Thursday, April 27, 2006

Revision... REVISION!

In honor of upcoming Derby week, here's another revision attempt, this time of the now-infamous 2004 Larry King Live interview with Merv Griffin and jockeys Gary Stevens and Chris McCarron. Today's Theme: You don't have to be a horseracing fan to appreciate good old fashioned train-wreck television.

Gary Stevens was on CNN last night. He was helping to preview the Pro Bowl of racing, the Breeders' Cup, on The Show That No One Actually Watches Anymore But Yet Still Manages To Book People, Larry King Live. Sitting in with him was fellow jockey Chris McCarron-- now retired, general manager of Santa Anita, and race designer of Seabiscuit-- and that one name everyone on planet Earth immediately associates with the majesty of Thoroughbred racing: Give it up, if you please, for Merv Griffin.

Merv is a big-time horse owner, and is the “celebrity host” for the Breeders' Cup this year, clearly because Kato Kaelin was not available. He totally dressed for the occasion. Gary and Chris looked terrific in the sense that they seemed to have made an attempt to, like, finish cleaning out the garage before appearing on national television. Merv looked like he just rolled out of a barn, or a murdering-hitchhiker spree gone awry, or possibly both. He had on this plaid shirt and a baby-barf green jacket, and... just... no, Merv.

Larry was, for some reason, wearing lipstick.

When I first saw Merv, I became upset, because he's usually the go-to guy for Hollywood Death. Johnny Carson, Marlon Brando, Jack Lemmon: Wheel in Merv. I do not know what Larry will do when Merv himself dies. Possibly conduct the interview anyway, only with slightly fewer non sequiters on Merv's part.

At one point everyone were discussing the retirement of the great jock Laffit Pincay (more on this later) and in the middle of the conversation Merv turns to the jockeys and goes, “Do you keep track of how much you’ve won?” and Gary snorted—he snorted—and McCarron was giving him this total Look of Death. Seriously, why didn’t he just go, “So, how many times do you have sex a week?” You just don’t ask these things.

And Chris somehow manages to not kill him, and to diffuse the situation said, “Well, my wife does,” which left poor Gary alone with Merv and Larry, both of whom need to be shot out of the International Space Station at top speed, and Larry turned to Gary and gave him the Index Finger Point of Inquisition and said, “Do you know?” and Gary gave up and said, “Right around two hundred million” and Chris admitted to something like two hundred sixty-something million, and Merv, stunned, hurt, and mumbling, said, “See, your wife doesn’t know. You know” and McCarron simply couldn’t summon the strength for yet another well-deserved Look of Death and laughed politely instead, silently resolving to ride some limping mare over a cliff and into a valley of very sharp knives rather than spend one more nanosecond in the company of this, his Celebrity Host.

One of the commercial bumpers consisted of a few seconds of Gary getting out of that obnoxiously huge car as George Woolf in Seabiscuit, outfitted in that hat that deserved its own mention in the credits and those clothes that made him look like he just fell out of an episode of Queer Eye For the Straight Jockey and that slightly self-conscious smile that says, “I am faaaaaaaaaabulouuuuuuuuuus!” And then there were a few seconds of him giving an interview wearing the highly respectable brown hat that he apparently stole out of Sinatra’s closet. So wardrobe was one-for-two.

But of course Larry had to stomp very hard upon it by coming out of the break and saying to Gary, “How do you like being a staaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh?” whereupon Gary did not, sadly, kick him directly in the spleen.

We now come to Pincay. He was this truly amazing jockey who was forced into retirement by successive injury (“Two percent body fat!” Chris said with deep and quiet reverence of Pincay, because the ability to swallow your own weight in laxitives is a good thing) and Gary mentioned that he and Pincay live near one another (which totally made me happy, to imagine this little jockey subdivision somewhere near Del Mar, with tiny houses and wee little driveways and lawn jockey statues on every square of grass) and he said, “I saw him walking yesterday. He had his shirt off—“

Stop the tape. This raises a number of questions:

1) Where was Laffit going, without his shirt? Was he just wandering around?

2) Did Gary have his shirt off?

3) If so, why did no one call me about it?

4) Is this normal behavior in the Little Jockey Subdivision?

I need to know these things. Anyway, go ahead, Gary:

“—and, I mean, what a specimen. He looked like he hadn’t missed a single day of riding.”

There was also a point in the program when Chris accidentally let it slip that they had taped the show, so it was not in fact Larry King Live but Larry King, Two Jockeys, and a Strangely Plaid Man Discussing the Breeders' Cup At Some Point In the Very Recent Past. And Gary turned to Chris and slapped him on the forehead, which was totally funny and real and I enjoyed it immensely. You don’t playfully slap just anyone. You need to be in That Place. But you could see a sense of wistfulness flash over McCarron’s face, like: “O, that we could fully beeyotch-slap these two dinks sitting beside us, my friend.”

At one point, Merv also completely derailed an actually pertinent conversation about the Breeders' Cup by whirling on Chris and saying, in highly accusatory tones, “Is the story about Ferdinand true?”

Now, I’m a yooge dork of a racing fan, and so I knew what he was talking about, namely, Ferdinand, longshot winner of the ’86 Kentucky Derby. It is rumored that he had been shipped to Japan and sent to the meatpacking plant there. And, even knowing this, I got conversational whiplash so fast that I displaced two vertebrae and maybe even a hip. So I can’t even imagine what the average normal person was thinking: “WHAT?! Ferdi—WHAT?” But Chris, who had been in the middle of a sentence with a subject and a verb and an adjective and everything, something Merv had not yet mastered that night, said, basically, “WHAT?” before collecting himself with an “I don’t know for sure,” thinking, “Well, Merv, let me just reach into my BUTT for my eight volumes of The Complete History of Ferdinand” and Gary, perhaps after subtly reaching for his poison blow-dart, nodded. “Yes,” he said solemnly, and Merv was all distraught and even Larry was kind of speechless. Hi, my name is Merv, and I’m a conversation-killer.

Also Larry kept pronouncing “Santa Anita” as “Santer Anita.” He also needs to die.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Unpopinions, Volume III

-The Beatles could write good music, but they sure couldn’t sing it very well.

-I have never owned a dog or a cat and am totally OK with keeping it that way. (NOTE: Your dog or cat, of course, is the reincarnation of Ghandi and has cured West Nile Virus and can perform all four cycles of The Ring. I know.)

-Hate Erin Brockovich, the movie as well as the actual person. Shut up, Erin. Shut up, Julia. Shut up, movie. All of you, put some clothes on.

Me, I always go into the office dressed like this.

-The stringy music on the TV grid channel is quite nice. Do dance with me.

-Any video game involving more than one (1) joystick and one (1) firing button fully sucks.

texas instruments home computer, awwwww yeah at:

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Welcome Readers

I thank you for joining us. Please check your weapons. Unless it's a trident. Those are cool.

Regulars, I know you woke this morning all, "What if I live my entire life not having seen the World's Largest McDonald's? Either of them?"

Robin Williams, ho! at:

Monday, April 24, 2006


Today I went to the gym, and positioned myself on the treadmill to warm up for a vigorous workout of hoisting up to two pounds at once, but forgot my headphones. This made me exhale very, very loudly, furious at the fact that here I had to get off the treadmill and walk all the way to the parking lot and back before I could start my workout. Well, good thing I drove around the lot two times before nabbing the closest space to the door.

I do not enjoy working out at the college gym, because it makes me feel woefully old. The treadmills have a workout tracking system, and at one point you have to enter your age, and it's automatically set on 18. You have to press the "arrow up" key each time you need to add a year. I have to press the "arrow up" key a lot.

In other news, I absolutely horrified some of my students over the weekend by having the termenity to exist outside of the classroom. We attended a gentle soiree hosted by Fletch The Extremist. Please note that eBay + $4.75 + a costume party+The World's Most Pathetic Former Cocoa Beach Resident=this:

Here is a picture taken before Major Nelson had to return his tie to USAF ROTC Cadet Scott the Taller, whom he outranked for about an hour. I cannot understand why I am not a professional photographer, what with my outstanding ability to select classy backgrounds. Also, will somebody please pet Josh the Pilot over his nametag, as I think he cares for it more than he does for me:

I think we can all agree that is very healthy for graduates of womens' colleges to portray styrofoam-boobed television characters who referred to their husbands as "Master."

What you need to do some Saturday night is wander a darkened apartment parking lot clad largely in polyester and netting, searching out a party location that was described to you as following: "It's in that one building? By the curb?" We couldn't find Fletch's apartment, and were in certainly no position to go knocking on random doors, as I'm sure it's a delightful thing to open your door at midnight on a Saturday and see two total strangers dressed like the version of Nick At Night that is broadcast to the inhabitants of hell. Although I believe I very nearly had Josh The Pilot convinced that he could get away with telling people he was conducting some sort of Homeland Security check. Him and his mega-awesome Official Nametag.

We wound up outside what we were fairly certain, within a range of 1-2% certainty, was Fletch's place, and crammed ourselves against the door for a while praying that he would simply happen to be standing directly on the other side of it, loudly wondering where Josh and Mary Beth were. Instead prepared for a potential life together by spending at least ten minutes hissing, "You knock!" "No, you knock!" "Me? What if it's the wrong place? What am I going to say?" "You just don't love me!"

When we entered the party, Fletch was wearing his underwear outside of his pants, somebody pressed a grape Jello shot in a Dixie cup in my hand, and you know what, there's a reason why I switched from grain alcohol to red wine. It happened right around the time I got a job.

Josh The Pilot and I each did a shot, then stood around in the kitchen chasing it with Dixie cup after Dixie cup of water, because we feared spewage, and had to get up for Mass in the morning. We agreed that the patheticness of our very selves far outweighed the benefits of waiting for the next batch of Jello shots to firm up, and left just as Fletch was wrapping himself in an array of garbage bags.

As we took our leave of those still standing, I locked eyes with one of my students, whose face took on, in order, the following expressions:

1) Inebriation
2) Slow recognition
3) Understanding
4) Denial
5) Horror
6) Further horror
7) Fear
8) Pity
9) Inebriation

We did not converse; we did not even look in one another's general direction again. One of this students' classmates asked how my weekend was this morning, and I said, "Oh, fine. Graded papers," and stared very hard at the podium. It was as if we'd shot a pizza delivery man just to watch him die, then stuffed the body in a shopping cart, and agreed to never mention it.

"So soon?" Fletch asked as we left. Ten years too late, actually.


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