2.28.2006

SALAD DAZE

Today I paid $7.32 for a bowl of salad.

I know you're sitting in front of your computer right now thinking, "You're fucking with me, Will. There's no way a store would have the cajones to charge $7.32 for a bowl of salad. Show me some proof!"

Here's the proof.

I work in an office one block away from Union Square Park in downtown New York City. Everybody knows that New York City is an expensive place to live, but this is ridiculous.

Most of my co-workers don't take a lunch hour. They go out, buy lunch, bring it back to the office and eat at their desks. And every day I see people I work with walking in with these bags that say Chop't Creative Salad Company. So today I decided to go and check the phenomenon that is Chop't Creative Salad Company.

The cover charge is only $7.32.

I get to Chop't at 2 PM, which is still sort of luch hour. There's a line out the door. I wait on this line for about ten minutes and finally I get up to the counter and see the price list. A regular salad STARTS at $6.95. And if you want chicken or shrimp or whatever the fuck else they put in salads it will cost you more money. A lot more money.

"How can they charge MORE THAN $7 for something that costs like two cents?" I wonder to myself. And then I figured it out. It's the labor.

Maybe you think making a bowl of salad is a one-man job. HA! Chop't Creative Salad Company laughs at your leafy green ignorance!

At Chop't Creative Salad Company, the art of making a bowl of salad is a FIVE MAN JOB!

The first guy takes your order. The second guy puts it in a bowl. The third guy cuts it up - excuse me - he chops it up. The fourth guy puts on the dressing. And the fifth guy takes your money.

It's an assembly line of salad making!

I imagine there is a sixth guy somewhere, laughing at all the stupid idiot New Yorkers who line up in the cold for ten minutes to pay $7.32 for a bowl of salad. But I didn't see that guy. He's probably in the back counting the money, wondering how long this scam will last.


Look, everybody knows that, in a Post-9/11 world, salad making has changed. It used to be, you buy a head of lettuce, cut it up with a knife (or your hands), pour on a little Hidden valley Ranch and then eat it. One man job.

NOT ANY MORE! Now it takes five guys. Excuse me, five salad artisans.

But the third guy is the key to the whole process. Sure you can get salad anywhere. But only at Chop't Creative Salad Company do they chop the salad using a double-bladed mezzaluna knife.

Why? Because, according to the Chop't website, chopped salad is "fun."

And we all know that fun is not free! It's $7.32.


I know people who go to Chop't every day for lunch. If they buy the cheapest salad available they are paying almost $2,000 a year for salad. These are the same people who wonder why they are always broke.

As for me, I'm going to get me one of them fancy,
double-bladed mezzaluna knives ($24.99 at Cooking.com) and make my own fun - for about two cents day.

Then I can take the $2,000 I save and spend it on something worthwhile - like gambling!

I found out today that I will be returning to Las Vegas in June to work on the production of a pharmaceutical product launch! The countdown has begun..

So go spend $2,000 on fun
salad, New York. My idea of fun is a little bit different.

2.27.2006

AN OPEN LETTER TO THE ACTOR AT THE COFFEE SHOP

Dear Actor,

I've been sitting here for about thirty minutes, watching you and your scene partner run lines. You seem like a mature young man, so I'm going to give it to you straight.

Stop wasting your time. You are a terrible actor. You are hopeless. And I'm not the only one who feels this way. I bet you think that everybody here in the coffee shop thinks it's cool that you're an actor. You see, right there that demonstrates how delusional you are. We are all laughing at you because you are reading these lines like they are coming to you by..Morse...code...phrase...by...phrase.

And not only are you a horrendous actor, you are a very weird looking guy.

First of all, your nostrils are absolutely gigantic. I'm serious, I don't think I've ever seen nostrils that big. You could drive a Cadillac El Dorado up those nostrils. Honestly, you cannot be a professional actor with such big nostrils. Nobody wants to sit in an audience and look up your gigantic nostrils. It's very distracting.

I don't mean to harp on this, but how do your walk around with nostrils that big? It was very windy today. Does all that wind blow up your nose? Be careful out there. You might catch a stiff wind and blow away, like Mary Poppins.

I'm not trying to be mean. I'm trying to be honest. Acting is a very unforgiving art form. Most actors get work based on how they look. Don't you watch TV and movies? You have to know this.

I would tell you to get a nose job, but that would be giving you false hope. Even with normal looking nostrils, nobody is going to hire you. Because, as I mentioned earlier in this letter, you are a terrible actor. Really.

Why would you want to be an actor anyway? I've known a lot of actors in my life and they're a pretty unlikable bunch of people. Most of them are emotionally unstable, self-involved attention hogs. And those are the nice ones.

Have you ever dated an actor? Well, save yourself the trouble. I dated an actress once and it was one the most unpleasant experiences I've ever had. Every time we would fight and she would cry I had to wonder, "Is this real, or is it Method."

You can never trust an actor because they are trained to lie.

The only people who should date actors are other actors. Do you really want to be stuck dating only other actors? You know what's gonna happen. Your hypothetical actress girlfriend is going be taking an acting class, and she'll need to get together with her scene partner to run lines at his place. I don't need to tell you what's going to happen next. Because most likely her scene partner will have normal-sized nostrils, and she will be attracted to that after dating you

I'm guessing you're about 22. Do you know what lies ahead for you if you pursue this?

You're going to bust your ass chasing this pipe dream, and one day you're going to wake up and realize you're a 40 year-old waiter with no money, no wife, no kids and no hope. Then you will have to struggle with the decision to give up your dream, because to do so will be to admit that your life has been a failure. Then you'll develop a drinking problem, which will only make your nose look worse.

Have you ever seen a picture of W.C. Fields?

He had rhinophyma, exacerbated by alcohol.

Do you really want to be a broke, single, unemployed, 40 year-old waiter with a hideously diseased nose?

My advice to you is to close that acting book, get up out of your chair and run as far and as fast from the acting profession as you possibly can.

I promise you, in twenty years, you'll thank me.

Sincerely,

The Guy Who's Been Staring At You For Half an Hour

2.26.2006

REALITY + FICTION = FICTIONALITY

How much of our past lives make up who we are?

That's the question asked by the fascinating British documentary Unknown White Male, which opened this past weekend in New York and Los Angeles.

In July of 2003, wealthy New York City stockbroker Douglas Bruce found himself on a subway train in Coney Island with no memory of who he was or where he came from. Soon after British documentarian Rupert Murray began capturing Bruce's frustrating attempts to reassemble the puzzle pieces of his life.

The thought-provoking film, which debuted at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, goes into national release in the U.S. in March. But some reviewers have questioned the authenticity of the documentary, and of Doug Bruce's unexplainable case of retrograde amnesia. Some have suggested that the whole story is a sham collaboration between a bored rich man and his filmmaker buddy.

One fact is indisputable. It's a good movie.

It's an engaging, existential mystery, told with expressionistic imagery and in-your-face documentary realism. But, like the recent controversy surrounding A Million Little Pieces author James Frey and novelist JT Leroy (a 40 year-old woman who claimed to be a 25 year old former male prostitute), media pundits have chosen to focus on debunking the myths, instead of reveling in them.

Who cares if James Frey embellished the truth in his pulpy page-turner? Who cares if JT Leroy is a middle-aged woman, and not a drug-addicted gay hustler? Who cares if Doug Bruce is not really an Unknown White Male? The fact is, their stories have captivated the attention of American readers and viewers.

Today's media is a voracious blender in which "fiction" and "reality" are whipped into a frothy concoction that might best be called Fictionality.

Reality TV is often anything but real. Documentary film is often partisan propaganda. The fictional
Law & Order franchise is often based entirely upon real-life incidents. The goal posts have been moving for quite some time, and now they're meeting up somewhere in the middle.

The problem here is with terminology. James Frey pitched A Million Little Pieces to Random House as a work of fiction. But because it was based upon his life, his publishers decided to market the book as "a true story."

If the publishers had not called Frey's tale a memoir, all of the sturm und drang surrounding his book would have been avoided. And poor Mr. Frey would have not been bitch slapped on national television by a righteously indignant Oprah Winfrey.

People ask me if things I write on this blog are true. Here's how I respond:

Everything you read on previously owned is true, except the parts that aren't. It's up to you to figure out which is which.

Never in the history of American media has there been more competition for the hearts, minds, eyes, ears and dollars of the consumer. If a piece of popular entertainment is good enough to rise above the clutter, then who cares what it is?

Is Unknown White Male really a documentary? Is it fiction? I don't know. Is it an engaging way to spend $10 and two hours of your life? Without question, the answer is yes.

If you think about it, entertainment that exists in the twilight zone between lie and truth may be an organic response to what's going on right now in Washington D.C.

Too bad George Bush isn't just a character on really long episode of
The West Wing.


For more information on Unknown White Male click here.

2.24.2006

SMOKE 'EM IF YOU GOT 'EM

I have a fireplace in my apartment. But it doesn't work.

It's a non-functional fireplace. Only problem is, nobody told me this when I moved in.

That seems odd to me. Let's say a real estate agent shows you an apartment with a nice big TV in it. And let's say that TV didn't work, and that attempting to use the TV would make your apartment fill up with thick black smoke.

If I were the real estate broker, I might mention something about that.

I might say, "You like that TV over there? It's pretty, isn't it? That's what we call a decorative TV. Look at it at it all you like, but if you turn it on you'll probably burn down the building and kill yourself and all your neighbors."

I feel like that's need to know information.

When I moved in I figured, "I have a fireplace. I'll inivite a girl over, build a fire and she will fall in love with me."

Everybody knows, chicks dig fireplaces. All you have to do is watch a commercial for one of those Time Life Greatest Love Songs collections. Those couples are always snuggling up by a roaring fire, drinking wine and listening to Tonight I Celebrate My Love For You.

Yes, a roaring fire in a beautiful fireplace is romantic. But a roaring fire in a non-functional fireplace is definitely not romantic, unless your idea of romance is a severe case of smoke inhalation. Don't get me wrong. I'm a big fan of smoke inhalation, particularly when there's a sexy lady involved. But I prefer the kind of smoke that makes you chill out, not the kind that makes you black out.

Not long after I moved in to my apartment I invited Maggie over to see my new place. Maggie was the cute blonde college intern at work, and she and I had hung out a few times. Maggie and I enjoyed a lovely dinner and then headed back to my place.

I lit some scented candles, opened a chilled bottle of Pinot Grigio and lit up a Duraflame log in the non-functional fireplace. The night was all downhill from there.

But it all worked out okay. Maggie and I bonded over our near death experience and soon fell in love.

So I guess the fireplace worked after all.

But even today, eight years later, every time I hear Tonight I Celebrate My Love For You I get a little bit choked up.

2.23.2006

ENERGY CRISIS

About a year ago somebody read my energy.

I'm not talking about when the electric company guy goes down the basement to look at your meter. I went to a person whose job was to interpret the energy that lives within me, and emanates from me.

Normally I would think that this is complete nonsense. I don't meditate. I don't do yoga. I don't believe in karma, or past lives or reincarnation. I live on caffeine, nicotine and thinly veiled contempt.

In my defense, I didn't plan to have my energy read. It just kind of happened.

I met a cute girl at a party. I think she was Russian, or from the former Yugoslavia or maybe she was just an American with a weird name and a sour puss. All I know is, I was enjoying the whole package.

So I'm chatting her up over a couple Michelob Ultras and she mentions that she is a pratitioner of something called craniosacral therapy. This is a holistic healing technique that supposedly improves central nervous system function, eliminates stress, strengthens resistance and enhances overall health.

All of this happens just by the practitioner lightly touching your head.

So Irina (or whatever her name was) tells me all about this, about how she's licensed, and she works out of her apartment. "Apartment" was all I needed to hear. I took her card and promised I'd give her a call. And I did.

So a week after the party I'm alone with this girl in her East Village apartment on a Tuesday afternoon. I've gotten massages before in private apartments, with no hanky panky. I know that people can legitimately do things like this, and it's not always about sex. But sometimes it's about sex. I read Craigslist.

This was not one of those times.

Irina instructs me to take off my shoes and my sweatshirt - nothing more. Then I lie on her fancy massage table and she starts to lightly touch my head.
All of a sudden I start to feel sleepy. The next thing I remember was her telling me that we we're done. I don't know what she did to me. Maybe she put me in some kind of wrestling sleeper hold. Maybe she harvested my pancreas. Or maybe I was just tired and bored.

I get up off the table and begin to put on my shoes.

"Is that it?" I ask. It felt like the right thing to say to a cute girl in her apartment.


"There is something else we could try," Irina says with a smile. "Have you ever had an energy reading?"

"No I haven't," I say "But I'm totally into trying new things." That line has worked well for me in the past.

Irina tells me to sit in a chair and close my eyes. So I do, but I cheat. I peek. Through my squinty, half-shut eyes I see Irina wildly flailing her arms around me. You know when you burn something in your apartment and you're trying to wave the smoke out the window? That's what she looked like. Except I wasn't on fire.

After a few minutes of this she stops flailing and tells me to open my eyes.

Irina sits down next to me, holds my hand and tells me that my mother had given me up when I was a baby . Of course, I know I'm previously owned. But I was pretty sure that I had never told her.

My birth mother, she explains, had wanted to keep me when I was born. But her mother forced her to give me up. This was apparently too much for my Mom to take and she descended into a life of addiction and depression.

Apparently I have more in common with my Mom than I may have thought.

"Inside of you there is a scared little boy" Irina said to me. "You have to let him out, or you will never be able to let go of those feelings. You have to stop running."

"I smoke cigarettes," I said, interrupting her. "I don't do much running."

Irina ignored me and continued.

"You need to make a place in your apartment for that scared little boy," she demanded. "Think of it as a safe place, almost like an altar. Find some things that meant a lot to you when you were little and bring them into your home."

Then we were done. The energy reading had lasted no more than five minutes. But somehow, by waving her arms like a crazy person, she was able to see something.

Maybe she was full of shit. Maybe she was a really good guesser. Or maybe there was something to this.

I left her apartment and I haven't seen Irina since.

A few months later, my parents sold the house I grew up in. I spent weeks packing up my baseball cards, Richie Rich comics, Star Wars toys, love letters and just about everything that had any significance in the first 22 years of my life.

"What are you going to do with all this stuff?" my Dad asked.

"Somebody told me I should bring it home," I answered.

And that's what I did. I carried 32 boxes of my childhood up two flights of stairs and into my apartment. My studio apartment.

In the last eight months I've made more money, done more writing and had more sex than I ever have before. I feel inspired.

Is there a connection? I don't know.

But I do know one thing.

I need to look for a bigger apartment, and my birth mother.

I'd like her to know that everything is cool.

CAB RACE 2000

Last night I was abducted by a New York City cab driver and forced into a car chase on the crowded streets of lower Manhattan.

At 7:45 PM I rushed out of work and hailed a cab on Fifth Avenue. I was headed downtown, to Bleecker Street, to do a comedy set at 8. A cab pulled over on the west side of the street, and I quickly dashed across three lanes of traffic and got in.

Moments after I had entered the cab, a green van cut in front of us, making a sharp right on to 14th Street. My cabbie cursed the driver of the van in a foreign language, and then made a sharp right of his own on to 14th Street.

"Wait," I yelled. "You're going the wrong way!" But it was too late. I was now a participant in a car chase. I looked at the driver's identification photo. He was black, and his name appeared to be African.

"I hope he's one of the friendly Africans," I thought to myself. "One of the Africans that like to sing and dance and carry bowls on their head, not one of the ones that like to engage in ethnic cleansing."

I was late. I had no time for ethnic cleansing. But I did have time for a car chase. I've always wanted to be in a car chase, just like in the movies. One of the greatest movie car chases of all time, from the 1971 film The French Connection, takes place in New York City.

But movie car chases don't take place in New York City at Rush Hour. Unfortuantely, our chase lasted for less than a block, at which point we became hopelessly stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

By now my cab had moved in front of the green van. The light turned green on 14th Street, but my driver didn't move. Instead, he opened the door, got out of the cab and proceeded toward the green van.

In a situation like this, most clear-thinking New York City residents would jump out of the cab and head for safer ground. But I am not most New York City residents. I am a risk taker! Plus, I thought it would be fun to see somebody get murdered. How often do you get to witness that kind of thing?

As he was exiting the cab, I noticed that the driver was very muscular, very tall and very angry. Not good news for the offending van driver! I watched the cabbie walk to the green van and noticed that the driver was a middle aged white woman with frosted blonde hair! What a disappointment.

Even a vengeful, African tribal warrior is not going to beat up a New Jersey soccer Mom with frosted hair.

My driver yelled at the woman, and started banging on her van. I guess since he couldn't punch a woman he decided to punch her car. Effective, but not as exciting for me. He cursed her for a while, then a cop drove up and broke up the argument. My driver spit on the green van and rushed back to the cab.

"Sorry," he said to me in heavily accented English. "What she did to you was very disrespectful."

"What she did to me?" I said.

"Yes, " he said. "You are my passenger. My cab is in service to you. When that whore of a bitch cut off the cab, I was forced to stop short - and your backpack fell on the floor." He was right about that.

"Now she will do that no more. She will learn a lesson."

We u-turned on 14th Street, made a right on Fifth Avenue and headed downtown, toward my intended destination.

"I will go fast, to get you there on time!" my driver promised.

"Take your time," I replied, as I sat back in my seat.

It felt like a throne, and I felt like a king.

2.21.2006

ARE YOU BI-CURIOUS?

You know what TV show I hate? Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

I hate this show.

I don't know who is responsible for this show, but they need to take it off the air right now. Because I cannot watch Extreme Makeover: Home Edition wihout crying. Numerous times. I even cry at the promos.

Maybe you think that's funny. Mr. Sarcastic New York City Comedian cries at a cheesy reality show. Ha!

Well let me tell you something. There is a very delicate balance of chemicals going on inside my brain. Numerous powerful medications are at work, right this very moment, making sure that everything remains stabile.

So I'm feeling okay, right? I'm feeling balanced. Then I turn on the TV and it's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. And I'm like, "A new house for the little girl with cancer? And she gets reunited with her twin sister?! Why are they doing this to me?"

Everybody's so worried about what kids are watching. What about the emotionally unstable? Where's our ratings system? Where's our V-Chip?

I'm working on a new reality show about my life. Each week I stop taking my Lithium, and then cameras follow me around. I'm going to call it Extreme Makeover: Bipolar Edition.

I guarantee at the end of every episode somebody's gonna be crying.

2.20.2006

A STORY ABOUT PRESIDENTS' DAY

It was Monday, February 16, 1987. Presidents' Day.

I had the day off from NYU, where I was a freshman commuter student. And the phone was ringing.


"I'll get it," I said. It was the first thing I had said to my mother in three days.

Here's the way it worked back then:


STEP 1: My Mom would get on my case about something minor and inconsequential.
STEP 2: I would reply with something witty like, "You should have listened to God when he told you not to have children."
STEP 3: My Mom would burst into tears, conveniently morphing from aggressor to victim.
STEP 4: My Dad would bark, "William! Don't talk to your mother like that!"
STEP 5: I would storm off to my room and slam the door.
STEP 6: My mother would stop speaking to me.

My Mom could communicate more with silence than most people can with a bookfull of words. Her silent treatment could last a day, a week or longer. I think our record was a month. The deafening silence would be broken only to communicate necessary information to me through the de facto arbitrator of these disputes - my father.

"Tell William that I'm not making dinner tonight," my Mom would say to my Dad. It didn't matter that I was standing three feet from her, overhearing everything she was saying. She was making a point.

This had been going on for years and showed no signs of abating. Actually, now that I was a college student trapped in my parents' house, it was getting worse.

But now the phone was ringing. So I picked it up.


"Hi, may I speak with William McKinley," the voice on the phone said.

"Which one?" I replied.

"How many are there?" the anonymous caller questioned.

"Well, I'm sure there are hundreds, maybe thousands," I replied, always the smart ass.

"Well, how many are there in your house?" the voice asked.

"Right now, just one. The less-handsome one is at work," I answered, truthfully. I was cute back then.

"Well, how would you and your Dad like to be on Channel 2 News at 6?" the caller asked.

Apparently, some intrepid researcher from our local CBS affiliate had scanned through the Nassau County phone book, searching for everyone who had the same name as a U.S. President. The plan was to gather all of these men at a park - Eisenhower Park, naturally - and interview them about their presidential namesakes.

"You mean I'm gonna be on the tee-vee?" I replied, using the dumb guy voice that I had learned from my idol of sarcasm, David Letterman.

"Actually, we'd love to have both you and your Dad," the WCBS employee replied. "Can you come to the park at lunchtime, around noon?"

I agreed and hung up. But there was one problem.

My Dad was at work at the bus company. He didn't take national holidays off. Or sick days. Or any days, really. To make matters more complicated, I was the only 18 year-old on Long Island without a driver's license. And I certainly couldn't ask my Mom to drive me, because that would require
speaking to her.

I flipped through the cards in the dog-eared Rolodex next to the phone and found my Dad's number at Green Bus Lines.

"Is Mommy sick?" my father asked when he picked up the phone. It was the first time I had ever called him at work, so a bit of panic was to be expected.

"Unfortunately not," I deadpanned.

I explained the situation to my Dad and asked him - no, begged him - to take a long lunch, pick me up at home and drive us both to Eisenhower Park.

"This could be my big break!" I hyperbolized.

We negotiated for a while, and I agreed to certain "concessions." And at 12 noon, both William McKinley Sr. and William McKinley Jr. found themselves at Eisenhower Park. There were seven men, including me, who had Presidential names. In retrospect, I was hardly a man. Men do not engage in petty power struggles with their aging mothers. But I didn't know that at the time.

The WCBS producer lined us up side by side and introduced us to Morey Alter, the reporter who was going to interview us for this particular Morey Storey.

"The first thing we're going to shoot is everybody introducing themselves to each other," the producer announced. This was followed by the high comedy of Richard Nixon shaking hands with John Kennedy, and Andrew Jackson introducing everyone to his son - a little blond-haired boy Michael Jackson.

Next came the interviews. Morey went down the line, asking each man about his namesake. He got to my father who introduced himself, and me. Morey found it absolutely hysterical that we both had the same presidential name. Apparently he had never met a Junior before.

Then he got to me. Now was the moment I had ben waiting for - my moment to shine.

"So Billy," Morey said, "When you grow up would you like be like President William McKinley?"

"Oh yeah!" I replied. "Particularly the part where he got assassinated!"

We all got a good laugh out of that, particularly this one black guy named Abe Lincoln. He laughed so hard his stovepipe hat fell right off his head.

After our interviews, we all sang Happy Presidents' Day to the tune of Happy Birthday. It was a proud moment in the history of journalism. Then Morey and his crew said their goodbyes and my Dad dropped me off back at home.

"Don't forget our agreement," he reminded me.

I ran up to my room and immediately put on The Guiding Light, one of the (many) soap operas that I watched at the time. On a commercial break I saw a promo for Channel 2 News at 6 featuring yours truly! I immediately called everyone I knew on the planet to tell them about my impending television debut.

At 6 PM, my mother, father, younger sister and I gathered around the TV awaiting the big moment. And then it happened - and it was over in a flash.

I don't know what I was expecting. Maybe a full half hour of in-depth reporting on what it was like to be named after a president. What I got was around a minute of corny jokes from Morey and, of course, the money shot: "The Presidents" singing off-key.

Where was my sarcastic commentary? Where was my witty repartee? Apparently my brilliance was lost upon Morey and the WCBS team, who reduced me to a bit player in what should have been my star-making vehicle.

But it was still fun. I was still on TV. And the phone was ringing off the hook with congratulations from friends and family. I liked being famous, at least for a day.

But there was still one thing left to do.

"I'm sorry for saying that God didn't want you to adopt me," I said to my mother.

Then William McKinley Sr. looked at William McKinley Jr. and nodded his approval. And the McKinley's were a happy family, at least for a day.


2.19.2006

ADULT SWIM GETS DEEP

The Boondocks is the best new show on television this season. And you've probably never seen it.

Hidden away on Sunday nights at 11 PM (ET) on Cartoon Network, the animated version of Aaron McGruder's long-running comic strip is the sharpest, funniest, most scathing piece of social commentary in a generation. And at a time when self conscious political correctness has widened the divide between black and white, The Boondocks slices through the issue of race relations like a Samuri sword.

With an edgy soundtrack that the mainstream press would describe as "urban," The Boondocks looks more like Japanese anime than an American cartoon. But this brilliantly written show is all about the American experience of race. And as with all satirical social commentary, The Boondocks will make you laugh hysterically one moment, and horrify you the next.


Like most adults I don't watch Cartoon Network very often. Sure, I'll stop and watch a Bugs Bunny cartoon while smoking a bowl on a Saturday night. But I've always found Cartoon Network to be a slightly more grown up, 24 hour a day version of Saturday morning TV. And the commercials for Barbie and Frosted Flakes have done nothing to disabuse me of that notion.

Then I stumbled upon something called Adult Swim.

Every night at 11 PM (ET) Cartoon Network tucks in the kiddies and programs the channel for their hip aunts and uncles.
There's the requisite Japanese anime shows, off-network reruns like Futurama and Family Guy and some wacko obscurities that look like they were created in a high school Photoshop class.

But on Sunday nights, Adult Swim kicks into high gear with a lineup of some of the funniest, best-written, most envelope-pushing shows on TV.
In addition to The Boondocks (which can be seen Sunday nights at 11 and at various other times during the week), another of my favorites is a new show called Moral Orel.

Orel's Dad proves that sometimes fathers do not know best.

Moral Orel is the story of Oral Puppington, a misguided religious boy who lives in the town of Moralton with his loving parents Clay and Bloberta, and his little brother Shapey. Animated in the stop-motion style of Wallace and Gromit, Moral Orel is actually a parody of Davey and Goliath, a religious-themed children's program from the 1960s. Funded by the Evangelical Lutheran Church and animated by Gumby creator Art Clokey, Davey and Goliath attempted to teach lessons of morality and good Christian conduct through the misadventures of Davey and his pet dog Goliath.

Moral Orel has equally high aspirations, but teaching good Christian conduct is decidely not one of them. Created by Dino Stamatopoulos (one of the writers of HBO's Mr. Show with Bob and David), Moral Orel satirizes the very topic that Davey and Goliath sought to promulgate. And it does so with shockingly funny results.

In one fifteen-minute episode, Orel befriends a homeless crackhead - and acquires a taste for rock, hitting the pipe while playing with a statue of Jesus. In another, Orel learns that God hates waste, so he begins drinking his own urine and sharing it with friends. Each week the show gets weirder, darker and more shocking. And there's substance behind the shock.

I hope that the poor Lutherans who financed Davey and Goliath (and the recent revival Davey & Goliath's Snowboard Christmas) haven't see this show, because I think it would kill them. I watched Davey with my classmates in Catholic school in the 1970s, but I think we would have enjoyed Moral Orel much more.

Like The Boondocks, Moral Orel makes its points through challenging satire. And it does so with I-Can't-Believe-This-Is-On-Basic-Cable results.

You don't have to go to work tomorrow, so why not stay up late and jump in the pool with Adult Swim?

For more information on The Boondocks, Moral Orel and the rest of the Adult Swim lineup in the U.S. click here. In Canada, The Boondocks airs every Friday night at 10:30 PM (ET/PT) as part of Teletoon's F-Night block. Click here for more information

2.18.2006

I WRITE THE SONGS THAT MAKE THE WHOLE WORLD RETCH

I was watching TV late last night and I saw a commercial for a Barry Manilow CD.

That was a surprise to me. I didn't know Barry Manilow was still making records. I didn't even know that Barry Manilow was still alive.

He's still alive?

But the 63 year-old Brooklyn-born crooner is still going strong! He's even entered the digital age.

Be honest. It would be FABULOUS!

The TV commercial was for Barry's brand new album:
Barry Manilow: The Greatest Songs of the Fifties.

They were going to call the CD Barry Manilow Destroys the Greatest Songs of the Fifties With His Sappy Delivery and Annoyingly Nasal Voice but there wasn't enough room on the cover for all that type. It doesn't really matter what they call it. All they have to do is put the words Barry Manilow on the CD cover and most people will know that they should avoid it at all costs.

The commercial was filmed at a Barry Manilow concert in Las Vegas. Again a surprise. Who knew there were enough Barry Manilow fans to fill up a concert hall? Most of his fans are probably fat women, so they must take up more than one seat. And their cats fill in the empty chairs. Those of us in the business call that "papering the house."

But here's the best part. During the commercial they cut to a guy in the audience.

You're thinking what I'm thinking, right? That guy has got to be gay. Nope. I know he wasn't gay because he was wearing a plaid, button down shirt. I have never met a gay guy who wears a plaid, button down shirt. Maybe, if you tore off the sleeves and fringed the bottom. But otherwise, definitely not.


The guy in the audience was sitting with a chunky, middle-aged woman (I told you) and he was holding her hand. What straight guy is gonna go to a Barry Manilow concert?! And allow himself to be filmed?! And broadcast on national television?! That's blackmail material.

This was a straight man in LAS VEGAS and he couldn't think of anything better to do than go to a Barry Manilow concert? Gambling? Not interested. Hot naked strippers? Nope. The guy who sang Copacabana? You betcha - and please film me so all my buddies can ridicule me for the rest of my natural life.

I hope that poor guy at least got laid that night. Come to think of it, maybe that was his plan all along. I bet he said to his girlfriend, "Sure, I'll take you to a Barry Manilow concert - when you agree to a threesome with that hot aerobics instructor at the gym."

Maybe I misjudged that guy, after all!

Any pretty ladies who would like to catch Barry's show at the Las Vegas Hilton on Saturday, February 25 just send me an email at will@willmckinley.com. I'll take care of everything, because Barry Manilow and I go way back.


NO MEN! NO FATTIES!

2.17.2006

LIFE BEGINS AT 40?

A friend of mine turned 40 today.

I met Rick 15 years ago when we were both working at a production company in New York City. I was fresh out of NYU, full of ambition and arrogance. Even though Rick was only two and a half years my senior, he seemed much older than I was.

He was married. I wasn't. He lived in a big apartment. I had a small studio. He was on staff. I was freelance. Rick was the good cop who always did what he was told. I was the bad cop who got fired three times, in two years, from the same job.


A decade and a half later, very little has changed. Rick is still married. I'm still not. He and his wife now live in a big house in New Jersey. I still live in a tiny studio. He's on staff. I'm still freelance. I've been fired a few more times, from a few more jobs. He's still the stable provider.

Rick has followed a linear path in his life, marrying his college sweetheart, building a 401(k), buying a house, having a daughter. And now he's 40.

I've pretty much done the opposite, and I find myself - at age 37 - feeling much the same way that I did when Rick and I first met in 1991. My life is still a gigantic, swirling mass of hypotheticals. Maybe I will be a writer. Maybe I will be a comedian. Maybe I will get married. Maybe I will have a kid.

But, just as it did in 1991, all of that feels very far away.

I had Chinese food for dinner last night. And after I finished my steamed broccoli with garlic sauce on the side (unlike Rick, I'm watching my weight) I opened my cookie and read the fortune inside. It said, "Old age is always twenty years older than you."

I don't know if I agree with that. Rick seems old to me at age 40. But he also seemed old to me at 25.

On the other hand, I feel even younger than I did 15 years ago. And, thanks to the Russian barber who shaved off my combover, I look younger too.

I've been out to New Jersey to visit Rick and his wife and their daughter a few times, but I've never really enjoyed it. Going there makes me question the decisions that I've made, the things I've done and the things I haven't. But I always leave with the same feeling: thank God that's not my life.

Maybe some day I'll feel settled. Maybe some day I'll feel like I'm on a linear path. But part of me hopes that day will never come.

Two years, eight months and twenty two days from today, I will be 40 years old. Will I feel old that day?

Not as long as Rick is around. Thanks to him, old age will always be two and a half years away.

2.16.2006

5,760 SEMEN-STAINED MINUTES

Today is the FOURTH DAY that a used condom has been lying on the floor in the vestibule of my apartment building.

This is not the first time this has happened. In the past, somebody has picked up the soiled condom and removed it, usually within 24 hours. No such luck this time.

I live in a five-floor walk-up, with four apartments per floor - in New York City. Poor little twenty-somethings jam their broke asses into tiny sardine cans masquerading as apartments, just so they can have the honor of living on the tiny isle of Manhattan. That means that there are probably more than thirty people living in my building, walking past this latex white elephant for the past FOUR DAYS.

What is wrong with these people? Do they think it's cool to have a jizz-filled condom on the floor of their apartment building for FOUR DAYS? Do they feel like it gives them street cred? All the hipness of living in a bad neighborhood, with none of those pesky minorities!

Would you leave a used condom on the floor of the place where you LIVE? Of course you wouldn't. That's because you are not DISGUSTING. Used condoms should be hidden away from view, like the SHAME that you feel every time you use one.


I live in a part of New York City called The Meatpacking District. When I first moved in I didn't know why it was called The Meatpacking District. Then I figured it out. It's the TRANSEXUAL PROSTITUTES!

Because these girls are PACKING SOME MEAT. (And by meat I mean PENIS).

Have you ever heard of CHICKS WITH DICKS? Well, they work right in front of my building.
My neighborhood is very nice and quiet for 20 hours of the day. But from 2 AM until 6 AM it turns into a Felliniesque bazaar of sexual depravity.

I enjoy sexual depravity as much as the next guy. Okay, probably more. Actually, definitely more. But that's not the point. I do not get what is going on here. Every single night of the week, these Frankenstinian hybrids show up on my street - rain or shine. It reminds me of that piece of verse about the postman:

Neither rain, no snow, nor dark of night shall stop these ugly transexuals from blowing creepy guys in the vestibule of my building.

I live way over on the West Side of Manhattan, not far from the Holland Tunnel. By the way, did you know that the Holland Tunnel goes to New Jersey? Boy was I disappointed! I guess they figured nobody would want to go through something called The New Jersey Tunnel. They were probably right, but what ever happened to truth in advertising?!

Apparently, married guys from New Jersey who are confused about their sexuality drive in to my neighborhood so they can hook up with a guy who looks like a girl. I see these girls every night. They do not look like girls. They look like Donovan McNabb - in a mini-skirt. There is no confusion about this.

There's this one girl who stands outside my apartment, and every night at about 4 am she screams at the top of her lungs

I need to suck a big fat cock!

You gotta respect that kind of marketing savvy. This girl knows how to cut through the clutter, and get her message out to her customers. I think she must have gone to business school. I hope her parents are as proud of her as I am.

I have no problem with people making a (dis)honest living. And if you really want to get sucked off by a linebacker in a dress, be my guest.

JUST DON'T DO IT IN MY HOUSE!


2.15.2006

"ONE OF THE PROBLEMS WE HAVE AS A GOVERNMENT IS OUR INABILITY TO KEEP SECRETS"

Vice President Dick Cheney has finally broken his silence about his unintentional shooting of 78 year-old Texas lawyer Harry Whittington during a hunting expedition on Saturday. But the attempt to massage the facts continues.

Not surprisingly, Cheney chose the right-wing FOX News Channel for his first sit-down interview on the subject of the shooting. Conservative commentator Brit Hume spoke with Cheney earlier today, and a transcript of the interview was posted on the Fox News Channel website later in the day. At some time after 7 p.m. FOX News posted video of the entire interview on the website. At least it appeared to be the entire interview. In fact, something was missing.

FOX News Channel edited out the admission by the Vice President that he had consumed alcohol prior to the shooting.

FNC posted Hume's interview with Cheney in three parts, totaling approximately 14 1/2 minutes. But approximately two minutes was "left out" of the video that was posted to the site. That "missing" two minutes includes the following exchange between Hume and the Vice President:

HUME: Was anybody drinking in this party?

CHENEY: No. You don't hunt with people who drink. That's not a good idea. We had --

HUME: So he wasn't, and you weren't?

CHENEY: Correct. We'd taken a break at lunch -- go down under an old -- ancient oak tree there on the place, and have a barbecue. I had a beer at lunch. After lunch we take a break, go back to ranch headquarters. Then we took about an hour-long tour of ranch, with a ranch hand driving the vehicle, looking at game. We didn't go back into the field to hunt quail until about, oh, sometime after 3:00 p.m.

The five of us who were in that party were together all afternoon. Nobody was drinking, nobody was under the influence.

With all due respect, Mr. Vice President, somebody was drinking. And that somebody was you.

Was the Vice President drunk when he mistakenly shot his hunting buddy? Was he "feeling no pain" when he laced a 78 year-old man with bird shot? We'll never know. The incident was finally reported the next day, when it was too late to measure Cheney's blood alcohol level.

So I guess we're just going to have to take the Vice President's word for it when he says that "nobody was under the influence."

We're going to have to trust the word of a man who ended what should have been his televised mea culpa with the following statement:

"One of the problems we have as a government is our inability to keep secrets."

This administration is like a Chinese puzzle box of deception.

2.14.2006

WHAT GOOD IS A HEART IF IT'S NOT OPEN

Here's why I love Valentine's Day: you get to flirt with members of the opposite sex at work.

On Monday afternoon I gave out little chocolate hearts to a few of the women who sit near me. I just walked over to their desks, put down the candy heart and turned and ran away. I used the same technique when I handed out Bugs Bunny Valentine's cards in first grade in 1974.

My
game is finely tuned!

This morning a married, female co-worker gave me a home-baked brownie in the shape of a heart. And it had a gum drop on top! How cool is that?! If that girl gave me a heart shaped brownie on any other day of the year it would be grounds for divorce. But on Valentine's Day? No problem.

Everybody was kissing and hugging and generally acting all lovey-dovey with each other today. It was like an orgy of inappropriate workplace behavior. I love days like today. I love days when the rules are broken. It's controlled anarchy.

Why can't every day be like Valentine's Day? I don't mean the hacky cards, trite gifts and contractual obligation sex. I mean the letting down of the guard, the breaking down of the walls and the genuine displays of affection/attraction/desire.

Everybody plays it safe because they think the stakes are high. People need to take more chances in life. I try to take risks in my interaction with other people every day. I ask questions that some people might think are inappropriate. I offer details that I otherwise might not be inclined to share. I go out on a limb. And if it breaks, I get up and climb right back up the tree.

A second grader named Jonathan Levy told my seven year-old niece today that she was "the hottest girl in town." Unfortunately for Li'l Jon, my niece doesn't go for Jewish guys. She's not anti-Semitic or anything. She just digs little black dudes. And they dig her, because she's Asian. If you don't know what I'm talking about, watch a rap video.

But you gotta give a Valentine's Day shout out to that kid for working the hustle at age 7. He has a bright future ahead of him.

It's 9:30 PM on Valentine's Day. I'm sitting alone in my favorite vegeterian coffee shop, and that's the way I want it. I've shared plenty of Valentine's Days with girlfriends that I wasn't in love with any more. But I was too scared of being alone to break up with them. Just thinking about it makes me depressed, but not as depressed as I was when I was living it.

Half the couples having expensive dinners right now don't belong together.


Keep that in mind tomorrow when everybody at the office is sharing their tales of Valentine's romance.

You and me and Li'l Jon are gonna be keeping it real.

I HEART YOU

THE FEEL GOOD HIT OF THE WINTER

Tonight I went to see a play that a female co-worker of mine was acting in downtown.

It was an enjoyable show, but the highlight of the evening was when my co-worker, dressed in a revealing toga, simulated "relations" with a male actor on stage.

I understand that acting is acting, it's all make believe. But come on. I have to work with this person. I don't need to be thinking about this type of thing at the office! I don't have the kind of maturity, or self control that is necessary to process this. It's going to be very distracting.

Can you imagine if one of your co-workers invited you to an event where they would be scantily clad, simulating having an orgasm in front of a room full of people? And you had to pay $15 to get in?

I hope nobody from Human Resources knows I went to the show. I feel like I may have broken some company by-laws. I really wish she had warned me about this.

After the show I waited around for that awkward "congratulations" moment. All the friends and supporters of the cast members stand there with unnaturally wide smiles plastered on their faces, waiting for the actors to come out and bask in the glow of their compliments. Sometimes it can be a long wait, and it causes me to get a headache. I'm not used to smiling that much. I think my facial muscles are partly atrophied.

So my friend finally came out and she was so happy and proud. I gave her a hug and I congratulated her on a job well done.

"I'm glad I came," I said. "And I'm glad you did too."

Then I ventured out into the snowy New York City night.

2.13.2006

THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE VICE-PRESIDENTIAL

The Vice President shot a guy. Have you heard about this? Dick Cheney shot a guy that he was hunting with in Corpus Christi, Texas. No, it wasn't Scooter Libby. Or Jack Abramoff. Or his gay daughter.

The guy Cheney shot is 78 years old. Cheney is 65. Hollywood is already working on the movie version. It's called Old Guns.

The Vice President claims it was a mistake. Apparently Cheney said something like, "I can't find any quail!" And his hunting buddy said, "They must be with the weapons of mass destruction."

And boom! The gun just
went off.

The good news is, it looks like the guy is going to be okay. The better news is, next weekend the Vice President is going hunting in Crawford.

Go ahead. Make my day.

2.11.2006

HAPPY COITAL ANNIVERSARY TO ME

This summer I will celebrate the 20th anniversary of my first sexual experience (at least the first one that didn't involve hand cream, scrambled porn and fear of going blind).

I've been wondering how to celebrate, how to mark the occasion. I feel like I want to do something special. The only problem is, for the most part, I have already lived out most of my sexual fantasies.

The first ten years of my sexually active life were spent with the same woman. One girlfriend for ten years, from 18 until 28. That's when you're supposed to be sowing your wild oats. I only sowed one oat. And it was not a particularly wild oat.

I wanted to be with other women, to experiment, to try things that I had never tried before. But what I needed more than sexual experimentation was a loving, committed relationship that would make me feel safe, and would prevent me from experiencing my greatest fear - being alone.

A lot of this has to do with being previously owned.

People react differently to the knowledge that they are adopted. My sister claims it has had no effect at all on her life, or the choices that she has made. And she's in her thirties, happily married with two cute kids, so maybe she's telling the truth.

My ex-girlfriend Maggie is also adopted. Actually, the fact that we were both adopted formed the core of the initial bond that we felt with each other. It didn't hurt that, in addition to being adopted, Maggie was also the cute, blonde college intern at work - and I was the thirty year-old senior producer.

Thank God she didn't sue me for sexual harassment. Because we definitely did some inappropriate things in the workplace.

Between my ten-year relationship and the four years that Maggie and I were officially together, I dated a girl named Heather (not her real name, but who cares).

Heather was a very sexually liberated woman, who also happened to be divorced at age 30. We were set up on a blind date by my (female) boss and, the third time we went out, Heather made her move. For most guys, that would be no big deal; just a happy part of being a single, sexually active guy. But for me it was a first; the first girl I had been with since the end of my ten-year relationship, and the first girl who had put the moves on me.

Heather and I dated for almost six months and, for the most part, it was pretty unpleasant. We were each dealing with the life-altering breakups we had both recently experienced, and neither of us handled it particularly well.

But there are certain advantages to being the rebound for a recently divorced woman. Like maybe they want to try things that they never tried with their ex-husband. Naughty things. Because they are a naughty girl.

Check!

I've dated other girls since Maggie and I broke up, and I've checked more things off my list. And Maggie and I together have checked a couple more things off the list, including a recent experience where Maggie's bed got a bit more crowded than normal.

So what's left? I'm not an animal lover, so that rules out bestiality. And, regardless of how many people think I'm gay, I really I have no interest in experimenting with bi-sexuality (at least of the male sort).

There is one thing, but I hesitate to bring it up.

Okay. Here it is: I have this fantasy where a cute, funky girl starts reading my blog and really digs how funny and deep I am. Then she sends me a flirty email telling me how much she enjoys reading previously owned and how, if I ever happen to be visiting her home town, she'd love to get together for coffee.

Then, by strange coincidence, I end up visiting her home town for work. And we have coffee. And then a cute friend of hers comes over to her place and we all have coffee together...in her hot tub.

And it's good coffee...damn good coffee.

The summer will be here before you know it. Who wants to help me celebrate this very special anniversary?

(NO MEN! NO FATTIES!)

2.10.2006

WORLD'S GREATEST JOKE

This past Christmas my seven-year old niece gave me a present she picked out all by herself, especially for me.

It was a keychain. Okay, not the most exciting present in the world. It's more of a practical gift. I'm just glad she didn't give me underwear. Can you imagine, hooking up with a girl for the first time, and she starts to pull off your niece's Christmas present? That feels very wrong to me.

Plus it would be hard to explain why a 37 year-old man is wearing SpongeBob underpants.

And saying "I got it from a seven year-old girl!" is not really going to solve the problem.

So now I have a new keychain. It's very nice. Actually, the keychain says "World's Greatest Uncle." I appreciate the sentiment, but come on. I'm good but I'm not that good. Anyway, how would my niece even know? I could be doing a terrible job. She'd never know it. Because, not only am I the Greatest Uncle I'm also the only uncle. Sure it's nice to win, but it would be nicer if I were competing against somebody else.

I'd love for her to spend a couple years trying out some other guys as uncles, and then make her decision. But you can't really advertise for that sort of thing. There's no children seeking uncles section in the personals. Except maybe on Craigs List. There's all kinds of weird shit going on there.

But here's the best part - my new keychain has a compass. What do I need a compass for? I live in New York City - on West 14th Street. If I want to go East I just walk until the sign changes to East 14th Street. If the street numbers are going up, I'm heading north. If they're going down, I'm heading south.

And if the streets change from numbers to names of famous civil rights leaders, well then I'm heading in the wrong direction.

But most likely I won't need a compass to figure that out.

2.09.2006

HERE'S THE PITCH!

Today was the pharmaceutical product launch pitch that I've been working on for the last few weeks. I know you're dying to hear how it went. You're not? Too bad, I'm going to tell you anyway.

After working until 3:30 AM, I returned to the office at 5 AM to pick up the pitch books at the nearby print shop. We were paying almost $200 per hour just to keep the print shop open all night and the staff seemed relatively unhappy about it. To make maters worse, everybody who worked there was Asian. Great. Now I'm the white devil, exploiting the hard-working immigrants for my own profit. I am not comfortable with being forced to play a stereotype.

In an effort to make these Asian people like me, I casually mentioned to one of the staff members that my sister is Korean. This is a technique that my parents used to use to get good tables in Chinese restaurants. Sometimes I think that was why they adopoted my sister. They never again had to pay full price for dry cleaning.

A production assistant named Gilles (who had also been up all night) helped me assemble the pitch kits. By the way, his name is pronounced jheal, as in congeal. He was also foreign. I was now officially running a sweatshop. I'm thinking of sending my resume to the Kathie Lee Gifford clothing line.

We loaded up the company van with all of our books and speakers, amps and mics for the performance component of the pitch. Then I hitched a ride with the sales person who manages this particular account. He is Asian, too. I was starting to feel like Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now.

We arrived at the clients' home office in a suburban office park in New Jersey and loaded our gear into a large conference room. Soon after, our two African-American singers arrived for a rehearsal. We had recorded two original songs for this pitch. One of the songs was a rap about having a heart attack. If you think I'm kidding about this, then obviously you have never worked in the unique art form known as "business theater."

At 10:30 AM fifteen clients filed into the room and the presentation began. Our creative director led the pitch, and I was sitting right behind her for the entire ninety-minutes. I felt like Dick Cheney sitting behind George Bush during the State of the Union address. I had nothing to do or say, but I had to stay alert and responsive the whole time, because I was in full view of everybody

This was a problem. I was the only guy in the room who had stayed up all night and there I was, front and center. This seemed like poor planning to me.

I did everything within my power to stay conscious. I pinched my arm. I wiggled my toes. I dug my fingernails into my palm. I looked like a nervous crack head who had misplaced his pipe. Hopefully none of the clients noticed.

Somehow I managed to stay awake. Maybe it was the six pack of Diet Coke I drank in the car. Or the fact that I had to pee really bad.

Everyone on our team did a great job, and the singers blew the clients away. Of the thirty people (our team and clients) in the room, only two were black - the singers. And they were by far the coolest people there. (It seems like that is always the case). They even managed to get the white pharmaceutical executives to clap along to the songs. They weren't clapping in sync, or with any particular sense of rhythm, but they were clapping. It was a magic moment.

All in all, the pitch went about as well as cold be expected. Maybe we will get this job. Maybe we won't. I don't really know.

But I do know one thing. It's time for this cat to get some sleep...


UP ALL NIGHT

Last night I worked until 3:30 AM, went home, took a shower and came back to the office at 5 AM this morning to prepare for a big pharmaceutical pitch. Does that count as an all-nighter?

Technically I did have 1 and a 1/2 hours off, but I only had time to shower and change into my nice clothes for the pitch. I don't want to frighten the clients.


For those of you who have never had the unique pleasure of working all night, let me offer you one a tip: don't try to sleep if you have less than two hours. You will regret it. I have learned this from experience. Your body will try to trick you into staying asleep, regardless of how loud your alarm is. Then you will have to do all kinds of explaining. And you will make up lame excuses like, "I think I ate some bad sushi and it made me temporarily deaf."

The funny thing is, when I was in Las Vegas I was routinely getting two hours of sleep a night and I was fine. But my excesssive gambling mania served as a constant source of energy.

I've been pullling all nighters for work for fifteen years. And I've never used drugs. All I need is my deep rooted lack of self esteem. My home-grown personal demons are far stronger than any man-made chemical.

2.07.2006

NIGHT OF THE SCRATCH TICKETS

Flush with $30 in Super Bowl pool winnings, our hero ventures out into the cold, still, New York City night. He feels that familar yearning, deep within his soul.

"Tonight is the night," our hero thinks to himself. "The night when I shall win - for life!"

After a brief, determined walk, our hero arrives at Pay-o-Matic Check Cashing on 8th Avenue, just north of 14th Street.

"Hmmm," he thinks to himself. "You can get your taxes done for only $54.95? And you get an instant refund?! That sounds like a pretty good deal!"

With a heightened sense of purpose, our hero enters the establishment and marches to the teller window. He is forced to wait on line for what seems like a really long time.

"I wish there were more people here," he thinks to himself. "Cashing big checks in front of a bunch of poor people always makes me feel better about myself."

Having his bagged his prey, our hero hungrily feasts upon the unsuspecting scratch-off ticket.

But this is not just any old scratch ticket...

This is the Win for Life Spectacular. The brand new game of chance from the New York State Lottery that offers you the chance to win $10,000 a week - for life! All for only $20!

Dreaming of his new life, our hero scratches the ticket that will turn him into a millionaire. But, only moments later, his dream is dashed upon the craggy rocks of defeat.

This was not his golden ticket. And he had just wasted $20 on one scratch ticket. His epic losing streak was now bi-coastal.

"How is it possible?" our hero wonders, as he reinspects what should have been his one-way ticket to Easy Street. "I must have had the wrong place!"

Our hero runs around the corner to Sam's All-Nite Deli Smoke Shop on 14th Street. Something about Sam the Pakastani feels lucky to him.

"Perhaps Allah shall shine his love upon me," our (agnostic, but still spiritual) hero hopes.

Will removes the remaining $10 in winnings from his pocket, hands it to the chubby proprietor and becomes the proud owner of two more $5 scratch tickets.

"Ah yes," our hero laughs. "Soon I shall be The King of Cash!"

Our hero begins to scratch the first of his two tickets. His focus is so concentrated that he is oblivious to the deliciousness of the Little Debbie Snack Cakes that sit merely inches from his mouth.

The first game is completed and, once again, Lady Luck has not smiled upon our favorite son. But all is not lost!

With his back to the wall, our hero grabs his ex-girlfriend Maggie from behind the camera and gives her the second ticket.

"Listen here!" our hero screams at the top of his lungs. "Tonight - in Sam's All Night Deli Smoke Shop - this dreaded streak shall meet it's demise! The blood of this virgin shall course within my veins and I shall finally achieve victory!"

Sadly, victory was not in the cards for our hero, or his faithful companion. The demon called Losing had once again stolen the night.

"Maybe I shouldn't have lied about the virgin thing," our hero thought to himself, after it was too late.

Then Will and his ex-girlfriend went back to his apartment.

So at least the night wasn't completely unlucky.