Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Lund Boats Presents the Second Annual Big Dave and Company Blog of the Year Award Brought to You by the Sony PlayStation 3

Well Company, it is June 30th, and that means that it is time to give out the Lund Boats Presents the Second Annual Big Dave and Company Blog of the Year Award Brought to You by the Sony PlayStation 3. Back in April we released a list of the five finalists that the WaWa Big Dave and Company Blog of the Year Search Committee had worked exhaustively to create from the over 113 quadrillion entries that were submitted this year. The possibly five members of the committee, with or without any input from last year's winner Fake Interviews with Real Celebrities and its very funny and talented creator Wendy Molyneux, spent at least 47 weeks straight locked in a secure chamber, their every want and whim fulfilled by The Unpaid Interns, until they were able to whittle down all the entries into just five. And then, The Unpaid Interns poked them with bayonets until they whittled it down even farther to just one.
What they selected was a blog that is deeply devoted to the most American of American art forms. It has established a network oh what we suppose one would call agents to scout and document the various forms and occurrences of this particular art form. That art form, of course, is the erection of Christmas decorations.
That's right, the winner of the Lund Boats Presents the Second Annual Big Dave and Company Blog of the Year Award Brought to You by the Sony PlayStation 3 is Tacky Christmas Yards. Founded in December of 2007 as a way to showcase the best and brightest, please excuse the pun, of Christmas-decorated yards, Tacky Christmas Yards (known as TCY). This plucky little weblog has managed to become a bit of a sensation in its time, especially at Christmastime, as would be expected, a trend that is certain to continue with its election as the Lund Boats Presents the Second Annual Big Dave and Company Blog of the Year Award Brought to You by the Sony PlayStation 3.
Part of the reason the WaWa Big Dave and Company Blog of the Year Selection Committee chose TCY as this year' winner is because they have taken their lumps over the last 19 months or so. They have received hate mail and been accused of being the crutch of just about every organization that might even have a little bit of a tie to the holiday. But we assure you they are not. What they are is a group of people who have taken the time to take the most tacky Christmas decorations and group them into specific areas of violation, such as Unharmonious Arrangement, Griswold Family, or the King Kong. Hilarious. So check it out, it's all hilarious. And it's the Lund Boats Presents the Second Annual Big Dave and Company Blog of the Year Award Brought to You by the Sony PlayStation 3. So that means that it's pretty cool, right? Right. Congratulations Tacky Christmas Yard, you've earned your award.

Monday, June 29, 2009

KA-BOOM!

     KA-BOOM!  That's the sound that fireworks make, and then there are pretty colors in the sky.  So I went to the Independence Day fireworks that weren't on Independence Day, despite the fact that I was complaining about them earlier.  And despite the fact that it was raining.  Mike-a-licious and I went and we met Janet From Another Planet and her entourage there and it was nice.  It was a pretty typical scene as far as fireworks go: A ton of cars packed into a tiny parking lot or two and lining every conceivable street and highway, people in camp chairs with coolers waiting for things to begin, and kids running around everywhere.  Oh, and the ubiquitous car with the alarm going off from the concussion of the fake grand finale that always comes in the middle of the show.
     I was glad I went though, because I had forgotten the magic of fireworks.  People always say that smell is the sense that is most strongly connected to memory, things like freshly cut grass, that grease-and-gasoline smell of a garage, grandmas chocolate chip cookies, etc.  And I agree to some degree, but there are other things that can do the same thing.  And fireworks are one of those things.  Think about it, man: you are standing there and looking up at the sky and suddenly you can be one of a million places.  And that's what happened to me at the fireworks.  Instantly I wasn't in a park in the next town over watching fireworks, I was on an airport infield watching fireworks going off, I was lying in a boat watching fireworks going off, I was sitting on my mom's roof watching fireworks going off, I was sitting on a rock with waves lapping at my feet watching fireworks go off, I was in a Garrison Keillor book watching fireworks go off over Lake Wobegon, I was sitting on the trunk of someone's car drinking a beer and watching the people up the street lighting off tons of fireworks in the street, I was in dozens of places that I have been and that I have never been, all while the sky lit up in green, red, blue, and white.
     Right in the middle of all this commotion in the sky I became aware that someone was clapping after every KA-BOOM!  I turned around and saw Janet From Another Planet's six-year old daughter, eyes locked on the sky, clapping after each explosion.  And we hadn't even got to the good ones yet.  That's another great thing about fireworks: the are mysteriously wonderful and almost better when you don't understand how they work.  I mean, I could sit here and explain how they work and all that jazz, but when you see them start to go off, unless you are in the fireworks business, you aren't thinking about timing fuses and what metals make which color, all you are thinking about are the amazing explosions in the sky.  And I have a hunch that the Chinese were intending exactly that when they took the time out of their busy day to invent fireworks.  It's not about the science for anyone except the guys lighting them off, it's about the entertainment.  It's about the wonder.  It's about the experience.  It's about being able to time travel and marvel and be oohed and ahhed by the fire in the sky.  It's about always being young and always living the good life.  That's what fireworks are all about.  That's the magic of the KA-BOOM!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Calendar Confusion

     A little later today, Mike-a-licious and I will get in the car and go over to one of the friendly local towns to take in their Independence Day celebration.  If you are confused, I don't blame you, because if you look up above at the date on this post it should say "Sunday, June 28th, 2009" which, as far as I can tell, is Independence Day for no one.  American Independence Day is July 4, yet apparently we are going to be celebrating it today.
     Now, I understand the reasoning behind it, I really do.  Set yourself apart.  Probably way easier to book the fireworks company.  Less competition so more people will come to your fireworks and spaghetti feed, more people will hit the vendors on your downtown street, and the whole nine yards.  Fine.  But you are still a whole week off, and that irks me.
     This phenomenon is not limited to Independence Day.  At least around Independence Day most communities are within a day or two.  Like on July 3 or July 5.  It seems to be the worst around Thanksgiving and Christmas, especially Christmas.  I don't know exactly it has become this way, maybe because Christmas shopping starts sometime right around Labor Day.  Stop me if this seems familiar: In the town where I grew up the Christmas parade always took place before Thanksgiving and the Thanksgiving parade always took place sometime in October.  Yeah, that's messed up.  It's like the powers that be have their planner flipped to the wrong month, like I always do at work, except they are going the wrong way.  I always have my planner flipped a month or two ahead, so then I would expect them to be putting the parades in like January.  Unless they were actually trying to have the damn thing in November, then they might actually hit the mark and have it in December.
     Halloween too, is a victim of this practice.  When was the last time that trick or treating in your community actually occurred on October 31?  When was the last time it actually happened at night?  I always have to give up my Saturday to throw candy at the little ungrateful bastards who are carted in from downtown to get candy from the good neighborhoods.  Seriously, there are actually parents who pile their kids into the van and take them from town to town to get tons of candy.  I am against this practice so when I see it usually hand out napkins or auto parts or something instead.  Maybe some Big Dave and Company souvenir shot glasses, you know, get 'em started early.  The point it is that I don't have to hand out candy because it's not Halloween, it's like October 28.
      The ultimate faux holidays that aren't even celebrated on their proper dates are Washington and Lincoln's Birthdays.  Those poor guys, who did so much for the birth and growth of this nation, don't even get their birthdays celebrated on their birthdays, they just get lumped together into Presidents Day, which no one knows the date of unless of course you work in retail at a mall.  There is also some sort of Washington's Birthday Observed on calendars, which I fail to understand anything about other then that it is not on Washington's birthday.
     See?  We do this date moving thing to just about every holiday that has a set date.  And it's wrong.  Your Independence Day fireworks should be on Independence Day, or at least within a day of it, I don't care if that means they are on a tuesday.  Your Christmas parade should happen no earlier than December 15th, I don't care if there are snowbanks on the sides of the road and it's cold as sin.  And lets put a cake with a candle at the base of the Washington Monument actually on Washington's Birthday for a change.  That would be nice.  Let's be true to our calendars and see how that works.  I bet it works just great.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Prius Has An Accelerator Too

     I am not exactly sure why I hate the Toyota Prius so much, but I do.  I can't stand the little thing, which doesn't really make any sense.  When I see one I always want to either a.) T-bone it as it goes by if I am stopped at a traffic light and it's going by or something or b.) narrow my eyes, floor it,  and plow into the thing head on if it coming towards me on the highway or c.) do one of those police maneuvers that you always see them do in those police chase shows where you come up behind it and sort of just nudge it so it spins out and maybe flips over barrel-roll style a couple of times.
     It's not that it is styled poorly, although I detest the styling.  I am not a fan in any way of the big high ass end with the oddly pitched hatchback window that has to have a windshield wiper on it because it faces pretty much straight up at the sky, which, as all you science majors know, is generally where rain comes from.  Granted, I have never been a fan of Toyota styling since like the early 1990s, but still, I think the Prius is exceptionally awful.  It sort of looks like a gigantic version of some sort of nano-machine insect navigating its way along the road on its appointed rounds, which may be why I want to crush it underfoot so badly.
     I don't think I dislike the Prius because it is a hybrid vehicle.  I mean, I know I am not like some sort of green tree hugger - I drive around in my dead dinosaur fueled vehicle just for fun and burn down trees just for the sake of making fire - but I am not exactly open pit mining lead and then throwing it into local rivers and lakes, either.   So I guess that what I am saying is that while I am not the most environmentally sensitive dude around I am not anti-environment.  And I am not anti-hybrid.  Let's be honest, I like the Honda Civic hybrid.  I am fascinated by the hybrid vehicle technology.  I love how they recharge themselves whenever you hit the brakes.  Not like I am going to go out and buy a hybrid for myself, but I am cool with them.  Except for the Toyota Prius.
     Oh yeah, now I remember.  I hate the Prius because I have never seen one that isn't getting in my way somehow.  I actually recently went through the archives of all the times I have ever been passed by a vehicle, and it has never been a Prius.  EVER.  But if I had a dollar for every time I have been stuck behind a line of like seventy-one cars on a two-lane road and then when I get to the passing lane I find out it's someone in a Prius driving 45 mph on a bright, sunny day I would be able to buy like, three sundaes at the Dairy Maid.  That's one for me and one each for two of my good friends.  Wherever I go, it seems like there is always a stupid Prius around somewhere going at or below the speed limit, which I understand I shouldn't really be upset about except that it keeps me from driving beyond the speed limit, which I admittedly like to do more than I should.
      Seriously though, those things have an accelerator.  I know it.  And they have not only a gasoline engine but like a twenty-four pack of batteries to make it go.  That's like having two sources of propulsion and that should be enough for you to get the hell out of my God-damned way, don't you think?  I mean, there is nothing I like more, as you could imagine, than driving at drool-inducing speeds for mile after mile after mile only to finally be able to pass a lavender Prius driven by an elderly person or a middle-aged guy wearing a polo shirt.  I sometimes wonder if they issue people a polo shirt with the purchase of a Toyota Prius, because everyone driving one seems to be wearing that particular article of clothing.  
     So push the accelerator down, Polo Shirt Prius Guy.  Please, for the sake and sanity of the rest of us.  I know you didn't buy your lame Prius because of the environment.  I understand that you bought it just to save yourself gas money beck when gas cost $5 per gallon, but you are actually hurting the environment because the rest of us have to use so much extra gas passing you so that we can keep up with the flow of traffic that it is obscene.  So seriously, you have a Toyota, they are known for their high quality of manufacture, it won't hurt anything for you to push that baby past 55.  Do it for safety's sake.  Did you know that Toyota Prius' cause more deaths in North America each year than lightning bugs, cardboard boxes, AND grass snakes combined?  I just made that statistic up but I imagine it is true.
     So please, drive your abnormal car at a normal speed and then the rest of us won't get so enraged.  Although I suppose it could be worse.  There could be like a Scion xB hybrid driving around acting like a Prius.  That might be enough to put me over the edge.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

One, Two, Three

     There is an old adage that says "bad things come in threes."  So when Ed McMahon pitched over the other day, and Farrah Fawcett passed away this morning, we all knew something was coming.  G-L-O-R-I-A Gloria even said it out loud.  But when I heard on the radio that it was Michael Jackson that made three, I wasn't quite sure what to say.  I actually didn't quite believe the guy.  I had to run (okay, walk casually after I was done making dinner) over to the computer to double check it.  So there they went: one, two, three.  Three people who, like them or not, had a huge effect on the entertainment business.  So let's take a look at them, shall we?
     Let's start with Ed McMahon.  How one sees McMahon and his impact depends a lot on when you grew up.  Young kids probably only know him as someone who they don't know why they should care about who got their mansion repossessed.  People my age know his as the guy who brings around those big Publisher's Clearinghouse checks with the balloons and whatnot, or maybe if you watched a lot of TV back in the day the guy who hosted Bloopers & Practical Jokes with Dick Clark.   If you are a little older, like my parents, then you know that he was the faithful sidekick to Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show for years.  Years and years.  If you are unsure about his role because you are a little young, he was to Johnny Carson what Andy Richter was to Conan O'Brien.  He didn't revolutionize anything really, but he was certainly a part of a show that was as iconically American as any before or since.  Millions of people tuned in to see Johnny and Ed every weeknight.  And I can't stop say "You are correct, Sir!" like he did to save my life.
     Not like anybody ever had an Ed McMahon poster on their wall.  Well, maybe there was like a strange kid in Cincinnati that did, but you always have to throw out the extremes on either end.  But you know who DID grace about a million billion bedroom and dorm room walls?  Farrah Fawcett.  Possibly the most iconic of American posters, half because of the beautiful blonde with the huge smile that said "I love having fun but am so far out of your league it's not even funny" and partly because it was apparently very cold that day.  She was one of Charlie's Angels, the ones from the 1970s, not the 2000s, and could have made millions at the box office just by herself.  Everyone wanted to be Farrah: red one-pieces and feathered hair because all the rage.  That girl, that poster, set the hairstyle of the decade.  It was the Rachel of her time.  Oh, and she fought an amazingly tough and inspiring battle against breast cancer in her last days, which is colored by her impending marriage, which was not to happen until she kicked the cancer.  No one who followed will forget how bravely she fought the cancer ravaging her body.  And no one will ever forget that poster either, I assure you.
     I assure you that no one will ever forget Michael Jackson, either.  I mean, he put himself in some pretty awful positions and did some pretty strange things, which was able to divide public sentiment regarding him, but you would have to be a fool to not recognize his contributions to the music industry.  I mean, come on, "Thriller?"  Are you serious?  Quite possibly the most influential album of all time.  I defy you to find a wedding that is not in the South at which some sort of Michael Jackson song isn't played.  And I bet the dance floor is full of girls in bridesmaid dressed when it is.  Whether it was with his brothers and sisters in The Jackson Five, or on his own during the 80s and 90s, he was and will always be The King of Pop.  And didn't even like the guy.  And while Bubbles and the Neverland Ranch and the kid from Home Alone (yes, I know his name but I have no reason to try and look up how to spell it because aside from that movie with Mandy Moore he hasn't done anything worth me remembering him as anything other than the kid from Home Alone) or that awful duet he did with his sister, Janet, were not inspired ideas, buying the Beatles catalogue and Billie Jean certainly were, don't you think?  Personal life antics (like holding that baby off the balcony) aside, he was a huge personality and influence in the world of music.  Like Mount Rushmore huge.  Like Officer Butt Hansen huge.  So you've got to give him credit for that.
     So rest in peace you three legends of entertainment.  The world is certainly a more unique and varied and I would say better for having had you in it.  So we will hold your memory high on film and vinyl.  Oh, and for Farrah, on our walls.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Little Kids We Are

     Did you know that if you screw something up, Company, it's not your fault? It's not your fault at all. And with a little bit of money, and the right letters sent covertly to the right media outlets, it is the fault of just about everyone else. If you get in a car accident, it is the fault of the city because the street was paved unevenly. If you burn the roof of your mouth on some pizza straight from the oven, it is the fault of the pizza place because they didn't tell you it was hot. Or maybe because they served it to you right out of the oven. Of course, if your food was cold you wouldn't pay for it, now would you? How's that for being stuck between a rock and a hard place. If you spray bathroom deoderizing spray in your face, it's not your fault because you are a fucking idiot and pointed it the wrong way, no, it's the fault of the manufacturer because they didn't tell you it would hurt if you sprayed it in your eyes. Well get out your God-damned brooms, because I declare shenanegans, because none of those above scenerios is true. You know who pulls that kind of horseshit? Little kids.
     And you are not little kids. You are a fucking retarded retard. If you aren't smart enough to know that your God-damned coffee is hot, then you deserve to be burned. In fact, you should have to wear a helmet shaped like a dunce hat at all times, day and night, 24/7, or like Boss Lady's daughter says, 24/9. That's even more time. We've gone ahead and added two more days of the week for you to be a fucking moron and wear your helmet around. If you don't know that the hot coffee you just ordered is hot, and you spill it on yourself on your way out of the drive-thru window, that's God's way of telling you that you probably SHOULDN'T BE DRIVING A FUCKING CAR. Is any of this registering?
     Seriously, we need to get out heads out of our collective asses and start taking responsibility for stuff. How our society is not teetering on the edge of dysfunction when it is filled with fucking stupid whine-ass bitches is beyond me. People do stupid thing. We do them all the time. I've done at least thirteen stupid things since lunch, and it's barely after breakfast. But you just admit that they are stupid and move on. Yesterday, I spilled tomato soup on my cream-colored shirt. Why? Because I am stupid for eating tomato soup while wearing a cream colored shirt when I know I am clumsy. It's not because Campbell's neglected to put a warning on the soup can that the product was red. It's not because the people who made the spoon didn't put a warning on the box that liquids may fall out of the spoon if it is tilted. That doesn't make any sense. They shouldn't have to warn me about that; I wouldn't read the fucking words on the box anyway. If I am too dumb to understand the dangers of eating tomato soup before I start eating it I probably shouldn't be eating tomato soup.
     That's a pretty good general rule, Company. One of two. Number one: If you don't understand the dangers of doing something, you shouldn't be doing it because you are too fucking dumb. Number two: If you get hurt doing something that you shouldn't have been doing because you are too fucking dumb to do it, then that's God's way of trying to thin you out of the herd. Here's the problem, folks, we can't expect everyone else to lead us around like little blind Helen Kellers and tell us every move and danger that might be in our way, okay? Parents can do that for little kids, that's okay. But you and I shouldn't have to do that for other adults. I shouldn't have to tell you that the fan blade will cut your finger off if you stick it in there. And there shouldn't have to be a sticker on the fan to remind you either. This is what should happen: if you are dumb enough to stick your thumb in the fan and get it chopped off, while you are writhing around in pain I should kick you in the sack and take all of your stuff, because you are too fucking inept to deserve to have any stuff.
     We have to stop being little kids, here Company. We have to start taking responsibility for ourselves, okay? So no more lawsuits every time something doesn't go our way. No more litigation because we got injured through our own ineptness. Just admit it and move on and learn your lesson, because, let's be honest, all the stickers in the world won't help some people; they will still have to get burned in order to learn that the fire is hot. And then you will probably sue the match maker. Just like the little kids we are.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

That Dick Amanda L-------

      Okay, here's the deal.  I like pie, I am not going to lie.  I speak in rhyme all of the time.  Anyway, the point here is that I like pie and my physique definitely shows it.  My favorites are the cream pies: Banana, coconut, chocolate, peanut butter.  Any of that stuff.  Those are almost always my first choice, but I have never been known to pass on a good fruit pie, such as apple, blueberry, strawberry, or even a mixed berry if I am feeling a little saucy.  But for all the choice I have in pie, and all the preferences I have, there is still one hard and fast rule regarding pie that I never, ever, EVER, would consider breaking: Always accept a pie made by Little Jeffy's mom.
     Oh my God.  That rule is as ingrained in my mind as "righty tighty, lefty loosy" or "i before e except after c," except that the pie rule has no exceptions.  Even if it was a strawberry rhubarb and I was allergic to rhubarb and scared of strawberries I would take it and eat it and enjoy my time in the hospital, and then enjoy my time in the loony bin after that.  Yeah, her pie is that good.  She inspired a pie rule, that alone should be a testament to its amazingness.  So when Little Jeffy told me that his mom had sent a pie for me with him on his trip to visit, I wet my pants.  Then I changed my pants and then I was just excited.
      One hitch though: She didn't send one pie, she sent two pies.  One for me and one for That Dick Amanda L-------.  That's fine.  I don't think That Dick Amanda L------- should be deprived of delicious pie.  And I didn't really have a problem with her getting the first choice is delicious pie, either.  I was happy with either raspberry or blueberry, so I figured that it would be alright if she got to pick.  That was, however, before I knew how devious and terrible she could be when it came to delicious pie.  Before I knew that she would throw me under the bus because SHE did not trust in the greatness of all of Little Jeffy's mom's pie.  SHE is not a true believer.  That's why she put a marshmallow in my pie.
     Yeah, that's right.  I know you put a marshmallow in my pie, Amanda.  I know all about it.  I used a coordinated regiment of torture and asking him about it find out what was going on.  So here's how it all went down:  I cut the delicious blueberry pie that I was awarded into eight slices with a knife.  Then, I began working my around the pie, as if I were playing Trivial Pursuit but in reverse, because I was eating the pieces of pie instead of answering questions to fill up the pieces of pie.  Duh.  I can't believe that I had to explain that to you, Company.  Please, try to pay attention.  So anyway, I was working my way through the pie, and I was ready to go ahead and have the next piece.  So I go into the fridge, pull out the tin, and peel off the cover.  And you know what I see?  My next victim in the delicious pie slaughter.  But it's not all blueberries and gelatin and light, flaky crust.  No, no it is not.  There is this strange, white mass tucked along the crust.
     So immediately, I begin to investigate.  It has a slightly bluish tint from all its contact with the surrounding blueberries, and I thought right off that it was congealed fat.  Yeah, because I am a high-grade moron I thought that somehow Little Jeffy's mom used SO MUCH LARD making the crust that a big chunk of it congealed right next to the edge of the pie.  After about six-tenths of a second of thinking this, however, I realized that I should be wearing a helmet at all times and continued to investigate farther.  What I discovered was a big chunk of tasty marshmallow.  It seemed out of place, but just like the number one rule of Fight Club is that we never talk about Fight Club, the number two rule of pie is that we never talk about how Little Jeffy's mom makes the pie.  Listen, her pie is fantastic, so who am I to question how she goes about making it so?  If she puts a marshmallow in there for whatever reason that's what she's got to do.  I am all for it.  I even thought that maybe she had a habit of leaving a trademark in all her masterpieces, kind of like those guys in Home Alone left the water running in the sink as their calling card during each burglary.  I briefly thought that might be behind the mysterious marshmallow and then went ahead and ate it anyway.  I mean, how could marshmallow make pie taste bad?  Not possible.  But it turns out that it wasn't any of those things that put that marshmallow there.  Nope, it was That Dick Amanda L-------.
     Apparently, That Dick Amanda L-------- couldn't decide between raspberry and blueberry.  True, it's a tough decision, I will admit that.  But that does not excuse her DIGGING INTO BOTH PIES TO TRY THEM!  Oh yeah.  She did that.  She fucking did that.  And it was premeditated.  Well guess what, that just added ten more years to your sentence.  If you had bumbled your way into it I might be able to give you some mercy, but you did it wantonly and on purpose.  That's terrible.  So here's the deal Amanda L-------, you have to make amends for this.  Reparations if that's what you want to call it, sort of like with the slaves and whatnot.  All I want in return for this egregious injustice that you have committed towards me is one of those home-made, blown-out egg Christmas ornaments.
     Isn't that simple?  Don't you feel that's fair, Company?  I think that, because she removed a portion of my great pie goodness and replaced it with marshmallow and covered it up so that I would not know.  That's terrible.  Think about it like Charles Barkley would say it and it would will be about seventeen times more terrible.  So anyway, it's simple.  One Christmas ornament made out of an egg, you know, where you poke a little hole in it and blow all the stuff out of the inside, then paint it up with a reindeer or a dog with reindeer horns like the one in The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (hint, hint) and get it to me somehow.  That's fair.  Because you deprived me of delicious pie.  Delicious pie that I would never turn down.  Come on, that's pie rule Number One.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Great Mystery

     A couple of days ago we talked about "The Tipping Point," that moment in time when major events begin like a snowball that rolls down a hill and becomes something big. Well, along those lines we are going to talk today about events and what happened at them. I sort of came to start thinking about this when I was watching a show on a beautiful but boring Saturday morning when there was nothing much on television.
     It was on The History Channel, which odds are that I would be watching at any given moment anyway, and it was about the disappearance of The Romanovs. Now, any of you who are history buffs probably already recognize the name and know a little bit about the story, but for those of you who are not allow me to explain a little bit of the back story.
     The Romanovs were the ruling family of Russia for a big chunk of history. Ever hear of the tsars? Well that was them. They were all powerful, extremely rich (some estimated their fortune at $30 billion, IN 1910 DOLLARS!, which would be roughly $660 billion in today's money, which I would have to say is a lot. Besides being rich and powerful the Romanovs were greatly revered throughout most of the country, except by the Communists. That being said, it's not terribly surprising that, when the Communists (aka the Reds) took over power in 1917 they executed all the members of the Royal family.
     Or did they? Many people, even to this day, harbor the belief that the Grand Duchess Anastasia, who was seventeen at the time, survived. A woman, who was later proved to be a Polish peasant girl, was the focus of a claim that she was really Anastasia for years. The search to the answer to this question led to a search for the bodies, which only raised more questions. Despite the use of the most modern of search methods and forensic testing, very few questions have been answered. There are even two grave sites that are celebrated outside Yekaterinburg in central Russia: one by Russian historians and one by the Russian Orthodox Church. I am not making this up people.
     Anyway, as I was watching the program, and it was getting into all the complexities of what exactly happened that night, what went down on July 17, 1918 in the 24x20 foot basement room of the Ipatiev House, I was struck by how many different theories there were and how fervently the believers of each stuck to their belief. The more I thought about it the more it sort of amazed and disheartened me, as a sort of historian, that we will never know exactly what happened that day.
     It's true. The only people who will know exactly what happened on that day in that place are those who were there. In this case, like in so many cases, half the witnesses are dead and the rest aren't talking. And when they are, since they are early Soviet officials and the subject is the ruthless murder of popular figures and the disposal of their remains, you can be sure it is a highly filtered version of events. They know exactly what happened that day, what was said and who did what, but the rest of us will never know. We can only speculate. We can never know exactly.
     Really. We can never know. We can dig up all the written accounts, and all the records that we want, even all the photos we can find, but we will never ever know. There have been more examples than I care to count of events where there have been multiple varying accounts of the same thing. Think about it. Pretend that a tent falls down at a beer tasting festival, and you are the police and you go out and start interviewing people about what happened. Every person you talk to is going to have a different version. Maybe this guy saw someone kicking the main pole in the middle of the tent. Maybe this woman saw a kid trip on one of the little guy wires that holds the place up. Maybe that guy over there felt a strong gust of wind. Everyone is going to have a similar story but there will always be details that never line up. And that bugs me.
     Let's look at another example. Let's talk about The Battle of Thermopylae, the one on which the movie 300 was based, in which a force of about 1400 Greek soldiers (including about 300 Spartan glory hogs, just kidding) forming the rear guard of a 7000 man army were overrun by a Persian force that modern estimates put at about 300,000. Wow. That's long odds, so of course they were killed. But they held out long enough to let the bulk of the army escape. The point here though, is that before that heroic last stand the full army held off the best that the Persians could throw at the Greek defenders FOR SEVEN DAYS! Yeah, that's right. A whole week. Wednesday to Wednesday. Included in this seven days of defiance were three days of actual fighting, and included in this three days of actual fighting was an attack by the Immortals, one of the most feared fighting sources in all of antiquity. And yet the Greeks withstood the assault. The thing is, that while we have pretty good records of the event, we can't know exactly what happened. In the first assault of the Persian infantry on the Greek phalanx only two or three Spartans (a.k.a. Greek army soldiers) were killed, according to the Greek historian Ctesias, which I would highly doubt was true. While the Greeks had the more favorable position, and the Persians were armed with wicker shields and shorter spears (bold strategy on their part, but it worked out for them because they ended up winning the battle) I still think that their overwhelming numbers would have taken down a few more Greek people. And no matter how good the CGI and reenactments are on TV these days, the only people who really know what went down, who were really the heroes and who cried and ran home to mommy, are those people who were there. The soldiers rotating through the battle. The Persian Kind Xerxes. They know. We can only guess, and only they know.
     And so on and so forth. Only Lee Harvey Oswald knows exactly what his roll in the JFK assassination was. And he's dead. Only the people on that Air France flight that crashed into the Atlantic off Brazil will ever know exactly what happened. Only the guy on the phone who I talked to this afternoon and I will know exactly what happened during that phone call. The advent of film and digital camera has made this problem a whole lot better in recent times, but even then the events that we see on tape are open to interpretation. And those tapes can still be altered.  And often there is no video camera around anyway.  So I guess the mystery will continue, which I suppose is part of the fun.  But I'd really like to know exactly what happened at exactly that time in exactly that place.  I want to know the answer to the great mystery.  Is that so much to ask?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day

     Today, is a very special and spectacular day today.  Because not only is it Father's Day, which is the day that we use to honor our fathers, but it is the official beginning of meteorological summer.  That means nothing to the bulk of you, I know, but I still think it's pretty sweet that Father's Day fell on such an important day.
     The first day of meteorological summer is important because it is the longest day of the year.  That's right, dirty dawgs.  You get more bang for your daylight buck on this particular day than on any other, as long as you live in the Northern Hemisphere.  If you live south of the equator you are getting screwed over today, I am sorry.  So I guess what I am saying is that you should go outside and enjoy all the daylight.  Soak up on the Vitamin D because it's going to be in short supply once February rolls around.  Okay?
     One of the things that you could do on this very special day is to spend some time with your dad.  If you don't like your dad, go spend some time with someone else's dad then.  I mean it is Father's Day and all.  And what a fantastic day for Father's Day to fall on.  Dad's generally love being outside and doing outside stuff, mainly because the moms are inside most of the time.  They love grilling, lawn care, fishing, hunting, all sorts of stuff.  Maybe combine the three: have your dad hunt something from the riding lawnmower then grill it up for dinner.  That would be fun for dad.  And one hell of a police report, I can tell you that.
     In any event, do something nice for dad today.  Call him up at least.  Because regardless of how your life has been, he was still an integral part of your being you.  even if he wasn't around so much he at least gave you half your genes, so either your blue eyes or blonde hair came from him.  So honor him in some way.  And Happy Father's Day to all you dads out there.  Enjoy your day!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Tipping Point

     Everything has a tipping point, Company, did you know that?  It's true.  If you really think about, if you can wrap your head around it, if you are high as a kite sitting in Forman's basement, then you will realize that every event in history has a tipping point.  Part of the reason a lot of people don't realize this is because we all live through thousands of tipping points in our lives.  Sometimes we understand that we are at that moment that, that point, that one solitary action that will irrevocably change the course of history, and sometimes we just sort of bumble our way into it.  But they are there: these little tipping points, because every historical event is like an ice cream cone.  No matter how big and wide they are as one goes back they all eventually narrow back to the one tiny moment or action that set them into motion.  Let me give you some examples if you are still confused, Company.
     Think about this scenerio: You go to the sink to get a glass of water.  You turn on the faucet and suddenly there is water spraying everywhere, and because you are not mechanically inclined and can't find the flashlight you call a plumber to fix the problem.  When the plumber comes and sticks his nose down under your sink he notes that something seems a little amiss with the pipes.  The copper pipes are rusting through and falling apart at all the joints and he knows that is not right.  Something is very wrong with your plumbing.  With a little further investigation he discovers that all throughout your home the plumbing is substandard.  He calls around to the proper authorities and soon they are discovering substandard plumbing, and electrical, and other construction material deficiencies in many, many houses in your subdivisions.  Soon it comes out that the general contractor who built the subdivision was deeply corrupt and was getting inferior materials and pocketing the difference, then paying off the inspectors to give the houses a clean bill of health.  Soon the legislature is enacting comprehensive building inspection reform and sweeping changes in the home building industry take place.  That's a pretty broad change affecting every house built in your state for ever into eternity.  Wow.  Notice how that worked: it all began with your drink of water and it expanded and expanded and expanded until it had blown up into full-fledged housing reform.  That's how it works.  Everything has to start with some act by some person, even if that wasn't the intended consequence of the act.  Sometimes, however, the act was very much intentional.
     Let us take a look now at World War II, more specifically D-Day.  That was a pretty big historical event, wouldn't you agree, Company?  Thousands of Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy and established a toehold in Europe from which to liberate the continent.  That was a huge coordinated movement of man and machine.  But it had to start somewhere.  I like to think of the captain of that very first ship who called for full steam ahead and turned out into the English Channel.  He knew exactly what he was doing.  And look what that simple action turned into.  Saving Private Ryan, that's what it turned into.  The cool thing is that when you doing something intentional like that, when you are ordering full steam ahead, when you are striking the first key on the typewriter to write the Watergate article, when you are preparing the first slide for the microscope to map the human genome, you don't realize what you are starting in motion.  You don't think of the big ramifications of making that order, of striking that key, of putting that slide into the microscope tray because you are so busy making sure the boat doesn't run aground, or typing word after word, or marking what you see through the lens.  It's only when you have a moment to digest and think, perhaps at lunch with a friend, or maybe when you are winding down at night with a glass of wine, if that's the kind of thing you do.
      See how it works?  Everything has to have something to set it in motion.  The slinky can't go down the stairs unless it starts at the top.  That's deal with EVERYTHING.  It has to start somewhere.  So just remember that as you get the glass of water, or as you blow that stop sign, or as you jump the fence at that Styx concert, that you never know what you are starting.  Are you thirsty still?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Chinese Democracy

Chinese Democracy is the name of the brand spanking new Guns n' Roses album that took like 13 years to make. It is also the name of this post. I named it after the album because I have always thought that was the coolest name on the planet, and I was seriously pissed when they hogged it for 13 years while they go their shit together and made their album. I also named this post after the album because it's about China. More specifically about how apparently China has something against Big Dave and Company.
Yeah, that's true. I just found out about that just now. I was reading an article from the BBC about China and their Internet firewall that they have put up. Literally, they have required that all sorts of companies that ship computers to China, and that means just about every company because, quite frankly, why wouldn't you want a piece of the Chinese computer market, to put a piece of specific firewall software from a specific Chinese software maker on their machines. That's fine. I am not going to go into the moral or ethical ramifications of that mandate, that's not my bag. And this is not the time or the place. Among the different sites that have been banned though, is blogspot, which for those of you who don't know is what all the free sites hosted by Blogger ends with. And Big Dave and Company is hosted by Blogger. So by extension, ipso facto, China has basically banned me from the over one billion people living there.
I don't understand why. I mean, I know that I would have to sift through 425 or so posts to be sure, but I don't know that I have really ever said anything bad about China or the Chinese. I mean, I am not railing against them or the way they do things. I like their food. And I am not talking about the Americanized version of their food that you find at every Chinese buffet around here, I am talking about the real version of what they eat in China, cooked by people from China to be just like they eat in China. I am no good with chopsticks but I still thought it was great. I am fascinated by the remote areas of Western China, which I know I shouldn't bring up because they are very politically sensitive areas of the country, but that's not why I am into them. I just think that they are about as exotic as a place can be when compared with where I live. So why do the leaders of the People's Republic of China have to dog me like that?
I guess I can understand the logic behind it. The Internet is a tricky thing to attempt to control, and a lot of the anti-Chinese sentiment on the web would be in the form of blogs, with people all around the world railing against the powers that be. So I understand why the powers that be would want that banned. Sure. Fine. But have they ever considered that maybe there were a bunch of pro-China blogs floating around out there. Like, maybe there were a bunch of Chinese expatriates yearning for the homeland pecking away at their keyboards? Did they ever stop to consider that business? I bet not. This is just like Civil War era medicine. See if you can follow me here, it's like they have hacked off a leg just to treat a bullet wound. Instead of going in and weeding out the bad parts, the infected and wounded parts, they have just cut off the blogosphere limb, taking off the good with the bad.
But whatever. I am over it. If that's how you want to be, China, then be that way. No skin off my back. They can still read what I have to say in Norway. They can still read what I have to say in Botswana. Fiji. Canada. Probably not North Korea. But just about everywhere else, and that is all that I need. The other five billion people in the world will keep me warm at night, even if China doesn't want to be part of that party. so go ahead and get your block on, China, you don't even know what you are missing. And neither do all the people using the Internet there, because they have ALL found ways to get around your firewall and see what they want to see anyway. How do you feel about that?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Children Are the New Luggage

     Continental Airlines has been struggling lately. I mean, most airlines are struggling financially, we all know this, but that is not what I am talking about. I mean struggling in the way that you and I struggle sometimes, like when you have one of those days when everything you do just breaks or goes wrong. Yeah, it's struggling in that way. Except it is having one of those weeks, but I figure that since it is a gigantic corporation and you and I are just individual citizens, them having one of those weeks would be roughly equivalent to us having one of those days. Agree?
      Anyway, they are struggling because they have taken losing your shit to a higher degree. Everyone has experienced it, or known someone who experienced it where you are in Denver for a convention but your luggage for some reason is in Maryland riding around a conveyor belt at BWI. No big deal. It happens, you call and bitch, and within a couple of days, usually the day before you are leaving and three days after the convention is over, a van pulls up to the hotel and your well traveled bags show up, just in time for you to check them to take home. That is just how it works.
     So that is the norm, but like I said Continental and their subsidiary, Continental Express, has taken things to another astonishing level: they are now losing your childern. Yep that's right, two times in the span of less than a week Continental employees managed to put children under the age of ten onto the wrong planes that took them to the wrong cities. Now that's a big mistake.
     The big problem here is that children flying alone is a relatively touchy subject, and generally the airlines are really good about it, especially since you know that the airlines must hate it. Think about it, an eight-year old is flying all alone on a big plane full of random people. Nightmare. But lots of parents allow it because all the kid has to do is sit on the plane then walk out the only direction there is to walk out and they are set. But first they have to get pointed down the jetway to the right plane. That's where Continental is having problems.
     In both instances spokespeople for Continental have blamed the fact that two planes were loading through the same door in the airport for their epic failure. In one instance an eight-year-old girl flew out of Houston and ended up in Fayetteville, AR instead of Charlotte, NC. Those two cities are far from one another, just in case you didn't know. She was on her way to see her father, who lives in Charlotte. When it is all said and done, she did not arrive there until around 10:30 pm, which I am sure is way past her bedtime. THE VERY NEXT DAY ten-year-old Miriam Kamens was put on a plane at Boston's Logan International Airport and was supposed to fly to Cleveland to see her grandparents. If that isn't bad enough punishment, she actually ended up in Newark, which is even worse. She arrived in Cleveland about four hours after she was supposed to. Needless to say all the parents and grandparents were very, very worried and concerned and probably freaking out, man, during this whole episode, which I guess is to be expected.
      Now, before we paint them as the total villain, let's look at Continental and their response to these incidents. First of all, they issued both public and private apologies to both families. Second, each family had paid an extra $75 unaccompanied minor fee, which has been refunded. Kamens' father says that the airline has offered to refund his daughters fare, fly her back to Boston first class, and refund the cost of the tickets her grandparents had to buy to fly back to Boston with her, so you know, she didn't get lost again. That, to me, at least today, sounds like a pretty apologetic company that is abhorred such an incident could happen. On a more jaded and bitter day I would probably accuse them of trying to shut the people up so that they didn't get all that bad PR. I guess you can decide that for yourselves. In an event, the parents of both children are calling for an overhaul of the system Continental uses for uaccompanied minors. Let's take a look at the system that they want overhauled so badly, shall we?
     What you get for your extra $75 fee is that parents have to provide contact information for their children when arranging for them to fly alone. That contact information is then given to the gate agent at the time the child is ready to board. That gate agent will escort the child down the jetway to the airplane door, where a flight attendent will seat them and make sure they are taken care of. Once the plane lands, the flight attendent is supposed to hand the child off to a gate agent or an escort to be taken back into the terminal. At both ends, the family are given dummy boarding passes so they can come right up to the gate with their kids. At each of Continental's three hubs, there are specified areas, called Young Traveler Clubs, which provide supervised entertainment and snacks for the kids during layovers. Now I am not sure about you, but that seems like a pretty good system to me. Obviously not foolproof but pretty comprehensive. I mean, short of making the kids wear a radio tracking collar like they were a tagged elk or something I don't know what more the airline could do.
     Well, there is one thing. How about hiring smarter employees. It seems to me that was the weak link here. If the gate agents had the contact paperwork with them when they were walking the child out into the jetway, then there is no excuse for them putting that child on the wrong plane. If they couldn't read that paperwork or didn't know which plane was which they should not have been working there. And if the flight attendent didn't take a look at that paperwork when they received custody of the child then they are at fault as well. News flash people: You don't have to rebuild the whole engine just because the water pump went bad. Just because one or two people screwed up and didn't do their job doesn't mean the system had a fatal flaw. Any system would fail if the people within such system aren't doing their job. So no Continental, don't revamp your little systems. If it's that bad, in words of Dr. J. "buy a second round trip ticket and fly the kid there yourself." True statement.
     So here is what we need to do: first of all, everyone settle down. Second of all, if you want your kids to fly somewhere, fly with them. Third, Continental needs to hire smarter people. Fourth, put down the lawyers. These things happen, we don't need a lawsuit, okay? Because you just said you didn't want money, you would only sue to force Continental to revamp their system so this didn't happen again, but when that lawsuit comes out you are going to ask for $3.4 million for damages and you are going to look like a dick because you also took their very generaous offer of refunding your money, etc. So let's just calm down and relax. This is an isolated incident that I am sure won't happen again. It had better not. You hear me Continental? You just stick to losing peoples bags from now on.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Juice is Loose

Well Compnay, today is a very special day. Very very special. So special that I went ahead and gave you two tasty blog posts today just so we could talk about it. Yet, it's not special enough so that I remembered it until I happened to read about it this morning. What today is, my friends, is June 17, the anniversary of the most ridiculous car chase in the history of man. And by that, I mean the O.J. Simpson case.

Ahh yes, the white Bronco, Al Cowlings, A.C., and the LAPD. Oh, and every media outlet known to man. A lot of people forget that they were a part of this thing too. It was really a startling event that I, unfortunately, was too young to fully understand at the time. I remember standing in the living room at my parents' house and leaning on the back of the recliner and watching the whole thing unfolding, but that's about all I remember. That being said, with hind sight being what it is (it's never 20/20, I firmly believe this; it might be something close to 20/20 but it is always a little skewed somehow, but that's for another day) and with a few years of age and wisdom and experience piled on top of the whole thing the whole incident amazes and confounds me even more. So let's talk about it.

First of all, and on a little bit of a strange note, I am a little surprised the O.J. Simpson was driving a relatively innocuous white Ford Bronco. I don't know. Maybe I am a little jaded by today's atheletes who have the most expensive vehicles one can buy, all of which are modified in some way, shape, or form, but I would have though that at least O.J. had the damn thing done up by a conversion company on the inside. But in all the blood photos and whatnot it looked like it was pretty much stock; like something you or I might be driving around. Blows my mind to this day.

The second thing that I always sort of notice about this whole thing is that this was not a chase, this was a parade. No one was really being chased, it was like a strange Quentin Tarrantino-style parade made up of a single white Bronco, about a dozen LAPD cars, and I think maybe Erik Estrada and John Baker were out there on their CHiPs motorcycles as well, and more media than you can shake a stick at. I mean, think about it like this: it met all the parade criteria. They closed off the road for it. There were civic institutions represented, a la the police department. There was extensive media coverage, which is normal for parades in big cities. And there were people lined up all along the street to watch it go by. Sounds an awful lot like a parade.

I think the thing that really bugs me about this, aside from the supposed police corruption and the death of two people while their kids are sleeping upstairs, was how much latitiude O.J. and his cronies were given regarding this whole thing. First of all, no one was ever charged in the whole chase. Seriously. And so many laws were broken. First of all, if O.J. ever pointed the gun at anyone, AC, the cops, out the window, that is a crime. All AC ever said was that he was pointing it at his own head. Second of all, evading an officer and resisting arrest is a crime. Both of those things are separate offenses. So, how come those were never heaped on there? I am thinking the Marcia Clark and that other guy, Chris Darden, kind of dropped the ball on that one. If I were them, which I am most admitedly not, I would have applied the Al Capone theory to this case: if you can't get Simpson for murder, get him for everything and anything else that you can. It's just another example of the extraordinary special treatment that O.J. got from the LAPD during this whole thing. Any other schmoe wouldn't have been able to strike a deal as to when they were going to turn themselves in, like O.J. did. Any other schmoe, had they struck that deal and then not shown up, like O.J. did, would have been hunted down. Any other schmoe, had they led the LAPD on a chase, like O.J. did, would have had spike strips laid down so fast it would have made your head spin. Or the police would have done some sort of manoeuver on them. No one in the general public, not you or I or your mother unless you are Gweneth Paltrow's kid, would receive the kind of slack and co-operation from the police that O.J. did. And I don't think that he would have gotten that out of Los Angeles, either.

And so it goes. That's all in the past; hard to believe that it is 15 years in the past already. 15 years and it becomes more of a farce with every passing day. The biggest trial of the century until the next one comes along. And certinaly stranger than fiction. I don't think that even the great crime novelists could have come up with something like that. So anyway, pull out your leather gloves, tell everyone that if it doesn't fit you must acquit, and have a good old time. Maybe you can lead the police on a 35 mph chase around the freeway.

Little Pink Houses

      Little Pink Houses.  That's a song by John Cougar.  Or John Mellencamp.  Or John Cougar Mellencamp.  Whatever his name is today.  But what about big pink houses?  Or how about one big pink house in particular?  That's what I want to talk about right now.  One particular pink house perched on a cliff above Lake Superior.  And what an interesting house it turns out to be.
     It's a big Victorian tucked on a quiet street in a neighborhood filled with big Victorians.  But this particular one stands out for a number of reasons.  First of all, it is not meticulously groomed and maintained like all the other houses on its block.  It looks a little shoddy and worn, almost like that sort of middle aged woman at the dance in the 1800s who has just lost her husband, and so she has pulled out her slightly tattered and faded pink dress because she hopes that she still just has enough left at 42 to get a second chance at romance.  That's the feeling I got the minute that I saw The Pink House for the first time.
      I could totally envision that woman standing on a widows walk and staring out at the lake on a gray and ominous day waiting for her sailor husband to return.  He, of course, is never going to return.  Anyway, that is the image I get and it turns out to be appropriate because there is a giant windows walk on top of the house, which is just one of the amazing architectural features.  There are towers and gables and dormers and a wrap around porch.  There is this funky stairway that runs up the back of the house to access an apartment that is on the third floor.
      Yep, the house has been partitioned into apartments.  Well, let's be fair.  At present there is only one apartment on the third floor; the rest of the house functions like a normal house.  But as you walk through you can see that it was partitioned into a bunch of apartments at one time.  And you can tell that a lot of people have added and subtracted and divided the place over time.  It kind of lends an air of awkward sadness to the poor house.  But as you sort of sift through all the changes that have been made: from giant house to many apartments and back to house with the one apartment, you start to notice some patterns.  Like there are similar moldings all around.  The doors look the same from area to area.  There is still some semblance of continuity all throughout the house because most of the original fixtures from the 1800s still survive.  It's a little bit of a miracle if you think about it.  Most of the time when those types of houses get partitioned up like that they lose all the original stuff.  It's sad.  But this one as survived and it just adds to the quirkiness and the charm.
     You might be wondering how I got to know so much about the ins and outs of this particular house.  You are probably curious as to how I know there was a giant cat painted on the wall in the creepy basement.  You are probably attempting how to reconcile the fact that I was all up in, on and around that house.  Well, that's easy.  It was for sale and there was an open house.  Oh yeah, and old fashioned open house.  None of that "Shown by Appointment" bullshit for this place.  They threw the doors open for all the public to see.  So Sister and I went and took the tour.  She has an eye for architecture and she loves pink, and I love historic houses so off we went.  We put on our best khakis and made it look like we were young entrepreneurs with three quarters of a million dollars to blow and took the tour.  It was really interesting and fun, I have to admit.  It was a fantastic house from the outside, but honestly the inside just sort of make me sad.  And while a lot of the original stuff was there it really would have taken a lot of work to bring it back to it's full glory.  
     In mind, however, that's part of the neatness.  I love the fact that everywhere in that house one found things that one wouldn't suspect.  A stairway here, an old apartment door there.  Here is an amazing molding in perfect shape, there is a rotted out board on the veranda.  Oh yeah, it had a veranda.  So I don't know.  But every time I pass a nice big Victorian, with the big veranda and colored glass in the big, single-pane front window, I can't help but think of The Pink House.  I think of it fondly for what it used to be, and what it could be, sort of like someone who was in love with that lady in pink way back when she was single the first time, before she got married the first time, and sort of feels a stirring of the embers way down deep inside.  I'm not sure I can explain it.  But I admit that I have a thing for The Pink House and I probably always will.  I guess that I will always be standing on the widows walk, waiting for The Pink House to return.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Puberty in Full Swing

     So Company, if you are old enough, do you remember going through puberty?  It's hell.  I mean, not like the terrible hell that is hoisted upon people when women are forced to go through The Change, but it's still not great.  Well, Big Dave and Company is going through a pretty intense puberty right now.  You may remember that it started right after our first anniversary, when we broke out in this nasty blog acne background that looked like a million billion Spree.  A lot of people liked it.  Even the Unpaid Interns liked it.  But I hated it.  And since I probably look at the old Big Dave and Company more times in one day than most people do in a fortnight, I win when I decide it needs to be changed.  And I am sure you will notice that it has been changed a lot lately.  Well, my friends, it's all part of the puberty.
     If you are older and can remember back, or if you are younger and care he find about what is in store, puberty is a nasty little thing that sneaks up on you very suddenly.  It's like, one day all the sudden there is a pimple on your forehead or chin and then all the sudden WHAM! your voice is changing and you have hair in places where you never had it before, and where you won't want to have it in the future, unless of course your significant other is into that kind of thing.  So think of it like that.  We got those nasty pimples a little while ago (the aforementioned Spree background) and now it is in full swing: we are changing every day and last night we had to ask dad to borrow his razor.  Oh, and we suddenly started noticing boobs. 
      It's not like we had a problem with the classic black background.  It was strong; solid.  It was classic and classy.  Sure it had a sweet color scheme with the colors and fonts and everything, but there were some complaints that it was time to change.  Plus, it WAS a little plain at times.  And so while it worked really well most of the time, it was just time for a change.  And who knows, after a little experimentation we might go right back to it.  The grass isn't always greener, Company, we've talked about that before.  But that doesn't mean that we can't look, right?  So please, please bear with us while we do a little construction and remodeling.  Or redecorating if you would rather think of it that way.  We might be blue for a while.  We might be red for a bit.  We might end up back on black somehow.  Eventually we will settle on something.  And we hope you like it.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The German Chicken Little

     Feel free to go ahead and freak out: run around screaming with your arms flailing, maybe loot a store or two, run down the street knocking down the displays of local businesses and street vendors, drive your vehicle down the street weaving from lane to lane with your head out the drivers side window screaming bloody murder, the whole nine yards. The reason that you should be doing this is because the sky is falling.
     Wait, what? The sky is falling? Like, that big blue and sometimes gray thing that is over top of our heads is not careening down upon it? Serious? No, not exactly. The sky is not falling on our heads, it is falling on our hands. Literally. Ask Gerrit Blank. He's a 14-year-old German boy who experienced this phenomenon first hand, please excuse the pun. He was on his way to school, just sort of minding his own business, when he was struck on the hand by a meteorite that was travelling at an estimated 30,000 miles per hour. 30,000 miles per hour.
     Okay, so now you should be skeptical. And who would blame you? 30,000 miles per hour? No. That doesn't happen. Everyone knows that if you stick your hand out the window of your white, windowless van as it is travelling at 75 miles per hour down the freeway and you get hit by a rock thrown up from the dump truck ahead of you it hurts like a bitch. And there is a pretty good chance that it will break the skin. And that thing is travelling WAY less than 75 mph because it's moving towards you at some speed so you have to subtract that speed from the 75 mph you are moving towards it to find the actual impact velocity which would require a supermicrocomputer or help from a college professor and I am so confused but I still know it hurts. Sorry, I got myself riled up there. The point here is that at 75 mph your skin can be broken and a strike would be painful, so now multiply that by the 400 times that it would take to get to 30,000 mph and I am surprised that it didn't go right through Gerrit's hand like a hot meteorite through a human hand. But no, that's not what happened. It bounced off. The red hot, pea-sized piece of space rock bounced off his hand like it was the JFK bullet or something.
     It DID leave a 3-inch long scar though. And a foot-wide crater in the ground, which are both odd measurements to me because this happened in Germany and they use the metric system there, so why was someone running around with a yard stick? Anyway, the meteorite was accompanied by a thunderous crash, as would be expected, and knocked young Gerrit flying, which I also sort of wonder about. Because I am me, and I watch too much TV, I sort of envision the young man flying off the frame led by his hand in a sort of very poorly edited cable show kind of way, which leads me to all sorts of questions about the laws of physics and how his being flung to the side of the road really worked.
     As you can see, no one seems to know exactly what happened here, and the whole deal seems to defy time and space, and that is no surprise because this is an extremely rare event. Usually these things sort of burn up or split apart in the atmosphere before they come crashing down upon us from the sky. The last time someone was struck by a meteorite was in 1954, when Ann Hodges was taking a nap on her couch down in Alabama and a 3 pound meteorite came bouncing through her living room. There have been other close calls, however. In 1992 Michelle Knapp's Chevy was destroyed by a meteorite. Two years later Spaniard Jose Martin had the same experience, except he was driving the car at the time and I doubt it was a Chevy. In 2004 fragments of a meteorite were collected by residents of a Chicago suburb after it exploded in the atmosphere above the city.
     So see? Chicken little really wasn't that far off. The sky really is falling. Or at least things are falling from the sky, as if the Earth were sitting under an oak tree and some cosmic squirrel was throwing acorns down upon us in an act of defiance. So now scientists and apparently the boys teacher are studying the thing, which must be tough if it is only the size of a pea. You take what you can guess, I suppose, and since 6 out of 7 meteorites that don't burn up in the sky land in water (which is probably why we never hear about them, because no one lives in the middle of the ocean except for Tom Hanks and Wilson, and they don't have a phone, and the crew of the Love Boat, who probably don't notice because they are too busy hitting on the cruise passengers, and the Deadliest Catch guys but they probably think the meteorites are snow or something so they probably don't even notice) the pickings are slim I guess. So commence your freak out, man. But try to keep it just a little toned down. I mean, yes, the sky is falling, but only a little at a time. And only in Germany as of right now. So I think we'll be okay.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Week Behind

     So, you've probably noticed the rapidly decreasing quality of my posts during the last week.  Now, normally I would blame it on the Unpaid Interns; I would infer that they are not doing good enough research or that they have been disturbing me while I work, whatever.  But I am feeling in a more judicious mood, more realistic, so I am going to blame it on Little Jeffy.
      Little Jeffy was here for the last week visiting the Worldwide Headquarters on his vacation, which has taken up most of my time.  This, I do not mind a bit.  I always enjoy a visit from Little Jeffy and I have to admit that I had an absolute blast over the last seven days or so.  I am not going to get into any details as to what exactly we did, as that will probably be in the papers and police reports of the days to come, but I will say that I was sad to see him go.  And he turned the opposite way that I would have turned if I were him, which confused me even more.
      While I always enjoy Little Jeffy's company, I am still skeptical of everything he does.  Like turning right when I would have gone left.  So I have to be skeptical about this last week.  Fist of all, despite his being on vacation, I was not, so I left him alone in my apartment for FIVE WHOLE DAYS while I was at the office, so I am sort of walking on eggshells wondering what booby traps he has set up.  It is actually a sort of double edged sword, because I am also looking to see what stuff he might have stole.  So I am going through everything which means I am going to hit booby trap after booby trap and prank after prank in places that I would never expect them.  So I have that to look forward to.
     I am also a little unnerved that he did not throw a single rock at me the whole week.  Little Jeffy has a long history of throwing rocks and stones at me in a variety of different situations.  And there were several prime situations for him to do that this week, but he didn't.  We went kayaking.  We went camping.  We walked through gravel parking lots and still, nothing.  I even threw a rock at him and nothing.  So I am running scared, which is probably what he wants.  I would not be surprised if this was a master psychological ploy to make me skittish and scared.  I would be supremely disappointed if this was a sign we were growing up.
      All kidding aside, I really did have a blast bumming around with Little Jeffy all week long, and at the bachelor party last weekend and with the girls in between. And now a sort of quiet after the storm has settled in.  Or maybe it's more like the eye of the hurricane, since my mom is coming up for a week starting Saturday.  So I've got a work week to get my act together and get prepared for that.  And I can't wait to do it all over again.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Arrrrgh!

     A couple of weeks ago, Company, you might remember how I Mike-a-licious and I were chasing a man in a Superman outfit around town.  Silly me, I thought this was an isolated incident, one crazy loon running about town in a ridiculous outfit for no reason.  But apparently not, because today while I was going to take the Miles Standish (my kayak) back to put it away I saw Superman again, although this time he was dressed as a pirate and waving a skull-and-crossbones flag.  
     Okay, there was a very good chance that he was not the same guy who wore the Superman outfit around.  He could have been Steve the Pirate from Dodgeball for all I knew.  What I did know, however, is that he was there.  And he was waving his flag at the passing traffic like he was a cheerleader at a football game or something.  And while it would be most likely that these were two isolated incidents that just happened to occur within two weeks, it makes for a much better story and much better entertainment if we assume that the two are related somehow and conveniently forget that there is a pirate ship themed attraction in town.
     So then, since we are assuming the Pirate and Superman are related I guess that my first question is how?  Who, what, where, why, how?  I choose to start with how.  It would be easy to think that the two are actually the same guy, maybe he is a costume designer or something.  But, to be honest, I hope not.  I sort of hope that they are like brothers or roommates or something.  I envision them sitting on a couch in their parents basement watching reruns of Who's the Boss? and thinking of what costumes they are going to wear.  Then I see them driving around in their 1980s Datsun and collecting the things they would need over a series of weeks: red tights, big feather, stainless steel hook, cape, etc.  Then they pick their days.  Day one Superman gets hosed because it's pouring outside, but day two the Pirate has great weather. 
     There are striking similarities to the cases that I just cannot ignore.  Both were just there unexpectedly out of the blue.  Both were only there for a short time: Mike-a-licious and I never found Superman and the Pirate was gone when I came back the other direction.  They were both dressed impeccably in perfect recreation.  And they were both bat shit crazy.  I can't wait to see what they come up with next.  I am sure that they will have their new outfits ready right around Independence Day so we cal all see them.  I am hoping for Shamu and the Statue of Liberty, but I doubt I will get it.  A guy can still hope though, can't he?

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Switch to DTV 2

     A pretty significant technological change is occurring today and it is happening with basically no fanfare, which is the exact opposite of how it went down when we made the first attempt, or had the soft opening in February as you retail types would say. I am talking, of course, about the big switch from an analog to a digital television signal, or DTV.
     The idea here is that instead of all sorts of waves bouncing around through the air there are going to be billions of tiny 0s and 1s that will allow you to watch ALF in the highest definition with the greatest clarity possible. "Great. Fantastic. I love watching ALF, and I desperately want to see every hair on his chinny chin chin. But what does that mean to me?" Well, what that means is that the giant old Zenith with the remote control that is attached with a cord that you inherited from your Great Aunt Harriet isn't going to do the trick for you anymore. Even if you hook it up to your old rabbit ears. You've got to have cable or satellite or a new TV with a digital tuner and a special UHF antenna, etc. But that's not the big deal. That's not what has me all riled up right now. What riles me up right now is how this whole deal, this whole switcheroo, went down.
     Here is the deal. We got this all backward. Years ago, well at least longer than one year ago, some suits in Washington D.C, who all have cable or satellite I BET, decided that the FCC needed the analog channels for broadcasting porn or Senate Jucidial Committee Confirmation hearings or maybe pictures of the FBI Ten Most Wanted or whatever they are going to do with it. So they thought that it would be a good idea for everyone in America who wants to watch The Price is Right in the morning to have to buy a converter box so they could still wonder where Bob was and who was this fat guy who was in his place instead?
     This was a terrible idea. And it showed just how little the folks in the Federal bureaucracy knew or cared about their constituency, because first of all most people can't figure out exactly how the stuff they already have hooked up works, let alone can figure out how to add another box. We need to be honest here, Company, the lions share of people who are still pulling in broadcast stations with their rooftop antenna were born before TV even came out, and all they really care about it watching Wheel of Fortune after the local news and seeing Regis and Kelly in the morning. Somewhere on a cart below their television sits an old VCR with the clock still blinking twelve o'clock and every time they have to move things around or something breaks they have to call their 8-year-old grandson Kevin. In reality, that is the bulk of the people who are still not hooked up to cable or satellite systems.
     Oh, and here's another thing. This switch to DTV actually made it HARDER to get a good picture. Oh yeah. Sure, once you could actually bother to get a digital signal turned it was great, but getting that to happen? Good luck. To pull in the digital signal you needed a UHF antenna, which no one had, and which once you had it wasn't as good at pulling in stations. So unless you lived rather close to where the signal originated from you were tough out of luck, meaning that it pretty much screwed everyone who lived in a far-flung rural area, of which there are a lot in this country in case you haven't noticed.
     It actually screwed them doubly, believe it or not, because they generally don't have cable television available to them, so they more than likely had to sign up for satellite, which deprives them of all things local, like local weather, local news, and local emergency warnings like for tornadoes or nuclear attack. So I guess that the people in the cities will still be okay, and that's all that matters, right? Because that is where there the money is, that is where the campaign donors are, and that's where the companies that make the electronics equipment are headquartered. Okay, I get it now.
      So anyway, my big problem with this whole deal is that we knew for years, FOR YEARS!, that this was coming. And sometime during the summer and fall the people who keep track of the calendar, so basically every mom in the country, started telling people that we'd better get ready. Quietly at first they just sort of mentioned it in passing, maybe at the dinner table while we were just getting up after dessert, or while we were riding in the car towards Aunt Ginny's for birthday dinner. By the time Thanksgiving rolled around it was being talked about openly by people in suits, and by New Years it was being screamed at us from the mountaintop by everyone every minute of the day. So not a single person, unless they were the Unibomber or something, can really seriously say they didn't hear something about it. So we, as a nation had no excuse whatsoever to not be ready when February 19, 2009 rolled around. None. We had been hearing about it for years. All the television stations were ready. So the fact that there was this deafening public outcry was unacceptable.
     But there was a din. There was this incredible outcry from the general public. The government gave everyone a free converter box so that we could watch TV (if you could get your hands on one) and still no one was ready. So...the powers that be, the same suits that really did not care, let us have until today. That was nice of them. However, most of the TV stations around the country had already switched their equipment, so it was a moot point anyway. And that's why today came around, when the final day, when the final deadline came around, we haven't heard a peep. Haven't heard a word. And so it goes. We are digital now, we are firmly ensconsed in the digital age. So get yourself straight and enjoy your television.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Boat Lift

Putting in the boat lift
Is never hard to do
With a little smarts and cunning
And a deft, good natured crew.

To slide from shore to lake,
From the heights into the deep.
With pull and groaning tug,
By foot, by foot we creep.

But first must come the dock,
Aged but sturdy yet.
Of steel and wood construction
Where water and land are met.

So now the two are set,
Ready to worship sun.
Mans use and love of nature,
Have officially begun.

And now for great reward,
Pizza with toppings high,
Ice cold beer and stories,
The time just flying by.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The Zack Attack

     Normally I would start this post out by saying "Well, Company, did you see that Zack Morris from Saved by the Bell was on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon last night?" but I am not going to start things out by saying the because I know you didn't see that.  Nobody saw that because no one even knows that Jimmy Fallon hosts Late Night let along watches it.  So I am going to start like this:
Well, Company, Zack Morris from Saved by the Bell was on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon last night.  Or the night before.  Or the other night.  I am not exactly sure, but it was sometime within the last week.  Now, I can hear you saying "Ummm...Zack Morris is a made up character from that show who was played by an actor named Mark-Paul Gosselaar who has had a relatively distinguished career acting in NYPD Blue and now Raising the Bar among other things."  That's true.  But Zack Morris was on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.  And I have the video proof to prove it.

Oh yeah, that just happened.  And you can't make it go away.  Anyway, I think that this is the coolest thing.  And I'm going to tell you why.
     First of all, it's pretty creative, especially for a late night talk show.  I know that during the Conan years Late Night was always a little off the wall, just like Conan, and now it is following the same path by playing to Jimmy's strong suits, but I still think it's a pretty cool thing they came up with.  Many of the shows like this wouldn't have the balls to do something like this, even at this late of an hour.  It's original and certainly unexpected, and that means it has a lot going for it.
      Part of the reason why it is so unexpected is because most actors and actresses who are in similar circumstances as Mark-Paul - successful child actor who went on to do other respectable things as an adult - aren't as cool and good-humored about it.  Most of them don't want to relive their cheesy kids stuff because they want you to talk about their turn on Broadway or the show they had on TBS.  They are slightly embarrassed by what they did back then and they want to get as far away from it as they can.  Think about it.  Nobody sees Tiffani Theissen coming around with a volleyball and a Bayside Tigers sweatshirt cut way down so just one shoulder shows.  Wild horses had to be used to drag Susan Dey back to the TV Land reunion for The Partridge Family.  I think that it is fantastic that Mark-Paul had the sense of humor and good nature to don the white high tops and pull off a pretty respectable Zack Morris all those years later.
     Oh yeah, I believe that.  He pulls off a pretty good Zack Morris.  I know that you are thinking that he should have because he is an actor, and actor who played that part for four magical years back in the early 1990s.  But it is still a pretty tough thing to take that mold twenty years later and fit yourself back into it.  He is a little stiff with it sometimes, but the dialogue isn't Saved by the Bell dialogue.  It's written by different writers.  So Mark-Paul didn't exactly have the best to work with.  But he did good.  He had just the right mix of sarcasm and love focused towards the part, making fun of it while gently nurturing it in his little hands, just like the giant Zack Morris cell phone that he pulls out.
     In the end it was just perfect.  And the best part is that I am not sure anyone else will do something like that again.  And that's okay.  It was great for what it was.  It worked for that time and place, and thankfully we live in an age of video so that everyone can see it.  So go watch it again.  Then Hulu some old episodes of Saved by the Bell and relive your days in middle school.  It's a blast.