Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Superman Without a Home

The following was originally published in the May 13 edition of the Dayton Daily News under the pen name/secret identity "Toby Riassi."


Not his real hair.
Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s ... a traitor!

Yes, it seems that when it comes to standing up for one’s country, the Man of Steel doesn’t have much of a spine.

In an upcoming issue of his Action Comics series, Superman attends a rally in Iran to show his support for government protesters there. He’s reprimanded for this by the Secret Service, who apparently has authority over superheroes.

This causes Superman, who fears that he’s being seen as a tool exclusively of the United States, to go before the United Nations and renounce his American citizenship.

Hey, good timing Superman. Maybe you were stuck in a phone booth or something and didn’t hear, but we just got bin Laden. Bet you wish you could reverse the earth’s rotation to turn back time on that one.

But it’s too late. From now on, no matter what you do, we’ll see right through you. Not in the way that you can see through us, with the X-ray vision and all, but in a figurative, non-privacy rights violating sense.

You’re supposed to stand for “truth, justice and the American way,” but in this issue you say that’s “just not enough anymore.” What more do you want, Superman? Do you want us to remove the kryptonite from hot dogs? Forget it. What do you think gives them their sheen?

Oh, word through the newspaper grapevine is that your “buddy” over at the “Daily Planet” Clark Kent plans to remain a citizen. Well you can’t have it both ways, Kal-El. If that is your real name.

If being the embodiment of all that is right and fair in the world isn’t good enough for you, I don’t see how you’re ever going to be satisfied. What is it you don’t like about us anymore? We stopped calling you about kittens stuck in trees. We don’t tug on your cape.

Is it the obesity? Is that it? It’s because we’ve gained weight, isn’t it? Well, excuse us, Mr. Perfect. We weren’t all blessed with super will power.

Or maybe it’s our supposed lack of worldliness? Sorry we don’t all live in Metropolis. Don’t forget, you grew up in Smallville, pal. Which, by the way, has an unusually high crime rate for a little Kansas farming town, if you ask me.

Seems to me that trouble just follows you around. Everywhere you go these catastrophic events aren’t far behind. Bomb threats, kidnappings, the early 90s television dramedy “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.” Horrifying occurrences that those who witnessed them will never forget.

But if you’re willing to turn your back on us— all of us— then go right ahead. But it’s up to you to explain it to the children before you go, especially little Jimmy Olsen. He’s going to be devastated. He looks up to you, you know.

Then I want you to go, fly away. Far away. And don’t turn back.

Partly because it’s too painful and partly because we just turned on the Bat Signal. Batman should be here any minute now and that could get awkward.

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Friday, June 10, 2011

Point/Counterpoint: Is It a Good Idea to Send a Woman an Unsolicited Picture of Your Penis?

It's time for Point/Counterpoint, where I present you with both sides of a hot-button issue so you can make your own informed decision on where you stand. Today's topic, recent revelations that U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner sent a series of explicit photos of himself to various women online. (Before we begin, many of you, more than I can count really, have asked me how best to talk to your children about this story. My advice is to address it directly in clear and mature language that communicates the seriousness of the situation without patronizing your son or daughter. Something like, "The man is in trouble because he showed his pee-pee to someone.")

So, is It a Good Idea to Send a Woman an Unsolicited Picture of Your Penis?

Point:
The process of courting a female companion can be a minefield for male suitors.

So many questions, and so many ways to stumble. Am I talking about myself too much? Should I bring flowers? Should I pay for dinner? How long should I wait after our date to call her back? And in that time, how many pictures of my genitals should I send her?


The latter question has been complicated in recent years with the rise of technological gadgets designed specifically for sending such images. The practical uses of devices like cell phones and computers are otherwise limited at best.

Not to mention the impersonal nature they lend to the exercise. Time was, when a man felt strongly enough about a lady, he took a picture of his crotch and composed a handwritten note to send with it. The mere use of personal stationery often said more than words or penile photographs ever could.

But times are different now. In this go-go, instant gratification society in which we live, very few men even take the time to include so much as a winky emoticon when sexting. It's a sad and confusing commentary on where we stand as a society. Even more so when you find out that many woman now view these offerings as unwelcome, inappropriate and upsetting. But does that make them wrong?

Absolutely not. It merely shows women's desire to return to the aforementioned time when some actual thought went into the process and establishing an emotional connection was just as important as a well maintained groin.

A return to these traditional values could alleviate a lot of the current outrage and misgivings.

Counterpoint:
No.

Like Your Dog Is In My Bushes on Facebook. There's no reason to keep hiding it from your family.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

No Way to Treat a Guido

The following appeared in the April 29 edition of the Dayton Daily News. Do not be alarmed by its healthy orange glow.

There’s just no pleasing some people.

Like children, for example. You feed them in morning, and, like, four hours later, they’re asking for more food. Will you never be satisfied?!

And then there’s Italy.

First, they didn’t want to be represented in popular culture by compelling and critically acclaimed television and film portrayals of the mafia. What more do you need than critical acclaim? It's the best kind of acclaim.

Photo courtesy of the State Dept.
Now, they don’t like the cast of MTV’s “Jersey Shore” being front and center and shirtless when the topic of conversation turns to Italian-Americans. Why? Your guess is as good as mine. Maybe it has something to do with the “L” in favorite Shore saying, “GTL” (gym, tan, laundry). They probably think the guys’ mothers should be taking care of that part for them well into their 40s.

“They embody the worst stereotypes of Italians, multiplied by thousands and Americanized,” Roman newspaper columnist Roberto Del Bove said, I assume between bites of spaghetti and meatballs while stroking his bushy mustache, wearing a giant chef hat and playing an organ grinder so his pet monkey could dance for spare change/pickpocket unsuspecting passersby.

Also, that quote makes it abundantly clear that Mr. Del Bove has never been to an Olive Garden.

Italy’s criticism of “Jersey Shore” began because of plans to film the show’s upcoming season inside the old country, specifically in the city of Florence. Who knows what historic fountains the cast will befoul as they drunkenly mistake them for elaborate hot tubs.

But according to the New York Post, Florence Mayor Matteo Renzi wants to ruin the fun all because he’d prefer to maintain a clean, desirable place for people to live. Lame, Renzi. I thought you were cool, man.

He laid out a set of rules for the cast’s upcoming trip to the motherland, including:
  • No filming allowed inside any of the city’s historic buildings. 
No problem there. Unless there are tanning beds in Florence and they count as historic buildings.
  • The cast will not be filmed in bars and clubs that serve alcohol. 
OK, so we’re just going to cancel the season now, right? I mean, from what I’ve seen, that’s literally the whole show. Although, this is Europe we’re talking about. So my guess is the guidos and guidettes can just get their respective drinks and shwerves on in other places.
  • The cast will not be filmed drinking in public. 
All right then. This is going well. Well, on the plus side, this is going to be the best episode of “Intervention” ever.
  • The show should be filmed in a manner to promote Italy (not Americans visiting Italy) and feature its culture and good food. 
You want culture? Both Snooki and JWOW have written books. Actual books, with a certain percentage of words recognized as part of the English language. And The Situation was on “Dancing With the Stars.” Each is their own sort of perverted mutation of culture.
  • The show will not be filmed to promote Florence as a drinking town. 
You know what usually happens when a parent tells his or her child over and over not to do something?

Why do I get the feeling Mayor Renzi will be giving the cast the “I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed” speech in a few months?


Lists That Actually Matter: Five Stock Office Phrases That Should Go Away

Aftermath of a circle back.
In addition to poor microwave etiquette and random bowls of candy every five or so feet, offices are also often rife with cliches and ridiculous buzz words that ultimately mean nothing. Like profitability, for instance. What does that even mean?! And like Carson Daly's inability to resist doing a soul handshake followed by pronounced gesticulation when interviewing a rapper on TRL, many people who are surrounded by drones using these standard office phrases are often unable to keep themselves from trying to join in. Just as I am unable to make a cultural reference that was topical within the last 11 years.

Read the list HERE.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Don't Go Changing

The following was published in the April 15 edition of the Dayton Daily News and was nominated for Best Imitation of Writing, Latin/Spoken Word.

I don’t do well with change.

One time I went to a restaurant where they secretly replaced the fine coffee they usually served with Folgers Crystals. I didn’t get out of bed for weeks.

So imagine my reaction when it was announced that the Grammy Awards were slashing more than 30 categories.

Really, 30 categories gone? That’s excessive. Then there are a mere 78 left.

I understand not wanting to make cuts out of show time that could be spent extending a pyrotechnic-laced Justin Bieber/Jaden Smith dance routine, but there has to be another way.

All right, deep breaths. I’m going to stay calm here. In the grand scheme of things, it’s no big deal. There could be no Grammys. Can you imagine? Then people would only be able to find out about hot new artists from record stores and FM radio.

The Academy is probably just getting rid of some of those technical awards anyway, the ones handed out in previously held ceremonies at venues with really low ceilings.

“Gone is Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals,” according to eonline.com. “And the Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance are getting morphed into the gender-neutral Best Pop Solo Performance.”

Gender-neutral? You can’t judge men’s and women’s songs against each other. All of men’s songs are about women. It’ll subconsciously skew the whole thing.

Whew, it is hot in here. Is anyone else hot? I am burning up.

Okay, that’s fine. Go ahead. While I do not agree that Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals was the right place to start (Best Pop Collaboration With Silence/Body Language, anyone?), I’m willing to go along with it.

I mean, these people run the Grammy Awards. Are you going to question their competency?

So it’s a shame to have lost those categories, but at least the band-aid’s off. We’re finished.

What’s that? We’re not finished? And no one is actually talking to me right now, you say? Interesting.

“The Dance Field has been renamed the Dance/Electronica Field and Best Electronic/Dance Album is now called Dance/Electronica Album,” the Recording Academy press release said.

Come on, Recording Academy. What does that even mean? How do you get from Electronic to Electronica? That’s like going from Rhythm and Blues to R&B. They’re completely unrelated.

“As the distinction was often hairsplitting, Hard Rock and Metal were combined,” the press release continued.

They must mean earsplitting. What they meant to say is that these categories rocked so hard separately that it was earsplitting and hence, they had to be combined for safety reasons.

“Individual categories for Hawaiian, Native American and Zydeco or Cajun Music are being replaced with the Best Regional Roots Music Album category.”

Noooooo! Think of the reaction in Native American communities, where this will likely be viewed as the worst atrocity ever carried out against their people in this country’s history.

I can’t breathe. Water, I need water. The room is starting to spin. I think I’m going to pass out. This can’t be real.

It’s a dream. That’s it. It’s all just a nightmare. Any minute now I’m going to wake up and everything will be back to normal.

Then I’ll see that it was all just a horrible dream, like that time I thought I wrote a whole column about the Grammys.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Lists That Actually Matter: Five Fast Food Innovations You Didn't See Coming

When it comes to American culinary innovation, we've come a long way since the stuffed crust pizza. In fact, we've come so far that now there's cheese and pepperoni stuffed inside the crust. But we're on a slippery slope. Mostly because the slope is now covered in sweat and bacon grease, but also in a figurative sense, as food makers try to outdo each other in an effort to win America's heart before it explodes. So even though you think we must have reached a plateau and that this game of "can you top and/or stuff this" can't go any further, you know, deep down, that's not true. Think of all the stuff that could still be randomly thrown together in a bowl, bread or otherwise. Or all of the things that could be freakishly manipulated into the shape of a fry. Pepperoni inside the crust? Big deal. Call me when pepperoni is the crust. Then we're getting somewhere. Enough pussyfooting around, American restaurant industry. I'm offering up these five ideas free of charge to get you moving in the right direction. If you care about us, you'll make them happen.

Read the list HERE


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Is It News: Nick Lachey Lumbar Support Edition

BREAKING:
Is this news? It's interesting, I think we can all agree on that. I was immediately sucked in. And it's good to hear, what with all we know about the violent aftermath of MTV's Newlyweds. But news? I'm not sure. As usual, I'd prefer to see what, if any, photographic evidence there is to support this item.
Okay, so they're together in a picture. So what? Lots of people get photographed together. Models, heads of state, family members. It doesn't necessarily mean anything. I'm still not convinced ... wait a second. Zoom in.
So it's true! You've done it again, People Magazine.

Verdict: News.

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Images via.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Ready To Fill the Bill

The following appeared in the April 1 edition of the Dayton Daily News. Read it in a silly duck voice in your head, if you dare.

Can you speak?

Can you, um … well, that’s it actually.

If you can, you could be the next voice of the Aflac Duck! Finally, an occupation where I wouldn’t openly embarrass my family, if only because my work would all be attributed to a sassy duck.

Aflac is encouraging people to “Answer the Duck’s Call.” At least, I think it’s them. They could really just be hunters trying to lure potential ducks out. Just in case, be sure to wear a bright orange vest to audition.

The old voice, Gilbert Gottfried, was let go after making jokes about the earthquake and tsunami in Japan on Twitter. That’s in incredibly poor taste, yes. But maybe this all could have been avoided with a few strategically placed winky smiley face emoticons. Those soften everything.

For example: I’m not sure I love you anymore. ;)

See how that takes the sting out of things? We’ll never know if it would have saved Gilbert though, and now, his loss could be your gain. Go ahead and audition if you want. Entries have to be in today, April 1. You might even come in second place. That’s how confident I am in my application.

All the company asks for in the entry is your name, phone number, email and a 30 second audio or video clip of your interpretations of the duck sounding “informative, frustrated, happy, surprised, angry.”

The directions also say to “feel free to add grunts, groans, and mutterings, but no words other than ‘Aflac.’”

So my recording of a half-minute of emotive grunting complete, I moved on to something that would differentiate me from all the other candidates.

Any good job applicant knows that no matter what the company you’re applying to asks for, always send a cover letter. That’s why I included the following.

To Whom It May Concern:

It started at an early age, when I used to speak with a fake lisp to be like Daffy or often went out wearing a pantsless sailor suit à la Donald.

But eventually, that sort of thing had to stop. Especially the second one. The sailor suit top was getting tight.

And so I moved on, like people so often do, convinced the ship had sailed on my dreams. I could still be happy without being a duck, at least that’s what I told myself.

Then I heard about your search for a new voice for your spokesduck and I knew it was meant to be.

You say you’re looking for someone with a “collaborative spirit, especially when it comes to working with ducks.” So I guess it’s good that my grade school report cards regularly said, “talks at inappropriate times, but works well with other children and water fowl.”

Under special skills, you say the position “requires correct pronunciation of the word Aflac.” As you’ll see in my audition tape, I nailed this one at least six out of every ten times. That’s over 50%!

You’re also looking for “bilingual skills (English Duck and Spanish Duck).” Oh, would you settle for octolingual skills? That’s right, I can quack in eight different languages, including Latin, Esperanto and Pig Latin (“ack-quay!”).

Another special skill called out was the ability to “present complex information clearly and concisely into an effective reading of the word ‘Aflac.’”

That’s a large undertaking, conveying an insurance company’s entire mission and philosophy in one word, spoken in a cartoonish duck voice. But I’m up to the challenge.

Unlike most applicants, I understand that this is where the grunting comes in.

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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Lists That Actually Matter: Five Things Your Mom Will Never Be Convinced You Have Enough Of

Fits children up to 38 years old.
You have a job, a house or an apartment, a pair of leather shoes with laces, maybe a car, and you rarely wet the bed anymore. Congratulations, you're a fully functioning adult. But your mom is not fooled. She knows the truth. She knows that you still need help, specifically in these five areas. And if you don't get it, you'll end up cold, starving and alone on the street without so much as a single trashcan fire to warm yourself near. Don't let it happen to you!

Read the list HERE.


Friday, April 1, 2011

April Fools' Family Fun!

It's April Fools' Day ... or is it?

Yes, it is. Gotcha, you calendar checking moron!

Started in 1693 as a way of rounding up the stupidest members of society to use as kindling for witch burnings, April Fools' has become a convenient one-day excuse for the horrible way people normally treat each other.

What better time to loosen up and show your family that you're not just the angry, abusive drunk they've become so adept at avoiding after long days at work and sporting events you've wagered on than by playing a few wholesome pranks? Here are some you can try out at home today to tenuously regain your loved ones' belief that a soul resides somewhere inside you.

Made ya look: It's amazing that this zinger still fools people after so many years, but believe me, it does. And the best part is, it's the perfect segue into unleashing all the things that bother you about your loved ones that you've been holding in. You merely point and look to an area behind your family member, asking, "What's that behind you?" Then, imagine their surprise when they turn to see nothing at all. Gets 'em every time! That's when you tell them it's no wonder they can't hold down a job or perform better in school, as they've just demonstrated that they have the cranial capacity of a baby orangutan.

Hey, what's that on your shirt: This one never fails. All you do is point down to an area on your family member's shirt and falsely alert them that there's an unidentified spot or stain that requires attention. Then, when they look down, they'll see that there's not really a stain at all. You've just set their shirt on fire.

Squirting flower: Will this classic ever stop being funny? All you do is pin a fake flower to your lapel (note: be sure you're wearing clothing featuring a lapel). Then, when family members invariably lean in to take a smell, spit in their face. Wait until you see the look they give you!

The Old Switcheroo: This one'll really throw 'em for a loop. Take something your family uses everyday and replace it with something that looks similar. What's that honey, your key isn't working? Could it be because I've switched your front door key with the back door key? LOL! Why does this water taste like bleach? Because it is!

Happy fooling, everyone.

Image via.