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.

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Hell to the Chief

Politics, n:  [Poly “many” + tics “blood-sucking parasites”]  ~Larry Hardiman

They say that politics is the second oldest profession that has an uncanny similarity to the first oldest profession. Well since I have decided to change professions and my bad knees make walking the streets a less than acceptable option, I have decided to throw my hat into the ring. So it is now that I, with great patriotic fervor and as many meaningless cliches as I can muster, announce my candidacy for the office of mayor….no, governor…..um is Sith Lord an elected position? No,really? O.k.,o.k. I guess I will just run for president. But before I sell my soul, I mean present my great solutions to the American people, I would like to make a few changes to the entire political system first. Cause trust me, it needs a lot of tinkering.

First of all, let me profess my love for the American political system. It is a great country and the freedoms that we have should never be taken for granted. In the little over 2  centuries that have passed since its founding, we have survived dangerous influences from both outside as well as from within to make us the nation we are today. This is mostly due to those great heroes of virtue that we call our founding fathers. These were great men  that many people believe are without reproach and you should not alter a single thing they did or said. Except for the whole slavery part….oh yeah and the part where women were treated as property……and oops sorry about us trying to kill off all the Indians…..and that “Irish need not apply” thing……. and they hated the Catholics….and the Jews…..and don’t forget most of them were not actually what we today would refer to as ” religious christians”. However, the biggest problem I have with the founding fathers has to do with their fashion sense. I mean really , Knickers and powdered wigs? I think not. None of this makes what they did any less remarkable but it also shows the fallibility of them as men and that the things they did may need to be changed in light of the progress we have made as a nation. It is kind of like that great dog you had as a kid, you still love him but it doesn’t mean you still don’t remember how ticked you were at him when he chewed up your baseball mitt. So here are a few of my proposals to make what I like to call Democracy 2.1

The whole “right to vote” is great and all but quit acting like your one vote makes a damn bit of difference. It’s called the electoral college and no that’s not what I would refer to as a party school. Simply put, it means that a select group of electors cast the votes that are tallied to elect the president and each elector may vote for the candidate  that the state he represents has popularly chosen, or he may cast a huge middle finger to the wishes of his state and vote for whomever the hell he chooses. Ain’t democracy great?

The ” one man one vote” idea is a concept whose time has past. If I can cast 2000 votes for the talentless hack that scammed the system to make into the final of American Idol, then I should be able to vote just as many times for the next leader of the free world.

We have got to jazz up the whole election process. I really enjoy how the Rock  The Vote people run out a bunch of random rock stars to encourage me to vote. Thank you other guy in Wham, I really appreciate how you have educated me on the importance of my civic duty. Although it is nice to see celebrities perform public service that was not ordered by a court, I am not sure if they really should be encouraging people to do anything other than quit illegally downloading their latest c.d. Be that as it may, the reason for these musical heavy hitters to do these ads is to show the young voters how cool the whole voting experience can be. Well Mr.  Idealistic 18 year-old first time voter, prepare for disappointment. There is absolutely nothing rock and roll about about waiting in line on a November day until some octogenarian version of Elsa the female Gestapo checks your i.d. and lets you into the basement of some run-down public library so you can go behind a moth eaten curtain left over from the Spanish American war and randomly choose the names of politicians, who you may or may not of ever heard of. At least we use the most cutting edge technology in our voting process., pulling a lever. Nice to know our entire political process is relying on a mechanism that resembles the board game Mousetrap. Since we are letting Milton Bradley control the machinery of our Democracy, I select all of my candidates based on what number is shown on my game of Pop-a-matic Trouble. We can do better than this people. If major league baseball can trust the internet do select its all star team then shouldn’t we be able to do so for our yearly elections. I know that the concern is and always has been about the security of voting online and the inherent fraud that the internet is known for. Have you seen the way we are electing people lately? It isn’t exactly that the machine of our republic is running on all cylinders. At least on the internet you expect to get scammed. I mean honestly is there that big of a difference between the Nigerian Lottery email and the majority of our candidates? They both bother you at the most inconvenient times, are pretending to be someone that they are not , and promise to give you things that you know are never going to happen. Oh my lord, I just described every member of congress. We go into every election knowing that we are about to get screwed. If that is the way its going to be, put it on the web so I can at least soften the blow with some free porn and funny cat videos.

Now that we have tightened the crescent wrench around the lug nuts of the voting process, let’s talk about candidates. I know you think whatever guy is running against your particular candidate is the devil incarnate destined to pilot our country straight to hell, but I have a little bit of news for you. Your candidate sucks too. Its not your fault. It’s just that thanks to the huge amounts of money in politics and the power involved, all the candidates suck. They are either big money guys bought and sold by major corporations or they are false-populists who see getting elected as a way to fame and influence. And attention to both libs and conservatives, both are the wrong guy. People ask why we don’t get better politicians. The answer is simple. Because, we don’t look for them in the right place. The majority of our elected officials are either lawyers or businessmen, not exactly the two classes of people known for high moral values. And neither class looks to change their stripes any time soon. Have any other fields produced solid political figures? Well, there are actors. Despite what your feelings may be about his policies, Ronald Reagan seemed like a good man and was a talented politician but was the exception rather than the rule. Remember that even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while. Since Reagan’s exit from the political stage , the other actors to join the fray has not been shall we say noteworthy. We even elected someone from LoveBoat, no not Captain Stubbing, nor Doc, and not even Isaac the Bartender. No siree, they elected Gopher to Congress. That’s just sad. But wait there is even one worse than that. That great state of Georgia elected Ben Jones to represent them in Washington. Ben Jones? Yeah, that’s right. Cooter from The Dukes of Hazard was a member of the national legislature, seems only fitting. Hell we even elected half of Sonny and Cher to political office, and it was Sonny. You remember Sonny Bono. He was the short mustached guy that tried to blow up the shuttle in Airplane 2. I need to give some slack to Sonny. First of all for actually being married to Cher and not killing her and secondly due to the fact that he died shortly after taking office when he skied into a tree while on vacation. Dear Lord, I know that I will probably not die with dignity but please, I ask that I do not die in a way that resembles a Wile. E. Coyote cartoon. Amen.

Now, on to my own candidacy. It is now that I declare myself a candidate for President of the Federation of Planets…er I mean the United States of America. I have decided to run because I believe that a country gets the politicians that it deserves. And let’s face it America, we deserve each other. Its like America was misbehaving and I am here to be your national version of Timeout. Why vote for me? Do I have some grand plan for the future? No. Do I guarantee economic stability? Not really. Do I have a clue what I will do? Nope. But unlike most politicians I have a unique qualification that makes me electable. I tell the truth. Do I have skeletons in my closet? Yes I do. Are their embarrassing pictures of me on the internet? Absolutely. Do I drink too much and drop f-bombs at inappropriate times? You betcha. The difference is that I won’t lie to you about it. We expect politicians to fix so much of America’s problems that they are doomed for failure. My solution is to drive down expectations. Here is what I promise to America:

  • I promise if elected that I will wear a paper hat that says “Trainee” for the first two years of my term.
  • I promise not to blame my mistakes on the previous administration but rather on the family of trolls that inhabit the west wing of the Whitehouse.
  • I promise to not spend the government’s money on fancy inauguration balls but rather on the most kick ass keg party in history.
  • I promise that the to bring back the real N.F.L. refs
  • I promise to pick Lindsey Lohan to be my running mate. It’s time to put the vice back in Vice-President.
  • I promise that I will actually admit it when I am wrong.
  • I promise to replace the Star Spangled banner with a song people actually can sing.
  • I promise that every football game gets a flyover
  • I promise to make being a Kardasian a federal offense.
  • I promise to move the capital from Washington to Disney world. It’s called Main Street U.S.A for a reason. Besides, if we are going to have a Mickey Mouse government, we ought to be where he is.
  • I promise to eliminate school uniforms from every school in the country. I will remove the thugs from our schools not just make them wear khakis.
  • I promise to help with the federal deficit by having all services be on a pay per use basis. Call out the police, you get a bill. Need the fire department, you get a bill.  Alaska invaded by Russia, in lieu of a bill I will ask that the Russians just keep Sarah Palin.
  • I promise to insist that the auto industry not make electric cars. I will demand that they make FLYING electric cars.

I am sure there will be other promises made later. I figure now all I need is a really good slogan. Let’s see. From what I have seen, all you need is a good cliche and you are in. Hope and Change? Taken. I like Ike? No, my names not Ike. Lefty loosy righty tighty? No seems too alliterative. I think I have it.

“At least we ain’t Canada. Vote Johnson 2012”

Good night and God Bless America.

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.

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.

“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.

Wash. Rinse. Apologize.

It takes a village…or is that a circus? Let’s go with village because anything even remotely clown related gives me the willies. Hell, I won’t even eat jolly Time popcorn. And the novel and movie of Stephen King’s “It”, no thank you. I would rather read that one John Grisham book over and over, because basically that’s all he did was write the same book over and over, but I digress.  The one coherent thought I was having this morning, and yes I  only get one coherent thought per day, was about how much we are interconnected.Its a “circle of life” kinda thing. I have always been a firm believer in this and even had a red rock formation built in my back yard that I use to hold my first-born aloft every morning. Well, she is now 16 and this is getting rather physically challenging to accomplish. Anyway, what was I talking about? Oh yes, the connection of all people.

I do believe that we all have a role in each other’s life. I think this means that each one of us is meant to be the voice of reason for someone else. The quiet voices in our heads are too easy to dismiss or explain away so we need the wisdom of others to help us make good decisions. Personally, the voice in my head that is supposed to keep me safe sounds like a combination of Gilbert Gottfried and the sound that you make when you scratch a fork across a plate. Just a bit of warning. If I am the voice of reason and logic in your life, then you my friend are f@#*ed. This realization has come to me as I thought of who my voice of reason is. I know it’s my wife and I love her very much and as she well knows I don’t mean to ignore the good suggestions she makes but there is just one problem. I LOVE BAD IDEAS.

I love them. I embrace them. And all too often I practice them. Any misguided, dangerous, and generally unhealthy idea is unavoidable to me. I wish this wasn’t true. I would love to embrace the calm, quiet and normal, but that is like asking Superman what Kryptonite tastes like. He doesn’t know now and hopefully never will. I didn’t use to be this way. I used to be good. There was a time when I was content to stay where I was. To not challenge convention. To take things as they came and not challenge anyone. All that changed due to one minor event, my birth. I have pretty much been making what amounts to a long list of dangerous and yet extremely enjoyable events since that day.I envision that there will be a day when I finally grow up and make all my decisions based on logic and sound scientific thought, but the odds are that I will be killed in some sort of freak accident far before that happens.

Don’t think I like bad decisions? Here is just a rundown of some of the things I have done that wiser folks have tried to avert me from. I know air is free, but I still hate to see people waste it.

  • Tried to drink my way around an 85 tap beer bar. You know it is a bad idea when the bar owner tells you that you better go home.
  • Once tried to sweep off the roof of a garage by standing on a rotten tree limb. It worked…..for a little while. Fences do a really poor job of cushioning falls.
  • Agreeing to coach a baseball team full of kids with ADD. I refer to it as “my season of herding cats”
  • Agreed to play paintball with group of eleven year olds. Despite what I had been told, chicks DO NOT dig bruises.
  • Pretty much any time I have agreed to go have “a few drinks” after work. What starts as a few drinks usually ends up with co-workers punching each other in the face and that makes for real interesting staff meetings.
  • Going into the pit at Vans Warped Tour. Once again refer to the bruises comment.
  • The time I wore a coconut bra and grass skirt to the family picnic. The term “baker act” kept creeping up in every conversation.
  • Starting a blog. Yep nothing like showing the world that your brain doesn’t really work right.

I wish that was the whole list but that is just the things I have done in the past couple of years. However, I enjoyed every one of those activities. So maybe bad ideas are not so bad after all. And in all my experiments challenging gravity and common sense I proudly say that I only put myself at risk and generally the resulting activity usually benefits others. Whether the people around me get a good laugh, a water cooler story for the next day or just a much appreciated opportunity to say, “I told you so”, I think people like my affinity for bad ideas. So if you see me at the next RV City tailgate party or calling that phone number on the skydiving billboard, just sit back and get ready for some fun. But do me a favor, don’t give up trying to be my voice of reason. Because I really do appreciate your concern for my well-being.

And isn’t that  what us being connected is really all about.

Agony of Defeat

It is that time. Time for that event that although it doesn’t actually affect the life of the average American, every four years we are supposed to act like we care.Thanks to the mass media that infiltrates so many aspects of our lives, we are force fed the event and all its sordid characters. It is truly unpleasant this time around due to the way big business has injected its influence so that the average citizen has very little impact on the ultimate outcomes. You know what I am speaking of right? Hell No! Its not the presidential election. The Freemasons and the Illuminati have already scripted out what’s going to happen in that whole deal. I am talking about something slightly more distasteful, the Summer Olympics.

Ah, the games of the….um….let’s see…..the “x” is ten and the “v” is five and if it’s on the left you subtract, or was that add….or maybe you multiply by the “I”…..Damn you roman numerals. Let’s just call it the London Games. It is so sad that a culture that I really admire has been saddled with this monstrosity. For it is the time when people who don’t follow sports pay attention to events which aren’t really sports.

Let me see if I can simplify my complex emotion and psychological impressions about the Olympic Games: I will start my saying, “they” and finish by saying,”suck”. The whole Olympic deal is a farce and waste of airtime that the networks should be devoting to video footage of millionaire N.F.L. players stretching their hamstrings and playing catch in shorts. Heck, my disdain for the Olympics is so great it almost makes me want to watch major league baseball, almost.

My biggest problem with the Olympics is how they are such a waste of natural patriotic pride.There is already a great way to determine which country has the most valiantly patriotic athletes and citizens. Its called war. And don’t give me that whole peacenik pablum about the games being a pacifistic way to ensure the brotherhood of all men. The modern Olympic movement started in 1896, and in the century since, it isn’t like warfare has had to have a “going out of business” sale. For pete’s sake, they even let the Nazis be the home team for one Olympics. That’s like having a benefit concert for victims of heat stroke and then holding it in the Sahara Desert. Nice idea but really bad execution. The bad news is that the Olympics could function as a kind of Warfare March Madness if we could just get them to get rid of the wussy weapons the use in these “events” . Javelins? Shot Puts? Bow and Arrow? We are talking about world domination, not killing a wildebeest. I am sure someone will mention the shooting sports. I am sorry but in order for me to respect a shooting competition you are going to have to stop using the guns that look like they were bought at Captain Jack Sparrow‘s garage sale.

The thrill of victory has been replaced by the unimaginative and the unwatchable. Here is my rundown of the travesties..I mean Olympic events:

I have a special level of hatred reserved for the “sports” in the Olympics. Just because you use a ball doesn’t make the event any better than the other “non-ball” events. And to tell the truth, the entire Olympics is a “non-ball” event. In order for me to care about a sport, there are a few guidelines the activity must meet.

  1. Must be played with a ball. Keep you discuseseses and your pucks to yourself ya commies.
  2. Equipment for said sport must be for sale at the local sporting goods store, like Sports Authority and the like. If I can’t buy it at Dick’s, then the people who play it must be.
  3. Americans must be good at it. We did not become the greatest country in the world by wasting our time practicing sports that no one care about, that is Canada’s job.

Water Polo

I get that it may be difficult to tread water while playing a game that is basically aquatic kickball, but you have to lose the goofy headgear and all the referees. I like the idea of a sport where a flagrant foul can result is the use of a Defibrillator.

Land Polo a.k.a. Handball

Oh, so you made up a game for water polo players with aqua phobia . That sure was considerate, but unfortunately we already have a game that is basically water polo on dry land. We call it soccer.

Soccer

Do we really need yet another worldwide soccer competition? European players already play under more leagues than Captain Nemo. Do we have to have one more?

Basketball

Sorry Olympics but we already had a world championship and Lebron won it  The only way to improve Olympic basketball is to make it a true exhibition. I would love to watch a game between the Dream Team and five pygmies from Borneo. It would be like watching a giraffe wrestle a squirrel. The outcome would never be in doubt but the competition sure would be interesting.

Table Tennis

You lying bastards. This is just ping pong and we already beat the rest of the world back when Forrest Gump was playing for us.

Badminton

I can’t complain about a sport that grandmothers can still play.My favorite part is when the N.B.C. commentators have to use the word,”shuttlecock”. It makes me giggle.

Wrestling

It is not an actual wrestling competition unless someone in the event has the nickname, “The Nature Boy”.

Canoe/Kayak

The only time this type of Olympic event was interesting was during the games in Atlanta because they were held on the Chattahoochee river. That is right, the same river that they filmed Deliverance on. It is the only Olympics that I have ever been thrown out of for playing the banjo. And I don’t care what security says, telling the team from Belarus that, “they sure have a pretty mouth” is just damn funny.

Modern Pentathlon

You cannot actually refer to your event as “modern” if two of the activities that you are competing in are fencing and show jumping. That is like throwing an abacus down in front of a black-and-white t.v. and calling it a computer.

Equestrian

The only interesting part of this event this year is that Mitt Romney’s mare is at the Olympics. Oh, and I heard he has a horse competing too.

Tae kwon do/Judo

Nice try, but it is not a true martial arts endeavor if you are fighting only one guy at at time. Put Uma Thurman or Jet Li in that contest and they could win all 12 rounds at once. Plus, the Cobra Kai are going to win it all like they do every year. That Johnny Lawrence is a bad-ass.

Diving

Wow, lets just go ahead and give the medal to the thing that makes the diving possible. Way to go gravity.

Synchronized Swimming

The only way to make this event interesting is to add a great white shark.

Gymnastics

Let me see if I get this straight. I am supposed to watch a bunch of young men and women in skin tight spandex to roll around on the floor and then bounce their nubile bodies all over the gym. No thanks Zandusky, I will pass.

Well, I hope you enjoy the Olympics. I am going to go spend time in a place with less chemically treated bodies than the Olympics. I am going to a Meth Lab.

 

 

 

Looking Backwards

Funspot's Skee-Ball

Step off Bitches, this is my game!

I really pity my children. No, not because of the shame and embarrassment that having me for a father brings upon them on a daily basis. Nor is it due to the fact that they are going to make some therapist very rich  when they get older. I am not even talking about the inevitable public scene that occurs every time we go out, I don’t care if he was 5 years-old everybody knows that the Skeeball at Chuckie Cheese is my “turf”. I just feel bad about the world they are growing up in. This isn’t a lament about the fact that I now have to suit my kids up in Kevlar to take them to the movies or the fact that by the time they are grown the average daily temperature will be around 160 degrees. This is more about the wonderful things that I had as a kid, that they never will. Childhood is about rituals and the rituals I experienced as a kid made me who I am today. Oh wait, that is probably not the best endorsement.

I remember the joy that was walking to school. Once you got of a certain age, the feeling of independence as you would cut thru other people’s yards on your way to the day’s learning was amazing. Nobody hassled you as you would enjoy the peace and quiet. It was also comforting to know that every house along the way was a refuge of safety as you knew everybody in the neighborhood and saw that a parent at each house was looking out for you. I watch kids walk to school today and they act like they are trying to traverse the landscape in a zombie holocaust.  They have a look of abject fear as they cross the streets because they know that the average car driver is more likely to be watching a funny cat video than actually watching the roads. Whereas I felt safer because the neighbors were watching me, they know that a neighbor staring at  them is probably the first step to them becoming part of an Amber Alert. However, the kids are learning one valuable survival lesson,” If you fall behind, you get left behind.”

Bowling Alley Telephone

Data Plan? I don’t think so

I think that we should change the way we refer to time. Historians use the designations of “B.C.” and “A.D.” to refer to the different eras. I think we need to change those to “B.C.I.D.” and “A.C.I.D.”, that is “before caller i.d”. and “after caller i.d.”. Caller i.d. and their bastard child the cell phone have robbed kids of a lot of fun and a skill that all people need to master, cold calculated revenge. If a teacher disrespected us in class or gave homework on a weekend , or was late with the bribe money, they would be guaranteed to find themselves awakened by a 2 a.m. phone call by someone claiming to be the police or they would never go hungry because there would be at least 25 pizzas delivered to their house between 11 p.m. and 11:15 p.m. If you called a business and said you were the President, they had to trust you because there was no technological way to verify it otherwise. This also made dating way easier as a teen. You knew someone liked you if you would get two or three of the following phone calls: Ring….Ring….Hello?…click. It was like a warm up to actually talking to someone you were crushing on. If you do that today, the person on the other end immediately knows who you are and they develop little pet names for you like,”stalker” and “defendant”. The greatest thing about the anonymity of telephones was the joy of calling you parents at Midnight  and explaining to them how i was still at the “Library” Thankfully my parents never thought to ask me where exactly in the library did they keep all the Boone’s Farm.

Day 044/365

God bless you Dewey Decimal System

My kids will never know the pure joygasm that Saturday morning brought them. Today’s kids think they have it made in that there are a half dozen channels on cable or satellite that show cartoons, but the reality is that several of those channels are just repeated channels for time zone difference. Watching the same show 4 hours after you watched it the first time is not actually variety, its repetition. When I was growing up, the only cartoons were shown in a 4 hour 3 network block of programming on Saturday morning. You started planning your viewing the night before. I remember putting more effort into planning how I was going to get up early on Saturday than I did for any science project I ever completed. If you happened to get up too early , you had to endure either some Farm Report, cause the price of soybean futures are soooooooo interesting, or some half-assed kids’ news show. The great part of the kids’ news shows were that they were a kind of Nerd Litmus Test. They would pick the geekiest kids in the world to host those shows and as long as you were less nerdy than those wastes of oxygen you felt pretty good. As a sort of pallet cleanser, the next show would usually be one of the Sid and Marty Kroft freak shows. They would usually feature some over acting kids and a bunch of Giangantic talking puppets. We watched shows like HR Puffnstuff and people wonder why drug use went up in the 1980s.

Finally, the real entertainment would arrive. There were great shows like The Challenge of the Super-friends, it was a great show except for the damn Wondertwins. Really, you turn into water? It is not a superpower if you can be defeated by a Brawny paper towel. In addition to the classic Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman collection of heroes, they would include characters like Apache Chief, who could turn from a regular sized native american into…….a giant native american. That is a neato power but unfortunately it is about 120 years too late.

As great as the other cartoons were, they were just an opening act for the rock stars of all cartoons, The Looney Tunes. I loved Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and the rest . Not only were they entertaining, they were educational. I learned that the duck is actually the natural predator of the mexican mouse  . I learned that gravity only affects you if you

Yeah, I would hit that.

look down. I learned that it is always “Duck Season”. And most importantly, a rabbit in a dress will pass for a human female every time.

The kids today also suffer from the advertising icons like we never did. Tony the Tiger was a kitchen-bound friend to us. Now he is a roided out freak who encouraged kids to eat a big bowl of cereal and milk and then run around in the heat playing soccer. Any cartoon animal that encourages the playing of soccer should be euthanized. We had the Cookie Crisp Cookie Crook. We learned about a tasty cereal and the need to stay out of jail. But most of all, we kept Ronald McDonald where he belonged, in a fantasy world populated by Hamburglers, giant purple Grimaces and Mayors who heads were actually cheeseburgers. Today he is in commercials roaming the streets and parks  of America. Sorry, a clown in a park is the subject of a nightmare or a criminal trial not a commercial. I don’t know what a McFlurry is, but I have a bad feeling that the principle ingredient is Roofies.

There were lots of other fun things that my kids will never know. Things like having chicken pox and wanting to peal your skin off for a week, and that apparently means you can get Shingles ,which are chicken pox’s bad ass older brother, when you get older. They will never know what it means to “be kind and please rewind”. They won’t understand the dangers of sleeping on a water bed if you have keys in your pocket. I still wear a life jacket to sleep on my Temper-pedic cause you just never know. They don’t understand the days before youth coaches had background checks. What do you call 4 hours of physical torment? Football practice.

SSgt R Lee Ermey

No Coach, I don’t want to die.

They won’t ever know how it felt to think that the nukes might fall on you at any moment, and hoping the would hit your neighbors house first cause he ratted you out for breaking his window with that baseball. They also won’t know what it was like to feel like you would be a smart- assed teenager forever….and to be right.

 

 

Here comes da’ Judge

It started, as most things do, on a random Tuesday. Despite what people like to say about Mondays, I find that Tuesdays are truly the worst days. Monday may be the start of the work week but you can always fake your way through it. People spend most of Monday recalling the great things that happened over the weekend. Most are busy checking the emails that they blew off on Friday afternoon. The rest of the people are either too tired, too sunburned, or too hung over to really have the energy to take it as a serious day of work and even if you don’t accomplish jack squat you have the comfort in the fact that you have 4 more days to catch it up.  Additionally,  of the eleven National Holidays that we as Americans celebrate, five of them fall on a Monday. That means that if the government would just do as I suggested and move every national, religious, and cultural holiday into a single month, I like the idea of calling it “Do Nothing-tember” of course to be followed by “Broke-tober”, we could actually wipe an entire month of Mondays off the calendar.

I like the whole concept of Wednesdays. I love the “Hump Day” designation.  I would like it better if Hump Day actually referred to camels, but nothing is perfect. Plus the week is 50% over and if my years spent in public schools taught me any thing it is that 50% is good enough.

Thursdays are basically Friday Eve. You have the motivation that if you just knock it all out at work on Thursday you can just cruise into the weekend. Thursday nights are also great for going out as a kind of “on-deck circle” for Friday nights. It doesn’t really feel like you have to work the next day, although you probably do, cause the boss will either come in late on Friday or not all at. So you can go out and get a good baseline drunk going . You won’t go get smashed but you will probably be just lubricated enough to make some plans for Friday night that will turn out to be really bad ideas and as I have mentioned on numerous occasions, I love bad ideas.

Friday is just Friday. Its a kind of like you are running a 5k race. You may have walked almost the whole time but you will sprint the last 20 feet to the finish line and feel like you have kicked ass the whole way. Plus, Friday also usually means either a short day or a long lunch so either way you have made it.

But, Tuesday! Tuesday how I hate you. Tuesday, you bastard child of Sunday and Monday. The weekend is too far behind you for you to feel its warmth and too far ahead of you for you to see its light. It is a day when your bosses actually expect you to “work” and they use words like “focus” and “effort” and “responsibilities”. These words are all too often followed by other ones like,” its your job” and “thirty day notice” and “fired”. Even if you do have the inner fortitude to take all that Tuesday has to offer at the office, when you get home you have a whole new set of traps that Tuesdays has put out for you. Odds are that Fridays paycheck is long gone. When you check you bank account o the computer, you see images of cobwebs and tumbleweeds. The last time I called the bank’s  voice automated account line on Tuesday to check my balance, I could actually hear an  echo. Even worse is that by Tuesday you are socially obligated to call and talk to the people who you have avoided conversing with since Friday.

This particular Tuesday had set a far more devious trap and it used the United States Postal Service to spring it. Since I have been taking a month long sabbatical, I like that word better  than referring  to it as the month I have been sitting on my ass eating pop tarts and playing Madden, the grand schemes that Tuesdays like to hurl at me at work can’t reach me. Since I have not bought a calendar since sometime in the mid 1990s, there are days that I may not even be fully aware of the date. So Tuesday can hide, and wait. It was such a day when I went to get the mail. The mailbox was full of the usual envelopes of credit card offers and coupons for places that I have never heard of. I filed the mail as I usually do, I threw it on the dining room table as I passed by. Then, I saw it. It emerged from between the flyers of the 5 Rent-to-Own places that send us weekly ads. It wasn’t an envelope. It was far more evil.

It was rectangular in shape and had a strange seal upon the front. It possessed no traditional triangular flap in order to release its evil. No, it had tabs you had to tear off. Now, there are three things in life that freak me out. They are clowns(duh!), carnies( have little feet, smell like cabbage) and envelopes that  you have to follow directions to open. Clearly this was my nemesis, the non tent related thing that I fear. Unlike regular envelopes, which may contain the birthday cards from relatives written in old lady script, or notifications about parties to come(not everybody uses Facebook to invite people), or promises of great wealth from imprisoned Nigerian royalty. Envelopes with tabs always bring ill tidings. They are either pin numbers to atm cards that are linked to accounts with zero balances or notice from the friendly community “non-profit” utility provider informing you that if you don’t pay up, you are about to have a lot more in common with the Amish than your crappy beard. This piece of correspondence was neither. It was that which all men dread, Jury Duty.

You know that a thing is the embodiment of all that Hell can spawn, if it has the same name as a Pauly Shore movie. I am fairly confident that I will end my life at the hands of a serial killer who calls himself Encino Man, but I digress. As I read through  the official jury notice, I paid attention to the rules and requirements of my obligation. I love how they make it so clear that failure to as directed could result in jail time. I love the fact that the person who skips jury duty will face deeper sanctions than the person on trial. Since I have this medical condition, I am allergic to jail. I decided to comply with my civic call. That’s just me. I am a giver.

Here is how I envision my day of jury duty. Trust me, it will be the worst $15.00 the state of Florida has ever spent.

First of all, a little background on the legal system in northeast Florida. We have just recently opened the new courthouse that has been under construction since slightly before the last ice age. It is a beautiful monument to what bribes and poor urban planning can do to a city. It is my honor and privilege to profane and defile such lovely architecture. I also feel the need to inform you that despite what is shown in every movie based on John Grisham‘s novels that yes we do have air conditioning.

The notice informs me that parking is about is rare as a Chicago Cub World Series, so I am encouraged, I love it when the government encourages me to do stuff like pay my taxes, to park at Ever-bank Field and take a shuttle to the courthouse. Ever- bank field is the home to our beloved Jacksonville Jaguars, no they haven’t moved yet, and I have spent quite a bit of time at that stadium’s parking lot so I feel comfortable with the arrangement. or at least I thought I would be comfortable. Apparently, you are NOT supposed to tailgate before jury duty. The lovely officer informed me that if that if you are tailgating more than a month before the next football game, then it is not tailgating. It is just being drunk in a parking lot. I guess we would have been nicer if the burgers and hot dogs had been done. Then the attitude really started. Much to my surprise, the court shuttle drivers don’t find it funny when you jump into the bus and yell”follow that car”. The guys on the monorail at Disney World thought it was hilarious. Also, not a good idea to try to collect fares from the other people on the bus, none of them had exact change. I tell you one thing, it is no fun to play “Punch Buggy”  with a blind guy. He hits like a girl.

It was such a unique experience for me to enter a courthouse from the front door and its harder to know how to space yourself from the man in front of when you are not shackled to him. I really enjoyed the security process but I may have pushed it too far the fourth time I asked for the pat down. I also got quite the odd looks when I started giggling like a school girl every time  I said that I was there for Jury “Doodie”.

We were brought in and told to wait. Thanks to my ADD, that seemed like an eternity. Finally we were told to proceed to the courtroom so we could be examined by the lawyers. Much to my chagrin, this for some reason requires us not to take out shirts off and wave them in the air. Today is just such a learning experience. My fellow juror asked if I had ever served before and found my story about being the fourth judge on American Idol to be a bit far fetched. The process was long and boring so you are encouraged to bring something to occupy your time. Items that they approve include crossword puzzles and cross stitch but they didn’t seem to appreciate my serenading the courtroom with my skills on the kazoo..

Some other things I learned:

  • Asking,” how much time til Wapner gets here”  is frowned upon.
  • Do not refer to the bailiffs as Officer Friendly. They also refuse to address me as “Commodore” no matter how may times I reminded them.
  • Do not answer the questions on the interview form in pig latin.
  • Lawyers have  very short tempers, especially when you keep referring to them as Matlock.
  • Every body thought it was funny when I stood up and yelled,”You Are Not The Father!” Well, everybody but the guy with the tazer.
  • The choices are guilty or not guilty. Damn Skippy is not an acceptable alternative.
  • It would be nice if for once some one could call me sir, without adding ,”you are making a scene”.
  • No one will tell you when Batman is going to testify.
  • Gavels hurt.
  • Only the presiding  judge is allowed to show up in a robe, and apparently no one is supposed to wear a snuggy.

There are only a few finite ways to be excused from jury duty and just yelling,” Not It” is not one of them. So I will probably get to serve and I guess that is what’s wrong with the system. Your fate is in the hands of 12 people, not smart enough to get out of jury duty.