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Official 2008 writers strike FAQ! Totally truthful, not at all made up!

Note: I’m a columnist for the Reader Weekly, an alt-weekly newspaper in Duluth, MN. Every Tuesday I post a new column.

Why do writers and studios hate each other so much?
In the mid-1950s, the studios promised writers that if they gave up stable jobs at newspapers and ad agencies for unstable jobs writing TV and movies, beautiful women would be more attracted to them. At first, the studios seemed to hold up their end of the bargain. Marilyn Monroe married Arthur Miller and there was great rejoicing. However, Monroe divorced Miller in 1961, sparking great outrage amongst the writers.

The feud was made eternal in 1962, when a group of writers from The Beverly Hillbillies – a popular show at the time – murdered Monroe in her Brentwood home. The studios were so angered by this retaliation that they cut residuals of home video sales from 2.5% to 0.3%. DVDs and VHS tapes had not actually been invented yet, but the writers were still pissed. Today, writers only receive residuals for Laserdisc sales.

What are residuals?
Laserdiscs are giant gold records with movies on them. Hilarious, right? Well you wouldn’t believe what people were paying for . . .

No, no! What are residuals?
Oh. Residuals are compensation given to writers for their past work. The amount awarded each year is decided by an annual studios vs. writers soapbox derby race. Aaron Sorkin always cheats, but never wins.

Mitt Romney hates me and my diabetes

Note: I’m a columnist for the Reader Weekly, an alt-weekly newspaper in Duluth, MN. Every Tuesday I post a new column.

“I hate you fucking diabetics!” screamed Mitt Romney in a message on my answering machine. “I will not rest until I cleanse this nation of you and all your filthy diabetic friends!” There was an audible bang as Romney slammed the phone down on its receiver.

He didn’t leave a return number. His call was not meant as a discussion, but a statement: Mitt Romney wants me and my lazy pancreas to die. He wants all diabetics dead. Our troublesome correspondence began during the New Hampshire debates, when Romney said poor people are to blame for high drug costs, not pharmaceutical companies. I sent him a polite e-mail that night, explaining the ridiculously high cost of my diabetes supplies.

He replied almost instantly: “Don’t e-mail me! You have a disease! Ew!” I sent a reply back, carefully explaining that diabetes is not transferable through computers, only through sexual contact and French kissing. I also explained that I don’t actually have any diabetic friends. We don’t normally hang out in packs. He replied later that night with an almost unintelligible message, obviously written while high on caffeine: “I SEES YOUSE DIABETUSES, HANGINGS OUT IN ABANDON BUILDING SHARING INSULIN!!! STINKS LIKE SUCROSE!!!!”

New Year’s remorse

Note: I’m a columnist for the Reader Weekly, an alt-weekly newspaper in Duluth, MN. Every Tuesday I post a new column.

Don’t you hate this time of year? December 31 rolls around and you get all excited to have a fun, sober New Year’s Eve – free of alcohol or drugs – and then you find a little slip of paper with last year’s resolutions written on it. And you read it. And you decide that maybe a little alcohol and drugs wouldn’t be a bad way to forget all the things you didn’t accomplish.

Then you wake up the next morning, check the “Missed connections” ads on Craigslist, and find one about you titled, “New Year’s Eve, streaker in the grocery store (m4m – N 12th Ave.)” Those two little capsules of Advil never really cover everything the next morning, do they?

I just found my resolutions from last year. Apparently, I pledged to write a book, get a real job with health benefits, and save a newborn child from a burning car. If I accomplished any of those things, it was only in the period when I blacked out during last year’s New Year’s party. With the way my head was hurting, it was more likely that someone saved me from the backseat of a burning car.

Big cities make it hard to drink

Note: I’m a columnist for the Reader Weekly, an alt-weekly newspaper in Duluth, MN. Every Tuesday I post a new column.

I always get homesick for the Twin Ports on New Year’s Eve. It’s not the ugly people, the brown snow, or the rancid stink of your river (and Superior residents!) that I miss. It’s the convenience. You lucky jerks live in a town where every bar is within walking distance of 12 other bars, all of them filled with filthy, filthy bastards.

God, I miss hanging out with filthy bastards.

Los Angeles isn’t quite so accommodating. The filthy bastards here are more spread out. Instead of being 87 square miles of land like Duluth or 115 square miles like the Twin Cities, the city of Los Angeles spreads itself across 500 square miles. Each bar is roughly 10 miles from the next one. A cab ride for that distance will take 30 minutes and cost $40, and you’ll be as sober as Ringo Starr by the time you get there.

I’ve only been here for one New Year’s Eve, but it involved four hours of driving around and only one hour of actual drinking. Nobody threw up, nobody groped anyone else, and nobody fell over a railing and died in a creek. Lame. I can’t even roam the streets here while drinking, like I used to in Duluth. There’s no snowbanks to hide behind when the cops drive past.

Don’t ask no questions, and I won’t tell you to go to hell

Note: I’m a columnist for the Reader Weekly, an alt-weekly newspaper in Duluth, MN. Every Tuesday I post a new column.

The airport people are staring at me again. I grip my glass, condensation dripping down my fingers as I take another sip. My ears pop from my recent flight, feeling fuzzy for a moment before blocking up again. My stomach slowly untwists, adjusting to steady ground. Other travelers stare at my beer disapprovingly, but never make eye contact with me.

What’s wrong with drinking a Leinie’s at the Minneapolis airport at 11am? What’s wrong with drinking six Leinie’s here at 11am? A lot, according to the passing faces. It’s the week of Christmas, after all. It’s a time for joy, happiness, and spending time with your family. I’m terrified of each of those things, so Mr. Leinenkugel is treating my anxiety the old-fashioned way.

Get me another Honey Weiss, bartender. No wait, get me a red. After the first six, feed me Schlitz in a paper cup. There’s no use wasting a good beer if I won’t remember it, or a clean glass if it’s Schlitz. What do you mean the airport doesn’t serve Schlitz?