Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Hate: Real World and Road Rules Whores

I mostly dig reality TV. I like the concept of watching people interact without scripts to see their true nature come out. After enough time, you just gotta be who you are. (Isn't that right, Mel Gibson and Michael Richards?) The same goes for me. While I don't think I would yell out the n-word on stage, all of the other corporate suck-asses that I work with might learn some unsavory things about me outside of Corporate-Suck-Ass-Ville. Fortunately, I've conditioned my wife to tell everyone that the bruises came from her accidentally falling down the stairs so at least THAT won't come up but most of my little co-workers would like a little sideways at me if they knew what a big Howard Stern fan I am.

So while I dig the concept, I hate a lot of the people involved with reality TV. I have to interject here, though, that Gary Hogeboom of Survivor (not NFL, in this case) fame, lives in my hometown. My wife taught his kids in school. I've met him quite a few times and I say hello to him at the grocery store and while walking the dog in the park. So I don't hate Gary. Now, one could make the argument that if I knew the rest of the people involved in reality TV as individuals like I know Gary, I wouldn't hate them either. However, anyone making that argument is an idiot and I would no doubt hate those people too.

So I'm here to tell you that the dopes on MTV's Real World and the various related spin-offs bug the tarnation out of me. I only know a few of them by name (again, I prefer to blindly lump people together) but the one name I do know is Beth Something-Or-Other. (After doing some research on, it turns out her last name is Stolarczyk). Beth was on the Real World in Los Angeles in 1993. She was the annoying blonde chick - or doesn't that narrow it down for you? People, we're talking 1993 here! If I could type 1993 in capital numbers, I would. If my cypherin' is correct, that means she first "burst" onto the scene 13 years ago and she is still hanging around on MTV as she is on the most recent version of Real World vs. Road Rules. She is ALWAYS on frickin' Real World vs. Road Rules.

According to Beth's blurb on the website, she is a graduate of Ohio State. Let's stop right there for a minute. As any University of Michigan grad can tell you, Ohio State sucks. That's just a given. My other issue is that while Beth's degree is in film, TV and radio production (who knew that OSU had such a thing!), I don't see her doing much producin'. I do see her on MTV calling other chicks bitches a lot. And on any given episode of Real World Road Rules Challenge, she will no doubt cry over being called a bitch herself but that had to have been taught in a 100 level course at best. I don't think she is producing much more than a bad reputation for herself!

I don't know the finances of being an MTV whore. It must be a good-paying gig for Beth and her little friends to hang around and keep doing these friggin' shows. I'm going to make a bold statement here and suggest that perhaps Beth and her whore-friends are able to eke out a little more dough doing this crap than what her OSU sheepskin might provide. I'm also going to suggest that perhaps a little more fame (infamy?) comes along with calling a girl a slut and pushing her into a swimming pool on film than would come from producing a TV commercial for Gynelotrimen medicated cream. Could it be that Beth et. al. are seizing this opportunity to stretch their 15 minutes into 16 or even 17 minutes? The real irony here is that these dumb-asses were on a show called the Real World and yet they continue to avoid said real world by being on stupid TV shows! Good God, people, I implore you to never watch MTV again!

Now then. Perhaps you've sensed some bitterness. You may have even mis-interpreted that bitterness as jealousy. No doubt Beth would call me a bitch and say that I just wish I was her. That's just not true - because if I really was her, I would have hired a rat to gnaw off that mole on my face a long time ago. Part of my problem with this whole deal is that I'm probably not part of the intended demographic for this show: I'm 39, have a normal name (not Puck or Trishelle), prefer Aerosmith to Kanye West and I generally don't get into fights no matter how much alcohol is involved. I'm sure the intended demographic is dumb-ass half-drunk college students - but they probably refer to Beth as the old chick. You know, the one with the mole. Don't get me wrong, I don't have anything against dumb-ass half-drunk college students because that's what college is for.

Of course, MTV is really at fault here. If people didn't continue to watch this drivel, they wouldn't continue to make it. They are no doubt throwing a few bucks at Beth to play "Beth" on TV and she is more than happy to throw away mom and dad's OSU tuition money to follow her dream of becoming a media whore. And I'll be gosh-darned if she isn't well on her way. I've already set my TiVo for the Road Rules Real World 2028 to see how many hairs are growing out of The Mole on Beth's face. The over/under is 13.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Dig: Graffiti

I think I've said before that I'm a big fan of the whole free speech thing. Assuming you have a brain, it's OK by me if you speak your peace and share your little thoughts with the world. Being blog-boy, I would be a bit of a hypocrite if I didn't think it was cool for others to speak/write their mind just like I'm doing - and we just learned recently that I don't dig hypocrites - so you just go right ahead and speak up. However, my caveat (as in "caveat emptor" as passed along by Mike Brady to Peter) is that I will be the judge of whether your comments are worth speaking/writing.

I'm not necessarily a big fan of defacing public or private property, but I dig graffiti. I always find it a little interesting that someone determines that his/her little message must be spray-painted somewhere for all the world to see. It is THAT important. The guy who writes "Wash Me" in the dirt on the back of a semi-trailer is convinced that all of the Ohio Turnpike needs to see this important message. You gotta admire that conviction. Of course, you can't argue with a classic line like that, either. Kind of like the "I'm With Stupid" t-shirt.

The old finger-in-the-dirt method is simple and to the point, but I really dig the graffiti that looks like it was done by someone with a master's degree in Art History. Surprisingly, the "tags" (see, I'm hip!) that you see on boxcars are often quite artistic. They might be just letters spray-painted on a freight train to the local police, but I see mobile art! Mind you, sometimes this piece of white bread (that would be me) can't quite make out exactly what the letters say, but that's kind of my point. To me, it's not about whether it's East Coast or West Coast - it's about the time and effort that someone put into it to make sure his voice is heard. Imagine the skulking about that had to occur and the study of the classic works of Dutch masters to convey the right message in just a few short strokes of a can of Krylon by the light of the local Amtrak station. I'm impressed!

My wife accuses me of being too hung up on the city of Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan but that is where I saw two memorable pieces of graffiti. The first was scratched into the elevator of my dorm. It said "capitalism, schmapitalism". Love those college students and their ideals! If you're not familiar with this institute of higher learning, U-M is quite a liberal place to be and the students there celebrate the measly $5 fine for possession of marijuana by holding the Hash Bash every year on April Fool's Day. That said, however, most of us were there to snuggle up to the idea of parlaying our college sheepskin into a little dough. If you truly aren't into capitalism, perhps four (or five, in my case) years of study isn't the best thing to do with your time. But it all goes back to publishing your inner thoughts. If you're in the Business School only to make your parents happy but you would really rather just sell pooka-bead necklaces prior to whatever concert is being held at your local bar, you are certainly entitled to doing a little late-night elevator engraving to free your soul. Don't let the Man (or your Mom) get you down!

The other piece of grafitti that has stuck with me since those heady days in Ann Arbor was a two-liner. Somebody wrote something that I'm sure they thought was quite profound and then someone else followed up with a smart-ass remark. Being a smart-ass myself, I appreciated both. I forget exactly where I saw this but it said "It shouldn't hurt to be a child". Pretty profound and heart-string-tugging, right? Unfortunately, for the first guy, someone else came along later and wrote "But it does". That's just quality humor, people! What would possess someone to take a serious topic like child abuse and turn it into kind of a black humor kind of thing? I sure don't know, but it's damn funny. Talk about bursting the bubble of Mr. Grafitti Man #1! That first guy is probably sitting on the board of directors of UNICEF or something but I bet he is a jerk and has no sense of humor.

I also dig carving initials into an innocent tree. The park where I take the dog has lots of trees - to the delight of the dog and graffiti artists alike. How better to profess your love than to carve your initials, a "plus" sign and then the intials of whomever you're digging at the time? A 3-carat diamond ring ain't got nothing on the permanence of a jack-knife and some soft bark on a maple tree. Even though I'm a tree-hugger and much prefer Central Park to Times Square, I appreciate the advertising that a high school kid (because what adult really carves his initials into a tree?) puts onto a tree that will be there many years later.

And let's not forget the ever-popular bathroom graffiti. I don't have a lot of experience with women's bathrooms and we all know how I feel about public bathrooms in general. However, this otherwise unpleasant environment can be brightened just a little by the quantity and quality of the visual and verbal artistry in a given men's room.

Ninety percent of men's room grafitti is covered by the following topics (either written or drawn):

Male genitalia
Female genitlia
Someone's sexual preference called into question
Political commentary

Thought-provoking topics, all. Picture a blog but it's really a bathroom stall. Same thing. Got an idea? Write it down. Bust out a Sharpie and speak your mind, my brother! Unless you're signing your name to your work, it's anonymous (read "comes with no responsibility") and maybe some guy will stumble back into the bar and share with his little drunken friends that "Sue Smith Is A Slut". And that's just plain old helping a brother out.

Thank goodness for the dude who wrote that amendment to the Constitution because the first guys totally missed an important little piece of liberty that I like to call The Freedom to Deface Public Property To Provide Entertainment But Without Really Wrecking Said Public Property. Rolls right off the tongue, huh?!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Dig: Turning Left on Red on a One-Way Street

Laws don't really hurt my feelings. I'm a fairly upstanding citizen so I don't feel pinched by rules that don't allow me to take someone's TV without asking (also called "stealing"), for instance. Despite the opportunity a year ago to leave a body behind in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina where it would just blend in with a bunch of other dead folks, I've resisted the urge to kill anyone so I'm able to move about in society unencumbered by a big heavy thing around my ankle.

Assuming that all the dumb people took the day off from driving, tooling the down the road in my Passat/Shark-mobile is a pretty controlled event. You got your speed limit which I mostly abide by. You got your driving on the right, passing on the left thing. And you got your various Stop/Yield/Red/Yellow/Green thing. Red always means stop, right? Or does it?! Suppose I stop. And then I go. With no green involvement whatsoever. Yep, you read it here first. I'll stop for the briefest of moments and then I'll go about my turning, thank you very little. Making a right turn may not be too special, but I feel a little dirty when I'm turning left on a red light on a one-way street. How you like me now?!

Oh, the freedom! Turning left on a one-way is a free pass, man! It's "cuts" in line, baby! It's finding a Titleist when you really lost an X-Out! It's finding one more beer behind the expired cottage cheese! The Man is not going to get me down today! Badges? We don't need no stinking badges! I don't feel like stopping, I feel more like pausing. The rest of you sheep, you just sit there while we Movers and Shakers take over the world. No red light is gonna keep me down. You Straights can just watch us Left-Turners motor while you sit there listening to what is, undoubtedly, bad music on the radio.

And how about the look on the people's faces who don't know about this little loophole? If it's someone behind me who also wants to turn left, they kind of get that look that says "Huh, wha... That good-looking guy in that sweet car just turned left on a red light. Good God, is there no end to his bravery? He must have the strength of ten men!" The people on the one-way street get the look that says "Look at that guy. He's employing the old "Turning Left on Red on a One-Way Street" strategy. He's a bloody genius! And good-looking too! Oh, to be him...." Meanwhile, I go on my merry way feeling dirty - in a good kind of way.

This feeling is similar to the one I described in a previous post about taking the day off of work. It's called freedom, my friends. The Boston Tea Party's got nothing on me. Even though laws don't really get in my way, I'm more than happy to get a little lawless every once in a while. For those of you who are thinking that my life must be pretty mundane if "lawless" means turning my car when I normally shouldn't, you are correct. Some people find excitement by stealing the change machine out of a laundromat but that's a little too out there for me. At the same time, I do get a little crazy sometimes and leave the TV on when I leave the room. The Left on Red trick is as nutty as I get.

Before I suggest that you break free of your bonds and put this little secret to use, I should probably do some research to see if it is indeed legal everywhere to do this. And yet, I'm not going to do that. I implore you to just do it anyway. The birds will sing and rays of sunshine will penetrate even the darkest cloud as you leave the Straights in your dust. Enjoy your freedom and ask not what your country can do for you because all we have to fear is fear itself!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Dig: Running the Chicago Marathon

Lots of training (18 weeks' worth) came to an exciting (it was exciting to ME, at least) conclusion this past Sunday in downtown Chicago: I ran a marathon. I set a few different goals for myself but the hardest one was probably my time goal of 4:20 - that's four and a third hours of running - and, what do you know if my actual time wasn't 4:20:47! I'm cutting myself some slack on the 47 seconds and calling it a win. My first goal was to just finish. That was going to be pretty much a given. Unless I blew out a knee or a spleen or something, I was going to get myself across the finish line. My second goal was to run the whole thing and not take any walking breaks. I allowed myself to walk through a few of the water stations so I'm saying that goal was achieved also. And then I met the whole time thing so all in all a pretty good day.

I won't bore you with too many details about the actual run. This blog o' mine ain't about summing up my physical feats of strength (insert comment about my limited physical feats of strength here). These electrons are about things that I dig, hate and don't get and I'm here to tell you that there were a few of each on this particular 42 degree day. So, the over-riding theme is a big Dig (pardon the reference to the super-duper construction project in Boston) but let's review a little, shall we?

Don't Get: How do those Kenyans do it?! Good God, the winner ran a pace of 4:51 per mile. I was happy with my 9:56. I can't run one mile in under 5 minutes, let alone 26.2 of said miles! Unbelievable! I might move to Kenya so I can run faster.
Dig: The spectators. They were huge for me. Supposedly, there were a million of them. There were plenty of times when I needed to be distracted so I didn't focus on my misery so I just people-watched which was almost as good as my recent airport-people-watching activities. Saw lots of dogs, signs, pseudo-runners, people holding signs, my wife and the occasional sign. Gave high-fives to a boat-load of perfect strangers and every time I slapped some skin (or glove, since it was so chilly), it pumped me up to run faster. Saw Elvis and any time you see Elvis, you know it's going to be a good day! (Ironically, I was in Chicago on 8/16/77. Do you know where you were when you heard that the King died?)
Hate: Chafing. But I've already covered that in a previous post. Let's just keep moving along since you really don't want to know about where I chafed. I'm happy to report, though, that a couple of well-placed band-aids did their job!
Dig: Gutting out the last 6 miles or so. I Started to fade but I just kept pickin' 'em up and puttin' 'em down. I told myself that all I had to do was run to that No Parking sign and back that I had done so many times in training. Forget the 20 that I had already done. Just run to the sign and back. The definition of "sucking it up".
Hate: That feeling of almost-puke that I got for about 24 hours before the race. You know that feeling? Like if you caught a whiff of the inside of a dumpster at the wrong time, you might just lose it? I can't tell you how many times I had to grit my teeth and go to my Happy Place during the day prior to the race.
Dig: Only peeing in an alley once. Bonus! It was just that little nervous pee, anyway. Otherwise, I had a pretty good balance of fluids going out and fluids coming in.
Don't Get: People who do this on a regular basis. For me, this whole thing was less about running than it was about me setting a goal and achieving it. I haven't decided yet if this will be a one-off or if I'll be one of those people who runs marathons. For now, I'm a guy who ran a marathon. Big difference - and not just the letter "s". For a "Dig" within a "Don't Get", though, I dig that other people don't get how I could do this. Here's a little tip from an experienced marathon runner on how to run a marathon: Run 1 mile. Repeat 26.2 times. It ain't that hard to understand and it's as much in your melon as it is in your legs. I guess it's kind of like me thinking the people who do the Ironman triathlon are freaks. Let your Freak Flag fly, I say!
Hate: All the pre- and post-race shenanigans. It was really distracting (in a bad way) to have to worry about getting to the race on time, meeting with my wife, checking out of the hotel, etc. Us small-town boys don't know nothin' about them there taxi-cabs and those boys with the funny accents who drive them.
Dig: A sign that said "No Namby Pamby Bullshit". Amen to that, my brother! That's what I'm talking about! As a matter of fact, that's what I said to the guy holding the sign. That sign carried me for at least 0.37 miles.

So there you have it. A pretty good Sunday morning for this 39 year-old. I'm reluctant to say that it wasn't as hard as I was expecting, but I felt pretty good at the finish line - and even for the 26.2 miles prior to the finish line. Any of those freak-ish triathletes would be planning their next marathon to better their times but I'm just going to bask in the glow for a while. If you need me, I'll be over here in the glow.

For all the race details, go to Check out runner number 39362. I'm the good-looking one in the yellow hat.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Don't Get: Models

For those of you that know me, my confusion over the entire fashion industry probably comes as no surprise. You might give me credit for having a full grasp of the whole khaki pants and polo shirts scene but not too much beyond that. My wife tries with me but I seem to get stuck in a bit of a routine and can't quite get out of the rut. She would say that about a lot of things about me and occasionaly I humor her by wearing the funky clothes that she buys for me. Mind you, "funky" in this situation might mean a shirt with stripes instead of just plain. I don't think I look awful, but you wouldn't mistake me for a GQ cover model. Yeah, less like GQ magazine and more like "White Bread" magazine. I'm confused enough over clothes, but my real confusion comes when the models hit the runway.

Imagine my brain-lock when I watch America's Next Top Model. We've already discussed my general dis-like for Tyra Banks and a lot of that stems from how seriously she takes herself and the fashion industry. When she critiques the models, she goes into full model mode and shows them just how it should be done. She points out that they should look like this instead of that. And I'm here to tell you, I just don't see a difference between the before and the after!

One of the things I don't get is how so many of the models look pretty un-hot until these pictures appear out of nowhere. After hours and hours in the makeup chair and just as much time spent using Photoshop, the next thing you know Janet Reno is some babe whose poster is in every high school boy's gym locker! And then you feel all gross when you've been digging her look only to find out that it's Janet (Am I a Man or a Woman?) Reno. High school boys are pretty screwed up in the first place and I personally don't think it's fair to mess with their heads (or other parts of their bodies) like that. I know some cute chicks. I see them at work or wherever and they look good. No Photoshop and I'm assuming something less than one hour spent on makeup. And so when I see what the Tyra wannabes look like prior to their transformations, my little brain just doesn't know how to process that info. Should my cute friends run off to Milan or Paris or New York to become models? Yes, I think they should.

So I've mentioned make-up. I don't get make-up. I get that chicks usually look better after applying some make-up but I don't know what happens between "looking rough" and "hot piece of ass". Maybe I don't get make-up because beyond freshening up the deoderant, I can get ready to go out for an evening in about a minute and a half. Unless I have to change socks which puts me at the two minute mark but other than that, I'm pretty low maintenance. Again, some of you might be saying that perhaps I should do a little more "maintaining" but perhaps you should shut up! My wife is not high maintenance by a long shot and yet it's a whole process for her to put her make-up on. Eyes, cheecks, lips, more eyes, a little more on the cheek, start over on the lips, different color for the eyes but just the lashes this time, touch up the lips, etc. etc. etc. While she is transforming herself, I'm usually sitting on my arse waiting until she announces that she is done and then I do my deoderant thing and we're good to go. And, of course, the whole time I'm thinking that she looked pretty good to start with.

One could argue that make-up actually makes your skin worse. If you're trying to cover up a zit, does it make sense to do so with something that further clogs your pores? Other people (people who would no doubt bug me) would say that the only reason that women put on make-up at all is because they are just trying to please men and it's the only way to get ahead in a male-dominated society. To that, I would say "Shut up. And do something about that zit."

And who doesn't just love to hear a model complain about how hard it is to do a photoshoot at 5am and how cold they were wearing just a bikini while sitting under a waterfall? Yeah, the guys in the coal mine have a lot of sympathy for you, sister! I can just hear them:

Coalminer #1: "This coal minin' is some hard work."
Coalminer #2: "Yep. Dirty, smelly, dark, low pay, specter of death hanging over my head all the time. Tough stuff."
CM #1: "'Course, this ain't nothin' compared to what Miss July goes through."
CM #2: "You got that right, brother. I hear she worked 4 hours just to get that one shot of her on the yacht sipping champagne. Her diamond ring kept messing up the f-stop."
CM #1: "Yeah, I would have been a model but I just don't want to work that hard."
CM#2: "You got that right, brother. Hey, why is the canary dead?"

Do those pictures have to be taken in Tahiti? Would the schlubs who buy the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue know the difference between a public beach on Lake Erie and some private lagoon on Bora Bora? As long as the photographer waits until the houseboat is out of the frame, I'm guessing that the schlubs wouldn't notice as long as it doesn't cover up the chick's cleavage.

And what's up with that walk and those dead-looking eyes? The key word in this whole discussion is "model". As in "I want to model myself after you." And yet I rarely see someone walking from one conference room to the next here in Dilbert-land doing that goofy walk with that look that says "I'm just here for my looks which, oddly, aren't that great until I get all made up." For that matter, with some of those girls tipping the scales at a cool 90 pounds and no curves, they look more like junior high boys instead of hot babes. Don't tell Mark Foley or he'll send some inappropriate text messages!

Certainly, I'm plenty stymied about some of the goofy get-ups that the chicks wear during couture week but I'm willing to write that off as more of a one-time event than a regular occurence. But what I really don't get is how the cute chick at Barnes and Noble (who walks perfectly normally) isn't on the runway and the chick who looks more like the kid who had the locker next to me in Junior High is up there doing that goofy walk looking at me with dead eyes.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Hate: Hypocritical Jesus Freaks

I could certainly have made this entry a general hatred of hypocrites. It bugs the tar out of me when people say one thing and do another, although I probably wouldn't be opposed to a hypocritical racist now that I think about it. I'm also not a big fan of politics and general ass-kissing and most of the folks involved in both activities are hypocrites in my opinion. They'd just as soon stab you in the ass as kiss it.

So my hang-up with Jesus Freaks (or Bible Thumpers, if you prefer) is that it's pretty easy to be a hypocrite when you're holding yourself up so high (and/or mighty). In western Michigan where I live, there are boatloads of Jesus Freaks. I got no problem with that. If you dig your savior or god, you go right ahead and dig him/her. I don't care if it's the same one that I dig - you're entitled - thanks to that good old US constitution which covers the bases pretty well. I think both John Lennon and Rodney King had it right and I generally have a live-and-let-live approach to life. Like I said in my People Watching post, I dig watching people in their natural habitat and I generally find people highly interesting albeit irritating.

So, because of the copious amounts of Jesus Freaks in little old Grand Haven, MI, there are just that many more hypocrites. Again, it all comes back to holding yourself to a standard that really only one guy could maintain. He is my savior of choice and I dig the stuff he did - especially that whole nailed to the cross thing. That's hardcore. So lots of other people dig JC too and they try to follow his lead on being a good citizen. Cool. Good. Go for it. But, before you go spouting off about what he did and what you do, you better be squeaky clean, my brother.

Here's an example for you: I used to work with a guy who was a big fan the Son of God and did the whole bible study thing at lunch and the WWJD bracelets and the whole bit. He could rattle off bible passages like I do with lines from Fast Times at Ridgemont High. The problem with this dude is that anytime we went on some company sponsored event he was all about taking advantage of expense reports. He packed a PB&J sandwich that his dutiful wife made at home when we were at the office but when we had to go somewhere he would start off with a salad and soup, then move into a big steak for the entree, followed by dessert and a drink or two. What would Jesus do? I don't know, but I don't think he would screw the company out of $50 for lunch! Believe me, I'm not hung up on letting the company hook you up every once in a while but that's ME! I'm not the one trying to come off as a super-duper virtuous citizen here. I am what I am and sometimes that ain't too pretty. I'm SUPPOSED to hose the company, he isn't!

So this is not a rant on religion. I'd prefer that you didn't blow up me or any of my friends and family with a roadside bomb in the name of religion but if that's what you believe, that's what you believe. Not my style, but whatever. Something tells me that I'm not going to change your mind, even though we Christians are supposed to do some of that. For that matter, I dare say that any Christian who is intolerant of fill-in-the-blank is a hypocrite. (Being intolerant of stupid people doesn't count.) This IS a rant on making sure you are really as upstanding as you say you are.

Sorry for such a heavy topic today, gentle reader. It was prompted by somebody that is normally reciting chapters and verses but one day this week was cussing and swearing like Artie Lange on a roll with Crazy Alice. I'm no religious scholar (not really a scholar of any kind, actually) so I'm not going to get into a religious/philosophy discussion here. I'll just offer a little bit of free advice: JC had some pretty big sandals to fill so you'd better be up to the challenge, especially that deal about casting stones.

To the untrained eye, it would appear as though I, too, am throwing stones. Well, you're right, and I'm getting ready to chuck a big rock right at your melon, you darn hypocritical Jesus Freak!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Hate: Public Bathrooms


So I'm dinking around on Youtube a few days after I wrote this post and I see the video on the other end of this link. Unbelievable! Apparently, someone out there is just as twisted as I am but I feel completely vindicated in my feelings about public bathrooms!

So I'm in O'hare airport and I get a certain rumbling down below that lets me know that there's no way in H-E-Double Hockey Sticks that I'm going to be able to make it until I fly to Boston, secure my luggage, secure a rental car, drive to my hotel and settle in to the privacy of my own little sanctuary to do my business. It must be done. I must actually drop a deuce in a public bathroom. Oh, I've done it before, mind you. But my therapist says it's done irreparable harm that, despite an enormous boat payment that I could help cover with weekly appointments, is simply untreatable. I won't bore you with the details of the transaction in the loo but it was highlighted by an overflow next to me. Oh, the humanity!

My biggest beef with public bathrooms is that they aren't my own. At home, I rarely pee on the wall and flushing is not just a courtesy, it's a given. I also have a nice selection of magazines to read that I might not otherwise have time to review. Soap for the hands afterwards? Of course! Would you prefer to smell like lilacs or roses? Two-ply and plenty of it. It is an unhurried event as long as the kids aren't causing each other to bleed and, I dare say, quite relaxing.

Not so in the world of I'll-just-rest-my-cigarette-on-the-edge-of-the-urinal-while-I-pee. If it's "go" time, man, I hold the world record. Get in, release, wash up and get the heck out! I'm not really a fan of people in general, and I really don't like people in the same Porcelain Prison while I'm doing my thing! No time for the May 1983 issue of Popular Mechanics, thank you very little, I've got business to take care of. And, apparently, half of the Western Hemisphere has taken care of their business right where I'm standing.

Bathroom-ing is not something to be shared with someone else. As much as I don't get the whole deal with women going to the bathroom in pairs, it's just not cool for guys to do it at all. Conversations are not meant to be held in such environs. Talking with someone is best done eye-to-eye not eye-to-urinal-handle-dripping-with-condensation. And yet, I really don't want to look you in the eye and chat while I'm taking a leak so it's best that no talking occurs. If there is a burning topic of conversation (i.e. something related to free stuff or beer or chicks or something) the only legal place for that discussion is while washing one's hands and/or yelling over the hand dryer. Otherwise, keep your eyes straight ahead and we'll all be OK. Also, please do not call me on your cell phone while you are in there. If I hear an echo or grunting or what sounds like a babbling brook, I'm hanging up on you.

I'll admit that there are two exceptions to my hatred for public bathrooms. The first is grafitti. I dig grafitti and there's no better place to read a humorous debate over someone's ex-girlfriend's special skills than a men's room stall. What else are you going to do in there? There's no Us Weekly so you may as well write a poem that has the word "Nantucket" in it.

The other exception, surprisingly, is the port-a-potty. I know you are probably thinking that, if I can't stand a somewhat civilized bathroom in Ohare airport, how could I possibly dig a port-a-potty? The key here is the privacy. Is there anything more cocoon-like than a port-a-potty? Slide the little plastic handle in place so the poor leg-crossing bastards outside know that you're in there and the world is your oyster! No chance of an overlfow here - just drop it in! Want to use the entire roll of TP? Go right ahead - nothing to clog up here! Assuming no one tips it over while you're indisposed, you're good to go and you can let your troubles just fall away! When you're done, you can slide the little lever thing back with confidence and stride outside with nary a care in the world. You're probably also thinking that the facility in the actual airplane is quite cocoon-like also so why couldn't I just use that one? Yeah, and monkeys might fly out of my butt, too.

So there you have it. You can invite me over to your house any time because there ain't no way I'm going to cross the threshold into your water closet and cause undue gross-ness (whether solid, liquid or gas). Public bathrooms are also what's keeping me out of prison and the armed forces. I would have knocked over countless liquor stores by now if I could have had my own facility with a lock in my cell. Now that I think about it, though, my general fear of being shot PLUS the whole shared bathroom thing is what's keeping me from signing up to join the army. You know how we all can sleep better because certain people are on duty in the military? Well, you can sleep better knowing that I'm NOT on duty....

Also, on a related note, it's best not to come to my house at about 6:15pm as I might be unavialable for a few minutes...

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Dig: People Watching at the Airport

So I just went on a nice, relaxing vacation. Flew from GRR to ORD and landed in BOS. Stayed overnight in Boston and then proceeded to spend a week in (or is it "on"?) Cape Cod. Ate lots of seafood and drank some good local brews. For those of you who leave your houses (don't laugh - there are plenty of freaks who only journey from their mom's basement to their twin bed with the Star Trek sheets), you know that there can be a lot of downtime when flying. This particular trip didn't have too many long layovers but my trip home was the day after some psychos were planning to blow up a plane using liquid explosives so there was plenty of extra time for me to sit on my caboose. What to do while eating my Cinnabon and swigging my Starbuck's? Watch you, that's what- and I gotta tell you, you don't look so good! That's what I really like about people watching - it makes me feel good about myself and my lot in life.

Certainly, people watching at some club where Playboy playmates hang out probably would provide better scenery. However, I'm 39 with 3 kids living in Michigan so that just ain't gonna happen for me unless my wife gets a whole lot more understanding real quick. So I'm stuck with people watching at more mundane places like airports. While it's true that I once saw Pat Boone in the Minneapolis airport, he isn't exactly the same as getting an eyeful of Miss January.

O'hare is still the first or second busiest airport in the country and you get a pretty good cross-section of folks: White, Black, short, tall, fat, skinny, fat, fat, bald, hairy, fat and the occasional fat person. You know those reports that The Government puts out that says we are all fat? Well, they're right. And God help you if you have to sit next to one of them on a plane. Don't get me wrong, I blend right in with my Cinnabon purchase but I don't overflow too much onto the poor sap who is lucky enough to sit next to me. Based on some of the people that I saw, though, apparently there comes a time when you just don't give a shit anymore what you look like. You make the leap from pants with a belt to pants with an elastic waistband. Shoes with laces are just too much work so you become Velcro Shoe Man. Tuck in my shirt (a t-shirt with hot fudge stains down the front)? Not likely. And so what do you do next? Apparently, you go to the airport. By the looks of it, the Fat People of America (FPA) meeting is there and is held at gate B6. Snacks provided! Yep, feeling pretty good about my only-eight-pounds-over-my-goal weight!

Have you ever been part of The Family (not the Mob family, just a regular one) traveling through the airport? How many kids? How many kids under the age of 4? If you were the 4 year-old, you probably didn't care what other people thought of you. If you were the parent, though, you wanted to crawl under the carpet or disguise yourself with some Groucho Marx glasses most of the time. Families in airports are probably pretty good birth control, actually. If you are thinking about having kids but aren't really sure, hang out at the airport and see what your reaction would be to little Johnny screaming his head off in public because his dad refused to pay $6.25 for a hot dog. Would you pay $19.95 for a dumb-ass stuffed animal from the dumb-ass gift shops? Are you capable of pushing a stroller with a crying kid, carrying a backpack full of SpongeBob coloring books, holding the hand of the older kid all while having your boarding pass and ID at the ready for the next security checkpoint (no doubt staffed by a big fat guy)? You'd better be able to suck it up without yelling at the spouse or just make the appointment with Dr. Snips-A-Lot now. I saw lots of families doing the summer vacation thing and I'm sure several children were put up for sale as soon as they returned home. I was smart enough to leave the heirs to my fortune home with their grandparents. Suckers!!

Of course, a lot of people that you see in airports are traveling for work. I used to do that. You get pretty efficient if you do it enough. You can tell who the pros are because they move fast. They grab their nifty carry-on bag (contents: Blackberry, laptop, files for meeting, two pens, mints, newspaper/magazine, rental car agreement and receipts for expense report) and they're maneuvering around the fat people like the airport is one big Frogger game. I don't watch those people too much because they all look the same. Being a corporate suck-ass, I can pick out another corporate suck-ass a mile away and unless he is working on his blog, I have no use for him. Go back to your cube and fill out your report, Dilbert!

On the rare occasion that the planets align and you happen to catch the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders on a press junket, you can sometimes spot a babe. From my exhaustive research, though, I've found that the problem with babes in airports is that you can't really tell if they are babes or not. She might be a babe on the outside but once she loads herself up with carry-ons, cell phones, purses and a great big sour look on her face, she turns into Ruth Buzzi. You could take your favorite clerk at Victoria's Secret in the mall ("My wife is about your size, would you try this on for me so I can see if it would fit her?") and load her down with all the accoutrements of travel and the next thing you know it's the Roto-Rooter guy! Only if she has a lackie/boyfriend/husband (who secretly despises her) carrying her crap does she look as good on The Inside as she does on The Outside. Certainly, you would still have to listen to her bitch at said lackie to hurry his ass up but, at that point, your feelings toward him turn from bitterness and resentment to sympathy and you really feel like hip-checking her into the nearest luggage carousel thingy.

We don't have enough time in the day to talk about airport security, but I'm pretty sure that I see about a dozen terrorists while taking a tour of Concourse B. There was one dressed up as an old lady whose osteoporosis had turned her into a walking upside-down "U". I saw another one who was disguised as a 4 year-old kid crying because he couldn't get a hot dog for $6.25. I think he was in cahoots with the 6 year-old kid who was obviously using his GameBoy to take over control of the incoming flights from the air traffic controllers. And then there was the fat guy but I think he was actually part of the crack security team checking my shoes for explosives. The main reason why I think they are terrorists is because THEY ALL HAD CELL PHONES! Good God, what did we ever do before we had to go 15 minutes without talking to someone on the phone!? You may find this surprising, but my cell phone conversations usually are more of an exercise in waiting for the person on the other end of the phone to shut his pie-hole so I can get onto something more important. Like writing blogs about people watching, for example.

Again, why do I like to people watch in the airport? Because it makes my miserable existence look pretty shiny! Despite what appears to be intolerance and my general dislike of people, I like watching them in their natural habitat. All I need is one of those things that looks like a gumball machine full of People Chow and a handful of quarters and I'm good to go for an afternoon of amusement.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Hate: Losing Stuff

While it's true that I dig the show Lost, I hate losing stuff. I used to have a pretty good memory and I could remember where I would put my crap. However, as I've gotten older and have much more clutter in my life, I'm finding that I can hardly remember if I've taken off my underwear prior to hopping in the shower (true example from my 5 year-old. Hilarious!). It's just about a daily occurrence that I wander out to the parking lot at lunchtime to enjoy my favorite fast food value meal and I can't find my car that I parked approximately 5 hours earlier. How could I possibly forget where I parked my car? It's like the size of a ... car!

Speaking of cars, if I can lose the entire car, imagine how often I lose the dinky little keys. I usually carry my cell phone in my pocket along with my car keys but some days I get a little bitter about feeling like Carl the janitor from The Breakfast Club and throw all that junk on my desk or kitchen counter or some place. And then hilarity ensues as I search high and low for them. Before you suggest calling the phone ("Just call the phone, dumbass!"), I always have it on vibrate so as not to intrude upon the quiet of others around me - because I'm polite and not an asshole. I guess that's why God created two sets of keys with every car. He needs to work on creating duplicate cell phones though.

And don't even get me started on finding the clicker. If it meant that the clicker would magically appear in my grubby little mitts by hopping on one foot and singing a Clay Aiken song all while shaving my ear hair, I would gladly sing whatever that little leprechaun has on his greatest hits album. And before you suggest that I actually walk up to the TV and manually (he said, with disgust) change the channels, I suggest that you watch your tongue before I wash it out with soap! If God had wanted me to change the channel myself, why would He have invented clickers?! My legs are for running marathons (for which I've now registered) and my index finger is picking my nose so you just back off, Mister Man!

My most recent lost item is part of my bike rack. You see, last fall I used one of the straps to attach a faux shark fin to the roof of my car for the journey to Chicago to see Jimmy Buffet at Wrigley Field. I was the envy of all the saps on the road that day as they admired my nifty homemade shark fin with "Buffet or Bust" written on it. Unfortunately, I used one of the straps from my bike rack to secure said fin and now I can't seem to find the strap. So instead of putting my bike on the rack outside the car, I had to fold down the seats, remove the wheel, remove the seat and generally piss around with the whole scene instead of quickly loading up. Sure, I can call the nice people at Yakima and get a replacement strap but that friggin' thing is in my friggin' house some friggin' place and I am friggin' determined to friggin' find it! Like, how many places could it be? My little hovel isn't that big so why is it hiding from me? Damn strap!

For you golfers out there, I won't get into the whole deal about losing golf balls. If we're going to talk about golf, I'd rather talk about Tiger Woods' wife's boobs or Phil Mickelson's.

One thing I've learned about losing crap is the fastest way to find it is to give up looking for it. But you have to trick it into thinking that you don't care anymore and then it will show itself. Totally true of golf balls. Your first ball off the tee could have gone into the deepest talc mine (see, the ball would blend into the talc because it's white) coming to rest within inches of the molten core of the earth but if you just mention the word "mulligan", the ball will miraculously show up in the middle of the fairway. No way does that first ball want to get trumped by a mulligan! You could have had every intention of putting on your heat-resistant suit and rappelling down that mine shaft to retrieve your Top-Flite X-Out but don't let the ball catch on or it won't show up in the fairway. My next step with my missing bike rack strap is to break out the Yakima catalog and start dialing the toll-free number to order a replacement. I'm anticipating that the missing strap will magically appear in the microwave or some other completely random place.

Let's review:
Lost is a way cool TV show
Losing stuff sucks (it also sucks when people spell "losing" with two o's)
Stuff shows up if give up looking for it
Phil Mickelson has man-boobs
You lost another 5 minutes by reading my drivel about losing stuff. You should be peeved.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Dig: Lost

Have you been watching this show? Holy cow, it's good! It's like cold-beer-with-pizza-while-watching-the-red-wings good. Of course, that comparison falls aparat a little considering that the Wings lost in the first round of the playoffs, but you get my point. Last night was the finale and the two hour Lost extravaganza lived up to the quality of the rest of the season, which doesn't always happen.

Believe me, I'm not going to try to get into all the ins and outs of this show (on ABC - check your local listings for time and channel) because there are more twists and turns in this thing than your large intestine! Even better, it's not filled with shit like the aforementioned part of your digestive tract. Instead, I will present to you concepts that make it so good. Later, I will be going over other basics of English composition that I learned in that stupid English class that is required for all freshmen.

Creativity. Could I be more vague, you're asking. No, I could not be. However, Lost comes up with more weird stuff than you would find in all of the X-Files shows combined. Don't get me wrong, I dug Fox Mulder and Dana Sculley too but it got to be a little predictable after awhile. Maybe Jack and all the other castaways will eventually be as predictable but I don't think so. One of the things that Lost has going for it is that these poor bastards are on some mysterious island that doesn't necessarily have to conform to what goes on in the rest of the world. For instance, most other tropical islands don't have polar bears on them. The writers aren't constrained by convention so they go frickin' nuts with characters and situations. No rules, man!

Multi-Media. So Charlie was in a band called Driveshaft and the cool thing is that there is a website ( with tour dates, pics, etc. There is a site for the airline that owned the plan that crashed ( and the foundation ( that is running the whole dharma initiative thing ( All of these sites are fully developed and have lots of hidden easter eggs and stuff. You could spend all day jumping from one of these sites to the next which are ALL FICTITIOUS! Those nice people at ABC went to a ton of trouble to make your Lost experience a lot more than just setting up shop on a Wednesday night for an hour. Very cool. I dig lots of TV shows but none of them do too much more than present their 30 or 60 minutes of drivel.

References. No, I don't mean like asking your brother-in-law to put in a good word for you when you apply for a job. I mean like referring to a book that is somehow related to the situation on the island. Even names are scrambled (anagrams for you English majors) from names out of history or literature or popular culture or something. One of the bad guys is named Henry Gale who supposedly crashed in a hot-air balloon. Henry Gale was also the name of Dorothy's uncle in The Wizard of Oz. Obscure enough reference that not everyone gets it but obvious enough to be cool. One of the things that the numbers (4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42) COULD be is retired Yankees uniforms. Why in the world that would be true doesn't really matter - it's just cool that it is.

The What's-Around-The-Next-Corner Factor. I just made that up! That's the feeling of anticipation/anxiety/excitement of wanting to know what's next. This show is all about that. You'd better get your Chocolate Yoo-Hoo during the commercials because you don't want to have your head in the fridge during the show or you might miss Michael turning on Libby and shooting her in the stomach! Pee in a coffee can if you have to because you never know when Kate might find another stash of fake beards and stuff! Heck sakes, some of the commercials are for the Hanso foundation, for crying out loud!

So that's about it. It's a way cool show. There aren't may shows that I make sure I catch every week but I don't miss this one. I was a little disappointed when they killed off Shannon, the token hottie, but it's still a great show. I guess the big deal is that it makes my little walnut of a brain have to do some work while it's on. Catching obscure Seinfeld references wasn't quite as challenging as following/dissecting/analyzing the goings-on on Lost. Generally, I like to sink into the couch and pretty much just let a given show wash over me but Lost actually makes me think. Even if it is about Shannon, the hottie.

You'll have to wait until next fall for new shows to come back on again but I suggest you clear your calendar now.

I'm here to help!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Don't Get: Littering

So I'm walking the dog through the woods last night (or, rather, she is racing around through the woods like an absolute fool while I shuffle along on the trail) and I'm digging the whole scene. It's about 65 degrees and sunny, the leaves are starting to come out, I'm not at work (which is good, just by definition) and then I see an empty water bottle alongside the trail. You know - one of those clear plastic bottles that the manufacturer (do you manufacture water?) has tried to make look different than the other 150 brands of bottled water that are out there. It looked woefully out of place compared to last fall's old leaves, this spring's new leaves and the occasional flower popping up. About the only thing that the bottle was good for at this point was to provide blog fodder, so here we are!

So now I'm thinking about the dolt who was enjoying the same walk as I am but doing so while drinking some overpriced H2O. Heck, he may even have been walking his dog:

Dolt: Sure is pretty out here with the leaves and flowers and stuff.
Dog: Yep, I agree. I can smell all kinds of bunnies and squirrels and other woodland creatures.
Dolt: And this overpriced agua is really tasty and refreshing too!
Dog: Yeah, it might be nice if you shared some with Man's Best Friend...
Dolt: Sorry, Fido, I just polished it off so I'm going to chuck the bottle to the side of the trail.
Dog: What are you, some kind of idiot?! You're going to ruin this beautiful park with your garbage? Why don't you just bring your old couch and car battery out here while you're at it?!
Dolt: Just relax, Spot. And quit licking yourself.

Don't even try to make the argument that a dog "litters" every time he lifts his leg or drops a steaming lump someplace. That stuff is carbon-based and disappears with the first good rain. Skippy's water bottle will be with us for a long time. I feel OK throwing banana peels out the window as I'm eating my "breakfast" on the way to work for the same reason.

And what about smokers? Who ever said it was OK to just throw your cigarette butt wherever the hell you want to? I have to smile a little on the inside when I see smokers relegated to the freezing cold to do their thing. They huddle together for warmth and stand on the little cement pad around whatever door is designated as the "smoking area". Just how enjoyable can that cigarette be? The bad thing is that they think their butts magically disappear when they throw them into the snowbank. That's fine until it gets a little warm out and the snow melts. Is there anything uglier than the pile of nasty-ass cigarette butts left when the snowbank/ashtray melts? I think not. Eventually, those butts just kind of go away, but I'm not sure where they actually end up. Hopefully, they stick to the bottom of the smoker's shoe and he leaves a little trail of fire as he walks across the purple shag in his trailer, burning it to the ground in a conflagration that smells as bad as a tire fire burning out of control but I kind of doubt that happens. I also am convinced that when one of those idiots throws a butt out the car window that it will somehow become lodged in my gas tank and blow me up but that hasn't happened yet either so I've dodged that bullet for now.

Quite a few years ago, I was participating in one of those Adopt-A-Highway things and cleaning up crap alongside US-31 near where I work. One of the guys who was working alongside me was puffing away on a cigarette and where do you think he put the butt when he was done? Yep, that jackass threw it on the ground! I'm out there on a Saturday alongside the highway not unlike a low-flight-risk prisoner in hunter orange picking up garbage and this guy thinks it's OK to flick his butt on the ground in front of me! The voices in my head told me to push him in front of the next SUV coming down the road but my meds kicked in and I was able to restrain myself. Just like short people, stupid people got no reason to live, man.

Is this a nature or nurture thing? If you are comfortable throwing your Snickers wrapper on the ground, is it because your mom and dad threw their Chunky wrappers on the ground too? (Chunkies kind of represent the '70's to me) Or is it just because you could really give a rat's ass about the environment and garbage cans are for the weak? And what's the cutoff? Are Mr. Pibb cans OK to throw into the ditch but a pair of old Nike Waffle Trainers are off-limits? What about a mattress? Refrigerator? I'm guessing that if you litter with one thing, you do so indiscriminately. To you, one man's garbage is, well, every man's garbage. On an unrelated note, I think homosexuality is a nature thing.

Look, if you think littering is acceptable then I'm going to come to your neighborhood every Sunday night to dump my trash instead of putting it on the curb for Mr. Garbageman. I can save $13.00 per month and apparently you won't mind. But if you get all pissy with me about dumping my empty boxes of Cocoa Puffs and the yogurt that expired six weeks ago in your front yard, why don't you help a brother out and put your own crap in the garbage too? Yes, I know it all goes to a landfill anyway and the associated groundwater tastes a little "tangy" but we're not talking about that today.

Pick up your garbage and put it in the proper place so that American Indian doesn't have to have that tear coming down his cheek anymore! And quit smoking too!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Dig: Chinese Buffets

Are all-you-can-eat buffets just an American thing? If you go to Italy, do they have buffets? How about Canada? Canada is kind of just an extension of the US, anyway - I bet they have them. Buffets seem pretty American - lots of food that's been taken from another culture and with a focus on bigger, not better. But the thing is that there aren't any American buffets out there. I'm not entirely sure what would be in those stailness steel warming dishes at an American buffet actually (hamburgers? hot dogs? PB&J?) but I do know that there are a zillion Chinese buffets in the US and I dig them!

Buffets are pretty much all about quantity over quality. There aren't too many filet mignon buffets around and you don't see many ads in the yellow pages for a place with a name like The Lobster Trough. I'm not bashing Chinese food, but it must be pretty easy to make in volume and have it still be pretty tasty. Not super-fabulous delicious, but tasty. You know, the kind of food that tastes pretty good sober and tastes even better when you're drunk. The kind of food that you can't make at home for the same amount of money and effort.

Seems like most Chinese bufetts have the same dishes. You have three or four chicken dishes that have been pretty American-ized, a couple of pork dishes and maybe a few seafood dishes. Along with those "entrees", there are usually some rangoons, mushrooms, egg rolls and some potatoes of some kind. And, in case you have come to a Chinese buffet under duress, there is some non-Chinese food like ham or meatloaf or something. Throw in a few dessert items (including a soft-serve ice cream machine), a bunch of those stainless steel warming tables, a few booths and the occasional booster seat and you're good to go.

So, back to quantity over quality. Most of the food is good. Not much of it is excellent. When someone asks you about the place to go for the best food, you probably don't direct them to the Golden Dragon. However, if someone is in a hurry and is looking for some good grub without spending a boat-load of money, the old Dragon is the place to be! I'm guessing that the guy manning the Kingdom Chicken warming tray didn't go to culinary school - in China or anyplace else. But that's OK because you don't need no stinking chef for this place, just crank up the General Tsao's chicken machine and bring in the nice people with their money! The stuff is good enough to eat once a week and, for the time you are in their nice establishment, you can pretty well gorge yourself. God bless China, I mean America!

I'm going to tread a little lightly here so as not to offend, but do you have to be Chinese to work at a Chinese buffet? Whenever I go to one, I don't see too many white-bread folks like myself working there. Is there some discrimination going on that I should know about? And what where they doing prior to working at the buffet? See, that's the thing about opening a buffet of American food. America is a melting pot of people, right? So I couldn't very well just hire white people to work there. I'd have to hire a certain percentage of lots of different nationalities. But if the Chinese buffet is located in the US, then aren't those people Americans? I don't know about you, but this converation is making my head hurt and I don't really want to open that whole racism floodgate....

Kind of a short post today - I apologize. The more I wrote, though, the more I realized that there were quite a few things about Chinese buffets that I don't get so perhaps I should have published this under the Don't Get heading. Maybe I'll go load up on some Sesame Chicken and ponder this topic some more. And, if I need to do, I can go back and help myself to some Orange Chicken for some additional ponderin'!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Don't Get: The amount of time dedicated to the weather forecast on the evening news

Do all weather guys have pictures of their respective news anchors with hookers and lines of coke or what?! Are there some out-standing gambling debts or some underwear preferences that we don't know about? How do they get so much air time? Just how long does it take to say that it's going to rain tomorrow? Is there not enough real news to fill the 30 minutes (less 7 minutes or so for commercials which are probably neither effective nor entertaining) that we have to talk ad nauseum about the weather? For crying out loud, Weather-Dude, just tell me if tomorrow is going to suck or not!

OK, I feel a little better, but now allow me to continue. Never mind, I don't need your permission - the nice people at gave ME the sign-on, not you.

There's a lot of crap going on the world every day. Some of it good, a lot of it not so good. A half-hour isn't much time to talk about all that stuff. If Peter Jennings weren't dead, he wouldn't sit idly by while some weather guy is giving a forecast, Pete would talk about all the silliness going on in the Middle East or Washington or New Orleans or someplace. He would talk about the news. And even the local guys (who probably lay awake at night fantasizing about becoming an anchor on the national news: "This is World News Tonight with Joe Blow") certainly could spend 23 minutes talking about news in their little corner of the world. There are enough robberies, murders and cats stuck in trees to go around.

There is a TV station in my world that brags about having the weather earlier in the newscast than the other stations in the area. Is that something to crow about? Is the weather really the most important thing going on in the world? Can I affect the weather? (In case you were wondering, the answer to all of those semi-rhetorical questions is "no"). There are usually a couple of little teasers about upcoming news stories and then they jump right to Junior talking about the weather: "Osama Bin Laden found in Topeka, Kansas - but first the weather". I'm sure that when the anchor cuts to the weather guy and goes off-camera, he immediately rolls his eyes makes that hand gesture of a guy bopping his bologna which, as we all know, is the universal sign for "blah, blah, blah".

OK, so now the weather guy is on. First thing he does is review yesterday's weather for some reason. Not sure why anyone cares about yesterday, but he must think it's important. Next thing he does is talk about some big-ass warm front in frickin' New Mexico or some damn place. He assures me that this matters to me in Michigan because of the affect it will have on a cold front or a high pressure something-or-other or a gulf stream or something. From there, he tells me about the high temperatures in various cities around the country and, if that weren't enough, I get to hear about the LOW temps as well. What more could a boy want?! Certainly, If I'm taking the kids to see the Grand Canyon, I would want to know about the weather in Arizona but isn't that why god made

Finally, after all this dinking around about other people's weather, he zooms in his little map of the US to my neck of the woods (as Willard Scott would say). Often, he'll repeat the same mumbo-jumbo about high-pressure stuff and cold fronts and temperatures in the surrounding 100 miles. And then he'll break out the big guns, the ultimate gizmo for the weatherman - the doppler radar loop! There was probably more than one boner in weatherman school the day they got to play with the radar thing: Look, class, you can run it forwards and backwards! Light blue means a little rain, dark blue means a lot of rain! Those schlubs at the other weatherman schools got nothin' on us! (FYI - Penn State is a big weatherman school.)

After showing off the size of his radar dish (obviously compensating for something), Skippy gets down to business and lets me know that tomorrow will be partly cloudy (is that different than mostly sunny?) and will have a high of 76 and a low of 58. Terrific. That's what I've been waiting for. Now I know that I can wear my Motley Crue t-shirt instead of my Ratt sweatshirt. I don't even need him to be that specifc. I can live with "upper 70's". Is there much difference between 76 and 79 degrees? For that matter, "pretty nice day tomorrow" works for me. I think weathermen should just limit their forecasts to "nice day" and "crappy day". Play back the last conversation you had with someone about the weather. It probably went something like this:

You: "I hear tomorrow is supposed to be pretty nice."
Friend/Co-Worker/Life Partner/Stranger With Whom You Are Making Idle Chitchat: "Yep, that's what the weather guy said"

Please note that you didn't say anything about high-pressure systems or mention barometers or thermometers or richter scales or compare the size of a hailstone to a common spherical object such as a baseball, golf ball, bocce ball or grapefruit. If you get into the size of basketballs, then maybe we can talk, but until then it doesn't really matter.

One last thing. I DO get the weather channel. It is a channel/website completely devoted to the weather. I've marked it as a favorite on both of my computers. All I'm saying is that I'm sure there is a cat in a tree out there who isn't getting the press time he deserves because of a new record high in Death Valley. It's a desert, people! It's gonna get hot! One day, it will be the hottest it has ever been and whether it is 125 or 126 degrees doesn't really matter a lot. It's just frickin' hot (qualifying as a "crappy day")! I hate cats, but Fluffy deserves the air time and I just don't get why he has to get screwed over by the weatherman every night.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Hate: Stupid Commercials on TV

This may be another Beavis and Butthead type of post where the overriding theme is "I don't like stuff that sucks" but I feel it necessary to share with you my feelings on commercials that are so poorly made it makes me want to buy their competitors' products in an effort to drive them out of business. (That was a long sentence but I'm here to tell you that it was worth every electron.) My poor brain can hardly handle the daily tasks that my little life demands, but when I'm inundated with stupidity, a little bit of gray matter turns black and falls off. Next thing you know, I'll have things that look like little mouse turds falling out my ear every time I shake my head. And that's rarely good.

I should probably be thankful for commercials, shouldn't I? If I didn't mind limiting my TV viewing to just a few local channels with a considerable amount of "snow", I could be enjoying free TV, right? I couldn't watch "I love the '80's" but I could still catch some "Dancing with the Stars". And, for that matter, "Lost" is by far the best show on TV right now even though you can't argue with a good episode of "What Not to Wear". So I need commercials to pay for that free TV. Instead of paying a gob of money each month to the cable company, I would "pay" in the form of commercials. Seems like a fair trade, I guess. What's my deal, then? I'll tell you what my deal is. My deal is when those commercials are so friggin' stupid that my brain turns into mouse turds!

Let me tell you what I'm looking for in a commercial. If you're trying to sell me something just bring in some guy who isn't duded up to look like an expert. That whole "I'm not a doctor but I play one on TV" thing doesn't do much for me. Put a guy in a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt and if I feel like he is honest when he is telling me that his product works really well or is better than the competitors', then I'm good to go and I'll buy his stuff the next time I'm in the market. Here's a possible script for the guy in jeans and a sweatshirt. The setting is an empty stage with a gray background (like you used to have in elementary school pictures, except hopefully the guy has a better haircut than I did when I was in third grade):

Guy in Jeans and Sweatshirt: Yesterday, I had a really bad headache and I took some Tylenol and my headache went away. I don't know about you, but it worked better than Advil for me. If you have a headache, you should go out and buy some Tylenol.

See how simple that is? Nobody posing as a doctor with the whole lab coat thing. No goofy pictures or graphics showing a time-release capsule blah, blah, blah. Just some guy who is digging his headache-free life. I don't need a backstory. Don't show me pictures of Junior rubbing his temples because his boss is yelling at him and his wife is bitching about the kids. The reason that this is more effective than any current headache commercials is because I don't feel like he is feeding me a bunch of hooey. This technique works for toilet bowl cleaners, cars, paperclips and refrigerators too. Less is more, people, and the less any salesperson talks, the better.

So that's easy. It's a little bit more difficult to create a commercial that is entertaining in some way. Headaches and Tylenol aren't exactly knee-slappers so you need a hook. You could either go the subtle route with some real Seinfeld-esque dry humor or go over the top with some Office Linebacker kind of stuff. Either way, though, you'd better make it good or I'll run from your dumb-ass product like I'm covered in gummi bears and being chased by a bunch of fat kids.

So instead of wearing jeans and a sweatshirt, have a guy wearing a two-sizes-too-small Superman outfit with a couple of holes in it, big fly-eye goggles and the actor has a big zit on his nose. He could even be holding a bowling ball in one of those cheesy vinyl carrying bags. The script can be the same, though. The temptation would be to have him say something about how fighting crime and life as a superhero really gives him a headache. That would be easy, but no funnier than him just standing there. Instead, just let him say the same thing as if he looks as normal as the jeans guy. Much funnier, and the next day around the water cooler people would be asking what the deal was with that acne-riddled superhero guy and the Tylenol. Also, for what it's worth, that goddamn Energizer bunny has driven me to buy Duracell batteries. Yep, I do know that that stuffed bunny is associated with Energizer - it just makes it easier for me to know which batteries NOT to buy.

Commercials have become so prevalent in our lives that we now have TV shows about commercials and let's not forget the hullabaloo around the commercials that played during the Super Bowl. I'm sure that whoever invented the commercial is wringing his hands somewhere talking about his master plan to shows those bastards at the network that his commercial for Tucks pads is better than this week's episode of Joey. He is well on his way to rule the world via toilet bowl cleaner commercials but I refuse to fall victim to his diabolical plan.

But I digress (which probably is no surprise to you).

My little walnut understands that television commercials do have a place in the universe. I'm just saying let's all try to make this li'l ole universe a better place by making those commercials more direct and with a little bit of entertainment value. Either get to the point and tell me that your product actually works or make me laugh and we're all set.

And if you can't do that, you can just use a babe in a bikini. I'll buy whatever the hell she is selling. In fact, put me down for a case.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Hate: Chafing

This topic actually came to me as I was adjusting the collar on my recently dry-cleaned shirt. I always tell them "No Starch" but my neck was all hosed up from rubbing against my crispy shirt all day long. Even though it was my neck that was chafed it was a real pain in the ass! My life is full of enough crap to worry about and I have to add neck-chafe to the list? Thanks a lot - like I have time for that! Maybe next time I'll be lucky enough to have a pebble in my shoe or a popcorn kernel stuck between my teeth that I can't seem to dig out with my tongue despite hours of trying.

Despite my neck issues, it's also no coincidence that a post about chafing appears right after a post about running. The two go hand-in-hand (foot-in-foot?). Part of the price of running a bunch of miles to maintain my Greek god-like physique is that oh-so irritating burning sensation created by skin rubbing on skin. Or skin rubbing on cloth. Or skin rubbing on plastic. Or just general rubbing of skin. Skin is pretty soft stuff, right? You would think that it wouldn't be a big deal. But, just like smoking crack, rubbing on skin should be done in moderation. When it's not, it leads to chafing which leads to Vaseline and from there everything just goes into a downward spiral.

Often, skin to skin contact is quite a pleasant experience but that usually involves my own skin and someone else's. When it's my left inner thigh rubbing against my right inner thigh for a couple of hours straight, it's not nearly as nice as when one of my inner thighs is rubbing against someone else's (preferably female) inner thigh. And believe me, I'm fully prepared to test this theory by timing thigh contact for a couple of hours with a willing volunteer who meets the criteria as determined by me. I'd use one of those clocks that are controlled by a satellite in outer space to make it official and everything so that no one would accuse me of rubbing inner thighs for more than two hours.

But back to my pink, tender, slightly swollen inner thighs. Man, that hurts like hell! You have to walk all bowlegged so as not to worsen the condition and the only thing that makes it worse is..... a shower! The very thing that you want right after a long run only makes the chafing more painful. The shower feels terrific only for as long as it takes for the water to run down my chest, past my unit and to chafe-land. Man, that hurts like double hell!
Me after a long run: "My inner thighs are chafed and it hurts like hell!"
Me, again: "I sure could use a shower so as not to stink up the joint."
More of Me: "Dude, that hot water on my sensitive inner thighs hurts like double hell!
Me: "When will I learn?!"
Me, still: "Who are you talking to?"

Speaking of Vaseline, often it is offered to runners during a long race. I first experienced this a few years ago as I came up to a water station and there was a race volunteer standing there wearing rubber gloves holding a big dollop of Vaseline. I kid you not! It took me a second to realize that this kind person was offering me some chafe-be-gone. Talk about drawing the short straw! You know that guy was the butt off all the jokes from his little race volunteer friends!

Race Guy: "OK, everyone, let's draw straws to see who is going to dole out the Vaseline"
Volunteer #1(drawing straw): "I hope it's not me. I hope it's not me. I hope it's not me."
Volunteer #2 (after drawing straw): "Blast! I have to be Mr. Vaseline Man! I'll show them. I'm only going to offer my petroleum jelly to the cute girls. All the rest of those stupid-ass runners will have to suffer through their chafing!"
Volunteer #1 to Volunteer #2 (in a mocking tone): "Hey, Mr. Vaseline Man, would you lube me up?!"
Volunteer #3 to Volunteer #2: (also in a mocking tone): Hey, Mr. Vaseline Man, I hear Star Jones is running in this race. Maybe you'll get lucky!"
Newscaster: "Authorities today discovered two bodies hidden in the woods near last week's race course. Oddly, they were covered in Vaseline. Police are looking for a man described as 'really pissed off and holding a short straw'."

The jury is still out on whether chafed nipples are worse than chafed inner thighs, but I'm here to tell you that it doesn't hurt any less. Us runner-types can have this problem during long runs. I'm not going to get into the whole mechanics of why a nipple might be sticking out far enough to be chafed by a t-shirt but it happens. Even on warm days. There are band-aids out there that are designed/shaped specifically for the purpose of keeping your shirt from chafing your nipple. I have to believe that this is a niche market and one would think that your basic round band-aid would serve the same purpose but somebody felt the need to re-package a standard band-aid, mark it up a couple hundred percent and sell it in running stores. As embarrassing as it might be to wear these things, allow me to paint a picture for you: It's 45 degrees and raining. Nipple-chafing set in 30 minutes into a two hour race with sufficient irritation to cause just the slightest amount of bleeding. Now picture a guy whose nipples have been bleeding through his rain-soaked white t-shirt for 90 minutes. Sorry to do that to you, but nipple-chafing is serious business! Let me clean your mental palate by mentioning Baywatch (but don't think of David Hasselhoff) or the words "Amateur Night". Better?

So what to do about neck/thigh/nipple chafing? If you're not into Vaseline, there's a product out there called Body Glide. It looks like deodorant but it helps to keep various parts of your body gliding smoothly. Works pretty darn well, too. And weird as it may feel, invest in the nipple-aids. Nobody has to know. But I'm here to tell you that I will wear band-aids on my nipples before I wear a dicky to address my neck chafing!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Dig: Running

Look at me! Two positive posts in a row! For some reason we've had a lot of sunshine lately so maybe that's perked me up. Normally, this time of year is pretty dreary in Grand Haven with lots of snow, short days and general misery so it's way nice to see the sun.

Today's post is brought to you by the sore muscles, sweat and creaking knees that a healthy dose of running brings. I dabbled with running in college in an effort to not balloon to enormous proportions but it was a pretty half-hearted attempt. I was pretty into mountain biking for quite a few years as my main method of burning calories but almost exactly three years ago, I took up running pretty seriously. Putting in ten or fifteen miles a week, coupled with the Subway diet (cheese-less sandwiches with low-fat dressing and baked chips instead of fried) took about 15 lbs. off my fat little body. Even better, I didn't hate it. I was wearing the wrong shoes and was doing the old school cotton t-shirt thing but I've come a long way since then. The next summer I did a few 5k's and kept up the routine of running a few times a week. I got faster with each race and I became a "runner" at some point along the way. I've run two 25k's (15.5 miles) and a half-marathon (13.1 miles) and now I'm planning to do the Chicago Marathon on October 22. So I dig running.

I'm sure you're thinking to yourself, "This dude is fucked in the head. Running sucks!" And while it is true that I may be fucked in the head, I don't think that running sucks. And here are a few reasons why:

No one can do it for me. When I get home after my standard 5-mile run (to the first telephone pole past the school and back), I will have done it by myself. Every step of the way was mine. For that matter, I couldn't even coast downhill like when I ride my bike. Same thing goes for when I run 15.5 miles. As much as the cheering and following behind a babe in tight shorts helps, that babe ain't gonna move my legs for me. Certainly, there are plenty of people who run marathons every year but not everybody can or has so when I do I will be part of a pretty small group of people. Completing a challenge like this with no one to do it for you may or may not be important to you, but it is to me and this is my blog so you can just shut up. If I take the time to think about what I'm doing, I can feel pretty good about running a mile in 8 minutes and 41 seconds. A mile. In 8:41. When I'm getting to the end of my run and I'm really in the zone and I'm flying along at much faster than 8:41 per mile, I'm feeling pretty Rocky-esque (you know, like the scene when he runs up the steps to that museum in Philadelphia).

It's good to get the poison out. Most runners feel really good - when they're done. The first few miles are the hardest for me until I get into my aerobic routine. The middle miles are just a groove and the last few miles I'm really humpin' to get it done. The whole way, though, the latte's, Big Macs and chocolate chip cookies are just pouring out of my body. Ever sit next to somebody who was super drunk the night before and you get a contact buzz from the booze coming out of him? Same thing, except you can't get drunk on the McDonald's special sauce. The adrenaline continues to pump for a while after I return home and I feel pretty good about taking the previous 52:38 (a good time for me for 6 miles), to burn calories and clean out my pores instead of watching America's Next Top Model. Besides, there's something about Tyra that bugs me and I can't quite figure out what it is.

Time to myself: For those of you with kids, you know how little time you get to yourself anymore. That was the first thing to go when my daughter was born. (I'm making an assumption that you're holding up your end of the parenting. If you've worked out a deal with your other half where he/she does all the work with the kids, please call my wife.) I have important crap to think about as you are finding out by now: blog topics, dumb-ass people at work, get-rich-quick schemes, etc. and I need quality time to do my ponderin'. What better time than when I'm knocking out a quick 5 mile run? The MP3 player is only there for background noise and I'm happy to say that my little walnut can listen to Kid Rock and compose a blog topic all while putting one foot in front of the other for about 44 minutes. Even though I've created the family's monthly budget on the back of the bulletin at church in days gone by, I feel a little less guilty about doing it while I'm running than while I'm ignoring Henry, my priest.

I'm trying not to be a middle-aged fat-ass: I'm 38. I haven't been scanning the used car ads for a red convertible and I don't dig gold chains, but I'm not really looking forward to being 40. Fortunately, people usually think I'm much younger than I am, but I don't want to be the guy who looks 57 even though he's 42. My stupid friends from college would tell you that I've always been a little thick in the middle and I don't want to have to poke another hole in my belt in an effort to hold on to something I don't have anymore. Mind you, those dumb-asses might think I'm thick in the middle but I'm here to tell you that they're pretty thick in the head! Anyway, running is a way for me to burn off the calories and not let my body turn to a big pile of mush. Certainly, I could cut out the trips to Taco Bell but I'm not quite that committed.

I'm such a running nerd that I now track my miles on-line, have a whole bunch of "technical" shirts, shorts and underwear and I recently subscribed to Runner's World magazine. I'm finding that either you really dig running or you really don't. Plenty of people don't run - most with a legitimate reason like having bad knees - and don't get the whole running thing. When I was a more serious mountain biker (and subscribed to two mountain biking magazines), I never would have considered running. However, in recent years, it seems as though I've gotten older. Not quite sure how that happened, but my body now prefers the aerobic routine of running and my brain prefers the feeling of accomplishment of carting my 38 year-old body across a finish line. And pulling a Burley down a bumpy trail looks a lot like shaken baby syndrome to the nice people at Child Protective Services.

I'm anticipating that I'm going to be a runner for a long time even though I've only been doing it seriously for three years. I'm also thinking that I will get a little faster before the crunching in my knees causes me to slow down. If I want to keep in halfway decent shape, I'll need to keep it up because there are still a lot of value meals with my name on them out there. And even though I'm generally not very competitive with other people, I can still picture the 10 year-old kid who finished just ahead of me in my first 5k and that kind of bugs me. Him and Tyra.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Dig: Satellite Radio

So I have about a 30-minute commute to work. Not bad compared to you poor saps in LA or Chicago or someplace but it's still time that I have to give away each day. Here in West Michigan, there are precious few good radio stations so I would jump back and forth between three fairly cheesy "morning zoo" shows: Bob and Tom, Free Beer and Hot Wings (don't get me started on their names) and Kevin Matthews. I was a big Kevhead a long time ago but I become a pretty die-hard Howard Stern fan for the short period of time that he was on the air here in Biblethumperland so I've been missing him. Imagine my delight when he announced he would be moving to satellite radio! I'll talk more about Howard in a minute, but let's discuss satellite radio in general first, shall we?

I'm generally a pretty cheap bastard. That comes primarily from not having much money. This is true despite purchasing a slick new minivan recently (can minivans be "slick" or is that a contradiction in terms?) equipped with a DVD player and five sunroofs. This thing also came stocked with XM radio. And a free 3-month trial! Thanks, Nissan! "I'm sure there's no way that I'll want to part with $12.95 per month after my free trial, but thanks for the free sample of XM", I foolishly said to myself. Fast forward to the day the renewal letter comes from XM reminding me that my free trial is about to end and would I like to renew my subscription? I think you know where this is going. The Marketing folks at XM/Nissan succeeded yet again in signing up another subscriber after giving away $38.85 worth of satellite radio. I'm such a sucker!

The reason that we re-upped is because XM is cool. In fact, I dig it. There are more friggin' channels on this thing than you can shake a stick at. And beleive you me, I've shaken a lot of sticks in my day! Certainly there are plenty of channels that I don't listen to. I'm not really into Rap or Hip-Hop (I'm pretty white bread) and I generally skip the Christian and Classical channels, but there are about 25 music channels that I regularly surf and there are a ton of talk channels and sports channels. Channel 150 is one of two comedy channels and how can you resist listening to Chris Rock do his thing while you're driving to the grocery store? Mind you, one must exercise caution when young ears are in the car but Chris is one funny guy and it beats listening to the usual formula of morning drive time radio or whatever 25 songs are in heavy rotation at the moment.

So back to Howard. Prior to leaving terrestrial radio (that's the same as "regular old radio", for you uninitiated) Howard had about 13 million listeners and you gotta figure he's going to bring a percentage of those folks with him to Sirius. He should, considering his 5 year, $500 million contract. Yep, a half-billion. Not bad, considering how ugly he is. One of those nice people that moved to Sirius is me. This isn't a post about digging Howard, but I do dig him so I ponied up the money for a years' subscription (12 months for the price of 11!) and plugged in my nifty new radio that I received for Christmas and away I went. Howard was the primary reason why I wanted Sirus radio for my car, I have to admit. However, I also just plain old dug satellite radio after listening to it in the super-duper minivan. Howard was just the guy that convinced me to do Sirius instead of XM.

Taking Howard out of the picture, Sirius and XM both have their strengths and I'm not sure which one is better. Both have lots of categories of music as described above and both have contracts with different professional sports leagues. For instance, Sirius has the NFL but XM doesn't, so I would have had to sit in my car to listen to the Steelers win today instead of my wife's minivan. XM has a contract with major league baseball and NASCAR (this is me not making fun of NASCAR again...) and the Big Ten. For my friend, Ron, Sirius has a gay and lesbian channel so that might be good for him.

Satellite radio allows you to check out new music without plunking down money for a CD that might be a little iffy. Again, I'm a cheapskate and just because I like the one song that I hear on the radio doesn't mean I'll go out and buy the CD. I can hear a little more than just the single that was released and then decided if I want to spend the money. And, because satellite offers so many oldies (by that, I mean '70s, '80s and '90s) stations, you don't have to be embarassed about listening to such classics as "Afternoon Delight", anything by The Outfield or "Mmmm Bop" because you don't have to actually lay the CD on the counter and look the clerk in the eye as you give him your money. You can tool on down the road and listen to Hansen-like music all day long without the guilt of buying their CDs. If anyone challenges you on what you were listening to, you can always just say you were surfing the channels and the last time you listened to this one, there was something much less sucky on.

Prior to hopping on the satellite bandwagon, my CD changer took a puke on me. I was working a friend to buy his because he says he never uses it. Why not, you ask? Because he has Sirius, he says. And he's right. He lent me his changer and said that he would sell it to me if I really wanted it but that I might find that I don't need a CD changer if I have satellite. And, by golly, he's right. I haven't listened to a single CD since Christmas. I guess that's only related to digging satellite radio in that Sirius is good enough to replace my CD changer - sorry if I got off track there for a minute.

So, there you have it. Satellite radio is cool. Much like cable TV, there is so much stuff on that you're bound to find something you like. Want to know how the traffic is shaping up in Seattle? Channel 156 on Sirius can hook you up. Miss the latest driving-in-circles event that NASCAR holds every weekend? Tune in to Channel 144 on XM. And let's not forget the high-brow comedy of Howard Stern on Sirius Channel 100. Just this week, he was asking Larry King's wife why in the world she wanted to become Mrs. Larry King #7 and who can resist that little tidbit of news?!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Don't Get: Advice Columns and Those Stupid Celebrity Q&A Columns

As you can see by my two recent Don't Get posts, I'm one confused guy lately. Every Sunday, I am further confused by the people who feel the need to seek advice from Dear Abby, et. al. and ask questions about various celebrities. Just like I don't think Yakov Smirnov (please see any website dedicated to '80's pop culture if you don't know who Yakov is) is really from the former Soviet Union, I just can't believe that there are actually people out there who write to these "columnists" (not "communists" - that would be a Yakov Smirnov joke) looking for advice. I won't bore you with too many examples of these columns, but I will give a few:

Dear Abby ( She and her sister, Ann Landers, started this whole mess. I'm not sure what qualifies them as advice experts, but I'd be willing to bet that it ain't a Ph.D. in Advice-Giving-for-the-Price-of-a-Stamp. The first "letter" on Abby's site as I write this details how a female business owner caught a male employee forging a check for $1k. Despite never having "a sexual relationship" with this yahoo (that's important, how?), she is wondering what to do. Believe me, it's not important what Abby says in response. The only correct reply to this letter is "Why the hell are you wasting valuable ink and paper with dumb-ass questions like this?! Shut the hell up and go home to your 15 cats!" Suffice it to say, all of the letters written to Abby have a similar dumb-ass quality to them.

Parade Magazine ( This is one of those throw-away "magazines" that clutter up the Sunday newspaper. There are usually just as many ads for the Franklin Mint as there are articles and, for that matter, the articles usually have something to do old people in some way. Anyway, on the inside of the front cover is "Personality Parade", a Q&A column written by some joker named Walter Scott. I can picture old Walt making up these letters while sitting on the can, shuffling over to his phone to dictate to his blue-haired secretary (not "administrative assistant") and then spending the rest of his day eating too much only to fall into a food-induced coma at about 6:30. Unfortunately for us Michiganders, "Tom Seelye" of "Detroit" recently wrote in asking who started the trend in Hollywood for male leads to wear aviator style sunglasses. I'm serious, folks, this was actually printed. No heavy lifting for Walter. No questions about cancer or world hunger, please - let's just focus on sunglasses. I'm struggling to make another smart-ass comment about this because I am weeping for the future of our great state....

USA Weekend Magazine ( Just like Parade magazine this publication is best suited to wrapping fish. A recent dolt from the Show-Me state (that's Missouri, in case you are a dolt also) was looking for advice because her 16 year-old daughter wanted to get a boob job. Apparently, this chick has "saved the money needed and seen so many makeover shows that she is more knowledgeable about the procedure" than the mother-of-the-year is. Where to begin with these two?!
A: the girl is 16
B: she has learned everything from makeover shows
C: how did she get all that cash?!
Look, if you need some broad from USA Today to tell you that this isn't a real good idea, you frickin' DESERVE to live in Missouri! Perhaps instead of new tubes for your slut-daughter, you could put the money to better use by upgrading to a double-wide! As a matter of fact, why not send me the money and I'll invest it in something worthwhile like a 60" plasma TV. (Don't get me wrong, a nice rack is a beautiful thing but the kids at the local "alternative" high school don't deserve it whereas I do deserve a big TV.)

OK, last bitch about these things. Exactly how urgently do people need answers to these questions? One would hope that "Tom" could wait a while to hear back on the important topic of celebrity eyewear, but is the high school chick driving to the plastic surgeon as we speak? I'm guessing that if I ever needed help on a weighty issue ("My prosthetic leg is currently on fire and I'm confused over which type of fire extinguisher to use...") I'd be looking for a pretty quick turnaround time and because the world is full of stupid people, you gotta figure that there would be quite a few letters ahead of mine in the queue. Might I suggest a conversation with an actual person living in close proximity to handle some of your questions?

Other than the fact that it's a way for dumb-asses to see their names in print, nothing good can come of these things. Every Sunday these things suck me in to see what the stupid people are concerned about and it makes me a little stupider every time I read them and that pisses me off! Damn you, Tom Seelye!