The Daily Dump

A place where everyone (me) is welcomed to express their opinions openly and honestly. I encourage free thinking, free wheeling, off-the-cuff banter and monetary donations.

Wednesday, June 29

Maine - The South of the North (Part II)

Ok, enough about the driving. When a criminal gets freed from jail, he doesn’t spend the next ten years rehashing his prison experience. Basically, I drove until about 11:00 at which time The Girlfriend took over for the final 40 minutes or so. She starts up the car, says, “Wow, I haven’t driven in so long. I have no night vision!” and promptly drives straight down the on-ramp, merging onto I95 at something of a 45 degree angle. Just to show you where I was at the point, I laughed.

The next morning was the literal waking from the nightmare . . .

. . . But there's a problem with writing about the actual stay in Maine. Thing is, that was absolutely nothing wrong with it. And if you’ve learned anything from my blog, it’s that the majority of my material stems from complaining, mocking and general bitterness. Oh sure, I could rave about waking up at 9:00, cup of coffee in hand, walking into the back yard which is really just a wooden dock going out into a peaceful lake; and how the weather was about 90 degrees, but a Maine 90 is a New York 80; and how lobster was around the house the way that peanut butter is in any normal house; and how after lunch I would have a beer, decide I needed a little activity, take a kayak out for a spin and just sit there in the sun floating on a watery sheet of glass, not even remembering what it felt like to sit in an office chair.

But what fun would that be? No one I know is interested in reading about how great someone else’s vacation was. It’s like inviting friends over to watch a slideshow of your most recent vacation, only to have everyone perk up when you say, “Oh, and here’s a picture of me when I got food poisoning from the shrimp!”

The only complaint I can really lodge is when, on our second day there, a 12-year-old kid a couple of houses down started running up and down the lake in his motor boat; however, like a kid who’s only allowed to ride his bike where his mom can see him, he would drive about five houses down, turn around and drive five houses up over and over, ruining my peace and quiet to the point where I was compelled to scream, “You know what’s cool? Rowboats!” Later, while I was out on a kayak, The Girlfriend suggested ramming my kayak into the side of his boat, to which I reply, “I would if I could be assured that the gas tank would catch fire and blow up.”

Now that’s irrational bitterness for you!

Monday morning, we had much the same naïve plan for getting home as we did for getting there: out early, miss rush hour, only making pit-stops for gas and quick food.

Instead, we drove the 45 minutes to Bangor and stopped first at Walmart (Mecca for the elderly), then at Shaws (Mecca for the trashy), and finally at Dunkin Donuts (Mecca for . . . well, us). An hour and a half later, we’re back on I95 south.

Driving out of Maine, though is much different than driving into Maine. At least coming from New York, the first four hours of your trip feel productive – out of New York, through Connecticut, into Massachusetts. Gone home, it’s like reading a 19th century Russian novel – 400 pages in you’re halfway through and nothing’s happened yet. It breaks your spirit. Add to that the discomfort of driving a Dodge Neon and the constant feeling that everywhere we go people are saying, “Who invited Jersey?” and I was losing it in the first half an hour.

The Girlfriend had a worried look on her face, patting my head every so often asking if I was OK, but not in the “Do you want to take a break from driving” kind of way; more like in the, “You’re not going to kill us both, are you?” kind of way.

Unfortunately, not long after, The Girlfriend starts losing it as well. As traffic slows down to a crawl early in Massachusetts, The Girlfriend snaps leading to this exchange:

The Girlfriend: “What now?! Hopefully it’s just an accident.”
Me: “Yeah, I mean as long as no one’s hurt.”
The Girlfriend: “Yeah, sure.”

Needless to way, six hours and a regrettable stop at McDonald’s later, without the promise of relaxation once we reach our destination, and we’re both at our wits end. Belching is no longer funny, The Girlfriend is ready to destroy the CD player (“I hate every CD ever made”) and we’re still three hours away. We’re coming down I91 through Connecticut, about 5 miles before hitting 95, sitting in bumper to bumper traffic, so burned out at this point that I’ve vowed never to drive anywhere ever again. The left lane breaks off and leads to 95 North – New Haven. It was to the point where I start to think: “Maybe it would just be easier to get in the left lane, go to New Haven, buy a house and move in. I could have my parents ship my stuff. I’ve never been good at tennis, but it’s got to be easier than sitting in this traffic. And the schools are exceptional . . .”

Not long after that, I blacked out somewhere on the Hutch, singing along to Chumbawamba, and woke up at a burrito joint near my house. Every trace of relaxation had been flushed from my body. I was already thinking about avoiding doing any work at the office the next day. But that’s the thing about a weekend getaway: you can’t expect any lasting effects from it. It’s instant gratification and instant withdrawal – take it for what it’s worth.

And what it’s worth is one hell of a tan on my left arm.

Tuesday, June 28

Maine – The South of the North (Part I)

Just like the saying, “There’s more than one way to skin a cat,” there’s more than one way to get to Maine. You can fly (for about the cost of flying to Las Vegas – twice), you can take a post on a WW2 battleship stationed there (my grandfather’s preferred means), or you can drive. For nine hours.

Seeing as how WW2 has been over for some time now and I can’t, with a good conscience, spend plane money on Maine when it could go to Vegas, The Girlfriend and I decided to rent a car and drive to the upper reaches of Maine (aka: If-You’re-Not-From-Here-You-Don’t-Come-Here Maine).

Yes, the yellow line is Canada.

When you live in a big city and you take a subway or a bus everywhere you need to go, you tend to think of driving as something that’s fun. Rolling the windows down on a nice day, blasting music, speeding past a handicapped vehicle doing 50 in the middle lane. A nine hour drive somehow becomes a fantasy of free and open road, like those perfect scenes in movies that show people driving off somewhere into the sunset for ten seconds before cutting to the next scene. Well, if this were a movie, this is where we would cut to the scene of me in bumper to bumper traffic on I95 somewhere in Massachusetts screaming to the woman in front of me that she has “no right to live, let alone drive.”

It started as a well laid out plan: pick up the rental at 10:00, go home and load in my bags, swing around and pick up The Girlfriend, be in Boston by 3:00, missing the rush hour, and cruise up to Maine, free and clear after that.

This is how it really went:

I get to the rental place at 10:30 and wait in a small, plexi glass enclosed enclave in a parking garage filled with two guys playing video games who seem to work there and an old man chewing on his gums who seems to hang out there for the sake of air conditioning. It’s one of those places where people talk about you as though you can’t hear them, - i.e. “Chantal, this guy here’s waiting to pick up his car, why don’t you get off the phone and help him so he can be on his way,” followed by my awkward introduction to Chantal as the guy who interrupted her phone call.

Twenty minutes later I get out of there and see my car parked at the curb waiting for me. The first thing I notice is the license plates. They’re yellow. Somehow, I just made a two month lease payment on a Dodge Neon just to rent it for four days, only to find out that it has jersey plates. When I finally get over to picking up The Girlfriend, as she walks out the door towards the car we have this exchange:

TG: “Why does the car have Jersey plates?”
Me: “I guess that’s where it’s from.”
TG (fearful): “But we’re not from Jersey. People are going to think we’re from Jersey.”
Me: “Maybe we can find a bumper sticker that says, “It’s a rental – we’re from New York.”

After that we go to Lencrafters to have The Girlfriend’s sunglasses adjusted (apparently her sunglasses are constantly crooked) and stop at Dunkin Donuts for iced coffees for the road. On line in front of me at Dunkin Donuts is a psychotic old man, obviously bent on making me as late as possible. I walk in on this conversation between him and the cashier:

Crazy old man: “What flavor of iced coffee do you recommend.”
Cashier: “I don’t like iced coffee.”
Crazy old man: “Well I’ll get whichever one you think is best.”
Cashier: “I don’t drink iced coffee.”
Crazy old man: “Oh . . . well which one do you think I should get then?”

Finally I tell him that the hazelnut is the best just to stop this Abbot and Costello routine from hell, leading to this conversation between me and the crazy old man:

Crazy old man: “Hazelnut? What’s that taste like.”
Me (to myself): You’re an asshole, Dan. Why did you talk to him? This is why I don’t like you.
Me (to him): ‘Hazelnuts.”
Crazy old man: “Nuts, eh?”

I stopped it there knowing that I could never overcome the humor of the pun, ordered my drinks and left the crazy old man trying to decide if he wanted iced coffee or hot coffee. It brightened my spirits knowing that though we may have been an hour and a half behind schedule at this point, this man would still be picking out his coffee while we were entering New Hampshire.

About two hours in, and an hour and fifteen minutes after driving stopped being “fun,” the traffic starts. Mostly it was due to short strips of pointless construction, but every so often it was a stretch of mysterious “why the hell is everyone slowing down?” traffic. If I had to pinpoint precisely why driving can sometimes make a normally sane person want to stab himself in the leg, it would have to be these instances of inexplicable traffic. I have a theory that it is caused by bad drivers who get too close to the person in front of them and then hit their brakes, causing the person behind them to break, and so on and so on until it escalates into a mass braking situation. Then again, I also have a theory that it should be legal for you to force other cars off the road if they are either driving too slow or too fast, which is determined solely in comparison to how fast I am driving. I’m not saying I’m ready to be a legislator – that’s not the point. The point is; I’ve got ideas, and at least 50% of them are good.

Driving to Maine falls in the other 50th percentile.

(Stay tuned for Part II, where we drive some more and then drive some more!)

Thursday, June 23

Finally Addressing Tomkat

At dinner with my family yesterday after seeing “Spamalot,” my blog was mentioned and briefly discussed (thankfully I don’t think anyone had read the previous post yet or that could have made for an awkward meal). However my mom did question why I hadn’t given some more extensive treatment to Tom and Katie (aka Tomkat). (Sad that my mom knows that two of my favorite things are Tom Cruise movies and “Dawson’s Creek.” Sadder that we discussed this in front of my Dad.)

Well here’s the reason: I just don’t know what to say about it. I always knew (we all) always knew that Tom was a little different. It was confirmed for me when I was watching him on “Inside the Actor’s Studio” while in New Orleans last summer (don’t ask). When you listen to him talk, half the time you get the feeling that he’s a sincere guy and the other half of the time you get the feeling that he’s really good at playing a sincere guy, like he slips into autistic states where he can’t separate himself from the characters he’s played. Maybe the most genuine thing I’ve heard him say is “You’re a jerk!” to that guy that squirted him in the face with water, which would make sense because he was shocked from his autistic state by the water in the face.

Basically, I agree with the Sports Guy: You have to believe that Tom Cruise is capable of anything right now. Sure, there’s a good chance that nothing will happen, he’ll continue making movies and being subtly weird and it’ll all play out just fine. But there’s a good chance that he could snap and try to take over the world with Katie as his Queen . . . and could we really be surprised?

Now Katie – it’s a little harder with her. Sure, she has a crooked mouth and a droopy eye, but that’s what made her different and loveable. Granted, if she was never Joey Potter I’d probably be writing things like, “He can have her, she has a crooked mouth and a droopy eye.” But that’s not the case. The case is that for a long time she was in my Top 5, and then she did her nude scene in The Gift and she jumped up into my Top 3. But now? It’s always harder to let go of the ones you care about, the ones with which you have such fond memories of crowding around a TV freshman year of college, the ones you rooted for even in their bad movies, the ones with such deceptively large breasts. And I like to avoid things that are hard. It’s my motto at work, and it’s my motto in life.

So that’s why I haven’t written too much about it. I’m taking the same stance on this that I did on my break-up with Dawn DiOrio in 6th grade and the presidential election of 2004: Just ignore it and hope it turns out OK.

(By the way, everyone should see Spamalot. Everyone. But no one will enjoy it quite as much without my mother laughing hysterically ten seconds into the first song, “The Fish Slapping Dance.”)

Tuesday, June 21

Brain Areas Shut Off During Female Orgasm

I had so much to say about this news story, I had to make it a post of its own.


New research indicates parts of the brain that govern fear and anxiety are switched off when a woman is having an orgasm but remain active if she is faking. (They have a part of the brain that does that?)

In the first study to map brain function during orgasm, scientists from the Netherlands also found that as a woman climaxes, an area of the brain governing emotional control is largely deactivated. (Apparently, The Girlfriend has an orgasm every time I tell her I’m going out with the guys.)

"The fact that there is no deactivation in faked orgasms means a basic part of a real orgasm is letting go. Women can imitate orgasm quite well, as we know (“We?” How close did this guy come to saying “I”?), but there is nothing really happening in the brain," said neuroscientist Gert Holstege, presenting his findings Monday to the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology. (Imagine presenting your report on “the basic tenets of cryo-embriology” right after this guy? It’s like Coldplay opening up for Ashley Simpson.)

In the study, Holstege and his colleagues at Groningen University recruited 11 men, 13 women and their partners. The volunteers were (given Bacardi 151, put in a room with the Poison Ivy trilogy playing and) injected with a dye that shows changes in brain function on a scan. For men, the scanner tracked activity at rest, during erection, during manual stimulation by their partner (during dinner, during intense fighting or debate, while doing difficult mathematical or analytical problems, while discussing plans for the future), during ejaculation brought on by the partner's hand (and during Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous).

For women, the scanner measured brain activity at rest, while they faked an orgasm, while their partners stimulated looked for their clitoris and while they experienced orgasm. (After the tests were completed, Holstege commented: “That was awesome!”)

Holstege said he had trouble getting reliable results from the study on men because the scanner needs activities lasting at least two minutes and the men's climaxes didn't last that long (Efforts to get the men to run a two-minute mile also were unsuccessful). However, the scans did show activation of reward centers in the brain for men, but not for women (prompting women to comment, “You always were selfish. Asshole.”).

Holstege said his results on women were more clear (and smelled better).

When women faked orgasm, the cortex, the part of the brain governing conscious action, lit up. It was not activated during a genuine orgasm. (That must be why The Girlfriend always laughs . . .)

Even the body movements made during a real orgasm were unconscious, Holstege said (adding: “Movements may even be so complex as getting out of bed, quickly getting dressed and leaving my apartment without saying a single word”).

The most striking results were seen in the parts of the brain that shut down, or deactivated. Deactivation was visible in the amygdala, a part of the brain thought to be involved in the neurobiology of fear and anxiety. (OK, I don’t have anything to say to this, making it a good time to mention that someone just walked up to me and asked me to do something work related, to which I replied, “I just have to finish this first.” I guess this is what they are talking about when they say people lost their jobs because of blogs.)

"During orgasm shopping, there was strong, enormous deactivation in the brain. During fake orgasm, there was no deactivation of the brain at all. None," Holstege said.

Shutting down the brain during orgasm may ensure that obstacles such as fear and stress (and sobriety) did not get in the way, Holstege proposed. "Deactivation of these very important parts of the brain might be the most important necessity for having an orgasm me having sex at all," he said.

Donald Pfaff, professor of neurobiology and behavior at Rockefeller University in New York, said the interpretations were reasonable. "It makes poetic sense," said Pfaff, who was not connected with the research (and clearly had no idea what we were talking about).

Monday, June 20

More Asian Than American Idol

The worst part about coming into work hungover on a Friday isn’t that I’m too fixated on iced coffee and pizza to even consider posting something here – it’s that on Monday I come into work and find a slew of things on my desk that on Friday I apparently stacked neatly and thought, “OK, took care of that.” So my morning has been filled with me picking up pieces of paper and saying, “Ah, Jesus, I didn’t do that either!” I even found three stamped, unsent letters stacked neatly under some neatly stacked documents with post-its reading things like, “Get this signed!” and “FYI ASAP!” which, even now, unhungover, makes no sense to me.

Plus I didn’t get to write about the whole reason I was too hungover in the first place, which was a marathon happy hour on Thursday that included $3 beers, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and a waitress who, for some reason, didn’t appreciate it when I asked, “What are the chances of four attractive guys getting a round on the house?” Despite her initial anger, it seems the chances were about 300%, roughly the percentage of free drinks she brought us for the rest of the night, calculated by a ratio of “:drinks received before this woman was attractive” and “drinks received after she became attractive.” (Yes, i think the blond one is a man.)

Cronton Resevoir Tavern - Best Lighting in NYC.

As for this weekend, it was nothing short of the party of the year at Tinga Tinga karaoke bar in midtown, where you bring food and drinks and they provide glasses, ice and the lyrics to a decent selection of songs, cast on a large screen TV with a montage of vacation videos, animal tricks and a disturbing amount of commonplace nudity playing in the background. (But really, what are you supposed to play on the TV screen? Home videos and animal tricks make about as much sense as anything else when 12 people are sharing two microphones, singing songs that can only be considered good in karaoke terms at a TV scrolling lyrics across the bottom. But if I had my choice? Old episodes of Rescue 911. Best reenactments ever.)

Highlights from the night include:

- A rousing rendition of “Wonderwall,” which is probably one of the most underrated karaoke songs of my generation.

- An arousing rendition of “Bad” by Michael Jackson, complete with freestyle lyrics about young boys, the U.S. court system, and young boys.

- A flawlessly performed all-Chinese song, sung by two men who know absolutely nothing about Chinese languages.

- Fake mustache.

- The artificial clapping noise button on the remote control. Used properly, this produced the highest of comedy.

- The first time someone started their lounge act imitation with a soft, accented “Konichiwa.” Not that it wasn’t funny the next 40 times, but as with Chinese massages, the first is always the best.

- Stepping out to go to the bathroom for the first time and realizing that the room you’ve just been singing U2 in a Chinese accent in is, as Matt put it, “about as soundproof as my bedroom.”

All in all, a fantastic time. Obviously, though, bringing your own liquor has its pitfalls, the most notable being that all drinks seem free, therefore making them approximately 50 times more attractive than normal. This means, obviously, that the night was a slow, deliberate decent into vulgarity, culminating with James screaming at a girl mid-obscenity-laced-song/free verse poetry: “Use the “C” word!” at which point everyone pauses briefly before a very drunk James complies with his own request. This is what karaoke (and a bottle of Bombay) can do to a man; and, quite frankly, that’s just fine by me.

Thursday, June 16

Thursday's Bullet Points

– Went to the opera in Central Park last night (aka: Yuppie Public Boozefest). Shouldn’t they just change New York’s laws on public drinking to read: “Consumption of alcoholic beverages in public spaces is illegal, unless there is classical music playing in the background.”

– Oddly, I never see any homeless people at these events. If I were homeless, I would look forward to these concerts all year. And then when the time came, I would gather all my homeless friends, spread out a sheet (or some AM New Yorks) on the Great Lawn and crack open our flasks.

– Like my friend James said last night, how lucky are the cops that get chosen to work these concerts? Time and a half to walk around babysitting the wine and cheese crowd? What’s the worst that can happen – someone doesn’t rinse out their paper cup between the cabernet and the pinot gris?

– On my bus ride across 79th street to the park, I saw three 20-something girls who were obviously going to the concert (grass mats and liquor store bags in tote). The funny thing was, they were all decked out in their best “going-out” attire (cleavage shirts and $5,000 jeans), which led to this hilarious conversation:

Me: “It’s like they were planning on picking up guys at the concert.”
James: “If they’re planning on picking up men at the opera in central park, I don’t think they should be wearing club outfits.”
Matt: “Yeah, they should wear a man costume.”

– Lenny’s makes the best sandwiches. Period. H-1 brings tears to my eyes. I might name my first born “H-1.” I know it’s more of a boy’s name, but I think it works for a girl too. (Seeing as how I can’t go with my original name for a girl, which was Madison, because my little sister named her Yorkshire Terrier “Madison.” The last thing I need is my daughter reaching the age of reason and asking me why I named her after her aunt’s dog. And it’s not like I can wait until the dog dies and then have a daughter, because then I’m naming her after her aunt’s dead dog.)

– I was just in a stall in the bathroom and a guy was already in the middle stall when I got there (asshole). So he’s finishing up and of course I’m watching his feet because why wouldn’t I, and suddenly I see him flush the toilet with his foot! And what’s worse is that he then left the bathroom without washing his hands. So he’s not OK with touching the toilet handle and then washing his hands, but he’s OK with wiping his ass and then not washing his hands? Unless he’s just so lazy that he doesn’t want to bend over to flush the toilet, in which case I respect him.

– Apparently my job might be in danger because I have a blog. God I hope it never slips in here that I ordered a new staple remover not because my old one was broken, but because I wanted a red one to match my stapler. (Is it just me or is this headline unnecessarily bitter?: “Warning: Your clever little blog could get you fired.”)

– Is it just me or does the camel look like it is going to kill Jennifer Love Hewitt when she least expects it?

"You wouldn't be laughing if this guy would just let go of this rope."

– My friend just asked me to help her find an apartment. Isn’t that the equivalent of asking someone to help you quit your heroin addiction? Sure, I’d like to be a good friend, but some things need to be done on your own.

Wednesday, June 15

A Blast from the Past, Vol. 1

I’m starting something new in my blog – entries I’ll call A Blast From the Past. Basically, these will be times when I had a blast and it was in the past. I’ll put these entries in when I’m too busy to write something original or too drunk to care either way.

This one is from an email sent to my friends after I had some medical tests last year. (My apologies to everyone who already read this – but it’s my health, you should goddamn care enough to read it again.)

So if you're keeping track, in the past 10 months or so I’ve had various health ailments, including, but not limited to, having four wisdom teeth extracted, tearing up my hand like road kill in a drunken stupor, having a thing cut out of my back, various sinus infections, flues, etc. The latest event logged in my "journal of my rebellious body" is the result of some "weird" (these are all scientific terms) levels of "stuff" in my blood test results. The stuff in question is a hormone the kidney sends out when it thinks it isn't getting enough blood (sort of like the attitude your girlfriend sends out when she thinks she's not getting enough love.) Now too much of this hormone being sent out can result in high blood pressure, because your heart is trying to make your kidney happy. (Same result with the girlfriend scenario.)

Doc thinks the cause of this is "renal artery stenosis", or basically a kink in an artery going to the kidney. Same as a garden hose, but with blood and much smaller. So I had to go yesterday to get a renal angiogram. (Every time I say "renal" all I can think of is "anal" or "penal" – whoever came up with these names should have thought to make the dirty organs sound very different than the rest of the organs).

I go to the office and I’m surrounded by people double, triple, and, quite possibly, quadruple my age. Everyone is drinking this stuff that they're handing out at the front desk. Apparently they have to drink like 6 glasses of it to fill up their bladder. This doesn't sound good to me. I ask the receptionist woman:

Me: "Do I have to drink this stuff?"
Her: "What are you having done?"
Me: "Something with my kidneys? A kidney scan?"
Her: "Then no."
Me: "Good enough for me."

I have already decided that I will not be using the word "renal" to anyone, including doctors. I find it to be one of those medical terms that anyone other than doctors shouldn't say. Like when non-Spanish people say Spanish words. It just never sounds right.

I wait, and wait, and wait. Waited over an hour. I thought the old woman next to me was going to die. I mean really, just close her eyes and go. Every time I turn my head to look at the TV on the wall next to her, she turns her head and looks directly at me with this face that is saying, "Drown me in this cup of juice. Please." I can't describe how I knew that's what her face was saying, but it was.

Finally I get called in and this is where it gets weird. I have to change into a gown, which is like a blue bathrobe made out of pillow case material. It's short. I go into one of the stalls and the nurse says, "OK, shirt and slacks off, you can leave your shoes on." Because that's what I want to do, I want to take my shirt and pants off, put on the short robe (with three quarter sleeves?) And leave my socks and shoes on. And they put a mirror in the changing room? People want to see themselves like this?

I figure I’ll just change quickly, hurry to the next room, and close the door. No problem, hardly anyone will see me. Besides, who am I trying to look good for? The 75 year old woman with the unlit cigarette in her mouth in the next stall over? So I gather up my clothes, open the door, and there's no one there. No one to tell me where to go. I'm stuck. I'm peeking my head out the door like the guy in hat movie that got locked out of his hotel room wearing women's underwear (you know the one I’m talking about). Finally a nurse walks by:

Me: "Excuse me, do you know where I should go next?"
Her: "Ummm, doctors taking care of someone else. Just stay here, I’ll come back and get you."
Me: "That's the worst fucking thing I've heard all day."

Ok, so I didn't say that, but I really, really wanted to. And then, out of nowhere, a hot nurse walks by. I mean, I wouldn't be surprised if 1. She wasn't real and it was a waking nightmare; or 2. It was the first time in history a hot ad exec said to herself, "I think I’ll go into nursing at the renal scan place." I'm dying here. Nurse leaves, I’m standing there. There is no possible way of standing where I don't look like a complete ass. I try sitting down, realize I have a short gown on, stand right back up. I'm fucked. Hot nurse walks by at least 3 times. I half expect her to whip out a camera one time and start snapping away. I even got caught one time adjusting my robe in the mirror. Pathetic.

Finally, I go into the room and the test goes pretty smoothly. The doctor was a relatively young guy who, at seeing me for the first time, says, "Whoa! Are you lost? How old are you?" I think he was just happy to see someone that he could talk to in a normal volume.

Bottom line, test went ok, should get results today. I hope I did good. I didn't really study, but then again I never did in college either.

Tuesday, June 14

Legally, He's Not So Bad, You Know It.

(Editor’s Note: I forgot to provide the link for Jonah Matranga’s website in yesterday’s post. So here it is: Because you never would have found it otherwise. Also, seeing as how I have no idea who it was that commented closest to the 1,000th hit, the 1,000th hit conest is cancelled. I will keep the prize for myself, which makes the most sense because the prize was my watch.)

This was the kind of morning where you step outside and, if you’re me, wish you were a woman so you could wear a dress. It was 84 at 7:00 this morning. That’s just not right. If there’s one benefit of being up so early, in the summer at least, it should be that it’s a little cooler, the perfect temperature even. Instead, I step out of my apartment an hour and a half earlier than usual and I’m met with a hot breeze, one of those waves of dust and heat that passes over you and leaves behind a layer of instant sweat.

Not that I’m complaining. It’s still 20 times better than waking up in the dead of winter, walking outside and literally feeling your testicles retract into your body for warmth. I’m just saying a few more of those perfectly warm days would be nice.

Without further delay, my studied, insightful comments on the Jackson trial:

1. What does it say when we’ve actually come to accept that, sure, Michael Jackson slept with children. Imagine someone found out that Russell Crowe likes to share his bed with 10 year old boys? Or Vin Diesel? Chris Rock? All I’m saying is, there’s something to be said for the fact that the general public said, “Michael Jackson? Yeah, I can see that.”

2. How does this man still have fans? I mean, not just people who said, “Aw, I liked Thriller, I hope this turns out OK for him.” But a whole crowd of people who cheered as the verdict was read over the PA system outside the courthouse. One woman released white doves into the sky. I find this even weirder than women wanting to marry Jeffrey Dahmer – and he ate people.

3. So it’s true – Poland really does love Michael Jackson.

4. Jackson’s attorney confirmed that Michael won’t share his bed with kids again. He also confirmed that another of his clients, accused of killing three people with a knife, won’t stab people again.

5. This quote?: “Prosecutors presented testimony about Jackson's allegedly improper relationships with several boys in the early 1990s, including the son of a maid who testified that Jackson molested him during tickling sessions between 1987 and 1990.”

First of all, I think when the tickling session goes on for over three years, it’s a little more than a tickling session. And second, a TICKLING SESSION!?

6. No really – she released doves as the verdict was read.

7. Headline in the news today: “How Michael Jackson Got Off.” Is that really necessary?

8. Not a headline in the news today: “You’ve Been Touched by a Smooth Criminal.” Why not?

9. Not five minutes after the “Jury Reaches Verdict” banner came up on Yahoo, Katie Holmes announced that she is embracing Scientology. Part of me even believes that the entire Jackson trial was set up as a decoy so Katie Holmes could convert to Scientology.

And really, isn’t that the saddest part of all this? Sure, the King of Pop is fond of young boys in ways that only young girls or Mid-Western cult leaders should be fond of boys; but Katie Holmes is converting to Scientology, the religion based on a paperback advertised on daytime TV. I thought Joey was smarter than this . . .

Monday, June 13

Birthday Miracles

Shoutout of the week; nay, SHOUTOUT OF THE YEAR goes to Jonah Matranga, lead singer of the band Onelinedrawing. Over the weekend, I went out to Long Island for my little sister’s 15th birthday party. She is a connoisseur of music with abilities that far exceed her limited experience, and one of her favorite bands for the past couple of years has been Onelinedrawing, with its lead singer Jonah Matranga being one of her music idols.

So I can’t really say what Jonah has to do with my sister’s birthday present because the present hasn’t actually arrived yet. But it being late turned out to be a ridiculously fortunate turn of events, because Jonah himself called (on the phone) my little sister on Saturday, right in the middle of her birthday party, to let her know that she had a present coming in the mail – something that “he and I had been working on.” It was the closest I’ve ever seen a 15 year old come to having a heart attack. (I wasn’t this surprised when I found out that The Righteous Brothers were white.)

After she finally calmed down, Jonah stayed on the phone for her for a solid 15 minutes, chatting about anything and everything. Just a great guy. Check out his website and download a few of his songs. My personal favorite is “Stay.” If you like Pete Yorn, it’s better than any of his songs.

Other than that the party was the usual mix of food, drink and fanfare. Other highlights include:

- The Girlfriend looking at a plate of assorted chocolates and asking, “Which one do you think is the healthiest?”

- My mom commenting on forgetting a whole platter of eggplant parmigiana in the refrigerator: “You know what? Screw it.”

- My older sister and I buying my father a two pairs of sandals (one size 11 and one size 12) so when we gave him the size 11’s and they didn’t fit I could say, “Let me see if I have your size in the back.” (My mom got a real kick out of that one.)

- Me being asked to cut the London Broil because my father was busy, and at least three family members family commenting, “Wow Dan, you’re cutting the steak?” as though I only had one hand.

Nothing can top my little sister’s face when she got off the phone with Jonah though. Now the only problem is she’s got at least 70 birthdays left and I don’t think I can do much better. Unless anyone knows the entire cast of the O.C.

Friday, June 10

This morning I get to the 77th street station right as the train is rolling in. I swipe my monthly metrocard – “insufficient fare.” Undaunted, I turn the metrocard machine. The train is literally rolling at this point. It’s halfway in the station. I start punching things in. I’m in the zone. I’m like The Wiz in front of Super Mario Brothers (the kid knew where the one-ups were and it was the first time he was playing it!). I pay with my credit card, pull out the metrocard, swipe and make it on the train with a solid two seconds to spare. When I looked back through the closing doors at the booth attendant, even through the dirty Plexiglas window I could see the proud tear in her eye.

Just to recount, that’s: train halfway in the station, try to swipe expired card, purchase metrocard at vending machine with credit card, manage to make it comfortably on the train. Next time I may even get a receipt.

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m almost at 1000 hits for my blog. Granted, The Girlfriend has already admitted to accounting for almost 500 of them, and I wouldn’t be surprised if my mom accounted for at least 150, partly due to the fact that on her favorites list I’m right below; regardless, it’s monumental. So, even though I have no way of tracking these things, I’m going to give away a prize person who is the thousandth hit at The Daily Dump. Your prize will most likely be something awful and will probably get lost in the mail, but you’ll never win if you don’t try.

This is also my ploy to get more people to comment on my blog. I know it’s stupid that you have to sign up with Blogger just to make a comment, but it takes all of two minutes to go through the process of making an account. If you love me, if you love freedom and democracy, you should do it. The person who posts a comment closest to hit 1000 wins.

I’m listening to Sirius radio online at work and this song just came on. It makes my friggin day every time I hear it.

Wednesday, June 8

Wednesday's Important Events

File this under “Don’t you have anything better to do with your degree?”

Professor Benjamin Brenner has challenged the popular belief that Jesus died of blood loss on the cross, saying he probably succumbed to a blood clot that reaching his lungs, a sometimes fatal disorder now associated with long-haul air travel. Such pulmonary embolisms, leading to sudden death, can stem from immobilization, multiple trauma and dehydration.

“This fits well with Jesus’ condition . . .,” Brenner wrote in the article.

In Professor Brenner’s next article, he proves that the holy trinity is not really three people in one, citing the difficulty of shopping for pants and the impossibility of making important snap decisions.

A gift from our good friends to the North

On April 25, Gregory Despres arrived at the U.S.-Canadian border crossing at Calais, Maine, carrying a homemade sword, a hatchet, a knife, brass knuckles and a chain saw stained with what appeared to be blood. U.S. customs agents confiscated the weapons and fingerprinted Despres. Then they let him into the United States.

(Sidenote: My friends and I were happy to make it out of Canada with a couple of Cuban cigars in our glove compartment.)

The following day, a gruesome scene was discovered in Despres' hometown of Minto, New Brunswick: The decapitated body of a 74-year-old country musician named Frederick Fulton was found on Fulton's kitchen floor. His head was in a pillowcase under a kitchen table. His common-law wife was discovered stabbed to death in a bedroom.

Canadian officials commented: “If we had any idea that this guy was engaged in a common-law marriage, we never would have been so careless with him.”

(Sidenote two: Let me get this straight . . . THIS GUY . . .

. . . shows up at the American border, with a cache of weapons, some of which are bloodied, and our border patrol guards take his weapons and then let him in? But my father gets stopped at the airport every time we fly somewhere because the name “Joe Murphy” is on the terrorist watch list? My dad who once fell asleep before we even got on the plane?)

Courtesy of The Girlfriend, to which she commented: “NUTS!”

A group of dolphins living off the coast of Australia apparently teach their offspring to protect their snouts with sponges while foraging for food in the sea floor. Researchers say it appears to be a cultural behavior passed on from mother to daughter, a first for animals of this type.

Apparently, female dolphins learn to use the cone-shaped sponges to protect their snout from getting stung by stonefish and other creatures when foraging the sandy sea bottom for food.

However, only one male was observed using a sponge. Michael Kruetzen, lead author of a report on the dolphins, notes that as adults, male and female dolphins have very different lifestyles – some males are tough enough to dig through the ultra soft sand without protection from a sponge while some are just pansy asses.

Kruetzen is quick to add, "I would think that they do not have time to engage in such a time-consuming foraging activity as adults, as they are busy herding females."

That’s more like it.

Tuesday, June 7

Quitters Don't Collect Unemployment

Lately I’ve been thinking I should quit my job. What does it mean when twice a day, on average, I have to leave my office just to let the wave of rage calmly subside? And since there’s really no point in taking the elevator down 19 stories, then walking through the lobby, past the conclave of smokers gathered in front of the building just to take a deep breath, I usually end up just doing it in the bathroom, which is the logical equivalent of taking a vacation in Queens.

But what would I do? Write in my blog four times a day, hoping that Lindsey Lohan dials a wrong number and accidentally sends my cell phone nude pictures so I can be the next one to make it big? Maybe importing and exporting? Doesn’t seem so hard. Or maybe buy some land in Middle America and wait for The Comet in 2010. (I got sucked into a special on The Discovery Channel the other night about The Bible Code. The Comet of 2010 is prophesized to “annihilate the earth,” which will make the predicted earthquakes of 2014 and 2113 all the more phenomenal.)

In the meantime I guess I’ll just do what I’ve done in the past when I’ve become frustrated at work, and go on a hugely inappropriate number of vacations in a short time span, far beyond what my unofficial “allotted” vacation days permit. Perhaps that’s why it was so fun when I had this conversation with my boss this morning:

Me: “Just wanted to let you know I’m going to be out of work on the 24th and 27th of this month. I’m going to be up in Maine.”

Boss: “Nice, what part of Maine?”

Me: "blah, blah, blah”

Boss: “blah, blah,blah”

Me: “Haha, yeah.”

[Two minutes later.]

Boss: “How was your weekend?”

Me: “Good. It was my girlfriend’s birthday. For her present I got her a trip to New Orleans. She loved it.”

Boss: “Wow, great present. When are you going?”

Me: “July 22nd through the 25th. It’s going to be great.” [Wait for it . . . .] “Oh yeah, I’m going to need those days off too.”

Then I went to Dunkin Donuts, bought an iced coffee, sat on the steps of the Federal Building for 15 minutes and watched the tourists piss off the businessmen, hating my job a little less.

Random comments on the birthday weekend:

- Glad to see my tall friend John Friday night before Tony mania hit. (John single-handedly produces the Tony’s.) Even more glad to see one of the most amazing things in my life, a 3’8” girl. I don’t mean a government issued tiny person – I mean a girl, just your run-of-the-mill girl, only she’s a little shorter than your standard counter top.

- The award for the Most Entertaining Thing Done In Years goes to The Girlfriend’s friend Erin who on Saturday night at a bar downtown, stood up from the table at about 3 in the morning, wobbling drunk, and proclaimed, “I’m going home,” and proceeded to walk straight into the entrance to the men’s bathroom before someone at the table stopped her.

- This also wins the award for Most Could Have Really Sucked because of the steep cement stairway leading down to the men’s bathroom.

- Almost falling asleep in a hammock in Bed Bath and Beyond after brunch on Sunday? Awesome.

- Watching the Tony Awards that night only to see that the show your friend helped produce (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?) get shafted? Not so awesome. (Not that that stopped John from celebrating after the show with his boy Edward Albee, I’m sure.)

- And finally, I just love it when The Girlfriend says, “Hey quick question: did you know we’re going to New Orleans?” Even if it’s seven times a day.

Quote of the Day:

Matt: i didn’t know what was happening.
Matt: was she legitimately midget?
Matt: or just short?
Matt: but she was really fucking cute.
Matt: which made it more odd.

- From an IM conversation between Matt and John, about the girl I've come to call Small Wonder.

Friday, June 3

Like Good Cheese, 80's Music Ages

The first episode of ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time” was on tonight, and of course that was no way I couldn’t watch it. Not that I entirely wanted to, come on – can you really not watch? Expecting high comedy, I sat down with my pen and pad and made a running diary of watching the episode:

9:00 As the introduction starts, I get this feeling like I shouldn’t be watching this, like that feeling you get when you watch something in the microwave. You’re pretty sure it’s safe, but you’re not entirely sure.

9:01 Vernon Kay is our stereotypically British host. Wouldn’t it have been a better idea to get a host from the 80’s to do the show? Like Arsenio Hall? (Actually, why not get Simon Cowell to host this? I’d give anything to see Loverboy haul off an deck Simon after he calls their music “fetid rot.”)

9:03 According to Vernon, this show proves that “Great music never dies.” But what happens to crappy music? Does it die, fester in purgatory, then come back from the dead to haunt our children? I’ll have to ask my friend Matt – he had to go to a Rick Springfield concert once.

9:05 First up is Loverboy doing “Everybody’s Working For the Weekend.” How old are these guys? They look like they were forty-years old back in the 80’s. The lead singer looks almost immobile now, like his back is going to go out with the first fist pump.

These guys WANTED to be called Loverboy.

9:08 What are the chances that Loverboy is back stage right now telling a puzzled Arrested Development member to go round him up some young groupies? 3 to 1?

9:09 CeCe performed at Bill Clinton’s inauguration. That’s how long it’s been since we’ve had a good president? Really?

9:10 Why does CeCe get new background dancers? They should have to use the same ones they used in the 80’s. Two forty-year old guys dancing to “Finally?” THAT’s good TV. Not a bad performance though. If Simon Cowell were hosting, he would say something like, “It didn’t make my ears bleed.”

9:13 Next up is Flock of Seagulls. This is definitely the most depressing act so far. These guys have aged. I don’t mean aged a little – not like watching Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon and then in Lethal Weapon 4. It’s like watching Farrah Fawcett in Charlie’s Angels and then in her new show “Chasing Farrah,” where, let’s face it, you just want to strangle her. Or at least burn her so she’ll stop talking about how beautiful she is.

9:14 The good news for Flock of Seagulls is they’ve been out of music for so long that their sound is current again. Thousands of fifteen-year olds are walking past the TV in the living room right now asking their parents “Isn’t this a Franz Ferdinand song?”

9:17 Arrested Development performs next. What does it mean that I actually liked Arrested Development? And still do? These guys have to be the early favorites to win. (And they got the old man dancing with them. Right on. Granted there’s a good chance he has no idea where he is right now, but that’s authenticity.)

9:18 Speaking of winning, can you believe that the winner gets a charitable donation made in their name? Can’t you just see CeCe back stage saying to Loverboy, “Charitable donation my ass, I need the cash!”

9:22 The fact that I found Tiffany attractive when I was a kid just goes to show how far we’ve come. Kids that age these days are looking at Britney Spears and Jessica Simpson. It’s downright evolution. (Cue every 25-30 year old guy shaking their head, saying, “They didn’t have that when I was their age…”) Hell, even Tiffany is hotter now than she was in the 80’s.

The original hit me baby.

9:25 I imagine all different versions of this conversation happening back stage:

Tiffany: “So what have you been up to?”

Loverboy: “I just got back from London actually.”

Tiffany: “Really. Were you performing there?”

Loverboy: “No . . . just, you know, seeing the castles and stuff.”

9:30 That’s it for the original songs. Next up is the bands singing their versions of current hits. First up is Loverboy singing an Enrique Iglesias song. This might be the worst thing that’s ever happened to me.

9:33 The camera just panned over two teenage girls in the front row who are wildly cheering for CeCe, yet they weren’t even alive when she was famous. It’s not like it’s the Rolling Stones up there. Did these girls’ mothers hand them copies of CeCe’s album when they were twelve just to keep the tradition going?

9:36 Nope, I was wrong. Flock of Seagulls singing Ryan Cabrera is the worst thing that’s ever happened to me.

9:39 Arrested Development currently lives in Fayetteville, Georgia saying they like living there for the “peace and quiet” and the “family atmosphere.” My friend and I stayed over in Fayetteville on night on a long drive down to Florida. We went to a pizza hut across from our hotel and when you walked in the door there was a sign that said, “No concealed weapons allowed in restaurant.”

9:42 They’re singing “Heaven” by Los Lonely Boys. I actually like this song better when Arrested Development does it. Is there any question that they should win this contest? (I’m a little nervous now. Am I huge Arrested Development fan and I just don’t admit it? What does it mean that I’m legitimately mad they didn’t sing “Mr. Wendell,” which is a far superior song to “Tennessee?”)

9:47 Tiffany is singing “Breakaway” by Kelly Clarkson, and I’m going insane. I hate myself for liking this song. Seriously. I lose sleep over it. I went into the deli the other day and it was playing on the radio. I unconsciously started moving my head to the song, passionately. When I realized what I was doing I almost started crying. And now Tiffany singing it? it doesn’t even qualify as a guilty pleasure anymore. Now it’s just dangerous. This is how drug addictions start.

But the chorus is just so catchy!

9:48 In my defense though, it’s the best song any of the American Idols have put out. I mean, it’s much better than that song that Rubin Stutter never put out.

9:52 And Arrested Development wins! I’m legitimately happy. Yet still legitimately angry that they didn’t sing Mr. Wendell. (By the way, how tall is this host? Either he’s 6’7” or the lead singer of Arrested Development is 5’3”.)

9:59 Highlight of my night: A commercial for the new show “The Socialite” – a reality show where dim-witted contestants will vie, under the tutelage of hotel heiress Kathy Hilton, to become a proper socialite. One clip shows a husky southern guy saying how hard the contest is, because “we’re getting pounded with all this etiquettity and, you know, learning how to be etiquette.” Yes, I know.

All told, not a bad show. It would be better is they were competing for something a little more meaningful, like a record contract, or if they had the contestants vote each other off in a tribal council. It comes off too much as a telethon and not enough as a competition between has-been artists. Why not break them into two teams, “The Apprentice” style, and have them write an original song to be performed with each other? How long would it be before the old man in Arrested Development starts hitting on Tiffany? Or Flock of Seagulls and Loverboy get their guitarists mixed up?

Either way, I’ll watch next week. I mean, Vanilla Ice is going to be on. Does he still do the spin around dance? Has his eyebrow grown in yet? Is it possible I’m a closet Tommy Tutone fan as well? Well, I wouldn’t go that far.

Wednesday, June 1

Poor Deep Throat

I really can’t be the only one who keeps seeing “Deep Throat” in the headlines and immediately thinks of the porn, can I? This poor guy is one of the most infamous figures in political history and, despite the overt sexual connotation, could have gotten away with a pretty cool nickname until one of the most popular porn movies of all time was made only a few years later bearing the same name.

He did the right thing waiting 30 years to come forward, though one can only imagine the uproar it would have caused if he had come forward in the late 70’s while the movie was at it’s peak – what a PR campaign that could have been, him and a busty blond on a poster, each one saying, “No, I’m Deep Throat!” Throw in a couple of commercials for Ricola cough drops and that’s a career worthy of David Hasselhoff.

Instead, he chose the high road, risked his career and even his life in the pursuit of truth, reaping none of the accolades, stayed in the background while he let Woodward and Bernstein tell his story and let his lore grow. Then, waiting until the twilight of his life, he comes forward now to accept his glory – and me and everyone my age still thinks of a busty broad giving a wicked hummer. That’s politics for you.

And what’s with the Publisher’s Clearinghouse pictures of him? The man was Deep Throat – and he can’t even get a proper press conference?

You've won five million dollars! And a nickname after a sex act!

In personal news, I finally decided on what The Girlfriend will be getting for her birthday this weekend. It’s a bit different from past presents (though she will still get the standard Sex Coupon Book, I don’t want to worry her).

I won’t say anymore at the risk of ruining the surprise, but let’s just say she’s going to really like it. So much in fact that she may finally cash in one of her coupons from last year.