My John Pinette Story

I need to share my John Pinette story.

Somewhere around 10-13 years ago, I was enjoying a night with friends at the Pour House in Chicago, one of my regular hangouts. We became good friends with Al, the owner, and often went to after-hours bars with him. He knew a lot of people. On this particular night we went to the Golden Dragon, a Chinese restaurant in Olde Town that was situated very near Zanie’s Comedy Club. We’d been there before and were always treated to incredible Far East delicacies, and great liquor. The owner of the Golden Dragon was a character in his own right. He was a smallish Asian man who clearly loved America. If memory serves, he wore a plaid cowboy shirt. Some would consider this the shirt of a Wicker Park hipster. And one might’ve considered him as such if he weren’t wearing it because he actually wanted to be a cowboy. Even better, however, was his belt buckle, which he loved to show off. It was a functioning single-shot pistol that snapped into place. I only have his word to go on that it was actually a working pistol, but according to Al, his word was good.

On this night as we walked into the restaurant, however, it was impossible to miss the enormous human frame that was John Pinette. I didn’t know his name at the time, but I absolutely recognized him immediately from the final Seinfeld episode. Plus, he happened to appear on the Tonight Show just days earlier. I never watched the Tonight Show, but I randomly caught his set the night he performed. He was hilarious. Most of his jokes revolved around his weight, but he did it with such ease that it almost seemed as though he was making fun of someone else. Someone not in the room. I became a fan instantly.

It was well after 2:00 am and the restaurant was closed and essentially empty. Other than the four people in our group, the only people in the place were Asian John Wayne, a couple cooks we couldn’t see, John Pinette and another individual with Pinette. The two sat across from one another at a long table. I vaguely remember Al later whispering to me that the other individual was the owner of Zanie’s. I can’t be sure, but after doing some research I believe that person might have been Rick Uchwat, the founder of the club. Uchwat is about as highly regarded as they come in the comedy world. This article shortly after his death three years ago illustrates as much. 

As our group, led by Al, walked into the restaurant. Asian John Wayne saw us and immediately smiled and raised his arms as he walked quickly over to embrace Al. Any pretense of his forced cowboy swagger was lost in his enthusiasm to greet his friend, and he pranced gracefully through the tables to lead us the rest of the way inside. John Wayne recognized me as well from a past visit, but at this point I had already recognized John Pinette and was distracted, somewhat rudely, from greeting John Wayne myself. I wasted little time, having had plenty to drink myself at this point, I quickly spoke up. I remember it distinctly, in fact. Al and John Wayne were still exchanging how-do-you-do’s, and we were only about halfway inside the place, but I stood directly to his left, about 10 feet away.

I looked over at him and said, “Sir, I saw you on the Tonight Show the other night and you made me laugh out loud. Thanks for that.”

He looked right up at me with a twinkle in his eye. He smiled wide, those pudgy cheeks straining to points on either side of his mouth, and he responded with a truly sincere, “Thank you. Thank you. That’s sweet of you say.”

This is the smile and rotund, cherub face I remember from that night so long ago.

This is the smile and rotund, cherub face I remember from that night so long ago.

And with that we were quickly invited to join him and Uchwat (assuming that’s who that actually was that night) at their table. I took a seat to the right of Uchwat. John Pinette was sitting across from both of us. He was truly larger than life. At this point I don’t remember exactly what my other friends were doing. But I believe Al and John Wayne were chatting at the bar. I definitely remember that one of my friends had too much to drink and stealthily slinked his way to a booth and closed his eyes. And I think our fourth sat across from me, to John’s left.

John Wayne would shout some orders to the kitchen in Mandarin or whatnot, and for the next hour or so we were treated to platter after platter of delicious Far Eastern delights. I don’t remember what we talked about, but we were there for what had to be the better part of three hours. Without warning there suddenly appeared several bottles of Jägermeister. We each essentially had our own bottle and were instructed to pour ourselves shots at will. We did. Then several already rolled joints made their way onto the table and we were instructed to light up a fresh one at any time. We did.

I sat across from John Pinette for as long as I could that night. I laughed and I laughed and I drank and I drank and I passed joints to him and laughed some more and I took joints he passed to me and laughed and drank some more. Naturally, the amount we imbibed that night prevents me from clearly remembering the intricacies of our conversation, but the details of what we spoke about aren’t important. What I took away from that night was the way he welcomed us to his table with zero hesitation. Almost as though he’d been waiting for us. He talked to us all night like we were old friends. He asked us questions about ourselves, he told us stories about filming the final Seinfeld episode. We told him stories about little league or some such trifle and asked him about life on the road. But we never stopped laughing. I don’t remember a single joke he said that night, but I remember laughing almost non-stop.

The set that he performed on The Tonight Show was my introduction to him as a stand-up, but of course I knew him from the final Seinfeld episode. Since that time I’ve heard quite a bit of his comedy. I recognize that I’m biased based on this experience, but I might argue that he is one of the funniest comics of this era. As I mentioned, much of his comedy revolved around his weight, which was very significant, and sadly undoubtedly contributed to his early demise, but there’s no questioning the level of talent this man possessed. Not to mention that he was an amazing singer. To put it crudely, he was simply funny as shit. But moreso, in my mind, he’ll always be the warm and inviting gentleman who seemed genuinely interested in talking to us as much as we were interested in talking to him.

I thank you, John Pinette, for making me laugh when you were on Seinfeld. I thank you, John Pinette, for making me laugh when you were on The Tonight Show. I thank you for making me laugh when your bits find their way onto the comedy station I sometimes listen to as I try and fall asleep at night. But I especially thank you, John Pinette, for making me laugh like an insane man that night when I was lucky enough to sit across the table from you. The world just got a little less funny with your passing.

 

Nick Swisher Sings: A Swing and A Miss

Nick Swisher of the New York Yankees has released an album. That is to say, he sang a bunch of songs and someone recorded those songs and decided they should be released to the public. He released a CD — a compact disc. You can purchase his stuff on iTunes.

I’ve just listened to it.

Over the years I’ve seen various news footage videos of trains crashing into cars or trucks that find themselves stranded on railroad tracks. I’ve seen movies in which out-of-control locomotives run rampant until achieving the requisite derailment and explosion, preferably through a series of pylons holding up the roof of a subway tunnel under construction. I’m also relatively certain that I’ve seen multiple films where a subway train crashes into a well-placed ramp and crashes through to street level, sending cars and pedestrians flying.

Today, however, I truly understand how one can achieve the feeling of helplessness that must come when in the path of a train wreck. Today I know that horror — it is the type of horror that is the prelude to a fitful and unpleasant night’s sleep.

This is all because I listened to Nick Swisher’s damn album. Thanks to Nick Swisher I may never sleep soundly again.

Imagine being at a karaoke bar and hearing a relatively good singer then thinking that it’d be a good idea to record that karaoke singer and release an album. That’s what you get with Swisher’s album “Believe.”. Except in order to actually justify selling it, they added a bunch of kids as backup singers and called it a children’s album.

It’s awful. Have I mentioned that yet? Simply awful.

Click here if you’d like to share the horror.

If you buy this for your kids, I’m pretty sure that it comes with a visit from Child Services.

Music Review: The Cars — New Cars quality at a old Cars price

It’s been nearly 24 years since The Cars released a studio album — 1987’s Door To Door. After four and two score years, yesterday saw the release of Move Like This, the band’s latest album. All of the band’s original members reconvened for this effort, with the notable exception of bassist and vocalist Benjamin Orr, whose voice you’ll recognize singing lead on “Drive,” “Let’s Go,” and one of my all-time favorites, “Just What I Needed.” It’s relatively clear that he’s the one thing this new album is missing. Orr passed away in 2000 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

Lead singer Ric Ocasek handles all the vocals on this seventh album by the band. Ocasek himself has been quoted as acknowledging that Orr would have done a better job on half of them. While this is likely true, the album is still really good. It’s classic Cars. Isn’t that what we want? Too often you hear bands from decades ago reunite in an attempt to re-invent themselves. Too often these bands simply sound old. Members of these bands have a misguided interpretation of where they fit in within the confines of pop culture. I’ve loved The Cars since seventh grade. I remember walking home from school in the warmth of spring listening to “Just What I Needed” on my cassette walkman. At the time I had a crush on April Velazquez. I still do, really. And Move Like This sort of reminds me that I do.

The Cars - Move Like This

The individual gray hairs that are beginning to decorate my beard might remind me that I’m not 13 anymore, but this album is as effective as any Just For Men product when it comes to reclaiming some semblance of youth. While it appears that the band hasn’t released any of the album’s songs as a single, it occurs to me that if the MTV that we knew in the 80’s (where they actually played music videos) still existed today, it’s possible that one of several songs off of Move Like This would be featured in heavy rotation. The best thing about this album is that they sound like The Cars. Each song is simple, poppy, well-structured, and quirky, yet somewhat profound.

They’re demonstrating their relevance.

One could argue that a drawback to this album is that it doesn’t really show any major growth by The Cars as a band. It’s true that they may have gone back to the well for the soft, repetitive two-string chords and light, steady high-hat beats that remain their signature. But that’s the thing, they didn’t forget the formula, and it still works. Though it might’ve been nice to see some departure, I guess that’s what solo careers are for. However, perhaps it also represents why the extended hiatus was a positive thing. Twenty-four years worth of these albums may not have been the greatest legacy, but an album like this ain’t too bad. Despite the nearly quarter-century absence, it’s nice to know that they’ve found their way back to the record store shelves. We still have record stores, right?

Again, it’s worth noting the absence of Ben Orr. His vocals would have perfectly suited songs like the enchanting “Soon” or the eerily familiar-sounding “Sad Song” (which doesn’t actually sound sad at all). This album is vintage early Cars. Many will remember Orr’s vocals from 1978’s “Moving In Stereo” which was featured in the movie Fast Times At Ridgemont High. If I have to remind you, it’s played during the slow motion Phoebe Cates/bikini scene.

"Hi Brad. You know how cute I always thought you were."

That’s pretty much all that’s missing from this album. They’re lacking the mysterious synthesizer and Orr’s voice that helped make the Cars sound like a more complete entity. On no song is this more evident than it is on “Take Another Look.” Ocasek does a decent job with the song, but the opening lines make it clear that Orr’s higher vocal range was invaluable to the band’s success over the years. This does not diminish the overall brilliance of the album, however. It’s as a close a return to what we love about the band as one could hope.

The question is: what prompted this sudden reunion of the band? Ocasek stated ages ago that the band would “never, ever” get back together. Could this be their way of reminding people of who they are? Perhaps it’s a knock at the door of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame? Whatever the motivation, fans should be thankful. It’s an enjoyable album, and while not necessarily one of the greatest of the year, it is worth a download. You can do so for free here: http://www1.rollingstone.com/hearitnow/player/cars.html

Actually, nevermind downloading this album, run out to your local Record Town or Musicland to pick up a cassette tape of your very own. Just don’t hurt yourself trying to open that ridiculous, plastic shoplifting-prevention packaging that audio tapes used to come in. You know what I’m talking about, thirty-five-and-over year olds.

Duran Duran + Mark Ronson = Newer Wave

Yesterday, March 22, Duran Duran released the packaged version of their 13th studio album, All You Need Is Now. This album was actually originally released for download in December of last year, so it’s been out for several months. Without question this is their finest album in the last decade, and probably their best since the release of Rio in 1982. It’s unquestionably a better effort than 2007’s Red Carpet Massacre.

The album is produced by British DJ-turned-producer Mark Ronson. Ronson, who won a Grammy in 2008 for producing an album with Amy Winehouse, was only six years old at the time Duran Duran released Rio.

The first notes of the album appear to be signature Ronson. Not entirely unlike his own song, “Bang Bang Bang” released last year on the album  Record Collection by Mark Ronson and the Business Intl., these harsh, synthesized sounds that open the title track “All You Need Is Now” greet the listener almost as an assault the ears. But the jagged sound of the opening quickly gives way to the always perfect vocals of Simon Le Bon. It doesn’t take long to recognize that this just might, in fact, be your father’s Duran Duran.

After 19 years, they seem to have rediscovered the qualities that made them one of the biggest bands of the 80’s. While it wouldn’t be unreasonable to say that the album oozes the New Wave pop sensibilities that were so vivid on songs like “Hungry Like the Wolf” and “The Reflex,” it probably is fair to say that it’d be corny to say that. But nonetheless, there it is.

Mark Ronson appears to be a bit retro as an artist in his own right. As a DJ, he gained notoriety not only for his talents at mixing, but also because of the vastness of the musical catalog from which he sampled. As such, many of the studio albums he’s released have distinct New Wave qualities to them. In an odd twist, he now finds himself in a position to put his own stamp on the new albums by some of those very artists that inspired him in the first place. While the individual members of Duran Duran, and Mark Ronson himself may literally be a generation apart, this pairing clearly demonstrates that music spans all generational gaps.

Unless you’re a fan of Taylor Swift. Not sure how to explain that. Sorry, future.

Dance Little Sister (Unless You’re a “Sister” — In Which Case, Please Leave)

For the last few months I’ve worked as a weekend DJ at a Chicago bowling alley. Last night I was relieved of this duty.

Pretty early on I was told that I should avoid playing songs later in the night that might attract the wrong “element.” I didn’t necessarily agree with this, but I don’t own the place, so I went along with it. It’s not like I’d have started playing hardcore rap all night every night, but it would’ve been nice to have the freedom to mix up the late-night playlist to include more R&B, club/dance, and some hip hop. But I was told what to avoid, so I did.

On one or two of those weekends where the owner was away, however, I might’ve pushed the envelope a bit. I’d put on Skee-Lo. Tone Loc. Candyman. Musto and Bones. These artists are more likely to attract drunken, white, 20-something douchebags than they are the “wrong element” that this owner seemed to fear. But on that first occasion when I worked up the courage to sneak a Tribe Called Quest song into the mix, you can imagine my surprise when the place wasn’t burned to the ground. I think I’d been conditioned to believe that if it was after midnight and I played “The Humpty Dance,”  a gangland massacre would’ve been the result.

So last night while DJing at this same Chicago bowling alley, I was berated by one of the owners for breaking this unwritten rule. I was told that I “still don’t get it.” I was told that there are undesirables in the place who the owner would like to see leave and the song I was playing was encouraging them to stay. The fact is that I can take criticism with the best of ‘em. In fact, I often seek it out. It’s how we get better at stuff in life. However, I simply have no tolerance for being treated like an asshole. And while it may be difficult for many to believe, I AM actually an adult. If I got drunk and ran over your dog with my car, yell at me all you want. If I irresponsibly forgot to pick you up at the airport because I was playing video games, yell at me all you want. If I sold all of your heart medication for beer money and as a result you had a massive heart attack and died before being brought back to life only to die again, come back and haunt me and yell at me all you want. I deserve it. But when you yell at me for playing a song you don’t like, it’s a good bet I’ll let you know I don’t appreciate it.

Nonetheless, after the brief dressing down I received last night, I bit my tongue, loaded up a classic rock playlist into the computer, and walked over the bar in an effort to cool down. I was pissed, but I was gonna choose my battles. Walking away was my way of letting it go.

I sat at the bar next to a friend. I had a beer as the playlist  played and then fell into conversation. Not really thinking it was a big deal, I remained away from the front counter and the DJ computer for awhile. Apparently I stayed away too long. The owner came over and asked if there was a reason why I disappeared. I responded that I loaded up a long list of songs and came to sit down. I was then told, “You don’t work here any more.”

Fired. Fired for playing a song.

The song I played? “Wishing Well” by Terence Trent D’Arby.


Apparently pot-smoking, meth-snorting, gun-toting gangbangers in Cadillac Escalades are driving around the city looking for bowling alleys that play a lot of songs by mildly androgynous singer-songwriters from the late 80’s.

Earthquakes and Tsunamis and Self-Loathing — oh my.

I was just about to go to bed last night when my Twitter feed informed me that an 8.9 magnitude earthquake hit Japan. Naturally I flipped over to CNN right away. For the next five or six hours the only detectable movement on my body was my thumb guiding the TV remote from one news network to the next as I watched image after horrifying image of fire, flooding, and general devastation rock the northern areas of Japan.

As a rule, I find that I personally often feel sort of helpless. It’s a byproduct of succumbing to one’s own limitations. What I mean is that I recognize that I’m not a wealthy person at the moment, so when I really feel the itch to golf an amazing course somewhere, I feel helpless. I simply can’t make it happen. Perhaps that’s less a feeling of helplessness than it is of longing. But either way, it’s a feeling of not being able to do something I’d like to do based on materialistic desires.

But the thing is, if I can’t afford to go golfing, or if I can’t break family plans to go see an Elton John concert or something, at least I don’t feel like I’ve been punched in the gut. Right now that’s how I feel. I’m a bit overwhelmed by it all, in fact.

The question is clear though: why now? Why this disaster? I didn’t feel the need to drive to New Orleans and help when Katrina hit. I didn’t feel like loading up my car with supplies and heading to New York City after 9/11 occurred. Why this time?

My only guess can be that it goes back to the idea of dealing with one’s limitations. I’ve been living my life lately with a feeling of self-sympathy. I’m out of work and financial problems have forced me to live with my parents again. For months I think I’ve basically been feeling sorry for myself for letting my situation develop like this. I thought I’ve been feeling helpless.

But last night I watched a landscape literally being altered on live television. What kind of helplessness must a person feel when they’re trying to outrun a 25-foot wall of water?

So why do I feel such a stronger sense of desire to help relieve this disaster than I did in the past? It’s because I need to make up for the days I’ve spent sitting around feeling sorry for myself and feeling bad for my living situation and basically feeling like the world owes me better than I’m getting. Because no one owes me a damn thing.

The worst part of it is the simple fact that I know this feeling will pass. Of course, we’ll remember the big Japanese earthquake/tsunami of 2011, and we’ll all hope everyone is okay, sure. But speaking for myself, I know that eventually I’ll go back to feeling shitty about my life again and the world will continue to be self-absorbed — as it probably should be. And in a few months or years there’ll be another disaster and we’ll all do it all over again. Frankly, I won’t be surprised if I’m back to normal by nightfall. This is why I want to get on a plane right now and help. Commit while the feeling is strong.

But I won’t. I’ll make myself a sandwich and I’ll be pissed off that we’re out of pickles. I hate myself sometimes.

If you are able and willing to donate, this link will help you out.

 

An Open Letter to Morning People

You wake up early and get a lot done in the mornings. It’s your lunch hour and you’re excited to have some free time for yourself. You went to bed at 10:30 last night and woke up feeling fresh and rejuvenated.

Good. Great. Grand.

Lemme tell you something: I was awake until at least 5:00 AM. As such, I just woke up. And no, I do not want to go to the library with you. No, I do not want to take a walk along a gravelly trail through some pretty trees. I also don’t want to check out the new sculpture in the cute little park near your apartment. I don’t feel like hitting the gym, or the movies, or getting some ice cream, or even going to the bar.

Well, maybe I feel like going to the bar.

But I it’s noon and I just woke up. I eat cereal at noon. I didn’t buy all these blueberries to put them on my yoga lessons.

Thank you.

P.S.
This is all subject to change. (Usually in concert with the weather.)

Star Wars — Episode IV: No Hope (or: “Paging Dr. Skywalker”)

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

…there was a young boy named Luke Skywalker. Like many boys his age, Luke dreamed of becoming a Jedi, just like his father. He would stare up at the sky and dream of adventures among the stars. At first, all signs seemed to indicate that Luke was on the correct path for living his dream. His skills as a pilot were increasing daily, his latest achievement being that he could bulls-eye womp rats in his T-16; and they’re no more than two meters in length. However, things quickly took an unfortunate turn for young Skywalker.

It was as normal a day as any. Luke was raking the sand at his neighbor’s house, a weekly chore assigned to him by his Aunt Beru, when he was approached by an unsavory character whose appearance was not all that dissimilar from a relatively large shanty, or bodega. The overgrown slug-like creature spoke in a language unfamiliar to Luke, but his side-kick, an albino Rastafarian, translated. “Jabba says that you must do a job for him. Or you will suffer the consequences.”

“What’s the job,” asked Luke. “Will this interfere with my plans to become a Jedi Knight like my father?”

The shack sized fellow let out a bellow, and spoke again in his odd language. The Rastaman again translated. “Jabba says that he is your father.”

“No!” exclaimed Luke. “No! That’s impossible.”

“Ah-ha-ha,” laughed the Rastaman. “Stupid kid. Of course it’s impossible. Look at this guy! He’s like a small house. Between you and me, I don’t think he even has a penis. Hell, the only way to kill the son-of-a-bitch is to choke him with the chain of an enslaved bikini girl.”

Just then, the lean-to known as Jabba spoke in perfect English, with perhaps just a bit of a New Jersey accent, “I can understand you, you know.” He turned to look at Luke. “This guy’s my brother-in-law. Favor for the wife. You know. So listen, kid, you wanna make a few thousand credits really fast? I need you to take this box, get in your T-16 over there, and deliver it to a guy I know. Think you can do that? Do it once a week and you’ll have more credits saved up than you’ll know what do with. You’ll be able to finance your own rebellion.”

Being the naive farm boy that he was, Luke accepted the job. And so it began. Every week Luke would make a pick-up at Jabba’s palace, and then make a drop at a certain location. It was pretty simple. And easy money. That is until the day the stormtroopers picked him in his landspeeder doing 77 in a 45 MPH zone.

“May I see your identification?” asked the trooper.

“You don’t need to see my identification,” responded Luke.

“Excuse me?” said the trooper.

“I’m not the anthropoid you’re looking for,” said Luke.

“Outta the car, sir,” said the stormtrooper as he removed his sidearm from its holster.

“Move along,” said Luke.

“That’s it, you’re coming with me,” said the trooper as he set his weapon to stun.

When Luke awoke, he found himself in a holding cell. He could hear the voice of his Uncle Owen bellowing somewhere in the distance, clearly trying to barter for his release. But frankly, Luke didn’t want to be released. His chances of joining the rebellion now were no better than the odds of successfully navigating an asteroid field: approximately 3,720 to 1. And if he couldn’t pilot a fighter among the glimmering stars that surrounded those two magnificent suns, then life just wasn’t worth living.

But he was released. Not only that, but he was released a second time just three weeks later. After his first arrest, Luke knew he’d never be a Jedi, so instead he started mainlining Essence of Sarlaac — the trendy drug of choice among kids his age. He was back in the local lockup within a month. Things were going downhill for Luke, and they were going downhill fast.

Once he was released for the second time, Luke moved out of his Aunt and Uncle’s hole in the ground and moved into a much cheaper high-rise on the wrong side of the Sand People tracks. Down on his luck, and nearly broke, it didn’t take much for Jabba to convince young Skywalker that his T-16 skills made him the perfect candidate to transport large quantities of controlled substances across the sandy dunes of Tatooine. Jabba’s interplanetary contacts, Indiana Solo and some Wookiee named Huey or Louie, would drop the main shipment at a rendezvous point, Skywalker would pick up the merchandise and bring it to the designated warehouse. It was going to be a walk in the park.

Unfortunately for young Skywalker, it was a very short walk. Unbeknownst to Jabba, Solo, or the Wookiee, Imperial Agents had been wire-tapping Jabba for years. Luke Skywalker got caught in the middle. As you probably know, Tatooine had recently passed a 3-strikes/no-tolerance law. This meant that Luke had to serve no less than ten years in prison. There was no escaping his fate now, his destiny lay in a cell.

It was during this time of incarceration that Luke found an interest in medicine. He began meditating. He put his faith in his knowledge of an unknown force called pilates. It was with this strength of body and mind that Luke was able to transform himself from a youth-gone-astray to a full-fledged educated pre-med student. Within weeks of his release from prison, Luke was able to take his medical board exams. He passed with flying colors.

Luke encountered another setback, however, when he attempted to look for a job. Unfortunately for young Dr. Skywalker, he lived in a time when all medical professionals were actually robots. In fact, there hadn’t been a non-robotic doctor of the non-proctology practice in well over 300-billion parsecs. This left Luke with just one option: become a proctologist.

Oddly, due to many individuals’ fear of being examined rectally by a robot, business was booming for Dr. Skywalker. He became so famous throughout all of Tatooine, that people started referring to him as Dr. Luke. He even had his own self-help television show for a period.

Which brings us to the sad conclusion to our story. On one particular afternoon, Dr. Luke was treating a pair of Siamese twins. It seems that they were suffering from a pretty severe case of hemorrhoids, exacerbated by the fact that they were congenitally joined at the sphincter. These were his last patients of the day, so after treating them for their affliction, Dr. Skywalker suggested that he take them to the local cantina where he might buy them a couple drinks. In this age of disconnected robotic medical treatment, Dr. Luke found that taking the “human” approach was a nice touch that his patients always appreciated.  The twins agreed to accompany Dr. Luke to the cantina, and with their inflatable donut pillows, they set out on the short walk.

Upon entering the cantina, the trio was enveloped by the echo of the familiar music that became sort of the theme to this particular establishment. Luke always liked the tune, personally, but frankly, on karaoke night it got a little old. On this night, however, things weren’t fated to go as usual. Before they could even descend the steps into the main bar, the bartender yelled up at Luke and his companions.

“Hey, we don’t serve their kind here,” said the bartender sternly.

“Huh?” said a confused Dr. Luke.

“Your ‘roids. We don’t want them here. They’ll have to wait outside.”

That was the final straw. Dr. Luke reached beneath his white lab robe, next to his stethoscope, and he pulled out his lighted rectal examination sabre. His intention was to demonstrate to this bartender that his companions did not, in fact, have “‘roids” (as he so callously referred to them), for he had cured them of that affliction.

In a moment of tragic misunderstanding, however, Dr. Luke’s world changed in a heartbeat. First, he heard the bartender scream, “Help me Obi Wan Kenobi! You’re my only hope!” That was followed by a searing pain in his right shoulder. But when he looked down, he did not see his shoulder. Rather, Luke saw only the floor below; upon which laid his severed arm.  Standing over it was an old man in a brown robe.

Luke screamed out in pain, “My arm! What have you done, you fool?”

“Who’s the more foolish?” said Obi Wan calmly. “The fool? Or the fool who follows him?”

“What? What the hell are you talking about, old man!? You just sliced off my arm! You just sliced off my examining arm! I’m finished! Ruined!”

“Your eyes can deceive you, don’t trust them,” said Obi Wan.

“My eyes can WHAT!?” screamed Luke. “My arm is laying on the floor, just between your feet there. See it? What’s deceiving about that, you sick bastard?”

Luke moved as if to strike the old man with his remaining arm, but the old man was too quick for a weakening, one-armed doctor of proctology.

“If you strike me down, I will be become more powerful than you can imagine,” said Obi Wan.

“Shut up, psycho!” yelled Luke. “Get me to a doctor! Please! Leia! LEIA!”

Just then the sound of a blaster rang throughout the cantina, and Luke fell to the ground, dead.

“Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid,” said the shooter. “Besides, proctology is for assholes.”

With that, the cantina band began playing again. Obi Wan returned to his bar stool and ordered another Rob Roy. The Siamese twin/former hemmorhoid sufferers quietly backed out of the bar. And as the cocky shooter headed toward the exit the bartender called his name.

“Hey! Dr. Richard Kimball! Who’s gonna clean this up?”

The man just flipped a credit coin in the direction of the bartender.

“Sorry ’bout the mess,” he deadpanned. “But it was the one-armed man’s fault.”

THE
END

William Henry Harrison — The best president ever?

For awhile I’ve been toying with the idea of changing baseball allegiances from the Cubs to the White Sox. The Cubs have been frustrating of late (and by “of late” I mean, of course, for the last 102 years). But I’ve decided that there’s simply no way I could ever become a Cubs turncoat. It’s just not possible.

However, what I can do is change my allegiance to my favorite president — naturally. Like so many others, I do admire Abraham Lincoln. He’s probably been my favorite for the longest. I even have a bust of Honest Abe in my apartment. But for years my favorite president has been Millard Fillmore. Mostly just because of his name. Millard. Fillmore.

But as of this morning, I’ve decided to switch. My new favorite president of all time is now William Henry Harrison — the 9th Commander-in-Chief of this nation. My reason for this switch is simple: he was in office for too short of a period of time to really do anything wrong. Who can criticize me for backing a president who was in office for 31 days. The biggest mistake of his presidency might have come just moments after he was sworn in when he gave the longest inaugural address in history. Had he known his actual term in office would be so short, perhaps he would have shortened his speech and gotten to work.

Of course, there are those who argue that his term was short because of his speech. It was nearly two-hours in length, and given on a cold, rainy Washington day. And Harrison ultimately died of complications from pneumonia stemming from a simple cold. It’s since been proven that weather can’t really give you a respiratory illness, but the fact remains, he didn’t wear a coat or hat as he gave his speech. He also happened to be the oldest president elected to office until Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980. This sort of tells me that it’s pretty unlikely that his mother was still alive to tell him to put on his wraps.

Basically, I’m backing this guy on the potential of what could’ve been. Who knows? Had he been able to go full-term, maybe he would have been the one to write the Emancipation Proclamation. Or invade Normandy. Or solve the Cuban Missile Crises. Who can really say.

But if that’s not reason enough, he was also penniless when he died. Now that’s something I can definitely relate to. In fact, Congress voted to give his wife a presidential pension. Even better, she was granted the right to mail all of her letters postage free. Sort of the precursor to email, maybe? She should’ve started her own catalog company with that pension.

There you have it. I still root for the Cubs, and now I’m gonna start shopping for a W.H. Harrison Fathead..