>>> Bang for Your Buck
By staff writer David Nelson
July 22, 2007

Essential New Word of the Week: fartscreen (definition hint: odor obsctacle)

Last week, during a particularly slow time at work, a rousing game of “Would You Rather” broke out between me and the other drones. As games go, it was less fun than our monthly double-elimination Beer Pong Round Robin, but a lot less conspicuous to management.

The premise is simple: one guy asks a “would you rather” question, and everyone else debates the answer, using as many rhetorical techniques and references to the Thundercats as possible. The game ends when someone’s vocal chords give out, or when some actual work needs doing. Usually the former.

We started with some easy questions, like “Would you rather be blind or crippled?” After much debate, the existence of lesbian porn was ruled to be the tipping point in favor of “crippled.” Then, “Would you rather have sex with Ellen DeGeneres or a chain-link fence?” Pretty standard stuff, actually.

“I was given a badge to wear that read ‘Talent.' I now held tangible proof that I was talented.”

Then, I took the game into new depths of awesomeness, by asking “Would you rather have the power to shoot barbeque sauce out of your fingertips, or the power to summon 1,000 Chachis?” (For younger readers, Chachi was Fonzie’s cousin and a delightfully ethnic addition to Happy Days, played by actor/lothario/possible rapist Scott Baio.)

We debated this crucial question for hours. Ultimately, we agreed that the critical factors were the quality of the barbeque sauce and/or the relative obedience of the Chachis. I have to think that an army of muscular Italian heartthrobs could somehow acquire all the hickory-smoked condiments one would ever need. Anyhow, having settled this age-old question, we revisited an old chestnut: Would you rather be rich or famous?

Predictably, everyone chose wealth. I, however, was the lone voice in favor of fame. The way I see it, money comes and goes, but fame lasts forever. And it’s not easy to feel this way when you’re fighting 2,000 years of Jewish stereotypes, which my friends helpfully reiterate on a weekly basis. Anyone can make money; not anyone can be famous. Any episode of the Surreal Life will demonstrate this.

I confess: I covet fame like a stoner covets pork rinds. I want every man, woman, and child on Earth to know who I am, from the smelly nomadic tribes of remotest Mongolia to those surprisingly sexy Amazons with the wacky lip-disks. I want my name to be remembered, preferably for something other than international terrorism.

Sometimes, I like to delude myself into thinking that I actually am famous. Now, it’s obvious that a mere internet column doesn’t put one at the level of, say, Carrot Top. But it’s an interesting conceit nevertheless. Can fame be measured microscopically? And if so, am I not technically more famous than the dude who’s sitting next to me on the subway? I bet he doesn’t have an internet column. He doesn’t even have pants.

Like anyone, I’ve had brief, insignificant tastes of fame. A minor newspaper mention here, a grade-school valedictory address there, that sort of thing. But a few months ago, something eclipsed all that minor league stuff. It was no mere bite of fame; it was like Fred Flintstone eating a brontosaurus burger. And, in case that’s too abstract and disturbing, I’ll put it more plainly: I landed a segment on MTV.

I should disclose that this was for MTV Canada. Don’t laugh, my country is on the cutting edge of coolness. We just discovered acid-wash jeans, and pretty soon, hypercolor t-shirts are going to catch on. Bringing MTV to Canada is like bringing KFC to Belgium. It’s definitely foreign, and a little bit threatening, but a welcome addition to the landscape once the locals give it a chance.

Apparently, the TV station best known for pointless banter and angering military types was running a segment on hangover cures. They needed an expert who lived in the Toronto area. Thanks to my relentless publicity machine, or possibly Google, the execs happened upon one of my early articles.

A few calls later, I had them convinced that I was some kind of ultrahip scientist who put his health on the line so that readers would know not to drink hot sauce after a night of boozing. I agreed to appear on the show; they agreed to plug the website. No money, but not a bad tradeoff for my first appearance as a new celebrity. Hell, I bet Andy Dick has to plunk down five figures and promise to scrub the studio toilets in order to land an appearance.

The crazy thing is, I had flirted with MTV exposure before. My debut in the cutthroat world of competitive Rock/Paper/Scissors featured an interview by some MTV intern who had the audacity to challenge me. So, when the producer and I brainstormed for ideas, I mentioned this. She seemed thrilled that they already had drunken footage of me. If only I could get my parole officer to feel the same way.

I would be appearing on a show called MTV Live. Because I have some pride, I’d never actually seen this show, but some preliminary research told me all I needed to know. MTV Live consists of a few hosts who moderate a circle of whooping teenagers. They discuss topics of varying relevance (everything from the AIDS crisis to the contents of Lindsey Lohan’s vagina). Every now and then, they play a video from YouTube, usually of a skateboarder falling down.

They told me to come down to the studio at the selected time. The studio, as it turns out, resides in an old Masonic Temple. That was kind of strange. I half expected to discover a secret coded message that would send me on a thrilling treasure hunt across Canada’s historical landmarks. But an improbable Dan Brown adventure would have to wait. I had a television appearance to make.

I arrived at the requested time, and was required to check in at security. I imagine MTV has a big problem with people off the street sneaking in and attempting to introduce OutKast videos without the proper training. My ID was checked, and I was given a badge to wear that read “Talent.” I now held tangible proof that I was talented. Take that, critics! Not only that, but I could pin this validation to my chest so that everyone would know.

The security guards told me a PA would be down to meet me in a minute. Now, I’m not exactly showbiz-savvy, but I always thought that stood for “Production Assistant.” Not so. Apparently, PA is not-so-secret Masonic code for “Perfect Ass.” And truly, it was. The girl who met me had fleshy twin hillocks that were so spherical, when God made them, ‘twas surely a miracle. It’s not every ass that can inspire a rhyming couplet.

She brought me into MTV’s green room to wait. Here’s a fun fact: Thanks to lax smoking bylaws of yesteryear, this green room was actually a dingy shade of yellow. There was a stocked mini-fridge and table laid out with veggies and dip. However, I’ve seen enough Punk’d to know not to trust random dip provided by MTV. I don’t need any of Ashton Kutcher’s DNA in my stomach lining, thank you very much.

There I sat, watching the network on a big TV, wondering if I would have to get an agent. Then, my state of mind went from “pretty cool” to “holy shit!” A group of swimsuit models, used in some earlier segment, wandered in, and began to change right in the green room. It was like the first paragraph of a Penthouse letter come to life. I silently thanked MTV Canada for being a cheapass network without the budget for a few changing rooms.

I desperately wanted to play it cool. But if I've learned anything from TV and movies, it's that when you're talking to a naked girl who’s not going to fuck you, her body parts start appearing in your sentences, whether you want them to or not. “Say, have you tried this vegnipple platter? These are the breast vegetables I’ve ever vaginaed!” All too soon, they departed, ending quite possibly the best 4 minutes and 21 seconds of my life.

Thus far, I had been privy to the finest semi-naked women and assorted snack foods that a downmarket cable channel had to offer. But my fortunes were about to change. A scrawny little intern, the very same one who interviewed me during the RPS tournament, ran into the green room. This was not unusual, I suppose, but he did happen to be wearing a gladiator costume.

Since the ancient Romans designed gladiator costumes to be as gay as humanly possible, this made me kind of uncomfortable. I wanted to ask if he remembered me, but have you ever made a conversational gambit to a kid with his ass wedged into a pair of leather panties? If Internicus did recognize me, he gave no outward sign as he changed and left. Soon, I was alone once more, wondering just how MTV was combining swimsuit models, gladiators, and hangover experts, thematically speaking.

The PA returned, and we went over my segment. I would talk about the experiment I conducted, explaining it for the live studio audience. Which would not be easy, since they clearly had the attention spans of retarded goldfish. Then, the hosts would ask me some questions, and that would be all. It wasn’t quite the six-part Behind the Music kind of epic I’d been hoping for, but I guess the new Shakira video waits for no man.

The PA led me to the make-up department, where I requested the full Gene Simmons makeover, but all I got was a forehead-powderin’. The make-up artist was a black lady, with an odd name I can’t quite remember. I think she introduced herself as “Robitussin.” It was the first time I’d ever worn make-up, and I’m not ashamed to admit I kind of enjoyed it, in a rugged, manly sort of way.

All of this weird crap going on was making me feel like a sordid version of Alice, meeting Wonderland’s strange cast of characters. Except in this case, Wonderland was a Canadian knock-off of an American teen-oriented music video channel. And instead of a fetching prepubescent blonde, Alice was a hairy guy who drinks too much.

At long last, it was time to rock and roll. I followed the PA to the main stage, trying not to stumble over loose camera cables as I gawked at her flawless ass. After a brief word from our sponsors, I was brought onto the stage, or as I call it, the Circle of Judgment™. The hosts welcomed me, and before I knew it, I was broadcasting live to my home and native land.

What follows is a recap of my appearance, painstakingly transcribed so as to edit out all my “um’s”, and also to mitigate the hosts’ questionable levels of literacy:

Host 1: Now, David, sitting on the couch here, is a columnist for pointincase.com. You’re our scientist today. You’re our expert. Because you did a whole hangover experiment, you were the guinea pig. Explain the thing what you did (sic)

Me: Well, I want to help people, so I decided to do an experiment over the course of six months, where I would get drunk pretty much every week…

Host 1: That’s tough.

Me: Yeah. And the next morning, I’d try a hangover cure. Then there were three tasks, basically, testing physical, mental and social skills.

Host 1: So you did these 3 tasks when you were not hungover, and then you got drunk a bunch of different times, took the cures, and did the tasks again, testing the cures?

Me: Exactly right.

Host 1: Alright, I gotta ask: Of the cures… well, first of all, what were some of the cures you used?

Me: Well, I tried to test a wide variety of cures. Cabbage, for example, is supposed to have a remedy effect…

Host: Really? I never heard that before.

Me: It didn’t work though.

Host 2: What about pancakes?

Me: One of the cures was actually a big greasy breakfast…

Host 2: And…

Me: That probably worked the best. The only problem with the greasy breakfast is, if you’re still really hungover, you’re likely to start a grease fire. But in a way, that can be good. Your adrenaline starts pumping.

Host 2: I think so.

Host 1: So among your tests, the greasy breakfast is the way to go, to cure hangovers?

Me: It was probably the best one.

Host 2: Excellent!

Host 1: Very interesting. Um, you’re not an actual scientist, are you?

Me: (long pause) Oh, I like to think drinking is a science.

(laughter)

Host 1: Fair enough. Now, do you still drink to the same level of drunkenness? (sic)

Me: Most certainly.

Host 1: Great. Good for you. David, we can read all your stuff at pointincase.com. David, the drunken scientist, everybody. Thank you very much.

(applause)

Apart from the fact that the host got the name of the site wrong, I think it went well. I definitely enjoyed it, but it was over way too quickly. I feel like I could have held the audience’s attention for at least another minute or two, and that’s saying something. But 10 seconds after my segment ended, they had moved on to a bit where two audience members had to chug a mixture of milk, beer, and cow brains through a funnel. I guess we all have to suffer for our art.

Now, a few months have passed since this happened, and I’m dismayed to see that the movie offers haven’t been rolling in. In fact, I can’t even get MTV to return my calls for a follow-up. I guess what I’m saying is, I’m not famous, and I probably never will be. It hurts to write that down, but maybe that’s the only way I can cure this delusion of fame.

Come to think of it, that makes two things I know how to cure! Maybe NBC would be interested setting up an interview….

Essential New Word of the Week:

fartscreen [‘fartskrin] n

I know that fart humor is the lowest common denominator, and I just plain don’t like it. However, the fact of the matter is this: These words are 100% real. I don’t make any of them up just so I can include them here. I listen to conversations, and when I hear a new word used once or twice, I consider it a genuine ENWotW. Accordingly, when I heard the word “fartscreen” used recently, I knew it was my duty to catalog it. Heh. Doody.

A bunch of us were spending the weekend at a friend’s country house. After a delicious breakfast of eggs, bacon, sausage, and beans (he’s British), he warned his girlfriend “Better set up the fartscreen tonight, baby.” Apparently, a fartscreen is a bulwark of bedding, an impenetrable rampart of sheets designed to keep noxious odors from emanating between two bed partners.

Simple logic tells me it probably doesn’t even work, but if it does, it’s a million dollar idea, even if those snobs on American Inventor turn it down. Just remember, you heard it here first.

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