Sunday, November 28, 2010



I found a dead guy at work one night.

Well, technically he wasn't quite dead yet when I found him, so I guess I saw a guy die at work.

David, the night usher, had come up to me one evening fairly agitated saying that somebody was in the bathroom. This in itself did not strike me as noteworthy, but he seemed flustered. I couldn't get a straight answer out of him. He just kept saying that there was a guy in a stall who wouldn't come out. Since David was prone to dramatics and hyperbole, I wasn't too concerned, but he was acting really weird even for him, so figured I'd better check it out.

I made my way down to the men's room by theater #2. I noticed an odd smell when I entered the bathroom, but nothing you wouldn't expect from a public restroom next to a theater that seats 620 people. The door to the handicapped stall was closed, and I could see some bags and stuff on the floor. I knocked, but there was no response. Someone was definitely in there, but I couldn't hear anything. I opened the door to the next stall, and that's when I saw his head. It was sticking under the partition between the stalls. At first it looked like a severed head just lying on the ground, but then I realized that it was still attached to a body lying in the next stall.

There was white foam all around his mouth and his face was a horrible shade of lavender with white blotchy spots. I think I said "Holy shit" out loud and then "Oh no. Oh no." I could hear my voice echoing off the walls of the bathroom like a soundtrack I was listening to, not creating. I stared at his face and he stared back at me, but his eyes didn't have any life in them. His stare was completely blank. Just then his mouth gurgled and the foam started bubbling. I grabbed my walkie talkie and called for the detail cop. Miraculously, he answered right away. I told him to hurry to the first floor men's room, that it was an emergency. The gurgling continued but his head remained perfectly still and his eyes never blinked.

At this point, David walked into the bathroom. He still had a confused, panicked look on his face. I started to wonder if he had seen the head earlier and went into shock. I told him to go outside and make sure nobody came in. That special week of corporate McTraining I had attended a couple of months before was really paying dividends. Although, I don't recall them covering finding a dying person, so maybe it was my own crisis management instincts kicking in. Using a pocket knife I jimmied open the door to the handicapped stall. Now I was looking at a body with no head. A body with it's pants around it's ankles and a needle still sticking out of it's arm. It looked like he had been sitting on the toilet and then fell off sideways, with his head sliding under the partition.

The cop came rushing in at this point. He must have read the panic in David's eyes, because he was definitely moving with a sense of urgency. He came into the stall and immediately pulled a pair of latex gloves out of his back pocket. He quietly grabbed the guys legs and pulled him completely into the handicapped stall. The guy was kind of on his side at this point, and the gurgling had stopped. The cop took a good look at his face and said "Oh boy." He called the paramedics on his radio, and then took a closer look at the guy's entirely blue face by now.

"You just found him like this?" he asked.

"Yeah, about two minutes ago."

The cop reached down and turned the guy's face up a little.

"I don't think CPR is going to help this guy. Better wait for the medics..." he stood up and we just silently stared at the body on the floor. I looked around the stall and saw a half full plastic CVS bag, and a winter coat lying in the corner. Both standard issue for the homeless guys who frequented the theater. I don't know how long we stood there, but the EMTs showed up fast. All of a sudden, the bathroom was full of three or four paramedics with bags and equipment. I stood back as they surrounded the body.

That's when the guy shit all over the place. You know that myth about people's sphincters releasing when they die? Yeah, it's not a myth. My mind went to it's happy place. This was getting surreal. The EMTs cleared the guy's mouth and applied an oxygen pump. One started applying pressure to his chest while yet another checked his pulse. The whole time they were talking to each other.

"Did you see Chet at Andrea's party?"

"No, did he show up late?"

"Must have. I never know what that guy is thinking. You going bowling on Friday?"

"No. I hate those bullshit work parties."

A fourth paramedic knelt next to the body and pulled out a huge needle. He plunged the needle into the guy's chest Pulp Fiction style. I thought that shit was only in movies. Another myth proven true. The EMTs checked his neck for a pulse while stopping with the oxygen pump.

"Nah." said one.

Two more fire department paramedics appeared with a stretcher, and they all quickly lifted the guy onto the stretcher and put a blanket over him while continuing their small talk. They wheeled him out and packed up their bags. The cop followed them out. It was just me left standing in the empty bathroom alone. As I looked around I thought "Great. Now I have to write an incident report."

I wondered who the guy was. Maybe he was just a junkie who rolled the dice and met an inevitable end, but somewhere somebody had just lost a son, maybe a brother or a friend.......When it's my time to go, I sure as hell don't want to go like that, with a bunch of apathetic people standing around talking about potato salad at a BBQ and some asshole worried about paperwork.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


The other night I was watching one of my favorite shows, Louie, on, and one of those annoying messages popped up. You know, the ones that use the name from your account to try and make it look like a personal message. Like "Hey darthvader69, Do you need affordable car insurance?" or they just use the first part of the name "Hi darth, Would you like to meet single women in _________ (enter your area here)?" Well, this time a recommendation popped up suggesting that if I liked Louie, I might like Peep Show. I had never heard of it, but Ricky Gervais said it was the show he was most excited to watch, so it had to be good right?

Peep Show is the next Brittish show that will be better than the American rip off whenever they get around to making it. Peep Show was a critically acclaimed show with low ratings that DVD sales saved (Family Guy anyone?). Peep Show follows the lives of two schmoes named Mark and Jeremy. It uses POV angles and voiceovers of what the characters are thinking. Mark is a modern day Candide who is four times more neurotic than Woody Allen, which is not surprising because the voiceover concept on Peep show was inspired by the subtitles in Annie Hall used to express the characters real thoughts. Jeremy is the lovable bumbling idiot, but he does some pretty horrible things. Think a drug addled, perverted Kramer. The two live a Ziggy-like existence in their crappy apartment, never winning as they wander through a confusing world, both supporting and sabotaging each other as they try to find love and happiness.

Peep Show manages to be very dark and yet reassuring at the same time. Not an easy tight rope to walk. Mark is an everyman, with the worries and insecurities that we all have. At one point he finally gets a girlfriend, and he sits in a coffee shop with her thinking to himself: "Look at me! I'm finally a normal person! With a girlfriend and the newspaper and drinking coffee. Nobody can deny that!" Jeremy is a Nigel Tufnel-like character (Spinal Tap is one of the many cool pop culture references on the show) who you forgive for his id-driven behavior because it's not your job to be as confused as him. It is of course a buddy show at heart, but you cringe and laugh at them more than laughing with them. There are no happy endings, but they're always amusing.

The show completely won me over when, in one episode, Jeremy and his friend Super Hans (any show with a character named Super Hans has to be good) are discussing whether to only serve heavy, organic beer at the pub they have been given to run by a mentally unstable woman.

Jeremy: "We should have lager. And nuts."

Super Hans: "No."

Jeremy: "But people like lager and nuts."

Super Hans: "People like Coldplay and voting for Nazis. They're not to be trusted."

The shaky POV gimmick gets a little old, and fortunately they used it less and less in later seasons. The inner dialogues continue to be hilarious, and the show is intelligent and fast paced. It's refreshing to see normal looking people living in a normal, crummy apartment having regular problems. Peep Show is the polar opposite of Friends. If you like It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Louie, and The League (all great F/X Network shows) then you'll probably like Peep Show too. If nothing else you'll learn some funny Brittish slang.

The first 6 seasons of Peep Show are available for free here. The 7th season starts on November 26th on BBC 4.

Friday, November 19, 2010


Don't forget, in plenty of time for the holidays, I do fun portraits of any character from the Simpsons, Family Guy, Venture Bros., etc. Perfect for that animation fan on your gift list (or for yourself). Drop me a note or a comment, and we can work something out.... Samples of some Venture portraits can be found here.

(Carter Pewterschmidt and Ralphie Wiggum from the collection of M. Whitbread)

More paintings coming soon......

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Great news everybody! You don't have to read my rantings and ravings about the Vikings here any more. I'm doing that now over at Talking Football Live in a little blog called BLACK & BLUE = PURPLE. Talking Football Live is a fun weekly radio show that streams over on Liquid Lightning Energy Radio every Friday from 3-5pm. It's hosted by a couple of guys from Jersey (we can forgive them for that though right?) and they cover the Giants and all of the NFL plus some college ball. It's a fun show, and I feel the need to represent Midwestern fans! Tune in and check out the website!
I post every Wednesday, and my latest column for Week 11 is here...

Week 10
Week 9

Skol Vikes!

Sunday, November 7, 2010


I have discussed my obsession with both Ralphie Wiggum and Jeopardy!, so imagine my surprise when my obsessions collided recently.

Ralphie growed up and got on Jeopardy!

And he won!!!

Congrats Ralphie, you finally beat the smart kids!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Sorry to lay two bitching about the Vikings posts in a row on you, but when it rains it pours.
Being a Vikings fan is a solitary, pessimistic existence. I've explained what it's like to root for the Vikes in the past. Whenever something good starts to happen, we know that some horrible backlash will be visited upon us threefold. It's a sort of inverse, perverse, reverse karma. Starting to build some momentum in the early 90's? Don't worry, your GM will trade away the future of your franchise for a bust of a running back that would rather bobsled than play for the team that mortgaged it's soul for him! Have a place kicker who has been perfect all year? Well, at the end of the season he's going to miss the only field goal that matters! Draft arguably the best running back in the game and establish a dominant ground attack? He'll fumble three times in the NFC championship game. Finally get a hall of fame quarterback who can lead us to the promised land? He'll become so hated that pictures of his junk will circulate on the internet, and Saturday Night Live parodies will be the least of your worries!
I think you can see where I'm going here.
Then why should I be surprised when I log on to yesterday and see that Moss is going to be waived by the Vikes? Not this nightmare again. I've already been through this once before, and with the same fucking player! Only in Vikings land. Back in '98, the Vikings got a steal in the 6th round when they picked up Moss. The reason he went so low was that the scouting report said that he was trouble. A discipline liability. A head case with a bad attitude. The dreaded "locker room cancer." '98 turned out to be a magical rookie year for Moss. He was a breakout star who gave our team a chance to score from anywhere on the field. It was all downhill from there. A few years in, there were whispers of missed meetings, locker room tension, and the obligatory cliched WR/QB/coach shouting matches on the sidelines. Then it really started to go south. There were run-ins with the law including Moss dragging a female meter maid with his car for half a block in downtown Minneapolis. Then he stopped running his routes when he didn't agree with the play call. Then one game he left the field early because he was pouting that poor Randy hadn't gotten the ball enough. That was it for me. He was a disgrace to the uniform, his teammates, and to the game of football itself. The Vikings wisely traded him to Oakland (where players with bad attitudes go to die) and I was glad to see him go. Glad to wave goodbye to a future hall of famer, the best deep threat in the NFL, and the most exciting player at his position since Jerry Rice. All that, and yet it was still good riddance.
Flash forward to '07. I'm living in Boston and the Patriots pick up a washed up veteran receiver for a song. He then blossoms into Moss 2.0, and it's a giant love fest in New England. He learned his lesson in Oakland, and now he was saying the right things and catching everything thrown at him. I couldn't believe my eyes. Another brilliant reclamation project by Bill Belichick. The honeymoon lasted three years before Moss started grumbling about his contract. Then he started the late for meetings thing. He was pouting in the media because he wasn't "appreciated."
When the Patriots traded Moss to the Vikings, it looked like a great deal for both teams. The Patriots got rid of that dreaded "cancer" from their locker room in the form of an aging player in the last year of his contract, while the Vikes got a desperately needed deep threat and a much needed boost of positive nostalgia. The prodigal son had returned! I was excited for a Favre to Moss touchdown! I was excited to see #84 back in Purple again! Surely he had learned his lesson by now! Nothing could possi-blye go wrong!
I guess I forgot that I was a Vikings fan for a minute.
Not to worry. I got a jarring reminder last Sunday as I watched Moss half-heartedly jog his routes, not block, and exasperatingly throw up his hands on the sideline. His body language reeked of quit. By the end of the game as I watched Moss slowly walk back to the line of scrimmage during the two minute drill as his entire team waited for him, I thought that he was up to his old tricks. Little did I know it would be even worse than that. After the game, Moss explained that he loved the Patriots, he didn't respect the Vikings, and that the coaching staff was incompetent for not following his game plan. Wow. In every profession I know of, you'd get fired for that. In some professions you'd get your legs broken or have an on the job "accident." A traitor is a traitor, and it felt like there was actually a chance that Moss had done everything in his power to throw the game. No wonder Robert Kraft was giving Moss a reach around before the game. He was still on the payroll! Moss was a double agent and he just dressed up as a Viking for Halloween! Well played Belichick, well played. The Patriots dumped a big salary, picked up a 3rd round draft pick, and got a little help winning a tough game. The Vikings got nothing but embarrassment and betrayal. Sounds about right. Par for the Purple course. At least it means that Childress will get fired, and that's a good thing for the Vikes.
Some other team will gladly pick up Moss, and he may or may not repeat his routine. I could care less. It all reminds me of that old saying about the hipocritical values of pro sports: If Jeffrey Dahmer could have run a 4.2 40 yard dash, he would have just had an "eating disorder." And I'm guilty of that attitude too. I looked the other way when Moss was embarrassing himself and the team, but still catching touchdowns and winning games.
Well, at least Moss was on the losing end of two of the most heartbreaking post season losses in the history of the NFL ('98 NFC championship and '07 Super Bowl). Maybe god really does have a sense of humor.
After all, he made me a Vikings fan.