Wednesday, December 1, 2004

The Dangling Horseshoe

Dear Friends,

    Have you gotten the email about the girl who falls out of a ship after eating too much Spanish Fly? 
    How about this one? A man misses his flight because he sees a ghost in his bathroom. Later, he finds out that the plane he was supposed to be on crashed. The ghost was just trying to warn him! 
    How about this? A couple of teenagers are "parking" when they hear on the radio that a psychotic horse has escaped from a nearby farm and may try to kill people. Frightened, the boy decides to take the girl home right away. When they drop her off, they find a horseshoe dangling from the door handle of the passenger seat!
    The people sending you these emails will swear up and down that the stories are true, but they aren't. Here are a few red flags to help you pick out the urban myths:
1. They always happen to "a friend of a friend." No one actually knows the person in the story by name.
2. There is always some kind of moral or lesson (i.e. you shouldn't take Spanish Fly when you're on a boat, or you shouldn't put your lap dog in the microwave to dry its fur.) 
3. There is often some kind of unheeded warning, (i.e. "Whatever you do, don't turn around while the Lord is smiting Sodom and Gemora!")

    I want you to know that the Hard Taco Digest is a source you can trust. I write five to ten completely different emails every month and only send out one. Why? Because if my fact checkers can't verify every single statement with at least two sources, I throw out the entire email and the computer it was written on. 

    With that in mind, I want you to know that the story I'm about to tell you is absolutely true. My friend Roni told me this, and she was directly related to the person who told her the story. 

    Apparently during World War I the United States government employed an elite team of scientists and pseudoscientists to develop a machine that emitted a very specific low frequency... a frequency that caused everyone who heard it to instantly lose control of their bowels. The intention was to unleash this terrifying device on the battlefields of the western front, paralyzing the enemy ground troops. The brave American foot soliders would then come swarming out of their trenches and swiftly neutralize the dumbfounded Germans, who would be rendered completely defenseless by their recent pants-soiling. 
    It was a great idea in theory, but the scientists and pseudoscientists who co-invented this awesome machine were not able to devise a means for using it without exposing themselves to the frequency, as well. In fact, everyone in the Pentagon testing facility lost control of their bowels, including Secretary of State Robert Lansing and a group of Chinese ambassadors touring the facility. The nearby US Mint facility was also affected, and all of the paper money was soiled and had to be cleaned (very carefully, without ripping it.) 
    In the bloody wake of the Battle of Neuve-Chapelle in 1915, the bodies of 11,000 dead British and American soldiers were found, all wearing clean diapers. This led to rumors that Wilson was intending to deploy the machine in combat, after all, but it could never be proven.
    That was the last that anybody heard of the machine. Most people believe that the government is still hiding it somewhere in Los Alamos. They are biding their time, waiting for another ground war or perhaps a race riot to unleash this ungodly device on anyone... and everyone! 

    The Hard Taco song this month is called "Despair." It's part of the Hard Tack Medicine Show and it features Good King Stereotypies and his hairdresser, Benlolo. In case you're not caught up with the plot, the King's first two wives died in shipwrecks greater than twenty years ago, and he is still overcome with grief after all this time. Benlolo is not only his hairdresser, but his most trusted advisor. See how it plays out between these two!  

With warmest regards,

Monday, November 1, 2004

A Severance Package for the Knocker Up

Dear Friends, 

I would be the first to admit that rock stars get all the attention, but the real excitement takes place behind the scenes. I'd like to dedicate this, the 30th Hard Taco Digest, to the world's most amazing crew. Here are some of the jobs held by our indispensible backstage supporting cast... (I don't know any of their names, but they are all fantastic people!)

1. Manager
2. Sound engineer
3. Brow girl
4. Foister (joiner)
5. Ballaster 
6. Puggard
7. Blentonist (water diviner)
8. Fanwright
9. Shanty Man
10. Bowlminder (where would the band be without well-mided bowls?)
11. Knocker-up
12. Chaff cutter
13. Mangle keeper (will use a mangle for a fee)
14. Inspector of Weights and Measures
15. Cratch maker (Makes ALL cratch including mangers, cribs, and frames)
16. Decoiner
17. Master Lumper
18. Cape beater
19. Scullery maid
20. Loblolly boy (who assists the ship's physician)
21. Jiggerman
22. Bone button turner (makes buttons on a lathe)
23. Zitherist
24. Paling man (seller of street eels and crockery)
25. Arkwright
26. Flax wife (the old maid who rets and dresses flax)
27. Alabasterer (not to be confused with the alabastere, who wields a crossbow but does not work with alabaster.) 
28. Rack maiden (Dresses the ore in tin mines)
29. Checkweighman
30. Dragoon (mounted infantryman)
31. Higgler (tender of fine higgle)
32. Mustard phrenologist
33. Slubber doffer (removes bobbins from spindles) 
34. Groundsel and chickweed peddler (streetseller of common weeds, used to feed songbirds)
35. Cod placer
36. Fancy man
37. Stuff gowsman (junior barrister)
38. Butter carver (makes imprints in butter pats)
39. Hemp and Anchor Smith
40. Daguerreotype monger
41. Plumer (makes or sells plumes, often confused with a plummeter, who operates plumb bobs or unfinished plumbum)
42. Damster
43. Feather beater (cleans feathers by caning them)
44. Gummer (improves old saws by deepening the cuts)
45. Buckle tongue maker 
46. Frobisher (removes rust from armor)

The Hard Taco song for November is called "Margot Dupris," and the lyrics page for this song comes with a special featurette::: (It's cool, but not quite cool enough to be called a feature, but I put three colons to give it as much emphasis as three exclamation points!!!) All of the tough words I didn't know are linked to so simpletons like me can look up what they mean while listening to the song. I haven't personally looked up any of the words, so I still don't know what the song is about, but I heard that it made the Queen of England say "Oh my!" and blush a little. 

Okay, time out. Where the hell is that guy when I need him? I need my fine higgle tended NOW

With warmest regards,

Friday, October 1, 2004

Take the 75 cents, Samurai. You earned it.

Dear Friends, 

Congratulations to Mike Delodnick from Geneva, PA, the winner of our Heroes in Action children's poetry contest. Mike will receive a $50 gift certificate to Pier 1 Imports and have his poem published at the bottom of this newsletter. Congratulations, again! 

I'd like to take a few moments to tell you about my personal hero, a hemiparetic nun who preaches on the open access Christian TV station. Sister Morgan (as I'll call her) has been the host of the popular "Visions of a Lamb in Christ" for many years.  I changed her name to "Sister Morgan" because I'm about to tell you confidential medical information.

A few years ago, Sister Morgan had a major stroke and was left with a facial droop and misaligned eyes. Now I've seen some sad saps with some tough breaks, but I have never witnessed this kind of determination from a stroke patient. Sister Morgan went back to her televised pulpit less than a week after leaving the hospital. For a few months, every time I would turn the TV on, she would be there in her eye-patch, drooling and slurring through her Hail Marys. 

How best to honor such a bastion of spiritual fortitude and constancy? It turns out, there is some archaic bylaw that prevents her from being canonized into sainthood while she's still alive. (If your Load-of-Crap Meter just went through the roof, I'm totally with you.) Unfortunately, no one even told me about the stupid rule until after I had already gone door-to-door and collected over 30 signatures! 

Then I got to thinking... maybe the best way to honor her would be to do what I do best, and help other people with strokes!

Then I remembered that there is nothing that can be done for those people. In fact, I think I'm going to hold on to those signatures.

Finally, I decided that the best way to show my profound respect for Sister Morgan would be to make a disabled nun a major character in my musical. The Hard Taco song this month, "Twylla's Song," is the ribald yarn of a crippled woman-of-the-cloth, modeled very loosely on Sister Morgan. The principal difference in their respective handicaps is that Twylla is missing four fingers on her left hand, while Sister Morgan suffers from a wedge-shaped brain infarct. Also, Twylla's handicap stems from an ancient curse, while Sister Morgan's handicap stems from high blood pressure and red meat. 

With warmest regards,


"Hats off to Heroes." by Mike Delodnick, age 13

A hero can be 
A big furry dog who helps someone find a manhole, 

A hero can be
A very small boy who's smart enough to tattle on his friends (who are vandals.) 

Heroes are everywhere, like 
A train conductor who gets busy workers home on time

Heroes are everywhere, like
A scientist who knows more about lava than anyone else 
He uses that knowledge to help people. 

Hats off to this hero:
A Samurai who eats worms to win a bet, 

Hats off to this hero:
The guy who pays up to the Samurai without being all grumpy about it.

True heroes are
Jim Varney, Gene Hackman, etc.

False heroes are
Randy Moss, the Coast Guard


Wednesday, September 1, 2004

Silly Manfolk!

Dear Friends,

  I have enjoyed working on the Hard Taco Project these last few years, but hopefully when I'm dead I will be remembered not as a second-rate musician, but as a great playwright. I took a playwriting course once, and I think I have a decent eye for it. Actually, the course was on Modern English Literature, but part of it was about plays and I took pretty good notes that day. Here are the basics...

1. A good play should have lots of flashbacks, or at least some scenes that are out of order. A great example of this is "The Crucible," by Arthur Miller. In the first scene, you see Danforth staring fearfully at a poppet. In the next scene, there's a flashback to the previous winter when he goes into the woods and sees a creepy witch named Tituba carrying a poppet.  That explains why he is so afraid of poppets in the first scene. 

2. Realistic dialogue and good grammar are often mutually exclusive. For example, real people say things like "Um, I could eat a whole nother Clark Bar." Nobody would sympathize with a character who says, "I could eat a whole other Clark Bar" and never says "Um" or "Eh."  You almost want that character to go hungry, or at least have to share the second Clark Bar with someone.

3. Most importantly, a good drama has characters who are deeply troubled, but (and here's the tricky part) they never come out and say so directly.  The audience has to infer that the character is troubled based on his actions (and to a lesser degree, his poor grammar.) I find that drawing on painful personal memories helps me create a more vivid tapestry into which many-layered characters can be delicately woven. 

  Here is the first Act of a play that I have been workshopping on. (That's playwright-speak for "working on.")  Please let me know if you have any constructive feedback.

"IRON RATIONS" by Zach London

(ACT I: Spring of 1989. My basement. Five awkward boys are gathered around a table, but in such away that they all on the same side of the table so that they are all facing the audience. They are playing Dungeons and Dragons. Excuse me, Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. They each have their own 20-sided die. The table is covered with Swiss Cake Roll wrappers. I am the only one who hasn't gone through puberty yet.)

ZACH: The gnome leads you through a passageway into a little circular area where there's a bunch more gnomes. One of them comes up to him and whispers something into his ear. Then the main gnome... the first one, turns to you guys and says, "Glarg has decided to challenge you to a rousing game of Sprottle!"

JEFF: Okay, but it better be rousing! I'm not playing if it's not rousing.

DARREN: I shoot Alex with my Crossbow plus one! 

ALEX: Cut it out, you're such a baby.

DARREN: (Imitating Alex) You're such a baby!

ETHAN: We ask the gnome what Sprottle is.

ALEX: (Face reddens) I don't have to take this! Really!

DARREN: (Giggling effeminately, waving his hands in the air) Hee, hee, hee! Cut it out! You're such a baby!

(The doorbell rings)

ZACH: He says, "You've never heard of Sprottle? Ha! Silly manfolk. You're not from around here are you?"

ETHAN: No, we are not from around here. We teleported here, I think.

ALEX: I'm serious Darren. It's not funny. Does anyone think this is funny right now? (Darren giggles louder.)

ZACH's MOM: (from offstage) Jeff, your mom is here!

JEFF: (Getting up to leave). All right. Good luck on the PSATs tomorrow, everyone.

ZACH: You, too.

ETHAN: You know what? I should probably go, too. (To Jeff) Can you give me a ride?

JEFF: Okay. 

(Fade to black)

  In the subsequent scenes, I'm going to have ZACH gradually stop hanging out with ALEX and DARREN. Unfortunately, without them, there are not enough people to play Dungeons and Dragons, and the three remaining boys have to give it up forever. Initially, this is somewhat troubling to ZACH, but he does not expressly say so in the play. 
  Towards the end, ZACH realizes that he's more likely to meet girls by trying out for a chorus part in "Grease." 
  Finally, there will be a scene that takes place at the fifty year high school reunion. The five boys are now old men, and they barely recognize each other. This scene is an automatic tear-jerker, because they were so innocent during most of the play and now they've been through so much. They share a Swiss Cake Roll, except for ETHAN, who has diabetes. They reach an agreement that Dungeons and Dragons was not, in fact, a good way to meet girls. They will be busily patting each other on the back when suddenly they will all freeze in place. A narrator will come out and say that this was the last time the five of them met, and that they all died shortly thereafter. Then the curtain will drop. 

  I spent most of August working on that, but I did manage to squeeze out a Hard Taco Song, too. It's called "That's the Way it Goes," and it will be one of the first songs in The Hard Tack Medicine Show. This song is a bit of fast-paced exposition, in which all four main characters get introduce themselves in a cursory way.

With Warmest Regards,

Sunday, August 1, 2004

Reign... of FIRE!

Dear Friends,

   It's time for another Hard Taco Scrapbook Moment. Back in the mid-90's, we used psychedelic stage gimmicks in order to harness the growing retail power of the jam band craze. I wanted to post some pictures from the Ground Beef tour in 1994, but apparently none were taken. I asked around, and it turns out that the audience was too high to load film. 
    Anyway, the thing that most people remember was that we had over a hundred fifty different laser beams, almost all of them at right angles to each other. We had big, thick beams, projecting majestically from the floor to the heavens. We also had smaller, more subtle beams hidden discreetly under the chairs of a few lucky audience members. 
    We had a giant rotating screen made out of cascading water, onto which we would project ten disturbing images per second (a record at the time!) For example, when we played "Paper Cranes," we would show this video of howler monkeys sunbathing in a concentration camp. This was superimposed with an image of Asian housewives wearing bonnets and mopping pools of blood off the top of the UN building. This served the dual purpose of creeping people out and rocking them senseless. 
    When the curtain came up for the second act, the stage was covered with giant crates, each one labeled with a stamped-on phrase like "Any End Up" or "Handle Without Care." As the music started, the crates would explode open, blinding the audience with green smoke and asbestos. Giant inflatable tacos would rise from the ashes and soar to the ceiling, periodically showering the first few rows with fake shredded lettuce. 
    We also covered the walls of the auditorium with farm implements, antique sleds, and old license plates. This made the theater look like a family restaurant chain, which was supposed to be ironic somehow. 
    Between songs, a guy dressed as a South American dictator (complete with immaculate beige uniform and enormous sunglasses) would drive onto stage in a convertible limousine surrounded by a motorcade of uniformed motorcyclists. We would play swelling drum cadences, and El Presidente (as we would call him) would shout regimental phrases into a megaphone, such as "This is not a test!" and "Reign… of FIRE!" 
    Anyway, we've decided to scale back the stage show for the next tour. In lieu of the laser beams and flame throwers we are only going to use simple machines, such as inclined planes and levers. All you'll get is us, our instruments, and maybe a few basic wedges or pulleys. I am confident that this will help people concentrate more on the music, and more specifically the soul of the music, which is the part of the music that makes you feel emotional. I also understand that pulleys may reduce the amount of force required to something off the ground by up to 50%. 
    I apologize to those of you who have come to expect all the doohickeys and disco balls from Hard Taco. We're still the same band and we're still out there busting our butts to give you the best damn show we can. Also, we still have over three truckloads of fake shredded lettuce, so if you come to the after-party backstage, I would be happy to throw a few handfuls of it in your face.
    The Hard Taco song for August is entitled, "Everybody Loves the Queen." As you know, I am working on a musical called "The Hard Tack Medicine Show". This song highlights the ribald exploits of one of our principle characters, a young queen named Stasia (rhymes with Eurasia). Stay tuned for more Medicine Show songs soon!

With Warmest Regards,

Thursday, July 1, 2004

Dear Friends,

One of the few advantages of working in a hospital is FREE Plastic Surgery. I was against it at first, but everybody in Michigan is so freaking perfect I can't even get a reservation at a nice restaurant with my natural looks. After living in the eighth circle of self-esteem hell for three years, I finally broke down and hired an Image Transformation Consultant.  She asked me to make a list of what I hate most about myself and give a copy to everyone I know. We then implemented her "outside-in" plan, which involves multiple surgeries in the first three months, followed by a rigorous half day of emotional nurturing by a third party consultant.

Here is my schedule for the first month:

July 3: Nipples and armpits surgically darkened
One of my mom's friends had this, and it's done miracles for her self-confidence. For some reason, both procedures have to be done at the same time. I'm hoping that the coloration will give me a perpetual Don Johnson 5 O'Clock shadow vibe, except not on my face. 

July 16:  Eyebrows drawn on
This was popular about twenty years ago, and 80's plastic surgeries are making a huge comeback. They will remove my current eyebrows using hot electric wax, and tattoo newer, more elegant ones in their place. We are still discussing whether to actually have them placed on my face (the more conventional route) or on my hands. The advantage of the latter would be that every time I would raise an eyebrow, people would think I'm trying to ask a question. 

July 19th:  Calf Implants
Anyone who saw "The Triplets of Bellville" knows how sexy enormous calves can be. Here's the key: I will get two separate implants with a huge divot in between them. My doctor assured me that a real gastrocnemius muscle has a good-sized divot. She says people with smooth, rounded calves look like they have muscular dystrophy.  If you were the hostess at the Mongolian Barbeque, would you give me a reservation if you thought I had muscular dystrophy? I thought not. 

July 26:  Botox the Backside
This was news to me, but apparently the derierre a place where you don't want the divot. Deep, well-defined butt cracks are a sign of premature aging. A few injections right around the edges will smooth away that entire crack and leave me with a single, perfectly smooth buttock.

I just picked all my surgeries for the second and third month, but we don't have specific dates yet. I will get my knuckles sharpened, my gums sanded down, and my eyelids removed. I will have collagen injected into my tongue for a fuller, come-hither look. I will have my nasal septum enlarged and stapled to one side, webbing placed between my fingers, and my throat surgically sealed off. I will have my scalp rotated (this has to be done every 90 days), and real mink fur will transplanted onto the backs of my hands and feet. I will have my elbows straightened, my intestines shaved, and my irises dusted with real gold leaf. 

After all that is complete, I can't imagine I will need any emotional nurturing from the third party consultant, but it's part of the package deal, so I guess I'll give it a try. I am about to start the next chapter in my life, and I'm looking forward to doing it without eyelids.

The July Hard Taco song is called, "Nancy." Some people see national tragedy. I see an opportunity to score with California's most eligible bachelorette. If you're reading this right now, Nancy, I hope you know I mean it...

With Warmest Regards,
Zach London

Tuesday, June 1, 2004

The Hard Taco Projects

Dear Friends,

    CD sales have been pretty good, but I'm still a ways from my goal of raising 35 million dollars to erect a low income housing district on Chicago's South Side, which I will call "The Hard Taco Projects." People will call me "The Kind Super," because I will personally decorate the hallways for all major holidays. On weeknights, I will sit on the stoop with the tenants, drink punch, and discuss local politics. ("What on Earth does Mayor Daley think he’s up to this time?")  Maybe after we have built up a rapport, I will respectfully try to talk one or two of the tenants into quitting smoking.  When I arrive at work in the morning, there will be two young sisters jumping rope in front of the main tower.  I will briefly jump rope with them, give them high fives, and ask them when their mother is going to bake me some of her famous pound cake.  When I go through the front entrance, I will always be whistling some old song. The maintenance man will say, "Uh oh! Here comes The Super!" like he is afraid of me, but then laugh afterwards so that I know he is joking. 

    At the end of the day I won't have hordes of gold watches and jewel-encrusted piles of treasure, but I'll have something a hundred times more valuable: A smile from a hard-working family with quality affordable housing. That's the kind of riches you can't buy, even with a lot of money.

    The Hard Taco song for June is called "Stamp My Hand." So far, everybody who has heard it has commented on its pithiness. One reviewer even said, "Now that's what I call pithy!" I admit I intended for the pith factor to be tangible, but such overwhelmingly consummate pithiness was completely unforeseen. All I can hope for is that I don't alienate any of my dear friends or family with offensive levels of relentless, unadulterated, hard core pith.

With warmest regards,

Saturday, May 1, 2004


Dear Friends,

If you hid a microphone in my living room plants, you would probably figure out that I talk an awful lot about which board games I like and which I don't. Most of you who I suspect of spying on me regularly don't manufacture board games for a living, but in case any of you do, pay close attention.

When I'm playing your game, there must be a situation in which the rules allow for me to yell out the name of the game enthusiastically. Preferably, this happens about once every five to ten minutes, during an appropriately climactic moment. Here are some examples of games that meet my criteria: UNO! SORRY! YAHTZEE! BLACKJACK! CONNECT FOUR! PASS THE PIGS! 

Sometimes, I find a way to yell out the name of the game, even if it's not explicitly called for by the rules of the game. JENGA! TWISTER! BARREL OF MONKEYS! CANDYLAND! (Or, depending on the situation, "Damn you, CANDYLAND!") 

Unfortunately, some games just don't make good exclamations, no matter how much enthusiasm you muster. PICTIONARY JUNIOR! TRIVIAL PURSUIT GENUS 4! I feel that these games should be recalled, and everyone who was duped into buying one should get a fat rebate check from Hasbro or Galoob or whoever is responsible for the travesty. 

I would be especially happy to get a fat rebate check from Galoob, because they have the greatest company name ever. Not only does the company itself beg to be yelled out in a high voice (Galoob! Galoob!), but it can also be spelled upside down on a calculator! Don't believe me? Type 800789 and flip your calculator over. I admit that technically, that spells GBLOOB, but when your friend whispers "What's your favorite game company?" and you pass her the ultra-secret upside-down calculator note, she'll probably be able to figure out you're not talking about Milton Bradley.  

What makes this story even more interesting is that the British actually used the upside down calculator code in World War II to send encrypted messages to the Allied forces. As it turns out, the only two things besides "GBLOOB" that can be written on upside down calculators are "hI BILL" and "BOOBLESS." The first was useful, because of the 600+ British Generals in WWII, over 100 of them were named William. The second was useful for making fun of Hitler's Mistress, Eva Braun, who was flat as a spatula

The Hard Taco song for May is called "Steal a Man a Fish." Contrary to logic, I was not on any drugs at all when I wrote this song. If it sounds like I was, that's only because YOU are probably on drugs RIGHT NOW. Don't think I can't smell it on your nappy-ass hair, you freaking hippy deadbeat. Hopefully, you didn't take so many drugs that you start having seizures before you realize how much Lauren has learned how to rock out. 

Until next time... PARCHESI!

With Warmest Regards,

Thursday, April 1, 2004

Siteerror404 Charles Grodin Fanpage Not Found

Dear Friends,

    Someone recently pointed out to me that some junk mail filters are siphoning off your well-deserved Hard Taco updates into junk mail folders of questionable moral content. These Hard Taco Digests are very innocent appearing, and are an easy target for the other ignominious emails that are rightfully banished to these disreputable cesspools of quackery and perversion. I'm sure you would be as shocked as I would to see my untainted, fawn-eyed April Update bullied by a Turkish Levitra Substitute email or molested by an invitation to Consolidate Your Debt with Free University Diplomas.
    Therefore, I've removed suspicious words from my title (like "Hard" and more specifically the capital letter "H" which is crucial if you're advertising Horny Asian Teen Housewives. Hopefully, this will result in 75% more emails getting through and 200% more people linking to my favorite Charles Grodin fanpage. It was "Made in the Netherlands by a really big fan." I was going to put it at the bottom, but you've been patient enough.
    Getting back to the subject of horny teen housewives, I am a huge fan of the phrase "barely legal." My New Year's Resolution this year is to use that phrase all the time. This English Muffin I'm toasting right now is so fresh, it's barely legal! I'm going to dig a hole in my yard right now and I'm not going to stop until it's barely legal!
    I know what you're thinking, and don't worry... If I start enacting a New Year's resolution three months late, it's only fair that I continue describing everything as barely legal until April '05. One caveat: When I'm talking about something that I expect to happen after 4/05, I don't have to use the phrase.
    For example, by late 2005 I will complete work on my one-wheeled robot butler. He will have a painted-on tuxedo and monocle and a wrought iron mustache that will rotate back and forth when he talks.  I will call him either RoboButlerBot, RoboButBotLer, or perhpas Cyber-Jeeves-odroid the Electrobutlertron. I will program him to say adorable things like "Please. I can't work any faster," and to have a mind-blowing crush on Lauren's grandmother.
    This month's song, "Kollector," is titillating pinch of pop-rock chew to place between your cheek and gum. It is now available for download, but I should warn you that downloading free MP3's off the Hard Taco Project site is only barely legal! I spelled Collector wrong on purpose because where I grew up, that's the way we pronounced it. It's not that I'm unaware of the correct spelling... it's just that spelling it phoenetically lets you know that I'm street smart and on the level.

With warmest regards,

Monday, March 1, 2004

Emotional Compatibility Quotient

Dear Friends,

  Hard Taco asks... What is Your Emotional Compatibility Quotient? Take our newest quiz to find out!

Question #1: Your significant other insists on paying for dinner every time, even though you make nearly twice as much money. Do you:
a) Let him/her pay. It's not worth the domestic turmoil and besides, that's more money for you to spend on hair care products.
b) Insist on paying at least the tip this time, and refuse to leave the restaurant until you get your way. 
c) Raise one fist in the air, slam a mind-splitting power chord on your guitar, and swing your sweat-drenched hair in circles, grimacing sardonically. 

Question 2: You have a date to have coffee with an old college buddy, but as usual, he's twenty minutes late. 
a) It's no big deal... some people are just more punctual than others. Besides, your cell phone has a great solitaire game. 
b) Say, "Hello, Mr. Show-Up-Whenever!" when he gets there and pout a little bit while he orders his cafe mocha.
c) Go down to the tattoo parlor and get a giant demon-winged death's head tattooed on your chest with a flaming snake coming out of its mouth. The snake will also have a skull head with skeletonized dragon wings and blood dripping off its fangs. It will also have inverted bloody crosses made out of bones instead of eyes, and each cross will have a crucified goat-demon on it with inverted pentagrams shooting out of its mouth.

Question #3: You accompany your parents to your grandmother's birthday party and you are soooo bored. You:
a) Sit in the corner and admire the Kleenex cozy she knitted, waiting patiently for Grandma and her friends to go to bed.
b) Start tugging on your mom's sleeve and whining as soon as you get to the nursing home parking lot.
c) Bang your head against your drum kit, kick over the bingo table and scream in German until you can taste blood in the back of your throat. Throw your flailing body through the China cabinet, tongue wagging, and then slam-dance with your great aunts until the police finally arrive and disable you with three times the usual dose of tranquilizer darts. 

Scoring: Give yourself 1 point for every "a", 2 points for every "b" and three points for every "c".

If your score is 1-8
You are timid and weak. You are a parasite living on pigs and worms. In due course, you will be willing herded to the slaughter along with everyone you know and a new society will rise from your smoldering cadavers. 

If your score is 9
You have potential to succeed in your relationships, but something is still holding you back. You need to focus less on pleasing others and stop living as if your parents are still watching your every move. You will be happier and healthier when you learn that it's okay to do something special just for yourself sometimes. 

We hope you enjoyed the quiz, and learned a lot about your Emotional Compatibility Quotient. The Hard Taco song for March is called, "The Medicine Show," and it's the opening number to a forthcoming musical by almost the same name.  From now on, you can assume that any song that seems to have a cast of thousands is probably part of this project, but I will try to remember to let you know which ones those are.  Also, don't forget to take our previous quizzes: "Are You a Slave to Your Pets?" and "Which Famous Author Are You Most Like In Bed?"

With warmest regards,

Sunday, February 1, 2004

Wisdom of a Founding Father

Dear friends,

  Every month I start my newsletter with those two words, and there is a reason. You are all my closest friends. Seriously!!! In fact, just thinking about it I find myself having to wipe a glorious single tear off my cheek. A few minutes ago I was really struggling to think of a greeting card-caliber proverb or a sentimental aphorism to match this symbolic tear, but my own mind wasn't inventive enough to express the appropriate degree of tenderness. That's when I decided to consult the hundred dollar man himself, Benjamin Franklin.  
  As you probably know, Benjamin Franklin wrote, "Poor Richard's Almanac," an entire book of quotes (most of which start with "I quote myself, saying...") Franklin penned this manifesto of maxims shortly after the Revolutionary War, during which he saw many of his most trusted companions become Tories and join the redcoats in battle against his countrymen. Many of his adages about friendship were especially apropos to these times, including:

"Beware old friends like meat twice boiled"
"Best friends, like fish, stink after three days"
"Two friends may keep a secret if both of them are dead."
"The only difference between friends and enemies is that enemies won't lend you the stick to beat them with."
"A friend is someone who will help you move. A real friend is someone who will help you move the first friend's body after you beat him to death with a stick."

  My views about friendship are much more traditional. In fact, I just came up with my own proverb:  "It's no coincidence that the words 'friendly' and 'friend' share the same root." I don't think one proverb is enough to publish a whole book of quotes, but I'm going to keep working on it.
  I am also working on a side project, which is to compile a complete list of real life best friends. I think I'm just about done, but if you can think of any more that should be on this list, let me know...

The Lone Ranger  -  Tonto
Blossom  -  Six
Mike Seaver -  Richard "Boner" Stabone
Ricky Schroder - Alfonso
Theo Huxtable - Cockroach

  The song for February is called, "Best Friends Forever." Even though I generally express myself best with lists (see above) I thought I'd give music a shot, too. A lot of people are asking me if the guy I'm singing the song with is actually my real life best friend. Unfortunately, my publicist has told me not to answer that question directly. I am supposed to segue back to plugging the last Hard Taco album or talk about the Golden Globes. 

With warmest regards,

Thursday, January 1, 2004

Why I Hate Terns

In this Week's Hard Taco Digest: 

1) Why I Hate Terns 

Dear friends,

  This is why I hate terns: 

  Project Puffin is an organization dedicated to reintroducing wild puffins into their natural habitats. Recently, my wife and I joined the Audobon Society's "Adopt-a-puffin" program. Our adopted puffin is a beautiful 26-year-old named Y22. She spends the summers with her lifemate Bi70 on Eastern Egg Rock, an historic nesting island in the Gulf of Maine. We have already received a good deal of correspondence from Y22 and her caregivers, and we have watched her grow over the last year. She has been seen loafing with other puffins, billing with Bi70 (a graceful puffin pair bonding ritual), and bringing white hake fish to her fledgling chick. All of this may sound rather droll to those of you who have never experienced the joys of parenthood, but to us, there is no greater joy than seeing our own Y22 nurturing a new baby puffling
  When I picked up the most recent issue of "The Egg Rock Gazette," I was shocked to learn that another animal protection group has moved in on Project Puffin territory. Some pencil pusher at the Audobon Center has decided to save money by repopulating the same island with Common Terns! For those of you who haven't had the great displeasure of meeting a tern, allow me to describe these filthy creatures. Terns are the ornithological equivalent of yipping lap dogs. They are small, hideously ugly, and have annoying high-pitched chirps. They do not have any adorable behaviors like "billing" or "loafing," and their chicks are called "hatchlings" rather than the infinitely cuter "pufflings." Basically, the Common Tern is only an endangered species because of its own stupidity and complete lack of any useful purpose whatsoever.  To make matters worse, these terns consume massive amounts of herring, white hake, and sand launce fish, the three dietary staples of the Atlantic Puffin. In just a few short years the terns already outnumber the puffins on Eastern Egg Rock with nearly 1600 chicks fledged! 
  I have also heard that terns come up a lot more often than puffins in crossword puzzles. Unfair.
  Now is the time for men and women of conscience to take action.  I'll be damned if I'm going to see one more of those gentle, loveable puffins crowded out of her ancestral nesting grounds by some brainless hake-stealing waterfowl. Please help me send the Audobon Society a strong message that we have zero tolerance for their shameless tern-promoting policies. Let the terns live, I say, but let them live somewhere else. Contact them at or visit them on the web at 

  The January Hard Taco song is called, "Dr. Fenwick's Snake Oil." Any and all profits I make off this song will be earmarked for disseminating my birdist propaganda. Enjoy. 

With warmest regards,