Saturday, September 03, 2005

Ramblings for the Morning (9/3/05)

Unfortunate By-Lines:
In today's Variety section of the Star Tribune, there is a
story about three people using a GPS system across France (thought of Michele). The problem, however, is the by-line of the story (under the headline). The story touts: "When another woman joined them on a driving trip through France, this married couple experienced a special joi de vivre." Folks, maybe it's just me, but that sounds like a tag line for a porno. Now, the "woman" in question turns out the be the female voice of the GPS system, but if you don't read the article, it sounds like something a la Skinemax (or Cinemax for the uninitiated). Still, it's not as bad as a New York Post by-line which was about a girl going to DC to argue for housing rights, and the by-line read: "Girl goes down for freedom."
Pain in the Ankle:
So I'm painting my house. It's tan and lacks a certain...joi de vivre. So, we picked a new color: Behr Paint's 240F-4 (or Tiny Fawn). If you want to see it, go to
Behr, go to their color workbook and look it up. I like it, but that's not the story. Last night, I wanted to hit all of the corners and such with primer before wrapping up for the day. Well, I was tired, and on the ladder, annnnd not paying attention. As I was coming down, I fell. I landed on my right foot, which rolled. I managed to save the paint and the brush, but my ankle swelled up three sizes. My wife said it was now (from top to bottom) the size of a softball. I, being the macho idiot I am, refused to stop until I was finished...a half an hour later. This morning the swelling has gone down, but it's still hard to walk. My saving the paint from spilling reminded me of another time I went off a ladder. You see when I was in college, I did a great deal of theatrical lighting. Why? Well it was my major. Anyway, I was working on a light, and the clamp broke. For some reason, it didn't have a safety chain, so it started to fall. I, in a moment of idiocy, or bravery, or whatever, dove off the ladder, caught the light and rolled so that I would hit the ground first instead of the light. That hurt. I don't know how high I was, could have been fifteen feet or so, but the light was saved. It did not break, and neither did I. There was a giant bruise on my back, and I was very sore for a few days, but, to me at least, the important thing was the light. The painting was the same thing to me. I had to get the job done before I would allow myself to relax and deal with the pain. Is it a macho thing? A goal-oriented thing? I don't know.
That'll be it for now. I will be taking the long-weekend off to prepare for students and to paint.
Have a fantastic end of summer party, folks.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

The Power Napper

I've said this before, but it bares repeating. If Arm Wrestling, Poker, and, even now, Rock, Paper, Scissors (RPS) are considered sports, have their own leagues, and are televised, then I want to create the next big sport: The Power Nap Challenge. It's either that or we do construction as sport (though we have the Great Outdoor Games already). So, here's how The Power Nap Challenge works:
1. There are two contestants and various "classes" of the challenge.
2. The classes could contain the following:
A. Fastest to REM sleep
B. Quickest to sleep in fifteen, ten, or even five minutes.
C. Longest amount of sleep in obstacle filled course (this includes car alarms, screaming babies, etc.)
3. Each contest has to have a wacky nickname a la Boxing. So it could be Drew "Sandman" Smith, or "Snoring" Ana Gamble. Feel free to chime in with your own nicknames.
4. There will be no use of illegal substances (such as Nyquil or other medications with drowsy side effects). However, stuffed animals or "blankies" will be allowed.
Oh I know, dear reader, you're wondering, "Leab...what the hell?! How could watching a person sleep be exciting?" Think about Poker? It's the strategy and the commentators that make it work, right? So we get John Madden to do the sleep commentary:
"So, he got in the bed here (circle). Ok, not the way I would go, but it works. He pulls up the blanket, and BOOM, he's in the ready position. He lost a few moments when he moved the pillow (circle and draws arrow), which allowed his opponent to settle. Not good. This one's going to go to the clock.
5. If the sport takes off, then eventually, like football, a male-oriented knock-off staring former Playboy bunnies will be formed. ANNND, this will definitely appeal to all peeping toms and lovers of voyeurism out there.
Not liking "The Power Nap Challenge"? Afraid it will be won mostly by teenagers? Then what about construction as a sport. Fastest to put up a skyscraper! Quickest with the nail gun on dry wall! Best painting job!
Yes, I get that both sound boring, but how is it any different from Poker, Arm Wrestling, or RPS? Well, those three "sports" can be done drunk. Seriously. You may not necessarily win, but you can get plastered and try. Look at
this article in the City Pages, which talks about RPS. It used to be that you had to be good-looking, rich, or a smooth talker to get free drinks. Now you have to win a few rounds of RPS. Life has sure changed. I blame the young people...
Seriously, though, why wouldn't "The Power Nap Challenge" work? We already televise drivel like Poker (which is incredibly boring), Pokemon battles (on ESPN 2 at 3 in the morning), and Cricket ( a sport, though interesting at times, can last several days...DAYS!). So let's move to napping. We can even use a cool "night vision" look just like on reality TV.
Who's with me? Anyone? No? Ok, then how about Competitive Egg Toss? The Bachelor Games (these include taking random cooking ingredients and making dinner, most beers in a minute, and the brat toss)?
Let me know what you think or give me some ideas of your own. You know the drill.

Do You Mind If I Take This?

Here's the thing about all the chaos in New Orleans that I find unbelievable: Look beyond the fact that members of the government and weather services have been warning about this day. Forget the fact that gas is about to almost double in price (though it's still less than, say, Ireland where it's $7 (U.S.) a gallon). The thing that I find unbelievable (and slightly funny) is that police in New Orleans are ignoring the (and I quote), "peaceful looters." Is this going to become a trend? Could you imagine a person breaking into your home and being told by the police, "Well, they were doing it peacefully. We need to concentrate on the gangs." So, I have come up with a plan.
Hey, we all need some extra cash to pay for gas (and I agree with Chris Rock: gas is going to be hellaciously expensive very soon), so why not take a road trip to the French Quarter and do some "peaceful looting"? Think about it:
1. Go to a bank: Well, officer, I believe that I will be entering that bank and procuring some fiduciary means for myself. Have a nice day.
2. Go to a Wal-Mart, "borrow" a few gas cans, then go to a gas station: Well, officer, with the gas prices so high, I figured I would head down and to the local petrol station and give myself a supply which would in turn save me money and allow me to spend more money on saving the rainforest or even lovely New Orleans.
3. Go to a jewelry store: Officer, with my anniversary coming up, I would like to give my wife something special to show her how much I love her. That's why I dove underwater, smashed the case, and took the $21,000 necklace. Wouldn't you do the same?
I figure that all of those are pretty peaceful. Sure, I had to use the word, "smash," but I figure that the rest are nice and docile.
Anyone up for a road trip?

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Praise Meatball!

I absolutely love (and I'm using the word love here) this. It's very funny and very original. If you haven't heard of Pastafarianism before, check out this selection from Wikipedia in order to understand how it developed. I mean ending every prayer with "Ramen" instead of "Amen"? Every college kid could get behind that. Those of you, dear readers, who have been to college know the importance (and affordability) of Ramen Noodles.
It just goes to show you: The lack of pirates in this world is what is really destroying the environment. Come on oil companies! Get behind this initiative.
Hopefully you enjoy the Flying Spaghetti Monster as much as I do.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Randomly Overheard

Before I tell you about the most random conversation I heard tonight at Alleygators, I want to make two announcements:
1. Welcome to my new reader only known as Suzie. We're glad to have you and hope to see you around more often.
2. AFFL. I'm stumped. How about some more clues?
(Warning: The following conversation contains profanity. Get over suing either.)
So tonight, while my wife was playing volleyball, I was reading and listening to the people around me. Two girls at the next table had, what had to be, the conversation of the night. Here's how it went:
Girl 1: It's just so hard to date now.
Girl 2: I know! It's like he was making fun of me just because I don't like single guys.
Girl 1: Seriously?
Girl 2: Yeah! Ken was the first single guy I have ever dated....And you know what? I don't like it.
Girl 1: You don't?
Girl 2: No, I really like the married guys better because they pay more attention and give more stuff.
(At this point, I have almost spit my drink out.)
Girl 1: Really? I've never been with a married guy.
Girl 2: It's SO much better. You get the attention you deserve. I don't think I'll ever date a single guy ever again. They're not as predictable. Married guys are EASY. They have to bring gifts and stuff. It's great. If they start to fuck up, you can threaten to talk to the wife. It's great.
Girl 1: I've never done it, but maybe I should. It sounds great.
Girl 2: (muffled name) gave me that new TV. He also helped me get the car.
Girl 1: Seriously?! Damn! I HAVE to try that.
At this point my wife's team is finished and returns, so I can't hear the rest of the conversation.
Does anyone else see a problem with this conversation? Is it just me? I don't think I'm a prude but that conversation really bothered me. She's proud of dating married guys....That's so crazy. I can be very understanding, but choosing to go after married men because of the gifts they give is super least in my opinion.

Ramblings for the Morning (8/30/05)

Kinky Friedman:
I find it hysterical that
Kinky Friedman is getting buzz for his bid for governor in Texas. I like his music, and I think he's a smart guy. More than that, however, I like the fact that he is running a campaign that is unlike most politicians. For example: his slogan is: "Why the Hell Not?" That's brilliant. If he keeps this up, he could win in the same way Ventura did here in Minnesota. College kids voted for Ventura, because he was someone different, and people fed up with all these career politicians wanted a breath of fresh air. Friedman could win in the same way. One of the major points he is hitting on is the need for Bio-Diesel so that we aren't, as he puts it," dancing to the Saudi's jukebox." Sure, he'll get slammed by his opponents for many things. You want a list?
1. "You're not a politician." That's a typical arguement.
2. "You're Jewish." That's been already thrown at him. He can't run Texas, because he's a major minority.
3. "You're Bio-Diesel idea is a bunch of hippie nonsense!" Just wait for it.
Why do I think Kinky would be good for Texas? Because he asks, "WWWRD. That's What Would Will Rogers Do." Look him up and read about his feelings toward politicians. It makes sense.
Online Dating:
I promised a friend I would talk about this. Ok, how do I feel about online dating or dating on the internet? Well, it's a double-edged sword...just like real dating. Yup, you can meet someone online, and they seem absolutely great. At the same time you can meet someone in "real life" and discover he or she is insane. The arguments against online dating usually come around to the same argument: You don't know who you're talking to. But even face to face, you don't really know who you're talking to. Sure, I believe in face to face, because I read people better. I see their body language, their eyes, the way they say things, and that helps determine who they are.
It's extremely hard to date in modern society once you leave school. Why? Well we have to work. It's really hard once the grind gets going to go out and meet people (wow, alliteration). That's why online dating is great for some people. Hell,
USA Today just ran a story this morning about senior citizens using online dating. Old people in retirement homes are using online dating to meet each other. If nothing else, it can give someone companionship. Sure, there are psychos out there, but there are psychos EVERYWHERE.
The bottom line: I, personally, wouldn't use online dating, because I can't read a person then. At the same time, someone might (and I really stress the might) be more honest when online versus in person.

Stale Popcorn:
I'm getting really sick and tired of the people who equate low box office grosses with moral values. It's not because of the "lack of moral values in films," people have stopped going to movie theatres. No, the answer is two-fold:
1. Most movies are not fun and original anymore. Dukes of Hazzard and Bewitched were TV shows. Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Herbie, and The Longest Yard were all remakes. Were there no good films this summer? No, there were some great films. Crash, though it makes mountains out of coincidences, was poignant and beautiful. March of the Penguins was a great look at nature. Overall, however, it was all sequels and remakes. If we've seen it before, we don't want to see it again. A broken down car with a fresh coat of paint is still a broken down car.
2. This is more important. Why pay between $18-25 bucks a person (that's a ticket, popcorn, and a soda) to sit around with other people who may treat the experience like TV, when you can pay $4 to rent the film three months after it comes out and watch it in the privacy of your own home. You need food or bathroom break? Just pause it. You can't do that in the theatre.
Just stop trying to say that it's because of the moral values. Oh we hate the violence...except when it's happening to Jesus in The Passion. Look, Mel Gibson recut the film and re-released it, and no one really came out to see it. Was it morals then? No, it was because of DVD.
And while we're on the topic of morals and such, don't use The March of the Penguins to extoll the wonders of marriage. Don't use a documentary about nature for political reasons. The people arguing this forget about two things:
1. The penguins are only monogamous for the year, then they switch partners. Would that be ok with us humans then? "Sorry, honey, year's up. I'm going to Candace."
2. They forget that there are documentations, real documentations by scientists, that show penguins have instances of homosexuality. That's right, males with males, females with females. Many Americans don't want gays to marry, but it's ok if penguins do? Come on.

Hope everyone has a nice day.

The Rage of God

It was believed, once upon a time, that severe weather was, "God being angry at the people who did not believe in him." That's right: You don't believe in the awesome power of God? Shazam! You get swept out in a flood. However, I find it fascinating that if you really look where severe weather hits in this country, almost all the spots are where hardcore Christians live. Seriously. The entire South is susceptible to hurricanes. Look at Louisiana and Mississippi yesterday. Wildfires anyone? They hit Wyoming and Utah hardest. You want a tornado to rip off your roof or blow away your trailer? Go to Texas or most of the midwest. What happens in the Northeast? That whole "Godless" area, as it was once described, where the heathens live. Well, there's snow.
I just find it absolutely fascinating. If, in fact, weather is created by God, then why hit those areas only? You ever hear about Maine getting hit by a tropical storm?
Maybe I'm oversimplifying, but last night on one of the cable news stations, they had a person on who was rescued from a house, and he was quoted saying, "Why would God do this?"
I have mentioned before how I feel about the whole Intelligent Design thing, and I'm not going to go into it again. However, why, why, why do so many people feel that God has done this to them? "Hey my house burned down, well it's God's fault." No, it's because you left that cigarette burning on the couch. Many people are so quick to blame God for the bad, ask God for the stuff they want, and thank God for the good. I cannot stress this enough: God is not a cosmic bellboy. God doesn't hear you and go running to answer your prayers.
You want my honest opinion (and if you're still reading this: you do)? I think the very essence of God came from an episode of Futurama. Seriously. Bender, the robot, gets shot into space and as he's flying, he picks up a colony of aliens that live on him and think of him as God. They eventually die (nuclear holocaust). Along the way, he is pulled into a star cluster that talks to him. It is conceivable that this is God (a question posed by Bender). His advice? "When you do it right, people won't think you've done anything at all." Isn't that the best idea? God is a force that is away from us, and we can look to for guidance, but he doesn't answer (no matter what signs YOU think you get) and instead looks to you to make your own way.
It's free will. We make our choices. God doesn't push us around like a chess piece. If that were the case, then what's the point of bettering yourself when God has a plan for you?
Now back to my original point: God doesn't create the weather. We know how a thunderstorm works. It's not God bowling, it's pressure meeting. Yes, it is funny, to me at least, that the most devout areas of this country get hit the hardest. Maybe I'm just mean.

Monday, August 29, 2005

A Bullet-Ridden Knight

So Marion "Suge" Knight got shot. Is anybody surprised? The Game, a noted hip-hop rapper (and member of the G-Unit, I believe), said, "the shooting devestated hip-hop culture. It's real tragic, and I wish him (Knight) the very best." Knight has spent time in jail for, well, bad deeds as it were, Tupac and Biggie have been killed (or so we're supposed to think), and "Street Life" is still glorified. My favorite thing, however, is that 50-Cent, who has a film coming out about his "thug life", said, "People have to change." Hey, that's all well and good, and I agree with Mr. Jackson, but then how can the culture change when most of the songs deal with pimping, killing, stealing, or women? I like hip-hop. I listen to Outkast (even before they were super popular), De La Soul, Fugees, and more. Yet, it takes the shooting of a record producer for them to think about change? Forget that the people buying their albums may be shooting each other. Who cares about the consumer? Heck, when two of the biggest stars died, did it stop then? No. In fact Diddy (then Puff Daddy) rewrote a great song by the Police for Biggie, while others did Tupac tributes.
I just find it sad that people will say, "This must change," but they will never make the effort to fix it. Not while it can make money. Kids want to be pimps and gangstas, because that's what's "cool" now (or poppin or whatever you want to say). As long as someone pays for the CDs and goes to the concerts, they don't care if a person here or there dies.

I'm Back (8/29/05)

I have returned. What an interesting trip, which is a nice way of saying that it had good times, bad times, drama, and even comedy. Of course that's what always happens when you see family, right? We ended up spending more time in Connecticut then New York, but it was worth it. So let's hit the highlights:
My Father: You remember him. The man who may or may not be a
secret agent. Well first of all, today is his birthday, so happy birthday Dad! My father was the source of the trip's funniest moment. You see, he's been working very hard on prepping his classes for the new school year (you'll recall he's a professor) as well as keeping up with his other ventures. So, he wanted some ice cream for nice break. Well, my wife and I were heading out to pick up dinner for the whole family, so he tagged along in order to get his, "chocolate ice cream with chocolate sprinkles." There is a little ice cream shoppe on the way to the pizza parlor, so we stopped. It was warm, and there were a great deal of people in line to get their frozen treats. One group waiting was a bunch of mentally challenged kids from a nearby camp. Extremely excited about ice cream, the kids were happily waiting in line and singing and laughing. Well, my father wanted that ice cream, so he walked in, looked around, and when he heard them ask for the next person in line, he stepped up to the counter in front of all those kids and ordered his ice cream. My wife, the good midwesterner, was shocked and turned red with embarrassment. The kids didn't really seem to notice, but the counselors did.
Later that night, as we sat around dinner, I recounted this story to my family. Here was a distinguished professor of history pushing mentally challenged kids out of the way in order to get ice cream. It would have been funnier if it had been some captain of industry. (Lee Iacocca pushes little kid out of the way in order to get hot dog...FILM AT 11!)
My Sister and My Neice: My sister is moving to a house in Connecticut. This was the true point of my trip. My wife and I are somewhat savvy when it comes to carpentry and other home improvement aspects. The house my sister is moving into is from the early 20th century (maybe 1907 or 08). It needed some work. My job, beyond moving boxes and such, was to repaint the outside of the house, which I did. However, we should begin in New York with the moving company.
Leaving her apartment in NY was tough for my sister, but she believes that her daughter should be raised outside of Manhattan. So to get her (and some of my parents') stuff up to Connecticut, they hired
Moishe's Moving Company. Now the funny thing about Moishe's is that here is a company with an incredibly Jewish name and out of the truck came a Hispanic crew. It was strangely funny. Only one guy spoke English which meant that my rudimentary Spanish came in handy.
My neice, who loves people, flirted with every single one of the guys. If she dropped her pacifier, they would drop the box they were carrying and get it for her. (Who says women don't have power?) When they arrived in CT, the guys wanted to see her. They asked about her. It was cute (and slightly creepy).
Back to the house, however. It needed some work. I spent an hour scrapping off old paint from just one side of the house, then I had to prime it. When I finally could paint the house with the color we matched, it was after 9 PM. There are no lights outside the house, and it is in the middle of a forest. Thus, armed with painting equipment and a flashlight, I figured out how to do it. I held the flashlight in place using my shoulder and neck, then I started painting. While I doing that, my wife and my mother were cleaning the entire house (which looked like it hadn't been touch since 1907)from top to bottom. If I were a little kid again, I would love this place. It's in the forest, it has a huge lawn area, and it has all these hiding places and nooks in it. It's perfect for a kid.

I wish my sister and my neice the best of luck and happiness in this new place. I think that as soon as you can make it your own (meaning live in it for a while) you'll love it.