Thursday, May 29, 2008

Survey the Stupidity

Why do people care about Ashlee Simpson?

I took a Surveys course in college. I figured learning how to conduct surveys would be a good way to stay in touch with the little people of the world throughout my life. You know, find out what’s rattling around in their simple little heads? Unfortunately, the instructor was a bit too fervent with glee about the topic, and the other students were right there with him. Think of Lane Meyer’s (John Cusack) math class in the farcical movie Better Off Dead (I’m real sorry your mom blew up, Ricky). Plus, it seemed like a lot of work. A lot of work was not of my ilk back then. I dropped the course after two class sessions. But I did learn a sufficient amount about surveys for my purposes.

I decided to conduct a survey about Ashlee Simpson. I’ve seen many “news” stories about her crossing the wire lately (Yahoo) (I should really rid myself of Yahoo) (I got nowhere else to go!) (OK, enough with the movie quotes) (Incidentally, I took the last quote from Wayne’s World 2, who took it from An Officer and a Gentleman). She’s getting married, she got married, she got knocked up, she’s adding more fiber to her diet, she bought a ping pong paddle, she rubs the ping pong paddle on her fetus-laden belly because the friction of the bumpy rubber of the paddle on her skin is supposed to send genius vibes to the baby, etc. Where does it end? Better yet, why did it start? She is the epitome of the manufactured celebrity. Between the nose job, the lip syncing, the obvious lack of talent and the fact that she’s never been in a boy band, why are people buying her act? Who are these people? Hence, my survey.

My survey consisted of one primary question and a follow-up question for those who answered incorrectly.

Q: Do you give a crap about Ashlee Simpson?

FU-Q: Why the hell do you give a crap about Ashlee Simpson?

I created a database to store and analyze the data I intended to collect. But, after the third subject who claimed she DID care about Ashlee Simpson, I decided to stop recording the subjects’ responses and simply punch them in the face while they answered the follow-up question. For those who answered the primary question correctly, “no” or “hell no”, I gave them a cookie. For those who answered the primary question with the ultimate correct answer, “Who the hell is Ashlee Simpson?”, I gave them two cookies and a hug. It’s all about positive reinforcement. And face punches.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Leper Pop Man Up Challenge – Final

Welcome back to the final round of the Leper Pop Man Up Challenge. I am being held at at gunpoint on the back of a pig truck driving somewhere in one of the great plains states. Yes, it’s the same pig truck that drove us to the bus depot in Part 6. Yes, I had to adopt a few sows to convince the pig farmer to give us a lift. No, I do not know what “adopting sows” entails. I’m not sure where we are because I’ve been blindfolded and tied up since I had that hissy fit in Aberdeen. I graciously agreed to finish the coverage of the Man Up Challenge. But enough about me, let’s get back to the Upping of Man.

Moist Rub touts a scantily clad 7 ½ point lead over Sid F’er as we enter the eighth and final round of this mess. Can Sid catch him? That’s the big question. Enjoy the ending. I know I won’t.

If you have no clue what we're talking about, click here to catch up.

A man should be able to:

66. Throw a football with a tight spiral.

Sid: I did briefly play quarterback as a kid since my dad was the coach and that’s how things work. Fortunately, the passing game isn’t a big part of the game plan when you’re 10 years old. The spirals were tight, but I was relieved of quarterback duties in high school when they realized the spirals rarely exceeded 10 yards downfield. But I’ll still take a point. (1 point)

Moist Rub: I suppose the term “Leper House quarterback” means nothing to you. As it shouldn’t. But it meant a lot to those sweet, young, innocent Lepers back in college. I still got it, a little bit, until my rotator cuff tells me to stop. (1 point)

67. Shoot a 12-foot jump shot reliably.

Sid: You had to bring up basketball, didn’t you. Here’s the deal. I’ve done pretty well over the years letting go of resentments, but I’m still bitter about being cut from the 7th grade basketball team for a bunch of goons that hit puberty and 6’ before I did. I turned my back on basketball after that and my jump shot subsequently suffered. Mr. Miller, if I ever run into you in a dark alley I will cut you and let you bleed out while the rats nibble on your privates. (0 points plus 2 penalty points for not letting go of the past and for harboring sadistic fantasies)

Moist Rub: Nothing but net, rim, backboard, air and sometimes people’s faces. It all depends on what you mean by “reliably”. 30% - 50%? Alright, I’m in. (1 point)

68. Find his way out of the woods if lost. Note your landmarks -- mountains, power lines, the sound of a highway. Look for the sun: It sits in the south; it moves west. Gauge your direction every few minutes. If you're completely stuck, look for a small creek and follow it downstream. Water flows toward larger bodies of water, where people live.

Sid: I’ve seen enough lost Boy Scout stories and Brady Bunch episodes to know that if I get lost I just need to sit my ass down and wait to be found before wandering off and getting shot by Sandinista rebels protecting a secret poppy field used to fund their guerrilla operations. (0 points, but will live to tell about it)

Moist Rub: Again, I have a better plan. Don’t find your way INTO the woods to get lost in the first place. I have some forest preserves near my house. I use them to walk around and reconnect with nature. And to smoke pot. And, sometimes, to play rodeo with the white-tail deer. I know my way around them. I have no need to enter any unfamiliar woods, which nullifies a need to find my way out of the woods. Nip it in the bud, Barney Fife. (0 points)

69. Tie a knot. Square knot: left rope over right rope, turn under. Then right rope over left rope. Tuck under. Pull. Or as my pack leader, Dave Kenyon, told me in a Boy Scouts meeting: "Left over right, right over left. What's so fucking hard about that?"

Sid: I suppose I could knock out a square knot if necessary but I really want something secure, like when transporting furniture or a body, I usually just knot the heck out of the rope and cut it loose after the item promises not to run away. (1 point)

Moist Rub: If it’s not "so fucking hard”, why is this included in the list of man skills? I think weaving a rope out of dead skin would be more of an appropriate skill for us men to have. Also, I can’t say that I approve of the swearing Esquire allows its writers to slather all over our impressionable internet. Getting back to the point, my shoes haven’t fallen off yet, so I guess I’ll take a point. No, they are not Velcro secured shoes, either. (1 point)

70. Shake hands. Steady, firm, pump, let go. Use the time to make eye contact, since that's where the social contract begins.

Sid: An easy one. I also take the eye contact part literally, choosing to poke the other person in the eye at the same time, since that’s where the social dominance factors also begin. (1 point plus 1 point for being the alpha male without throwing a punch)

Moist Rub: I’m not shaking hands with the intention of beginning a social contract with anybody. I’m checking for weapons. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been knifed by socialites at cocktail parties back when I refused to shake hands with people. (1 point)

71. Iron a shirt. My uncle Tony the tailor once told me of ironing: Start rough, end gently.

Sid: Yeah, I can iron a shirt. I can also afford the $0.99 cents to have the dude at the dry cleaner do it for me while I read the tax code and surf internet porn. (1 point, plus 1 bonus point for avoiding boredom)

Moist Rub: Or, buy shirts that don’t need ironing. Some wonderful person has invented shirts fabricated as “wrinkle-free”. Although, you can’t always trust that flashing “wrinkle free” sign you see on the shirts in the store. Or is that the Blue Light Special sign that I see flashing. No matter. The point is some of the wrinkle free shirts do get wrinkled. Caveat emptor. Throw away the wrinkled wrinkle-free shirts or use them for rags. Obviously, they are defective. In a pinch, I can iron a shirt, but it’s very frustrating and I get flummoxed and end up dripping sweat on the shirt I’m attempting to iron. So I ask myself: Do I go with the wrinkly shirt or the sweat stained shirt? Either way, I don’t think I deserve a point for it. (0 points)

72. Stock an emergency bag for the car. Blanket. Heavy flashlight. Hand warmers. Six bottles of water. Six packs of beef jerky. Atlas. Reflectors. Gloves. Socks. Bandages. Neosporin. Inhaler. Benadryl. Motrin. Hard candy. Telescoping magnet. Screwdriver. Channel-locks. Crescent wrench. Ski hat. Bandanna.

Sid: It’s not like I’m driving to the Australian outback. My emergency bag is the pocket in which I carry my iPhone. Give me five minutes and I can find a girl dressed up as a French maid to bring me a dozen packs of beef jerky, some Green River soda, and a rental car while you set up a roadside hard candy stand to raise money for your rescue chopper. By the way, you forgot duct tape. (1 point plus 1 bonus point for the French maid)

Moist Rub: I don’t even stock the things in my house in an orderly and comprehensive fashion. You expect me to trick-out my car better than my house? And my bomb shelter is a complete catastrophe. I’d rather get smoked by a fricken A bomb than go in there. (0 points)

73. Caress a woman's neck. Back of your fingers, in a slow fan.

Sid: Good grief. This sounds like something out of the playbook of Larry, after picking up a chick down at the Regal Beagle. (0 points)

Moist Rub: Just because you use the back of your fingers, in a slow fan, it doesn’t guarantee she’s not going to call the police or complain to the flight attendant about you. (1 point)

74. Know some birds. If you can't pay attention to a bird, then you can't learn from detail, you aren't likely to appreciate the beauty of evolution, and you don't have a clue how birdlike your own habits may be. You've been looking at them blindly for years now. Get a guide.

Sid: I can’t pay attention to a bird. So what. I can’t learn from detail? Huh? I don’t appreciate the beauty of evolution? What does Esquire have to say to all the supporters of Intelligent Design? My own birdlike habits? Like crapping on car windshields or flying into windows? I’m going on vacation soon and there is a naturalist on site offering a bird watching tour and I’m not going to take it just to spite Esquire. Hah! (0 points)

Moist Rub: Whenever I try to get to know some birds, one of three things happens. 1. They poop on me. 2. They peck my eyes out looking for bugs. 3. They build a nest in my arm pit hair. My habits happen to be more warthog-like than bird-like. What makes birds so special over the other animals? I think this dude might be a beastialic avianophile. You may want to contact the authorities. (0 points)

75. Negotiate a better price. Be informed. Know the price of competitors. In a big store, look for a manager. Don't be an asshole. Use one phrase as your mantra, like "I need a little help with this one." Repeat it, as an invitation to him. Don't beg. Ever. Offer something: your loyalty, your next purchase, even your friendship, and, with the deal done, your gratitude.

Sid: I’m not offering my friendship to a car salesman in order to knock a couple hundred off the price of my next AMC Pacer. Hasn’t Esquire seen The Cable Guy? But that doesn’t mean I don’t know if I’m getting ripped off and when to take my business elsewhere. (1-1/4 points, because that’s what I negotiated)

Moist Rub: Ten for that, you must be mad! I’m not offering my loyalty, next purchase, friendship or gratitude as leverage against the high price of paying sticker price. I thought we weren’t supposed to suck up (see Skill 12). After trying to achieve 74 other man skills, I don’t have the energy to negotiate another price for your magazine. So I’m taking my business elsewhere. (0 points)

What an ending! Sid manned up his ass off to almost overtake Moist Rub at the finish line. It’s a damn good thing for Moist he hasn’t trimmed his flowing nose hairs in years. If nothing else, this competition has coined a new ageless phrase: “Won by a flowing nose hair.”
But wait, the judges are deliberating. The unofficial score is currently Moist Rub: 42 ½ , Sid F’er: 41 ¼ . What on Earth could the judges be discussing? It seems like a clear, yet close, victory for Moist Rub. Let’s wait quietly while the judges sort out the details.

So….how’ve you been?

The judges have made a decision. They have determined that the scores are close enough for jazz, right Alvin Lee, and have decreed that both Moist and Sid have LOST! They have tied for last place, since they have only earned 56.7% and 55% of the total Esquire Man Up points, respectively, which is a failing grade in anybody’s book. What an amazing outcome. Nobody saw that coming. I’m sure both contestants are crushed. Wait, the judges are huddled once again. I think a rugby game may be breaking out. Stand back. The head judge has asked to borrower my microphone.

HEAD JUDGE: By a cataclysmic realignment of logic, we have overturned our initial decision. As only a pompous, self-righteous pretty-boy would dare live life as a man to the standards set forth by Esquire Magazine, we have awarded both contestants FIRST PLACE based on their miserable performances in this challenge. Congratulations Moist Rub and Sid F’er!

Thus ends the Leper Pop Man Up Challenge. What a week it’s been. Thank you for watching. Save a pig out there.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Leper Pop Man Up Challenge – Part 7

All I want to know is when is the bus going to be fixed! No, I don’t know anything about bus engines. Well, don’t you have any other buses? What about that one? Charter? For who? GLEN CAMPELL? Oooo I love Glen Campbell! Like a rhinestone cowboy…Riding out on a horse in a star-spangled rodeoooooooo….ack, ahem, ack, ack, are we on? Oh, sorry.

Welcome back to the beautiful outskirts of, (where are we at again? Oh, right), the beautiful outskirts of Cozad, Nebraska for Round 7 of the Leper Pop Man Up Challenge. Yesterday’s action was unbelievably…er…um… Oh, forget it. Here’s today’s action. I’m sick of this.

If you have no clue what we're talking about, click here to catch up.

A man should be able to:

56. Create a play-list in which ten seemingly random songs provide a secret message to one person.

Sid: And then I’ll call them on my Dick Tracy wrist radio to see if they figured it out. Seriously, who writes this crap? (0 points)

Moist Rub: This is getting pretty silly. I think he is running out of material. Maybe he should have stopped at 50 man skills. OK, here is my play-list:

Everybody Have Fun Tonight – Wang Chung
Sussudio – Phil Collins
Quando, Quando, Quando - Engelbert Humperdinck
Undercover Angel – Alan O’Day
I Wanna Sex You Up – Color Me Badd
Reunited – Peaches and Herb
Every Time You Go Away – Paul Young
Sexy Back – Justin Timberlake
Up Where We Belong – Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes
Xanadu - Olivia Newton John

(0 points)

57. Explain what a light-year is. It's the measure of the distance that light travels over 365.25 days.

Sid: It’s also how close I am to getting a subscription to Esquire after reading this article. (1 point)

Moist Rub: The good news is we’ve progressed from the third grade area calculation skills all the way to the astronomical measurement skills of the sixth grade. Might we graduate high school by Skill 75? (1 point)

58. Avoid boredom. You have enough to eat. You can move. This must be acknowledged as a kind of freedom. You don't always have to buy things, put things in your mouth, or be delighted.

Sid: Between all the changes in the tax code every year and internet porn, how in the world can anyone ever say they’re bored? (1 point)

Moist Rub: Boredom happens to be one of my favorite past times. It is those brain dead periods of life, where I am too bored to even make it to the couch, and I lie on the floor with a rerun of a horrible edited-for-tv movie like Mannequin or Footloose on the television in the background as I ponder the meaning of life, that I cherish. Embrace the boredom our technologically advanced society has afforded us. Use it to your advantage. Maybe I should mow the lawn? Maybe if I think about it long enough, the lawn may cease to exist. (0 points)

59. Write a thank-you note. Make a habit of it. Follow a simple formula like this one: First line is a thesis statement. The second line is evidentiary. The third is a kind of assertion. Close on an uptick.

Thanks for having me over to watch game six. Even though they won, it's clear the Red Sox are a soulless, overmarketed contrivance of Fox TV. Still, I'm awfully happy you have that huge high-def television. Next time, I really will bring beer. Yours,

Sid: If I wrote a thank you note to a buddy for inviting me over to watch the game I think I’d get a well-deserved ass-kicking. For other occasions such as gifts from family or friends I married a woman that lets me sign my name to her notes. (1/2 point)

Moist Rub: I prefer this simple formula. I already told you “thank you” for the piece of crap you gave me or the favor you did for me or the nice gesture you made when you gave, did or made it to/for me. Why do you need it in writing? Are you trying to sue me or something? (0 points)

60. Be brand loyal to at least one product. It tells a lot about who you are and where you came from. Me? I like Hellman's mayonnaise and Genesee beer, which makes me the fleshy, stubbornly upstate ne'er-do-well that I will always be.

Sid: Screw brand loyalty. The company selling the crap doesn’t give a flip about you, so if someone else makes a better product then why would you deny yourself? I mean, if I was loyal to Miller High Life all these years I would never have tasted the deliciousness of a Bartles and Jaymes berry wine cooler. Just don’t spill any on my Chuck Taylors. (1/2 point)

Moist Rub: What are we, communists? Once we start becoming brand loyal, the capitalistic society we hold so sacred will come crashing down all around us. I don’t want that on my conscious. Sure, I usually use Heintz ketchup, but once in a while, I’ll squirt some Del Monte catsup into my borscht just to keep Heintz on their toes. (0 points)

61. Cook bacon. Lay out the bacon on a rack on a baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

Sid: Baked bacon? WTF? Mel’s Diner never baked bacon and neither will I. I’ll take half a point for doing it my way – in a greasy pan on the stovetop will splattering grease burning my forearms and messing up the stove. (1/2 point)

Moist Rub: Baking bacon is just wrong. The glorious pig has engineered itself specifically so that its luscious belly and back could be cut conveniently into strips and fried in a pan. What fun is cooking bacon unless there is a chance of getting a spit of hot grease in the eye? None fun, that’s what. (1 point)

62. Hold a baby. Newborns should be wrapped tightly and held against the chest. They like tight spaces (consider their previous circumstances) and rhythmic movements, so hold them snug, tuck them in the crook of your elbow or against the skin of your neck. Rock your hips like you're bored, barely listening to the music at the edge of a wedding reception. No one has to notice except the baby. Don't breathe all over them.

Sid: I don’t know if I’m scoring this thing right. If either of us gave a crap, we would have agreed to some guidelines ahead of time. I know how to do some of this stuff, but apparently it doesn’t meet Esquire’s requirements. Esquire would be a bitch to live with. I’ll take half a point for holding a baby in complete fear, at arm’s length, cradling the head so it doesn’t fall off, and looking for the earliest opportunity to pass it on. If I hand it off alive and in similar condition then I win. (1/2 point)

Moist Rub: Note to you new and prospective dads out there – once the baby is strong enough to hold xe’s head up without wobbling, it’s ok to rough them up a little bit. They are quite resilient. I’m not saying you should pile drive the little buggers, but they’re tougher than you might think. It’ll build character. My two kids, who happened to have lived through me holding them as babies, are proof. (2 points)

63. Deliver a eulogy. Take the job seriously. It matters. Speak first to the family, then to the outside world. Write it down. Avoid similes. Don't read poetry. Be funny.

Sid: Fortunately, I’ve never had to deliver one. But I did watch an indie movie called Eulogy a couple years ago. It starred that chick Zooey Deschanel that I totally dig. Plus it was distributed by Lions Gate, which was a major holding in one of my mutual funds. I seem to remember it being pretty entertaining. Zooey recently decided she was a singer and released a record with a dude named M (what’s up with that?) under the moniker She and Him. Critics seem on-board with the release and recent shows, but I say she’s no Juliette Lewis. If my first eulogy digresses as much as this blog, it’s going to be fun. (1 point)

Moist Rub: I don’t deliver a eulogy for anybody who hasn’t delivered one for me. (0 points)

64. Know that Christopher Columbus was a son of a bitch. When I was a kid, because I'm Italian and because the Irish guys in my neighborhood were relentless with the beatings on St. Patrick's Day, I loved the very idea of Christopher Columbus. I loved the fact that Irish kids worshipped some gnome who drove all the rats out of Ireland or whatever, whereas my hero was an explorer. Man, I drank the Kool-Aid on that guy. Of course, I later learned that he was a hand-chopping, land-stealing egotist who sold out an entire hemisphere to European avarice. So I left Columbus behind. Your understanding of your heroes must evolve. See Roger Clemens. See Bill Belichick.

Sid: Okay, Esquire, so I need to strive to achieve loyalty (#23) and be brand loyal (#60), but as soon as Roger Clemens sticks a needle in his ass I need to decapitate my bobblehead? It seems hypocritical of you, Esquire, but I’m with you on this one. Walter Payton never chopped anybody’s hand off. But if I find out that he did, I’ll be sure to burn my #34 jersey. (1 point)

Moist Rub: I’ve read Lies My Teacher Told Me by James W. Loewen. Unless Loewen is also lying to me, like my teachers apparently did, then I know that Columbus was a son of a bitch. I also know that he was one hell of a Bocce player, and he used to smash olives between his knuckles (this was not in the book – I heard it from some guy at a bake sale). (1 point)

65. Throw a baseball over-hand with some snap. If you can't, play more ball.

Sid: I retired from baseball at the age of 14 because of my hitting, but I think my throws still had enough snap. Let’s put it this way – if I had to throw out the ceremonial first pitch for the Lansing Lugnuts I think I could do so without bouncing it in. (1 point)

Moist Rub: If you mean snapping my humerus, I’m all over it. I don’t throw like a girl like Johnny Damon does, if that’s what you mean. The snap isn’t as snappy as it used to be, but I’ve gunned out a few base runners from the outfield in my day, thank you very much. (1 point).

Oh, you want me to do a wrap up now. I told you I'm sick of this. When the hell are we getting out of Nebraska? Huh? I don't care that we're live! NO! I don't care! OK...OK...OK, here's your wrap up - right here in my pants. Right here between Mr. and Mrs. Thigh, right down at the end of Old Buttcrack Road. How do you like that wrap up?!


Sid F'er: 30

Moist Rub: 37 ½

go to Final

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Leper Pop Man Up Challenge – Part 6

Unfortunately, we're stuck in a bus depot in Cozad, Nebraska. We were on our way to the Galapagos Islands to conduct Part 6 of the Man Up Challenge in the magnificence of evolutionary splendor, but our train was derailed by a horde of General Custer impersonators. Apparently, they thought our train track was a horde of Sioux impersonators and attempted to waylay them. The train track won the battle and left all of the General Custer impersonator carcasses in derailment position. We caught a ride on a pig truck to Cozad. We'll have to make due. Pull up a wino and enjoy today's action.

Moist Rub is pounding the crap out of Sid in this manhood jubilee. Does Sid have the strength in him to at least lie his way to the championship. We'll soon find out.

If you have no clue what we're talking about, click here to catch up.

A man should be able to:

46. Tell a woman's dress size.

Sid: Nope. Because there is no situation in which there is a need for this skill unless I’m working at a gas station and a woman in a dress comes in to rob the joint and I need to describe her to the police. “Yes, she was about 5’7, 128 pounds, with a ski mask and a size 5 strapless Donna Karan gown with a low empire waistline and yellow chiffon gathered at the top.” (0 points)

Moist Rub: Whenever I try on a woman’s dress to see what size it is, I usually end up tearing it apart and have to buy her a new one. It gets expensive after a while. Plus, I don’t have enough shoes to match all of the color schemes. (0 points)

47. Recite one poem from memory. Here you go:


When you are old and gray and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

--William Butler Yeats

Sid: No, HERE you go:

O pointy birds, o pointy pointy,
Anoint my head, anointy-nointy.

-- John Lillison, England’s Greatest One-Armed Poet

(1 pointy, pointy)

Moist Rub:

Get off the walls
Lick your dog’s balls.

-- Pete Geovanes

(0 Points)

48. Remove a stain. Blot. Always blot.

Sid: One morning I woke up with brown spots all over the front of my shirt. I didn’t know how they got there until somebody told me I ended the night by doing shots of soy sauce. I don’t think blotting would have helped. (0 points)

Moist Rub: Some stains stay, some stains go. It’s a crap shoot in that washer of mine. Either way, wear the shirt anyway until you are no longer able to wash the smell out of it. Who am I trying to impress? (½ point)

49. Say no.

Sid: Nancy Reagan taught me this one in the 80’s. But my stoner friends that ignored her always seemed a little more chill than I was. At least I get a point for this competition. (1 point)

Moist Rub: You don’t see my bed getting made, do you? (1 point)

50. Fry an egg sunny-side up. Cook until the white appears solid...and no longer.

Sid: I think I can handle this one if I ever had the opportunity. Every time I asked a girl at a bar how she likes her eggs in the morning, she usually replied “unfertilized.” (1 point)

Moist Rub: I don’t eat eggs. Did you ever see where they come from? No way, mister. But I do cook eggs for my kids from time to time, and they are much more demanding than Esquire is. Sunny-side up? Please. You don’t even have to flip them. The trick is in the flip. Eggs over easy has a higher degree of difficulty, just like a Forward 3 ½ somersaults, ¾ twist pike. (1 ½ points).

51. Build a campfire. There are three components:
1. The tinder -- bone-dry, snappable twigs, about as long as your hand. You need two complete handfuls. Try birch bark; it burns long and hot.
2. The kindling -- thick as your thumb, long as your forearm, breakable with two hands. You need two armfuls.
3. Fuel wood -- anything thick and long enough that it can't be broken by hand. It's okay if it's slightly damp. You need a knee-high stack.
Step 1: Light the tinder, turning the pile gently to get air underneath it.
Step 2: Feed the kindling into the emergent fire with some pace.
Step 3: Lay on the fuel wood. Pyramid, the log cabin, whatever -- the idea is to create some kind of structure so that plenty of air gets to the fire.

Sid: It’s so easy a caveman can do it. Whenever I’ve been camping – all three times – I’ve left this task to the person wearing camo and carrying a knife in his boot. I was never a Boy Scout but give me a book of matches and an ex-Sunflower Girl and I bet I could make things happen. (1/2 point)

Moist Rub: Better yet, let’s not go anywhere where a fire may need to be built. I hear hotels provide controlled fire in a variety of applications free of charge. Having said that, I do have arson somewhere on my criminal record. (1 point)

52. Step into a job no one wants to do. When I was 13, my dad called me into his office at the large urban mall he ran. He was on the phone. What followed was a fairly banal 15-minute conversation, which involved the collection of rent from a store. On and on, droning about store hours and lighting problems. I kept raising my eyebrows, pretending to stand up, and my dad kept waving me down. I could hear only his end, garrulous and unrelenting. He rolled his eyes as the excuses kept coming. His assertions were simple and to the point, like a drumbeat. He wanted the rent. He wanted the store to stay open when the mall was open. Then suddenly, having given the job the time it deserved, he put it to an end. "So if I see your gate down next Sunday afternoon, I'm going to get a drill and stick a goddamn bolt in it and lock you down for the next week, right?" When he hung up, rent collected, he took a deep breath. "I've been dreading that call," he said. "Once a week you gotta try something you never would do if you had the choice. Otherwise, why are you here?" So he gave me that. And this...

Sid: I’m the smartest dumb guy I know, which means I get the jobs no one wants to do as default. Smart people have the background to rise above the work of us plebes or are smart enough to get out of them. Really dumb people are not capable of the tasks and not assigned or too dumb to realize on their own that the jobs need to be done. (1 point, unfortunately)

Moist Rub: I was at the grocery store once. There was a box of Idaho Spuds placed in the meat cooler between the skirt steak and the marinated pork tenderloin. I stood there watching while no less than seventeen other shoppers walked by and did absolutely nothing. Eventually, I could take it no more. I shagged down a pimply-faced stock boy and alerted him of the stocking crisis. He retrieved the box of Potato Spuds and carried it safely into the storage room. Sometimes delegating is just as good as stepping into a job yourself. (½ point)

53. Sometimes, kick some ass.

Sid: How many times do I have to tell you that I can’t throw a punch? Unless we’re talking about Monopoly. I totally kick some ass in that game. (1/2 point)

Moist Rub: Kicking ass sounds like a splendid idea – if you want to perpetuate the war mongering mentality that has persisted throughout the history of mankind. Sure you may think that what goes on between two people can’t possibly relate to entire countries deciding to wipe out each other, but the Doctrine of Cool says differently. Whenever one person acts like an asshole to another, be xe in the right or in the wrong, it adds to the collective negative vibe of our global society, culminating in war and death - just like the trickle of water in a Minnesota forest ultimately gushes violently into the Gulf of Mexico. I will not willfully add to that collective bad vibe in the name of perceived manhood. (0 points)

54. Break up a fight. Work in pairs if possible. Don't get between people initially. Use the back of the collar, pull and urge the person downward. If you can't get him down, work for distance.

Sid: I watch enough hockey to know that you just wait until they fall down on the ice and come to a stalemate. Besides, some people need a good ass kicking once in a while. If someone else wants to step up and deliver, have at it. Also, that’s what bouncers live for, so who am I to deprive them of their livelihood. (0 points)

Moist Rub: If jumping up and down with my arms bent and my hands flapping while I scream “Stop it! Stop it! Stop it!” doesn’t work, by golly I’m at wits end. I guess you’ll just have to go on beating the shit out of each other. It really is none of my business. Who are these Neanderthals I’m hanging out with getting in fights, anyway? Maybe I need a new crowd. (0 points)

55. Point to the north at any time. If you have a watch, you can point the hour hand at the sun. Then find the point directly between the hour hand and the 12. That's south. The opposite direction is, of course, north.

Sid: Put me in the city and I’m 100% there. In the ‘burbs, I’m there about 80% of the time until you invite me into your labyrinth of Winding Succotash Circles and Rat Maze Courts. In the forest, I’ll wait for sunrise or sundown and gladly point to the north. (1/2 point)

Moist Rub: What if I’m locked in solitary confinement for a few weeks? What if I get that bucket stuck on my head again? What if I’m in the middle of doing that spinning around with my head on a baseball bat trick and then try to run a straight line and end up bashing my head into a fence post? What if I’m on Uranus, whose rotation spins on a different axis than Earth’s rotation – would north be over there or to the left? Point to the north AT ANY TIME? I can’t work in the confines of absolutes. (0 points)

Thus concludes Round 6. Sid has unholstered his hoe and made up some ground. At this pace, he should catch Moist Rub by Round 11. Too bad for him there are only 8 rounds. Could this be the making of the greatest comeback since the excavated woolly mammoth awoke and trampled that Latvian geologist?


Sid F'er: 23
Moist Rub: 31 ½

go to Part 7

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Leper Pop Man Up Challenge – Part 5

Coming to you live via pre-recorded tape from over a mile underground in the Creighton Mine, home of the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory in Ontario, Canada, we bring you Part 5 of the Leper Pop Man Up Challenge. Both Sid F’er and Moist Rub are exerting manhood at an alarming, death-defying rate. If even one of them survives this challenge, it will be a miracle of which Barry Manilow could sing about until his dying day. “It’s a miracle (miracle), a two goof spectacle, a miracle of fools…” Sing it, Barry. I don’t care what anybody says, I LIKE that song! (-1 point for the announcer).

Sid is within 5 man points of Moist Rub, a distance that could be easily made up with a well aimed swirl of his manitudinous power bevel. Sit back, grab a can of Olde Frothingslosh and enjoy the action.

If you have no clue what we're talking about, click here to catch up.

A man should be able to:

36. Make three different bets at a craps table. Play the smallest and most poorly labeled areas, the bets where it's visually evident the casino doesn't want you to go. Simply play the pass line; once the point is set, play full odds (this is the only really good bet on the table); and when you want a little more action, tell the crew you want to lay the 4 and the 10 for the minimum bet.

Sid: What happens in Vegas is of no interest to me. However, I have to go there next month and I think I’ll lay the 4 and the 10 for the minimum bet and let you know if it makes my testicles swell and the ladies swoon. (0 points)

Moist Rub: I was in Vegas once for a bachelor party. I met my brother out there one night. He was there for a medical conference. It was about two in the morning. He had a system for the craps table and explained it to me. I stared at him blankly (drunkly) and went back to the Black Jack table to lose all my money without pulling any brain muscles. He won $35, but had a headache. (0 points)

37. Shuffle a deck of cards. I play cards with guys who can't shuffle, and they lose. Always.

Sid: Okay, I confess. I’m one of those guys. I guess I spent a little too much time with the rice bowl trick in the Marshall Brodien Magic Set instead of his more famous TV Magic Cards. So I’m a mess at a card game, but I’m the life of the party at the sushi bar. (0 points)

Moist Rub: I play cards with my brother who can’t shuffle. He also keeps a cheat sheet of which hands beat which in his wallet. He usually loses. Instead of learning how to shuffle cards, he went to medical school and now makes a lot of money. I learned how to shuffle cards and now have another point. (1 point)

38. Tell a joke. Here's one: Two guys are walking down a dark alley when a mugger approaches them and demands their money. They both grudgingly pull out their wallets and begin taking out their cash. Just then, one guy turns to the other, hands him a bill, and says, "Hey, here's that $20 I owe you."

Sid: A man should stop telling jokes after junior high or else he’ll be that guy that everyone avoids at happy hour for telling jokes like the one above. But that doesn’t mean I can’t lay Sandpaper Sally on someone that begs to hear one. They usually don’t ask again. (1 point)

Moist Rub: I guess for Esquire, the joke doesn’t have to be funny. So, here’s one: There was a newlywed couple who were very happy. Then they both lost their jobs, she started cheating on him, he started doing heroin, the Bolsheviks seized power and somebody left the butter dish empty in the refrigerator. Oh, and dead babies. (0 points)

39. Know when to split his cards in blackjack. Aces. Eights. Always.

Sid: Easy enough. I also yell “Booyah!” any time I win a hand. People never get tired of that. (1 point)

Moist Rub: Every time I split my cards the pit boss kicks me out for ripping them in half. I’m better off that way, since I think they are cheating me. When I play blackjack, I get the high hand a lot, but they don’t always pay me. (1 point)

40. Speak to an eight-year-old so he will hear. Use his first name. Don't use baby talk. Don't crank up your energy to match his. Ask questions and wait for answers. Follow up. Don't pretend to be interested in Webkinz or Power Rangers or whatever. He's as bored with that shit as you are. Concentrate instead on seeing the child as a person of his own.

Sid: I don’t speak to eight-year-olds. I don’t speak to kids at all until they’re old enough to take my lunch order. (0 points)

Moist Rub: Why would I use baby talk to talk to an eight-year-old? Wouldn’t I use eight-year-old talk, at the very least? The big question is, why am I talking to an eight-year-old? Both of my kids are older than that now. I’ll never have to talk to an eight-year-old ever again. Consequently, I’ve already successfully talked to two eight-year-olds and they’ve lived to tell about it. (2 points)

41. Speak to a waiter so he will hear. You don't own the restaurant, so don't act like it. You own the transaction. So don't speak into the menu. Lift your chin. Make eye contact. All restaurants have secrets -- let it be known that you expect to see some of them.

Sid: Transaction implies two sides. I don’t own it. I guide it by letting my server know what I feel like eating. Sometimes I let them decide for me. And I’m pretty sure the secrets that the restaurants I frequent involve the health code, so I really don’t think I want to see them. (0 points)

Moist Rub: Whenever I make eye contact with the waiter, he always thinks I’m hitting on him. Invariably, I end up in the soup vat letting him have his way with me. If that’s being a man, then I guess I’ll take a point. But it certainly doesn’t feel like being a man. I think I’d prefer if they’d keep their restaurant secrets to themselves. (0 points)

42. Talk to a dog so it will hear. Go ahead, use baby talk.

Sid: I don’t talk to dogs until they’re old enough to take my lunch order. (0 points)

Moist Rub: I’m totally lost here. Do people usually talk to children, waiters and dogs expecting them not to hear? Wouldn’t it be puppy talk instead of baby talk to a dog? Sit. Speak. Lie down. Don’t shit on the floor. Excuse me - I have to go clean up some shit. (¾ points)

43. Install: a disposal, an electronic thermostat, or a lighting fixture without asking for help. Just turn off the damned main.

Sid: I installed a disposal once. Never replaced a thermostat. I did install a ceiling fan in my bedroom, but wasn’t able to sleep for the next 8 years for fear of it falling and decapitating me in my sleep. (1/2 point)

Moist Rub: Turn off the damned main??? Real men work hot. If I ever stooped so low as to turn off the electricity when installing a piece of electronic equipment, why, I would just as soon (((((DDDDZZZZZZDDDZZDDDZZZZZZZZZZZDDDZZDDDZZZZZZZDDDZDDZZZZZZZ)))))

GAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!! Thud. (1 point)

44. Ask for help. Guys who refuse to ask for help are the most cursed men of all. The stubborn, the self-possessed, and the distant. The hell with them.

Sid: To hell with Esquire. (0 points)

Moist Rub: Not only do I ask for help, I’ll ask others to finish the entire project for me. I have no pride, and I have little to no construction skills. I’ll buy the food and beer and run out for parts. Let me know when it’s finished. (1 point)

45. Break another man's grip on his wrist. Rotate your arm rapidly in the grip, toward the other guy's thumb.

Sid: The only time a man grips another man’s wrist is in a self-defense class in which they teach you what to do if another man grips your wrist. It’s about as useful as learning to defend yourself when you fall in the mud and someone tries to kick you with an iron boot. (0 points)

Moist Rub: Why is this man not letting go of my wrist? The way I figure it, it’s either the waiter in the soup vat or one of those people in need of a punch from Skill 13 who I am avoiding. If it’s the waiter, then the wrist gripping thing is not as bad as the rest of the stuff he is trying to do to me. It can’t be the guys from Skill 13, because I am avoiding them. Hand held tasers work, too. Better yet, I’ll switch to jumping chest bumps instead of hand shakes from now on just to steer clear of hand to hand combat. (0 points)

Thus concludes Round 5. Looks like Sid has some work to do to catch Moist Rub. He’ll behoove himself to be up all night rotating his tires and scratching his undercarriage in attempt to garner bonus points.


Sid F'er: 17 ½

Moist Rub: 27

go to Part 6

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Leper Pop Man Up Challenge – Part 4

The majestic wetlands of Bacon Swamp in Indiana provide a glorious backdrop to today’s Man Up action. The fervor amongst our contestants is growing like water-logged legume cast over a field of Portuguese Prickly Juniper plants. Even dock workers and medical waste handlers are tuning in to see what happens as the men-hopefuls take on skills 26 – 35.

Moist Rub leads 14 ¼ to 11 over Sid F’er, who was a heavy pre-challenge favorite. Could we be seeing the biggest upset since Walter Mondale chose Geraldine Ferraro over Bob Hope as his running mate in 1984?

If you have no clue what we're talking about, click here to catch up.

A man should be able to:

26. Cast a fishing rod without shrieking or sighing or otherwise admitting defeat.

Sid: Who has time for fishing? I’m busy driving cheap nails into treated 2x4s, giving advice, learning how to tie a bow-tie, making drinks for a battalion, practicing Spanish, learning the breaststroke, hitting on supermodels, taking pictures, cutting down trees, reading, writing letters, throwing punches, and stalking Derek from the Bay City Rollers. I wonder if he likes fishing… (0 points)

Moist Rub: If I’m going to kill a fish, I’m going to do it like a man and use a hammer. Having said that, who the hell shrieks and sighs while fishing? What kind of girlie-men is Tom Chiarella hanging out with? But, I’ve got nothing against fish, except that they taste like fish, so I’ll take a zero. (0 points)

27. Play gin with an old guy. Old men will try to crush you. They'll drown you in meaningless chatter, tell stories about when they were kids this or in Korea that. Or they'll retreat into a taciturn posture designed to get you to do the talking. They'll note your strategies without mentioning them, keep the stakes at a level they can control, and change up their pace of play just to get you stumbling. You have to do this -- play their game, be it dominoes or cribbage or chess. They may have been playing for decades. You take a beating as a means of absorbing the lessons they've learned without taking a lesson. But don't be afraid to take them down. They can handle it.

Sid: It’s bad enough that my mother-in-law kicks my ass in Scrabble. (0 points)

Moist Rub: Here is a peek at my arsenal: “Are you still alive?” “I think one of your balls just leaked out of your sock.” “Is somebody tap dancing on bubble wrap or are you reaching for a card?” “Wake up, Methuselah, the great flood is a comin’!” “CRAZY EIGHTS!” “You got time left in your life to beat me again?” I can handle the old dudes. (1 point)

28. Play go fish with a kid. You don't crush kids. You talk their ear off, make an event out of it, tell them stories about when you were a kid this or in Vegas that. You have to play their game, too, even though they may have been playing only for weeks. Observe. Teach them without once offering a lesson. And don't be afraid to win. They can handle it.

Sid: “No, I don’t have any eights, but I did tell you about Uncle Sid’s threesome with a dead hooker and a washed up showgirl from Circus Circus?” I don’t get to play with my sister’s kids anymore. (0 points)

Moist Rub: I’m supposed to talk their ears off? You just told me in Skill 8 not to monopolize the conversation. What is this, Wonka, some kind of funhouse? I think you’re trying to turn me into that old dude with the ball leaking socks from the last question. I won’t have it! Oh, I’ve taught my kids a lesson when playing Go Fish, alright. And that lesson is, don’t play cards with Dad. And if you consider stabbing me in my sleep “handling defeat”, sure, they can handle it. (1 point)

29. Understand quantum physics well enough that he can accept that a quarter might, at some point, pass straight through the table when dropped. Sometimes the laws of physics aren't laws at all. Read The Quantum World: Quantum Physics for Everyone, by Kenneth W. Ford.

Sid: If I understood quantum physics I wouldn’t have failed physics in college. Instead, I would have been a physicist and spent my career in cool labs playing with particle accelerators and writing fancy equations on white boards instead of sitting on the phone arguing with insurance adjusters. If they’re European adjusters I’ll be sure to mention that soccer sucks. (0 points)

Moist Rub: I can accept that a quarter might pass straight through a table, but what I am uncertain about is both the quarter’s momentum and its position. And I think somebody collapsed a wave function on my ass once in a bar. (1 point)

30. Feign interest. Good place to start: quantum physics.

Sid: I used to feign interest. It was also a pretty good skill when I dated waitress/actress types. Now I’m married and also realize that my life is too short to pretend to understand or care about stuff that I really don’t. However, if you dumb down the quantum physics stuff a bit and throw it on the Discovery Channel I’ll probably watch if The Office is a rerun. (0 points)

Moist Rub: If it wasn’t for feigned interest, I’d have no interest at all. I once listened to an insurance salesman talk about the finer points of indemnification for four hours just so he’d pay for my burrito. Do you think I was actually interested in indemnification? I was interested in a free burrito, boy howdy! (1 point)

31. Make a bed.

Sid: Dial 0 for housekeeping. (1 point)

Moist Rub: No. (0 Points)

32. Describe a glass of wine in one sentence without using the terms nutty, fruity, oaky, finish, or kick. I once stood in a wine store in West Hollywood where the owner described a pinot noir he favored as "a night walk through a wet garden." I bought it. I went to my hotel and drank it by myself, looking at the flickering city with my feet on the windowsill. I don't know which was more right, the wine or the vision that he placed in my head. Point is, it was right.

Sid: Odds are you paid too much for that bottle, you pretentious snob. (1 point)

Moist Rub: “This bottle of wine is getting me so fucked up, I think I’m living in a poem recited by a liquor store clerk.” (1 point)

33. Hit a jump shot in pool. It's not something you use a lot, but when you hit a jump shot, it marks you as a player and briefly impresses women. Make the angle of your cue steeper, aim for the bottommost fraction of the ball, and drive the cue smoothly six inches past the contact point, making steady, downward contact with the felt.

Sid: I took billiards in college and got a B. Yep, I was such an awesome student that I even fucked up the blow-off classes. You may assume correctly that I missed the day we covered jump shots. (0 points)

Moist Rub: The last time I made contact with the felt, I was kicked out of the pool hall. Any woman that is impressed with your jump pool shot is probably going to give you something to scratch in your pants. Thanks, but I’ll stick with my quadruple bank table scratch. (0 points)

34. Dress a wound. First, stop the bleeding. Apply pressure using a gauze pad. Stay with the pressure. If you can't stop the bleeding, forget the next step, just get to a hospital. Once the bleeding stops, clean the wound. Use water or saline solution; a little soap is good, too. If you can't get the wound clean, then forget the next step, just get to a hospital. Finally, dress the wound. For a laceration, push the edges together and apply a butterfly bandage. For avulsions, where the skin is punctured and pulled back like a trapdoor, push the skin back and use a butterfly. Slather the area in antibacterial ointment. Cover the wound with a gauze pad taped into place. Change that dressing every 12 hours, checking carefully for signs of infection. Better yet, get to a hospital.

Sid: Real men use super glue. (1 point)

Moist Rub: Let me get this straight. To do this I will need a gauze pad, saline solution, soap, a butterfly bandage, antibacterial ointment, another gauze pad, tape and material to change the dressings. Who do you think I am, Batman? I don’t have a utility belt to carry all that stuff in. Maybe I should carry a purse to keep all of those supplies with me. Will that get me any skill points in the Man Up challenge? How about this, I’ll tie my sock around the wound, finish the game and then go to the hospital if the beer doesn’t make the pain go away. (0 points)

35. Jump-start a car (without any drama). Change a flat tire (safely). Change the oil (once).

Sid: No problem, but it’s always a little more exciting if you know how to throw off a few sparks and add a touch of recklessness to the experience. (1 point)

Moist Rub: I like to act out King Lear while I jump start a car. I change flat tires while balancing on a high wire over a tank of sharks. If I change the oil only once, I’m going to have to buy a new engine in a few months. Nonetheless, I’m taking a point for this one. (1 point).

Thus concludes a very special Mother’s Day hangover episode of Round 4. Too much lovin’ mothers yesterday, but our man-uppers stepped up to the challenge, grabbed their boot straps and tripped over a grief-stricken turtle. They’ll lie there until tomorrow’s action.


Sid F'er: 15

Moist Rub: 20 ¼

go to Part 5

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Leper Pop Man Up Challenge – Part 3

Welcome to the vast expanse of the Croxton neighborhood of Jersey City, New Jersey, where we bring you the third round of the Leper Pop Man Up Challenge. So far our two heroes have explored many aspects of their manhood, from a retrospective of their fight vs. flight response all the way down to an analysis of their elbow tuft of hair grooming techniques. OK, I made up that stuff about the elbow tuft of hair, but wouldn’t it be cool if we had them. It would certainly make leaning on our elbows all day while we're bored in the office more comfortable. Couldn’t god see this coming?

Moist Rub takes a 4 ¾ point lead into today’s action. Sid won’t let that stand for too much longer, I’m sure. Let’s see how our boys do today.

If you have no clue what we're talking about, click here to catch up.

A man should be able to:

16. Tie a bow tie.
Step 1: Make a simple knot, allowing slightly more length (one to two inches) on the end of A.
Step 2: Lay A out of the way, fold B into the normal bow shape, and position it on the first knot you made.
Step 3: Drop A vertically over folded end B.
Step 4: Double back A on itself and position it over the knot so that the two folded ends make a cross.
Step 5: The hard part: Pass folded end A under and behind the left side (yours) of the knot and through the loop behind folded end B.
Step 6: Tighten the knot you have created, straightening, particularly in the center.

Sid: Although I wanted to be a TV weatherman when I was a kid, the American Meteorological Society wouldn’t accept me so I have no use for this skill. And I’m really not interested in attending any events that would require such attire. (0 points)

Moist Rub: Well, sure, I can tie one now - now that you’ve given me the instructions. If I'm asked to attend an event where I am required to wear a non-clip-on bow tie, I probably got invited by mistake. My address must have gotten mixed up in the data base with the Southampton Rubs. Come to think of it, bow ties don’t seem very manly. They’re BOWS, after all. What am I, a ten year old girl? (0 points)

17. Make one drink, in large batches, very well. When I interviewed for my first job, one of the senior guys had me to his house for a reception. He offered me a cigarette and pointed me to a bowl of whiskey sours, like I was Darrin Stephens and he was Larry Tate. I can still remember that first tight little swallow and my gratitude that I could go back for a refill without looking like a drunk. I came to admire the host over the next decade, but he never gave me the recipe. So I use this:
• For every 750-ml bottle of whiskey (use a decent bourbon or rye), add:
• 6 oz fresh-squeezed, strained lemon juice
• 6 oz simple syrup (mix superfine sugar and water in equal quantities)
To serve: Shake 3 oz per person with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glasses. Garnish with a cherry and an orange slice or, if you're really slick, a float of red wine. (Pour about 1/2 oz slowly into each glass over the back of a spoon; this is called a New York sour, and it's great.)

Sid: Esquire talks about whiskey sours but if you want a large batch that you dip your cup into, try a fish tank full of Oomau. Start with a cleanish fish tank, filled with ice. Add all the clear liquors, some fruit frozen fruit concentrate, some 2 liters of the secret ingredient Squirt, squeeze in a bag of assorted citrus fruits, toss in the fruit carcasses, stir. Guys will fight, girls will cry, and the police will probably show up. (1 point plus 1 bonus point)

Moist Rub: Here is my recipe for a large batch drink: The bar is over there – make your own damn drink. Who the hell invited you over, anyway? Although, I do keep a large fish tank and the ingredients for Oomau on hand just in case a party breaks out. But I refuse to take a point for it. I bet Sid chose the same drink. Here is the recipe, compiled by StivOO, in case you are thirsty. (0 points)

Fill a big ass container (preferably stolen or previously used to house tropical fish) with 30 pounds of ice (frozen). Suggest buying at the store – the first batch usully melts by the time the second batch is ready if only using the two trays that are currently in your freezer.

From the fruit section of your local grocer, get a dozen limes, dozen lemons, dozen oranges, half dozen grapefruits. Quarter them, peels on, with a sharp knife, be careful not to cut yourself and bleed into the mixture. Especially important to avoid that burning sensation the citrus will cause on an open cut as you squeeze the shit out of the fruit over the ice, then throw it on top. Add three cans of frozen concentrate. Here is your chance to be creative and give that batch its own unique taste, but recommend at least one Five Alive. Add four – 2 liter bottles of citrus soda (eg 7 Up), but again, highly recommend use of the secret ingredient - Squirt – for at least two of these.

Now the fun – get a 750 or 1 liter of gin, a 750 or 1 liter of light rum, and a 1.75 of vodka. Remove caps and/or pourers. Be sure Surfin’ Bird is playing on the stereo (recommend Ramones version, of course), and add above mentioned alcohol (or more).

Choose man (or woman) with the hairiest arms to reach into the mixture, up to the elbow and stir. Fill cups with the libation and ice, garnish with fruit, and drink. When the tank runs dry, repeat from top, or finish the evening by sucking fruit and tossing peels onto neighbors’ lawns.

18. Speak a foreign language. Pas beaucoup. Mais faites un effort.

Sid: Comprate un bosque y pierdete. (1/2 point)

Moist Rub: I have four years of A’s and a couple of B’s on my high school transcript that proves I know how to speak Latin. Mole ruit sua. Need more proof? Take this: Italia est paene insula. OK, you got me, I don’t remember very much. But, if I were in a foreign country like Latinania, English would be considered a foreign language. Half a point? (0 points)

19. Approach a woman out of his league. Ever have a shoeshine from a guy you really admire? He works hard enough that he doesn't have to tell stupid jokes; he doesn't stare at your legs; he knows things you don't, but he doesn't talk about them every minute; he doesn't scrape or apologize for his status or his job or the way he is dressed; he does his job confidently and with a quiet relish. That stuff is wildly inviting. Act like that guy.

Sid: My wife is evidence of this one. (1 point)

Moist Rub: If I have to act like Shoeshine Boy, I may as well stay home. Do I get to take the super energy pill? I prefer to be myself. If the out-of-my-league chick doesn’t like it, she can go have sex with some fake guy. What do I care? The thing is, I don’t approach women in any league. I put out the vibe like Jim Carrey did while wearing the orange tux in Dumb and Dumber and let them flock to me. (0 points)

20. Sew a button.

Sid: Kind of like cutting down a tree. Never done it, but how hard can it be? If a button falls off an article of clothing, it probably needs to be replaced anyway. (1/2 point)

Moist Rub: It may not be pretty, but it will stay on. Staples work, too, but it helps if you enhance the staples with some solder. I’ve been known to sew together stuffed rodent ass novelty gifts, too. (1 point)

21. Argue with a European without getting xenophobic or insulting soccer. Once, in our lifetime, much of Europe was approaching cultural and political irrelevance. Then they made like us and banded together into a union of confederated states. So you can always assume that they were simply copying the United States as they now push us to the verge of cultural and political irrelevance.

Sid: Arguing is a waste of time so I don’t do it with people – European or otherwise. When’s the last time you were arguing with someone and made him change his view? “Oh, I’m sorry, you’re right… soccer is rather boring, bloke.” (0 points)

Moist Rub: Why would I want to argue with a European? Besides, I would have no way of knowing what the hell he was arguing with me about. See number 18 above. Have we learned nothing from the tragedies that were World War I and II? Relax. (0 points)

22. Give a woman an orgasm so that he doesn't have to ask after it. Otherwise, ask after it.

Sid: Last time I tried this I got kicked out of the bar and didn’t have a chance to ask. (1/2 point)

Moist Rub: I’ve had sex at least ten times and I still don’t know what’s going on down there. If I can’t figure something out after ten tries, I stop trying. Each party is responsible for xe’s own orgasm, that’s what I say. Orgasms don’t just magically come to me, either. You think I’m doing push ups for two hours on top of you just to build up my pects? I don’t think so. Make an effort. It’s not my fault my orgasm thing works better than your orgasm thing does. Women’s lib, man. Women’s lib. (0 points).

23. Be loyal. You will fail at it. You have already. A man who does not know loyalty, from both ends, does not know men. Loyalty is not a matter of give-and-take: He did me a favor, therefore I owe him one. No. No. No. It is the recognition of a bond, the honoring of a shared history, the reemergence of the vows we make in the tight times. It doesn't mean complete agreement or invisible blood ties. It is a currency of selflessness, given without expectation and capable of the most stellar return.

Sid: Esquire has told me I have already failed at it. (0 points plus 1 penalty point)

Moist Rub: I think Jon Bon Jovi said it best: I'll be there for you. These five words I swear to you. Who am I to argue with Jon Bon Jovi? I think he’s European. I won’t let you down, unless I’m drunk and forget. (1 point).

24. Know his poison, without standing there, pondering like a dope. Brand, amount, style, fast, like so: Booker's, double, neat.

Sid: Blowjob, extra whip crème. (-3 points)

Moist Rub: Jack and Coke - big. How hard could it be? I ponder like a dope after I order, and deep into the night. (1 point)

25. Drive an eight penny nail into a treated two-by-four without thinking about it. Use a contractor's hammer. Swing hard and loose, like a tennis serve.

Sid: What’s an eight penny nail? I’m not sure what $0.08 will buy these days. I’d be sure to ask the contractor before you take his hammer. In fact, I’d probably just get a nail gun. I used one once without inadvertently shooting any into my body. (1 point plus 1 bonus for being more efficient)

Moist Rub: I’ve had my moments with nails. Remember that time on Bob’s roof when I drove in that 16 penny nail with one swing while falling off the house? Sure, gravity may have helped my swing, but I did it, nonetheless. But, I wouldn’t stake my life on a perfect nail shot. I’ve dented plenty of two-buh-fours in my day. (0 points).

Thus concludes a very special Mother’s Day episode of Round 3. Our two combatants wish all of you mothers out there the very best and most sacred Mother’s Day. They will now towel off and take a steam together in your honor.


Sid F'er: 11

Moist Rub: 14 ¼

go to Part 4

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Leper Pop Man Up Challenge – Part 2

We're coming to you live from Kooskia, Idaho with continuing coverage of the Leper Pop Man Up Challenge. Moist Rub took an early lead, but there is plenty of time left for Sid to make up the ground he lost yesterday.

If you have no clue what we're talking about, click here to catch up.

Here are today's Man Up skills. A man should be able to:

6. Know at least one musical group as well as is possible. One guy at your table knows where Cobain was born and who his high school English teacher was. Another guy can argue the elegant extended trope of Liquid Swords with GZA himself. This is how it should be. Music does not demand agreement. Rilo Kiley. Nina Simone. Whitesnake. Fugazi. Otis Redding. Whatever. Choose. Nobody likes a know-it-all, because 1) you can't know it all and 2) music offers distinct and private lessons. So pick one. Except Rilo Kiley. I heard they broke up.

Sid: Do the Bay City Rollers count? I say yes, but I doubt Esquire would agree. (1/2 point)

Moist Rub: What’s the point? I don’t like being an expert on anything. I’d rather know a little bit about a lot of things. That way, people don’t expect too much out of you. The next thing you know you’re being roused out of a slumber at 3:00 AM to resolve a bar bet over the name of the imaginary friend of Paddy McAloon who he claimed wrote all of Prefab Sprout’s lyrics. Mick Jagger and Alice Cooper both ran Cross Country in school. There, how’s that? (0 points)

7. Cook meat somewhere other than the grill. Buy The Way to Cook, by Julia Child. Try roasting. Braising. Broiling. Slow-cooking. Pan searing. Think ragouts, fricassees, stews. All of this will force you to understand the functionality of different cuts. In the end, grilling will be a choice rather than a chore, and your Weber will become a tool rather than a piece of weekend entertainment.

Sid: Women and culinary schools exist to feed men. (0 points)

Moist Rub: I like to cook meat in restaurants, using other people’s equipment and other people’s cooking skills, while I sit on my butt and drink Tom Collinses. Having said that, I’ve been known to cook meat on the stove, in the oven, in the broiler, in the microwave, in the dishwasher, underneath the hood of my car, and, in a pinch, underneath my armpit. Is that enough to qualify? I certainly hope so. (1 point)

8. Not monopolize the conversation.

Sid: (1 point plus 1 point bonus)

Moist Rub: I’m sorry. I wasn’t really listening to you. I’m just nodding my head in agreement hoping you’ll shut up soon. (1 point)

9. Write a letter. So easy. So easily forgotten. A five-paragraph structure works pretty well: Tell why you're writing. Offer details. Ask questions. Give news. Add a specific memory or two. If your handwriting is terrible, type. Always close formally.

Sid: Was this article written in the 1920’s? I can write a letter. I don’t think I have since 1996 because I have email. If you want a letter, Zelda, I‘ll get right on that after I finish writing the sequel to The Great Gatsby. (1/2 point)

Moist Rub: I used to write letters all of the time. Then somebody invented email, and I haven’t written a letter since. Then somebody else invented blogs. I consider Leper Pop my letter to the world. Sincerely, Moist Rub. (1 point)

10. Buy a suit. Avoid bargains. Know your likes, your dislikes, and what you need it for (work, funerals, court). Squeeze the fabric -- if it bounces back with little or no sign of wrinkling, that means it's good, sturdy material. And tug the buttons gently. If they feel loose or wobbly, that means they're probably coming off sooner rather than later. The jacket's shoulder pads are supposed to square with your shoulders; if they droop off or leave dents in the cloth, the jacket's too big. The jacket sleeves should never meet the wrist any lower than the base of the thumb -- if they do, ask to go down a size. Always get fitted.

Sid: I thought I knew how to buy a suit. I find a suit store with “discount” in their name and ask the guy with the alligator shoes to set me up. According to Esquire… (0 points)

Moist Rub: I have a slightly different technique than the one described above. Find the clearance rack. Find a suit that fits close enough. Pay for it. Wear it to the wedding reception and/or funeral. Puke on it. Throw it in the garbage. (0 points)

11. Swim three different strokes. Doggie paddle doesn't count.

Sid: Totally unnecessary unless you’re hot for your swim instructor. (0 points)

Moist Rub: Does drowning count as a swimming stroke? Technically, I can swim free style, back stroke, breast stroke and the butterfly. But, I don’t go very far or very fast and I get tired quickly, and I can’t tread water, so when I stop I’m pretty much bait. Also, in order to get started, I need to push off of something, otherwise I thrash around in the water like an otter trying to swat an aquatic bee. (1/4 a point)

12. Show respect without being a suck-up. Respect the following, in this order: age, experience, record, reputation. Don't mention any of it.

Sid: Yo, check it… respect. (1 point)

Moist Rub: There is a fundamental flaw in this skill demand. I believe it is impossible to suck-up to somebody AND show respect to that person. Respect is a four-lane highway. Suck-ups become road kill in this metaphor. I tend to suck-up only to people in an effort to make fun of them without them knowing. It is a disrespectful act for which I am dreadfully ashamed. (1 point)

13. Throw a punch. Close enough, but not too close. Swing with your shoulders, not your arm. Long punches rarely land squarely. So forget the roundhouse. You don't have a haymaker. Follow through; don't pop and pull back. The length you give the punch should come in the form of extension after the point of contact. Just remember, the bones in your hand are small and easy to break. You're better off striking hard with the heel of your palm. Or you could buy the guy a beer and talk it out.

Sid: Did you not read the intro? If I could throw a punch I could just step outside and settle this conflict with Moist Rub without having to write all these words. (0 points)

Moist Rub: I don’t want to throw a punch. Even if I win the fight, I’m going to be sore the next day. I’d rather just avoid the people that need to be punched. While I’m pretty sure I can throw a punch, I’ll take the zero for being a pacifistic pussy. (0 points).

14. Chop down a tree. Know your escape path. When the tree starts to fall, use it.

Sid: Hmmm. I’ve never chopped down a tree, but this seems like common sense. A circle is 360 degrees. Even the largest tree will only fall within a wedge of about 30 degrees. I like those odds. I manage to keep my hands out of the ceiling fan when I turn it on, so I don’t think this would be much different. (1 point)

Moist Rub: I believe the proper term is “fell a tree”. There is nothing more fun than getting some friends together, drinking a few beers and taking turns dominating nature by torturing one of its ligneous stalwarts with a blunt axe. Everybody gets sweaty and pumped and the testosterone feels like it will never stop flowing. The person who strikes the final blow gets to drink for free. Ahh, sweaty, drunk men. (1 point)

15. Calculate square footage. Width times length.

Sid: Serious? Come on, this is GED material. Real men use calculus. (1 point)

Moist Rub: Is Esquire written for third graders? (1 point)

Thus concludes Round 2. This competition is becoming more exciting than anyone could imagine. You better not leave the house.


Sid F'er: 6½

Moist Rub: 11¼

go to Part 3

Friday, May 09, 2008

The Leper Pop Man Up Challenge – Part I

Sid: Sometimes I just want to punch Moist Rub in the face. Not because I hate the guy or anything, but it would probably add a little drama to the blog. I’m sure you get bored reading his cute little parenting stories about teaming up with the decomposed remains of Edgar Allan Poe or my exciting reviews of PBA tournaments. But if I just clocked the guy next time I see him, then we’d have some Grey’s Anatomy level drama around here and ratings that would be totally off the hook. But I’m a lover, not a fighter. So instead I challenged him to see who is the better man. Esquire Magazine provided the forum in their article 75 Things Every Man Should Master, by Tom Chiarella . We’ll address each and every of the 75 things over the course of the next week in this blog – the most points at the end of the week wins a sack of White Castles and a trophy topped with the likeness of Chester Arthur.

Moist Rub: May I chime in here? When Sid said above that he was a lover not a fighter, I feared he would then suggest something much more rude than challenging me to Man Upness. Luckily, sometimes I like to be punched in the face, which is why Sid and I get along so well. Before we get into this activity, I’d like to file a formal protest against it. Why is it that only men should have to master these skills? What is it about them make them so male? If women can do these things, does that make their boobies any less luscious? What about my man boobs? Will these skills help cure that affliction? I like to think I represent the wants and needs of all women of the world. On their behalf, I am truly offended.

Here are the first 5 Skills we should be able to master. Let the Man Upness begin!

A Man Should Be Able To:

1. Give advice that matters in one sentence. I got run out of a job I liked once, and while it was happening, a guy stopped me in the hall. Smart guy, but prone to saying too much. I braced myself. I didn't want to hear it. I needed a white knight, and I knew it wasn't him. He just sighed and said: When nobody has your back, you gotta move your back. Then he walked away. Best advice I ever got. One sentence.

Sid: A wise man once told me that a wise man once told him never to give advice unless the other person’s hair is on fire. Could that have been construed as advice? I don’t know, but it made sense to me and I rarely run into people with flaming hair. (0 points)

Moist Rub: Do what you want, want what you do, no regrets. Is that advice or merely a wonderfully insightful and ingenious raison d’etre? Who am I to be telling other people what to do? I’ll take the goose egg on this one. And if you have a problem and need some advice, go for the goose egg. (0 points)

2. Tell if someone is lying. Everyone has his theory. Pick one, test it. Choose the tells that work for you. I like these: Liars change the subject quickly. Liars look up and to their right when they speak. Liars use fewer contractions. Liars will sometimes stare straight at you and employ a dead face. Liars never touch their chest or heart except self-consciously. Liars place objects between themselves and you during a conversation.

Sid: My theory is from the House, MD school – everybody lies. So I guess that means I can tell when they’re lying. Even when they aren’t. (1/2 point)

Moist Rub: I could probably do this if I cared if you were lying to me or not. Do you really think what you have to say matters? Well, it doesn’t. So lie away. I’m not paying attention to you, anyway. (0 points)

3. Take a photo. Fill the frame.

Sid: People that spend their life trying to fill the frame miss out on the experience itself. If being a man involves wearing a fanny pack and carrying a tripod and suitcase full of lenses, then I’ll take a 0. If God wanted us to fill the frame, He wouldn’t have developed Photoshop. (0 points)

Moist Rub: How could somebody not be able to take a photo? Point the camera at what you want to photograph, press the button. I can’t believe this even made the list. I suppose being able to breathe and being able to squirt out a really nasty fart are on the list, too. I’ll take a point for each of those abilities. (3 points)

4. Score a baseball game. Scoring a game is an exercise in ciphering, creating a shorthand of your very own. In this way, it's a private language as much as a record of the game. The only given is the numbering of the positions and the use of the diamond to express each batter's progress around the bases. I black out the diamond when a run scores. I mark an RBI with a tally mark in the upper-right-hand corner. Each time you score a game, you pick up on new elements to track: pitch count, balls and strikes, foul balls. It doesn't matter that this information is available on the Internet in real time. Scoring a game is about bearing witness, expanding your own ability to observe.

Sid: I tried it once when I was a kid, but got bored. The only adult males I see scoring the games are the ones sitting by themselves, wearing black socks and sneaking their own baggies of trail mix into the park. Who the hell writes for Esquire? (0 points)

Moist Rub: I’ll admit it. I’m a baseball geek. I never knew that would help me pass a test to become a man, however. The only reason I agreed to help coach my daughter’s softball team was so that I could maintain the scorebook. Wanna see my boss spreadsheet with all the stats? (1 point)

5. Name a book that matters. The Catcher in the Rye does not matter. Not really. You gotta read.

Sid: Bite me. A book that matters? I don’t even know what that means, so unless they’re talking about Nancy Drew I’m not faring too well today. (0 points)

Moist Rub: All we have to do is NAME a book that matters? War and Peace. There. Doesn’t mean I read it. This test is easy. I can name most of the major organs of the human body, too, not that I know what they do. Can I be a doctor now? (1 point)

Thus concludes Round 1. We'll have 7 more rounds coming your way this week. Don't leave the house.


Sid F'er: 1/2

Moist Rub: 5

go to Part 2