Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Cyber-mating, part 5: Curse of the Cat People

Today a woman on the dating site "winked" at me. A "wink" is a wordless overture from a member who is interested in you but too cheap to spend a buck or two that it costs to send an email message. Her user name is "babylambtbone."

This is how she filled out the last three sections of her profile:

Five items I can't live without

coffee, naps with my cat, something to read, positive reinforcement, chocolate raspberry rolled scones from the read

In my bedroom one will find...

me and my cat taking a nap or reading a book or the newspaper the cat doesnt really read tho

Why You Should Get to Know Me

i like real dates im old fashioned but i like loud music and im pretty noisy sometimes i love my cat i like quiet too sometimes i dont really take myself very seriously i like to take naps and stay up late

This woman is 43 years old, can neither spell nor punctuate, and from this evidence -- "i like loud music and im pretty noisy" -- has the sing-song syntax, unmediated mind and cultural predilections of a IM-mad ten-year-old. She describes her occupation as “yoga teacher/waiter” and spends far too much time in bed with her cat. She's the Collyer Brothers’ younger sister.

And it's a good thing that the cat can't read. He'd be appalled.

Bush's new World Bank president

Willie Sutton.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

The zombie army

These days you hear a lot about zombies. They’ve become a hot item. In demand. If you want your party to be officially hip, you’ve got to invite at least one zombie. But if you want the zombies to keep coming back, you’ve got to make sure you also invite enough victims. They could be people you don’t like, exes who done you wrong, or just random passers-by. Party crashers make perfect victims. Because of the irony.

And there are a lot of zombies, apparently. They occupy whole towns and have taken control of several cities, including Washington. And yet, they're the ultimate outsiders. They didn’t attain power using traditional methods, like the electoral process. No way. They ate everyone who was in power until there was no one left.
They have their own institutions. Like the zombie army. Which is not to be confused with the Mahdi Army of Moktada al-Sadr, the Iraqi Shiite cleric. There’s a big difference. Sadr is Shiite; the zombies are Sunni.

I was wondering if it was easy to get into the zombie army. Or is it mandatory for all zombies? Are zombies obligated to perform two years of military service before resuming their bloody rampaging of civilians? Is it a volunteer zombie army? What would have to be wrong with you to be declared unfit for duty? I mean, they're already dead, which would get you an easy 4F in any other army. Maybe you get a deferral if you’re a vegan.

They all kind of move pretty clumsily, and I can’t imagine they have the coordination to handle sophisticated weaponry, or fly planes.

Digression: What if you boarded a 747 and it took off and the first announcement from the cockpit was “This is your pilot speaking. Grrrrrrr!!!!! And then the cockpit door flings open and out staggers a headless flight attendant! “Chicken or beef?” “Chicken or beef? Arrghhhh…..”

Back to the zombie army. Let’s say a platoon of zombies is going off to fight the enemy in Iraq. And they’re out in the yard getting broken in…

SERGEANT: Alright listen up, ladies! You call yourself zombies? I mean, look at you! You’re falling apart. Blood drooling out the sides of your mouths! The worst posture I’ve ever seen. You, Jackson, pick up that part of your arm that just fell off! And Francisco, stop gnawing on that human skull! Mess hall is over! Jesus, you’re the sorriest group of rooks I’ve ever laid eyes on.

Let’s drop the zombies into a typical Hollywood World War II flick, where the platoon has an Italian from Brooklyn, a naive, blonde farm boy from the Midwest, a Southern boy everybody teases about his drawl, a laid-back Californian. And a zombie. He’s considered the “odd one.” The other recruits pick fights with him until they find out he bites.

They’re about to head into the big battle, and the zombie, who can only grunt, takes out a grimy photo of his sweetheart back home in Zombieville to show the others, and she’s absolutely hideous, with half a head and generally leprous all over, and the Italian guy looks at it and of course he’s totally repulsed, but he tries to hide it and says to the zombie, “Bet you can't get back to her, huh?”

Then the battle begins, and at a key moment, the sergeant finds himself without a grenade and he calls out to the zombie, “Grenade!” and the zombie of course fumbles it and blows the sergeant to high heaven. Later, back at base, the rest of the platoon is too grief-stricken to eat, while the zombie gnaws on a Nazi jawbone.

Now what if the zombies had other ways to organize besides the army? Like zombie medical organizations – “Les M├ędecins sans les Cerveaux.” Let’s say you need surgery and you have really bad health insurance. You’re strapped to an operating table and in limps your zombie surgeon. And the only implement he’s holding is a rock.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


You've seen those banner for -- "Find Your High School Buddies!"

If they were such good buddies, how come you need a search engine to find them?

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The suicide love line

Some years ago, I met a woman -- can't remember where. She was a psychotherapist, slim and attractive in a Levantine way. (I also can't remember her ethnic background; there's a lot of lacunae in my memory bank, probably the result of trauma that I experienced from around, say, 1974 to 2001 or so.)

This was back in the 1980s, when sex moved in the express lane, and men and women had an unspoken "one-date rule." Thus, during a pleasant dinner, the therapist informed me that in addition to her private practice, she volunteered to be an emergency counselor on the Suicide Hotline. This required her to be home at 9:30 every other Saturday night and available to receive calls from desperate people who were seriously contemplating self-extinction. And then she asked if I would mind coming to her apartment. Again, I was younger, and the imminent possibility of getting laid prevented me from considering either the ethical dimensions of trying to seduce someone away from the outstretched hand of some bridge-jumper and the practical impediments to doing so.

I rationalized it by thinking that since she initiated it, she must have a way of multi-tasking that would accommodate both interests. She told me that some nights were very slow, and almost nobody wanted to off themselves. I hoped that something good was on television that night that would distract the suicides at least for a few hours. Maybe a good heavyweight bout.

We quickly removed our clothes and had reached a stage of advanced foreplay when the first call came through...

(to be continued)

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Cyber-mating, part 4: Les hommes

If you are a man searching for l'amour via an Internet dating site, whatever you do, don't use a photo of yourself in a giant bunny suit (with the head off, of course), as one poor schlemiel did on a site that calls itself "the smart people's personals."

Here are some other examples of how men with presumably good intentions sabotage themselves by unconsciously revealing strange obsessions and off-putting personal neuroses.

Man #1:

i believe that one should believe that leprechans exist.
i believe when you are in ireland and come to a bridge you should get out and ask the leprechans for safety in your crossing, for fun.

This is one too many leprachaun references -- and besides, if you love 'em that much you should at least know how to spell their name.

i believe you when you whisper in my ear that you saw a mermaid

I would run screaming, but that’s just me.

i believe my friends keep me alive

They protect him from the leprachauns.

i believe what my friend told me about some mini guy who lives in the conch shell he brought back for me and spends his days lifting grains of sand from here to there building miniature igloos, fireplaces, snowmen, etc.

O.K., you’re clearly obsessed with small imaginary creatures, and need to seek professional help ... from a very teeny-tiny psychiatrist, who lives in a tree on East 11th Street.

Man #2:

If you're a widget maker, I'll try to pick up enough widget jargon so you can tell me about your day and I'll be able to keep up and ask the occasional intelligent question just so you'll know I AM listening (and to indulge my vagrant curiousity).

Translation: I’ll make a condescending, half-hearted attempt to learn how to feign an interest in your professional life.

Man #3

In my bedroom one will find...

A bed, Eames side tables, Voss water and a copy of American
Psycho ... I've been told that my apartment looks like Patrick Batemans.

Ladies: If you don’t hear the cries of “Danger! Danger!” ringing in your head, your weirdo detector needs a new battery. And just in case the foregoing isn’t enough warning, in the “What I’m Looking For” box, he writes...

And nobody crazy. I mean, crazy to the point of hiring a hitman to kill your ex (which actually happened to me once). So... if you ever tried to actually kill your ex boyfriend, I'm probably not interested in a relationship with you. Unless you're REALLY hot.

Man #4:

If you're a vegetarian, you'll get preferential treatment. If not, then at least be healthy in your food choices. Of course, everything in moderation, including moderation. Let's pig out on your favourite vice once in a while, and then back to the diet.

"Then, back to the diet”? Does this guy run a vegan cult?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Cyber-mating, part 3: Under the Bushwick Sun

On many of the popular online dating sites, members are required -- or at least strongly urged -- to fill out a personality questionnaire, which solicits not just essential information, but banal questions such as "What celebrity do you most resemble?" and to fill in the blanks in "Mad Libs"-like sentences such as "-- is sexy; -- is sexier." Another sentence that you're supposed to complete is "If I could be anywhere right now..."

A majority of the women answer, "Tuscany." No shit! You mean just like every other nouveau riche, unimaginative Yuppie in the world who read that book and saw those movies with Russell Crowe and Diane Lane playing overworked/traumatized/lovelorn Americans who discover the true meaning of life is to be found in sunshine, wine and the smiles of gap-toothed peasants? It's like wearing a T-shirt that reads, "I spent two weeks in Italy and all I got was a veneer of sophistication."

Well, my grandparents lived in Italy, and loved it so much that they endured a month in the fetid, tubercular steerage section of a passenger ship to emigrate to Newark.

The reality is that so many obnoxious American Yuppies have descended upon Tuscany that the Tuscans can't handle it. How would the lawyers and designers of Prospect Park like it if every summer their neighborhood was invaded by hordes of Italian young professionals, all smoking like chimneys? Worse still -- what if the Italians decided to start moving to Brooklyn? Yes, my friend, we're talking "My Villa in Bensonhurst."

And if they don't choose Tuscany, then it's another idyllic spot as designated by Conde Naste Traveler. One advertising industry woman claims that this year she went to Bamff, London and Rio, and says she’s happy as long as she gets to “explore new cultures.” As if you could explore a culture in a week or two while staying at the local Hilton. “Look, dear – we're in London! Oh my god, I'm having culture shock – they drive on the right!”

Here are some more examples:

Palazzo Sasso in Ravello (name dropping a five-star hotel)

Hanalei Bay

Greece during a full moon in August, dancing until sunrise. (Yeah, you and Zorba.)

A small pub on the side of a mountain in the west of Ireland listening to live traditional music and enjoying the grey sky...

Crete, watching the sun set into the Libyan sea. (Or in Libya watching the sun set into the Cretan Sea)

Mali (average life expectancy: 53, but what do I care? I love the music! according to the woman who listed it)

The irony, of course, is that the people who actually live in these places – Caribbean islands, rural Ireland, can’t wait to get the hell out of them. They’re usually poor and have to make their living/endure the intrusiveness of gouche American tourists, on whom they are, unfortunately, economically dependent.

But all that is lost to these cosseted suburbanites, who like to think of themselves, as one woman put it, as “world travelers” -- as if they’re Thor Heyerdahl and they rafted to Tahiti.

Perhaps the most horrific response came from a woman who declared that if she could be anywhere in the world right now, it would be "at a Prince concert that never ends."

I'm pretty positive that's against the Geneva Conventions.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Cyber-mating, part 2: Love me, love my hula hoop

From the profile of “Have hula hoop, will travel.”

Call me crazy, but I like everything to be fun. I'm a playful, light-hearted, upbeat, spontaneous world traveler. Watch out what you suggest to me, or you might suddenly find yourself on a plane to Bali to surf with the dolfins. One of my favorite things to do is to sink into a new culture - the music, the food, the spirit – but there will always be a yoga mat and a hula hoop with me to make me feel at home. ... I manage to find adventures where ever I go, and not just in my own mind. It could be out in the world, and even at home - like a night of cooking, painting and hula hooping and whatever else it all leads to.

Most people don't know this, but if you're not careful, hula hooping can lead to more serious stuff, like yo-yo's or invisible dogs. Hula hoops are a gateway toy.

I also like her dare, "Watch out what you say to me, or you might suddenly find yourself on a plane to Bali to swim with the dolfins." {SIC} What's she proposing here -- extraordinary rendition? Is she part of a secret CIA plot that employs 1950s children's fads to entrap evildoers? "You'd better talk -- or we'll send in the Slinkys." And does "swim with the dolfins" the New Age version of the old Mafia threat?

In the section "More About What I Am Looking For," she writes:

Playful, fun-loving and adventurous.
A fearless traveler.
Sincere, creative, willing to create with me.
A doer – TV addicts need not apply.
Someone who is patient; you'll need to wait for my hula hoop at baggage claim wherever we go.

Yes, because the Homeland Security people know that the terrorists try to smuggle in dirty bombs in hula hoops. And Al-Qaeda operatives have been known to break out in public demonstrations of hula-hooping as a distraction while one of their guys sets off an IED.

To be this woman's man, one must worship the hula hoop, must endure traveling with a woman dragging her collection of oversize plastic rings through security checks and trying to stuff them in the overhead compartment, just so she can "feel at home." I wonder what "home" is. A traveling circus?

Here's a truly frightening thought: Does she bring it to bed with her? Talk about a woman making you jump through hoops...

Monday, May 14, 2007

Cyber-mating, part 1: Wanted -- Huck Finn with a fauxhawk

I've been doing too much Internet dating lately, and I'll be posting my observations here for at least the next few days. One thing I've noticed, at least among the women, is that many of them list criteria for their mate that are so rigid and unrealistic as to defy reason. The descriptions of the ideal man they're seeking read like the shopping lists of impossibly spoiled suburban mall-aholics.

For example, take this posted set of attributes from a woman who is clearly conscious of its absurdity, as evidenced by her defensive addendum:

This is Who I Want

you to be. between 6' and 6'4". dark hair. fauhawk perhaps, but in a conservative way. green, hazel, or grey eyes. not fat, not skinny, not chiseled but in shape. great sex drive. nice olive complexion but not brown. long eyelashes (Prince). work in finance because you have that edgy gambling personality. emotionally available. have a midwestern boy sense of humor age 27-35. like to party and like to talk. appreciate all things artistic. if you're out there, who would you want me to be?

for those of you who have time to waste with nasty responses because I know what I want...why don't you turn on the news to see what kind of results that attitude brings to humanity.

Does this or does this not read like the ramblings of a schizophrenic? First of all, what the hell is a fauhawk? Is it a toupee in the shape of a mohawk? Something grown in the lab of the Hair Club for Punks? A Native American imposter from a fictitious tribe, like, say, the Indian in the Village People? Let's assume that it is some sort of ersatz punk-rick hairstyle. How, then, can it be "conservative"? Maybe she means that it has a natural look and isn't dyed some day-glo shade of pink. Or possibly it's a removable mohawk that you can ditch before you leave for work at your job at Bear Stearns, or stuff in your desk when your boss comes down the hall. You can send it out to be dry-cleaned. (Wikipedia defines a "fauxhawk" as "essentially a mohawk hairstyle with none of the commitment," which is just about perfect. It goes on: "Hair on the top of the head is combed to resemble a small fan mohawk. The hair on the sides of the head is not shaved, though it might be shorter. These are generally worn by students of schools with restrictive hair codes." Other sources attribute it to metrosexuals. You can't say Gang of 60 isn't educational...)

Moving on, we discover that this woman wants a man who is "not fat, not skinny, not chiseled but in shape." She sounds like a demented Goldilocks. And she wants her man to be olive-complected "but not brown." You know, something to match her walls.

In terms of occupation, her ideal mate should "work in finance because you have that edgy gambling personality." You know, like those rebel accountants and bankers. Hell's Brokers. And like all gamblers, Ms. Diva's dream guy should be "emotionally available."

She wants a "midwestern boy sense of humor." You know, a guy who tricks you into leaning up against a freshly painted white picket fence. A Tom Sawyer type. With a fake mohawk. An edgy commodities trader who chews on a blade of grass while he gauges the fluctuations of the bhat.

And, oh, he has to have a great sex drive and appreciate the arts.

So, to summarize: an olive-skinned, emotionally available, pseudo-punk rocker/gambling sex machine with Prince's eyelashes, Huck Finn's Midwestern innocence and T.S. Eliot's keen aesthetic sense who likes to "party" and to "talk."

Last comes the paranoid disclaimer, as she anticipates a mob of outraged men bombarding her Inbox:

"why don't you turn on the news to see what kind of results that attitude brings to humanity."

Finally, the truth about why we're in Iraq.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Catholic School: The Reality Show

Musing on yesterday's post about the difference between Catholic and Croatian Orthodox nuns must've led the universe to place in my path (via my gym's bank of flat-panel TVs) a soundless snippet from a VH1 show that featured adult bimbos in what seemed like Catholic school uniforms -- plaid jackets, solid skirts and knee socks. I wondered if this was a new reality show called, "Catholic School." Even better would be "Celebrity Catholic School," the premise being that Paris Hilton, Winona Ryder, Richard Gere and other misbehaving icons (the list is endless) are remanded to a classroom run by, say, my fifth-grade nun and over a period of time, reduced from being pampered megalomaniacs to guilt-ridden penitents. For verisimiltude to my fifth-grade nun's Irish combativeness and pugilistic inclinations, let's call her Sister Evander Holyfield. In terms of gratuitous cruelty, she made Simon Callow look like a piker. (And if our political overlords actually wanted to extract information from "enemy combatants" and other matchstick enemies, they'd hire a bunch of nuns to work over the "terrorists.")

On my reality show, each week the celebs would have to endure some punishment that Sister Evander would inflict with no prior warning and for no discernible offense -- as well as chastisement fully deserved: driving without a license, shoplifting, culturally inappropriate kissing of Indian women. In each installment, in response to, say, a wrong answer about All Saints' Day or an unconscious smirk, Sister Evander would humiliate the sinner by having, say, Paris sit in a corner wearing a dunce cap or Winona stand in the trash can or Alec Baldwin hide in the closet. And each week, one of the contestants would be "sent to the principal's office" -- the principal being Mel Gibson, while another celeb, by obsequiously and disingenuously sucking up to Sister Evander, would earn a token of esteem. "Mr. Gere, come up and get your gold star. And take that pencil case out of your ass!"

Viewers of reality shows love "confessional" moments, when one or another of the participants bares her secret feelings to the camera. Well, who knows confession better than the Church? You could throw in weekly "confessions" with a camera inside the confessional. "Um, Father, why I'm here is because I pulled that bitch Winona's hair after she, like, totally dissed me and called me a bimbo." "For your penance, my dear, you must say a dozen Hail Mary's ... and oh, also eat a jar full of worms."

You could build suspense by tipping the audience that at one point during the show, Sister Evander was going to go apeshit on one of the celebs -- again, for no apparent reason. Like the time she slapped my face so hard my glasses went flying across the room, only because I accidentally knocked over a chair from its perch upon a desk, a quasi-military ritual we were forced to perform every day before the final bell. I was an A-student and far too timorous to ever misbehave and yet, in her eyes, I was clearly guilty of a heinous offense and a right cross to the jaw.

Maybe the idea isn't so funny. Well, neither are the Stations of the Cross.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Battle of the Christian Nuns

Last night, I attended a swing dance in the basement of a Croatian Orthodox church, which gives you an idea of my scintillating social life. I have to say, though, that it was probably the only club in New York City where the bartender was peddling a book by a Croatian dictator: Horrors of War by the general and fascist Franco Tudjman.

The coat check concession was manned by a Croatian Orthodox nun. It had never occurred to me that there were nuns other than the Catholic variety that haunted my childhood. This nun was slightly built and older, probably in her 60s, and at first glance she very much resembled my fifth-grade home-room penguin, whose name my memory has repressed to prevent post-traumatic stress disorder.

I wondered if the coat-check nun hit misbehaving Croatian Orthodox children with her ruler or, as my fifth-grade nun did, with an open fist. Were the Croatians as quick to rush to judgment as the Catholics, meting out punishment reflexively, without establishing guilt (because as Catholics, we were all guilty sinners from birth)? Which sect's nuns hit harder? In an ultimate fighting championship bout, which nuns would emerge triumphant? Would it be on Pay-Per-View?

In the short term, I had to remind myself to avoid mentioning to the nun my opinions on the internecine Serb-Croatian struggle in the former Yugoslavia, if I ever wanted to get my coat back...

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Dorian Gray, Just for Men, and a shakin' in the bed

I'm a nocturnal creature, like the bat, the mole, the owl, Dracula, the Wolf Man (the monster, not the Freud patient) and just about every other supernatural menace/cinematic homicidal maniac. (What is it about monsters that makes them afraid to show themselves in broad daylight? They're wusses, probably liberals.) When I am not immersed in a textual deconstruction of fin-de-siecle MittleEuropean literature, I can be found on my sofa casually channel-surfing -- and generally wiping out. For overnight TV is a gallimaufry of infospiels, a six-hour block of unending tele-hypnosis aimed at the insomniacal, the elderly and the hopelessly delusional -- the "Loser" demographic. A block of lost souls who are dying to be saved by Jesus, miracle hair replacements and ab-flattening apparati.

Thankfully, I have a relatively full head of hair, so the likes of Avicore don't arouse my insecurity. However, I have spotted a few gray hairs among the dark brown. And so I found myself suspending my index finger -- the remote channel-changing one at the appearance of a startling ad for Just for Men.

Maybe you've seen this ad in all its nightmarishly exploitational glory. It's the one in which a certain man's career is going great guns ... until he gets a few gray hairs, at which point he starts falling down an elevator shaft. Suddenly this guy’s perfect haute bourgeois life turns into a Hitchcock film. Having apparently survived the fall and/or escaped from a snake pit, he locks himself in his apartment, a self-identified pariah. He has no social life and soon begins to resemble a refugee from a Hopper painting. From his look of existential angst, it seems that at any second he could break into “the Scream.”

The message is scary in a kitschy, futuristic way: A few streaks of gray and you're kaput, defective, a drain on society. Buy Just for Men or throw yourself off the Brooklyn Bridge. Or maybe you'll be herded into camps by armies of slackers (assuming they could summon the energy). It's like a rewound "The Picture of Dorian Gray." (Note: Not to be confused with the adult video "The Picture of Dorian Gay," in which a straight man acts increasingly swishy, while his portrait turns into Liza Minnelli.)

Just as I was adding, "Buy 'Just for Men'" to my do-to list and pondering the implications of Madison Avenue agism, on came an informercial for the “Bean,” a snythetic beanbag-shaped device that purports to give you six-pack abs and is more stable than an exercise ball (sometimes known as a Physio ball). It featured heartfelt testimonials from people who claim that the Bean enables them to do their sit-ups and crunches without having to worry about the instability of the ball. Yes, these mostly young people admit that they're too lame and/or uncoordinated to sit on a large plastic ball without risking grievous injury.

Perhaps their ballophobia isn't their fault. Perhaps it's caused by the Devil. That's what I inferred from a televangelist show I switched to next.

Two women from Texas were discussing demonic mischievousness. One claimed that friends of hers had demons “shaking their beds.” But because she has such strong faith, there was no “shakin’ in her bed. "That’s because I tol' the devil ‘Get.’” “Not ‘Get.’ ‘Git’,” replied the other. “That works on these Texas demons.”