bacon penis assassination

Last night, Jeff and I had a conversation about Chuck Barris, the creator of the Newlywed Game and host of the Gong Show. Jeff had just stumbled on Barris’ autobiography, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, in a bookstore. The book, for those of you who don’t know, details Barris’ history not only as a TV producer and game show host, but as a CIA operative.

Yup, according to Barris, he was an assassin for the CIA when he wasn’t running around the set of the Gong Show like a hyperactive toy poodle on speed. When off scouting tropical locations for his various TV projects, he was also apparently eliminating the enemies of our government.

While his credibility is somewhat suspect, it makes for a hell of a story.

I know in reality that it’s more likely that he was snorting coke off of his makeup table and daydreaming than snapping the necks of communist insurgents, but, like I said, it’s a great story.

I like believing that I live in a universe where something like that can happen. I like the thought that the tiny Chuck Barris could have been our most deadly Cold War operatives. And I like thinking that the Unknown Comic could have been one of the Kennedy assassins.

“No, there’s no shooter on the grassy knoll, miss. It’s just a paper bag stuck on top of the fence.”

The film version of Confessions of a Dangerous Mind is supposed to come out later this month and it looks great. Sam Rockwell does a hell of a job in the clips I’ve seen. (Charlie Kaufman, who penned the Being John Malkovitch script wrote the screenplay.)

To find out about the movie, click here. To go to right to the trailer, click here.

Jeff said he read the first two pages of the book and that he was laughing out-loud… something about Chuck Barris looking at himself naked in a full-length mirror and comparing his penis to a crispy piece of bacon.

The more we talked about Chuck Barris, the more miserable I felt.

I’ve never had a TV show.

I’ve never killed anyone.

It’s pathetic.

I don’t have any good stories. I’ve been sitting here for an hour and the best I can come up with is something about having to go to Hallmark to buy my mom a birthday card. How sad is that compared to the life of Chuck Barris?

I want to be a government killer.

The webstats program tells me that 1% of you (the readers of this site) are in the military, can’t one of you program me to be a killing machine?

In the meantime, here is my fascinating story about going to Hallmark.

birthday card sellout
My sister called last night to remind me that my mom’s birthday is this Wednesday. I told her that I’d remembered, but I hadn’t. Once we hung up, I went into the office and found a piece of pink paper. I drew a heart on it and wrote something like, “Just because this isn’t a real card doesn’t mean we love you any less.” Then I signed it and then gave it to Linette to sign. While I was in the other room addressing the envelope, Linette thought of a nice way to tell me that this card, while it seemed OK to me, would break my mother’s heart to pieces.

I am, on principle, opposed to paying money for greeting cards. More than that though, I just can’t accept the fact that my mother would rather have a store-bought card (with just my signature inside) than a note from me, even if it is only one sentence scrawled on a scrap of paper and a drawing of a heart. It seems counterintuitive.

At 34, I’m tired of fighting though.

(Maybe I’ll use that for a book title one day.)

I gave in and went to Hallmark. I bought the least offensive card I could find, which wasn’t an easy task, given the kind of smarmy trash they peddle at Hallmark. I’m sitting here, staring at it now. On the front is says, “The birthday hug monkey is on the way.” There’s a drawing of a monkey with its arms outstretched for a hug. Inside, it says, “Do not resist the birthday hug monkey.” Of the ten cards I looked at, it was the only one that didn’t either make me cringe or allude to my parents’ sex life. It cost me $1.91. (It would have been more, but the little, round woman behind the counter was wearing a license plate-sized button that said, “10% off for AAA members.”)

So, now I just need to sign it and drop it in the mail. This is the first store-bought greeting card I’ve bought in years (except for one on sobriety that has Jesus on the front, holding up the drunken construction worker (some day I’ll scan it in and show you)) and it depresses me. I feel like I did that first time I ate meat after ten years of vegetarianism, only without the “God, meat is soooo fucking good” realization.

science kit anger
When I was young I had this little electronics kit. It was essentially a piece of heavy cardboard with lots of transistors, lights, connectors, knobs and such poking up through the top. It came with a book and lots of little pieces of color-coded wire. According to the book, there were 100s of things you could do with it, if you followed the directions and completed the circuits in the way you were told to.

I loved that science kit. It was frustrating because once you created something you’d have to destroy it in order to make something else, but it was worth the pain. It would take me an hour or so to construct an experiment like they showed it in the book, but, if I’d done it right, I would have something I could play with for days. I remember making burglar alarms, musical instruments, strobe lights, and listening devices. It was incredible.

Why am I telling you this?

Well, every year a few different non-profit organizations that do work with impoverished kids in our area organize a gift drive. They put the names of kids on ornaments, along with a list of the kinds of things they’d want for Christmas, and then hang them from a tree at the local rec center. For the past few years, Linette and I have picked a kid that we think sounds cool and then we’ve bought him or her a few little things for the holidays. Of all the gifts we buy during the holiday season, these are always the one that make us happiest.

Over the last few years though, I’ve noticed that it’s become harder and harder to find kids to get excited about shopping for. Maybe it’s a sign that the economy has been pretty good, but the kids haven’t, for the most part, been asking for things that most people would consider necessities. They weren’t asking for coats and shoes. More often than not, they’re asking for Play Station cartridges. As much as I want to help out, I don’t tend to get really fired up to help out kids who have Play Stations. It rubs me the wrong way.

(I just read that over and I realize that it’s weird. It sounds like I’d be a lot happier this time of year if I knew there were kids that were cold and hungry. That’s not the case. I like knowing, I suppose, that kids have Play Stations, if that means that the necessary things have been taken care of. What pisses me off isn’t so much that they have Play Stations while living in public housing, it’s that they don’t want anything cool. They don’t want what I would have wanted as a kid. Yup, that’s the crime in my mind. Kids today aren’t happy with Wizard of Oz books and crochet kits.)

This year, after about five minutes of looking, we found a ten-year old kid who asked for either some kind of science kit or art supplies. Finally, we’d found a kid that we thought that we might like.

So, that’s what reminded me of the science kit. I began to drive around town looking for one. After about five stops, I’d almost given up. I’d started out happy and I’d gotten progressively more pissed off as the day wore on. Not even the big stores, like Toys-R-Us, had them. Toys-R-Us is a fucking airplane hanger packed full of stuff for kids, but somehow there wasn’t room for this one little thing. They have an entire Barbie concourse, but they don’t have my little science kit. They have lots of action figures and video games, but very little to encourage scientific exploration. It was depressing.

Finally, I found one at a place called Learning Express in Ann Arbor. It took me about four laps around the store until I found it, but I found it. It’s a little different from the one I had, but it still looks cool. My hope is that the kid likes it. (We’ll also pick up some books and art supplies though, just to be sure.)

gay country ham and gay biscuits

I am happy to report that after a decade of pressure, the Cracker Barrel restaurant chain has added a sexual orientation clause in their anti-discrimination policy. It’s a long time coming.

I’d like to say that I boycotted Cracker Barrel during the past ten years, but I haven’t. I was more of the opinion that my talents would best be used by working for change from the inside, by dressing stylishly and, when possible, dining there with gay friends.

I was there with a gay friend once and he didn’t seem to mind. I asked if it bothered him that he couldn’t work there and be an outwardly gay man. I think he said that he liked their biscuits and would rather die than work another restaurant job.

So, I kept eating there, tipping better in the instances when I was fairly certain that my waitress might be a lesbian.

This story is here primarily because I was looking for an excuse to link to the “Gay Financial Network.”

On the subject of the Cracker Barrel (which happens to be my favorite restaurant chain), next time you’re there, check out the lines dividing the parking spaces. It’s no like any other parking lot in the country. Between each parking space, they have a little buffer zone kind of thing. It’s like an acknowledgement of the fact that their patrons can’t squeeze out of their cars when parked in normal spots. Linette likes eating there because we look thin and stylish. I hope that doesn’t change now that they’re no longer on the gay boycott list.

godless hotel photographer
I don’t know if I really believe this next story, but it may be true. I guess that’s what separates bloggers from real journalists, they set the journalistic integrity bar at a different place. For me, “might be true” is good enough.

2600 Magazine has a story about an amateur photographer in Denver that was detained by the government for taking too many pictures of a hotel in which Dick Cheney was staying. The cops took him in, took his camera, accused him of being a terrorist and then, after it was all over, denied that it had ever happened. He didn’t even get his camera back.

The agent told Maginnis that his “suspicious activities” made him a threat to national security, and that he would be charged as a terrorist under the USA-PATRIOT act. The Secret Service agent tried to make Maginnis admit that he was taking the photographs to analyze weaknesses in the Vice President’s security entourage and “cause terror and mayhem.”

If you want to read the whole story, just do what feels natural.

rights to our own eyeballs
Business Week is running a story this week on the necessity of what they’re calling a “Biometric Bill of Rights.”

Since I know that none of you will follow the link, here’s a little snippet:

For 40 years, Alan Westin has been at the forefront of the debate about a person’s right to privacy. He has conducted 15 national public-opinion surveys on the subject and written privacy policies for IBM (IBM ), American Express (AXP ), AT&T (T ) and other blue-chip companies. Today, Westin is most concerned about biometrics — the use of digital fingerprints, iris and retinal scans, hand geometry, or facial characteristics to identify individuals or verify that they are who they say they are.

According to a Nov. 5 draft of Westin’s latest survey for the National Consortium of Justice & Information Statistics, 82% of Americans think it’s likely that every adult will have at least one biometric ID on file before decade’s end. And while 56% of Americans feel that the correct identification of people outweighs concerns about providing key information, 9 in 10 think it’s important to design safeguards against potential misuses of biometric IDs.

So what’s happening on the policy front? Sadly, nothing. No new laws are on the books to regulate the storing and selling of biometric information. This, despite the rollout of biometric systems across the country by law enforcement and businesses. Already, more than 40 airports are using electronic fingerprint-scanning technology from Minnetonka (Minn.)-based Identix (IDNX ) to do background checks on airport workers and to create badges that, when read by an electronic device, allow access to restricted areas.

“HARMLESS AT THE START.”

Since last spring, Texas shoppers at several Kroger (KR ) supermarkets can pay for their purchases simply by pressing their finger on a biometric scanner. In June, Thriftway shoppers in some stores in Seattle also gained this ability.

That has privacy advocates are worried. “Most of these applications seem harmless at the start, but then there are new applications. Soon you have full-force Big Brother watching over you,” says Chris Hoofnagle, legal counsel of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a Washington (D.C.) privacy-advocacy group.

On the off chance that you’re interested in reading the rest of the article, you can check it out here.

harper the news fairy returns
Harper has been gone for a while, but he’s back today with one little tidbit of news. Here he is:

“Japanese researchers were decapitating infant rats and grafting their heads onto adult rats’ thighs, where they were observed trying to nurse. It was Strom Thurmond’s 100th
birthday and a Marilyn Monroe impersonator gave him a big kiss on the head.”

I love the way those two things run together. That’s just beautiful to me.

I have lots of other stuff I want to tell you about, but I’m tired and I want to go upstairs and read a bit now. Take care. I’ll see you tomorrow. I promise.

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9 Comments

  1. mark
    Posted April 7, 2008 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    Wow! I used to put together impressive posts!

  2. Ol' E Cross
    Posted April 7, 2008 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

    Yes, you certainly did. I’m glad you’ve learned.

    I was enjoying the post until I was reminded Cheney has been VP longer than you’ve been blogging. Damn perspective. Bush is the only president our daughters have known.

  3. Ol' E Cross
    Posted April 7, 2008 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

    Yes, you certainly did. I’m glad you’ve learned.

    I was enjoying the post until I was reminded Cheney has been VP longer than you’ve been blogging. Damn perspective. Bush is the only president our daughters have known.

  4. mark
    Posted April 8, 2008 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    For what it’s worth, Clementine knows who Barack Obama is, and that he’s running for President. I’ve never told her about Bush or showed her what he looked like.

  5. mark
    Posted April 8, 2008 at 6:34 am | Permalink

    And all the photos that used to be here were wiped out in the Iranian hacker attack a few years ago… So don’t complain to me. Send your comments to Iran.

  6. Posted April 15, 2015 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    Powerful post.

  7. Posted October 10, 2016 at 5:43 am | Permalink

    Again, this was a powerful post.

  8. stupid hick
    Posted October 10, 2016 at 6:20 am | Permalink

    Peter, scattering crumbs in the forest for Jean Henry to find? I hope so.

  9. Posted October 10, 2016 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    Apparently, Jeff still blogs.

    http://thewvsr.com/

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