Saturday, December 5, 2009

Things I Miss (And Don't) About Utah. A List.

I was rather surprised at my feelings when my plane touched down last week in Salt Lake City on my trip "home" for Thanksgiving. I didn't feel like I was going home. I felt, rather, that I was visiting family away from home. It gave cause to reflect on why I would feel that way. I've since been doing an inventory on the things I miss, and don't, about Utah:

I miss the mountains. Not only are they beautiful and I wish that I'd spent time in them, but they are also my reference point for knowing where the hell I am at any given time. I could be bludgeoned with a tire iron, hauled into some remote field, and left for dead, and I'd still know exactly where I was, based on my relative position to the mountains. In Austin I have no clue where I am. Ever. If it weren't for my Garmin I'd be lost and starved by now. Incidentally I've named my Garmin "Stella." It makes sense that when she leads me astray or can't acquire satellites that I yell "STELLLAAAAAAAA!" It's poetic.

I miss seasons. In Utah we have four very distinct seasons. Hot dry summers, brisk beautiful autumns, butt cold snowy winters, and breezy lovely springs. In Austin we have insufferably hot summers and eight months of something else.

I don't miss shoveling snow.

I don't miss the religious separation of classes. This exists whether we understand it or not, whether we choose it or not. On some level, subconscious or conscious, there is a theological and societal wedge placed between the LDS and the non. I have done my best to bridge that gap and dissolve that line, and I consider myself an open-minded believer, but there will always be residual thoughts. "I wonder what that guy sipping the wine at Carver's story is. Was he born Momo? What changed?" In Texas I never ever EVER think along those lines. It is refreshing and healthy. I am elated that my kids will have an opportunity to grow up in this environment. I most definitely do not miss the religious zealots that alienate good people based on their beliefs or lack of conviction. Similarly I do not miss the narrow-minded, hard-hearted, jaded folk that form negative feelings and actions for an entire religion based on a handful of bad experiences with said zealots. If I followed that approach and formed opinions based on the way I've been treated outside the Momo-bubble, I'd hate half the free world by now.

I miss our monthly dinners and game nights with Spencer and Shane. Lots of laughs, great friends, and I can now braid a scarf with style.

I miss having my family and good friends no more than 30 minutes away at any given time. They are support when I'm sad, cheerleaders when I succeed, advisors when I'm conflicted, and always there to love me.

To a much lesser degree, however, I feel it important that I am not close to them....for a time. I am counting on this experience of distance being vital to the happiness and closeness of my immediate family. When your cheerleaders, advisors, and supporters are thousands of miles away, you are forced to create new solutions...hopefully within your own immediate family and newfound friends. I really believe this.

I don't miss The Holy War.

I miss going to concerts with my short-lived show group. We saw some incredible shows...Wilco and Ray Lamontagne were my highlights. The weekly Gallivan shows were always fun and something to look forward to.

I don't miss the crowds at the Gallivan shows. Whether it be the many thousands of preteen girls onsite to catch that one moderately decent song Iron and Wine had on the Twilight soundtrack, or the throngs of drunken frat boys looking for something to do besides shoot pool or watch MMA, that blessed event has gotten completely out of control. Three years ago I'd take my kids and we would dance on the lawn while the bands played. Now you can't even SEE the lawn, let alone sit or dance on it. People are crammed into that space like twitchy sardines too big for their aluminum prison. They either need to start charging at the gate or move venue. Or, my personal favorite, they should have a 10 question survey about the band(s) playing that night at the gate. If you pass with 70% or better then you can go in. Otherwise you fail and are sent to the E Centre to see Poison and Styx.

I miss a road and highway system that makes sense. Salt Lake's grid system is brilliantly designed. That's something we take for granted. It might not be the most creative system in the country, but it's sure logical. This Austin system of parralel freeways, tollways, and feeder roads, is a living nightmare.

I miss Utah traffic. Comparitively speaking, it is NOT traffic. It's a few cars on a dirt road. Try the parking lot Austinites know as I-35 at 3:00 in the afternoon. It's actually a great time to get some emails done.

I don't miss Utah drivers. In SLC, being cut off or not signaling before a turn is nigh unto an act of treason against the crown. All those drivers think they have a halo of 20 feet considered "safe space" around their car. Anyone that breeches that space is a mother %&@*ing piece of $[-]1T and deserves to be drawn and quartered in public along with their entire family. Circumstances mean nothing. There could be a woman giving birth in the back seat, or an undercover FBI agent chasing the spawn of Jack the Ripper, but if that safe space is invaded, you can count on some bald-headed dude with a goatee in a Hurley hoodie getting out of his '96 F-150 ready to beat your ass with a crowbar. Or at least throwt a bird and an F Bomb.

In Austin, people understand that the road is a matter of survival of the fittest. It's a Top Gun dog fight. It's like the Drow of Menzoberranzan and their unspoken code of treachery and deceit. All that matters is you don't get caught assassinating competing Drow families in the Underdark. Otherwise all bets are off. Just like the streets of Austin...deft maneuvers and jockeying of position is applauded. Just as long as you don't kill anyone or wreck the ride.

Mostly I miss my wife and kids. Ultimately home is where they are. If they are in Utah, then that's my home. If they are on Mars, let me be Martian. But I can't wait for December 27th when they can finally be here with me in Austin and we can make our home here.

I am grateful to the great state of Utah for giving me so much over the past three decades. By and large it is a lovely place to be. But I am also thrilled at the opportunity to make new memories and have new adventures in the great state of Texas. I guess life itself is an adventure, cliche as that might sound. Might as well embrace it.

Kindergarten Cop is on TV. Time to go.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Does Max Hall have Jake Abs? Secret...

Hanging out at the Fleabag Hotel in Austin, watching Rush Hour 2 which was barely watchable the first time but manages to maintain its value with lines like "I will bitch slap you back to Africa" and "Do I look like Chicken George to YOU?!"

Speaking of movies, I saw New Moon with Sherri last night. I think I finally understand why so many women insist on loving these terrible movies. I call it the Langdon Factor. Angels and Demons was a brilliant book. It's one of the very few novels that I physically could NOT put down. I bought it at the SLC airport and read it nonstop through to Atlanta. I read it in the cab to the hotel. And I continued reading in the hotel room without changing clothes or unpacking until 10:00 p.m. when I finally finished. Then I talked to everyone I met about how incredible this book was. Imagine my dismay when I tried to watch this pathetic piece of HollycArp on the big screen. It is unwatchable. The acting is terrible and the plot is uninteresting. I didn't make it halfway through before turning it off. I realize now that Robert Langdon is a character that can't justly be played in a standard length screen production. The plot line, with all its intricacies, cannot be translated to film without sucking.

This is the problem with the Twilight films. It is a series of novels that, for whatever crazed reason, is beloved by romantic women everywhere. But the movies are epic failures. I sincerely hope that the novels were good....and I'm willing to finally concede that point if they indeed were well written. Call it mercy. Because the movies are terrible. Back out the cool wolves and the Italian Vampire Lords scene and all you have is a poorly-acted emodrama with chiseled Jake abs and lines like "you breathing is all I need" from a fiercely annoying Edward that should have kept his abs hidden. Homey, take some advice from an abless brother. If you ain't got it...don't flaunt it. So, ladies, consider this concession a small victory. The books might have been good but the movies are not.

Secret Deodorant may be PH balanced for a woman but that stuff is absolutely strong enough for a man. I forgot my Speed Stick in Austin and had to resort to the only thing available when I joined my bride and kids in SLC. Sherri's lovely floral Secret stick. I applied it in the morning then put in 14 hours of unrelenting physical manual labor loading trucks, packing boxes, and hauling furniture. I'm a big dude. I sweat like a big dude. My pits had to look like Richard Simmons' oiled-up body after Sweatin' to the Oldies. After a short and fairly restless sleep, I hit the shower the following morning only to find that Sherri's Secret was still fully intact and clinging to my caves like spackle. So I didn't reapply. I let it roll for day two of rigorous man work. The following morning I found the same result. Secret Spackle was still alive and well. I'm actually considering switching. I'll sluff off the fresh floral scent as a new fabric softener or something. It will be my little Secret.

Words cannot express how glad I am to be out of Utah and away from "The Holy War." BYU and U of U fans are intolerably annoying. I can't stand it anymore.

Memo to Utah fans. You are not the only people in the state of Utah that are entitled to your level of hate and vitriol. Your animosity and hate is astounding. It is ridiculous. It is childish and stupid. Let it go. If you refuse to let it go, then you should allow other people the same hate without getting monumentally butthurt over others' comments, i.e. Max Hall. Did he get carried away with his comments? Yes. Was he genuinely disgusted and hurt? Yes. Did he have cause to be pissed? Yes. Should he have STFU and let the scoreboard do his talking? Yes. But all that aside, he has just as much right to speak as you do...ambassador of the school or not. To refresh our minds and re-open the wounds, here it is:

The only Ute fans that have any room to be pissed are those that are actually open-minded enough to not loathe BYU. I challenge you to find me 10 such fans. Like Bigfoot and the Easterfreaking Bunny...they don't exist. If you think it and believe it, so can Max Hall.

Memo to BYU fans. Your program is tired and your team is boring. Your road is not the higher road. Any insinuation, lighthearted or not, that yours is "the Lord's team" is inappropriate drivel. There is no divine call to play for, or cheer for, the Cougars. Any hint that Utes are beer-swilling Babylonian pigs, therefore your team is the higher team, is nonsense. There's just as much boozing, partying and rabble rousing at Helm's Deep (thanks Dylan) as there is in SLC...except you people hide it in shame. Get it through your heads....God does not care about BYU winning or losing. He is a Texas fan. Hook 'em.

Rivalries are good. They are healthy. Hate isn't. But if you're going to hate, let the other side hate back.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Dead Animals and Football

This week I visited one of my Farmers Insurance agents. Farmers is generally pro-Safelite. We have a corporate program with them and treat their policy holders like greek gods. I was hired to replace an area sales manager that had been covering his area for just shy of 30 years and was very well-liked. When I met this particular agent's staff, they were quite sad that their old rep wasn't around anymore. After some friendly banter that lessened the tension, the girl at the front said "well as long as you like huntin' fishin' and football, you'll do just fine" in her mild Texas drawl.

Uh oh.

I get the feeling that I'm not dealing with people that can discuss the artistic brilliance of Wade Robson's contemporary piece from Wednesday. Likely no debate as to which traveling cast of Wicked is best. Maybe we can swap intricate theories about the Dharma Initiative and the Shepherds' connection to The Others. No? HELL-tutha-NO.

I'm a sports guy. I dig football. I admit, I've slacked a little on my college football prowess, but that's mostly because I'm so bloody fed up with the lunatic fans in Utah and their retarded Holy War. But I've historically been able to rap with the best about conferences, BCS absurdity, and all other general specifics pertaining to the pigskin. I'm even MORE dangerous in the pro arena. I know my Packers and I have a general grasp of what's going on in the NFL.

But I pale in comparison to these Texans. Everyone in this city (and I assume state), whether man woman or child, knows football. Not just if their team won on Saturday, or even what conference stats were, but they know everything that happened on gameday. They know who won and lost and what implications they had on their beloved Longhorns and the BCS race in general. They know current stats and glorious facts from the days or yore when they were playing in leather helmets. There are Longhorn propa-promo items everywhere. Every other house has a burnt orange flag flying and there are Longhorns logos everywhere. These people LOVE their football. Age and gender mean nothing. Everyone knows it. They live it.

I hate it. I can't do it. It's not so much an ethical issue for me as an issue of complete boredom and lack of respect for the "sport." Please...for the love of the bearded holy One on high, do not tell me that hunting is sport. It is not. Unless you are strapping on a loincloth, fashioning your own recurve and arrows from saplings with a Rambo knife, and stalking your prey in the wild, you are not impressive. You are killing animals with a freaking rocket launcher that is better suited for hunting dragons. Go kill those. If you can ice an elk from 1500 yards across a ravine from the back of your truck, you are not impressive. If you are speaking to ducks in their native tongue through a device you bought for $30 at Gart's, luring it to your masterfully camouflaged "blind" with an exact replica of the duck's likely-dead wife, you are not impressive. Anyone that actually pays to hunt "game" that is stocked or placed on a stamp of land for the sole purpose of being clipped by YOU is beyond unimpressive. Before long you'll be able to luxuriously waste animals from the comfort of your own home, courtesy of XBOX's new "REAL Big Game Hunter." If you want to impress me, wax your animals with a sling. Or a rope. Or your bare hands. Wrestle a bear or a gator. That's manly.

BE HONEST. Call it what it is. You like to kill crap. It's bloodlust. You get a rush by snuffing the life from animals. It is instinctual. The thrill of the kill is still engrained in most humans from thousands of years of surviving in nature. We don't all love it, but you hunters do. I will accept any reasonable explanation for traditional hunting. Like the meat? Fine. Environmentally conscious population control? Cool. Revenge for the tragic goring death of your great grandfather at the horns of a crazed buffalo? Groovy. You can even quote the bible and tell me that God put animals here for the benefit of man and we're just fulfilling our end of the covenant and thanking Hod for His bountiful gifts by capping beasts. Just don't say it's for the sport. It's insulting.

"It's ok to eat fish, 'cause they don't have any feelings." - Kurt Cobain, "Something in the Way."

I've fished, but I've never liked it. There's nothing more disturbing than yanking a swallowed hook from a writhing trout's stomach to find that your power bait has been joined by the fish's liver and spleen. I know, I know...I'm doing it wrong. I should be fly fishing. And a TRUE fisher"man" will hook the fish by the lip where there are no nerve endings AND ultimately releases the fish anyhow harm done.

Ok, let's follow that line of logic. Assuming you are actually qualified to instruct on the anatomy of Salvelinus Fontinalis, and fish indeed cannot feel the barb of the hook, I'm pretty sure the fish doesn't enjoy the sensation of being ripped from its aquatic home. Nemo endures many agonizing long seconds or minutes of fighting against this unseen, PAINLESS, force slowly pulling it from the sanctuary of liquid bliss, to be pulled into suffocating weightlessness and blinding light, handled and measured by a hideous pink beast, then tossed back into the depths. Only for it to happen again and again and again until someone mercifully bashes it over the head with a screwdriver and eats it for breakfast. I know the fishie's brain can't be that big, but I can't bring myself to believe that it just randomly swims around and occasionally gets caught, enjoys the ride, then forgets about it when it's tossed back in. These are Nemos. Not Dorys.

Let me be clear. I don't have issues with people that hunt or fish. Once that animal is dead I'll gut it, cook it, and eat it. I just don't enjoy the process of getting it to that point and I don't agree with 90% of the ideas of people that do.

This limits my ability to connect to these Texas folk. I complimented someone today on their "antlers" that were hung on the wall of the office of a very nice lady in her mid 40s. I was pretty sure I shouldn't call them a "rack" or a "set" given the situation, so I went with antlers. I was immediately exposed as A) a yankee, and B) a non-hunter because they are not antlers. They are HORNS. I refrained from informing her that horns are found in cars and on unicorns.

So I need to become a hunter, fisher, and football fanatic. I'm in sales. Pretending is part of my job.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Homeless Hotel

Austin Texas is notorious for its climate. Wicked hot summers, lovely springs/autumns, and mild winters. Due to the agreeable temperatures, Austin has a relatively high homeless population per capita. Nothing like the problems in Los Angeles and Vegas, but there are still many people here with no place to hang their hats. I proudly count myself among them.

I'm trying to sell my home in Utah, but until I do I am on my own...quite literally. My family can't join me in TX until the house sells in Utah and I can't be in a house here because I still freaking have one there. Before leaving the Beehive State, I jumped on Craigslist to try and find a place to crash for a month or two while everything processed. I quickly learned that it was impossible to button anything up because I was still physically in Utah and no one would commit to hold any available rooms for someone that wouldn't be in Texas for three weeks and STILL could cancel at any time. So I had to get to Austin and hope for the best.

The only available room I could find that didn't require a 3+ month lease, contain multiple evil allergenic "kitties", or have giddy college girls running in and out of it, was in an old nursing home that had been converted into a "commune." $550 per month (all bills paid) gets you a room with a shared bathroom and communal kitchen/living room. I figured, "what the hell...I can sack up and handle anything for a month", so I made the call and scheduled the tour.

I entered the ancient building and was greeted with the mixed scent of ammonia and dying skin cells wafting through the halls. The floor was hard polished tile similar to what you see in old hospitals or elementary school gymnasiums. There were three hallways with four doorways on each side; an old 10-speed rusted bicycle parked outside each door. The "front desk" had several faded 8x10 signs with random rules and one large poster that said "POSSESSORS OF ILLEGAL DRUGS WILL BE EVICTED."

The tour began in the communal "living" room, which more closely resembled a "dying room" where old people would go to slowly extinguish their inner light playing cribbage. There were several folders attached to the wall with everyone's name on a folder. It was explained that this was the "chore wall" and that tenants rotated a different chore each week. Chores ranged from cleaning stove tops to emptying garbage to scraping bong resin from the landlady's 4-foot hookah. On queue, a clearly insane homeless-looking girl walked past carrying a basket full of cleaning supplies, most likely the source of the ammonia potpourri, muttering something about laser beams and llamas. There was a 19" television with "extended cable" on a table and several armchairs that had to have been holdovers from the now-defunct nursing home. They still smelled like tapioca pudding and prunes.

The kitchen was small for a communal facility and the fridge contained two dozen ziplock bags with tenant names scrawled on them in sharpie. This way Moonlight didn't mistake her string cheese with Buck's yogurt. An older gentleman was wiping down the cutting boards and greeted me with a huge grin and a nod. Nice lad. I think he was proud of his tooth.

The general tour ended at that point and I was escorted to my room. I instantly knew which one it was. It was the only door sans 10-speed.

The room was huge. I think it was where they caged and tortured unruly geriatrics in the 60s. The floor was the same glistening tile and the walls were cinder block, shabbily painted a light custard hue. A painted pipe ran the length of the room, right in the center of the ceiling, hanging down 18". I'm sure with time I would get used to the incessant "zzzzzzzzzzzzzz" sound of hot water coursing through the tube. My bathroom-mate was clearly female; cotton balls and toiletries were strewn from hell to breakfast.

There ended the tour. I wanted to take pictures of the entire facility because A) no one would believe my tale, and B) I'm sure the authorities were looking for most of these people. But I didn't dare. I was afraid that Tami (the landlady) would set The Gimp loose and I'd be relying on Butch to rescue me with a Samurai Sword. I thanked her for her time, walked out of the building, sprinted to Zed's chopper, and tore off into the sunset. Homeless. Again.

I found a pretty good deal on a room at an extended stay hotel. I have my own little kitchen and a full-sized fridge for my hot pockets and corn dogs. I have my own bathroom and the luxury of slinging my own sundries all over the place. I quickly made friends with Stephanie at the front desk and the manager, Kenny. He's an Oklahoma fan but a nice guy nonetheless. I have free Wi-Fi access so I can work and blog to my little heart's content.

Remember Rambo II? If you don't you should hang your head in shame all the way to Blockbuster. Essentially John Rambo is pardoned from prison to go to Vietnam and photograph old POW camps that were believed to be vacant. He was chosen because he was once a POW in the camp. When he arrives he learns that the camp is NOT vacant and instead houses a couple dozen ragged and filthy Americans that have been there for decades. He isn't able to rescue them at that point, but returns in all his glistening glory with a compound bow and a vengeful heart.

One day I'll return to the Homeless Hotel and free the victims languishing in squalor inside. I've been there before. And they need a Rambo.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Apocalyptic Burger

I am a Texan.

Last month I accepted a job as an Area Sales Manager for Safelite Auto Austin Texas. After the obligatory double-take and softly-whispered "wow" you will likely nod your head and say, "Gotta go where the work is." I'd be lying if I said that was the entire reason. Fact: The economy right now is a mother bugger. Fact: Jobs in Utah are sparse. Fact: I am psyched, stoked, thrilled, and elated with the adventure and opportunity with Safelite in Texas.

I flew in to San Antonio on Sunday and met my new boss. Erik was a standout offensive lineman at Texas Tech in the mid 90s and played one year of professional ball for Da Bears. A shoulder injury ended his football career and he has been with Safelite ever since. We get along well. We have similar senses of humor, identical tastes in nerd-lit, and we share a passion for good food.

Texas has presented a number of first impressions, which I'll undoubtedly share in detail in subsequent posts, but this particular piece will deal entirely with the Texan obsession with spicy food. These people put hot sauce or peppers on everything. And I mean everything. I swear I saw a little blonde chick eating an ice cream cone smothered with jalapenos.

We ate at a magnificent Mexican joint Monday night called La Fogata. The atmosphere was lovely and the food was incredible. The waiter made guacamole right there at our table and dressed it with a few odd-looking green peppers on top. Erik unceremoniously slapped one on top of his nacho and shoved it in his mouth...

"You ought to try one of those little peppers there Ty. Awesome smokey flavor to it."
"Yeah right boss, I'm not an idiot. If I want smokey flavor I'll go eat a briscuit."
"Seriously, it's not bad. Really good."

After some goading by the ladies at the table I gave in and cut off a piece that was roughly the size of a dime, put it on a chip, and threw it down. I shall attempt to describe the sensation below.

It felt like my entire face had caught fire. It felt like someone had hit me over the head with a scalding hot frying pan full of battery acid. It felt like someone had tried to repair my right molars with a soldering iron. It felt like someone had played Toby Keith music at full volume from a Bose woofer pressed against my head. It hurt.

However, this was my first business dinner with my new colleagues. I couldn't scream like a teenage girl that woke up lying next to Leatherface on a a waterbed filled with pepper spray, which was precisely what I wanted to do. I had to sit there and muster a "man, that's hot." I must have been a bit more transparent than I'd hoped because the waiter quickly brought me a pint of milk and a pitcher of water. It was a Serrano pepper. And it was vile.

There is a burger joint in San Antonio called Chunky's. Its notorious "Four Horsemen Burger" was featured on Man vs. Food and is one of the spiciest things you can eat in all of North America. One can only assume that the four horsemen in the title are referencing the Bible's book of Revelations and the four horsemen of the apocalypse that are commissioned by God to wreak havoc on the world in an apocalyptic vision. The four horsemen are Conquest, War, Famine, and finally Death. Chunky's apocalyptic Four Horsemen burger features jalapenos, serrano peppers, habanero peppers, and the dreaded "ghost chile" which I can only assume mirrors Death from Revelations.

Chiles and hot sauces are measured by something called The Scoville Scale and are rated based on "scoville units." The actual human sensation of "heat" caused from such foods is a result of a chemical compund called capsaicin and the Scoville Scale measures the concentration of that chemical. The following diagram illustrates the comparison of a ghost chile to a jalapeno pepper.

Folks, that shows us that a ghost chile is 400x hotter than a jalapeno. To put that into perspective, a full-strength power line is 44,000 volts which is exactly 400x stronger than a standard wall socket. Anyone that has been hit by 110 volts from a wall socket knows that it sucks. It hurts a little bit and certainly doesn't tickle. It's the exact equivalent to ingesting a jalapeno. It sucks. It hurts a little and doesn't tickle. While a wall socket will shock and hurt you, a power line will instantly disintegrate your entire physical being into undetectable matter. Which is exactly what a ghost chile would do to your freaking mouth.

When it came down to it, Erik wasn't up to the Four Horsemen challenge. He was calculated and noticeably concerned. I mean, Chunky's requires anyone that attempts that burger to eat it with rubber gloves. Rubbing your eyes with a finger that touched that chile would instantly Stevie Wonder your ass. They did, however, have something called "the ghost burger" which was a small step down from the insanity of the four horsemen. It had ghost chiles cooked in and reeked of pure evil. The following is a series of photos showing Erik's journey in conquering the ghost:

Pure Evil

The Attack

Initial Reaction

KABOOM! Bridget decided she'd take a crack at it, throwing down a small bite:

Which ended badly...

So why would anyone attempt something as naturally and inherently RETARDED as The Four Horsemen? If you finish... it's free. And we Texans will do anything for free food.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Obsessed and MADD

It's fairly well-established that I am a music freak. You know that ringing that you get in your ear from time to time that no one else can hear? The high-pitched constant squeal? Have you noticed how you get used to the sound and when it finally stops, you lift your head and look around like something's just not right? Like something is MISSING? That's how I feel when there is no music playing. Something is just not right. Something is missing. I have no understanding for people that can drive in a car without music playing. Circumstance is irrelevant. Road trip, quick errand to Wal-Mart, or funeral procession, music should be playing in a car. I further struggle with the common definition of "background" music. If we're in a car, the music is most certainly NOT in my background. More often than not our conversation is wasted and you sound like the parents on Peanuts, "wa wawa wawawawa."

My obsession for music unfortunately has a negative impact on the music itself. I micro-manage my music. I will go through fits of obsession for a particular band or song. I listened to nothing but Simon and Garfunkel for 18 months in junior high school. I had all 59 studio-released songs committed to memory and I would sit at a computer and type the lyrics. I bet I still have 30ish S&G songs memorized. The unfortunate, but inevitable, result of such an obsession is the certain death of "overplay." It's the "All Star" factor. You know, that Smashmouth song that was played every 5th song about a decade ago and further exploited by the Shrek soundtrack? That song now initiates an instant gag reflex when I hear it. Many other incredible songs have suffered the same fate.

Also, I suffer from Musical Attention Deficit Disorder, aka MADD. I make compilation CDs of MP3s to listen to in the car, but I rarely get 30 seconds into a song without skipping on to the next one. It's like a Plen-T pack of Juicy Fruit gum. A stick of Juicy Fruit loses its flavor inside of 3 minutes, so the obvious solution is to spit it out and crush another piece. Within an hour, the entire pack of gum is gone and largely wasted. This is what happens to my brilliant compilation discs.

There are, however, a very select few songs that have withstood both my obsession and my MADD disease. This post pays homage to these incredible tracks. The following is a list of the songs, in no particular order. If they pop up on a compilation of mine, or even occasionally on the radio (yeah right) I would never EVER feel the need to hit SKIP. Each can be listened to by left-clicking or downloaded by right-clicking and saving. Enjoy.

1. Mr. Wendel by Arrested Development
2. I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous by Frank Turner
3. Woke Up New by The Mountain Goats
4. No One's Gonna Love You by Band of Horses
5. Between the Bars by Elliott Smith
6. Naked as We Came by Iron and Wine
7. Lounge (Closing Time) by Modest Mouse
8. Hallelujah by Martin Sexton
9. Where do the Children Play by Cat Stevens
10. Don't Think Twice It's Alright by Bob Dylan
11. On Fire by Mofro
12. The Crane Wife #3 by The Decemberists
13. Imaginary Bars by Great Lake Swimmers
14. The Price of a Cup of Tea by Belle and Sebastian
15. Blues Run the Game by Jackson C. Frank (S&G version)
16. Fresh Feeling by Eels
17. 1972 by Josh Rouse
18. Blonde on Blonde by Nada Surf
19. Blood Red Blood by Voxtrot

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Prepare to FIGHT, Heathen!

I’ve been in one fist fight in my entire life. I was in 6th grade.

I had just returned home from a brutal day of math Olympics in Mr. Draper's class (8s times tables are a bugger) and was relaxing at home with a root beer in one hand and a Dorito in the other watching Duck Tales. It was blissful. Mid-chomp, my younger sister Ashley came stumbling into the house, wet and muddy with blood trickling down her knees. Through her sobs I was able to understand that a junior high school boy was picking on younger kids and had pushed her into the canal. That’s all I needed to hear. Always a champion for the victim, I bounded out of the house and sprinted up to the canal. Sure enough, there he was. A gigantor of a scruffy lad tossing kids around and laughing. It was on.

Television had taught me a number of constant and finite truths about the universe: A) Good guys never lose. B) The hero gets the girl. C) It never takes more than one bullet to kill a bad guy. D) He-Man is the MASTER of the Universe, GI Joe is the GREATEST American Hero, and Thundercats HO. Finally E) When you punch the bad guy, the bad guy falls down unconscious. Why, then, did my unsuspected right hook draw the faintest trace of blood and not even phase this 8th-grade villain? I’m the good guy! He smiled, chased me down, and proceeded to annihilate my face and body with vicious fists and elbows.

That experience as a youngling taught me something that I have never forgotten. Temper + anger =/= competent fighter. I may be able to talk big and even look imposing if I keep eating hot pockets and stick out my chest a little, but the truth of the matter is that I couldn’t fight my way through a wet napkin with a samurai sword. I prefer music trivia challenges and vocabulary contests to prove the bigger man. You might be able to work me in the ring, but I can say the alphabet backwards faster than you can say it forward. A duel you say?! Fine! My weapon of choice is the Guitar Hero III Les Paul and the field of battle is Cult of Personality, cretin!

I’m no fighter, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t fight. I’ll throw down in fisticuffs for the right cause. Oh yes, I will fight you…..for any of the following causes:

1) If you interrupt me during Duck Tales I will fight you.

2) John Denver is not a country singer. He is a folk GOD. If you say otherwise I will fight you.

3) My mother may be a dance teacher, but that doesn’t mean my SONS will dance. Not until they are 18 and use it as a tool to improve their football skills or get chicks. If you try and put my boy in dance lessons I will fight you.

4) The holocaust happened. If you believe otherwise I will fight you.

5) I love my faith and respect the sacred things of others. If you belittle me or my belief system I will fight you. I recently learned the hard way, allowing someone in a position of power over me to jeer at my religion for 21 months. Never again will that happen. Pearls and swine.

6) If you mess with my family I will fight you. If you wrong my children I will gut you like a fish.

7) If you don’t like Neil Diamond I will fight you. I can understand distaste for ANY of my other favorite artists. Not everyone will enjoy Phish or Devendra Banhart or The Decemberists or Margot and the Nuclear So and Sos, and there are valid reasons for not liking them. Simply put, there is NO earthly reason that anyone would dislike Neil. Young and old, male or female, black or white, Neil’s music represents everything good and pure and fun in the universe.

8) If you are a Minnesota Vikings fan I will fight you. I hope Favre has his knee folded back by a golden helmet.

That’s pretty much it. If I can resolve conflict with grammar or video games then I will always opt for those more peaceable means. But if any of the above eight circumstances happen, and Rock Band isn’t available nor Webster’s Dictionary, then the gloves shall come off. I may be beaten, bloodied, and bruised, but I will at least bleed for the cause and my place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Victim of the Economy

I lost my job last Friday. More on that in a minute.

Prior to the last year or so I associated the term “recession” with hair and gums. That’s all I knew. People would comment on my “receding” hairline which, believe it or not, has always been like that. I was just blessed with an abnormally long and shiny forehead. My dentist told me he saw some “recession” in my gums. This is due to my vigorous brushing habit. I’d use a chisel and a blowtorch if I could because there’s nothing worse in this life than hairy teeth.

Our economy is in a recession. What does that mean? If I apply my own definition of the word to the state of the economy, it means that our financial and market stability are gradually being eaten away by something else. My hair is being eaten away by forehead. My gums are being eaten away by plastic brush bristles. Erego something is eating away at the economy.

I could do some research, which I’m prone to do, and come up with some textbook answers and explanations, but I refuse to allow this blog to become a book report or badly written poli-sci project for college. Instead, I’ll use my own abstract and oft-obtuse line of reasoning and logic to list what I believe the causes of the recession to be.

1) Dishonesty. This nasty bastard rears its ugly head in every nook and in every cranny of our world. No function of society is immune. Politicians, corporations, lenders, leaders, and the common public are all prone to being dishonest. Government and Corporate America (assuming they are mutually exclusive) have profited from our ignorance in criminal fashion, *cough* sub-prime loans *cough.*

2) Fear. Our government is terrified of the unknown. Instead of allowing the indomitable spirit of man to rise and pick itself up by the bootstraps, as it always has, government has decided to involve itself by spending money that it simply does not have. We, in turn, fear the future (also unknown) and bury our funds in the proverbial ground. This is not stimulating to the economy. It is digging a hole that will be hard-pressed to fill.

3)Ignorance. This does not just apply to the current state of the economy. Ignorance has no justification in this country. We are not a tribal people without access to knowledge. We are Americans and we have a duty to inform ourselves. Ignorance extends to race, religion, lifestyle, socio-economic status, medical condition, and method of thought. The informed do not necessarily have to agree with one another, but by God we should all understand one another. Ignorance runs rampant in finance and government. The less we know about our financial power and limitation, the further we will slip into recession and despair.

I think it is that simple. At least it is that simple in my brain. The causes are basic but they are fundamental and they lead to dim situations like unemployment and national deficit.

Unfortunately I am now a casualty of the recession. I am a salesman by trade…a choice that I made because I love to be around people. The poor economy has affected most industries and the food service industry is no exception. Our US sales were down 20% and I was the greenest on the sales team by 6 years. Could I have done things differently during my time with that company? Yes. I’m sure I could have. Would it have saved me from the dull axe of unemployment? I don’t think so.

I am not writing this post looking for pity, though words of encouragement are always welcome. I won’t lie. I’m scared. I have three small children and the bride of my dreams that I want nothing more than to provide for. But the broad purpose of this post is driven by the hope for a spark of opportunity. I am consistently surprised at how many possum readers are out there. I know you don’t comment, which is perfectly fine, but I know there are some of you out there. And many of our are undoubtedly connected.

If any of you have someone in your network of influence that is looking to hire an experienced salesman/marketer with strong presentation skills and a decent grasp on the written word, I would be honored if you would recommend me. If you would like me to send you a resume, please shoot me an email at and I will gladly pass it along.

My spirit may be discouraged but my soul feels hope. Not just for my situation but for the future of our economy and, by default, our country. The step past recession is depression. There is no need to define that word. It is dark and it is ugly and I want no part of it. No, my bet is placed on Teddy Roosevelt’s Man in the Arena whose place shall never be with cold and timid souls. This is America. I am proud to count myself as one of her people. And I am confident that there will be glorious days ahead.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Care for a Healthy Hotdog?

A couple of weeks ago I had the fantastical experience of meeting a fictitious character I created in one of my first ever blog posts in actual real live flesh and bone. It was like a scene out of Inkheart (not a bad flick by the way) where an author gets to see the physical manifestation of an emotional creation of his imagination. My ink-seed, however, was not a tortured soul from a faraway kingdom with magical powers that allowed him to conjure and control flame whilst battling the evil Shadow and searching for his beloved family. No, no, no. I met the creepy Armenian hotdog vendor.

I have nothing against Armenians. In fact, I’ve met a handful of tremendous people from that heritage and actually from that country (*wink* Hi Zabel *wink*.) But the creepy hotdog vendor in my mind’s eye had Armenian features. Dark and brooding with a forest of thick black hair and matching eyebrows. Think of a much older, thinner, creepier Serj Tankian with less teeth and a top hat.

I was representing my company at the annual School Nutrition Association food show in Las Vegas two weeks ago. While never an overly productive show, it is far and away the best people-watching experience of the year. It still boggles my mind how registered dieticians whose sole purpose in life is to analyze and recommend healthy, nutritious food for consumption, can weigh 380 lbs. and look like they swallowed three small goats, a vat of yogurt, and a down pillow. There’s no way I could take such a person seriously. Do you allow a dentist with crooked, rotting teeth to work on your grill? I am fascinated as I watch the stampeding herd of giddy hippos waddling from booth to booth, gorging their maws with fat and sugar, collecting several bags worth of swag and snacks “for the plane trip home”, aka the hotel later that night. I’m certainly in no place to criticize. I’m not paid to be a nutritionist either.

I digress.

I had the unique once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have the Armenian fruit of my imaginative loins in the booth space right next to me selling “healthy hotdogs” from a small cart emitting green steam, covered by a tiny black and red umbrella. His name was John and he was about 5’8” tall, in his 50s, with thick black hair trimmed short, two big bushy black eyebrows with about 5/32” separation between them, and an upturned lopsided nose that allowed me to see into his skull from one nostril. He wore Tommy Bahama tropical shirts tucked into too-tight Dockers that seemed to contain all his fat, as if he squeezed his upper body like a tube of toothpaste toward his pelvis and quickly cinched his belt to keep it all in one odd compact bubble. But I didn’t care. I was a proud figurative father.

Now, let’s address the concept of “healthy hotdogs.” Like hot snowballs, large midgets, unicorns, and free lunches, healthy hotdogs just don’t exist. What makes it healthy? Do you change the ratio of sphincters and lips from 3:1 to 6:1? Do you substitute bovine reproductive organs with healthier turkey parts? One universal constant is that hotdogs are magical because we specifically DO NOT think about what is in them. The knowledge of the existence of a healthy hotdog causes me to dangerously dwell. “Healthy? What makes it healthy? And if it’s healthy, does that mean my beloved Bar-S dogs are UNhealthy? What would make it unhealthy? I wonder what’s in a hotdog. I always assumed it was grade A top choice beef. No? You mean it’s got lips and butts and bone and eyeballs and fecal matter and hair and ears and….lips and butts?! OH THE HUMANITY!” Then I crawl in the fetal position and scrub my tongue with a wire brush. Some things in life just shouldn’t be scrutinized. We don’t ask who created God. Likewise we should not question what hotdogs are made of and just enjoy their juicy goodness in blissful ignorance.

Further, the bastard son of my twisted mind was unwittingly advertising his hotdogs as being healthy when HE was causing them not to be. He wore the same plastic gloves through three days of show. He would grab the healthy dog, cut it up, serve it to the fat dieticians, and then scratch his head, handle papers, and eat cookies before grabbing another dog for his next victim. I actually watched him violently sneeze into both gloved hands, then wheel around and ask the crowd “anyone care for a healthy hotdog?” He never once changed gloves.

But I don’t care. Like any loving father, I can look past my Armenian man’s faults. He may look like a poorly drawn cartoon character and have no knowledge of restaurant etiquette, but he’s my boy. And I love him for who he is…not what he isn’t.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Smiley

The internet has revolutionized communication through the introduction of The Smiley.

When I was a kid, profanity was entirely verboten. But let’s face it…the cool kids swore. They also wore rad Iron Maiden shirts and had cool combs in their back pockets. Maybe some Vuarnet sunglasses and a thin porn-stache gracing their upper lips. And such colorful language! These people could string together phrases that were full of creativity, emotion, and blissfully beautiful filth. I so wanted to be that guy…it wasn’t long before I found a loophole.

I realized that if I were repeating or “quoting” someone or something else, then the responsibility for whatever had been said was not my own. The blame fell squarely on the shoulders of the original offender. You don’t throw the messenger boy out the window of the castle tower for delivering the severed head of your defeated nephew. No no…the messenger boy goes on his merry way, then you summon conscripts from Ireland and seduce the treacherous Robert the Bruce to deliver William Wallace’s heart on a platter. So I became a messenger boy with a license to offend.

As long as I prefaced my profanity with “QUOTE” and closed it with “UNQUOTE”, anything I said was perfectly fine. An example: David just kicked my new soccer ball over the fence at the park and into the canal. “QUOTE! David, you effing worthless piece of shift. Why don’t you….(insert bizarre string of magnificent expletives here) UNQUOTE!” It was beautiful. Full of filth and flawed logic. I could hang with the profanest of the profane with zero accountability.

The Smiley today has essentially the same function as The Quote. One can rattle off the most offensive and insulting sentence in chat, email, or text, but the presence of a Smiley in many of its myriad forms makes the sentence completely innocuous…even funny or complimentary. A commenter on this blog could post “You’re an idiot” at the end of one of my posts and I would be sad. “You’re an idiot ;)” however is perfectly fine and totally welcome. That sly little wink at the end really just means, “ha ha silly boy, you are so funny.” Likewise, “You are the worst writer in the world and your opinion is total cArp =P” is actually denoting sarcasm because of the little guy with the tongue sticking out. That offensive sentence is actually a COMPLIMENT!

Naturally, The Smiley is so overused (like the exclamation point) that its true power is rapidly being lost. Its intent is fuzzy. What if the sarcastic smiley winker dude was actually placed sarcastically, intending for the hateful sentence to actually be sincere, mocking me with its little punctuation features?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Fear The Grammar Nazi

I am a Grammar Nazi. I have issues with spelling and punctuation as well, but poor grammar makes me want to hurl baby rabbits from tall buildings. I can’t help myself. I wasn’t born this way, but a relentless corrective father and competitive siblings molded and beat me into the hardcore zealot that I am today. In all my years in sports and music, in all competition of every kind, from Pinewood Derby to piano quartets to all star baseball championships, I have never tasted victory so sweet as catching my old man in a grammatical blunder. It is seraphic nectar.

Vocabulary was also a big thing around the house. If you wanted to impress dad, you paid less attention to home runs, goals, or buzzer-beaters. Instead, you would casually drop “indolent” instead of lazy, “odoriferous” in place of smelly, or the word “dilatory” in conversation.

With age has come intolerance. Things that merely drew a haughty snicker years ago actually bother the hell out of me today. If you want to agitate me, hammer me with a double negative. If you want to really draw my wrath, add an apostrophe to the possessive “its.” If you want me to wildly thrash around as if possessed by the unholy, pestiferous Satan himself, improperly use personal pronouns in conversation. I see celebrities, journalists, orators, anchorpeople, religious leaders, and politicians screw this one up every single day. It is inexcusable.

I fully understand that my rigid stance puts a great and spacious target on my own back. The haughtier they are, the harder they fall. I’m sure I make grammatical errors from time to time and I accept that. So if you see it, call it. I can take the heat. Though I'll cry while I burn.

There are ridiculously simple rules for sentences involving personal pronouns, i.e. him, he, she, her, I, me, etc. Any time a phrase contains two or more people, where one or more is a personal pronoun, simply extract all but one subject and repeat the sentence. Here are is an example:

“Would you like to catch a movie with David and me?” or “Would you like to catch a movie with David and I?”

Oftentimes people automatically assume that “David and I” is correct. Somehow the personal pronoun “me” has become the pronoun parriah. The easiest way to determine which is correct is to back David out of the phrase:

“Would you like to catch a movie with me?” or “Would you like to catch a movie with I?” Sounds stupid, doesn’t it? The obvious answer is “me”, therefore the correct sentence is “Would you like to catch a movie with David and me?”

Another easy rule involving personal prounouns is "finish the sentence." For example:

"Brutus is way fatter than him." or "Brutus is way fatter than he."

Just further finish the sentence. Which sounds better? "Brutus is way fatter than him is." or "Brutus is way fatter than he is." Duh.

These rules work for all instances of sentences involving personal pronouns. One other fairly hard fast rule is that any sentence where “I” or “me” is present with another personal pronoun or name, “I” or “me” comes last. “David, Heather, and I” or “Heather, David, and me.” FEW exceptions.

Naturally, all of you possum readers are brilliant and grammatically gifted, so this doesn’t apply to you at all. But I call upon you to be crusaders for light and justice. It is time to rise against the ignorant or well-intentioned cretins. Spread the word. Feed the sheep. Set the donkey wheel back on its axis. Save the cheerleader, save the world. Together we can make a difference. Amen.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Lobot the Lame

There are certain products sold to the public that have one singular appropriate use. For example, fanny packs are for hiking. End of story, goodbye. There is no other appropriate circumstance for rocking a fanny pack. I don’t care if it is the most convenient place to store your crap; wearing a fanny pack anywhere but on a mountain trail is not only a bullet to the brain of fashion, but a crime against humanity worthy of Nuremberg tribunals. If you wear a fanny pack in public, you are a loser.

My detest for fanny packers has given way lately to the increasingly alarming populous of idiots and their Bluetooth headsets. Like the fanny pack, the Bluetooth accessory has one singularly appropriate purpose…keeping drivers from killing people. The End. Unless you are operating a vehicle, hands-free cell phone gadgets make you a lameass wannabe Lobot.

I am a child of the 80s. Like any other human male child of the 80s with the faintest trace of a beating American heart, I am a Star Wars fan. Other than all things Biblical, never has there been a more epic and gripping saga than that told by the first three…err, second three Star Wars films. The trilogy is a microcosm of life. It gracefully touches on themes of faith, love, hate, and hope. The relationships are enormous and the characters are the strongest ever written. Han Solo! Luke Skywalker! Ben Kenobi! Yoda! Chewy! LOBOT!

You know, Lobot…the mute half-cyborg assistant to Cloud City’s administrator Lando Calrissian and unsung hero of The Empire Strikes Back? He had that really cool bald head and walked like a broom was crammed 29” up his “dang-near-killed-‘um.” Raddest of all was the ginormous Bluetooth headset permanently drilled into his cranium that constantly and directly linked his brain to the entire city’s mainframe!

There’s a reason why we 80s kids have never heard the phrase, “hey, no fair! You always get to be Lobot!” when playing Star Wars in the basement with pool cues and cardboard tubes as light sabers. It’s because Lobot was lame and we didn’t even know who he was. Everyone wants to be Han Solo because he’s the ultimate badass, in any galaxy. No one wants to be Lobot. According to Star Wars lore, his name is “a corruption of ‘lobotomy’.” Who the hell wants to be THAT guy?

You Bluetooth abusers are all Lobots. Nobody wants to BE YOU. There is no reason to have your cell phone strapped to your face. Sure, you can eat barbecued possum more efficiently and you can bowl, drink beer, AND talk on the phone at the same time. And you’re still a retard. I have seen Lobots everywhere. I see them at grocery stores, restaurants, shopping malls, street corners. I’ve seen 14-year-old Lobots on skateboards. I saw a Lobot at Sam’s Club carrying a bulk pack of Ramen Noodles talking about his off-shore accounts. What kind of millionaire yuppie buys the cheapest food item known to man at the cheapest bulk store in the most impoverished area of the Salt Lake Valley?

There is even a 78-year-old Lobot in my Sunday church congregation. I mean seriously, if you get a phone call in the middle of the holy sacrament, are you going to answer it? Memo to all Church-Service-Lobots: I’m relatively confident that God doesn’t communicate via Bluetooth. The omnipotent and omniscient Alpha and Omega doesn’t need freaking cell towers to carry his digitized voice. When God wants to speak to you he’ll go Moses, lighting shrubbery on fire and aging you 40 years. No headset required.

Lobots of the world, do us all a favor and keep your Bluetooth in the car where it belongs. The glowing blue plastic thingy protruding from your ear does not make you cool. It does not make you important. It does not make you rich. It simply reveals your lameness to the masses.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Do Exploited Children Make Good Snipers?

Writer’s Block sucks. The combination of a world devoid of anything interesting, personal apathy, and complete indifference, has made for a relatively long and painful dry spell on the blog. But something surfaced last week that finally made me think. I mean really think.

Many of you may have seen the following advertisement for The little boy is an actor, but the producers of the ad say the tears are real, having simulated the depicted scenario:

The commercial has sparked an intense debate. On the one hand, how dare someone exploit a 3 ½-year-old CHILD in order to make a social statement for a health crusade? On the other hand, the emotional response caused by the ad has effectively flooded the quit-smoking help line with phone calls from touched would-be quitters. Do the means justify the end? Is the momentary despair and terror in a helpless child a small price to pay for “saving lives?”

It has taken me several days to form my own opinion. I’ve had a Wrestlemania worthy of pay-per-view going on in my brain. I was disturbed by the ad…but is that necessarily a bad thing? I don’t think the point of the ad was to make people feel pink and tingly inside. We were supposed to be disturbed. It all boiled down to one thing for me…what are the long-term effects on the child? Was he truly exploited? Will this experience damage his psyche and turn him into a trench coat-wearing college campus sniper? Ultimately I came to the conclusion that if those 10 seconds of desperation could possibly harm the child long-term, converting him to a deranged sociopath, then I’d have made Charlie Manson seem like Mr. Rogers YEARS AGO.

01) My mother used to leave me in the car for extended periods of time while she went shopping for groceries or crafts. No shooting spree. It beat the hell out of actually having to spend any time inside Jobber’s Odd Lot.
02) I was forced to wear a frilly white shirt, purple satin knickers, and makeup as I portrayed Anna’s son in a church production of The King and I. No shooting spree.
03) I was locked out of the house for extended periods of time in the summer, drinking from garden hoses and eating fruit from trees. No shooting spree.
04) I had to do “the worm” across the stage at one of my mother’s dance concerts in front of 1500 people. No spree.
05) I’ve unwillingly performed countless piano pieces for total strangers in churches, hotel lobbies, living rooms, and shopping malls. No sniper spree.
06) I was in a commercial for an auto glass company hitting a baseball through a 1978 OldsmoBuick’s windshield. This commercial portraying, at worst, vandalistic deviant behavior or, at best, a really crappy batter, didn’t turn me into a lunatic psychopath. No shooting spree.
07) My mother made me wear clothing that matched, or at least complimented, my sisters’ matching dresses for holidays or vacations. No shooting spree.
08) I had to ride a unicycle in the Magna parade behind a boat blasting Beach Boys music wearing royal blue rayon short shorts, red and white striped tube socks, boat shoes, and a white tank top. Again…no shooting spree.
09) I’ve been forgotten, or at least picked up very…very late, at various camps, clinics, and lessons as a child. No kill count.
10) I was paraded in front of politicians, business associates, or social connections, dressed in completely silly attire, and I still didn’t kill anybody.

Bottom line…this kid is going to be fine. He may remember his 10 seconds of tears, just as keenly as I remember my gay purple satin knickers, but his discomfort is not going to negatively affect his development as a child, his character as an adult, or his career as a criminal. In fact, it might just make him stronger. Or at least more funny.

So, memo to all the lunatics and zealots crying BAD FORM! Children are being exploited everywhere. If you laughed at a single episode of Webster then you supported the exploitation of a child. If you’ve ever submitted a photo to a “cutest kid contest” then you are exploiting. If your issue is with exploitation, then get over yourselves because it goes on everywhere. If your beef is with the effect of the 10-second separation from his mother on his young psyche, then you are an idiot. That kid, like children everywhere, will have COUNTLESS experiences in his young years where there are tears, fear, anxiety, shame, and sadness. And he will bounce back. Kids are resilient. He’ll be fine. And he never had to wear tube socks in a parade.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Teen Pregnancies / Bear Attacks

I caught this article a couple of days ago and I realized something. If teenagers would look at sex the same way they look at hungry angry bears, there wouldn’t be nearly as much teen pregnancy in our fair nation.

For the unfamiliar, bears are nasty. Some facts about bears:

1) Bears weigh between 400 and 3,000 lbs.
2) The average bear stands 14’ tall.
3) Bears can outrun a Ford Focus.
4) Bears can climb trees. The trees are not safe.
5) Bears eat beets.
6) When not eating beets, bears eat people.
7) A bear can devour a fully-grown man in less than 60 seconds.
8) A bear can tear a person’s head off, just with its growl.
9) The bear is the only member of the Animal Kingdom that stands a chance toe to toe vs. Chuck Norris.
10) 80% of statistics are made up on the spot.

Given these terrifying facts, would you knowingly put yourself in any geographic area remotely close to bears? Hopping in the sack with a hormone-enraged teenage boy is like plucking snout hairs from a starving grizzly bear. It’s just a matter of time before the bear gets annoyed and eats your face, just as it’s only a matter of time before the chick in the sack has a fetus to feed.

“But we use protection!” Would you nuzzle up to a rabid bear in a medieval suit of armor? Eventually the bear will discover the weaknesses in the steel and will exploit them. Or what about an equipment malfunction where the leather strap holding your breastplate up snaps, exposing your ribs. Or what if the wily bear patiently waits for you to take your helmet off for a quick breath of fresh air then swallows your head? Not dissimilar to the myriad things that can go wrong with “protection” when rocking the back seat of a Chevy Malibu.

Adolescent sexed-up males cannot be trusted. Dressing overly sexy at a frat kegger is like wearing a pot roast hat to the bear exhibit at the zoo. Dancing with any form of sexy grinding friction at a club is like crawling into a momma bear’s den and smacking her little bear cub babies around. You will die painfully and quickly. Even showing yourself in public carries some sort of risk to the debauchery of morally depraved dudes.

No, young hotties, the only way to keep yourselves safe is to just never leave your house. I’m not familiar with many stories of elderly people in Hoboken being munched by bears while showering in the locked, windowless bathrooms of their 4th story apartments. If you want to avoid the vicious bite of the brutal bear, don’t put yourself in any situation with the remotest infinitesimal possibility of seeing one. If you want to preserve and protect your young virgin womb from the would-be ravaging of filthy piggish neanderboys, don’t put yourselves in any situation with the remotest infinitesimal possibility of being loved up by one.

Just as sure as bears are dangerous, men are pigs. All of us.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Trampoline Face

Sherri and I discovered a fascinating natural scientific phenomenon a few days ago that we plan on submitting to the World Science Foundation or possibly Nobel. The phenomenon is the affect that gravity has on facial tissue at the lowest possible point of a gnarly trampoline bounce. Imagine the massive strength of the earth's gravitational pull holding onto your jowels like a vice grip as your body hurls upward with incredible force. The effect, known as "Facies Tripudium" or "Trampoline Face" causes the subject to appear to age 80 years or, in some cases, take on physical characteristics of mild retardation.

We present to you Test Subject 1A at the height of his bounce, showing hardly any signs of facial abnormality, excluding teeth of course:

And now Test Subject 1A at the lowest point of his bounce, just as the trampoline springs tighten and the fabric begins to hurl him upward. Note the obvious distortion of facial tissue and possible muscle atrophy:

Test Subject 1A is being constantly monitored for evidence of further, unanticipated effects from the battery of tests. At this point we cannot rule out aggression, laziness, attitude, or hypersensitivity as possible side effects. Inversely, Test Subject 1A could also experience extreme and heightened intelligence, politeness, stunning attractiveness, and general studliness.

We are in the process of planning similar studies with other test subjects. We will keep you informed of our findings. We will also notify everyone when our thesis is published in World Science Weekly and will start another blog documenting our journey to the Nobel Prize, entitled "Going to the Show: Our Journey to the Big House."

Monday, March 16, 2009

Big Love - No Big Thang

I typically avoid religion-themed pieces like the plague, but...

Most of the free world by now knows that the HBO series “Big Love”, a show about a fundamentalist polygamous “Mormon” family, aired scenes depicting highly sacred and allegedly secretive ceremonies that are performed within the walls of the temples of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS.) The LDS community is wigging. I’m here to tell you not to. There’s no sense in it. As a fiercely proud and loyal active member of the LDS church, I find it comical that our ranks are calling for boycotts and shouting at the evil HBO network with skinny fists raised like antennas to heaven.

1) This is nothing new. The church has been persecuted since its inception. Have we forgotten that it was freaking legal to shoot and KILL Mormons in Missouri until only a few years ago? The spirits of our beloved late brethren and sisters that have been expelled from homes, tarred and feathered, publicly humiliated, spat upon, raped, and even murdered, are shaking their heads in disbelief that we are making such a fuss over a television show. How would Joseph Smith react to this unbearable debacle? He’d smile, wink, smack your shoulder, and tell you not to fret.

2) It is OUR responsibility to keep our beliefs sacred. We cannot control what other people do, say, think, or show on television. Just because it is known, does not make it less sacred and special. Maybe less secret; but certainly not less sacred.

3) Big Love relied upon information given from FORMER members of the LDS faith for their show. No temple-worthy, current member of the church would ever give specifics of temple ceremonies. The entire show is suspect and cannot be viewed as accurate. I used to be a boy scout. You don’t see me teaching knot-tying clinics. I pity the fool that would rely on one of my knots.

4) By many accounts from what I’ve read, and I’ve read a lot, the scenes from the temple ceremony added absolutely nothing to the plot of the show, essentially negating the producers’ claim that it was integral to the episode. Let’s use our brains here. A spade is a spade. This blatant disregard for and disrespect of sacred LDS temple rites is nothing more than a hate-filled act of vengeance for “the church’s” involvement in the passing of Proposition 8 in California. Both producers/creators of the show, Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer, are openly gay and likely have a bone to pick with those that supported Prop 8. That is fine. I have no problem with a response to those involved with the passing of the proposition. Unfortunately, they have decided to exact revenge by disquieting LDS folk globally, many of which (like me) don’t exactly share the general LDS opinion on gay marriage.

Mr. Olsen and Mr. Scheffer, I feel sorry for you. I feel pity and I feel compassion. Your lives must be full of sorrow and pain. I sincerely hope that you find some form of happiness in your lives. But please know that your desperate attempts to make us hurt as you hurt are fruitless. They are empty. They are feeble uppercuts to the mighty stone jaw of the happy, informed, secure membership of the LDS faith. Your kung fu is not strong. Your voodoo is powerless. Your bark has no bite and your smoke has no fire. Try as you may, you will not bring us down. You point the finger and wag the tongue, accusing the world of “hate” when it benefits you, but you are blind to your own hateful actions of intolerance.

I love the temple. I respect and revere it. Please know that there is nothing you can do to tarnish its spirit. You can tag its walls, infiltrate its halls, sacrifice farm animals, urinate on the couches, swing like monkeys from the chandeliers, finger paint lewd images on the carpet, flood the toilets, and tear it apart stone-by-stone and brick-by-brick. I’ll be bummed about it, but not hurt. So bring it on. Bring the pain. Because you’ve got nothing. You’ve brought a plastic butter knife to a bazooka battle. And I pity you both.

Friday, March 6, 2009

I have gazed into the bowels of hell and they eat Olive Garden

I learned an important lesson this past weekend. Just because something is free doesn’t mean you should actually take, or in this case, ingest it. If you were walking down the corridors of the mall and saw a kiosk that said “free kicks to the groin”, would you allow your nards to be pummeled simply because the service was gratis? If you saw a bin full of “Liberace Plays Barry Manilow” 8-track tapes at Wal-Mart with a red sign that said “FREE”, would you take one, even though you don’t own an 8-track player and any machine you borrowed would spontaneously melt and explode from embarrassment at having housed something so heinous?

We are in the throes of a brutal recession flirting with full depression status. I had a $25 gift card to Olive Garden that I “won” (a debatable term) at my company’s Christmas party. Sherri and I needed a night out. Friday night + babysitter + $25 for food = CHEAP DATE. I knowingly compromised my standards, bit the shotgun shell, took an imaginary shot of make-believe scotch, and departed for Olive Garden. We showed up around 7:00 and there was barely a place to stand. The hostess said the wait was 70 minutes. Are you bloody freaking kidding me?! People actually WAIT for this place? I quickly mastered my nerves and allowed my highly logical Pearson brain to take over, rationalizing the fact that 70 minutes in Restaurantland actually meant 30 minutes in the real world. 67 minutes later we were seated.

Next to the county fair and Wal-Mart on a Saturday, Olive Garden provides the best people-watching experience known to mankind. We saw squirrely-looking prom dates, jaded lesbians, hood-rat gangstas, and a woman whose obnoxious knockers were being contained by a polyester stretchy shirt four sizes too small. I swear if that behem’ho had twisted to one side at the wrong angle, one of those monsters would have sprung out with wicked force, knocking her (or any bystander within three feet) unconscious. Oddly enough, I don’t think the freak show waiting in the lobby would have even noticed. Just another night at Olive Garden for them.

Why my aversion to Olive Garden? Because it is trash. It is terrible food. Granted, I lived in Italy for two years and am a little pickier toward Italian cuisine, but not overly so. Their processed sauces and mushy pastas are just BAD. You will find better Italian food at Fazzolis, Pizza Hut, and in Chef Boyardee cans. Do these people not know there is a Macaroni Grill right across the freaking street that actually serves good Italian food for roughly the same price?!

By the time we were seated I was already angry. Angry that I had to wait 67 minutes for inevitably bad food. Angry that I had to watch knocker-lady bounce and flit around the freak show lobby. And angry that we were seated next to the family with the autistic redheaded heavy girl that yelled out “basagna classico!” every 90 seconds and continuously asked for crackers for her soup.

When the waitress asked us for our order I said, “I really don’t like this restaurant, but it’s been years since I’ve been here. What would you recommend that might change my opinion?” I don’t remember what she offered partially due to her bad answer, but mostly due to the high-pitched squeal of the steam pouring out of my ears. I knew my only hope was to order the most bizarre thing possible, with potent cheeses or sauces, hoping to mask the overall gnarliness of Olive Garden food. I went with the Steak Gorgonzola-Alfredo. And, naturally, I hated it. I ate the steak off the top and went Doberman on the salad and breadsticks.

The moral to this story is twofold. Free does not necessarily mean good. And, most importantly, Olive Garden sucks. That is all. Boom goes the dynamite.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Inappropriate Adjectives - Andrew Bird is Retarded

Marty: Whoa, wait a minute. Doc, are you telling me that my mother has got the hots for me?
Doc: Precisely.
Marty: Whoa, this is heavy.
Doc: There's that word again - heavy. Why are things so heavy in the future? Is there a problem with the Earth's gravitational pull?

Have you ever wondered how certain, often inappropriate, adjectives found their way into colloquial English? For example “bad”, as in “dude, that is one bad lookin’ sofa.” English would suggest that the sofa is ugly. Or uncomfortable. Or even malevolent. But we know that term actually means the sofa is good. Bad = good. Or how about “cool?” At what point did something of a lower temperature become good? Have you ever eaten cool meat loaf? It’s anything but good. And how can “cool” and “hot” be interchangeable? “Have you seen Mike’s new Ferrari? That car is hot.” Or is it cool? Logic suggests that it can’t be both. And you can’t physically measure something’s coldness anyhow since temperature is calculated by heat, implying that a state of “coolness” is simply a partial absence of heat.

Nowadays the Ferrari would be “sick.” But sick isn’t interchangeable with “gross.” Apparently the hot/cool rule doesn’t apply to nausea. Skilled athletes can be “filthy” or “nasty.” So, to be clear, I’m to understand that poor hygiene is considered good in sports? I played ball with Italians that smelled like week-old onions and carcass farms, definitely putting them in the filthy/nasty categories, but they sucked monkey butt at basketball. Maybe the filthy/nasty rule only works in America. Lame Europeans.

Speaking of lame, when did the word “gay” all of a sudden mean “lame” and when did “lame” score pariah status? Stephen Hawking can’t walk, but I’m pretty sure he’d work me at a spelling contest. And I have some alternate-lifestyle friends that likely take offense to “gay” meaning something negative, especially after the word used to mean HAPPY.

And how about “sweet?” How do you know your gorgeous new LCD television is sweet? Did you freaking lick it? Oh, maybe you mean the OTHER kind of sweet…like it massaged your shoulders and gave you a hug after remembering your birthday.

As odd as these words are, I use them often and heavily. Gnarly, rad, sweet, hot, smokin’, rockin’, wicked, hard, badass, insane, filthy, uber, and wild are all WIN.

The mother of all inappropriate adjectives, likely the most offensive, and naturally my personal favorite is “retarded.” Meaning so good that it’s beyond insane. It’s beyond filthy nastiness and wicked uber gnarlihood. It’s so awesome that it’s RETARDED. Example? Sure. “Wednesday night’s Andrew Bird concert was off the charts. I mean, the way he uses digital loops and sonic layering is utterly retarded.” See following video…