Thursday, February 28, 2008

Equal Opportunity Housing

In my last post I explained how I’m looking for someone to sublet my room this summer. And, my current roommate will need to approve this lucky individual, whoever he or she may be.

My two-pronged attack involves both posting “room available” ads on Craigslist AND viewing “room wanted” ads on Craigslist. It’s a complicated strategy, but I feel it’s worth the extra effort and time spent on Craigslist.

I came across this ad today (thanks for the lead, Jaimi!) -

$300 Iraqi comedian seeks temp room starting March or April (East Village)

Iraqi comedian, 29 yrs old, (Al Baghdadia Tv, Al Iraqia) coming to NY in March seeks temporary room or share for up to three months beginning in mid March or April. Can pay at most $300 a month. Numerous local references. Trustworthy, neat, respectful, with sense of humor. From Baghdad, worked in theatre in Syria and then for tv and theatre in Cairo, well connected with the Arab theatre world.”

Lest you doubt me, here’s the actual link:

I think it’s a real ad, but I have my doubts, for one main reason.

By far, the most brazenly shocking part of this ad is the suggestion that one could possibly rent a room anywhere in Manhattan for $300 a month.

You can’t park a car for $300 a month.

Hell, a beer here costs 9 bucks. Would you rather have shelter for a month, or 33 beers? That’s just over one beer per day. It’s a tough call, but during the winter months I’d choose shelter over beer.

Summer is always a toss-up between a roof over my head, and a cold, heady brew in my meaty palm.

As far as the subject of Iraqi comedians, I don’t think I need to go there. Clearly, this person’s not performing stand-up in Baghdad.

In any case, I think Cairo is a much funnier place than Baghdad. The Sphinx is hilarious with its missing nose, and what not. And all that sand everywhere. Sandstorms are by far the funniest kind of wind-driven storms. Hurricanes? Typhoons? Not so funny.


Anyway, maybe I’ll respond to this ad and bring the comedian in for an interview. There’s no way I can afford to rent my room for only $300, but at least I might come away from the meeting with a few new jokes.

God knows I could use some new material.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Apartment Hunt Part 2 – Role Reversal

Jaimi and I recently searched for, discovered, fretted over, completed a detailed cost-benefit analysis, threw that analysis out the window, and rented an apartment at the upper end of our price range in Brooklyn.

Mission accomplished. We’re moving in on March 31st.

But wait a minute. There’s another half of this pie left to be thrown.

My current lease doesn’t end until July 31st. And I can’t be paying two rents at once. No sir. Even if every single visitor to my site clicked on every single ad possible (which I’m not suggesting, especially if Google is monitoring me, as I suspect they are) I still wouldn’t get the approximately 6,000 clicks required per month in order to cover my current rent. I’d probably fall about 5,970 clicks short. And that’s assuming my Mom clicks on one ad every single day.

I wouldn’t put that kind of pressure on her. What kind of a son do you think I am?

So, that leaves me with part 2 of my apartment hunting experience – THE SUBLET.

It’s like I’m the landlord, and I’m searching for someone to rent my place. Well, it’s not LIKE that. It IS that. The tables are now turned.

It reminds me of another historical turning point: Remember when Robert E. Lee led his Army of Northern Virginia onto Union soil - and into the Battle of Gettysburg - only to have his men routed during three days of bloody fighting?

Before that battle, there was some question as to whether the Union could possibly stop the Confederate advance. Immediately following Gettysburg, the decimated Confederate fighting force turned tail and essentially began a retreat from which they would never return.

Lucky for us, the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor at about the same time, distracting everyone’s attention from the Civil War - including the French, who we were also fighting at the time. Thus began the Cold War. And Beatlemania.

Anyway, enough learning for today.

This second part of my mission is blocked by two major obstacles. First, I have a roommate who must sign off on any potential sublet. It’s not clear whether the approval process will involve: 1) a face-to-face interview, 2) a Greco-Roman style wrestling match, 3) a brownie bake-off, and/or 4) leeches.

All I’ve been told is that it will include at least 3 of the 4 items listed above. So you see how rigorous the application process might become.

Second problem is, I’m pretty fucking lazy.

I just don’t feel like posting ads every few days on Craigslist, returning phone calls and emails, and scheduling time for people to view the apartment. What a pain in the ass.

That being said, I’m going to do it. It’s certainly worth the time and effort, considering the alternative is landing a second job to pay for the second rent. And that’s really no alternative at all.

When would I find the time to write this blog?

Also, if you know someone who needs a nice, clean room in a 2-bedroom apartment in the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan from April 1st to July 31st (or any portion thereof) please let me know.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008


I just snagged an incredibly coveted domain name for my site:

I can't believe it. It's like I won the Mega Millions jackpot of domain name registration.

You're probably thinking, "That web address wasn't already taken, like, 15 years ago? Right after, and right before"

Apparently, I'm the only one who wanted to register it, in the whole history of the internet. So now it's all mine.

For all of you who've previously bookmarked the site (both of you know who you are.....Mom and Dad!!!) don't worry about changing it to reflect the updated web address. It will automatically forward to the new site location without you having to lift a dirty little finger. You don't have to do a damn thing. Leave all the heavy blogging work to me.

Also, you can now feel free to email me at I'm not sure why you'd do this, but if you have any comments, or questions, or questionable comments, or recipes, or an inside tip on any March Madness match-ups, please feel free to send me a note.


Monday, February 25, 2008

The 2008 Oscar Awards - One Man's Opinion

I’d tell you what I thought of the 80th Academy Awards presentation last night. But I didn’t watch the broadcast. Not a minute of it.

I didn’t watch the red carpet procession, during which $10,000 outfits parade before a glittering expanse of flash bulbs; no one really cares who’s in the clothes anyway, unless the outfits are particularly revealing, ugly, or Fergilicious.

I didn’t see Jon Stewart’s opening monologue, or any of his between-awards antics. That guy’s funny though. I’m sure he did a fine job, even if his jokes flew over the heads of 75% of the live audience and 95% of the TV audience.

And I didn’t see any of the hurried acceptance speeches. Everyone thanks the same list of characters anyway: Mom, Dad, Jesus, Brother/Sister, Husband/Wife, Director/Co-star, Thomas Edison, Alfred Hitchcock, and……and……

“Wait a minute, Mill. Did you say Thomas Edison?”

Yes I did. You heard correctly. Thanks for paying attention.

I reference Edison in order to make a point. You didn’t hear his name mentioned in anyone’s acceptance speech last night - or for that matter, the year before. Or the year before that.

You had the flu in 2005 and drifted through Oscar night in a Nyquil-induced haze (I assure you he was not mentioned that year either), but in 2004 you also don’t recall any mention of Mr. Edison.

Everything before 2004 is a blur for you - but no mention of Edison in any of those preceding 75 years of acceptance speeches either.

It doesn’t make any sense. And so, ever since 2007’s fiasco of an awards show, with yet again no mention of Thomas Edison, I decided to boycott the Oscars this year.

Would it be so hard for these Hollywood types to stop thinking about themselves and their families and loved ones, and give a tiny little thanks, a brief shout-out, or a smidgen of props, to the man who made every single Oscars ceremony possible?

Without Edison, there would be nothing to celebrate. No one would be able to watch the ceremony. And even if they could watch the show live in the theater, no one would care, because the people accepting the awards wouldn’t be movie stars. They’d have no movies to star in. They’d just be astoundingly and inexplicably obnoxious and pretentious.

It was Edison, at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, who introduced the Kinetograph (a camera) and the Kinetoscope (a projector)– the first somewhat functional moving-picture-type-of-device-thingies.

And Edison’s company was the first to produce 480 mm width films, which could be projected on screens in front of large audiences. By 1896, other companies were copying Edison’s original, kickass designs. The race for motion picture supremacy had begun.

Thomas Edison was no dummy, and he was also intensely litigious – not so much religious. He sued the shit out of anyone who tried to copy his inventions.

Edison with Kinetograph, also demonstrating his preferred method of delivering a lawsuit via one of his other inventions - ticker tape.

In 1908, Edison founded the Motion Pictures Patents Company (MPPC) also known as the Edison Trust. This conglomerate of the nine major film companies of the time (including Eastman Kodak!) would use a lawsuit as a sort of back-handed bitch slap against any independent film company that tried to encroach on Edison’s holy ground.

The trust lasted less than 10 years before being dissolved by the Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1917. Look into it yourself if you don’t believe me. You can’t make this stuff up.

And so henceforth on Oscar night, I will no longer sit down with my friends and family, and settle around the TV with a few boxes of wine and a platter of Costco shrimp cocktail.

Classy. Delicious.

Cheap. Intoxicating.

Rather, I’ll be in a small, windowless room, reflecting upon Edison’s contributions to modern society – with only a single bare bulb burning in the inky darkness; a fitting homage to Edison's most famous achievement.

I’ll probably just stare at the bulb and drink beer until I fall asleep.

Yay Edison!!


Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Furniture Hunt – What Do You Really Need To Survive?

Jaimi and I have been looking for furniture for our new apartment. Don’t worry. We have over a month to fully equip ourselves before we move in.

The real problem, however, is the furniture we own right now. And the problem is, that furniture doesn’t exist in anything more than an ethereal form. Most of the furniture we imagine owning is nothing but a ghost-like dream.

I own a desk and a bookcase. She owns a bed and a coffee table.

That’s pretty much it.

Combine our furniture holdings, and you almost have enough to furnish a prison cell.

It’s sad.

But our April 1st move-in date gives us ample time to closely analyze the inventory of furniture we actually require in order to live comfortably. It might be less than you think.

The apartment we’ve agreed to rent is a large 1-bedroom. There’s plenty of space for sofas, desks, chairs, ottomans, lap pools, handball courts, and armoires. But we really don’t NEED all of that.

What we NEED - by our estimation - is the following:

Dresser - for Jaimi’s clothes. My clothes can remain in suitcases, or on my person.

Desk - For my computer: to write blog, check email, pay bills, etc.

Sofa – Upon which to max and relax

TV – Big, massive, flatscreen, high-definition; worth more than anything else in the apartment including myself. (Note: Jaimi is, debatably, more valuable than TV.)

Entertainment Center – To ensure that flat-panel TV does not have to rest on floor, or sit on top of milk crate. TV needs to be coddled, and will not tolerate any mistreatment.

Bed – Mattress would suffice. No headboard or box spring necessary. Would sleep on shredded newspaper if it meant we could have a bigger TV.

Coffee Table – Off of which to eat dinner, No need for full-fledged dining table. After all, you can’t really watch TV from the dining table. Repeat – no need for dining table.

And that’s all we REALLY need. So if you have any furniture you’re looking to get rid of (no Ikea please – it’s not worth the particle board it’s constructed from!) please let me know.


Saturday, February 23, 2008

A Letter To Hillary Clinton - Urgent Advice

(With one debate remaining and Barack Obama gaining momentum in Ohio and Texas, it’s time for Hillary Clinton to think of some new strategies. Otherwise, she’s got no chance in hell. It’s too bad really, because if she were elected, Bill would make sure that place was like a 24-hour discotech. Anyway, here’s a letter I wrote to her, offering my advice on her current campaign situation.)

Dear Hillary,

I felt the urgent need to write you immediately after your landslide loss in Hawaii. Time is of the essence. You need to change your tack, and I believe I can help. But there isn’t a nanosecond to waste. We’ve already squandered enough precious time and energy on your current strategy. Zero hour is upon us.

By the way, sorry I’ve waited several days to send this letter. I had laundry to do, and “Lost” was on Thursday night, and then one of my friends was in town for a few days and we went to dinner, and also I had a few eBay auctions to pay attention to.

Back to the critical topic at hand: Your message just isn’t striking the soft underbelly of the electorate. This is a big problem for you.

The view from my high horse shows me that change is coming. And its name is not you.

Your ass is being handed to you on a platter – and not a nice sterling silver platter. No, this is more like one of those tacky, clear plastic trays that you might find at an event catered by Dunkin Donuts.

The bottom line is, Hillary, your prospects don’t look so groovy right now.

That being said (and being painfully obvious to everyone including yourself), I don’t think you should give up. After all, there’s always a chance your message could finally break through to the masses; or that the good people of Ohio and Texas will mobilize for Team Hillary, and rejuvenate your ailing campaign.

Or, maybe fancy-free Obama will say the f-word during your final debate – with the cameras rolling. Or perhaps he’ll call you the dreaded b-word (buxom?) in front of a national audience. Highly unlikely, but not impossible.

On the other hand, I guess it’s possible for you to gather some momentum and win the nomination without any Obama screw-ups.

Nah. Just kidding. We need to take some drastic measures.

Hillary, get him to choke you.

Baiting Barack to call you a nasty name is a fantastic strategy. But my idea is even more profoundly advantageous for your campaign.

How far would voter sentiment swing towards your side if you really called him out on charges of plagiarism, and he started to choke you during the next debate?

Now, Barack Obama is no Bobby Knight. And you’re no college basketball player. We’d be much more likely to see Bobby choke Barack – although with Obama’s sweet baseline jumper, and his excellent work ethic, even that seems like a long shot.

Barack Obama: A basketball player Bobby Knight would not have wanted to choke.

Bobby Knight: Likely to choke someone.
Barack Obama: Not likely to choke someone.

So it may be an incredible challenge for you to make him rip-roaring mad. And this is where I leave it to you. You can do this. If anyone can, it’s you Hillary.

Of course, the last thing I want to see is any physical injury to you or any other candidate. Don’t worry though. Any security detail or debate moderator could easily pull Barack’s angry hands from your throat. He’s a pretty scrawny guy. Even Wolf Blitzer could take him down, if necessary. You yourself could probably get him off of you, and into some type of leg lock or arm bar.

So you won’t get hurt. Guaranteed.

I fear that, aside from the extreme actions described above, your chances are slim. Maybe even less than slim. We’re talking iPod Nano slim.

You gotta act fast, my friend.

Best of luck, Hill. No consulting fees will be charged to your campaign for this valuable advice.

- The Mill


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Past Presidents Fab Five

(This article appeared in its entirety Wednesday on The Love Of Sports. If you missed it before, here's another chance to read it. Isn't life great?)

As is often the case after returning from a three-day weekend, a friendly co-worker asked me how I spent my holiday. I imagine I spent it in much the same way as any other red-blooded American sports fan would pass the time on Presidents’ Day.

This federal holiday is a time to relax and reflect upon democracy - and the pillars upon which it’s formed. So, it logically follows that I spent over 12 hours of my day leisurely flipping through The Constitution and The United States Bill of Rights.

Oh sure, I also spent an hour poring over The Articles of Confederation (our nation’s original constitution) but it’s only 5 pages long, and it’s a rather quick read.

Why, you might ask, did I spend so much of my holiday studying a 219 year-old document?

I don’t know. I guess I just love me some Constitution.

Think about it. Everything we hold near and dear is wrapped up within this one beautiful package – freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to trial by jury, and protection from having to quarter troops in one’s home.

And so, in the spirit of Presidents’ Day, I decided to assemble a fantasy basketball team - composed not of unusually tall pro athletes, but rather, from freakishly noble and utterly indefatigable heroes of politics. I present to you, ladies and gentleman, your 2008 Fantasy Past Presidents All-Star Basketball Team:

Point Guard – James Madison
Both the shortest (5’4”) and the lightest (about 100 lbs) President, Madison would most likely have been the quickest President as well. His steady, if tiny, hands were responsible for the introduction of the three-branch federal system. No doubt, this true father of the Constitution would be a reliable field general, and would always know exactly when to fling that rock through the paint to a streaking Abe Lincoln. Also, as a proud Princeton grad, Madison would certainly be an expert three-point shooter, and adept at operating the offense at an excruciatingly slow and deliberate pace.

Shooting Guard – Andrew Jackson
Jackson was affectionately known as “Old Hickory” – a reference dating back to his heroic service during the War of 1812. He was known for both his offense and defense, and was an expert marksman. It was rumored that he could shoot a squirrel between the eyes at 50 paces. During Jackson’s Presidency, both Arkansas and Michigan were admitted into the union as the 25th and 26th states, respectively. It’s no coincidence that both states’ schools have since produced some of the highest scoring college basketball teams of all time.

Small Forward – Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson did it all. He drafted the Declaration of Independence, signed the Constitution, served as governor of Virginia, was Vice President under John Adams, and served two successful terms as President. He was also Secretary of State under George Washington, and served as foreign minister to France. Additionally, he was an accomplished architect, archeologist, founder of the University of Virginia, and avid wine connoisseur. He was known to be of good height (around six feet tall) and of excellent posture. There is no doubt in my mind that he would effortlessly score from under the basket or around the perimeter, grab rebounds on both ends of the court, and pilfer a few balls from his opponents during each game. Additionally, he could probably dunk one-handed while holding his snuffbox and bifocals in the other hand.

Power Forward – Grover Cleveland
Cleveland, the only President to serve two non-consecutive terms, was a man among boys. During his second term, he was faced with the Panic of 1893 – a stock market crash the likes of which the country hadn’t witnessed before. Cleveland grabbed that bull by the horns and twisted it into submission, figuratively speaking. Additionally, his administration is credited with modernizing the navy, allowing it to easily defeat Spain in the Spanish-American War of 1898. Most importantly, however, was Cleveland’s legendary stature - he weighed in at almost 300 pounds. That kind of girth could take up some serious space in the paint. I can easily picture him boxing out down low, and grabbing boards left and right. I bet he’d average over 12 rebounds a game. Also, I’m sure he’d set some wicked picks to help free up Madison or Jackson, allowing for some open looks from behind the arc.

Center – Abraham Lincoln
This one’s a no-brainer. Lincoln was quite simply “the man.” He was the tallest President, and the first one to wear a beard. The beard would only serve to further intimidate his opponents on the court. “The Great Emancipator” was a brilliant orator, a political scholar, and surprisingly mobile for a man of his size. Ultimately, he couldn’t dodge John Wilkes Booth’s bullet, but Lincoln would certainly be a force to be reckoned with at the Center position. He would likely average 4 or 5 blocks per game, while grabbing 15 or 16 boards. His special scoring move would involve grabbing the diminutive James Madison around the waist, while Madison had the ball, and tossing him up toward the basket. In this way, with Lincoln’s help, Madison would be able to dunk - the perfect testament to Lincoln’s ability to lift up all men, and enable them to achieve the impossible.

And this team’s name? “The Philadelphia Founding Fathers.”


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Caveat Emptor

I bought my father a Toshiba HD DVD player for his birthday in December.

Sorry Dad!!
But in reality, the pussies over at Toshiba are to blame. Not me. I just wanted to give my father the gift of super high resolution video - it's all a man could ask for from his son.

Why couldn't they continue to fight a little while longer, even if the battle was utterly hopeless? (insert any Mike Huckabee reference here).

He got a few weeks of use out of the thing before Toshiba threw in the towel, paving the way for Sony's Blu-ray technology to dominate the future of DVD's:

And whether it's pure coincidence or a brilliant example of engineering foresight, Toshiba designed their HD DVD player to fit perfectly in the way, way back of a dark closet, or underneath a standard-height bed frame. Also, when placed on most fast food restaurant seating surfaces, it will securely support the weight of a toddler - allowing for a rambunctious tyke to easily toss french fries directly in your face.

Worst-case scenario, I'm sure it'd be worth a few bucks on eBay.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Mill Projects Barack Obama Wins The Wisconsin Primary

You heard it here first.

The Mill also projects Obama will have corn flakes and a half a grapefruit for breakfast tomorrow morning.


Monday, February 18, 2008

Secrets Of ABC's "Lost" Finally Revealed

(Note: This is my 100th post!!! Let's celebrate. Vote for your favorite blog post of all time - written by The Mill, of course. If anyone actually votes, I'll tally the results next week. And even if people don't vote, I'll still make something up. So you win either way.)

.....or not.

In any case, “Lost” has officially taken the entertainment world by storm.

This is nothing new. Fans have voraciously devoured every crumb of the impossibly complicated plotline for the last 3.5 years or so.

Personally, I’ve been a fan for just over a year. I guess that doesn’t qualify me for an entire blog about the show (there already seem to be 1000’s of those out there anyway) but I think I can get away with writing a post on the topic every now and then.

For those of you who aren’t too familiar with “Lost,” please allow me to sum it up as succinctly as possible:

A plane crashes on a remote tropical island. There are a number of survivors who are mostly good-looking – several are quite hot. The survivors begin to notice all kinds of crazy shit happening on the island – and the shit keeps getting more and more unusual. Ghosts, polar bears, floating monsters made from smoke, some crazy technological shit that blocks any signals coming to or from the island. The list of weird stuff goes on and on. And then there’s another group of folks who aren’t as good looking (none are particularly hot), but who were already living on the island. They seem evil. But we don’t know for certain. We also learn about numerous past connections between various survivors of the plane crash, and it seems as if they were brought to the island on purpose. Now, they’re trying to get off the island, but some of the survivors want to stay. We don’t know why.

An important point to mention is that many fans have been watching the show for 3 years, and actually know less now about what the hell’s going on than when they were born – 20, 30, 40 years before the show first aired. If that doesn’t blow your mind, I don’t know what will.

And yet, we keep watching. It’s addictive, and I’ve tried to figure out why.

The show is a brilliant combination of science fiction, fantasy, action-adventure, mystery, drama, and horror. It’s not particularly funny. Maybe that’s the only thing it’s missing. If “Lost” were also funny, J.J. Abrams (the creator of the show) would be President. Or maybe he’d be king - of the world. As long as he kept making “Lost,” world peace and prosperity would be assured.

A huge part of the show’s allure is the fact that no one really knows what’s going on, but everyone wants to figure it out. You can find countless theories and analyses littering the internet like so many empty Doritos bags washed up along the Jersey shore. But why do so many people attempt to decode and predict the unpredictably labyrinthine plot of the show?

To correctly predict the storyline of “Lost” is to know the unknowable – to guess the next words out of the police officer’s mouth as he cuffs you and takes you downtown for being a know-it-all asshole. It’s like theorizing what David Blaine’s next magic trick will be (will he ride, in nothing but his underwear, on the outside of the space shuttle during re-entry?), or predicting the actions of a dog faced with a choice between a hamburger, a ham sandwich, a rack of bbq ribs, or a turkey leg. What does he eat first?

My point, of course, is nobody can know.

You can’t. And that’s why, in many ways, “Lost” fans are wasting their time. We can’t know what’s going to happen next - just like you can’t know what I’m going to write next.


Did you see that coming? Probably not.

Even so, I can’t help but hotch my own car to the “Lost” theory train. I’ve been racking my brain – literally racking the gray, spongy thing – in an attempt to get to the bottom of “Lost.”

What’s it all about? Are the “survivors” of Oceanic Flight 815 actually living in a dream world, or some type of purgatory? Who is Jacob? Why is Ben so creepy? How does Sawyer keep his beard so uniform – and so damn cool looking?

I believe the island is a real island. They're not living in some dream state, or a supernatural netherworld. The island is located in the Pacific somewhere, but it's cloaked by some crazy-ass technology and/or the Earth's magnetic field (think Bermuda Triangle).

Jacob was once a living human being, but now represents the hopes and fears of everyone on the island. He's no longer a real person, but what little remains of his presence manifests itself in visions of dead people, seemingly sentient smoke monsters, and spooky noises. Make sense? Yeah, it's all bullshit.

As for Ben being creepy, it's all in the eyes. They're permanently bugged out like Barbara Bush's. She has something called Graves Disease - a thyroid disorder - resulting in her slightly buggy eyes. Ben, however, is constantly surprised by the stupidity of those around him. His thyroid is shipshape, but he constantly sees stupid people, both real and imagined. I'd probably look the same way if I went to a monster truck show or a Scientology rally.

Thyroid disorder, or surrounded by stupid people?

As for Sawyer's beard, this one really stumped me for a while. After all, in order to keep the facial hair in perfect order, one needs a mirror, an electric razor, and a manual razor. One also needs a lot of time not spent foraging for food and water while stranded on a remote island, and escaping from monsters and guys mean guys with guns. As far as I can tell, Sawyer only has maybe a mirror and a regular razor.

His beard is as finely crafted as a German engineered car, or a Swiss timepiece.

The answer to the Sawyer Beard Conundrum, or the Sawyer Hair Uncertainty Principle (SAWHUP) lies in his hair's ability to preen itself - whenever any hot ladies are in the vicinity. The individual hairs can sense a hot lady's pheromones and/or hotness, and automatically grow or retract in unison. This genetic mutation occurs in less than 0.01% of men, and makes them look approximately 75% cooler, on average, than normal dudes.

Other well-known examples include Tom Selleck, Colin Farrell, and Martin van Buren.

A "Magnum" of a moustache

A splendid Irish beard - as thick as the moss on the walls of Dublin Castle.

His legendary mutton chops put Lincoln's beard to shame; make Al Gore's beard look like a 13 year-old boy's peach fuzz.

I think that's all the mystery-solving I can handle right now. But I promise to revisit the mind-boggling world of "Lost" in the not-so-distant future.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Letter To Roger Clemens

(Last week, I wrote a letter to Tom Brady. Maybe I was trying to bring a little good cheer into his life after a miserable performance in Super Bowl XLII. Or maybe I was gloating, and being a smartass. In any case, this week I've set my sights on Roger Clemens - another cocky guy who may stand to be cut down a notch or two in the coming days and weeks.)

"Dear Roger,

How have you been? Crazy weather we’re having, huh? I like your new haircut. It’s so darn short!!

Anyway, I wanted to check in with you, and make sure you’re doing okay. It seems like you’ve had a lot going on as of late. I see your name popping up all over the place. Something about growth hormones? And surreptitious telephone recordings? And a new hip-hop album you’re releasing?

Wow, you sure have been busy.

But before I continue, I’d like to remind you that I’m a Philadelphia fan, so I hold neither allegiance nor any particular ill will towards you. I do live in New York, but don’t give a hoot about the Yankees. And I only like Boston for its baked beans and tea parties. I’m a pretty objective person when it comes to the recent headlines about the Mitchell Report. And I’ll be the first to download your new rap album off of iTunes.

So I’ve been paying greater attention to you recently. Actually, it’s pretty hard not to notice. Seems like you’ve been making the rounds on talk shows, radio shows, and appearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Isn’t Congress totally cool?

It must have been so awesome for you to meet your heroes of government: Chairman of the committee, Representative Henry Waxman (D - California), Representative Betty McCollum (D - Minnesota), and someone from your home state - Representative Kenny Marchant (R - Texas).

It must have been such an amazing thrill for you to answer their kind and gentle questions about your alleged steroid use. It’s like they’re your friends, and they all threw you a party in Washington. And you were allowed to bring a team of friends (or attorneys) to the party, and hang out on Capitol Hill. How neat.

So Roger, don’t worry about a thing. If you told the truth, then there’s absolutely no need to fret. And even if you didn’t tell the truth, you can still tell your buddies back home that you got to hang out with Representative Chris Cannon (R - Utah) and Representative Elijah E. Cummings (D - Maryland).

For goodness sake, you shook hands with Representative John J. Duncan Jr. (R - Tennessee) and he told you his son was a huge fan of yours! Sweet!!!

Will the guys back home even believe you?

Thankfully, Congress keeps a detailed record of all the questions asked of you, and documents each and every syllable you utter in response.

That woman in the room who’s typing on that tiny, weird typewriter? She’s a “stenographer.” In her own special way, she’s typing everything you say.

No that’s not a joke. I know it looks like the offspring of a cash register and an accordion, but the crazy contraption actually enables that lady to type up to 300 words per minute, in something known as “stenotype.” Don’t be frightened. There aren’t any hypodermic needles involved. It’s just another word for “shorthand.”

Anyway, my point is that all your hunting buddies will have to believe you when you tell them about teaching Representative Diane Watson (D - California) how to throw a split-finger fastball. After all, it’ll part of the public record once your testimony is reported to the press (which is likely to happen immediately).

By now, I bet everyone in both houses of Congress knows how to throw that nasty splitter of yours. That kind of stuff spreads like athlete’s foot between the House and the Senate, I’ve been told.

So Roger, whatever the outcome of this inquiry - whether or not you perjure yourself - you’ll take with you some fun and fantastic memories of your time on the Hill; rubbing elbows with some of the greatest politicians in the country. Heck, some of the greatest politicians in the whole world.

Who cares about the Baseball Hall of Fame, when you can say you split a Diet Coke with Dennis Kucinich in the House of Representatives Cafeteria?

Can Sandy Koufax or Nolan Ryan say the same?

I think not.

Warmest possible regards,

- The Mill

P.S. - Please decide once and for all if you’re going to retire, and announce your decision before spring training begins. Otherwise, you could really screw up our fantasy baseball draft.”


Saturday, February 09, 2008

The Apartment Hunt Part 2 - The Final Chapter?

Everyone knows that the New York City real estate market moves with the speed of a mountain cat. You have to be able to chase the cat’s tail in order to get what you want. To take the analogy one step further, you need to protect yourself from the cat’s sharp claws, and jagged, serrated teeth. The teeth and claws are the apartment rental application process. Treacherous.

The real estate broker is like a raccoon or a weasel, that could conceivably bite you, but doesn’t have much power to do any real damage. Unless of course, that broker is carrying the dangerous rabies virus. In that case, you’ll need to protect yourself from both the mountain cat’s teeth and claws, and the raccoon/weasel’s infectious bite.

Follow me so far? Good.

The best protection against any of these dangerous real estate analogies is a good, strong horse whip, and some sort of tough, thick leather gloves - the type that a falconer wears would work just fine.

Anyway, in the real world, the whip and the gloves are an analogy for a good, smart lawyer - or team of lawyers. Lucky for me, I happen to be renting an apartment with that pair of gloves and a whip. That’s right. Jaimi’s a lawyer. And a smart one at that.

When she wrote “Occupation: Attorney” on the rental application, it’s the same as writing “Don’t fuck with us. We will destroy you.” Although, admittedly, if you were to actually write that, your application would have a good chance of being rejected.

As expected, our application was approved in two flicks of a lamb’s tail - to borrow a commonly used farming expression.

Then it was time to review and sign the lease. Jaimi read it over, modified the lease to her liking, and sent the marked up version back to the management company.

The changes, apparently, were none too subtle:

1) Instead of us paying the rent to the management company, they will pay the rent to us.

2) Upon signing, we will not only own the apartment, but also own the people who currently live in the building - in perpetuity. Let me be clear, these are NOT indentured servants.

3) Fresh rose petals will cover all hallway floors leading from the elevators and stairwells to our apartment door.

4) The neighbor upstairs will pay for our internet, the neighbor downstairs will pay for our heat and hot water, and the neighbor in the adjacent apartment will pay for our newspaper.

5) No dogs allowed? Wrong. Dogs AND monkeys allowed and encouraged.

6) Our apartment will NOT be subject to state or federal laws and regulations pertaining to copyright and patent infringement. We WILL be able to produce high quality bootlegs of current first-run movies and sell them from an old card table set up in front of the building.

The list of changes went on from there to include a clause about installation of a Skee-ball lane in the basement, and a handball court on the roof.

Suffice it to say, the revisions were all rejected.

The original lease was happily signed by all parties involved. And as you may have guessed already - but for the benefit of those not familiar with smart ass-ery or sarcasm - the above changes merely existed in my imagination, and were never really proposed.

I’m not the lawyer, after all.

The point of all this, of course, is to let you know that we got an apartment. And it’s exactly the one we wanted, and I can’t wait to move in and decorate the place like a medieval castle.

The process went pretty smoothly - because they were scared of Jaimi’s mad lawyering skillz. We’re both excited for the big move at the end of March.

Updates to follow.


Wednesday, February 06, 2008

A Letter To Tom Brady - Sorry You Lost The Super Bowl, You Handsome Devil

(This letter appeared as part of my most recent weekly column at The Love Of Sports. I dragged Tom Brady through the mud face first last week, saying that Eli Manning was more deserving of a Super Bowl victory. Brady proved me right. I feel terrible that my article clearly rattled him, and caused him to play poorly in the big game. Sorry Tom!! I wrote this letter to cheer him up - he must be devastated after sniffing the glory of a perfect season, only to have it slip through his ample fingers.)

Dear Tom,

I hope this letter finds you well - or at least as well as one could hope to be after such a soul-crushing loss in the Super Bowl.

You lost to the vastly overmatched New York Giants. The odds were in your favor. You have Randy Moss to whom to throw the ball. Your coach is the evil genius, Bill Belichick. Your girlfriend is Gisele. You should have won the game. You were supposed to win the game. Even God was rooting for you.

But alas, you blew it. Big time.

That’s the bad news. But none of it’s really news to you, Tom. You were right there at the game, after all.

Wait! Please don’t tear this letter into tiny bits and cram the pieces into your mouth, forcing them down your throat with nothing but your hysterical rage - and a sip or two of Jim Beam.

Tom, I’m not writing this letter to remind you of one of the most disappointing performances of your entire life. Rather, I’m writing this to bring you some good news.

That’s right Tom. Good news.

And several pieces of good news, at that.

First off, I didn’t lose any money on the game, and I really wanted you to know that. I didn’t bet on the Patriots to cover the spread. I didn’t bet on the Giants to win outright (although I wish I had). I only bet on which suit-tie combination Troy Aikman would be wearing.

The odds were 7 to 1 for the charcoal-gray/yellow-powder-blue striped combo. And I nailed the pick.

Good news, Tom. I won twelve dollars.

Second piece of good news: I just saved a bunch of money on my car insurance by switching to GEICO.

Ha! Just kidding. I’m only trying to brighten your day. Also, I've always insured my vehicles with GEICO, so that joke is quite simply a lie.

The truth, is there isn’t much else in the way of good news, particularly in reference to your Super Bowl loss. I’m not going to lie to you.

Sure, much progress has been made on the way to discovering an effective AIDS vaccine.

Indeed, it would appear as though North Korea is warming up to America’s overtures, and reconstituting long-lost ties to the South.

It’s true that Britney is back beneath the watchful eye of psychiatric specialists.

These are all good things for the world in general. But may not mean much for you individually.

You see Tom, there’s a lot more to life than football. And that’s my point (which I only came up with just now). You need to look past this recent pathetic performance, and pick the bright bits out of that dark, nasty mess of a football game. They’re in there if you look hard enough.

You guys had a great season. You only lost one lousy game. So keep your head out of the oven. No reason to drink five entire bottles of Nyquil all at once. Don’t sit in your Ferrari with the windows rolled up, engine running, in an airtight garage.

I want you back out on the field next season.

Oh, and one more piece of good news. On eBay, I got four tickets to see the Broadway show “Jersey Boys”. Do you have any idea how hard those are to score? I had to place my high bid at the last possible moment. Talk about an exciting finish.

With Warmest Regards and Bearing Good News,

- The Mill


Friday, February 01, 2008

Winning Quarterback = Nicer Quarterback?

(From my weekly column at The Love Of Sports. This time I discuss the most important sports match-up of the week: Eli Manning vs. Tom Brady. Who's the cuter QB? Er....I mean who should win the Super Bowl. As you'll see, I go to great lengths to determine who's most likely to win. I'll give you a hint: It's not Tom Brady. Was that too big of a hint? Sorry.)

This week isn’t about fantasy basketball. It can’t be about fantasy basketball. There’s so much else going on.

Sure, my team, “The Centerfolds”, has been tearing up the league since I dumped Stephon Marbury from the roster. He was certainly the worst possible influence in the fantasy lockerroom. We’re all glad to see him go.

And with this departure, we’ve routed our opponents to the tune of a 14-5 record over the last two weeks. Not too shabby for a group of sweet, kind, gentle NBA stars and up-and-comers.

But for now, my team is on autopilot. I have other things to focus on.

Hmmm. What could I possibly mean? Something more important than my fantasy basketball team?

Global warming? Nope. I’ve got that covered. I made sure the oven was off before I left the house this morning.

The Presidential race? Sorry, not today. I’ll focus on that again at a later date. RATHMILL in 2016!! You heard it here first.

Heath Ledger’s untimely, and, as of yet, unsolved death? Well, that is an incredibly intriguing story, but not exactly appropriate fodder for this particular column.

What else could it be?

That’s right. It’s Super Bowl time!

This weekly column was originally created to explore a very important, and elegantly simple fantasy sports question. That being, “Can nice athletes out perform the jerks?”

We won’t really know the answer for another few months – until the end of the fantasy basketball season.

But in the same vein, let me ask this: Who’s the nicer Super Bowl quarterback, and does he deserve to win?

Unfortunately, cute is different from nice. Otherwise, this contest would be over in the skip of a young lady’s heartbeat. Tom Brady would be the clear cut winner. His chin dimple is dreamy. No contest. Not even close. Sorry Eli.

But seriously, let’s run through the competitors’ “niceness” statistics.

Eli Manning:
# Mama’s boy
# Recently learned how to read

# Shy and reserved

# Loves his mama’s macaroni ‘n cheese

# Barely fights back when Peyton gives him a wicked dead arm or wedgie

# Kind to animals

# Doesn’t get along with Jeremy Shockey (this is a big plus)

# Hasn’t sold himself out to every imaginable commercial interest on the planet (have you seen his brother’s new ad campaign for North Korean long-range missiles?)

# Not known to frequent strip clubs or have sex with groupies, cheerleaders or summer interns

# Puppy dog eyes

Tom Brady:
# Supermodel girlfriend

# Long line of former girlfriends who are supermodels/actresses

# Strong jaw

# Deeply-dimpled chin

# Calm and poised under pressure

# Gets along well with teammates

# Gets along well with the devil/ head coach (I’ve always suspected Belichick of making a pact with Satan. How else do you explain this past season?)

# Looks great in Armani

# And, and …..

So, you see, Brady’s niceness credentials generally focus around his looks - and his harem. I think if we can all get past Brady’s soul-shattering good looks (and I mean ALL of us – including all those with man-crushes out there), we’ll see there’s not much left to like about him. I mean, aside from his record-breaking play at quarterback, what can you say?

He seems cocky and a little too self-assured. I wouldn’t mind seeing him throw an interception and then get flattened by an Osi Umenyiora block during the return. Come on people. Who’s with me?

On the other hand, there’s Eli Manning. He genuinely seems like a nice guy, if a little bit dull and vapid. He’s modest, soft-spoken and (as mentioned above) doesn’t get along with Shockey. You can’t help but like the guy. And in some strange way, his gentle style of leadership has resulted in a trip to the Super Bowl. That is indisputable.

But who deserves to win the big game?

I, myself, am an Eagles fan. I wouldn’t say I bleed green (which would be serious cause to go straight to the emergency room), but I HAVE peed green on a few occasions – usually after eating too much asparagus or accidentally ingesting some Scope.

Anyway, the Giants are our arch-rivals in the NFC East, and it’s so difficult for me to root for them. However, after completing the above niceness analysis, the barrier to cheering for the Giants has been lessened. I’m ever so slightly inclined to support them in their quest for the championship.

Donovan McNabb would literally tear me limb from limb if he read this, but here it goes: I think Eli Manning and the Giants deserve to win the Super Bowl, more so than Tom Brady and his Patriots.

There, I said it.

Simply put, Eli’s the much nicer guy. I want to see him win it. The more I think about it, the stronger my conviction.

Eli MUST win this game. Everyone who is less handsome than Tom Brady is counting on him - a.k.a., the world is counting on him.

So, Eli, from one nice guy to another, good luck to you and the Giants in Super Bowl XLII. May the nicer guy win.