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Remembering 'Two Guys' And Its Unintentional Gay-Affirming Ad Slogan

Two guys store


Gay men have regularly been the target of fire-and-brimstone types who admonish that, according to the Bible, two men who "lay" with each other is an abomination.  Happily, this never caused me any sleepless nights.  However, their admonition about forbidden love came to mind when I moved to New Jersey in 1979 to begin my first job across the Hudson in New York.  During my initial weeks I became aware of a chain of discount stores called 'Two Guys'.  What got my attention was the store's tag line, "Two Guys ... "Naturally".  I was taken aback, what was up with that?  This vexed and amused me all at the same time because it was diametrically opposed to what society was constantly telling homosexuals. 




I found it curious that no one else seemed to give it a second thought.  I suppose it was because 1) they grew up with the store and 2) if they were heterosexual they never had the "laying with another man" line thrown at them.  (This was different from the Ben Gay brand,  which everyone snickered at.)  And it wasn't as if the store was founded from a wellspring of enlightenment and tolerance since the first store opened in the gay Dark Ages of the 1940s.  Then I read about the store's history and I discovered that the word "naturally" was part of a longer tag line that was shortened from, "We save money for you at Two Guys ... naturally."  So this was just a matter of my gay wiring putting a comical, ironic spin to it (as we homosexuals are wont to do).  Alas, the chain went out of business in the early 1990s.  It was ironic that as gay men rose in acceptance the store with the peculiar, suggestive name foundered.


Two guys naturally tote     


























Manhattan Mini-Storage Ad Features Creepy Gay Couple





Ads for Manhattan Mini-Storage (found mostly on the sides of buildings and in subway cars) are known for being topical as well as possessing a New York City "edge" to them (bringing to mind ads for Kenneth Cole).  And quite a few have an amusing gay sensibility to them.  However, one of the company's new ads that I've been seeing in subway cars creeps me out.  It features a smiling gay couple who have a peculiar look to them, half Stepford Wives, half Madam Tussaud's Wax Museum.  (I believe the model in the red sweater is one of the company's customer service agents.)  Another aspect of the ad that drew my attention is the headline that reads "We Like Musicals".  They just "like" musicals?  That makes them even more peculiar. However, despite their off-putting look, this wax-like duo still exudes more sexual chemistry than Modern Family's Mitchell and Cameron.




One last attention grabber is found on the square ad format displayed in subway cars.  Unlike the ad above, this format (which I've zoomed in on below) shows their crotches, revealing quite a "package" on the Black partner.  (And as those who ride the subway know, you can be standing for a while, so you find yourself staring at what's in front of you and end up studying it closely.)



Tattoos - Why?

Tattoo1In the late 1970s gay men embraced what became known as the "clone" look, which featured a flannel shirt, mustache and a hanky in a rear pocket (one's sexual proclivities were communicated by the color of the hanky and in which pocket it was displayed).  Painter's pants and a Lacoste shirt with an upturned collar were de riguer in the early eighties.  Then the look transformed into that of the AIDS activist, which was characterized by a Silence=Death t-shirt and Doc Martens.  Come the mid-nineties and the "Chelsea Boy" look emerged, characterized by earrings, piercings, soul patch, a shaved chest and a gym body to show it all off.  And now in the 21st century tattoos and beards predominate.  But while you can take off a flannel shirt or remove piercings, that's not so easy with a tattoo.  Like a mole or birthmark, it's more or less permanent (and will likely clash with whatever new fads come along.)


Tattoos.comparisonWhat compels someone to adorn themselves with these irreversible markings?  Narcissism easily comes to mind, or an extreme need for attention (especially true for those sporting expansive/intrusive tats).  Probably more people observe such body art with puzzlement as in admiration.  As I see it, getting a prominent tattoo would be akin to me being so enchanted with a necktie that I never want to take it off, no matter the occasion.  I'd wear it with a suit, at the gym, on the beach, in the shower, etc. 


Tattoo.on.ass.paul.doran.jonesDon't get me wrong, some of the more complex tattoos are works of art, and they're further enhanced when displayed on a beautiful body.  But why would someone want to look like they should be hanging on the wall of an art gallery?  (If Michelangelo were alive today perhaps he might have chosen to etch his masterpiece on his boyfriend's muscled back rather than on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel!)  I admit that some tattoos enhance sex appeal, especially if they're found at the nape of the neck, on the lower back or the buttocks (as pictured).  Understated, sparse and concealed adds to the appeal.  However, when I'm in bed with a man I prefer my mind not be distracted by an expansive tattoo covering pecs, stomach, back, neck, etc.  If I want to see a work of art I'll visit MOMA.


SailorsandtattoosOf course, tattoos aren't a gay-only adornment.  In fact, they've been handed down to us by generations of dockworkers, sailors, boxers, Maori tribesmen and other hyper-masculine archetypes - which may be why some gay men are drawn to them (similar to the appeal of "bears" and the '70s clone look).  But is worshipping at this altar of virility worth the price?  (The same question can be asked about steroids.)


Smoothskin Excessive.tattoosThe gay tattoo fad seems to have lasted longer than most, probably because so many "trendsetters" themselves have tattoos.  Stuck with them, they're likely loathe to admit to being stuck with a tired look.  However, when a new generation of ink-less fashionistas annoints the next must-have look, it may be traumatic for those saddled with tattoos.  A new support group may be on the horizon.



Fire Island Memories: My Wonder Years (1996 - 2002)




Earlier this summer I wrote a post about my experiences at Fire Island in the years before I took a share there (1981-1995).  This post highlights experiences during my share in the Pines on Driftwood Walk between 1996 and 2002.  During these seven years four of us were housemates every summer while sixteen others had a share for at least one of these summers.  While not quite an expose like Hollywood Babylon (no names are named), nonetheless what follows is a bit dishy, a touch titillating.



What kept me from taking a share in Fire Island for so many years was my impression that getting out there was such a hassle, i.e., take a subway to Penn Station to catch a train; then change trains at Jamaica or Babylon; get off in Sayville, and rush to a van that took you to the ferry; and once off the ferry, a schlep to the house.  However, it turned out the 2-1/2 hour journey wasn't all that bad, especially since I often traveled with housemates. 

Looking back at it, what sticks in mind most is the acronym BIGOS, which helped in remembering the stations between Bay Shore and Sayville ('I' was for Islip, 'G' for Great River and 'O' for Oakdale).  At Oakdale I'd get up and make my way to the door so I could hop off at Sayville and get to a waiting van ahead of the other eager boys swarming off the train.

Another useful piece of information was that the walk from Pines harbor to our house took about eight minutes.  This was especially helpful when deciding what time to leave the house when heading to the ferry for the to the City on Sunday evening.




In all my years, the worst travel experience was on Labor Day 1998 when a severe thunderstorm struck mid-afternoon, causing widespread disruptions on the Long Island Railroad.  After waiting for two hours for the train at Sayville, a group of us took a taxi up to Ronkonkoma where we got a train not affected by power problems.  I ended up walking into my apartment at 11:00 rather than 8:00.

In 1999 the LIRR started running double-decker (or bi-level) trains from Babylon.  However, despite their technical advance, the new cars had a pitiful lack of room for luggage in the racks above the seats.  Also, these new trains presented riders with a new decision - whether to sit in the upper or lower berth ("tops" or "bottoms" could sit in either, there was no segregation).  This was similar to the decision when boarding the ferry. 



My housemates joked that my primary role at the house was to be the eye candy who greeted visitors on our deck, where I'd be sitting on a chaise lounge reading Entertainment Weekly.




Sometimes my welcome was extended from the pool.




Of course, I took part in other house activities such as grocery shopping, cutting veggies for dinner and loading the dishwasher after dinner.  I also organized the house's photos.  And one summer I bought a manually operated ice crusher as a gift for the house.  Inexplicably, I was the only one who used it (I now have it in my apartment).


My unappreciated gift.


While my primary reason for spending time out at FIP was relaxation, some housemates loved to have projects.  I contentedly observed, from a distance, while they installed solar panels on the roof to heat the swimming pool, put in a sprinkling system to water the flowers during the week, and constructed a wet bar out on the deck. 



The Meat Rack was just a three or four-minute walk from our house.  My first time there was in the black of night, and as I cautiously made my way through the sandy paths enshrouded in shrubs, and low hanging tree branches, the movie Blair Witch Project kept coming to mind.  However, on nights of a full moon there was no trouble finding your way around, and the place truly became a wonderland.  (As Olivia Newton John and John Travolta said so well in Grease, "Oh, those summer nights!")  However, as the summers went by I gravitated to daytime "walks" because I wanted to see the merchandise before touching it.

During these summers I went on dates back in the City with eight gents I met out in the Pines, six of whom I was "introduced" to in the Meat Rack.



On Labor Day weekend in 2000 I bumped into a fellow at Sip'n Twirl who I had dated briefly after we met on Labor Day weekend ten years earlier.  Magic happened and we ended up walking out to the moonlit beach where we had a passionate "reunion".  The next day I saw him and told him how much fun the night before had been, but he was very aloof and, poof!, the magic was gone.



In May 1998, a boyfriend and I were the only ones out during a chilly and rainy weekend.  What should have been a romantic weekend turned sour.  John was agitated because our house didn't have a TV (at his apartment he had two that were always on, and tuned to different channels).  And he didn't help with cooking or cleaning up afterwards.  Tension flared, sex was withheld, and on Sunday we broke up.



Like most houses on the Island, ours had a flagpole over the house and a flag holder in the entrance way by the door to the deck.  One of the duties for those who arrived first each weekend was choosing two flags from our extensive inventory.  My favorites were the flags of Barbados, Djibouti, Estonia, Panama, the Seychelles and Tanzania.







Compared to other houses, ours was rather tame as far as drama went.  Still, if life in our house had been presented as a reality series, here are some of the moments that might have been highlighted:

  • A housemate was baking a cake in the oven and asked me to take it out when the timer went off.  However, although I was sitting at the dining room table, and another housemate was reading the newspaper in the living room, neither one of us heard the timer go off, and the cake was singed.  It turned out it was my birthday cake.
  • Pines celebrity Robin Byrd supposedly walked off with a box of our paper towels after they were unloaded from the ferry.
  • Here are just a few of the personl slights I suffered:  1. A housemate chastised me for pronouncing Long Island with a hard 'g'.  2. I was ridiculed for not knowing how to flick open a fan, and fan myself coquettishly.  3. A dinner guest asked me if anyone had ever told me I looked like Smithers from the Simpsons.  (The house was divided on whether it was a slight or an innocent comment.)  4. Finally, one summer my last name was misspelled in the Pines phone directory, jeopardizing my chances at being tracked down by someone I exchanged names with at tea, in the Pantry ... or elsewhere.  
  • After one of our housemates broke up with his boyfriend we learned that the ex had a brother in prison, convicted of murdering two strangers he thought were his parents.
  • Another housemate was a lawyer who had a gay couple who owned an architectural firm as a client.  After a lengthy litigation was decided in their favor, they had the audacity to claim poverty and refused to pay, but  expected to keep their settlement - which, as their attorney, our housemate had control of.  (Ironically, their lawsuit was against a client who didn't pay them!)  This couple had a house in the Pines and if any of us was seen saying hello to either one we were given grief.
  • During the last night of my first summer, I had a dream in which I was given my drag name - Collette Whatchoowant.  Obviously, a French Canadian Indian princess.
  • Two housemates were the primary chefs and they never met a piece of meat they didn't think could be enhanced by smothering with an apricot or prune compote.
  • During the 4th of July weekend in 2002 all of Fire Island was inconvenienced by "rolling blackouts" that lasted for 2-4 hours.  They began on Saturday evening, and after a few hours, one of our housemates broke the monotony by putting on a wedding dress he just happened to have at the house, and glided down Fire Island Boulevard in the pitch darkness, creating an eerie, spectral image. 
  • The "Wig Wall" was always there to liven up any dinner party.



Houses held parties that were either charity events or parties with a theme.  Ours held the latter.  The Hat Party took place in the first or second week of August and was a late afternoon/early evening affair (5-8:00).  Guests wore a hat, simple as that.  Some used no imagination and came with a baseball cap (but if they arrived bare chested, no one noticed) while others put a lot of thought and creativity into their hat.  In general between 125 and 150 attended.  Raw veggie platters and cold shrimp were served.  The biggest debate would come weeks before when the design of the invitation was debated.


Hat Party 1999


Hat Party 2002



At the close of the 1999 season huge pipes were laid on the beach to bring in sand being dredged from the ocean's floor.  It attracted quite a crowd, probably because the season's big parties were over and this was the most excitement to be had in early October.





The first few summers I was attached to my bottle of Skin so Soft to keep mosquitoes away.  Then, because of West Nile Virus, there was a major effort at spraying the island to eradicate the breeding grounds of mosquitoes.  From that point on I didn't need protection.  However, sand fleas still tormented me whenever I tried to lie out on the beach, biting my ankles.




Just because it's a carefree weekend destination, doesn't mean FIP is immune from reminders of our mortality.  For instance, an ex-boyfriend of one of our housemates was found dead on his deck, a victim of a heart attack; he was only in his 40s.  Then there was the fellow who collapsed and died on the dance floor of the Pavilion (Aug. 1998).  One person drowned in the ocean in the vicinity of Fisherman's Wharf (Labor Day 1999), while another was found dead in a swimming pool at a house on Ocean Walk (4th of July 1999).  I was also at the house the weekends Princess Diana and John Kennedy, Jr. died in 1997 and 1999, respectively.  Because we didn't have a TV, and no wireless internet back then, we depended on the houses that had TV for updates.



Since most of my time on the Island was spent in a bathing suit, it was an important purchase.  Every summer I'd buy one or two to add to my collection.  There were four in particular I favored (all square cuts).  One was a cotton, black/white checked number, a second had a blue-pink geometric pattern, another was a turquoise number by Raymond Dragon with a vertical white and metallic sliver stripe, and, finally, my favorite (seen below) was navy with a a vertical yellow-white-yellow stripe on one side.  One of my boyfriends went wild whenever I wore it.  (He asked me to give it to him if I ever decided to throw it out.  I haven't been able to find it, so perhaps he took off with it.)


The most favorite of them all




Alas, after constant exposure to bright sun, chlorinated pool water and salt water from the ocean, they, like we humans, faded. 



And here is the final look at the deck of our house before we closed the door on the 2002 season ...


A fond farewell to the summer.













The Fad of Gay Parenting: How Much Longer Will It Last?

Gaydads.book When I see giddy gay daddies toting around their kids, I think of the tattoo craze.  Although it peaked a few years ago, those sporting one are stuck with them.  And I think that gay men with kids is another fad (this isn't an issue with lesbians, who don't possess the "Hey, look at me!" gene).  But unlike that Brazilian boyfriend who was so enthralling for the first year when he was brought in to spice up a stale relationship, kids can't be sent packing after the sparkle wears off (nor can you hope they'll scope out another couple with even more money and move on).  Yes, one of the daddies may split (as BD Wong or Ricky Martin can attest) but little ones are a responsibility that can't be stuffed into the back of a walk-in closet.





Eltonjohn-davidfurnish-usmagazineOnce the kiddies age out of their darling "accessory" phase, and no longer warrant fawning attention of friends and family, some gay fathers may come to the sobering realization (behind their Potemkin facade) that, unlike last year's fashions, they won't be able to drop off Jamal or Sophia at Housing Works.  Already the general public's interest in the trend appears to be waning, as suggested by the cancellation of the TV show The New Normal.  Despite its Ryan Murphy pedigree and attractive male couple, it never caught on.  (Perhaps viewers got their fill of gay parenting from Modern Family's Cam and Mitch and daughter Lily.) 


So adorable now ...


Twenty years ago if you saw a gay man looking haggard it was a safe assumption he was either ill or had been at a circuit party.  Now, however, chances are good he's raising kids.  And as these cherubs suck every last drop of fabulousness from their existence, gay daddies may come to appreciate, as the baroness did in The Sound of Music, the wonderful institution known as boarding school.  That, my friends, will be the next big fad.




PradaFinally, travel Pop.tartscompanies and marketers of luxury goods will take a hit as gay parents spend what was previously discretionary dollars on mundane necessities for their kids, such as clothes, Pop Tarts and Chips Ahoy cookies, toys (no, not those kind,) healthcare items and education (boarding school as well as college).   


(Besides lesbians, I don't believe this will be an issue with gay fathers who don't live in major metropolitan areas, especially New York, LA and San Francisco.)



Why Do Some Gay Men Take Their Husband's Last Name?



In the past year three gay friends of mine were married and took their husband's last name.  I found this curious and pondered why they made such a decision.  Rather than just ask them, I brought it up for discussion a few weeks ago while having cocktails (vodka gimlets) with some friends and we drew up a list of possible reasons, which you'll find below. 


  • I never liked my last name (especially true if it was Dick, Pansy or Swisher).
  • Since we both refer to each other as "husband", by taking his name friends will know he's the "top" (or earns more money).




  • I'm getting back at my homophobic, unsupportive family.  (Could pose a problem if both feel this way; if so, a coin toss is recommended.)
  • My family disowned me so I'm disowning their name.
  • My homophobic family paid me $25,000 to take my partner's name.




  • With my husband and I both having Polish last names, each with 15 letters and no vowels, we didn't want to inflict a hyphenated name like that on our friends.




  • It was the only way Sal's Italian family from Bensonhurst would accept our marriage (and especially Nonna).




  • As a Republican I wish for life the way it was back in the 1950s (except for the way homosexuals were treated) and this is my way of paying tribute. 
  • I don't want to make it difficult for debt collectors, old boyfriends or anyone from my high school days to be able to track me down.




  • I believe I'm the reincarnation of Laura Petrie so there was never a question in my mind that I would take my husband's name.




  • I like being the center of attention and my decision will always be a topic of conversation among family, friends and work associates  (even if they roll their eyes when they talk about it - doesn't matter!)




  • My partner told me to do it if I loved him.  Otherwise he'd beat the crap out of me.  (But he really loves me.)  And consider going back to his ex.  (He does.)




  • By subsuming my identity I show solidarity with my mother.
  • Although I'm from Iowa I always fantasized having a Brazilian last name.  (So what if Paulo still hasn't found a job.  Or that he just told me he has a wife and two kids down in Recife.)




  • My husband promised to buy me a washer and drier.


Over dinner, after sobering up, we agreed that the most likely reasons were #1 and #3.


Nighttime in the Middle East: Wall-to-Wall, Horny Young Men

Middleeasternmen2With women in many parts of the Arab World largely barred from venturing outside once the sun goes down (and they're not very welcome in the light of day either), the streets at night are teeming with men.  And, believe me, they aren't spending all of their time studying the Koran, talking politics or plotting ways to cause mayhem in the West.  With the vast majority of them young, unmarried and horny, thoughts of sex are likely never far from their mind.  Since women aren't around to satisfy their carnal desires, what recourse do they have?   


Women.in.burkasConsidering how virulently homophobic Muslim society is, it's comical that their religious leaders (or local chapter of the Taliban) have created an environment, similar to prison, in which homosexual sex is one of the only viable options available for single men seeking "release."  Similar to "Don't ask, don't tell," furtive gay sex goes on behind closed doors (the Muslim "DL"), but come daylight and homosexuality is condemned.  And woe to anyone who's openly gay in the light of day - that is an abomination met with severe punishment, even death.  (Note to Western gays: Muslim men on their knees with their butts in the air during the daytime are praying.)


Assuming the "receptive" position, five times a day.


Larry.craig Ted.haggard However, a similar dysfunctional dynamic holds sway here in the good ol' USA with the Religious Right.  The more vehemently some of them condemn homosexuality, chances are it's a smokescreen to hide their true nature and clandestine same-sex assignations.  (Larry Craig and Ted Haggard, left, are two shining examples).  Or, perhaps they're just angry that others are living the life they desire.  And, oh, do they love to talk about homosexual sex (hello, Rick Santorum!)  400 years after it was written by Shakespeare, the famous line from Hamlet still rings very true in both the Middle East and the West:  "The lady doth protest too much, methinks."



Shrinking Violets & Hothouse Flowers in the Men's Locker Room

Lockerroom2 MenslockerroomsignA locker room is a cross-section of gym members all possessing unique quirks when it comes to body image.  I find myself most fascinated by two types - those guys who timidly change and, at the other end of the spectrum, the extroverts who can't spend enough time strutting around and putting on a little show.  And their lockers are often side-by-side, making the contrast even more striking. 


The "hothouse flowers" take their time drying off, shaving, putting on moisturizer.  Some do this with everything swinging in the breeze.  Others wear stylish/sexy briefs that they like to prance around in.  If a rotating stand was available I'm sure these preening peacocks would eagerly step up on it (a la American Bandstand's "spotlight dance"). 




Meanwhile, the shrinking violets change under their towels (aka "the towel dance") as if they were at a school for Muslim girls (I'm sure the Taliban would approve of their modesty).  And it's not the older, out-of-shape guys - it's the younger, cute ones.  Curiously, I've seen some of them strutting around on the workout floor in tight fitting shorts and tanks, yet they become blushing virgins in the close confines of the change room.  Perhaps it's generational, as many young adults when in high school weren't required to take showers after Phys Ed.  (Or, perhaps, it's one more anti-social behavior to blame on social media?)




As for me, I lean towards the hothouse category, i.e, I walk to the shower without wrapping my towel around myself because it's just a 10-scond walk, so why bother?  But I do hang my towel in front of my privates as I walk (after all, I didn't read Emily Post's book on etiquette for nothing.)




(While doing research on this subject I came across a post on the blog The Straight Dope titled, Why Do Men Do the "Underwear Towel Dance at the Gym?  The responses it elicited were very illuminating.)

Cities & Towns With Names That Evoke Gay Life

FruitlandA few years ago my Secret Santa gave me a fun book titled All Over the Map.  It grouped US towns and cities into all sorts of categories, such as "Sex","Food" and "Shakespeare"; the categorization was the inspiration for this post.  During a long delay at La Guardia Airport this past Christmas I pulled out my smartphone and began Googling every state, scanning the names of their cities and towns to see if any piqued my gay sensibility.  I got a kick from those that appeared to be either the brainchild of a closeted gay alderman from the 19th century or the name of a town in a bad gay novel.


HomosassaThe only criteria for consideration was the ability of a town's name to trigger a gay association.  For instance, Knob Lick, Missouri made me think of Modern Family's gay daddy Cam, who is from the state.  Effie brought to mind Effie from Dreamgirls.  I associated Felch Township with a sex act that I've never experienced (nor want to).  Sondheimer made me think of Stephen.  And I associated Lu Verne with a drag queen.  Of the 40 or so listed below, my favorites are De Queen, Fruit Heights, Gayville, Homosassa and Fancy Gap.



As I read through the names I thought up some of my own that could be viable candidates, such as Treasure Trail, Fabulous, Ballsack, Boa, Power Bottom, Harness and Taint Springs - none which would seem out of place in a state like Texas.  Interestingly, popular gay resorts don't have names that play on their gay visitors, e.g., Pines, Cherry Grove, Provincetown, Ogunquit, Saugatuck, Rehoboth, Palm Springs, Ft. Lauderdale, and Key West.


Town State
Balltown IA
Bear River WY
Beardstown IL
Bearsville NY
Big Timber MT
Boy River MN
Bruce SD
Buttzville NJ
Carlos MN
Cumby TX
Cumming GA, IA
De Queen AR
Dix NE
Effie MN
Fancy Gap VA
Fruit Heights UT
Fruitdale AL, SD
Fruitland Park ID
Fruitland  FL, IA, MD, NM
Fruitport MI
Fruitvale TX
Gay GA
Gayville SD
Guysville OH
Homosassa FL
Knob Lick MO
Lake Mary FL
Lu Verne IA
Manly IA
Maryville TN
Mint Spring VA
Nuttsville VA
Queen City MO, TX
Rainbow City AL
Sondheimer LA
Swisher IA
Tea SD
Three Way TN
Warm River ID
Young Harris GA



A Large Penis Doesn't Alway Impress

Penis.sizeI'm amused whenever a guy tells me his dick is 10-1/2 inches - as if he expects me to bow reverently and beg him to come home with me.  Hardly.  As others have probably discovered themselves (men as well as women), that's simply too big for either orifice.  It may be tempting in theory, but in practice the appeal diminishes.  Although you can hold it in your hands, that's pretty much the extent of the interaction.  As for me, I run the other way.  Sorry Mandingo, but as Shania Twain once said, "It don't impress me much."  Since the average size of a man's penis is 5-1/2 inches, seven inches is plenty big enough.  After all, as the song by Henry Glover says so well, "It ain't the meat, it's the motion."


Monster.in.my.pantsOf course, whenever a supposedly horse hung individual tries to beckon me, I put him off gently.  Since their endowment is likely crucial to their self worth, I don't want to crush the poor guy.  (Fred Schneider, of B-52's fame, wrote an amusing tribute in their honor titled "Monster".)