Reporting, Recording and Relaying - But Always Telling It As I See It

Friday, December 31, 2010

2011 - Own It

So what do we do with this “new year?” Let’s forget the lies and be honest.

We spend a lot of time at the end of the year thinking about what should have been. About the things we didn’t do and the people we let down. We “resolve” to do better with our lives.

You know what I think of resolutions? Fuck ‘em. Most of them are things we should be doing anyway and they set us up for failure – and a cold, Northeastern winter is no time to be feeling sorry for ourselves.

Here is what we need to understand – 2011 will prove to have its share of disappointments and failures, lost loves and lost lives, broken promises and broken dreams.

So fucking what?

We’re resilient, right? This year we are going to take all the bullshit life throws at us, make a giant ice ball out of it and hit your devil right between the eyes and laugh when you are doing it. We are going to distance ourselves from the one asshole in our lives because we have a hundred friends who will kick their ass for fucking with us. We are going to kiss every person in our house goodnight and good morning and know nothing can touch that love. We are going to try our best, understand that we may not always succeed, then sit down at night with a beer and move on.

My friends, I wish you the best. Support each other and be nice. 2011 is all ours.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

What I Learned - A Rip-Off In My Own Words

Esquire Magazine routinely has a feature called “What I Learned” where some sort of celebrity or politician or other likewise engaging person posits some truths from their life in bullet-point form. I am not a celebrity, a politician and am barely engaging (at least when not drunk – and then I am often confused for annoying), but since none of this has stopped me before from shooting my mouth off, here you go.


• Like money but never love it. But love spending it once in awhile.

• There are two sides to EVERY story – listen to both before calling bullshit.

• Tune, tune, tune.

• When it comes to time with your kids, quality beats quantity every time. (That applies to almost everything, actually.)

• You don’t have to like it to appreciate it.

• See your doctor every year.

• My dog is fifteen and routinely shits in the house now. You can’t stop loving something because you have to clean up after it when things are tough.

• Someone is always worse off.

• When someone is hurting, don’t tell them that – agree with them and let them know you are here when they need you.

• Alcohol has a warning label. Who reads labels?

• Don’t be afraid to say you don’t get Tom Waits.

• Pick your battles.

• “Serving Size” recommendations are total bullshit.

• A felony in Thailand rarely sticks.

• Your iPod has “Bette Davis Eyes” or equivalent.

• It IS the gift that counts.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Doctor Will See You Now

Few things rattle the psyche like an unsolicited call from your doctor’s office. This is especially true if you already have an appointed scheduled a few weeks hence. The kindly gentleman on the other end of the line said, “Your test results are in and the doctor would like to see you to discuss them.” GULP.

“Well,” I said as I wondered who would attend my funeral, “I have an appointment in two weeks, do I need to reschedule? Or, does she need to see me right now before I die from the tumor that is assuredly growing in my brain?”

“Umm, it can probably wait until your appointment.”

Probably, huh? “Can you do me a favor and fax those results to me right now. I’d like to see what I am dying from.”

A few minutes later, I was in full Google mode as I tried to read the doctor’s note scribbled on the bottom of the page. It said something like, “Have patient schedule (some doctor writing that I can’t understand) to discuss (underlined word that looks like pending death.)”

I was particularly concerned about my PSA score, which somehow or other has to do with prostate health. Since my dad had prostate cancer I figured this is what would do me in. Thankfully that was fine. To be sure, the doctor will fist me in a few weeks under some bright lights in the exam room while I whimper. She is such a romantic.

My carbon dioxide (aka carbon footprint), albumin and alkaline phosphatase are fine. Also, my BUN (really, in caps on the report) is well within range, clocking in at a respectable 16 mg/dL.

At the bottom of the page is where the fun started, with a few “HIGH’s” under the “Flag” column. All were related to cholesterol, including a quite troubling LDL (Lower Damn Lipids, I think) score which would make a great IQ, but is pretty crappy in terms of mg/dL.

I have been teetering around with this high cholesterol BS for the better part of a year. It has been close to high but never really high, so I was to eat oatmeal and low-fat foods. Try to do that during football season – or hockey season, or baseball season, or during the summer or winter months. Suffice to say, oatmeal is one thing, turning away a plate of wings quite another.

In two weeks, after the kind doctor and I are spooning on the exam table after my violation, I am thinking she will ever so kindly whisper in my ear, “Lipitor, darling.”

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Class Dismissed

If you are one of the lucky few who purchased a Gillette M3Power Razor between May 1, 2004 and October 31, 2005, and managed to keep the receipt, you are in for a windfall. Turns out, you are entitled to be a member of a class action lawsuit.

Has the razor been shown to leap out of your hand and castrate you? No. Is it bad for women who are nursing, pregnant or may become pregnant? No. Does it cause erections lasting longer than four hours? Unfortunately - no.

The lawsuit contends that Gillette’s claim that the M3P “raises or stimulates hair up and away from the skin” was “false and misleading.”

What the fuck?

What metro-sexual freak was shaving in front of his anti-fog mirror in his waterfall shower and complained about this? Our fathers shaved with rusty butter knives for Christ-sakes and someone is bitching that their razor doesn’t stimulate their whiskers? And, they think they are owed something?

I bought a weed-whacker one time that didn’t work. It was a model that was supposed to feed line when you bumped the head on the ground – as advertised. After about the third week of continued and mounting frustration over the fact that it NEVER fed out line, you know what I did? I took it on the side of the house and beat it to death. I didn’t call for a lawyer; I just needed a garbage bag.

Anyone who has ever bought their child one of those 300 piece toys they saw on TV that takes a degree in particle physics to assemble knows that things do not work as advertised. It’s the American way!

More insane is that Gillette has ponied away $7,500,000 to compensate the members of this class – the pussified victims among us. This does not include the $1.2 million set aside for the lawyers!

But the more I thought (brooded) about this, the more I realized that maybe the entire thing was a big misunderstanding. Maybe the people that bought the M3Power Razor thought they were buying a new mobile device – as the name sure as hell seems to imply. In this case, I would sue too. I mean, my Blackberry can stimulate a lot of things, but the hair on my face is not one of them.

(Visit for all of the exciting details.)

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Thanksgiving Blessing

Tradition holds that the first recognized Thanksgiving in what would become the United States occurred in the fall of 1621. According to, the surviving fifty –three pilgrims and some ninety Indians gathered for three days and partook of a grand feast. Soon thereafter, Indians were slaughtered and subjugated by the thousands. RSVP to your dinner invitations wisely.

When I was in grade school, we always celebrated Thanksgiving with copious artwork usually involving construction paper, scissors with rounded points and glue. But mostly, we were supposed to be “thankful.” The pilgrims, we were told, celebrated Thanksgiving because they were grateful for a bountiful harvest. I’m thinking they were thankful to be alive and that the Indians they had pillaged during their first winter were not using their women as a pre-cursor schematic to the Thai sex trade.

But in order to uphold that great American tradition (no, not being a victim and looking for a handout) of Thanksgiving, here is my brief list of what I am thankful for this season:

1. John McCain. Without him, the world would never have been deluged with the Palin’s. But without them, Brandy would still be on Dancing with the Stars. (I never tire of Sarah say, “flippin’” and “getcha.”)

2. Jersey Shore, Swamp People and any other reality show that stars English speaking people but still requires subtitles.

3. Elections - because we now have a whole new group of incompetents to castrate.

4. The Chilean Miners for their faith and strength. Had that been me, I would have been having a miner buffet while carving passages from the book of Revelation into my chest.

As you sit down to your turkey this Thursday and before you fall asleep on the couch, I hope you remember the things that are blessings in your life. Yeah, sometimes it really sucks – but mostly it doesn’t. If you can get up to go to the bathroom without having to take your M4 with you, or if you are spending the day with even one person in whose life you make a difference, you are fortunate my friend. Hope it is safe, healthy and happy.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Dying Man Walking

There is an old man I have become friendly with who talks about death all the time. He speaks of it like the weather, but more certain and assured. He neither dreads it nor worries about it. He is eighty-six and dying of lung cancer. A fact he shares often.

I speak to him at the gym. He is there every morning, walking around the track and doing breathing exercises which he says helps. In his beige dress pants and flannel shirt he moves slowly around the ellipse of the track that outlines the basketball courts below. As he walks, he raises his hands over his head, and then thrusts them backwards. When he is finished, he sits on a couch outside of the weight room. It is here he holds court.

Gaining an audience is difficult. Everyone stops to say hello. If someone is speaking to him when I am walking toward the locker room, I always hope he is alone as I am leaving.

He doesn’t always speak about death. Sometimes he tells me about his grandson in Houston. Yesterday he told me about the time he told the Army to shove their pension after they wanted to cut the benefits of an amputee. “I told them to stick it,” he said. He said all of his Army records were burned in a fire in Saint Louis in 1973.

He also tells me that life goes fast and that most things we spend our time worrying about don’t matter all that much.

“This thing here,” he says as he points at his ribs under his right arm, the cancer, “it’s not bothering me too much today. So, it’s a good day.” He is eighty-six and dying, and he is having a good day. “Besides," he continues, then breaks away to say hello to another passer-by, “I’m going to a better place.”

What I want to tell him as I fish my car keys from my jacket is that I worry about the day he is not there, sitting on the couch as the morning sun casts its diagonal light on the tile floor around him. I will worry if he is alright or in the hospital. I will wonder if he is dead - if he went to his better place.

What I want to tell him is that the girls at the desk who check us in love him. I want to tell him that my wife’s boss talks about him too. So do the guys in the locker room. I want to tell him that secretly, we all know he is stronger than the lot of us. I want to tell him that the one day when I was complaining about my upcoming commute and work and he told me not to worry? Well, that day I didn’t.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

An Exercise in Exorcism

Bishop Paprocki, in a New York Times story about the growing requests for exorcisms, says that signs of possession by the devil include: speaking in a language a person has never learned, extraordinary shows of strength, a sudden aversion to spiritual things, severe sleeplessness, lack of appetite, cutting, scratching and biting of the skin.

Dave Meyer, blogger-hack from Pittsburgh, was quoted as saying, “I think we are going to need more priests.”


As a lapsed Catholic, I often enjoy reading about, and disagreeing with, the edicts that trickle out of the Vatican. For instance, I am against the idea of protecting pedophiles.

However, I am a huge fan of bringing back the Rite of Exorcism, and would go to Church every Sunday if they would perform one in lieu of the Sign of Peace. And apparently, this may happen sooner than later. The “closed-door” conference (priests and closed-doors – frightening) was held due to the uptick in requests for exorcisms. According to the NYT story, Father Vega believes that the influx of “Hispanic and African Catholics into the United States could cause rising demand for exorcisms since people from those cultures are more attuned to the experience of the supernatural.”

That’s a curious position, but good news for me, a fourth generation American white guy. Now I can safely chalk up sleeplessness and biting my skin to regular old anxiety and depression – both easily treated with medication, alcohol and denial .

Bishop Paprocki goes on to say that, “the ordinary work of the devil is temptation.” Ordinary? Does that mean that sometimes the devil isn’t really interested in putting his all-evil ways into his work -and instead, manipulates us earthlings (and specifically the Hispanics and Africans) by simply subjecting us to garden variety temptations like twenty-five cent wing night and Facebook? Neither of which are particularly harmful – both of which can become an addiction.

I will leave possession, exorcism and other such spiritually lofty ideas up to the Ghostbusters in Rome to deal with. But for those of you who hear me say, “Yinz are jagoffs ‘n at,” I assure you I am not speaking a language I have never learned; I’m just a cynical Catholic from Pittsburgh. Anyone for wings?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Cruise Ship Adrift or Luxury Vacaton?

There is a boatload of people adrift in the Pacific Ocean. An engine fire knocked the Carnival Cruise ship Splendor out of commission, ending the seven day Mexican Riviera vacation for thousands. Personally, I can think of no better sabbatical than being adrift on a luxury cruise liner in the Pacific. I have seen people spend twelve dollars an hour for a raft to float around a resort pool. You could be floating around an entire ocean for less.

What I do not get is the supplies that have been helicoptered in: Spam, Pop Tarts and canned crab meat. Just what unruly passengers are hankering for. “Come up to the Lido Deck, the Purser is making Pop Tart Crab Sandwiches!”

You can get fresh Ahi Tuna in Nebraska but they can’t get a flounder fillet to a boat in the middle of the ocean?

I wonder if when the power went out the Captain went around screaming about not opening the refrigerator door. When our power went out a few weeks ago during a storm I guarded our fridge like a Marine at Gitmo. “Do NOT open the refrigerator door!” I commanded, then promptly went into the bathroom and flicked the dead light switch – it was another peeing by sound event.

If I was one of the fortunate ones to be on this ship, my requests in this blessed situation would be simple: Pacifico beer and a fishing rod. You wouldn’t hear from me for weeks. I guess I would ask for oranges also, to prevent scurvy – whatever the hell that is.

I would ask for the Pacifico because it reminds me of a trip many years ago (the same cruise itinerary, incidentally – sans the drifting part) when some friends and I commissioned a one-legged boat captain to take us to this secluded beach in Cabo San Lucas. A Mexican kid materialized out of the rocks and sold us Pacifico – already opened.

Come to think of it, I would take the Spam. Spam, Pacifico, oranges and a fishing rod - all while adrift in the Pacific Ocean. That sure as hell beats a twelve dollar per hour raft.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Bring Back The ED Commercials - A Brief Post-Election Wrap-Up

The headline read, “With midterms over, 2012 campaign begins.” Are you fucking kidding me? I am just starting to settle back into the erectile dysfunction commercials. Of course, it could be said that the pre-election commercials were about someone getting screwed – or being a dick.

Either way, we all woke this morning with a new batch of toys to get excited about, rip out of the packaging, play with for a while and toss aside. Like all toys, we will be bored with them soon enough or want the next best thing.

Depending on which side of the bed you sleep on, yesterday was either a resounding victory or a stupendous defeat. You are either elated or clinically depressed. You are Glenn Beck or Jon Stewart.

Or, you are exhausted of the muck-raking and mud-slinging. Tired of the incessant arguing that makes the kids fighting over a turn on the xBox seem welcome; wilted from the party politics and powerful lobbies.

Politicians love to trumpet their agendas. I don’t want an agenda, they are for meetings. Anyone who has ever attended a meeting knows those agendas inevitably dissolve to off topic conversations and storytelling. What I want is some agreement and some solutions. What I want is some compromise. If both sides get up from the table and each is a little pissed-off, something probably got done – that’s what I want.

Unfortunately, like most Americans, I like new toys too much.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Renting A Car - A Study In Complexity

On a recent family trip to Massachusetts for a wedding, I had the real pleasure of renting a car at the airport. If there is a more complicated transaction on the planet, I am unaware of it. Two people in line at a fast food restaurant can constitute a minute or two wait, two people in line at a car rental company means you better hit the restroom, because you are going nowhere fast.

When I finally was called to the counter by the helpful and eager employee, he asked for my name. “David Meyer,” I said, and then I spelled it, “M-E-Y-E-R.” I did this because it forty-one years, no one has spelled it correctly the first time – being it is so complicated I guess. The most common mistakes are adding and “s” or forgetting an “e”.

Anyone that possesses basic math skills understands there are ten letters in David Meyer. Why is it then that the agent appears to have to program each letter individually starting from the original Sanskrit in order to find my reservation? To replicate this, randomly punch keys on your keyboard for five seconds as quickly as possible. There, you just entered, “M.”

After this, you begin the delightful insurance up-sell. You can be insured for: collision, body damage, body fluid, sexting while driving and anthrax. Wish to decline the coverage? Not a problem, just finish that steak dinner while the agent keys that in.

By this time, my wife has finished her Christmas shopping and we see the bride and groom – they have returned from their honeymoon.

After I sign and initial in enough places that the agent has placed a box of pens on the counter, we have to wind our way to the second rental counter – which is somewhere in North Dakota. Here I get to examine a car in a darkened garage for scratches. Unless the previous renter was involved in a game of hide the drive train with a locomotive, it looks just fine with me – declined insurance be damned. By this time, I would be happy to rent the family truckster from the movie Vacation if it means I can get on the road before we have to catch our return flight.

When we finally load up, I need to turn on the headlights. This means that I have to turn on the windshield wipers, air conditioning, open the sun roof, and engage the hydraulics – everything before I find the correct switch.

This is also about the time that I tell my wife that if we would have driven our own car, we would already be in the hotel. Back at the rental counter, the agent just filed a claim for carpel tunnel.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Campaign Ads and Barnyard Animals.

In Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail, Hunter Thompson’s book on the 1972 presidential election, he relates a story from the 1968 presidential campaign where Lyndon Johnson told his manager to “start a massive rumor campaign about his opponent’s lifelong habit of enjoying carnal knowledge of his own barnyard sows.” The manager protests that no one would believe that his opponent was a “pig fucker”. To this, Johnson replied, “I know, but let the sonofabitch deny it!”

So here we are in 2010, with everyone still denying they fuck pigs. Of course, “fuck pigs” is a euphemism for any of the following: stimulus money, Obama, Pelosi, masturbation, gay rights, Afghanistan, taxes, war on terror, Guantanamo Bay, BP, lobbyists, renewable energy, jobs, whatever. In 2010, your affiliation, real or imagined, with anything makes you a target – or rather – leaves you denying something. I am starting to think that if you run for political office, fucking pigs may be the least of your concerns.

My kids have become very astute, as twelve year olds are, at knowing what sucks. High on their list these days are professional athletes and politicians. So when Chris asked me the other day, “Why are all these commercials only about what the other guy did? Why don’t they ever say what they are going to do?” I was tempted to answer, “Well son, because politicians would rather make the other guy deny he fucks pigs.”

Of course, I didn’t say that. On the other hand, I was left giving him some other bullshit answer that sounded, again, like I was trying to explain away the pathetic behavior of adults.

I do believe that people who enter politics generally do so for the right reason. They choose that vocation out of a desire for public service and probably believe that they can help change things. Then, they get elected. The sucking sound they hear is their values. Before long they are swept into the wide vortex of ducking for political cover, alliances of dubious origin and the sweatshop factory of party politics.

Ever think that one of the reasons there can be so much resistance in some countries to a democratically elected government is not because of money or tyranny, but maybe they can’t bear the thought of campaign ads? I may be willing to give up my right to vote in exchange for not listening to months of how someone’s political opponent voted against, before they voted for, a bill that provided funding for an ant farm renewable energy bill that sent jobs overseas while raising the middle class tax rate to cut offshore drilling and increase bank regulation – all for their “friends on Wall and Main Street.”

Okay, I will not give up my right to vote. But I am still waiting for the year when I look forward to voting someone it, not voting someone out. Oink, oink.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Manchurian Stink Bug Candidate Complex

It seemed like just yesterday when the Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, had himself in a lather while imploring us to stock up on duct tape and plastic for an imminent terror attack. We worried, we fretted; and then we laughed. But all these years later, the premonitions are ringing true; we are under attack. Under attack by Stink Bugs. Or are we?

The latest poll shows that 97% of Americans are now more afraid of stink bug infestation than the government’s health care bill. But like the health care bill, I have more questions than answers.

Foremost, do they really stink? Sure, stories abound about the awful stench that is unleashed upon their demise. Rumors swirl of their odoriferous ways. Duct tape and plastic are flying off the shelf. But really, do they stink? Or, is this the most brilliant marketing campaign ever waged? Have these insects, through intrepid manipulation of the mainstream media, convinced us that their untimely death leads to odors worse than the laundry room at a senior citizen center? What a luminous scheme to insure the propagation of their species!

But I had to find out for myself. This weekend, a stink bug made its way onto the light above the island in our kitchen. Surely, it must have thought, I wouldn’t be so foolish as to kill it and unleash its hellishly scented fury. Alas, I have slaughtered many a bug in my day, and I am telling you that for the first time, there was pause in my action.

But then I thought, “What the hell?” and crunched the fucker in a paper towel. But now the moment of truth was upon me – I had to smell him. So I did. And here is my analysis. 1) There is an odor. 2) I wouldn’t classify it as “stink.” 3) I have no baseline of other insect smells so I can’t say it if is better or worse.

Therefore, I declare that the “Manchurian Stink Bug Candidate Complex” is over! But hold onto that duct tape, I understand bed bugs have been seen visiting Madison Avenue – rumor has it that when killed, they render the murderer impotent.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Flying Through the Air With the Greatest of Unease

The absolute most frightening part of air travel is the message over the public address system at the airport that says, “If anyone asks you to carry something for them onboard an aircraft, please report this immediately to airport security.” What’s frightening isn’t that someone would try this. Hell, someone convinced the underwear bomber to strap explosives to his penis. (There has to be a corporate motivational speaking tour available for anyone who can talk another human being into wearing explosives around his loins.) What’s frightening is that this announcement goes out because of the very real possibility that you are about to fly with someone stupid enough that if a total stranger walks up to them and says, “Hey, I have this package that just has to get to New York. Turns out I am not going to be able to make the flight. Be a pal and take it for me?” Someone would actually say, “Sure!”

Though the above is what I dread when flying, it is certainly not the only concern. But amazingly, air travel has seemed to position itself as the one form of transportation that has almost completed negated the risks associated with the actual “travel” portion. Basically, there are plenty of things to worry about, but the flying part does not seem to be one of them.

Common sense would dictate that the most dangerous part would be the actual flying, and that at least a modicum of rules would be in effect during the course of moving near the speed of sound at 35,000 feet. Not so. On my flights, the only rule that seemed to be in place while we were in the air was that we were forbidden to use the first class bathroom. But on the ground, all sorts of rules were in effect: belts fastened, tray tables and seat backs in the “upright and locked position”, (which is the same position you use in the airplane bathroom) no electronic devices, no getting out of your seat until the captain deems it appropriate, keep your hands and feet inside the plane, no breathing, eyes closed, living will tucked into your pocket, etc.

Another rule that is little known but widely followed is that when the plane arrives at the jet-way at the terminal, you are supposed to be infinitely surprised by this event, and only as everyone in front of you has left are you then to start gathering all of your belongings. This of course means standing in the aisle for several minutes while you check the seatback, the overhead compartment, the overhead compartment four rows back and then the pockets of your jacket. At this point, you have to fiddle with the roller bag handle since there is no sense in just carrying it off of the plane, and then stow your magazines in your carry-on after sorting them alphabetically and by publisher. Then and only then can you proceed down the aisle onto the jet-way, where you must stop to rearrange everything one more time, all the while being sure not to let anyone pass you. This is a rule for a very important reason; if you were to get off the plane too quickly, you would have to wait the full ninety minutes at baggage claim to retrieve your luggage. This reduces that wait time to only seventy-five.

Because I am generally a rule-abiding guy, I fairly respect these regulations (though I try to break the one about gathering my things). But I swear, one day I am peeing in the first-class bathroom.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Liquid Soap Opera

I haven’t used an actual bar of soap in years! Where was I when this historic transition occurred from a good, solid block of fat and lye to these multi-scented, testosterone snatching liquids? I might as well hand my kids a rotary phone as a bar of soap – they would be equally puzzled.

Does anyone else miss the Irish Spring commercial where a man slices off a piece of bar soap like he is filleting a trout? Today, we are awash (get it?) in commercials of metrosexual men frolicking in the shower under a nice soapy lather after their Pilates-Spin-Bikram Yoga class.

The way I look at it, only two forces could possibly be at work. Either, A) This is a conspiracy to further the pussification of this great country by the liberal media, or B) It is driven by the holier-than-thou conservative movement under the pressure of the Liquid Soap Lobby to stuff the pockets of Liquid Soap CEO’s not unlike the oil companies. (Pick your side.)

After a quick recon of the homestead, we have the following scents: Linen (wonder if you can get a nice polyester blend?), White Citrus (it is easy to imagine some scentrified snob on Park Avenue saying, “Yes, the citrus is good, but it needs a hint of white, or maybe an off white.”) and something called, I shit you not, Dancing Waters (sounds more like a rejected Celine Dion album title than a soap).

And not only do you get these whacked out scents, you get free magic too! You pump what is most assuredly a liquid and out comes foam!

I also wonder if this shift away from bar soap has influenced the shower room in prison. You know the old joke about not dropping the soap? I think at the time we all assumed that was specific to bar soap. Do you now hear, “Don’t drop that hair and body wash – boy.”

By the way, I just looked in the basement where we have “Caribbean Escape” which smells decidedly of pot and jerk seasoning.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Elephant Eyed Me As I Drank My Beer

I like any bar with a hand-written sign on the door that says, “Smoking Permitted.” To me, it is an emphatic statement that the owner of the establishment is much more concerned with someone’s inalienable right to smoke than their right to eat, since in Pennsylvania, it is perfectly fine to feed your patrons fried cheese stick wrapped chicken wings with extra trans-fat laden dipping sauce, but not allow them to smoke. Or, the owner always hated cooking.

So after a day of antique browsing and a devilishly good dinner, my wife and I walked into Joe’s in bucolic Ligonier, PA. You can notice many things when walking into a bar; the neatly arranged liquor bottles, the jukebox, the clientele. We noticed the giraffe and polar bear, before we noticed the elephant’s head hanging from the ceiling.

Seems that Joe (whose wife Marcy has actually owned the bar for fifty years) had a penchant for safari’s - and hunting. I don’t mean to understate this. When I say penchant, I mean it like congressmen have a penchant for spending money – which is to say, wildly and without prejudice. Imagine killing, and subsequently stuffing, every animal you have ever seen. This is the idea.

The display had more horned animals than a sales convention in Orlando. Besides the above mentioned giraffe, polar bear and elephant, there was a rhinoceros, alligator, lion, tiger and literally about one hundred more animals. All were displayed in museum like cases that took up the back room and the entire second floor. Except for the elephant, whose head was suspended in between floors sand whose legs were made into chairs – really.

The friendly bartender informed us that all the meat from the kills was given to the local people. Imagine the delight in backwoods Kenya when an American rolls into the village with a giraffe slung over his Land Rover, “Giraffe tartar! Gather round kids!”

But hey, after spending an afternoon looking at white porcelain tea sets and cases of watches that, according to one antique dealer I heard say, “None of ‘em work,” I happily shared my Yuengling with a stuffed baboon.

(Like the Grand Canyon, pictures do not do this place justice, I highly recommend a visit to this place.  You really have to see it to get a true handle on this wonderful piece of Americana.)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Male Complex with your Black Cohash?

I’m not above a few supplements, but while the debate rages over whether or not marijuana should be legalized (except in California where the debate rages over whether it should be sold in ounces or grams at Wal-Mart) I think the Feds may be overlooking a very curious phenomena taking place in local grocery stores.

While picking up some Myoplex this morning I was stopped by the large display of “herbs”, “roots”, “flowers” and apparently “candy” that is sold in the health section of my local grocery store. Neatly arranged alphabetically is row after row of pills that seem to be able to cure, fix, minimize, maximize, accentuate, relieve and cleanse any possible malady (real or imagined) that besets you.

The first one that caught my attention was “Male Complex”. I can only speak for myself, but I have enough problems without having more of a complex. Or so I thought. Upon closer examination (which is almost as embarrassing as perusing condoms) Male Complex “Promotes Sexual Health.” I guess that explains why right below that is “Dong Quai Root”.

Another interestingly named supplement is “Bladderwrack.” Is it me or does that name sound ominous? Who wants their bladder “wracked”? I mean, having the name “Fuck-Up-Your –Bladder” seems to imply the same thing.

If you want candy but not the hassle of tasting it, you can get Licorice tablets. You can also buy Black Cohash which I swear I saw an undercover cop buy on TV one time. “You got any Black Cohash?” Doesn’t it seem like you could get arrested for carrying that?

If anyone has access to empty pill capsules I plan on harvesting my yearly crop of Dandelions in my yard to sell alongside Horsetail Grass. Both of which are available in pill form…one of which sports another bad name…Horsetail Grass.

Could it be that people are so gullible there is an effort being put forth to grind up anything that grows and market it as a supplement? I’m thinking – yes. I’m also thinking that the crab grass in my yard can significantly help prevent pain, inflammation, goiter, kidney stones, hernias, ingrown toenails, impotence, hangovers, nail biting, bed wetting and is a significant source of vitamins A, B, C, D, E, F and G.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Wanna Bet? Leave It To Paddy Power.

If you are a drug addled celebrity, there is a good chance you will end up on someone’s death pool at the office. If you are an endangered species, you may find yourself on at 4/5 odds of becoming the next animal to become extinct. If you know anything about betting, 4/5 makes you the heavy, heavy favorite (basically, a five dollar bet wins you four). Such is the fate of the Kemp’s Ridley Turtle.

The Ridley is one of three turtle species listed in the site (Leatherback at 8/1 and the Loggerhead at 12/1).

More interestingly, Elkhorn Coral (20/1) is also present on the list. Coral is an animal? Plant – okay, but animal? Who knew? Kind of like how a tomato is actually a fruit and not a vegetable – you accept it is true but still can’t wrap your head around it. Its the same way I feel about reading about Supreme Court decisions or the fact that Sarah Palin actually ran for Vice President.

In 1980, the Pennsylvania Daily Number was fixed. Masterminded by Nick Perry, the conspirators applied white latex paint to eight of the balls in each machine, making them slightly heavier than the two untouched balls, the four and the six, thus making those two the only likely candidates to get sucked up in the vacuum tube. The winning result that day was 6-6-6. Eventually, the entire scam fell apart and all interested partied went to prison. (A fate I wish would beset Congress.)

I’m not suggesting this should be the fate of the Ridley Turtle, in fact, at 4/5 the risk would not outweigh the reward. The coral though, who really cares? But if you can’t stomach the idea of wiping out a species for financial gain (insert President Bush joke) Paddy Power has a better idea.

If, according to the WWF estimates on December 31, 2011, you can “somehow” figure out a way to get the Polar Bear population “down” to between 25,001 and 30,000, you stand to collect at 5/2. Look at the upside. There are at a minimum 25,001 polar bears left which seems like plenty to me, I’m sure there are some Inuit that would gladly eat the meat, and you could make a killing (bad pun) in the black market fur trade. This shouldn’t be an issue you sick fuck since you already slaughtered polar bears.

If the idea of affecting the survival of a species turns your stomach, you can always bet on the 2012 Presidential election which currently has Obama at 8/11 – and no shit, Paris Hilton at 1000/1 (tied with Laura Bush). All that makes me hungry for a polar bear filet served in a Kemp’s Ridley Turtle shell.

(Paddy Power is a HUGE retail and online bookmaker based in Ireland and is listed on both the Irish and London stock exchanges.  Check out their website for many, MANY more interesting bets.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Because an Ordinary Moment Can Turn Romantic

“For those of you having an erection lasting longer than four hours – you’re welcome.” Stephen Colbert

If my junk mail box serves me correctly, there appears to be a huge market out there for: erectile dysfunction pills, Rolex’s, Doctorate degrees, penis elongation meds and Nigerian finance ministers with boatloads of cash to move.

I would think that in order to pursue any of these emails, you would have to jump a few hurdles that include the very real possibility that these sites are:

1. A scam to take your money.
2. A scam to steal your identity.
3. A scam to take your money and provide a bogus product.
4. A scam to infect your computer with Ebola or some other virus.
5. An opportunity to post your picture on Yahoo’s Home Page as the stupidest person on the net.

Just for fun, let’s assume that you really, really want to beat back this erectile dysfunction once and for all. You have tried all the normal courses of action including cutting back on the meth and staying away from porn for a few days before a big date. (I only heard these are the normal courses of action.)

So one night, when didn’t work (again!) you decide to go for broke and order a supply of Viagra from

Now, let’s assume that the website didn’t suck down your bank account like an overweight trucker sucks down a Slurpee and your computer didn’t catch Mad Cow Disease and that a few weeks later a little box gets delivered to your house addressed to Craven Morehead (because you still haven’t lost your sense of humor). Let’s also assume the packaging of the little blue pills is suspect at best. For instance, maybe they come wrapped in the Lifestyle section of the Istanbul Daily Times.

At this point the little experiment, to me, goes from insane to downright psychotic because now you are left with only two options. One, you can chalk this up to too much Dewar’s and flush them, or, actually ingest the fucking things.

Where are you at in life when you think, as an option to achieve arousal, you are going to take pills received in the mail with the very real possibility that they were produced from dust, chemicals and some blue turpentine? Would this person hold them in their hand and think, “Fuck it, I’m going for it,” and knock them back with a sip of mescal?

Hell, I get nervous when I go to take an Advil and I don’t remember if I took the safety seal off when I opened the box a few weeks back, or if I didn’t and someone has injected the pills with badger urine.

But who am I to judge? I have to go now, my good friend in Nigeria, the Consul General of Timeliness and Monetary Bereavement is waiting for me to wire him five grand so he can send me a third-party out of country check for $58,670,250.00USD.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Lunch With The Horoscope

At the back of the sports page in today’s paper, to the right of the Aces On Bridge column that contains this phrase “You are in the four spades on the lead of the heart queen”, is the Horoscope. While I was finishing lunch today, I decided my Horoscope (or Horrorscope, or Whorescope) was worth a glance.

Before I tracked to Aquarius, I noticed that my wife and boys share the same astrological sign, Taurus. Who knew? And really, who cares? Anyway, the first earthshaking advice I received was, “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.” However, if there was a shred of truth to this line, it would have read, “If it’s broken, you can’t fix it.” This applies to most things around the house. When something isn’t working, my order of action is to check to see if, a) it is plugged in, b) see if a switch is “off” when it should be “on” and c) start swearing.

My horoscope montage ended with, “don’t rock the boat, be patient, and let nature take its course.” Well, had I taken that advice at about three o’clock this morning, all the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale I drank last night would be cause for a trip to the mattress store. I must admit that I can be quite a procrastinator when I have to use the restroom in the middle of the night, and it never works out. I try to will myself back to sleep, regardless of the bladder pressure, just to avoid crawling out of bed. After ten minutes of discomfort and fitful tossing, I make my way to the bathroom while trying to keep my eyes closed and then pee by sound. Guys have a real knack for the tonal differentiations of urine as it hits water; higher frequency means you are on the shallow side of the bowl. You have to correct to get that deeper, pitch perfect sound that proves you are directly in the middle of the bowl. A plastic sound means you are in the garbage can and no sound indicates you are streaming directly onto the tile wall, in which case you have to go into full body lockdown. But I am off track.

The funniest thing about the Horoscope was that it actually comes with a disclaimer that reads:

“The following astrological forecasts should be read for entertainment value only. These predictions have no reliable basis in scientific fact.”

I am the only one who thinks, “No shit.” I mean, I would love to meet the person who buys into this mumbo-jumbo only to read the disclaimer and think, “Damn! I was going to keep my head out of the clouds!” (Aries)

My advice is to pay more attention to Aces On Bridge. It offered this advice, “The key to this deal (and to so many others) is to combine all your chances.”

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Free and Unsolicited Reproductive Advice

Typical conversation:

Interested Party: “So, do you have kids?”
Me: “Yeah, I have twin boys.”
IP: “Oh. Do twins run in either of your families?”

I can see that question coming like crows to road kill. I almost hesitate to provide the true answer to the question because it confuses these scholars even more. The true answer to their specific question is, “Yes, my sister has twin girls.” However, when I provide that answer they immediately assume that I am the responsible party…because, well you can pass on twins like blue eyes, right? Well, no, jackass, that would be a completely wrong conclusion and apparently you suffer from dwarfism of the brain. So, I have to immediately follow this up with, “but that has nothing to do with it, the woman either releases two eggs or the egg splits, neither of which I have any part of.”

Even funnier is that after I state this, I am met with skepticism and doubt. In fact, sometimes I think people think, a) I am lying, or b) I am wrong.

Next time this happens, I plan to roll out this little example: Imagine in the empty lot next door to your home they are building a duplex. One day, the lumber company shows up with a truck of two by fours. You walk over to the driver of the truck and say, “excuse me, do you build many duplexes?” If he was a kind person (and let’s assume that) he would say, “I just deliver material. One house, two houses – beats me what they do with it. You may want to ask the builder.” Now, apply this example using the male as the driver and the female as the builder.

But maybe I am being too harsh. I can accept that some people may not understand this, or even that most people do not understand this. But what I can’t understand is that when I explain this fairly simple concept, people have the look on their faces like they have handed the map of the human genome. They seem to wonder how this magical fact could have possibly escaped them. Just say “thanks” and move on.

So, maybe this helps you with the above poll – I am definitely a more handsome Brad Pitt. I would “LOL” this but the boys (the same ones that I had nothing to do with regarding the fact that they are twins) have told me that, like Miami Vice, LOL has gone out of style.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Thinking For Yourself Is Fun and Easy!

“Beware of bearded men arriving in sealed trains bearing ideologies.”

I love that. Anita Thompson, Hunter Thompson’s widow, attributed that to the artist Ralph Steadman. According to her, he was referencing Stalin’s return from exile. Ralph remains an interesting artist and contributed many images for Hunter’s work as well as the label designs for Flying Dog Brewery.

Anyway, I thought of that this morning when I started my car. My station had been tuned the night before to 104.7 because I was listening to the Pirates game. Well, the morning drive is handled by local ultra-right-wing mouthpiece Jim Quinn. (I promise I am not going to get all political!) The first thing I remembered about him is that he used to host a morning show with “Banana.” The operatically sung theme was, “Quinn and Banana, Quinn and Banana, on B-94 FMMMM!” So, that would be his credentials. (But to be honest, I have zero credentials. So there’s that.)

I have no problem with Quinn –or Rush or Olberman. I don’t agree with any of them 100% of the time but they can be entertaining as all get up. What is a bit disturbing are some of the callers. They seem to have been sucked into these vortices of vitriol. Brainwashed actually. They become so entranced with these false prophets that they forget how to, seemingly, think for themselves.

Later in the day on another conservative show on the same channel, some caller was talking about how he got into a “Twitter” fight with “one of those liberals” over his service record. And Lord, was he pissed. He should have been pissed that he, as a grown man, was in a Twitter fight.

Like everything, these shows should be consumed in moderation, not used a safe haven to protect yourself from having to think on your own. There is no shame in making up your own mind.

(My day long infatuation with this channel reminded me of the time I was hooked on this religious call in talk show. The in-studio talent would field calls and dole out advice, which usually involved purchasing one of their books. On almost every show some woman would call in and complain, sometimes heartbreakingly, that she caught her husband looking at porn in the internet. The hosts would then console her and try to sell her books. They never asked the important question, “When was the last time your husband came home from work and you gave him a blowjob?” The truthful answer to this question would have saved someone a lot of reading.)

If you are interested in a book recommendation, I highly suggest this one – for anyone who lives in LA, has visited LA or has had the crazy idea of living in LA.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

What I Was Missing By Not Watching The Jersey Shore

“I was like, yo girl, its four o’clock, we gotta roll. We been here since midnight. That’s like five hours.” But isn’t that actually…never mind Ronnie, have some HGH.

Thank you, that’s my review of Jersey Shore. (But what fun is that!)

Here is a slightly longer recap. They (and by “they” I mean a group of over-everything twenty-somethings): get primped, go to a club, get drunk, make out with everyone (or if all else fails, each other), get into a fight/argument/altercation, walk home drunk, argue at the house. That seems to take about ten minutes of air time, at which point they reach the next day, and they do it all over again.

I like to think (pray) that the Jersey Shore was the most difficult show to cast. I have this fantasy that finding talent this obscenely stereotypical was akin to discovering D.B. Cooper alive and well living in Youngstown. I fear, however, that it was not. I fear that the casting director stood outside a random bar on the ocean in New Jersey and told his young intern, “Go inside and grab the first eight people you see.”

The question may arise, “Dave, what the hell are you doing watching, ‘Jersey Shore’?” An apt question it would be. Well, my wife had just returned from a business trip from hell (“the ten PM flight from Detroit to Pittsburgh? Yes, that actually leaves at two AM! Thanks, there is a water fountain down the concourse for your refreshment!”) so she was recovering from that and the kids were outside. I found myself flipping through the channels and, WHAMMO, I heard “Snookie” say, “I thought I was gonna get me some ass.” How can you pass by that? (By the way, Snookie is a girl.)

There was one funny moment. The “crew” was eating at a restaurant (in a slight shift from the above mentioned plot-line) and “Snookie” and “The Situation” (No kidding, that’s what he calls himself. He also bears an uncanny resemblance to Pauly Shore – which is even funnier because this is the Jersey Shore – but I digress) were arguing. When the Snookster asked someone to pass the rolls, the “Sitch” (his nickname for his nickname) says, “You already got a couple.” The funny thing is that Snookie does indeed look like a little Italian sausage, and a) she does have rolls, and b) she, like everyone else is not nearly as attractive as she thinks she is.

The other comical aspect of this show is that because the cast is almost always either drunk or in a screamingly loud bar, you can never hear them, so they have to subtitle a large portion of the show. However, since they curse so much the subtitles are almost like playing Wheel Of Fortune and often look like this: “F****r! Go f**k yourself sl*t b***h wh**e before I f*****g rip your b***s from your little d**k. You c**t.”

This may be the worst show on television…which also makes it one of the best!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Leathery and Lace

I enjoy when the eyes of my twelve year olds pop out of their heads. A little shock value when you least expect it is pleasing to the senses. Such was the case yesterday.

My family and I had just finished lunch at the Hard Rock Café in Station Square. I had a monster headache from the previous night. You know that commercial for Dos Equis beer where the actor says “I don’t often drink beer, but when I do, I drink Dos Equis”? Well, I went for, “I often drink beer, and when I do, I sometimes drink enough to give me a hangover from Dos Equis.” Therefore, I needed to scoot to the Sheraton next door to overpay for some Advil, or an awl to plunge into my head to relieve the pressure – either one.

As we were walking toward the entrance, my gaze drifted to the people standing out front, and my first thought was, “Wow, my kids are going to see their first transvestite!” Upon closer inspection, I realized she was not a transvestite, but a female body builder. As parents, when something like this is happening, your first instinct is to glance at your spouse. I tried that, but Bonnie was busy thinking, “Wow, my kids are going to see their first transvestite!”

Lucky us, we stumbled into the epicenter of a female body-building competition. Now, before I go any further, I want to say for the record that I applaud individuality and am devoutly a “live and let live” kind of guy. OK, now that the disclaimer is out of the way – what the hell kind of woman does this to their body? Upon closer inspection (or darting eyes out of fear one of them would fasten me to a lat pull-down machine) these women looked exactly like male body builders with two distinct exceptions – one of those would be breasts – the other I am making an assumption. Their skin wasn’t tan as much as it appeared a ten year old tried to stain grandmother’s end table by mixing orange latex paint with decade’s old brown stain – then applying a fine leather grain pattern. Their legs looked like gnarled telephone poles and their backs like cinder block walls with walnut sized bulges of muscle where the mortar should be.

As I am walking out of the sundry shop chewing my way through three layers of protection on the pill bottle (I was so desperate I almost ate the cotton) I saw the boys frozen against the wall like they had just seen the two headed man in a 1920’s carnival – but this was no parlor trick.

I asked my son what he thought of those female body builders. He said, “They were weird.” Literally.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Butter Your Way To A Better Sandwich - Channel 40 Style!

One of the real benefits of having Bonnie away for work is that I get the bedroom TV all to myself. Normally, we compromise; for instance, if I want to watch Mega Ships and she wants to watch What Not To Wear, we compromise – and we watch What Not To Wear. Since I was only sharing my bed with Zeke the dog, and he was fine watching anything as long as he could sleep for the next sixteen hours, I was downward descending through the channels when I came upon “At Home With Arlene Williams” on the local religious station.

Arlene hosts a cooking show on a stage that looks like a head on collision between a high school prop department and fluorescent Sharpie’s. This episode was devoted entirely to sandwiches. (I usually try not to watch cooking shows late at night for fear that I reason a plate of chicken nachos at 10:30 sounds like a good idea.) Anyway, don’t expect to see dear Arlene in Kitchen Stadium battling Iron Chef Bobby Flay over a table of Sea Urchin stomachs.

First up was egg-salad with its own secret ingredient which she teased for a full five minutes while she mashed hard-boiled eggs on a plate. Was it going to be some exotic Indonesian spice? Of course not. The secret ingredient was – a big forkful of butter. Oh yeah. But as she is mixing up her egg, butter and mayo salad she said the most interesting of things. When she was adding salt, she said “My dad only liked salt on two things; eggs and chicken. He was such a funny guy.” No, Arlene, he was a lunatic.

The coup de grace was when Arlene fixed what she called her “combo” sandwich. More specifically, she said,” When I want a combo this is what I do.” First, she gets three slices of bread from (not kidding) a bag that still has the twist tie on. (For the sake of reality though, how many of us have a cracked whole wheat artesian baguette sitting around?) Mayo on two slices and Dijon on one; so far, so good. Then she heats a single slice of ham in a skillet with butter and plops that between two slices with a piece of cheese. She fries an egg in the same skillet with more butter, pours that on the second slice of bread and adds a tomato. Now she says as she grabs the salt, “Always salt the tomato. Paul (I am assuming her hubby) always says, ‘Arlene, did you salt the tomato?’”

I felt like yelling at her, “Arlene, what the hell is up with the men in your life and this salt thing?” She needs to tell Paul (as it is very possible my wife would), “You want salt on your tomato? Here’s your fucking salt!” as she chucks the shaker at his skull.

But I digress. This “combo” sandwich was three slices of bread, one lousy piece of ham, a slice of cheese, an egg and a tomato…properly salted. If that doesn’t say hunger buster what does? I swear she did that on the fly. Maybe she was listening to her Charlie Parker before the show and told the producers, “Arlene is improvising today! Get me a piece of ham and loaf of bread and watch me freestyle!”

I grew tired at this point, so I missed the ham salad segment. It was either go sleep or go to work on those chicken nachos.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

How To Adapt To A Life Full Of Adaptors

There is a mischievous Fairy loose in my car. He (or she) has a singular purpose; tying the headphones from my iPod into a white, tangled mess. There can be no other reasonable explanation as to how I can place my iPod in the center console of my car after the gym, only to retrieve it a day or two later to find it knotted like the halls of Congress. And I do mean knotted. Tangled? OK. But seriously, the headphones look like they are trying to mate. I have seen; a half hitch, a halter hitch, a left hand bowline and a Carrick bend – sometimes all at once. Some people start their workouts with light cardio – I start mine fiddling with (and cursing at) wires. I do wonder if that time counts toward my workout.

I keep my iPod in the car not just out of convenience. I keep it there because of the fear that if I bring it in the house, it will migrate with the other 32,000 electronic devices in our home, rendering it nearly impossible to find when I need it. It is the same reason I never put my phone or laptop away…they would become co-opted into the Union Of Impossible To Find Devices and Adaptors. The name is a misnomer, however. Things aren’t impossible to find. It is only impossible to find what you are looking for.

I can find AC adaptors….plenty of them. I can just never find the right one. I can find adaptors for, a) cell phones we no longer own, b) games the kids haven’t used for five years, c) one’s that appear to not belong to anything (maybe the bastard offspring of A and B), and d) adaptors that seem to be designed to connect to a rather important piece of electronics, like maybe WOPR from War Games.

In ten tries you couldn’t find the correct adaptor that links my digital camera to my laptop. The real fun part is, when you do find it, you have to first figure out where the input on the camera is located (you may need a microscope since the cover is supremely camouflaged into the body of the camera), then try to insert it until you are almost convinced you have the wrong one since there are only two possible ways to do it and you have tried each one eighteen times.

And this is the other point. Why is there this seemingly contrite and selfish fetish amongst electronic manufacturers to provide different adaptors to every single model of device? When I recently switched cell phone carriers (I went with the one offering an app that gives me command over the weather) my son and I realized our phones used the same charger. No kidding, this was cause for actual celebration.

“Can you believe this, son?” I exclaimed, “Our phones use the same adaptor!” He was as stunned as I was. Never in his twelve years has he seen such a technological anomaly. He and his brother’s lives have revolved around having adaptors splayed around their room like groupies in a Motley Crue tour bus.

The upside of course, is that when we are getting packed to travel, we always have something to argue about and scramble around looking for – this usually takes place as I have my car keys in my hand.

Still, I never lose faith that the car-living, knot-tying Fairy will one day have an appetite for digesting coffee cups. Until then, I am going to look in the attic for the TV remote, I’m sure it’s up there.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Private Parts and the Right To Marry

It’s not often I hear compliments from total strangers. In fact, I hear them about as often as the President hears, “Good news, the bill passed unanimously!” So, when I paid for my Diet Coke at the convenience store today, and the guy said, “You look great today,” I was so taken aback, I asked him to repeat himself. Suspiciously, he said, “You have a great day today.” Hmm. Maybe.

“Thanks,” I said, “you too.”

My wife told me this morning before I left that I looked nice, but I chalked that up to me sporting a golf shirt with her company’s logo on it. To be fair, they give out great golf shirts and I have three. I would have more but a few years ago they started to produce them cut more to a woman’s figure, so my wife cut me off from the cool graft. She used a really cool fashion word about the way it is sewn…it’s beyond me, but she is good with those words.

Nonetheless, the whole experience had me thinking about gay rights, or lack thereof, in this country. And for a straight guy, I spend an awful lot of time thinking about them. Actually, I spend that time thinking that it is insane that in 2010 we are still debating whether some people should have rights.

Here is a how a state determines if you will be allowed to marry, the most sacred of institutions. The lowest ranking government official comes from around the corner and does a quick crotch grab. If one penis and one vagina is present (one each per person of course) you are signed, sealed and delivered your marriage license. Actually, that is not how they do it. No one comes around the corner. If you look like a man and woman, that is usually good enough. Therefore, if you are standing around outside the courthouse and see someone (of the opposite sex) feel free to pop the question. The states will welcome you…for a small fee of course.

It gets fun when two people who love and care for each other and want to validate their union through marriage have that quirky flaw of each owning the same private part. The states can’t have that; it could lead to interior design madness.

I love watching people lose their mind over this issue. The fact remains; you don’t have to like it and you sure as hell don’t have to support it. Churches don’t have to endorse it, although a certain number are pretty damned adept at turning a blind eye toward other offenses. But hey, let’s not let a few cases of pedophilia get in the way of passing the collection basket.

If the states were actually as concerned as they claim about preserving the “sanctity” of marriage, you would undergo a full background check and be under video surveillance for a year before and five years after you were married. It’s bullshit. Politicians are worried about votes and heterosexuals against this are afraid they might catch something, when they are not running around making sure the sky is not falling.

Be not afraid. You could be the next one getting hit on in a convenience store. Or not.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Advice On Living From The Strangest Of Places

“He that is taught only by himself has a fool for a master.” Hunter S. Thompson

I wouldn’t say I spent the last two Tuesday nights crying – I was engaged more in the shedding of a few tears type of drama. See, Tuesday nights is when Deadliest Catch is on. For those not in the know (and shame on you!) it chronicles the adventures of Alaska’s crab fishing fleet as they battle the Bearing Sea, ice and each other in heroic efforts to catch king and opelio crab.

I was hooked (so to speak) since its start in 1995. Initially, I chalked the whole season up to viewing hour after hour of a shit I would never do. I loved to watch guys almost routinely get swept to their deaths by twenty foot waves while they fetched massive crab pots from the sea floor, all the while being berated by gnarly, salted captains because they refused to give it their all after eighteen straight hours.

Well, this season saw the demise via stroke of Captain Phil Harris of the boat Cornelia Marie…not long after one of his two sons on the boat admits his drug addiction problem. (Oddly, his sons are named Jake and Josh, similar to the Disney show Drake and Josh. My advice? Pick Jake and Josh to win by TKO.) The decline of the Captain has been played out vividly the last few weeks. This week is the week he will pull that last proverbial crab pot.

On last week’s episode, the older son, Josh, is pondering the future of the ship, its crew and the legacy his dad had built. In the wheel house with Josh is a maniacal Samoan, Freddy. While Jake is feeling the pressure of the family business, Freddy offers some of the most sound, reasonable and caring advice that resonated (that word again loyal readers) not only across the wheel house, but all the way to Cranberry Township, PA. It was crystal clear, spot on introspection about the things that are actually important, not the things that seem important. Freddie’s insight on loss and the importance of family was a home run.

There are a million things that can go wrong in our world; some big and some small. We are all sinners who have made bad choices and regrettable decisions. None of it means there is not a chance for redemption. Eddie Vedder sang, “I’m a lucky man, to count on both hands, the one’s I love.” The people you love and the people who love you…never forget how much that counts.

If you have three minutes, check out this clip of that interaction (you have to sit through a brief commercial). My opinion…some powerful stuff.

(In the photo, Phil is out front, his two sons are on the right, and  Freddie is in the back.)

Monday, July 5, 2010

French 101 - Or...What Happens When Someone Actually Buys Your Accent

Before we left for Quebec, we were curious as to how much English would be spoken. My wife has passable French language skills while mine consisted of the three words all men know but rarely experience - ménage à trois While we fully expected Quebec’s charm, we were a bit surprised that we were able to communicate as easily as we were. Since French is the official language of the Province, we were quite certain, and in fact a little excited, to have a bit of a struggle. We didn’t, with two exceptions.

First, the only time someone truly trapped me in their French language was when a drunken guy came up to me near the Parc-de-l’Artillerie and rambled something that would have been hard to understand in English given his state. When I said “Je ne parle pas français” (one of the very few French phrases I know…basically translated as “I am a stupid American who thinks the world should speak English, so excuse me but I have no friggin’ idea what you are saying.”) he repeated it very slowly. Now, not speaking French means that regardless of how slow someone speaks it, I still do not understand! Fortunately my wife walked up and said he was saying something about a sunset by the river. For all I know, he was asking me on a date, but since my wife frowns on me heading off into the twilight with drunk Quebecers, I smiled, said “merci,” and moved on.

Secondly, and if I had to phrase this in the form of a joke, it would go like this: “An American walks into a Lebanese restaurant in Quebec.” The gentleman spoke fluent something, but it sure didn’t sound like French, and zero English. Luckily, being great fans of Middle Eastern food I knew I couldn’t go too wrong. With some finger pointing (at the menu) and much gesturing, we managed to get ourselves some gyros, kufta and hummus. We did both manage the word “Coke.”

Over the course of the week my French phrasing improved. At first, every time I said “bonjour” I was politely greeted with a “hello.” As if to say, “That’s cute, but for my own sanity let’s speak English.” However, by the end of the week, my “bonjour” and “bonsoir” was occasionally being replied to in French, to which I would then sheepishly say, “hello” or “good evening.” Hence, if the exchange was in one language would be: “hello,” “hello,” “hello.”

Other than those two instances, the rebellious Quebecers were not only extremely bi-lingual, but friendly and gracious hosts. I still didn’t get to use ménage à trios…unless that’s what the drunken guy was talking about.

(Side Bar - Unrelated to the above.

I wondered, when the American with the gaudy t-shirt tucked tightly into his belted shorts that were laboriously fitted below his gut, asked the shop keeper on Rue Saint Louis if she could recommend a restaurant that served, “you know, regular food,” if in fact she didn’t feel like shoving the "I Love Quebec" coffee mug squarely up his ass?

I would have smiled broadly if she had said, “You mean the type of food that has made you both fat and ugly you ignorant American?” Alas, she didn’t. Nonetheless, it did embarrass me. Here we were, in beautiful, historic Quebec, and some schmuck is upset because he can’t get “normal” food. Whatever that is.)

Thursday, July 1, 2010


“If I wasn’t exactly finding the joy in that scenic splendor the way I used to, I was at least ‘resonating’ again, feeling the beauty around me, and curious about what the next line on the map might look like.”

Good or bad, funny or pathetic, I always like to have my own thoughts, it helps to explain why I believe in gay rights and gun ownership, I guess. But the above line, from Neil Peart’s book, Ghost Rider, really has hung around for the last twenty-four hours, almost like a song you can’t get out of your head. Neil was on a motorcycle journey to help him come to terms with the death of his daughter and wife in sixteen months. He had returned to his lake house in Quebec, saw these two rocks jutting out from the water and said to himself, “I still like those two rocks.” Resonance.

As we all know, it can take more than a few rocks in a lake to elevate our disposition. But that isn’t the point and he knew it. What it did though, was give him hope. It gave him encouragement. It wasn’t some epiphany, “Ah! The rocks! Everything will be fine!” Not at all. He would wallow many hours in sorrow and pain; pain of the darkest kind.

But I think this idea of resonating is illuminating. In fact it may be bravery of the most stalwart kind. In your darkest hour: loss, pain, grief, the fortitude to find that one sliver of enlightenment can be daunting. That sliver of enlightenment may not alleviate the darkness, but using it for what it is, a brief glimpse of hope, may damned well bring some salvation. Hope that all is not lost. Hope that something matters, or in this case, hope that something still matters. That with all the sorrow in your world, the things that gave you pleasure in the past are still capable of giving you pleasure in the present or the future. This resonance doesn’t replace pain, it just lets you know that there are things that can still matter; somewhere, sometime.

For Neil, these rocks were a connection. They were a connection to his past and maybe a conduit to his future. But maybe resonance doesn’t have to be something from our past. Maybe sometimes it is something new and unexplored. Something that jumps up when we least expect it and proves to us that life and hope can spring eternal.

I think I know this; keeping my eyes closed is the only one sure way of guaranteeing there will be no resonance in my life. Is that a world any of us want to live in?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

La Fête nationale du Québec

The copper roofed, historic Frontenac Hotel; the roaring majesty of St. Anne’s Gorge; the cobblestone streets of Old Quebec; the kids rolling a joint from a baggie of marijuana on the Plains Of Abraham. Nothing stirs the interest of twelve year old boys like illicit drugs (maybe the trendy clothes store FUCKlamode in lower Old-Town.)

But to be fair, all of Quebec was in a celebratory mode, and really, a joint to start the evening may have been the least of the carnage. When you see barriers being erected around your hotel and a note from staff under the door stating that you will be required to show your room key to security to gain access, you can expect a little madness; the posters stating that the last of the bands would be starting at 3:00 AM only add to the drama. Now, move the entire party consisting of 300,000 people to the park next to your hotel and you get the idea.

The Quebecers (pronounced ka-BEEK-ers) take their National Holiday of Quebec (La Fête nationale du Québec) extremely seriously. This is a province that twice in the last thirty years voted on a referendum for secession from Canada. It’s a complicated dynamic; suffice to say it is a result of Quebecers feeling as though they were never given the social, political and cultural respect they deserve from greater Canada. Much of this stems from constitutional back-stabbing in the eighties whereby the Canadian government created their constitution through back-door dealing with the other nine provinces…Quebec still has not ratified the constitution. You heard me…Quebec has NOT ratified their country’s Constitution. (To be fair, Quebec hasn’t always worked and played well with the other provinces…in 1977, as a slap in the face to the Federal Government; they made French the official language of the province. It would be like Nebraska making Rastafarian their official language.)

So, in an effort to again trump the Feds, the Quebecers throw a blow out party on June 23rd, a week before the lightly celebrated Canadian National day of July 1st. Even though our hotel was modestly protected, the rest of the city was up for grabs. Apart from the dope, alcohol consumption was not only tolerated on city streets as well as the park, but seemingly encouraged. So, we have: 300,000 independent minded Quebecers + a long winter + copious booze + unsanctioned fireworks displays = Mardi Gras, Carnival, Running With The Bulls; all on Human Growth Hormones.

After partaking in some fanatical Quebec flag waving near the main stage and a few refills of local brew, the family and I strolled once more through the park. By this time, about ten o’clock, legions of youths were traipsing past our hotel with coolers. I knew from the previous days wandering where the US Consulate was in case evacuation was needed…I was picturing going helicopter style like in Vietnam…getting plucked off the roof. Alas, other than the occasional Roman Candle flitting past our window, we survived unscathed. The same couldn’t be said the next morning for the guy who covered the entire street outside of our hotel as he plunked one heavy foot in front of the other, back and forth, back and forth, as he made his way home.

(The picture above is from the day after the party.  Notice any mention of Canada is crossed out...among other things.  Really, they are serious about this.  But you know, they are damned nice to us Americans.)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

I'm Back! (almost)

Just got back from a great family vacation in Quebec City.  Looking foward to filling in some of the details here...think: snails, independance and the fun of not speaking the language!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A Sport I Will Never Play - And It Is Not Soccer

There are some sports that are so violent; no state would possibly sanction them. Cockfighting at City Hall would be more palatable to the masses. In the spirit of “some of the best sports are ones that have never been invented,” the kids have developed “Handball.” Seems innocuous enough, yes?

To stage a match, you need two hockey nets placed at either end of the yard. Since we have more nets than Quebec Province in our cul-de-sac, this is not a problem. You need a ball, preferably one that has air in it, though it is surprising the kids don’t use a brick. Finally, you need a group of boys with violence in their hearts.

There is but one objective, get that friggin’ ball in the net at all costs with no regard for your own safety or the safety and well being of others. The beauty of inventing games is that you get to set the rules; in this game, there are none. Here are some examples of things that flirt with being felonious, but in “handball,” are not only allowed, but considered exemplary:

• Blind side cross body block to the back of the person who doesn’t have the ball.
• Driving your opponent into the deck steps.
• Leg whips that sends someone tumbling into the thorny patch of blackberry bushes.
• The Cobra Clutch.

Of course, with such random violence, occasional, actual violence breaks out. Since there are no rules, the argument is not about if someone went out of bounds, rather, someone may have taken exception to being impaled on a garden stake.

It reminds me of a time in college when the guys who lived next door to us got their hands on a pair of boxing gloves. One afternoon when they were properly lubricated, they were going to “play box.” Ideally this meant good natured, light tapping. A few laughs, a leathery kiss to the top of the head and it would have been over. That lasted three seconds before someone took exception to a decent right cross…punches with bad intention soon were thrown with malice. We watched, didn’t break it up, and tapped the keg of Milwaukee’s Best.

This afternoon’s game had me reading the fine print of my homeowner’s insurance policy to see if coverage is extended to illegal sports played by minors on my property. This was after I witnessed what was as close to a pile driver I have seen since the Super Fly Snuka days…and this happened away from the ball. There doesn’t seem to be a certain score that ends the game – it seems to end when everyone has pretty much had enough of beating the shit out of each other. Red faced and sucking air, the boys tossed on their swim suits and headed off to the neighbor’s pool…who hopefully has the industrial filter system that can clean the water of sweat, grass and blackberry thorns.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Anniversary Issue (Nice and Short)

In my last post, I made mention that within the contact field of my Blackberry, there was the “anniversary” function, and I wondered who would possibly need this outside of their own lives. Well, sonofabitch, if my blog isn’t about one year old! Maybe this year it will learn to walk! Oddly, when I was looking through my first entries (and please, please do not do this to yourself –they are aimless and could easily lead you to believe that I was one or two keystrokes away from writing a “manifesto” of some sort) I realized I had this weird gap. There were some in June, and then nothing until September. I wish I could at least fill in this gap, but I can’t remember what the hell was going on that this space exists. It’s kind of like the Darien Gap in Panama, thus preventing a true land route between the Americas.

I fully realize my posts can come off as; arrogant, self-righteous, condescending, stupid, poorly written, out of touch and foolish. But you know what? I fucking like it. But here is the other, most important part; I have heard some pretty complimentary things over the year. And that feels really great. Writing this nonsense only for me wouldn’t be much fun, and I really hesitated plopping my link on Facebook. But over the past year, this little blog has generated several thousand hits.

So, whether you have come by once or read every post, I really want to thank each and every one of you. It really means a lot to me…actually, probably more than you will ever know. I have been blessed.

So, until you find something better to read (like the Dead Sea Scrolls) I will be looking forward to another year! THANKS!

(The photo is where the action happens.  Right in the kitchen, where there are plenty of distractions!  The beer is mandatory.  Off to the side are all of this year's lacrosse stat team statistician, my job was to compile the stats from all the games, upload them to a spreadsheet and send them to the coaches so they could promptly ignire them.  My brother has a standing order that if something happens to me he is to run my hard drive through a chipper and scatter the bits in the Darien Gap.)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

How Many Ways Can I Get In Touch With You?

I don’t have a smart phone; I have a phone that is too smart for its own good. If it’s true that there is a fine line between brilliance and insanity, my Blackberry is it. I fear that between texts, messaging, web browsing, actual old fashioned phone calls, some apps that I downloaded (Pandora, Jethro Tull Radio!), something called VZ Navigator and more folders than a doctor’s office and more icons that a Coen Brothers movie, I am only challenging this phone at about 10% of its insanely powerful capacity. I am pretty sure with the correct tweaking and keystrokes I could use it fiddle with the atomic clock.

Occasionally I randomly open folders to reveal an even greater number of widgets and gadgets I have no use for. I promptly hit the red phone button to escape literally and figuratively back to my home screen…where I feel safe.

But the other day, I was adding a number to my contacts. (Gotta have contacts, lots and lots of contacts! Is there anything more we love than contacts?) As many times I as have done this, this was the first time something really odd struck me. Did you ever look at the expanse of fields on the contact page? Not so briefly: Title, Name (first, last), Nickname (who the hell would ever really use this? Would you put in “Bob” for “Robert”, or “’limpdick” for your college roommate?), picture (if you are over thirteen and use this, 3 to 1 you also Twitter), Company, Job Title, Custom Ring Tones for this contact when they call or message you (I did call my buddy one time looking for him in a bar and heard the tune Sexy Motherfucker…), two each; email, work phone, home phone, mobile phone, a Pager Field (isn’t it easier to get a cassette player than a pager?), Work Fax, Home Fax, Other (OTHER! What the hell was left out? “Limpdick, I am just going to put your Social Security Number in ‘other’”), PIN (no shit…I think this is some sort of Blackberry code for their Instant Messenger app…but who the hell knows), Work Address, Home Address, Birthday, Anniversary (what anniversary, besides your own do you really need! Insanity!), a field that says “Categories” (I’m thinking: Good Guy, Whore, Drunk, that sort of thing), Web Page, then four fields that are labeled User 1 – 4 (is this a question? User? Fuck yeah she’s a user!), and lastly, Notes (likes tequila shots and lapdances from “pre-law” students).

Thirty-Three…that is the number of possible entries you could make for one person’s contact information! Recently, my wife told me she was thinking of getting rid of our land line…no one uses it. According to my Blackberry, not only do I need one home number, I actually need two. Who am I to argue with a phone that is smarter than me?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Dog Urine and the BP Fix

The following is a side by side comparison of two remedies for a particular scenario. A case study if you will. First, I will present the problem, and then I will present two solutions. I invite you to vote and/or comment on which one seems more practical.

SCENARIO: Our dog, Zeke, the bastard son of a mongrel bitch is fourteen and a half years old. As such, he is occasionally prone to accidents in the house. As much as we would, obviously, wish this wouldn’t happen, his equipment, though long and well serving, is not always reliable. Today, in the living room, I found two things; 1) the remnants of a bologna container, and 2) a urine stain on the carpet. The container was tossed (again) in the recycle container but the urine stain is what this case study is about (Isn’t that always the case?)

Solution 1: Knowing there is always a risk of this happening, we do our best to get Zeke outside as frequently as possible in hopes of mitigating the risk of peeing in the house. However, sometimes the forces at work mean 1) we aren’t home at the exact time he has to pee, or 2) he doesn’t realize it until it is too late. (Don’t laugh, adult diapers are a million dollar industry.) This being the case, we always keep a bottle of Woolite Pet Cleaner on hand. When I saw the stain, I immediately blotted as much of the urine out of the carpet as I could, doused the area with the Woolite, and patted/blotted the stain. Fix time, three and a half minutes.

Solution 2: Though I know Zeke peeing in the house remains a real possibility, I am willing to assume that risk and hope that even if he does, he will somehow pee directly into the floor drain in the laundry room. When I saw today that he peed on the carpet, my first response was to say it was not that bad and that I hadn’t been properly informed of the risks of this actually happening. I am going to ignore the stain at this point and spend the next several months looking for an engineering fix that may or may not have ever been tested. I tell my wife that the stain, though unsightly, will eventually dry and fade…but not completely. Months and maybe years from now there will be an uneven dark circle on the carpet, but since no one really sits on the floor in that exact spot, what real future problem does it present? In the meantime, still ignoring the stain, I insist that I am working with the best and brightest our country has to offer, because I need to know whose ass to kick. After several months of focus groups and think tanks, the overwhelming results seem, somehow, to point to the fact that I was negligent. By this time, however, I am hoping the boys decide to repaint my car with some spray paint they found in the woods* thus drawing attention completely away from my previous lack of judgment.

Simple right? Action or inaction? My son, 12, asked me this exact question two days ago, “Why isn’t anybody doing anything about the oil?”

(* This derives from a real life situation…the kids did find spray paint in the woods when they were younger and painted my garage door, the neighbor’s garage door and the neighbors mailbox.)

Friday, June 4, 2010

D.A.R.E. - To be Honest

I have no quarrel with a good argument. In fact, one of the few things I am sure of in this world is that there are two sides to EVERY story. However, I like to call bullshit when I see it – or in this case, read it. A few weeks ago, in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Dr. Neil Capretto, the medical director of Gateway Rehabilitation posited the opinion that legislating the use of medical marijuana is “foolhardy.” So says he.

His basis is that there are plenty of prescription meds on the market to deal with the health issues of sick people and that legalizing a largely untested and unregulated drug like pot can have dire consequences. Maybe.

However, I would like to know how many of the doctor’s patients enter his rehabilitation center severely addicted to the same medications he claims as being “safe” because they are FDA approved? Pain pills in this country are doled out like handbills on Election Day. My cousin died from being addicted to oxycontin, not because he may have smoked a joint once in a while.

Doctor Capretto does advocate the further testing of the drug and his point is well taken that it should be studied more to determine its possible benefits. The problem with this approach is that the government machinations in place move grindingly slow. This is further coupled by the fact that we are still living in the post-Reagan “Just Say No” era that grew out of the embrace of the sixties counter-culture’s use of pot. However, no other illegal drug has gained one bit of traction as a viable form of medication. Cocaine, acid; they all had their heyday. The reason stronger drugs have not held sway is actually pretty simple. People are pretty smart at sorting out what is good and bad. We already had a massive clinical trial for marijuana in this country for fifty years. Millions of people have smoked pot. While I am sure there are well documented cases of a small number of people having psychotic episodes or needing medical care, I would also bet the numbers pale in comparison to the dangers of alcohol. I can see legislators now denouncing pot over a few martinis, and then getting in their car. Can’t you?

I fully respect the doctor’s concern given his position. However, his clinic operates at least some degree because of pain pill addiction; drugs that were tested, vetted, studied and prescribed legally. This leads me to believe that the current system in place to get drugs to market does not provide a barrier to addiction. In fact, I would assume that most pain pill addiction starts due to the lawful prescription of these pills. The point is, to conclude as the doctor seems to; that the normal course of bringing drugs to market somehow protects the end user from abuse is disingenuous.

Let’s be even more frank…blunt actually. Have many of us have smoked a joint in their lives? I mean, how many of YOU? The anecdotal evidence I have seen, from friends not personal experience, is that side effects include raiding the pantry, not a lust for black tar heroin. I know, someone has a friend who smoked a joint and is now scoring crack from a prostitute. Well, the bars don’t open at 6:00 AM on Butler Street for an after work cocktail…but no one seems to give a shit about that. I’d ramble more, but its 4:20…

(Don't call me a pro-drug me a realist.)