Random musings on a writer's life & times, with occasional input from acquaintances
Saturday, November 22, 2003
Time to answer my fan mail.
I read with interest your piece about convicted cereal killer Berwin K. Hooff. One question: What does the K stand for?
Thousand Oaks, California
It stands for Knute. The killer's full name is Berwin Knute Hooff.
I think you owe it to your loyal readers (both of us) to reveal the identity of your advice columnist, who goes by the pseudonym Mr. Black & Blue. I've heard a rumor that it's your friend Tommy (T-Model) Goodloe.
Gin City, Arkansas
No, it's not T-Model. Itï¿½s Goldie Hawn.
Yo, Peoria Dave!
I want to book the Burt Lancaster Disaster to provide music at my wedding reception next month. How do I contact the band? Do they have an agent?
My favorite cultural arbiter, Ray (Slice & Dice) Cutter, has signed on as agent for the Burt Lancaster Disaster. He can be contacted by phone at 879-6877. Or you might find him drinking coffee at La Palabra Cafe-Press, 4810 NE Garfield Ave., Portland.
Is the pope really Episcopalian?
No, I was joking when I raised that question. He's actually a Scientologist. In fact, John Paul will star next year in a sci-fi movie based on the writings of L. Ron Hubbard. It's a sequel to "Battlefield Earth." The pope plays a Polish cyborg sent back from the future to impregnate John Travolta.
Why don't you ask your sportswriter pal T-Model Goodloe to nominate an Oregon Sports Jerk of the Year? There should be lots of candidates.
I gave T-Model a call, and he agreed with you. "Jeez," he said, "the possibilities just roll off a guy's tongue. Portland Trailblazer head case Rasheed Wallace, U of Oregon football loudmouth Keith Lewis, Oregon State football loudmouth Richard Seigler, clueless U of O football defensive coach Nick Aliotti. I'd have to go, though, with Bonzi Wells of the Trailblazers. Cuss out the coach, flip off the fans, brag about people envying you because you are a rich athlete. Wells has all the charm of Hermann Goering."
Gary Coleman lost the California gubernatorial election despite Buford A. Chase's endorsement. Does Mr. Chase have a response to that?
Czar, West Virginia
Buford offered this comment by telephone from his home in Dufur: "California won't have Gary Coleman to kick around any more. He may have to move to New York, work for a Wall Street law firm and get elected president. Of course, he can't be president until I serve my two terms. And he'll probably wind up resigning to avoid impeachment."
Friday, November 21, 2003
My son Joe and I were sitting around pontificating about politics, and he observed that Howard Dean seems more and more to be a "legitimate" candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004.
I agreed, but remarked that it seemed odd Democrats weren't able to come up with someone jazzier than an obscure ex-governor of Vermont to challenge incumbent George W. Bush, given the Republican's weak poll numbers and perceived overall vulnerability.
"I keep waiting for the big star candidate to jump into the field," I told Joe. "The charisma candidate, the Arnold Schwarzenegger of the left."
"Well, maybe these ARE the stars," Joe replied. "Dean, Dick Gephardt, Joe Lieberman, John Kerry. They're as close as the Democrats can come to star power. What they should do is nominate Martin Sheen. He's already president on television."
"Yeah," I agreed, "he's been elected twice on 'The West Wing.' And he's ultra-liberal in real life -- gets arrested at anti-nuke demonstrations, rags on Bush about Iraq. Sheen could be the Democrats' Schwarzenegger!"
"Or Warren Beatty could be," said Joe. "Or Tim Robbins."
We yukked it up over the idea of lefty actors pulling a Schwarzenegger (or, if you prefer, a Ronald Reagan), but afterwards I started thinking about what would result if the Democrats actually did put up an actor for president and win. He'd be able to craft a government that would truly pump up the people in these celebrity-driven times: the first all show-biz administration. The Tinsel Frontier! I can see it now!
I am going to assume that Martin Sheen is the most electable candidate, because -- as I pointed out -- he has already won twice on "The West Wing." So let's suppose he takes office in Washington. Here's the administration I foresee:
President -- Martin Sheen
Vice-President -- John Cusack
Secretary of State -- Dennis Miller
Secretary of Defense -- Mr. T
Secretary of the Interior -- John Malkovich
United Nations Ambassador -- Rae Dawn Chong
Secretary of the Treasury -- Oprah Winfrey
Secretary of Energy -- Robin Williams
Secretary of Agriculture -- Willie Nelson
Secretary of Commerce -- Monte Hall
Attorney General -- Reese Witherspoon
Secretary of Labor --Sally Field
Secretary of Education -- Jack Black
Secretary of Transportation -- Steve Martin
Secretary of Health & Human Services -- Neil Patrick Harris
Director of Department of Homeland Security -- Macauley Culkin
Secretary of Veterans Affairs -- Jim Nabors
Chief of White House Staff -- Sherman Alexie
White House Press Secretary -- Geraldo Rivera
Director, Office of National Drug Control Policy -- Rush Limbaugh
National Security Advisor to the President -- Chuck Norris
Director, White House Office of Management and Budget -- Jesse Ventura
Operating below the Cabinet and White House level would be the directors, administrators, commissioners and general honchos of various federal agencies, such as:
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms -- Clint Eastwood
Drug Enforcement Administration -- Robert Downey, Jr.
Civil Intelligence Agency -- Chuck Barris
Civil Rights Commission -- Quentin Tarantino
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission -- Hilary Swank
Federal Aviation Administration -- John Travolta
Federal Bureau of Investigation -- O.J. Simpson
Federal Communications Commission -- Howard Stern
Federal Maritime Commission -- Leonardo DiCaprio
Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service -- Dennis Leary
Federal Highway Administration -- William Least Heat-Moon
Food & Drug Administration -- Woody Harrelson
General Accounting Office -- George Wendt
Immigration & Naturalization Service -- Cheech Marin
Consumer Product Safety Commission -- Richard Pryor
Internal Revenue Service -- Chuck Berry
Commodity Futures Trading Commission -- Eddie Murphy
National Aeronautics & Space Administration -- Sigourney Weaver
National Council on Disability -- Billy Bob Thornton
National Endowment for the Arts -- Britney Spears
National Endowment for the Humanities -- Stephen King
National Park Service -- Yogi Bear
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration -- Matthew Broderick
National Institute of Mental Health -- Kristy McNichol
National Institute of Health -- Noah Wyle
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration -- Bill Paxton
National Science Foundation -- Melissa Joan Hart
Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission -- John Landis
Peace Corps -- Toby Keith
Securities & Exchange Commission -- Martha Stewart
Selective Service System -- Arlo Guthrie
Nuclear Regulatory Commission -- Homer Simpson
Small Business Administration -- Danny DeVito
Office of Government Ethics -- Michael Moore
Social Security Administration -- Kirk Douglas
U.S. Forest Service -- Tom Hanks
Office of Personnel Management -- Barbra Streisand
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service -- Peter Coyote
Environmental Protection Agency -- Robert Redford
U.S. Postal Service -- Wayne Knight
Voice of America -- Dick Vitale
Womenï¿½s History Commission -- Tom Sizemore
Office of Thrift Supervision -- Scrooge McDuck
U.S. Customs Service -- Whitney Houston
Ambassador to France -- Jerry Lewis
Ah, yes. The Tinsel Frontier. We have nothing to fear but fear itself. No, wait -- that was the Tinsel Deal. Oh, well.
Tuesday, November 18, 2003
Mr. Black & Blue offers advice to the lifelorn.
DEAR MR. BLACK & BLUE: I am an 18-year-old girl, smart, energetic and reasonably pretty. My problem is, boys have no interest in me. I thought this might change when I went away to college, but it hasn't.
My roommate, who has boys ask her out all the time, says I need to change the way I behave. I grew up on a ranch with a bunch of older brothers, so I don't act very girlish. I suppose I could wear skirts all the time and put on lots of makeup and vamp around, but I would feel like a big phony. Also, any boy who spent time with me would see through the act sooner or later.
Should I be true to myself, or pretend to be someone else?
BOYLESS IN BOISE
DEAR BOYLESS: Break out those skirts! You've got to be a phony if you're going to attract members of the opposite sex.
Think about it -- who would want to spend time with any of us if we put our true selves on display? If we let others see how physically gross and emotionally self-centered we really are, they'd avoid us like a rabid raccoon. So you put on a little eye shadow, you reign in the condescension and pretend to give a damn about someone else. Sha-zam! You have a date. Maybe even a relationship.
As to a boy seeing through the act, that is bound to happen. The trick is to lure him into a commitment he can't squirm out of before he realizes what a domineering, butchy tomboy you actually are.
Marriages are not made in heaven, kiddo. They are made in the theater of self-invention.
DEAR MR. BLACK & BLUE: Churches all over the country are requiring people to throw bird seed instead of rice at brides and grooms after weddings. This is the result of a dumb urban legend being adopted as politically correct. Rice doesn't kill birds! Flinging rice at newly married couples is a fun tradition, and it's sad that "green" people are forcing an end to it. Would you kindly set the record straight for your readers?
BIRDMAN OF ALTOONA
DEAR BIRDMAN: You are correct, sir! Rice most definitely does not kill birds. Mr. B & B has had trouble the last two summers with a crowd of crows that shows up in a tree in a neighbor's yard at 5 o'clock every morning and wakes him with hideous cawing. Remembering the idea that birds choke to death on rice, Mr. B & B spread some of Uncle Ben's finest under that tree. Next morning, the crows ate it all. Morning after that, the crow crew had doubled! Not only did the rice fail to kill the obnoxious buggers, it established my neighbor's yard as Baloney Joe's for crows! The only way rice kills birds is if you load it into shotgun shells and shoot it at them.
Sunday, November 16, 2003
It's seven come eleven. I'm answering the Sunday Seven in the eleventh month, November. Isn't that ironic?
1) What are you wearing?
Maroon fleece sweatshirt (as Bugs Bunny once said of Daffy Duck: "What a maroon!"); black Bialystock & Bloom t-shirt, a souvenir of seeing "The Producers" on Broadway (Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick are returning to the play early next year -- see them while you can!); blue Levi's jeans; leather cowboy belt; white cotton Nike socks, sweatboot slippers.
2) What are you reading?
"Writers at Work: The Paris Review Interviews, Second Series," edited by George Plimpton. Specifically, an interview with Katherine Anne Porter. The Paris Review interviews, collected in more than half a dozen books, make fascinating reading for any wannabe writer.
3) What's for dinner?
Maybe fat-free, butter-flavored popcorn. My wife bought a carton containing 36 microwavable bags of the stuff at Costco the other day. The box is so big, we don't have space to store it. It sits on a chair in the kitchen. Thirty-six bags! Who could eat 36 bags of popcorn? Discount shopping is a menace. We'll be feeding this stuff to our grandchildren, of which we have none at the moment.
4) What's the best thing that happened this week?
My son Joe landed an internship with La Palabra Cafe-Press, an avant-garde multi-media operation in Portland. It publishes a magazine (printed on facsimiles of a cereal box!), rents out facilities for printing, photography, and sound and video editing, sells small literary journals and peddles cups of coffee, among other things. Joe is supposed to oversee development of internet radio programming for La Palabra. I'm not sure what that means, but it sounds cool.
5) What's bugging you?
Dufur High School was knocked out of the state 1-A football playoffs yesterday by Mohawk High, 38 to 20. I am in mourning.
6) Where in the world is Carmen San Diego?
Blue Ball, Arkansas
7) What's it all about, Dave?
Doing unto others before they do unto you.