Tuesday, July 31, 2007

But If You Tri Sometimes...

Some dude almost puked on my shoes at 8:15 a.m. last Sunday morning. How does something like that happen?

My wife has the summer off, but for some reason does not possess the gene that makes her worship Oprah. So instead of watching daytime television and eating bon-bons and running to Border’s Books to pick up the latest Oprah book club recommendation and a gigante triple soy steamed low-fat, extra sugar frappalatte, she decided she needed something productive to do. I suggested converting my 80’s porn collection from VHS to DVD, but she balked at that idea. Probably not bad since hairstyles have changed a bit since then, if you know what I mean. Speaking of hair, I next suggested she could convert all my glam metal vinyl to mp3, but again she balked. I would have jumped at the opportunity to rock out to Poison, Faster Pussycat and LA Guns all summer, but apparently I’m the freak that was excited to see Sebastian Bach on my last visit to the Sunset Strip. But I digress.

After a couple days of fasting, isolation and meditation on a straw mat in the forest preserve, she decided her summer calling would be to complete a sprint triathlon. At first this invoked visions of the Iron Man Triathlons with dehydrated, broken athletes crawling across the finish line under moonlight after a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and 26.2 mile run. However, event organizers realize that most people don’t have time for that shit, leading to the rise of the ever-popular sprint distance triathlon. This is typically a ½ mile swim, 15 mile bike ride, and 3.1 mile run, and can usually be completed within a couple hours if you lay off the donuts for a few weeks beforehand and don’t mind missing a few episodes of America’s Got Talent while training. I briefly considered playing along and signing up for one as well, but who doesn’t love a good jelly-filled donut and The Hoff? Actually, I decided to opt out because I haven’t been swimming in years and didn’t want to train at the local pool because I know the incontinent senior citizens are peeing in there during water aerobics and I don’t want to spend my spare time wading through Grandma Moses’ urine. But I digress.

Before I knew it, the house was filled with triathlon books, training logs, food diaries and various consultants for each stage of the race, but I didn’t complain because it kept her from cleaning out our closet and throwing out my assless chaps and Skid Row concert tee.

She finally picked a couple events to target and completed her first one last month. [If you want to read the details of her experience, you can do so here.] Even placed 4th out of 11 in her age group. But more importantly, she said it was more fun than spending a Sunday morning making me French toast and sausage. So much more fun that she signed up and just completed another one. Since I have nothing better to do and there’s nobody else around to make me French toast and sausage, I usually tag along as her support team. Here is a typical rundown of my activities before and during such an event:

Day Prior to Race
10 a.m. Print maps to race start, noting location of any Dairy Queens on route in case I get dehydrated watching.
Noon Drive out to location for packet pick-up and scout out the course, pointing out any opportunities to take shortcuts and places to hide performance enhancing drugs.
6 p.m. Assist in carbo loading process by reluctantly agreeing to eat pizza and drink milkshakes.
11 p.m. Force myself to go to bed so that I can get more than 4 hours sleep.

Race Day!
3:45 a.m. Shut off alarm, wonder why it’s going off while it’s still dark out. Way dark.
3:50 a.m. Wake up nudge from the Mrs. reminding me I agreed to be out the door by 4 a.m.
3:55 a.m. More assertive nudge from the Mrs. Stumble out of bed, find random clothes to wear, brush teeth, find keys to truck.
4:00 a.m. Walk out door, say hello to gin-soaked neighbors just getting home.
4:05 a.m. Hit the road, noting lack of any traffic whatsoever and set truck on auto-pilot while I “rest my eyes.”
4:08 a.m. Get yelled at for “resting my eyes” and agree to postpone my nap until my driving duties are complete.
5:00 a.m. Arrive at event site, directed to parking by volunteers wondering why people pay to do this.
5:15 a.m. Help unload bike and carry gear bag to transition area. Make note of location in transition area in case she is unable to finish and I need to recover bike.
5:30 a.m. Make use of Port-o-Potty before it gets warm and they start to stink.
5:45 a.m. Take pledge promising not to run beside her during transitions while dressed as Baby New Year and yelling motivational slogans.
5:50 a.m. Walk her to the bus that is apparently bound for Atlantis, filled with people wearing only swimsuits, swim caps, and goggles. Later informed that bus is merely transporting them to opposite side of the lake for beach swim.
6:00 a.m. Now alone, go back to the truck and mix myself a nice breakfast shake while listening to Sunday morning programming such as Follicle Talk on the radio.
6:25 a.m. Walk to the lake for the 6:30 start and share donuts with the other athletic supporters (I crack myself up) while we wait for our more physically fit friends or family members to crawl ashore.
6:30 a.m. Observe splashes from other side of lake indicating the presence of unruly sea monkeys or the start of the race.
6:52 a.m. Watch Mrs. F’er emerge from the murky waters of Bangs Lake and hastily wipe powdered sugar from my mouth while shouting encouragement such as, “Yay! You didn’t drown!” and “You go, girl!”
6:53 a.m. Watch exciting triathlon action as she jogs up the pier, puts on her helmet and bike shoes and rides off into the sunrise.
6:54 a.m. Walk back to the truck to recover from all the excitement and listen to Bait Beat on radio.
7:20 a.m. Observe overly skinny people beginning to arrive back on bicycle. Politely suggest that a cheeseburger wouldn’t kill them.
7:30 a.m. Take my place back at the transition area to prepare for the arrival of Mrs. F’er. Realize that I really don’t have anything to prepare for as an observer.
7:40 a.m. Watch Mrs. F’er roll over defenseless babies on her assault to the transition area, dump her helmet, change her shoes and take off again while I shout encouragement such as, “Run, Forrest, run!” and “You go, girl!”
7:45 a.m. Entertain fellow spectators with my one-man improvisation show using orange safety cones from the course as my only props.
8:00 a.m. Meet and Greet with my new fans.
8:10 a.m. Wander to the finish line to pick up scantily clad triathlete chicks that can run faster than my wife.
8:12 a.m. Knock that shit off after suddenly realizing that I can’t run faster than my wife.
8:15 a.m. Watch Mrs. F’er sprint for the finish line while I shout encouragement such as, “Baby needs a new pair of shoes!” and “You go, girl!”
8:16 a.m. Take obligatory photo at the finish line. Try to avoid capturing the fat dude in the white speedo in the shot.
8:17 a.m. Hand her a bottle containing her secret “recovery” drink. I suspect it’s just a watermelon daiquiri, but I suppose she deserves it.
8:20 a.m. She asks why people are asking for my autograph, why it looks like I’ve been slapped, and “Is that jelly on your chin?”
8:21 a.m. I try to distract her by pointing out the fat guy in the white speedo.
8:22 a.m. I get the race recap of the 1 hour and 40 minutes that I didn’t get to see.
8:30 a.m. I stand around the finish line tent while racers eat bananas, drink Gatorade and compare heart rate monitors. I feel like Hermey the Misfit Elf and search the skies for King Moonracer.
8:45 a.m. Mosey back to the transition area and help load gear back in truck.
9:05 a.m. Hit the road and dodge churchgoers who are late for service.
10:00 a.m. Arrive home and wonder why I’m already hungry for lunch.
2:00 p.m. Take nap. Watching triathlons are exhausting.
9:00 p.m. Wake up from nap. Get ready for bed.

In case you haven’t figured it out by now, I was standing at the finish line when a dude crosses and stops. He has that unmistakable look like he’s going to hurl. But surprisingly he doesn’t and begins walking again. Two steps later he stops and the look returns. Amazingly, he doesn’t and begins walking again. Two steps later he’s almost right in front of me and I’m suddenly dodging his street pizza at eight in the morning. Good times. Feel free to join me in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin where I’ll be debuting my new one-man show Put Your Clothes On, I’ll Buy You An Ice Cream.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


I have been working from home for almost six months. Or do you say, telecommuting? If you do, why would you say telecommuting in place of saying six months? What? Let’s start over.

I have been working from home for almost six months. When I worked at the office, I didn’t work with anybody in my actual office because, other than being a horrible team player who does not play well with others, I worked with people who were in far away lands, like New York, California and Bangalore, India. Every time I talked to my India co-workers I felt like I was calling Dell or AT&T customer support. Even though we were working on creating new web site services, I constantly asked them questions like why my computer kept freezing up or how I can save more money on long distance. The funny thing was, they knew the answers. And they kept thanking me for calling, and they said my name every other sentence. I think one of them got me free cable.

Since my presence was not needed in the office, management decided to send me home to work. In addition to freeing up my cube to be used as a pot luck lunch center for the other employees, my company also realized savings by not giving me a raise, claiming the money I’d save in gas, not having to drive to and from work, would be more than any raise they’d ever consider giving me. They were correct, only because George W. and Dick are asswipes.

At first, it was strange working from home. I had to create a routine separate from my normal “at home” routine, which consisted of feeding the dogs, going to the bar, coming home and passing out. Other than “feeding the dogs”, none of that was listed on my job description, so I needed to make some adjustments. After a few weeks of thorough concentration (otherwise known as napping), I began to find my work groove at home.

I actually get more work done now than I did when I was in the office. Over the years, like many of us office workers, I had learned thousands of techniques to feign working, like faxing large documents to myself back and forth between the two fax machines across the office from each other, or calling vendors, screaming at them for rate reductions, even if it was not my responsibility and they had no idea who I was. When you are there and you look like you are working, management tends not to notice the lack of production. It’s just like how lauryl sulfate binds water molecules to dirt molecules when you wash your hair, which is something I don’t do so much anymore (more on that later). But, when you are out of sight, all they can monitor is your production. Luckily, my bar was set pretty low, so since I have produced slightly more working at home, management thinks they made a genius move, and I may be up for the Sunshine Award. Ultimately, since I no longer have the pressure of coming up with new and exciting ways to look like I’m working, I’ve grown bored and use work as a monotony breaker throughout the day.

But, enough about my fabulous career. There are more important matters at hand, such as the side effects of working at home. I have grown accustomed to not leaving the house and not dealing directly with the outside world. Look how negative that sounds (Are you looking at a sound?) – there are two “not”s in that sentence. I was averaging one “not” per paragraph up until then. Oh, how the negative vibe has turned. These side effects are not as bad as they sound, which you are looking at, but they are evidence that I am changing and soon could resemble something that does not resemble me, like a banister made out of Brillo pads. I’ve also made a number of discoveries about domestic daily employment. I’m not sure what it all means. I will let you judge for yourself. Here are my discoveries and symptoms of metamorphosis.

I used to be uncomfortable being out in public if I had not showered that day. People go out of their way to avoid walking next to me now.

My shirt starts to smell by Wednesday, but the stench goes away by Friday.

Why do I own a washer and a dryer?

Hold my calls, I’m going out to wait for the mailman.

Masturbating during conference calls isn’t as fun as I thought it would be. At least not after the first 8 times. That was a fun couple of days.

Wearing of underwear has become a nostalgic experience.

The giant orange ball in the sky pierces me with unseen particles when I go outside. Even when I stay inside. You can't hide from its powers.

People’s lips move around when they talk. It is enchanting.

Where is the voice at the other end of the phone coming from?

Doesn’t xe have email?

Spaghettios are so bland that I never get sick of eating them.

You can build a cool fort out of Spaghettios cans.

Boo Radley.

I have to break out my best duds for Casual Friday.

My dogs are spies.

I don’t spend as much time hiding in the bathroom as I did when I worked at the office. Some time, but not as much.

My broom and mop co-workers think I’m fun to work with.

I’m kidding, I don’t own a mop.

My kitchen floor is sticky.

No, I do not conduct conference calls in my kitchen.

The delivery man comes from the void to bring me presents.

Rush hour traffic was the best social life I never knew I had.

Let’s go to the front window to see what the people are doing.

That’s the strange part. I mean, there weren’t any reports on my desk yesterday, and they still aren’t there, but I don’t know where they were or how they’ll get here. What do you want me to do with them when I don’t get them? Send me an email. I only respond to emails. No. Sure. Yes, instant messaging is good, too. That’s almost like email, but it makes a different beeping sound. One is a beep, the other is more of a blurp. I can't remember which is which. I have my computer speakers turned down. I want to go home now, except I’m already there. I tried going out and coming back in, but it’s not the same. I know it’s not the same because the dogs don’t get all excited to see me when I do that. They’re watching me, you know. What IS that smell?

Sunday, July 22, 2007

TV Party

I recently had an extended leave of absence from work and had some time to fill while captive in my apartment. When I was desperate enough, I turned to television for entertainment. Here is what I discovered:

Television is a tool of Satan. I spent way too much time trying to figure out who was hotter – Morticia Addams or Lily Munster.

I can’t believe it took me so long to figure out that Ward Cleaver was pretty much a dick.

I’m strangely fascinated by Rachel Ray, but if you tell anyone I’ll deny it. Completely.

Even if golf featured supermodels playing naked, I still wouldn’t be able to watch it on TV.

The Iron Chef always wins. Especially the fat guy in the clogs who looks like a Simpsons character.

Gunsmoke is pretty cool. I never really watched it until recently, and now I wish I could have spent a few days in Dodge back then.

Televisions marathons are revolting and I question the mental acuity of anyone that can watch more than 60 consecutive minutes of the same show. Especially something like American Gladiators.

The stock ticker on CNBC can be very calming and meditative.

Experts on television rarely are.

If it weren’t for playoff hockey and my crush on local NBC weekend news anchor Anna Davlantes, I’d have probably thrown my television off the balcony.

Or myself.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A Ginormous Plea for Xe

Throughout history parents have faced countless obstacles when attempting to raise their children. From the time cavepeople needed to protect their children from disease festering mammoth poop (“Don’t play in the mammoth poop!”), to ancient Rome when a child’s bane was marauding barbarians with hot pokers (not to mention memorizing all the declensions of Latin nouns and conjugations of Latin verbs), through the Dark Ages when parents were challenged by general ignorance, wishing they had advanced technology such as mammoth poop, to American colonial times when the choice to coerce radical children to be true to the throne was a life and death decision, to modern day intangible atrocities like media driven feaux-role models such as Lindsay Lohan and George W. Bush, we parents have had to conquer a lot of adversity to ensure the socially acceptable development of our spawns.

Allow me to describe one of my typical days of protective parenting. I wake up and take inventory of all of my children to make sure none have run off or have been abducted. Then I examine the Sponge Bob cartoon to make sure his nose does not resemble a penis too much. Since I have the TV on, I flip over to Oprah to make sure her guest is not some doctor chattering on and on about vaginas. During my trip between channels I am bombarded with cash thirsty advertisers attempting to suckle at the teats of my children’s ignorance, enticing their smoldering impulses and wants. I can’t believe I am talking about my children’s figurative teats. When I accidentally land on the E! Channel’s Top Ten show about Britney Spears’ favorite alcohol and pharmaceutical combinations, I throw a brick through the television set.

Next, I have an appointment with our town drug dealer. He has agreed to leave my kids alone until they turn eighteen if I agree to buy a quarter ounce of pot from him each week. I do this because I’m willing to sacrifice myself to be a good parent. On the way home, I sand blast gang symbols off our police station and stop by the public water works to make sure there are no fecal remnants or lead in the water supply. When I arrive back home, the kids are awake, each eating a bowl of sugar disguised as a cross-marketed movie protagonist, so I force feed them each a handful of Grape Nuts and make them stare, Clockwork Orange style, at a poster of Euell Gibbons for an hour. I know this is backward to the desired affect of A Clockwork Orange, but it’s fun putting those clamps on their eyelids, and what the hell else am I supposed to do with my Euell Gibbons poster?

After breakfast, the son decides to play video games while the daughter breaks out her army of Barbie dolls. After thirty seconds of watching my son command his animated rat-like creature to decapitate helpless animated Globulolians with a serrated petrified fish head, I take a pair of scissors and sever the power line to the video game console to save him from further depictions of senseless violence. When I regain consciousness from the electric shock blackout, I notice a large line of naked Barbies sitting on the couch. The daughter tells me they are waiting in line at Customs for their full body cavity search on their way to Canada for some frolicking. Time to spray paint some clothes on Barbie and put them in the crawl space.

This is all getting too much. I cannot continue to relive another day like this, especially since I have to do it again tomorrow. I need to stop recounting my day now. But I will tell you that our lunchtime conversation included subjects such as obtaining tattoos, you can’t get cancer if you soak the cigarettes in turpentine first, analingus is not really sex, can I go over to Mary’s house to look at her dad’s gun collection, entering contests on Internet pop-up adds are easy to win, skateboarding off the roof, murder is just another way to get ahead in the world, mustard stains are icky, and Billy says if you love your dog you can’t get arrested for bestiality with it. After putting up with all of this, and the activities that rounded out the day after lunch, which I do not have the strength to talk about, you would think the last obstacle of parental hindrance I would have to face would be a reference book company.

That’s right, Merriam-Webster has undermined my parental integrity. I’m not afraid to say it. I don’t care what kind of word henchmen they may have on staff to patrol the speaking public. Many of you have seen that they have recently posted the newest words to gain acceptance into their pompous lexicon. Even though I used the term “pompous lexicon” I claim to remain not bitter. One of those words is “ginormous”, which, technically, is a depound word, albeit, not a very inventive one, combining the words “gigantic” and “enormous”, meaning gigantic or enormous.

Let me cut to the parental usurping chase. Over the past year I have been admonishing my son for using that word. Still he continued to use it. I tried to explain to him that it was merely a fad of illiteracy, appealing to only those who were weak minded enough to resort to such verbal crutches, relieving themselves from any responsibility to linguistic propriety. To which he replied, “Huh? People are relieving themselves? Like pissing? What?” Eventually my cajoling rendered him apologetic every time he used the word in front of me. “Sorry, Dad.” From his fluency with the word, I could tell he was wielding it freely while cavorting with his friends and the general public. At least his apologies to me revealed he was aware that he was saying it and that it was wrong, on some level, to use it. That is, until Merriam-Websterdecided to validate the wordship of ginormous against my better judgement.

The son no longer apologizes to me when he uses the word because it is in the dictionary. What’s worse is the frequency of his use of ginormous has increased, and not always in grammatically correct ways. “Dad, I’m going to ginormous mow the lawn ginormous, but I need gas ginormous money for the mower. Ginormous, ginormous. Oh, and one more thing – ginormous.” What’s worst of all is, because of Merriam-Webster’s need to be hip to sell more dictionaries to illiterate and incorrigible teenagers, my son no longer believes any of my parental guidance. Sure, drinking and driving is dangerous. Sure, studying will help my grades. Sure, if I don’t wear a rubber I’ll end up ruining my life by disease or by parenthood, or both. Sure, Jerry Springer isn’t a news program. You were wrong about ginormous, how do I know you aren’t wrong about those things? How do I know they won’t make heroin legal someday, either?

So, I’ve given up parenting the son. I hope he knows how to use a mop. What really gets me is that ginormous is now officially a word, but useful words like xe and depound go unnoticed, and are probably not even considered for acceptance by the snoots at Merriam-Webster. Especially, xe. That word has the power to change our entire language for the better. No longer will we have to awkwardly tap dance around gender specific pronouns in attempt to be non-offensive or non-committal. Xe can free society from the manacles of conformed expression. What we need is to get the word out (both literally and literally) so that more people use xe. Use of the word on this blog and message board is not enough (apparently - but you would think it would be enough based on the scholarly exposure we provide). “Important” people need to start using it in print. We need a marketing campaign to brainwash young children to use it so that the number-crunchers at Merriam-Webster can determine, if they include xe, they will sell more copies of their rad expression manual to unsuspecting young gibberish speakers. The acceptance of xe requires a grass roots campaign the likes of which has not been seen since Temptation Eyes. WHO’S WITH ME?!?!?!?!?!

(Note: if you are unfamiliar with the words xe and depound, please click here and here.)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Orange On The Head

Like me, you were probably confused by the title of this post when you first saw it. It’s like one of those movies where, for the first few scenes, you have no idea what is going on, and it all gets tied together in the end.

I was tied together in the end once. It was unpleasant, but I’m happy to have experienced it. Something to tell the grandkids about, know what I mean? It’s nothing a few dozen White Castle hamburgers and a case of Stroh’s can’t cure. But, if you are tied in the end too much you may die of copraemia, which is a condition where you are poisoned by your own excrement due to constipation. Although, to be fair to excrement, I guess it’s not considered excrement until it is expelled from your body. So, we’ll call it crement. We all know how nasty it is when a sewer backs up and floods the basement. Well, it’s not so pretty when it happens inside your body. A couple of mops and a bucket of pine cleaner won’t do you much good.

What’s worse is you’ll carry this stigma with you forever. You’ll be the laughing stock of the afterlife. Imagine gathering around the afterlife drinking hole, reminiscing with other dead things:

“Jim here died while saving forty helpless infants in a hospital fire. Marge over there was killed when she jumped on a grenade aimed at the pope. Harriet succumbed to a brain hemorrhage she developed after a woman in a fur coat beat her over the head with a fire extinguisher when she threw goat’s blood on the woman’s coat. So, what’s your story, pal?”

“Er, I, um, I ate a bit too much cheese one night.”

“A bit too much cheese?! Hell, a little cheese never hurt no one!”

“It does if you eat enough to tie your colon into a permanent knot.”

Then the laughter and the finger pointing begin. You look for a way to save face, but realize it is futile when you hear a voice in the ethereal crowd say, “We are going to ostracize you for eternity, Draino!” And they’ll do it, too. And why wouldn’t they?

Speaking of why, most of us have heard the urban legend where the philosophy professor whose final exam had a single question: Why? As legend has it, one clever student handed in the completed test with a simple, “Why not?” and xe received an A+. I have a few issues with that story.

First, who gives a crap about a philosophy class? People only take those classes to satisfy blow-off elective requirements. It’s not like philosophy is a real subject like kinesiology. Urban legends are too important to our society to be wasted on trivial subject matter. Second, that professor was either drunk and forgot to prepare a proper final or xe was being too profound for any of our own goods. It seems to me that a teacher should know the answer to the questions xe sticks on a test. I doubt that xe had a standard correct answer in mind when xe created the test. I demand more effort and competence from our purveyors of higher education. Third, “why not” is a stupid answer and incorrect. That student should have gotten an F and a demerit for contempt of education (which goes on xe’s permanent record, by the way). Ask any kid under the age of twelve and xe’ll tell you the answer is “because”, which is closer to the true answer, which is “Who gives a shit?”

If I was the teacher, and for some departmental reason I was forced to give that one word, one question test, the only person I would give an A to is the one who answered, “Who gives a shit? You suck for asking such a meaningless question and I want my damn tuition back if all you can teach me is to answer one damn question, you drunk, lazy, tenured whore of a professor.” Good answer. I like the way you think. Everybody else would get an F and a note saying, “Take a real class next time. You just wasted your time and get no damn credit for this course. The answer is ‘Who gives a shit?’ which is what you should have said to yourself when your saw this class in the schedule of courses.” My one regret in life is that I never became a philosophy professor.

By now the meaning of the title of this post should be clear to you. It has certainly cleared up for me. In fact, the whole world makes more sense to me now. I’m glad. And a little bound.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

I'd Like To Thank The Police Academy....

If I had to rank painful events in my lifetime (and I’m not sure why I’d ever have to do that), I’d have to put a tar burn near the top. At least as far as physical pain. Of course, it could never surpass the emotional pain of seeing Helen, as played by Crystal Bernard, leave for Vienna on the last episode of Wings on May 21, 1997. Hard to believe it’s been 10 years and no reunion show. But I’ve already digressed. Tar burns… they suck. I got a super tiny one on the side of my finger while working as a roofer a long time ago. It doesn’t sound too bad, but if I remember correctly the tar comes out of the kettle at about 400 degrees F and when you work with a couple of guys named Fatboy and Hillbilly that commute each day in a Dodge Aspen station wagon filled with pot smoke it’s probably not wise to forego the recommended safety gloves when one of them is wielding the hot mop. It’s especially not wise since hot tar sticks to everything, like, let’s say exposed skin, and if a hot mop hits you in the finger you can’t wipe it off but instead just have to hop around and curse until it cools. And unless you want to keep it on there permanently, you’ll have to sacrifice the skin with it. Unfortunately I worked for a company at which the only safety lecture on day one consisted of “Don’t step off the edge of the roof.” However, since I had no other marketable skills other than hopping/cursing and cutting grass, that summer was incentive to stay in school to avoid a lifetime of tar burns. As if cheap beer weren’t enough incentive to stay in school. I later realized that an Econ degree really doesn’t increase marketability much, but at least I could explain the correlation between interest rates and inflation while bartending after graduation. Wow, I really got off track here. Imagine that. If I had to make that long story short, I would have just said that even though I had a killer tan by mid-May, roofing was not my first career choice. Other nightmare jobs for me would include daycare (kids either frighten or annoy me), soldier (I don’t like being told what to do and I’m allergic to IED’s), and police officer. I would honestly rather run into a burning building than have to respond to a domestic dispute or purposefully drive through gang territory.

However, I recently attended a graduation for 42 people that decided that law enforcement is their calling. One of them being my cousin. All graduates of the most recent Policy Academy class. Yep, we started this blog as cool rock n’ roll writers and now I’m reviewing graduation ceremonies.

Even though it said Police Academy, I didn’t find any intimidating black men named Hightower, no wacky cadets named Zed, or any zany impressionists making hilarious sound effects during the ceremony (impressionists get no respect, except in the art world). Instead the director of the academy gave a brief welcome and then introduced the bagpiper for the march of the recruits. It wasn’t as cute as the March of the Penguins and the director was no Morgan Freeman, but at least I didn’t have to pay $5 for a pair of headphones to watch the graduation on an airplane. Although some peanuts would have been nice. But again I digress. Next the color guard was introduced and, in an unnecessarily long and overly formal process, they spent about five minutes getting a couple flags planted at the front of the stage. I’m all for the good ol’ USA, but I’d had been just as happy if the flags were already there when I arrived. Then as if there were a hockey game about to break out, a woman knocked out an acapella version of the national anthem that probably would not have gotten her past the auditions on American Idol. Not that I would know.

The academy (and graduation) is held at a local community college for recruits from the surrounding suburbs, so a woman from the college Board also welcomed us and thanked them for spackling the stray bullet holes when they were finished.

Next, the VP of Academic Affairs came out and welcomed us again and reminisced about sitting there years ago at his own graduation about to enter into a career of public service. Uh, sorry, dude, but although a career as an educator is indeed respectable I wouldn’t compare yourself to a law enforcement officer. Telling some butt munch student to pull up his pants on campus doesn’t seem quite the same.

Next the keynote speaker, a local country sheriff, was introduced with a list of accomplishments including a 1250 pound drug bust (so that’s what happened to it). Some of his advice… remember that the person you’re arresting is likely at the lowest point of their life so treat them with respect. However, the humanitarian aspect of the message was lost a bit when he said it was the best way to turn them into an informant. He also took them briefly down Debbie Downer Avenue and reminded them that they just chose a career that will not make them rich, so they had better invest early and wisely or else risk eating cat food in their golden years. And finally, he advised the You Tube generation that everyone has cameras these days, so don’t do anything stupid unless you’re absolutely positive nobody is looking. Because somebody probably is.

Finally, the graduates were announced (please hold all applause ‘til the end or we’ll shoot) and received their certificates. Some other dignitary presented most certificates, but those grads with another law officer in the family (brothers, dads, sisters) got them to make the presentation. There was one recruit that had his sister in US Customs, Department of Homeland Security present the certificate, and I thought that was stretching it. After that I was hoping for someone from the TSA or some tattooed biker bounty hunter type dude to do one. I was a little hurt he didn’t ask me in my capacity as forensic accounting consultant. Then I pictured someone’s relative from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police dressed as Dudley Do-Right riding up on his trusty steed Nell to present a certificate. I was now cracking myself up and stifling my laughs like a deranged mental patient.

After all the names were read, they presented some awards. One for academics for the recruit that had a 98.4% average on his tests, meaning you have only a 1% chance of getting off on a technicality if you run into this guy. An award for marksmanship, as I noted not to make a run for it in that guy’s jurisdiction. Two awards for physical fitness, including one for most improved, which must mean you were a gravy-bellied couch potato that showed up the first day in an oxygen tent. The leadership award, which in my book probably means you’re a dick since I associate all “leaders” with Neidermeyer in Animal House (“You're all worthless and weak! Now drop and give me twenty!”). Finally a distinguished cadet award, which I think he got for finishing his classes with a sprained ankle or something. It’s a little unclear, but he got a nice plaque for it.

After that the class president made a speech about all the bonding and best friends forever and blah blah blah.

Next the instruction supervisors had to make their speeches. The first guy reminded them that their primary goal is to come home safely at the end of their shift. However, if that was their primary career goal, I’d probably recommend a job at the ice cream parlor where you might risk frostbite at worst. The second instructor said something inspiring about being all you can be or something… at this point everything starts to sound the same and you’re wondering if you remembered to tape Rachel Ray before you left.

Finally, in closing, they showed a video montage of the 11-week course featuring the cadets as they learned how to shoot guns without killing defenseless babies, disable a manic crackheads, handcuff pedophiles to the rear bumper of their car for transport, and running mile after mile at dawn since many veteran officers that I see don’t appear capable of running across the street.

Then we all had cookies and punch. I know I joke, but we’re all pretty proud of him and have no doubt he’ll be great. And if you ever run into him, just tell him you know Cousin Sid and maybe he won’t hit you so hard with his flashlight if you do something stupid on his watch.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Gondola and the Tidal Wave

The Simpsons is probably my favorite television show of all time. I say probably because sometimes I have bouts with wonderful memories of Joanie Loves Chachi tickling my brain, tipping the favorite scales in its direction. But one look at Chief Wiggum brings me back to my senses. It is similar to the way Neptune is the furthest planet from the Sun.

You might imagine how excited I was to learn about the production of a The Simpsons feature length movie, about ten years ago (I’m glad they didn’t take too long to make it). You might also imagine how an insurance salesman feels after he sells an accidental dismemberment policy to a fledgling gondolier, but please do that on your own time. If you imagined correctly, you would understand that I was quite excited, like an out of town gondolier landing a job in Venice.

After years of hearing about the possibility, the probability and the actuality of the movie being made, its release is finally almost here. I will not tell you the date of the release, as you will soon understand why, but it will be soon. Although my joy for the movie has been slammed like an inattentive fish being waylaid by a gondolier’s sweeping oar, I intend to watch and hopefully enjoy the movie.

Let me get to the point. But, first, let me finish my thought about Neptune. Back when Pluto was considered a planet (it’s not a planet, so don’t let the brainwashing they gave you back in grammar school obscure your comprehension of facts that explain why it is not a planet and never was), it was considered the furthest planet from the Sun. However, its orbit is more eccentric that the real planets. Consequently, sometimes it causes Pluto to draw inside the orbit of Neptune, resulting in Neptune being the farthest planet (that we know of) from the Sun. Since Pluto is now considered a dwarf planet (why couldn’t they come up with a brand new word like cosmochunk), instead of a planet, the discussion is pointless. You can see how this relates to my The Simpsons versus Joanie Loves Chachi internal squabble, so I will explain no more. Wait a minute, I just figured out something. If I can get the International Astronomical Union to agree that Joanie Loves Chachi is actually a dwarf TV show, I could finally find peace of mind. I’m going to pen a letter to Catherine J. Cesarsky as soon as I post this.

So the point is I can’t stand mass media blitzes! They are destroying all that is entertaining in this world. As far as network television goes, The Simpsons is just about all there is. But, Moist, you may say, The Simpsons has been a behemoth merchandising outfit since about the time Santa’s Little Helper almost died of gastric torsion. Yes, but I’ve been ignoring that. The Hollywood marketing onslaught for the film is too overwhelming to ignore, similar to a gondola being dropped from the sky onto a grape squishee, where I am the grape squishee and the gondola is a little sticker on the gas pump at my local filling station informing me of my opportunity to become an animated character in a The Simpsons episode. But, that gondola is not just the sticker, it’s all the other evasive smotherdue that pours out of the minds of inhuman marketing think tanks who feel it’s necessary to flood the senses with all things Simpsons (or whatever else they happen to be promoting) in order to coerse people into seeing the movie. Yesterday, I had a Jehovah’s witness come to my door. She handed me a pamphlet cordially inviting me to their “Follow the Christ” convention featuring a full costume bible drama starring the cast of The Simpsons. Last week, I was rear-ended by a guy wearing a Moe Syzlak costume. He got out of his car and slapped a bumper sticker that said “Courtesy of Moe’s Tavern – Don’t Drink and Drive Coming to Theaters July 2007” on the dent in my car. He got back into his car and slammed into the next car he could catch up to. Why, just this morning I was mailing some letters to the International Astronomical Union and the envelope glue tasted like one of Barney Gumble’s burps (don’t ask me how I know). The thing is, I bought that box of envelopes three years ago.

I fear now that somehow, because of the subject matter of this post, this blog will become part of the media pillage, and we will be inundated with millions of obtrusive readers, never to enjoy the quaint, discreet, happy little blog environment that we’ve worked so hard to attain. I’m even more fearful of attracting Joanie Loves Chachi fanatics. Those dudes are ass kickers! They say the gondola never floats too far from Neptune. I’m beginning to believe it.

Monday, July 02, 2007

The Wanderer

My mind was briefly wandering today at work... I was thinking that I haven't been to an improv show in quite a while and maybe I should schedule an evening out. That led me to thinking about an improv class I took many years ago and then an exercise that we did in class. It involves pulling imaginary items out of a bag very quickly and telling everyone what each item is without thinking about it and saying the first thing that comes into your head. It's supposed to help you be more spontaneous and disregard your internal censor, which can be a good thing to regard in most social situations but it can also stifle an improv scene. So I started doing that exercise in my head and somewhere around item #10 I pulled out Willie Nelson's beard.

That was good enough for me. Back to work.

PS - I highly recommend giving it a try. Let me know what interesting items you find in your bag.