Thursday, February 25, 2010

What Ever Happened To . . . The Boy Who Cried Wolf?

By the age of ten, Sean O'Flaherty had earned the reputation of being the most prolific bullshit artist in Blarney Creek, a quaint little village in northern Ireland.  Sean was constantly pulling pranks on the townsfolk,  for example, one afternoon on his way home from school, he burst into McGooligan's Pub.  "Come quick, come quick!" Sean shouted,  "Maggie O'Doul's skirt ripped and you can see her bum!"  The patrons of McGooligan's, being a rowdy group of drunken Irishmen who'd been fantasizing about Miss O'Doul's spectacular physique for years, stampeded out to the street to get an eyeful.  While they were gone, Sean grabbed a beer stein, and helped himself to a pint of Guinness Stout.  Shortly thereafter, the disappointed McGooligan's crowd staggered back in, having caught nary a glimpse of Maggie's posterior.

"Oh, you must've just missed her," said Sean, pleased with his deception.  "A shame, really, that's quite a bum she's got."

It didn't take long for the villagers to get sick of Sean's trickery.  A larger than normal crowd attended the next Blarney Creek Council meeting, and shouted their concerns at Mayor Finnigan O'Finnigan.

"The lad's a giant pain in the arse!  I say we run 'im out of town!" bellowed a pasty-faced drunk from the back of the hall.

"We can't just deport the boy," answered O'Finnigan.  "And besides, you're his father, don't you think you should've had a talk with him by now?  How about this . . . let's give Sean a job, maybe teach him some responsibility and at the same time keep him busy so he doesn't have time to pull his pranks."

This idea sounded good to the council, so all that was left was to figure out what sort of job Sean was suited for.  After some discussion, they decided he should be a shepherd.  Mayor O'Finnigan spoke to Sean the following day.

"So, laddie, how are you this fine mornin'?" asked the mayor.

"Just great, Mayor.  Hey, what happened to your shirt?  Did you spill coffee or something?"

Mayor O'Finnigan looked down, but could see no stain.

"Ha ha!  Gotcha!" giggled Sean.  O'Finnigan just rolled his eyes.  This kid was a piece of work.

"Sean, we have a job for you.  You're going to look after the sheep over on the hill.  All you have to do is keep them inside the fence, there's not much to it at all.  But you have to stay alert because there are wolves that sometimes try to get to the sheep.  If you see one, just ring the bell that's attached to the big gate, yell out WOLF!  WOLF! as loud as you can, and we'll come up to give you a hand.  Think you can manage that?"

"Sure, when do I start?"

"How about right now?"

Well, anyone who's ever lied to his parents knows what happened next.

On the afternoon of his very first day, Sean decided to have some fun.  "WOLF!  WOLF!" he shrieked, suppressing a chuckle.  The villagers came rushing up the hill, armed with shotguns, clubs, and pepper spray.

"Where's the wolf?" asked an out-of-breath Seamus McCorkle.

"Ha ha!  Gotcha!  There's no wolf.  Just wanted to see how fast you lads could get here!"

Amid grumbles, snorts, and utterances of "That little shitheel," the men returned to the village.

This happened several more times.  Seven, to be precise.  You might say that the population of Blarney Creek was a bit slow on the uptake.

Anyway, one afternoon, as Colin McGooligan, proprietor of McGooligan's Pub, was pouring another round for his patrons, a bell rang out and a young boy's screams pierced the air.  "WOLF!  WOLF!  OH MY GOD, A WOLF!"

"Get that, lads?" slurred Will McBroom.  "There's a wolf on the hill.  We'd better hurry."  Nobody moved.


"Can you believe the nerve of that little bunghole?" said McGooligan.  "Wolf, wolf, my arse."

Everyone continued quaffing their Guinness.

Up on the hill, meanwhile, all hell was breaking loose.  Left alone, Sean had no idea what to do.  In a panic, he climbed a nearby tree and watched in horror as a snarling wolf ripped apart sheep after sheep in a frenzy of blood, wool and spittle.  After devouring the entire flock, the wolf dashed back into the woods where he invaded the homes of three pigs and terrorized a red-hooded, goodie-toting little girl.

Well, I wish I could tell you that little Sean learned his lesson that day and never again told a lie or played a prank, but it didn't work out that way.  Being of a generation that deflects responsibility and blames others for its mistakes, Sean convinced himself that he was only doing his job and it was the villagers' fault for not coming when he called.  "Flarg 'em if they can't take a joke," was basically his attitude.

A few years later, after growing tired of living in a village that was convinced he was just, to quote Colin McGooligan, "a no-good, wise-arse, lying sack of donkey dung," the eighteen-year old Sean O'Flaherty packed his bags and moved to America.

For the first several years in New York City, Sean's life showed little improvement.  The location was different, but the bullshit remained the same.  According to his ex-fiance, a dancer named Maria Derosa, "When I first met Sean, he seemed like a wonderful man.  He was polite, handsome, and had a great sense of humor.  We got engaged, but on our wedding day he was nowhere to be found.  Just left me standing at the altar.  When I saw him the next day, he laughed it off like it was a joke but he quickly apologized and said we'd get married the following week.  The guests returned, the minister was all prepared, and there I was in my wedding dress, ready to marry him.  And AGAIN he didn't bother to show up!  This happened two more times before I finally gave up on the jerk.  Too bad, really, because I was very much in love with him."

Sean's habitual lying also resulted in his inability to hold a steady job.  He worked for a while as a 911 operator, but was fired after reporting several "false alarms" to local paramedics and police departments. He was also dismissed as a hotel clerk after taking and confirming reservations but not officially booking the rooms, which created havoc for travelers.

One would think that his failure in the workplace would finally force Sean to change his ways, but it was not to be.  Rather than hit rock bottom, he finally discovered a profession that would not only accept him for who he was, but his conniving, deceitful ways would actually prove to be an asset.

The Law Offices of Sean D. O'Flaherty opened in 2003, specializing in criminal defense, and by 2005, Sean's practice was thriving.  Representing a wide array of (alleged) murderers, rapists and gang-bangers, O'Flaherty and his associates pulled in an average of fifty million dollars a year.  In his most high-profile case, the 2004 murder trial of (alleged) mob hitman Tony "Two Toes" Fenelli, O'Flaherty got an acquittal despite overwhelming DNA evidence, damning testimony of thirty-seven eyewitnesses, and a written confession.  After the trial, jury foreman Abby Alvarado told reporters, "There's just something about the defendant's lawyer that makes you want to believe him."

A movie based on his life, entitled The Boy Who Cried Innocent, is scheduled for release in 2011 with David Caruso playing the lead role.

(Author's Note: It was my original intent to interview Sean O'Flaherty and include his comments in this article.  I contacted him by telephone and set up a time to meet with him, but when I arrived at his office I was told that he was "away on business."  I rescheduled the appointment with his secretary and returned a week later, but lo and behold, O'Flaherty was "meeting with clients."  I didn't bother to reschedule again.  As far as I'm concerned, the little prick can go flarg himself.)


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Monday, February 22, 2010

Mr. Plushenko, Meet Mr. Pronger

I was watching the Olympics the other night, listening to commentator Dick Button analyze Evgeni Plushenko's performance in the Men's Figure Skating, and I couldn't help but wonder, "How the hell do you end up with a name like Dick Button?"  It sounds like a something you'd find on a pair of boxer shorts.  And it's not like the guy didn't have options.  Assuming his given name is "Richard," what's wrong with "Rick Button?"  "Ricky Button," "Little Richie Button," or even "Chip Button" would be much more dignified.  So anyway, Dick was going on and on about how critical it was for Plushenko to nail his double-axels and triple toe loops to stay in contention for a medal. Being the consummate sports fan that I am, with a lifelong appreciation for the spirit of athletic competition, I was of course rooting for Plushenko to fall flat on his ass.  Because that is what figure skating is all about.

Frankly, I'm surprised that they even allow figure skating in the Olympics. It's not like it's actually a sport.  You might be thinking, "Of course it's a sport, because the skaters are finely tuned athletes competing against each other" and if you're thinking that, you are, with all due respect, stupid.  Marching bands compete against each other, too, but no one is saying that the Proviso East High School Marching Band (nickname: "The Marching Musical Machine of the Mid-West") should be in the Olympics.  You also might be thinking, "Oh yeah, well, you only hate figure skating because you can't do it," but that doesn't hold water either.  What, all of a sudden I'm the measuring stick?  If I can't do something, that automatically makes it a sport?  I can't fix a car to save my life, but I don't think we'll be seeing a team of Norwegians going for the gold in the Men's 1500-meter Downhill Transmission Flush in 2012.

Also, figure skating isn't a sport because the winner is chosen by a panel of judges, just like American Idol, Dancing With the Stars, and the Great Southwestern Texas Chili Cookoff.  In real sports, the winner is immediately obvious, like the team with the most points, the sprinter that finished first, or the boxer who is not lying on the floor unconscious.

So now you're probably thinking, "Ah ha!  But wait!  Boxing has judges too!"  And if that's what you're thinking, you have fallen right into my trap.  Because that brings us to my point, which is this:  Let's combine the scoring system of figure skating with that of boxing.  Here's how it would look:

Evgeni Plushenko, for example, begins his long program as usual.  Thirty seconds into his routine, however, the officials let loose Canadian hockey player Chris Pronger whose sole purpose is to kick the living crap out of Evgeni Plushenko (when it's a Canadian figure skater's turn, Pronger would be replaced by Russian defenseman Anton Volchenkov).  If Plushenko can complete his routine without being splattered across the sideboards, the judges give him his score just as they always have.

But let's suppose that right in the middle of a flawless triple-salchow, Pronger barrels into Plushenko from behind, depositing the figure skater in the seventh row where he curls up into a ball crying for his Babushka.  This is scored a "knockout," Plushenko receives no score and spends the rest of the Olympiad wandering the streets of Vancouver looking for his spleen.

Now, what happens if all the figure skaters are knocked out, and no one receives an actual score?  Simple.  NBC packs up its equipment, leaves the skating venue and goes to cover a real sport, like bobsledding.

And Dick Button could go petition his local court for a legal name change.


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Saturday, February 20, 2010

I Left My Shaving Cream in L.A. International Airport

Theresa and I decided to do something different this Valentines' Day, so we abandoned the tired old cliches such as heart-shaped boxes of candy and Hallmark cards in favor of a relaxing four-day weekend in San Francisco.

We arrived at Los Angeles International Airport a couple hours early, on the off chance that our flight was going to depart on time.  We got our boarding passes, and proceeded to the security checkpoint.  My carry-on was the lucky winner of a more thorough inspection because I was bringing along "Wheezer," my CPAP machine.  I have no problem with the extra scrutiny, because safety is the first priority and you never know when Al-Qaida will start disguising bombs as sleep-apnea treatments.  During the examination of my bag, the TSA officer also confiscated my shaving cream, which resembled a can of plastic explosive or something.

Here's the funny part.  I don't mean "ha-ha" funny, like Sarah Palin getting hit by a bus, this is more like "how the hell does this happen in post-9/11 America" funny.  Later on, when we got to our hotel, Theresa discovered that she'd left her three-inch locking blade knife in her purse rather than in the checked baggage.  That's right, folks, the knife made it through the security checkpoint undetected.  Apparently, TSA believes that a woman in possession of a knife poses less of a threat than a 6'3" guy wielding a can of Barbasol.  That, my friends, is profiling and I strenuously object.

No trip to the L.A. airport would be complete without a celebrity sighting.  At our gate, I saw an old lady that used to be in commercials.  You guessed it, it was the corpse of Margaret Hamilton!

Not really.  I still can't remember her name, or the commercials she starred in, but believe me when I tell you if you saw her, you'd immediately point and call out, "HEY!  IT'S THAT LADY FROM THAT COMMERCIAL!"  Actually, it's been driving me batty that I can't remember what she was in.  I've run every Google search I can think of, but it's no use.  It wasn't Josephine the Plumber, and it wasn't Mother Nature.  If you could help me out, I'd be eternally grateful or at least be able to sleep at night.

So anyway, our flight out of Los Angeles was, in theory, scheduled to leave at 3:55 but here's a big surprise -- we were delayed.  At about 3:00, the following announcement came over the loudspeaker:

"Flight 1582 to San Francisco is being delayed until 4:55.  However, do not leave the gate area, as the flight may actually depart prior to that time, or even at the originally scheduled departure time.  There is also the possibility that the flight will have to be delayed further."

Did you get that?  Either the flight was going to be on-time, delayed, or delayed even further.  Why not just make the announcement, "We are pretty sure that flight 1582 will be departing at some point in the future."

We left shortly after 5:00.

We arrived in San Francisco without incident, which is to say "late, tired, and hungry" and took a cab to the hotel.  We stayed at the Hyatt Fisherman's Wharf, which I highly recommend to any of you who may be traveling to the Bay Area.  Since we hadn't eaten, we decided to walk down to the wharf, where we had dinner at a very nice restaurant called Neptune's Palace.  I had the shrimp alfredo, which was delicious.  However, when I asked for a glass of water, the waitress informed me that they were having a problem with their plumbing so all the water was, and I quote, "yellow".  I told her to forget about the water, and I spent the rest of the meal trying not to think about where the carbonated water in my Diet Coke had come from.

We slept in on Saturday, and then took the cable car to Chinatown for lunch.  For those of you who have never been to San Francisco, I'd like to point out that the city's landscape resembles Magic Mountain's famous roller coaster "Colossus."  So we got off the cable car and walked down Clay Street, and by that I don't mean that we walked in a certain direction on Clay Street, I mean that we walked, literally, DOWN Clay Street at approximately a 70-degree angle.

We ate at a lovely place called The Oriental Pearl.  During our meal, we noticed two women at the table next to us enjoying an appetizer consisting of, as far as I could tell, eyeballs.  At another table, there was a family who really should've opted for a more suitable restaurant like, say, McDonald's.  The four-year old boy, who clearly did not possess an "inside voice," insisted on using his chopsticks as drum sticks and his chair as a jungle gym.  This continued until his father gave him his cell phone so Junior could talk to, I'm guessing, his grandmother.  Obviously, I couldn't hear Grandma's end of the conversation, but everything she said prompted Junior to reply, "I'M EATING CHICKEN!"

We finished our lunch, and I must tell you the food was outstanding, and walked UP Clay Street to catch another cable car.  We spent the rest of the afternoon shopping, sight-seeing, and relaxing back at the hotel.  That evening, we went to a comedy club called Punchline, and saw the hilarious Dana Gould.

Sunday morning, we had brunch with my brother Eric and his girlfriend, who live in the Haight-Ashbury area of San Francisco.  We ate at Crepes on Cole which, despite its "hole in the wall" atmosphere (or maybe because of it), turned out to be our most enjoyable dining experience of the weekend (no disrespect toward Neptune's Place or The Oriental Pearl intended).

The rest of our trip included a walk down Lombard Street (also known as "the world's crookedest street"), a bay cruise that took us around Alcatraz and under the Golden Gate Bridge, and a visit to the Aquarium of the Bay.


I don't know who came up with the idea of serving clam chowder in a bowl made of sourdough bread, but he is a genius and should receive a Nobel Prize.


On Monday we took a cab to the airport two hours early, in the foolishly-optimistic hope that our flight would leave on time.  It didn't, of course, so we sat around the airport reading and partaking of over-priced snack foods.

All in all, Theresa and I had a fantastic weekend, and we'll definitely be returning to the City by the Bay in the near future.  And next time, I'll remember not to pack my suspicious can of shaving cream in my carry-on bag.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Of Course You're Pretty, Tiffany, Now Shut Up and Put in Your Fake Teeth

I need to find a doctor who can give me a quick brain-scrub, because my mind, or what passes for it, has been polluted beyond all hope.  A few nights ago I walked into the bedroom, where Theresa was watching a reality show entitled Toddlers and Tiaras.  On this show, girls between the ages of three and fifteen dress up like cheap Vegas prostitutes, prance around the stage, and are evaluated by a panel of judges who proclaim one child as the "Most Beautiful."  I thought about including a few pictures to help make the point, but I figured it's a bad idea to have little girls in evening gowns and swimwear on my computer.

I have a lot of problems with these "pageants", but the main one is that the kids are distorted beyond all recognition.  First of all, it isn't just girls dressing up in fancy clothes.  This is serious competition, so the parents pull out all stops to ensure that their little princess won't be dubbed a pathetic loser.  This includes applying a coat of "spray-on tan" because some girls have pale skin and freckles, and that just won't do.

I was watching one of the contestants, an eleven year old girl who looked about nineteen, and I noticed that in addition to her burnt sienna complexion, her smile looked a bit wonky.  Theresa explained to me that the girls sometimes wear "flippers", which are fake teeth that they stick in front of their real ones.  Well, this girl must've gotten a set that was a few sizes too big, because the overall effect was "The Joker in drag."

This must do wonders for the kids' self-image.  Nothing emphasizes "inner beauty" like fake teeth and a coat of paint.

Oh, but it gets worse.  The kids don't just march across the stage, they're encouraged to (and I think this is an official pageant instruction), "work it, girl."  A four-year old, mimicking her mother who stood off-stage, actually licked her finger and then touched her butt with it, as if to say, "Ooooh, that's sizzlin'!"  SHE'S NOT EVEN IN KINDERGARTEN YET!  Other toddlers, always copying Mom, engaged in shaking the booty, riding the pony, and other decidedly un-toddler-like gesticulations.  It looked like they were auditioning for "Honey, I Shrunk the Stripper." 

One mother, in a fleeting moment of common sense, mentioned that she wasn't comfortable with her four-year old "going on stage in a bikini, because you don't know who's looking."  Well, how about that, the voice of reason.  She discussed it with her husband and friends, and after a few minutes they made a sadly predictable decision.  Precious Tiffany wore the bikini.  I guess they discovered that one of her opponents was taking the stage in an OshKosh thong and a set of "Baby's First Hooters". 

None of the parents on Toddlers and Tiaras seem like they're playing with a full set of Tinker Toys.  Generally speaking, there are two types of pageant-parents.  First, you have the stage moms who competed in beauty pageants themselves, but have now reached the age where no one wants to see them in a bikini any longer.  Liposuction, plastic surgery, botox, none of it has worked.  So now they focus on destroying their daughters.  At the other end of the spectrum, there are the redneck parents who are just trying to convince themselves that Betty Sue with the hunchback has a lucrative modeling career ahead of her. 

And the things these parents say.  "We gotta get 'Most Beautiful' this time.  Are you sure you put on enough eye shadow?" 

"Flippers!  Where are her flippers?!  We can't let her go on stage with her own teeth!" 

"Work it, Betty Sue!  Shake that fanny!"

These idiots make Balloon Boy's folks look like Mike and Carol Brady.

Lest you think the competition is all about looks, there is also a talent component.  Some girls dance, some girls sing, but once again, there are limits. I'm willing to concede that pole dancing is a talent, but NOT WHEN YOU'RE SIX!

Pageants are just creepy and in my opinion, damaging to kids.  No three- or four-year old ASKS to participate in these things, they're just being put on display so Mom and Dad feel better about themselves.  Pageants should be illegal, like dog-fighting.  Of course, parents would probably take the show underground, and hold pageants in abandoned warehouses or the basement of Chuck E. Cheese.  Brad Pitt and Edward Norton could host.  "The first rule of Pageant Club is you DO NOT talk about Pageant Club."

Until then, we're stuck with Toddlers in Tiaras, working to build a future generation of Hooters waitresses, Vegas showgirls, and trailer-park floozies.


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Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Knuckies!

It's coming around to Oscar time once again, and in the true spirit of Hollywood I'm going to hand out my own film industry awards, cleverly dubbed The Knuckies!  You'll notice a few differences between these awards and the higher-profile-but-less-fun Academy Awards.  First of all, I'm not limiting the winners to just the past year, I'm going to draw from the entire history of motion pictures.  Also, there are going to be several "Razzie"-type awards, bashing those who so richly deserve to be bashed.

You'll probably notice that my selections definitely skew toward the 80's.  That's because I worked at a movie theater from 1987-1990, so I saw a LOT of movies during that time.  

So without further ado, here are THE KNUCKIES!

(cue dramatic music...)

BEST PICTURE: The Godfather (1972)

There are some opinions that are just impossible to argue with.  For example, regardless of personal taste, no one can reasonably dispute the fact that Led Zeppelin was a phenomenal rock band.  Anyone who says, "nah, Zeppelin sucked," is either deaf or a complete idiot.  The Godfather falls into that same category.  It's simply the best film ever made, period.  The writing, the acting, cinematography, music, it's all top-notch.  We get to see the development of Michael Corleone from his attempts to distance himself from the family business all the way to his becoming the Don.  And the memorable lines are endless: "Leave the gun, take the cannoli."  "I'm going to make him an offer he can't refuse."  "Luca Brazzi sleeps with the fishes."  If you don't like this one, you need to get whacked. (Honorable Mention: Rocky)

WORST PICTURE: Are We There Yet? (2005)

I'm embarrassed that I even saw this one but as anyone with children knows, sometimes parents just have to sit through crappy movies to appease the kids.  Ironically, though, my kids also thought this movie sucked ass.  I mean, you can't really expect a lot from a movie that stars Ice Cube, but this was brutal on every level.  All you need to know can be summed up by describing the two main characters.  The male lead offers to drive a woman's kids 300 miles in an effort to impress her so much that she'll sleep with him, and the female lead LETS a mere acquaintance drive her kids 300 miles unsupervised.  And the kids, Lindsey and Kevin, are tough to describe, other than as "disgusting little shits".  They don't really bear any sort of resemblance to actual children and the things they do to "get even" with Ice Cube's character aren't funny...they're just despicable.  It's one thing in a movie like Home Alone, where the whole context is slapstick, but in Are We There Yet? the set up is for a family-type adventure.  Macaulay Culkin was protecting his home.  Lindsey and Kevin weren't provoked by Ice Cube, they're just being rotten for the sake of it.  For example, in an effort to get a trucker to think they've been abducted by a child molester, one of the kids holds up a sign that reads "Help us."  If even ONE real kid ever tries that, this movie should be banned and all copies of it burned.  Hell, that's a good idea regardless.  (Dishonorable Mention: Anchorman)

REPEAT VIEWING CLASSIC: Shawshank Redemption (1994)

This is a movie that I simply can not flip through with the remote, and that says a lot since I also own the DVD and can watch it whenever I please.  This is one of exactly three movies based on a Stephen King book that can be considered great.  The other two are Stand By Me and Misery.  Okay, and The Green Mile.  It's one thing when you see a film that is truly outstanding, but to be a movie that viewers are eager to see again and again (and again and again), it's gotta be truly special.  For example, Forrest Gump and Titanic were outstanding, but once was enough for me.  But I've probably seen Shawshank 25 times by now, and it never gets old.  That's pretty rare.  (Honorable Mention: A Few Good Men)


Have you ever gone to a movie expecting it to be absolutely awful?  Usually it's when you're with your kids (did any adult REALLY think Pokemon was going to be a good film?), and you just write it off as your parental duty.  Every so often, though, a movie rises above expectations and proves to be pretty entertaining.  For me, it was Role Models.  From the previews, I thought it was going to a painful viewing experience, especially regarding the kids in the movie.  Fortunately, the "obnoxious brat" routine disappeared early on, and the characters actually bonded.  And really, any movie with that many KISS references is going to be okay by me. (Honorable Mention: The Hangover)


In the months leading up to June of '88, the hype was everywhere.  Mysterious movie trailers, t-shirts and memorabilia popping up everywhere to promote the Keaton-Nicholson version of Batman.  I was working at a theater in Pasadena, and we invited all our friends to an unofficial "sneak preview" the night before the movie opened.  The higher-ups in the theater company would've blown a gasket if they found out, but they never did.  Anyway, it was an exciting event and we were pumped up for greatness.  And then the movie started.  Aside from a couple early scenes with the Joker, it was terrible.  Lots of plot holes, editing errors and shallow characters.  What a let down.  (Dishonorable Mention: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom)

BEST ACTING PERFORMANCE (Male): Dustin Hoffman, Rain Man (1988)

For two hours, it was impossible to tell that Dustin Hoffman didn't actually have autism.  His performance, rightfully, earned him the Oscar for Best Actor and to this day I have yet to see a more compelling performance.  Hoffman's portrayal of Raymond Babbitt never went "over the top", and he definitely, definitely did his homework on autism and the behaviors exhibited by those with the disease.  The one scene that stands out in my mind was the scene in the airport when Raymond refused to fly on any airline other than Qantas.  I know several people with autism, and this type of reaction is 100% accurate.  Any attempt to force the autistic person to do something he doesn't want to do will provoke extreme responses, but once their routine is re-established, they settle back into their more typical behavior.  Hoffman played this perfectly without ever making Raymond seem unrealistic or corny.  (Honorable Mention: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight)

WORST ACTING PERFORMANCE (Male): Kevin Costner, JFK (1991)

I'm actually a big Costner fan, but he really needs to stick to films where he's not being asked to, you know, act.  He's great when he's basically playing himself in movies like Field of Dreams and Bull Durham.  But his attempt at a southern accent in JFK was simply brutal.  It didn't help that he was surrounded by a cast of actors who are about ten notches above Costner on the acting ability scale, guys like Tommy Lee Jones, Joe Pesci, Kevin Bacon, Gary Oldman, and many others.  In fact, one could make the argument that the only person whose performance was more lifeless was John F. Kennedy's portrayal of himself in the Zapruder film segment.  (Dishonorable Mention: Keanu Reeves, Everything He's Ever Been in Except Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure)

BEST ACTING PERFORMANCE (Female): Glenn Close, Fatal Attraction (1987)

Glenn Close has been in a boatload of motion pictures, but never has she looked as hot as she did in Fatal Attraction.  No wonder Michael Douglas went astray.  I believe that it's Close's history of playing "nice" ladies that made her performance as Alex Forrest even more disturbing.  And she could turn it on and off like a light switch -- sweet and charming one minute, completely psychotic the next.  Just like, you know, every other woman on the planet.  Just kidding, girls.  Sort of.  (Honorable Mention: Kathy Bates, Misery)

WORST ACTING PERFORMANCE (Female): Kelly McGillis, Top Gun (1986)

Okay, I'm going to be honest here, my main beef with Kelly McGillis in this movie has more to do with her character than her actual performance.  Charlotte Blackwood (call sign, imaginatively enough, "Charlie") was the most insensitive fucking ice queen on the planet, and I hope she dies in a fiery explosion.  Here's why.  Late in the film, we see Maverick sitting in a bar, having just quit Navy Fighter Pilot School, better known as "Top Gun".  He's nursing an ice water and dealing with the death of his best friend Goose, who perished in a crash caused by that fuckin' dickhead Iceman.  Charlie comes up to Maverick and for about thirty seconds, almost seems to sympathize with him, what, with his friend being dead and all.  But when Mav doesn't immediately snap out of his "funk", Charlie turns on him, saying, "So that's it then.  You're going to quit.  I guess you've got that maneuver down real good."  What a bitch. (Dishonorable Mention: Rosie Perez, White Men Can't Jump)

MOST MEMORABLE SCENE: Car Rental Scene, Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)

This is also the funniest scene ever filmed, hands down.  To refresh your memory, Neil Page (Steve Martin) has just been dropped off at his rental car, or more precisely, the parking spot where his rental car was supposed to be.  Abandoned by the shuttle bus, Neil then has to walk about three miles back to the rental car office where he's confronted by an obnoxiously cheery agent (played to perfection by Edie McClurg)  who's on the phone with a friend, talking about her Thanksgiving plans.  When she finally gives Neil her attention, the guy finally snaps.  And I quote:

" . . . I really don't care for the way your company left me in the middle of fucking nowhere with fucking keys to a fucking car that isn't fucking there. And I really didn't care to fucking walk down a fucking highway and across a fucking runway to get back here to have you smile in my fucking face. I want a fucking car RIGHT FUCKING NOW!"

Steve Martin, at his absolute best.  (Honorable Mention: Training Montage, Rocky)

MOST DISTURBING SCENE: Gum Job Scene, Yes Man (2008)

This is a scene I'd rather not dwell on too much, so I'll boil it down to the bare essentials.  Having made a commitment to saying "yes" to all suggestions, Jim Carrey is offered oral sex in return for helping an old lady install shelves in her apartment.  We see Carrey enter the woman's bedroom.  We see her move down Carrey's chest, and disappear from the frame.  We all know what's going on here, and it's rather disgusting.  And then, just when we think it can't get any more repulsive, it does.

We see a hand put a set of dentures into a glass of water on the night stand.  Ewww. (Honorable Mention: Hobbling Scene, Misery)

CHARACTER I'D MOST LIKE TO HANG OUT WITH: Lloyd Dobler, Say Anything (1989)

Let's face it, John Cusack has built an entire career around "nice guy" roles.  He's one of those actors who you'd be really disappointed to find out is an asshole.  I mean, some actors, you just KNOW must be complete pricks in real life (I'm looking at YOU, Sean Penn), but Cusack seems like he'd buy you a beer, ask about your family, and then offer to help you move.  In Say Anything, Lloyd Dobler is Cusack at his endearing best.  He does everything he can to win the heart of Diane Court (Ione Skye, who was once involved with Anthony Kiedis if you can believe that), stands on the principle that he won't ever sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career, and he calls his friends on the carpet for their hypocrisy ("If you guys know so much about women, how come you're here at like the Gas 'n' Sip on a Saturday night completely alone drinking beers with no women anywhere?").  To paraphrase that fuckin' dickhead Iceman, Lloyd Dobler could be my wingman any time. (Honorable Mention: James Bond)


This douchebag is known for one line and one line only.  All together now:


During the All-Valley Karate Tournament's final match between Daniel Larusso and Johnny Lawrence (Tommy's dojo-mate and, most likely, his lover) Tommy giggled and squealed like a Girl Scout hopped up on Thin Mints.  He sure seemed pretty cocky for a guy who'd gotten his ass kicked by Daniel-san two rounds earlier in the tournament.  This guy is such a sphincter biscuit I have a feeling that if their sensei would've allowed it, the rest of the Cobra Kai would've round-kicked Tommy into a quivering lump of acne cream. (Dishonorable Mention: Ariel Moore, Footloose!)


I challenge you readers right now to come up with one movie that Tom Hanks wasn't good in.  I'm not saying all of his MOVIES have been fabulous.  The 'Burbs was a bit "out there" and Joe Versus the Volcano wasn't going to win any awards, but even in his weaker movies Hanks was fun to watch.  He won back-to-back Oscars for Philadelphia and Forrest Gump, produced and/or directed two very entertaining films (That Thing You Do! and Apollo 13) and is, by all accounts, one of the nicest guys in Hollywood.  If I had to choose one of Hanks' performances that I liked the best, and it would be difficult, I'd have to go with his portrayal of Josh Baskin in Big.  From the minute he hits the screen, you're absolutely convinced that Tom's been possessed by a twelve year-old.  (Honorable Mention: Morgan Freeman)


Unlike Tom Hanks, when Ferrell behaves like a twelve year old, you don't really get the feeling that he's acting.  I've seen a handful of his movies, and each one is more juvenile, repulsive, and flat-out putrid than the one before it.  I'll qualify this by saying that I haven't seen Old School, which, according to most people, is his one watchable film.  I guess part of my frustration with Ferrell is due to the fact that he was hilarious on Saturday Night Live.  His Harry Caray impression is brilliant, and I loved the cheerleader routine he did with Cheri Oteri.  It's not that he's a talentless hack like, say, Jimmy Fallon.  Ferrell clearly possesses substantial comedic skills somewhere, but he's sure doesn't use them on the big screen.  Talladega Nights, Step Brothers, Anchorman, they're simply awful.  And he just keeps getting worse.  (Dishonorable Mention: Jim Varney, Seth Rogan, Pee Wee Herman, Mr. Bean, the list is endless)

So there you have it, the first annual Knuckies.  I'm sure many of my selections will be disputed, but that's the nature of show business.  So feel free to share your disagreement.

Okay, show's over.  After party at Suldog's place!


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Thursday, February 11, 2010

My New Friend, Adekunle F. Jemoris

When I opened my e-mail this morning, I received a pleasant surprise.  It seems as though I've benefited from a horrific Nigerian tragedy, the details of which I will share with you momentarily.  You'll notice that this e-mail was sent on March 2, 2010, so it looks like I may be the first person to receive a message from the future.  I do not take this honor lightly.

For ease of readability (who says I don't care about my readers?) I will embed my response to this gentleman on a paragraph-by-paragraph basis, my words (as if you couldn't guess) are in bold.  

Here is the information I received.  Let me warn you, the story is gut-wrenching. 

Email Message For You Dated: 03-02-2010.  
March 2, 2010!?  Today is February 11, 2010!  I got an e-mail from the future!
Adekunle F. Jemoris & Associates
Attorney At Law, Property
Consultant & Solicitor To
The Supreme Court Of Nigeria
Plot 228 Kudirat Abiola Way,

Dear Friend,

Kindly accept my apology for sending unsolicited mail to you. I believe you are a highly respected personality, considering the fact that I sourced your profile from a human resource profile database on your country. Though, I do not know to what extent you are familiar with events.

Wow, this was a quick friendship we've developed, isn't it, Mr. Jemoris?  Well, greetings to you too, pal.  No need to apologize for sending me an unsolicited e-mail, I get them all the time.  Usually they're in regard to some medication, or tips to enlarge various body parts, so I'm quite used to the world of spam.  A "highly respected personality" you say?  Well, sir, you flatter me.  I do have some concerns with this "human resource profile database" you mentioned, though.  Have you somehow hacked into our country's FBI files?  I suppose that's none of my business, but be warned -- our government frowns on that sort of shenanigans.

Well, I am Barrister Adekunle F. Jemoris, a Solicitor. I am the Personal Attorney to Mr. Steve A. who used to work with Agip Oil Company in Nigeria. On the 21st of April 2003, his wife and their three children were involved in a car accident along Abuja Express Road.

You're a barista?  Okay, I'd like to order a triple vente caramel macchiato, extra hot please.  Ha ha ha, I'm only fooling with you.  I know that you said barrister, not barista.  I am a bit curious, though, why you feel free to look me up on a spooky-sounding "human resource profile database" and invade my privacy, yet only refer to your client as "Steve A.".  Seems fishy to me, Adekunle (if I may call you that).  I find it refreshing, though, that the name of Mr A's oil company was "A gip."  Nothing like truth in advertising.  On a more serious note, I am truly saddened to hear of the A family's car accident.  I know that Abuja Express Road is a treacherous stretch of gravel, especially at night.  I hope their injuries were not serious.

Unfortunately, they all lost their lives in the event of the accident. Since then I have made several enquiries to your Embassy to locate any of my client's relatives, this has also proved unsuccessful. After these several unsuccessful attempts, I decided to trace his relatives over the Internet to locate any member of his family but to no avail, hence, I contacted you to assist in repatriating the money left behind by my client in a Bank.

Oh my gosh, they DIED?  Don't I feel like an asshole.  Please pass along my condolences to his relatives . . . oh wait, that's your point here, isn't it, you can't find any.  I do have a suggestion though.  Maybe you could locate his family in that "human resource profile database" that you're so fond of.  If not, how many A families could their possibly be?  Maybe you should start by checking in northern California, you know, the Oakland A's.  Just kidding.  Let's talk more about this money you'd like me to repatriate, whatever that means.

Particularly, the Finance House where the deceased deposited the US$15 Million (Fifteen Million United States Dollars only) knows me very well and has ask me to present some one to claim the fund left my late client as they all know I am his attorney. 

I have to question the judgment of any "Finance House" that entrusts fifteen million bucks to a guy whose only recourse is to offer it to some stranger he found on an underground Internet database.  But hell, it's not my problem, and we're talking about some major cash here.  Okay, what do you want from me, Adekunle? 

Consequently, this Bank issued me a notice to provide the Next of Kin to claim the US$15 Million (Fifteen Million United States Dollars only) in their custody within the next ten official working days. Since I have been unsuccessful in locating the relatives for over 5 years now, I seek your consent to present you as the next of kin of the deceased to claim the fund as the Next of Kin to him so that the Bank will transfer the fund to your account. 

Okay, that sounds like a bunch of shady legal mumbo-jumbo to me but hell, Adekunle, I trust youCount me in.  Go ahead and have your bank transfer the funds into my account.  I'll be checking in with my bank to see when the money's available, and then I'm off to the Bahamas for a couple weeks.  Oh, and as a point of clarification, when you say "within ten official working days" do you mean from the time I got this e-mail, or from the March 2, 2010 date that you sent it?  I'm still a bit bamboozled by your use of time-travel. 

Upon receipt of the fund, I will come over to your country to meet with you for the disbursement of the fund and then you and I will share the money in this order: 70% will be for me, 30% will be for you. I have all the necessary legal documents that can back our claim we may make with the Bank. 

Oh, wait, you mean there's a catch?  You sneaky bastard.  Didn't we say that the money was going to be deposited in my account?  That would seem to put me in a much stronger position to negotiate than you, now, wouldn't it?  I'm fine with the 70-30 split, my friend, but I get the 70 or it's no dice.

 All I require is your honest co-operation to enable us seeing this deal through. I guarantee that this will be executed under a legitimate arrangement that will protect you from any breach of the law. 

Well, of course you have my honest co-operation.  I'm an upstanding American citizen and, as you yourself put it, a "highly respected personality."  In fact, I'm such a magnanimous guy that there's no way I can justify my own personal gain (to the tune of whatever 70% of 15 million dollars is) from the death of a beautiful Nigerian family.  So here's what I'm suggesting, Adekunle.  What do you say that you and I invest this fifteen million dollars in the upgrade and modernization of Abuja Express Road.  I believe that Steve A. and the rest of the A. family would appreciate the gesture, to ensure that no other tragedies occurIt was their money, after all. 

Best regards,

Adekunle F. Jemoris
Principal Attorney.

Right back atcha,
Mr. Knucklehead


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Wednesday, February 10, 2010


After a flurry of last-day voting, we have a Bush/Gore-like finish to Knucklehead's BLOG-OFF 2010!  After doing a quick recount of the votes cast in Dade County, Florida, I am pleased to announce that the first ever Blog-Off Champion is Mike Whiteman-Jones at Too Many Mornings.

Mike, go ahead and snag your trophy, and display it proudly on your site.  You'll also receive an official Knucklehead refrigerator magnet (retail value: Squadoosh), and a gift card to the national dining establishment of your choice.  Congratulations!

I would be remiss if I didn't take a moment to congratulate our runner-up, Candice Stroh at Life According to Candice.  Always a popular choice, Candice garnered more total votes over the six-week competition, but was narrowly edged out in the Finals.  As the runner-up, however, you will be asked to take over as the Knucklehead Blog-Off Champion should Mike be rendered unable to fulfill his duties and responsibilities (specifically, washing my car and mowing my lawn).

In a surprising surge, our second runner-up was Homemaker Man, who didn't let the fact that he wasn't an official participant in the Blog-Off deter him from putting forth a tremendous effort.  Congratulations!

And finally, I'd like to thank everyone who participated in the competition and also all of you who took the time to vote.  I hope everyone had a fun time, and you discovered a few new blogs to follow.

Stay tuned for Blog-Off 2011, coming next January!


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Sunday, February 7, 2010

Blog-Off 2010, Finals: Author's Choice

Knucklehead Humor, in association with Budweiser, the King of Beers, welcomes you to the Blog-Off 2010 Final Round!  And now . . . LLLLET'S GET READY TO RUMMMMBLLLLLE!

In the red corner, from the blogging city of Dallas, Texas, she's a 33-year old nurse with a husband, two kids, two cats, a dog, three fish, two frogs and a hermit crab, none of whom does she actually like.  She's been blogging regularly since August of 2008, she's into midget porn and possesses an actual vagina.  Let's have a big hand for Life According to Candice's Candice "Texas Hold Me" Stroh!

And in the blue corner, from parts unknown . . . he's a self-taught yo-yo expert who collects cat hair, ear wax, and those little "Do Not Eat" packages that you find in new shoes.  He's been blogging since April of 2009 and hopes someday to be mentioned in the same sentence as Bob Dylan.  Hey, how about that, he just was.  Everyone give it up for Mike "John Jacob Jingleheimer" Whiteman-Jones at Too Many Mornings!

This week, the bloggers get to choose what to write about, no limits, no specific genre.  We'll get to see them do what they do best.  Here are the links:

Life According to Candice
Too Many Mornings

Go visit their sites, and give their posts the once-over.  Then come on back here to Knucklehead! and cast your vote.  Voting closes on Wednesday at 9:00AM Pacific Time.  Results will be posted Wednesday evening along with the winner's Official Championship Blog Badge.

Good luck to our finalists!


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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Leave it to Wheezer

Hi kids, today we're going to talk about a sleep disorder commonly known as sleep apnea.  Due to obstructions in the air passage (normally caused by excess neck flab, which is a pleasant thought) sleep apnea sufferers (or "apneapolitans") stop breathing as many as thirty times an hour, all night long.  Not just snore, mind you, they actually STOP BREATHING for up to a minute at a time.  When the breathing resumes, it is usually accompanied by a loud "schnock"-like sound, a gasp, or mild-to-moderate choking. Needless to say, this symphony of snoring often infuriates those who are sleeping within the same ZIP code.

But it's not all fun and games.  As you'd imagine, people who suffer from apnea don't sleep very soundly.  Since they are jolted awake every time their lungs frantically gasp for air, they never settle into REM sleep, the deep sleep in which our dreams are accompanied by the song "Losing My Religion."  This leaves the apneapolitans exhausted all day long, and as a result, they often doze off while reading, watching TV, or typing on the compufdsoias;vl;/./..............


Sorry.  Where was I?

As you may have guessed, I suffer from this disorder.  That is, I used to until I decided to go to the doctor for treatment, the word "decided," of course meaning "went to the doctor because Theresa threatened to set me on fire in my sleep if I didn't."  Threats like this, by the way, are not uncommon.  While sleep apnea is known to create health problems such as high blood pressure and heart disease, most apnea-related deaths are caused by a sleep-deprived spouse or significant other murdering the apnea-sufferer in a fit of homicidal rage.  Historically, the courts have considered this type of murder "totally justifiable."

The treatment for sleep apnea is a device called a CPAP machine.  The CPAP (or as I affectionately refer to it, "Wheezer") is a pump, connected by a flexible plastic tube to a face mask.  The mask is similar in appearance to the one worn by Maverick in the classic film Top Gun.  In fact, the first night I wore it I rolled over, looked at Theresa, and said, "Tower, this is Ghostrider, requesting a fly-by."

"Negative, Ghostrider, the pattern is full."

After the first night with Wheezer my life was changed.  I wasn't tired during the day anymore.  I didn't doze off, I had more energy, and I wasn't quite the insufferable prick that I usually am.  The change happened, literally, over night.  Sleeping with a mask on takes some getting used to, and it's not always comfortable, but it's a hell of a lot better than being woken up by acid reflux and gagging on your own bile (another fun side effect).

All kidding aside, sleep apnea is a dangerous disorder and if left untreated can cause severe health problems.  I waited far too long to get it taken care of and as a result spent two years functioning at a significantly lower level than normal.  If you know someone with sleep apnea -- the guy sleeping on the couch making sounds like a constipated water buffalo, for example -- talk to him about going to the doctor.  It'll be one of the most important things you ever do for him.

And if he won't listen to reason, just threaten to kill him to death.  It worked for me.


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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Blog-Off 2010: Semi-Finals Result

Before we get to this week's results, I must take a moment to recognize a blogger who's been participating in this Blog-Off without being invited.  He's taken it upon himself to follow the Blog-Off guidelines and write a post on each topic, even though he's not involved in the voting process.  Up until now I haven't said anything here on Knucklehead, but I can keep quiet no longer.

The Homemaker Man's stow-away entry for "In the Style of Dr. Seuss" completely kicked ass over any of the official contestants.  I mean no disrespect to Candice, Mike, and Nomad, but click over to Homemaker Man's Musings From the Big Pink and see if you don't agree with me.

Okay, on to the "official" results.

After hanging tough through the first five rounds, 365 Days of People is the low man on the totem pole this week.  His Seussian entry, I thought, was terrific but the voters apparently didn't have quite the same enthusiasm . . . so we must bid Nomad adieu.

So now it's time for the big head-to-head Blog-Off Smack Down.  This time, instead of having them write something, Mike and Candice are just going to strip to the waist and wrestle for it.

Just kidding.

Anyway, check back in on Sunday morning at 9 Pacific for the links, details, and voting ballot for the Championship Round.  It's "Blogger's Choice" this time, so no holds are barred!


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Monday, February 1, 2010

All That and a Bag of Frozen Peas

So there I was, sitting in Vasectomy 101, taking notes as Dr. Cutsack explained the horrifying experience I was about to go through.  The doctor emphasized the fact that although vasectomies are reversible, due to possible complications the operation should be considered permanent.  He put a slide on the overhead that illustrated the science involved.  And then he said two words that really got my attention.

Local anesthesia.

What?  I'm going to be awake for the nut-cutting?  Couldn't we discuss this?

The operation was scheduled for the following Friday, which meant that I had homework to do on Thursday night.  The first assignment was to collect a sample of my swimming buddies to be stored and frozen just in case I wanted another kid someday.  I took some reading material into the restroom, shook hands with President Lincoln, and the mission went off without a hitch.  The second part of the homework was to shave the relevant area; however, the instruction pamphlet was not real specific in regard to "area".  Was I supposed to just shave ground zero, or did it mean the outlying suburbs as well?  To be on the safe side, I took care of the whole region.

I went in on Friday afternoon, more than a little apprehensive.  This is Southern California, after all, so you never know when an earthquake might strike.  It would be just my luck to be under the knife at the time.  I can imagine the doctor: "Um, sorry about that.  It was 6.3, but now it's 3.5."  I checked in, and noticed that the waiting room was completely empty.  Apparently, I was the first appointment of the day so I didn't even have to wait.  They took me right in.
I changed into the ass-less hospital gown, and sat down on the chilly metal table.  After just a few minutes, the prep nurse entered.

If the hospital administration had any compassion whatsoever, they would only assign ugly nurses to vasectomy prep duty.  But no.  My prep nurse was a dead ringer for Angelina Jolie.  Great body, sultry lips, long flowing hair, an absolute knockout.

"Okay, I'll need you to lift the gown," she cooed.  I complied, and she started applying, well, something.

This was not good.  Sporting wood during a vasectomy would have to be a story that doctors tell at medical conventions or chuckle about on the golf course.  Having no desire to be the butt of such jokes, I immediately disengaged my brain from Nurse Angelina's administrations.

I thought about the 1978 World Series.  I thought about that creepy "Pat" character from Saturday Night Live.  I thought about Rosie O'Donnell with head lice.

Thank God, it worked.  Embarrassment averted.

Dr. Cutsack came in and briefly described what he'd be doing over the course of the twenty minute procedure.  "First, we'll make a small incision in your scrotum.  Then, we cut the vas deferens and tie off the ends.  It's really quite simple."

"What if there's an earthquake?"

"Well, let's hope there isn't one."

Not exactly the comforting words I was hoping for.

He set up a sheet around my waist, so I wouldn't be able to watch what he was doing.  Not that I'd want to.  "First thing we're going to do," he said, "is give you a local anesthetic."

At that point, Dr. Cutsack stabbed my sack with a needle, and injected a quart of sulfuric acid into my testicles.  I am not ashamed to admit that I screamed like a little girl.

"Okay, that's the worst of it," he said.

"I SHOULD FUCKING HOPE SO!"  Polite conversation goes right out the window when your balls are sizzling.

The doctor waited for the anesthesia to kick in, and then he got out the scalpel.  I didn't feel a thing.  Then he pulled out the pinking shears.  I heard a "snip" and then felt something spritz the inside of my thigh.  Blood, probably, but who knows?  Drawing on his Boy Scout experience, Dr. Cutsack tied my junk in a couple half-hitches, sewed things up and the nightmare was over.

I got dressed, said goodbye to Nurse Angelina, and left.  When I walked back out into the waiting room, it was now full.  Guys with their wives, waiting to take their turn.  Since I had obviously just survived the procedure all the men were looking at me, trying to determine just how bad an experience they were in for.

I couldn't resist.

I looked at the group, gave a "thumbs-up", and in my best Mickey Mouse voice I said, "Nothing to worry about, guys, it's a piece of cake."

Two of the men fainted, one got up and left.

The recovery was not pleasant.  Once the anesthesia wore off, the pain set in.  The swelling, while ego-boosting, was really uncomfortable so I spent most of the weekend with a bag of Del Monte frozen peas in my crotch.  It took about five days for the pain to fully subside.

Just in time for the itchy stubble to take over.


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