Tuesday, January 30, 2007

How 'Bout That?

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (Jan. 30, 2007) -- In an historic GRAMMY® moment, the Police (Sting, Stewart Copeland, and Andy Summers) will reunite and perform together for the first time on the GRAMMYs when they open the 49th Annual GRAMMY® Awards telecast on Feb. 11, it was announced today by The Recording Academy®. With five GRAMMY Awards to their slate of accolades, the Police, one of the most famous bands in the world, create a purely original sound by infusing reggae with pop and rock -- a sound that will be heard 'round the world from the GRAMMY stage.

Cool, but it would have been a lot cooler 15 years ago, before Sting, through a series of unlistenable solo albums, killed the Police.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

By Popular Demand

Many of you have written in asking for something, even if I have to make it up. In the spirit of this, here's something.

At the gas station, I'm just about to start fueling up when I hear someone behind me ask, "Do you have strong thumbs?" I seized this opportunity and whipped around and gave an enthusiastic double thumbs up. Somewhere, Fonzie went "Aaayyyy".

False. I just said, "What do you need" and turned to find an older woman in a strangely purple jacket. She told me she couldn't get her gas cap off and thought maybe it was frozen or something. Expecting anything, I went over and unscrewed it in about a second-and-a-half. I don't credit myself here so much as I discredit osteoporosis. Just a guess.

I went back to my car and stood there in that nasty-ass breeze and tried to pump some fuel. The pumps at this station won't lock on, so you have to just stand there and wait for your 15 gallons of fuel to pump. Guess again. I'll fill the tank if I can sit in the car while it pumps, but since the owner of this station decided I can't, I've decided that I'm going to spend less than half of what I'd planned. Bye.

So after the gas station visit, I headed off to four different stores in four different places. Then I drove to a grocery store that I haven't visited in probably ten years. Total elapsed time was probably near 30 minutes. Arrive at the grocery store parking lot, and what do I see? Why it's the old lady with the purple coat. That's kind of weird.

I found a spot right next to her, got out and said, "Hey! 'Member me?"
"No" she said.
"I'm the guy from the gas station."
"I pump my own gas" she said.

That was all so off-putting that rather than try and set her straight, I just said, "Piss off, lady" got back in my car and peeled out. Ingrate. Honestly. Some people...

False. I did see her, but I just kept driving. I figured that any exchange we might have would be pretty creepy at best. Odd coincidence, though.

And I remembered that I hate that grocery store, so I picked another one. Have you noticed this trend of hiring mentally retarded people to work as baggers now? I'm all for it, I suppose. I can tell you that this grocery store has fully embraced the trend. Now, having spent a lot of time around both my retarded uncle and severely retarded cousin for much of my life, I feel a special sort of kinship with the 'tards. Those goofy bastards feel like home to me. It just seems that this store has hired a bunch of particularly angry retards, as a couple of them seem to be ranting about something and pacing about. Created a bit of that "Um... is he about to do something?" tension in the checkout lanes. Maybe there's a hole or two in this plan. Don't know. I suppose that's the life of the 'tard. Some days you like Raffi; others, it's Pearl Jam.

Okay. I'm off to Hell. Hope you enjoyed the effort.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Somebody Check California

After I graduated from high school, I found I really didn't have a reason to go there anymore. I graduated in 19gak_ahem*cough*, and that was pretty much it for me and that school. Frankly, I don't think they even want you around after that, which is weird because for about four years there, they want to know where you are every second. Or, at least now when they ask "What are you doing here?" it has a whole different kind of vibe to it, which ain't so good, frankly. It's a new kind of trouble.

Any-who's, I was there to see a basketball game, but I was early so I thought I'd take a little side-trip down memory lane. Turned out to be a pretty narrow lane.

Hey, that looks familiar. That was the courtyard that I recall we were never allowed to visit. I think it was just something to stare at while you didn't read in the library. Also, seems like someone took the library and moved it somewhere, sometime in the past *uhgh-COUGH* years. I don't know. Maybe it's all on computers now. Internet facts or whatever. Hey all you Googlers out there! Remember, it wasn't over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor in 1939! That was just the start of the Korean conflict. Cut and paste, kids!

I moved down the hall and found this...

Oh yeah, those benches. I remember running by those a lot, what with them being placed so close the the entrance/exit and all. And that office. Don't remember much good awaiting me in there. Am I thinking of the wrong school, or was there a certain guidance counselor in there whose name was actually Dick Happy? I know I'm not making that up, but I may have the wrong school. Either way, I know that in today's world there is no way a man with that name would be hired for work in a school setting. OK.

I wound my way back toward the gym because it was almost game time (OK - actually because all the other doors I tried were locked) and as I passed the cafeteria I was greeted by an elderly "security" guard with only one tooth (well, one that I could see) who met me with an authoritative "Can I hep ya?"

"Just headin' to the basketball game."
"How'd you git in?"
"Through the door."
"What door?"
"The one by the auditorium."
"That's supposed to be locked. How'dya git it open?"
"Just pushed it. Opened right up."
"Which one?"

Which one? Like, seriously?

And this conversation was put out of its misery as someone else came through the door just as we approached it. Anyway, I get the feeling they maybe don't want you poking around the halls like that or something. Bet they probably don't want you to take pictures, either.

Yeah, so there's a game back there next week, too. If anyone has a particular photo they'd like to see, just let me know. I'm pretty sure I could take that security guy in a brawl.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

How To Win The Lottery

First, pick six numbers that match the numbers to be drawn.

Once you've completed that step, you've got some decisions to make. There are a few things you ought to know.

Advice #1) Take the annuity.
Did you just win $50 million? Awesome! Hey, did you just give away $25 million? What!? Don't know 'bout you, but I've never even been near $25 million, let alone had the opportunity to just give it away like that. Must be awfully nice.

Advice #2) Take the cash.
When they say "Estimated Jackpot", that's not a joke, and here's the non-punchline; They don't actually have the money. They have about half. So where's the other $25mil?

According to the lottery commission, "It's coming. I mean, I can get it."

Advice #3) Seriously - take the annuity.
Seriously, you want this. See, the lottery commission gives you your first installment and then invests the rest for you. They'll take the $25 million and turn it into $50 million if you don't mind giving them 20 years to do so. Also sweet is that winnings held by the lottery commision are not taxed. They earn about 9% annualy for you, and best of all, your annuity is guaranteed.

No tax + 9% annual ROI + Guarantee = Awesome.

You could take the lump sum and try your own hand at it, but you'll really need to stay on top of the market to do much better, and you'll pay more tax upfront because you'll be in a higher bracket, and , did I mention the guarantee? You could potentially blow it on your own.

OK. Now that you have won the lottery, you should definitely buy something. I'd recommend staying away from porcelin dogs and various other "collectibles". Collectibles can be a good investment, but if history serves as any sort of indication, most lottery winners don't seem to have a real grasp of what an actual collectible might be. If you find yourself being drawn to items such as ceramic house pets, consider taking up a hobby. Photography is one idea, and you can always use a new lens or make a frame for a nice shot you took. And, a framed original photo makes a nice gift anytime.

Every time you think about buying the ceramic dalmation, bring the equivalent amount of cash to a local charitable organization.

If this has no effect on you and you find the draw of the fake dog is too powerful, just take the lump sum and nevermind.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Yeah, I Can See Your Sign

Well, there's an interesting turn of events.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Keeping "Jesus CHRIST!" in Christmas

Man, it's hard to relay the story of my Christmas disaster without sounding all Erma Bombeck. Grandma burned the muffins! Uncle Jeffrey told the same World War II story he's told for years yet always has a different ending. Ralphie shot his eye out! The cat pulled the tree over! Oh, the whole scene was more befitting of a typical day at the Audubon zoo, but all that chaos is what bonds us together in its own strange way. You can surely bet we'll all do it again next year in a heartbeat. The warm, comforting and loving heartbeat we call 'family'. "

And then you'll say, "My! What a delightful romp! Positively madcap!"

Then everyone will vomit. Which brings me to the real story of my Christmas disaster.

Jesus Christ, I fuckin' hate most of these people. No one can try your patience quite like family. It's got to be because because they are blood relatives and that leads you to believe you should have something else in common with them, too. Then it only frustrates you more when Dad walks in the room, puts the TV on "Fox and Friends" and cranks the volume higher than you even knew it could go. Then he tries to have a conversation with you. Yeah. It must be the blood bond that keeps you from shooting the television in the room with him. Even though you saw this disaster coming, literally from 1,200 miles away, there was nothing you could do to stop it. That's frustrating, too. Rearranging the speakers on your surround system so that one would be just two feet in front of his favorite chair and messing with all the balance controls so that like 99.4% of all the sound emanated from that one speaker right in his face... well, that's only more frustrating because it fooled you into thinking you'd found a solution. Hey, for the record, Shepard Smith is totally not irritating at all. It's going to be a great week.

And it was great. We haven't all been together in about ten years, and some of us have had kids since then, so it was actually our first ever assemblage, and it went very, very well.

Well, maybe some things could've been a little better. I don't know. Maybe I'm just being picky.

Oh, when my daughter, who had been looking forward to seeing all these relatives she never sees, woke up at 5AM on Christmas Eve, puked for about eight hours and spent the next two days in bed... I guess that could've gone better.

And one way or another, Mom is going to cook a big pot of meatballs. If there's one indelible memory I take away from this whole fiasco, it's these retarded fucking meatballs that my dear, sweet, goddamned mother had to make.

On her first night here, and as she says once every trip, "I could just make a big pot of fucking meatballs and we can all eat that for dinner." Since her goal is just to make fucking meatballs, she doesn't consider much else, like the fact that no one would be around to eat said fucking meatballs that evening. I politely reminded her that people were going to be scattered about at dinner time, so tonight probably wasn't the night for such a feast. Her reply was, "So you're just gonna knock the wind out of my sails, huh?"

So flash forward about three days. Understand that my kid has been puking now for about six hours, and Mom says, "I could just make a big pot of fucking meatballs and we could all eat that for dinner."

Knowing that I am a complete asshole, I attempt to delicately say, "Mom, I'm just gonna put this out there and I'm not saying anything or nuthin'. Just something to consider. If you've been puking all day, you might not really enjoy the smell of meatballs simmering in a pot all afternoon. That might not be a good mix. I'm just puttin' that out there."

Mom seemed to kind of get it. Kind of. Then she said, "I don't simmer them all day. They cook pretty quick."

"I'm just puttin' that out there. That's all, Mom."

Around 3PM, it's been about an hour since anyone has thrown up in my house. The stomach has just now started to settle. What's that I hear? Why it's the pastoral sizzle of garlic and olive oil in a sauté pan. Ooh, yummy! Now everyone will be happy because Mom is making fucking meatballs.

And what else do I hear? Why it's the call of my wife, informing me that the smell is making my daughter want to skeeve. She's also asking, "What was she thinking?" And, of course, there's no possible explanation.

Not a problem, though. Since I'm on my wife's side here, I didn't take the opportunity to say, "Aren't open floor plans great? That french door idea I had was stupid, huh?" No, I just walked in the bedroom, shut the door and opened all the windows, and let it air out with outside air that was kind of smokey from the fire that everyone asked me to please make. In no time, that room was in the high-to-mid-40's and smelled like a campfire. There. That should have you feeling better, sweetie.

Back in the kitchen, I told Mom someone is getting sick from the smell, and before she can react much, my brother comes in, gives Mom a hug around the side and says, "Mom's meatballs!" It's alright though, because I punched him in the head. For the record, Mom doesn't make great meatballs. They're just fucking meatballs, and they are as average as meatballs come. Even less so, now. An actual meatball recipe would have at least two kinds of meat, and it isn't actually just meatloaf in ball shape. But that's nitpicking, isn't it? The important thing here is that everyone got fucking meatballs which I never ate.

I spent the rest of that night trying to cool down and listening to Fox news at ungodly volume levels. My next words to my dear sweet goddamned mother were simply, "I need to respect that other people do things differently in their homes" and she replied by simply asserting herself. I don't remember what she said, but there was quick mention of the exchange in a bournal entry.

Since my bedroom was quarantined, I spent the night on the couch. As soon as Dad finished watching O'Reily and I tracked down those "extra" blankets my sister just casually walked off with and totally didn't need at all, I laid prostrate on the sofa and kept my senses alert to other signs of the apocalypse, which I figured couldn't be more than like 15-20 minutes away.

It eventually turned into three of the most restful minutes I've had. When you sleep in the living room, you're last to go to bed and second to get up, if you know what I'm saying.

We've got a decent griddle for our stove, and I made a pretty large batch of pancakes which everyone seemed to dig. As long as I didn't have any (and I didn't want them anyway) there was enough batter to give everyone two big pancakes. Worked out well. I cleaned up that whole mess while everyone moved on to loafing around or whatever, and I decided to batch myself up some oatmeal. Score! There's just enough left. Sweet! That's when my brother comes walking in the room eating all the cashews out of the jar of mixed nuts and says, "You cookin' oatmeal?"

For those of you who don't know my brother, or are perhaps unfamiliar with the concept of brother, "You cookin' oatmeal?" is not a question. Also, since he has never prepared his own food ever in his entire life, this is how my brother feeds himself.

"What - I made you a breakfast like an hour ago and now you want to eat mine, too?" Then I punched him in the head. "Go eat those fucking meatballs" I said.

Well, maybe I just gave him the oatmeal.

So Dad comes in the kitchen and asks me, "Where's the bread?" and the odd thing is that I'm standing right next to a countertop full of food, but he's just looking at me. Dad, you ain't that old. The bread is right there. Just direct your glance maybe 12° to the left and down a hair.

And how about this one: "Hey, the fire's out."
Hey, get a fucking log.

Whatever. Maybe I should be flattered. If anyone needed anything, they felt the need to ask me. On the one hand, yes. On the other hand, if the thing you need is for me to wipe your ass, maybe flattery isn't quite what's happening here. Frankly, I wasn't sure, and I was too fried to waste any time thinking about it. Not that I mourn the loss or anything, but my family killed my blournal.

As you can well imagine, I was pretty psyched about the last day. Wife heads out to the car so she can go to work, but the car won't start. She takes the other one, but I have a problem to deal with now, and I still have a sick kid who can't even stand up yet.

That car hasn't had a tune up in quite a while, and it didn't take long to figure out that it needed a new set of plug wires. Since Dad and Bro are serious car geeks, I asked if either of them would go get me a set. I knew this was a huge mistake. Their favorite part of fixing cars is the troubleshooting. Rather than actually getting it done, they much prefer to spend their time imagining what the problem could be.

"Did it crank?"
"How did it crank? Was it slow?"
"Battery's fine. It's not the battery."
"Do your lights come on nice and bright."
"It needs wires."
"Does it crank strong?"

So I walked out to the garage and turned the key. I came back in and said, "It needs wires."

"Are they all routed cleanly? They're not crossed anywhere, are they?"
"No. They all go straight to where they're getting."
"Because if they're crossed, you can get an arc and they short."

And that's where I told them to just forget it and I'll deal with it later somehow. I don't really know how since I don't have a car to get to the store, and even if I did, my kid is still too weak to sit up. And thanks for the fucking help with the one thing I'd asked of you for the entire trip. I'll give you my living room for as long as you want to stay up, you can have my breakfast, I'll make everyone awesome Rueben sandwiches for lunch, I'll set the heat wherever you like even though it's way too hot in here, I'll also keep a fire going, I'll install a new water heater so everyone can have showers, hell... I'll even pick the Christmas gifts you're going to give so all you need to do is dial the phone, recite your card number and your "shopping" is done. Yeah, you're welcome. Say, can someone run to the store for me and pick up a $20 set of plug wires? They take seven minutes to install if you make a game of it and only use one arm. No? Okay. Forget I asked.

Instead, they set up a hairdryer and blasted the wires for 20 minutes while they hung out and drank coffee. The total time spent on this temporary fix was more than it would've taken to get a new set. To this day, I have no idea what the fuck was going on with that.

When the car started, they let it idle in the driveway. I didn't even know the car was running until Dad said, "Your car's been idling for about 15 minutes. You're really low on gas." I have no idea what the fuck was going on with that.

But before he left, Dad backed into my car which he had put in the driveway.

And with that, they were gone.

Almost. I got a call two days later. My parents never did get me anything for Christmas and Dad made me tell him exactly what to get. Well, all I really had to do was look up the phone number for him, tell him the name of the business, give him the model number, tell him how much it would cost, and remind him of my ZIP code. But that's it.

The bottom line in all of this is as ever; I'm an idiot. Next year, people think they're going to try all of this again, except we'll let my brother do the honors. My brother will not lift a finger to do anything for anyone. That's a guarantee. And while it's maybe possible that people won't have nearly the good time they had here, it's also just as likely that they won't notice a difference.