Dream Seats II (or How I Met Rupert Murdoch)

The day after Rupert Murdoch, that evil, slime-mongering dicator of sleaze, pulled plans to publish OJ Simpson's "controversial" book, If I wink wink Did It, I hightailed it down to a hip east village bar to celebrate the fact that I'd survived another day at work without decapitating anyone, and to hear some music. Perhaps, I naively thought, there really was good in the world, even though even Happy Stan knows Murdoch and his band of merry Bill O'Reilly's yanked the OJ slimebomb off the shelves because the evil empire was going to lose more from lost ads and stonings than the book was going to bring in. But I was out of work and music always brings me closer to what I imagine others would call "happiness."

I got to the bar -- a tiny, hip dive on Avenue C -- and met my friends about 45 minutes before the concert was scheduled to begin, which meant we got seats -- okay, barstools -- in the back, about fifteen feet from the podium. Great seats, great bar and if my heart weren't made of lead, I would have been excited. I even thought for a moment: life is... Then eight girls entered the bar and took the remaining seats to my right. At first I thought little of them, because after all I'm a man of the people and I've learned to embrace humans from all walks of life, even twenty-somethings. They chatted and giggled loudly, but I glanced their way on occasion only to see if any of them might be my potential future wife. No such luck. In fact, given a choice between marriage to one of them and death by over exposure to Donald Rumsfeld, I would have chosen the latter. And it wasn't because they weren't cute and pert (which they weren't). It was because they were everything wrong with America. They were evil. They were people who would have stood in line to buy OJ's book. They were Rupert Murdoch! Would I marry Rupert Murdoch? Sure I would, I'm a writer, I'm not stupid. But Rupert's loaded -- come to papa, sugar-daddy. These girls were loaded in a very different sense.

People continued to stream into the bar as the temperature in the room rose above 250 degrees, but my compatriot -- call her ''The Tolerant Friend" (or "TTF") -- swore the music would make it all worthwhile. And I believed her because she's TTF and she's never lied to me, except for when it's been for my own good, which is every day. There were people all around me, people pushing past me, people reaching over me to get their drinks at the bar, but as I mentioned, I'm a man of the people and I was willing to endure their transgressions because, deep down, I love mankind as much as I love that funny feeling I get when I swallow my gum. So great: the music begins, it's a mix of bluegrass, country and soul and I feel my blood pressure begin to release, which it does when I listen to music or look at pictures of teddy bears. But the girls wouldn't stop talking. In fact, they raised their voices: after all, they couldn't hear each other and how else could they carry on a conversation during a performance? Speak up, Ashley, there's a band playing and if we talk loud enough, you know, scream, we can hear each other. Others stared at them. One brave soul leaned over and asked them to quiet down. The "girl" he addressed smiled. At him. And continued her conversation. I thought to say something to one of these people, but I hate confrontation and I also knew that these girls were built in a land (a home) of self-entitlement. They were grown babies and would look upon any effort to bring them to order, to show respect, as an encroachment on their inalienable rights to being bitches. They're of the sort who say "thank-you" in that little sing-song that really means, "You're so beneath me, I'm not thanking you, I don't thank anyone, I don't respect anything, except money and a punch in the face, and you're not man enough to do bring home either, motherfucker." To make matters worse, two friends of the evil eight arrived after the performance had begun. They stood to my left -- there was no room to pass in this packed bar -- and started signaling and chatting with their friends on the other side of me. My earlier theory about the girls was confirmed when TTF politely leaned over to the two new girls and asked them to be quiet while the band played. One of the girls actually said, "Well, you don't have to be so rude." TTF was rude. That's what she was saying. The girl was screaming to her friends during a concert, ignoring glares and "quiet please's" and TTF was rude.

Here are some things I wish could have happened:

1) I gather myself during a break and for once I'm articulate in a moment of rage and I say, "Will you fucking bitches shut the hell up? What? I'm rude? You're everything that's wrong with America. You're the result of parents who don't know how to create boundaries, to truly love their kids, to help them form proper attachments, to teach them that other people exist and that yes, they should respect those other people. And I hope that in five or ten years you'll be able to look back on how you are now and think, god, what a bitch I was, that guy was right, but I know that's not going to happen, because you're never going to grow up, you're going to be stuck in that miserable, self-indulgent body until you die, and you'll die miserably and alone because you know what, you're both of those already. Now why don't you take your so-called friends outside and do us all a big favor and get run over by a very large, disease-ridden bus."

2) The leader of the band stops and throws his guitar across the room and everyone goes silent. Except for the chatting girls, because of course they're oblivious. And everyone in the room stares and stares. And stares and stares. Until finally one of the girls notices and she blushes and points out to her friends that everyone in the bar is staring menancingly at them. Then the girls magically tranform into piles of poo, and the concert continues.

3) The devil, in the form of Rupert Murdoch, appears in the center of the room, hovering like a spector, and begins singing the theme song to The Duke of Hazzard, because, he says, it's his favorite show, and then that hot chick from the movie version of the show appears too and it turns out she's sensitive and smart, and we leave the bar together just as Rupert is singing, "Just good ol' boys..." and we never look back, we keep walking into the sunset.

4) TTF tells me I'm on a reality show called "Hanging with Bitches," and hands me a million dollars for lasting as long as I did. Everyone congratulates me, and then that Dukes of Hazzard thing from above happens.

Of course, there was no quieting down those girls, and so I left before the concert was over. It was cold outside (and, sniff, inside my heart as well), but at least I'd taken what little action I could under the circumstances. The world needs teachers, it seems, to educate people like this (there's only so much one cranky person can do), but in the meantime, it's a shame the rest of us have to put up with Rupert and his land of idiots. Next time I'm bringing my Taser.



I'm applying to graduate school and never mind asking in what subject, because it's not really your business and it's besides the point. What is the point is that I was required, as part of my application process, to take the Graduate Record Examinations, or GREs as they are affectionately referred to by people, like nuns and actors on TV, who refer to things with affection. The GREs are divided into three helpful sections: verbal, math and analytical, and while this is certainly enough to test my ability to answer difficult word problems and analogies, it doesn't begin to address an even more important subject: how low I'm willing to grovel in order to make these grad schools like me. "Oh please, please like me," Happy Stan recommended I write on page one of my applications, but I have too much integrity for that. But I WAS willing to sit in a tiny room with 20 other go-getter types for four hours and answer questions on a computer screen.

I am not a scientist, but I can spell "science" and without question that gives me the authority to say the following: the GREs test your ability to take the GREs and not much else. Sure, some of the questions are difficult [SEE BELOW FOR SAMPLE QUESTIONS], but there are innumerable classes you can take and books you can study in order to improve your score. The verbal section, replete with analogies, antonyms, sentence completions and reading comprehension questions dense enough to make an elephant choke, don't test in any way how well you'll be able to learn science terms if you're going to be a scientist, or even how well you reason. The tests aren't really useful for testing how you'll do in any particularly subject. And they're annoying.

So what are the GREs really testing? It's this: how hard you might work when you actually enroll in graduate school. Which isn't so bad, I suppose, since grad schools are investing in students as much as students are investing in grad schools (except students are investing their life savings, and grad schools are making millions). But some programs don't even use the scores! My programs require them only because they're required by the larger universities to which I'm applying. So that makes it even more annoying that I lost sleep over the buggers. Lots of sleep. More sleep than I'll ever get back (rest assured, I am not going to grad school to study time travel, so that sleep is long gone). Because I hate tests more than I hate mold season. I get nervous preparing for tests, the tests begin to occupy my every thought, action and taste, I can't sleep, or eat, tests, just, test, Tests, TESTS! So why do they make us take these meaningless, painful, tooth-pulling exams? Because those who don't take them will turn to a life of a crime and give the rest of us something to clean up after.

Here are some sample math and verbal questions:

1) If Ted has six sisters, three are named Elizabeth and one runs for President of the United States, and x = 13, what is the likelihood that Ted had too many raisinettes when he went to see the latest screening of Borat last night: A) 16! B) 16/x C) 16 D) 1.6 E) All of the above.

2) Which is greater, A or B:

x = 13 orangatuns, y = 4 lemon drops
Quantity A =x - y Quantity B = 11
Quantity A is greater
Quantity B is greater
Quantity A equals Quantity B
Relationship Indeterminate Since Orangatuns are not Crustaceans

3) Using the triangle not given and assuming x = 7, let us know if that guy is bothering you. Yeah, that one over there. Yeah, you. What? What did you say? Are you looking at me, because I'll come over there, man. What? Oh no, you di'nt. Just turn your fat head around and finish your test, because you know you don't want to see me mad. A) 90 degrees B) 45 degrees C) Damn, just turn around! D) 10 degrees E) Damn!


1) Rhinoceros is to GRE as
A) Hippo is to GRE
B) Llama is to GRE
C) Caterpillar is to GRE
D) Wallet is to Empty
E) Elapsed

2) Find the word that is most closely opposite in meaning to the following word: Defibrilator. A ) Trophy B) Sponge C) Boutros Boutros Gali D) Kareem Abdul Jabar E) Defibrilator

3) Answer this question after reading the following text which we have reduced to the size of an electron: if Batman had a gun, could he beat up Superman?