Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Brit birds

All good things come from the U.K. -- first there was the House of Commons, then there was U.K. itself, and now we get to enjoy the supercool songs of Amy Winehouse (top) and Lily Allen (bottom). What's ironic about this dual mentioning is that supposedly they're at each other's throats... but the music is fine with a capital "ph."

Winehouse sounds like she just stepped out of a lost Shangri-Las album and sings with melancholic, booze-tinged precision. She sounds like she's enjoying every minute of what she's doing, and that kind of enthusiasm is infectious. I usually don't roll with the flashy female solo vocals (i.e. Nelly, Rihanna, Beyonce, etc...) but Amy does it for me. She's dope and new -- and, frankly, she sounds like she could gut my ass with a shattered Bass bottleneck in a barfight, and I like that in a broad.

Lily Allen is another solo-female-vocal thing going on, but again, there's some kind of statistical-nullifier that elevates her above Stefani or Fergie. Her tones are so light and sweet, almost like listening to a petunia; the trick of setting her off to a neo-ska thing is perhaps the one forceful shove she needed to enter my brain. When I saw her do her single "Shine" on SNL a few weeks back, I was convinced of her live vocal prowess. After all, she could have been just another studio-created monster (looking your way, Kelis).

Sample these tunes at will, buy the rest of the damn albums. Especially Winehouse -- her "Back to Black" album is reaching for something different, and I have to throw some bucks the bitch's way so she can keep on doing it.

Winehouse: "Rehab", from "Back to Black"

Allen: "Friday Night", from "Alright, Still"

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Briefest History of the Universe possible

I'm pleased to announce that, through a long chain of backroom deals and impossible promises, AmericanCaesar Salad is now the exclusive home of the official Stephen Hawking Podcast.

Hawking, the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge, has taken time out of his busy schedule of doomsaying and moldering to contribute a bit of op-ed content to the World Wide Web, and the ACS editorial board wasn't going to let this unique opportunity pass us by.

So, without further ado, we present volume one of the Stephen Hawking Podcast. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Left Coast

Jeez Louise, I love me some New York, but there is nothing like my annual pilgrimage to the West courtesy of Rich Mele's couch.

Imagine a place where it's global warming every day, and all the chicks are hot and in bikinis all the time, and it's perpetual summer all the time. Well, if you don't mind being gridlock'd on the 405 for hours at a stretch, there is a place called Los Angeles for you to live in sedate happiness. As a New Jorker, I shouldn't confess to such thoughts, but after a shitty, sleety winter, some high-ass mercury was just what the dermatologist ordered.

Did I say chicks in bikinis? They're everywhere... all about. Clothing is so goddamn optional, it's delicious. And that shot's just at Hermosa Beach, one of the very small beachy communities outside L.A.

Venice Beach, where my host lives, has a gorgeous boardwalk of note that features a selection of crafts, including this bomb-ass full-scale scrap metal Predator. Awesome.

The view from up on the hills is breathtaking... there are plenty of high points in Manhattan, but none that overlook sheer ocean and volcanic bluff. The gap between mountain and coast is gorgeous, where all civilized life teems in Los Angeles County.

But, when in L.A., why the fuck not take that four-hour drive through the Mojave desert to Las Vegas? We did it on a spontaneous lark, and upon arrival on the Strip at 2 in the A.M. we were greeted by a mirage of phantasmagoric light in the scrub desert.

How can I not go to my birthright and try to claim a bit of my heritage from the capitalist usurpers? Here I am with my namesake, the Gaius, at the door of his casino. Before I was ejected, I tried to claim his $50 chips as my own, but the pit boss wouldn't hear of it.

As I explored the labyrinthine corridors of Caesar's Palace, that boorish, Viagra-filled pig Hef was signing Playboys with those tits-on-a-stick he calls girlfriends. The hat, Hef -- Why? Are you sailing home from Las Vegas? Dousche...

Praise be to my host, Rich, for stashing me on the couch and swinging the doors of L.A. wide open. I plucked every last morsel of meat from those red crustcean legs of hedonistic joy, and I go back home a changed man. Los Angeles unlocks each man's pleasure, be it a line of coke on a model's hipbone or a handful of taco at Tito's on Washington Place. I live for the five days each year I get to live in Fantasy-Candy-Boobie-Summer-Land. Only 363 more days to go until 2008's trip...

Monday, March 26, 2007

On the tizzown

On the tizzown, originally uploaded by americancaesar.

Oh, we had quite a time. The annual swing to the City of Angels was marvelous, not least of all because it included my first-ever roll through Lost Wages, Nevada. What a fucking town -- Disney for adults. I didn't get chance to drink a drop nor was I into gambling so much, but I still had a kickass time.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

It was inevitable

The World's Shortest Podcast About Clowns.

A coat of paint just what this bitch needed. Welcome to my abode -- come in and enjoy the babka.

As an aside, I just got done watching "The Amazing Race: All-Stars," and I'll be damned if there's a genre-show that's quite that entertaining week after week. Phil Keoghan, you're my current T.V. dad, and I just want to run up on the finish mat to make you proud of me. Will that do it? What do you need to hear from me, Phil? Answer me! TELL ME! These are REAL TEARS! Whatever I do is NEVER enough for you! Want me to dance on the edge of a volcano? Would that make you happy, FINALLY!

Oh god... oh god... what a breakthrough... guh... guh...

(By the way, that guy's name's Maury Chaykin. He's a really talented character actor, doing solid, if greasy, work for decades now.)

Thursday, March 15, 2007

My story

I sat in on one of my wife's lectures on memoir writing at a local bookstore recently, and participated in the exercises she concocted for the attendees. Here is "my story":

I crossed the threshold into the viewing parlor of the Giove Funeral Home in Selden, New York. It was a steamy July day in 1986, a year that was pregnant with change.

The parlor was filled with broad-bodied, black-clad Italians, sniffling and weeping the mascara off their eyelashes. But even before the sight of mourning struck me, though, I was invaded by the smell of it -- the sickly florid perfume funeral homes employ to mask the stench of chemicals.

What happened to me after the scent grabbed me can only be described in a series of staccato memories: Walking up to the casket, seeing my great-grandmother embalmed and tugged from within, feeling woozy, sobbing and crying, and finally my mother asking my aunt to get me out of there.

When linear memory returned, I'm sitting with my brother watching Oliver North take the stand on daytime TV in the Iran-Contra hearings.

I don't know who was feeling worse -- me, or Ollie.

Monday, March 12, 2007

More things you might not know

My middle fingers are crooked on both hands -- it's true. It's some kind of thing I was born with. It's weird.

I loathe celery... I hate it! It smells nauseating, and it will turn me off of any food just by being around. The same can be said about any fish-flesh, for that metter. Those are the only things I won't eat.

I'm terrible at math. Awful at it! I have no mathematical ability whatsoever. I can't figger out a tip to save my life. I let TurboTax do my year-end returns because of how afraid I am of numbers. However, I have an overdeveloped memory which has more than made up for that shortcoming.

I once killed a man with a squid.

I am afraid of five dollar bills. I will only use ones, tens, twenties, fifties, etc. No fivers. Ever.

Turns out, I don't have middle fingers after all.

I was the inspiration for the feature film "Syriana." The character of Bob Barnes was based on my work in (what was then called) Transjordan as a "spook" in the 1960s.

I found a way to bring that aforementioned dead man back to life. Using only a copy of "Passages" and a can of Hunt's pure├ęd tomato sauce. And 80,000 kilowatts of electricity... if you're counting.

I successfully ran the 1964 presidential campaign of Lyndon Baines Johnson. I was the subsequently made the Secretary of Tapioca for the month of September, 1965.

I have been mistaken for furniture. By other furniture.

I am featured on the five dollar bill, ironically enough, in Guinea-Bissau. I am also pictured on a defunct series of stamps there from 1995.

I consumed Guinea-Bissau in a series of 13 non-consecutive meals over the course of my time as a seminarian.

I am an atheist, and I only ever attended religious education because it enabled me to leave school via so-called "early dismissal."

I always have a favor -- always -- that I can cash in with Pierce Brosnan.

I have been mistaken as a mailman. By other mailmen. Then, they mailed me to Brunei where I was opened by an oil-rich family and put out on display for a month in their summer house.

I am not -- not -- Arthur C. Clarke. I cannot state that any clearer.

I know where I am going to, and I like the things that life is showing me.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Leading cause of workplace harassment

In a few weeks, we will be filling an open position at the ole' office with a new hire, a great asset to the department, to be sure. The new employee will be a woman joining a department that is male, with no exceptions. The truth of the matter is that I do work in an anglo-male-heteronormative workplace, so a lil' diversity will be a good thing for the place.

My problem is this -- there goes all my A-list material. Bamf, most of my greatest-joke-hits, jettisoned right out the airlock. So many topics off the table: Urinating clowns, masturbation, masturbating to imagery of urinating clowns, abduction of urinating clowns, masturbating to imagery of abductions of urinating clowns... that kind of thing. Also, any and all jokes pertaining to constant masturbation. Certainly, no callbacks to Indian Thriller. For shame.

I have to weigh the pros and cons -- this new person might be the most qualified person I've ever had a hand in hiring, certainly a great thing to burnish my reputation as a manager. Also, her acumen will make my job tons easier and make the paper look pantloads better. Buuuut... I'm sure that she, as a reasonable human being in a comfortable new job, will not appreciate my constant prodding on topics ranging from a Buckminster Fuller-esque geodesic-domed "Masturbatorium" (patent pending) to unceasing character assassination of fellow coworkers as drunks, rapists, milquetoasts, and deviants. Hmm...

In discussing this pickle with my immediate department, I was told that I have to "act like a manager," and that I need to "set an example." Pish-tosh, I say. I do my best managing through comedy. Like David Brent before me, I am an entertainer first, a friend second, and a boss third. Should I find myself handicapped from being the most provocative and forthright entertainer I can possibly be (and that means a constant dialogue of keeping urine-soaked clowns bound and gagged in a dank pit under my house in the woods), then my effectiveness in leading a department has been compromised.

No impersonating Henry Kissinger fellating the page designer to my left in a drunken 3 a.m. interlude; no detailed plans for drying, tanning, and stretching the C.E.O.'s skin into lampshades for my house; not even a single mention of forcibly fisting anuses. Nothing. What are we left with?

I've decided to focus on the "happy" surrounding the hire. I have no interest in getting sued, and it is generally a fairly permissive workplace, as these things go. But I just want to state how much less funny it is going to get... that is, if by funny you mean discussing how we would each assist Lindsay Lohan when she exits rehab in a quasi paternal-sexual-inappropriate fashion.

Just want people to be aware of what I sacrifice for my craft.