Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Art of Fisticuffs, (or: How to deliver unto your enemies a most powerful pummeling about the head and shoulders)

Ahh the curse of being a big black guy with lots of muscles and a vaguely threatening look glued to my face, (well that’s a lie, I’m too gorgeous to look anything but stunningly handsome) people are always coming up to me asking for advice on how to fight.

I can kind of understand where they’re coming from, I don’t often notice it, but I’ve been told that I have an intimidating presence, (no, honestly people do say that! Although I’m sure Ashley’s going to disagree). At six feet, 220 pounds, not many people mess with me. Which is kind of a shame, because I’ve got a lot of anger I need to work out by repeatedly hitting somebody in the face until I get tired, (hmmm, I figured the army would have been a perfect way to get rid of my aggressive tendencies, who knew that they would promote my aggressiveness instead and then turn me loose on the streets of America) but that won’t happen. Mores the pity.

Anyway, even with my size, people do occasionally try to come at me like they’re going to do something, (they’re usually drunk) until I give them the ole stink-eye and they scurry off into the night. Works like a charm.

But like I said, people always come up to me asking how to fight or something. As if I’m Royce Gracie or some such nonsense. I’m not. I’m just some dude. But that doesn’t stop me from opening my big mouth and telling people how to do the do. I’ve decided to take that same advice and offer it to all of my wonderful Internet friends (ummm…you guys I guess) for use in only the most dire of situations. Ready?

Alright, let’s break down what a fight is. A fight is a physical interaction between two or more people where the intent is to cause harm, (otherwise known as how Rosie O’Donnell has sex). A fight can’t be defined based on how much actual contact has occurred. What I mean is that a fight can be anything from a kick in the junx to an hour-long brawl with bats and chains. I’ve been in plenty of fights where I was the winner because I punched somebody in the face and ran away. Hey! It counts. I bet everybody has had at least one encounter in school where some bully attacked you and you kind of had them pinned for a second or two, and you were like “sweet! I’m winning!” until the bully flipped the script and introduced your face to the basic elements that make up dirt. If the fight had ended while you were on top, it would still have counted as a victory.

Sadly fights go on until one of five things: one person gives up, one person is unconscious/dead, the authorities come, other “do-gooders” come to break shit up, or an act of god. Your basic goal is to be the least hurt when one of these endings happens. Let’s see how we can make that happen.

If you don’t want people to fight with you, then look like somebody people don’t want to fight. Get big, (fat, muscle, it doesn’t matter) get a haircut that is extremely unflattering and makes it look like you’re on the war-path (ex. shorn head, Mohawk, Jim Kelly-style fro). Wear clothes that accentuate just how diesel you are. Daisy Dukes are not an option, nor is anything made of Lycra (unless you’re a superhero).

Failing all that, (or if you’re just too lazy) go buy a gun. After all, who needs confidence when you have a gun? It’s the American way. If you can’t afford a gun, go rob somebody who can, then use their money. Too scared to rob somebody? (pussy) Then make your own damn weapon! I don’t give classes on that, go watch Oz for help there.

The odds are also important. It’s simple math, the more peoples you have with you when a fight’s about to break out, the better the odds of somebody else getting the ass-whuppin that was meant for you. Keep other people around, even if it’s just to push them into your opponent while you make your getaway (it works for every James Bond villain). That’s what friends are for. If your opponent has more people on his side than you do, then your options are limited. You can pretend to be really crazy and hope it scares your enemy away (or they become kind of embarrassed for trying to fight an obvious feeb like yourself and wander away). Or you can use my approach. It’s a little more intellectual, but it works more often than not, (in which case I will use all the tools in my arsenal, I’ll act crazy, throw my friends in front of me, then run away while brandishing a shiv and screaming like an Arabian woman). I simply walk up to the leader of the opposing force and speak gently to him in a soft voice that his cohorts can’t hear.

“You do realize that there’s about a half dozen of you guys and only one me, right?” I’ll say.

“Yeah, so?” he’ll respond.

“Well, how many movies and t.v. shows have you seen where a bunch of over-confident guys go up against one quiet dude who doesn’t back down?”

Suddenly looking confused, “uh, I don’t know, a lot?” he stammers.

“That’s right, and what always happens?”

“The one guy knows some kind of kung fu or some shit and wipes the floor with the other guys,” he says.


At this point the opponent looks unsure of himself and will confer with his associates. A few minutes of talking and they usually wander off, or I do. The beauty of this approach is that I rely on the fears and superstitions of my opponents, (just like Batman!)

Oh, and always make sure to cuss wayyyy too much. Cussing while yelling is a great psychological technique. Also make sure to talk about your opponent’s mother and the various woodland creatures that have had their way with her.

Awwww, would you look at that! I ran out of space before I could even get to the fighting part! Damn, that's a shame. Oh well, tune in for my next “How to” when I explain how to land an airliner after the pilot has died from a heart attack. Maybe.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

It’s Amishtery to me

There are many things in this world that defy my comprehension; reality tv, republicans, nipples on men, religion, anime, vegans, and so on, (man, I could go on all day with that list, which means that either a lot of things defy comprehension, or I’m just really stupid) but the one thing that has most recently made that list is something that up until now has only been a minor curiosity. But after this past weekend, it has exploded into full-blown “Huh?” status.

The Amish.

Over the weekend, my family and I traveled to Lancaster, PA (for father’s day, I dunno, doesn’t make much sense to be either) the home of the always popular Pennsylvania Dutch. Allow me to preface the rest of this entry by saying that “they” are really making a killing out there in Lancaster. I’m not too sure who “they” are, but somebody’s getting crazy rich. There are dozens upon dozens of hotels and motels around the area, (almost as many as in Breezewood, PA, “The Town of Motels”), countless restaurants, a few water parks and all types of other tourist traps. The biggest trap of them all is the Amish themselves, but there’s only so much money you can get from setting up one person to go stare at another, so “they” came up with their most ingenious plan: Outlet Malls.

I think outlets are a gyp. I think that they have really high prices in the first place, so that when they “slash” prices and reduce stuff with their “sales” that they’re only selling stuff for a dollar or two less than they would at any regular store. But that’s just my own capitalistic paranoia. These outlets in Lancaster are great. There are a million of them and they’re more addictive than crack wrapped in chocolate. I dropped over $100 (oooh, big spender!) at a kitchen supply store alone, (that’s right ladies, I know my way around a kitchen, and I’ve been known to turn a culinary trick or two).

Anyway, back to the Amish. Those people were everywhere in their buggies pulled by horses with severe incontinence problems. Now I understand why there’s such good farming there. You’ve got to do something with the hundreds of pounds of excrement everyday. And yes, the Amish looked just like they do in popular culture, Kingpin, Witness and that one episode of the Simpsons. They had the beards, (men and women) the weird pilgrimy clothes and the look of pious reflection we’ve come to associate with the Amish. There were even some Mennonites there too, but they weren’t as easy to see since they were chilling in their air-conditioned cars on the way to Burger King (motto: An ongoing experiment to see how much meat a human will shove into his mouth before he chokes to death –now with large fries!)

Alright, we all kind of know how the whole Amish thing works. We may not know the particulars, but I’m sure we all get the basic gist, am I right? No electricity, no cars, no buttons, plenty of barn building, goofy names, depressing clothes and oodles of good old fashioned farming until your blisters have blisters. Yet this isn’t entirely the case. A tour and a lesson in area history taught me the answers to many questions, while bringing up many, many more.

I don’t have any Amish friends, in fact I can’t say I’ve ever spoken to an Amish person beyond “How’s it hangin Jedidiah?” or something similar. So I’ve never been able to ask an Amish person just what their deal is. If anybody who’s reading this has an Amish friend, feel free to show them this Eighty-Four Glyde entry and get their opinion.

Let me clear up a few things, in case you were wondering. The Amish can wear any type of shoes they like, and Pumas seem to be a favorite, (go figure). The Amish can go to grocery stores to buy food, without much in the way of restriction, (though if one of them were to buy some microwave popcorn, they might get shunned). Now, before people who are better educated on the Amish than I am get all worked up, I understand that many rules vary from settlement to settlement. What the Amish are allowed to do depends on the local Bishop, (and animal decency laws). But still there is one thing about the Amish that I learned that did nothing more than confuse the shit out of me. Check this.

The Amish don’t use electricity because it means a dependency on the outside world, but they are allowed to buy electronic appliances and the like and convert them to other power sources. I was shown a kitchen wherein the Amish had a propane stove and a propane refrigerator. This same kitchen also had an electric blender that the Amish had converted to work by air compression. Here’s my question: What?

I don’t shun electricity and I can’t even set the clock on my DVD player, (true, this joke doesn't make much sense, but a joke about setting my VCR clock would be woefully out of date.) How in the hell can an Amish person convert an electric blender? Think about it. You’ve got to know what you’re doing and have a decent amount of technological skill to do something of that nature. Does that mean that the Amish have a secret sect of people whose only job is to stay on top of current technology? Is anybody following me here? The Amish know more about how to use our technology than any regular “joe” on the street. I think the implications are clear: The Amish are trying to take over our society. First it started with the fudge, then it moved onto “Shoo Fly Pie,” next it’ll be something seemingly unimportant, like wool. They’ll have a monopoly and assert their dominance on the global market, leading to the eventual downfall of all other societies, leaving the Amish to grow their crops and live their annoyingly pious lifestyle in peace. It makes me sick!

We can put a stop to this. All we have to do is draft all the Amish people and send them off to fight in whatever country Bush is currently miffed at. Within a week they’ll be gone, and I can have all the Amish women to myself! HAHAHAHAHAHA……wait, that’s more of a punishment then a victory.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Into the wild blue yonder (WTF is a “yonder” anyway?)

Since his earliest days in the hazy and primordial past, man (and the occasional woman too I suppose) has yearned to soar above the heads of his enemies and drop things on them from great heights.

At first, this was best accomplished by tricking his enemies into hanging out at the bottom of really tall cliffs, then pushing boulders on them, (a technique later perfected by Wile E. Coyote.) But man’s enemies soon became wise to this, (what with all of them suddenly having flat heads and developing rock-based headaches) and learned to stay away from cliffs.

For the next few million years, (or just a few thousand if you’re into the whole Intelligent Design/creationism thing) no new developments were made in the field of flying. Oh sure, there were a few experiments, but they all ended with a girlish scream and a big greasy smear on the ground.

Eventually, thanks to the hard work by such pioneers as MacGyver, man was able to better understand the world around him, and how gravity works, (something to do with static electricity and certain phases of the moon if I’m not mistaken) and the result was the 1920s era open cockpit biplane, the epitome of air travel.

This is where I come in.

Ever since that first daring escape in an open-cockpit plane (which was named C-3PO if I’m not mistaken) by Indiana Jones, I’ve yearned to ride in such a contraption. Ever since Ernie and Bert flew one to find Big Bird in that smash Sesame Street movie Follow that Bird, (of course there was a Sesame Street movie! And it was great, it had the first fully frontal nude interspecies sex scene between Big Bird and Snuffy) I’ve wanted to try my hand at getting around in such a manner. Ever since Snoopy fought the Red Baron I’ve… well, you get the idea.

So when my chance arrived I jumped on it like Oprah jumps on Stedman’s masculinity, (honestly, am I the only one who thinks that Steadman doesn’t so much have sex with Oprah as much as he is violated by her on a nightly basis? And who wouldn’t want to be, that Oprah is sexy!)

Over the weekend, my sister and I had the opportunity to ride in a 20s era biplane, (hereafter to be referred to as Mad Dog, for that is its name) somewhere in the Deliverance area of Pennsylvania. It was an experience I will never forget, (at least until my next alcohol-induced black out).

Our pilot’s name was Earl, and it looked to us as if he were a close personal friend of the Wright brothers. I’m sayin this guy was old! He was so old that he had us flying at 30 miles an hour with the left blinker on the whole time! He was so old that his tongue had liver spots! He was so old that he remembers what life was like before the Internet! But I digress. He was still a great pilot, even if he did confuse the gas pedal and the break pedal constantly.

Now, my prior experience in the army had prepared me for what I was getting into. Back when I was a soldier (remember that? I got out eight months ago! Seems like longer to me) I was in the 101st Airborne Division. We had hundreds of helicopters, Blackhawks, Chinooks, Apaches, and of course Air Wolf, we had it all. And as a journalist I rode in helicopters more than 95% of my division. There’s nothing like flying in a Blackhawk, 20 feet above the Tigris River, while the guy next to you is puking in his helmet. Ahh, the good old days.

Mad Dog wasn’t much different. With no canopy the wind and rain can easily blind even the most steely-eyed flyer. So I made sure to wear my super flaming Bono-style sunglasses. They kept the wind out of my eyes and made sure I looked fabulous! The double set of wings block a lot of the view (which is why so many of the pictures I took are of poles and props) but there’s still enough open area to really see the ground as it rushes up to you an a hundred miles an hour. Breath-taking I tell you. It was quieter than a Blackhawk but with about the same amount of leg room.

I wish I could say that something exciting and uber neat happened while we were in the air, but it didn’t. We didn’t foil any daring mid-air robberies, (and I was so hoping to catch D.B. Cooper, ah well, I was 35 years late anyway) nor did we do any barrel rolls or loop-de-loops. But no matter. The 30-minute ride was quite enjoyable and relaxing.

Join me next time when I recount my experience of riding in one of those little cars they have outside of Safeway. Now that’s a rush!