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Archive for May, 2006

In the middle of an otherwise perfectly normal conversation over the phone, my mother interrupts me to scream, “Where is my fucking dish towel?  Goddamnit!!!”

And people wonder where I get it from…

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I know this might be a strange topic for most of you out there, but there’s nothing better when you’re in a bad mood than checking out the latest Eurovision contenders.  For those who aren’t initiates into the Cult of Eurovision, it’s a song contest that’s been held every year since 1956.  Each country in the “European Broadcasting Union” (yeah…I don’t know what that’s all about) serves up the best artist/group their nation can cobble together and they all compete for the top prize…hosting the competition the next year.  Yes, I realize that it’s a rather anticlimactic prize, but it’s all about the glory, people!

You’re sitting there thinking, Jesus, this sounds lame.  But just consider the possibilities that a country like Hungary could offer.  Or Poland.  Or Belarus.  Or even little Malta!  Now we’re on the same page.  This is the same contest that’s responsible for introducing the world to such immeasurable talents as ABBA and t.A.t.u.

Don’t forget the Olsen Brothers!  Winners of the Eurovision 2000 competition with their song “Smuk som et Stjerneskud.”

So onto this year’s finalists.

First up, we have Silvia Night, the famous Icelandic television personality with her breakaway hit, “Congratulations Iceland.”  It’s a modest song about Silvia’s simple desire to humbly bring the Eurovision prize to her homeland*.  With lyrics like these, how could she lose?

So congratulations I have arrived
Im Silvia Night and Im shining so bright
Eurovision nation your dreams will come true
You’ve been waiting forever
For me to save you
Wham bam boom

*Yes, Silvia and I are both fully aware of the concept of “satire,” so shut up.

Next up, we have Finland’s entry: Lordi.  Lordi is a band that wants desperately to recapture all of Gwar’s glory, but with far less tongue-in-cheek wink-wink nudge-nudge than we’re used to.  Lordi’s song?  “Hard Rock Hallelujah.”  I mean, look at that song title.  Even the song title is trying too hard.  And zombie cheerleaders?  Oy vey, we get it.  You’re hardcore, you’re rebelling against the establishment, you think cheerleaders turning into zombies is biting social commentary.

Gwar would eat you spread on a biscuit for tea.  Hell, Hanson would eat you spread on a biscuit for tea.

So, last up we have my favorite entry this year…Texas Lightning.  You heard right.  Texas Lightning.  From what dusty country does this Larry McMurtry-esque band of cowboys hail?, you might ask.  What lonely prairies have they walked?  What stark deserts laid out across the pillowy black night?  Germany.  That’s right – German cowboys.  Everyone’s S&M dream come true.

The costumes, people!  For God’s sake, the costumes!!!  And the straw hats!  And the high-heeled pink boots!  And the little guy in the top right who looks like the bad Nazi in every single Indian Jones movie ever!!!

In a twist that surprised even my cynical, shriveled little pit of a heart, Texas Lightning really aren’t that bad.  Their song, “No, No Never” is not the worst piece of country & western music I’ve ever heard.  I was expecting something along the lines of Billy Ray Cyrus, but heavier on the cheese.  I was pleasantly surprised.  This does not mean that I’m going to (a) become a C&W fan or (b) a fan of German C&W music.  I’m just going to admit defeat to Eurovision for one night…

…and, come on.  Germany hasn’t won Eurovision since 1982.

 

How can you say “no” to this face???

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Erratum

On the plane to Denver, in the seats behind me, I overhear this conversation:

Daughter:  Mommy, if the plane crashed, would you save me?

Mother:  Of course I would, sweetheart!  I would do anything to save you!

Daughter:  Really?

Mother:  Really!  I spent three years in the New Jersey court system to save you.  After that, a plane crash would be a piece of cake.

Daughter: 

Mother:  Do you remember the last time you were in Denver?

Daughter:  No.

Mother:  That’s because you were only three years old and your father had kidnapped you and I didn’t know where you were!  It was late at night and you must have been very scared.

Daughter:  …I don’t remember that.

Mother:  That’s probably for the best.

It was like a domestic, onboard flight entertainment version of Not Without My Daughter.  Very creepy.

Now without headscarves – and at an amazing 41% off!

So I’m checking into the hotel later that evening and the curse that has haunted me from childhood kicks in…  I apparently have “one of those faces” that somehow leads people to believe that I want to hear their life stories.  I’m told I have an “open” face; I just don’t know how to close it.  The desk clerk checking me in is a small, frail-looking Indian lady.  She doesn’t say much at first, just welcomes me to the hotel and asks for my name.  I give it to her and inquire about her evening so far.

In return for my polite yet completely hollow gesture of caring, I get this answer:  “I think I have a bad rash on my arm.  Do you want to see it?”

I was going to put a picture of an arm rash here, but every picture I found made me want to vomit forcefully.  So you get Barney instead.

In a word?  NO, I DO NOT WANT TO SEE YOUR DISGUSTING MOTHEREFFING ARM RASH.  What did I actually say?  “Um, okay.”  Moron.

She rolls up her sleeve, shows me a forearm marked with ugly, welted, red lesions and asks me what I think it was caused by.  Because I was apparently wearing my “Hi! I’m a dermatologist” sign that day.  Maybe having an “open” face also means that people assume you’re an authority on rashes.  I don’t know.  What I do know is that as soon as she handed me my room key (which I accepted with part of my sweater sleeve covering my hand), I hoofed it to the elevators as quick as my stubby little legs could carry me.  “Good luck with that!” I cried as I scurried away.  And that might have been the high point of my trip, if not for the next day.

I’m sitting there in a conference room the next morning, the west-facing windows taunting me with their views onto the Rockies.  My attention span is fading in and out.  I understand vaguely that we’re discussing commodities and mutual funds and futures trading.  My mind tends to wander whenever the words “Sharpe ratio” and “upmarket capture” come into the conversation.  All of a sudden, I’m snapped back into reality by our investment strategist as I catch the last few words of his sentence: “…and frozen orange juice commodities are trading high this quarter.”

I started laughing hysterically, recalling halcyon days of my youth spent watching Trading Places and Coming to America.  I laughed not just at the memories of the movies themselves (He was wearing my Harvard tie. Can you believe it? My Harvard tie. Like oh, sure he went to Harvard.) but for the sheer absurdity of the fact that I was sitting in a conference room somewhere in middle America, surrounded by the kind of people I hate and who I think are ruining society, pretending to be vastly more educated on the topic at hand than I actually am, wearing clothes that make me look like a 45-year-old and developing an ever deepening sense of self-loathing for completely selling myself out.

In retrospect, I probably looked like a crazy asshole to the rest of the room, which consisted almost entirely of humorless little old men with mustaches like extras on Miami Vice.  I don’t think they were sharing my exact thoughts at that moment, and I certainly don’t think they got my cheap movie reference – even when I tried explaining.  Luckily, I was able to attribute the laughter to “altitude” and “a poor night’s sleep.”

Why do we sell out?  Are we afraid of failure?  Do we become resigned to one way of life and believe it’s really the only way to ultimate success and happiness?  Do we get lazy and complacent?  Or do we fall asleep and, years later, wake up one not-so-important morning to realize that we don’t even know ourselves anymore…but have no idea how to turn things around?

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