Monday, January 25, 2010

Skee-Lo Lives

When one thinks of the greats of hip-hop, names come to mind like Grandmaster Flash, The Sugarhill Gang, Kool Moe Dee, Run-DMC, NWA and their offshoots, 2Pac, Biggie, Wu-Tang Clan and of course...Skee-Lo.

Skee-lo was weird. He rocketed to fame with his hugely-successful single "I Wish" in 1995, never to be seen again. While hip-hop was firmly planted in "Gansta Rap" at this point, Skee-Lo dressed up like Forest Gump and rapped about being just a little bit taller. He didn't shoot people. He made people smile with quirkery and magical, whimsical rhymes about girls that looked good and calling them. He was a rapper you could take home to mom.

And then, the irony of ironies, in the late-90's Skee-Lo was murdered. The one hip-hop artist that had nothing to do with violence was shot during a drive-by while playing pick-up basketball. The drive-by was meant for someone else, but nevertheless that day we lost an icon. If only he'd been a little bit taller, it would have hit his knees!

Periodically during the last ten years, I would think back on Skee-Lo and feel bad for him and wish that he'd put out just one more goofy-ass single. He didn't get the credit he deserved. There were no Notorious BIG-esque tributes, no back catalogues being released every year, nothing. Just "I Wish" and silence.

Then, a couple nights ago, I decided on a whim to Wikipedia Skee-Lo to see if it held any more details on the enigma that was his life. And....

What the fuck?! Skee-Lo never died! He was never shot! None of that happened!!! Yeah, apparently for ten years I've been thinking that Skee-Lo was murdered, when in fact I guess he just sucked. How bad does your career have to be that someone can think you're dead for ten years and nobody refutes it? And I told a lot of people too! Who told me that he died? What rat bastard gets his sick rocks off by spreading lies about the well-being of Skee-Lo? Why not Coolio? At least that guy's a dick!

And now apparently he's planning on making a come-back record. Oh no you don't Skee-Lo. You don't just die for 15 years, return from the grave and then waltz right back into my life like nothing happened. I've moved on! I've been listening to Weird Al. I don't care if you've got a rabbit-in-a-hat with a bat and a 6-4've got no respect, buddy.

Gah...I can't stay mad at you, Skee-Lo. I'll make you a deal, here's a list of ten things that will make me forgive you. If you can accomplish 3 out of 10, then I'll buy your new record and welcome you back into my heart. Yes, a couple of them are lifted from the 12 Trials of Hercules, but you've some making up to do. Good luck.

1) Clean out my garage.
2) Compose seven haikus about how you're sorry.
3) Bring back 2Pac. (Will also accept Biggie Smalls or Jam-Master Jay.)
4) Kill the lion of Nemea.
5) Make Health-Care work.
6) Get me a taco pizza from Godfather's.
7) Find out where Paperboy is.
8) Retrieve the girdle of Hippolyte of the Amazons.
8) Perform "I Wish" continuously every Tuesday in my living room from 11am - 11pm.
9) Make either the Jonas Brothers or Miley Cyrus or Lady GaGa go away. Your choice. (Hint: Pick-up basketball? Wink wink.)
10) Sign a letter-of-consent agreeing to attach a tracking-bracelet to your ankle, so I'll never lose you again.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Carlos O'Kelly's - For the Mexican-Irishman in us all

Back when I went to college in Iowa City, I used to work at a restaurant called "Carlos O'Kelly's". Yes, Carlos Oooooo'Kelly's. It was a Mexican/Irish restaurant. Because apparently in Iowa we weren't content with bastardizing just one culture. Why stop there? Why not go for the shotgun appeal and name it Carlos Von Wallaballoo MacYang Jenkins Oooooooo'Kelly's?

Now I took Spanish in high school and college for six years, so I was borderline fluent. And by fluent I mean that I could talk perfectly to other Spanish class students. Whenever an actual Mexican person came in to apply for a job, I couldn't understand a word they said. I remember distinctly that several of them, when asked for their high school education on their application, simply wrote "Mexico" and put little stars all around it. If I were those Mexicans, I would have thought that'd be enough too. But they never got hired. Seriously, if someday I went to Japan and got turned down for a job at Steak 'N Shake, I'd be pissed.

In my three years of working there, I only ever saw one Mexican person come in to eat. She spoke English as a first language, but clearly had a stick up her ass about the authenticity of Carlos Oooooo'Kelly's. Here's the thing, I KNOW that Chile con queso is pronounced "Chili CONE queso." I do! But when you work at a restaurant where the GM calls Spanish "Speakin' Mexican" you really don't give a shit. So when I asked her if she'd like some "Chili CUN queso" for an appetizer, she freaked out and went off on a tirade about how it's CONE queso and how can I work at a Mexican restaurant if I don't know how to speak Spanish?

Hey lady, take a look at the Leprechaun on the wall over there. Guess what, you're not going to trip over any Mayan ruins on the way out. Lower your standards like the rest of us. For Christ's sake, they're playing Papa Roach on the radio right now. Every single thing that's on the wall that isn't a shamrock looks like a leftover from The Three Amigos. Sorry to mispronounce your conveyor-belt Velveeta Cheese.

Anyway, the real point of this blog was that I wanted to share something that, 10 years later, still makes me laugh out loud when I think about it.

Occasionally, and only when it was really good, the kitchen manager "Brown" would show me hilarious application typos. I distinctly remember one. The lady was a meth-head. I'd never met the woman before, know...Iowa, missing teeth, Misty 100's, a general sense of glee despite every indication that one should be crying at every waking second. It's not hard to spot. So on her application, she generally got easy things like her name and address correct (I assume). But she made some minor to enormous flubs that make me warm inside. Here's an example of what we were working with:

Where did you hear about this job?: The newspapper.

That one isn't too big of a deal. But say it out loud. Newspapper. Hilarious. I imagine that the newspapper is handed out by a lawn gnome in a magical forest with daily updates on how to protect your dabloons from hobgoblin attacks. Willy Wonka reads the newspapper.

Here's the big one:

Work experience: Grocery store. I wrapped and stocked the bread.

But wait, that doesn't sound wrong at all, does it? Yeah...because that's what she meant. That's not what she WROTE though. Here's what she wrote:

Work experience: Grocery store. I raped and stalked the bread.

Ho-ly shit! For ten years I've had an image of a scabby woman sitting in the dark, smoking her 10-foot long cigarette methodically waiting for the right piece of bread to wander out of Hy-Vee. It's a "Wonder" she was never caught. HEY-O!!!

I'd like to end all this not with the senseless rape of carbohydrates, but with a moral. So I will quickly tell you about Merle. Merle was a dishwasher at Carlos O'Kelly's. He was in his 50's and spent 25 years of his life castrating pigs on a farm in western Iowa. One day he decided he had done all he could do on the castration circuit, so he jumped on a bus headed east at random. And then, just as randomly, he got out in Iowa City and started scrubbing pots and pans. In my three years there, I never heard Merle say more than three things. And one of those was "Damn cheese!" I think the other might have had something to do with fly-strips. One day, a song by Cake was playing over the speakers. It was called "Sheep Go to Heaven, Goats Go to Hell". I was in the restroom taking a leak when Merle walked in, heard the song, stopped, turned, looked me dead in the eyes and said "You know, that's true." Then he took a whizz. I quickly protected my balls in a soccer-like stance and ran for the door.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My Dad, The Hot-Air Balloon MC

I am fascinated by sub-cultures. For example, I am a stand-up comedian. Most of my friends are stand-up comedians. This is all completely normal to me, but for someone else this might seem strange and/or exciting. Right now there's somebody who's life is totally and completely dedicated to burritos. I don't know how or why, but he/she is out there. (It would be awesome if the undisputed champion of the burrito world was a hermaphrodite. Also, burrito means "little donkey" in Spanish. I can't seem to find a connection between little donkeys and hermaphrodites, but my brain refuses to relinquish that there is one.)

Here's another example: My dad has been into hot-air balloons for as long as I can remember. Because of this, when I was a kid, I got to crew for the balloonists and sometimes even go up in a balloon. I found that balloonists tend to be (in my experience) wealthy, fun-loving, small-townish and really fond of drinking in parking lots. And now my dad's interest has led him to become a hot-air balloon race MC. Think about that. A hot-air balloon race. A race of the slowest vehicles known to man. And he uses a microphone to tell people what is going on during them.

"Folks, if you look up above, you'll see #2 Dale Johnson. Don't blink!"

Two hours later:

"Well, there's Dale Johnson...still right fucking there!"

How do you keep something like that interesting? I've never actually seen my dad MC one of these things (because I've only been around when it's a single balloon), but I imagine in order to keep people from falling asleep he's setting off fires and releasing parking brakes from random pick-up trucks.

Here's what I mean when I say I'm fascinated by sub-cultures. I want to know any and all of the following: Where is my dad in the all-time ranking of hot-air balloon MCs? Is he the Marv Albert of inflatable competitions? If so, does that mean my dad wears dresses in the bedroom? Would a hot-air balloon of my dad in a dress be successful and if so, would he actually acknowledge it in the air or pretend it's not there? Is my dad going to be replaced by a younger, hipper hot-air balloon MC? Has the word "hip" ever been used in the same sentence as "hot-air balloon" when not referring to the joints of the average spectator? If my dad in fact does get replaced, would it take the guy ten years to get there because he's in a goddamn hot-air balloon?

All valid questions.

I'd like to conclude today by giving a message of hope. Never give up, folks. My heart told me that there is a little donkey/hermaphrodite connection and I now I know it's true. I'd like to present to you all...a heart warming story of Derek the Little Donkey and his best friend, Tootsie the Hermaphrodite Pony. Don't stop believin'!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Llama for Sale

I once knew a girl who sold a llama to Steven Seagal.

I could not make something like this up.

I have a list of questions:

1) This happened fifteen years ago, before the internet was popular...How did Steven Seagal know that a llama was up for sale? Does he read Llama Fancy, or was he lying in bed one night and felt a ripple through the current of the universe? "There's a llama for sale."

2) What did he want with a llama? Did he want to learn how to projectile spit to further defeat his enemies? Or did he want to snuggle?

3) Did he pay with Chinese stars? How many Chinese stars does it cost to buy a llama?

4) Fifteen years have Seagal a one-llama man? Or does he have a stable of llama mistresses?

5) Did the llama teach him how to act?

6) Is Steven Seagal part llama? That would explain the stare.

7) Did Jean Claude Van Damme get jealous and buy an emu?

And finally... 8) Why don't I have a llama?