Saturday, January 10, 2015

REALsolutions

Pssst. 

Psssssssst! Hey, you there? Yeah, you there, the one with the face, and ummm…the teeth. Are they gone yet? You know who I’m talking about. The “Resolutioners.” Those sad sacks who follow the annual tradition of making lofty, noble goals at the beginning of each calendar year, only to discover that it’s easier to just be lazy and blame society for all their woes instead. Those people. They’re your friends, your loved ones, your coworkers. Pity them with a moment of silence, then follow me.

Guys (and dolls) if you’re going to make behavioral changes for the future, make them good, valuable and most importantly, fun, for you and those around you. And unlike them ”Resolutioners,” you’ll not only be able to keep these up all year, but you’ll create a sense of wonder and excitement doing them!

• Initiate text conversations with people. Make sure to respond to texts as quickly as possible, to keep the flow going smoothly. As soon as your conversation partners asks a question, ignore them for two and a half hours before responding. They’ll appreciate the level of suspense you injected into an otherwise monotonous social interaction.

• Whenever somebody is taking a picture of you, don’t smile. Don’t make a face either. Not only is it unoriginal, it’s too gauche. Leave that to kids, and ugly people (who aren’t making faces, they just can’t help it.) But don’t just stand there like a chump either.
Instead, set your gaze to the left, or the right. Just a little off from the photographer. Almost as if there’s an imaginary person taking a picture a few feet to the side of the real photographer. Give people minutes of fun, decades later, as they wonder just what the hell is going on next to the cameraman that’s caught your attention. This is also the key plot point to The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Now people will think you’re an avid reader!

• When people make any kind of declaration or give you any kind of news, be it the best thing you’ve ever heard (they’re making an Evil Dead TV show!) or the worst, (there’s such a person as Kanye West!) have whatever the appropriate response is, but make absolutely no facial expression. Keep it neutral. Resting Apathy Face. Express yourself verbally. This will keep your visage wrinkle-free when you’re older.

• Pick a common word. Any one will do. Like “sassafras” or “fiduciary*” Spend the next year mispronouncing it. See how long it takes somebody to correct you. Will it be a friend, or a stranger? You may be pleasantly surprised. You can also use this exercise as a way to drop unhelpful people from your life.

• Go to the gym on a regular basis. But only exercise one part of your body. Be it your right ankle, or your left butt cheek, or your neck. Have fun with it!

• Start a social media campaign to have Betty White star in a “leaked” sex video. Encourage others to join in and spread the word. Her career needs a boost. Who will she star with? The power to choose is yours.

• Get a Twitter account, if you don’t already have one. For the next year, only tweet about things you see that are orange. At year’s end, sell the concept of this account to NBC so they can make a sitcom about it, starring Kelsey Grammar.

Try one, or more, of these out and you’ll be surprised by how quickly you’ll see results. Also, probably therapists. You may end up seeing a lot of therapists.


*I use these words at least twice a day. Maybe more if I’m feeling bawdy. 

Thursday, January 01, 2015

21 Things I Learned in 2014

2014 was a hell of a year. I don’t just mean culturally, because that’s a given. It was shit. A shit year. Terrible in most ways. But on a more individual level, it feels as if the weight of the entire, craptastic year was dumped right on people’s heads.

I feel that 2014 was the year where a lot of die-hard optimists removed their rose-colored glasses, looked at the cultural wasteland at their feet and took a collective dump out of fear and resentment.

A lot of people are using the birth of 2015 to look forward to new beginnings and wondrous opportunities. Maybe marriage looms for some; for others children; and for still others My Little Pony sleeve tattoos abound. It’s an exciting future. But before 2015 rears up and does its best Bill Cosby impression* all over our tender, innocent minds, I’m going to try to remember what I learned last year so I don’t make the same mistakes again.

That’s right. I’ve got a future full of new mistakes to make! But, until then I’ll remember that…

1.       Just about everything is overrated. But nothing started out that way.

2.       Stupidity and blind positivity are the new religions. They help people cope with the garbage they slog through every day.

3.       Don’t bother pointing out that stupidity of positivity in those around you. People aren’t fans of others pointing out their mistakes, weaknesses or inconsistencies. Even if you think you’re helping. It pays to be a dummy. Nobody likes a wiseguy.

4.       Having an opinion, point of view or correction to make is never as important as knowing when to express it. Which is typically never. Reality is not always well-received. See point 3.

5.       Everybody knows that the emperor isn’t wearing any clothes. They’re too lazy to point it out.

6.       You can’t change people until they are receptive to voices other than their own. If you just accept people for who they are, you’ll save yourself oodles of aggravation and flow more freely through life.

7.       People are constantly trying to change each other. Nobody is good enough as they are. Divorces, breakups and apartment building fires result.

8.       People are too busy being the loudest voice filling the void of the internet, to be bothered with things like knowledge, research or facts.

9.       The truth is a dirty slut who can bend more than the most limber of Mongolian contortionists, and is more submissive than a Japanese businessman being threatened with tentacle porn.**

10.   Raising awareness is a far more lofty and noble ambition than actually doing something. Why bother making a difference when you can always tell other people about the problem and hope they do something for the both of you.

11.   Americans also seem to equate throwing money at problems with solving said problems. There hasn’t been a problem man, nor nature, has created that can’t be solved by large quantities of green pieces of paper.

12.   Whether you’re an optimist or a pessimist, how you view life is a choice. You choose to ignore some things and focus on others. Keep that in mind when you write sarcastic blogs. Or mindless tweets.

13.   Everything is horrible and there’s nothing you can do about it.

14.   We try to teach our kids to be themselves, be unique or special. Disney has pretty much cornered the market on those morals.

15.   We teach adults to shut up, fit in and be like the rest of the cogs. To stand out is a defect, an abnormality. Peer pressure is the worst when you’re a kid, it’s vital to the functioning of society when you’re an adult.

16.   If a singer wants to sing about past relationships they win awards and get rich. If I want to just think about the past I’ve got issues and need to let go of stuff.

17.   Perception and superficiality are far more important than substance. We demand words over actions in all arenas. As long as you look like you care about something, people are satisfied. See points 10 and 11.

18.   There is no such thing as equality or fairness. Especial not fairness. Life won’t fit into the rules and laws that we arbitrarily create. Sometimes, no matter what, be it everybody’s fault or nobody’s fault, some things just end up sucking leper taints.

19.   Everybody lies all the time. To themselves most of all. People hate that they lie to themselves, but feel that it's a necessary evil. This leads to crazy brains. We all have those.

20.   Don’t believe all the bad hype about giving up. Don’t listen to all the nonsense about positive thinking.

21.   It’s easier to be part of the crowd. It’s more fulfilling to not.



* A year ago, talking about somebody doing a Bill Cosby impression would have meant a whole other thing. It was a simpler time back then. Birds used to sing, children used to play in parks. Were we ever so naïve?

**Those two random references aside, I love our neighbors to the Far East.

 

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Dear Santa: Gimme!

Oh boy. Is it December already? Seems like just last week I was shaving my legs for the beach. Well, seeing as it is the HOLIDAY SEASON* and for once I actually managed to get the majority of my present shopping in prior to this month, I’ve decide to help you, the loyal reader (Hi Hank!) with some gift ideas. You know, in case you’re too busy being morally outraged by the state of affairs in this country (America, you chumps) to go out and buy your kids the latest video/boardgame/shoe/phone/hippopotamus. 

However, the one-two punch of my laziness and not knowing your specific situation means that I’ve decided to completely half-ass the whole thing. So I’m going to go to the wonderful (and a bit ridiculous) website thisiswhyimbroke.com, and I’m going to let the site randomly pick some items for me to babble on about. And like that…we begin:


1.       Fake Poop-Shaped Bath Soap: $9.99

Wow. Off to a great start here. Still on the first item and it’s soap that’s shaped like shit. Not just any shit though, it’s realistic human poop with little bits of corn in it. For that extra touch of authenticity. Because I know that when I wash my hands, my feces-shaped soap had better be able to also clean up the vomit I will expel from using feces-shaped soap to wash my hands.* If you’re one of those people who buy Christmas presents for people they hate (everybody has done it at least once) or if you’re a sociopathic secret Santa, then this might be right up your alley. And if it is, seek professional help.


2.       Boyfriend Snuggle Pillow: $28.95

I think we’ve all known about these things for a few years now, right? Pillows shaped like things for lonely people are not a new trend. But it’s still a very stupid one. Anyway, this one comes with a half-shirt that you can remove for “easy care.” One shutters to imagine the stains that could occur during the sleeping process. Perhaps the tears of pathetic people really damage certain materials. Know any pathetic women? Give them this pillow… or my phone number.


3.       “Nubrella” Hands Free Umbrella: $59.99

Look at this picture. There’s no possible way to ever use this umbrella while having any self-respect. Looking over this site I really have to wonder who is the target group. It’s either gifts for people you hate (and will certainly hate you once they get these god awful things) or purchases for people who are so incredibly self-unaware that they wouldn’t understand irony if… (Damn, I can’t think of anything.) Luckily for all of us, (or a sad realization for most of us) they are out of stock and none are available. Did they sell out? Was it such a stupid concept that they just burned the prototype in a raging fire? It does not say, but if you do ever see somebody with one of these, punch them in the nose for their own good.


4.       Crib Dribbler: $7.99

I have to say, looking at the picture, this gift is genius. Admit it, aren’t you tired of babies and feeding them? Sure, we all are. It’s a hassle, they’re ungrateful and my nipples haven’t been right for months! But now, with the crib dribbler, you can just set up a feeding tube in the crib, forget the baby and go back to making meth or whatever. But it isn’t until you notice that the price is far too reasonable for such a prison key, that you realize that there’s no such thing as a “Crib Dribbler.” It’s just a box for a fake product that you put your actual gift in. That’s funny! Wait, it’s not funny? Then somebody please tell my father, he’s been doing that gag to us for decades.

And the last item in this freak parade is:


5.       All My Friends Are Dead: $9.95

“It’s never too early to teach your children about the impermanence of life and the pointlessness of all our hopes, dreams and actions.” --Me to all the Sunday School classes I teach. And it’s true. Your kids are going to learn about death from somewhere, be it their favorite cartoons, seeing what happens when Rover finally catches up to that car he’s been chasing, or the ravages of preschool AIDS, why not learn about it from you? This book is very colorful (Probably. Who cares? If you read it right, your children’s eyes will be too full of tears and their minds too distracted by the idea of their own mortality to notice if the drawings are colored in or not.) Nothing says love like robbing your children of their innocence.

Well, that was a pointless little endeavor, wasn’t it? I hope I was able to inspire you and motivate you to throw your hard-earned money away on material goods that will be forgotten about or accidentally broken within weeks. Happy shopping!


*For fun, do a scary music cue in your head while you read that. HOLIDAY SEASON bum, bum bummm.


**That sentence is a Mobius strip of gross.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Mayor For Life...From Beyond the Grave

Recently, former Washington D.C. mayor Marion Barry, 78, died from cardiac arrest, (I’m not gonna lie, I’ve written dozens of news stories and press releases about people dying in any amount of ways and that has got to be the clunkiest, worst sentence I’ve ever committed to paper. Moving on.)

Marion Barry served as mayor of the Nation’s Capital from 1979-1991 and again 1995-1999. As of this printing, running for future terms has not been ruled out. Barry rose to acclaim and power in the 60s during the civil rights movement. He was best known for being friends with Jesse Jackson and famously once threw a two-day-old dinner roll at Gloria Steinem’s head out of consternation.

After working with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Barry and the organization parted ways at the end of the 1960s due to his advocating the use of baboons with ice picks duct-taped to their wrists during marches. Several lines from Barry’s farewell speech made their way into the cultural zeitgeist of that turbulent period and still ring true today:
              
  I’m serious people. Have you all seen a baboon in person? Them sumbitches can rip off people’s faces! You give those turkeys some ice picks and let them loose in Chevy Chase? Hot damn that’ll leave a few scars. Scars for social justice, I mean. Also, stop comparing my boy Rollo to a monkey, it’s both racist and he can’t help the way he looks. Alright, now let’s get out there and bring some integration to D.C. But first, a short message from Newport cigarettes. Newport Classics: “Enjoy a full flavor menthol, without drowning out the pure tobacco taste.” Amen.

Following the D.C. riots of 1968, Barry helped institute programs that brought both jobs and money to the poor residents of the area, black and white (but not Eskimo, screw those guys), forever earning him a place in the collective heart of the Chocolate City. 

He endeared himself to the residents so much that he opted to get involved in politics to bring about whatever social change he could to make the world a better place for people of color.

Unfortunately, he ended up becoming infamous for smoking crack and meeting up with prostitutes in shitty motels.

Whereas controversies and setbacks, such as being a crackhead, would probably end the career of a regular politician, Barry used these flaws to his advantage, paving the way for future crack-smoking mayors from other towns to also ignore reality in favor of their own Loony Toons version of the world. Toronto douchebag Rob Ford has made embarrassing, drug-related gaffes a cornerstone of his political platform and it has served him well. Thanks to the trail blazed by Barry.

Also, luckily for Barry, D.C. seemed to not care about his legal transgressions, whatever they may be. Which is why, even though he has since been arrested and/or convicted for such crimes as buggery, adultery, hair cuttery, barn-pottery,* animal husbandry and necromancy, he’s still beloved by the citizens of D.C.

“We love that dude,” said some random drunk guy I accosted on the street early this morning outside of a diner.

I assume he was talking about Marion Barry. He could have been talking about the fire hydrant he was patting lovingly. We can only surmise.

The fact that Washington D.C., the seat of power for the majority of the world, the place where annoying people in their 20s and 30s come to flood the area with their stupid transplant ways, choose to continue to embrace such an obviously flawed politician says a lot about this city specifically, and about the state of politics in this country in general. At least, we all thought so. Until the recent President (“Capo di tutti cappi?) of Italy showed America how to get away with being a shining example of human decrepitude and still get reelected into power. Honestly, that guy banged half the women in the country, made rivals sleep with fishes and never saw a bribe he wouldn’t take. A fine man.

Now that Barry is gone, we have to all ask ourselves one important question: “Huh?” If we look back on this man’s life and the work he’s done for the last 50 years, we can see that he has done a lot of good. He has also done a lot of bad. He has also done a lot of controversial stuff. Like his 1987 bill to create “Whiteface Day” when all the minorities in Washington were encouraged to paint their faces light colors so that “the whites will know how it feels.”

And in a way, Barry’s all-over-the-place legacy fits best in this city that more often than not lives only on spectrum extremes. The District of Colombia itself represents all the best and all the worst that people can achieve. This town is an example that there are no definite black and white truths or absolutes. Everything that compels human action or influences human intention comes forth from a muddied gray soup of kinetic possibility. We all get to reach into that soup to create our own motivations and decide our own impacts on the world. We don’t always get to choose how we’re seen by others, or how our actions will be received, or even how we’ll be remembered. We can only hope to do what we can and maybe, if we’re earnest enough, no matter how flawed our efforts are, history may take pity on us and paint us with the broad, bright colors of heroes instead of the dark, subversive tones of villains.

Let us remember Barry for his best-known and most inspirational quote. I know I often recite it to myself in times of personal strife. The words are as true today as when they were first uttered, lo those many years ago: “Bitch set me up… I shouldn’t have come here… goddamn bitch.”

Amen brother Barry. Amen.  


*Shut up. It’s early in the morning and by brain isn’t switched on yet.  

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Run On (from the U2B Files)

It started off as a simple accident. But I guess “things spiraling out of control” is my specialty.

It was Thursday morning and I had to go to work. Since I had spent the night at my chick’s apartment, I was granted with both being able to sleep in a little (she lived closer to my job than I) and the delightful opportunity for different scenery on the drive in.

I worked in northwest Washington, D.C. In an area called Tenleytown, which housed rich jerks and most of the student body of American University. To get there from where I was currently, meant going through downtown Silver Spring, Md. (Singular, not plural. Silver Springs is in Florida. I swear to god if I have to correct one more person on this, I’m going to trail off with a vaguely threatening mumbling….)

I was on Piney Branch Ave., at the intersection with Fenton Ave., in the left lane, about four cars from the light. I was sick of sitting there and must have been really inpatient to get to work*, so I decided to cut across with a left turn into a parking lot that I knew joined up one block down with Fenton in the direction I wanted to go. Without hesitation, I grabbed the steering wheel forcefully in my hands, and accelerated my car into a left hand turn.

There was only one problem.

In my haste to make the turn, I had not properly judged distances between, say, my car and the car in front of me. Very improperly, would be a better way to put it. Didn’t judge at all would be even better. I hit the car in front of me would probably be the most accurate statement.  My front right fender nudged the left rear fender of that car. It didn’t stop my momentum, but it was jarring.

Oh well, I thought to myself. ‘Tis but a scratch. I have no desire to stop to assess the damage with this person and it’s probably not a big deal anyway.

Let me pause here in the story to tell you a little bit about me and cars. My car’s name was “Keep Getting Caught”** and unlike most boys with their toys, I have absolutely no respect for my vehicle. In the slightest. If my car was sentient and had the voice of, I dunno, Anthony Anderson, it would have called the cops on me years ago for domestic abuse. I think I get it from my father. We both drive our cars until parts fall off and the car dies like the Bluesmobile at the end of The Blues Brothers, (Look it up kiddies, best Saturday Night Live movie ever.) When people try to play chicken with me when it comes to changing lanes, slowing down, speeding up or anything else that could cause accidents and dismemberment, I just laugh at them, partly because my car is a piece of shit and I don’t care what happens to it, partly because I’m crazy and may have a death wish and partly for some third reason to be figured out later. So my scraping another car was just something to take in stride, as far as I was concerned.

Seven seconds

As I drove through the parking lot, I figured that even if I did pull over to exchange info with the guy, he didn’t have enough space to pull over to talk.  No harm, no foul. Then I took a peek in my rearview mirror. The other car had managed to use the space I had just taken up to reverse and pull into the parking lot behind me. It wasn’t over yet.

I had no intention of stopping for whoever this was, I had a shitty job to get to and I knew the streets of Silver Spring like the back of my hand (Funny story: I constantly forget that I have a tattoo on the back of my hand.) I decided to make a run for it.

Fifteen seconds

I negotiated the parking lot speed bumps without slowing down and exited onto Gist Ave. Seeing a break in the cross traffic, I tried to lose my pursuer by making a quick left onto Fenton. One block later I made a right onto East-West Highway. I knew that the light at the intersection of East-West and Georgia Ave., was annoyingly long, convoluted, poorly placed and resulted in a lot of backed up cars. I figured I’d lose the guy there.

Twenty nine seconds

So far, it had been less than a minute and my heart was pounding. I’ve eluded cars while on foot, rollerblade and bike, but rarely by motorized vehicle. I had no idea who the person/people were in the other car, but I knew that I had already made my stupid, impulsive choice of how I was going to handle the situation. I had to run on.



TO BE CONTINUED…



*That’s the only explanation I can think of. I must have REALLY wanted to go to work, or something.

**Because I never do.