Sunday, January 31, 2010

Back to the Grind

So Company, I don't know if you have realized this, because of my seamless mastery of the blogosphere, but I was away from the Worldwide Headquarters this weekend, off in the Great White North celebrating the 30th Birthday of one David Nathaniel. I am going to trot out some names here, as if name dropping these names is going to get me anywhere, but it was the first time in a long time that Little Jeffy, The Pharaoh, Nelbo, David Nathaniel, Cuddles, The Pool Shark and I have all been in the same room at the same time, not to mention Guy H. of Gordon, MI and all of the other assorted characters we associate with. Don't worry, the proper authorities were notified far enough in advance and all of our paperwork was in order so it's okay.
Anyway, we had a great weekend, at least I did. I am serious, I haven't had that much fun in a long, long time. There are stories, just like there always are when we all get together, but we best leave them to be told at a later, more appropriate time. The point it that it was great, and while I did not get a chance to see everyone that I would have liked to see, I had a great time seeing those whom I did. A long weekend of hanging out, coupled with a series of conveniently staggered goodbyes as we all head off to our respective corners, mixed with a birthday with a round number and a multiple-hour long car ride by oneself, and of course one gets a little bit reflective. So guess what? It's time to get reflective.
Somewhere along the way I heard a woman on television deliver a line from a script that said "Some people are meant to always be in your life, and some people are simply meant to pass through for a little bit." Wise words. Unfortunately, they hard words to stomach, especially when one is young. When you leave college, or maybe when you move away from your home town for the first time, you always have this grand idea that you need to keep in touch with everyone, that you need to make the rounds to see every person every time you are back, etc. etc. It sort of takes the forces of time and money and priority to wean one of that habit, as it was for me, but it never sat right with me until I heard that come out of my television speaker. And you know, it's true. That's the way it is. Some people are just made to come through and sort of have a cameo in the story of your life. I have had a lot of those people, both good and bad, come through in my days but I have been fortunate enough to have absolutely fantastic people as the major players in my drama.
Yes, it's true, I have been blessed with a lot of fantastic people in my life, and I couldn't be more grateful. A lot of people have said a lot of awfully nice things about me in my time, and I have to admit I don't think it would have been that way had I not been blessed with the caliber of individuals I have had and currently have in my life. I really mean it.
And it continues. I had such a great time over the last couple of days that I was not terribly excited about having to return to the Worldwide Headquarters and going back to work. I am not going to lie. But you know, once I got back and realized that I was blessed with just as many fantastic people here as I was there, it wasn't so bad. In fact, it's not bad at all. I am extremely lucky in the people who have turned out to be the "always in your life" type, and all in all I have been very lucky with the "pass through" type too for the most part. So thank you to whomever made that happen. And thanks to all of you Company, for being a part of the whole thing too.
So all is well as we head back to the daily grind after a weekend of fun and frolic. Look for some more good stuff this week from and the Big Dave and Company Podcast. Oh God, I've gone from pleasant reflection to shameless shilling of my product. That is awful. But I guess it means I am back into the grind, doesn't it?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Naming Rights 2

A long, long time ago, we talked about just how to go about giving people nicknames. That particular post was sort of directed at people that you don't like very much, but some of the things contained therein are valid for any nickname. And believe me, I know, because I give a lot of people a lot of nicknames. Like just about everyone that we talk about on this blog. One of the most universal rules of nicknaming, however, is that you never get to pick your own nickname, which is why I am always called Big Dave and not something more imaginative or exciting. I wouldn't pick Big Dave but that's what I have been given so that is what I am stuck with. That is why I am sort of disturbed, no, more like irate, about what a couple of big stars whose egos have grown way too big and think that they are way too important have gone ahead and done.
The first one to pull this stunt was Big Baby. He is also known as Glen Davis, and he is a professional basketball player with the Boston Celtics. Some time ago, when he was in college at the Louisiana State University I think, he was given the unfortunate nickname of Big Baby. Now yes, that is not the most desirable nickname to have, but in all fairness it is not the worst. It is, however, probably more disturbing for a man who has a bunch of tattoos and makes his living trying to physically dominate other men of a similar or larger size, so I guess I understand where he is coming from. But I have so many issues with how he went about his nickname issues. First of all, he didn't so much ask people to stop calling him that as he DEMANDED that they stop. That is not really how it works, Glen. It is okay to ask people to stop nicely; that is totally fine. "Listen, could you please stop calling me Big Baby? Because I really don't like that and I think I've outgrown it." "Sure Glen, no problem. I understand. I will certainly try but I am not going to lie, I might slip up a time or two out of habit before I remember, so please bear with me." That's how I would have responded had he asked me nicely. But no, he had to live up to his unwanted nickname. So if he would have just asked nicely that it be dropped it would have been and could have been and that would have been it.
But that wasn't good enough. He decided that he needed a new nickname, and that his eight or twelve Twitter followers send him some suggestions so he could take his pick. However, it didn't get that far. After Big Baby made his proclamation, Jeff Howe of The Boston Metro, who really needs to get out more, suggested "Uno Uno" to represent Davis' number 11 jersey number, sort of like the Ego Formerly Known As Chad Johnson did with his number 85. Apparently Big Baby liked this idea because it has been reported that he erupted in childish glee, so maybe we should call him Big Adolescent. The reason this makes me so ANGRY is because when you decide that you want to shed your old nickname, you don't get a new one, especially one that you pick. Sorry. That is not how it works. You get the nickname we give you, or you get nothing, especially if you are going to pick an awful nickname to boot. That's just how it works. You big baby.
Well, if that isn't bad enough, shortly after Big Baby made his decision, super snowboarder Shaun White, who mus be super because he has a video game made about him, decided that Davis was on to something and decided he wanted his nickname changed too. But he already had a nickname replacement in mind.
Because of his red hair, White was known as The Flying Tomato, which I think is a cool nickname. It is distinctive. It is appropriate. And it is as cool of a nickname as nicknames can generally be. There are a couple of downsides to it: 1.) It isn't really good for conversation. You can't be like "Flying Tomato, can you help me with this jam in the copier?" That doesn't work too well; and 2.) You have to have a sense of humor to have this nickname. That is where Shaun White apparently falls short. He said "Whoever was on the mic with some dead air to fill - and the name came out of his mouth." I am not sure what you mean by that, Flying Tomato, because I imagine that it went more like this: "Oh man, look at the air Shaun White is getting on this half pipe! He looks like a flying tomato out there!" And that was it.
So Shaun decided he was going to take the same route as Glen Davis, excuse me, Lame-o, Lame-o. Oh wait, I mean Uno Uno, I am sorry. Anyway, Shaun was going to follow the same route that what's his name did and demand that he not be called The Flying Tomato anymore. That is apparently not dignified for someone who has won medals in the X-Games. He has decided that he wants to be called "Animal." He claims that some one "uttered" it because of his supposed resemblance to Animal from the The Muppet Movie, but I think it's just because he is a douchebag and thinks it is cool. And it's not cool because you picked it out yourself. You can't do that. You can't ditch your old nickname and give yourself a new one. I thought we already talked about this.
So I am not going to call Glen Davis "Uno Uno" and I am not going to call Shaun White "Animal." I might be willing to compromise and call them by their regular names - you know, Glen Davis and Shaun White - if they ask nicely or do something cool, but I most likely will just call them whatever I want. Like Frick and Frack. Or maybe Bald Wazoo and The Great White Disappointment. But I think I'd rather just stick with Big Baby and The Flying Tomato.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Toyota Has the Pinto Problem

So, Toyota has stopped making cars, at least in the United States and much of Europe, and I am surprised that more people aren't up in arms.
This just doesn't happen, Company. The last time I think that a major world automotive company just up and stopped making cars was probably during World War Two when they all tooled all over to war production. I, as usual, and not going to even attempt to verify that is true, but I did put that "I think" in there to cover myself. And of course I do not count the major auto manufacturers that ceased to be, the Hudsons and Oldsmobiles of the world.
The reason why Toyota has stopped its production is because they are having problems with their gas pedals, or their accelerators if you'd rather call them that. And this is not the first time that they have had troubles with that. Not too long ago they were replacing floor mats in a bunch of their models because the accelerator pedal would get caught on them, causing, well, accidents. I mean, that's what you get when your accelerator goes out of control. As I remember that recall was punctuated by a family calling 911 and screaming as they Lexus (which is made by Toyota) revved out of control and killed them all in a vicious crash on a California freeway. Not so good. Toyota, though, was able to fix things and make their cars safe again, or so they thought.
Here they are again, though, plagued by accelerator demons. This time, they have discovered that wear and tear on a certain part of the accelerator can cause problems with the pedal itself, making it hard to depress, causing it to return slow once depressed, or shockingly causing it to get stuck wide open. That is not good. Toyota has said that there have been no instances of this problem causing any accidents, which is good, but they have taken some extraordinary steps. They have issued a recall to fix the problem on literally millions and millions of cars, trucks, and SUV's. But they've gone farther than that, at the behest of the United States Department of Transportation, and stopped selling their cars, both new and used. And they've stopped making new cars until they can get new parts that won't potentially kill people who are using them properly.
As one could imagine, this is a terrible blow for Toyota. First of all, it is coming on the heels of the worst year in automotive sales history, so stopping the gravy train is not exactly ideal. But beyond that, this is really a gigantic chink in the whole Toyota reliability and safety deal. People buy Toyotas because while they are bland they are so technically good, they are (or were) safe, and they last forever. In a Toyota it is reasonable to expect that the sheet metal will melt away long before the engine fails. But that doesn't really matter when your Toyota crashes into a bridge abutment because the accelerator wouldn't rebound from being floored to enter the freeway.
GM has pounced, because that is what they need. They are offering special deals on financing if you trade in your Toyota on a GM model, that of course being if you can find a GM division that hasn't been "wound down" recently, which is a good idea but you know, I can't imagine that a lot of people are going to trade in their Corollas on a Cobalt, or at least not more than would have anyway. But it's a nice try, and I suppose they need all the help they can get. No one else is jumping on this though, so basically it comes out with GM looking desperate. Which I suppose they are.
Listen, here is the deal with this. This is bad. And it's big. SUPER BIG. Because nothing like this has really ever happened before if you think about it. Never has the government told a manufacturer to stop manufacturing and get their house in order. Never has this many cars been effected. And never has Toyota taken a hit like this. I mean, this is like in Ford Pinto or Chevy Corvair territory when it comes to a hit on the credibility. And I'd expect if from those two, but not Toyota. Maybe it's time to buy a Honda.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

We Have Too Many Channels on TV

Well boys and girls, I have a little bit of a message for those of you who are in the film and television industry, especially those who are aspiring filmmakers. Like, if you are in Hollywood waiting tables and leaving your script with every receptionist you can find or maybe you are dreaming of being behind the camera telling people what to do. You guys. Let me tell you something. You are a failure if you haven't made a movie yet because it's so easy even a chimpanzee can do it.
Wait, what? What do you mean by that? Please explain that to me. Gladly. It was released recently that one of my favorite organizations, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is going to air a documentary completely filmed by chimpanzees. It is, as one would expect, the first film of its kind. So the monkeys have made a film, and you haven't yet. Sucks to be you.
The documentary actually stems from the work of a Ms. Betsy Herrelko who is pursuing a PhD in primate behavior (you can get a doctorate in that?). She aims to discover how chimps perceive the world and one another. Sadly, I am sure she has a received a grant to do this work, and I wonder why. I can't imagine this will help humanity or the world in many ways. Hey, don't spend that money trying to cure cancer or anything folks.
Anyway, Ms. Herrelko spent 18 months training 11 chimpanzees who were holed up in an enclosure at the Edinburgh Zoo to use technology that my mom can't even use. First she started them with touch screens that allowed them to watch videos, which by the way is a technology that I can't even dream of having in my own home, and surprisingly none of them really cared. In fact, they seemed to be more interested in one another, which is strange seeing as how they are chimpanzees. Did you sense the sarcasm there, company? I hope so because I am laying it on pretty thickly right now. In time though, apparently they started to get it, and eventually Betsy rolled out the cameras. And she taught them that if they pointed the camera at something it would show up on the screen. Then it was on.
Some kind of movie came out, but I can't really vouch for what. It showed yesterday on BBC Two as part of the Natural World program called "Chimpcam." How original. It is said that the chimps, while actively using the camera, they most likely did not understand that they were making a movie and that they likely did not film any particular subjects. Of course not. Because they are chimpanzees. I know they can use simple tools but I don't think anyone expects them to use a Handycam.
By the time you are reading this "Chimpcam" will have aired like 18 hours ago, so I am sure it will be available for viewing on the BBC website or on YouTube or on English YouTube or something, so you can probably check it out if you really want to. Like, if you really like chimpanzees or something. Or perhaps you just like really shaky, poorly focused and centered video that spends most of its time looking at the ground. But in that case all you really need to do it raid any video collection in America or watch the CW.
So I am not sure how I feel about this. Trust me, I believe that it is a colossal waste of money that is for sure, because I can't see where there is a lot of use that comes from finding out what chimpanzees are looking at, but whatever. I also wonder why the BBC would spend time on BBC Two airing that when they could be showing Top Gear, but that I suppose is why I am not a television executive. All I know is that if we are showing shows that monkey's have made, we probably have way too many channels on TV.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The 1/Spare

Here are some random thoughts from my Tuesday, many of which honestly come from bowling:

1.) I have gotten a spare the hard way. That's when you get no pins down on your first ball, and then get all of them on your second. I have gotten a 2/spare, which is when you get two on your first ball and then the rest on your second. I have gotten a 3/spare, 4/spare, and all the way on up. But I have never gotten a 1/spare. Never. It has become like the great white whale for us. Tonight, I had FOUR opportunities to pick up a 1/spare, including three chanced in a row. I picked up none of them. I think that picking up a 1/spare on the tenth frame and then getting a strike with your extra ball is like the most magical bowling thing that can be done during a bowling game.

2.) If you were a girl, why would you take all the time and effort to do your hair, put on a nice shirt that shows your form but not too much cleavage, put some make up on, and then complete the look with sweatpants? I don't understand that. I mean, that is like those news anchors that wear a business suit on top and jeans down underneath. It just doesn't make sense to me. If you are going to take all the time and effort to do up your top, you might as well just put some jeans on the bottom and at least you look right.

3.) Why is gas $2.79 in my town and $2.63 in the town ten miles away? That doesn't make much sense to me, especially since it is all delivered by the same truck I am pretty sure.

4.) I have lived in this town for a winter and a half now, and I still don't understand how this place goes about plowing its roads. Three days ago it was sort of raining and warm, and all the snow that was on the roads was slushy and ripe to be pushed away. So what the powers that be decided to do, in their wisdom, was wait until it all froze and a light dusting fell on top of that, then came to clear the road that goes by the courthouse at 7:55 am, which is five minutes before half of the courthouse employees start work and 25 minutes past when the other half do, so the street was filled with cars. Smooth move boys, that was a really effective way to clear the streets while still allowing them to be filled with snow and ice.

5.) I miss the library, especially the college library late at night. There is sort of something about having a big table or secluded corner to oneself in a completely quiet and almost empty library that is just filled with still air and that sort of musty book smell. God do I miss. Especially when you pack up and make your way out into the dark, with the snow falling so gently in front of the streetlights. It's really a charming scene and I need to find a way to get back to that, if only for the one time.

6.) Does anyone actually use their blender anymore? I mean, everyone has one but really, does anyone really, actively, use it?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

That is Priceless

Company, can we talk about That is Priceless? Great. Now, I follow a lot of blogs as part of my daily existence, mostly because they are entertaining but a little bit because it gives me loads of research and ideas regarding things that I could do here on Big Dave and Company. Blogs like Enter the Man Cave. And I will be honest, a lot of these blogs I discover while I am obsessively checking Blogger's "Blogs of Note" so see if they have yet woken up and realized that I am great and deserve to be a Blog of Note (they haven't, but that's for a different day). Well, That is Priceless is one of those that I discovered while surfing the Bogs of Note and I have to tell you, it's fantastic.
Now, I follow a lot of these other ones, and I read religiously when they update things, but there aren't a whole lot that I excitedly check to see what they have to offer today. I am sorry, that's just the way it is folks. Well, That is Priceless is one of those that my tail starts wagging when I think about what they might have for me today. Allow me to explain, please.
That is Priceless is a blog on which they take a historical masterpiece of art from whenever, usually the 1600s or 1700s or 1800s and they give it a more, appropriate title for today's world. Like, they take a look at the painting and think "Man, what does it look like that guy or gal is doing?" And that is the new title they give it. The answers that come out include things like "Cinderella Silently Cursing Her Temp Agency" and "Aphrodite Using Her 9 Iron Out of A Water Hazard." HILARIOUS! Well, maybe not so much here. I guess you've got to be there.
You really need to go check this out. You have to be looking at the painting and reading the caption all together to get the full effect of That is Priceless. I just can't get enough. There are like 105 posts, give or take, and they do a new one every day, just like I am supposed to but never do. So there is a lot of stuff to look at but I still find myself wanting more and more and more. So go look at it, and you will love it just as much. Maybe, but I hope so. But go look at it because, hey, it's worth a look.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Free Writing With Garrison Keillor

There is a pretty neat website out there called "One Minute Writer" in which they provide a timer and an idea and then you are supposed to start the timer and then write about the topic for that one minute, after which you submit it to the website and they put it up. I always thought that was a pretty good idea, a neat sort of exercise for the mind, and so I have decided to do that with a decidedly Big Dave and Company feel. What I have done is started an episode of "The News from Lake Wobegon" by Garrison Keillor, and it is listed as being about 14 minutes and change long, so what I am doing is giving you a free write for the duration of that podcast, with poor grammar, no real direction, and paragraphs. It is sort of hard to do, because right now I am actually feeling a sort of adrenaline pumping through me as if I get points for length in this exercise, which I don't, so I don't know what my problem is. My problem is, actually, that with me trying in vein to type really fast and get as much volume as I can into this post I am making my normal amount of errors times two, so I continue to have to go back and fix and erase and whatnot, and I just sort of end up losing ground. But I just checked and I am about four minutes into this ordeal, and so I have a lot of time and so I am starting to calm down and get into a groove. That's not true. I just said that to make all of us feel better, whether or not it worked. I am always trying to make things better for people, so that we all might live a little bit of a better life. I figure that is the best way to make a difference in this world, don't you think? I can tell you another problem that I am having: this episode of "The News From Lake Wobegon" is pretty funny and it is very much distracting me because I am trying to listen to it at the same time that I am trying to string together coherent thoughts and sentences for you and you know what? It's not working particularly well. Another problem? It turns out that I am just a little more prolific than I realized that I was, so now we are about halfway though the podcast and this post is getting longer than I every dreamed that it was going to be. And I am also running out of things to say, which normally isn't such a big deal because I can just end it, but in this timed sort of exercise I have to keep going, and I am getting that feeling like you get on a date that isn't going great, where just feel like you need to keep making conversation because you just sort of have to, but it is never quite right. I mean, what do you say? What can I say that is going to keep you interested; keep you from switching over to another blog or YouTube or something? I am not sure that I have enough time to tell a story, to weave a tale, that you would like. And to be honest I am not good at doing that anyway. I have trouble writing fiction for the most part, which is why I stick to things like news and events, but here I am wading through a swamp of Garrison Keillor trying to keep my post high and dry, and none of it is coming together particularly well. I am starting to regret not only doing this post in this way, but also my choice of the 14 minute podcast. I should have gone with the 8 minute version and I would have been done by now. Way done, like five minutes ago. But I am not; I solder on towards a merciful end. And apparently I start blogging like a self-indulged douchebag in the process. We need to put a stop to that right quick. I apologize. Anyway, Garrison has just faked me out by coming to a point that I had hoped was the end of his story, but it was not. Not at all. He is like the damn Energizer bunny, although if you had every heard him speak and do his think you would know that he is the strangest of all Energizer bunnies with his slow cadence and mellow voice. But he has just said the magic words, and he is finished with his work for the day. And so am I. Thanks for reading along with my little experiment. I appreciate it.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Mystery of the Arby's

So company, let's talk about Arby's, shall we? And yes, I am talking about the fast food chain. I have spent roughly equal parts of my life living in a place WITH an Arby's, and WITHOUT an Arbys. The reason that I note this is because I have been able to be on both sides of the proverbial coin when it comes to this enigmatic and mysterious franchise. I say it's enigmatic and mysterious because Arby's seems to have this strange effect on people.
First of all, let me explain the sort of magic of Arby's for those of you who are not familiar. Arby's doesn't do burgers, they do roast beef sandwiches and chicken. A lot of people get caught up in the roast beef business and forget about their awesome chicken sandwiches. Also, they have awesome curly fries that come with your stuff. Delicious. I like the chicken salad sandwich on soft wheat bread, beef and cheddars of course, and their chicken, bacon, and swiss sandwich on which they put some sort of good honey mustard sauce. They are also known for their choices in condiment: Arby's sauce (a sort of BBQ sauce) or Horsey Sauce (horseradish sauce). All in all it is just a neat and unique change from the usual fast food business.
But there is something about the Arby's, and I never really noticed it until I moved to a place where there isn't an Arby's available. See, when it was readily available I never gave it a second thought. Even though it was right across town, we never said "Hey! Let's go to Arby's for lunch" and then hopped in the car and went. I never even went there when I was already on that side of town. Never. But then, almost as if there was a GPS tracking device implanted within my brain, when I moved away from Arby's, to a town that was hundreds of miles away from the nearest one, it's like I suddenly longed for a beef and cheddar. What's with that?
The trend continues now that I live in a town that is 25 miles away from the nearest one. In fact, there is one 25 minutes one way, 25 minutes another direction, and another one about an hour in a third direction. But still the results are the same: I want it bad. This, at first does not seem all that strange, right? We always want what we can't have or so it seems. But it gets a little stranger.
On the occasions when I am in a town with an Arby's and it is time for lunch, or it is time for dinner, or maybe when I am traveling and looking for a bite to eat right quick, I very rarely choose Arby's. I might be going right past it on my way to and fro, or it might be right at my exit from the freeway, but no. I just don't understand it.
Arby's is sort of like that one particular girl that you always sort of want around, that you miss when she is not around, that you are a little bit infatuated with, but then when it comes right down to it you don't really want to date her. Like, you make sure you situate yourself at the party so you can see what she's doing, but then when she comes over and asks you out you are like "Well...I don't know. I am just not so sure." That's Arby's, and it's not just for me. I have seen it in all my friends. We pine for it, we talk about it, we drool over the thought of beef and horsey sauce on our tongues, but then none of us are willing to do anything to obtain it. We could be at the doctor right next to the Arby's and we would just wander blindly past.
So I don't get it. I am confused, scared, and a little hungry. Mostly for Arby's since I have been talking about it at length here. But am I going to do anything to procure any? No, no I am not. You knew that. It's not my fault, it's just the mystery of the Arby's.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Building Castles in the Sand

Every once in a while I get idea in my head that I am going to sit down at my computer, crack my knuckles by joining my fingers together and pushing my hands outward in a sort of inside-out way like a pianist sitting down to begin the big recital, and then I am going to write a blog post based on nothing more than a phrase that is stuck in my head. Sometimes it's like, okay, I have the phrase in my brain but there is some sort of concept backing it, and sometimes it is much less substantial, and that phrase is just there and I end up trying to write a blog post based basically on the title. So when I got the phrase "building castles in the sand" in my head completely out of nowhere I sort of knew that was what I was going to end up doing. Great.
Soooo...where do we go from here? I mean, I am sure that I could get into the whole meaning behind that colloquialism and get into whatever that means, but that seems to me like a lot of work. I toyed with the idea of calling it that and then finding a current, ongoing, real-world situation that fit the bill but then I decided that was like, well, just a little bit too predictable, at least from me. You would totally expect that to come from my mouth, or fingers as it were.
Well, I can't just talk about actually building sand castles, can I? I can't talk about going down to the beach in Florida or Cape Cod with my little plastic shovel and bucket in my onesie and building a nice castle with some turrets, walls, a moat, and maybe a drawbridge if I can find some sticks or something. I can't just drone on and on about that, can I? I mean, I suppose I could get a little deeper into it, give more detail, talk about the waves crashing lazily on the shore, the people wandering by as they stroll the beach, and all the while me not noticing any of it because I am transfixed on my work. I would describe it as being similar to a sculptor practicing his art in the middle of a busy city plaza as the people and noise and traffic whizzed by his as he was oblivious to it all. I could do that.
Oooh, oooh! I could ramp it up a notch and like introduce a bully, or some little bastard kids who stomp my sand castle while I am going to get some lemonade. Or maybe a flock of smokin' hot babes walks by and totally starts laughing at me because I am such a sand castle maestro, which really equates to dorky nerd. That would be a neat although rather expected twist. And the hot hotties show up much better in my mind than they would through my words I assure you. So maybe not so much with that. I could get all emo as I stand back and watch the tide come in and slowly eat away at and completely destroy my day's work. Hey! I could turn it into some kind of social commentary where I have to come back the next day and build it all again, go through all the pleasure and pain once again just to see it all washed away while I stand there helpless. That would be great, and the literary types would be SO into it. It would work nicely with the title, wouldn't it?
Yes, yes, that would work nicely. And I might even win an award, although I would feel awfully pretentious. For some reason I would rather be one of those people who just wrote about something random and then a million billion people read way too much into it and then I could sit in interviews and say "No, it's really just about sand castles." and no one would believe me than to be the dillhole sitting there going "Yeah, well really I tried to pack it with symbolism about the struggle within working class parents who have trouble combining the restraints of being part of the workforce and limitation of being a parent." Yeah, that's just not me. So I guess I can't do that in order to write my post about building castles in the sand.
But what if I just write the whole thing about how to go about writing the whole thing? Wouldn't that be genius? I mean, you would never see it coming until you were knee deep in the whole thing. Company, I think that's fantastic. I understand that I have totally pulled this trick before, but I am willing to bet that you don't remember that. I love this idea. It's sneaky, it's not terribly hard, it's just happened. Great. We will go with that, and I think we have a winner in it's own little sort of way. I will tell you this though, I've gotta stop trying to write posts based on titles.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Paparazzi for the Common Man

Some time ago, the good people at Google had an epiphany. Someone sitting in a cubicle in California was looking at a Google map of some city somewhere and thought it would be amazing if they could see what that neighborhood looked like, even though they weren't there and probably never would be. So they went ahead and started paying people to drive around with these goofy, wide lens 4-way cameras on top of their cars taking pictures as they go. They then loaded these pictures onto what I imagine is the largest server known to man and the called it Google Street View. And I have to admit that it's brilliant and totally addictive. It is also mind bogglingly amazing that we have the technology and ability to do that. It really is.
This plan, however, is not without controversy. In a neighborhood in England residents actually mobbed the car taking photos for Google Street View because they didn't want their neighborhood shown in pictures for the world. And the military authorities around the world, of course, have taken exception with this plan as well. So there are areas of the world that are not represented and never will be, which is fine. But there is also the issue of I would assume hundreds of thousands of people who are caught in these photos without their knowledge or consent. Like the woman I saw when looking at the Pharaoh's neighborhood; she was not at her best that day. I doubt that she will ever see herself because who is going to pick that random intersection in that particular city, right? But what about people who were caught by the Google cameras while they were standing in front of their own homes. People like me.
Wait, what? Come again? It's true. I happened to be standing outside of the former Worldwide Headquarters, totally scrubbed out on my day off, at the exact moment that the Google camera car went cruising by clicking away. And, as an added bonus, I was looking directly at the car as it went by. And I don't look happy. AWESOME!
I am not going to tell you the magic address and coordinates for you to see the picture because, quite frankly, I don't really want you to see it. If you know where to look, well then you've probably already seen me in all my gray-sweatshirt-and-black-gym-shorts glory, so it's okay. If you manage to look down every street in every town until you find the right one, well then that's fine too and I suppose you deserve to see the photo in question. I am not going to call up Google and complain or lawyer up to get the picture taken down, it's okay.
The odds of getting caught in one of these pictures has to be astronomical. An exhaustive search of the Internet came up dry. I wrote to a gaggle of mathematics professors from all around the world and they couldn't figure it out. Six of them had heart attacks in the attempt. Four of them went bonkers. The problem broke a giant supercomputer at Stanford, all of the NASA computer, and the biggest abacus at Beijing University. I would guess it would be on par with winning the lottery, getting struck by lightening, or Mary Steenbergen sitting next to me at the movies. But I managed to get caught, and so did Jimmy James, standing outside his house when the car went by. And so did the crazy lady in the Pharaoh's neighborhood, so maybe the odds aren't so bad after all.
It's crazy anyway. Since I am such a media mogul I am just going to act like it was the paparazzi that got a hold of me. Oh well. No harm no foul. In the end it's kind of cool, because the only people who are going to look at that particular address are going to be people who probably knew me, so maybe it will bring a smile to their face. Or maybe they won't notice at all. Either way, one can't deny the fact. I am on Google Street View.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Requiem for Responsibilty

So...somewhere along the way, the inability to control our impulses and wanting stuff a lot became a mental illness. Did you know that? I just found out about that just now. If that's true then someone had better get me a helmet with some nice pictures of rubber duckies on it because I want A LOT of stuff so I must be bat-shit crazy.
It didn't really start with Tiger Woods, but he has totally perpetuated this insanity, please excuse the pun. For those of you who don't know, Tiger Woods, the best golfer in the world in most people's opinion, married a smoking hot blonde, but decided that wasn't enough so he started banging, on the side, like thirty cocktail waitresses, gas station attendants, golf cart drink girls, account executives, casino patrons, etc. etc. Basically anyone that he could get his hands on as long as it was a chick. So he ran his SUV into a fire hydrant and then it all unraveled and all of the sudden he is in a treatment center somewhere getting help for his "sex addiction." I call bullshit or shenanigans or whatever else I can call. Because wanting to get laid a lot is not a mental condition, okay? Wanting to get a lot of action is called being human. If you are a boy, way down deep inside your brain there is a little nugget of neanderthal natural instinct that screams "spread your seed to as many places as you can young man. Go forth and multiply over and over and over." and I am not going to lie, that is a hard little voice to ignore. Listening to it and allowing it to destroy your marriage does not mean that you have a problem or a compulsion or an illness. It just means you don't have a lot of self control. Unfortunately there are doctors out there who are willing to declare people cheating as a mental problem. I suppose that's thinking outside of the box. Or about it. Sorry, I couldn't help myself.
In a strange sort of way, what Tiger was out doing was acquiring things: notches on his bedpost, STD's, panties, whatever, so I suppose that if he has an addiction and a mental problem, it is not too hard to imagine that the same applies to Sujata Sachdeva. She was the Milwaukee-area business executive who spent amounts of money that are unfathomable to me on clothes, shoes, and clothing accessories. At this point the tally is up to $31 million that she skimmed off the top of the Koss Corp earnings over the course of six years, mostly to support a shopping habit, but also for things like vacations, cars, and remodeling her home. It was so bad that when federal agents raided a rented office space she had, they found 461 boxes of shoes, 34 fur coats (I can hear PETA running this direction as we speak), and 65 racks of clothing, many of which still had the price tags attached. Some of those price tags had numbers like $20,000 on them. I paid half that for my car.
It was recently released that the attorney representing Sue, as she is known, against the six federal charges of wire fraud that are pending against her "intend[s] to show that mental health issues played a substantial role in Ms. Sachdeva's conduct." I don't think so. I understand that there are some people out there who obsessively hoard things, but I can't imagine that would be the case here. If the federal agents who raided Sachdeva's home had found stacks of old newspapers, boxes of used staples, thirteen old bird cages, and a box filled with old car keys then maybe I could see it. But skimming off the top of your company's profits in order to go somewhere warm in the winter, or to remodel your house, or to buy a Mercedes, that's not a mental illness, okay? That's criminal behavior. And that's greed. Over the course of two weeks in September 2009, Sachdeva transferred $1.6 million via wire transfer from Koss to herself or her creditors. That is staggeringly close the the $2 million in profits that Koss reported for the ENTIRE YEAR in 2009. I believe that was an "unusual behavior," which is another term the attorney used, but I don't believe it is mental illness. No way, no how. The only mental illness is in the people who believe that jazz. But then again, I am not getting paid ungodly sums of money an hour to defend this woman who is so obviously guilty. So I guess when it came down to it I might try to pull out the mental card as well. I mean, isn't that the way we do things these days? It seems a lot better than taking responsibility for our own actions.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

From Three to Thirty

My niece is a couple of weeks short of her third birthday, and like many young children she has that one childhood comfort thing that she can't be without. You know, some kids have a blanket that they are always carrying around like Linus from the Peanuts cartoons. Or some kids have a stuffed animal that they can never be without. Well, my niece has her BaBoo, which is sort of like a hybrid of the two aforementioned examples. It is a little blanket-like thing, about the size of a handkerchief, with a little stuffed bear head sewn in the middle of it. It's cute, and it is perfect for a little girl.
The thing about BaBoo is that it causes a change in her behavior. My niece is by all accounts a pretty remarkable child, okay. I know, I am a little biased, but she is smarter than the average bear, she has good manners, and she acts much more mature than the number of candles on her birthday cake would suggest. The thing about it is that when she has BaBoo in her hand, she regresses back to the days before she could talk or run around. She always has a corner of BaBoo stuffed into the corner of her eye or her mouth or usually, her nose. It is a very subconscious thing, because I don't think she means to do it. There is just something primeval deep within her that makes it happen.
It's not so bad with Sweet Pea because, well, she's three-ish. And when you are three-ish you are still allowed to have some of those little childhood habits because, well, you are still a child. Now, try pushing thirty and still having the same problem. That's a little scary. Now, I don't have a BaBoo. I mean, I did have a sort of a BaBoo when I was a kid but that is at home, packed away for posterity. What I do have is a quilt, made by my Grandmother by sewing a couple of pieces of cloth together with a nice white border, and stuffing a very small amount of stuffing inside of it. Anyway, it's a nice little quilt, and it serves its purpose, and I have taken it with me from place to place and home to home. And what I have found is that, much like Sweet Pea with her BaBoo, I find myself subconsciously wrapping the edges of the quilt around my index fingers and to a lesser extent, my thumbs. I just do it absent mindedly but incessantly. It is like I am obsessed with it, like I am addicted, like I am jonzeing for it. And I can't stop myself, not that I have tried all that hard. I haven't really tried because, quite frankly, I don't want to stop. Take that.
So what have we learned here? What is the moral of this story? Is there an important point to take away from this story? No, probably not. I am sure that plenty of professors in plenty of tweed jackets with leather patches on the elbows have done plenty of studies with plenty of government grants about this sort of phenomenon. I am sure that there is a name for it even, but I am not going to look it up. Partly because I don't care. Mostly because I am too busy wrapping the edges of my quilt around my fingers. The point here, I guess - if you need to have a point - is that sometimes we never grow out of our childhood habits, and that is perfectly fine as long as it is something innocent. Like something with a quilt. Or sticking your BaBoo in your nose. It's just your inner child making an appearance on the outside.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Little Johnny Terrorist

Michael Winston Hicks has all the classic stereotypical earmarks of a terrorist targeting the United States. He has three names. He lives in New Jersey. I can't pronounce his mother's name. He is a Cub Scout. He was born less than one month before September 11, 2001. He likes to travel domestically. So it should be no wonder then that little Mikey Hicks is firmly entrenched on the United States Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) watch list.
Yeah, let's not get all up in arms here, Company. Eight-year-old Mikey hicks is not on a no-fly list. He can fly anywhere he wants, he just has to undergo an extra series of humiliating and probably damaging to a child's psyche pat downs and security screenings. No problem. Enjoy your flight young man.
Here is the deal: somewhere along the way someone named Michael Hicks did something that flipped off some red flags deep within a Homeland Security office building nestled inside the Washington Beltway. He hit a certain Internet website or went to a certain meeting or subscribed to a certain magazine that caused him to become a person of interest to those in charge of protecting America from terrorists. Fine. Whatever he did was alarming enough to these individuals to get him placed on a list generated by a series of agencies, including the FBI, that was given to the TSA who then gave it to the airlines, so that any time one of the people on the list bought a ticket ot tried to get a boarding pass they would be subject to extra screenings. So, you know, they didn't cause tomfoolery on their Boeing 727. No big whoop.
Except it is a big whoop, because this particular Mikey Hicks is an eight-year old kid, and he is most definitely not a terrorist. Anyone who thought about it for most than a second or two would be able to see that. But no one seems to be able to combine that reality with the reality that Michael Winston Hicks is a name on the list. And because people are fucking stupid, the list always, always wins. Eight-year-old Mikey, at an age where most kids can't explain what it is like to take an airplane trip, can recite the whole farce. Leave extra early for the airport. Always take your passport. Try to get a boarding pass. The flags will go off. The ticket agent will look at the boy in disbelief, be embarassed, realize it's stupid, and call her supervisor anyway. The supervisor will make a series of phone calls and wriggle the kid onto the plane. The kid will still probably be patted down, up one leg, across the crotch, down the other, up under the arms and around the waist. By the time the family boards there will be few seats left and they probably won't be able to sit together. The first time Mikey had trouble he was an infant and his mother couldn't get a boarding pass from an automated kiosk. The first time he was patted down he was two. He cried.
The problem here, is that people in this world have lost their use of common sense. We, as a society in general, have come to the point where we can no longer look at a situation rationally and make decisions based on that. We want black and white situations, hard and fast rules so we only ever have two choices to make, like a telemarketer's flow chart. We like this because when we remove all the gray areas from a situation we remove all trace of responsibility. We can't get in trouble if we just have to choose between black and white, everyone knows the difference between black and white. You can't get in trouble if you pat down the child because the list says so. You can get in trouble if you make the judgement call and let the kid on the plane, expecially when his parents' names don't show on the list and he is wearing his Cub Scout uniform. Or his parochial school uniform. Or his TSA badge.
People who feel that they are on the list erroneously or without cause or terrorists who don't want to be continuously screened can apply to the TSA to get off the list, and Mikey's mother has made this application on Mikey's behalf, but seven years later he is still getting patted down routinely. On a recent vacations Mikey's parents even reached out to their friendly local Congressman's office, who worked with the TSA to have a TSA employee meet the family at the airport. He still received an extra pat down.
So poor Mikey can't go anywhere. Well, maybe by car or maybe by train, but certainly not by plane. Not without getting patted down like the obvious subversive criminal he is. I mean, if he were really an American boy he would be an Eagle Scout by now, right? Right. The TSA claims that important and needed changes are coming and that soon the list will be cross-checked by birth date and gender, in case your name is Pat or Chris or Leslie or something, which is a good start, but we probably could have cross-checked Mikey Hicks by age when he was a crying two-year old being patted down by a robotic TSA agent. Security without smarts is no security at all. Just ask the Hicks family how secure they felt on their last vacation.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Reflections on the Swine Flu

Well Company, we are back from our extended time away due to illness, and we couldn't be happier. I can't speak for the Unpaid Interns or the rest of the yahoos here at the Worldwide Headquarters, but I personally haven't had the sickness wipe me out that badly in a long time. For like two weeks I have had no ambition to write anything for your guys to consume; I haven't even really cared to even open my computer. So I apologize sincerely for that and I hope to get back on track now that I am feeling better.
Oh, so you want to know what I had? Well, so would I. I consulted with a highly trained medical professional over the phone, and then with one in person, and they both concur that I probably fell victim to the swine flu, which means that now I am a statistic, even though they didn't actually test me for it. Apparently they don't really care as much anymore, because there was a time a few months ago where they would have sent a sample of me to the lab to get tested and then I would have made the news, in that general "There has been a confirmed case of the H1N1 flu in the local area..." sort of way. But not anymore. I just got a "Well, you probably had it but you are over that now. Here is some medicine for the bronchitis that might be beginning to form in your lungs." That was good enough for me.
Did you know that if you have a fever it can actually cook your insides? Well, I had a fever, although I don't believe that it was that high of a fever, and I suspect that it may have simmered my brain, because I had some messed up nightmares during the time when I was the most ill. The worst of them was the night that I took NyQuil in an attempt to finally get some sleep. It was the night of the NCAA Bowl Championship Series (known here as Division 1-A) Championship Game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Texas Longhorns. The game was held at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA. That's important. I watched the first part of the game and then proceeded to down some NyQuil in order to actually get some rest. Soon thereafter I turned off my TV and drifted blissfully off to sleep. For a little while. A couple of hours later I woke up in a panic. I was having a nightmare that I was at the game in the Rose Bowl, and my section of the stands had collapsed. My brain was telling my body that I was trapped under a crushing pile of bleachers and spectators and Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy. Seriously, I remember seeing his number and the name on his jersey lying on top of me.
Needless to say I wasn't at the Rose Bowl, and the stands were not collapsing. I was home safe in my bed. But that did not prevent me from flailing wildly as I woke up, flinging my pillows and covers across the room as if I were throwing off people and wreckage. Strange. I have never had that happen with NyQuil before, which is why I assume that my brains were a little cooked by my fever. Oh well, no worse for the wear I suppose. It's just another incident to chalk up to the annals of illness. Maybe they should add that to the symptoms of the swine flu: crazy nightmares about the Rose Bowl. I could be a medical pioneer; a pillar of the scientific community. All because I got the swine flu. Wouldn't that be wild?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Winning Week: Saving Duke Manchap

Our apologies to you Company, but as the dreaded Swine Flu continues to ravage the entire staff here at Big Dave and Company we are going to go ahead and post for you the posts from the winning week in our "Best Week Ever" poll, March 30 - April 6, 2008. We continue with "Saving Duke Manchap", which originally posted on April 6, 2008.

Poor Duke. He is on a long weekend at his ancestral home in Lower Michigan with the future wife and The Ginger Child. That is not the bad part. The bad part is the why. He ventured below The Bridge for some sort of shower. It's either a late baby shower put on by his mother for them (The Ginger Child is still a newborn) or an early bridal shower for Duke's fiancee. And in the end it doesn't matter. Because poor Duke is stuck at a shower. Boys should not be subjected to that type of shower. They should never be AT a shower, they should only be IN a shower. And let's make sure we are in a shower every day guys, just because we are manly doesn't mean that we can't be hygienic. But yeah, boys should never have to participate in a baby or bridal shower. It doesn't matter if it's their sister-in-law's bridal shower. It doesn't matter if it's a baby shower for your sister. It doesn't matter if it's a baby shower for the boy and his lady friend. The male shouldn't have to be subjected to that. Showers are in the same category as Partylite, candle, Tupperware, sex toy, fashion, bachelorette, and Arbonne parties. They are giant pools of estrogen that straight males can never hope to escape. Boys should no more be subjected to them than girls should be subjected to fantasy baseball draft parties or a bachelor party weekend or a three-day weekend beer tasting tour that's held at a football stadium during the season hosted by single pornstars (just the mere thought of that makes me weep because I know that it will never happen). A firm line really should be drawn in our society, and the thought of poor Duke being drug across that line to sit on a frilly couch and be all excited about a blue footy pyjama pantsuit with a butterfly on it for The Ginger Child while eating cucumber sandwiches makes my heart ache and my testicles recede up into my body.
Now, before we despair too much, there is still hope for Duke. I know that he fought the good fight. Guys, it's simple. Do everything possible to get out of the upcoming shower. It's pretty easy when it's a bridal shower for your future bride. But your lady friend may try to drag you to a bridal shower for someone else. Don't go. Weasel your way out of it. You may have to pay for a little while, with some silence and no sex, but in the long run both you and your lady friend will be better off for your not going. If you have to go, as might be the case with a terribly overbearing ladyfriend, or with a baby shower that is being thrown for your child, just hope that the other men in your life come to the rescue in an appropriate way.
There are appropriate and inappropriate ways to rescue a guy in Duke's situation. First of all, guys, if your friend is in the situation, don't rush to join them. It's bad enough to lose one, we don't need to lose two. Only go in in support if the situation is right. Only go in if you think the two of you can escape to the kitchen or something. Because two of you sitting on the frilly couch dying inside is no better than one of you. The best way to save someone from the shower situation is through sheer numbers. Get every male in the guy's family, every boyfriend, fiancee, husband, brother, father of every girl that's going to the shower and get them all to band together. Then you can use the pressure of the big group to get the girls to let you go to the bar or the garage or a construction site or anywhere other than the shower. It's kind of like fighting a lot of flames with a lot of water. The sheer number of the males banded together give you all the best chance to avoid the estrogen-laden whirlpool that is trying to suck you in.
The other way to effectively help your buddy or relative survive a shower is to treat the shower like it's a snakebite. And in a way it is. It is a major, life changing, dangerous and potentially damaging event, but the sooner you get help afterwards the better your chance for survival and recovery. If you get help right away you stand a decent chance of leading a normal life afterwards. To, if you can't save the guy from the shower, give him lots of man-medical attention immediately afterward. As soon as he walks out of the house, take him out for a beer. Go watch the NASCAR race for a little bit. Repair a bicycle. Go hunting or fishing. Do something to immediately to flush away the poisons. I know that the Manchap family is using this strategy this weekend, as they had some hunting planned for today. That's the right way to do it. The first time Duke shoots something it will be like the poison has been sucked out of the snakebite. And then he should be okay.
So meanwhile, I feel for young Duke. I hope that the men in his family banded together and had some quality time in the garage during the wedding or baby shower. If not, I hope that they rolled up immediately afterward in a black van wearing ski masks, knocked his ass out, threw him in the van, and took him to a BW3 or a boxing match or a liquor store. Well, they probably don't need to knock him out to kidnap him like that, but I just sort of think that that would be good for Duke. But bottom line is I think that Duke will be fine, because we have learned from the mistakes of the past, and from the painful cries of our fallen comrades. So let's have a moment of silence them.


Godspeed Duke.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Winning Week: My Encounter With the White Shirts

Our apologies to you Company, but as the dreaded Swine Flu continues to ravage the entire staff here at Big Dave and Company we are going to go ahead and post for you the posts from the winning week in our "Best Week Ever" poll, March 30 - April 6, 2008. We continue with "My Encounter With the White Shirts", which originally posted on April 5, 2008, and has been seen here before. I know, I know. But it was part of the winning week so here it is again.

So I went to my friendly local grocery store today, and there were a bunch of kids, I assume from a local high school, bagging groceries. The young man who bagged my groceries was very friendly even though he neglected to ask if I wanted paper or plastic. He gave me paper, which I would have chosen anyway, so now I am sort of concerned that he can read my mind. Anyway, as I walked away from the checkout towards the door, there were two large containers on either side of the door, one on the right filled with money, and one on the left filled with grocery receipts. There was no sort of sign to tell me what was going on, so I was very confused. All I knew for certain was that the money was not for me. So I left a dollar in the money bin and left (I wasn't about to leave me receipt; I don't want strangers knowing what kind of stuff I just bought). As I made my way to the car I suddenly realized how many things were wrong with that situation.
First of all, I don't think that a bunch of people should be wearing the same clothes at the same time when together unless they are all employees of the same business or they are all on some sort of sports team. Seeing 20 kids all dressed in super bright white shirts that say a lot of things but that don't actually delineate who they are, or what group they belong to, that should have been a big red flag right off the bat. They could have been thieves involved in a very unorderly yet peaceful robbery of the grocery store. They could have been slowly advancing towards the cash drawers when I walked up. I had no way to know. They are lucky that I didn't jump up on the conveyor belt and start kicking ass. I had some canned vegetables and a plastic basket, I am sure I could have done some damage. It would have been my civic duty. And all they had to work with were shopping bags and all the cigarettes from behind the service counter. And I don't care if they are called a hard pack, they still aren't that hard. Not compared to my canned green beans of death. Plus, they were all wearing bright white T-shirts, so there is no way I wouldn't be able to keep track of them. Now I know what you are saying "They would have outnumbered you quickly and probably sent some of the guys over to the alcohol section to get some glass bottles or something to take you out." Well of course, that's what anyone with a brain would have done, so I've already thought of that. I would have protected my flank by sharpshooting them one at a time with delicious Rolos from the candy rack. Nobody can survive a Rolo thrown with the precision of a chubby guy in a supermarket. All of that could have been avoided had they just put who they are on their matching T-shirts. It's so simple.
The second thing that I wonder about what the normal baggers. The professionals. I mean, you wouldn't think that there would be a difference between one greasy faced high schooler in a bright white T-shirt bagging up my frozen foods and another greasy faced high schooler in a maroon collared shirt bagging up my produce but there is. One of those greasy kids is getting paid. So if the White Shirts were doing the bagging for free, then that means none of the regular baggers were working that day. So granted, they get a nice Saturday off, but what about the next Saturday when the White Shirts show up? Or the Saturday after that. Pretty soon the regular baggers will be out of a job, replaced by White Shirts who are happy to bag my groceries for free because they don't have to follow the bagging rules. I get to choose between paper or plastic. My frozen things should be in their own plastic bags. Do not put all my cans in one bag. Those are the rules that I want to be followed, but the White Shirts don't have to follow them at all because they are not paid. So now all my canned pasta is falling out the bottom of my paper bag and onto my feet. Uncool. Well here's what's going to happen. I am going to recruit all the regular paid baggers to be my army on their days off, and I am going to equip them with cloth shopping bags filled with oranges that they can swing over their heads, and we are going to root out the White Shirts. And it will be glorious.
The third, and possibly most disturbing thing about my whole experience with the White Shirts was that there was no sort of sign or posting or flyer or billboard or information sheet anywhere explaining to me what was going on. Yet I blindly and obediently put a dollar in the big basket 'o money. That scares me. And it sets a very dangerous precedent. If I, the great leader of the massive bag boy army, just put a dollar in, imagine how many other people probably did. Pretty soon, anyone who wants money will just dress the same as a bunch of other people and put out a basket. They won't even have to play the saxophone. Or do a mime act. Or say that they are a church. There will just be collection baskets everywhere and we will be expected to contribute. That's nuts. And what's with the basket for receipts? That is a blatent invasion of my privacy. Yet it is hidden right out in the open. It's diabolically genius. They get all sorts of financial information and market research for free. Well no thank you, I choose not to participate in that business. If they want to know what kind of groceries I am buying, they will have to find out the old fashioned way. By tapping my phone line or digging through my garbage. I am not going to let some White Shirt sit on a pile of donated singles and look through my grocery receipt. That's not going to happen on my watch.
The bottom line is this: Just tell me what is going on and odds are, I will be more than happy to participate. Put on the front of your shirts who you are. Have the White Shirt explain to me that they are raising money for while he bags my groceries. Put up a little sign by the collection basket explaining how it works. I am sure that the White Shirts were out there for a good cause. I am sure they mean well. But you've got to be forthcoming if you want charity. That's how it works. And it will keep me from having to do a drive-by with Rolos in a shopping cart pushed by a paid grocery bagger. Because let's be honest, nobody wants that. Least of all the intended victim. Am I right?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Winning Week: So You're A Lazy Sack of Shit

Our apologies to you Company, but as the dreaded Swine Flu continues to ravage the entire staff here at Big Dave and Company we are going to go ahead and post for you the posts from the winning week in our "Best Week Ever" poll, March 30 - April 6, 2008. We continue with "SO You're A Lazy Sack of Shit", which originally posted on April 4, 2008.

So you're a lazy sack of shit. That's fine. Just stay away from me. Because, it's one thing to be lazy, that's okay. I am very lazy. If I had my way I would lie around doing nothing all day long. But I am not a lazy sack of shit. This is a lot like Chris Rock's idea of n------ vs. black people. I don't mind lazy people at all. Because lazy people will still at least get up and do SOME productive things. So now I am going to give everyone some tips to not be a lazy sack of shit.
1. Get a job. And once you get a job, go to it. And so a little work while you are there. Seriously. I don't care what job you get. Hot dog vendor. Tollbooth operator. Architect. Just something. And make sure you go to your job. If you get a job then don't go, you will be fired, then you are just back to square one. This is not that hard of a concept people. Go to your job or go to hell. And once you have mastered going to work, make sure that you do something while you are there. Don't get all mad when they ask you to do something. That's the idea. You do things for them and they give you money. I know, it is a complicated system. And why would you want to trade your services when you can lie around your mom and dad's basement and have the state pay your way? Just remember this. Unemployment is for people who lost their job through no fault of their own, and it is to sustain them while they look for another one. Not to sustain you while you try to get to level 71 on World of Warcraft. Disability is for someone who can't work in any job because of a work related accident. Not someone who tweaked their back playing lawn darts. And social security is for old people who have paid in for 50-odd years. So the long and short of it is to go get a job, show up, and actually work. Don't complain about having to work for your money. That's called normal.
2. Get an apartment. Oh my, I know, it seems complicated. But don't get worried. Go look at the classifieds, maybe cruise around town, and find a For Rent sign. Then, sign the lease (remember, you have to do what it says), get a futon and a toaster oven, maybe a twin bed on the floor in the bedroom, and you are set to go. It's okay if you buy beer instead of furniture. It's okay if you have end tables made of used pizza boxes. It's okay if you wear socks, boxers, and your Boise North Junior High School gym shirt all the time while you are home. Just get a place to live that isn't your parents'. That's all you have to do. Now, if that job we talked about above doesn't pay you enough money to get your own place, you can always get a roommate. That's another person who will live with you and pay an equal part of your costs. Just make sure that they aren't either of your parents.
3.) Get a car. Or a motorcycle. This doesn't apply to you if you live in say New York City or Budapest or another city with fully developed public transportation. But if you don't live in a big city like that then you should spend some on the money from that job thing and get a car. It doesn't necessarily have to be a nice car, just some sort of car to get you, you know, to your job. And to the grocery store. And to the movies or wherever. There is bad news however. Getting the car is the easy part. You also have to make sure that you do the things that society says you must do to have a car. You will have to pay money every year to register it with the state. You will have to make sure you always have a driver's license. That allows you to actually drive your 1982 Chevrolet Camaro Berlinetta. And you have to make sure not to use your car to commit a crime. Don't drink alcohol while driving it. Don't run people over with it. Don't drive it at excessive speed everywhere you go. Just follow things like laws and common sense (trust me, if you don't want to be a lazy sack of shit you will have to learn what these are). Or, if those elude you, just sort of do what other people around you are doing. That will help you succeed. Just remember that you have to be responsible for your car. That means that it's your fault if you screw things up. So shape up.
Those are the basics to not being a lazy sack of shit. It's relatively simple. I know that is sounds scary right now. But make sure to follow these few pieces of advice and you won't be a lazy sack of shit anymore. You will be just lazy. Or you will be a douchebag. Or you will be a normal guy. Or hey, you might even become a success. But you won't be a lazy sack of shit anymore, and that's all that the world asks.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Winning Week: Shedding A Little Light On Things

Our apologies to you Company, but as the dreaded Swine Flu continues to ravage the entire staff here at Big Dave and Company we are going to go ahead and post for you the posts from the winning week in our "Best Week Ever" poll, March 30 - April 6, 2008. We continue with "Shedding a Little Light on Things", which originally posted on April 3, 2008.

Today, for the first time in 2008 the thermometer at my apartment registered a temperature over 50 degrees. Or at least I assume it did, because it was awfully nice today. If I were to actually clean the glass on my kitchen window that looks out at the thermometer I could probably verify that it was over 50, but I am willing to go by faith and faith alone. There is something about springtime that makes hope and faith seem so much easier, so much more readily available. I think it has to do with the light. It is amazing how a little change in light changes so many things. Traffic light turns from red to green, and everything goes from motionless to frantic. The campfire dies down a little and suddenly a dingo takes off with your baby (you have to be camping in Australia for that one to be pertinent). The lights come on in the bar at the end of the night and suddenly I am not so popular anymore. Or, and this is my favorite one, the angle of the sun is just a little bit higher in the sky, and there is just a little bit more of a stronger kind of light pumping through the atmosphere, and suddenly my apartment doesn't look like such a shit hole, and I don't feel so much like spring cleaning anymore. Don't worry, I will still do it anyway, but probably not Sunday or Monday when they are calling for rain and snow showers.
The point is that light, and it's effects and angles and strength, is key to the world around us. As I look out my window everything attached to the ground still screams winter, while everything associated with the sky screams summer. So I choose to look at the sky. It's the powerful high angle of sunshine that draws my gaze upward. Also, I am lying down and far to lazy to turn my head. Whatever, it still works. So, if it's nice outside where you live, and the light is nice and bright and high, lie down near a window and gaze up at the sky. You will see blue skies, puffy white clouds, feel the warm breeze, hear baseball on the radio, and be filled with hope and promise and brightness. Good things will seem to be on the way. If not nice outside where you live then don't look outside because you will be depressed. That means you have to look around your place, and man, it's a shit hole. So get to the Spring Cleaning. You don't get to have hope until the sun comes out.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Winning Week: Stupid People

Our apologies to you Company, but as the dreaded Swine Flu continues to ravage the entire staff here at Big Dave and Company we are going to go ahead and post for you the posts from the winning week in our "Best Week Ever" poll, March 30 - April 6, 2008. We begin with "Stupid People", which originally posted on April 2, 2008. This has gone on to be a topic almost one hundred times, surprise, surprise.

The British almost got it right. All those years ago, when they were at the height of their empire, they did so many things benevolently and correctly. But sometimes they didn't quite hit the mark. And Australia is a prime example of that. Because when they set that first ship out of Southampton or wherever filled with convicts headed for Sydney Harbor they should have filled it with stupid people instead. Because let's be honest, often convicts are some of the most brilliant and creative and literate members of our society. But stupid people really shouldn't be allowed to walk around. If the British had just had the foresight to fill that ship with stupid people, or maybe called it back before it got too far and traded all the convicts on it for stupid people, everyone would be much happier. Because then we could have been sending stupid people to isolated islands every since then, and everyone would be much happier.
Now, I know what you are saying. That is excessively harsh and totally inappropriate. And I suppose you have a point. But I am not talking about people who do or say stupid things every once in a while, or people who sort of struggle at times, because then everyone would have been shipped by the Raj to somewhere in the Southern Hemisphere. I'd probably have my own island somewhere in the middle of the South Atlantic by now (actually, I would love to visit or live on St. Helena or Tristan de Cunhia for a little while, but that's for another time and place). I am talking about the people who are chronically stupid. I am talking about the people who should have to go through a 12 step stupid program. I am talking about the people who should be calling the 1-800 stupid hotline. I am talking about the people who should be forced to buy a stupid patch at the drugstore for whenever they have a craving. That's who I am talking about. Let's pack them all up and send them to an island to live together, and then let's cut the electricity and surround it with Navy destroyers and aircraft carriers and perhaps a submarine or two. And lots of buoys. I don't know why, but I think a vast and seemingly useless network of navigational and weather buoys would be appropriate.
But seriously, let's give them an island like Greenland or Madagascar or even Hispaniola. I think that deforested Hispaniola or sweltering Madagascar would be perfect for them. Because then they wouldn't be driving around at 12 miles per hour and creating safety issues for the rest of us; they would not be buying clothes and accessories for 300 times the price they should be; they wouldn't be carrying little dogs in their purses; they wouldn't be gambling away their unemployment checks; they wouldn't be having disabled parking passes when they are walking and moving just like the rest of us; they wouldn't be purchasing 14 subs at Subway during the lunch rush without calling in their order first; they wouldn't be walking around town with a cut on their hand bleeding on everything in the public domain; they wouldn't be going on spring break, taking their shirts off, and screaming "Whooooo, party!" for no reason whatsoever; they wouldn't be driving 67 miles per hour in a blizzard on the freeway because they have four wheel drive; they wouldn't be flying kites near power lines; they wouldn't be expounding their opinions things they don't know anything about; and they wouldn't be hats for sports teams that don't actually have any of the teams colors on them. Well, they would still be doing those things I am sure, but they'd be doing them together in Greenland or Sakhalin and that would be fine with me.
So anyway, I just want the stupid people to go away, because I don't have the patience to deal with them lately. I don't ask a lot. Just be responsible. Be thoughtful. Understand that you are just a small cog in the large machine that is society. Be aware that your actions and decisions affect more than just yourself. Then you won't have to be shipped off to some remote island to swelter or freeze and be too stupid to do anything about it.
And you know, maybe the British did get things right. Because Australia turned out to be a pretty neat place. And thinking of all those stupid people carving their names into Ayers Rock, breaking off pieces of the Great Barrier Reef to use as pumice stones, and filling the awesome beaches yelling "Whoooooo, party!" while shirtless makes me a little sad but mostly queasy. So I think it's good that the British sent convicts instead. And it's probably good that they didn't fill New Zealand with stupid people either, because then all those sheep would have been in trouble. But they still could have sent them to the Falklands, or New Guinea, or Anguilla, or South Georgia, or the Turks and Caicos...

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Winning Week: April Fool's Day

Our apologies to you Company, but as the dreaded Swine Flu continues to ravage the entire staff here at Big Dave and Company we are going to go ahead and post for you the posts from the winning week in our "Best Week Ever" poll, March 30 - April 6, 2008. We begin with April Fool's Day, which originally posted on April 1, 2008.

Well, it's April Fool's Day. And quite frankly, I think that this is an absolutely retarded holiday. I don't know who decided that we need a holiday in every month, but we don't. "Oh, but they help us mark the passing of time and season." Fine, but that's what we have the calendar for. And there are calendars based on 1.) the sun 2.) the moon 3.) the rising floods of the Nile. Pick any of them, because they are all equally effective at helping you mark the days. (Okay, maybe don't pick the Nile one, because since they built the Aswan High Dam over there the floods aren't quite as regular as they were back in the day, but you get the hint.) The bottom line is that we don't need a lame holiday every month to help us realize what month it is.
And April Fool's Day is one of the worst of them all. We do not need a holiday to pull pranks on other people. If you can't figure out how to pull a socially acceptable prank on someone any day of the year, you really shouldn't be pulling pranks. Because you have a crippling lack of sense of humor. Because you've lost your innocence. Because you are Ashton Kutcher.
So refuse to participate in any April Fool's Day pranks. Yes, you read that correctly. I am calling for a boycott of April Fool's Day. Unless you happen to have a sweet opportunity. But don't set up anything special because of the day. Postpone it until April 4. Or June 22. Or September 16. Whenever. Plus, postponing your sweet (or probably lame) prank will actually help it be successful. Because no one trusts anyone on April 1. As well they shouldn't. But by July 9, everyone will be trusting again. So you are good to go. Plus, your prank will stand alone. Everyone is pranking on April Fool's Day, nobody is pranking on August 17. It's like playing in a football game on a Tuesday or getting all wasted on Sunday night. Most people don't do it, so it will be that much more memorable AND everyone will be watching. Plus, you are boycotting April Fool's Day, so you can't pull your prank on April 1 anyway, remember?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Winning Week: The 100 Best Vacations to Enrich Your Life

Our apologies to you Company, but as the dreaded Swine Flu continues to ravage the entire staff here at Big Dave and Company we are going to go ahead and post for you the posts from the winning week in our "Best Week Ever" poll, March 30 - April 6, 2008. We begin with The 100 best Vacations to Enrich Your Life, which originally posted on March 31, 2008.

I just finished reading a book called The 100 Best Vacations to Enrich Your Life by Pam Grout, and quite frankly, I have issues. All in all I am totally for the premise, and I would love to take about 75% of the vacations in this book. But there were a bunch of them that made me want to call shenanigans and get out my broom like I was on an episode of South Park or something. So please allow me to talk about a few of the vacations with which I have issues, in no particular order.
#95 Spend a Weekend Listening to Silence. In this particular section, there are several different places listed where one can take a vacation in complete silence. Apparently this is an excellent way to find oneself. "Some folks take silent retreats as a religious exercise or because they're contemplating a major life change. Others do it simply to strip themselves of nonessentials, to find that oasis within themselves." writes Grout. And that's all well and good. I am all for that business. But here is the thing. Once I go on the silent vacation and engage in all that introspection, I think I am going to see that I really didn't need to fork over $575 for 7 days of communal meals and shutting up. I am pretty sure I can do silence a lot more cheaply on my own. You want a silent weekend? Call your girlfriend fat on Friday afternoon then turn off your phone. Because I guarantee that no one will be talking to you then. And as such you won't have anyone to talk to. And you will get to contemplate a possible major life change as you do such fun activities as sleep on the couch, order forgive me flowers, and watch as she watches Lifetime and cries. It will be just as physically fun as waking up in a Catholic monastery at 3:15 am for prayers, and just as mentally fun as spending daily counselling sessions with a counsellor who is allowed to talk all day long while you cannot.
# 26 Help Out on the Blackfeet Reservation. This particular vacation talks about a company called Global Volunteers that sets people up on vacations where they can spend their time bettering the worlds of people who aren't as well off, and one of the major places where they do their work is on the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana. Well, after looking at how much it costs, I am thinking about contacting Global Volunteers to see if they want to better my world, because anyone who can afford to pay $795 to help out on the Blackfeet Reservation or $2750 to teach English to kids in China (plus they have to pay their own way to wherever they are doing their work. Fortunately, airfare to Montana is almost as much as airfare to China so everyone ends up paying the same amount roughly) has to be better off then I am. Because that is way out of my budget. WAY out of my budget. And last time I checked, there was another company that offered the same opportunities. It was called the Peace Corps and you don't have to pay a dime. You know who else does that? The National Guard. And there you get paid AND you get to play with a gun. So suck it Global Volunteers. I am on to your little scam.
#55 Give it the Old College Try. Okay, I don't personally know Pam Grout, but I think she may be very confused. Because in my experience, going to college and vacation are not synonyms. In fact, they are pretty much completely different in every way. Well, maybe except for the living in crappy accommodations, eating crappy food, spending a lot of money, drinking, and trying to get laid. Okay, so maybe they aren't THAT different. But going to class definitely is nothing like vacation. I did it for four years and they actually give you work to do AT HOME. Seriously, if you were standing on vacation, and you started digging a hole through the center of the Earth you would come out at homework, because being on vacation and paying to do work once you go home from work are as far apart as two things could ever possibly be. Anyway, according to Pam-o these summer university for adults programs allow one to "stay in the dorms, eat at the cafeterias, and use the gyms, swimming pools, and other facilities...and take advantage of all those bright minds you failed to fully appreciate when you were 18." Okay, I paid for that once and had a blast, but I don't think that now I want to pay Cornell University $1535 to do it again. No thanks. And to all you suckers who do, joke is on you. Because there aren't going to be any co-eds there during the summer. All you will have to do is go to class and learn. Wow does that suck. Seriously, this book should be renamed The 99 Best Vacations to Enrich Your Life and one Really Stupid Vacation You Can Take because #55 is not a vacation at all. End of discussion.
Now, despite the above examples, and a couple of more that I didn't feel like digging up, this is actually a really enlightening and interesting book. Ms. Grout did an inspired job of finding unique and enriching trips with reputable companies and nonprofits. And the options range from the "I could afford that if I picked up a couple of extra shifts at the BK this month" type to the "Maybe I could afford that if I skimmed eleventy billion dollars off the top of Enron last year" range. But they are all cool and all interesting even if some are slightly misguided. And honestly, if you can't find at least one vacation that interests you out of the four categories (Arts & Crafts Getaways, Volunteer Vacations, Brain Retreats, and Wellness Escapes) you should probably take that multi-colored pencil that you got as a prize from your Lucky Charms cereal last week and sharpen it and jab it in your eye, because you deserve to spend the first half of your vacation in a hospital emergency room, and the second half picking out eye patches and playing pirate. So go get the book and read it, but you can skip the ones I talked about above. Because I am calling shenanigans on them. I am going to get my broom right now.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

An Open Letter to Bono

Dear Bono,
Unfortunately, there is not a word in the English language to explain how I feel about you. I don't want you to die so much, I don't really wish that on anyone, but I just want you to go away forever and never come back. Oh, and I want you to stop talking while you are away. Because every time you open your mouth you say something more stupid and disjointed from what the actual reality of reality is. So please, stop talking and go away forever, okay?
The other day I read that you came out of wherever you were, found an unguarded pencil and some cocktail napkins and wrote an opinion piece and sent it in to the New York Times, which inexplicably chose to publish it. Don't worry about them though, I will deal with them later.
First of all, what's this "we" bullshit," huh? You are not part of me, or part of really any group as I am other than humans, males, maybe a blood type or two. Possibly a religion. But you are certainly not American, so why you are counting yourself as part of the "we" of Americans and their cars, I am not sure. Just because you wear a cowboy hat and massively overpriced cowboy boots as you strut around some impoverished African village while your body guards keep the masses away and your nasty cologne lures the insects in does not mean that you are an American, okay? Plus, you actually give stuff to help those people, as opposed to just using the photo op so that's good I suppose. Even though that is the kind of thing that we would do you know, just about every day and with eleventy billion cameras if we had the chance, which is kind of your style so maybe you are an American. But I am pretty sure that there are no cowboy hats in Ireland though. So fucking knock it off.
Okay, I am not totally against the first part of your little ridiculous file sharing argument, you are right, the laws of bandwidth will make it so that the larger files are more easily accessible by the pepperoni-nosed teenager in their parents' basement who hasn't seen the light of day in three weeks but who thinks they desperately need Madagascar 2 on their computer. Okay, but your assertion that it is reverse Robin Hooding to me just says that you have no idea what Robin Hood really does. First of all, sure, there are some young struggling musicians out there but if you can remember back to the time then you and the Edge had nothing but rocks to bang together to make music, you would remember that the record company was taking way more of your profits than they were giving you, and if you have your accountant sit down with your over some Irish breakfast you will see that really the people who are getting hurt the most but probably the least are people like yourself, who already has a buttload of money to spend. And where you have decided that the "service providers" are getting rich I am not sure. That is a pretty ambiguous term there, dipshit, and I would appreciate some clarity? I don't think my two-bit backwoods ISP is getting rich from me downloading an entire Carolina Liar album, are they?
Bono, you are a humanitarian. I would not take exception to anyone who said that. And every once in a while you seem to say something that makes sense, maybe even has some insight, but mostly it is one more ludicrous than the last. So please, take your money, take your causes, take your cowboy hat and leave the party. Let the rest of us operate in reality, you can go somewhere like Bhutan where the many mountains and valleys make television and radio reception impossible and live there with your hair gel and stupid glasses, okay? Then you can spit out your bullshit to the locals who won't understand a word of it and eventually will feel you to a goat, and we can go on with our lives. That would make me happy.
Well, best wishes to you Bono, but I must go now. I have a list of about sixteen movies, and their soundtracks, that I need to illegally download so that I can be super cool. And because I don't want all those guitar-toting super emotional sweater-wearing young creator who will turn into the next John Mayer to succeed, they are going to be all indie soundtracks.

- Big Dave