Friday, December 23, 2011

Mount X-Mas Movies

I love Christmas time. A big part of the reason I love Christmas time is because of the movies. For me it really doesn’t feel like Christmas until I’ve consumed each of my favorite Holiday flicks. With that said, here’s my Mount Rushmore of X-Mas movies. Oh and you can save the angry emails about taking Christ out of Christmas. A) I went with X-Mas movies because Christ is not featured in any of these films, nor does he have a cameo. And 2) "X" comes from the Greek letter Chi, which is the first letter of the Greek word Χριστός, translated as "Christ". So just simmer down.


Mickey’s Christmas Carol

This Charles Dickens classic has been told and re-told. There are dozens of versions on film and for the most part they are all well done. For my money though nobody did it like Mickey and friends. First off it is the most child friendly version by far being that it is the least disturbing (no sickly orphans hiding under some dude’s robe). Scrooge McDuck plays the role he was born to play (literally, I mean the guy’s name is Scrooge). Watch that little mouseketeer Tiny Tim hobble over to old Ebeneezer and throw his arms around his neck and don’t tear up. I dare you.

Marley (Goofy): Ebenezer? Remember when I was alive I robbed from widows and swindled the poor?
Scrooge: Yes, and all in the same day. Oh, you had class, Jacob.
Marley (Goofy): Ha-yuk. Yup. Er, no, no! I was wrong. And so, as punishment, I'm forced to carry these heavy chains for eternity! Maybe even longer.

The Grinch

Another adaptation of a Christmas classic, from Dr Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The book is great and the cartoon is cute but this feature film is fantastic. Jim Carrey is amazing as the Grinch. Cindy Lou Who’s "Where Are You Christmas" is one of my all time favorite Christmas songs. The Grinch back-story featuring the late Josh Ryan Evans was brilliant (Oh Martha, Oh Christmas!). For my money Ron Howard knock this one out of the park.

Quote: (The Grinch) “The nerve of those Whos. Inviting me down there - on such short notice! Even if I wanted to go my schedule wouldn't allow it. 4:00, wallow in self pity; 4:30, stare into the abyss; 5:00, solve world hunger, tell no one; 5:30, jazzercize; 6:30, dinner with me - I can't cancel that again; 7:00, wrestle with my self-loathing... I'm booked. Of course, if I bump the loathing to 9, I could still be done in time to lay in bed, stare at the ceiling and slip slowly into madness. But what would I wear?”

A Christmas Story

1983 was a good year for me in the Christmas movie department with Mickey’s Christmas Carol AND A Christmas Story both launching that same Holiday season. Unlike my first two this one is an original. The story of a boy and his heartfelt desire for a Red Rider BB gun. You’ll shoot your eye out. The soft glow of electric sex. The queen mother of dirty word, the f--- word. Soap poisoning. The pink bunny suit. Fa ra ra ra ra, ra ra ra ra. It’s beyond classic, it’s timeless.

Quotes: “Fra-gee-lay. That must be Italian.” “My mother was trying to insinuate herself between us and the statue.”

Elf

Another original story and my all time favorite Christmas movie. I smile through the whole thing and I never tire of watching it. I think I’m going to watch it again right after I post this. I’ve already paid homage to Will Ferrell’s performance in Mount Funny but it’s worth stating again he was miraculous as Buddy the Elf. Oh and Zooey Deschanel will have you singing "Baby It's Cold Outside" the rest of the day. It’s the story of a human raised by elves who passed through the seven levels of the Candy Cane forest, through the sea of swirly twirly gum drops, walked through the Lincoln Tunnel and saved Christmas. That’s right, aka AWESOME! The best part is it’s highly highly quotable.

Quotes: “I am a cotton-headed ninnymoggins!”
“So, good news! I saw a dog today!”
“I think you're really beautiful and I feel really warm when I'm around you and my tongue swells up…”
“I'm sorry I ruined your lives, and crammed eleven cookies into the VCR.”
“I thought maybe we could make ginger bread houses, and eat cookie dough, and go ice skating, and maybe even hold hands.”
“First we'll make snow angels for a two hours, then we'll go ice skating, then we'll eat a whole roll of Tollhouse Cookiedough as fast as we can, and then we'll snuggle.”
“Have you seen these toilets? They're GINORMOUS!”
“You stink. You smell like beef and cheese! You don't smell like Santa.”
You sit on a throne of lies!”
“I just like to smile! Smiling's my favorite.”
“Francisco! That's fun to say! Francisco... Frannncisco... Franciscooo...”
“What's a Christmas Gram? I want one!”

Friday, December 16, 2011

Stop Ogling Women

I’ll get right down to it. Men, stop ogling women. It’s gross and you look like a creep.

With that said, women please understand something; men have the innate ability to spot an attractive woman. That is how he found you. The act of finding you did not rob him of this ability or blind him to all others. Oh and men, pretending that it did just cheapens both of you.

However, this ability to recognize an attractive woman does not mean you don’t have to control yourself. You should refrain from leaping in the air, whistling and howling, while your eyes pop out of your head like a cartoon wolf. There are many reasons for suppressing such a reaction if for nothing else so you don’t look like a lunatic.

I am a man. When not with my family I spend most of my time in the company of other men, young and old. (That sounded bad. I just meant I hang out with guys. Don’t judge me.) On multiple occasions I have witnessed old men ogling women half their age. This immediately triggers my canned reproach, “Stop that. You disgust me.”

As for the young men whose company I keep (Why does it keep sounding like that?), I try to teach them that every young lady is somebody’s sister or daughter with the potential to be somebody’s wife and mother. I ask them, “Would you want somebody treating your (sister/daughter/wife/mother) that way?” The response invariably comes, “No.” To which I respond that we should keep in mind that every girl is somebody’s baby.

Don’t get me wrong this is no easy task for two reasons. 1) There’s a reason that one of the adjectives for a beautiful woman is stunning. A man can find himself gawking at a woman without even realizing it. Honestly, it sounds like an excuse but it’s not. And B) there are women who have every intention of flaunting what the good Lord gave them. That is their right I suppose.

I’d like to tackle each of these separately. First, intent matters here boys. If a beautiful woman happens across your path there will inevitably be a Wow factor but that lasts only a second or two; anything longer than that and you’ve entered the creeper zone (If you start hearing Ferris Bueller’s Oh Yeah in your head that’s a giveaway you’ve gone too far). Let me say it is not okay to objectify women in any way. Even in cases where they clearly don’t have respect for themselves that does not give us freedom to be disrespectful. Be a man. Know who you are and remember who they are, whether or not they act like they know. No excuses.

Second, Mademoiselles you can help here. While we have the responsibility to control ourselves no matter what, you can make that so much easier by dressing modestly. I’m not saying you have to wear a hijab or anything but short skirts and cleavage are going to attract our attention like a monkey to a shiny watch. Don’t hang your junk out there for the world to see and then feign offense when some dude stares at you. Help us respect you by respecting yourself.

This message is intended for all men but I’d like to particularly address married men. You are under no circumstances allowed to stare, gaze, gape, gawk, peer, leer, ogle or peep at another woman, EVER. I will jack stomp the next guy who says it’s okay to “look at the menu” because it’s not like he’s going to order. That’s the stupidest analogy I’ve ever heard. What are you doing at that “restaurant” anyway? Go home. There’s no menu there, you just choose from what you’ve already got in the house. Imagine how you’d feel if your wife went around squeezing guys buns and saying, “What? I’m not going to buy it I was just seeing if it was ripe.” For you it’s more than not being disrespectful it’s being considerate of the woman you love. FYI ladies, for those of you wondering I’m rock’n two ripe melons. BOOM! BAM! (The woman I love is no doubt shaking her head right now)

Let me be clear, this goes for women who are up close and personal as well as the women you see on film and in print. Just because she’s famous doesn’t mean she’s not somebody’s little girl. Just because, to a degree, she makes a living having people look at her doesn’t mean you’ve got free reign to be a scoundrel.

Since I know, in some cases, I’m address the lowest common denominator among us and all appeals for reason will fall on deaf ears I’ll make my final case for the worst possible reason to refrain from ogling. Guys, there is no scenario where you look cool checking somebody out. You always come off looking like a putz. It’s pathetic. Not to mention you give them all the power. So quit it.


One last thing. Ladies, feel free to ogle us all you want. We’re not offended in the least. Our self esteem is low enough that we don’t care and crave the attention, so gawk away. We’ll even shake what our mothers gave us upon request.

That is all.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Mean Girls

Growing up we’re taught that boys are made of “snips (whatever that is) and snails and puppy dog tails” and girls are made of “sugar and spice and everything nice”.

Well isn’t that special. The only problem with that is it’s a big fat lie. We’ve all met sweet girls (I married one) and spicy women that is true but, individually and as a whole, women are anything but nice.

Am I nervous about writing that? Do I fear the repercussions of my actions? Is there any chance I’m wrong and have simply misjudged this fairer gender? Yes, yes, and no.

I’ve put off writing this for months in order to be sure of what I wanted to say and that it was at least based in truth. (And because of the fears listed in the paragraph above) I write this now with the hope for a positive change for women everywhere.

This is born of no ill treatment I’ve received from women. On the contrary I feel that by and large men tend to get their fair share of sugar and spice and, ya know, nice. I’m not even here to question the motives behind said niceness heaped upon mankind. (I’ll save that for a different time)

No ladies, I’m here to ask a simple question, “Why are you so awful to each other?”

As I was formulating my thoughts on this topic I came across an article on how women are viewed in the workplace written by a woman named Gini Dietrich, she said, “Here's the thing, though. We're our own worst enemies…We're catty, we're mean, and we're judgmental. We treat one another poorly, and we rarely support one another.”

That’s from one of your own, sisters.

Here’s an illustration of what I’m talking about. Say you have a friend who is overweight. That friend loses fifty pounds. If that friend were a guy his guy friends would say, “Dang man, you look great! What did you do to lose all that weight?” Furthermore they’d be genuinely happy for him. If a woman were to see this same man they’d say, “Wow, looking good! Did you lose weight?” And they’d be genuinely happy for him. However, if this friend were a woman…? First of all a man would say nothing for fear of overstepping his bounds and appearing to come on to her (single guys fearing rejection and guys in a relationship just fearing their companion). A woman would SAY, “Wow, you look great! What’s your secret?” (Implying something other than diet and exercise like bulimia, anorexia and/or a tummy tuck) Using every ounce of energy to force a smile and appear to be genuinely happy for her. Inside, regardless of her own dress size great or small, she’s begrudging the accomplishment and attention while simultaneously hating herself.

I think that’s where it starts too, with self. Women are so hard on themselves. They minimize their own assets and accomplishments while maximizing their own perceived flaws and imperfections. It’s no wonder that this cruelty extends to anyone with two X chromosomes.

For those of us with a Y chromosome, sure we can get down on ourselves from time to time but, for the most part we feel we can do no wrong. I’m a hefty approaching-middle-aged bald man; yet I step out of the shower, towel it up and stand in front of the mirror brushing my teeth humming I’m Sexy and I know It without a hint of irony. (I work out!)

Women on the other hand get as close as they can to the mirror inspecting every pore, worrying about every wrinkle and bemoaning the dark circles under their eyes. Everywhere they look they have impossible standards of flawlessness shoved in their faces. Picture “perfect” women on the cover of every women’s magazine. You know what’s on the cover of every guy’s magazine? Pictures of “perfect” women. Think about it.

This problem is perpetuated by their own attempts to cover up their “flaws”. Women go to great lengths to conceal not only their physical “imperfections” but they attempt to conceal their true nature, you know overcompensating with that sugar and spice stuff. Thus women actually believe that this woman or that woman is perfect and they somehow have failed.

I assure you that she is just as big a mess as you, in her own special way. We all live with challenges and insecurities. Just do the best you can and take care of yourself; chalk the rest (wrinkles, grey hair, etc.) up to a road map of your own personal journey in life. My giant butt is a landmark to my traveling companion on this earthly sojourn, bacon.

The physical appearance and skewed perspective stuff are just the most tangible examples. It goes deeper. Women cannot be happy for one another. They begrudge every achievement attained or fortune that befalls their fellow women and that includes close friends. And it’s not plain old envy or jealously either. Guys are envious and get jealous too. It’s more than that. It’s a special blend that can only come from womanhood. It’s…It’s like…It’s like boogers and lice and everything vice. I’m not saying women wish bad things on other women (although sometimes they do) they just don’t particularly care to see good things happen to them either.

I’ll end with a quote from Ms. Dietrich (show of hands: Who just judged her for being single? What is wrong with you? Haven’t you been listening?) and then a final plea. “If we [women] want things to change, that has to start with us. The next time you are faced with making a snap judgment about another woman, think twice. Support one another. Be kind. From there, change will happen.”

Now, stop being awful to each other.

***Disclaimer*** I wrote this with my wife’s full knowledge and blessing. She neither admits to these practices nor seeks to separate herself from her fellow women. She’s fine with me posting this with the understanding that she’ll offer me no protection when I’m inevitably attacked by womankind.

Guys, you’re up next. (Click here)

Friday, December 9, 2011

PUNCHMEN

Have you ever tried to pull into a seemingly open parking spot only to find an empty shopping cart blocking your way? Have you ever been behind someone at a Redbox kiosk who was casually browsing through the entire selection, reading each description, while a line formed behind them? Have you ever made plans to meet up only to have that person nonchalantly waltz in 20 minutes after the appointed time without so much as a “Sorry I’m late”? How about a neighbor who has a late night loud party outside on a weeknight? And don’t get me started on Tommy Thompson cutting in the lunch line every day from 3rd through 6th grade. I mean who does he think he is?! Hey Tommy, there’s a line full of people back here! Real live human beings with feelings. We’re hungry too and want to get to the tetherball court before Jeffery McDougal hogs it for the rest of recess. I hope you die!

What was I talking about?

Oh right…jerks. The number of inconsiderate people in this world seems to be growing exponentially.

“Generation Me has grown up believing it's more important to 'do your own thing' than conform to the group. Unfortunately that also means people of this generation are more likely to be inconsiderate of other people.” -Jean Twenge

If this disturbing trend was confined to Generation Me then I could just chalk it up to a group of young punks and fear for our future. However, it’s people of all ages that are clamoring to do their own thing and leaving our social structure in ruins.

Thankfully my buddy Peder has come to our rescue. While on one of our daily BS sessions he fantasized of a revolutionary whim. He said it would be nice if he had a license to punch people who deserved it, sort of like a license to kill.

And there it was; a simple solution to this crisis of inconsideration. We empower Policemen to deal with those who’ve broken the law and we can empower Punchmen to deal with those who’ve broken a social contract.

The most egregious offenses generally come on the road so we’ll have to mobilize this new Social Order Crime Control Department (SOCCD). The SOCCD would also need a 9-11 type call center for inconsiderate emergencies at the office or in a shopping mall (we’d have to pay them quadruple time on Black Friday). Other than that the only cost would be a note pad to mark the offense so that the punched would have something to read while rubbing the throbbing pain on the side of their face.

Imagine with me, you are riding along in the right lane preparing to turn at the next intersection. Some guy in the left lane, on his cell phone, gets over in front of you as the light turns red. He is going straight so you have to wait for the light to change instead of turning right when it was safe to proceed because of this inconsiderate soul. Has he broken a law? No. Did he rob you of anything more than a few seconds of your day? No. Can you get over it without letting it impact you in any way? NO!

Wouldn’t it be nice, as you sat there behind this bozo, if lights flashed and sirens whaled and a Punchman pulled up beside him handed him a piece of paper and then punched him in the face? Yes, yes it would. Justice would be served and you could go about your day with a smile on your face while Señor Poopyhead would think twice about how his actions impact those around him.

Now application of this type of justice wouldn’t be so simple. It is twice as likely that the “he” in our story was a woman and the cell phone could have been, well a cell phone and/or, make-up or she was reaching for a CD or, my personal favorite, no external distraction whatsoever just lost in her own thoughts and not too concerned with the fact that she is operating a lethal hunk of metal traveling at high speeds on roads also occupied by other living breathing humans. But I digress…

My point is that nobody wants to see some dude punch a woman no matter what his title or her infraction. Obviously our female SOCCD members would handle female offenses. We’ll call them SLAP (Slapped Lady Alternative to Punch) officers as they’ll hand out only well deserved slaps to the face. Trust me this can be even more gratifying than a fist to the chops.

Then there’s the elderly. I live in one of the snowbird capitals of the world and, although nobody wants to say it, sometimes Meema and PopPop have earned a little chin music. I’m not suggesting that able bodied men and women go around roughing up G-paw or slapping down Granny. I’m not a monster. I purpose a group of senior citizen volunteers sort of like the Sun City Sheriff’s Posse. We’ll call them Citizen’s Cane as they’ll be allowed to cane one another. (Tell me you’re not smiling at the visual of an old guy with a light and siren on his motorized shopping cart waving a cane and chasing another old guy on his motorized shopping cart. Oh you’re smiling. You’re smil’n big time.)

Of course, like the police, warnings will obviously be an option and leniency granted to first time offenders but that’s not as fun as talking about people getting socked (or SOCCD) in the face.

Fortunately in these hard economic times government won’t be able to shoulder the financial burden of SOCCD and therefore won’t be able to get involved and screw it up. We’ll have to deputize civilians who are willing to stand up for the faceless masses that are wronged by the inconsiderate among us; those willing to shoulder the burden and swear an oath to uphold all that SOCCD stands for.

Punchmen Oath

I do solemnly declare upon my honour and conscience that I will act at all times to the best of my ability and knowledge in a manner befitting a Punchman (or Punchwoman)
I will preserve the dignity and will respect the rights of all individuals as I strike them with my God-given appendage of justice (or as I cane them or slap them silly)
I will discharge my duties with integrity and will promote understanding and consideration
I will exercise my authority as a Punchman (or Punchwoman) in the manner intended by this blog
I will faithfully obey the orders of my superiors (Peder and Aaron) and will be ready to confront jerks, fools and a-holes in the line of duty
I will act with honesty, courtesy and regard for the welfare of others, unless they are inconsiderate in which case I will punch (slap or cane) them
I will act justly and impartially and with propriety towards my fellow punchers (slappers and caners) I will constantly strive to honour this oath in my service as a Punchman (or Punchwoman)

Now go. Go! Get them my pretties. And their little dog too.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

You Can't Handle the Tooth

Welcome to part II of my deceiving our children series.

Any rookie parent can pull off the Santa thing. It’s an annual event that you spend weeks gearing up for along with everyone else. The application of carrying out such a charade is well established and you just plug yourself into one role and your children into another. “Santa won’t come until you’re asleep and he only comes to good little girls and boys.” Badda boom badda bing. Done.

Hollywood lends a hand cranking out film after film and TV special after TV special. They keep children’s heads spinning with a dizzying array of stories and different versions of how the magic happens. Really you just pick one and go with it.

If you can’t pull off Christmas you should just take your kids back and get a refund (by the way, can someone find out if that’s possible? Just curious.)

The real test of parental fortitude is the perilous and unrelenting molar parade that is the tooth fairy. Although it sounds dainty I’m here to tell you it ain’t for sissies.

Once they hit that magic age it can strike at any moment. And you’ve got to be on your toes for years. Doesn’t matter if you’re tired, sick, busy or distracted; when that tooth pops loose you’ve got to be ready for action.

Unlike Christmas you are on your own. There’s no massive worldwide effort complete with reminders in every store and on every channel. Nope it’s just you versus your own guile.

And don’t expect any help from Hollywood either. Sure the tooth fairy has a cameo now and then but there’s only one full length feature film dedicated to the topic and despite The Rock’s best efforts even he can’t save you when the day (or more appropriately night) of reckoning arrives.

Whether your sweet innocent child comes to you with tooth in hand or you pry it loose from their gaping jaws with a set of pliers; operation incisor has now been activated. Tying a string to it and slamming the door or dropping a toaster is only half the battle; and it’s the easy half.

No your task is, without outside aid or assistance, to remember.

You help your child place the tooth underneath their pillow, hopefully positioning it for easy extraction later. You kiss them goodnight and tell them to sleep tight. Then you settle into your nightly routine. Therein lies the problem. Your nightly routine does not include a stealth recon mission into enemy territory. Nope, you wind down or straighten up; you finish up work or veg out in front of the TV. Then it’s off to bed.

Then in the wee hours of the morning a tiny disappointed person approaches your bed. “The tooth fairy didn’t come last night.” Horror and shame washes over you. How could you forget? You are in it now. You have no choice but to lie (and by "lie" I mean lie more). You try to comfort the child with fabricated stories of the perilous lives of tooth fairies. Maybe there was a blizzard in tooth fairy land or maybe the tooth fairy was trapped by the neighbor’s dog and couldn’t make it. Maybe the tooth fairy called in sick.

At first the tender hearted innocent fruit of your loins accepts your canard, but then comes the questions. “What’s tooth fairy land like?” Of course you don’t have an immediate response to this out of the blue question. Seeking satisfaction your child pens a letter to the tooth fairy and places it under their pillow with the forgotten tooth.

This time, motivated by guilt, you do not forget. You replace the tooth with money and reply to the child’s note with a simple story of a magic land with tooth shaped buildings and pray they don’t recognize that the tooth fairy and Santa have identical hand writing.

Now’s where the tangled web you’ve woven becomes suffocating. Their younger sibling is delighted by this reply and decides they too will compose a letter to the tooth fairy at their next de-toothing. Only this time they go a step further and ask for a picture of you, the tooth fairy. The tooth fairy, you, replies back that you, the tooth fairy (Which is, again, you…wait I’m confused. Where were we? Oh yes, the tooth fairy), don’t have a picture but will gladly draw one. You, the tooth fairy, sketch a tinkle bell like picture and replace the note with a monetary token for the lost tooth.

Seeking to head off any further written correspondence you, the parent, explain to your children that they ought not to bother the tooth fairy, you, with letters because they are busy and might miss other girls and boys if they take time to respond to your note. Shameless

So that is settled and all is right with the world until that blurry eyed child wanders into your room again, lower lip protruding, mournfully exclaiming “The tooth fairy didn’t come last night”.

Without hesitation you reply, “Sweetie, that’s because it’s Cusp of Carabelli Day. It’s a tooth fairy holiday.”

You’re a monster

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Mount Funny

There’s nothing like a good laugh to cure what ails you. No matter what kind of mood you’re in, laughter will improve your outlook.

Some people were put on this earth to make us laugh. I have a great love and affinity for comedians and the art of humor. With that I’d like to pay homage to several funny people who’ve made me laugh throughout my lifetime, Mount Rushmore style.

I’m going to break the Mount Rushmore rules by highlighting those who didn’t make the mountain but still tickle my funny bone just the same. I had no criteria other than I find them amusing and they are in the order I regard them as to how many laughs they’ve provided me over the years. Rating funny is difficult and picking just four is nearly impossible so I picked one person to represent every decade I’ve been alive: 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, 00’s.

And since I’d hate to make a funny person sad, here’s an honorable mention list to boot: Jim Parsons, Amy Poehler, John Candy, Ray Romano, Conan O'Brien, Zach Galifianakis, Jerry Stiller, Nathan Lane, Russell Brand, David Letterman, Bob Hope, Dan Aykroyd, Bob Newhart, Wanda Sykes and Lucille Ball.

25. Jack Black
High Fidelity, School of Rock, Kung Fu Panda, Orange County, Nacho Libre. Jack Black just cracks me up.

Quote: “God of Rock, thank you for this chance to kick [butt]. We are your humble servants. Please give us the power to blow people's minds with our high voltage rock. In your name we pray, Amen.”

24. Michael Keaton
He’s got a trio of highly re-watchable movies that are guaranteed to make you chuckle; Mr. Mom, Beetlejuice, Multiplicity.

Quote: “I understand that you little guys start out with your woobies and you think they're great... and they are, they are terrific. But pretty soon, a woobie isn't enough. You're out on the street trying to score an electric blanket, or maybe a quilt. And the next thing you know, you're strung out on bedspreads Ken. That's serious.”

23. Dick Van Dyke
He’s pretty much done it all. From the Dick Van Dyke show to the Carol Burnett show. From Mary Poppins to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. When it comes to physical comedy Dick Van Dyke is the king.

Quote: “You know, she's a wonderful girl. She's going to make some head-hunter a great little wife someday.”

22 & 21. Richard Pryor & Gene Wilder
Although both are incredibly talented and funny on their own, how can you not put these two together. Silver Streak, Stir Crazy, See No Evil, Hear No Evil. That’s a dynamic duo. Wilder’s got classics like Willy Wonka and Blazing Saddles and I can’t help but laugh every time I see the clip of Richard Pryor mocking himself with a lit match stick (funny but wrong).

Quotes: “DEAD honky”, “You've got to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the new West. You know... morons.”

20. Billy Crystal
Saturday Night Live has spotlighted some of the funniest human beings to ever live and Billy Crystal is the first of many to be named on this list. Miracle Max on Princess Bride is one of my favorites. City Slickers, When Harry met Sally, Analyze This, Monsters Inc., now that’s funny stuff.

Quote: “Value this time in your life kids, because this is the time in your life when you still have your choices, and it goes by so quickly. When you're a teenager you think you can do anything, and you do. Your twenties are a blur. Your thirties, you raise your family, you make a little money and you think to yourself, "What happened to my twenties?" Your forties, you grow a little pot belly you grow another chin. The music starts to get too loud and one of your old girlfriends from high school becomes a grandmother. Your fifties you have a minor surgery. You'll call it a procedure, but it's a surgery. Your sixties you have a major surgery, the music is still loud but it doesn't matter because you can't hear it anyway. Seventies, you and the wife retire to Fort Lauderdale, you start eating dinner at two, lunch around ten, breakfast the night before. And you spend most of your time wandering around malls looking for the ultimate in soft yogurt and muttering "how come the kids don't call?" By your eighties, you've had a major stroke, and you end up babbling to some Jamaican nurse who your wife can't stand but who you call mama. Any questions?”

19. Chevy Chase
Another SNL alum. Caddyshack, any of the Vacation movies, Fletch, Three Amigos, Spies Like Us. You want to laugh give Mr. Chase a look.

Quote: “Remember Danny - Two wrongs don't make a right but three rights make a left.”

18. Eddie Murphy
Bill Simmons may object to his low ranking but this is no slight I assure you. Eddie burst out of SNL with smash 80’s hits like 48hrs, Trading Places, Beverly Hills Cop and Coming to America. Sure he’s done a string of children’s movies but that doesn’t mean they aren’t funny.

Quote: “You can't have my cornbread. That's for damn sure. You try and take my cornbread, Killing Spree, Part 2 gon' begin up in here on your [butt]. You thinking about my cornbread, better get the taste out your mouth. That's for damn sure.”

17 & 16. Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David
Another pair tied at the hip through comedy. Their work on Seinfeld is unmatched. Larry David has gone on to shine with cable appropriate comedy in Curb Your Enthusiasm and Jerry is a first rate stand up but Seinfeld is still their crown jewel.

George: And to think I'd fail at failing...
Jerry: Aw, come on, now.
George: I feel like I can’t do anything wrong.
Jerry: Nonsense. You do everything wrong.
George: You think so?
Jerry: Absolutely. I have no confidence in you.
George: Well, I guess I'll just have to pick myself up, dust myself off, and throw myself right back down again.
Jerry: That's the spirit. You suck.

15. Tim Allen
Better known for Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor and Buzz Lightyear but Tim Allen has one of the funniest stand up bits I’ve seen, Men are Pigs. He’s gone from a foul mouthed comedian to a family film and TV star. He’s played Santa for crying out loud.

Quote: “Women now have choices. They can be married, not married, have a job, not have a job, be married with children, unmarried with children. Men have the same choice we’ve always had: work, or prison.”

14. Chris Farley
There will always be a soft, fat spot in my heart for Chris Farley. Matt Foley is an all time great SNL characters and I’ve quoted Tommy Boy more than almost any other movie in my lifetime. Just his small part as the bus driver in Billy Madison almost brings me to tears.

Quote: “I'd better not. I have what doctors call a little bit of a weight problem. I used to grab bear claws as a kid, two at a time, and I'd get them lodged right in this region here.”

13. Robin Williams
Hysterically funny for decades now. Mork & Mindy, Good Morning Vietnam, Hook, Mrs. Doubtfire, The Birdcage. That’s not even mentioning Aladdin, name one other voice actor who absolutely stole the show in an animated film. You can’t. They should have called it Genie and Aladdin.

Quote: “It's like riding a psychotic horse toward a burning stable.”

12. Jon Stewart
If you’ve ever watched The Daily Show then you know why he’s on here. I don’t care what side of the isle you are on Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz is one funny dude. Also The Daily Show has launched more careers than any comic show outside of SNL, including two of my top 10.

Quote: “Just a quick observation- when people do not want to play the blame game... They’re to blame”

11. Tom Hanks
The Oscar winning and extremely accomplished actor actually started out in comedies. Bachelor Party, The Money Pit, Dragnet, Big, The 'burbs, A League of Their Own and co-starring with our No. 15 comedian in Toy Story.

Quote: “Hear about that guy up in the Bronx? Just went crazy; thought he was a pigeon. They've found him in the park, throwing breadcrumbs at himself.”

10. Tina Fey
The current holder of the “Funniest Woman Alive” trophy. Her time on SNL was great. Her big screen efforts in Baby Mama and Date Night are solid but both pale in comparison to Liz Lemon and her adventures in 30 Rock. That’s my new shameful way to waste an evening sitting down and watching syndicated 30 Rock reruns.

Quote: “Hey, nerds! Who has two thumbs, speaks limited French and hasn't cried once today? This moi.”

9. Kevin James
Speaking of hours well wasted on syndicated reruns, King of Queens is an awesome way to kill a half hour. For us fat guys Sweating the Small Stuff is a hilarious stand up routine as well. He’s done some movies too but who cares.

Quote: “I'm going to come up with something so romantic and heartfelt it's gonna make you feel like a piece of crap! A piece of crap!”

8. Steve Carell
Our first Daily Show graduate who has, comedically speaking, conquered the big and small screens. The Office’s Michael Scott is a character we will never see the like again. Evan Almighty, Get Smart, Despicable Me and his role alongside No. 10 Tina Fey in Date Night will definitely leave you smiling and satisfied. That’s what she said!

Quote: “Last week I would've given a kidney to anyone in this office. I would've reached right into my stomach and pulled it out for them. But now, no. I don't have the relationship with these people that I thought I did. I hope they ask, so they can hear me say, "Uh, no, I only give my organs to my real friends. Go get yourself a monkey kidney.”

7. Will Ferrell
This kicks off a slew of SNL standouts. Although most of his film are a little off color; Old School, Anchor Man, Talladega Nights, not to mention FunnyorDie.com, he’d be on this list solely for his role as Buddy in Elf. My all time favorite Christmas movie by a mile and he is amazing in it. Our family quotes that movie the entire month of December. It’s causing me physical pain to only highlight one quote here.

Quote: “First we'll make snow angels for a two hours, then we'll go ice skating, then we'll eat a whole roll of Tollhouse Cookiedough as fast as we can, and then we'll snuggle.”

6. Steve Martin
This wild and crazy guy is far more than a compilation of his movies but just that compilation alone is impressive. The Jerk, The Three Amigos, Planes, Trains & Automobiles, Parenthood, Father of the Bride, Cheaper by the Dozen, The Pink Panther and an underrated appearance in Baby Mama.

Quote: “I'll tell you what I'm doing. I want to buy eight hot dogs and eight hot dog buns to go with them. But no one sells eight hot dog buns. They only sell twelve hot dog buns. So I end up paying for four buns I don't need. So I am removing the superfluous buns. Yeah. And you want to know why? Because some big-shot over at the wiener company got together with some big-shot over at the bun company and decided to rip off the American public. Because they think the American public is a bunch of trusting nit-wits who will pay for everything they don't need rather than make a stink. Well they're not ripping of this nitwit anymore because I'm not paying for one more thing I don't need. George Banks is saying NO!”

5. Bill Murray
I don’t even feel the need to make a case for Mr. Murray, also an SNL giant. Go see these movies and thank me later: Caddyshack, Ghostbusters, What About Bob?, Groundhog Day and The Man Who Knew Too Little.

Quote: “This is pitiful. A thousand people freezing their butts off waiting to worship a rat. What a hype. Groundhog Day used to mean something in this town. They used to pull the hog out, and they used to eat it. You're hypocrites, all of you!”



Carol Burnett
Without question, in my mind, Carol Burnett is the Queen of funny women. Matter of fact I’d say that the funniest woman alive trophy should be henceforth and forever bare her name. Pick any one of her variety shows and you are guaranteed to laugh out loud. She even made the villain in Annie both loveable and hilarious. Beyond the characters she’s played she’s just a supremely funny individual.

Quote: “Adolescence is just one big walking pimple.”



Bill Cosby
The Cosby Show really defines the ideal American family for most and Cosby as the patriarch was superb. It’s no wonder that his comedy revolved largely around his family. You want to treat yourself just sit down and watch an hour or so of Bill Cosby: Himself. Now that’s high comedy.

Quote: “When you're a father you censor yourself. You get just as angry with a child but you don't want to say, "What the filth and foul and I'll filth and foul, filth and foul and, yeah, ya filth and foul face, and I'll filth and foul, foul, filth!" You don't want to say that to a child so you censor yourself and you sound like an idiot: "What the... Get your... I'll put a... Get out of my face!"”



Adam Sandler
Say what you want about his movies but I came of age with Adam Sandler’s brand of humor. It’s why I’m so demented. In junior high we’d listen to his CD’s which are full of his vulgar warped sense of humor and we’d laugh and laugh. I still laugh thinking about it. After SNL he went on to make some pretty funny films too: Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, The Wedding Singer, The Waterboy, Big Daddy, Mr. Deeds, Anger Management, 50 First Dates and the only one I’ll let my kids watch, Bedtime Stories. I'm well aware this is a controversial one and I don't care.

Quote: “No I will not make out with you. Did ya hear that? this girl wants to make out with me in the middle of class. You got Chlorophyll Man up there talking about God knows what and all she can talk about is making out with me. I'm here to learn, everybody, not to make out with you. Go on with the chlorophyll.”



Stephen Colbert
Not only was he a correspondent on The Daily Show but he wrote for SNL too. If you’ve never watched The Colbert Report you are missing out. Four times a week Stephen T. Colbert brings it like no other. How he stays in character night after night is beyond me. I tune in just waiting to see what he’ll do next.

Quote: “Sure they may be old and sick, but as Jesus said, "Walk it off."”


Friday, November 11, 2011

Care In The Least

Earlier this week I wrote about a powerful principle as it relates to the NBA and its fans. The more I thought about it the more I felt it deserved further consideration.

The principle of least interest goes like this, “In any relationship, the person who has the least interest has the greatest power.” - Willard Waller

There are two types are people in play here; those who understand and respect this principle and those who repeatedly fall victim to it.

Play back the relationships you’ve had in your life, look at the relationship you are in at the moment. Now tell me it’s not true. Liar!

I’m reminded of this daily as my wife owns me. It was over before it started. I was immediately smitten by her and longed to be near her. I gladly forfeit this power as I am overwhelming interested in her and her happiness.

There are times when it is out of our control. For instance, if you work for a large company odds are their interest in you being employed is less than your interest in having a job. Therefore it’s probably unwise to show up late in flip flops and a Hawaiian shirt to gut a fish on your desk unless your interest in being employed with them has waned.

Sometimes this power just swings naturally to us without thought or effort. If you really want Chinese food and would gladly dine alone and your friend wants Italian but really wants to talk with you over dinner, he’d better get his mind wrapped around dim sum and sweet and sour pork because that’s what he’ll be eating tonight.

Women are in the driver’s seat in one particular area that men care about infinitely more than they do. They will always have the power in this sextuation, I mean situation. Women will always have the power in this situation. [Apologies to any minors who may have been shocked or offended by the preceding sentences. That begs the question, why is a minor reading a 1,000 word article on interpersonal relationships? But I digress] Oh and guys don’t even bother trying to fake disinterest to retake the power. That’s like trying to outlast a camel in the desert. That hump’s got water for days and days, you will lose.

Relationships aren’t just about people close to us either. I love shopping for cars. Salesmen are crafty little devils, full of tricks. You go to them because you want something they’ve got and they know it. They will seek to create urgency and scarcity to drive up your level of interest and their level of power in this relationship. Understanding this principle is paramount to getting a good deal. Here’s a story to illustrate what I’m talking about.

Years ago I was looking to purchase my first car. I found an ad on cars.com for a used 1999 Isuzu Rodeo for $9,000. I called on it and went down to the dealership with my friend. We took it for a test drive and it was just what I was looking for. I really wanted this car. The salesman told me that there had been a mistake on the cars.com ad and that the Rodeo was actually $11,900. Shaking my printout at him I said, “Not for me it’s not.”

He agreed to honor my price after changing the price to $11,900 online right in front of me. I said, “Good deal. That’s still more than I want to pay.” He looked at me like I was a crazy person and started telling me that he had people lined up to look at this vehicle later that evening. At the time we were expecting our first child and I started telling him about all the diapers I’d soon be buying. He was unfazed.

After several entertaining minutes he’d come down a few hundred dollars but he was still a little higher than I wanted. I thanked him for his time and left my number with him saying I needed to sleep on it and we left.

I wanted that car and I thought I was getting a good deal but that’s not the point. I had called him and therefore he had the power. By leaving and forcing him to call me I could take back that power. I didn’t sleep all night as I thought about the fictional other buyers who no doubt had scooped up that killer deal leaving me wanting. My morning bowl of cereal tasted like emptiness and despair as I waited for the phone call. Many times I fought the urge to call him and see if the car was still available. Finally the phone rang and I heard the voice of Mr. Isuzu Sales Guy on the line. I pretended to not have been waiting for his call and half-heartedly committed to returning and talking about the Rodeo. As I hung up the phone an evil laugh involuntarily emitted from my person as I felt the power coursing through my veins. Oh the power, the absolute power! Ha ha ha haaaaaaa!

Wait, what was I talking about? Oh right, interest and power.

Of course there is risk with this kind of tactic as you may be dealing with someone who is truly less interested than you. You have to be prepared to lose out if that is the case [see above camel in the desert analogy].

The lesson here is temperament. Wanting something is fine but there’s no need to be reckless. If you’ve lost the upper hand in a relationship you’ve got no one to blame but yourself. Taking a relaxed or even an aloof approach sometimes is the wise path. Be cautious though because being indifferent or callous to someone you care about is just stupid.

The principle of least interest is like building a fire. You can’t just stack piles and piles of wood on and light a match, you’ll smother it. The fire needs fuel, it needs room to breathe. Put a little space between you and what you want, be willing to let it breathe, and before you know it you’ll be enjoying the warmth and light from the flames.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Dear NBA fans,

As the NBA owners and players sit in New York in an ego and greed driven standoff NBA fans sit at home powerlessly waiting to see who wins, knowing that whoever it is we’ve already lost.

We’ve lost games, we’ve lost respect, we’ve lost patience and, what should be alarming to the NBA, we’ve lost interest.

Willard Waller, a 20th century sociologist said, “In any relationship, the person who has the least interest has the greatest power.”

Sure the lockout features greedy millionaires fighting for dollars. To be fair to the players and owners the NBA economic system is clearly flawed and the players are just fighting for what they deem to be a fair deal. But this is about a relationship, not just between the players and owners but between a league and its fans. And all the fans want is basketball.

What’s become painfully transparent in all this is who has the power in this relationship. Where do all those millions of dollars they’re fighting for come from? The fans? Not directly. It comes from interest. Whether we shell out money for tickets and concessions or sit on our couches wearing team apparel and consuming beverages advertised at commercial breaks, interest fuels the league.

That interest, however, does not translate into power for the fans. Our interest in them, or rather their lack of interest in us, ultimately gives them the greater power.

As fans we care for teams and players on a level they will never care for us. We know the players names and when and where “our” team plays. We know exactly when we became a fan and why we stay one.

I once remarked while watching a game, “I hate that guy.” My friend turned to me and said, “Really? He doesn’t even know you’re alive.”

You see, as fans, we’re in a relationship where we’ll always come in last.

We buy jerseys or make signs to show our support. We check the scores and stats in the paper or follow them online. We sit in the stands like a love struck school girl and talk incessantly with friends and coworkers about “our” team when, at best, they are vaguely aware of our existence. We are their fan but to them we are one of thousands. While we are theirs they will never be ours.

Do the NBA owners and players care about their fans? Yes and no. Yes they care about the interest we generate in them and the league. That interest equals power and money. However, even if they wanted to, they can’t care for fans the way that fans care for them. This lockout has painfully illustrated that.

The Phoenix Suns are better than almost anyone at engaging their fans; their online presence and social media initiatives are second to none. The first day of the NBA lockout they were forced, along with every other team, to remove all images of players and were banned from using their names or referencing the lockout in any way.

Steve Nash famously tweeted, “NBA lockout day 1: Since player photos’ve been taken off team websites I’m having a garage sale of all my suns gear @canal and broadway. Cheap.”

Since then the Suns have posted pictures of former players and carefully worded poll questions about favorite past Suns team members. So the grownups can’t get along and of course it’s the kids that suffer. They continue to squabble over petty differences with little regard to its impact on us; all the while posting pictures of the good old days in the hopes we’ll still be around when they need us again.

The owners and players are banking on the fact that we will come back to them when they are ready. We have all the interest and they’ll have all the power. Like it or not that is the way this relationship will always work. The lockout didn’t cause that, it just shed new light on it.

When it’s all said and done and they’ve divided up the money and opened their doors once more and professional basketball returns they’ll no doubt try to reconcile with fans. The question we fans will have to ask ourselves, knowing now where we stand, is do we still want to be in this relationship?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Men's Lib

Catching up with some old friend’s at lunch this past week I came to a disturbing realization. My friend rides motorcycles, has for years, and he rides with a group of buddies. Talking about a trip they took he stated, in a matter of fact way, his friend doesn’t ride in the rain anymore because his wife “won’t let him”.

Won’t let him? This is a grown up man. Won’t let him?!

Immediately I recalled a running dialog my wife and I have while watching Pawn Stars on the History Channel. In nearly every episode some poor schmuck shows up with a highly sentimental item from his past that he’s trying to sell because his wife/girlfriend “won’t let him” keep it in the house or is “making him” get rid of it.

We think it’s kind of funny because usually it’s a pretty bizarre item or something that a grown man probably should not have. It wasn’t until talking with my friend though that I realized that I’d never seen a woman come into the store with something her husband/boyfriend “won’t let her” keep in the house or is “making her” get rid of.

Why doesn’t that door swing both ways?

I’m not ignorant of the progress that women have made in the last century or the unfair treatment they’ve received in the past. I’m not a chauvinist and have a tremendous amount of love and respect for women. I’m not a king of the castle, caveman mentality type either. However, it seems that scale has tipped ever-so-slowing and men now find themselves sliding off the back side.

Think about it. What if a man said to a woman, “I don’t want that in MY house” or “I don’t want you doing that anymore”? He’d be patted on the head like a toddler and given that ‘How cute. You have an opinion’ look.

When I brought up this injustice to my wife, not only did she not deny it, she smiled and said, “And I’ve had you change your shirt a time or two as well.” What the frack is that?! She might as well have stamped OWNED on my forehead.

I know this is a popular sentiment now with shows like Man Up and Last Man Standing on the new fall schedule. But I’m now talking about returning to some bygone era or reclaiming a lost machismo. I’m talking about regaining an equal footing in a world gone mad.

I’m not a fool either. I understand that women will be able to get away with things that we never will. For instance I would never tell my wife I didn’t like something she was wearing and order her to change it. I’m not suicidal. As much as a guy wants to look nice he will never care as much as a woman does about it so I’ll concede to the more passionate position.

We may not be the king of the castle but we should at least be a co-captain on the same team. It can’t be “her way or the highway”, it should be “which way is our way?”

If you want to keep your life sized Wookiee figurine, that you’ve had since adolescence, in the living room then I think there should be a definite dialog around that (or an intervention if civil discourse fails), but I don’t think Chewbacca should be thrown to the curb at her command.

Men if you enjoy playing rugby well into your 40’s even after multiple concussions and broken bones then I think your partner should be able to voice her displeasure at your pursuit of death and disability. I do not, however, think she has the final word on the matter and that you should abandon something you love because she “won’t let you” do it.

I’ve heard all the “secret of a happy life is a happy wife” or the key to a happy marriage is two words, “Yes, dear”. I get it but I think it’s gone a little too far. The best marital advice I ever got, besides never say “I bought you a cookbook”, came from my father-in-law. He said you’ve got to have compromise, sometimes that’s a 50/50 compromise and sometimes someone’s got to compromise 100%.

Listen, if you want a happy successful relationship you’ve got to respect your companion and her feelings. That goes both ways ladies. It’s time to stop this “I have spoken” attitude and find a place of compromise and mutual respect.

There’s probably some of you reading this right now thinking ‘I can’t believe she “let him” write this’. Well I’m a grown up man and I do as I please…and she said I could, so there.

Friday, October 21, 2011

It's Complicated

I love golf.

I hate golf.

I want to play golf the rest of my life and dream of having more time (and money) to play as I get older.

I want to give up golf and never pick up a club again.

Confused by these contradictions? It gets better. I can feel all that on the same round, the same hole, heck, I can feel all that on the same swing.

Golf is a gentlemen’s game. It’s a game full of etiquette and ethics.

Golf is a game for losers and masochists. It’s a game full of pain and discouragement.

At its best golf teaches lessons that extend far beyond the course and gives clarity to life.

At its worst golf makes you want to give up and forces contemplation of the trivial nature of life.

An illustration

You start your day on the links. The sun has just crept over the horizon and a gentle breeze blows through the mature lush trees that surround the fairway while the birds are singing to you. You start your day off with a par followed by going birdie, birdie on the next two holes. ‘I love birds’ you think to yourself, ‘and eagles’. The sky is a brilliant blue with cheery fluffy white clouds, providing the perfect mix of sun and shade. What a beautiful day.

You approach the fourth hole with a smile on your face wondering how one applies for a PGA tour card. You can’t think of any possible way this day could get any better and there’s nowhere else you’d rather be. After a booming drive on the last hole you step up to tee off with anticipation of the greatness that is about to ensue.

Tempo you tell yourself as you start into your backswing. The club comes through the ball and from the sound you know you didn’t strike it well. You look up to see the ball soaring to your right which wouldn’t be so bad if the course didn’t dogleg left. Still it’s a par 5 and you can recover.

After a bit of searching you find your ball a couple hundred yards up just off the fairway in the tall stuff. Where’s that cool breeze? Without much thought other than distance you pull out your 4-iron and line up your shot. You let back and swing topping the ball and sending it bouncing just ten or twelve feet ahead of you. Cuss.

Well at least it’s on the fairway now. That’s just two shots. You can still save par. You get out your 5-iron because you remember you’ve never been able to hit your 4-iron and don’t know why you tried to hit it then. You double check your grip turning the club ever so slightly in to avoid going right again.

Good news, you avoid going right. Bad news, you go way left. CUSS. You are now in range of the green though and with a good putt you can save par. Why is it so blazing hot all of a sudden?

Sitting at about 150 yards now, even in the tall stuff your 8-iron should do and your 8-iron never fails you. A large tree stands about twenty feet to your left but that doesn’t matter because the green lies dead ahead. Your backswing and follow through feel perfect, you get that beautiful ping sound you were looking for and know that ball is headed for the pin. Thwack!

Although the canopy of a tree is 80% air your ball manages to find a small part of the 20% which sends it flying over the fairway into the rough; back on the right side. CUSS! Where did those blasted clouds go?!

Okay, your laying four now but even with a bogey you’re still -1 on the day. This heat is relentless.

Your next shot lands on the green and promptly rolls off the back. Why have you forsaken me God? You get out your lob wedge and take a halfhearted swipe at the small white sphere that torments you. The ball trickles up about six feet from the hole. A good approach by almost any measure, but you fail to enjoy it because there goes par.

Taking extra care on lining up your putt you decide it breaks slightly to the right and set up just to the left of the cup. Be the ball, be the ball. You strike the ball and watch it roll. To your bewilderment it doesn’t break at all and rolls to a stop dead even with the cup only to the left. CUUUUUUSSSSS!!!!!

The usually delightful sound the ball makes when it drops in the hole fills your soul with disgust as you tap the ball in thinking of all the things you’d rather be doing right now. You’re wasting a perfectly good Saturday morning out in the blistering heat surrounded by annoying chirpy little birds and lugging around these deficient heavy iron clubs. You could be mowing your lawn for heaven sake. This is a game for fools and clearly designed by the devil himself.

You step up to the next tee just wanting to pack it in. And I don’t mean just golf but life itself. Thank goodness it’s a par 3 so the agony will be over all the sooner. You snatch your stupid 6-iron from your bag with little hope for the future (again and not just in terms of golf). You strike the ball well and when you look up its sailing straight for the flag. With two soft bounces it comes to rest less than ten feet from the hole.

Ceremoniously you place your beloved 6-iron gently back in your bag, throw your clubs over your shoulder and strut like George Jefferson all the way to the green. The breeze is blowing, the birds are singing and you’re the king of the world, baby. What a beautiful game.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Making Me Ill

Have you ever eaten something that’s made you sick?

I don’t mean made your tummy hurt or made you a little nauseous; I mean something that’s taken you straight down Upchuck Boulevard, hung that perilous right on Spew Street and brought you all the way to Puketown.

In my life I’ve had this misfortune befall me on three separate occasions. My poor friend Clay has had a handful of recycled McDonald’s milkshake flung at him from the backseat of his VW bug after he was kind enough to pull over at sounds of my distress. I assure you he was NOT ba-da-ba-da-dah loving it. That earned me the nickname Barfy. (again Clay my sincerest apology)

My poor wife loves Fuddruckers and you’d think that would be a perfect match as I love hamburgers of all kinds. Alas no, another well chronicled adventure of Clay and Barfy has sadly robbed her of Fuddruck’n it up at least where I’m concerned.

In both cases I’ve completely blocked these places from my mind. If I’m in the mood for a hamburger Fuddruckers doesn’t even register when mentally scrolling through my options. If I fancy a shake I have to be reminded that McDonald’s even has milkshakes. I’ve consistently maintained that I’m boycotting said establishments due to “a bad experience” but it’s more than that. It’s almost as if my brain is trying to protect me.

Still the granddaddy of them all happened when I was a child. [Warning: kids it’s about to get real] ***disclaimer***The following story contains graphic depictions of hurling, heaving, retching, tossing ones cookies and throwing up; also known as vomiting. This is not for those with a weak stomach or constitution. You have been warned.

Are you still reading? Seriously? You’re sick.

I had a sleep over at my friend Brigham’s house. We thought it would be a good idea to pool our money and go down to the Circle K and buy all the gummy products we could afford. We bought gummy bears, gummy worms, gummy rings, gummy spiders and gummy fruit in all varieties. We filled a stainless steel punch bowl with them and sat down with his brother to watch a movie while we consumed this cornucopia of gumminess.

We of course stayed up way too late messing around but finally settled in to the couches in the living room and went to sleep. I awoke suddenly in a panic immediately knowing there was nothing I could do to stop what was about to happen. I rolled off the couch in an attempt to reach the bathroom. At that moment a rainbow of regurgitated gummies came flying out of my mouth as I ran (it was like something out of The Excorcist). I eventually made it to the toilet just as the horror was subsiding. In my wake was a trail of decapitated gummy bears and masticated multicolored worms. It looked like the rainbow bridge to Asgard, only disgusting.

My friends awoke to the smell of the gummy madness that had just ensued. To their credit and to my everlasting gratitude, without complaint, they began to help me clean up this gummy tummy mess. Unfortunately the smell of gummy and gut juice triggered my sensitive gag reflex and sent me back to pray to the porcelain god once more. I don’t know how they ever recovered because I still haven’t.

It’s been more than twenty years and to this day the smell of gummy anything makes me ill. Last weekend I was offered gummy bears. As the open bag of gummy bears was extended towards me and the aroma wafted towards my nostrils I felt that old familiar feeling and suppressed the urge to Ralph. I answered him as I’ve answered so many well meaning gummy givers.

“No thanks [closed mouth urp suppression], I’ll pass.”

Friday, October 7, 2011

Thanks a lot Steve Jobs

It is an interesting thing when someone famous passes away. In many cases they don’t know you at all but you feel a loss in varying degrees because of a role they played, great or small, in your life. This was the case with the passing of Steve Jobs. We have never met and I actually consider myself a PC guy and mock Mac guy at every opportunity, however, Mr. Jobs gave me my beloved iPhone.

I’ve written on several occasions about my iPhone and how I’d be lost without it. This device hasn’t changed or enriched my life in a holistic or spiritual way but in many ways it HAS changed and enriched my life. Just this week it aided me on my lengthy and sometimes arduous journey of self discovery.

I start nearly every morning with a walk. I do this because of my well documented love of food. But I do enjoy my walks, largely because of my iPhone. I listen to iTunes and track my distance, rate of speed and calories burned on my RunKeeper App (yes I know it’s called RunKeeper not WalkKeeper, shut your face). Having all my music on one small portable device is amazing enough but tracking my progress on that same device is really quite extraordinary.

A couple of months ago I became bored with my music and playlists and took advantage of another techno-delightful innovation, Pandora. I can stream music from a variety of artists and genres, depending on my mood, for free. I’ve got stations ranging from 80’s music to hits of today, from Ozzie Osborn to Justin Timberlake and everything from Country to Reggae. It’s magical.

The best part is you can control the music on the station by giving songs a thumbs up or thumbs down, telling Pandora almost exactly what you’d like to listen to. Over the past several months I’ve refined my musical cue casting my vote for songs I like and songs I don’t. Pandora kindly plays more of the music I want and doesn’t offend my ears with the rest.

This past week I set out on my walk on a beautiful morning. The temperature had dropped into the cool range. The sun was peeking through several well placed fluffy clouds. There was even an ever so gentle breeze. I was feeling good. I fired up Pandora and the first song in the cue was Katy Perry’s California Girls ft. Snoop Dogg (Katy my lady).

Next was Rihanna’s S&M Remix (don’t judge me that song is the jam. I like it-like it Come on!). I was feeling it now, stepping with the beat and moving. As I rounded the corner Your Love is My Drug by Ke$ha came on (great song but I’m really not proud of that one). I was still in the groove when The Cardigans Love Fool started bump’n (Love me, love me, say that you love me, I don’t care ‘bout anything but you. There, that’s implanted in your brain the rest of the day)

It wasn’t until the second Katy Perry song, User Your Love, came on that I began to reflect on what I’d been giving my thumbs up to while Pandora-ing. All the likes for P!nk, Brittany and Lady Gaga’s pop hits. Then, like a ton of bricks, it hit me. Pandora thinks I’m a girl. And kind of a dirty girl at that.

So thank you Steve Jobs, now I’ve got to reevaluate my life.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Being Boys

Boys never grow up. They do, however, grow old.

When not in the presence of a girl, boys of all ages are endlessly entertained and amused by poop stories and farts. They continue to exchange ‘your momma’ jokes with their buddies decades after they should have stopped. Really the only difference between an eight year old and a twenty-eight year old is the eight year old can’t buy his own video games yet.

Don’t believe me? I’m comfortably into my 30’s but in my department I’m the youngster, as my coworkers are all in their 40’s and 50’s. Just this week I busted out my atomic fart app (BOOM, iPhone!) at lunch and we giggled like school children all the way back to the office.

My wife still shoots me the same bewildered/disappointed ‘grow up’ look she did when we were seventeen. We call it her seminary look. We sat next to each other in seminary. I’d do things like read 1 Corinthians 13:34 for the opening devotional and hi five my buddy seated behind her before sitting down. The guys would laugh and the girls would get mad and I’d be quite proud of myself; that is until I caught a cold stare from the girl of my dreams (Neither of us are sure why she married me. I’m afraid to question it). Now I get that look for teaching our children that the Los Angeles Lakers are all criminals and would be in prison if they didn’t know how to play basketball (Again, I don’t question it).

There’s an old adage “You’re only as old as you feel”. Well that’s a lie because I feel I can relate to children and teenagers just as well today as I did when I was one. I don’t “feel” old, my joints and bones disagree. Getting out of bed in the morning is a symphony of cracks and pops; and not the good kind coming from a bowl of Rice Krispies.

I used to slam into people and the ground fifty times a day playing football and I’d pop right back up. Last week I hit the ground once during a rugby game and had serious concerns that my entire rib cage might have shattered from the inside. (For those over thirty, have you fallen recently? Try it and tell me how you feel.)

I used to be able to roll out of bed cold and play pickup basketball for hours. Now I’ve got to stretch for five minutes before going on a long walk.

I used to be out looking for something to do at 10:30 at night. Now if the phone rings after nine I worry somebody must be in jail or the hospital to be calling that late.

Here’s where the gap between my mentality and my reality get me in trouble. Occasionally I’ll run across a situation where either I believe I can still do something or I’m challenged by some young punk to prove I’ve still got it. Of course the mature thing to do is just let it go, but as we’ve established men and maturity are rarely simpatico.

Case in point: I was playing basketball with my nine year old son on our adjustable hoop in the front yard. We usually keep the rim at 8 ½ feet and on occasion, during our one on one games, I’ll show off my 6 inch vertical leap and dunk it (gotta show him whose boss). We decided that his jump shot had progressed to the point where raising the rim to 9 feet would be appropriate. He then commented “And also then you won’t be able to dunk.” Incredulously I replied “Pump the brakes there son, back in the day your old man could throw down. I can still get 9 feet.”

The ridiculous thing was not that I made such a claim or that I felt I had something to prove to my son. The most ridiculous part was that I actually believed I could do it. I’m 6’2 with my shoes on. I weigh two hundred and shut your mouth pounds. “Back in the day” when I could “throw down” was over ten years ago when I worked out or played basketball nearly every day.

There was no turning back though. I was committed. I stepped back, palmed the ball and sized up my objective. A shuffle of the feet and three bounds later I was ascending towards my goal with the ball at the end of my extended right arm. I got just high enough to slam the ball into the side of the rim. This sent a shockwave reverberating straight down my spine. Upon landing on the ground it felt as if a balloon had been inflated underneath my shoulder blade. Immediately I regretted the last 50 seconds of my life. The cherry on top of this crap Sundae was my son looking at me and saying, “Told you.”

I hung my head and went inside with more than just my pride hurting. I told my wife what I’d done and she looked at me and said, with all the patience and compassion you’d show a puppy that’d once again peed on the floor, “Why’d you do that?”

Because I’m a boy. That’s why.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Mount Tough Guy

Everybody knows somebody who’s a tough guy. He grew up in your neighborhood or you went to school with him. These guys were not messed with except by somebody who didn’t know any better. That of course ends badly for the uninitiated. Tough guys earn their reputation, well, by being tough. Beyond their actions though, they’ve got to have the look. Their whole being suggests they are not to be trifled with and summoning a cold deadly stare is as natural to them as breathing.

Most people when pressed can provide a story they witnessed or a legend they’ve heard of the exploits of such a person. These local tales, however, are only fully appreciated by those who know them or know of them. These regional tough guys are impressive I’m sure but hardly household names.

Then there are the professional tough guys. Boxing, kickboxing, UFC and MMA are full of real life tough guys that get paid for their tough guyness (spell check tried to get me killed by autocorrecting that to gayness). Much more famous than their neighborhood counterparts but still marginalized to the circles of fanatics that follow them and their sport.

Of course there are far more fake tough guys in the world than true legit bad A’s. Hollywood is rife with fake tough guys. Acting is after all their job and some people are paid to “act” tough. Still these actors are better known than the previous groups and therefore the ideal field to choose my Mount Rushmore of Tough Guys from. So the task then is to find real tough guys who also act tough. Guys whose characters you wouldn’t want to cross and the actor who you wouldn’t want to confront when he finds out you left him off your tough guy monument.

Here’s a reminder of the Mount Rushmore scenario, say aliens land on our planet and we are not home, or humanity is forced underground for several hundred years and upon re-emerging are curious about us. There is really only one way to ensure that important information is preserved. Carve a monument on the face of a mountain and tuck the critical data in the hall of records behind it (in this case their films). With that said there is obviously limited space so here are my nominations.


Chuck Norris

Really you could just fill all four spots on the mountain with Chuck. J.J. “Lone Wolf” McQuade, Col. James Braddock, Major Scott McCoy and Ranger Cordell Walker. Done and done. But Carlos Ray Norris’ toughness extends far beyond the characters he plays.

He joined the Air Force right out of college and while stationed in Korea began studying martial arts. He earned a black belt in Tang Soo Do and Tae Kwan Do and became the Professional World Middleweight Karate Champion. He was undefeated from 1968 to 1974, when he retired. He was the first westerner to be awarded an eighth degree black belt. His good friend and student Steve McQueen, also a real life tough guy, convinced him to go into acting. His childhood idol? Tough guy patriarch John Wayne.

Just Google Chuck Norris and you’ll find hundreds of “facts” about him. His favorite, and mine, “Before the boogey man goes to bed he checks his closet for Chuck Norris”. Classic.

Signature move: Roundhouse kick

Tough Guy quotes (not that he needs them): “Sleep tight sucker.”, “My kind of trouble doesn’t take a vacation.”

Dwayne Johnson

The Rock! Is there a tougher name that one could be widely known by? I submit to you there is not. The People’s Champ, The most electrifying man in sports entertainment, The Brahma Bull, The Great One, The Rock! The Scorpion King, Beck, Sarge, Driver; not to mention Road Block in the upcoming G.I. Joe sequel. His career spanning from the WWE to the big screen is permeated by toughness (we’re looking the other way on the whole Disney phase).

The very sight of this 6’5 behemoth is the picture of intimation. He started off as an accomplished football player at the University of Miami, where he played on the ’91 national championship team. A back injury slowed his football career and pushed him towards the family business, professional wrestling. Descendant of a long line of pro wrestlers, sports entertainment was in his blood. The first ever seven-time World Champion, he raised the WWE to new heights before taking on Hollywood. He, like me, has a fear of spiders. Do you think that should disqualify him from the list? “IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT YOU THINK!!” The Rock will take you down Know Your Role Boulevard which is on the corner of Jabroni Drive and check you directly into the Smackdown Hotel! If you smell what The Rock is cooking!

Signature move: Rock Bottom

Tough guy quotes: “Just bring it!”, “Lay a smack down on your candy arse.”, “I’ll give you one more chance to shut your mouth.”, “God can’t save you from me.”

Bruce Willis

Really just Lieutenant John McClane and “Yippee-ki-yay mother $%@*&#!” is probably enough for me to justify him being on the list. Walter Bruce Willis, the son of an American soldier, was born in Germany and raised in New Jersey. After working as a private investigator and security for a nuclear power plant Willis pursued a career in acting. He’s played a slew of tough guys in addition to his most famous role in the Die Hard movies. He’s the only one on the list whose tough guy persona is almost entirely embodied in his on camera work.

With his shaved head and steely stare he personifies tough. When stacking him up against other Hollywood tough guys he won the “I don’t want him knocking on my door for being left off the list” competition. Willis will also very soon be linked to the above mentioned tough guys as he is currently filming G.I. Joe 2 with Dwayne Johnson (he'll be playing the original Joe) and Chuck Norris was recently added to the Expendables ensemble of tough guys that already includes Willis, for its sequel. Yay!

Signature move: Reluctantly saving the day.

Tough guy quotes (the ones I can print): “This is the '90s. You can't just walk up and slap a guy, you have to say something cool first.”, “I was born without a conscience.”, “After all we've been through, I'd hate to have to beat you to death.”, “You're gonna tell me what I wanna know, or I'm gonna beat you to death in your own house.”

Clint Eastwood

The very definition of tough guy. Eastwood came into this world at 11 lbs 6 oz. foreshadowing the larger than life figure he would become. Before going into acting he served in the military as an Army lifeguard and swim instructor. The Man With No Name, Dirty Harry, Josey Wales, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Kelly’s Heroes, Unforgiven (probably my all time favorite western) and Gran Torino. A truly impressive resume but he made the monument because even at age 81 there’s still nobody foolish enough to cross him.

This icon came up in macho western films but showed he’s a tough guy no matter what time period with characters like Harry Callahan and most recently Walt Kowalski.

Signature move: His scowl can stop a man’s heart. (It’s true)

Tough guy quotes: “Get three coffins ready.”, “My mistake. Four coffins…”, “God is not on our side because he hates idiots also.”, “You've got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?” “Ever notice how you come across somebody once in a while you shouldn't have f----- with? That's me.”

From Unforgiven alone: “That's right. I've killed women and children. I've killed just about everything that walks or crawled at one time or another. And I'm here to kill you, Little Bill, for what you did to Ned.”, “Any man don't wanna get killed better clear on out the back.”, “It's a hell of a thing, killing a man. Take away all he's got and all he's ever gonna have.”, “All right, I'm coming out. Any man I see out there, I'm gonna shoot him. Any sumb*tch takes a shot at me, I'm not only gonna kill him, but I'm gonna kill his wife, all his friends, and burn his damn house down.”

P.S. This is what the end of the world looks like.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Phobophobia

I am a scaredy cat. There I said it.

Fear of the dark, the boogey man, heights, needles, evil clowns, dentists, vegetables, spiders, Roseanne Barr; I’ve got it all. Of course as an adult I suppress my natural response to such things. I shamefully hide them and pretend they don’t affect me, but sadly they do.

One of my favorite traditions is hanging Christmas lights; that is until I have to climb on the roof. Then it turns into something resembling an Alfred Hitchcock movie. I get near the edge and I cling to the shingles like a capuchin monkey grips a banana, all the while doing my best James Stewart impersonation.

Speaking of Hitchcock, I can’t shower at a hotel/motel without being full of trepidation and I’m very suspicious of any and all large bird gatherings. (Good evening to you, sir! Good evening to YOU.)

My nightly bedtime routine is a sight to behold as well; I make my way around the house shutting off the lights and double checking all the doors. I purposely leave the closest light to my room on until last, not because I won’t be able to see in the dark but because I don’t want to be alone with the dark. I flip that last switch and haul buns around the corner before anything can get me.

And this paranoia is amplified when I’m home alone. I actually turn off the lamp simultaneously diving onto the bed superman style, so whatever’s under there can’t get me, and quickly pull the covers over me. That’s right my covers will protect me from whatever evil monstrous creature might be lurking in the dark.

That’s actually what prompted this little confession. I was lying in bed the other night on top of the covers because it was warm. My mind flashed to a character in a movie I’d recently seen (P.S. You are a jerk M. Night Shyamalan and you ruined King of Queens for me too). Afraid she may actually be in the now dark room I retracted both feet, which were hanging off the end of the bed, and tucked them under the sheets. (Much better)

What safeguard did this provide you ask? Why did I feel less threatened nestled safely under the shield of my cotton\poly protection? First, I don’t know. And second, shut up. I know it’s ridiculous but it did the trick.

As long as I can remember it’s been like this. It’s a chicken and the egg kind of deal (with me being the chicken of course). I don’t know if scary movies are the cause or if the movies perpetuate my pre-existing fears. In any case scary movies and I don’t get along.

With regret, all too often, I watch movies that have the potential to adversely affect my life. As a child I had a reoccurring nightmare about twin girls and a long hallway that I later learned was a scene from The Shining. I used to regularly go camping by myself. Thank you Blair Witch Project for putting an end to my solitary enjoyment of the great outdoors. My wood centric fears don’t stop there either. Even Disney screwed me over, forever ruining backward mirror writing and the name Karen.

Oh and forget about the ocean; I can’t even swim in a lake, a pond or a semi-murky pool without worrying about being eaten by a great white. (You hear that Spielberg?! I hope you’re happy.)

Do you have a predetermined plan of action for when you drive by a corn field at night? I do. I lock the doors and drive with a vengeance. If anything pops out of that corn and is hit by the car I’m not stopping to see if it’s okay. I’ll keep driving and I’m not looking back. No diminutive Amish looking kids are taking me out.

Unfortunately Mr. King’s personalized reign of terror also extends beyond film to one of his many literary works. I don’t tread anywhere near storm drains for fear of the children snatching clowns that live in them. “We all float down here Georgie.” [A chill just shot up my spine]

With Halloween right around the corner I’m all but assured a fresh opportunity to develop new irrationally charged mildly debilitating compulsions to be shamefully concealed in the company adults and children alike. Yay!

I’d ask for your phobias but I’m afraid of what you might say.

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