Monday, November 22, 2010

The Slow Death of Innocence

I believe that children are born innocent. Completely innocent. I also believe that as they grow up, that innocence is slowly and methodically destroyed until they die cynical and bitter. The culprit? Knowledge. Knowledge is to innocence, what water is to rock. A seemingly-innocent, yet corrosive element that leaves nothing but destruction in its wake. They both contribute to creation, yet they both destroy ruthlessly and without prejudice.

As children grow up they are introduced to various experiences and facts about life that shake their little cores. A child will never be the same after he kills his first animal. I don’t mean snails or worms or spiders, but actual relatable animals. Like a bird or a squirrel. Some may enjoy it. Others may be horrified by it. But regardless, that kid will never…ever be the same after extinguishing that life. A little bit of innocence dies.
Similarly, kids are never the same after they learn the truth about Mr. Claus, P. Rabbit, and leprechauns. Those are beautiful, magical things that add an element of happiness and fantasy to life. The destruction of those fantasies can be brutal for some and perfectly logical and normal for others. Yet in either case, knowledge kills the magic and innocence dies.

Chief among such learning experiences is the true nature of birds and bees.

My 8-year old came to me a number of months ago after taking a bath and said, “Dad, what are my balls for?” Naturally my answer was, “they’re for warming your hands on the sideline while the defense is on the field.” His quizzical look let me know he didn’t know what a sideline was, or a defense for that matter, but I shrugged it off with the standard, “I’ll tell you when you’re older.” A few months later the question came again. This time “go ask your mother” bought some time and gave temporary relief. VERY temporary. Minutes later he was right back at it. “I’ll tell you when you’re older. Like 22.” I knew this could only go on so long. Finally, weeks after he came at me again, “Dad, what are my balls for? It’s my body and it’s my right to know.” How in the holy freaking hell can a 9-year-old be that wise in his question phrasing? Is he really mature enough to have this conversation? So I tested the water… “Buddy, tell me what you know about how babies are made.” I was fully expecting an answer like “Well dad, everyone knows that rays of magic sunshine mix with unicorn laughter to make the baby and then the flamingo delivers it to mommy’s tummy.” Which is only half wrong, since there IS magic and there IS laughter involved in the baby-making process. Unfortunately, his answer was smart and linear and logical. Completely wrong, but quite clear and a plausible alternative for the actual method. Bloody hell. He was ready…

Yeah, well I wasn't. Dude is in third grade! If he could just hold on for two more years then I could allow the government to teach him courtesy of the “maturation program” and I could just pick up the pieces with a dry and scientific Q&A. What are we paying these useless teachers for anyhow? With any real luck I could put it off until 8th grade when he gets to watch that revolting video in health class with the detailed description of an erection, complete with thermal imagery. I’ll never forget the afterbirth from that video. Talk about death to innocence.

Alas, it was not to be. It was time. One calm, sunny day coming home from the grocery store, Talmage and I had “the talk.” I have to give him credit. He was pretty calm, albeit shocked. He was having a hard time grasping the fact that it could go there and cause that to happen. I held nothing back. We covered all aspects of “Teh Seks.” The physical. The emotional. The spiritual. I was very detailed in my description and positive in my delivery. We covered parameters and rules. We talked about the importance of it in God’s plan. I have no delusions….that innocence is dead, and that’s a healthy chunk of innocence, but the damage was minimal. It was a clean cut, not the gruesome tear that it could have been.

My favorite of his myriad questions was,“Dad, how long do you have to sex for?” "Well bud, if you’re lucky about 12 seconds. But sometimes it can take hours.” “Ooooo, gross.” Just wait young buddy. Just wait.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Revenge of the Nerds

Online social networking has been a fascinating and highly entertaining experience for me for a variety of reasons. First, it’s interactive. It isn’t “read only.” I can actually speak with or share things with people I know. Or knew. Or figure I should know since we share 85 friends but can’t remember who the hell they actually are. Secondly, it exposes people’s nuances, intricacies, weaknesses, and talents. I never knew I had so many friends that were brilliant artists, gifted writers, angry activists, and political soapboxers. I know who is grammatically challenged. Some have aged well. Others have done something to piss off Father Time. I have a bone to pick with that grey-bearded bastard.

More than anything, though, I think online networking gives insight into the nature of karma and/or the chaotic, natural flow of life. Let’s face it….we are all pinballs in the wizard’s game, knocked hither, thither, and yon. Where we end up is pure chance. Or luck. Or is it? Is there some element of karma involved? Are hard work, perseverance, and difficult patience through formative years rewarded with glory, riches, and love later in life? On the other side, have the cruel and indifferent been punished with misery and woe?

Throughout time there have been legendary battles between fierce rivals. Palestine and Israel. Green Bay and Minnesota. Fire and Rain. Cake and Pie. Age and Cher. Plastic Surgery and Kenny Rogers. Hippies and Metalheads. Jocks and Nerds. Some rage on, i.e. Palestine and Israel. Others have been tragically but emphatically decided, i.e. poor Kenny Rogers. And lately the Jocks suffered a crushing blow, much like Kenny’s face, which ended their war. The Nerds have prevailed, courtesy of Fantasy Football.

Look, I’m a sports guy. I’ve played several sports and was pretty decent at a few of them, so I can identify with the jocks. I’ve also bumped pocket protectors with the nerds. Hell, I have hundreds Phish concerts on CD, meticulously labeled and cataloged chronologically on Japanese-only compact discs, stored such that no man or child could possibly reach or damage them. I played EverQuest for years, spending hours of my day as Rutherforrd Gnarlyarmour….barbarian warrior in Norrath. THAT is nerdy. But, my friends, nothing I have ever done in my life on earth has been as nerdy as playing fantasy football this year.

My neighbor Jeb invited me to play Fanasy Football with him and some of his friends. I was loathe to do it, but I saw myself slowly (through little fault of my own) becoming “that guy”….the one that always has an excuse to not participate in anything he’s invited to do. I like Jeb so I reluctantly agreed. How involved could it be, right? I just get a few players and let them rack up points for playing well. No? HELL-tutha-no.

I knew I was in trouble when I went to Jeb’s brother’s house for “draft day” and we sat around in a group of 12 with spreadsheets and expert forecasts as to who would be the best players to pick. We went through 16 individual rounds of a draft. By pick #9 or so I’d had it. My butt was sore from sitting and I had no clue who the remaining players were. We rushed through the last hour, taking the total to THREE, and finally finished the draft.

That was the easy part.

There’s no sitting on your laurels in fantasy football. Each week you have to look at projections, compare stats, and manage your lineup. There are complex algorithms involved in calculating points after a performance. (Catches+Receiving Yards) – Dropped Balls / Yards After Contact x Touchdowns. Or some nonsense.

Did you see that, jocks? I just said “calculating” and “algorithm” in a paragraph that is talking about YOU. You all have triumphantly BECOME the NERDS!

Memo to FF-playing jocks. You are nerdy. Professional cup stackers think you are nerds. Anime manga collectors wouldn’t be seen with you in public. Star Trek conventions would ban you from the premises. You can retire the jersey and don the hammer pants because you are nerds. Sheldon Cooper is jealous. And he can build Tesla Coils and speak KLINGON. And I don’t want to hear, “it’s not even the same dude, we’re talking about sports!” No you’re not. You’re talking about MATH. True football fans are the ones that lock themselves in their man caves and violently cheer for their team to beat the bloody hell out of whoever dares line up across the ball from them. They don’t cheer for Brett Favre to throw touchdowns just because he is on their fantasy team. They know he’s a filthy loser and want him to throw countless interceptions before having his knee folded back by Julius Peppers. Hoping enemy players do well goes against the grain of logic and is foreign to the lifeblood of the true sports fan. Bottom line, the word “fantasy” should clue you in that you are in nerd territory. Do you know what lives in fantasy? Hobbits. Dragons. Unicorns. Spiderman. The Easter Bunny. Beautiful women in fur bikinis that fan you with palm fronds and grill a mean steak. And YOU if you think you are anything but a nerd. A true fantasy team would have Juggernaut at tailback, Legolas and The Flash at receiver, a Minotaur kicker, Darth Vader at tight end, an offensive line of Golems, and Moses under center.

The circle is now complete.

Nerds-1 \\\///Jocks-DONE

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Why the Fear?

For someone that professes political ambiguity and general indifference, I sure do write about politics a lot. As stated in other posts, I’m largely confused and torn politically. I consider myself a conservative and I consider myself a liberal but I don’t consider myself a moderate…if that’s even possible. Maybe it’s just easier to incessantly bitch about things when you’re that uncommitted. And I guess it’s a general feeling of helplessness and disdain that motivates me to think and write politically. And right now I feel both.

I’ve been overly sensitive to Facebook Prophets as of late. Those soap-boxers that use FB as a vehicle to vilify Obama or Glenn Beck. Thank God for the “hide” function. I’m routinely astounded at how narrow-minded and silly people can be. Obama is not the anti-Christ. Beck is not the hate-mongering harbinger of death. Liberals have an agenda and they use media to promote it, i.e. Bill Maher and John Stewart (who is brilliant by the way.) Conservatives also use media to promote their agenda, i.e. Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity. Each side can be valid and each side can go full retard. What hurts me is the chaos that is created by such clashing. It is dark and it is ugly. We Americans have lost respect for the system and its offices and I blame the partisan media.

Yesterday my two boys brought home permission forms from school, demanding parental consent for them to watch an upcoming presidential address to American students on the importance of education. You actually had to sign it to allow your child to participate. Not to decline it, but to allow it. In other words, the district’s default position was to keep the kids away from the address unless otherwise stated by their parents. I was dumbfounded.

I cannot believe we have come to live in such a fearful society. What in the hell are we afraid of? Do we think that Obama is going to use this opportunity to brainwash our children into supporting gay marriage or immigration reform? Is he going to subliminally command them to kill the prime minister of Malaysia? Why the fear?!

When I was a child I was taught that the president of the United States of America held an important, almost sacred office. Not because it was Regan, but because he was the leader of the free world. The office stood for freedom and justice. Not the man. The OFFICE. Regan had issues. Bush had issues. Clinton had issues. The other Bush had issues. Obama has issues. But he holds the most important office on the planet and it is our duty to listen to what he has to say, then use our God-given judgment to discern what we believe to be right or wrong, true or false. I believe that he, at his core, stands for freedom and justice…just as Regan did. I am not an Obama guy. Some of his ideas scare me. But I believe his intentions and motivations with regards to my children’s education are pure.

Bottom line, this is an address on the importance of education. I don’t care if it’s the president, Glenn Beck, or Charles freaking Manson speaking. Any help in strengthening the importance of education in the minds of my children is quite welcome. It doesn't matter if the office is held by a democrat, republican, libertarian, or whig. My children will grow up to respect that office and hopefully aspire to it.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Come Fly the Not-So-Friendly Skies

I caught this story in USA Today where over 2,000 airline passengers were polled to see if they would prefer a “family section” on flights. Nearly 60% said yes. In addition, 20% said they would prefer child-free flights. The survey came on the heels of a law suit filed by a 67-year-old American that sued an Australian airline after a 3-year-old child screamed on her flight causing pain in her ear.

To be fair, most of the 60% that favored family sections or kidless flights didn’t have children of their own, so there is some disconnect and lack of empathy there. But I don’t care. They are all idiots.

Have these people never been around children? Unless they are People Under the Stairs or haters of innocence and purity, I don’t understand how these tools could want to ban families from flying. Or quarantine them. Can a crying baby be obnoxious? Certainly. But so can you elitist bastards with your noise-cancelling headphones and iPads. I realize that you are a “business professional” and that you work exceptionally hard, but you are not working any harder than the dad that busted ass for three years to afford the magical Disneyland vacation for his young family. Not everyone works to luxuriate in snooty opulence, sipping red wine and stroking lap dogs while listening to Haydn. That child’s trip from point A to point B is every bit as valid as yours. You can deal with a little discomfort for a few hours. And if you are flying Southwest then you are exposing even more of your idiocy. Southwest is a bus in the sky. The only thing missing are livestock and chickens milling about the passengers to have a complete third-world charter.

What a silly survey. It doesn’t even make business sense to do such a thing. The airline industry lives and dies by ticket sales. There is no chance in hell they would risk losing seat sales by blocking off designated areas for families or children.

Designated areas. Doesn’t that just sound terrible? It screams of segregation to me. Hey…I know…let’s designate areas for fat people like Taco Cabana Lady. Do they know how horrible it is to sit next to someone whose lard is spilling 10” over the armrest? Trust me, I know. People glare at me when they see they drew the short straw with a seat adjacent to mine. Let’s stick anyone over 250 lbs. in the back of the plane. In fact, if you are over three bills then you aren’t allowed onboard, period. And Asian people smell funny, so let’s have an Asian section too. And old people annoy the hell out of me. They had their time to fly when they were young and actually WORTH something. But that ship has sailed Get your mothballed turtle asses back home and watch your programs in your wicker furniture-filled, wood-paneled parlors.

Now I believe that people should exercise common sense and human courtesy. I believe that families with small children should move toward the back of the airplane as a courtesy to other travelers. I believe they should try very hard to keep them quiet and calm. I also believe that very young children should not sit in first class. That is one area where business travelers can pay a premium to fly in peace. If you want to offer designated seating for families with discounted pricing or kidless sections at added premiums, then fine. That could be an option. However, I do NOT believe that anyone has the right to demand where people sit. Rosa Parks wasn’t down. Why would I be?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Fine Taco Cabana?!

I recently took my family to Taco Cabana here in Austin. On a side note, I believe it is physically impossible to NOT sing “Her name was Lola….” when driving past The Cabana. It was our first time through the Cabana doors and I was kind of excited. I figured I knew what I was getting myself into. This was not atmospheric Mexican food with waiters, menus, and glass cups. Nor was this Ghetto Mex, i.e. authentic Mexican grub served big, fast, and cheap. This was full-on fast food Mexican…a direct competitor with Taco Bell. It would be perfect for the kids and a pleasant change from a typical border run…outside the bun.

The d├ęcor was quite cute. The tables were decorated with different beer logos and each had an umbrella overhead. The menu was interesting and inventive and the family fajitas immediately drew my attention. There is a full salsa bar dedicated to different types of sauces, jalapenos, and various condiments. I ordered our food, we found our tables, and started setting up camp. Only two other tables in the entire restaurant were taken. There was an older, fat couple at one table and what appeared to be a father and teenage son at another.

I have a two-year-old daughter. She is equal parts diva, princess, and mermaid. She has attitude oozing from her body and the most emotive little personality you’d ever see in a munchkin so lovely. When she speaks, you hear. You might not listen, but I guaran-ass-tee you that you’ll hear her. It’s impossible not to. She’s got this little high-pitched squeal that will sound angry or happy, depending on the situation. She was excited to be at The Cabana and she wanted the world to know.

Less than 10 minutes (and 3 squeals) into our meal I noticed that the fat old lady at the other table had managed to rise to her bulbous feet to make her way over to our table. I just assumed she was going to compliment us on our darling little children that were so full of energy and excitement. Quite the contrary. About five feet from our table, as she approached, she cupped her puffy hands to her ears and hissed “she is too loud.” Sherri was dumbfounded. “I’m sorry, this is a public restaurant” Sherri said. “Yes, but she doesn’t need to scream” replied the wrinkled mass of flesh. Then Sherri and I started in on her at the same time. “She’s a CHILD.” “She’s only TWO. “This is TACO CABANA. Defeated and dejected, The Jelly Thing turned and waddled back to her table. Her husband hung his head and said nothing…probably dreaming of his “happy place” where he was married to a woman that didn’t require him to grease her down and toss a Twinkie through the door to get her in the house.

Are you kidding me? Had this woman actually complained about my daughter’s shrill-but-happy sounds interfering with her joyous snarfing of $9.00 worth of barely mediocre burrito? Memo to Hog Lady: If you are interested in a romantic, quiet dinner with your unfortunate mate, do NOT roll into the Taco FREAKING Cabana. Taco Cabana is not a haunt for the Austin elite. You will find children. You will find teenagers. You will find the occasional transient that scored a few bucks under the viaduct. But you will also find mass quantities of beans, meat, and cheese (for pennies), so I can understand why you would want to squeeze yourself in there. Just adjust your expectations, mkay?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Caller ID - The Bane of Initiative and Propriety

I believe that Caller ID is to blame for the general laziness of society. In fact, I think you can basically follow the (de)evolution of telephone technology for a brilliant timeline into the world's descent into pitiful lethargy.

"Mr. Watson, come here. I want to see you." Those were the first words uttered electrically by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876. The full history of telephone technology is lengthy and terribly tedious reading, so we'll skip ahead to the 1950s to begin our slippery timeline of laziness. In the 1950s, telephones were heavy. They were bulky. They sat down in a specific, permanent spot and took up obnoxious amounts of space. They were generally located near a desk or a countertop, where messages could easily be written.

When the phone rang, it actually rang. I mean there was a sound emanating from the thing that sounded like an actual bell ringing. When the phone rang you had to answer it to know who was calling on the other line. It was a complete mystery...until you picked up. It could be a bill collector or it could be old Ed McMahon with Publisher's Clearing house informing you that you'd won the million. And yes, Ed was old...even in the 50s.

Further, most telephone lines belonged to multiple families. You could pick up the receiver to make a phone call and your neighbor could be rapping on the phone with a friend. I'm sure it made for lovely eavesdropping.

Dialing a phone number in the 1950s took an eternity to accomplish. There were no magic buttons to push. You had to stick your finger in the hole on the rotary dial that corresponded with the desired number and you had to spin the wheel clockwise....then wait while the wheel "click-click-clickity-clicked" counter-clockwise to its original position. Luckily there were fewer numbers to dial back then. My dad's phone number was simply 2596 when he was a lad.

The 1960s
Toward the end of the 1950s, wall-mounted telephones were invented. They were slimmed down, reworked versions of the same device...just designed to hang on a wall. This did nothing more than clear desk space. You were still forced to rise, walk, pick up, and speak into the receiver.

In 1964 the world was introduced to the "Touch Tone" telephone. No more annoying time-waster of a dial to turn. Now you simply had to push a button for the number you wanted, easily shaving 15 seconds from your dialing! People got a little bit lazier.

While phone units continued to get smaller and lighter, no other real advances were made in telephone technology.

The 1970s
Technology held firm in the 70s. A "Picturephone" was released where video was transmitted (a snapshot every 2 seconds) but it went over like a lead balloon. It was bulky and insanely expensive.

More than anything else, the 1970s were about STYLE. Phones were manufactured in all sorts of groovy shapes and far out colors. Want a translucent phone that glows next to your lava lamp? No problem. One that mounts in the center of your black light poster? No sweat. The sound changed too! You could get a cool robotic, electric sounding ring instead of the actual bell.

In 1973, a company called Motorola invented the first cellular portable telephone to be commercialized. The technology had existed and had been used by the military and such, but this was the first time said technology was released for commercial consumption. It was a true beast of a machine, but it could be carried with you and used anywhere you received cell reception.

The 1980s
This is the decade where things started to really change and the descent into laziness went supersonic.

Right around 1980 the first cordless phone hit the market. All of a sudden, you didn't need to get up from the couch to walk to the wall or the telephone desk to answer the phone. You could fire it up right in the middle of MASH without missing a witty Hawkeye line or Klinger outfit. Granted, the 27MHz frequency and limited range made it sound like you were standing in the eye of a hurricane, but quality was a fair trade-off for the massive amounts of energy saved from having to rise to your feet and walk across the room. The low frequency, however, made it so that people that were talking on cordless phones in the same vicinity could hear each other and even speak to each other. This was more annoying to the phone company than to the consumer. People were able to have free 3-way calling adventures. Free is bad. In 1986, a cordless phone with a 49 MHz frequency was released to combat the 3-way calling issue.

In 1984, a market trial for a new device was held by Bell Atlantic in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. For the past 15 years, technology was being developed to allow identification information from the call originator to be transmitted and displayed to the recipient. This was the effective birth of "Caller ID." And the death of American initiative. Based on this market trial and others in the late 1980s, Caller ID became a mainstream hit and massive revenue stream for all major telecommunications companies by the mid-1990s. Suddenly it was possible to pick and choose which calls you wanted to answer based on who was calling. People, again, got a little bit lazier.

Constant advancements were also made to cellular technology. Networks were expanded and devices were improved, getting smaller and more powerful.

The 1990s
Cordless phones owned the 90s. In 1990 a 900 MHz phone was released, allowing you to go further from the base unit than ever before while speaking with a newfound clarity. Further advancements were made in 1994, 1996, and finally in 1998 with the release of a 2.4 GHz phone. Now you could walk around the freaking block on a non-cellular telephone with corded-phone clarity.

In 1995, Type II Caller ID was released and spread to the masses. This new technology allowed you to actually see caller information while you were already on the telephone. Caller ID displays were now being built onto actual cordless handsets, eliminating the need for older Caller ID boxes. Now you can screen and ignore calls without walking to look at the box. Another foot into the lazy river of laziness.

Cellular technology continued to improve. Now we have devices that are not just functional telephones, but also planners, calendars, and small computers.

The 2000s - Today
Having a telephone device entirely independent of wires or "bases" apparently wasn't enough. In 2001, the first "bluetooth" headset was released, allowing the user to actually speak on a cellular telephone without holding the damned thing to his ear.

Cellular technology is no longer its own's simply a small piece in a larger unit that we now call iPhones, Androids, and Blackberries.

Many American families have absolutely no need for "land line" telephones due to the cost-effectiveness and pervasiveness of mobile phones, but advancements are still made to said land lines.

Commonly, people consider advancements in technology to be improvements to life. Things get smaller, cheaper, smarter, faster, and more available. Technology allows professionals to be more "plugged in." But there is always a side effect.

In the 1950s people were compelled to answer their phone to know who was calling. People were forced to deal with salespeople or talk to that pesky mother in law that has nothing but evil to speak. They had to confront those annoyances head on, and I guarantee that lessons were learned in the process. Today I don't need to move a muscle to know who is calling. I don't even need to move my eyeballs. I barely have to pause my DVR to read the name and number of the person calling which is now displayed on the freaking television screen that I can't peel myself away from, courtesy of AT&T U-Verse. If my eyeballs are too tired then I need but listen to the ridiculous "Microsoft Sam"ish voice emanating from my 5-handset 6 GHz landline unit that tells me who is calling. I can literally and completely ignore you without expending a single joul of energy.

Is that healthy? No. Is there any bleed-through effect in life? I think so. Just like ignoring your annoying-ass phone call, I find it too easy to ignore those other annoyances in life. We're a lazy people and I'm your chief. Prime offender. I know people that won't answer or return phone calls. "If you want to talk to me, text me." How 'tarded is that?

Cell phones and mobile devices have thrown propriety completely out the door. I see people texting and even talking on cell phones during movies. I see Lobots wearing bluetooth headsets in church. I see idiots texting behind the wheel. I see women speeding through school zones talking on their phones. I even have kids that play around with iPhone apps during Sunday School lessons, oblivious to the fact that an adult is trying to teach them about baby Jesus. I can't imagine how hard it is to be a teacher in this day and age. These devices have made lazy, disrespectful lamers of kids and adults alike.

Technology has made it all-too-easy to avoid building real relationships. We are becoming robotic. In my last job I was able to manage accounts as a salesperson without ever having to meet or speak to someone. From initial contact to RFP to completed sale to daily management, I could handle everything from a Blackberry without even using it is a phone. Is that a good way to build a relationship?

So, in a personal effort to DO more and CRY less, I'm going to take the following action:

- I will answer the phone when it rings, regardless of who is calling.
- I will make an effort to not look at Caller ID or listen to Sam.
- I will leave the phone in the kitchen and go to it when it rings.

Will this instantly make me a die-hard go-getter in life? Probably not. Will it make me less of a lazy sofa-dweller? I sure as hell hope so. Those stairs are murder.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Back in the Saddle Again

I bought an Aerosmith CD when I was 15 years old at the behest of a youth leader I had named Doug Havens. I had and have always admired Doug and he was the first person I ever knew whose passion poured out of him like liquid hot magma when he talked about music. It was an early compilation of "greatest hits" with standards like "Walk This Way", "Dream On", and "Sweet Emotion." The real gem on that album was a track called "Kings and Queens." And there was one track that was utter rubbish called "Back in the Saddle Again." Unfortunate as it may be, that's the song that is permalooping in my head right now as I write this post. It's been a long time since I've written, but I'm determined to be back in the saddle again. I'm committing to write at least one post per week. And in my 30-something wisdom I've discovered that I really dislike Aerosmith. Sorry Doug.

To catch up, here are 10 things I've thought about the past few months....blitzkrieg style:

1) Prop 8 was overturned in California. I'm a conservative former Utahn who belongs to a strict Christian faith whose stance is clear and firm on the matter. But I have friends that I love very much and it is very important to me that they are afforded the same rights, freedoms, and understanding as a committed gay couple that Sherri and I likely take for granted as married folk. The rest is semantics. Openness, tolerance, and education never hurt anyone and I don't understand why we fear it.

2) The most effective tool for educating against (or curing) intolerance is watching and re-watching West Side Story. We learn that hatred and misunderstanding can easily be defeated with Sondheim lyrics and Jerome Robbins choreography.

3) Brett Favre finally retired. Buuuahahahaha! I'll believe that when I see, nay FEEL, his stone cold corpse in his coffin. Even then I'd say there's a 70% chance that he'll rise from the dead to demand his starting position back because death, much like life, just isn't the same without football. But hey...he's not MY freaking problem anymore. When he wore green he was a hero of mine, and I'm sure he will be again someday. But as long as he wears purple he is the enemy and I wish him nothing but pain and sorrow.

4) I'm not designed to live alone. Sherri and the kids flew the coop to Utah for a 4-week vacation with friends and family and I joined them for the final 10 days, but there were 18 days when I was home alone. At first I was stoked. I just knew that the first few days would be bachelor heaven where I could consume all the wife-disapproved food, beverages, and movies I ever wanted. In reality it was a nightmare. The first night I started talking to myself while preparing my nachos. I realized I was in trouble when I actually answered myself. I did nothing productive and blew through 4 bags of tortilla chips, 20 avocados, 5 rotisserie chickens, and an entire block of cheese in the blink of an eye. I missed my fam.

5) Texas is home. While I enjoyed my time in Utah and loved seeing my friends and family, I was not devastated to leave.

6) "Bachelor Pad" is great television. Finally we have an honest portrayal of Bachelorette and Bachelor rejects. It exposes the stupidity, deceit, vanity, insecurity, and general ridiculousness that The Bachelor sweeps under the rug in an effort to make us believe in the "legitimate" prospect of finding love on the show. And as far as I'm concerned, Weatherman should have his own show.

7) Reality TV talent competitions learned a lesson with Sanjaya from his season on American Idol. If you believe the producers of billion dollar shows like AI, SYTYCD, and AGT truly allow America to choose its favorite contestants to advance then I'm sending Tommy to hit you in the head with a tack hammer because YOU ARE A RETARD. These shows are big business. Viewership is king. Lineups are carefully selected and protected to secure key demographics. Winners are chosen by producers, not voted for by you and me in our living rooms.

8) Dr. Laura is throwing in the towel after who-knows-how-many centuries of verbally abusing people on the radio. Now I think the good doctor has some fine ideas and some wonderful advice, especially for relationships, but her no-nonsense delivery of said advice is a poorly-constructed shill for her true sadistic need to flog people over public radio. Memo to Laura: you can NOT drop an N-Bomb on the radio. You certainly can't do it multiple times in the same segment. You will get crucified every time. And please don't say that by leaving you are exercising your first amendment rights to free speech. How about an innate commitment to common freaking sense. If you drop that bomb on the air there will be outcries of hate, there will be offense, and there will be consequences. There are some terms that even the constitution can't protect against, and "ni**er" is one of them. Just don't say it. Good riddance.

9) Firefly was a brilliant TV series. It is a crime that it was cancelled after a single season. At least we got Nathan Fillion from it. "Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-long Blog" alone is worth the Firefly sacrifice I guess.

10) Did you know that the little sprite from iCarly makes $180k per episode? She's like 10, and she rakes in more dough in 30 minutes than I can sweat for in years. It's appropriate though. That show is brilliant. It's like Glee for kids.

That does it for now. I've already got an idea for my next post, so stay tuned. I'm back in the saddle again. Sans leopard print jumpsuit.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Hailstorm - House Band of Valhalla

And somewhere…in some mead hall in the highest citadel of Asgard, the great Odin smiled.

Three years ago I bought a drum set. I’m not entirely sure why. Perhaps it was my mini-midlife crisis splurge. Maybe I was subconsciously angry with my wife and thought I’d exact my revenge through assaults of thundering sonic blasts. Or maybe, just maybe, I hadn’t quite yet given up that pipe dream of being a rock star.

When I moved to Texas I had a fleeting encounter with reality. “What the hell am I going to do with a drum set in TEXAS?!” I didn’t know anyone here to jam with. I couldn’t fit it on the moving truck. And I doubted there would be a place for it in my new home. My wife loathed the thing and I could really use some “points” since I was displacing her from all that she held dear. I allowed my heart to be reasoned by my head and I quickly sold it for peanuts.

Weeks into my stay in Texas I was introduced to Jayd…a dude that shares my passion for sonic bliss and puts me to shame in knowledge of the note. He plays guitar. Then I meet Josh…another music fan. He plays anything that can make sound. Next is Steve, another guy cut from the proper musical cloth that is also quickly mastering the bass. Then Barry….guitar. And Randy….guitar and wicked vocals. All that was missing was a drummer. CURSE YOU, HEAD! I should always follow my freaking overly sensitive bleeding heart.

Sometime in April, Jayd was approached to put a band together for a church activity. It was the second “Swapapalooza” festival and would be “Hailstorm’s” second time taking the stage as musical entertainment. Let me expound a bit on those two terms:

“Swapapalooza” is a neighborhood swap. Thanks to overly creative minds like my friend and colleague Ben Martin’s, some further clarity is required here. There is no fish bowl at the door with a note taped to it with the word "KEYS" scrawled on the note. No random-wild-unabashed-monkeysex going on at THIS church function. Rather, this swap is more like a giant free garage sale or swap meet. Thanks to yet another friend and colleague, Roger Church, the details of the event require some delicate explanation. For instance, “Swapapalooza is where people in the neighborhood bring all their used unwanted crap to the event and people can trade for other people’s used unwanted crap, saving a trip to Good Will.” After hearing that explanation, Roger’s suggestion was to change the title from “Swapapalooza” to "Screw the Needy." A better explanation would have been, “Swapapalooza is an opportunity for local families and children to exchange gently used necessities or longed-for luxuries that they would otherwise be unable to justify.” I digress.

“Hailstorm” is the name of the band, thus titled since its debut came on the heels of the gnarly Austin hail storm of last year.

Jayd obliged and came to me, asking if I would be willing to pound the skins for the band. But alas, I had no drum set. Freaking head. Incredibly, Josh had been in negotiations to trade some gear for a drum set and we were simply days from having the kit in hand. We started to noodle through ideas for a setlist, and when the kit arrived we met to jam.

It was quite remarkable how quickly we gelled. I felt a bit overwhelmed, not having an instrument at home to practice on, but I listened to the songs and imagined in my head what it would be like to play them. After 5 rehearsals, Hailstorm was ready to take the stage.

We fully embraced the Norse feel of the band’s name and appropriately adopted rad stage names. Ranvald, Magnus, Thor, Stiv, Lars, and Juror #5. Jayd and I designed a logo and we all made tee shirts for the gig. Some of our groupies wore similar tees.

I’ve never had more fun in my entire life.

This experience was less about sound and more about style. We never took ourselves seriously but were all proud with what we accomplished. We played 15 songs in our set, covering everything from Beatles to Weezer to Michael Jackson.

Let's Go from Tyler Pearson on Vimeo.

The crowd and groupies loved it and I’m confident that Hailstorm will once again be called upon to gently rock the house, sending praises to Tyr and to Thor and to Loki. Odin the wise shall smile once again.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Duggars and Degeneri and Dogs. Oh my....

Sherri wants to be a Duggar. A what, you ask? A Duggar can be any one of the 21 stars of the hit TLC program “19 Kinds and Counting” featuring the Duggar Family. There’s Jim Bob and Michelle, then a whole slew of kids named J____. Josie, Joe Jack, Jarvis, Jezebel, Jiminy Cricket, etc. I hate the show. I detest it. Since I love my wife (and value my life) I won’t share my full opinion with you, other than to say that I wish they’d stop squeezing out kids and start acting responsibly. When your mindless procreation starts producing 1 lb. babies it’s time to stop. And they’re running out of J names. I’m starting a petition to change the name of the show to “19 Kids and Satisfied.”

I want to be a Chapman. Have you seen “Dog the Bounty Hunter?” This dude is like a bastardized hybrid of Geronimo and Thor. “Dog” Duane Chapman, together with his team, busts fugitives that jump their bond or fail to appear in court in the states of Hawaii and Colorado. The cat is bizarre. He is a former soldier for a motorcycle gang who was convicted on a murder 1 charge in his early 20s. After doing two years, he turned to the life of bail bondsman and has been wtfpwning bad guys’ souls ever since.

I love the show and the guy, faults notwithstanding. First off he smokes 6 packs of cigarettes per day. Let’s do some math. There are 20 cigarettes in a pack. That’s 120 cigarettes a day. Let’s assume he’s an ambitious man and is awake from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. That is 16 hours per day where he could potentially be smoking. There are 60 minutes in an hour, so he is awake 840 minutes per day. The number of minutes awake divided by the number of cigarettes available in six packs is seven. Dog Chapman smokes one cigarette every 7 minutes for 14 hours straight. Every day. No wonder his skin is bright freaking red. The smoke has got to be trying to escape through the pores of his skin.

More math. A pack of brand name cigarettes in Austin is about $6.95 per pack. Hawaii is generally more expensive than anywhere else on the planet, so let’s bump that to $7.50 including sales tax. Six packs per day at $7.50 per pack is $45 per day, $315 per week, $1260 per month. No wonder Dog is so ferocious when hunting down fugitives. He’s got an entire mortgage caught up in poison that he huffs into his lungs.

But I can look past the chimney and lobster-red skin. Behind those rad Oakleys is a soft, compassionate, trusting dude that genuinely cares about the people he puts in jail. “Find ‘em and Fix ‘em” is his motto. He and his team regularly pray together in a circle before and/or after a hunt, and I like that. He is also an obvious family man. His interactions with his wife and kids are sweet and entirely genuine. He had one major screw up with the racial slur thing, but he owned it and apologized like a true man. No written statements, no publicists. Just Dog on camera humbly begging the forgiveness of an entire racial community at every opportunity. He actually met with leaders of that community and received their blessing to keep his show on the air.

The characters are compelling and strong, the message is clear and concise, and there’s nothing more entertaining than watching a 5’8” bulldog of a Norse Cherokee kicking doors down with 4” heeled, gold-capped boots, screaming “on the floor mother &%$ker!”

American Idol is slipping. Simon Cowell looks incredibly annoyed, clearly showing that he wants off the show. All three judges that matter are constantly contradicting themselves, telling the contestants to be original and inventive, yet crucifying them when they try. Degeneres has NO business giving any criticism on anything remotely related to music. Memo to Ellen: If you want to comment on their hair, or their shoes, or their showmanship, then please…by all means, do. But in all matters of the sonic wave, you need to stfu and keep your unqualified opinions to yourself. Until you establish your merit in that industry you should just sit there and be funny. You are to AI what Dennis Miller was to MNF…a sideshow. A distraction. A clown to failingly entertain during awkward silences after qualified men speak. And you’re not doing enough of that, either. Stop trying to be serious. No one takes you seriously. Start being funny.

And what the hell happened to Seacrest? He used to walk that thin line between geekily awkward and refreshingly cool. Now he’s neither. His jokes are bad and his mannerisms are odd. Back to the radio you go son. I say we bring back the Dunkleman, or give the gig to Conan. He’s probably bored.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Bruce Lee vs. Eazy E

Did you ever see Office Space? It’s a classic film of wit and irony. One of my favorite characters is that of Michael Bolton…an IT guy at Initech that had the misfortune of being named, well, ...Michael Bolton. The real irony is that he loves hard core gangster rap music. A snow white nerdy IT guy named Michael Bolton that jams Ghetto Rap in his ride. I feel compelled to cut in some Office Space dialogue:

Samir: No one in this country can ever pronounce my name right. It's not that hard: Na-ee-ana-jaad. Nayanajaad.
Michael Bolton: Yeah, well at least your name isn't Michael Bolton.
Samir: You know there's nothing wrong with that name.
Michael Bolton: There was nothing wrong with it... until that no-talent ass clown became famous and started winning Grammys.
Samir: Hmm... well why don't you just go by Mike instead of Michael?
Michael Bolton: No way! Why should I change? He's the one who sucks.

My own personal irony is that I was, once upon a time, that guy. The snow white nerdy/preppie kid rocking a white IZOD sweater with my cuordoroy shorts, listening to Dre in my car.

I went through a rap phase. I’m not sure if I really ever bought into it. I certainly never looked like it, but that’s largely because I detest people that dress their scene and kind of always have. I tried it to an extent in my Grateful Dead days, but I always felt like I was betraying myself. There’s just simply no need for the marriage of image and music. Anyhow, I thumped with the best of ‘em. And this was pre-“hip hop.” This was RAP baby.

So the question I ask myself today is this. Did I dig rap because my friends did and I wanted to fit in or did I genuinely like it? And what does “like it” mean? It’s not necessarily musical. I suppose it’s lyrically intricate but I wouldn’t call it lyrically “pleasing.” Ultimately I think that I like(d) rap because of the emotional effect that it has on my soul. It’s the only redeeming quality that I can find. It made me “feel” something. What I felt was generally angry or intense or rebellious, but teenagers need that kind of thing. The follow-up question is whether or not the emotional response is right or wrong, good or bad.

I was a junior in high school and right in the thick of my rap phase. Cypress Hill, Snoop, Dr. Dre, and Eazy E were taking turns in rotation in my Discman. I knew my parents (staunch and strict) wouldn’t approve of the music (which I guess answers question #2 in a sense) so I hid the CDs in a cupboard in my bedroom. My sleuthy mother naturally found them and took me to task.

“Ty, what are these CDs that say ‘Explicit Lyrics?’”
“Oh, uh yeah, mom *ahem* those are Lance’s. I’m just holding them for him.”
*soul-probing stare through my eyes with her Manson lamps*
“I want them out of my house right now. Take them to Lance’s house and I don’t ever want to see them again. Does Lance’s mother know he listens to that? Is Lance a good kid? Does Lance do drugs? Does Lance believe in Jesus?”

Talk about your all-time under-the-bus-chuckings. Sorry Hud.

So, I took them back to Lance’s…i.e. a much better, impossibly hard to find hiding place in my room.

It was a Friday afternoon and my fingernails had been bitten down to bleeders. It was parent-teacher conference. I was toast and I knew it. This time, my old man was going…and he was taking me with him. I had to deal with the embarrassment of having all those other parents there sans kids staring at me like a leprous midget at a Lakers tryout. That’s in addition to the agony of sitting through Mr. Player telling my dad that he hasn’t seen me in his class for 10 days or Duignan hadn’t seen an assignment turned in all quarter. I was hosed. The minutes seemed like hours….the hours, years. I was so distracted (still biting my nails) that I failed to notice my old man slip a CD in his Clarion system as we pulled out of the driveway.

At first I didn’t recognize the low bass of Eazy-E’s “Real Mutha__ckin’ Gs” piping through dad’s surprisingly strong stock speakers at unnaturally high volume. I did, however, catch on when I heard Eazy’s harsh whisper of “Ahhhhhh, real mutha__ckin’ Gs.” My hand, quick as lightning, shot for the eject button. My old man, faster than lightning, slapped my hand away. I tried again. My hand, again, was knocked harmlessly away. My father was Bruce-freaking-Lee, instinctually blocking my attempts to get at that eject button as if he saw my moves long before I even thought of them, one after the other.

By now we were at the first verse, “Hey yo docta’ here’s another proper track and it’s phat, watch the sniper…time to pay the piper…” My spirit sunk. Dad, however, slid back in his seat like an OG homie, body cocked a bit to the side with his left wrist casually on the wheel, bobbing his head along with the beat, thwarting my maneuvers for the eject button with his other hand like Neo. I was fully panic-stricken at this point. “Don’t touch that button, beotch. This is good $hiz!” We drove along, bumping The Eaze for at least 2 minutes…dad bangin’ in the drivers seat. I was crying at this point. I tried one last time to get the disc out of the player and this time he let me pass his guard, pulling the car over as I took the disc and broke it in half. Silently he handed me the other discs that my bloodhound mother had unearthed. I snapped each of them in turn.

“Ty, what are you doing listening to this music? This is terrible music. It’s offensive and wrong.” I quietly cried. “Please stop listening to it. Never bring it into our home again. Deal?” “Deal”, I squeaked. “Ok. Let’s go to your school.”

Now parent teacher conference didn’t seem like such a big deal. It was trivial when compared to bumping Eazy E together with your sainted father. When we returned from the meetings, he and my mother went through all of my CDs and confiscated those that they thought had the remotest potential of being “evil.” To their credit, they previewed each of them and actually returned a few. That said, I still lost copies of “Porno for Pyros” (I’m sure they didn’t want me mixed up in either of those two things) and my “Meat Puppets – Too High to Die” album, which was totally lame because it was the furthest thing from offensive.

Naturally, I bought replacement copies of all those discs and still own them today.

I guess that if I had to be completely honest with myself, true to my soul, I wouldn’t be able to look you in the eye and say that Eazy E or Dre or Snoop or Cypress Hill is good to listen to. It’s probably offensive to the spirit and creates negative energy. I generally try to steer clear of complete and total honesty with self though. I dig the spice of life and brutal personal honesty creates blandness. It’s not an ignorance is bliss thing. It’s more of a “drink a Pepsi and try not to think about it” thing. Without rap, we’d have never been given Public Enemy’s “Fear of a Black Planet” and Vanilla’s “To the Extreme” which are both works of poetic genius. Art gets a free pass. Usually.

But most importantly, I need to tap into my inner Michael Bolton from time to time.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

"Lester" Changed My Life

I'm a fan of good literature. Nothing fluxes my capacitor like a well-written essay, clever poem, or insightful novel. I've read a few things in my short tenure on earth that have changed my life. The first was "Of Mice and Men" which I read when I was 13. I cried and cried and cried some more. The next was "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" which I read when I was 18. There have been a few things I've picked up over the years that have impacted me for better or worse, unless you subscribe to the "there's no such thing as a bad experience" ideology, which I typically do. Unless the experience is ultra-painful. I recently read "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy which will haunt me for the rest of my life. I'd still recommend it to anyone and everyone.

But tonight I had the absolute life-altering pleasure of reading Shel Silverstein to my boys before bed. I love this author. He gave us "The Giving Tree" and "Uncle Shelby's ABZs", which is likely the sharpest, most disturbed satire ever written. But tonight, while reading from "Where the Sidewalk Ends" I stumbled across "Lester."

Lester, by Shel Silverstein

Lester was given a magic wish
By the goblin who lives in the banyan tree,
And with his wish he wished for two more wishes-
So now instead of just one wish, he cleverly had three.
And with each one of these
He simply wished for three more wishes,
Which gave him three old wishes, plus nine new.
And with each of these twelve
He slyly wished for three more wishes,
Which added up to forty-six -- or is it fifty-two?
Well anyway, he used each wish
To wish for wishes 'til he had
Five billion, seven million, eighteen thousand thirty-four.
And then he spread them on the ground
And clapped his hands and danced around
And skipped and sang, and then sat down
And wished for more.
And more...and more...they multiplied
While other people smiled and cried
And loved and reached and touched and felt.
Lester sat amid his wealth
Stacked mountain-high like stacks of gold,
Sat and counted -- and grew old.
And then one Thursday night they found him
Dead -- with his wishes piled around him.
And they counted the lot and found that not
A single one was missing.
All shiny and new -- here, take a few
And think of Lester as you do.
In a world of apples and kisses and shoes
He wasted his wishes on wishing.

Ladies and gents, don't be a Lester. I know too many of them. There are Lesters that I love very much. I find it fascinating that Silverstein uses apples, kisses, and shoes to represent important things that were missed in Lester's world. On the surface they seem so simple, but how profound they are! I'll take a good, sweet, crisp apple over a Texas T-Bone any day. And there is nothing lovelier than daddy kisses from my children.

Wishes, to me, are symbolic as well. How many of us focus so much energy on our work, school, or other projects that we fail to bask in the glow of life? I believe the story here is also partly that we should avoid things that dominate our time, control our thoughts, and overpoweringly influence our decisions. There is more than one dimension...don't be one-dimensional. As the great Harry Chapin sang, "There are so many colors in the rainbow, so many colors in the morning sun, so many colors in the flower, and I see every one."

Shel Silverstein, you were the ultimate dreamer. An icon for wayward-thinking fools and bards like me. Thank you for sharing your mind.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

"Latoya", the Craigslist Pest

My wife worked for a short period of time as a server at Joe Morley’s BBQ in Salt Lake City. She enjoyed it for the most part and came away from it with a new-found respect and sympathy for servers everywhere. She now insists on tipping well for fine service. She also, however, has zero tolerance for BAD service and has no problem speaking to a manager or tipping accordingly.

Similarly, I have a soft spot for door-to-door salespeople and even telemarketers. Are they annoying? Lord yes. Would the world be better off without them? I think so. Would I like to tell them to go die in a fire when they call at 9:00 at night when Maidie is screaming with an ear infection and the boys are fighting bed time, or the doorbell rings at 11:00 on a Saturday morning when I actually get some time to be with the fam? You bet your sweet ass I would. But I won’t. At the end of it all, these people are just doing their jobs. I wish they’d have chosen different career paths, but I know what it’s like to talk to a stranger and face the prospect of harsh, cold rejection. So I patiently listen, kindly smile, and politely decline. Until a few weeks ago.

It was a Tuesday…the day after we all arrived to Austin to make our new home. The place was a disaster with boxes and furniture strewn every which way. The doorbell rang at about 4:00 and we were greeted by a darling little African American gal with a huge pearly smile and energy visibly crackling all around her. My wife answered the door first, and based on the enthusiastic conversation at the door I assumed it would be a new neighbor welcoming us to the neighborhood. Nope. It was Latoya.

I had no idea what she wanted. She wasn’t holding anything in her hand that would suggest she was selling something. In fact, when I came to the door she actually said that Sherri had ordered her for me on Craig’s List. No lie. She must use that one as an ice breaker, but the rim shot was pretty distant and faint with us.

She did let us know early on though that she was indeed a sales person. She was quite effective in her speech. She was warm, happy, and eloquent. She looked us both in the eye and held herself with poise and dignity. She let us know that she was part of an inner city organization and she was going door to door trying to better her situation, not through donation but through hard work and dedication. She wanted to avoid the welfare route and preferred to provide for her two babies through more dignified means. I instantly knew that I would probably buy whatever she was selling….if she’d ever get to the point.

Before she got there, however, she stopped to ask us how we would rate her so far on a scale from 1 to 10. I instantly recognized it as an interesting method for inserting a hook. This Latoya chick was good. She was in the middle of a lengthy, detailed, well-crafted pitch that would set us up for the kill. I mean, how can I NOT buy this lady’s wares after I’ve given her a full 10 on her presentation?

I was growing impatient though. We’d been at the door nearly 5 minutes and I still had no idea what Latoya was pushing. In my 14 years of sales experience (two of which were door to door) I learned that if I didn’t come correct early on in the process I was cooked. So I interrupted her. “Latoya, is it? This is all great information, but I really don’t understand what it is you are doing here.” At this point in time she reached behind her and pulled out a rolled up folder from somewhere. At first I thought it was a magic trick, producing something from thin air, but then I realized it must have been rolled up and stuck in the waist of her jeans.

They were magazine subscriptions. I was bombarded with imagery of Orlando Jones in Office Space and the Dateline specials warning us about these people. I felt a little betrayed, but I wasn’t ready to pull the plug just yet on Latoya. But before she would show us the magazines she was offering, she insisted on us seeing a multi-page list of people in the neighborhood that had bought from her and had left comments as to how wonderful she was. I was growing tired. I didn’t really want Latoya’s junk anymore.

Finally she got around to the magazines. She didn’t carry anything I wanted but did have some kids magazines available…for $40. It was just too much. “Latoya, you’ve done a fine job, but I don’t think there’s anything in there that we would want.”

All of a sudden, sweet/kind/poised Latoya got less sweet, kind, and poised. “Obviously I haven’t done my job sir. This isn’t about magazines. I’m selling myself here, as a person that wants to better her situation for her children.” She suggested I buy the magazines and give them as gifts. Or just throw them away. Suddenly I’m not tired. Now I’m annoyed. “Latoya, you can’t expect people to buy products they don’t want or can’t use simply because they like you.” She was astounded. “It’s not about the magazines sir; it’s about you investing in my future.”

Look, I’ve sold some shyte products. I was a sales consultant at QWEST…the most unholy and evil organization in the history of commerce. But I’ve never once asked someone to buy my crap because I’m a likeable guy. I can’t imagine walking into an insurance office and saying, “Folks, it isn’t about the glass. It doesn’t matter that you don’t want it, can’t use it, or you get a better deal elsewhere. It’s about investing in my financial well-being.” They’d laugh in my face and send me out the door…Texas style, at gunpoint.

It is the responsibility of a salesperson to SELL HER PRODUCTS. If I am handed an ignited lunch sack full of cow dung to sell, then it is my job to sell the features and benefits of flaming bull shit. “Sir, it can keep you warm if you are stranded on the side of the road in a blizzard.” “Ma’am, this burning sack of crap will keep coyotes away from your children at night.” It was Latoya’s responsibility to address my concerns and resolve them. She could have gone into detail about the product. She could have commented on how Texas cuisine is uber fattening and it’s only a matter of time before I lose my chiseled abs, hence my need for Muscle Madness Magazine or Healthy Living. Or compliment me on my nonexistent fashion sense and suggest I roll with GQ. She could have used humor or flattery. But instead she went to the forget-the-product-and-buy-ME card. I was livid.

Latoya, the only differences between you and the guy on the corner of Burnet is that he has the decency to not bother me at home and he’s never stuck a folder in my face that he pulled from the crack of his ass. At least that guy is honest. He’s not holding a sign that says, “Screw the magazines. Invest in my future.” His “Visions of a Cheeseburger” sign is infinitely more inventive and dignified than your lameassedness. Either start selling legitimate products to the public, redesign your magazine scam to be more product-driven, or continue to sell yourself…without the magazines. I suggest 6th street for that.