This is the archived text of a weblog I did to promote my book "Mr. Irresponsible's Bad Advice: How To Rip The Lid Off Your Id and Live Happily Ever After" (Volt Press: 2005). I had the idea that if I continued to essentially add to the book every day on the Web, and GIVE THAT WORK AWAY FOR FREE, people would be so charmed that they'd feel compelled to buy the original work.

Not so much, as it turns out. But I had fun anyway.


Stop The Presses, and Bring Me Some Fajitas

Mr. Irresponsible knows something about the therapeutic value of a really good snit. But Steve Lopez of the LA Times, who is the very model of a modern Metro columnist, elevates the thing to an art, and to something more -- an actual, no-foolin' public service. How? By sitting down to lunch with Cruz Bustamante, who is running for California Insurance Commissoner largely on a promise to drop 50 pounds as a symbol of personal and governmental probity, and waving cheese-laden entrees under his nose until he almost cries. A dieter who can't resist a plateful of taquitos, Lopez reasons, may not exactly be a pillar of strength when the industry he's charged with regulating presents the due bill for a big pile of campaign donations. (If this seems like trivializing the race, keep in mind that it was Bustamente's silly idea to put his diet front and center.) To his credit, Bustamante doesn't crack. But Lopez has another little test in mind for him.

The piece is a virtuoso exhibition of the cheeky spite that big-city newspaper columnists used to excel in, back when there were big-city newspapers. Read it and weep for a lost era.

(N.B.: As part of an ongoing effort to make accessing its Web content as difficult as possible, because, you know, newspapers are doing so well these days, the LAT will require you to log in to read the piece. That's good thinking!)


I knew Michael McDonald. Michael McDonald was a friend of mine. And sir, you are no Michael McDonald.

I'd like to advance a theory: "American Idol" is less a television show than a gas or sub-atomic particle, or possibly some kind of virus. What other explanation is there for the fact that I have never seen a single episode of the show, this season or any other, and yet I know enough about Taylor Hicks to know that I hate him? I know that he has goofy hair, like Matt Damon in "Stuck On You." I know that he wears clothes the color of caustic chemicals. I know that he periodically shrieks the nonsense phrase "Soul Patrol" for some reason. And I gather that he is something of a screecher, in the manner of noted soul-killer Michael Bolton. How is it possible I know all this? There is only one plausible explanation: A kind of osmotic transfer of information at the cellular level.

I blame this Simon Cowell person. I believe he's been at work in the lab, and while the alchemical mechanism he's developed may well be the result of genius, it is surely an evil genius, like that of Michael Bolton. You know what this means, don't you? The Feds are looking everywhere for Doomsday devices, but they're looking in the wrong places. They shouldn't be wasting their time trying to find suitcase nukes or weaponized Ebola. They should grab up Simon Cowell and torture him until he gives up his twisted secrets. (Which he might not do. They should still torture him, though, because it would be funny.)


Living The Ways of Being

I never did get to the end of this motivational music video for Starbucks employees, because it seems to be a little under eleven hours long and somewhere in the middle my senses of time and space and proportion started to warp like a Frisbee in the sun. But I listened long enough to draw some conclusions:

1) Some bits of cultural detritus are best left by the roadside, and "We Built This City" is one of them.

2) "Living the ways of being" is terrible, terrible writing, even by the standards of corporate happyspeak.

3) No matter how many gently self-mocking asides a copywriter may include,  embarrassing = embarrassing.

4) You sell coffee, for crying out loud. The employees have been downing free lattes since six o'clock this morning. Do you really want them more peppy? If you want to do your customers a favor, demotivate the staff.

All that aside, this is actually... No, sorry. It's just awful.


Thanks for calling Airhitch, you jerk. How may I direct your pointless call?

The travel site Gridskipper has an absolutely beautiful post today about customer service. I can't do it justice here and won't try, except to say that it includes a transcript of an IM session between a client of air-travel consolidator Airhitch and a customer-service rep. Due diligence requires that I note this: The whole thing could be a fraud. But in the memorable formulation of Newsweek when it was caught out on the Hitler Diaries, "Genuine or not, it almost doesn't matter in the end." What's thrilling about the exchange, and what makes it valuable whether it's real or a prank by some kid with time on his hands, is that it strips away the very, very thin veneer of civility to reveal the true dynamic inherent in customer service: The companies hate us and want us to go away and quit bothering them. They pretend they don't as a last vestige of the corporate best practices that used to be in vogue a hundred years ago; we pretend they don't because we have no choice but to take our sad little problems to them, and it's humiliating. This calculus has never been so richly and thoroughly explicated as it is here. So in the event that "airhitch20" is a real person in the employ of what sounds like one nutty outfit to work for: Sir, thank you. You have eliminated a substantial portion of hypocrisy from the client/company relationship. And in that spirit, let me add this: Go f**k yourself. There. Don't we all feel better now?


In The Name of God, Don't Watch This

Gosh, we've seen so many different O.J. Simpsons over the years. He's been a Protean figure -- a Heisman-winning running back, a record-shattering pro, an actor, a murderer *... Now we learn we've hardly known O.J. at all. The real O.J., it turns out, is none of these things. He's a practical joker! A nutty prankster!  Taping a pay-per-view TV special/DVD to be called "Juiced," Simpson portrays an Elvis impersonator, a curbside orange peddler, and an elderly man leading a Bingo game. Oh yeah, also: In a hidden-camera segment, Simpson tries to get a used-car dealer to buy his White Bronco, claiming that "It was good for me, it helped me get away."

Get it?

The Simpson camp has had a little trouble getting its story straight on this. The producer of the special told the AP that Simpson "was not paid for the program," implying that he did at least knowingly participate, and wasn't loopy on Ambien or under the influence of a hypnotist or some other person holding one of those twirly hypno-wheels at the time the cameras rolled. Simpson's attorney, cutting the salami a little thinner, told the New York Daily News that Simpson isn't involved with the current project (proving that the only party who scuttles away from a sinking ship faster than a pay-per-view TV producer is a lawyer) and the footage probably came from a failed TV pilot Simpson shot three years ago. Oh, okay. Because three years ago the bit wasn't repugnant or anything. Why, three years ago it was a whole different world! Three years ago George Bush was in the White House and we were stuck in the intractable quandary of an unwinnable ground war in Iraq!

But I digress. The real question is: Seriously now, how much more loathsome can this guy get? Either he's doing it for the dough, which he'll use for greens fees and dinners at Joe's Stone Crab instead of paying down the $33 million civil judgment still hanging over his head, or he's doing it for attention. And wouldn't you think he's had enough of that? Hasn't he been in the papers quite enough for one lifetime? It seems a little tone-deaf, no? Why, a person who's that nakedly sociopathic could be capable of... anything. If I were advising Simpson, for which there isn't a Brink's truck big enough to back up to my door, my advice would be short and sweet: Hey, Juice? Publicity, good or bad, is not your friend. Keep your head down. Stay out of the papers. Stay off morning drive radio. And if some sleazy hack with a Digicam tries to get you to prank somebody for profit, get in the Bronco and drive away. It isn't like you don't know how.

*Redacted on advice of counsel


Cruise Control

I spent a good part of today scratching my head over Google Trends.  What good does it do to know, for example, that the Tom Cruise/Katie Holmes proposal was a lot more interesting to people than their pregnancy, but slightly less fascinating than the tiny megastar's beliefs on alien life? Then I saw the genius of the thing: Up to now the only way to benchmark Cruise's spiraling craziness has been the relative sanity of everyone else on the planet. In Google Trends, however, we have at last a tool with which to stack each of Cruise's loony pronouncements against each other. This really is a tremendous advance for observers of the human condition like myself, and a great leap forward in the continuing compilation of my Tom Cruise CrazyWatch. It's downright handy to be able to consider Cruise's embrace of alien life even up against his extravagantly self-promoting marriage proposal, and to be able to quantify the precise differential in dumbstruck, can't-look-away creepiness. I plan to consult Google Trends regularly. The revelation that the Philippines lead the world in Cruise-Googling, though -- that one may have to remain a beautiful mystery. Some questions lie beyond the reach of statistics.


It's Great To Be Home

I'm just off a plane from Dubai, and if you have any desire to know what that was like, simply fold yourself up like an origami swan and have somebody blow kebab smoke into your face for fourteen hours. So I'm going to have Skip, our intern from the junior college, unpack my bags and draw me a warm bath, and then I'm going to float a number of shot glasses full of Black Maple Hill in the water and crawl in and soak for two days. Before I do, though: You may have read in the International Herald Tribune that there was some trouble between me and the administration of the University of Dubai, resulting in the sudden withdrawal of my stipend and the termination of my teaching position. The IHT story is a little hazy on the details, which it should be, given the outrageous fees I paid to my Dubaian attorneys to keep the thing low-profile. (Honestly, you haven't lived until you've gotten a cease-and-desist letter from the firm of al Shaibani and bin Hader LLC.) For the record, though, let me state the following:

At no time did I jokingly refer to the U of D football team as the "Fighting Disgraced Pop Stars." (Their actual mascot is the camel. No points for originality there.)

While it may be true that I have in the past characterized Dubai as "The Foxwoods Casino of the UAE," it is also true that I happen to like the Foxwoods Casino, where the slots are loose and easy and the breakfast buffet just can't be beat! And say, did somebody say Acres and acres of parking? That's Foxwoods, just off Rte. 2 in Mashantucket, CT!

There is no truth to the rumor, as reported in some maliciously unscrupulous newspapers and weblogs, that I "drank the bar dry one night at the Hilton Dubai Jumeirah, got into a slapfight with the teenaged daughter of the Oil Minister, and threatened to 'sue this sorry Third World backwater straight into the Persian Gulf'." Those statements, had they actually been made, would have been without foundation and reckless and untrue.

Anyway, I'm home again at Irresponsible World HQ and looking forward to getting back to work. Stay tuned. And if you happened to be at the Jumeirah on the night of May 3rd, or for that matter the Burj al-Arab anytime during the weekend of April 29-30, when a tall Westerner who identified himself as Mr. Irresponsible apparently ran up a gigantic room service bill and skipped without his luggage, I'm sure the responsible party regrets the incidents. And please direct any further inquiries to al Shaibani and bin Hader LLC. They're in the book.


From Irresponsible World HQ

Mr. Irresponsible's sabbatical from blogging continues. I'm spending a semester as a guest lecturer in something called Human Dynamics at the University of Dubai. I've never actually met the people who hired me, but they know how to wire money to the Caymans so they're okay by me.

Back soon.



I've always had a theory that whenever guys and gals start swinging, they begin to lose interest in conquering the world. They just want a comfortable pad and stereo and wheels, and their thoughts turn to the good things of life -- not to war. They loosen up, they live and they're more apt to let live. Dig?
-- Frank Sinatra (The Playboy Interview, February 1962)

Dug, baby. Anybody longing for some moral clarity, or just for a time when people could reasonably be said to "start swinging," should study the text of Sinatra's Playboy interview, helpfully posted by a site called This Is Sinatra! (The exclamation point is theirs, not mine, which seems entirely appropriate.) Sinatra weighs in on the peculiar demands of performing, of course: " audience is like a broad -- if you're indifferent, endsville." But he also holds forth on racism (against it), disarmament (for it, with one swingin' catch), fatherly responsibility ("I didn't tell my daughter whom to marry, but I'd have broken her back if she had had big eyes for a bigot") and the chances for a Communist takeover of the US: "Khrushchev has as much chance of succeeding as he has of making 100 straight passes at the crap table." The fact that this turned out to be correct is much less interesting to me than the picture of the diminutive Soviet premier hunched over a crap table, signaling feverishly for more comped vodka and shouting "Seven come eleven, comrades! Niki needs a new pair of shoes!"

The interview is especially fascinating for the glimpse it provides into that long-gone postwar moment when liberalism had certitude and swagger, and its own boy prince on the throne. It was surely the last time in recent memory that the Left was sexy. (The college girls may have loved Gene McCarthy, but that was ideological, not vascular.) Looking back two years to the presidential candidacy of John Kerry and two years ahead to a probable run by Hillary Clinton, one has to wonder where the zazz went.  In the meantime, there's always nostalgia. "When GUM department store in Moscow starts selling bikinis, we've got a fighting chance, because that means the girls are interested in being girls and the boys are going to stop thinking about communes and begin thinking connubially," Sinatra told Playboy, showing a gift for nuanced geopolitical thinking that's sorely lacking in today's celebrities.



It's The Thursday Morning Grab Bag!

Mr. Irresponsible has just returned from a fact-finding tour of central Texas, where the principal fact to be found is that damn, margaritas are tasty. And what do I discover on my return, besides a desk chair which has been subtly but unmistakably canted out of position?* A whole raft of bad behavior from which to draw inspiring life lessons! Let's mangia!

-- The US Congress has banded together in an unprecedentedly bipartisan show of moral dudgeon over the Dubai ports deal. It's nice to see that our legislators still remember how to stand shoulder to shoulder in front of the cameras when there are sound bites of outrage to be expressed. Just one teensy problem: They're all wet. Life lesson: When the universe offers you a chance to get your name in the papers, don't let niggling things like facts get in the way.

-- One of the multicellular life forms in charge of distributing free goods to rich, famous celebrities tells the AP that $50,000 goody bags are actually a sort of compensatory mechanism for the inconveniences A-listers have to suffer. "They can't just go to the mall like a regular person," says the extravagantly-named Lash Fary. "Or," he adds, showing the gift for nuance that is so typical of bottom-feeders in the Hollywood ecosystem, "they can, but it won't be very much fun."  Life lesson: Celebrities are just like you and me, only less fortunate and pampered. Their lives should inspire not envy, but empathy.

-- Film nerds apparently have even more free time than previously suspected. A cabal describing itself as "an international group of lifelong James Bond fans" (or AIGLJBF, pronounced "Aig-la-jibbif," which is almost as memorable as SMERSH) is calling for a boycott of the upcoming "Casino Royale," a Bond film which, if memory serves, has been made about eleven times before. Their main beef appears to be the selection of actor Daniel Craig as the sixth screen 007, after Sean Connery, George Lazenby,  Roger Moore, Skitch Henderson and some guy named Al. (My notes may be a little sketchy on those last two.) How ridiculous a contretemps is this? Just this ridiculous: Among Craig's defenders is actor Toby Stephens, who (again from my notes) played super-criminal Jean-Jacques "Fromage" DuPlessy, The Man With The Golden Gums, in "I Loved You Tuesday." That's right, it's come to this: Bond villains are now defending Bonds against the depredations of Bond fans. Life lesson: Take your friends where you can get them, and then for Pete's sake get some sleep. That tequila hangover is killing me... um, you.

*Note to Debbie: Check the security tapes. If the intern's been using my desk, you know what to do.