Monday, March 31, 2008

The Three Little Merchants of Death

The three individuals above have been trying to kill me for years. They are killing me softly with their songs, where their songs are addictive fat and chemicals fiendishly disguised as lab-created, quasi-food constructions, dripping with irresistable flavor and shame. I am helpless against their collective will. Like the lab monkey who has been conditioned to push the lever continuously to obtain an unending supply of cocaine, hookers and fire trucks, I, too, declare myself a victim of prudential inadequacy. These three menacing characters have cleverly exploited my years and years of training as a lazy, fat American to coerce me into returning again and again to their everlasting fountains of blood pressure and cholesterol raising agents, which have been fiendishly disguised as lab-created, quasi-food constructions, dripping with irresistable flavor and shame. Even the post-consumption sensation of feeling like an overfilled bag of melted cheddar cheese, re-hardened and slightly warmed over by the friction of methane scraping across an overworked sphincter muscle does little to foil their murderous scheme.

I have accepted this affliction. It’s not so bad. And the milk shakes are delicious! But what torments my soul is "why?". Why are these three seemingly innocuous mascots trying to kill me?

Upon further examination of this triumvirate, the motivation behind two of the members is obvious. One of them is a king. A despot. A crown wearing freak. Don’t ever trust a person who would wear a crown, unless it’s xe’s birthday. Do you know who wears crowns? That’s right, royalty. And what do royal people do? That’s right, they kill the masses for their own personal gain. That is why we had to get rid of most of them in the world. In less than a year we’ll be getting rid of another one. Well, he thinks he’s one, and he only wears his crown, which is made out of Crunch Berries, by the way, when alone in the oval office when he thinks nobody is looking. Then he stands on his desk, holds a Swifter Duster as a scepter, tucks his pant legs into his socks, pulls his shirt tail out of his zipper, and decrees anti-cuteness edicts to his collection of Precious Moments figurines.

The other is a clown. As we all know, John Wayne Gacy set the standard for clowns. There is no way of getting into that union without showing a penchant for death. Enough said.

But the third is a sweet little girl with gravity defying pigtails. Why would a sweet little girl want to kill me? Usually, when a woman wants to inflict a man with a slow, excruciating death, she’ll just marry him (sing with me, "chestnuts roasting over an old stale joke..."). I guess this adorable she-devil determined it is impractical to marry everybody she wanted to kill. Instead, she created the Spicy Baconator™. That gives me a good idea for the next time I propose marriage to somebody: “Honey, would you make me the happiest man in the world and do me the honor of becoming my Spicy Baconator™?” “With this ring I take (insert name here) as my lawfully wedded Spicy Baconator™.” “Take my Spicy Baconator™, PLEASE!”

OK, this wasn’t supposed to be a marriage bashing commentary. Somehow, I ended up there. Just like with my own marriage, once I got there, I didn’t know what I was supposed to do. So I’ll shut up now.

Before I go, one other thing about the three dastardly merchants of death: notice they all have red hair. As a member of the ruddy mane persuasion, I am offended and litigiously demand something I don’t deserve.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Almost Famous, My Ass

I saw the dumbest thing in recent memory yesterday.

I had to return something at Fry’s Electronics and while I was waiting in line I heard “Won’t Get Fooled Again” at a volume that I would have expected from the stereo or home theater section at the back of the store. Searching for the source, I saw a group of people standing around playing what I guessed was Rock Band. Kids and grown adults (as opposed to stunted adults, I suppose) were playing with toy instruments and watching a cartoon band and pretending to play along on a guitar, bass and drums. That’s sillier than a penguin in a pilates class.

Now, admittedly, I’ve never been much of a gamer. It’s not how I choose to spend my free time, but I can see how somebody can dig it. I’ve never played Grand Theft Auto but if you want to spend some time robbing taxi drivers and killing prostitutes then bully for you. I’ve never played World of Warcraft, but you want to go crazy banging druids and poisoning paladins then have at it. If you get off on jacking somebody up on Madden then buckle up and lay ‘em out.

If you can’t afford your own plane, I get why you might shell out for Flight Simulator and a joystick. And if you don’t have access to a track on the NASCAR circuit I can even see why you might add a racing wheel to your Xbox.

But I don’t get why you would want to spend time clicking away on a Playskool inspired fretboard or tapping out rhythms on a Flock of Seagulls my lil’ drummer drum kit when you could just as easily get a real guitar or real drum kit. There’s nothing stopping you from experiencing the real experience here, folks. I’ll even throw in a temporary tattoo and sit on your couch and yell “Freebird” if it will help you out.

I bought my last guitar from a pawn shop for $75 and with some tablature printed off the Internets I was playing “Michael Row Your Boat Ashore” on a real guitar 15 minutes later. If you spend half the time on a real guitar than you do on Guitar Hero or Rock Band I’d bet chances are you’ll go far if you get in with the right bunch of fellows. But I digress.

So here’s the deal. It’s silly and I shall continue to mock you until you knock it off.

Now where’s my Atari 2600… I have to save the Earth from a legion of relentless Space Invaders.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Lord Byron, Birthdays and Bikes

Birthdays and holidays are a pain in the ass. I guess I don’t get as much fulfillment as everybody else claims they feel from giving gifts. That probably makes me sound like an ass, but it’s true. Maybe because I don’t like a lot of stuff cluttering up my life, it’s hard to understand why anyone else would. And when I do need or want something, I go get it. I don’t wait around hoping somebody will give it to me. In fact, many times when I receive a gift I feel bad that someone spent money on me. Just so they could feel good. What kind of gift is that? I know that’s twisted logic and I’m just racking up the votes for the Asshole Hall of Fame here, but I’m just explaining why my feelings range from despair to resentment to desperation when it comes to gift giving. Can’t I just make a donation to The Human Fund in everyone’s name?

On the other hand, and just to make my case for not being a total ass, I do get that warm fuzzy feeling when I drink too much cough syrup. Or when I can offer my time or self-proclaimed expertise to help someone out. But I ain’t going to wrap it up in pretty paper and stick a bow on it.

But that was all just a digression to get to the real subject of my post: hot dogs.

You see, I was out shopping for my birthday gift today. The Mrs. and I aren’t normally big consumers. Feel free to blame the recession on us. But every once in a while we can get swept away with the rest of the Idiocracy and want to buy something beyond food or school books. In order to justify these unnatural urges, we’ve been using the following modus operandi: Can I get it and have it be my [insert Christmas/Birthday/Valentine’s Day/Cinco de Mayo] gift?

So far it’s working. I’m impossible to buy for and the Mrs. doesn’t have time for that crap, and I suck at finding socks that will knock her socks off.

Which brings us back to hot dogs. I’m considering telling her that she’s getting me a bicycle for my birthday. Yes, I know I have three bikes but I don’t have a single-speed steed. Yes, I know… don’t change gears and any one of them can be a single-speed. Sorry to take away the cheap and easy comment, gentle readers. But the type of bike I’m looking for isn’t your typical off-the-shelf deal. If you’re like me and as mechanically inclined as a walrus with delirium tremors then you need to find a shop or guy that likes building these kinds of bikes. You essentially start with an old-school ten-speed frame and then do a custom build with the single gear. So, you’re saying, what about the hot dogs.

Well, I found a couple bike shops in Uptown that seemed to fit the bill and decided to check them out today. The first shop was about the size of my living room and stuffed with about 40 or 50 bikes in various states of completion and disrepair. Stacked horizontally, vertically, on end and seemingly impossibly intertwined at times, but all infallibly inventoried in Ron’s head. Unfortunately no 59cm or 61cm frames in stock, but I liked the guy and he said he’ll let me know when he gets a good one in. I must look deceivingly tall, since he tried to fit me on a 63cm before I left. It wasn’t a hard sell and he quickly backed off that idea after I racked myself on the cross tube. He gave me his card and a card for a good urologist and I went on my way.

And on the way home I stopped here:

For one of these:

Yes, there’s a hot dog in there. Here’s what you find if you peel back the first layer of pickles, tomatoes and green and red peppers:

And once you work your way through the lettuce, bright green relish and mustard that top the hidden dog, you’re left with this:

Good times. As one of my favorite reviews of the joint says, “Byron’s – Worth The Risk.”

Friday, March 28, 2008

Scary As Elle

So out of fear of inviting another conversation by wearing a hat with any sort of logo or meaning or brand or gang colors, I switched to my generic all black handmade knit cap this week. Today I was wearing my hiking boots, army green cargo pants, and black sweater, and as I put on my black knit cap to leave the office, a girl told me I looked like I was going to rob a bank. I was going for the longshoreman look, but I guess bank robber is pretty cool, too. I related the story to the Mrs. when I got home and she said, “Well, you do sort of look like a burglar.” I think the look works for me. I’m never changing my clothes again.

On another subject, I was exchanging emails with Moist Rub earlier today and let him know that I had an anteater in my pants. As soon as I hit send, I was filled with regret. I should have said “trousers” instead of “pants”. Much funnier. Anyone can say that they have an anteater in their pants, but when you tell someone that you have an anteater in your trousers… now that’s comedy.

But it did get me thinking – people don’t use the word “trousers” much anymore. Well, I’m bringing it back. Pants is overdone. Slacks is too old-man (and it makes the Mrs. cringe). But trousers… classic. I would also like everyone to start talking like they did in those old-time gangster movies, but we’ll start with "trousers" and see how it goes.

What Was Michael Clayton About?

I watched the Oscar nominated film Michael Clayton last night. It is one of those movies where you have no clue what is going on at the beginning and you slowly figure it out as the movie proceeds. I think the technical term for this type of film is a “WHO THE HELL IS THAT GUY? WASN’T SHE JUST MURDERED IN THE LAST SCENE? WHERE ARE THEY GOING NOW? JUST TELL ME WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON!...oh, OK, I get it, but I still don’t know who that one guy is” movie.

Unfortunately, I was never able to determine what all the inchoate scenes at the opening of the movie meant because I was distracted. Distracted by the looks of George Clooney.

No, not his fabulous good looks. Something about his looks that is much scarier. Perplexing, even. I think you ladies, and some of you guys, better sit down for this. It’s not going to be pretty.

While I watched Michael Clayton I was drawn to Clooney’s stern, rugged, yet kind and approachable, but somewhat tired and a little paunched in places it didn’t used to be, face. He reminded me of somebody, but I couldn’t figure out whom. This dilemma haunted me for the entire film. Then, at the end, when he was taunting the mean lady who won the best supporting actress Oscar, it came to me. George Clooney is turning into Raymond Burr! DUNT DUNT DAHHH!!!

Shocking, isn’t? But it’s true. I have proof:

I know he doesn’t look exactly like Raymond Burr. Yet. But he will. Trust me. He is a Raymond Burr inkling right now and will eventually blossom into his full Burritude in a few years. When the space-aged series Ironside 2020, starring George Clooney as Robo T. Ironside, with Abigail Breslin as the insufferable Fran Belding, comes to HBO someday you can tell people you heard it here first.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Sid's Little Instruction Booklet

Our office is mostly wireless, but the other day I decided to check out what other networks were in my airspace. Most of them were the normal technical sounding names like “linksys731” or “0782475gsx”, but one of them was simply named “forgiveness”. It kind of creeped me out. If our router ever goes out, you might think that “forgiveness” might be the signal to try to pirate, but it still scares me. So much that I’m thinking of subletting and moving.

And now to digress. I was enjoying my walk to the train tonight through the rain and snow mix that was blowing sideways at times in this first week of spring, when I got stuck behind a slow walker. Anyone who knows me knows that this one of the many things I find annoying in life. Even towards the top of my list. But this girl smelled good. Like really good. Suddenly I wasn’t so agitated. But I still sprinted around her the first opportunity I got and stomped in a puddle to make my point. Okay, I really didn’t do that. I just pushed her in the mud and kicked her in the head with my iron boot. I didn’t that, either. That never happens. It was a dumb statement… skip it.

The weatherman reported that some areas received hail one inch in diameter today. Come on, the first thing they teach you in meteorology school is to use common objects to describe hail – pea-sized, marble-sized, testicle-sized, and the ever popular golf-ball sized hail.

I was wearing my Blackhawks knit hat the other day and some dude tried talking to me about the Blackhawks in the elevator. Look… it’s not a conversation piece, buddy. I just like the logo and it keeps my shaved head warm. Just get in and face forward and let’s do this without any socialization and nobody gets hurt.

Come to think of it, that's pretty much what my last hooker told me, too. Hey, give me a break - not all of us can afford those $4,000 gals. Client 89 gets no respect.

In the Depps of Fandom

Good news! Johnny Depp is in the area filming a movie. I think it’s the sequel to Johnny Dangeously called Johnny Dangerouslier. I’ve never met a veritable cinematic superstar before, so I decided to brave the wilds of northwest Indiana and make my way to Crown Point (about 40 miles away from me for those of you cartographing at home). I was excited to be ON LOCATION, at the Old Lake County Courthouse, with Johnny Depp!

When I got to the set, I was impeded by a sea of starry-eyed, maniacal teeny boppers, throngs of delusional middle-aged women, and a handful of creepy guys such as myself. It took me about an hour to squirm my way to the police barricade at the front of the crowd. Searching for somebody that looked official-like, I saw a guy wearing a hat and playing with the movie clapper board, as if he was trying to squash bugs on his lips with it. Thinking quick, I put my car keys in my hand, jumped the barricade and crawled clandestinely to him. I showed him my hand with the keys and told him I was the replacement key grip. He seemed suspicious, so he made me grab his crotch real hard to test my gription dexterity. I passed the test. He gave me a pass and told me to “git along”.

“Grip your key, sir” I offered to other movie makers as I walked around the set looking for Johnny Depp. Eventually, I found him, drinking a flax seed oil milk fizz, sitting in a pup tent next to a lighting rig. He was alone so I entered his tent. Before I could say anything, he told me that he didn’t have any keys. “That’s OK, Johnny, I was just hoping you’d autograph my chest.”

He didn’t autograph my chest. Nor would he kiss my baby. Nor would he read an old scene of 21 Jump Street with me (where I would play Holly Robinson’s character, Officer Judy Hoffs). Nor would he not have me arrested.

I don’t know what office this joker is running for or why so many people are interested in looking at him while he's trying to do his job (nobody looks at me while I'm working), but I certainly won’t vote for him. As they dragged me off the set with a traffic cone enhancing the end of my digestive system, I looked back and saw Johnny Depp standing there, bowing with his hands together in prayer formation. I didn’t know he was so religious. Had I known, I would have kissed HIS baby.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Stop. It. Now.

Okay, I don’t do it often but it’s time for me to issue an edict.

Enough with putting a period after each word of a sentence for emphasis. Worst. Trend. Ever. You know what I’m talking about. It’s. Fucking. Everywhere. I never liked it to begin with and now it seems as if it’s getting to be as common as the lead paint on my Jonas Brothers action figures. Best. Band. Ever. (Be sure to say hello to the Hudson Brothers when you’re inducted into the Forgotten Brother Acts Wax Museum in Sandusky, Ohio ten years from now.) But I digress.

Please... Knock. It. Off.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

No Eggs-cavation Required

Easter Egg Hunt. Yeah, right. Why not call it what it is – a Don’t Trip Over All The Brightly Colored Eggs In The Well-Manicured Field And Hurt Yourself. Where’s the challenge? I had a harder time finding Waldo in the bleachers at this so-called event.

Good thing kids are dumb. If they were smart, they’d realize they’re doing a shitload of work for some lousy jelly beans and seeking approval from a guy in a giant bunny suit. If they like picking up crap so much why not turn them loose on the side of the highway and help stop Chief Iron Eyes Cody from crying.

Hope your Easter was swell. Now show me some love and pass the leftover ham.

Lion and Lamb or Maybe Iguana

Most of my life I’ve been aware of the affable adage, “March comes in like a lamb and goes out like a lion”. Or, maybe it’s “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb”. Then again, it may be “March will eat you like you’re a zebra and then knit a wool sweater for you by the time April gets here”. I could never remember the actual saying because the weather in March where I'm from never lives up to any of these versions. And who the hell is April?

Consequently, each year I am confused when March comes along. At the beginning of the month I wrench my brain trying to figure out if the weather is acting like a lamb or a lion. One day it may seem like a lion, roaring in my face, but then the next day will be calm and baaing like a lamb. "Take an umbrella, it's baaing outside." Is a lion a windy day with temperatures in the fifties, or is it calm, crisp and freezing my ass off day in the twenties? How could it be a lion at all? A lion has never frozen my ass off at the zoo. Nor has it ever comforted me with a warm spring breeze. Are they talking about a schizophrenic lion with shamanistic powers over the weather? Maybe they don’t accept these types of lions in zoos.

What about the lamb? Do lambs make it snow one day and then rain the next? Are they the ones who invented this crazy wintery mix I keep hearing about? How did a lamb get its hooves on the hydrologic cycle handle bars? I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a lamb in a zoo, if you don't count the spray on tattoo stand. Maybe the lion ate it (the lamb, not the stand). The weather in March is so uproariously unstable, by the end of the month I don’t know what the hell is going on. I can’t tell if it’s a lamb or a lion. It could be a casque-headed iguana by then for all I know.

I think lions and lambs have nothing to do with it. They are too busy controlling the stock market (buy in a lion market, sell in a lamb market). The truth is, March comes in like a wet burlap sack of frozen bars of soap, bashing you over the head with false hopes of warmer weather, and it goes out like a milk infested roll of carpet thrown off the back of cement truck into field of half-boiled shoe tongues. A University of Phoenix study proves it, so it has to be true. Please share this new saying, this scientifically proven saying, with your children.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Brick Insurance

After a Chicago Blackhawks game while I strolled through the parking lot looking for my car, I was approached by a young entrepreneur. He made me a tantalizing proposal. I could either give him five dollars or he would break my windshield with the brick he was carrying.

This man had a different approach than the others who usually provided some sort of windshield cleaning service in exchange for cash. He was providing protection service, albeit protection from himself. Just like an insurance company who secretly poisons you, causing you to go to the hospital where you incur ghastly emergency room bills for which the insurance company denies payment because the poisoning was not authorized by the guy with the brick in the parking lot. Then, they raise your premiums for being a poisoning risk.

Not only was he offering something new, he was eliminating his competition by destroying the demand for their service. I wouldn’t pay anybody to clean my windshield after it was smashed with a brick. This guy was a genius. I respected that, but not enough to purchase his services.

So, as I walked to somebody else’s car I declined his offer. Instead of smashing the windshield of the car I was standing by, he called me a bad name and attempted to procure some new clientele. Having lost all respect for him, I hauled ass to my car while he wasn’t looking and got the hell out of there.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


I got an iPhone a couple weeks ago. I guess it’s pretty cool if you’re a dork that spends your life text messaging or checking emails constantly or if you’re way more important than I am. For me, it was like getting a new alarm clock that can tell me the temperature outside before I get out of bed. And my 20 year old clock radio could even do the same thing if I set it for the right time – WBBM 780, with traffic and weather on the 8’s. The old-school way of doing it. But my employer insisted on the upgrade and picked up the tab, so I ditched the Nokia and completed my transition to iDork.

I’ve been using “old-school” quite often lately, mostly in reference to my taste in movies and technology. I guess it’s just a euphemism I use to admit I’m turning into an old coot who would rather watch Animal House for the 25th time rather than Old School for the 10th. Kind of ironic, huh?

Speaking of ironic, check out 9 Words That Don't Mean What You Think.

Friday, March 21, 2008

How Was Your Christmas?

I can assure you. Scolding me will only make matters worse.

She asked me how my Christmas was. I told her it was good. I did not give any specifics. Specifics only lead to more questions. I didn’t have time for questions. Anyway, I couldn’t remember any specifics about the holiday. I wasn’t paying attention during that time and it was a couple of months ago. None of those memories were on the tip of my brain. “Good” sufficiently summed it up. Not that I cared, but to be polite, I asked her how her Christmas was.

“Well…” she hesitated, “…good, I suppose.”

Great! I should be leaving now.

“Our family is a little screwed up.”

That’s too bad. Take care.

“My father has Alzheimer’s, and he had a pretty rough couple of days during Christmas. My brother-in-law, who is an alcoholic, would not put up with my father’s abnormal behavior and beat him up when he could not take it anymore. My father almost died from the beating, and we had to have my brother-in-law arrested.”

Look, lady, this is just idle chatter while I’m waiting for my son to put on his coat. There is no need to fling bad vibes at me. I’m not here to ameliorate your purgings. I just want to take my son home.

How dare she ruin my day? I couldn’t let her leave me dangling on a cliff of despair, so I followed her lead.

“Now that you mentioned horrible family holiday scenarios, I just remembered…during Christmas dinner my aunt’s lung exploded when she tried to wolf down the boiled turkey neck while simultaneously taking a monster drag on her Pall Mall. My uncle berated her about the evils of cigarette smoking at the dinner table, not to mention the adverse effects of consuming turkey entrails in the whole. My uncle’s shouting riled up the dog who tripped my nephew who was returning from the toilet after ‘making some room for seconds’, causing him to crash face first into the turkey carcass, lacerating both of his corneas on the razor sharp rib bones, rendering him forever the blind Christmas miracle boy. Then my grandma shit in her pants from the excitement, and we all had a good laugh.”

Thank you for having my son over to play with your son. Let’s do this again sometime real soon.

Cleaning Out The Gutters

One of my doctors gave me a green St. Patrick’s Day sticker for my shirt on Monday (since I was wearing mauve), and I felt like a little kid that was being rewarded for being so brave. I hope it doesn't show up on my bill.

Hitting the goalie’s water bottle when you score is not only one of the coolest things you can do in hockey, but in all of sports. I bet there was something equally as cool in the old Aztec games of tlachtli, but I don't know any old Aztecs to ask.

For some reason this all reminded me of jai alai and I learned this from Wickipedia:
"Jai alai" (or just one of the words) appears frequently in crossword puzzles due to the high recurrence of vowels in its name. In a roughly ten-year survey of the New York Times daily crossword puzzle, "Jai ___" (for ALAI) was found to be the single most common clue-and-answer pair, appearing 39 times exactly the same way.

I haven’t seen Juno yet, but I did see Ellen Page on SNL and she immediately vaulted into my Top Five Most Annoying People list. I don’t even have such a list, but she was so annoying she made it easy to pretend that I did. She doesn't seem so annoying in the movie trailers, so perhaps she is a remarkable actress and should have won the Oscar. I knew I should have returned the application to The Academy that they sent me.

I’ve never had a stuffed crust pizza. I’m not planning to, either. And you can’t make me.

Happy First Day of Spring!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Movin' On Up

Due to the overwhelming volume of emails I received after not posting last Friday night, I suppose I can ‘fess up to what I was doing. (Sure, most of the emails were the usual spam, but I think it adds drama to the post. No?)

I was moving. Normally I come home and lay perfectly still, but I decided to incorporate motion into my evening. That was a joke. Get it? Moving? Nevermind.

It wasn’t my home abode that I was moving, but my office. Well, all the contents of my office since moving the physical office would be rather inefficient as well as leave a conspicuous gap in the old building structure. It would also be rather rude seeing as the new management company built out a new space for us.

Due to my meticulous planning (or rather following the meticulous notes from the girl that set up the last move) it was rather uneventful, although I did meet a guy that knew my dad better than I do. Apparently he’s still alive, loves to golf and hasn’t retired yet.

My new office overlooks the top level of a garage in downtown Chicago. Yep, you need to be a bigshot to get view like that. Not like those putzes that have to stare at the boring water of Lake Michigan or the boring old skyline. I was out of the office Monday, but on Tuesday I didn’t get a whole lot of work done because I was fascinated by the parking operations.

You see, when I get to work it looks like this:

By late morning it fills up and looks like this, and the fun begins:

They send a couple valet guys up there and start double parking the cars, turning the top level into a giant game of Tetris that gets increasingly complex, especially when people who are blocked in decide they want to leave in their own car.

I figured I would never get anything done, eventually design a new and improved parking algorithm on the back of a Jimmy John’s napkin, build my own garage, franchise, and soon become America's Urban Parking King and find myself on the cover of Forbes magazine in an expensive suit and a reflective vest passing out valet tickets with a big smile on my face in an obviously staged photo shoot. Unfortunately, I lost interest by Wednesday and went back to my quest to retire early by misappropriating company assets to make illegal copies of The Moosewood Restaurant Cookbook that I can sell under the cover of my caricature booth at flea markets around the Midwest.

It’s just crazy enough to work.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Annoying Pursuit

My daughter challenged me to a game of Junior Trivial Pursuit tonight. I stepped up to her flung gauntlet with a resounding, “It’s on, baby!”

Of course, I crushed her.

She played reasonably well, for a little girl who knows hardly anything compared to the inches and inches of useless information stored in my skull. She took the beating admirably considering she also had to put up with my arguing over technicalities such as “a” versus “the” in an answer, my frequent “accidental” upending of her playing piece while I reached for the die, and my cheating attempts of changing answers like “warm-blooded” and “eye of a hurricane” to “fart- blooded” and “bellybutton of a hurricane”, respectively, when she answered correctly. After about a half hour, she had had enough.

“Dad, if you say 'Orange you glad I didn’t say banana' ONE MORE TIME when you land on an orange square, I’m gonna stuff all of your pie pieces up your nasal cavity, through your temporal lobes and scramble your hippocampi so that you will never have the cognitive faculty to compete at this game ever again!”

So, we called it a draw.

Now that I think about it, she may have been letting me win.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

My At Home Spa

If I know I am going to be alone for a couple of hours, I take a nice long bath with music and candles. I invite some friends over and moisturize with lotions. Then I like to put cucumber or cinnamon tea bags on my eyes and soak. After that we pretend the rubber ducks are champagne bottles and the snoring we hear are waves crashing into the shoreline.

When my friends leave, I spend time totally enjoining and enveloping myself in the solitude, which is so essential to finding out who I really am. I use olive oil and sugar on the bottom of my feet and love the results better than a pumice stone. I get a rock and a bay leaf. I lie down and put the rock on my forehead. Focus. Smell the bay leaf. Breathe in and out. Breathe in and out. Focus on the rock on my forehead. Relax. Relax. Take a deep breath, focus on the rock. The bay leaf frees me.

I put regular jelly jar wax in a slow cooker and let it heat up until there is enough to fit my hand in. Then, I cover my body with shea butter and curl up. I make slow circular movements with the pads of my fingers on all the bones of my face for ten more minutes. I smile and stretch my arms up and out while I take three deep breaths to connect with the world and nature.

Afterwards, if it's cold outside I will go down and watch an episode of The Simpsons. If it is warm I will go outside and shoot some hoops.

Where Are They Now?

Metro Sept 30

Over nearly two years whenever I’ve take the train, I’ve seen that old sign on a fence on an abandoned lot just outside of downtown. Curiosity finally got the best of me, so today I decided to try to find out whatever became of the legendary Slitheryn. Or who they were to begin with. And how the gig went.

First I discovered that the gig was in 2001 and the whole lineup for the night was Gravelbone, Lungbrush, Slitheryn, Eli Stone, Taxi War Dance. Right off the bat, they aren’t even top three as far as band names are concerned. Lungbrush wins that, followed by Taxi War Dance and Gravelbone. I’ll research them another day. I don’t know how the gig went, but it was a Sunday show and judging from their names I’m guessing that they tried to rock.

They do have a myspace page. But so does every three year old that can sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and My Ding-a-Ling. But Slitheryn’s page at least gave me a taste of their music, which seems to be often classified as Nu Metal. I thought Nu Metal was some sort car wax sold on late night infomercials but it’s apparently some sort of post-grunge, heavy metal fusion stuff. I enjoy some metal on occasion, but not being a connoisseur it all sounds pretty much the same to me. Oh, and Slitheryn is on hiatus. That means that one of them either knocked up a girlfriend, ended up in jail or rehab, or lost the fire in his heart and got a job at Jiffy Lube, and you probably won’t get a chance to see them together again.

Unless you go to YouTube.

I'm not like you
In anyway
Back away
I don't care what you have to say to me

Those are lyrics from their hit Different. I’m guessing that’s their hit since they somehow ended up with a video of them performing it in Japan. I don’t think it quite sold as many as Cheap Trick’s Live in Budokon, but they did what they could without the magnetism of Robin Zander or the charisma of Rick Nielsen. I want you to want me… the dream police, da-na-na-na-na-na… your mama's all right, your daddy's all right, they just seem a little bit weird… Sorry, I digress.

In a previous post I mentioned that I never regretted missing a night of television, but I have regretted missing too many concerts. I don’t think this is one of them. But maybe I’ll start asking around the train. I’m sure some of my fellow commuters just saw that bitchin’ sign on the side of the tracks and were lined up early that Sunday to catch that once in a lifetime show. And when I find that person, oh, the stories they’ll tell....

Monday, March 17, 2008

Wear Mauve for St. Patrick's Day

Everybody is wearing green and drinking green in honor of St. Patrick’s day. But they shouldn’t be, if they cared at all about the wishes of the man, St. Patrick.

I did some research. St. Patrick despised the color green. It reminded him of the pagan Druids, who were a torment to Patrick. Not only did the Druids not believe in Patrick’s god, they used to sit in their sacred oak trees, giggling, and pelt him with acorns while he was badgering villagers into becoming Christians. Patrick grew to associate the color green of the oak tree leaves with the nasty Druids.

St. Patrick preferred the color mauve – which was the color of the socks god wore most often back in the fifth century. When the Ministry of Public Relations in Ireland’s government decided to promote St. Patrick’s Day as a feel good Irish celebration, they chose green instead of mauve for the official color of the day because most Irish people could not pull off the color mauve without looking a bit fruity. And, frankly, mauve beer is repulsive. It looks like a runny beef stroganoff sauce gone bad.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Strippers, Tequila and Broken Furniture

I went to a party this weekend. No, really, stop laughing.

So I was talking to this guy - no, really, stop laughing.

I did actually attend a social function by my own will and actually initiated a conversation with someone I didn't know. Here's part of the conversation:

Guy: I've got a story for you. [to his wife] Should I tell him the story?

Guy's Wife: Sure, tell him the story.

Guy: Okay. So how old are your kids?

Me: I don't have any kids.

Guy: Well then I'm not telling you the story.

Guy: Call me if you decide to have kids and I'll tell you the story.

There was also Cosmetic Surgery Girl who kept freaking me out with her Carrot Top face. Very Loud Girl, who did give me a secret recipe. Obsessed With Golf Guy who couldn't believe that Tiger made that putt. Can you believe he made that putt? I can't be he made that putt. Son of a bitch, he made that putt.

I know it sounds like hell, but it was actually pretty amusing. And the food kicked total ass. It's just that I suck at parties.

Most people my age only care about their kids or wine or golf. I don't drink wine, I don't golf, and I usually don't like their kids.

I have way more in common with people half my age, but it's too creepy to hang out with them.

So that's why I spend my free time with my bicycle. But if it starts playing golf or has any kids then I'm selling it.

Discovery Channel and a Cool Buzz and I'm Fine

I’m not sure exactly when it started, but now when we spend our wild Friday and Saturday nights watching those mystery diagnosis type shows on Discovery Health I’ll catch the Mrs. saying stuff like, “Well, the lycopene deficiency and the loss of motility in the knutsen valve are obviously indications of Mitterwald Syndrome, especially in a patient that ate hummus during recent travels in sub-Sahara region. He needs to order a CT of the lateral C7 and check the chem panel for the presence of scrubbing bubbles in the enzyme levels.” You know, stuff you hear them say on House.

But she still couldn’t cure my common cold a couple weeks ago. So how smart can she be?

Friday, March 14, 2008

Crystal Bean

Hollywood treasure Billy Crystal struck out in his only at bat for the New York Yankees in pre-season action against the Pittsburgh Pirates. On the third strike, Pirates catcher, Ryan Doumit, purposely dropped the ball, forcing Crystal to have to run to first base for the dropped third strike. Doumit let Crystal scamper about halfway down the line before he beaned the comedian between the shoulder blades with the ball. As Crystal crumpled to the ground in a humorous heap, Doumit shouted, “THAT’S FOR MAKING MR. SATURDAY NIGHT, FUNNY MAN!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Great Race

She knows damn well that we’re racing.

Since I get to work early, if all goes well I try to catch the 5:09 train home to find Sheena Easton waiting for me. Well, not Sheena Eason, but my wife, who isn’t Sheena Easton, but that’s okay because I think she probably cooks better than Sheena. I don’t have anything to support that – it’s just a hunch. And since I eat more often than have a need to hear 80’s pop live in my living room I’m not complaining. But I digress.

So I’m on the 5:09 and the train rolls into my stop. A mass of people gets off and those headed north have to wait for the train to pull out so we can cross the tracks. My abode is roughly across the street, about a three minute walk (which explains my stunning cardiovascular fitness level), and several people on the now infamous 5:09 live in my building. I’ve carefully studied all the possible routes home using a simple, yet effective, algorithm that I learned in my operations research class several years ago, and I think I have the route that will most consistently get me home in the shortest amount of time.

I swear I’m one slightly nudged gene away from being one of those people that can’t go to sleep at night unless I am certain that only every other button on all the shirts in my closet is buttoned. Starting with an open one at the top. But I digress.

Partly due to my total lack of interest in socializing with my fellow commuters and partly due to my superior speed walking skills (36” inseam, thank you), but mostly due to my route planning, I routinely arrive home, change clothes, wash my hands three times, and sit down to the dinner table before the rest of my neighbors can say “Hi de ho” to the doorman. Okay, I don’t have a doorman. It might be fun to hire one for the day to confuse everyone else in the building. But I digress.

But there is one woman who challenges my pedestrian authority and takes a back route. She ducks in the back door at ground level, sneaks up a rear stairwell and motors down the corridor, I know just in an effort to try to beat me. Some nights it’s close, so we’ve had to establish a finish line. I think we both would agree that the line would extend from the wall that holds the mailboxes right next to the elevators. Of course, I can’t confirm this is the official line since we both pretend we’re not racing so we can never have this conversation. But trust me, no other part of the lobby makes sense. And like I said, she knows we're racing.

Most days I win, usually just by about 5 - 10 seconds. But if she catches the traffic light and my jaywalking strategy backfires sometimes it’s a dead heat, and I swear I see an extra bounce in her step down the homestretch as I work to get my key smoothly in and out of the lock of the security door out front.

I’m often exhausted by this time so I usually take the elevator, whereas she takes the stairs to the same floor. I’ve considered taking the stairs, but now I’m afraid she’d think I’m copying off of her or I fear it developing into a violent, clawing race up the stairs with hair pulling and bruised shins.

I’m also convinced that my nemesis is WGN health reporter Dina Bair, but my wife says I’m insane. I already knew that.

But recently there is a new competitor. Her presence on the 5:09 is less regular, but in addition to my shortcut through the BBQ joint parking lot and my jaywalking strategy she has implemented another shortcut through the doctor’s office parking lot and possibly over a chain link fence. She appears to be leggy and nimble enough to do so, but nothing that my 36” inseam can’t compete with. But I’ve avoided this second shortcut because I’ve often encountered some muddy spots and don’t want to risk tearing my generic business casual khakis or ruining my fashionable DSW shoes or even falling down and getting kicked in the head with an iron boot. But most importantly, I'm busting my ass with my current route and she is coming up the elevator from ground level just as I’m arriving to take the elevator up. A virtual dead heat every time.

After coming in the door for so long with my arms raised overhead in victory, my wife noticed my distress. She recommended I follow the cheating, fence-jumping whore to find out her secret, but I can’t do it without feeling like I’m stalking her. If I follow her it just seems creepy and it also implies defeat. That's unacceptable.

I’ll just have to pick up the pace until I move again.

Locked Out In My Pants

I called my company's Help Desk because I was locked out of one of our systems. All I wanted them to do was unlock my login account so I could continue to use the same password. The woman at the Help Desk could not figure out how to unlock the account, but said she could reset it using the same password. So she asked me what my password was.

I said, "inmypants."

She said, "Gross."

How would she know? I've never even met her. She's two thousand miles away from me. As it turned out, she was unable to reset it using the same password, either. So, she asked me what I wanted my new password to be.

I said, "eatme."

She said, "That's not enough characters."

So I told her to use "riboflavin" instead.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Derf 'til You Puke

I was reading something the other day – I don’t remember what, exactly, maybe an obituary writing manual – and I came across the word “underfed”. It looked strange to me, as if it should be pronounced “un-derft” instead of “un-der-fed”. I thought, “un-derfed” should be its own word, as in undoing an act of derfing. For all I know, it is an official word. So I looked it up in the dictionary. To my surprise, underfed was in there! Its definition is to have fed insufficiently. This leads me to believe that, in turn, “to derf” is to feed sufficiently. I plan to derf myself on a nice steak dinner tonight to celebrate my new knowledge.

Mentally Challenged

“I am sorry to hear about your challenges.”

That was the first line of the email I received in response to a plea for help in completing the simple task of registering at our new 401(k) provider’s website. My challenges? Bite me. It’s your challenge to fix the problem that I have with your site. Either tell me that your website, in 2008, is not compatible with Macs and that I need to fill out the paperwork in your overproduced and glossy Welcome package with smiling old people on the cover who obviously haven't tried to use your website, or find me someone that can tell me how to do it online. My only challenge is finding the time to get to Boston to kick your ass.

Here’s an idea – take some of your glossy brochure budget and shift it over to website development so that it works with something more than Internet Explorer on a PC.

Here’s another idea – train your customer service people to actually resolve problems instead of calling your problems my “challenges”. Especially these days when we do most things online and only pick up the goddam phone to speak to one of your chowderheads when there is a “challenge”. I expect a little better especially since we’re already overpaying for your crappy funds.

Yeah, I had a couple jobs that involved talking to customers. And all of them suck. They try to teach you all these wonderfully useless customer service techniques instead of just letting you fix the damn problem.

“Oh, I’m so sorry to hear you’re experiencing difficulties.”

“So if I understand you correctly, you’re saying that when you try to request a withdrawal that our webpage dissolves into a photo of Johnny Cash giving you the finger?”

“Yes, I can see how that can be frustrating.”

“Our technical support department has advised us that we are currently experiencing some system challenges at the moment. Thank you for your patience – is there anything else with which I may assist you today?”

Even worse is that this was one part of our new company on which I could have kicked some ass. It’s not like they don’t know I spend half my day at work planning my early retirement, and I could have set them up with a 401(k) that would have them shitting daisies.

Instead, they put me in a marketing meeting where I sit in a loft office with a dog in the hip part of town and talk to a consultant that needs to know what kind of tree I am before he can design us a new logo and website.

Look, Slappy, just have the dude with the horn-rimmed glasses and the Cheap Trick t-shirt whip something after he's done walking Fido and we'll be good.

Maybe I should be setting up an EAP plan instead….

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

High Tailing It

I think I might be more offended that people we elect to handle our tax dollars believe it's reasonable to spend over $4,000 to get laid. That's the real reason they need to get thrown out on their asses.

Email from Jon Owens

I received an email message today from Jon Owens. The subject of the email was:

I wanted to give someone a sexually transmitted disease (e.g., herpes, AIDS).

Good thing he provided examples of sexually transmitted diseases in the subject line. If not, I would have thought he intended to offer me phone service, and I would not have opened the email.

At first, of course, I thought this to be a typical chunk of SPAM, and I was about to delete it. But then I thought, why would anybody want to give somebody an STD? What kind of SPAM marketing ploy could this be? Maybe there is a benefit to getting an STD, and Jon Owens was trying to help his fellow humans. I’ve never had herpes or AIDS. What kind of a snob am I to be discriminating against them? The only STD I have ever had to deal with has been unintended pregnancy. Yes, that is, too, a disease. Think about it. What’s a sexually transmitted disease? It’s something you get because you were acting irresponsibly while having sex. Once inflicted, the disease cells start multiplying and eventually cause you irritation. And, it costs you a bunch of money and stress to get rid of it. Or in some cases, they stay with you forever and sometimes kill you. How is that any different from having a child?

So I opened the email. To my dismay, it was merely a link to a web site where I can attain amazing gains in length and thickness. Nothing about the benefits of having an STD or why Jon Owens wanted to give them away. So I clicked the link hoping to get some lawn care tips.

It turns out, Jon Owens happens to be the same Jon Owens I went to grade school with. With whom I went to grade school with. I never knew what happened to him after sixth grade. Neither does he. He’s sending me some free samples.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Hotel or Porn Studio

I've been planning a vacation and just booked a room at a place called Casa 69. The 69 is just part of the address and the place gets great reviews online, but there's still part of me that thinks I'll end up with a story worthy of Penthouse Forum if I dare order room service.

Book Store Girl

I almost asked out the check out girl at Barnes and Noble yesterday. She might have been too young for me, maybe around 30, and was kind of plain jane cute. But I didn't because I figured she was poor. So I went to Steak 'n Shake by myself instead.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

In The Doghouse

About a month ago I received an email. Yep, my posts are both timely and fascinating, eh? It was a request from a friend with a sick puppy. And since I’m all about compassion and puppies and rainbows and the smell of fresh baked cookies in a warm kitchen on a cold winter day, I had to respond.

I’ve never had a dog. They’re pretty cool animals in general, but I’ve usually found them either too loud, too moist, or too hairy to share my space with. Ditto for kids. But it seems that the puppy has not been doing too well and requires daily IV fluids. This same time last year, I also required daily IV fluids so she hit soft spot. Whereas I had opposing thumbs and could do my own, the puppy does not have the same and usually fumbles with the IV tubing until somebody steps in to help. Apparently this is a two-person process since the puppy doesn’t seem to mind the fluid part, but like most humans she tends to flinch when needles are inserted under her skin.

Now go back and substitute “pit bull” for “puppy” in the previous sentences. That’s right… I was being asked to hold down a pit bull while someone else stuck an IV needle under her skin. It’s not as bad as it sounds since the dog has always been as laid back as any dog I’ve known. And in her advanced age, even the squirrels in the backyard are resting a little easier. But I still found it amusing that I was volunteering for the job.

I signed up for two days during the 2-1/2 weeks her husband would be out of town on business and unable to help. The first day I went over, it was clear that the dog was sick but still enjoying the company of her loyal owners and her visitors. Once the IV was set up we walked the dog back to the treatment room, which was also used for human laundry. I found a small throw rug, with small pillows on each end. The dog stood on the rug and I was to take position on the pillow near her head and hold her in position by her collar. Just in case. I kneeled down and took her collar. And quickly realized my naughty bits were positioned about three inches from the face of a pit bull about to be stuck with a needle. Again, the dog had exhibited nothing but the sweetest demeanor, but the fleeting visual of her jaw clamped onto my privates was enough for me to adjust my position. I didn’t want to be nominated for a Darwin award or be the local man in the news who required 450 stitches to reattach his scrotum.

Now comfortably seated on the floor, where the lower jaw could not as easily slip around my jewels, the process began. As promised, she barely flinched when the needle was placed and she remained remarkably patient for the ten or so minutes while the fluid flowed. Before I knew it, we were all done and I was rewarded with a treat and a non-alcoholic beer. Thankfully, she let me know the treat was for the dog before I wolfed it down myself. I settled into the couch and sipped my beer with pride, knowing that I could add pit bull wrangler to my resume.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Neuro Misfirings

You might be a racist if… I used ethnic groups as the punchlines to two of my jokes this week. Yep, that’s right – I broke a workplace taboo and mentioned the “fucking Swiss” and the “evil Danes” just for a laugh. But the material killed.

Tattoo Removal Made Easy – book a room at the Tulsa Marriott. Stand in shower. Brace yourself. Place tattooed area directly in front of fire hose pressure shower head. Turn on shower. Wait two minutes. Pat dry. Sure it’s painful, but I don’t have to be ashamed of my Where’s The Beef? and Luke <3 Laura tats anymore.

I dig college radio. In Texas I used to listen to a station out of The University of North Texas. It was previously called North Texas University, but when they changed the name of the school they didn’t change the station called letters from KNTU.

Whenever I see something black cherry flavored it sounds really good and I usually order it, but 9 times out of 10 I’m disappointed. It’s like dating a really hot girl.

I recently heard the Theme from Rockford Files. Televisions shows just don’t have good theme songs or opening montages anymore. Takes away from valuable ad time, I suppose.

That would totally suck if wombs were made out of wood and you had to spend the first half of your life just trying to get the splinters out of your body.