|THE BLACK LIST: YOU RUINED CHRISTMAS.|
|By The Black Table|
We were talking to our cousin the other day about Christmas gifts. We had planned on buying him the new Beavis And Butt-Head DVDas discussed later in the Black Listand asked if he thought he'd like it. We'll never forget what he said next:
"Yeah, I'd love that," he said. "I already got your gift. I'll go ahead and tell you: It's a DVD of the last season of Friends."
To say that our jaw dropped would not do justice to gravity. Save for the first season, when we were in college and if you didn't watch Friends, people would beat you up, we have never watched Friends. And we certainly wouldn't be classified as a "fan." A DVD? We checked to see if he was kidding. He wasn't. He couldn't even come up with an explanation for why he thought we might like it; he just said he thought we would.
As you can probably imagine, we're still kind of reeling from this. We feel we no longer trust anyone's impressions of us again, at all, ever.
We have 10 reviews this week that can totally be trusted and are not about Friends. If you want to be in the game next weekand we were light on submissions this week, so come on downjust use the form on the right. Thanks, yo!
HAVING (NOT) WORKED WITH PETER BRAUNSTEIN: Everyone keeps asking "Did you know him? Did you work with him? Were you friends?" No, I never met the guy. Before he was stalking his ex-girlfriend and allegedly assualting his ex-coworkers, and before everything in his life slipped into the past tense (because once he's arrested for his Halloween horrors, his life as he and everyone else knew it will be over), he was my predecessor at Women's Wear Daily. He was on the media beat, and I was nominally a competitor before he went ballistic in the office one day and was fired. I was hired to take his place. I inherited his iMac and a box of books he never claimed, but I can say with great relief that I never found diabolical diagrams for torturing his enemies, or any other obvious red flags. (Someone as "brilliant" as he surely knew how to erase his digital presence.) I only heard the stories that everyone else has heard by now, but I knew the victim, and I probably know the other names on any lists of targets he's concocted. I can only imagine my former editors tearing their hair out every time WWD's name is mentioned in the New York Post, even though they had the good sense to fire him years before his final meltdown, and I can also only imagine whether the same HR executives who hired him (and who hired me) are tormented by the idea that they could have spotted this in him before he began fixating on their fellow employees. And the more I learn now about how much fear and terror and misery he has inflicted upon my former colleagues, the more relieved I am that I never met him, and therefore never gave him the benefit of any doubts. Not knowing him: A. What he's done (what do you think?) F Greg Lindsay
NO SLEEP TILL NEW YEAR'S: Christmas time nears and with it the news that there is no room at the Inn this Yule. My parents' house has four bedrooms. One for my parents. One for my sister and brother-in-law. One for their two children. And one for my brother, who is older than I am and lives farther away. The living room is where the tree and presents go, so no room for a cot. And the den doesn't have space either. So I am resigned to the couch. Until someone wakes up (and considering the kids are 4 and 2, I'm guessing 6 a.m.) and I can take their bed, like a tinker in a flophouse. Won't Christmas be merry, with jetlagged children, overworked adults and retired parents who don't see what all the fuss is about? At least the pressure's off me to get married and start a family of my own. There's no place to put them. C Aileen Gallagher
THE CIRCLE LINE: Having lived in New York for six years, I feel justified at my bemusement of the white-socked hordes of fanny-packing tourists who gape and grope blindly around our city, shelling out their pennies for plastic replicas of the Statue of Liberty or a plate of "Fajitas con Sizzle" at the Times Square Applebee's. Double scorn is reserved for those who park their ample bottoms on the seats of a Big Apple Bus tour or a Circle Line boat. But this weekend, prompted by the visit of my sister and her husband, I consented to the full-island Circle Line ride. My hopes were low as I trudged the gangplank, but I was pleased that my visitors would get a gander at much of Manhattan without me running them up and down each avenue, resulting in an outbreak of new and painful blisters. To my surprise, the three-hour tour is delightful. The downtown portion featuring Lady Liberty, lower Manhattan and the big-name bridges will be old hat to New Yorkers. But the boathouses, towering schist formations, crumbling industrial landscapes, bright-red lighthouses, castle-like mansions, weekend fishermen, fresh air and brilliant fall foliage of upper Manhattan and Inwood will be a revelation any New Yorker who's had his feet on our stinky terra firma for too long. It would make a great second date, and they even sell Bud tall boys on boardthough at six bucks, this native would suggest bringing a flask. A Erin Schulte
FORTUNATE SONS: What marketing genius is convinced they will sell more product by having scions of successful industrialists pitch their products personally? I am going to buy a Ford because Bill Ford XXXII tells me to? Bill, your only accomplishment has been inheriting a company too big to run into the ground in one lifetime. Then we have the son of a son of a son of a son of Johnson Wax owners. (Did no one have a daughter?) Again, because your great granddaddy was good at his job does not give you any additional credibility. Pete Coors went one step further and not only hawked his great-great grandfather's water-beer, he also ran for office to fill his free time. There are some local examples too. I have nothing against you being born on third base, thinking you hit a triple. Just don't expect me to buy your stuff on your say so. (I so identify with Trust Fund Bazillionaires.) Jeez, next thing you know we will have the children of rich former U.S. presidents try to sell us...oh crap... F Roy Felipe
HAVING TO VOTE FOR A THIRD PARTY LOSER: The choices in last week's New York City mayoral race were dismal. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is a billionaire who never met a real estate boondoggle he didn't like and rented out the NYPD to be the GOP's political muscle at last year's Republican National Convention. His Democratic opponent was former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer, a race-baiting party hack and longtime political has-been without a sincere bone in his body. What was an angry New York voter to do? Usually the ballot offers some interesting third party choices, but not this year. There were your standard Green Party and Socialist candidates who offered their usual platforms. There was the Rent is Too Damn High Party, which would have been my choice if their candidate wasn't a cook who thinks Jews were responsible for the September 11 attacks. I went with Seth Blum, a public school teacher and founder of the Education Party. He seemed somewhat sincere and logical ideas, and so he came in dead last. At least I got to vote for Bernard Goetz for Public Advocate. New York City's lack of real political candidates: D- Matthew Sheahan
THE NEW BEAVIS AND BUTT-HEAD DVD COLLECTION: While watching the second disc for the third time for the fourth consecutive day, it occurred to me: Beavis and Butt-head, in their own way, were the first bloggers. Think about it. They spent most of their time watching television, they interacted with a very small circle of people with interests entirely congruent with their own and they were, of course, even more hysterical than they realized. And most of all, they absorbed countless hours of media and distilled them to their true core. Jerry Lee Lewis: "It's like all you need to do is, like, you know, kick the piano and do it with your cousin, and you'll be cool forever." Edie Brickell: "She's married to that short, old guy." "Yeah, that dude from Africa who used to be in the Beatles." KISS: "You know, these guys are pretty cool for a bunch of mimes." INXS: "Hey Butt-head, is this, like, satanic music?" "Yeah. If you play this backwards, it says 'this sucks.'" I am not sure what more I could want from my entertainment, frankly; like the best blogs, "Beavis And Butt-Head" is empty, numbing, time-consuming and ass-rimmingly hysterical. A Will Leitch
HAVING AN EXISTENTIAL CRISIS ABOUT UNDERWEAR: I have not worn underwear on a consistent basis in about three years. It was not a conscious choice, mind you. It wasn't something done to make me feel sexy or edgy or free. It just sort of happened, an evolution of the spirit that compelled me to no longer make that choice when I put on my pants. Aside from the occasional pee drops on khakis, it's been good to me. However, in the past month, I've had two occasions where, in public, I've inadvertently flopped out. On both occasions, I was getting lunch; on both occasions I was carrying said lunch and had to put it down on the sidewalk to tuck the frisky bugger back inside. After the second occasion, I realized that these minor inconveniences could be avoided if I'd only take the extra four seconds per day to put on underwear. It's at this moment that I suddenly felt really old. Maybe I did revel in my easy-access lifestyle? Maybe it did make me feel freer? As I walked back to my apartment, carrying the sweet and sour pork from the Chinese store, minutes after my manhood aired itself out, I became sad. As I went inside, I looked through my three pairs of underwear and reluctantly slipped one on, hung up on the fact that, for some reason, it felt like a part of me had died. D A.J. Daulerio
SPENDING $10,000 ON OTHER PEOPLE'S WEDDINGS: When the deluge of wedding invitations started filling up my mailbox, I figured I would need a little cushion money to get me through the blitzkrieg of celebrations. So I pulled about $10,000 out of a fund and put it in my checking account, just so that I wasn't racking up any credit card debt. Between the bridal showers, the bachelorette parties (one of which was in Vegas), meals, buying new outfits, photo processing and traveling to and fro, I burned through that pile of coin in less than two months. Two months. $10,000. And all I have to show for it are some stolen hotel pens. Burning Through $10,000: D. Deliriously Laughing at the Fact That I Burned Through $10,000: A Pauline Millard
GETTING AUDITED: New York audited me this year. It came at the worst moment. For the first time in my life I had a savings account with more than seven cents in it. I was going to buy a snowboard, take a vacation, give some nice Christmas presents. But no. A letter said that instead I had to fork over a chunk of my precious savings to the IRS. And why? BECAUSE OF THE TERRORISTS! After Sept. 11, when my office building got its windows blown out, I was shipped to Jersey for months on end to peck away at my keyboard from headquarters in godforsaken South Brunswick, which meant paying Jersey taxes. As if four hours of commuting a day wasn't bad enough, it also took me approximately 972 hours to calculate my 2002 taxes. But I did it and crossed all my T's. Or so I thought until this week, when I got an audit bill for $568.44, saying I miscalculated my residence credit. I called the IRS number enclosed, ready to go all Lewis Black on their ass: "How many taxpayer dollars did you spend hiring CPAs to wring a measly five hundred bucks from me? Thanks for waiting three years so the 20 percent interest would really hurt! I had to go to New Jersey because of the TERRORISTS! Now this!" To my surprise, a real human answered the phone. He offered look at my return. The friendly pencil-pusher informed me that the State of New Jersey had screwed up. I didn't owe New York $568.44; I owed them twenty bucksand in fact, screw it, he said, "I'll just cancel the notice and make a note that we were in error." Steve the IRS auditor: A Erin Schulte
TURNING 30: When I was little, I had this vision of what life would be like when I was "old" back then, that meant about 25. I figured I'd be married, perhaps with kids, and have my career, romantic future, finances and housing situation all figured out. Well, that didn't happen, and last week I turned 30 barely knowing more about life than I did when I turned 20. The numbers look so stark and strange, like adulthood has sought me out and found me despite my best efforts to escape via the prodigious use of glitter, gossip, laughter and alcohol. Yet, almost despite myself, I've become what I used to think of as "old" and feel like I'm ready to "settle down," even though I'm still not quite sure what that means. All I know is that I can't pass by a baby stroller without peering longingly into it, and the highlight of my weekend was watching little kids feed goats on a farm and cooing at a baby. Everyone I know whose already passed the 3-0 mark assures me it's better than their twenties could ever hope to be, and considering the way I plunged into massive debt upon leaving law school, declared bankruptcy, endured countless hangovers and got into one disastrous relationship after another, I'm gonna have to hope they're right. Six days in, my thirties are going pretty damn well, but I'm still a little skeptical; don't hate me if, when panic sets in, I slip and call myself 29 for a little while longer. B Rachel Kramer Bussel
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