He might even have to get his wife to stop going around talking about what a horrific, miserable failure America is and always has been. I mean, we all see how cool it is to say such things, but people don't vote for cool unless your name is Bill. And even Billy has to pretend that the United States have at least one redeeming quality apart from voting in large numbers for his spouse.

vendredi, mars 14, 2008

The Media (or, Everything Is Fine! Part III)

If your name is Romney, your "controversial" religion will be the subject of every interview and a thrice daily anal probe until you are forced to give a speech on the subject. Your loyalty to the country will be called into question. You will be forced by every reporter in the nation to prove over and over again that you are not a kook. Your opponents, in your own party, will be forgiven for saying hateful ignorant things about your beliefs.

If your name is Obama, whose pastor (the man who performed your marriage and blessed your children) is, to any fair minded person, a race-bating, hate mongering anti-semite, there might be a slight, surface glossing puff piece on your religion, but the press in general will agree that it must be a non-issue and consent that even to mention your (otherwise completely unimportant) middle name is off limits. Journalists (Chris Matthews to Jay Leno) will be allowed to call your speeches tear-inducing "religious experiences" without their neutrality being called into question.

If your name is McCain, you will be propped up as an important aisle crossing moderate--until you secure the nomination, at which point you will be the subject of a sloppy batch of half truths in the paper that ostensibly endorsed you.

If your name is Clinton, you'll be thrown softballs (by everyone except Obama). And as actual news programs stay out of the closet where you keep all the information other candidates are willingly revealing about themselves (e.g. tax records, donation sources, where the corpses are buried), Saturday Night Live (a comedy show with a fake news program) will endorse you almost weekly without any regard to equal time for your opponents. As former staffers look around for a place to tell the stories of how you treated them as less than human, The Daily Show (again: A COMEDY SHOW POSING AS A NEWS PROGRAM) will go out of its way to make you look almost human. (It almost worked, but John Stewart is merely a comedic genius, not a miracle worker.)

Look, I'm on record as saying it doesn't matter who is president. I honestly don't care, so all this praise I'm heaping on our news sources is a little moot. Neither am I an expert on journalism. (Sure, I'm the one who broke the story that Bush was dumb, but despite that piece of groundbreaking reportage, a blogger is NOT a member of the media.)

I'm just happy the news media are fair and the citizens are well informed.

lundi, mars 03, 2008

Top Ten Turn-Offs

OK, "top-ten" is somewhat misleading, in that the following list is in no particular order. I've tried to leave out the turn offs intrinsic to me, (i.e. most tattoos distract me--as I wonder: is this as classless as it looks?--and bondage gear makes me laugh to the point where arousal is impossible). I wanted to make this more universal. Add to it if you will, but other than that, this is the list, and it is beyond contestation.

Here they are: the worst turn-offs of our time.

Just apply the word "region" to any part of the body and you're halfway to downing the desire. The discussion of medical issues and/or terminology surrounding traditionally sexual regions (see what I mean?) might be one of the most effective preemptive strikes available. You don't even have to bring STD's into it. Those are a given. Try bringing up your OBGYN, or terms like pap smear, or speculum. Let the talk turn medical and you'll feel it all wane.

Anything involving human evacuation of any kind is an instant turn off. Put it this way: Adolf Hitler was into it.

With no apology to an increasingly large segment of our population: Flab kills the proverbial "mood." I'm not saying you can't get hot if you're heavy. Neither am I, myself, a vision of athletic perfection. We just all have to admit it and move on. And, given past screeds, I'll not go further than to just say this: don't give me the whole "in the past, enlightened people went after the full-figured woman." That is infantile on the face of it. The past aesthetic was about money. A fuller figure meant a rich father. In the present, it means simply "I am past caring about myself physically; therefore I have no right to ask you to do what I won't" (namely, pay attention to my body). So congratulations: You're past all this sexual tension nonsense.

I know I'm going to hear it from the Hippie Contingent, but sorry, we owe our partners the very cleanest of slates upon which to paint our sensual masterpiece.

This is a sub-category of two preceding rubrics. But it behoves us to mention bad breath here. I might have a freakish sensitivity to it, but you have to admit that bad breath can really cook that asparagus, so to speak.

It might be just me, but the discussion of all your past conquests and dalliances sends me to a place that is not sexual. I don't begrudge you a history. Everybody has one (including me). But please indulge my desire to fool myself into thinking I'm the only one you've ever really loved. I'll do the same for you.

This is often an off-shoot from the History or Medical category. But your weird hang ups that have made you unable to "go there" (wherever there might be) kind of make me not want to go anywhere with you (especially if they're medical or stem from some bizarre incident in your past). If a person cares about another person, then they talk things out in a loving way, and listen to one another. And that is beautiful. But in order to get in the mood, I just might require a warming up period during which I can forget your story of what the homeopathic doctors did to you.

Yes, alcohol (or, really, chemically induced impairment of any kind) is turn-off of EPIC proportions. There are few things less attractive than a person who has drank themselves into a state of wantonness. The Cougar who was after me in the bar might have gotten at least a dance if I hadn't been convinced I'd have to prop her up out on the floor. (And actually, the insidious music might have had something to do with it: Mustang Sally just might deserve its very own category--so more on that later). Even in high school, the girl who wouldn't give me the time of day sober, who suddenly couldn't keep her hands of me when under the influence, made me want to throw up. Of course, later, I was the one who must have done something wrong, judging from the way she was throwing up (which again made me want to throw up). Take heed, all you teenagers (and adults who never left adolescence): The lazy eyes, the beer stained breath, the stagger and sway, the inability to comprehend what you are doing, all theses make your partner wish they were with someone else.

In fact, any reference, be it in art, conversation, or fashion, to the bygone days when bad hygiene, chemical impairment, sexual escapades with random partners and copious amounts of body hair were the norm, is a sure fire way to kill desire. Those were not pretty times, and you can hear the greasy, drunken, hairy, orange-tinted grotesque of it all seeping through the music.

I wasn't going to give precedence to one turn-off over another, but upon further reflection, Low self-esteem is without doubt the biggest and most nefarious of them all. Because in the end, no matter what they think they want or how ingeniously they go about getting it, people with a low opinion of themselves can only really curry pity. And intimacy and pity do not mix. At least not very well. Come to think of it, I have a distinct feeling that a good deal of the women who have associated with me did so out of pity. Which doesn't mean I'm reversing myself on the issue. Only that I feel sorry for them. Which also means that retroactively I'm significantly less attracted to them.

Simply avoid the ten contingencies on this list and you should have a happy, fulfilling, undistracted love life. Good luck.