Monday, October 28, 2013


Pusher Upper
Blurry Sitter

Dan Gutstein

Running Time
47 seconds

Advance Praise
“A call to arms . . . and pecs.” —Flix

“Pectoral. Pictorial.” —Flex

“The lummox in flummox.” —Flux

Best Crotch Grab in a Silent Short

Best Front Stance in a Silent Short

Official Selection: Airport Station Film Festival

Thanks To
Everybody I know!



Spontaneous workouts!


Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Mr. Potato Head & Shoulders: Shampoo for Your Flaky Spud?

A few nights ago, amid quiet contemplation at home, I decided to post a “mash-up” on Facebook, in the hopes of eliciting a little wordplay competition from a friend or two. A similar post (“For Whom the Taco Bell Tolls”) a couple years ago had yielded some spirited commentary (my friend John McNally famously wrote, “Burger King Lear”, among many replies from many people) and I hoped for some of the same this time, by posting “Tae Bo Diddley.” Three people would join me to produce the bulk of a truly exceptional, stunning thread: the writers Joel Dias-Porter and Heather Fuller, and a former student of mine, Prithvi Jagganath, who proved his own mettle in devising many memorable mash-ups. In these moments, I do appreciate the Internet, as I haven’t seen Joel or Prithvi in person, in quite a while. A few days earlier, Joel had begun an “add a word, ruin a movie title” thread on his Facebook page, which drew many howlers from him and his friends. I took pride in my two contributions there—“An American in Paris Hilton” and “Gunfight at the Ofay Corral”—and therefore appreciated it when Joel conferred crucial early momentum upon “Tae Bo Diddley”, offering several comments, including “Doug E. Fresh Fields.” In the end, six people participated, by making 140 comments over approximately four hours. There were no rules but it was generally understood that we would rely upon celebrity names, book titles, catchphrase, place names, Americana, and institutional titles (e.g., corporate branding) for the bulk of our material. Some comments would influence those that followed. Some made me laugh aloud. Virtually all of them bore new meaning. By the end, this improvisation showcased a number of nuanced forms worthy of classification, to the extent possible, and brief review.

1. A B + B C = A B C. Perhaps the most common form of this wordplay mash-up, it relies upon two entities that share a common word or title. Examples: “Harrison Ford Taurus” (Prithvi) and “Weird Al Capone” (Heather).

2. Extension. This variation on the A B + B C continues the mash-up for another cycle, adding, in effect, a C D. Example: “Elizabeth Taylor Swift Boat” (Joel). This particular example starts with an actress, veers through a pop country music star, and ends with a controversial political attack, a feature of the 2004 American presidential race. In the end, the wronging of John Kerry can be laid at the feet of Elizabeth Taylor. Or perhaps the very craft bore her name.

3. Long Extension. Last year, I wrote a blogpost with the title “Midnight in the Olive Garden of Good and Evel Knievel,” which plays on a book title, a chain restaurant, and an American daredevil stunt man. It does not strictly follow, however, the A B + B C format, which we largely observed on Facebook. Example: “Rita Dove Soap Powder Keg of Beer Bellies” (Joel). If you slow down and read it, block by block, it’s an incredibly compact, fitting phrase, taking you, by way of addition, from the former Poet Laureate all the way to paunches borne of the suds.

4. Word within a Word. As opposed to the clean A B + B C, this form relies upon the reader discovering a word within a word in order to complete the mash-up. Examples: “Amelia Earhart attack” (Prithvi) and “Biscuit Carson” (Heather). In the latter, “Biscuit” stands alone but also presents a punning path to complete “Kit Carson.” Perhaps biscuits were the frontiersman’s favorite carbohydrate.

5. Front Loaded. In this example, the first half of the mash-up dominates the phrase, and at the same time, may employ the Word within a Word concept. Examples: “The Marlboro Manhattan” (Joel) and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo You” (Dan). This form, in particular, can create some sprinting and halting rhythmic possibilities.  

6. Acronym. In opposition to the Front Loaded example above, this form seems to create a slower clop at first, with more speed as the mash-up completes. Examples: “ROFL LMAO Tse-Tung” (Prithvi) and “KFC Everett Koop” (Dan).

7. Replacement-phone. This form relies on the reader’s ability to substitute a “homophone”, i.e., a same-sounding word, in order to complete the mash-up. Example: “50 Cent of a Woman” (Prithvi). The rapper 50 Cent begins the mash-up, but the reader must supply “Scent” for the film title, Scent of a Woman. The magic, of course, resides in the secondary meaning(s)—a beggar’s plaintive plea? or half of a woman made of a dollar? (or a larger amount?) etc. Oy!

8. Pun. To some extent, all of this was punning, but some of the replies further referred to the subject’s primary orientation. Example: “Kierkegaarden of Eden” (Dan). As a Christian philosopher, Kierkegaard may well have advocated a belief in the ‘fundamental households’ of faith—as a sign of spiritual health. What better household than Adam and Eve’s crib?

9. Self-Reference. It’s important to say who you are. Example: “HillBilly Joel Dias-Porter.” However you may see yourself, it’s still rock ‘n’ roll to me.

10. Complete Transformation. Enter “Remember the a la mode” (English III; his only comment on this thread) and “Pussy Galore’n Greene” (Heather). The latter mixes a 007 villainess with Lorne Greene, of Bonanza and Battlestar Galactica fame, in effect establishing a two-headed, transgender, double-agent space commander of sorts. The former ended the entire thread: a simultaneous forlorn farewell to old strongholds with a side scoop of ice cream melting on the battlements.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


Looks like pretty good cardio.

10. Attempt to Defuse. Most melees benefit from a spark, a ‘drunken escalation’ that cooler heads could smother. If one of the belligerents, for example, asserts “Your friend has a beef with my brother” then offer to buy the brother (and the belligerent) some beef, preferably some burgers on 2-for-1 night. Think of the health benefits—no broken bones!—of chopped steak in a bun!

9. Stay Put. If a scrum or ruck breaks out, don’t move. The reason being: everyone in a ruckus reacts and then they experience damage to life, limb, or property. Imagine a zen-like stance in which all the bar stools, bowling pins, dip cans, beer slicks, monopoly pieces, hairbrushes, ashcans, Grecian urns, French-fried potatoes, invective, and rubber snakes crash around you.

8. Forget Civility. Contrary to what you might think, you do not enjoy protection under the Geneva Convention, among other treaties. You cannot become a prisoner of war in a brawl since it places an undue administrative burden on the other side. Calling the cops would only add a third side to the conflict, a side notorious for taking everybody, regardless of justice, as prisoner.

7. Suggested Tactics. The Consultant-in-Scrums to Blood And Gutstein (Anonymous, Marine Corps, Ret.) offers one word: Epiglottis. Disable the epiglottis and the opponent will tumble. Of course, in a scrum, you might need to disable several epiglottises. We also advise pinches, eye-pokes, tickles, nose-pulls, wallet-grabs, and sycophantism: basically the Three Stooges playbook.

6. If Those Don’t Work. Go crazy. Scream like a wildebeest. Beat your bosom and lash out in all directions, even if that means walloping a friend. Chances are that friend did something to wrong you at some point and deserves a clatter. There you are, going crazy, and what? The melee ceases. Everybody has grabbed hold of everybody else, but paused, staring at you going nuts.

5. If You Detect a Foreign Language. Beware words like “Fook” and “Feck” as they may indicate the beginnings of a considerable ruckus. Listen carefully for other clues. If, for example, you hear the thumpety-thump of darts into a dartboard then the words “Fook” and “Feck” should not be feared, and at worst, may indicate the misfortune of a shanked treble.

4. Consider the Landscape. If a brawl erupts at the ocean, you have one fewer direction in which to run. The waves are there to toss you back toward the rumble, and so you really can’t swim away. Potentially, the entire rumble could transpire in the surf, which might attract the attention of sharks. (Jets, too.) Shark-human alliances are rare; sharks usually devour all the combatants.

3. Nursing Physical Wounds. Click over to Google Wounds to get a real-time view of the contusions you sustained in a scrum. It’s a helpful app. You can also get directions to the original site of your wounds, estimate the time it’ll take to heal your wounds, and rate your wounds—you know, give them, like, four bandages out of five. Otherwise, apply plasters and lean meats.

2. Nursing Psychic Wounds. We at Blood And Gutstein realize that there are wounds, and there is trauma. Let’s talk trauma. We mean the invisible mark of a melee that endures—like the stranded Cosmonaut—in the dark vacuum of your soul. Or maybe that’s just the odor of really bad beer that even the old Arm & Hammer can’t manage to cleanse from shirt and trouser alike.

1. Should You Attend Your 25 Year Melee Reunion? We think you should. You get to see how things have turned out for everyone in the melee. Well, everyone who’s not incarcerated. People have put on weight. Started families. Self-radicalized their politics. Of course, there’s always the risk of another brawl, but isn’t that just part of the essential tension that informs our lives?

This post dedicated to Terence Winch.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


Your ENT is fond of Springsteen (in an average summer.) 

It gets so you can’t hear well enough out of one ear—the radio news, your footsteps in the stairwell, the street traffic, the subway intercom—it gets so you can’t hear very much at all to the left. The stuff you gather as ‘thumps’ are not thumps, you can’t say what they are, because you can’t gather, at all, and besides, what ‘thumps’ anymore to the left? You drink a couple pints of stout at the pub until it’s time for your appointment. It’s a dry sun outside, a fine warm day with people acting reasonably (for a change) in their paces between office and lunch counter. The guy in ragged clothing, rattling coins in a cup, doesn’t say “Help the hummus” but that’s what you hear because, yeah, you can’t hear.

An ear technician, not the doctor, greets you. He’s enthusiastic about aural hygiene and could lead some kind of ear workout on morning television, beside that tae bo fellow. He applies salves and lineaments and solutions. After a spell, he starts working a plug of earwax this way and that, until it pops out with a suction-y “boop” kind of noise. It’s crabapple in size. “I’ve got to fetch the doctor!” he yells. He returns with the doctor and several staffers who ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh.’ “Get a picture!” someone says. “Not so loud!” you say. You can hear again. “Please don’t post that on social media,” you whisper. Even to whisper is loud. Optimism, and its three grand syllables (or four?) appeals of a sudden.

The doctor hangs around. He’s got to probe your nodes and such. “Hum something,” he orders. “Epistrophy” comes to mind. You hum some Monk. The doctor wrinkles his nose. “What’s that?” he says. “Thelonious Monk,” you say. “Who?” he says. You make a “how do I explain” face. “Couldn’t you hum some Springsteen?” It takes you a minute to figure this out. “HUMMM hum-hum-hum-hum HUMMM!” you say. “Was that so hard?” says the ear doctor. You shake your head, lying. “Where’d you hear that?” he says. “Everywhere,” you say, tapping both ears. “That’s good,” he says. “Cured.” He fills your ear full of antibiotic. “But I heard the Monk everywhere, too,” you add, in protest.

You carry your chart to the front desk at the same time as Tom Ridge carries his chart to the front desk. He gets to check-out first, because he’s Tom Ridge. Out in the hallway, the elevator dings, like, really loud. “This way, Mr. Secretary,” you say, giddy with hearing. He squints at you as the doors close. “We rode an airplane together,” he says. He adds, “The writerrr,” meaning you. “I can’t believe you remember that!” you say. “Two years ago!” Tom Ridge taps his temple: “Keeping the Homeland safe.” You reply, in exasperation, “I haven’t done anything to the Homeland!” The doors open. Tom Ridge points his finger at you as he turns the corner to the pharmacy. It’s a zinger, you realize, a zinger.