Monthly Archives: October 2007

push butt


Tonight at the AMC movie theater inside Century City Mall, I was taking a pee break in the men’s room before “Michael Clayton” started. By the time I got to the urinal, however, something erupted in the stall about ten feet to my right. To call it a “fart” would be doing it a grave disservice to all other farts, even those forced into the world by my brother Sean.

Yes, even the farts Sean created in the car en route to Utah in 1981, which I think we can all agree was his Golden Age of Farting.

No, this was another beast altogether. Deep, rich and sonorous, it was the kind of basso profundo that ricocheted around the tile walls with stunning clarity, like the Whispering Gallery atop St. Paul’s Cathedral. After a few more seconds, with the bleat not stopping, I knew we might be on to something.

A man in a denim jacket came into the bathroom, as well as a gay Asian couple, and all three immediately froze when they heard the din. It was not the kind of noise you laughed at; no, it was the kind you experienced with jaws relaxed open with the possibility you might be witness to history.

At this point, I checked the second hand of my watch and backtimed the fart to about 12 full seconds. Now it was much more than a fart – there were ungodly noises of wet effluvium, vaguely reminiscent of when they open the release valves on the Hoover Dam. I looked at the gay couple, and they looked at me. This had gone past humor, past absurdity, and was now entering another realm altogether.

At eighteen seconds in, it still hadn’t finished. I was beginning to calculate who could possible have that much gas, or really, anything inside them. Plus, who was this Anonymous Farter? Was he six-foot-eight, round as a toll booth? One thing was for certain: he possessed a lack of self-awareness that defied all social convention. As the vibrating, thunderous ass gasps continued, I knew we were dealing with someone who had broken the chains of moral obligation and drop-kicked inhibition to the wind.

Still others came into the bathroom, and were slowed by wonder. At some point, tears came into my eyes, because it had come all the way back to being funny again. I simply couldn’t believe a human being’s butt was capable of such cacophony, and by now, nor could anyone else. We were all strangers, but smiling now, knowing we were sharing something truly special. By the time the dying blasts emanated through the room, I checked my watch: 25 seconds.

The movie was starting, and I knew the aftermath would take some nuclear waste know-how to tidy up, and thus I never met the man responsible. But I would like to say this: Dear Sir, you have a gift. It’s not often one gets a superlative moment in life, so I must thank you for abandoning all care and letting us experience what will surely be The Greatest Fart We Have Ever Heard. I doff my cap to you, and wish you many happy returns.

get ich quick


Ladies and gents, allow me to introduce Hank and Ankle. Named by Lucy before they were even brought home, both Hank and his friend Ankle are carassius auratus, known to you and me as goldfish. Hank, the large orange one, is a Western Fantail related to the Japanese ryukin, and Ankle is a telescope-eyed Black Moor. They would both like you to know two things: they are relatives of the Carp family, and when they get together, they aren’t a “school,” they’re a “troubling” (which they – and I – think is really cool).

I come from a very long and storied line of pet-keeping, and I’ve been chomping at the bit for Lucy to have a pet since she was about three weeks old. Therapists like to say that having kids allows parents to relive (or re-cast) their own childhoods, and I always wanted fish, but never got them. HA!

These days taking care of fish is so much easier than it was in the ’70s when I was a little brat eating orange Push-Ups. The filtration systems don’t use that horrible cotton shoved into the pumps anymore, and you can get rid of any water problems or “ick” with a few drops of solution. The system above – the Eclipse 12-gallon tank – even has a spinning “good bacteria” wheel that means you only change 25% of the water every few weeks.

Lucy loves Hank & Ankle with the dedication of most Americans to their TV shows: that is, she wants a good swath of time inventing stories about them before her attention span demands distraction. However, the person benefiting most is probably me.

At night, I’m able to sit on the couch in front of Hank & Ankle and stare into the water for vast stretches of time, the kind of zen-like trance that can happen at a campfire or an ocean. They were originally bought to give Lucy the inchoate first chapter of “taking responsibility for other beings,” and I’m sure that’s sinking in somewhere, but those two little dudes have accidentally provided me with something stronger: unexpected peace of mind.



The time has come to lay a few things to rest around here, so I’m in the midst of writing a FAQ for this blog. In doing so, I hope to take care of the following people: folks who want to make movie trailers, dogs who have overdosed on Rimadyl, those seeking Jarts™, and the general populace who wants a good place to start. But most of all, this FAQ will be an instructional tool for any would-be commenters (or email writers) who have come up with a list of unsavory adjectives about me, and are still toiling under the notion that they were the first to make such trenchant observations.

In fact, I’d offer a $5 cash reward for anybody to elucidate a character flaw they think I have that I don’t already know. This isn’t in the interest of drumming up more self-obsessed drivel about me me me, I’d just like to save some of you anonymous commenters/emailers all those precious hours spent crafting your finely-tuned invective. It can be a real drag to work so hard, only to find out your epiphany had been long ago accepted as fact.

In that interest, is there anything you longtime or short-time folks think would be a good question for the FAQ? It can be pretty much anything, as long as it doesn’t impugn or belittle anyone else. I’ve already got about 20 recurring good questions from my years on here, but would be much obliged if there’s something you’d like to add. I know it sounds self-aggrandizing, but hey, if I’m going to keep doing this, why not?

requiem for a purple wallet


On Friday night, somewhere between the Duane Reade drugstore on 52nd Street and the British Consul’s house on 51st and 2nd Avenue in Manhattan, my wallet disappeared. It was in the pocket of my backpack, there was almost nobody around, and the most logical place it went missing – a scotch tasting attended by some of the most highfalutin’ folks in NYC – seems a bizarrely-unlikely place for such absconscion.

Oh, but you say, people lose their wallets all the time. Yes, perhaps, but I don’t. I carried that specific wallet around for ALMOST EIGHTEEN YEARS. The last time I lost my wallet, I left it in front of a fake Gothic chapel at Dook University, and it was February 1990. I went to Townsend Bertram in Carrboro and Betsy Towns sold me a new purple wallet that held together with Velcro. Betsy was one of my future wife’s best friends, and for some reason I thought her family owned the store because “Townsend” was so close to “Towns”. But I digress.

That purple wallet came to signify consistency in a life that was utterly maniacal. I had that wallet writing the last of my Wednesday’s Child columns for the paper; it saw me through my first book, countless moves from different houses, to New York, to New Orleans, to California, back again, back again.

I may have been a fuck-up, but at least I still had my wallet. I might have done ecstasy at a rave in the Garden District and drank a whole bottle of Skyy Vodka, but I didn’t lose my wallet. When I got so destitute and had to move from McCauley Street to a patch of cold basement floor at the Lodge and work every night at La Rez so I could afford to eat, I still had my fucking wallet.

In fact, as ADD encroached, and my life became the butt of jokes amongst those who preferred to live in one place longer than a year, I used to ask them how long they’d kept their wallet. Tessa is infinitely well-put-together and has organization systems for her organization systems, and she’s lost her wallet TWICE since we’ve lived together. Whenever she mentioned some piece of arcana about my inability to keep my environment out of the clutches of chaos, I’d say, “Yes,” while holding up my purple wallet, “but I still have this.”

Thus, on Friday, I lost:

– hundreds in cash

– my driver’s license

– four credit cards

– all my keys (attached)

– and, worst of all, my Carolina ID from 1990 where I was wearing a green turtleneck.

But that’s not all. I lost my moral high ground. Now, I’m just as bad, nay worse than everyone else, because I’m a disorganized, distracted yo-yo who also lost his goddamn wallet. I’d like to bid a fond adieu to my little purple Velcro overstuffed 1990 friend, and thank it for those countless years of loyalty. It was the one inanimate object that stuck by me, and I’m rendered mournful by the thought of it languishing, stripped of all value, lying in a bin thousands of miles away. I can only hope it finds its way back to me, or, barring that, rests peacefully at the bottom of a drawer belonging to someone too distracted to ever put it in the mail.



Jordana went by the Duane Reade, and there it was, sans cash, but otherwise intact! I’d called the store three times without avail, but like all things, it took actually going there. Jordana – and New York – you’re the best!

hey hey, we’re the portuguese


Happy Columbus Day, everyone! In honor of our fearless conquistador, here is the image of Columbus arriving in the “New World” as depicted by Currier & Ives:


My favorite bit is at far left:


guy at top: “what the FUCK?”

i don’t feel tardy


I’d like to know what your Fridays are like, because every job I’ve ever had… something kicks in around 1-2pm that makes serious work excruciatingly difficult. The same thing happened in school, when the teachers unlucky enough to get us after lunch had to deal with the breakdown of basic rules that they, too, felt hard-pressed to take seriously.

Now, in the freelance world, it’s quite a different story. Friday afternoon forces a reckoning, a “did I accomplish what I set to do this week” that is usually distilled into a “um, perhaps not” and it wasn’t that long ago when that meant something close to financial disaster.

When you work a freelance life, there is no weekend, there is no time when you are truly “off”, and back when I had no health insurance and was desperate for every frickin’ gig, Friday afternoon meant no good news for at least two days. I’m blessedly lucky to have managed an occupation that has no office, but any of you who have freelanced know it can wreak havoc on your stomach lining.

To quell that horror, I took That Internet Job, and before I started to loathe it (and it loathed me back), I recall the joy that accompanied Friday afternoons, because we were all truly able to leave it all behind. The 8am-6pm grind would flitter away like it didn’t exist. Friday afternoons felt like summer vacation, an impossibly long swath of time that would never end. Sunday night? Never heard of it – sounds crappy!

Even at the dot-coms, we’d stop looking at the internet on Friday afternoons (and the stats for this site show something similar). And so I ask – what are your Friday afternoons like? Can you focus? Does it still feel a little like school?

fish needs bicycle, film at 11


I had a nice rant about American wealth all designed for you readers when I got sidetracked by… yes, you got it, the UNC Basketball schedule for Outlook imported into iCal using iCalTextImport! It does require a lot of pruning and reshaping once you get it into your calendar, but now none of us have any excuse to miss the barnburner soon to be known as the Carolina-Iona game at 3pm on November 18 (among many others).

While we’re on the subject of stuff that works, I’d like to single out several other things I’ve encountered this week. First, obviously, a shout-out to deck screws – and not just any deck screws, I’m talking about the ones that use “star bits”, dipped in some protective enamel that makes them outlast the Solar System:


Screws at Home Despot are chained to the mediocrity of the Philips head, which strip bare when you’re using a power drill. Some may sing the praises of the “square bit” screws, but I found those just as crappy. Nope, if you’ve got something in your house worth fixing, a star-bit deck screw is the only fastener worth fastening.

Another great piece of machinery? Good guess! In fact, it was the Brother MFC-240C!


We have several hundred important documents to scan, and this little guy has a sheet feeder… so you can stick entire legal papers into the top, scan them straight into Acrobat, and get instant 2 to 10-page PDF files in about fifteen seconds. Yes, that sounds boring, but have you ever tried to scan individual sheets by hand, them stick them together digitally? IT SUCKS.

We haven’t had a printer that works at our house for a while, and this little guy prints 25 pages a minute, makes copies, gets faxes, and shaves your grundle – all for ninety bucks!

One last thing I like: Lewis Taylor. Have you guys heard him yet? He’s magnificent. It’s been a long time since I was psyched about a musician, and this dude can throw down like Curtis Mayfield, then suddenly turn into a chimera of Todd Rundgren, Queen, and Stevie Wonder. Ah, the joys of ROCK!


Update: check out this article about Lewis Taylor in a league with our own Greg Humphreys.

hair scrunchies: set of five, 79 cents


Can you truly recall the feeling of being nauseous? How about a severe headache, like a migraine? Can you put yourself in the emotional position of being hopelessly depressed? To do so, or at least to understand these Exceptionally Bad experiences, has been a fascination of my latter-day rehabilitation.

Nausea is nature’s dealbreaker: when you constantly feel like barfing, there is little else you can do. Migraines, depression, deep-set hunger and cold can actually drive you temporarily crazy; you can say things you don’t actually mean, you can watch your body doing things you didn’t ask of it. You have effectively drowned in your situation and have no means of thinking outside it.

I mention this because I went to one of the most depressing stores in America today – the Walmart in Hudson, NY – and was overcome with snobbery and derision. These shoppers, these unthinkably obese, racist goons buying power-steering fluid by the case, are going to be lifelong obstacles towards electing people who will change this country for the better. They will vote for Hillary when somebody kills them, lops off their hand, and makes the dead hand pull the lever in the voting booth.

This judgment races through my brain within 5 milliseconds of being around these other Americans, and yet it shows an incredible lack of empathy, supposedly the benchmark of being progressive or liberal. These people could be living lives I once had but now cannot fathom: being one radiator leak away from no car and no job, chancing five years without health care, working all week without seeing their family. They could be caring for an elderly aunt who no longer recognizes them, worried about a son who won’t stop coughing, driving through the rich neighborhoods of Greenport and Claverack and wondering why life is so patently unfair.

They make decisions because they can’t see out of their particular situation, but what gives me any stranglehold on perspective? I went to prep school, graduated from a Public Ivy, hobnobbed in Manhattan in the literary elite, then moved to California to invent stories. I’m held together by a strong family, but owe vast swaths of functionality to an antidepressant and speed.

I’m trying to keep my side of the street clean. The drugs and therapy were implemented to erase misery, and now I’m trying a Buddhist perspective to actually attain well-being – but I also know my financial position allows for such introspection.

It’s amazing: you try to see things from other people’s point of view, but more often than not, you forget that YOU’RE the one with the flawed glass. It is you that has the migraine, driven slightly crazy by vague nausea, and while your feelings run strong and you’re utterly convinced that you’ve attained the moral high ground, your perspective ends mere millimeters from the tips of your fingers.