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Marriage Equality: Now What?

28 Jun

“Mawwiage. Mawwiage is what bwings us togethew today.”

-that priest from The Princess Bride

“If you liked it, well then by golly, you should have placed a ring on it.”

-from the first draft of ‘Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)’ by Dame Beyoncé Knowles

June 26, 2015 — a date which will live in infamy…wait, no, that’s December 7, 1941. June 26, 2015 is a date which will live in…what’s the opposite of infamy? Famy? Famosity? Fuck it, I’ll consult my Roget’s later and get back to you. The important thing to know about this date is that it was the date that the Supreme Court recognized the legality of same sex/gender marriage throughout the United States. Of course, seeing as you’re reading this on the internet, you have already been inundated with news about this for the last 24 hours or so. If this is the first time you’ve used the internet and mine is the first site upon which you’ve stumbled, hi! Did you know there is porn on the internet? Lots of it. Go ahead and check it out. Maybe bookmark this site and come back and read this in six months when you’re ready to look at something other than free boobies.

As I see it, the Court’s decision left people feeling one of three ways: super stoked, super bummed, or totally indifferent. If you’re super stoked it’s probably because:

  • You’re gay or you are the family or friend of someone who is gay and relieved to be recognized as a human being entitled to the same civil rights as everyone else…even though such recognition is long overdue. Seeing how some of us are still not over the whole Greedo shooting first debacle (seriously George? You can’t let us have a Han who is a loveable rogue who only acts in his own best interests when we first meet him? That’s why his saving Luke at the end is such a powerful moment! It’s called a character arc, goddamnit!!), I’m actualy kind of surprised it happened this fast;
  • You’re a divorce attorney or wedding planner pitching a raging money-boner (and it’s lasted way longer than four hours now. You should probably seek medical attention) at the thought of all those potential new clients; or
  • You had a sizeable wager riding on the outcome.

If you’re super bummed, it’s probably because:

  • You’re a homophobe or religious type who just can’t stand the thought of people with matching genitals settling down even though it affects you personally about as much as a mosquito farting in a tornado. Do you people just hate pairs? Do you wear mismatched mittens and socks? Are you secretly all Batman villains? Help me understand;
  • You’re a hipster douchebag who was a fan of gay marriage before it was cool and now that everyone else is onboard, “it’s just so, like, played out, man. Lame. And rainbows? Yeah, they’re cool…if you’re eight!” Man, that fictional hipster guy I just invented is a total asshole. Take your wispy-mustached, porkpie-hatted, skinny jeans-wearing ass to the vintage record store or something and leave us alone; or
  • You had a sizeable wager riding on the outcome.

If you’re totally indifferent…I have nothing to say to you. You should probably just take another bong hit and munch down on some Cheetos or Funyuns or something. Pro tip: get yourself a big bowl and mix a bag of Cheetos and Funyuns together for a tasty treat I like to call ‘Cheetuns.’ You’ll find that eating them is like having a flavor tiger maul each of your taste buds into death’s sweet embrace. Go now; there is nothing more for you here. You can thank me later.

As for the rest of you, here is a handy list of dos and don’ts to help you figure out how to act now that same sex marriage is the law of the land.

Do:

High five. A lot. This goes for both gay people and friends of gay people. High fiving is the ultimate in underrated celebration. Indulge in it!

Don’t:

Panic. I know for many opponents of marriage equality this decision will be the final straw that unleashes the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. They’ve been sitting in the green room sipping coffee and making awkward, weather-based small talk just waiting for their cue, and now they have it. Let me set your mind at ease:  if Zayn leaving One Direction wasn’t enough to set them in motion, you’ve got nothing to worry about.

Do:

Gloat. Go ahead, you’ve earned it. When the Orioles win the World Series I will be an insufferable prick about it for months. As a straight Caucasian with a penis, that’s about as good as it gets for me. I can’t begin to imagine what it’s liked to be denied a fundamental right for nonsensical reasons and then suddenly have it given to me. That’s probably as good as least 10 World Series, right? As this is not something I can really wrap my head around, I’m just going to shut up now.

Don’t:

Misunderstand. The Supreme Court’s decision does not DEMAND an end to opposite sex marriage. Gay militias will not be coming to your home to make you divorce your spouse and marry someone of the same gender. Of course, if you want to do that, you have the option now.

Do:

Be cool. If you’re happy about this decision, you should definitely gloat (see above), but within reason. Have some AMAZING parades and rallies, but try not to overdo it. Actually, you know what? Fuck it; overdo the shit out of it! You can get married now! You too can experience the hassle of wedding planning, in-laws that don’t think you’re good enough for their son/daughter, the soul-crushing ennui of just going through the motions for the kids, and, hopefully for most of you, the joy of spending a lifetime committed to the person you love.

Don’t:

Be a dick. You’re angry. You wanted the Supreme Court to invalidate gay marriage and it didn’t. Be gracious in defeat. I’m not saying to let go of your anger, but refocus it. There are plenty of worthwhile causes to be angry about. Hunger is shitty. Get angry about that. Ditto homelessness. How about getting angry that they won’t greenlight a sequel to the Firefly movie despite there being literally an entire universe of possibilities worth exploring? The point is, there are worthy causes that need your support and, yes, your anger.

Do:

Be happy. Regardless of where you fall on this admittedly divisive issue, life is good and worth living. It can be shitty at times and we don’t always get what we want, but it sure as fuck beats the alternative.

Don’t: Call it ‘gay marriage’ anymore. It’s just ‘marriage’ now.

And that’s the way it should be.

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

22 Mar

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This post was copied and pasted from my soon to be defunct Posterous account. If you already read it there, there’s nothing new to see here, but you should totally read it again anyway.

“Nothing gold can stay.”

-Robert Frost

“Game over, man, game over.”

-Private William Hudson

Well, here we are – the end of the road. This will be my final blog post… on Posterous. Hard to believe I’ve been blogging here since all the way back in June 2012 – that’s ¾ of an entire YEAR. The world seemed so much purer then, so much more innocent. When I started blogging (Listen to me – “blogging.” I sound like an Apple Store genius!) back in June, the Mayan Apocalypse hadn’t yet occurred, “binders full of women” were things only possessed by serial killers, and Peter Jackson’s I Will Put You to Sleep and Lay Waste to Your Bladder was still known by its original title, The Hobbit. If you had decided to mark the date of my very first blog entry by getting pregnant, you’d have a brand new, shiny kid right now. Did anyone do that? I’m going to assume that at least one of you out there did, and I thank you. Would it be too much to ask for me to pick your baby’s first name? How about MichaelPBrennan? It rolls right off the tongue and it’s perfect for a boy or a girl. Again, I thank you. Oh, and you’re welcome.

So why am I leaving Posterous? Is it because I’m a word whore doling out sentences and paragraphs to any site that will let me shoot up in their bathroom? Well, yeah. It’s more than that though. See, as of April 30, Posterous is shutting down. For good. All this, these words, this whole place, everything, it’s gone… just gone. (Sorry, turned into Kyle Reese for a second.) Twitter bought Posterous last year and, instead of using it as a platform to integrate and promote their brand, they decided it would be much more fun to go ahead and shut the fucker right down. I’m not a marketing guy, so I can’t speak to the effectiveness of spite as a marketing tool, but it comes off as some Charles Montgomery Burns-level pettiness. I can envision the CEO of Twitter (Gary Twitter? Twitter McGoogle? Fuck it, I’m not looking it up.) rubbing his hands together with glee as he imagines all the innocent bloggers he turned into virtual Grapes of Wrath Okies, driven from our land and scouring the hardscrabble internet for a new home. What an evil bastard that guy I just imagined is.

So why did I even join Posterous instead of a more well-known site like WordPress or… all right, you got me – I don’t know the names of any other blog sites. Feel good about yourself for making me look stupid? Feel like a big man/woman? Is my attempt to shame you working? Anyway, I joined Posterous for the same reason everyone does anything: peer pressure. A couple of friends of mine were on there and they suggested I sign up as well. They said if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be cool. Even though my mom insisted that I would be cool no matter what and a really cool guy doesn’t cave to peer pressure, I just couldn’t take that chance. It’s the same reason I begged my parents to buy me a pair of parachute pants back in the ‘80s. [Quick aside: in case you haven’t figured it out, I have a serious case of self-diagnosed ADHD. As I sit here typing this, I’m watching Restaurant: Impossible, listening to my Christopher Cross Pandora channel, streaming an episode of Walking Dead on Hulu, playing Plants vs. Zombies, oh, and juggling. My mind is all over the fucking place. In fact, where was I? Oh right, parachute pants for some reason.] If you’re too young to remember parachute pants, stop reading now and know that I hate you. I will petition a wizard to grant me the power to steal your life force, not a Washington Wizard, a for real wizard. Besides, I already tried asking Gilbert Arenas when I ran into him in a Bethesda Target and all he did was threaten to shoot me in the face. I can only assume he gets asked that a lot.

Parachute pants were great. We seriously need to bring them back. [How does “bringing something back” work anyway? Are the Illuminati that run the world really just a bunch of ironic hipster douchebags selecting passé fashions to reintroduce for shits and giggles? That’s it, isn’t it? I knew it]. They had so many pockets. You could literally carry all of your earthly possessions and still have room for bus fare. No need to let loose change clang around in a single pocket – you could simply slip individual coins into each of the 73 parachute pockets and zip them closed. Voila: whisper quiet. Well, maybe they did emit a gentle swooshing noise when you walked that kind of sounded like a ghostly moan. And I guess those zippers did jangle a little. Wait… were my parachute pants haunted? Hold on – is Haunted Parachute Pants a reality show yet? If not, I call dibs. Please don’t steal that idea. You know, if I ever get around to writing that reimagining of A Christmas Carol, the ghost of Marley won’t be lugging rattling chains around, he’ll just moonwalk into Scrooge’s room in a sweet-ass pair of whooshing, jangling parachute pants.

What the hell? Did I seriously just spend two paragraphs talking about parachute pants? I swear to God I’m not high. Well, as far as I know. Maybe my work is secretly slipping us LSD through the drinking fountains (it would explain A LOT). Or maybe I just had a stroke last night or something. Regardless, I got way off the point of this post. Here is the pertinent fact: Posterous is shutting down and I am now set up at WordPress. I haven’t moved everything over there yet, but all the bloggy goodness is there and all my future posts, news, etc. will be there as well.

My new web presence can be found here:

http://www.mikepbrennan.com

It’s less clunky than my current web address, but not quite what I wanted. Just about every permutation of my name has already been registered by a bunch of tax-dodging, Neo-Nazis… probably. Admittedly, I’m making generalizations about people I’ve never met, seen, nor heard of. I’m right though.

So that’s it. I’m done. Come visit me on the new site and sign up for email alerts for when I post another one of these stream-of-consciousness ramblings. Until then…

Good night, sweet Posterous. I hardly knew ye.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

…And Miles To Go Before I Sleep.

7 Feb

Today is my birthday and I felt like posting something profound because… well, do I really need a reason? Give me a break, it’s my birthday. Now my attempt at profundity may completely crash and burn, but hopefully you’ll get something out of it. Either way, just tell me that you did. After all, I have no way of knowing if you’re lying.

I celebrate my birthday the same way most traditionalists celebrate Fesitvus: I reflect on all the ways I’ve disappointed myself in the past year and then engage in feats of strength. The only thing missing is the aluminum pole. I really ought to get an aluminum pole…

I find birthdays to be incredibly odd. It’s surreal to wake up one morning, feel no different mentally or physically, and yet suddenly be another year older. Here’s how the morning of my birthday has played out in each and every year of my 30s:

-I begrudgingly drag myself out of bed, shamble into the bathroom and gaze into the mirror at some old motherfucker with rapidly graying hair and dark circles under his eyes more prominent than the Lone Ranger’s mask.

-I point at mirror guy and emit a high-pitched screech just like Donald Sutherland at the end of Invasion of the Body Snatchers (sorry, that was a bit of a spoiler for a 35-year-old film). I do this because I don’t have a clue who that mirror guy is looking back at me, but that bastard has got to be a pod person. It’s the only thing that makes sense.

-I take a deep breath, sigh ruefully, and to my reflection repeatedly quote Ordell Robbie from Jackie Brown: “What the fuck happened to you, man? Shit, your ass used to be beautiful.”

-Finally, I cry silently for several uninterrupted minutes before I hop in the shower and try to forget that it’s my birthday.

In other words, it’s pretty much a day like any other.

I’m a self-reflective guy by nature and so each year on my birthday, I spend time thinking on the past year and years past. Somehow, I always manage to be surprised by the passage of time. The seconds continue to accumulate, threatening to crush me under their sheer voluminous depths. Naturally, this makes me feel a touch melancholy. But why? Why should I feel bad about getting older when it is so much more preferable to the alternative (you know, death)? Why does it bother any of us? Age is after all simply a number, not a definition… right?

I’ve spent some time ruminating on this and decided that we loathe birthdays because they are an annual reminder of our inexorable march towards mortality. Reminded of such, we lament the loss of youth and wish we could go back in time and lead a more perfect life. Moreover, youth is vitality. As anyone pushing past their mid-30s can tell you, the body begins a gradual (read: RAPID), but noticeable decline. Once started, it doesn’t end until the day when we slough off this mortal coil and cross over to the next plane of existence. Kind of sucks to think about – that every second we’ve spent outside of the womb has brought us one second closer to our inevitable demise. (It may help if you imagine the previous sentence being spoken by a Frenchman puffing a cigarette while leaning against a light-post.)

Age is the wisdom of experience. Based on that, I should be wiser than Gandalf, not yet as wise as Merlin, and with Solomon’s wisdom still light years away. Yet somehow I continue to pepper my life with poor decisions. Some recent lowlights:

-I bought cologne – an item whose sole selling point is its smell – off of a television infomercial. It did not smell pleasant.

-I paid money – cash money, mind you – to see the eye-rapingly awful, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, in a movie theater. If you’ve ever wanted to see a CGI Nic Cage piss fire, well, you probably already saw it too.

-I ate two 7-11 “chicken rollers.” It was after consuming multiple alcoholic beverages, but still – chicken in hot dog form does not occur in nature. I still have nightmares about their odd, rubbery texture.

-I picked up Jaws 3-D and Jaws the Revenge on DVD because I already owned the first two and needed to complete my collection. Isn’t that how hoarders get started?

In spite of all that, my Gandalf-equivalent wisdom is about to blow your mind. See, I think I’ve got this whole life thing figured out. If it strikes you odd that a man with a history (and present and future) of making terrible decisions thinks he has stumbled upon the meaning of life, I don’t blame you for backing slowly out of the room and running far, far away from me. But hear me out; I’ve got this. No matter what you believe (or don’t), the meaning of life – the key to all things – comes down to one simple concept. Are you ready? This is going to blow your mind:

Don’t be a dick.

That’s it. That sums up every religion as well as all moral, ethical, and philosophical codes of conduct. Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Zoroastrianism, Shintoism, Buddhism, Jedi – each one has that concept at its core. Instead of, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” Jesus could just as easily have said (in his best Dude voice): “Hey man, why don’t you all try not to be such dicks to each other?” It’s the exact same concept.

I’m not all that religious or even spiritual (the heathens always like to break out “spiritual”), but I don’t believe that this is it. I think that there’s something else waiting for us after this life ends. I’m not going to say that it’s quite so facile or definitively quantifiable as heaven or hell, but I believe that there’s a lot that we can’t even begin to comprehend (at least according to High Times magazine – an unimpeachable source). I also believe that how we treat each other here is going to go a long way in determining what type of existence we have there. Our current existence is sort of like an asshole test. If you’re shitty here, you miss out on the coolest stuff in the afterlife. You instead receive the karmic equivalent of a kick to the dick.

So that’s it. That’s my profound birthday conclusion. In essence, live your life, help people if you can, but more than anything, don’t fuck up people’s shit by being a dick. It may be crude, but I think it’s accurate.

Things took sort of a weird turn there at the end, no? Believe it or not, this post was inspired by Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost, (one snippet in particular) so I’ll end this post with the words that inspired it:

“The woods are lovely, dark and deep

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.”

Blue Movie

24 Oct

What? Posts on back to back days??? The hell you say! It’s true. You see, something has been gnawing away at me since Friday evening and I had to get it out. First, let me give you some background: I love the movies. The movies are my life. I’m not sure what that says about me (other than I don’t have much of a life), but it’s true. For me, nothing surpasses or even comes close to seeing a movie in the theater. It is the ultimate experience. I’m the guy who has to be there opening day and I see an average of 4 to 6 movies a month at the theater. It is not uncommon for me to see 2 in a day and I’ve even seen as many as 3, so yeah, I’m a bit of a movie junkie (or loser depending on your point of view). However, more and more people tell me they don’t enjoy going to the movies anymore, not because of the movies themselves, but because of the assholes with whom they must share the viewing experience. I get it, I do. I can’t stand these bastards either, but we can’t let them win. What’s so vexing is that there are but 2 simple rules to follow in a theater:

1.       Shut the fuck up.

2.       Turn off and leave off your goddamned cell phone.

That’s it. Why is this so hard for so many?

Anyway, I had a very bad viewing experience on Friday that I captured in the open letter below. Before you judge me for seeing Paranormal Activity 4 the day it was released, understand that I love horror movies above all else. Most of them aren’t very good, but I love them anyway. Why am I explaining myself to you, Gentle Reader? Just read and know my pain.

An Open Letter to the Douche-Lord Who Ruined Paranormal Activity 4 for Me

Dear Sir,

Wow. It feels weird calling you “sir.” That seems so formal considering the awesome time we shared together at the movies. Still, “sir” is the only apt moniker for you at this time because we never exchanged names. I’ll go ahead and assume yours is Dick. Wait, no, we’re not doing that. It’s too crass and frankly, a little on the nose. I bet your name is Todd, or Tad, Chad, or Sailor – something that appropriately captures your douchey essence. Maybe you even have a mega-douchey nickname like J-Dog or Gator or Barry Manilow.  To make it easy on myself, I’m going to refer to you as Dude-Bro.

Now, Dude-Bro, is it presumptuous of me to assume you’re a complete and total, not even Summer’s Eve, but more like a generic-ass CVS store-brand douche? It is a rather scurrilous accusation to make, but understand, Dude-Bro, you were giving off some serious douche waves. In fact, you broke my Douche-Dar(sort of a radar for detecting d-bags – patent pending) with a single glance. Even without that device, my fists knew. Your face practically called out to them, begging to be smashed, or at the very least to slap that stupid fucking trucker cap that sat so jauntily askew atop your fucking idiot head right to the floor. And seriously? A trucker’s cap? I’m about 15 years older than you (give or take a decade) and even I know that shit was cool for about 5 minutes 10 fucking years ago. It’s all about pith helmets nowadays, Dude-Bro. I thought you knew.

So why then did I sit a mere two rows in front of you knowing in my heart that you were absolutely the type of prick that couldn’t keep his mouth shut even if there were two, side by side dicks shoved in it? Well, remember, it was opening night; the theater was a bit crowded. My options were to sit closer to you or to the negligent monster who dragged his toddler (I shit you not – HIS TODDLER) to see this movie. I thought I picked the lesser of two evils; I was so wrong. Kudos to you for showing me that I’m not yet so jaded that I can’t appreciate a nice surprise.  

Speaking of surprises, you had quite a few in store for me, didn’t you? You gave me a preview of sorts during the previews when you shouted, “Hell yeah,” or “Bullshit,” after each one, sort of a less refined critique than perhaps Pauline Kael would’ve provided, yet effective nonetheless. I like how you waited until each trailer was over and silence had descended once again before giving voice to your feelings. It was really smart because it guaranteed that (1) I’d definitely hear your commentary and (2) it really built suspense. I caught myself during each preview wondering if this was to be a “Hell yeah” or a “Bullshit.” And then you waited until the last possible second to deliver your verdict – what a rollercoaster!

Then the movie started and it was on. The Paranormal Activity movies are about a slow-burn, atmospheric buildup punctuated by tension-relieving shocks. You soldiered through all the quiet though, Dude-Bro, like a motherfucking boss! You knew that I and the rest of the audience needed your commentary during all the boring-ass bullshit. You were only too happy to oblige us. I love how you made inappropriate sexual remarks about a 15-year-old girl and how much you wanted to catch a glimpse of her bare breasts. I mean, you’re like a modern day Lenny Bruce pushing the boundaries and absolutely not being afraid to go there! And then, when you again tapped that deep well of inappropriate sexual remarks when the 5-year-old little boy got in bed with the same girl? Pure. Comic. Genius. Seriously, fuck Oscar Wilde, Dude-Bro, his wit is nothing compared to the likes of yours!

Oh, but you were only getting started. I really enjoyed how every single time the family cat made an onscreen appearance you uttered a very loud, “Meow.” Your comedic brilliance truly knows no bounds. Seriously, Dude-Bro, you could be the next Gallagher! I mean it. I don’t throw such praise around lightly, believe me. I also really enjoyed how you LOL’d long, loud, and obnoxiously every time someone onscreen was injured or killed. I mean, talk about macho! Ricardo Montalban isn’t even fit to scrub your underwear. Quien es mas macho indeed!

But you saved your best, most soulful work for the REALLY intense moments. That’s when you uttered a confused, “What the fuck?” each and every time. I really feel like I learned about you during those interludes. Wasn’t it Plato or perhaps Aristotle who first meditated on, “What the fuck?” Dude-Bro, I had no idea you were such a deep thinker. Pondering life’s biggest mysteries with you in the dark like we did really bonded us. I felt a connection. I’m pretty sure you felt it too.

And then finally, as the credits rolled, you unleashed it – your final bon mot – as if you knew how much I longed to hear it: “Bullshit! I was soooo over these movies after part 2, yo!” What a beautiful ribbon to tie around a perfect evening at the theatre. I hope you find the proper medium and an outlet for your vast creativity because the world needs to hear more from you. You are an artiste, Dude-Bro, and I salute you.

In closing, Dude-Bro, if you ever read this post I hope it destroys your Sarcasti-Dar (same as the Douche-Dar, patent pending, only for sarcasm). If you haven’t figured it out by now, you are a complete tool. You are the reason so many people stay home to watch movies rather than subject themselves to viewing them with the likes of you. Christ, even the asshole with the toddler had the good sense to take him out of the theater and not return when the kid inevitably and completely lost his shit.

Fuck you, Dude-Bro. Fuck you so goddamned much. I hope you get hemorrhoids.

Love and SOOPER big hugs,

Mike

Gettin’ Political.

23 Oct

I realize it’s been a very long time since my last post. No, I haven’t been seeing anyone else and no you may not check me for hickies. That crosses a line, Gentle Reader. If we can’t trust each other, what do we have? In any event, you’re looking well. You finally ditched the perm I see – good call. And you say you’ve stopped biting your toenails? I know that must have been hard.

Anyway, I’ve been away because I’ve actually been working on a screenplay. What? Actual writing updates on my blog? I’m just as surprised as you are. This rewrite has consumed a great deal of my time. It’s going well and it’s almost finished. I hope to have more to say about it later, you know, assuming someone wants to purchase it and stuff. Jeah, that would be sweet. Sorry, I turned into Ryan Lochte for a moment there.

So just so you know I haven’t forgotten about you, I thought I’d write a quick blog post. I appreciate your enthusiasm. You are SO welcome.

In case you were unaware (or simply are too cynical to give even a single fuck – no one blames you), there’s a rather significant election coming up here in a couple weeks. I hope you’re going to vote even if your ballot will be cast for Harry Ballz, Haywood Jablowme, Ben Dover, Hugh Jass, or Phil McCracken; at least you’re part of the political process. Politicians are an interesting lot. I always get nervous when they want to discuss the Big Picture. Is it important to see the forest? Absolutely, but sometimes you need to look at a goddamned tree once in a while. Let’s look at it through something relatable: sandwiches. Let’s suppose when Candidate A talks about sandwiches, he’s referring to Miracle Whip and olive loaf on Wonder bread. That’s something the devil can’t even serve in hell due to all the HR complaints. When Candidate B talks about sandwiches, he’s referring to Nutella and marshmallow fluff on cinnamon raisin bread – a sandwich so delicious you would get dehydrated from the tears of joy you would weep from simply taking a single bite. In short, details matter. Before casting a ballot, find out if your candidate supports hellwiches or the literal food of the gods… or just vote for Dixon Buttz – his economic policy is sound. This is about as political as I get.

And here are a couple of political things I posted on Facebook recently. If you haven’t read them, this will hopefully give you a chuckle. If you have, this will be an exercise in redundancy. Either way I’m excited for you:

“One issue that keeps getting ignored during these debates: sea monsters. What do these candidates plan to do about the Godzillas, Cloverfields, Krakens, Cthulus, and other leviathans of the deep that threaten our ships at sea and coastal cities? Until this issue is addressed, I shall remain an undecided voter.”

My Ideal Presidential Candidate:

•Smells like Skittles

•Has a pants-melting moustache

•Wants to invade Canada to tap their vast denim reserves

•Has been to at least one Whitesnake concert

•Often wears scuba gear, but has never been scuba diving

•Drinks Capri Sun out of a glass

•Thinks we should photobomb Iran

•Wants to criminalize country music

•Wants to legalize pineapples

•Favorite movie is The Beastmaster

•Believes pants are always optional

•Has jumped a motorcycle over something at least 15 feet long and 8 feet high

•Refers to people who say “a whole nother” or use LOL & exclamation points excessively as the “real Axis of Evil”

•Makes his own underwear from plastic grocery bags

•Thinks chocolate lava cakes are made by wizards

•Thinks the Supreme Court is a reality show featuring Diana Ross as a small claims court judge

•Loves the movie Grease, but hates the musical

•Refers to his/her genitals as “The Commander in Chief”

•Has high-fived a walrus or sea lion

•Roller skates everywhere

•Doesn’t blindly trust the Gorton’s fisherman

Bonus Post and Free Hotdogs!*

5 Sep

*Legal Disclaimer: There are no free hotdogs, anywhere, ever. Sorry to mislead you like that, but I’m not very creative and wanted to hype this post.  I am not responsible for any arrests or beatings incurred as a result of stealing hot dogs from a friend or for lurching out of your local Mars hunched over like Quasimodo with several packs of Ballpark Franks jammed down the front of your pants. 

Okay, as promised, this is the bonus post. Excited? You’re right to be. Of course, it’s almost three weeks late, so it’s really no longer a “bonus post” so much as a “post.” Sorry about that. I’m still working out the kinks on this whole blogging enterprise I’ve undertaken. I know once I get it all figured out, I’ll be balls deep in cash. I’m certain this is how internet jillionaires are made. Here’s how I think it will work: every other Thursday I’ll post a new story or rant. If the stories are more popular than the rants, I’ll post more of them or vice versa. This is where you come in, Gentle Reader. I do this for you. Tell me what you want me to do and I’ll do it. Wow, that sure comes off as pathetic, no? I’ll just have to assume that if I’m willing to do whatever you ask, you’re bound to respect me. I think that’s how that works.

Anyway, I need to take a moment to address something important. A couple people have asked me if my stories are true. Short answer: yes. Slightly longer answer: yeah. The bizarre things that I’ve experienced don’t really need embellishment. Sure, I drag the stories out a bit and add observations and references, but the stories themselves are true and described exactly as they occurred. Let me break down my process in five easy steps:

1.       I scour my brain for something ridiculous that happened to me or a friend says, “Dude, remember that time (x) happened to you? You should totally write about that.”

2.       Per our arrangement, I sacrifice a clown to the Ancient Ones who dwell just beyond the veil that separates humanity from the Nether Realms.

3.       I absorb the clown’s soul and use it to add funny flavoring to my tale.

4.       The story complete, I discard the desiccated clown husk as it is no longer of use.

5.       I post the story on my blog for your reading pleasure.

See? Simple. The bottom line is that I bare my naked soul to you in these posts. Before you point and giggle, allow me to remind you that it’s really cold in here. It’s no laughing matter. Will you wear the shriveled ribbon for shrinkage? It’s important that we raise the awareness level – REALLY important.

Below is a letter I wrote that you can use as a pseudo-apology for whatever scandal you eventually find yourself mired. Just as Andy Warhol believed everyone will have their 15 minutes of fame, I believe everyone will be caught doing something awful and need to half-ass, almost kind of apologize. Feel free to adjust the text as needed to fit your individual atrocity, but please give me a shout out when you use it.

Later this week (or more likely next week) I’ll post something shiny, new, and funny for your reading pleasure. I may even post something about the twists and turns my writing career has taken this year. I know you can’t wait for that, but wait you must. So, until then…

A Generic “Mea Culpa” for My Latest Scandal

 It is with the deepest and most sincere regret, that I must acknowledge that my wrongdoing was uncovered. It is unfortunate that the media investigated and found out that I was doing these things, and for that, I am truly, deeply sorry. Had I known I would be caught, I would have taken additional steps to conceal my illicit activities or at least found a proper scapegoat. Had this information not come to light, you, the public, would remain blissfully unaware of the blatant and amoral ways in which I abused your blind trust. I am saddened that media reports have shattered your ignorant innocence. For that, they should be chastised and made to answer to each and everyone one of you poor, formerly deluded saps.

Additionally, I hope that this incident doesn’t cause you to lose faith in the many others – elected officials, CEOs, teachers, your brother in law – whom are currently running similar scams. They deserve to continue to profit from your blind faith, refusal to live in reality, and general lack of interest in anything that is genuinely important. Please don’t allow my exposure to break the bubble of denial that envelops you like a warm hug and keeps reality safely at bay.

As for me, please don’t concern yourself. I vow to rebound from this. I have a myriad of other scams that I will ply once I’m certain you have stopped paying attention to me. After all, wasn’t it Abraham Lincoln who said, “Those who fail to learn from history are truly the greatest Americans of all*”? Those are, beyond doubt, words to live by.

I don’t know if my future frauds will be as successful as this one was, but with the love of God and my Stepford wife, I shall try my best. That’s all any of us can do.

Sincerely,

Richard “Dick” Gozinya, CEO Earthraypers

 

*citation needed

For Love of Money Part 3: The Great Escape

17 Aug

“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more…”

-Flavor Flav

Because this story has already been dragged out to an epic length, I’ll dispense with the cutesy introduction. All I will say is that the epigraph above is not actually a quote attributable to Flavor Flav, but is from Henry V by one Sir will.i.am Shakespeare. Sure, he unleashed the curse known as “My Humps” on an unsuspecting public, but he gets a pass for also writing the greatest works of literature of all time. (Hmm, I may be conflating my historical figures.) As for Mr. Flav, I think it’s safe to say that he’s never uttered that quote. Well, perhaps that isn’t fair. Maybe he says it every day upon waking, but I’ve got to think if that’s true, it’s closed with a hearty, “YEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH BOYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!” He does often wear a Viking helmet that makes him look like an extra from a Wagnerian opera. Perhaps he’s more cultured than I think. Nah, probably not. Let’s just move on.

We pounded the pavement for a solid 2&1/2; hours, entering every small business and accosting every individual walking the street in an effort to shill our pitiful wares. There is no way to adequately express what a miserable, embarrassing, nightmare of an experience this was for me, but I’ll try: remember that scene in Boogie Nights where Scotty J. tries to kiss Dirk Diggler, is pushed away, and then repeatedly begs Dirk to let him kiss him? That moment of sheer humiliation when Scotty J.’s advances have been soundly rebuffed and he sits in his car, crying and repeating over and over again, “I’m a fucking idiot!” – that’s the level of shame I was experiencing. I think the only way it could have been worse would be if my pants and underwear had spontaneously unraveled and I had to walk around selling garment bags, totally nude from the waist down.

We headed back to the gas station where the yellow Samurai sat. Thank Christ. It seemed the “sales calls” were at a merciful end. Just in time too: my feet were destroyed. You may recall that way back in part one of this tale, I mentioned my sweet-ass suede shoes. That was no throwaway statement designed to inspire envy over my footwear. No, that was what we in the writing business call, “foreshadowing.” You see unlike Nancy Sinatra’s boots, my shoes were most definitely not made for walking. I could feel callouses and blisters rising on my feet like volcanic mountains from the sea. The shoes themselves were scuffed and battered. I looked at them, they looked back at me. I could swear I heard them whisper, “Please kill us.” Yep, this situation was driving me absolutely bat-shit in-fucking-sane.

He drove us away from the gas station. We traveled a mile or so down the road in silence. Suddenly, he turned the wheel and pulled into a small lot in front of a lawyer’s office. OH GOD NO! NO! WHY ARE WE STOPPING?!? It seemed we weren’t leaving after all. Panic coursed through me like a runaway train. I felt like that teenage girl in the movie Poltergeist when she arrived home, saw her house getting seriously fucked up by a multitude of ghosts and shouted: “What’s happening? What’s happening? WHAT’S HAPPENING!?!” Before he could get out, I composed myself, mustered my courage, and told him that this wasn’t for me. Besides, this wasn’t the job Sal hired me for; I was supposed to be a manager. Kevin assured me that Sal was the manager and this was the job. What I thought: “Fuck you, Kevin. Fuck you so goddamn much. Why don’t you take your shitty little Suzuki Samurai and drive it straight up your own ass?” What I said: “Well, can you at least bring me back to my car?” He smiled, “Sure thing, guy: at the end of the day. I’m making too much green to stop now. This is what it’s all about.” He flashed four one dollar bills in my face. “Those are ones,” I noted. He shrugged, unperturbed and put the money away. “Let’s go,” he said and got out of the car. I dropped my head, defeated. Once more, I followed this idiot unto the breach.

We walked over to a KFC. It was lunchtime, it seemed. “I suppose I could go for a two-piece,” I sighed as we entered the restaurant. The place was packed. There were maybe four lines of people with eight or nine people per line. We queued up and waited for what seemed like an eternity. By the time we got to the front of the line, I was starving. That two-piece was going to be accompanied by a biscuit and – ooh! – maybe even some mashed potatoes. I let Kevin order first, because “I’m a fucking idiot!” He didn’t order. Instead, when the irritated teenaged drone working the register nasally inquired, “How can I help you,” Kevin threw his case on the counter and said, “No ma’am, it’s how I can help you.” He showed her the socket sets. People behind us groaned. I was beyond shocked – I was shell-shocked. I was somehow suffering from PTSD as the trauma was occurring. The cashier didn’t bat an eyelash, just summoned a manager through that ridiculous microphone on the counter. I suggested, very quietly, that we leave. Kevin wasn’t concerned. He was sure the manager being summoned meant some serious sales were about to be made. It finally hit me: Kevin was fucking nuts. For real.

The manager appeared a few moments later and was not pleased. He told us (I had briefly forgotten that I too was the asshole here) that there was to be no soliciting to the employees. Again, this completely oblivious, crazy fuck was not knocked off his game. “Well maybe you’d like to see something today. Mike, hold up those garment bags.” I didn’t – my sole act of rebellion thus far. The manager’s face turned redder than the devil’s dick. He cursed at us and threw us out of the restaurant. The customers applauded as he issued us a lifetime ban (though I wondered how he could enforce such a thing). Outside, I was sure Kevin would change his tune. Maybe now he’d be willing to take me home. He had to realize how terrible this job was – he had to! He had to feel some of the shame I felt; at least a little. Ha. Wrong again. With a level of optimism that only the truly psychotic can possess, he pointed to a Toyota dealership across the street. “That’s where we need to go!” And suddenly we were crossing the street.

We entered the Toyota dealership. A salesman clad in an eye-rapingly hideous sports coat approached. Holy shit: this guy was Kevin in 30 years. If this were an Ingmar Bergman film, it would’ve been a meditative study of a young man gazing into the literal face of his own mortality. It would’ve been profound and life-changing. If Kevin were more philosophical, perhaps he would have seen his face reflected in the older salesman’s eyes and pondered the path of his life. Personally, I was intrigued. This was going to be amazing: a dual salesman faceoff. It would be like watching Superman battle The Incredible Hulk. Two evenly matched opponents – who would win? Fight!

The Toyota salesman wore an enthusiastic idiot’s grin and a truly awful wig. Seriously: it sat jauntily askew upon his head as if someone had hurled it up there while playing the world’s most bizarre game of ring toss. It couldn’t have looked worse were it secured to his melon with a chin strap. Tears welled in my eyes for the tragedy that was this man’s hairpiece. If I were a sculptor, I would’ve carved a monument to it emblazoned with the caption, “NEVER FORGET.” He chirped, “How are you gentlemen today? We’ve got some great deals on Camrys, but I can tell this guy wants to see the Celicas.” He pointed at me and laughed his shrill salesman’s laughter. Was that a lame joke or was he instinctively mocking me for the humiliations I had endured that day? Kevin didn’t hesitate: “Not interested, my friend, but how would you like to see something today?” [By the way, “How would you like to see something today,” has got to be the worst sales pitch of all time. It’s something that should only be uttered by a man wearing a trench coat and nothing else.] The smile fell from the salesman’s face as if it had been bitch-slapped off.

Something snapped inside me. I couldn’t do this anymore. “But Mike, why did you stay so long? Why didn’t you punch this guy in the dick and bail much sooner?” Good question. I think my embarrassment; my feeling of complete and utter stupidity (“I’m a fucking idiot!”) made me stay far longer than I should have. I excused myself to use the bathroom.

In the bathroom, I tossed the garment bags over the top of a stall, stood at the sink, and threw water in my face. I looked at myself in the mirror. All I could do was shake my head. Once I felt I was ready, I exited the men’s room.

Kevin was still engaged with the salesman and now another guy as well (probably the manager). He didn’t see me – perfect. I sidled towards the front doors. I made it all the way over and even got my hand on the door when I heard a voice from behind me: “Hey guy. Where you going?” I turned slowly around – Kevin, 30 Years Hence Kevin, and Other Guy stared at me as if I were some exotic zoo animal – a Fantasticorn, perhaps. I opened my mouth to say…something and then I made eye contact with Kevin. I looked into the void that dwelt behind those eyes and saw nothing, not even madness. That did it. Adrenaline flooded my body, and I burst through the doors and onto the street. I ran; I ran so far away. I ran like the wind; like I had such a long way to go to make it to the border of Mexico. I ran so fast and so far, I started passing Kenyans. Fire engines fell in line behind me assuming I’d lead them to some serious shit that was burning down. Once I felt I had run far enough, I darted behind a building and pressed my back to it. For some reason, I was convinced Kevin would be chasing me and he’d probably have a knife or something. I have no idea why I thought this, but I did. I peered around the corner of the building. He wasn’t there. I’d made it – sweet freedom! Great, so now what? I had no car and no idea where I was. What I did know was there was a Denny’s across the street and I was going to have me a goddamned Moons Over My Hammy to make up for the two-piece I missed out on.

Ah, Denny’s. Before I got anything to eat or even sat down, I used the payphone. The only person I might be able to get ahold of was my sister. I just prayed she’d be home. I called, and, thank you, Baby Jesus, she answered. I told her my horrific tale. It was such a relief to share all my traumas with a sympathetic ear. I’d suffered, but I’d made it. Her response? She began to laugh. And laugh. And laugh. She laughed so hard, she dropped the phone. She laughed so hard I thought she might hyperventilate and pass out. I was not amused. This shit wasn’t funny! Didn’t she understand that? Once she finally composed herself she asked where I was. Fortunately, she was able to guess the locale from my half-assed description (to this day, I still don’t know), said she’d get me, and hung up. I got a table near the window so I could keep an eye out for Kevin. Fortunately, he never entered the Denny’s.

My sister finally showed after an hour or so. Of course, when I got in the car, she was still laughing. I was so pissed. She asked me to tell the story again. I did and she laughed some more. After a while, I began to laugh too. What else could I do?

On the lot and back in my car, I drove past the warehouse. I could see Sal in there smoking and reading the paper. I didn’t want him to look up and see me, so I drove quickly past. On the ride home I thought about this whole scheme: posting a job in the paper that you’re not really trying to fill, telling interested applicants they’re qualified for a better job, kidnapping said applicants and driving them out into the middle of nowhere, and forcing them to sell bizarre, shitty items accompanied by a lunatic – I’m not sure that that’s a sustainable business model. Then again, I didn’t major in business. I only took one business course in college and this particular method was not covered. For all I know this is how Amazon.com got started. Damn – I should’ve bought stock.

That was but one of the jobs I worked during what I would eventually dub my Year of Bad Jobs. Women have thought about my Year of Bad Jobs and wept. Better men than I have written really shitty poetry about it. I installed a reflecting pool in my home so I would never forget it (okay, it’s a foot bath, but still, it counts).

So finally, Gentle Reader, we’ve reached the merciful end of this tale. This was quite the endurance test, no? If you enjoyed it, I have plenty of others to share. If you didn’t, wow, you really know how to hurt a guy’s feelings.

Next up: a bonus post for all of you faithful readers; all five of you. YAY!

For Love of Money Part 2: The Squeakquel

7 Aug

“They say everything happens for a reason. What if that reason is: God hates me?”

-Chris Mueller

When we last left our hero, he was tied to the train tracks while a locomotive sped towards him, a meteor was on a collision course with earth, gladiators battled with swords, and giant ants were tearing up the town. Wait…sorry, got stuck in a cliché loop. Actually, I got in the car with Kevin the shady salesman. If you need more of an update than that, I recommend you re-read (or more likely, read) part 1. No, go ahead, we’ll wait. While we’re waiting for the others to get caught up, a question: what’s your favorite Wuss Rock artist? There are many to choose from – Ambrosia, Dan Fogelberg, Christopher Cross, Chicago, Bread, and many others that I sadly know all too well – but for my money it’s Air Supply. I love Air Supply – I’m not even saying that ironically; they’re just a sweet band. Just two Australian dudes singing about love and heartbreak while wearing gloriously tight slacks. Plus the higher-voiced guy has a ridiculously phenomenal Aussie-white guy ‘fro. It’s insane this guy’s ‘fro. Ladies, how in the Christ do you resist an Australian crooner with tight slacks and an afro? I mean, that’s got to be like your Kryptonite, right? Anyway, everybody caught up? Good. Oh, and if you’re not down with the Air Supply love, I’m totally kidding. Ha. Kidding… Now, back to my sordid tale…

I sat down in the passenger seat. Kevin hit the button for the power locks and they slammed into place. In the silence, it sounded like a gunshot. I even jumped a little prompting Kevin to laugh his high-pitched, weasely little laugh. It was half Riddler from the ‘60s Batman TV show, half Tigger from Winnie the Pooh. I imagine it was meant to set my mind at ease. Instead, my Sympathetic Nervous System kicked into overdrive. My palms were sweaty, my heart was racing, and I was in full-on fight or flight mode. As we pulled off the lot, I glimpsed my car in the rearview mirror suddenly sure I’d never see it again. Basically, every instinct gifted to me by evolution was telling me something was wrong…and I ignored them all. Brilliant. Thank God I was born when I was or natural selection would’ve murdered the fuck out of me years ago. Suck on that, Darwin!

We drove in silence for the first several minutes of the trip until the Samurai cruised onto the exit ramp for 695. It occurred to me at that moment that I had no idea where we were going nor had I even bothered to ask. If this was a game of poker, I had just pushed all my chips to the center of the table before the goddamn cards were even dealt. That reality hit me like a ton of bricks and so I sheepishly asked, “Uh, where are we going?” Unfazed, he replied, “I got a few leads on a place. Relax. This is going to be fun.” Fun? I like fun. If this was going to be fun, I was all about it. Still, some doubts lingered. “Are we going far?” I asked. “Nah, just up the road a bit. Hey, you seen that movie The Net?” I imagine this amazing segue had the desired effect as I jumped right on board. “Yeah, pretty scary. Computers, right?” He agreed that, “Yeah, computers,” and suggested I look in the back seat. This seemed like another bizarre non sequitur, but I turned my head. Nothing much to see except for that—HOLY SHITBALLS IS THAT A CELLULAR PHONE?!? This was mind-blowing in the mid-‘90s. It was a Zack Morris special (easily bigger than my entire head), but still – THIS GUY HAS A CELLPHONE! Considering it cost about $400 per minute to use one of those things back then (give or take a dollar – I don’t understand finance), that was impressive. He gloated about it and told me that he owed it all – the phone, the sweet-ass whip in which we currently sat, the girlfriend – to sales. Good for him, but didn’t he understand I was in the management program? I was only learning sales to make me a better manager. Clearly this douche-lord didn’t get it…

We drove. And drove. And then we drove some more. Over an hour went by. We had been talking the whole time until there was literally nothing left to discuss. At one point he even asked me, “Hey, how come just because it has a name like Smucker’s it has to be good?” What a great question. I had no answer than and I have no answer now. This guy busted out non sequiturs at a superhuman pace. I began to suspect his brain was broken. I looked out the window as I pondered his jam-related query. Wait a second: just where in the hell were we? I was completely disoriented. Looking back now, I realize that must have been part of the plan. I turned to ask him where we were, but just then, he took an exit ramp.

Off the beltway now, we were on a main drag littered with businesses. Our meeting place was no doubt close. We pulled into a gas station. Well, we’d been driving a long time; stopping for gas made sense. He bypassed the pumps and instead pulled into a parking space. Now I was really confused. He turned the car off and turned in his seat to face me. Just what in the hell was going on here? Confused doesn’t even begin to cover it anymore. I was trying to find my happy place when Morgan Freeman began narrating from inside my brain:

“I wish I could tell you that Michael fought the good fight, and Kevin let him be. I wish I could tell you that – but gas stations in the middle of nowhere are no fairytale world.”

“We’re here!” Kevin’s cheery voice and idiot grin shocked me out of my Shawshank rape-terror fantasy. I shot him a puzzled look, but he was already getting out of the car. I followed.

I walked to the back of the car where he was standing with the hatch open. “Are you ready for this?” he asked with the giddy anticipation of a man who’s just set up the punch-line to the world’s greatest joke. I looked in the back – a blanket covered something lumpy and shapeless. ‘I bet that’s his girlfriend’s corpse,’ I morosely thought. He pulled back the blanket to reveal dozens of boxes of…well, I didn’t really know. After a moment or two, my brain determined them to be obviously shitty quality socket sets with some even poorer quality polyester garment bags thrown in for why-the-fuck-not. Speechless, I just gaped at him. “This is what we’re selling today!” My mind flashed back to the warehouse. It all made sense now – the small pallets of nondescript boxes, the tiny forklift – Sal was Keyser Soze! Wait, that’s not right. Well, whatever; he played my ass like a pair of bongo drums. And yet, I still clung to denial as if it were a lone branch extended over an abyss. I still believed scheduled meetings were about to take place. Who was I to judge a company purchasing shitty socket sets with “Made in Corea” proudly emblazoned on the box? [You may have realized (like I did) that “Corea” is not a country. Hell, even “Korea” hasn’t been a country since it split into North and South in 1945. So either these socket sets were produced during the WWII era by Koreans unfamiliar with the English spelling of their own country, or they were made in the new country formed after the future war between China and Korea and shipped through time back to the past. I like to think it’s the latter and that some sort of Asian John Connor sent them so we could dismantle the machines. I’m probably not right about that.]

Kevin handed me about six garment bags, filled up a low quality valise (sealed with Velcro) with socket sets, and closed the hatch. “Follow me,” he said as he walked confidently towards the service station. God help me, I followed.

We went around back where some mechanics were staring at a car on a lift. “Watch and learn,” Kevin implored me as he strolled over to the grease monkeys. “Hey there fellas!” The mechanics regarded him with contempt. “Thought you gents would like to see something today.” With a flourish, he tore open the Velcro case and presented his wares. The mechanics were intrigued and approached, but quickly turned away, laughing hysterically once they saw what was inside. Only one guy still seemed interested. “How much?” the mechanic asked. His friends immediately began to bust his balls unmercifully. Kevin smiled, “For you, my good man, $6.00.” He countered with an offer of $5.00 and walked away with a shitty socket set. His friends laughed and mocked him before one of them noticed me. “Hey, what’s that guy got?” Kevin, to me: “Hold them up, guy.” I obliged and the mechanics laughed harder. My humiliation was complete (for the moment, anyway). The guy who bought the socket set inquired as to the price of the garment bags. Kevin quoted him the ridiculous price of $30. He again offered $5.00. He did not also walk away with a shitty garment bag. With that, Kevin bid them good day and we walked away as they continued to howl laughter.

We walked back around to the front of the station, but not to the car. Kevin turned out of the gas station and walked down the street. “Come on, guy, this stuff ain’t gonna sell itself.” Truer words had never been spoken. I had no idea what was going on. It quickly became clear as I watched him approach and try to sell our garbage to various people unfortunate enough to cross his path: people at the bus stop, teenagers, joggers, dog walkers – he even approached cars stopped at red lights. A few people bought socket sets; no one bought garment bags; most either laughed or openly threatened us with a well-deserved ass-beating. None of this fazed Kevin in the slightest. Me? I was in shock, but no longer in denial: this was the job. And just like that, my dreams of managing a wee warehouse and raking in $10 an hour vanished like so many pairs of panties at an Air Supply concert. Fuck. How in the hell could this be the job?

A better question: how in the hell could I have written so much and STILL not be done with the story? Part 3, “The Merciful Conclusion,” coming next week. Seriously.

For Love of Money (Part 1)

26 Jul

It’s recently been pointed out to me that I’ve been overwriting the shit out of this blog (thanks, Chris!). That’s a point well taken, but I have my reasons. I have had a lot of interesting, humiliating, and just balls-out bizarre things happen to me in my time on this planet that I need to share. Additionally, there are an almost infinite number of things that vex and/or piss me off. The good news: for those two reasons, I’m unlikely to run out of topics to rant about. The bad news: I am a seriously longwinded motherfucker. [Author’s Note: my copy of Microsoft Word now recognizes “motherfucker” as a correctly spelled word even though I’m about 299% sure it was highlighting it in red when I first started using the program. Apparently I’ve used the word so much that Word gave up and decided to let me have that one. Ponder that for a moment: I was able to wear down spellcheck into complete submission through the sheer will of my vulgarity. Score one for the humans before the inevitable robot apocalypse (or “robocalypse” if you’re a fan of portmanteaus).] As you can tell by this intro, this is going to be another War and Peace-like epic. In fact, this is going to be my first ever two-parter. I’m going to try to end on a cliffhanger, so prepare to have your mind blown by some amazing Hitchcockian suspense. In fact, consider this the pre-suspense before the real suspense of the cliffhanger. Are you ready for this? I can tell by the way you’re rolling your eyes that you are.

When it comes to stories of things that happened to me, they are typically miserable experiences that I either (a) didn’t know were going to be awful when they began or (b) situations where I knew it would be awful going in, yet did it anyway just for the story. Do you have any idea how many things I’ve done simply to have an awesome story to tell? Do you appreciate that? DO YOU?? I hope so because I do it for you, gentle reader, I do it for you. This tale, however, falls into category (a).

Allow me to set the scene: it was the mid-90s. Grunge was dying a slow death at the wee, falsetto-voiced hands of the boy bands. The internet was currently known as, “That thing that takes 3-hours to download a single nude chick pic from an ‘80s-era Juggs magazine provided no one picks up the phone and disconnects me.” Waterworld was poised to smash box office records around the globe and be christened THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER MADE – a title it holds to this very day. The movie features Kevin Costner – with gills. GILLS, bitches. That shit just flat out owns. There I was: a fresh-faced, cocksure 21-year-old who had just given up the glitz and glamour of my job as stock boy at the local grocery store. I know, I know – how could I walk away from that? I’ll simply say this: life in the fast lane isn’t all it’s cracked up to be: the fast cars, the women, the 10% employee discount – it was all so empty. It was time for me to move on. I searched for a new job in the finest place I knew: the classified section of The Baltimore Sun. It was truly the Craig’s List of its era. I perused the listings looking for the perfect opportunity, something suitable for my massive skill set of being able to both stock shelves AND bag groceries. There in the middle of the page, shining like a distant and beckoning oasis, I saw it:

WAREHOUSE POSITIONS. MUST HAVE FORKLIFT EXPERIENCE. STARTING PAY $10/HOUR. NO ALBANIANS, PLEASE.

Okay, maybe it didn’t mention anything about Albanians, but the rest was there: $10 for one hour of work. Un-fucking-believable. Never had I ever made that much money for doing anything. I quickly did the math and, within a few short hours, my calculations told me that’s $400 a week. A WEEK! This was too good to be true. I calmed myself, took a deep breath, screwed my courage to the sticking place, and called.

The phone rang. Twice. Three times. Four. Finally, just when all hope seemed lost, a click followed by a raspy voice, “Yeah?” I estimated that voice had been mercilessly beaten down by at least 60 coffin nails a day for 30+ years. “I…I’m calling about the job?” (How’s that for confidence?) He cleared his throat and tried on what I imagined was his “happy voice” once he realized I wasn’t shaking him down for money. His name was Sal. He asked me a few questions about my work experience, but tellingly, nothing about forklift expertise (RED FLAG). After hearing that I’d worked at a grocery store for 4 years he declared, “You sound like manager material (RED FLAG). Any experience?” This was all happening so fast. I wavered in my response, but ultimately decided to tell him the truth: no, I had no managerial experience, but I could steer the shit out of a forklift. His reply, “Don’t matter. I can tell you got what it takes (RED FLAG). Be here 9:00 Monday and we’ll get you started.”

Score! I was so stoked! The first place I called and I had the job. Not only that, but I was offered an even better job than the one for which I had hoped to apply! Nothing unusual about that…right? Of course not. Clearly this was simply amazing luck along with the massive amount of charm and charisma I was able to exude over the phone. Beaming with pride, excitement, and a laundry list of shit I was going to spend my first $400 paycheck on, I called my girlfriend. She assured me this was a scam. I assured her that she best shut her bitch-ass mouth. Sorry, I didn’t actually tell her that. I just told her that she was stupid and she ought to get her ass back in the kitchen and make me a sandwich. Okay, I didn’t tell her that either. I believe my actual unedited quote upon hearing her cynicism was, “Nuh-uh.” Hardcore, right? Totally torched her ass. Confident that this was not a scam, I couldn’t wait to prove her wrong. She’d know shit was real when we were enjoying the finest steaks Sizzler could sell to a man earning $10 an hour. Chris Parnell said it best: “It’s all about the Hamiltons, baby.”

Monday morning came and I was ready like a goddamned boss. I put on a fresh suit (with tweed jacket – natch) and my brand new pair of suede loafers. This job was mine. He said be there at 9:00, I rolled my ’86 Honda Prelude onto the lot at 8:45. Early and dressed for success, I pictured myself walking up to the front door in slow motion while “You’re the Best Around” from The Karate Kid played and shit exploded in the background. They don’t even make floor wax smoother than that.

It’s probably at this point that I should mention that this particular establishment was located in a strip mall in Golden Ring, Maryland (let’s call it “Mullet Heaven” for those not familiar with the area). The “warehouse” was ridiculously small, more like a storage unit than a place of work. No matter, less for me, the manager, to be concerned about. The door was open. A few pallets stacked with small, nondescript boxes lined the concrete floor. My smile faltered, but then there it was in the corner: the forklift. It too was Lilliputian, but it was there, goddamn it. Sweet vindication! I knew it wasn’t a scam. I emitted a small sigh of relief.

I saw a man, 50s, seated behind a desk puffing away on a Marlboro that was nearly all ash. He looked like a disheveled Jack Lemmon from Glengarry Glen Ross. I approached him. “Sal?” I asked cautiously. A look of, “Who the fuck are you?” bloomed on his face. “I’m here for the job.” His face softened and he stood up to greet me. We exchanged pleasantries and he told me that to be a manager meant learning every aspect of the job. How Zen. Still, this seemed odd as we were the only two people in this very small space. How much could there really be to learn? Then he walked in. Sal and I stood up as he ambled over to us. Sal gestured to him: “This here’s Kevin.” Cheap, wrinkled suit, slicked back hair, John Waters ‘stache – the guy oozed salesman from his very pores. He stuck out his hand and I lightly shook his sweaty palm. “Kevin’s the best. He’s going to take you on his sales calls today, show you the ropes.”

At this point, I’m still in denial. As we stroll to his car (a canary-yellow Suzuki Samurai), I’m picturing scheduled meetings in boardrooms and sales presentations. I’d soon find out how off-base such thoughts were. I continued on towards my car. “Where you going, guy?” he asked. “I thought I’d follow you,” I naively offered. He said that’s not how it works; that I’d ride with him and he’d bring me back at the end of the day. I walked to the passenger side, scared without knowing why. This was my last chance to bail. I had to choose: get in or get the hell out of there. What should I do…?

I totally got in. Man, I suck at cliffhangers.

Next week: the thrilling conclusion of, “You did that for money? Seriously?”

Worst. Song. Ever.

18 Jul

I deal in hyperbole, ostensibly, for a living, but in reality, for shits and giggles. You can call it my oeuvre my milieu or whatever other French word you can conjure (showoff!) that basically means “medium.” Because it is my chosen medium, you’re correct to assume I’m not serious when I say things like:

·         “It was so goddamned cold, I froze my ass off!” (nope, still attached)

·         “It is seriously hotter than balls out here!” (“Balls” is currently not a recognized measure of temperature, though the Kelvin scale is its closest analogue)

·         “Jesus loves me.” (Well, He thinks I’m kind of all right, but He wants to see other people)

However, when I describe, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” as the single worst song ever recorded in the history of everything, I assure you that I am not waxing hyperbolic. I have my good friend Science on my side. With the help of super-sciency, scientific Science, I’m going to explain myself.

Let’s begin with the obvious: it’s a country tune. Anyone who knows me well, has met me once or twice, or has shared a brief elevator ride with me knows that I loathe country music with the white-hot intensity of a 1000 suns gone supernova (again, not hyperbole). I’d rather stand on a bed of nails with Andre the Giant on my back and have a red-hot poker slowly inserted up my pee-hole while Liberace plays “Call Me Maybe” on a Casio, ‘80s-era keyboard than listen to country music. So yeah, I’m not a fan.

What vexes me most – what put this song on my radar in the first place – is the fact that they play it on Classic Rock radio. Nothing about this song rocks; it’s all fiddlin’ all the time. It’s even featured prominently in one of my all-time favorite bad movies, Urban Cowboy. In addition to having “cowboy” right there in the title, it’s a goddamned John Travolta movie about goddamned mechanical bull riding. Can you get more country than that? Sure, if your name is Colt Cash or Johnny America, but that’s about it. The song isn’t even that somehow-kind-of-works-for-me-on-certain-days genre mash-up, Southern Rock (see Skynyrd, Lynyrd; Special, .38; or Top, ZZ if you, for some reason, have never heard of it). Southern Rock is generally more rock than country and, ergo, does not totally suck balls. I’ve been forced to listen to this song for at least 25 years and it is nothing less than country-ass country music – can we agree on that? I see you nodding, hypothetical reader. Thanks for being agreeable this week. Still, I don’t feel that you share my hatred yet. Let’s see if I can change that with a breakdown of the lyrics.

“The devil went down to Georgia, he was looking for a soul to steal. 

 He was in a bind ‘cos he was way behind and he was willin’ to make a deal.”

Wow. Even the Devil himself has to deal with HR assholes and arbitrary quotas. Who knew? I wasn’t aware that the Devil could “fall behind.” I had always assumed that Satan was kind of the dictator of hell and made any and all decisions vis-à-vis the proper amount of souls needed for torment at any given time. It’s somewhat comforting to know that even the Prince of Darkness has a jerk-off of a boss to whom he must answer. He probably calls pre-meetings where they meet to discuss the shit that’s going to be discussed during the actual scheduled meeting too. I sympathize with you, Lord of Lies – bosses are dicks. Just sit in your cubicle and stare at the kitten poster you no doubt have posted to the wall that reads, “Hang in There!” It will be Friday soon enough.

“When he came across this young man sawin’ on a fiddle and playin’ it hot.

 And the devil jumped upon a hickory stump and said: ‘Boy let me tell you what:’

 ‘I guess you didn’t know it, but I’m a fiddle player too.’

 ‘And if you’d care to take a dare, I’ll make a bet with you.’

 ‘Now you play a pretty good fiddle, boy, but give the devil his due:’

 ‘I bet a fiddle of gold against your soul, ‘cos I think I’m better than you.’

 The boy said: ‘My name’s Johnny and it might be a sin,’

 ‘But I’ll take your bet, you’re gonna regret, ‘cos I’m the best that’s ever been.’”

Lots going on here. I have to say that based on this exchange, I’m on the Devil’s side here. Look at him in action: he talks to Johnny like an equal and offers him a gentleman’s bet – a fiddle competition. If Johnny wins, he gets a golden fiddle. If Lucifer emerges victorious, he gets Johnny’s soul. Now, the price of gold is at an all-time high, but this deal still seems a bit lopsided to me. Does Johnny see it? Does he take a moment to weigh the value of a golden fiddle versus his eternal life force? Nope. He takes maybe 1/8th of a second to consider the ramifications of his actions (“it might be a sin”) before saying, “HELL YEAH, SATAN!! I AM GOING TO LAY DOWN THE FIDDLE THUNDER ON YOUR ASS!!!” Come on, Johnny, you’re from the South. I know growing up you must’ve heard at minimum 18,000 cautionary tales about THIS VERY THING happening to you and none of them ended well. The devil doesn’t play fair. Ever. There’s always some ironic catch to deals like this. But, whatever – your soul, Johnny. Piss it away as you like.

“Johnny you rosin up your bow and play your fiddle hard.

 ‘Cos hells broke loose in Georgia and the devil deals the cards.

 And if you win you get this shiny fiddle made of gold.

 But if you lose, the devil gets your soul.”

Okay, this part of the song is 300% pointless. This is basically “catch-up” if the first verse was too full of twists and turns for you to follow. Now it’s restated so even the ultra-slow are on board. I don’t know about you, but every time I hear this verse, I picture thousands of listeners smacking their foreheads and yelling, “Oooooohhhhhhhhhh! I get it now!”

 “The devil opened up his case and he said: ‘I’ll start this show.’

 And fire flew from his fingertips as he rosined up his bow.

 And he pulled the bow across his strings and it made an evil hiss.

 Then a band of demons joined in and it sounded something like this:”

Uh-oh. Shit just got real. The Wicked One has just laid the smackdown on Johnny. This is the only part of the song that is even remotely cool. If you haven’t heard it, basically, it gets all bassy with some guitar shredding thrown in for good measure. There’s some fiddle, sure, but strangely, only a bit. Things took an odd turn in this devil vs. man fiddle competition.  But come on now, Johnny, what did you expect when you agreed to this contest without a second’s hesitation? The song really should end here with Johnny pissing himself in terror as he realizes what a mistake he made while his soul is earmarked for eternal torment. The listener learns a valuable lesson about not being a moron and we all move on better for the experience. That doesn’t happen. This does:

“When the devil finished, Johnny said: ‘Well you’re pretty good ol’ son.’

‘But sit down in that chair, right there, and let me show you how it’s done.’

Fire on the mountain, run boys, run.

The devil’s in the house of the risin’ sun.

Chicken in the bread pan, pickin’ out dough.

‘Granny, does your dog bite?’

‘No, child, no.’”

 What the hell is this shit? Not only is Johnny not afraid, he’s brimming with arrogance. For Johnny’s retort, the songwriters apparently threw their entire vocabulary’s worth of over 10 words into a hat, pulled them out one at a time, and wrote them down. That’s the only excuse I can come up with for that retarded nonsense above. How in the Christ is that better than what the Devil rolled out? The Devil eschewed lyrics in favor of bad-assery while Johnny just verbally ejaculated whatever dumb shit popped into his pea brain. To be fair, this was a fiddle competition and Johnny was the one competitor to play only the fiddle. So Johnny wins the Spirit of Competition Award, but we all know Beelzebub has this thing in the bag. Right?

“The devil bowed his head because he knew that he’d been beat.

 He laid that golden fiddle on the ground at Johnny’s feet.

 Johnny said: ‘Devil just come on back if you ever want to try again.’

 ‘cause I told you once, you son of a bitch, I’m the best there’s ever been.’”

 WHAT???? Let’s take a moment to consider something: do you realize who was judging this competition all along? THE DEVIL! The Devil himself was the sole arbiter and HE LOST! He challenges Johnny to a fiddle competition and before he can even announce terms that stack the deck in his favor, Johnny accepts. He handily defeats Johnny (which is a moot point anyway because, you know, THE DEVIL WAS THE JUDGE) and declares himself the loser! I never realized what an honest and fair dude the Devil is before hearing this song. I think he listened to Johnny play that awful stream of consciousness garbage on the fiddle and he felt sorry for him. The Devil took pity on Johnny – that’s how bad Johnny plays the fiddle. Taking Johnny’s soul at that point would’ve been tantamount to dropkicking baby ferrets. There is apparently some shit even the Devil won’t do.  

If the point of this song was to make the Devil out to be a sympathetic, benign, pretty cool guy and make Johnny look like an impetuous, stupid, arrogant prick, then mission accomplished. I mean read those last two lines of the last verse again. Johnny took a total shit when it was his turn to shred on the fiddle (oxymoron?) and he has the massive balls to not only revel in his awfulness, but to taunt Satan! How does he get pants over balls of that size? I begrudgingly respect and salute those balls.

In summary, here’s what the two principals exude in this song:

The Devil – dignity, class, good sportsmanship. Johnny – arrogance, douchebaggery, obnoxiousness.

And that is why The Devil Went Down to Georgia is the worst song ever recorded. Scientific facts have never lied.

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