From Hair to Eternity

I am a mammal. I know that this is exciting news but I just felt that it was necessary to share. Now, I have had suspicions that I was mammalian for quite some time. But after analyzing the empirical evidence, I have eliminated all the other options. So, I guess you can now say that I am Team Mammal. First, let’s look at the alternatives. I can’t be a fish. While I do enjoy a nice dip in the pool, seawater dries out my hair  and that coupled with the fact that I have all of the aquatic grace of a ball of mud pretty much rules out me being a fish. I would consider reptiles but snakes creep me out so you can forget that. I would contemplate the fact that I may be an insect but the frequency that I have bruises on my body kinds of negates belonging to any group known for its hard exoskeleton. Since I can neither adhere to walls nor jump more than 2 inches off the ground, then amphibians are clearly not where I belong. As far as birds go, I think that in light of what I like to refer to The Orlando Karaoke Incident of 1995, I lack the melodious quality assigned to all birds. Yep I am a mammal and better yet, I am a male one.

The one distinction that mammals have, in addition to being the principal characters in most Disney movies, is that the male and female of each species have certain territorial and socially sex specific roles. Other lower animals don’t have some regimented gender roles because frankly the males of those species have less complex requirements put upon them. For example, if you are a salmon, your role is simple.  Leave the ocean, check. Swim upstream and over rapids, check. Do your reproductive duty, check. Go back down downstream and become Grizzly chow, check. There is no, take out the garbage, mow the lawn, hold my purse while I try this dress on and/or snuggle included in any of those requirements. However, we higher mammals have to do more than just continue the species; we have to interact with members of the opposite sex at times when reproduction is not on the agenda. Because this interaction frequently exposes both males and females to the absolute insanity inherent in the opposite gender, both sexes have developed special territories where we may seek shelter from this insanity. Historically men have had the better selection in terms of man caves. Prehistoric men had actual caves. The medieval men had the knighthood and public executions.  The colonial age gave men pirate ships and the clergy. Early twentieth century American men had social clubs and jobs not involving cooking and cleaning.

Eventually the wheels of social justice began to turn and women began to find special places where they too could be with those of the fairest sex and share the joys of sisterhood, without having to wear an apron. I think this progress is great, but then……..men began to realize that the number of women’s- only places began to dwarf the number of guys’ places. Just look around. You have book clubs, women’s clubs, yoga studios, every store in the mall other than Sharper Image and GameStop. There is also some mysterious establishment with frosted windows named Curves. I am not sure what kind of place that is but based on the fact that the women come out sweating I am pretty sure it’s some kind of lingerie tickle fight arena. Even television, once that bastion of all things male, has gone girly. In order for me to arrive at that holy grail of manly TV., the N.F.L. network, I have to pass 6 shopping channels, Oprah’s channel, the Hallmark channel and at least 4 different incarnations of the Lifetime network. Because of this intrusion into the spaces formerly dominated by those with the “y” chromosome, we men have been forced to retreat to those special places that women have no interest in going, the principle of these being the barber shop.

The barber shop as a kid was a scary place. A barber shop as an adult is ever scarier. Every barber shop had these menacing leather-bound(at least I hope that’s leather) chairs and if you happen to be a small child they would get  out the “booster”. This is basically a leather wrapped piece of plywood that would rest on the arms of the barber chair so the barber could make sure to nick up all of your head and not just parts of it. The best part of it is that the thing had neither seat belt nor handles for you to balance with. It was basically walking the plank with the added fun of scissors near your major arteries. I had a friend who went to a cool barbershop as a boy; at least he thinks it was cool because the kids got to sit on a saddle while they got haircuts. A saddle? Great, they found the one kind of the seat in the civilized world with zero flat surfaces. “Hey Johnny, what happened to your ear?” “I fell off the saddle at the cool barbershop.” “Nice going Van Gogh.”

For those of you have never had the sheer pleasure (sorry I have to include at least one bad haircut pun) to spend time in a barbershop, let me tell you what you are missing. The place is never neat nor tidy. There are a collection of hunting magazines that no one has ever heard of in the waiting room. Well, it’s not really a waiting room. It is actually a collection of rickety chairs about 2 feet from the barbers. I would say it is within shouting distance but that measure of length has little meaning in a barbershop because the denizens of these fine establishments are generally shouting everything they say. The only problem with the proximity from those waiting to those getting bad haircuts, and they are always bad haircuts, is that inevitably one of those waiting will engage the barber about to cut my hair in some topic of conversation that the barber feels passionate about and everybody knows that there is nothing more fun than an enraged man with an endless supply of cutting tools. Usually, by the end of the conversation my neck looks like the cutting board at a Japanese Steakhouse. As scary as what goes on in front of the barber chairs is, what goes on behind them is even worse. Of course the requisite picture of the barber from his days in the army is there, and nothing says high fashion hair styling like a guy in a crew cut. There is the industrial sized bottle of Vitalis. I am not sure what Vitalis is but have a sneaking suspicion that it contains the same chemicals as paint thinner without paint thinner’s more pleasant smell. I swear that when the barber splashed that substance on my neck, I saw smoke. Next to the Vitalis was the giant candy jar….of combs. This container held mor combs that any human being could possibly need in a strange blue liquid. When asked what that viscous liquid was, the head barber told be alcohol. I may have been in a child and still believed in many unreal things. At the time I still believed in Santa Claus, The Easter Bunny and the American political system, but even I couldn’t buy that the alcohol was blue. I knew that alcohol came in two shades, vodka clear and Canadian brown. Then to add to my chagrin, the barber would pull a comb from that bacterial frappe and attempt to use it on my head at which time I would dodge every move like I was Neo from the Matrix. Sorry Floyd( it is required that every real barber have at least one guy named Floyd on the premises at all times) but you’re not putting anything near my head that came from a vat of liquid that looks vaguely similar to the product my mother uses to remove rust stains from our toilet. Everywhere you look there is weirdness. Then I would spot the thing that set me over the edge, the combination straight razor and long leather strap. Nothing settles a six-year-old like being 10 inches away from one of the props from the SAW movies.

After all the stress, you finally emerge back into the coed world. You have a new hair cut and the world is so excited. Well, not the whole world but at least the bullies at your bus stop because all your extra hair was making it itchy when they held you in a headlock. You swear that it’s just not worth it. You aren’t going to go to the barbershop any more, you are going to the hair salon because you mistakenly think that will make it better. By the way, you are wrong. As long as I was under my mother’s dominion, I was forced to visit the same barbershop but when the barbers’ tremors finally got so bad that a quick trim may have endangered my mom’s chances at grandchildren, she agreed to let me go get my haircut at the salon. Well, it wasn’t really a salon, it was a StuperCuts.(name changed to avoid any more litigation). I know that it isn’t exactly a Paul Mitchell salon but for a young man who considered any meal not delivered via a drive through window as gourmet, it was quite a cultural change. It was like the Promised Land…with hair on the floor. The difference between the male dominated barbershop and the female domain of the salon were like night and day.

  • Men get their hair cut, women get their hair done
  • Men visit barber shops, women visit beauty salons
  • Beauty salons have actual waiting rooms with magazines from the current decade.
  • Beauty salons are staffed by people who went to school in order to do hair, barber shops are staffed by people who work there  because they dropped out of school.
  • Beauty salons play satellite radio featuring the latest hits, barber shops play A.M. radio featuring shows about gardening.
  • At a beauty shop, they will actually wash your hair for you before your styling. At a barbershop, it’s a challenge just getting the barber to wash his hands after he uses the restroom.

As happens when ever you cross that territorial line between the world of men and women, the novelty of an experience different from the one we are used to make everything seem wonderful…..for a while. But slowly, the reality is that you have simply exchanged one type of psychosis for another. Soon the glow of joy of being at the salon was replaced by the cold wind of reality. The pre-styling hair washing seems to be the entrance level exam for the position of Water-Boarder at Guantanamo Bay. Gee thanks for making my scalp bleed, I really appreciate that. Another problem with the salon is the obsession with making appointments. Now I do understand that some of the coloring and styling activities may take longer than the typical five-minute buzz cut at the barber shop but do you need to schedule what time I should show up down to the millisecond. I am trying to get a few inches chopped off the fro not trying to land a spaceship on an asteroid. I can barely show up at work at the time that I am supposed to, and I am getting paid to do that. So if you expect me to show up at the hair cut place in the strip mall at a certain then I will give you the same advice that I gave my wife on our wedding day, ”Prepare for disappointment.”

Even arriving at salon, there are other issues. First of all, all the salons I have ever been to (that would be three) have an extremely loud door alarm to alert everyone in the zip code that the door has been opened. Nothing breeds hair styling success like startling the people with the razor-sharp instruments. I understand the reason for the alarm on the door. It is to give the employees an auditory prompt fo them to throw down their cigarettes and come back in the salon, because they smoke….they all smoke. Maybe it is the constant inhalation of hairspray or maybe it is the occupational stress one would feel from having to pretend not to notice when the client in the chair passes gas. Whatever the reason, the employees usually have more tobacco than the state of North Carolina. The last time that I got my hair cut, the lady that did it smelled like the lovechild of The Marlboro Man and Joe Camel.  Aside from the cigarette stained fingers cutting my hair, there is another problem I have with the salon employees. It is not the physical contact that takes place when you are cutting my hair, I understand the barriers that having short arms places on your ability to respect my personal space when styling my ‘do, it is the verbal contact that I mind. Let me put this delicately,  “ STOP TALKING TO ME!!!!!!!!!!!” We are not family. We are not friends. Heck, we are not even casual acquaintances. If I could cut my hair, I would. But I can’t and that is why I come here. So, let’s please stop pretending that we need to catch each other up on what’s been going on in since the never when I was here before. I don’t want to talk about the  weather. I don’t want to talk about my job. I don’t want to participate in your conversation about when your boyfriend’s”band” is going to hit it big. I don’t want to join in you and your co-workers’ version of an amateur  The Maury Show. You are a professional and I expect you to behave as one. You are under no pressure to be neither social nor chatty. In fact I want the same interaction with you that I would expect from a prostitute:

  • Don’t tell me your name.
  • Don’t look me in the eye.
  • Perform your duty well and you will be tipped well.
  • Perform it poorly and I will claim that I am a cop and then run away.

That’s’ it. It’s just hair. It really shouldn’t get complex. Of course there is another alternative………maybe I will just wear a hat.

 

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Resume for your consideration

 You have to keep your options open. Although I have a stable job with a multinational corporation, I continue to peruse the job market in my quest to find an even better position than the one I currently hold. The problem is that as soon as soon as I see an employment listing, the position is filled before I have a chance to apply for it. I guess it’s true that the greatest ingredient to success is timing. It seems that there has to be a way to get ahead of the job search system. I have an idea. I think the answer is to apply for a job before the general public ever knows that it is available. There are two ways to do this.

The first, and far more morbid, way is to just cruise the obituaries with the thought that every name that is listed is one more job opportunity. However, there are a few problems with that system. First of all, for some unknown reason, the numbers of elderly people who are now deceased are greater than those of any other demographic group and the elderly tend not to have the most covetous jobs. Even worse, most of them don’t even work. Oh yes, they have some great excuses like, ”I am 90” and “I just retired six months ago after working double shifts for 53 years in a coal mine”, but to me it just sounds like they are being lazy. The worst of it is that those employed at all  work only as greeters at Wal-Mart. I am sorry but having to sling shopping carts at the dazzling human specimens that frequent Wal-Mart does not sound very appealing. An addition flaw in trying to follow the Grim Reaper into a career change is that showing up at funerals and asking the surviving family members if the deceased had a good dental plan or got holidays off leads to more confrontations than I feel comfortable with.

The other means of obtaining employment in a position that you desire is to find a job that, although currently occupied, would be a perfect fit for you. All that remains is to make the case as to why you would be the ideal person to do the job better than it is being done.  I have been looking at the various occupations around and think that I found the one that I want. The job requires a limited work schedule, a lot of fringe benefits and best of all, the current job holder has been there so long that he is not doing the job as well as someone new would. That is why I am submitting my application of the position of…….Santa Claus.

First, let’s look at why I am a natural fit to fill the position:

SCHEDULE. Let’s face the facts. Santa actually only really works one day per year. If you ask any of my former managers, they will assure you that only working one day per year is something I am accustomed to.

CHILDREN. Similar to the soon to be ex-Mr. Claus, I tolerate other people’s children once every 365 days as well.

SLEIGH DRIVING. I have been involved in the transportation of various goods throughout my professional career. And if I can maneuver a 25 foot beverage truck with bad brakes through the cobblestone streets of downtown Saint Augustine while drinking a coffee and talking on the cell phone, then landing a sleigh on a roof is really no big deal.

TOYS.  The only other adult on the planet that knows more about toys than me is Josh Baskin ( for the uninformed that was the name of the Tom Hanks character in “Big”). Proof of this is that I am the only person over the age of 10 that still includes a new Hess truck on his Christmas wish list every year.

ELF MANAGEMENT. This should be the one area where my experience should be lacking but unfortunately everyplace I have ever worked at has been run by small petty people so working with actual elves would not be a new experience.

DIET. Cookies, hot chocolate, candy, candy canes, these are the items that Santa is said to consume. Or as I call them…..lunch.

It is not enough to just show that I could do the job as well as it is being done, I need to show how I can do it better. The truth is that with no real competition, the current Santa Claus has become complacent so it’s time to bring some innovation to the North Pole. Guess who has two thumbs and some ways to jazz up Christmas? THIS GUY!!

We need to begin with the basics. I love the nostalgia of the whole reindeer pulled sleigh idea but in this day and age some changes need to be made. A sleigh? In light of the reality of global warming having a vehicle only is useful for transportation across snow seems silly. I have an invention that we should introduce, it’s called the wheel. Actually I am in contract negotiations with the Volkswagen Corporation on designing a new sleigh. First of all, no one designs autos like the Germans and secondly I love the idea of the Christmas Eve trip involving an intercontinental game of Punch Buggy.

I like the idea of using unpaid slave labor to make the toys and will continue to use elves with a few alterations. Say goodbye to the miniature toy makers with the bells on their pointed toed shoes. I am replacing them with the elves from The Lord of The Rings. I would love to see a kid complain about a toy that was made by a race of Immortals with deadly accurate archery skills. Sorry little Johnny that you don’t like the fire truck you just unwrapped. Why don’t you go tell Legolas why it is not good enough, as soon as he is done killing that cave troll with his bare hands.

The suit needs some work as well. Bright red with fur-lined collar? What are we trying to do, give the P.E.T.A. people a heart attack? I say we go with some jeans and a hoodie in soft muted tones. I just think it is unsafe to wear any bright colors in any state that has a Stand Your Ground law on the books.

We need to talk about what the Santa gig is really all about, namely toys. This is the area where the current Santa is really slacking. His obsession with safety has meant the too many toys have been eliminated from the inventory. Has anybody seen the toys now available? They are about as exciting as a mayonnaise sandwich on white bread. It has gotten so bad that we now have board games based on iPhone apps that were based on board games. Somebody stop this ride, I want to get off. The obsession with safety has means all the toys are now nontoxic and non- fun. I think it’s time to bring back some good old-fashioned danger into Christmas morning. I am going to bring back every lead paint based, phosphorus leaking, and sharp edged toy that I can. People can boo hoo all they want about unsafe toys, I know that if it wasn’t for b.b. guns and micro machines poor little Kevin McAlister would never have been able to fend off the Wet Bandits. There is also the issue with creating lasting holiday memories. Sure, a kid may let the morning that he received a Nerf ball fade from his recollection but nobody forgets the trip to the E.R. that was a result of the ride in the go-cart with no seat belt. Like the saying goes,” Photos are fleeting but x-rays are forever.”

The other part of the job that I am uniquely qualified for is the process of designating a kid as naughty or nice. This is the job I was born to do. I spend the majority of my waking hours observing the actions of others and making arbitrary judgment based on what I see so determining the classification of whether some snotty nosed brat as naughty or nice is just too easy. I understand that just making these judgments based on nothing more than my own internal premonitions about a kid is probably somewhat unfair so I will have to codify a few ways to avoid the naughty list. Come to think of it, I can’t believe that we are still using the designation of naughty and nice to describe behaviors in 2012. Clearly we need to come up with new labels to identify positive and negative behavior.  I am going to now refer to the two lists as “Awesome” a.k.a. the nice list and “Sucks” will be the naughty list. It is rather simple to be on the Awesome list. A child and/or adult should treat people well, take care of their responsibilities, look out for your fellow man…. yada yada yada.

Appearance on the Sucks list requires me to lay out a few rules. Committing any of the following offenses will result in immediate inclusion on the Sucks list and let me just add that I hope you like coal.

AUTOMATIC SUCKS BEHAVIORS

  • ·         Saying “axe” when you mean “asked”
  • ·         Writing “a lot” as one word.
  • ·         Farting in an elevator.
  • ·         Not agreeing that Empire Strikes Back is the best Star Wars movie.
  • ·         Using off brand Band Aids
  • ·         Having to appear on Maury more than once to find out who your Baby Daddy is.
  • ·         Not liking baseball/football
  • ·         Liking soccer
  • ·         Referring to a tomato as a fruit.
  • ·         Not using turn signals in a car
  • ·         Using hand signals on a moped.
  • ·         Riding a Vespa
  • ·         Turning your mobile phone’s speaker on in a grocery store.
  • ·         Posting intimate details about your life on Facebook and then publicly lamenting that you wish people would” just leave you alone”
  • ·         Asking everyone you meet to read your blog.
  • ·         Reading this blog
  • ·         Not knowing “who lives in a pineapple under the sea”
  • ·         Letting your kids watch Family Guy/American Dad/the WNBA/ the news.
  • ·         Complaining about the weather
  • ·         Blaming it on the a-a-a-lcohol.

 

 

So I guess that is how I will submit my application for Santa Claus. References available upon request.

 

 

 

Back in Black

It starts so innocently. We are all there gathered around the dining room table, the remains of a huge Thanksgiving feast occupying our plates. Perhaps it is the overload of tryptophan coursing through our veins that dulls our senses and makes what comes next inevitable. Someone will turn the conversation from the empty promises of never eating so much in one sitting ever again, a promise only to be broken on Christmas Day, to a census of who is actually working the next day.  As the number reaches a socially acceptable level, some will blurt out a suggestion. It is a suggestion wrought with peril and unbelievable danger. But in our full bellied stupor, we are oblivious to the risks involved. So we all agree to embark on this fools’ errand. We are going Christmas shopping together.

Blaque Friday. Even the name sounds ominous. I know that you may recognize it by its traditional spelling ”b-l-a-c-k”.  There are two reasons for spelling it as I do. First, I refuse to refer to that apocalyptic mayhem that will occur in the wee hours of the day after Thanksgiving by the same term that describes the color of my daughter’s favorite t-shirts and the last name of that master thespian that starred in such masterpieces as Nacho Libre and Shallow Hal. Secondly, I get sick and tired of losing every “friendly” game of Scrabble that we play at our house because I can’t get rid of the stinking Q, U and E tiles so I am committed to expanding the list of words one could spell with those letter tiles that I am convinced are direct from the fiery pits of Hell.

Anyway, back to my disdainful assessment of Blaque Friday. I guess it isn’t the complete embodiment of evil. I reserve that designation for the guys that invented Instant coffee and the accordian. It was bad enough when Satan’s shopping day started on Friday morn. But now, we can experience this crap-fest on Thursday night. I guess the Freemasons that run the secret world government( sorry turkey also makes me less resistant to outlandish conspiracy theories) have decided that it is not enough to have hordes of people descend on the local discount retailers as they elbow and pepper spray their way to purchasing a substandard flatscreen  television or $5 size smedium pajama bottoms. And based on the people lined up outside the Wal-mart last night, I would say it has been many a Christmas since they could fit into a smedium anything. No they have to start this retail trip to Thunderdome before the last serving of pumpkin pie has been eaten. There is even a term for this yearly advance, or Retail Blitzkreig.It is called the Thanksgiving Creep. It’s funny that I heard that term as soon as I pulled up at my in-laws house yesterday, probably just a coincidence. My biggest issue with this premature shopulation is that it has served to completely disrupt my Thanksgiving schedule. Here is the way things are supposed to go:

5:00am       Ignore one cat scratching on bed room door.

5:10am           Ignore both cats scratching on bedroom door.

5:11am           Explain to cats that I am not working today

5:11am           Realize that cats don’t care about my work schedule

5:12am           Remember why I hate cats

5:15am           Get out of bed

5:16am           Slam toe into edge of door.

5:16am      Release string of 37 obscenities

5:17am           Hobble into kitchen and get out coffee beans

5:18am           Miss coffee grinder reservoir and pour beans all over floor.

5:19am           Look for broom and dustpan

5:20am           Find broom

5:22am           Give up looking for dustpan and kick coffee beans underneath refrigerator.

5:23am           Grind new batch of coffee beans and pour into coffee pot. Turn on coffee pot.

5:24am           Walk into hallway to turn down heater.

5:25am           Notice burning smell.

5:30am           Realize forgot to put water in coffee pot. Drop “f-bomb”. Unplug coffee pot

5:35am           Decide to go out for coffee.

5:36am           Consider brushing teeth, taking shower, getting dressed and combing hair.

5:37am           Put on baseball cap and grab car keys.

5:40am           Arrive at donut shop.

5:41am           Recognize former high school classmate entering donut shop that I haven’t seen in years

5:41am           Make u-turn. Head home to brush teeth, take shower, get dressed and comb hair.

6:00am           Return to donut shop.

6:01am           Talk to former classmate. Make empty promise to keep in touch. Remember reason hadn’t talked to classmate in years. Vow to keep it that way.

6:20am           Return home with coffee and newspaper.

6:21am           Realize I forgot to grab house keys

6:22am           Start to ring doorbell to have other family members unlock door for me.

6:23am           Remember reaction to last time woke up family members on holiday.

6:24am           Decide to crawl in through window.

6:26am           Explain to policeman that I live here and why I am breaking in to own house.

6:35am           Get called idiot by civil servant. Remember not to contribute to Police Benevolent Society this year.

6:45am           Finally sit down to newspaper and lukewarm coffee.

6:46am           Wonder who Luke is and why the heck he got a temperature named after him.

6:47am           Promise to never make that joke again.

6:48am           Begin to read newspaper for only time this year.

6:54am           Finish reading newspaper. Realize newspaper sucks.

7:00am           Log on to computer.

7:01am           Send birthday greetings to person I barely know.

7:02am           Realize that have lots to do so will just check email and get off computer.

9:35am           Get off computer.

9:36am           Head to kitchen to make gourmet breakfast.

9:37am           Eat cold Pop-Tarts from wrapper.

9:45am           Begin preparing desserts and side dish for taking to Thanksgiving Dinner.

10:00am        Head to store to get items for desserts and side dish that I forgot to buy.

10:30am        Arrive home and put items in fridge.

10:35am        Realize there is no room in fridge.

10:36am        Remove six pack of beer from fridge to “make room”.

10:37am        Decide it is a holiday so I can drink one beer at noon.

10:39am        Drink entire six pack.

Noon               Wake up in bathroom floor.

12:10p.m.      Stagger back to kitchen to continue making desserts and side dish for taking to Thanksgiving Dinner.

1:00p.m.        Begin to consider if 2 bags of Cheetos would make appropriate side dish.

2:30p.m.        Complete cooking and load food into car.

2:32p.m.        Slam hand in door and scream obscenities.

2:33p.m.        Apologize to Reverend neighbor for language.

2:35p.m.        Depart for in-laws’ house.

2:43p.m.        Return home to pick up child that was left behind.

2:44p.m.        Make bad Home Alone joke .

2:45p.m.        Get dirty look from spouse.

3:30p.m.        Arrive at in-laws’ house.

3:35p.m.        Explain to spouse that it is headache not hangover.

3:36p.m.        Get dirty look from spouse.

3:40p.m.        Open in-laws’ medicine cabinet to search for aspirin.

3:41p.m.        Slam medicine cabinet shut. Vow to never open relatives’ medicine cabinet ever again.

3:45p.m.        Fix plate of food.

3:47p.m.        Am asked to lead family thanksgiving prayer. Begin to thoughtfully express my feelings of gratititude.

3:49p.m.        Get bored and so I start to chant ,”Kali ma” and pretend to rip heart from nephew’s chest.

3:50p.m.        Pick up plate and go eat outside.

3:55p.m.        Make fun of homely kid playing next door.

4:00p.m.        Learn people at table are homely kid’s parents.

4:01p.m.        Pick up plate and head in to sit inside.

4:02p.m.        Realize sliding glass door was closed wehen I tried to walk through it.

4:03p.m.        Clean up mess.

4:10p.m.        Listen to wife’s family talk about relatives that I have never met. Think those relatives are probably glad.

4:20p.m.        Begin to size up which relative would survive the longest in zombie apocalypse. Decide it is creepy ex-con uncle. Decide to go pick up survival tips from him.

4:30p.m.        Push away plate and swear to never eat again.

4:40p.m.        Eat again.

5:00p.m.        Retire to living room to watch football game I don’t care about.

5:15p.m.        Make fearful comment whenever team scores and pretend to call “bookie”

5:18p.m.        Get bored with it and just decide to watch game.

5:25p.m.        Hear in-laws snoring on couch. Ask wife for feather and shaving cream. Wife responds to “grow up”.

5:26p.m.        Decide to go outside and play ball with kids.

5:30p.m.        Tells nephew he throws like girl.

5:31p.m.        Discover that I am playing with niece. Vow to get eyes checked.

5:35p.m.        I miss ball and try to plunger out dent in car door.

6:00p.m.        Start to say goodbyes in order to leave.

9:00p.m.        Actually leave.

9:15p.m.        Return to in-laws to pick up spouse I left behind.

9:17p.m.        Spouse begins to google search for lawyers.

 

On second thought, maybe Black Friday can’t come soon enough.

Thanks…for nothing

I am not quite the religious scholar that I frequently pretend to be. Kind of like my knowledge of the Twilight series, I know the major characters and have a thumbnail understanding of the plot but some of the subtle nuance escapes me. Unfortunately, my having a small amount of knowledge prevents me from completely keeping my mouth shut when asked the more complex questions about religious dogma. The resulting open mouth awe at my utter stupidity does lead to some socially uncomfortable situations. For example the other day, I was having a fascinating conversation about sin, when my intellectual opponent challenged me to list the Seven Deadly Sins. Apparently, wearing white after Labor Day is not one of them and neither are Grumpy, Sleepy, Happy and Doc. Personally I am not so quick to discount Sneezy from the list because there is something inherently evil in his red nose and bloodshot eyes, but I digress. My opponent in this intellectual game of tiddlywinks pointed out that the actual Seven Deadly Sins are: Lust, Greed, Envy, Pride, Anger, Gluttony and Sloth. Now the first six, I am not so sure of but I can’t argue with the last. I hate sloths. I will not tolerate any animal that spends that much time upside down. So you better watch your ass, opossums.

What? It means laziness? Darn you public school education. You let me down again. Let’s see. Where was I? Oh yes. Laziness, Lust, Greed, Envy, Pride, Anger and Gluttony. Or as we like to call them….the seven steps to a Happy Thanksgiving. Now I love my family and it is amazing how well we can behave when we go out together. But it seems that we always get mistreated when we do. Oh so sorry Waitress from Denny’s that we weren’t as classy as your normal clientele. O.k., everybody knows I just added that last line as hyperbole because we all know that the ability to use the word “clientele” in a sentence automatically disqualifies you from employment at Denny’s. Even our recent pilgrimage to P.F. Chang’s was a bit of a challenge.  Now don’t get me wrong, Chang’s is a fine establishment but I did have a few issues with the meal. First of all, and I don’t mean to be culturally insensitive here, but it’s hard to view the food as authentic when there is not one single employee of Asian descent anywhere in the restaurant. I am not saying that they should hire people solely based on ethnicity but there should not be more Asian-Americans at the Orange Tree in the mall than there are at the place that serves Mandarin Duck. My only other complaint is in the food. No, it tastes fine but the portions were just a wee bit small for our liking.  I understand that due to the cost of duck and beef that the entrees’ size may need to be limited, but rice? Was there some sudden change in food costs that makes rice super expensive? Last time I looked, you could get a 50 pound bag of the stuff for like $1.79 and yet it was treated like some rare luxury at our dinner Sunday night. There was more rice in the cuffs of my pants on my wedding day than there were on our table that seated 6 people. I guess the lesson learned is that our family should just stick to gathering for meals at our homes and not restaurants.

And everyone knows that the best meal to gather as a family and eat is Thanksgiving. I love Turkey Day. It is truly the greatest confluence of the things I love in one gravy covered bowl. Let’s look at the basic elements and why they are, as the Chief Massasoit called them, ”Freakin Awesome”.

TURKEY.

I think turkey is the greatest of all barnyard animals. It’s slow and stupid and easy to catch, and unlike the name for the male of the chicken variety, it’s impossible to turn its name into a sexual double entendre. This last point is especially important in our family since most of the men cuss like sailors because they were all at one time…sailors. It is also a superior meat to be the focus of a holiday due to the pure size of it. It’s not like everybody keeps 3 or 4 turkeys in the freezer for any random week night dinner. The fact is that I am not even sure if you can buy a turkey outside the month of November. I also have a special place in my heart and on my plate for turkey due to turkey’s prominence in one of Benjamin Franklin’s greatest public defeats. It is a little known historical fact that Benjamin Franklin was a staunch advocate of naming the turkey as our national bird. He had some beef with the Bald Eagle and said its character was not worthy of being our national bird. Now the turkey is a fine animal but I don’t think your national bird should be one that can drown itself because it lacks the intelligence to shut its mouth when it rains. Another little known historical fact: I hate Benjamin Franklin. Always have and always will. And the fact that the turkey is an example of Mr. Franklin being publicly embarrassed is all the more reason for me to love it. It also explains my complete hatred for the pot bellied stove, bifocals and the public library system and why I refuse to own any coin published by those fools at the Franklin Mint.

 

PRESENTS.

 

Best part about Thanksgiving presents? There ain’t none. No shopping. No wrapping. No “I wonder if this will fit”. Cook a meal. Eat a meal. Take a nap. Now that’s a great holiday.

 

PARADES.

 

Now, as a general rule I am not that huge a fan of parades. Oh goody, another high school marching band murdering the hits of John Philip Sousa is not exactly riveting entertainment.  I guess the thing about parades that makes them so boring is they are a form of entertainment that is completely devoid of risk.  I like to be entertained by something that could go unbelievably wrong at any moment and may result in injury or even more preferable, abject humiliation. And you don’t get more bang for your buck in the risk department than with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. It all seems so wholesome. It comes on television at 10 a.m. on the day when everyone is home, so there is nothing risky about that right? Wrong. Even the introduction is a gamble. The intro is the most dishonest two minutes of television history. The silky smooth baritone of the voice over guy announces ever celebrity’s name like it’s the second coming of Laurence Olivier performing Hamlet. I love how he sums up all of the gravitas that he can muster to introduce a reunion of the cast of Perfect Strangers or actor who played Skippy on Family Ties. I also thoroughly admire his professionalism as he feigns enthusiasm as he introduces every has-been actor and no-longer cute enough to be on Disney Channel ingénue that will be featured for a grand total of 18 seconds sandwiched between the next four hours of  bad lip-synced performances and performing proofs that Broadway is dead. I also love the way they haphazardly assign the celebrities to the various floats they will be riding on. At our house we like to turn it into a great drinking game. You take one shot for a mildly awkward pairing and two shots for a completely bizarre parade match. “Oh my lord! Did they just say that next up is the Teletubbies float featuring the cast of 50 Shades of Gray? Somebody hand me the bottle.”

And for pure unadulterated danger, nothing beats giant inflatable cartoon characters being controlled what by looks like the cast of Degrassi. I just love how no one finds it reckless that they take these gigantic animated versions of the Hindenberg and try to maneuver then down one of the busiest streets in the United States. Even better yet, remember what happened when Snoopy collided with a building a couple of years ago and the chunks of concrete that fell off and killed someone. The response was that the following year they put guidelines in that only certain balloons could be flown if the winds were more than 25 miles per hour. 25 m.p.h.? The school zone in my neighborhood is only 15. Maybe no one has realized the danger of gas filled balloons in an urban parade. Apparently they never saw the end of the first Batman movie.

Most of all I love the pure aw shucks awesomeness of the entertainment that the Macy’s parade provides. It is like entertainment paella, lots of really weird ingredients that combine to make something utterly delicious. There is the joy of watching marching band after marching band stroll by and know that everyone of them probably go to a better high school than you went to. There is that complete train wreck of the coverage by the cast of the Today show and the belief that at any moment Ann Curry may show up and deal out some morning show justice. There is the slight feeling of sadness every time that Al Roker is on the screen. Boy I sure do miss the fat Al Roker but at least I now know that no matter how much weight you lose that your head stays the exact same size. Most of all, there is the magic, even at my age, of the appearance of Santa and the ushering in of the best time of year. Christmas still has some magic left in it and it gives me an excuse to be nice without the usual sarcasm I employ to protect my ego. Most of all, I know that the parade must be awesome, or else how could they keep using it to fool people into watching the dog show that comes on after it and think that is entertainment.

 

FOOTBALL.

 

Thanksgiving without football would be just sad and pathetic. And we already have a holiday that is sad and pathetic, we call it my birthday. I love football and no amount of tryptophan can take the luster off these feelings. No I am not talking about the NFL triple header that fills the t.v. screen but rather the game of sand lot football that breaks out each Thanksgiving Day with out fail. It always starts out as a relaxed and friendly game of catch but soon evolves into final act from The Longest Yard. It’s good to get out in the cool air and engage in some healthy competition with the people you love, but why when we start the game up do I always end up covering my 18 year old varsity football playing nephew. He ends up being more open than a 7-11. After I fake my umpteenth asthma attack of the game I finally get someone else with that special “it” to cover him…yeah it’s called athletic ability. That’s when I get to settle in for the position that I was born to play, head hunting middle linebacker. I don’t care who are. If you are going to run a crossing route across the middle, get ready for some pain. “Jeesh Grandma!  Stop you whining! I will buy you another cane.” Ultimately the game winds down so that means its time for our other physical activity, eating.

 

HISTORY.

 

Thanksgiving is above all, the ultimate American holiday. It involves family, food and fun. It is a holiday that at its center is about being grateful for the freedoms we enjoy and that particular thing that made our country what it is today, having the Indians help us survive and then stealing their land.

 

So Happy Thanksgiving everyone…………………………………..everyone but the sloths.

 

Last Wheel and Testament

“Who’s gonna drive you home, tonight?”- The Cars

As you may have heard me mention, I really love history. The facts and dates of events from a long time past are to me as entertaining as any sit-com(excluding Family Guy) or any television drama( oh goody another Law and Order series). But more than being a series of random facts and figures, they are a narrative of who we are as people and how we got here. The characters that we have met along that journey continue to inspire us today. We all know the pantheon of historical figures that still have lessons to teach us. Whether it was DaVinci showing how art and science can mutually exist with the same man or George Washington’s lessons that a man in a powdered wig can still be macho, we know the names and stories of the historical heavy hitters. The most interesting of all historical figures, at least to me, are the inventors. You know them, Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin, Tesla( the guy that created radio transistors not the crappy 80s hair metal band) and …….um…….whatshisname…..the guy that created the WHEEL. That’s right, one of the most important inventions in history and we don’t even know the guys name. Talk about getting shafted. Don’t think the wheel is that big of a deal, then imagine the world without it.

IT would be really horrible if the wheel had never been invented. Imagine, if you will( no that’s too polite, change that to IMAGINE IT DAMMIT), a world without wheels. If the only way to move goods from place to place was by imitating that lame “wheel barrow race” you do with your cousin at the family reunion. Sucks doesn’t it. And that’s just for starters. No yo-yos, no trains to look at and say,”gee I wonder if its hard to drive a train”,and no Richard Simmon’s Deal-a-meal. And most importantly, imagine a world where a trip to work involved saddle sores and a constant shoveling of horse..um..deposits….the only bright side would be that the street cleaners would really start earning their money. It’s a world I would rather not live in.

The true value of an invention is the long-term impact it has on civilization long after the inventor’s time has passed.There are so many inventions that were obsolete as soon as they left the workshop, but not the wheel.  If you happened to be one of those great minds that invented the library card catalogue, the chalk board, and the 8 track tape then I think you see my point. While items like video stores, payphones and phones that you can’t watch cat videos on have become nothing more than additions to the refuse pile of history, the wheel is alive and kicking. Airplanes,yep using wheels, bicycles, that’s a wheel user too, and most importantly the automobile are the inventions solely based on the continued success of the wheel.

The automobile. It is truly the greatest thing that we can thank the wheel for. Well, we can also thank the wheel for giving Pat Sajak a safe outlet for all of his energies that otherwise would have turned him into an uncontrollable killing machine, but that is a story for another time. Just think of the many ways that cars have impacted out lives. First of all there is transportation, a traffic jam that consisted of a bunch of people just walking to work would make for far many more physical confrontations. The movie Cars would be considerably less action packed without the …you know…cars. The MTV show “Pimp my Wagon” could be just a little too weird for my tastes. And thousands of rednecks crammed into Nascar stadiums to watch herds of goats turn left would not have quite the entertainment value that one searches for.Most importantly, without cars one would have to make out with their dates on horseback, which requires a level of balance that too many of us just don’t have. So here’s to the car, getting ugly dudes chicks since 1921.

The auto is a great invention but it is time to really make it better. Here are a few of my personal modifications.

  • Replace your headlights with strobe lights and make traffic look like you’re in an old timey movie.
  • Mount a pair of handlebars to your roof luggage rack. Tell the kids that if they don’t sit back and be quiet you are going to make them ride “topside”.
  • Change horn from ” HONK” to one that says, “Oppan Gangamstyle”.
  • cloaking device for car when you call in “sick” and then have to make a beer run.
  • Replace side windows with real life ant farms so the kids get a taste of science on their way to school.
  • Outlet on back of car that emits oil slick and tacks. Why should James Bond have all the fun?
  • Some sort of translator that will inform squirrels that once you have crossed 3/4 of a street you are not allowed to double back in the opposite direction.
  • Waffle dispenser
  • On board game of Risk to occupy my time when I have to “pull up and wait for the fries”.
  • Wireless cell phone charger. There are so many cords in my front seat that it looks like a plate at Olive Garden.
  • Abacus so I can accurately answer the question,” Sir, how many drinks have you had tonight?”
  • Football  team car flags that actually stay where you put them.
  • Anti-Kardasian laser beam.
  • That inflatable Autopilot from the “Airplane” movie.
  • Enough Starbucks for the whole trip home

Now that we have improved the machinery of the automobile, we need to do something about the drivers. Thanks to the steadily shrinking budgets in the public school systems, driver’s education is becoming more and more rare. Thank Goodness. I took Driver’s Ed and as anyone who has seen me try to parallel park can confirm, Driver’s Ed doesn’t teach you any of the skills you actually need. Well thanks to a blank check I found while rifling through my neighbor’s garbage, I now have the means to embark on my idea of a chain of driving schools. It will be just like a McDonald’s that teaches you to drive. And just like McDonald’s, the service will be lousy, the employees incompetent and when you get home you will realize that you just got ripped off.

My classes will feature the skills you need to be an expert driver in today’s modern world. No longer accepting the scared straight method of making new drivers fear the auto, I will teach them to embrace it like a drunk creepy “uncle”. Here is just a sample of some of the lessons(Gratituity is appreciated):

  •  Do not casually approach your care and make sure all lights and mirrors are in proper working order. Sprint to the car like you are being chased by zombies, it is a proven fact that an abnormally high heart rate makes you a better driver. If you approach your car from the passenger side, slide across the hood a la Starsky and Hutch to get in the driving mood.
  • Do not text while driving. Any fool can type out “lol” while driving the car with your knees. A true expert can perform more complex tasks like origami or performing circumcisions.
  • Proper placement of hands on the steering wheel is important. No, not that “ten and two” crap. Place your left hand palm side done at high noon and lean over to rest your right hand on the gear shift, even if it is an automatic. You are probably going to die in the car anyway, you might as well look cool while doing it.
  • It is important to know the language of driving. Being able to expertly mouth your favorite cuss words so that the guy who just cut you off in traffic can understand them when he looks in his rear view mirror is a highly valued  skill.
  • Gentlemen, when your curvaceous girlfriend is riding in the front seat with you, you need to find a parking lot with as many speed bumps as possible. And yes, you can thank me later.
  • If riding with any woman in the car, she gets to control the a.c. and you get to control the radio. It is perfectly fine to be seen at a stop light sweating/freezing but it is never o.k. to be at said stoplight with Justin Beiber’s latest hit escaping from your speakers.
  • Try to keep yourself entertained on long car trips, I suggest turning the radio to an a.m. frequency that only has static and then pretend you are the last man on earth and its time to formulate your plan on how to defeat the alien menace.
  • Final exam: order an entire dozen of donuts via the drive through at your local pastry shop, specifically telling the order taker the exact type and quantity of items that you require.

Well, that about sums up my lessons on the car, and just in time……………………………………

The city bus is almost here.

He got game

I am sorry that I never learned to speak Chinese.

There are always some tell tale signs that the weekend is winding down. There is animation on the Fox Network. The dishes has been washed and put away, not that this was especially difficult considering that lunch was take-out and dinner consisted of PB&J.( Heck it was a day of rest for the resident cook too). The last bits of remaining homework are completed and the backpacks are all ready for Monday morning. The next week’s clothes are laid out and ironed. And the self delusion lies, about the “projects” we are going to tackle “next weekend” and how we are going to have to get to church next Sunday, are in the air. Inevitably, with all this completed, attention turns to a way to have a wholesome evening of family fun before the hideous specter of Monday morning is able to make its appearance. Since grabbing our torches and pitchforks and heading down to the outskirts of town in order to torment the town witch is considered passe’, we find the something just as wrought with anger and vitriol……. Family Game Night.

Now I have long professed my love for the wonderful human beings with whom I share my home and I do thoroughly enjoy the mind building exercises offered by many table top gaming enterprises, but for some reason when you combine the two something always goes awry. Not that there have not been some wonderful times spent while gathered around the dining room table rolling dice and moving various pieces of plastic around a thin piece of cardboard.During those times together, you learn some very powerful lessons about the members of your family. These lessons reveal what type of people your family has become. Unfortunately, what you learn that your family has become……is a group of people who cheat at board games. And despite what all the Mafia movies have taught, there is absolutely no honor among thieves.

The games always start with the greatest of intentions. Everyone greets each other warmly and makes some passing comment about how great it is to turn off the t.v. and be together. Then it begins, there is the sudden jockeying for the “good” chair, you know, that one piece of furniture in the house that doesn’t require a thrice folded piece of cardboard to prevent it from rocking like a three legged table on the deck of the Andrea Gail. Then there is the customary battle for the right to go first. Is it by age? By sex? By assigning  a number value to each letter of everyone’s name and using those values to determine whose name contains the most prime numbers? It is at this point that what began as a peaceful sojourn into the dining room has now become the War Room scene from Dr. Strangelove. Either that or the yard at San Quentin. This is the primary reason why I am opposed to plural marriage. Going through this once a month is bad enough. I refuse to repeat this chaos three fold at my Sister Wives’ homes.

I can’t really blame my family for going somewhat bonkers at these events, the true culprit is a timing issue. The timing issue is that it happens to be Sunday, and Sundays just plain suck. Now one must understand the dichotomy of the  Lord’s Day in order to fully comprehend the inherent problems that the day brings. For Sunday is actually two different days rolled up into one. And like all twins, one is good and the other is pure evil . Good Sunday begins in the morning. And let’s face it, any morning that features the consumption of bacon is a good thing. Then as a bonus, there is usually the opportunity to sleep in. There is another large and usually home cooked meal just around the corner at lunch, keep racking up the points don’t ya Sunday. And then, like an extra order of unpaid for wontons in your bag from the Takee Outee, there is FOOTBALL. What a blissfull and wonderful day, for Sunday has become the king of all days. Then about 5 o’clock it happens. You hit the wall. You come to the realization that in a matter of hours you have to return to work/school/ correction facility and you see the evil that Sunday morphs into. For not only is the joyfulness of the day ruined but now you have to bust your ass to get bathed, clothes laid out, meals planned, and mentally prepared for the workweek. All activities that you could have been doing instead of eating bacon, gorging on fried chicken and gambling the kids college fund in the company office pool. ( Friendly tip: Never wager on anything at work. If you lose, they know the exact day when you will have the money to pay up).

Sunday is like a spa retreat. It begins as a soothing massage while listening to the cool sounds of free form jazz. The afternoon ends,however, feeling like you are in the middle of a ukelele, kazoo and vuvuzela concert while your mouth is stuffed full of poison ivy and ghost chili peppers. So you can understand why a game of parcheesi is so difficult to endure.

It’s not just the end of the weekend psyche that makes pulling off game night a challenge, the games themselves are also to blame.While the toy industry continues to keep itself fresh and new to keep pace with kids ever changing needs, the basic method of play has remained essentially unchanged. Whether it’s Lincoln Logs, Tinkertoy, or Legos, building toys all have similar play methods. G.I. Joe or Darth Vader, action figures are action figures. And, I don’t care if its Barbie, Ken. Bratz, Monster High, Winx Club or even Kim Kardasian and Ray J’s anatomically correct “Make your own Internet video” play set, little girls don’t need instructions to know how to play.

But, oh no, not board games. Each new board game is more complex and confusing than the one that came before. It isn’t just the complicated ones that are the problem, the new simple ones are just plain stupid. There is Cuponk, a game involving the speedy stacking of plastic cups. We had a game like that when I was younger, it was called,”OH MY LORD! Grab and hide all those plastic cups full of booze cause I just saw Mom walking up the driveway.” And for every Checkers or Bingo there is some new completely illogical, unnecessarily confusing game that I need a P.H.D. and a decoder ring just to set it up. Even if you try to stick to the classics, something bad always happens. If we haven’t played a certain game in a while, when we pull it out, we can never remember exactly how to play it. If the game has 3 boards, 156 plastic pawns and 18 different sized dice, there will always be one thing that got lost…the directions. So you dump out the box and see a small piece of white paper go fluttering under the couch. You dive for it like Indiana Jones in the night club scene from Temple of Doom and thrust your hand under the aforementioned davenport. After extracting more dust bunnies that the cast of Watership Down, you retrieve the directions.. You thrust it into the air like the Stanley Cup and then you realize that it is page 5 of 212. Oh yeah, it’s in Chinese because a game with multiple action cards written in English, is such a huge hit in Beijing.

Just the other day, we decided to play The Game of Life. We all sat down, set up the game and were ready to get it going when we discovered that the directions were missing. So here we were, playing The Game of Life without any indication as to the best way to go. It felt like a great metaphor for something. That’s right, it was a metaphor for…….Monopoly.Since we didn’t have the rules, and you can’t play without rules or you get board game anarchy, so we made up our own. So if you find yourself a little lost in The Game of Life, feel free to use my rules:

  • Tails never fails.
  • If you break it you buy it.
  • If you chip it, just put the bad side in a corner facing the wall.
  • If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying.
  • If you are cheating, you really don’t have to be trying that hard.
  • Eating is cheating, so no late night ice cream if you are on a diet.
  • Women, men hate it when you fake it. So if you line up to punt then you better  kick the ball away.
  • Time doesn’t fly when you are having fun, money does.
  • Nothing good happens after 2a.m., but your friends don’t need to know that.
  • You were born with two eyebrows, try to keep it that way. Women: that doesn’t mean 0. Men: that doesn’t mean 1.
  • Saying,”but I have a black friend” makes you more racist not less.
  • You one vote doesn’t count.Sorry,it’s called the Electoral College. Look it up.
  • If you are that miserable, tell a therapist not Facebook.
  • There is no macho way to talk about the stuff you find on Pinterest.
  • Math matters.
  • Language and grammar matter.
  • Science matters.
  • But without History, you won’t know why they matter.
  • Two wrongs don’t make a right but three rights will take you around the block.
  • If you can’t cut the mustard, that is because it is a liquid.Use a spoon.
  • It isn’t how fast you run, it’s how good a lead you started with.
  • Christian Gray is a fictional character. I’m sorry about that, maybe next time.
  • Don’t count you chickens before they hatch. Because before they hatch, they aren’t chickens they are eggs.
  • Excuse my French, you are a bout to hear another “f” word.
  • Rolling doubles three times will not get you out of jail, but it will get you an invitation to the prison Yahtzee tournament .
  • Idle hands are the devil’s tools, and so are left handed scissors.
  • Rome was not built in a day, but it was destroyed in one.
  • Variety is not the spice of life, garlic is.

Well, those are the rules we came up with and now it’s my turn to roll the dice…………………………………………

Can I sit in the “good” chair?

The night time is the right time

“What hath night to do with sleep?”
John Milton, Paradise Lost

It’s been a good day. Although officially that good day ended at midnight but I am not here to argue over a few measly hours. The kids had good days at school, my wife’s cold is improving, and there has not been any police activity on my street in nearly 2 weeks. All is good. Today, er, yesterday also was interesting in the way that so many people have started to connect with some of the inane ramblings that this blog has become. I am honored that some are enjoying it although I admit it is a little overwhelming in that I now feel the need to actually try to write something good more than once a fortnight. So it is inevitable that the peace of the day would come to a grinding halt as the sun goes down. Although I do love the daylight hours, living in Florida makes that a necessity, the night has always been a challenge for me. For the night is the domain of my enemy and his name is Sleep.

First of all, I need to establish the fact that I am not a medical insomniac( oh, “medical insomniac” is a great band name too). It’s not that I am physically unable to sleep,it’s just that my brain for some reason keeps derailing my snooze train before it leaves the station. I have a busy day, do lots of physical activity, drink one alcoholic beverage to calm my nerves, then follow that with several others to kill the nerves that won’t calm down, and then put on my footie pajamas with the rocket ships on them and head to bed for a night of blissful slumber. As I settle in and prepare to drift off, it happens. Just one thing. A tiny random thought will creep into the theater of my mind and before I know it, he has propped open the back door and let in all of his slack-jawed yokel friends. They rush into my thoughts and kick sleep’s ass all the way to the curb.

I try to evict them but they just dig in their heels and chain themselves to my psyche. I can’t ignore them and I can’t get rid of them so I must find another way to regain my control of the night. I log on to the computer, a necessary step to anyone who wants to self diagnose what are probably significant psychiatric problems, and see what ole doctor internet can do to fix me up. The main solution seems to be sleep inducing medications. I am sorry but that just isn’t going to work. The various sleeping meds that I see advertised on television, I don’t have a Tivo so I have to actually watch the commercials, always include such dire warning labels. Here is just a few of them:

  • Burning or tingling in the hands, arms, feet, or legs. Good luck drifting off to sleep if you feel like you are wearing skinny jeans made of fire ants.
  • Changes in appetite. Duh. You can’t eat when you are asleep.
  • Constipation. Gross.
  • Diarrhea. That is exactly what I need to have when I am about to be made artificially unconscious for 8 hours.
  • Difficulty keeping balance. Have you seen how much these pills cost? I doubt I will have any balance left in my account.
  • Dizziness. Honestly, I probably wouldn’t even notice.
  • Drowsiness. Um, that is not a side effect. That is what I want to happen.
  • Dry mouth or throat. It’s Ambien, not Maui Wowee.
  • Gas. A dutch oven isn’t just what a cowboy uses to cook with.
  • Headache. Figures.
  • Heartburn. How the hell can I get heartburn when it is supposed to make me not be able to eat. Geesh
  • Stomach pain or tenderness. I am counting sheep, not letting them run over me.
  • Uncontrollable shaking of a part of the body. Hey, do I at least get to choose which part?
  • Unusual dreams. So the one I am having lately about the aardvarks and the lawn gnomes covered in chocolate syrup is considered normal?
  • Weakness. Of course I am weak. I CAN”T FREAKIN GO TO SLEEP.

I have had this problem with sleep for a while, even since I was a kid. There were only one way to fix it back then. The only remedy was good ole Nyquil. I loved Nyquil. No, not the taste. Grape or cherry? How about not. It only had one flavor, and it was straight Liquid Hell. It was so nasty that just thinking about it makes my tongue swell. What I admired about it, was that it did exactly what it was supposed to do, put  enough barbiturates in your young body to knock out half of Seattle. That’s why Nyquil  has a name with only 2 syllables. Because you are gonna be asleep before you get to syllable number 3. Remember how your mom would always give you Nyquil in your room? Know why? Because if you took it in the bathroom, you would probably drown. To show how great this “cold medicine” was, they now have a version that doesn’t treat any symptoms, it just knocks you out…er, let’s you fall asleep. My only problem with it was the odd warning on the bottle.”May impair your ability to operate heavy machinery”. Damn. That is just what every 12-year-old with a 104 degree fever wants to do at 3 in the morning, go joy riding a bulldozer. Thanks for nothing Nyquil.

Since our medicine cabinet seems to be devoid of any  of the aforementioned liquid horse tranquilizer, I will follow the only other advice I could find. It says to clear your mind by writing down all of the thoughts that are keeping you awake. O.k. Here goes:

  • What’s that noise?
  • Did I leave the iron on?
  • Can I get a rash underneath my skin?
  • What ever happened to Pauly Shore?
  • What if they are right about soccer?
  • That guy at the gas station sure looked a lot like Carrottop.
  • Is it o.k. to hate that Honey Boo Boo family, including the kid?
  • Did I set my fantasy football line up in time?
  • How can the Ice T on Law and Order SVU be the same guy that used to sing “Cop killer”?
  • Is that a bump?
  • I don’t remember buying these underwear.
  • Is Cats now and forever?
  • What ever happened to Right Said Fred?
  • If I had to pick 3 sister wives, could I make them give me a résumé?
  • Mmmmmmm. Chocolate.
  • What are gummy bears actually made of?
  • I want to go to Disney World.
  • If I had to defuse a bomb, which wire would I cut?
  • Could I fight off a monkey if I had to?
  • The idea of flying invisible zombies is really scary.
  • What if my wife didn’t know I was kidding?

This is so stupid. I wrote all the things down and nothing seems different at all. What a complete and total waste of ti……………………………….zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

And they call me odd

 

C-3PO: Sir, the possibility of successfully navigating an asteroid field is approximately 3,720 to 1.

Han Solo: Never tell me the odds.

Batting averages, success rates, chances of rain, amount of Ivory soap that is pure……the world is just chock full of percentages. And unlike grammar,spelling, and dividing fractions, understanding percentages is one of the actual useful skills still being taught in today’s public schools. It’s a simple concept that even the most feeble of minds can comprehend and in fact, the most difficult thing about percentages in our modern world is finding the percentage sign on the computer keyboard. By the way, it’s on the 5. So, sorry Han Solo, but I am about to drop some serious odds knowledge on ya.

  • Chance of successfully navigating asteroid field: 2.68%
  • Chance that, prior to them finding out they were siblings, that Luke and Leia “hooked up”: 40%
  • According to Time magazine, percentage of Americans who would like Bruce Springsteen to compose a new National Anthem: 22%
  • Based on my experience at football games, percentage of people who think the actual national anthem is currently either Lee Greenwood‘s “Proud to be an American” or “Sweet Home Alabama” : 73%
  • According to famous quote by Thomas Edison, percentage of success that is inspiration: 10%. Percentage of success that is perspiration: 90%
  • Percentage of people in front of me in line at Wal-mart  wearing deodorant: 13%
  • Percentage of people in Alaska that walk to work: 11%
  • Percentage of Alaskans eaten by bears while walking to work: 10.75%
  • Percentage of greeting cards purchased by women: 93%
  • Percentage of greeting cards that were actually mailed: 18%
  • Success rates of flu shots: 70%
  • Success rates of tequila shots: 116%
  • In the U.S.A., percentage of people who work while eating lunch: 32%
  • In the U.S.A, percentage of people referred to as “ass-kissers” or “brown-noses” by their co-workers: 32%
  • Odds of me finding, a previously forgotten, bag of high quality coffee beans in my pantry: 19%
  • Odds of me being out of half-and-half on that same day: 97%
  • Percentage of serial killers that like powdered creamers: 98.58%
  • Amount of watermelon that is actually water: 92%
  • Amount of watermelon that is actually seeds: 75%
  • According to the federal government, percentage of Americans that eat fast food on a daily basis: 25%
  • Chances of actually getting what you order when you go through the drive thru: 9.6%
  • Percent of girls in Bangladesh that are married by age 18: 73%
  • Percent of people who just turned the word,”Bangledesh” into a sex joke: 58%
  • According to surveys, amount of American married men who have cheated on their wives: 70%
  • Percentage of married women that ,after being cheated on, do some revenge cheating of their own: 85%
  • Percentage of unfaithful men who can say “@#$*” about their wives cheating: 0%
  • Odds of breaking your toe after hitting it on edge of chair: 8%
  • Odds that you will hit that same toe on every piece of furniture in the house: 95%
  • According to Time magazine, percentage of American 4 year olds that are obese: 20%
  • Percentage of Americans who  watch Here Comes Honey Boo Boo that are responsible for the decay of civilization: 100%
  • Percentage of  people in Kentucky that are teenagers the first time they get married: 50%
  • Percentage of those people in Kentucky whose first marriage does not involve their cousin: 12%
  • Chances that I give a rat’s ass about anything having to do with Kentucky: 0%
  • Percentage of Americans that know the sun is a star: 55%
  • Percentage of Americans that think Kim Kardasian is even though she serves no actual purpose and has become little more than a wart on the rather large backside of American pop culture: 24%
  • Odds of me finishing this post without getting distracted or sidetracked: 3%
  • Percent of U.S. male college students that think life is a “meaningless existential hell”: 27%
  • Percent of U.S. male college students that are a complete buzz kill to be around: 27%
  • Percentage of readers of this blog that probably are convinced that I need professional help: 85%
  • Percentage of readers that are correct: 85%

 

The hills are not alive. Probably lying about other things too

 

“Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens                                                                                                                                                       Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens                                                                                                                                             Brown paper packages tied up with strings”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I know what you are thinking,”What the hell is Mary Poppins doing  in the mountains?” I wondered the same thing. I love the classic movies that I was exposed to in  childhood. But for every Old Yellar and Wizard of Oz, there are hundreds of other films that everybody refers to as “classics”, because calling them good films would be false advertising. Now, I love Julie Andrews and always will and it amazes me how she still looks so great after all these years, but as much as I admire her, I just can’t stand the Sound of Music. Maybe I am just too cynical, but the whole things just doesn’t add up. Despite my misgivings about the film, I have to admit that I admire the way that it has been implanted into every one’s cultural consciousness. Right now, as you read this, you are envisioning a young Julie as Maria spinning around on a hillside singing. The only problem is that when I think of that scene, all I can see is Chevy Chase in lederhosen singing, “The hills are alive with the sound of Griswald…..”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First about the basics. Her name is Maria? I thought this was a movie filmed in Bavaria, not the south side of Los Angeles. If I can’t suspend my disbelief longer enough to get past the opening credits, good luck getting me to buy into the actual hackneyed plot this movie has. O.k., O.k. Her name is Maria. I will try to move on. The film is a romantic musical set in the Austrian area along the German border. I don’t know about you, but when I think romance, I think Germany. I know it was in Austria and no offense was meant but you see I went to public schools and I my only source of geographical knowledge came from a school with a globe that still referred to our country as The Colonies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anyway, back to the movie. Maria is a nun living in the convent who basically is just a bad fit in the sisterhood. Two things. First of all, like there are just sooooo many nuns in the world that any group of them would turn away anyone even remotely interested in joining. Hell, these sisters are more selective than Augusta National. Secondly, the way the nuns were portrayed in the movie, specifically the way they mistreated Maria, it looked less like a holy order and more like Delta Delta Delta. So here is young Maria ready to confirm her devotion to a holy order and the best advice they have for her is that she needs to go live with a lonely man who has more kids than the set of Cheaper by the Dozen.And what’s with Maria singing every time she goes anywhere? That’s not moving the story along, that’s an emotional disorder and it’s not exactly the type of person that you want taking care of your kids. Of course, the dad wouldn’t know that because he doesn’t show up until the movie is half over. The first actual male character we meet is Rolf, no not the dog that played piano on The Muppets, but one of the older daughter’s love interest, who is seen as a sympathetic character, even after he ends up being a Nazi.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s another problem. The Nazis, granted they are the bad guys in this story, are portrayed less as the embodiment of pure evil, which they were, and more like some really irritating neighbors. In Sound of Music, they appear to be little more than Kramer in a brown uniform and jack boots. Except this time, Kramer’s latest hair brained scheme involves the annexation of  an entire country and the elimination of the Jewish race, actually that part of the Nazi’s plan was never referenced in the Rodger’s and Hammerstein play nor the movie that followed it. I guess it is just hard to find a word that rhymes with genocide.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So now we get to the part where the absent father of this brood finally returns home. However, he has a great excuse. He is a captain or baron in the Austrian Navy. HOLD UP! WAIT A MINUTE! The Austrian Navy? O.k. Granted that I did attend Florida State University and it is not the most prestigious center of learning in the United States but, the last time I looked, Austria was a land locked country . And yet, they have a navy? That makes about as much sense as being a member of the Iowa Coast Guard. So Count Chocula…I mean Baron Georg von Trapp, personally I wouldn’t trust a guy who dropped the “e” off of his first name anyway, returns to the family with the woman Elsa that he intends to marry. Her come the kids in…get this…play clothes that Maria has made from curtains. I loved this scene the first time I saw it…in Gone with the Wind. Elsa is immediately suspicious of Maria, who enters the room wearing a bikini made out of venetian blinds.(just kidding). I love the subtle way that the producers let everyone figure out that the Baron is going to kick Elsa to the curb and the only question is when. Right along this point in the movie there is introduced some random creepy uncle/music producer/ Guest on How to Catch a Predator named Max that says something about showcasing the kids talents in singing at a festival and I think that is when Maria suggests that  little Michael should be lead singer and then Marlon and Tito go off and pout until they find out how they are needed for the song” A.B.C.1.2.3.”, or I think that’s what happens. Sorry, but I kept flipping between the Sound of Music and The Jacksons miniseries over on VH1, so I might have gotten it a little confused.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At this time, Maria gets all whiny and runs back to the convent, sisters should have changed those locks, and decides to take her monastic vows. That is until, the Sister Superior( which by the way is what I am going to name my punk band so don’t steal it) explains to her that in reality she loves the Baron von Trapp and should go back to him and declare her love. And she does. Because if there is one person in the world that knows about all the delicate intricacies of the male and female dynamic it is a nun that has spent her whole life in a convent. I swear a convent is just like a life long version of Girls Gone Wild.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Act1 ends and he is where we are. The kids can sing. The Germans want to make the Baron a German officer. He hates the Germans. Elsa loves the Germans. Maria loves the Baron. The Baron loves Maria. Like Chuck Cunningham on Happy Days, Elsa goes upstairs and is never seen again. And I hate all of them.Since the Germans are known for their power of persuasion, they inform the baron that he is to report to some German place  that I can’t spell to begin his duty. He explains that the entire family has to perform at a festival(worst Lollapalooza ever) and that he will report after their performance. The Germans agree because if it’s one thing that the Nazis were known for it was their patience.

 

So the family sings on what can be described as an early version of Austrian Idol and although Simon Cowell makes the youngest von Trapp girls cry, they win. Please stop the suspense it is killing me. But, when the Seacrest tries to present the family with their prize, they are nowhere to be found. They have fled and are crossing 300 hundred miles of German occupied mountainous country on their way to freedom in neighboring Switzerland. They stop to rest and are discovered by Rolf, the Nazi not the Muppet, who shoots them all dead. No wait, that was just a dream I had. Rolf lets them go and they safely reach Switzerland where they spend the rest of their lives getting fat off Swiss chocolates, wearing Swatch watches and having migraines from the continual noise from the thousands of cuckoo clocks in the country.

 

Everybody lives happily ever after. Especially me because the movie is over. I have been thinking a lot about how to improve this movie and during my research I learned something very disturbing. The von Trapps were actually real people. Their story is the actual inspiration for this movie. I felt a little better about the movie until I read that almost nothing in the movie was historically accurate. First of all, the Baron was not quite the noble sailor that he is portrayed to be. He was actually a submarine captain in the Austro-Hungary navy (an ally of Germany) in World War 1. He sank not only enemy vessels but also over 11 unarmed merchant ships. His luxurious house and money came not from his war honors but rather from his first wife who happened to be the granddaughter of the inventor of the torpedo and when she died of cancer, he got paid. “I’m not saying he’s a gold-digger, but he ain’t messin with….”

 

Maria was not hired as the governess to all the kids(there were in fact 10) but rather as a babysitter to watch one who was suffering from scarlet fever. Not exactly the hardest babysitting job in history. Maria, by her own words, didn’t love the baron but instead was crazy about the kids. Not the first marriage to stay together because of kids. And the reason she probably didn’t love him was….drum roll please……..he was 25 years older than her. What’s the male Austrian version of a cougar? I know what it is. It’s Baron.  (I was going to do a joke about musical older men who marry what are basically children much to the chagrin of the rest of the world but wasn’t sure if I was going to use Jerry Lee Lewis or the guy from Nickelback as the punchline)

 

The movie events also weren’t accurate in terms of time. The von Trapps did not get married on the eve of World War 2 but rather back in 1927, thank God I didn’t have to suffer through 10 years of plot filler if they had actually portrayed the correct timeline. Finally, the family did not escape by foot into Switzerland but rather by train into Italy where von Trapp was also a citizen. Let us digest that fact for a moment. They escaped into the country run by Mussolini. Really makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

 

So before I leave this subject let me tell you what I would have done to make this movie not just good, but awesome. There are three things to fix it. They are…….

 

Dick…..Van….Dyke

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Here I am. Rock me like a…….

They say you never forget your first time.

He was born in the Cape Verde islands. He grew up fast and rugged. He was strong and tenacious and he set out for the New World. I was a meager young elementary student just starting to find my way in the world. He arrived in the isle of Santo Domingo in late August and tore the place up. I sat at home and waited for his arrival, slightly nervous at his approach. His Caribbean stop was but a minor delay and soon he was on a direct path to my home here in Jacksonville. Although anxious, I was also quite mesmerized by his power and wonder what it would mean for me and my friends. He continued to grow nearer, and my excitement turned to dread. Then,just like every major rock band in the last 20 years, Hurricane David in 1979 decided to skip Jacksonville all together.

I am a Florida boy and hurricanes, and their short bus riding cousins,  tropical storms, have always been a part of my life. From that early memory of the storm that bullied its way past our city and on into Savannah Georgia, I learned how to deal with them. First, a word about Jacksonville geography. Our fair city sits in an indention on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean and is  less than 130 miles from the Gulf of Mexico making us the meat in a rather  unpleasant tropical weather sandwich. Additionally,  we are on the Gulf stream, that expressway of warm water that runs along the eastern coast of the United States, which as anyway that has ever had the misfortune to stay in Motel 6 will confirm, sleeping next to the expressway just plain sucks.

From June to October, tropical weather systems are life pawn shops in Vegas and white people in Wisconsin, simply a fact of life. I have a healthy respect for nature’s power as regards wind and rain and as I learned that time I peed on the electric fence, the awesome power of electricity is nothing to trifle with(it still burns a little). But for all the majesty of natural storms, having to deal with the b.s. that comes with it, is sometimes too much to bear.

As we are approaching the anniversary of Katrina and since there seems to be another storm heading toward New Orleans.  I feel that I must confess that I find the almost criminal way that the U.S. government failed the people  in Katrina’s aftermath to be appalling. However, that being said, if you are harmed by a hurricane, you’re a dumb ass. Unlike the other major natural disasters that affect the U.S., namely tornadoes, earthquakes and the Kardasians, there is always ample warning before a hurricane strikes. I like to think of each version of natural disasters as kind of like  street crimes. Earthquakes are basically like being in a liquor store robbery, if you go to that kind of store there is always a chance that one is going to happen and occasionally someone is going to get hurt. Tornadoes are gang drive by shootings. There is no warning, they could happen anywhere and if you happen to stumble into one, odds are you are going to die. Hurricanes are bank robberies done by polite professionals who do carry guns but they call the bank three days ahead and even tell you what time a time the robbery is going to happen. So if you decide to go turn in your rolled up pennies at that time because you didn’t heed the warnings, you really can’t say you were a victim. It’s like a hurricane is a birthday party that sends out invitations and requires a r.s.v.p.

Normally this would be the point where I would point out how the advancements in meteorology and its related sciences have led to the advanced warning system that have taken much of the danger out of tropical weather systems. But let’s face it. Meteorology is a crock. No, not the scientific study of weather, but rather the bastardized version of that science that is propagated by those charlatans on the 6 o’clock news, namely weatherman and women. Now, I appreciate that I can use my smart phone to see whether there is rain on the way but I can thank the fine people at Apple or Samsung for that ability not some j.a. in a plaid sport coat in front of a green screen. You know what my app calls the weather radar? Weather radar. Then please tell me why the same technology, when it is on the news, has to be referred to Super-mega-Doppler 25.365.25B. I understand the need to brand your newscast but I just need enough info to find out if I can play golf tomorrow, not arrange a missile launch. I would even overlook the apparent ego that goes into the radar naming if the thing actually worked correctly. Have you ever turned on the weather on a perfectly clear day and they show that there is something on the radar? Instead of excusing that obvious mistake or calling it technical issues, they say,”Oh, that’s just ground clutter”. Ground clutter? I am sorry but that sounds fairly ominous. I am sorry but if there is something called “ground clutter” outside I don’t think I would be wearing open toed shoes. This really causes me to doubt the entire “Weather team”. Boy, that sure sounds impressive. I guess it beats what I call them,”Club Suck”. I am quite convinced that, in reality, none of that electronic equipment that they pensively look into when they do the pre-weather weather report actually works. It’s like they just went into radio shack and told the salesman to fill up the cart with everything with blinking lights. That’s right there is no Doppler. Speaking of Doppler, my high school physics teacher taught us that the Doppler effect was the thing that explains why a car horn seems to get louder as a car gets nearer. So, can someone please explain what in the holy hell that has to do with the sweeping screen showing that it is apparently going to rain in blue and fuchsia for the rest of the day.

So since Doppler is just a prop, how do they forecast the weather? The ugly little secret is that every television station has a “weather dog”. About 10 minutes before its time for the weatherman to go on camera, they send the dog outside. If the dog comes back shivering, they saw it is going to be cold. If he comes back wet, they say it is going to rain. And if he doesn’t come back at all, they say it is probably going to be windy. It’s not just the technology of local weather that irritates me, it’s the personalities. First of all can we stop with the meaningless banter between anchor person and the weather dufus. Ha ha ha. Yeah, you guys are a regular Abbot and Costello with your jokes about umbrellas. Actually they are more like a Jeff Dunham act in that one of them( the anchor) is an overpaid clown and the other one (weatherman) is just a dummy. Secondly, as bad as the “Chief Meteorologist” is, talk about being king of the d.b.’s, his underlings are even worse. I am totally convinced that the weekend weather guy may be the lowest form of sentient life on this planet. But at least we now know what happens to the people who couldn’t quite cut it at Devry or ITT  Tech. Not that I blame them. Especially around this part of the country, being a weatherman is basically just assisted suicide. I don’t know how many times I could go on camera between the months of May and September and say the same thing over and over. Personally, if I had to say,”Highs in the 90s with a 30% chance of rain” for 5 months straight I would probably be looking for a bus to jump in front of too. I’s not just the monotony of information that they relay that is so boring, it’s also the way they deliver it. But, it’s not really their fault, it’s just the type of people the stations hire. Since 13% of the  American population is African-American, then will someone please tell me why 98% of weatherman are white, not just white but ultra-white. And don’t give the whole “What about Al Roker?” thing because even I have more SWAGG than Al Roker.

I know that the powers that be have tried their best to spice up the weathercast by injecting the occasional hottie into the mix but it doesn’t really help. These girls are usually under 25 with a body built for sin. Confession time: When the 90 pound ex-cheerleader in the ultra-tight mini skirt and the push up bra is talking about “colliding air masses”, relative humidity is the last thing on my mind. I am also convinced that most of these nubile young things lack shall we say the proper scientific training. Let’s face it, they went from working where guys were “making it rain” to a place where they have to talk about rain. Just seems like a logical progression to me.

Seeing how much of a soul killer that job can be, it is not so surprising that anything that will enliven the experience is grabbed onto like a lifeboat in shark infested waters. So now when a single puffy cloud appears off the coast of Africa, it is plotted and named and they create a graphic just for it. I do believe that the weatherman over emphasize the danger of even the most remote and unorganized storm just to heighten the importance of preparing for even a minor storms possible damage but, enough is enough. Can we not have twice hourly updates about Tropical Storm Edward and please stop referring to it as “The Coming Ed-pocalypse”.

Speaking of names, one of the reasons that people don’t head the warnings about storms is that the names just don’t inspire fear. Names like Guillermo and Ivan and Skippy just don’t send a strong enough message. But I guarantee you that if Hurricane Velociraptor was on its way of Tropical Depression Grizzly Bear was en route, your ass would sure as hell be gassing up and heading out-of-town. And I don’t want to hear anyone say that they didn’t know a storm was coming. When was the last time that you heard of an Amish person being killed in a hurricane? Exactly. If a group of people who think the zipper is new technology can stay out of the path of storms, then maybe you should quit watching Maury and maybe you would be safe too.

The only good bit of technology that anyone has come up with regarding weather is the way the give you a “cone of probability” as to where the storm will strike. Way to c.y.a. weather people. Really? So its going to hit land somewhere between Key West and…the Moon? Nice job of not going out on a limb there. Why don’t you go to Vegas and bet on “a horse” to win the Kentucky Derby. However, I do find it is a  handy tool to use. Each week I draw a similar cone on the calendar at work and tell my boss that I may show up sometime between Monday and Friday. “Better prepare just in case”.

So the storm comes and all you hear  about is evacuations and safety precautions and staying indoors throughout the storm. And as the storm approaches and you turn on the weather channel, where do you find the weather guy? On the beach getting sandblasted and pelted with sideways rain. Nice job Mr. “Do as I Say but not as I do”. That makes about as much sense as me setting myself on fire in order to remind my kids to not play with matches.Which brings me to the stupidest part of Hurricane Season, storm preparation.

I know that every Spring I should assemble a storm prep kit. Yes that is EXACTLY what I want to spend our tax return on, bottled water and flashlights. Even if I did plan on doing it, assembling such a kit is just a waste of time. This is what a kit should include and the reasons why I don’t bother.

  • First Aid Kit- Oooo. Band aids and aspirin are exactly what I need in case of emergency. If a storm so disrupts civilization that I have to tend to my own wounds, I am going to do whatever every body else does. Claim it was a slip and fall and then call 1-800-ASK-GARY.
  • Baby supplies( formula, diapers)- You mean there are going to be screaming babies at the shelter? No thanks. I think I will just board up my windows and ride this one out. After all isn’t it about time to find how mobile this mobile home actually is. No, I don’t live in a trailer but the truth is that if the wind blows hard enough, every home becomes mobile.
  • Medicines- Cause that’s just what desperate people who may have just lost every one of their physical possessions need, lots of Oxycotin
  • Cell phones- Yes I know the dog drowned and my family is now penniless and homeless, but look at this great casserole recipe I just found on Pinterest.
  • Plenty of cash- I am sorry. I though the sign out front said “Evacuation Center” not the “Ritz Carlton”
  • Battery operated flashlights -Unfortunately for a light to be of any use it uses one of those gargantuan hulk batteries that costs more than my first car and puts off more ambient radiation than Chernobyl. No thanks. I will just use candles. I know the experts say that using candles are a safety risk but the way I see it. If its been raining for 4 days and I have a foot of water in my living room then fire is not really a major concern of mine.
  • Battery operated or hand crank radio- On the bright side, it is the only time you will hear someone on N.P.R. get excited about anything. However, here comes the whole battery issue again. I am beginning to think the entire Hurricane  was just a scam by EverReady to bilk us out of our money. And you can forget the hand cranking of the radio.                                                                                                                                                                                                                   “I heard you were injured during the storm.””I was.” “What was it?” “Carpal Tunnel”
  • Lots of water- If the storm is bad enough, there is only one liquid I am going to be ingesting and it isn’t Evian. They also recommended filling your bath tub with water . Sorry, its gonna take more than some Clorox Cleanup and a Magic Eraser before I start taking sips of anything in my tub.
  • Prepared Canned foods and meats- If we are going to have to eat Vienna sausages and Spagetti-os in order to survive then I am going to go swimming with my toaster oven. I know there are other prepared food items available but if it is anything on the culinary scale below pizza rolls, then I am not interested. And don’t mention Spam. Despite what the Hawaiians think, Spam is not edible. In fact, I believe that Spam  was the direct cause of our involvement in World War  2. Everybody knows that the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor but does anybody know why? My theory that a land like Japan that takes food to be more than sustenance but is actually an art form just could sit idly by any longer. I figured that a country that developed Kobe beef and Sushi Grade Blue fin Tuna could not share the same ocean with an island that saw Spam as gourmet.

Even when you are all prepared, sometimes the storm doesn’t come . So you emerge from your shelter and are relieved that the most you will clean up is a couple of empty beer cans. You feel lucky and you are. And your heart goes out to the cities that aren’t so fortunate. Because you know next time…..

There is always a next time.