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Put ’em Away. Put ’em Away. Put ’em Away Now. August 30, 2006

Posted by doctorolove in Pop Culture Rants, Uncategorized.
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Like most termites eating their way on the pillars of our society, it started out small.

It is what I will lovingly refer to as the “Backatcha” fingers. You’ve seen it. The double thumb pointed up and the two index fingers pointed ala some slow drawing Western dueler. It is usually accompanied by a sound effect,  either a clicking noise of the mouth (always paired with a wink and the sudden bending of the thumbs to represent a gun hammer firing) or a deep throated Oh Yeah. But in rare (and seemingly disastrous) cases, it is accompanied by the words “Right Back Atcha.” Thus branding it for life as the “Backatcha” fingers.

Many scientists (AND NONE OF THIS IS SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN) believe it’s routes lay in Civil War Times, when distressed Confederate soldiers, upset over countless defeats, merely waved their hands in loss. Others say it harkens back to the Revolutionary War when munitions starved Redcoats made sound effects and finger gestures to prove they still had something. Either way, it was born from a necessity to outwit your opponent. Almost an attempt to convince them you had more than you did, much the way Bugs Bunny tricked Elmer Fudd with the old “Yes. No. Yes. No. Yes. Yes. No, I don’t want to shoot you” trick (which, coincidentally is still a major cornerstone of the Iraq war). And it’s merits were hailed throughout warfare, until the late 1920’s, when people realized you could just as easily fool your opponents by raising a spent gun and making loud “BLAM” noises with Whoopee Cushions.  So, the fingers disappeared and the tactic of fooling your enemies with hand gestures became a long dead art.

Its’ resurgence (and ultimate degradation of society) began in the late seventies when a fictional bartender named Isaac on a little boat full of “Love, exciting and new” brought it back. And they were expecting you. And it would soon be making another run.

Rumors have it that Ted Lange, AKA Isaac, brought them out to manifest his inner turmoil over being the only “brother” on board. He claimed they were a spur of the moment actor device, representing the struggle he went through on the ship. Out of Pina Colada mix? Here’s some fingers to let you know, “That you need to chill because I’m trying my best to keep you happy, Randolph Mantooth.”  Excited you got your Daiquiri? Here are the fingers to say, “Hey, just don’t bring that badness back around when you don’t score with Charo. Because I’ll be loaded and ready.” And the fingers took the nation by storm. Not because of the ease in which they could be deployed, but because they were an all encompassing remark. They could keep you relaxed, put you in your place or in rare occasions, direct you to the Upstairs deck where Vicki was organizing Full Contact Shuffleboard. Ted Lange claims their ownership and because he was always shown being the third most popular mack on the Love Boat (after Captain Stubing and First Mate Jm. J. Bullock), they were soon everywhere.

Hack bartenders began using them first. Trying to emulate the only bartending idol until 1988 (Thank you, Tom Cruise in Cocktail!), they figured it would give them instant cred. They were an easy way out of any situation. They were flirtatious, without being obvious. They were disciplinary, without having to jump over the bar and pummel someone. Most of all, though, they were a symbol of happiness. “Hey,” they seemed to say, “I could shoot you and end your night, but I’m not. Because you are special. Special enough that I risk carpal tunnel every day, so you can feel my chillness.”

And when the masses saw their diversity and almost infallible uses, they picked them up for every day adaptation. They became de rigueur in board meetings when placating the boss, angry at you for botching the new account. They became the perfect goodbye to the girl you picked up on a One Night Stand at Denny’s. And they even found their way back into TV, when the Fonz used them and replaced the extended index fingers with a vocal “Aaaaaaayyyy” that symbolized all that was cool.

Now, if they had ended their reign there, I would have been okay with that. Surely, one must think, finger gestures accompanied by winks cannot be a downfall, can they? But few of us were privy to the genesis of the “Backatcha” fingers. They first made their way up the East Coast, morphing with the “Hook ‘em Horns” sign and the propensity to stick out one’s tongue during a Slayer show to form the devil sign. They even made their way into South Central LA,  when rival gangs reconfigured them and re-established their original negative vibes and turned them into symbols that summed up their anti-establishment views.

And now they are slowly being used by everyone. They replace good old fashioned interaction. When people are faced with an awkward moment that requires them to end a conversation, they chicken out by deploying the fingers instead of internally figuring out just why the awkwardness is present. They’ve even accidentally led to many of our time’s conflicts. Many believe the wars currently ravaging the world began when one countrymen flashed the fingers. The opposing countrymen believed he was “Coming right back, so just stay there,” when the fingers really meant “Hey, stay cool. I gotta go and ride a camel or something.” Miscommunication: just another one of the fingers’ detriments.

In this day and age where we are attacking all forms of decency, even hotel room porn, we must work together to stop the fingers. Sure, it may hurt the bartending industry by making people actually have to take the time to say “Goodbye” and “I’ll be back shortly,” but if they remain, we could be a nation of people clicking and pointing our way to incohesiveness. So put the fingers back in your pockets and try talking.

Or maybe the half-hug, half back pat. That at least involves touch.

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Are You Ready to Rock?…..No….Then is Next Thursday Good For You? August 28, 2006

Posted by doctorolove in Music.
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The Rolling Stones are getting old.

I know, that’s shocking to here since it automatically ages all of us. We thought they looked like over ripened raisins in the “Waiting on a Friend” video, so one can only imagine the mangled shar-peis they have now become. But this is not a post to honor them or call for their retirement. With the advances in computer graphics, they can morph themselves into a young looking 60 every time they take the stage. But they are beginning to show signs of breakdown. Hip replacements. Drug rehab stints. And the fact that Mick Jagger only has relations with women between the ages of 25 and 30 now, a large uptick from his skirt chasing heyday. The Rolling Stones will not be with us forever. And it is important that we prepare.

While their music skills are long debated, you can’t argue with the facts that wherever venue, whatever country and whatever schlock album they’re promoting, people come to see them. Sure, a good one third of the people on this planet share chromosomes and some sort of DNA with Mick (That boy got around), but there are actually people not related to any of them who pay money to watch them flail around on stage and sing songs no longer associated with them but with Nike commercials and computer software. They are the arena rock band of all time and with their final set already being sung, there is about to be a serious drop in commerce. What band will take up the mantle and be that band to fill stadiums? And I’m not talking about selling out the local civic center that doubles as the base of operations for your local Arena league team or the old high school football field where you can swear you tackled Joe Montana once (That name can be exchanged as per your own generation…just make sure you have done the research of where the NFL star of your choice played his high school ball. Nothing ruins a grandiose lie like lack of investigation.) No I’m talking about the band that fills the Rose Bowl, Giants Stadium and the Big Houses that claim to be “the third biggest city in Wherever” when they fill up for Saturday football games. The Stones can do that on longevity, reputation and umpteen million relatives and friends. But when they’re gone, who will keep the security guards, the beer swillers and the scary guys on parole who clean up the bathroom employed on days other than game day? Who will be the next arena rock band that will long outlive their popularity?

U2-

They seem like the logical choice. Already with a long catalog of songs that everybody hates to admit they know the words to, the band has moved from music genre to music genre with relative ease. They seem to have all the ingredients: a catalog that provides 50,,000 screaming people the ability to sing along with, a mesmerizing front man who goes by one name and, most of all, talent. Plus they’re from Ireland, and all things in the British Isles are always a hit in America, since we all have this inherent deep seeded guilt over the War of 1812 catalogued in our chromosomes. Their arena show track record is great so far and their shows are events, filled with video screens, characters and the occasional fire eater. And we all know, nothing plays better on a big screen than a man consuming deadly elements to the beat of “Desire.”

The only negative for them might be Bono. He has always scared me. At any time, he might find himself so consumed with an unsolvable problem or unfixable world event, that he could implode at any minute. Or convert to some weird religion. Either scenario will leave the band hung out to dry. Hall couldn’t succeed without Oates, so the other members of U2 would be lost without him. And if he wins a Nobel Peace Prize, then lookout. Because the record of Peace Prize Winners rocking out is not a good one (save the infamous Gorby-Palooza of 1997, where Gorbachev and his spot dueted on a kick ass version of “All Along the Watchtower”—look for it on LimeWire.)

ODDS ON SUCCEEDING THE STONES: 2:1

COLDPLAY

The newest band to challenge for the greatest band in the world. Again, they have the songs that sound great when chanted by the masses and they too have the whole British thing going. They trump U2 in age, meaning they have a far longer future ahead of them. While that will provide more songs for us to some day get misty over, it also provides a far longer chance for them to fail miserably. Not every band can change as musical tastes do. If klezmer music gets really big (Hey, it could happen), would the band be able to release an album that embraces the accordion? The knock against them has always been that all their songs sound the same, which makes it great for their creative selves, but unopen to mastering new forms. Would “Yellow” have the same resonance with a recorder, harmonica and that “Ooompa” thing?

Another negative that may affect them in the long run is Gwyneth Paltrow. Her track record with men has not been the greatest. Look at what happened to Ben Affleck after her. And that whole faux British accent thing scares me. If a girl is so suggestible to adapting the voice of those around, who’s to say she won’t have that effect on her husband? And the masses probably won’t respond well to a salsa version of Coldplay if Gwyneth takes a role in a Brazilian based film.

ODDS: 6:1

METALLICA

A few short years ago, this band would never have even thought of this concept. They were a slash and burn rock band, more concerned with turning the world of metal on it’s ear than with selling out stadiums. Then something happened. The pimply faced, jean jacket wearing fanbase they had turned into pimply faced people with disposable incomes. And a market like that can’t be denied. So they cut their hair and started recording fan friendly anthems that got them airplay on stations other than the one run out of my cousin’s basement. Their tours suddenly galvanized their supporters. Finally, they too could see their idols in a large open space with plenty of room to sneak in beer (The tiny venues are so constricting.)

Their music translates well and they already have the song list to fill up a three hour set. While most of their listeners after 1994 don’t know of their older stuff, it may work in their favor. A good arena band never plays their old stuff until the end of the show and their fans who go back with them that far are so burnt out that they will have to stay for the whole set, because their motor skills are on par with the seventy year old ticket takers. Their only negative is the sudden whining and infighting within the band. Inner turmoil often inspires a band to create amazing work. It doesn’t however mean we should be forced to watch their therapy. Their movie may have a long standing effect on their marketability. Because who wants to see a band when you know just what they’re “feeling” or how their “overbearing mother” affected the dynamic of their songwriting ability? Leave the touchy-feely stuff to Journey and just rock our asses off. Oh, and Lars. Yeah, he’s crazy. Not Cat-Lady, Shopping Cart Guy crazy, but storm off stage and never play again and join a strange cult Bono crazy. The lead singer can be crazy (it adds to mystique) but the drummer has to be uncrazy. Or at least a few notches below the lead singer.

ODDS: 10:1

There are so many more bands who will try to follow in the footsteps of Mick and the Boys. But they need to hurry because the void will be created soon. And if we’re not careful and quick to anoint their successors, a new, unqualified band may take its’ place. And if that happens and you find yourself at the Superdome for Weird Al’s “Keeping it Wacky” 2020 tour, you have only yourselves to blame. Well, you can blame Weird Al too, but he won’t hear you. His afro absorbs all sound.

Pluto, baby, Call My People! We’ll Do Lunch! August 26, 2006

Posted by doctorolove in Pop Culture Rants.
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Let’s just say it hasn’t been a good week for tiny, little, heavenly bodies that always aspired to be bigger than they were.

I’ll say that things will work out for Tom Cruise (Oh that’s right…I  went there). The man has money, a new child, a beautiful paramour and a religion that firmly believes that all life is descended from evil aliens who came to Earth in DC-8s. I mean, that resume alone should get him hired immediately. And if not, there is always a chance he and Katie can start their own studio to combat Paramount and finally release M:I4: This Time, It’s Biblical. Or there’s always Top Gun II. Anthony Edwards isn’t that busy to reprise Goose. He does have a history of reprising roles that died horrifically (Dr. Greene flashbacks, anyone?)

But really, I think we all need to address Pluto. If you’ve been too busy keeping up with the Tommy Flanagan, I’m sorry, Mark Karr story this week to know, Pluto has been downgraded from planet status. Anybody who currently has a pulse or an elementary school education has never known our tiny little blue friend to be anything else than the P in “My Vain Eager Mother Just Served Us Nine Potatoes.” Yet now, after hours of research and mathematical formulas that I couldn’t comprehend if lent Stephen Hawking’s brain for a few days, the planet is now considered a dwarf planet. I’m sorry, a little person planet. (Hey, now is not the time to offend Pluto…he’s suffered enough.). This means our universe is now only eight planets, meaning Earth has moved up on the depth chart. It may mean we’re facing Mars in the BCS championship, but I’m still working on that.

Pluto has yet to release a statement. Tom Terrific was quick to strike back, claiming he had money to fund his films, but from Pluto, we have heard nothing. Do not give me any jive about the planet being billions of miles away. The Internet is amazing and if I can download porn from Malaysia, Pluto’s people can circulate a rebuttal just to keep us happy. And they do have some PR work to get started on. You don’t lose a position like “Celestial Body” and not have a mess to Swiffer up afterwards. But, I’m thinking that Pluto’s people are not what they’re cracked up to be and that our little, blue friend needs some guidance. I am volunteering for the job. I want to save Pluto from this PR nightmare and put him back on track. So, please, sir, step into my office and let me tell you how it’s gonna be.

Can I get you anything? Coffee, Sanka, Welch’s Grape Soda? No. Okay, then let’s begin. First of all, let me say, I’m a big fan. You were always my favorite planet. In my 8th grade diorama, I made you out of my favorite blue marble with the picture of Tom Selleck in it. I can only imagine how much money you got from Disney when you let your name be that of a cartoon dog. Come on, Ron Jeremy alone got several million when they named the Toy Story cowboy Woody, so you must have made out like a bandit. And we’re going to need every bit of that right now, or at least what you have left after your divorce from Cher (Didn’t think I knew about that, did ya? That’s what you get with me…quality.)

To begin, you need to take a vacation. Get away from all this press. Take off to another galaxy for a few months. Check out the one that looks like a horse’s head or the one that’s shaped like Mischa Barton. I hear they both changed chefs and gravitational requirements. During all this  rigmarole the last thing you need is to be in the spotlight. Leave us all wondering how you’re taking things. Besides, you absence will give me a chance to spin the “crazed and depressed” card. You may even get a cool CNN graphic with something like “Pluto Watch” when they haven’t heard from you in a few weeks.

Now when you get back is when the real work begins. We need to revamp your image. This may hurt, but you will probably never be a planet again. They may replace you with that tiny little moon that rotates around Jupiter. You can’t hate on him, though. Remember when you were found 76 years ago. Think of the joy that filled you with. This little mass of rock is feeling that right now. I mean, it’s the best feeling he’s had since his upper crust cooled and the magma cleared. And if my work is going to show anything, we don’t need a bitter celestial mass. Star Jones will never work again, mark my words, because of how she’s acted. You need to maintain your cool, and with a surface temperature of –212 degrees, that shouldn’t be too hard.

Now what am I going to do to get you back into the public eye. This is a several part plan. First of all, we need you to drop a few pounds. Your mass is low, but look what shedding some excess crust did for Kirstie Alley. I know some of the best trainers around and they will work for me wholesale. I’m thinking abnormal elliptics and a strict ozone free diet. So let’s say we get you down a few metric tons, where do we go from there? We have so many options. The obvious is to cast you in a Tarantino film, since he’s famous for bringing careers back from the dead, but I just don’t see you as an agoraphobic hitman obsessed with Wild’n’Crazy Kids (the only role he has open.) Maybe we start you out a reality show. If you just show that cool personality in that new tiny little frame, it’ll do wonders. Do you know how much Verne Troyer is making from his Surreal Life spot? It’s a number with a lot of zeroes, okay? Maybe we even play up your harmonic skills. The Hubble tells me you have an amazing celestial rhythm. If we can get Quincy Jones to harness that, we may be able to book you a big comeback concert on the Soul Train Awards, at the very least. Maybe you even return to your routes and do a little community theatre. A rep company in Nebraska is looking for a Falstaff, and with a mass like yours, you’re a shoo-in. How’s your British accent?

Look, I can do things for you, but you will have to work with me. The stars are the limit. I’ve done wonders for Jupiter, believe you me. I spun that whole red spot into a Gorbachevian birth mark and now he’s the biggest thing in the Milky Way. If you give me the chance, we’ll get you back into the spotlight. Until then, maybe give Tom Cruise a call and commiserate. Just don’t submit to a stress test. I’m good, but even I can’t spin scientology.

Naptime, Cookies and Wolfgang Puck Pizza: Celebrating Mediocrity August 23, 2006

Posted by doctorolove in Movies, Pop Culture Rants.
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There was a time when Hollywood was like senior year of high school. You had your popular kids, who strutted around like they owned the place and lived of the merits of hollow accomplishments that in the long run have no real intrinsic value. You had your outcasts, that thrived on attention and every once in a while got invited to a party at a popular kids’ house, where they made some new friends and became accepted. You have student government types that think they can change our views but fail to bask in simple victories like getting a Coke machine installed in the gym (Or in Hollywood’ case, almost, ALMOST, changing the outcome of a presidential election…. DAMN YOU OHIO!). And everybody got along. They’ve all been on too long a journey together not to realize that this is the pinnacle. Nothing the chaperones can do to you when you’ve reached the top of the mountain. It was cool and breezy. Heck, the popular kids even get to cut class once in a while and do something completely out of the norm (I’m looking at you, Al Pacino cameo in Gigli.) And at the end of the year, they awarded the best and the brightest with speeches and accolades before sending them off to bigger and better things.

But suddenly and without warning, Hollywood has turned into fifth grade. When somebody likes somebody, they pull on their hair and call them names. The curriculum is boring and provides little wiggle room for originality. Naps are highly encouraged. The chaperones are afraid to discipline their wards in fear of a scary parental figure slapping them with a lawsuit. But the most fearful thing of all is the awards. Like the communistic one world society we are destined to become, every kid at the end of the year gets a certificate. The kid who ate paste like it was Peter Luger filet mignon or the boy who decided it would be fun to draw “YOU ARE A FARTHEAD” on everyone’s desk in bright blue Crayola even get a photocopied piece of paper with a gold seal and his name printed in Ye Olde Calligraphy advertised that he was “Best Helper” or “Most Curious.” And then the year ends with everybody eating and drinking from the finest of establishments, usually one Munchkin a piece from Dunkin Donuts. Though Farthead and Paste Boy get the cinnamon ones (There has to be some justice.)

The Emmy’s are this weekend, and, while they represent the good old days of awards that matter, they have to do battle this week with the coveted press pages with the Teen Choice Awards. This year’s ceremony will probably be long known for being the debut of the next big supernova that is K-Fed, but to me, it represented Hollywood’s official acceptance of its’ 5th grade lifestyle. How can an award stand for anything when everybody has one and anybody can get one? And while some may be quick to blame the Golden Globes (always the Jan to the Oscar’s Marcia), I think the entertainment award world we live in (where the ads for films can say “Award-Winning actor Rob Schneider” and mean it) can be blamed on MTV.

Take yourself back to 1984 when the boys at Viacom fired their first salvo into the world of awards shows. Their Video Music Awards were the young network’s attempt at giving props to the once propless. And the world was able to look away, because it was a little bit Grammy, a little bit Emmy, a little bit Oscar. The music video was fast becoming the newest form of entertainment and why shouldn’t it’s giant parent awards its’ minions with some cheesy silver statues? And the ceremony itself was a staunch opposite to the shows it faced against. The Oscars was all about waiting for Pia Zadora to mess up her dance steps and waiting for the In Memoriam so you could say “Oh, wow, I didn’t know he died.” The VMAs, on the other hand, was all about seeing what strange combination of mainstream and fringe celebrity they could pair up. Presenters and performers mingling in a strange Star Wars cantina-like backstage. And the videos, back in the early days, were worth rewarding. As the popularity of MTV grew, so did the quality. To win a Moonman in the early years was to say you’ve beaten someone. And people watched it, even applauded it. Finally, a show that speaks to our generation. You watched for the show itself, not to watch an out-of-touch cameraman rush to find Whoopi or Denzel’s reaction when someone mentions “Sidney Poitier.” The Oscars are about reaction while the VMAs were the new action.

And it could have, nay, should have stopped there. MTV had a good thing and should have tried to join the other big four awards on some sort of Olympic Rings of Patting Ourselves on the Back. But, like the generation that spawned it, the network decided it should make its’ own movie awards show. The Oscars had gotten too stuffy and they needed to create a show for our generation to appreciate films. So they started up the MTV Movie Awards. And for the same reason of seeing what MTV would do next that defined the VMAs, we watched. (Note to the Movie Awards: There is a reason we don’t give Jim Carrey nine awards in a row…At last check, his ego is, along with the Great Wall and Phil Spector’s hair, visible from space.) Now the networks and the trade publications and the magazines and the radio stations and even the guys who run the grill at my late night deli all started shows of their own. There seemed to be a market for this, they thought, and pshaw at the consequences.

SO now, every niche has their own outlet to celebrate itself. A teen star no longer has to pay their dues in pablum Disney films or on Canadian TV before they have a chance to thank God and their agent in the same breath on national TV. An actor, who couldn’t act their way out of a paper bag with a map, a compass and several sherpas, can now look up at their mantle and feel vindicated for the crap they present which means more crap. And a musician who sounds just like the cats who insist on continuing their affair on my fire escape can hold up a big glass triangle and say “You Like Me. You Really Like Me…oh, and Free Tibet or something.” Nickelodeon. VH1. Teen People. Elle. Old Bitter Theatre Queens Monthly (No wait, they have the Tonys.) The shows are everywhere. They are now beginning to draw the legitimacy away from other shows in order to sustain their own fading importance. Would a world without a glut of awards shows ever had the strength and conviction to give Ben Affleck an Oscar? And that may be the beginning.

The almost willy-nilly awards presentation boom needs to stop now. There is nothing wrong with spicing up the awards show and presenting them to a select few. MTV was right to push the envelope and entertain while presenting awards for entertainment. The flood gates they opened however are tough to close. Unless we stop watching them. We need to accept that we live in a world where you should only be awarded for success and not for popularity and rhetoric (Again…DAMN YOU OHIO!!!) And while I will admit I watched the Teen Choice for the K-Fed car wreck factor, I refuse to plan my evening around the Blockbuster Awards or the American Music Awards or the Hertz Rent-A-Car Best Guys Named Tom presentation. We need to take back our praise. Otherwise, we can’t complain when the studio greenlights Leonard Part VII.

Hollywood is fifth grade now where everybody wins. Now if we can just find that bully to beat somebody up to take their money. Or at least a big fat Crayola crayon. Farthead is spelled with one T…and not hyphenated.

‘Cause He’s Got Heist Hopes…He’s Got Heist Hopes August 21, 2006

Posted by doctorolove in Movies, Pop Culture Rants, TV.
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If TV shows are the litmus test for what Americans want to be, then apparently, in 2006, most of America wants to be criminal masterminds.

There are 7241 shows on the fall schedule that involve actors who peaked in the nineties playing criminal ringleaders. (Please note, that number is an estimate. We at EARWACS have not yet tested its’ validity and it has a plus/minus accuracy of 7238) You’ve got Ray Liotta, still searching for that big follow-up to Goodfellas, playing Mr. Smith. You’ve got Donal Logue, still searching for his follow-up to anything, playing a crook in Knights of Prosperity. And even the cop shows are giving their best and juiciest roles to actors playing crooks and thieves. (There are however over 18,000 different variations of Law and Order – that fact has been confirmed.) Even movies are learning our country’s penchant for crime and are mandating that every other film involve a long scene in which somebody breaks into a heavily guarded compound (bank, vault, casino, VFW hall, Fotohut) using a complex, hastily assembled group of stock characters (Suave Guy, Jewish old man, leprosy ridden cheerleader).

I am sad to admit that I am one of these Americans. I have decided that from this day forward I am going to devote my existence to a life of crime. But I will not be taking the easy way out by just simple purse snatching, insider trading or sprinting my way through a mattress store and ripping off every tag I see. No, I have watched enough of these criminal how-to’s pumped out by Hollywood to realize that I must plan, form a gang and pick my mark wisely. But I’m not going to keep this grand info to myself. Today, I’m going to share what I’ve learned. Consider this a primer to creating a successful crime syndicate, at least by Hollywood standards. And considering the amount of theft they’ve been pumping out lately (I, as well as others, willingly shelled out ten bucks a pop to sit through Step Up…which is Save the Last Dance without “soul”) then it must work.

First up, I need a home base. Research has shown me that I need a large warehouse, preferably on the outskirts of town and hidden from the view of the road. It needs to be large enough to house an aircraft carrier or several hundred unusable Econoline vans. And with all these space, will I surround myself with tools and computers and apparatuses? No, I will only buy a cheap folding table that can double as a beer pong surface in my cousin’s frat house, a blackboard smeared to all hell with chalk marks, and several of those big spotlight lamps you see on dirty porn movie sets. If there’s cash left over in the “design” account, I’ll make sure there is a dog roaming around, just so he can eat something important at a critical moment.

With my gigantic, sparsely furnished, warehouse finally operational, I need to begin assembling my crew. I have already begun loitering around Matlock marathons and Prune festivals to find my old man. As you can see by my amazing template design, I am not a computer whiz, so I’ll need one of those. The sexy vixen girl in my crew may be tougher to find since I’m married and have lost all ability to talk to women without arguing or shoving my sneakers deep into my throat. Being married has also ruined my chances to be the suave guy, but I have been Tivoing every episode of Queer Eye that I can in hopes of giving myself a makeover. And while I will need a big, scary biker type to be my muscle, I figure I can get away with using the bouncer at the bar I work at, provided I can get his shifts covered on the nights we do “recon,” whatever that is.

So, assembling my crack staff may take some time, but that hasn’t stopped me from my next assignment: picking my target. The bank where I do my banking isn’t well guarded, with just one guard who seems more apt to watching the butts of the women in line than in doing any actual protection duties. Only problem is, the payoff doesn’t seem that large. I’ve looked into stealing famous art from one of the many museums in the NYC area, but don’t think any of them can match up to the lovely art now adorning my walls (A print of “The Scream” and several blurry photos of me trying to drunkenly recreate Greg Louganis’ dives at the 1988 Olympics). A casino would be a great idea, but I live near Atlantic City and not Las Vegas, meaning all I’d be stealing is the pension of most elderly Long Islanders and the pocket money of Wall Streeters who decided they were gods of the poker world after watching Rounders hopped up on a few beers. So, I’ve decided to case a check cashing store. Not only will I get away with tons of money, but everybody needs phone cards, pens with chains attached to them and gumball machines that haven’t been cleaned or changed since the Reagan administration.

With my target in place, my team assembled and my warehouse at full tilt, the day will come soon enough. I figure I have to make the plan as elaborate as possible. It can never be as simple as walking into a store, guns blazing, and taking whatever you can grab. I have timed the response time of New York’s finest, and while it is on par with Dom Deluise’s time in the hundred-yard dash, the smash and grab technique never seems to result in success. So I will burrow my way into the store, using a little known sewer drain. I will make sure the sexy vixen is roaming in front of the store, distracting passers-by with her tongue-in-cheek, double entendre baby-doll T-shirt. The old man will play the role of a confused patron, trying desperately to cash the eight dollar check he got in the mail as an advertisement for a free year of Field and Stream. The computer nerd will be hacking into the company’s records, rearranging facts and figures as well as changing everybody’s fonts to Helvetica Bold. I think I may have the muscle drive the getaway van, but will stipulate that he keep the radio tuned to classic rock, just so, in case there’s a police chase, we have the possibility of doing it to Steppenwolf’s Born to Be Wild. With my suave, lightning moves, I will make off with the cash while my ruses distract the underpaid employees. And once the mission is complete, we will all gather back at the warehouse where we will celebrate in slow motion, hopefully to classical music or bad early nineties techno.

With a plan this foolproof, how could I fail? I know there may be tiny slip-ups along the way, so it is important that I have my team be at tip-top shape. We will train hours on end, watching Ocean’s Twelve (No Catherine Zeta Jones in the first one…Me-Ouch!). But I must never let them see me sweat. Because the crime syndicate needs a strong leader. One who can meet challenges and succeed in the face of adversity. After all, this is America and all of our leaders possess those qualities.

So, when you notice my sudden generosity to those less fortunate and my new frivolous purchases, like gold plated Ipods or health care, you will know it is because my heist succeeded. That or HollyComeLately finished second in the third race at Pimlico. Either way, my life of crime has begun and it can only lead to bigger and better things. Like politics.

So, watch closely this fall season, America, because being a criminal syndicate mastermind is at your fingertips. If, however, this isn’t for you and you’d prefer to be a shapeless lump who does things just for attention, the reality shows will be on any network at anytime.