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Archive for December, 2010

Bret Michaels’ Ancient Chinese Proverbs

Posted by evankessler on December 28, 2010

Bret Michaels has now overtaken Confucius as the chief bearer of fortune cookie wisdom as evidenced by this sagacious tidbit I received with my chicken in garlic sauce and wonton soup on Christmas Day:

If my next fortune reads “The wind is for riding” or “Unskinny bop” I may stop ordering Chinese food altogether.


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Portman Announcement Hits Reshuffle Button on Delusional Male Fantasies

Posted by evankessler on December 27, 2010

The hopes and dreams of millions of men who harbored the delusion that one day they might have a shot at love with the decidedly un-Tila Tequila-esque Natalie Portman, took a major hit this morning when it was announced that the soon-to-be Oscar-nominated actress is both engaged and pregnant (no word on whether she’s currently barefoot). The Professional actress has long been the celebrity object of affection for a large portion of the male population who always took the fact that her relationship status was never in the public eye, as a sign that she was single and just waiting for the right normal guy to come along. The news comes at an especially difficult time, as Ms. Portman’s most recent performance in Darren Aronofsky‘s psychosexual thriller, Black Swan, seemed to suggest that she might be willing to partake in another vaunted male fantasy, having a threesome with another girl–say Mila Kunis.

With that no longer being the case, a cold winter’s day has just gotten a little colder, as an international day of male mourning has been unofficially declared. It’s been an especially tough year for the unrealistic male sexual fantasy as Megan Fox, Kristen Bell, and now Natalie Portman are officially off the market. The spate of soul crushing weddings (to Brian Austin Green and Dax Shephard, no less) and engagements has sent many a man back into his cave to reshuffle his female celebrity wishlist for 2011 and beyond. The list, which is expected to resemble Maxim’s Hot 100 minus all of the married people with babies, should go something like this (not all 100, just 10):

10. Miss Yvonne- With the re-emergence of Pee Wee’s Playhouse on Broadway this year, our love for “The Most Beautiful Woman in all of Puppetland” was re-kindled. Now we just have to wait for Cowboy Curtis to grow tired of her.

9. Elisha Cuthbert- This 24 and The Girl Next Door star doesn’t seem quite as relevant right now, but that doesn’t mean she’s not involved in lots of daydreams that don’t involve being stuck on a hill with a Puma. Downside, she only dates hockey players. Upside, you’re local semipro league team has a few open slots whether you can skate or not.

8. Rachel BilsonThis former star of the O.C. disappeared from many male fantasy lists after her engagement to Hayden Christensen. That whole thing isn’t going on anymore, so that’s good. Now she just has to be in another movie or TV show so we could remember what she looks like.

7. Eva Mendes- She kinda just seems cool. Am I wrong for thinking that? We would totally get along.

6. Alison BrieOne of the stars of NBC’s pitch-perfect NBC comedy,
“Community,”Alison has comedic chops and is kind of adorable She effectively taps into the “hey this could totally happen” portion of our brain. Also, for people who liked Portman because they could take her home to their Jewish mom, you won’t have to convince Ms. Brie to convert.

5. Olivia Wilde– I didn’t see that new Tron movie on account that I knew it would suck, but I thought about it after seeing Olivia Wilde in the trailer. Good thing I can always watch her for free on that House, M.D. show. You know, the show where the British guy with the good fake American accent improbably saves the patient with a mysterious ailment by breaking all the rules. Also, bonus points for Olivia for changing her last name from the ferociously unattractive Cockburn.

4. Jennifer Aniston- One of the most famous people in the world at one point; she is quietly hoping that “love happens” to her, making this a totally fathomable possibility. Nothing goes as long a way towards turning fantasy into reality like desperation over a ticking biological clock .  This is totally the part where you swoop in. Caution: She wants babies now, but you could probably string her along until you’re ready.

3.  Jocelyn Wildenstein- She may be totally freaky looking, but at least she gives out Snickers on Halloween.

2. Emma Watson– We all felt like kiddie porn-ogling perverts when we first found this Harry Potter star to be gaining in attractiveness. Then we realized she’s actually of age. Phew.

1. Scarlett Johansson– I’ve never been the biggest Scarlet Johansson booster. I mean an album of Tom Waits covers? If that doesn’t scream pretension then I don’t know what does. I just feel like your musical debut should at least have some of your own songs. But this isn’t totally about me, it’s about men everywhere harboring delusions, and now that she’s back on the market, she’s going to need some comforting. Gentlemen, start your imaginations!

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Who’s Got What?

Posted by evankessler on December 25, 2010

I’ve been on a Beat Street kick the last few weeks. One of my favorite movies in my younger days, a recent view has spawned alternately much awe and laughter. However, I was looking for that “Strangers in a Strange World” song on the youtubes today when I stumbled upon a clip of another of the film’s cheesy 80’s ballads, entitled “You Got It.” After watching all 1:50 of the clip, I came to the conclusion that the ambiguity of the latter’s lyrics would be absolutely perfect for a STD prevention campaign. See for yourself:

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Pick Me!

Posted by evankessler on December 18, 2010

I’m off to yet another Yankee/White Elephant Gift swap for the holidays this evening. I don’t look at this so much as another opportunity to take home a $20 piece of crap that I’ll get absolutely no use out of (though last year’s cougarhead stapler was glorious), so much as it is a chance to show off my subpar gift wrapping prowess.

But what I lack in ability to fold paper and use tape, I try to make up for in my persuasive and creative use of the allotted blank space on my choice of wrapping paper, in this case, a copy of The Onion. I hope someone appreciates my little message in the crossword box, but if not, it’s they’re loss of a stellar gift.

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On Fish, On Ponds

Posted by evankessler on December 16, 2010

“I don’t want to be a big fish in a small pond or even a big fish in a big pond. I don’t want to be any permutation involving fishes and ponds. I just want to go for a swim. ” – Evan Kessler

(Just throwing in some wise saying candidates for my future as an oft-quoted inclusion in Bartlett’s Book of Familiar Quotations. Also, I wanted an excuse to include this annoying fish gif.)



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The Gifts That Keep On Giving

Posted by evankessler on December 15, 2010

Christmas gifts.

Image via Wikipedia

The holiday season is well upon us, and with it the practice of giving and receiving is in full swing. It’s not all Jane Seymour Open Hearts collection pendants, engagement rings from Jared, and big Mercedes-Benzes wrapped in bows; Lord knows in this time of recession it’s the little gifts that bring the biggest grins and –in some cases– the most pronounced, poorly-hidden frowns. Nowhere is this more apparent than the time-honored holiday party tradition of the Yankee/White Elephant gift swap. This convivial contemporary custom mixes the magic of the Secret Santa with the scarring occurrence of being present for a home burglary.

For those not familiar with the White Elephant gift exchange tradition, it entails that  guests of a holiday party all bring a gift within a specified price range, placing it upon arrival within the previously designated area– usually by a Christmas tree or Hannukah bush.The participating guests are then asked to pick numbers out of a hat (or similar receptacle) to determine the order in which they claim their gift. While it may seem those with the earliest numbers get the advantage this is not so. Though they may have the most gifts to choose from initially, they also have the better chance of having their gift stolen, for each subsequent gift getter has the option to steal a previous gift or open something new for their very own– that may eventually get ripped from their admiring grasp before all of the gifts are exchanged.

The most exciting aspect of this event is the potential for a rather rigorous volley of exchanges. Though some such gatherings are marred by less risky participants, the fun is amped up by those with a penchant for brazenly coveting the unwrapped prizes of others, who don’t mind crushing newfound materialistic attachments for their own selfish gain. These are the people that turn an exchange of both the crappy and cherished into a soul-crushing, rip-roaring good time.

Having been to two of these events in the past two weeks, I’ve mostly won out in my dealings, both times being bestowed with the number 5 pick. As you could well surmise, getting a good item at such a juncture would ultimately prove unfruitful, because whatever you would pick would subsequently be stolen. But even with the #5 pick, I generally managed to skirt the heartbreak of having precious items robbed from my person, mostly because I’ve not managed to secure any precious cargo despite having a vast array of shiny packaging to pick from on each occasion.

The first gift swap, which had a price limit of $5, saw me unwrap the gift of delicious foreign candy bars. While I find candy to be utterly delicious, it is entirely untrade-able as an entity of holiday cheer. With each successive pick, I attempted to entice the contestant with deliciously sweet treats to no avail. I can’t complain, I don’t think my own gift, a DVD of Roadhouse 2 starring not Patrick Swayze, was not being clamored for either.

Candy, Candy, Candy I Can't Let You Go–Because No One Else Wants You

Frankly, for such a cheap price point, the gift I picked may end up providing maximum utility, as it’s not more junk to keep around in my room that I forget I have for a year before I decide to throw it out. Rather, it gets eaten, and then it’s gone. That being said, I would’ve liked to have been involved in the trading fun.

My 2nd gift swap, which occurred this past weekend, had a slightly more substantial price point, boasting a limit of $20. I was almost assured a somewhat enjoyable gift, as the accent was placed on a “sillier the better” theme. I think my gift of a DVD boasting Police Academy movies 1-4 fit the bill rather well and would be enjoyed for the silliness by whoever wound up with it. When pick #5 came up this time around, I was fairly confident I’d wind up with the best gift that everyone would immediately be clamoring for. Despite going one pick after a well-thought out zombie survival kit, some of the contents which were not suitable for the one child in the room who eventually traded for it, I decided to roll the dice that my unwrapping skills would reveal something highly-coveted.

While my gift was a good one, it was severely lacking in humor. I enjoyed the film The Dark Knight, but was pretty sure I’d never watch it on DVD. The Batman figure that accompanied it, complete with masturbation hand movement, would just be another thing sitting in my room.

Again I desperately lobbied for a gift exchange, though I figured most of my friends already owned this movie or were in the market for something better. There was a skull and crossbones snuggie, a color-changing umbrella, and a children’s racecar driving game that all freely exchanged hands while I sadly displayed my more practical gift.

Then it happened. With one more pick left to made there was an endless gift exchange flurry. Save for all of the presents that had reached their exchange limit, it was a free for all as contestant after contestant decided to swap for already existing gifts rather than open that last wrapped enigma. The turn was in the hands of a ten-year-old and the crowd eager for the game to go on urged him to swap for something. I held out my Superhero-themed present, but made sure not to be naggy about it. Just like that, The Dark Knight disappeared from my grasp and I had a somewhat limited choice of things that had exchanged hands less than three times. That being said, I knew what I wanted.

Our host had been sadly trying to pass off what I thought were the best gifts of the evening. He sat there throughout the proceedings trying to coax each person to snag his newly acquired reading materials and in one fell swoop from my hands, that was achieved. I was now the proud owner of George W. Bush’s Decision Points and Sarah Palin‘s America By Heart, both “signed” by the “author.”


Consequently, My Least Favorite Photo I've Ever Been In


The final gift was gone a few minutes later and while mostly everyone was pleased with their takeaway, my bounty was quite the unexpected treat. Now, I’m not sure if or when I’ll get around to reading these shining beacons of American literature, but I suspect a conservative book club night at a local bar is in order.  Chapter 1: Quitting.

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Just So You Know, Everywhere Else Kinda Sucks

Posted by evankessler on December 10, 2010

Two months ago I booked a vacation to a distant swath of land well outside the borders of the United States. Soon after making my travel arrangements I noticed that my journey, scheduled for February 20 til March 10 of 2011, was in conflict with the expiration date on my passport. Luckily, this gave me more than a reasonable amount of time to renew the legal document that allows me,  a U.S. Citizen, to traverse the globe to nations accepting of such persons within their humble borders and giving them the temporary go ahead to intermingle with their native populace. My application for renewal was mailed out in the middle of November and, like clockwork, my renewed passport arrived today in the mail.


Shiny Happy Passport

The last few days have existed in anticipation of the moment I’d be cleared to for landing at a foreign airport. So knowing full well what the US Postal Service envelope sticking out of my mailbox was, I proceeded to tear it open with near-wreckless abandon in an utter frenzy of excitement. There it was, a sturdy blue booklet emblazoned with the words “Passport” and “United States of America.”  I proudly opened my authorization key to the rest of the world to examine its contents, but before I could even thumb through it I was savagely beaten over the head with an American flag.

The inside cover of my passport was adorned with “a lithograph of Moran Percy’s 1913 depiction of Francis Scott Key gesturing to the garrison flag flying above Fort McHenry on the morning of September 13, 1814″ (via No Caption Needed)  and accompanied by a lyrical excerpt from our own national anthem:

O say does that star spangled banner yet wave, O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave

The patriotism didn’t relent from there. The opposite page contained quotes by Abraham Lincoln from the Gettysburg Address:

“…And That Government of the People, By the People, For the People Shall Not Perish From the Earth.”

Having seemingly affirmed the greatness of the United States in no more than two fell swoops, the citizenship-establishing document finally got down to the nitty-gritty displaying the pertinent information of the passport holder (in this case, me) only to be add a reminder  on the opposing page that the United States is not only great because of what happened on the first two pages, but also because it has bald eagles and the constitution, and if you should decide to leave and never come back, you’ll never again get to see another bald eagle reading the constitution near an amber wave of grain.

But hold on, we’re not out of the Great American woods just yet. Whereas my old passport just seemed to have some innocuous, shaded pattern business going on in the background, each additional page on my new passport was replete with patriotic quotes and scenic wonders in between both shining seas. Cacti, Mount Rushmore, a New England Lighthouse, a Mississippi River Steamboat, the Rocky Mountains, the Liberty Bell, and yes the Statue of Liberty were all there as if to say, “we know you’re going somewhere else right now, but just so you know everywhere else kinda sucks.”

I’ll be sure to think about that when I’m scaling a hill along the far off coast of New Zealand, wishing I was leading a cattle drive North from Amarillo. I’ll hear the whistling wind blowing against the rocks and it’ll sound just like the voice of Dwight David Eisenhower saying, “Whatever America hopes to bring to pass in the world must  first come to pass in the heart of America…and oh yeah, this place? Fuck this place.”

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Evan Kessler: Amateur Graphic Designer

Posted by evankessler on December 9, 2010

Sometimes when an idea is living in your head you can’t help but have the need to render it a living, breathing thing. It’s that physical manifestation that makes it real–at least on paper. I’ve been batting around several creative ideas in my head the past few days that have brought about equal parts excitement and trepidation–ultimately deciding that one of them was in dire need of a logo. Rather than summon the assistance of my artistic friends, I chose to bring the vision out the way it was in my head, before anyone could get their greasy-yet-talented paws on it. Sure, someone will eventually have to revise it, as I used the crude downloadable tool known as “Paintbrush” to bring it to life. Luckily, the use of this primitive program didn’t fall prey to my shaky-handedness and came out about as good as it could have considering I was using the stone axe of the graphic design implements. I’m not going to go into details about the potential project now, as it’s a very tentative seedling implanted in the soil of my brain, but perhaps the water from my next shower will turn it into a sapling with strong roots. Plant-life metaphors aside, here’s the fruit of my branding and design labors. What do you think?

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I Held A Baby

Posted by evankessler on December 8, 2010

There's a First Time for Everything

A particularly wondrous thing about life is that no matter how old you are, you’re provided with an infinite amount of opportunities to contribute to the vast catalogue of first-time experiences. First kiss, first through-the-legs windmill jam, first trip to solitary confinement–these are all things in the canon of possible never-been-done-befores that people may happen upon during their time on this Earth.

Some things are more likely to occur than others, and even some of those more-likely-to-occur things manage to elude  those who are not immune to adventure.

Take me for instance, I’m thirty-two years old and I’ve been to Bangkok, Thailand and Paris, France (amongst other places); I’ve been to summer camp and driven a Smart Car– but up until today I’d never held a baby.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, how does someone who has graced the planet for more than three decades get off scot-free in the holding infants department?

Simple. I made a conscious decision to not hold any children no matter how related-to-me they might be or how adorable they are.

You see, I’m absolutely petrified of both old people and small children. I have  a fear that my proximity to either one of them will ultimately lead to their demise. Not that I harbor some sort of homicidal thirst, rather that my lack of reactive reflexes will prove a detriment for a reasonably helpless being should an emergency situation arise. I generally avoid taking other people’s pets out of doors for the same reason.

So how did this reversal of baby-holding fortune come about, when my stance on such matters up until now had been so strict? Well, I guess you could say I was taken by surprise and had absolutely no choice in the matter.  You see, my old roommate Sean recently had a son with his wonderful wife, and the two of them had come to town on business with baby in tow. Sean and I decided to meet up for a bite to eat and some conversation this afternoon. Upon his arrival on the Lower East Side with newborn son Sims hanging from a pouch around his neck, the three of us traversed the frigid city streets until happening upon a suitable cafe for our outing.

We sat down and ordered a warm alcoholic beverage to soothe our icy insides and a snack or two and got to talking about the state of things, but as our time dwindled down, my former roommate uttered something along the lines of “I gotta get a picture of you with Sims.” Only, the words I heard were, “you gotta take a picture of me with Sims,” meaning I was on camera duty.

Before I knew it, a not-yet three-month-old was being thrust toward me by Sean’s proud parental hands for me to take on the temporary role of “Uncle Evan.” Panic filled me for an instant before calm won out. I gingerly wrapped my hands to encompass the near entirety of the tot’s torso. This was an honor, but still three distinct fears bounced around my brain in the brief minute I held my friend’s son. First, I worried about the implications should I drop him; second, I thought my tight grip specifically designed to prevent me from dropping him could end up crushing his fragile ribs; and third, I was worried that the contents of the diaper soiled early in our first meeting might drip onto my person in a messy heap. Luckily, none of those fears came to pass. Actually, I was surprised how sturdy this two-month old body was despite its diminutive size. There’s something to be said for the intricate architecture of the human body. My momentary marvel over the makeup of this miniature morsel of being aside, there was great feeling of relief when he was received from my  non-child rearing iron grasp.

Even with all of the mental drama, I’m proud to say that I spat in the face of one of my long-abided restrictions. I posed for a photo with an adorable and remarkable piece of life breathing in between my hands, embracing  a new experience. One more down, plenty to go.

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The Twain Shall Meet

Posted by evankessler on December 7, 2010

Mark Twain photo portrait.

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve been suffering from a severe arterial blockage of writerly aspirations lately; self-diagnosed–of course (not very reliable as far as diagnoses go).  Rather than self-medicate with holistic medicine or go under the knife, I went to see a man about a cure. His name was Mark Twain. He’d taken up residence at the Pierpont Morgan Library & Museum in Manhattan, a peculiar place of residence for an epidemiologist or whatever he was, but I’d heard whispers upon screams that this guy was the best in his field– so much so that they’d named a few prizes after him. Now I’m not one for trophies and accolades; me, I fancy results.

When I arrived for my walk-in analysis, I was charged $15 up front. This was a tad bit strange considering I hadn’t even been examined yet, but I offered up my health insurance card. Unfortunately, my subpar coverage failed to lessen the copay.

There was absolutely no wait –an impressive occurrence if you consider the current state of health care– or if you’ve happened upon an emergency room lately. Given that this particular purveyor of treatment came so highly-acclaimed, you’d expect the line to be out the door and the wait to be at least thirty-minutes.

The examination room was like none I’d ever seen. The bland colored walls were a sterile shade of gray, but in the place of doctorly credentials and tongue depressors, the room was adorned with samples of historic manuscripts trumpeting the greatness of accomplishments in this genius’s chosen field. to go with photographs and drawings attesting to this verbal healer’s worldly travels.

Clad in a white suite and sporting a comical-yet-somehow-debonair mustache, this Twain fellow displayed an astounding wit and appreciation for the situation at hand. I wasn’t sure he was who he purported to be at first, as many of the room’s scholarly decorations to which he laid claim were peppered with the moniker of some “Samuel Clemens” fellow, but he assured me he was on the level. His character certainly matched everything I had heard,  a man of considerable humor with an obvious social conscience– and gift for blending the two. I drank in what I determined to be a healing sort of wisdom as he told me about his past adventures.

When the question of eradication of my motor skill issue (affecting the transfer of the words in my brain to the physical and digital page) was raised, Mr. Twain mulled it over. He mumbled something about “learning to be good” and began to ponder it once more, seemingly backtracking from that first thought as though there were so many different ways to tackle the problem. This progression of deep evaluation and subsequent recommendation swayed back and forth like a pendulum of indecision, bringing forth a range of suggestions not the least of which was (but not limited to) putting your entire heart into the matter,  then swinging once again towards the consideration of certain discouraging obstacles one faces when trying hardest to do so. These obstacles included, but were not limited to, birthday parties, baseball games, and the sabbath.

Finally he shot me look as though he had finished the process of sizing up my creative bottleneck with a slight brainstorm of none-too-taxing mental gymnastics. His facile delivery denoted an obvious solution akin to a mathematical wizard  given an elementary school addition problem. “You’re good as you are,” he said. “You can write whatever you want to write. Don’t think so hard.”

I felt two encouraging pats on the back and a breeze as he disappeared from sight, only to leave behind a few samples of some of his more light-hearted fare (“Humorous Stories & Sketches,” “The Diary of Adam and Eve“). Mind you, he didn’t take occasion to sign them.

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