Wednesday, December 31, 2008

We Suck, Therefore We Resolve

As we all know, most people suck. This is why so many of us make resolutions each year, in the hopes of not sucking the following year. But, we always do. We may not suck the same way we did last year, but we suck all the same, yet differently. If people stopped sucking, they would stop making resolutions. Like you, I'm tired of sucking the same way I've sucked for the year that was 2008. The following resolutions are how I would like to modify my suckitude for 2009. Feel free to copy off me, if you would like. We could be suck buddies.

I resolve to chew thoroughly every bit of corn I consume so as not to see them again at a later time.

I resolve to ignore.

I resolve to field a team instead of constantly teeming a field.

I resolve to sit patiently while the doctor reapplies the cement.

I resolve to ask questions while shooting, instead of just shooting first.

I resolve to take three hundred and fifty-third in the Lottery.

I resolve to be more attentive to my self-preservation needs (which is not a euphemism for masturbation, although I'm sure that will play a role).

I resolve to put the stink back into elegance.

I resolve to live life as if there were no tomorrow, nor yesterday, nor even today.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


Lots of stuff going on and lots of posts being shelved until I get a chance to catch up. I’ve been busier than a one-legged man who’s really busy. When I was in Texas they seemed to have much better metaphors for stuff. Like days when it would rain harder than a cow pissing on a flat rock.

Speaking of which, they don’t have any flat rocks at work to demonstrate so I usually just head down the hall to the men’s room when I need to see a man about a horse. When jockeys say that I guess you never know whether they’re really going to see a man about a horse or just using it as a euphemism. Since I don’t work with horses or have enough room to keep a horse at home, you can assume that I’m off to take a leak if you ever hear me say that. Not that I would ever say that. But I did have an intern once who had a merchant marine background and insisted on telling me every time he was going to “hit the head.” Even when I told him he didn’t have to alert me each time. He stopped just short of saluting me. After he graduated from the Academy the only job he could find was driving a casino boat in a circle, so he ended up working for us before he went crazy and took a bunch of blue-haired granny gamblers on a joyride down the Des Plaines River. But I digress.

Believe it or not, the cow pissing on the flat rock was not a digression. I intended to extol my good hygiene and how militant I am about hand washing. The problem is that I think I’m washing or rinsing a little too violently because on more than a couple occasions I’ve recently splashed significant amounts of water onto my pants (or kilt if it’s not too chilly out). Then I end up returning from the men’s room looking like I pissed all over myself and in severe need of remedial lessons in going #1.

I may have to start wearing an apron.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Knute Rockne, I Am Not

It’s finals week here in the Rub abode. At least for my son it is. And he’s actually been studying! Once I determined he was not an alien replacement organism, I patted him on the head, gave him a cookie and said, “good boy”. Not knowing how to respond to my behavior, he took the dog’s lead and licked himself. I’m all about positive reinforcement – canine and human alike.

This morning he seemed a little groggy. So, I gave him a two liter bottle of Jolt Cola and a bag of Skittles for breakfast. He still seemed punchy. What kind of a parent would I be if I sent him out to take two finals in such a tepid state of mind? I had to rile him up.

To get his mind cranking a little, I asked him about what he expected to be on his tests. He replied with a snotty, “Everything - they’re finals, you know. No need to be a dick, asswipe. I devised another line of questioning specifically designed to entice the capillaries feeding his brain, to which he replied with a Gatling gun-like round of “I don’t know” responses.

Since brain tickling seemed like a lost cause, I decided to rev up his mind through psychosomatic irritation. I began punching his arm, daring him to get mad at me, to get mad at the tests. Don’t take crap from those tests, dirtbag! You can take them! They’re just words on a page. Are you gonna let harmless little words get the better of you? You gotta show those words who’s boss! You gotta get mean! You gotta get ugly! You gotta smell bad! You gotta take a relaxed yet alert posteur and draw consistent and deliberate lines and curves with your yellow number two pencil! YOU GOTTA GRAB THOSE TESTS BY THE BALLS AND RIP THEM APART!

I’m going to miss the bus. And he left.

Then I remembered he wasn’t very good at comprehending figurative language. Luckily, he never listens to me. I think he’d get a zero for a ripped up final. But if he did listen to me, literally, I would be interested where he grabbed the tests before he ripped them apart.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Passive-Aggressive Cleaning of George

Two of my sisters think I’m fat. They didn’t come right out and say it. They conveyed their opinions of me through the ancient art of passive-aggressive gift giving. Most people do it. Husbands give their wives sexy nightwear in hopes of transforming a tired mom into a skanky cock gobbler. Wives give their husbands power tools to give them something to do other than thinking about tooling for anus. Bosses give their employees squishy stress relieving squeeze toys because they had them left over from the trade show and can’t use them next year because they were stupid enough to put a date on them, which isn’t exactly a passive-aggressive action, unless you interpret it as a measure to distract the workers from the lack of bonuses dispensed so they don’t waylay the bosses in the parking lot, in which case it is both passive-aggressive and lily-livered. Doctors give their nurses free rectal exams because, well, why not? There is nothing wrong with a friendly rectal exam. And sisters give their brothers a hard time whenever possible. Gift giving is no exception.

In the past year and a half, they have each given me a George Foreman Lean Mean Fat Reducing Grilling Machine as a gift. Is it because I’m a bachelor on the go, and have little time for culinary activities? Is it because George Foreman used to be my favorite boxer? Is it because they are concerned about my health? No, it’s because they think I’m fat and want to make fun of me. I get it. I need to reduce my fat intake. That’s fine. I can’t argue with them. I’m a little chubby – but only around the fat areas of my body. My ankles are in good shape. They’re like race horse ankles. And you should see my sleek elbows. One would wonder why I am not a professional elbow slash ankle model. I know I wonder about that.

Insult or not, the George Foreman grill is an effective cooking machine. It renders steaks a perfect hue of pink, detoxifies rancid chicken in a succulent manner, crisps corn flakes to a delectable singe and vaporizes little drops of water when I’m strapped for entertainment and have no cash for the bar. But, the grill has one annoying flaw. It doesn’t self clean. My oven does, why can’t the George Foreman grill? What is the difference between an oven and a grill? Wanna go camping? Not only does it not self clean, it is a pain in the ass to clean.

The cleaning instructions suggest waiting until the grill has cooled before cleaning, purporting some precautionary piffle about avoiding burns and skin grafts. The problem is the cooling time is also animal fat petrifaction time. By the time the grill becomes a safe temperature to clean, the left-over meat residue has chemically melded with the so-called non-stick surface. Removing it is like trying to grind the scuz off Paris Hilton. As a joke, they include a molded piece of plastic to help scrape the charred meat scum. It cracked in half the first time I tried using it – and that was only to carve a totem pole out of a banana. It would probably disintegrate if I tried using it on the petrified animal fat.

I was about to drop the grill into a vat of Ocean Spray Cran-Salami juice until I read, in large bold letters in the instructions, Do Not Immerse In Water Or Other Liquid. Not only did that ruin the light show for my Accompanying Flavors of Cranberry Juice Festival, it destroyed my hopes to turn the George Foreman grill into my new favorite bath toy. This, of course, has nothing to do with the cleaning of the product, but I felt it was important to mention at this time because I figured some of you were wondering about it.

Ultimately, it takes about fifteen minutes of dousing and scrubbing to clean the grill. In my world, where cleaning after cooking either involves the dish washer or the garbage can, that’s the definition of pain-in-the-ass. Consequently, I don’t use the grill often. I set aside the first one I received after using it once without cleaning it, and forgot about it, only to find it a few months later underneath the couch. Who knew the George Foreman grill could also be used as a Petri Dish? They may want to incorporate that feature into their brochures. The grill my other sister gave me is still clean. And it’s still in the box. That’s the best way to keep it clean.

Now that I think about it, George Foreman is fatter than I am. The grill must not help people lose weight. Maybe my sisters weren’t trying to torment my fat. Maybe they wanted to torture me through excessive cleaning aggravation. They know I only clean enough to keep my kids from drowning in soot. Either way, I admire their dastardly ingenuity. You got me. Nice one.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Fanny: An Interpretation

by Edgar Allan Poe

The dying swan by northern lakes
Sings its wild death song, sweet and clear,
And as the solemn music breaks
O'er hill and glen dissolves in air;
Thus musical thy soft voice came,
Thus trembled on thy tongue my name.

Like sunburst through the ebon cloud,
Which veils the solemn midnight sky,
Piercing cold evening's sable shroud
Thus came the first glance of that eye;
But like adamantine rock,
My spirit met and braved the shock.

Let memory the boy recall
Who laid his heart upon thy shrine,
When far away his footsteps fall,
Think that he deem'd thy charms divine;
A victim of love's altar slain,
By witching eyes which looked disdain.

Why did Edgar Allan Poe write a poem about somebody's ass? That is what I thought when I read the title of this poem - Fanny. Poe, it seemed to me, had too much class to write about something so trashy. Although his other works tended to concern the macabre and the psycho-gruesome, his approach had seemed sophisticated. The fact is that old Edgar was a guy, and that "class" was feigned. You knew at some point his true nature would surface. And surface it did; in the form of Fanny. It's not a pretty sight.

Guys like women's asses. If we had the talent, I'm sure we would all write a poem or two praising them. Since the majority of us aren't as gifted as Poe, our verses are manifested in whistles, howls and grunts. Sadly, our efforts aren't as appreciated as of those who can paint with a quill. Fanny is no more than a primal grunt from Poe as he wallowed in the inescapable truth of his maleness.

After reading Fanny I was confused. Not one mention of a butt; not even a cheek. This surprised me, because the word "ass" has many words that rhyme with it: bass, class, gas, glass, lass, mass, etc.. It should have been simple to write a poem using all of those rhymes, not to mention the plethora of rhymes that go with butt, buns, tush, rump, rear end, derriere, gluteus maximus, buttocks and, of course, pooper and turd cutter. Yet, the words in the poem did not seem to live up to the title. I felt disappointed. Instead of giving up, I decided to dig deeper into the hidden meaning of the words on the page. To my delight, Poe, like the master that he was, came through for me.

With most poetry, the meaning is never blatant. Hence the need for interpretation. I gouged the lines of verse to discover Poe's true perspective on the posterior.

The poem presents itself in retrospection of a man looking back on his younger years when he tangled with his attraction to "Fanny", as described in the third stanza: "Let memory the boy recall". The event encoded in memory must have taken place some time in the past, "when far away his footsteps" fell. Obviously, he met someone with a remarkable backside, and he confused his lust for the butt with love for the person who wore the butt. He "deem'd thy charms divine". Literally translated, those charms were an ass made in heaven.

The second stanza describes his first rendezvous with the "Fanny". This gets a little disgusting, so bear with me. Remember, I did not write this poem. I am merely an observer. Also, keep in mind that Poe was bent toward the degenerate side.

In this stanza, he finds himself in the Arctic (I will explain why later), as evidenced by sunburst through the clouds in the "midnight sky". Sun and midnight rarely commingle unless you are near one of the earth's polar regions during the summer. My hunch tells me he was in the north; that's just the kind of guy Poe was. The appearance of the cloudy sky provokes his memory of the initial look at the bung in question: "Thus came the first glance of that eye." In many circles (at least the ones with which I am familiar), the anus is referred to as "the brown eye". Why Poe chose to use this uncouth analogy, one can only guess. So, I will.

At this point in the interpretation process, it helps to have knowledge of the personality of the author. Poe was not very smooth with the ladies. He had a hard time meeting them. One covert strategy he employed was to climb into the pit of the ladies outhouse, pretending to be searching for a lost wallet, with the hopes of initiating a chance encounter. As he was extremely shy, he generally went unnoticed as he floundered in the sewage, too afraid to fulfill his scheme. From this vantage point, Poe had direct view of "the brown eye", if you will. It was during one of these endeavors that he spotted the "eye" of worship and became infatuated with it. You could imagine how the lighting underneath an outhouse might resemble that of a northern evening sky, so I will not offer a graphic description. It is this parallel that stimulates the author's memory to this occasion.

The power of his infatuation or his "spirit"..."like the adamantine rock" vanquished his normal apprehensiveness as it "braved the shock". He pursued and seized the ass and the woman to whom it belonged. Like most relationships based on carnal attraction, this one failed. Focus switches from the single "eye" (her tush), which originally enticed him, to the "witching eyes that looked disdain". Disdain brought about when she finally learned of his cesspit meanderings, which also explained his interesting aroma. He should have known he could not keep his squalid past a secret forever. My guess is that one of his buddies, hopped up on mead, haphazardly blurted it out at a party. She dumped him, leaving him "a victim on love's altar slain".

With a broken soul and pain in his heart, he traveled to the North Pole to introspect. The first stanza begins at this point. After appropriating some of his pent up aggression on the skull of a swan, he takes time to reflect. As he listens from a distance to the wailing of the broken fowl, his retrospection begins. He realizes that the swan's "wild death song" (probably "Killed By Death", by Motorhead) echoes his waning state of being. "Thus trembled on thy tongue my name." I'm not sure if swans have tongues, but it doesn't matter. The metaphor works, and he probably got extra credit for using a personification. It would not have been as effective if he chose to write, "Thus trembled on thy BILL my name". That would have been silly, and Poe would have lost all credibility.

We now know what Poe is telling us. It's an idea that has been around for eons and can be summed up with the old proverb, "Don't let the little head do the thinking for the big head." This philosophy is never a main ingredient in a successful relationship, although it works well as a garnish. Poe's greatness allows him the ability to expand on this adage: "...unless you don't mind becoming distraught, moving to the North Pole and clubbing water fowl".

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

William Byrd: A High School Report

William Byrd was one of the most celebrated English composers of the Renaissance. He was born in 1540, underneath a milking cow. He had begun as a musician at an early age. He was so young, in fact, he whittled a flute in his mother’s womb out of one of his newly generated femurs. Later in life his leg would play beautiful music when he stood pantless in the yard on a windy day. He sang in the Chapel Royal during Mary Tudor’s reign which placed him in the best choir in England. He was the worst one in the choir, but it was still the best choir. It looked the same as the best singer on his resume’. He had trouble hitting the middle E #. Because of colon polyps in his throat, his voice would skip right over it. William was 18 when Mary Tudor died and her half-sister, Queen Elizabeth, succeeded her. Elizabeth was only her half-sister because the other half of her was her cousin Murray’s half-uncle. It was a strange family. In his middle 20’s Byrd became an organist and a choir master of Lincoln Cathedral, and lived at 6 Minister Yard in the Cathedral house. This is significant because most Lincoln Cathedral organist lived in the boat house, but he was probably given better quarters due to his role in the choir. He was the first to incorporate show tunes into the mass. The Clergy apparently had to reprimand him for playing excessive length services, although he did continue to write music specifically to be played at Lincoln even after his move to London. They never played that music, but he wrote it for them, anyway. William Byrd married Juliana in 1568, and had at least 7 kids. He lost count after a while because he wasn’t really trying to have kids – he was just trying to have sex, but the damn kids kept coming out. After being named a gentleman of the Chapel Royal in 1572, he moved back to England. Prior to that he was considered a churlish brute of the Chapel Royal and didn’t feel he could show his face in England. He worked there as a singer, composer and organist for more than 2 decades. As an inside joke, he always set a bouquet of tulips on his organ, just to lighten his mood. He wrote a large amount of Anglican Church music for the Chapel Royal, and they were toe-tappers, to be sure. In 1593 William moved with his family to the small village of Stondon Massey in Essex and spent the remaining 30 years of his life there. From a very young age, Byrd was fascinated by stone hills. Moving to Stondon Massey completed him as a person. On July 4th, 1623 he died and was buried in an unmarked grave in the Stondon Churchyard. He didn’t want anybody looking at him when he was dead. How embarrassing. William Byrd’s life is interesting because of his association with the Roman Catholic Church and his work in the court of the Anglican Queen Elizabeth I. Yes, that was VERY interesting. Unbelievably interesting. So interesting, in fact, that when somebody speaks of his life at a cocktail party, I always say, “My, how interesting.” William Byrd was a great composer, a talented man and should be remembered for a long time. But he won’t be, unless people are forced to keep writing stupid reports about him.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

To Those Concerned I'm Spending Too Much Time At The Polish Bakery

Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.

I rolled into town on my road trip Sunday only a little behind schedule due to the snow and in time to catch the Bears game. The weather was crappy, so I asked the pixie-like front desk clerk (pixie-like as in the mythological creature, not the Black Francis type) for a recommendation on my quest for a decent sandwich and a screen to watch the game. She smacked her gum a couple times and sent me two doors down to the sports bar in the neighboring hotel.

Hotel sports bars, as a rule, suck. They’re like the finance department at an auto dealership. Like the sushi platter from Costco. Like the Cubs in the playoffs. Like the scrambled eggs at a breakfast buffet. Like a no-smoking sign on your cigarette break. Like a traffic jam when you’re already late. Wait, I think I’m getting away from suckitude and into irony. And I digress.

But the snow was blowing sideways and I didn’t feel like driving so I skipped across the parking lot to check it out. There was one other patron, a creepy fat guy sitting square in front of one of the two big screens. The d├ęcor reminded me of a joint that the Charlestown Chiefs might frequent after a game (see Slapshot, circa 1977) and did not appear to have been updated since that era. I grabbed a white leather lounge chair at the bar and inquired if the kitchen was open. I didn’t understand the mumbling barkeep but he handed me a couple pieces of paper that looked like they were spit out of an ink-jet printer several years ago. I ordered the special Hawkeye burger and a diet coke and nodded in response to the incoherent comments the barkeep made during the game, while a few other creepy guys filed in and filled the grimy, yet groovy chairs in the lounge.

Then they walked in. Number one was tall and wearing spike heels that nobody had business wearing in this weather. But she must have been well acclimated to the cold since she wasn’t wearing underwear either. I know this because when she bent down to the bar to get her drink her dangerously low-rise jeans dropped into the danger-zone revealing nothing but the top half of her bare butt.

Number two was wearing proper shoes, but was also apparently well acclimated to the cold because her shirt was… well, I know what it was but I don’t know what it was called. I wanted to say camisole, but when I looked it up it wasn’t what I thought it was. Okay, I did further research and I guess it can be called a cami, but I’ll also have to add relaxed fit and, well, wonderfully slutty. The cami can be your secret weapon - it looks sexy on its own with jeans or worn with a shrunken cardigan, tie-front sweater or fitted blazer.

I overhead some of the exchanges with the barkeep, and it turns out that by not going to the strip club down the street to watch the game that I, by total chance, ended up going to the bar where dancers from the club hang out. Which means I got to enjoy the scenery and watch the game without some topless harlot trying to sell me a table dance every 30 seconds.

It’s just too bad the burger sucked.