Friday, October 24, 2008

Since You Asked: Advice the Columnists Won't Give-Oct. 24, 2008

DEAR ELLIE: I'm constantly doing things for my significant other. All he has to do is walk in the door at night and put his feet up and relax. I'm beginning to resent all that I do because he just expects it now. It's as though he doesn't even notice me and it's all about him and his day; he never asks how my day was.
If I talk about it, I babble, so I go silent. He doesn't seem to care. It wasn't always this way.



It got this way because you let it get this way—you’ve given this guy the earth and now he expects you to till it, too. That’s one of the dangers of being an attentive spouse—you think they’ll appreciate all you do and then take care to show you how much they appreciate it, but it’s more likely that they get used to it and take it for granted.

Take off the martyr mantle and go on strike for a few days. He’ll appreciate you a lot more when he has to scrub his own underpants and eat nothing but Hot Pockets.

DEAR AMY: My mom called me up crying today to tell me that my 25-year-old sister is pregnant. She is not married. She has been pregnant for almost two months and has told some family members and friends, but she has not told me or my older sister.

We are very hurt by her deception, because we thought we had a very close relationship. She was the maid of honor at my wedding and was in the room when my older sister gave birth to her son.

We have been in constant contact with her recently. In fact, I just booked a vacation with her and my brother for next summer. She will have a 2-month-old baby at that time. I think it is really unfair to my husband and me, because we will be sharing a condo with her.

I want to tell her how I feel (when she finally does tell me), but my husband says to let it go, that she is probably embarrassed. Should I tell her how I feel about her deception, or should I just say congratulations and act as if everything is OK? Do we throw her a baby shower or take this as a hint that she does not want us involved?



Did I miss something here? At what point did this become about you?? Your sister is pregnant, unmarried, and about to go through a major life transformation, and you’re worried about your fucking vacation condo? Boo-fuckin’-hoo, toots. The wedding’s over, and that means so is the Bridezilla Show. Your feelings are no longer paramount. There’s a new princess waiting for the pony ride—shove over.

I’m going to be charitable now and assume that the real reason you’re upset is because your sister told a few family members and friends before she told you. But you should remember that this is more stressful for her than it is for you and frankly, you’re probably making it worse. Considering your response to this so-called “deception,” I’m not surprised that she didn’t want to tell you. She knew you’d react exactly as you are reacting—with disappointment instead of support. Nobody wants a stream of judgment from a self-righteous sibling, so turn off the tap. You and your mother need to stop whining and crying like spoiled poodles and get in her corner.

I wouldn’t worry about the vacation next summer—I have a feeling that she’s going to be too busy. Plus, I’m sure she doesn’t want to listen to you yabber constantly about your petty everyday shit while she’s up to her ass changing diapers after two hours of sleep a night. So your vacation is saved, Mrs. Lunt.

DEAR ABBY: I am in my 70s, on Social Security and in my second marriage. My wife, "Irene," is in her early 50s and holds a good job. She also holds the purse strings, and allows me $5 a week for coffee with my friends. I drive a little scooter, and Irene has given me a gas credit card so I can get around.

Last week, I told her that I need some underwear and asked her for her store credit card. She said she has a drawer full of nylon panties and that I should wear them instead. She said when they are worn out she will buy me some new men's underwear. She also said she didn't want to waste any money on me since the panties are still wearable.

What if someone finds out? Irene says that since I'm over 70 it doesn't matter. Do you think this is right?



No, it’s most decidedly not right. Exactly what made you marry this woman? Let me guess: you were in your 50s, she was in her 30s, and she was the equivalent of your “mid-life Corvette.”

Do you still think she was a good impulse buy?

My guess is she’s pissed off that she’s still working and you’re not, so to get back at you, she controls the money and forces you to live on a pittance. The underwear thing might be taken for a sexy game under other circumstances, but the fact that she says you’re 70 and it doesn’t matter proves that she’s a.) cruel and b.) clueless, since she clearly hasn’t forseen the possibility that if you had to be taken to the hospital and they had to remove your trousers, *bang* goes your little secret. It’s not just clean underwear, but appropriate underwear, that you have to make sure you’re wearing.

Scrape a few bucks together, and head to Dollar General on your scooter for some cheap underwear in the meantime. Once you’ve changed out of her lacies, you’d better head to a lawyer’s office and see about fixing this financial arrangement while you’re still “of sound mind” so Nurse Ratched doesn’t control your Social Security piggy bank anymore.

Oh, and if you only get $5 a week for coffee, you’d better stay away from Starbucks.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Blood and Music

I've been away from here for a few days, trying to catch up with work and come down from a really busy weekend.

Friday night, I did a guest bit in Corn Productions' fall show Blood Sausage, playing doomed restaurant critic Richard ("Call me Dick") Face. I was instructed that I could bring my own clothes, but cautioned that they might get some stage blood on them. I wore a pair of old trousers, an inexpensive poly blazer and a shirt that had been ruined in the laundry underneath (the faded spots covered by the blazer).

I got there about 7:00, we ran the critic scene and I spent the first act down in the dressing room. Goodness, I'd forgotten how--erm--"frank" the young people are nowadays! It reminded me of how old I'm was a lot of fun, though, and I hardly got any blood on my clothes at all, although I bruised my elbow real good when I fell down dead. The show runs Wed.-Sats. through November 1. Go see it--but not before you go see Handbag's Haywire! Come on Thursday--I'm doing the box office those nights, and also on Halloween night.

Saturday night, The Joans played at the Girlie-Q Burlesque Halloween Party at The Empty Bottle. Another really good time, and they had a great turnout. Our friend and manager, Gary, videotaped the show, and sent us this tidbit this morning. Here's "Christina!" live:

What appears grey onstage is actually black--such was the trick of the lighting!

Taylor also sent me a copy of the studio mix of "Mad At The Dirt," from the sessions we recorded in July and August at Pragma Studios. I can't post it, because it isn't released yet, but it sounded pretty damned good.

That's all for is stressful, but I'm coping. I'm taking two days off next week, which will be very welcome. I'm looking for a kick-ass Halloween costume. Any ideas? (Do NOT say anything to do with the election. I shall spit.)

Later, taters!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Maya Angelou's Obama Poem-From The Chocolate News

I saw this on a MySpace friend's blog earlier today. At first, I rolled my eyes far up into my head, thinking, "Oh great--now we get to listen to this woman gas on esoterically and endlessly yet AGAIN." Now I know how the caged bird must have felt.

So I was pleasantly surprised when I opened the link to find, not Maya Angelou, but a razor-sharp parody by David Alan Grier from his new Comedy Central show The Chocolate News.

Grier has her mannerisms down dead to rights. Which made it all the funnier. I used to feel guilty for being annoyed at her pomposity. I'm relived to see I'm not the only one who's recognized it.

Friday, October 17, 2008

End-of-Week Hosannas!

Well, boo-fuckin'-hoo, Ohio GOP.

Since You Asked--October 17, 2008

DEAR AMY: My nephew is getting married next year. I love him dearly, but I don't see it in my budget to go to his extravagant wedding.

This is my only nephew, and I feel obligated to go. But I also feel hurt that my nephew is ignoring my e-mails and only calls me once a year.

I know he is busy and has a fiancé and job, etc. But I have a life too and still contact my loved ones.

I can try my hardest and make sacrifices to go to his wedding.

Should I attend?



You can’t afford it, he never calls you and he never returns your e-mails. What are you “confused” about?

If you feel really guilty, you can send him a card that he’ll ignore. (Just to be a bitch, you should put a time-sensitive gift card in there so it expires before he gets to it.)

DEAR ELLIE: My boyfriend of two years met me when I was in the process of leaving my fiance. We spent every day together. When he told me -- after the fact -- that he'd been a virgin, I was shocked. I'd already confided some details about my sexual past (four previous boyfriends) and wish I hadn't.

He's extremely sensitive about my other partners. He doesn't think that he can get over "my past" and during our worst fights, asks me how I could have "given it up to so many people." He's from a traditional, strict family. Mine is liberal.

We discuss breaking up because of this; he's reluctant to go to counseling. Is there any other solution?



Golly, if there is, I can’t think of it. He waits until you’ve given him details about your previous relationships, shares none of his own history until after he’s had sex with you, he has sex with you, and now he’s having trouble getting past it?

Dump the douche. Frankly, you don’t want to marry into a family like his. As soon as you hit a rough patch, his mother will be right there reminding him that you weren’t a virgin when you were married—and you know damned well he’s not gonna tell her that he bumped nasties with you before the Happy Day.

But he did—and as you’re showing him the door, you might wanna remind him that now he’s damaged goods too, at least according to his Good Christian Family.

Oh, and one more thing: tell him he was lousy in bed.

DEAR ELLIE: I'm a widow, 60, and I joined An old boyfriend e-mailed and I responded with a summary of my life. He did the same, and indicated he'd like to continue contact. I said, "But YOU'RE MARRIED!" Ellie, I don't mess with married men.

I could choose to ignore his second e-mail, but I'd appreciate some guidelines. I'd hate to ruin or add stress to his marriage.



He said he’d like to “continue contact,” not “sniff your drawers.” Why do people even join if they don’t want to reconnect with, you know, classmates? What’s the big deal? Or are you just getting a big kick out of playing Nell Fenwick and holding yourself up as some sort of unattainable paragon? A word to the wise, sweetie: no man wants to pick up your dropped handkerchief when it smells like mothballs.

Get over yourself.

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have decided to sell our house and move south. We plan to purchase a mobile home. I asked our adult children what they thought of our decision.

One son made a quick trip home. Most of what he had to say pertained to issues from the past. One remark stung: He said that my husband and I had not showered or used deodorant on the day of my mother's funeral. True, we didn't shower that morning, but we had the night before. Because we depend on well water and had three extra people in the house, we wouldn't have had enough for all five of us to get a warm shower. We did use deodorant and cologne, and my husband put on aftershave.

We were crushed by our son's comment. I no longer wish to be an overnight guest in his home because I know they will be watching my every move. I would be preoccupied with worry about whether I have body odor. I love my son and our daughter-in-law, but the thought of being around them now makes me uncomfortable.



What the hell does any of that have to do with your selling the house and buying a trailer down South? I would have pressed Sonny Boy on this point, and then mentioned that since you won’t be seeing him anymore after you move, the petty little prick won’t need to worry about your hygiene habits.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My sister, early 60s, and a good friend, early 50s, recently suffered painful divorces from men they now abhor. My sister was married for 40 years and my friend for 15.

I spent a lot of time with these people and have many experiences. I am totally stumped how to avoid going into a minefield that I don't see every time I talk to them.

I have gotten many photos of my sister's first grandchild, and we've all played the who-does-he-look-like game. Apparently, I said the baby has an "attitude" like the ex-husband, Grandpa (a philanderer, etc.). Because the baby is 4 months old, it seems ridiculous that my sister would be upset that I was ascribing her ex-husband's negative personality traits to the baby. But she said I really hurt her feelings. Of course, I apologized and said that wasn't what I meant (obviously).

My friend thought she was married to a man who never divorced his second wife. They were "married" in a small ceremony, but he never filed their marriage license with the county. I understand she now refuses to refer to her relationship as a "marriage."
OK, but this sensitive feeling around words (relationship or marriage, this man was very sick), leaves me anxious about what, how and when to say things.

Do I just pretend, as these people do, that the past doesn't exist? I understand why they don't want to go there, but the past is where many of our experiences are. There were good times. I feel anxious about what and how to say things, and it is changing my relationship with these people in a negative way.

I never warmed to my friend's "husband," but I really loved my ex-brother-in-law. I still consider him family and hate the rigidity my sister is imposing on him when she is around. She battled twice with anorexia through her divorce, which took 10 years. And I am pretty certain she'll go into old age with this big dead zone called her 40 years with her ex-husband.

Do you have any wisdom regarding an attitude I can cultivate, inside my head, that will improve my time with these people whom I love a lot?



“Apparently” you said the baby has an attitude like Grandpa’s? “Apparently?” You can’t remember? You don’t remember if you said a 4-month-old baby behaves like the man that his grandmother recently divorced, and might reasonably want NOT to be compared to her new grandson? Forgot all about it, did you?

Let me guess: you weren’t the valedictorian of your class, were you?

There’s no easy solution or procedure that will help you sidestep these sticky situations. There’s no need to “cultivate an attitude” about dealing with loved ones. You’ll just have to (*sigh, grumble*) think about other people’s feelings before you open your huge piehole. Oh, the horror.

Oh, and it’s all nice and good that you apologized to your sister, but tacking on that “obviously” at the end sort of defeats the purpose, don’t you think? When people are in a sensitive place, they can’t be expected to view your rather eccentric (read: shitty) sense of humor with cool, detached logic the way you seem to think you do, Cerebra.

Maybe you just shouldn’t speak at all. Believe me, the world will not miss the tinkling bell of your voice.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Gender Bias In the Final Debate

All I kept hearing last night was "Joe the Plumber," "Joe the Plumber," "Joe the Plumber."

How about Josephine the Plumber???? Nobody said a word about her!

Sexist bastards.

Josephine Plumber

UPDATE: Oh, now Joe's going to flex his media muscles and play it all intriguing by refusing to say which candidate he's going to vote for.

Get it while you can, Joe--in three weeks, nobody will give a shit who you are.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Fun Musical Interlude for A Crappy, Rainy Day

Things seem to be going so shittily I'm stepping away from them just long enough to watch this fun music video. I give you Skafish's "Disgracing The Family Name," the first video ever to be produced for this song, which was released in November 1979. Finally! ANOTHER reason to remember that month BESIDES the beginning of the Iran hostage crisis.

(And it's just a helluva cool song.)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

An Open Letter To Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin

Dear Sarah,

Shove it, Frog-Lips. Oh, and those glasses? Not cute anymore. They don't make you look smart, either--I don't care what Todd tells you.

Fondest regards,


P.S. Please comb your fucking hair.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Brief Video Blog-A Visit Home October 11/12, 2008

Saturday morning I drove home to see my family. I got to spend time with my dad and stepmother (and watched Copycat on DVD--oh, goody--I just love slasher movies during a family visit).

Didn't get much video during this visit (so your computer shouldn't have as hard a time, Ed!), but I did get a few highlights...

First, my aunt uses a fingerful of peanut butter to bribe her dog, J.R., to take his heartworm pill. It works (it always does, which is why he has his own special jar of peanut butter in her cupboard), and he licks the roof of his mouth for a minute or two to get all the yummy peanut butter off! Which leads to a mildly bawdy conversation about long tongues and their uses (not explicit, never fear--more PG than R-rated). Somewhere, however, my mom is smiling down on us--she's corrupted us well!

On the drive home yesterday, I took just a little bit of video out the window when I got about 20 miles north of town (just a few miles south of the I-80 exit in North Central Illinois).

Sorry about the dirty windshield--but I'd parked under a tree:

(That's Blondie's No Exit CD playing in the background.)

Friday, October 10, 2008

One More Reason to Heart Betty White

As if Sue Ann Nivens and Rose Nylund weren't enough...

Free Fuckin' Advice Already! October 10, 2008

DEAR ELLIE: My boyfriend's culture supports the parent generation, even if they have enough money. We're both in debt, yet he uses our joint account to send his parents on vacations while we can't afford one.



Look, lady, your boyfriend already wrote in six weeks ago. I got nothing else for you guys. If he won’t listen, dump the bastard. Then he can move in with Mommy and Daddy and watch the house while they go off on the vacations that he can’t afford.

DEAR AMY: My husband and I have been married for six years, and every year without fail, my mother-in-law takes over plans for the holidays by telling my husband and his two siblings what foods to prepare, what gifts to bring, the time to get together and at whose house the event will be held.

Even though her son- and daughters-in-law still have living parents, my mother-in-law insists that the actual holiday be spent with her. We all live in the same town and visit her often the rest of the year, so I am at a loss why she believes we should all spend the holidays with only her.

On the one occasion that I spent part of a Christmas Day with my parents (my husband did not offer to go with me), she bad-mouthed me to my husband's siblings and all were quite put out with me when I arrived later.

For the last two years when the holidays have been at my house, she has criticized me during my Christmas dinner.

When I pulled my husband aside to tell him my feelings were hurt, he told me to "let it go" because it was Christmas.

My husband and I have been to a counselor for problems in the relationship. The counselor has advised my husband to stand up for me, but he still has yet to do so.

Can you help?



Sounds like your husband’s a mama’s boy who lets her walk all over him. In fact, the whole family must be brainless zombies if all she has to do is flap her saggy gums to turn them against you. I can’t imagine spending Bastille Day with such unpleasant people, much less Christmas. Christmas is supposed to be about being happy with your family, and if part of your family makes you uncomfortable or unhappy, stay away from them. Easier said than done, I know, but I’m in a bloody mood today, and that’s my advice. Take it or leave it.

When she criticized you during the last two Christmases, you should have pointed to the door, and politely reminded her of at least one place she could go, and given her a bag of stuffing for the road.

Incidentally, I’d mention to your husband that he has the same option if he doesn’t stand up for you or himself. (I doubt you’d miss the sex, since he clearly has no balls.)

DEAR ABBY: I have fallen in love with "Chris," an amazingly thoughtful, supportive, caring man. We have been dating for seven months. We have many values and interests in common, such as religion, social justice and the great outdoors. However, Chris is visually impaired.

Chris can't drive and has trouble reading regular type or street signs. My parents, whose opinion I respect, are against the relationship because of Chris' genetic disability and his race.

Should I continue this relationship? I know real love is a rare gift, yet I worry that I may be setting myself up for problems in the future. I'm afraid I may end up resenting Chris for what he can't do, and my parents for not accepting him. I would greatly appreciate some advice. Should love be blind?



His race, eh? Well, well, well, I think we’ve come to the crux of the argument. So here’s the deal: seven months is still a fairly new relationship, so you need more time to discover where this is leading and if you really want something more permanent. If you do, and if real love is as rare a gift as you say, then you should listen to your heart, not your insular, racist parents.

Besides, it’s getting to the point where none of us can drive because of the cost. That will hardly matter soon.

DEAR ELLIE: My boyfriend collects toys --action figures, army men, miniature racing cars, etc. We live in a small apartment and are expecting our first baby. I can't stand the clutter or the dust!



You’re expecting a baby and you’re worried about the clutter now??
Just wait, honey…

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Economy's Gone to Hell--Let's Blame the Poor People!

I read a really good column from Clarence Page in the Trib today about the current economic meltdown.

Everybody knows, or seems to know, that it was caused by the housing crisis. But instead of focusing on what's needed to fix it, they've decided to focus on desperately pointing fingers, as if that would help solve our problems.

It seems that attention has now become focused on the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977, which required lenders to reinvest in their own communities by making loans available to its citizens. Before this law, Page says, many communities were "redlined," or denied credit altogether, based on the supposition that residents were mainly minorities and therefore, "bad" credit risks.

Truth be told, nobody has really mentioned this law until now. It wasn't the CRA that prompted banks to plaster billboards and mass transit ads everywhere urging--no, commanding--us to "buy instead of rent." But since the shit's hit the fan, everybody's a historian and wants to drop the blame as far back as they can, just as long as it doesn't end up at their door. And so, the CRA has come into the crosshairs, and low-income people are once again to be blamed for our problems. As Page said:

"Ann Coulter blamed 'affirmative action lending policies' that loaded banks up with mortgages that eventually defaulted and brought the financial system to its knees.

"George Will on ABC's 'This Week' blamed 'regulation, in effect, with legislation, which would criminalize as racism and discrimination if you didn't lend to unproductive borrowers,' because 'the market would not have put people into homes they could not afford.'"

OK, first of all, why should Ann Coulter have a problem with people being on their knees? She's spent most of her career kneeling in front of Sean Hannity. And George Will's a misanthropic, thousand-year-old dinosaur who can't find his way to the nearest tar pit. Do we really expect an old foghorn like that to blow a new tune?

But as Page points out, while the Clinton administration began pressuring lenders to relax their credit standards in 1999, it was never in response to CRA. That was Fannie Mae (not the candy, as I discovered later on) and Freddie Mac who were only too eager to herd low-income families in and out like an automatic car wash, without regard to whether they could reasonably be expected to repay their loans. Aren't banks supposed to know that shit?

And studies showed that most CRA borrowers were responsibly paying their loans on time.

But it's more convenient for conservatives to find a long-forgotten, esoteric point of law to blame our current crisis on than it is to place the blame squarely where it belongs: the viral greed of the lending industry and its collective eagerness to collect super-inflated interest. That's been going on for decades, ever since these huge lending corporations were formed.

It was a disaster waiting to happen, a bubble waiting to burst, a smoker on the Hindenburg. But it didn't start with the poor folks.

They had enough to worry about already. And now they have more.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Time To Go Postal?

Here's a really interesting idea from a column in the New York Times: postal savings.

Back in days of yore, when dinosaurs roamed the earth and Wall Street didn't own our collective asses, U.S. post offices offered customers the opportunity of holding small individual savings accounts. During WWII, these accounts thrived with close to $3 billion (according to the article, $30 billion in today's money--still less than 5 percent of what the bailout is costing us!).

The most attractive passage for me was the one that posited that these postal savings accounts could help reduce our dependence on foreign banks. Because whatever path we choose to slog out of this horrible mess, it's going to have to come from US--not more borrowing and debt.

We no longer own our own country--it was sold out from under us. Could this be a way for us to slowly buy it back?

Is it perhaps time to put our money where Wall Street's mouth isn't?

Monday, October 06, 2008

Going In Where She's REALLY Over Her Head

Sarah Palin's nurses matrons handlers need to tell her that this is a bad idea. A very, very bad idea.

It's one thing to go to Republican-friendly whistle stops and gas on and on about Obama's supposed ties to terrorists and try to wink and look cutesy and folksy and sound like Frances McDormand in "Fargo" (without the intelligent police work). It's quite another to appear on a TV show whose fanbase is made up mostly of people who are wise to her and her bullshit, and try to take some skin off an Emmy-winning writer. This is a person who's funny for a living. All the time, not just in that "ooh-isn't-she-precious-let's-treat-her-with-kid-gloves" kind of way that they treated Palin with on Thursday night--a way that's normally reserved for six-year-olds' dance recitals.

But the real difference is that Tina writes her own material. Sarah gets locked in a room at the Westin for a few days before each major public appearance so she can memorize the talking points that were written by some dour old Republican strategists. Snarky, yes, but not sustainably funny. If she has those old buzzards write her material, it's going to come off like something from Fox News--angry, bitter, desperate, misanthopic and sour-grapish. In other words, not funny. On the other hand, if Sarah writes something herself, it's going to sound suspiciously like that smelly, noisy dump she took in front of Katie Couric.

You know what? On second thought, I think she should go for it.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Recap of Last Night's Vice Presidential Debate

BIDEN: The question was about deregulation, not taxes.

PALIN: I may not answer da questions da way you want to hear, or da moderator wants to hear, or da people in da audience want to hear, or da people at home want to hear...wait a minute, how'm I gonna answer dem der questions? Oh my stars, dis is a problem. You betcha. Ya fer sher. Fuh-DURR, fuh-DURR, fuh-DURR...

PALIN: Obama voted against funding fer dem der Iraqi troops, dose national heroes, our sons and daughters, fuh-DURR, fuh-DURR.

BIDEN: McCain also voted against more funding for Iraq troops, because there was a timeline attached.

PALIN: Oh, der you go again, talkin' aboot da past! Say it ain't so, Joe! Fuh-DURR, fuh-DURR, fuh-DURR...


PALIN: National hero...fuh-DURR, fuh-DURR...General Petraeus...fuh-DURR, fuh-DURR...Thank God I'm pretty and I haven't peed my pants yet...Hey, dat means I win! Fuh-DURR, fuh-DURR...

(Insert further bad impressions of the Muppet Show's Swedish Chef here)

Since You Asked--Oct. 3, 2008

It's been kind of a busy week, with traveling and then trying to get caught up at work and uploading I didn't have as much time to trawl the advice columns for the choicest (most idiotic) questions. But a schedule's a schedule, so here's today's paltry offering. Enjoy!


DEAR ABBY: My ex and I have been dating since our divorce in 2000, trying to put things back together. But every six months or so, he comes to my house drunk and raises Cain in front of the kids.

He never says he's sorry for anything he does or says, and it causes fights that could be avoided if he just would not drink. If he could only see how it makes him act! He does not drink all the time. But when he does, he passes out on my couch.

I have told him time and time again not to come to the house if he has been drinking. If I try to make him leave, he does more in front of the kids, and he has been known to hit. How can I make it clear to him I have had enough? I love him, but I'm very tired of this every-six-months thing. I have called the law before. That just makes matters worse.

Should I get away from him altogether? I want my family back together so badly. I have prayed about this for a long time. I have tried talking to him –- nothing works. Please give me some advice. –



Are you fucking kidding me?? You’ve been divorced for eight years, and NOW you’re dating? You got it backwards, girlfriend.

Let’s recap here—he’s come to your house drunk repeatedly, and he’s hit you (I’m assuming it’s you that he’s “been known to hit”—if it was the kids, and you still allow him to come over, you’re even dumber than you sound). What exactly do you need advice about??

Sadly, the law can provide very limited remedy in domestic cases—the best they can offer is that legal eunuch called a restraining order, which does absolutely nothing to deter redneck psychos. You could possibly have his sorry ass busted for trespassing. But the way to make it really “clear that you’ve had enough” is to lock your door and stop allowing him in. Then when he passes out, he’ll already be outside, and you can just hose him down in the morning.

DEAR AMY: My live-in girlfriend of two years dumped me a couple of weeks ago, saying that she had never loved me.

Since the breakup I haven't been doing well. We had two cats, one that I had adopted and one that we adopted together. I finally found an apartment. I had been under the impression that I would be taking both cats.

The two cats are very close, and I've always been the primary caretaker for them. I have been the one who cleaned the litter box and took them to the vet.

When I went to the apartment to pack, my ex told me that she wouldn't let me take both cats.

She told me that if I took our cat she would feel bitter toward me and that we would never be able to have a relationship of any sort.

I was furious and upset. I cried and screamed, and my anger really scared me.

To be honest, I am still in love with her, and I don't want to do anything that I know will cause me to lose her forever.

But I'm also horrified at giving up my cat, and horrified to think of my other cat crying all day and all night and refusing to eat, the way he did the only other time I separated them and took him to a new place.

Now I'm incredibly sad and lonely.

It seems like a lot to lose. Should I give up? And how can I deal with my anger, frustration and sense of loss when I do?



Of course she wants to keep it—she got the easy, cuddly-wuddly part while you were up to your elbows in piss, shit, gravel and sand. If I were you, I’d just bide my time. She sounds like a fucking flake who wouldn’t know her ass from her elbow when it comes to caring for cats, and weren’t you the one who did it anyway?

Trust me on this—people who’ve never had to clean a litter box don’t take kindly to it when they’re stuck with it for good. Once she realizes that she’s on the hook all by her lonesome, she’ll probably give the cat to you and you can have both.

(I would ask why you’re still in love with her, but it’s only been a few weeks—once her stink wears off, you’ll be glad you’re rid of her. Like so much cat shit.)

DEAR ELLIE: My mother-in-law is 55 and obese. Her boyfriend, 65, is strange and never had a girlfriend before. He won't answer his door or phone unless it's anticipated, won't drive his own car and is extremely cheap. He wouldn't drive 10 miles for her surprise birthday party.

She yells at him in public because he won't leave a tip. Also she belittles him at family functions.

No one in the family cares for him. Now they're engaged, even though she says that seeing him on Saturdays is enough. I don't get this lady. She'll never find another man because of her weight and personality, but why drag us through her misery? I don't want my kids to see this behavior and think it's normal.



What makes you so sure “she’ll never find another man?” She found this one, didn’t she? There’s someone for everyone, even if they don’t pass your muster, Bert Parks, Jr.

That aside, you don’t really have any business passing judgment on your MIL or her relationships. Your snap judgment about her “prospects” shows that you hardly have a winning personality yourself, so maybe you should keep your lip zipped, Skippy. If you don’t want your kids to think her behavior is normal, then you can set a better example for them in your own home (or can you?). Likewise, you can limit their contact with her and this man if their behavior is inappropriate.

As far as the boyfriend goes, that’s her decision to make, not yours. (Or are you just worried that her taste in men might have been hereditary, and wonder what this says about your wife’s decision to marry you?)

DEAR MARGO: I am a 40-year-old man who has been in and out of therapy since seventh grade. I was even admitted into psychiatric care on two separate occasions by my attending physician. Over the years, I have lived life recklessly and have done many things I'm not proud of -- even some illegal activities.

But for the past four years, with two therapists, I have made great strides in my life and feel as if I am really coming into my own. So here's the catch: I've met the umpteenth "most wonderful woman in the world." This time, though, I feel I really, truly have the tools to make it happen -- "it" being a fun, love-filled, committed relationship for the rest of our lives. Or so I thought until I slipped up this weekend while driving through the old neighborhood and reconnecting with one of my lady-of-the-night friends. Mind you, that particular temptation always haunts me, but I'd been able to tell that inclination to take a hike for quite a while, but this weekend I slipped. I honestly don't feel guilty about it as this wonderful woman and I have yet to become intimate.

I am certain that once I am in full “relationship mode” I won’t have that problem anymore. I want to be in love, have a home and be a loving family man. I’m just terrified of giving in to the groin again. How do I fix that? It’s not a sexual addiction, I believe, because I am functioning and paying my bills and all of that, and my porn collection doesn’t get as much use as it used to – though, I constantly add to it. I’m a collector by nature. So what is it?



"Oh, I'm a tomcat, but I can't help myself--I'm an addict. I can't keep my pecker in my pants--but it's not my fault. I have a sickness. Boo hoo hoo."

Nice work if you can get it. If you want to be a "loving family man," you're just going to have to act like one--do the hard work of living day by day without expecting some magic fix for your compulsions. You have to resist and endure temptation just as we all do, no matter how many therapists you drag into the fray, and when you fall off the wagon, you accept the consequences without passing the buck to some "mental disorder."

And if you want to "collect" something, try stamps.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The Joans in San Francisco! or, I Didn't Leave My Heart, But I Left My Sunglasses, Pt. 3

Finally, the morning of September 28 arrived...Steve, our bass player, and I walked down to the stage where we would be playing in a few hours. There weren't a lot of people around at all at that point, so we went back to the hotel to dress and get ready.

While we waited for the elevator, I had to go back to the room THREE times to get things I'd forgotten: My change of shoes. My drum sticks. My drum pedal. (In that order.) I was seriously contemplating picking up some nursing home brochures when the elevator arrived and carried us downstairs where Taylor and Jennifer were waiting...

We took a taxi back to 7th Street and Folsom and went to the backstage area:

While in FRONT of the stage, the merchandise table carried our T-shirts:

Finally, at 12:45, it was time to go on! We had a great set, and Sparky and Ben, our stage managers, couldn't have been more helpful. Here are a few selected songs from our set--Gary's friend Dave was recording this with my hand-held camcorder, which has a small microphone, so the sound isn't professional quality, but it's still not too bad:

This Is Your Life

Mad At The Dirt

Our new friend, Horehound Stillpoint, from the cultural blog Inverte, can be seen in the foreground dancing (he's in the red flannel sleeveless shirt). I got to talk to him after the set, and he's a really nice guy. The blog is great too!

And our encore, Trog:

Note the wonderful Sister Roma's remarks at the end. My favorite part: "We're here, we're naked...we are NOT ashamed, we are proud!" She's amazing.

After we finished our set, Steve and I went back to the room (forgetting my sunglasses--oh well) and changed clothes, then came back down to Folsom to grab a beer and watch The English Beat. I've always loved Dave Wakeling's voice, from English Beat to General Public days, and their set was wildly energizing. Here's a small excerpt:

Hands Off, He's Mine:

Although my view was occasionally obscured by the head of the man in front of me, I got really involved in the music, as did Steve (in the white T-shirt) and Gary (you can see them right around the 1:57 mark).

After The English Beat, we walked down Howard Street to get back to the 7th Street stage to see Berlin (Folsom was jam-packed). I didn't stay for the whole concert (I was tired and sun-fatigued), but I did catch a few songs and enjoyed them very much. I also enjoyed Terri Nunn's candor:

I caught about half of "Matter of Time" before the crowd pressed in and I had to give up. But she looked fantastic and they sounded great!

Then, it was time to do some more sight-seeing (my last for this trip). I caught a cab down to 18th and Castro, to a bar that I was referred to called The Edge (a former Cell Block bartender is now a bartender there). Do any of you recognize him? (Sorry, it's a little dark):

My sightseeing over, I walked out to catch a ride home. But not before I make one last documentation of the area:

And that was my trip. I caught a flight the next morning (Monday) at 10:55 (which actually took off at noon), and got back to Chicago at around 6:00PM. I took Tuesday off to decompress, try to upload these videos(!) and do some laundry. And sleep.

I really enjoyed my trip--I hope you enjoyed watching some of it! I look forward to going back again...

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The Joans in San Francisco! or, I Didn't Leave My Heart, But I Left My Sunglasses (Pt. 2)

Now, where was I? Oh, yes...I was about to step out on the town to go sightseeing.

And so we shall...but first, take a look at our delightful hotel room, complete with white shutters and overpriced "mini-bar" waters (we didn't drink any of those):

One of the things I noticed about San Francisco was how pretty everything was--EVERYTHING. Even this back alley building on a sort of shady-looking street a few blocks off of Market was painted in pastels:

Next it was off to Chinatown, a place I've always wanted to visit. But first, I had to climb the hill:

At the top of the hill was something I didn't expect to see--but was really glad I did. Behold beautiful Grace Cathedral:

Finally I reach Chinatown (the corner of Grant and Broadway Streets). Off in the misty distance (once the flare wears off), you can see the Golden Gate Bridge. It was pretty surreal to turn the corner off of Taylor Street and see it:

After a delightful dinner in Chinatown, I head back towards the hotel. At the corner of Powell and O'Farrell Streets, I spot this:

All in all, a pretty busy day. The next day would be even busier--but more rewarding!

TOMORROW--The Joans perform at Folsom Street! Plus, backstage footage, brief snippets of The English Beat, and Aaron visits Castro...