Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Top of the Bell Curve

     I was bowling the other day, Company, as I often do in an attempt to stay grounded and keep in touch with the proletariat.  We were having our holiday celebration, and as part of the festivities, the bowling alley management were giving away prizes for the person who gets the most pins over their average, and the person who gets the most pins below their average.  Well, I am not a great bowler, so I was excited by this.  I am thinking "Now there is a prize that I can actually win.  I bowl way below my average almost all the time."  So what did I do?  Bask in glory? Bask in sheer, unadulterated ineptitude?  Nope.  I bowled almost exactly my average.
The infamous bell curve
     But that is the idea, right?  There is a reason why it is called me average - because that is what I usually bowl.  It sits right at the top of the classic bell curve.  The bell curve that is representative of so many things and used to determine so many things.  But regardless of what you think of it, the premise is actually pretty simple.  The idea is that the things that happen at either end of the bell curve are rarities, usually something really good or something really bad.  The middle of the bell is the highest part because that is where the largest potion of the sample should fall.  So why is it then that the middle part seems to be the part that is considered the worst to be in?
     Think about it.  There is a book on the shelf that I put in my living room and fill with books to impress people called Last in Their Class which is all about the people who fell on the far left side of the curve while they were at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point but whom decided to skip the entire middle portion of the bell curve and go straight to the right side once they got out.  Here are a bunch of guys who were certifiably the worst in their college class.  Dead last.  Bottom of the list.  As far left on the bell curve as one can get.  Yet here they are idolized in a book that is on a shelf meant to impress.  As far as I can tell, there is no literature about people who have finished in the middle of their class at any institution.
The South Park goth kids think you are a conformist.
      Let's tackle this a different way.  Being totally average and normal is often derided in our society.  Ask any of these kids and I am sure that you will hear the word "conformist" uttered in contempt.  What about the movie Office Space?  The entire movie is based on derision of those who are either normal and average within the soulless corporate office setting or those who strive to be.  Maybe it is just the media that sets this stuff up but I have one more example.  In the television show Community, a barrage of comparisons is used to make someone feel bad because they are totally and completely average, or at least that is the premise:

      You're average, Britta Perry. You're every kid on the playground who didn't get picked on.  You're a business casual potted plant; a human whites sale.  You're VH1, RoboCop 2, and Back to the Future 3.  You're the center slice of a square cheese pizza.  Actually, that sounds delicious.  I'm the center slice of a square cheese pizza.  You're Jim Belushi.

- Abed Nadir

Now, this television show's longstanding hatred of Jim Belushi aside, the point here is that poor Britta is being skewered for being normal.  Because apparently being at the top of the bell curve is a bad thing.
      I disagree.  I don't think that there is anything wrong with being normal.  With being one of the giant slice of those of us who inhabit the area in the middle of the bell curve spectrum.  It is great to be an exceptional occurrence, but being the norm is okay.  We have for some reason set up this who idea by which we are all told that we are individuals, snowflakes, uncommon occurrences, yet we all long to fit in and sit on top of the bell curve.  Even the nonconformists hang together.  We rove in packs - it is in our DNA.  But packs can't be all made up of examples of the ends of the bell curve, it just doesn't work.  Someone always ends up on the top of the bell curve.  And I think that is a wonderful place to be.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas

     Company, I know that it has become politically correct to wish people a very bland and general happy holidays at this time of year.  And that is fine.  But I do not believe in that.  I celebrate Christmas, so please have a Merry Christmas.  If you choose to wish me tidings for a different holiday that you celebrate, that is great, and I will gladly accept them with a smile upon my face.  Whatever you choose to celebrate, here is hoping from everyone here at Big Dave and Company that you do it safely and festively.  And we wish to extend our sincere thanks to those who will be working or serving on the holiday - soldiers, police, fire, EMT's, nurses, utility guys, etc. - so that we don't have to.  Thank you very much.  Oh and I will do it anyway - Happy Holidays everyone!

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Gift that Isn't

     I know someone who used to date a guy who would preface anything serious he was about to say with the term "real talk."  So, for instance, he would say something meatheaded like: "Real talk, I think that shirt might be a little bit too small on you."  Or: "Real talk, does this look infected?"
      So real talk, Company, I want to talk to you about Christmas, which is approaching not fast but at the same speed as it does every single year.  I want to do some real talk with you about why I dislike the Christmas season.  Because when you strip away all the stuff about being an award-wining media mogul, a famous North Korean metal foundry owner, and larger than life oppressor of hundreds of Unpaid Interns, I am just a super charismatic, handsome, and incredibly awesome person just like the rest of you.  And I have the same issues and insecurities as you all do.  Issues and insecurities that are heightened at this time of the year.
      Tons and tons of people are going to be running around and lamenting how the meaning of Christmas has changed, how it has become this ode to mass commercialism and extravagant gift giving while losing all of the meaning that is supposed to be wrapped up in the season.  (That's a sweet pun, did you see what I did there?)  And maybe it has to a degree, but the people posting memes about that on Facebook are the same people posting photos of themselves with their new 60 inch SmartTVs at Wal-Mart.  Or they are hipsters who just finished filming a Budweiser commercial.  I reject that argument anyway because on the first Christmas, the day on which Jesus Christ was born, the three wise men are specifically noted for the gifts which they bring, and their astounding sense of direction.  So Christmas has ALWAYS been about giving gifts.  That was the blueprint that was set out for us.
      Besides, I LOVE giving gifts and making people happy.  I LOVE IT.  It is one of my favorite things, especially when you get to have the sort of element of surprise and the person doesn't know it is coming.  When it comes out of the blue.  Birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays - read Christmas - are fraught with peril and nervousness for me because the element of surprise is gone.  There is a real expectation which is wrapped up (there it is again!) with the holidays, and I just can't handle that emotionally.
     The problem is that I am totally insecure, and in the end I just desperately want to be liked.  That is all I want.  So while I like to give gifts to people, once you add that sense of expectation to the equation now I am unbelievably afraid that I am going to fail at the gift giving.  If you know the gift is coming then you know what you expect to get, and if I fail to deliver that for you, then there really isn't a reason for you to like me anymore, is there?
     So I do the grown up thing and I ask for a list.  Or at least some suggestions.  And I get nothing.  Oh, I pony up and tell you what I want, but invariably I do not get a list in return.  So I left to wander the wasteland of my mind and store after big box store after strip mall after Chinatown back alley to try and find just the right gift for you, which is impossible because YOU know what you want, but God forbid I get to get in on that action.
    Stress level, through the roof.  Because to me, Christmas is not about simply giving you a gift in the spirit of giving.  It become this sinister self imposed test as to whether or not I am worthy of being liked by you., which is absolutely fucking absurd.  Because it is a test in which no one else is participating, whose results are actually meaningless, and which I know I will not pass.  Because I am the grader and I know what the results will be, regardless of what the results really are.  So I stress out about it, and invariably I fail at giving the gift because that is what I set myself up for.  Complete and utter failure in no one's mind but my own.
     So that is it.  That is why I dread the Christmas holiday every single year.  And that is why I fail at it, even when I don't really fail at it.  Because, in my mind, I cannot succeed.  And I will not succeed.  And I don't deserve to get the wonderful gifts that you got me because mine are so subpar that they aren't really gifts at all.  That is my problem with the holiday.  And thankfully, wonderfully, and frustratingly it is my problem alone.  Great.  Merry Christmas.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Age vs. History

      The other day, Company, I saw a late-eighties Ford Festiva tooling around the Worldwide Headquarters with classic car license plates.  And that is...well, fucking ridiculous.  Because a 1988 Ford Festiva is not a classic car.  It is just an old car.  It doesn't belong in a museum, it isn't going to be in any history books really unless it is the history of crappy cars.  Maybe in the Ford museum you will find one but all in all it is a car destined to be forgotten by history, or by at least 99.99999999999999999% of the population.  Which brings me to my point, Company: Not everything that is old is a classic.
     It is true.  Spend a couple of minutes and watch any random episode of Antiques Roadshow.  There is always some geriatric dingbat who wanders into the convention center with a pyrex baking dish from 1953 and tells the appraiser that it is insured for $25,000 and is going to be her nest egg for the upcoming retirement.  Once the appraiser is finished destroying the person's dream and future and informs the person that those things are a dime a dozen and that actually they can be purchased at any friendly local thrift store you can see the person slowly realize this one important central fact: Not everything that is old is a classic.
     The fact remains for so many things:  coffee grinders, dining room tables, pool cues, cars, combines, books, movies, wallets, china, etc, etc, etc.  Everyday people like you or I, Company, have this nasty habit of ascribing value to things that simple does not exist.  Sometimes we do it because we own the object, sometimes we have a good memory tied to it, but it is just something we do.  "I mean, this is a really nice, old, classic hair brush.  In 1920 this would have been a girl's prize possession and she would have had it all her life."  Okay, whatever.  You could also buy it for a nickel at Woolworth's and everybody and their sister had one.  Just because your grandmother used it to brush her hair before she put on her flapper outfit and did the Lindy doesn't mean that it is classic or valuable in the grand sense of the world.  99.8% of the value that comes to that old hairbrush - notice I didn't say antique - is because it was your grandmother's.  And that is okay.  But realize that it wasn't my grandmother's and that in my eyes 99.8% of the value simply isn't there.
    So cool it with all this business, Company.  Just because the movie is in black and white doesn't mean it is a classic, it just means that it is old.  And if you prefer old movies that is fine, but I have seen plenty of B&W films that are just terrible.  I mean, that is the whole premise of Mystery Science Theater 3000.  That is just the way it is.  That junky old Chrysler runabout boat isn't anything special.  Neither is that Dreamcast that you have packed away in your closet.
     I am not saying that you have to get rid of all of your junk, Company.  If you want to be a hoarder and build garage after garage to store all of your not-quite-priceless non-antiques that if just find.  A store near the Worldwide Headquarters always called it "Junque." So if you want to have all your junque that is fine.  But it is time to give up the delusions of grandeur.  Don't stop bringing that stuff to Antiques Roadshow, though.  That shit is hilarious.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving to You!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone out there from all of us here at Big Dave and Company.  Take a minute today to think about what you are thankful for - whatever it happens to be - and have a safe and enjoyable holiday.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Trip Switch

     I did not get to be a media mogul by spending money, Company.  I did it by being super charismatic, a little ruthless, and by cutting corners wherever I can.  So when the time came for me to build the Worldwide Headquarters, I naturally had the Unpaid Interns design the building so that I did not have to hire an expensive architect.  Makes sense, right?  Anyway, because they are Unpaid Interns and they are dicks they really screwed me over when it comes to the light in my kitchen.
     I knew from the first minute that I walked into my kitchen many years ago that this particular issue would need to be addressed.  The kitchen features two doors: one that leads outside and is the entrance that I use the most, and a second which goes to the great room. The two doors are on opposite walls.  The kitchen also features a light in the ceiling, which is operated by a switch, as would be expected.
     But here's the rub, Company.  The dickweed Unpaid Interns only put one switch for the kitchen light, and they put it at the door from the outside. None where one enters from the great room.  So what, that makes sense you say.  Well you are an idiot.  I am sorry, that was rude.  But here is the problem with this situation:  With the only switch being across the room from where I enter it in the morning, and last leave it at night, etc, whenever I come from inside the Worldwide Headquarters and want to turn the light on I have to navigate the entire length of the room in the dark to flip the switch and scream "LET THERE BE LIGHT!" at the top of my lungs.  And so I am routinely tripping over shoes, random things, servants, and Unpaid Interns when I need to get a drink in the middle of the night.
     So I did what any adult media mogul would do: I liquidated some assets in Southeast Asia and hired a friendly local electrician to come and convert the light to a three way switch.  He was a tremendously nice man who did a fantastic job for a reasonable price.  The switch looks great, it works fantastically, it is located in the correct place at the correct height, and it hasn't electrocuted me once so far.  I couldn't be happier.  In fact, the day that the Unpaid Interns told me that the job was completed, I went into the kitchen and just used the new switch to flip the light on and off for like ten minutes while giggling like I was Beavis and/or Butthead. 
    I can hear you thinking "Great Big Dave, fantastic.  Keep rubbing your bougeoise three way switches in my face you son of a bitch.  That sounds amazing, what could your possibly have to complain about?"  Well, I will tell you, Company.  The tree way switch is messing with my OCD.
     Wait, what?  Big Dave has OCD?  Yeah, a little bit.  Everyone has a little bit of OCD in their life.  Some more than others.  And what is driving me crazy now that my extravagant three way switch has been installed, it has been eating away at me because as often as not, when I go to turn the light on with either of the switches, I am flipping the switch downward.
     No.  Nuh-uh.  Uncool.  That is so wrong and dirty.  Switches in the down position should mean that the power is off.  Not on.  That just feels dirty and wrong, and not in the fun way.  I understand how a three way switch works, and I understand why the situation HAS to be like it is.  I get it.  That doesn't mean that I have to accept or like it. 
     I am not sure why this sort of strange OCD-ness seems to manifest itself with this particular set of switches more so than any other.  I have had three-way switches in my life for years and years - all my life as a matter of fact.  And it had never been like this.  NEVER.  There are other sets of three way switches in the Worldwide Headquarters and I don't have this issue with them.  But this set?  Drives me nuts. 
    So I don't know what to do, Company.  I just don't.  I am sure that in time it won't bother me so much, but for right now it is just messing up my world and I don't know how to handle it.  It is really tripping me up in my daily life.  I should just replace it with an Unpaid Intern with a pull cord.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Happy Veteran's Day

    Happy Veteran's Day to all of those who are currently or have served in the armed forces.  All of us here at Big Dave and Company sincerely thank you and yours for your service and sacrifice.  I hope you have a wonderful day.

Monday, November 09, 2015

Culinary Infidelity

     Oh B-Town.  Out of all the people whom I expected to commit infidelity, you are definitely not the one.  Yet, apparently, without your own knowledge or consent, you did so.  You apparently committed culinary infidelity - whatever the hell that is.
     Apparently there are a lot of different types of infidelity that one can commit in a marriage.  There is traditional, where you knock boots with someone other than your wife and/or husband, rolling around in the bed like you are trying to tandem fold a fitted sheet or something, or where you dry hump in an elevator while on your way to one of those rotating rooftop restaurants.  There is what you could call mental or psychological infidelity, where you just think about the elevator thing with like a co-worker or the paper delivery guy all the time.  You could also probably make the case for something like dental infidelity, in which your dentist finds you with some other DDS's hands in your mouth.
    But culinary infidelity?  That one is new to me. Apparently this is a situation in which someone cooks food for someone other than their significant other.  Like, for instance, if a loving wife cooks a casserole for the friendly local minister or something.  That is it.  That is culinary infidelity.  That is a THING.
Just putting this picture here is probably a form of culinary infidelity.
     The problem with culinary infidelity, though, it that is seems to lack any sort of regular or standard definition, which I guess makes it pretty similar to regular, old-fashioned infidelity.  So apparently if you bake brownies for your husband's buddies at deer camp, that is okay.  But pizzas for your girlfriends on girls' night?  That is culinary infidelity.  Making delicious tacos for your children?  Apparently not.  Sixteen plates of marinated chicken shish-kabobs?  The jury is still out on that one.  We haven't done the research as of yet.  But it leaves all sorts of questions and scenarios that need to be worked out.  And each of these super awesome scenarios will have a different answer for each different person.  Casserole for the bake sale?  Bold choice.  Technically it is baked but it really isn't in the spirit of the whole bake sale concept...but anyway, is it culinary infidelity?  What about pot stickers for a potluck?  That is like a culinary infidelity orgy because I assure you that whomever you are both your and your significant other are both going to try those scalloped potatoes au gratin with ham and broccoli that the third grade teacher make.  Mmmm...that sounds good.  Is she single?
      Nevermind.  The point is that there is exactly no way to avoid culinary infidelity if you are part of a relationship in which one of the parties is inclined to be worried about that.  It is unavoidable.  Because there are no real rules, and because the definitions are always changing based on the mood, temperature, and type of cheese that is being used, it is bound to happen at some point.
    Well get out your brooms, Company, because I am calling shenanigans on this business.  The good news is that culinary infidelity is not a big deal.  Check that.  It SHOULD not be a good deal.  Because it doesn't really have to happen.  The reason that it really comes to light is because the jealous party sees the good cooker making something and they suddenly realize that they want that badly.  Well, joke's on you Mr. Guy, because even though you are not the one making the food, and you are not the one taking it to other people, the culinary infidelity is your fault.  Not the fault of the cooker.  The bottom line is this: If you are the spouse or significant other of the cooker, you have the pipeline anytime you would like to get the delicious food.  All you have to do is ask.  And maybe offer to do the dishes.  So by that logic, culinary infidelity is bullshit. And I have won shenanigans.  And I feel like maybe the good cooker should whip something up for me.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Unintended Greatness

     Have you ever heard of the "law of unintended consequences," Company?  It is a pretty simple concept.  It holds that any action by any person or body will have effects that are unanticipated or unintended.  It is the reason why someone in every episode of the show Scorpion says "I did not see that coming."  The really fun thing is that sometimes the law of unintended consequences manifests itself in really strange ways.  And recently, a strange unintended consequence has been manifesting itself with the game The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
    First, some background. This game was first issued in 1998 and can be played on a number of Nintendo consoles, including but not limited to the N64, Wii, and something called the iQue, which to me sounds like some sort of new miniature city car from Nissan or something.  It has sold, over the course of its lifetime, 7.6 million copies worldwide.  So a lot of people are playing that shit.  But apparently, there is something about this game that makes it amenable to being beat in strange and innovative ways.  And there is your unintended consequence.
     Recently, someone who is known as "Runneryguy2489" was able to beat the entire game blindfolded.  It took him 103 hours to beat it straight through from beginning to end.  That is pretty impressive. What is even more impressive is the amount of time that he has put into mastering this somewhat run of the mill entry in the Legend of Zelda series.
    His strategy was to play the game every Wednesday night for over a year.  I am not sure if the blindfolded mastery was the ultimate goal, but eventually he tried a couple of dungeons blindfolded and worked onward from there until he was able to succeed.  And good for him, that is a really unique feat that he worked hard towards and ultimately reached is goal.  Congratulations, Runnerguy2489.  Kudos to you.
     The thing is, he wasn't the first person to beat the game without seeing it.  In 2010, a blind Canadian man named Jordan Verner defeated the game with the help of other dedicated gamers who each played parts of the game, wrote their moves down in a script, then sent it to him for his computer to read out loud to him.  So it was more like a team effort on that front, at least according to television station WIS in Columbia, South Carolina.
     Earlier this year, apparently someone also beat the game using a Dance Dance Revolution pad, because why the hell not?  That is a totally normal, reasonable, rational thing to do with your time.  You can watch the dude (but not the King of the Dudes), do it on YouTube.
     The fact that two people were able to do it without sight, albeit with some help in one case and a lot of practice in another, tells me that there is some sort of unintended consequence to this game that the developers and coders never intended.  I am not a gamer, I am not a Technical Producer, I am not a Hax0r l3te, I am not even a Maytag repairman.  But I do know that if two people without the power of sight can beat a game then there has to be some sort of rhythm to it, or at least some sort of predictability where the same things happen at the same time every time you play the game. 
    This is not necessarily a bad thing, Company.  Please do not think that I am ragging on the makers of the game.  If I wanted to make fun of the game or its creators I would make fun of the fact that the title is Legend of Zelda, Ocarina of Time.  What the hell is that about?  Ocarina of time?  They really had to be scraping the bottom of the barrel for that one.  First of all, no one plays the ocarina - not anyone, not anyplace, and not anytime.  This is what an ocarina looks like.  It looks like something that your girlfriend would buy at Pier One for no conceivable reason other than that some idiot working at Pier One said it would look good on your shelf.  Second, it does not allow you to change or affect time other than that I am sure that listening to someone practice the ocarina would probably make one hour feel like approximately fifth-seven years.  So why are you making this weird ceramic musical instrument (and they were very liberally interpreting the term "musical instrument" when they applied to this thing I assure you) the centerpiece of a game?  It makes no sense.
     But I am not here to make fun of the game, or its makers.  That is not the point here.  It is obviously a very popular game which has sold millions upon millions of copies over time, and it obviously has such a devoted following that people will play it for hours and hours and hours on end, and they will help one another across international boundaries and the internet to be more successful at the game.  How cool is that?  I don't see people doing that for GTA or The Pins McGee Bowling Simulator game.  Or Ms. Pac Man.  The point here, Company, is that for all the wonderful things that this game created the unintended consequence is that you can beat it blindfolded.  And somewhere out there someone is probably working on beating it with one arm tied behind their back.  And if they aren't, they should be.
      They should hook up with that Dance Dance Revolution pad guy.  That seems like it would be the easiest way.  Just sayin'.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Five Minute Blog

     So it is five minutes before the top of the hour, as they would say in the radio business.  And since I have some things that I want to do come the top of the hour, in the traditional style of a media mogul, I am going to just write you a five minute blog today, Company.  Five minutes.  I have no plan, I have no subject picked out really, I just know that I have five minutes and that I guess that we are going to find out how many words per minute I can type, by typing all sorts of words and counting them and then dividing by five.  Also in the traditional style of a media mogul.
     What do you think about that, Company?  I know, probably not much.  But I just don't care.  This is what you are getting.  Sometimes you don't exactly get what you signed up for.  You wanted something smart, something topical, something maybe up to date.  Nope, you are weird ramblings mixed with a strange pinch of irrational anger.  VERY irrational anger.
     I have exactly no reason to be angry with you, dear Company.  Exactly none.  Yet there it was, just in the paragraph above.  For no reason.  I guess that I am just the worst kind of person.  The kind who is angry for no reason.  And that is that, Company.  The true colors of me, the media mogul, Big Dave, who also owns the Kim Jong Il Metal Foundary, the glorious rising sun of all metal foundaries, in Pyongyang, North Korea.
     And now it is the top of the hour.  So I've gotta go.

Monday, October 05, 2015

The H is O

     I am not sure if you know this, Company, but not too long after we here at Big Dave and Company built our elaborate Worldwide Headquarters, I sent out for some unpaid interns from the local ag school to plant me a top notch garden on the roof of the main building, in the grand tradition.  And right in the middle I instructed them to put a sweet fire pit, a fire pit which I filled with dead grass, weeds, and other assorted debris from my yard, also in the grand tradition. 
    Well I made the mistake of telling some of them that I was going to light the things in my fire pit on fire, and soon they were all clamoring for a spot around my campfire.  It was BYOB, to they BTOB, which when mixed with the radio and some sparkling conversation, came to be a pretty nice time.  But too nice a time, because soon there were more requests.  No, wait, I lied.  Soon there were more demands.
The Worldwide Headquarters is located inside a Dire Straits video
     First came the demands from the people who decided not to show the first time.  "When are you going to have another fire, Mr. Media Mogul with nothing better to do?"  "I thought that maybe you were going to have a fir tonight so I can drink beers in your backyard."  And so on and do forth.  Then, the cries and the devious plans and the e-mails back and forth reached an undeniable crescendo.  "We had such a nice time, you must have another fire."  So the fire is on I guess.
     But I have been resisting.  I am not for this not even a little bit.  Because it is not the same.  Now the H is O.  THE. HEAT. IS. ON.  Pun not intended but I wish it were.  Because all these people had a nice time at the first fire but not they want another.  The expectation is there.  The pressure is on.  And that never leads to anything but disaster.
     Here is the thing, Company.  Sometimes, things just happen.  And in fact, the best things usually just happen.   And when you try to recreate that moment that just happened, it never lives up to the expectation and the hype.  The sequel is never as good as the first movie, am I right?  Go watch Major League 2 and tell me how that goes for you.  Now, when you are done with that, go watch Smokey and the Bandit 3, tell me how that one is working out for you, and then maybe realize that you shouldn't be taking movie recommendations from me because that movie is terrible and you will never get that hour and a half of your life back.  I thought you would have figured that out by now.
     Anyway, the first fire had a certain magic because all of the elements sort of just came together in the most unexpected way.  The fire.  The people.  The starry night.  The alcohol had a lot to do with it I am sure.  But all of those bits of recipe were present in just the right quantities with just the right cooking time and temperature and suddenly something wonderful occurred.  And everyone who was there had that lodged in their brain, and worse yet HAS THAT EXPECTATION.
    But it can't happen.  I won't happen.  No matter what, you can't have those same ingredients with the same conditions, no matter what you expect.  So now I feel the pressure to recreate that which cannot be recreated so that the attendees get what they expect.  And with that pressure, the H which we have already discussed is O, gets turned up a notch and the recipe can't possibly cook right.  So it will be forced.  And while it will be fine - and I am sure it will be - but it won't be the same.  And I will know it.  And the veterans of the first fire will know it.  And the people who came after hearing about it won't know but they will be feeling a little let down.
    Then the magic will be gone.  Because when that whole scenario happens, and it will happen, it sucks all of the magic out of the person doing the cooking (which is me in this scenario, Company.  it's me), but it also manages to suck a little of the magic out of the original event just through association.  And that is sad.  Because a second cake that doesn't turn out right shouldn't be a reflection on the one that you tried that made you order. 

Hold on, I am going to go get a piece of cake.

 *     *     *

     Okay, so anyway, there is a way that you can avoid this sort of disappointing second date scenario.  The key to success is to take the second event in its own right - for whatever it is worth just as itself - as opposed to looking at it in terms of the first event.  Instead of Major League 2, you need to have The Bourne Ulitmatum.  So that you can tell the events are linked and have many of the same attributes but can still stand alone.  Wipe that first campfire from your memory and just find a place for the second somewhere else in the brain.  That is the way to do it.  The trick is making everyone buy into that.  The alcohol will help.  But you also have to be smooth about it, Company.  That is why, I am a media mogul - because I work the best when the heat is on.  And the H is O, my friends.  The H is O.

Friday, October 02, 2015

A Prayer for a Broken Society

     A friend of mine has something behind his knee called a Baker's cyst.  It occurs when there is damage in the joint causing the joint to create and retain excess fluid, which forms a cyst when it has nowhere else to go.  It is a very painful thing.  If you take the time to look that up on the Internet - because that is what everyone wants to have in their search history - you will see that  there really isn't a cure for a Baker's cyst.  You can treat the symptoms, but the only way to truly solve the Baker's cyst problem is to cure whatever is ailing the joint as a whole so that it stops producing fluid.
     As I have been thinking about the horrible school shooting that occurred at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, and the one before that, and the one before that, etc, etc. it is apparent to me that something is deeply wrong and broken in our country and society as a whole.
     It has come to pass that we have to do this whole painful, unnecessary scene over and over again too often these days.  There have been 294 mass shootings in the first 274 days of 2015 according to Mother Jones.  Over one hundred 9100) times since the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut in December 2012, one governor or another has stood at one podium or another in a capital somewhere in America an sent our prayers for the latest victims of a school shooting.  It has happened forty-five (45) times so far in 2015 as Newsweek reports.  And every time, before the tears have dried, before the crime scene tape comes down, before the evidence has all been catalogued, one politician or another stands up and all the rhetoric and posturing and mudslinging over gun control beings.
      But it is all bullshit, and none of it actually matters.  Regardless of your stance on guns and gun control, that is not the problem here.  Guns are the Baker's cyst.  We can slap all of the controls and waiting periods and background checks and gun safety classes on that we want, but it won't solve the problem.  The problem is that somewhere along the way we as a society have devalued human life so much that we find this acceptable.  THE ONLY WAY TO STOP THIS SORT OF SENSELESS VIOLENCE IS TO TEACH PEOPLE THAT IT IS NOT OKAY TO JUST SHOOT OTHERS FOR NO REASON. 
      That is the only way that this is going to work.  And the sad, terrible truth is that the fix will not be fast.  There is a lost generation of people out there who have lost the skills to reason correctly, to ask for help, or to understand that walking into a school, movie theater, shopping mall, church, temple, post office, or any other public gathering place is simply something that should not be done.  There will be a lot more blood, a lot more tears, a lot more rhetoric, a lot more press conferences, before we every get it through our heads that we have to accept other, tolerate others, and just not kill one another all the time.
    So as you sit and reflect on the things that have happened in Oregon this week, and you begin to send out your thoughts and prayers, send them out for the families of the victims.  Send them out for the survivors.  Don't send them out for the deceased because they do not need them - Heaven has thirteen more souls in it today for sure.  But maybe take a minute to send some of those thought and prayers to the people who have this sort of sickness inside of themselves.  Who think that perpetrating this kind of awful, horrible, unacceptable act is okay.  Because they are the ones who have lost their way.  Those people need a dose of help from whatever deity is willing to send it.  So save one of them, you will save many more of the rest of us.  And that is the only way this will ever end.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

St. Patrick's Day

     So Company, today is St. Patrick's Day and by now you are hung over, Company.  Because you were day drinking today I would assume.  I was going to write a bunch of stuff about St. Patrick himself, but it appears that I have already done that, so I guess I am all out of ideas.  So let's just leave it at this:  Happy St. Patrick's Day!  May many snakes follow you during marching band.  And I hope that you get that joke.  Be safe and have a great day!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Selection Sunday

     Well Company, it is Selection Sunday, and I could not be more excited.  The NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament is my favorite spectacle in the world of sport, more even than the Super Bowl or Opening Day (a close second) or the Tim Horton's Brier.  I would probably like the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament just as much if I were to watch it so I am going to give it the benefit of the doubt.  Today is the day that every one of the sixty-eight teams which are in the tournament learn a.) if they are in the tournament or not and b.) where they have to play and whom they have to play and when they have to play.  Okay, so maybe that was more than two, but the "b" option can be described as their seeding in the parlance of people who know and care.
    Now, Company, you know that I do not generally like to do sports articles on here because most of you just don't care, and that's okay.  So I am not going to talk about stuff in this post like why I feel conference champions should never be in the First Four because they have already played their way into the Tournament and the First Four should be the last four teams in, so that this year's First Four should be like UCLA, Indiana, LSU, and Texas.  I am going to steer this more towards the human aspect of Selection Sunday.  Because that is what makes Selection Sunday so unbelievably great.
     One of the unique aspects of Selection Sunday is that CBS - who holds the right to reveal the seedings to the world - takes its cameras into locker rooms and hotel conference rooms and arenas of all these teams to see how they react to what is going on.  There are three main groups: The teams that know they are in and are usually in and are just waiting to see their seeding; the teams that know they are in and are maybe a small school that doesn't always get into the Tournament who are waiting to see who will be their Goliath; and those school that desperately hope they are going to be invited to the Tournament but aren't quite sure.  Those are called "bubble teams" and they are said to be "on the bubble."
    The first group - the ins - are the most boring.  They are sitting in an amazing film room in their giant high-dollar athletic facility or maybe a conference room at the nearest Hyatt, and they look like they couldn't care less.  The feign excitement, their coach talks about how they can't overlook the tiny liberal arts college from New Hampshire that has been chosen to play them, and the studio hosts have erections when they talk about them.  LAME. No one cares because you obviously don't and there is no mystery or joy in anything you do.  You are the IRS of basketball teams because they are monolithic, and nobody really likes them until the refund check arrives in the mail.  And you are mad when they screw you over.
     The second group is pretty fun.  These guys usually go to a smaller school that is either a.) not known for basketball or b.) just generally not known.  They have most likely won their conference tournament - a conference that you never knew existed - and in all likelihood they are not going to win many games in this Tournament.  They may not win at all.  But they are excited at the chance.  Simply the hope of being able to do something fantastic.  So when it gets announced that they have the opportunity to fly across the country in three days to play a team that in all likelihood will beat them by eleventy billion points, they are JACKED UP!  They are sitting in a lecture room or maybe the coach's basement rec room, wearing their warmups, and they could not be more ecstatic.  Enjoy guys.  Have a fun time with that.  But I love that you are excited.  And you are excited because you are living your dream.
    Watching people live their dreams is one of the most American things in the world.  That is why Extreme Makeover Home Edition was on TV for all those years.  And it is why I love those second group guys.  But the third group is where all the action is, because these are the guys who DON'T KNOW what is going to happen.  This is where all the drama is.
     You can further break down the third group are the teams that don't know if they are in but are not big name schools, and the teams that don't know if they are in but ARE big name schools.  These big name schools are usually hoping that they can skate by on their big name and history and the fact that a lot of the other schools they played were pretty good and are in that first group.  They are in their super high end film rooms and they are terrified.  Because the expectation was that they would be in the Tournament.  And they might not be.  And the NIT is looming.  You can see the fear in their eyes.  So when their name appears on the ten line and they find out they are playing Wichita State they are relieved more than anything.  Despite the fact that they wouldn't play Wichita State during the regular season because they were afraid they would lose to them and it would keep them out of the Tournament.  Ironic, huh?
     The small schools are the best drama though, because they have VERY LITTLE going for them.  Those big name schools can often skate in just because they are themselves and people want to see them in the Tournament.  But those small schools really sweat on Selection Sunday.  When the team sees their name it is unbridled passion and joy and relief.  The highest form of it.  Nothing matters.  They are in.  They are living their dream.  You could come in and tell them that they were all losing their scholarships next year and it would not phase them.  They jump and scream and act like kids because, you know, they are all between eighteen and twenty.
      But then there is always that one school that does not make it in.  And you just can't but help feeling for those guys.  They are heartbroken.  Their rug has been yanked out from under them and their hope was on it.  Later on, when they look back at their run to the third round of the NIT, they will see the season as a success.  And most likely it was because they had twenty wins, less than ten losses, and made a postseason tournament of some sort.  They represented themselves well.  But in this moment, on Selection Sunday, they are doing everything they can to not cry on national television.  And it breaks my heart a little bit.
     That is why I love Selection Sunday.  All of that human drama.  Teams of guys working tirelessly towards a goal that they may or may not achieve.  And it all hangs in the balance in that one golden moment, on a weekend in March.  In their coach's basement.  On Selection Sunday.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

In Defense of Daylight Savings Time

     By the time that you read this, Company, you will already have sprung your clocks ahead.  Somewhere during the middle of the night you will have lost a whole hour of your precious little life in a feeble attempt to offset the hour that you relived - Groundhog Day style - back in the fall.  All in the name of Daylight Savings Time, an antiquated notion regarding how we all keep time that not everyone observes, and which is observed slightly differently and arbitrarily by those of us who do choose to observe it.
    That is the problem with time - that it is arbitrary.  Time used to be simple, man.  When the sun was at its highest point in sky it was noon where you were standing and life was good.  But then the railroads came along and things got impossible.  If you have trouble with one of those "A train leaves Baltimore..." math questions, imagine if there was no uniform time being kept and there was no way to tell exactly how far apart that station in Baltimore is from the other station in Wichita where the other train is leaving from.  So the railroads turned to something even more ridiculous and greedy and untenable than they themselves were: The government.  And as it is wont to do, the government went ahead and fucked time right the hell up.
     They sort of did a good thing because they got together with all the other countries and sort of decided how they wanted to do it.  And it made sense for the most part.  Until a couple of things happened: 1.) Some countries gave the right to administer time within their boundaries to their political subdivisions like states or provinces and 2.) Countries realized that time was arbitrary and they could mess with it however the hell they wanted.  So you have issues like China which has decided to put its entire country on one time zone instead of the four that it really should have under the original system, so that at its border with Afghanistan there is a FOUR HOUR time difference from one side of the pass to the other.  Or you get the weird half hour time zone that they choose to have in Newfoundland because...well, I suppose they do it just to be dicks.  And then people started living in cities and things REALLY got messed up.
     See, we started living in apartments and working in offices and factories before we really got around to mastering electricity, so we could only do worthwhile things while it was light outside.  That is why older building have really big windows all over them, or at least big window spaces.  So someone noticed that it was often dark at inopportune times and decided that if we moved the clocks we could have more light while we were trying to do stuff.  Then, once they started to have some energy crises and they realized it helped to save money, it was here to stay.
    But things are different now.  All the young people who are starting to be in charge of posting things on the Internet these days are starting to rebel against Daylight Savings Time.  As we have been ramping up to the springing forward all I have seen is article after article crying out that we need to abolish Daylight Savings Time.  Wipe it off the face of the earth.  "I mean, it is just a human designed thing meant to benefit us humans so we can do with it what we want, right?  Plus, our iPhones sort of have a problem with updating it automatically so I am not sure we can keep it.  It is just an antiquated idea from a much different time."
     No.  There is your answer, dirty hipster.  No.  We need to keep Daylight Savings Time.  Sure it is inconvenient to change the two clocks in your house that don't automatically do it for you.  And yeah, I worked in a hotel during one of the changes and it sucked dick because there were three clocks in each room and there were like sixty rooms and it took me forever.  And yeah, when you work overnights there is no way that you don't get screwed on time change night.  I get that.  But Daylight Savings Time still holds important cultural and social significance that makes it relevant.
     First of all, everybody who is able to be asleep on the fall back night loves it.  An extra hour of sleep that I get without losing an hour of my day that I need to binge watch Arrested Development on Hulu Plus?  Sign me up!  No one ever complains about getting the extra hour of sleep.
     When the spring forward time comes, it is a little more complex.  The change in time to make the light be out longer at night, when it magically goes from sunset at five to sunset at six, that effect if positively magical.  And in a way it is magic, because it is nothing more than altering reality to make things appear differently.   But that is okay.  With one rotation of the minute hand on your watch, suddenly summer is here and it is here in a hurry.  It gives hope.  Something you desperately need after a long winter.
     Okay, so maybe the arguments for keeping Daylight Savings Time are a little flimsier than those against it.  I understand.  But that doesn't mean that it has to go away, does it?  Sometimes the value in doing certain things is simply in the fact that we do them.  It is just a part of us.  Just like springing forward and falling back.  So let's just keep with it.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Showing You Up

     So it is Sunday morning, Company, and in the grand tradition of the American male I am talking to my television, despite the fact that it does not complete the conversation.  Well, okay.  I am yelling at my television.  The reason being is that I am watching a show in which a guy shows you how to do home improvements and basic carpentry projects.  Today he is building a custom barbecue cart to put out next to his grill, complete with wheels, a cutting board, a paper towel holder, and a spice rack.  It is streets ahead I have to admit.  That being said, it is completely, totally out of reach for 90% of the population, and probably closer to 99.7% of the people actually watching the show right now.
A spindle sander.  You don't own one.
     The problem with this show, and the bulk of how-to shows out there - be them car repair shows, cooking shows, building shows, etc. - is that 100% of them use tools that the average person doesn't have in their home.  There it is.  That is why I am yelling at the TV.  In making his cart, this guy has used both a spindle sander and a biscuit joiner.  Now let me ask you this, Company:  How many people do you know who own a biscuit joiner?  I know approximately zero. 
     This is not a rip on the guy who used one.  The spindle sander was the best tool for the job he was doing.  Same for the biscuit joiner.  Same for the cook who uses a stick blender or a cooking torch.  Or the mechanic who is using a gear puller.  These are all the right tools with the right techniques for doing these things.  But we don't have those in our garage or kitchen or garage.
     I understand - for all of you who want to be the devil's advocate - that in a large way these shows aren't designed to be instructional.  Most of the time, they don't ever intend for you to exactly replicate whatever they do.  These shows exist because people like to watch other people do things, especially things they can't do.  Maybe while watching the pros you get an idea for a new technique or tool that you might be able to use.  I am completely, totally aware of this phenomenon.  And all that is fine.  I do think, however, that there is another possibly unintended consequence of these shows.
     You watch the show because you are interested in what they do.  You like putzing in the garage.  You like to cook, or maybe you really like to eat.  So you watch shows about cooking or eating or putzing in the garage and see them doing all of these projects that you will never be able to do because you don't have the tools.  And you start watching all of the specialty tools and equipment they use in the shop.  And you see all
You probably don't have one of these slicers either.
of the exotic ingredients that they use in the kitchen that you would have to special order at great expense.  And somewhere deep in back of your mind, a door closes.  Your unconscious brain does the math after consulting with your paycheck and the amount of space available in your garage and your natural, God-given ability and your ability to learn new things and your time budget and makes the complicated decision that you will never be a woodworker.  Or you will never restore cars.  Or you will never be a fantastic gourmet chef.
     And there it goes.  There goes your dream.  So maybe there is a niche in there, Company.  We can leave all those pie in the sky shows because obviously they serve their purpose and we like them.  I am okay with them, I really am, even if I am a little angry that Rachel Ray can easily prepare any meal in 30 minutes because "she preps everything when she brings it home from the store."  Strange, I didn't know making a sous chef do it for you before the camera rolls counts as prepping it when you bring it home from the store.  Okay, rant over.  The point is that maybe, just maybe, we could have a couple of show where they say "This is how you can do it with the tools you have at home."  Which consist of a circular saw, a hand mixer, and six sockets.  You know what I mean?  I might not watch that show on TV all the time but I would be on their website EVERY FREAKING DAY.  Just a thought.  And if I had taken the time to Google this idea I am sure that I would see a YouTube channel or a website or two that brings this to fruition.  But is it too much to ask for a little realism on TV?

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day

     So here it is - Valentine's Day.  And in much of the eastern half of America it is pretty cold and awful outside weatherwise, which of course means that there will be a lot of new people coming into this world in mid-November. 
    All enjoyable recreational pursuits aside, Valentine's Day really is a holiday that has something for everyone.  For all of you people out there who are in love and it is still sort of white hot, you have all the romantic traditional Valentine's Day stuff, right?  Vermont bed & breakfasts, flowers, poetry, etc.  For those of you who are still in love but maybe it's been awhile and the slings and arrows - non Cupid - of daily life have broken down some of the romance and white-hotness of the whole thing, you have the opportunity to stoke the fires as it were.  For all you singles out there, well, sucks for you.  Suck it up and deal with it, okay?  If you are a conspiracy theorist, you have the whole "this holiday was created by the gift card companies" line of though, which might be true but let's be honest, they have developed a gift card for every situation and personality, they don't need a special day.  It's also a big day for anyone who is into mob history.  Yeah.  Or maybe you are a big fan of celebrating various feat days of the saints.  Enjoy whatever it is you are doing.
     But please, please, Company.  Remember to be safe, alright?  If you are going to go out to dinner make sure that you have brushed up on your Heimlich skills.  You don't want a tragic incident on such a special day.  If you are going to get just blackout drunk make sure that you have a bartender who will make sure to roll you over on your side when they find you in the opposite sex's bathroom.  If you are a conspiracy theorist, make sure that you do your finger exercises before you type that treatise on your web page so you don't get a painful sprained ring finger.  It can happen.  And if you are a floral delivery person, well, make sure to have a nice comfortable place to sit down at the end of the day, because you are going to need it.
     Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Stacking Up

     Stacking is all the rage these days, apparently.  I am being serious, Company.  My niece is involved in some sort of competitive cup stacking.  She is eight.  And she can stack and unstack red solo cups like nobody's business.  I can only flip them.  And fill and empty them of liquids, of course.  And let's not forget about Jenga.  We are Jenga-ing everything now.  But those are easy and uniform items.  Child's play I tell you.  In our everyday lives most of us deal with a far more difficult stacking issue, and we don't even bat and eyelash at it.
     The issue occurs at the grocery store, and it comes because, well, groceries are not uniform.  It would be great if it were possible.  There are heavy canned goods, there are light but bulky boxed goods, all manner of frozen goods, and don't even get me started with the fruits and vegetables.  Most of them don't even have packaging at all.  And things like bread and eggs are dentable and breakable.
     As a consequence of all of this stuff, there is sort of a hierarchy of where stuff needs to go in the cart, right?   The canned goods go into the bottom because they are the heaviest Same goes for the milk.  You don't want to get into a situation in which you have - say a can of tomato soup lying on top of your multigrain bread.  That is bad juju.  Then comes the boxy stuff because it can still support some weight.  By the time you get through all that stuff you are in the frozen and dairy areas and they can go next.  Meat and fruits and veggies go back on the top.  The bread and the eggs, of course, go into the seat where your child should go.  That child, as we all know, should remain safely locked inside your vehicle while you are shopping. (Editor's Note:  That was a joke.  DO NOT ever leave a child unattended in any vehicle.) 
     And that is the same order they teach the baggers, or at least it should be. Because of all of the same reasons.  The heavy stuff goes on the bottom.  And the same in the car, too.  The heavy stuff on the bottom of the trunk.  It all makes such perfect sense, and that is why we all do it.  Except, of course, for me.  When you are a media mogul, Company, you can just take a bigass moving truck to the store so your bags can lay out in one layer.  But you get the drift.  The heavy stuff goes on the bottom.
     Problem with all of this common sense is that the process is not laid out in a way that supports it.  You go through the store and do an awesome job loading your cart with the heavy stuff on the bottom.  Then, you roll up to the register and it is time to unload.  Well, unless you are really and overachiever, the cart is sort of a FILO affair.  That is First In Last Out.  So as you unload your items onto the conveyor belt that always makes me wonder if it is a long enough distance to really require a conveyor belt, all the light stuff goes on first.  And since it passes through the checkout person FIFO (First In First Out) all the light and breakable stuff gets to the bagger first as well.
    The problem here is that what the bagger needs first is the heavy stuff - all the cans of stewed tomatoes that are still lined up on the conveyor.  So now he has a situation where he has to flip the whole group that is coming in.  In approximately four square feet of space.  But he does it because he is a professional.  Unless it is a woman, then she does it because she is a professional.
     Now let's assume that things are in your cart correctly.  Or as correctly as the bagger gets it.  Truth be told, baggers get a bad rap, and I think that it is because of the system.  They do pretty good most of the time with the job that they are asked to do.  So let's give them the benefit of the doubt and say they get it right.  Now you have a cart loaded with the same things that you loaded in it earlier, albeit in a different order.  But the same general order.  Heavy stuff is on the bottom.  Oh, and don't forget the beer on the way bottom rack.  I seriously think they put that there just so you forget shit.  So now you get to the car and have to unload the cart.  But all of the heavy bags are in the bottom of the cart, so now you are in the same boat as the bagger was.  Except that you are mobile out in the field.  In the snow.  Maybe you live in Arizona.  Now it is a sandstorm.  And that kid you had locked in your car has probably escaped and is running around the parking lot.  Oh, and now you have a dog too.  So have fun with that.
      The point here is that the system is broken people.  All of this flipping and flopping back and forth.  Maybe we need some innovative solution like a circular conveyor belt.  Or a reversible one.  I don't know.  I am not a grocery conveyor belt expert.  I am a media mogul.  I guess that I just don't stack up.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Three Openings (Part 2)

     So Melodie Peil has been driving around for fifteen years with thirteen pounds and a half pounds of pot stowed in the door of her 1990 Chevrolet conversion van, unbeknownst to her.  And the previous owner of the van.  Oh, and the US Customs and Border Patrol.  Yeah, the Border Patrol.
    Peil, of New Mexico, bought her van used thirteen years ago from that aforementioned used car lot to tote her and her family around.  No big deal, right?  Roomy, comfortable, probably not great on gas but who cares, right?  So off she goes, all over the place, including Mexico.  Ten times.  Ten times she passed INTO the us through legitimate border stations with DRUG SNIFFING DOGS and the huge amount of pot hidden in her van, packaged for transport, was never discovered.  That's fucked up, okay?  I have known people who have had their cars literally taken apart by the Border Patrol coming back from Canada JUST BECAUSE.  Okay, usually because the people were day tripping to Canada and were drunk because you can drink really strong Molson there at age 19.  But still, CANADA!  And those people didn't have thirteen and a half pounds of pot packaged for transport in the front passenger door of their van.  But Melodie did, and she never got caught.
     Which is probably a good thing, because, well, she would have been fucked.  Like, royally.  There is no way that you are not going to prison when you get caught with that much marijuana PACKAGED FOR TRANSPORT in the door of your van, even if you really didn't have anything to do with it.  So how did they find it, Big Dave?  How did they discover this treasure trove that would have made her kids the most popular and rich kids in school?  Because the locks didn't work.
This 1990 Chevy conversion van is basically begging to be searched for drugs.
      Or at least one lock.  Melodie was having trouble locking the front passenger door of her 1990 Chevy conversion van, which most people would attribute to the fact that it is a 1990 Chevy conversion van, but when you have thirteen and a half pounds of marijuana packaged for transport stowed away in your 1990 Chevy conversion van, I would suppose that you want the locks to work.  So she calls up her family friend, Bryan Reyes, to get the lock fixed up.  Now I assume that he tried jiggering it, and maybe smacking it, and probably slamming the door really hard a couple of times, and probably some WD-40 like any guy would do.  And when all of that didn't work, in lieu of saying "Hey, it's probably broken because this is a 1990 Chevy conversion van," he went the extra mile and actually tried to fix it right.  So he started to pop the inside door panel off of the door and, well, we will let Bry-guy explain it to you.
     "When I first pulled out the brick, it was a two-pound brick."  You seem to know a lot about marijuana packaged for transport, there Bryan.  Go on. "I was like, holy cow!"  You did not say, "Holy cow."  There was an expletive involved.  Go on. "So I put it on the chair, and I looked and there was [sic] like six more bricks. I thought, this is a lot of marijuana."
     Yes it is, Bryan.  Yes it is. So a phone call to the police and a spot on the local news and that is all she wrote.  Police went ahead and did some extrapolation, and figured that if fifteen years ago some stoner left thirteen and a half pounds of pot in that door, God knows what else he forgot about in there.  And when they figured out that Melodie isn't all that great at, you know, noticing stuff, they decided that they had better give that van the once, twice, and probably three times over.  They even gave the US Customs and Border Patrol an out, saying that the dogs and agents probably couldn't detect the drugs because they were so old. 
     Which is probably what saved Melodie in the long run.  That and the fact that she called the cops instead of them just sort of catching her.  Because, really, if you call the cops to tell them you found a shit ton of pot in your van you have either a.) smoked a shit ton of pot already or b.) it's not your pot.  Also, most people aren't going to carry around thirteen and a half pounds of fifteen year old pot packaged for transport, because it is not exactly like wine, you know?  All I know is that once the police are done with it, Melodie is going to need a new van.  And maybe she will check it out a little better this time.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Three Openings (Part 1)

Okay, Company.  I have one of those articles I write about a crazy news story, but I have three separate openings that I want to do for it.  So since I am unable to choose, what I am going to do is write all three openings here, and then write the rest some other day.  Sound good?  I hope so, because that is what I am doing.

Opening One

     Fifteen years.  Fifteen years.  Do you know how long fifteen years is, Company?  That is a long ass time.  That is almost how long you go to school from kindergarten through senior year.  That is slightly longer than the maximum amount of time an American President is allowed to serve.  That is long enough to conceive and raise a fourteen year old child.  In short, that is a pretty long ass time.  So the fact that someone could go for fifteen years with something totally unknown right below their noses, or more particularly right next to their right leg, is a little bit astounding...

Opening Two

     Have you ever watched the movie Bad BoysBeverly Hills Cop? The TV show CSI: Miami?  Or NCIS: Los Angeles?  Or any other CBS crime drama with a colon in it?  If you have, then you would know that drug dealers and drug runners will go to any length to recover their product.  Like, they will kill eleventy billion people at a party to get the couple of kilos that their mule took.  Or they will rob the Miami Police Department and piss of Martin Lawrence.  So how is it that they couldn't be bothered to retrieve it from a 1990 Chevy Van at a used car lot...?

Opening Three

       In the fantastic show Futurama, Bender and Fry are walking along past a construction site when the excavator digs up an entire, intact, Volkswagen Bus.  So Fry asks if he can have it, and the excavator operator says that if he wants to dump the corpses out of it he can have it, to which Fry responds "Yeah, yeah, I've gotten used cars before."  Classic.  Because in a lot of ways it is true.  Go down to your friendly but slightly dingy and slightly more than slightly sleaszy corner used car dealer, and there is no amount of pine scented air freshners that can be hung from the rearview mirror that will take the smell of the former owner out the outrageously priced Chevy Corsica that you are about to test drive.  And unless you go over it like one of the nerdy lab coated people in one of the shows from Opening One (did I just cause a rip in the space/time continuum by referring to my original opening in an alternate opening?), there is always liable to be something strange that comes to light the first time you try to go for that donut spare under the trunk floor.  Or it could be somewhere else...

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Super Bowl Sunday

     So it is Sunday, February 1, 2015, and 96.7% of America is watching Super Bowl XLIX, which somehow is one less than Super Bowl L, which doesn't make much sense, because Super Bowl L sounds like the brand name of a base model toilet.  I, personally, would spring for the Super Bowl LX, which is actually going to happen XI years from now, since in ancient Rome they didn't do numbers XLIX meant 49, L meant 50, LX means 60, and XI means 11. 
    Anyway, all this math will have to wait until later, because right now the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots are playing football in between commercials and a Katy Perry concert.  And Lenny Kravitz is her special guest because the Super Bowl halftime show always has to feature at least one artist who hasn't been relevant for at least seven years.
     And it has to be boring as hell.  At least to be there in person.  Once, a guy I know described football as being boring because there was action for ten seconds then everyone just mills around for thirty seconds before something happens again.  At the Super Bowl, there is a three minute break every five minutes or so, and an extra long halftime.  And you get to pay thousands for that business.
     Truth be told, it is pretty boring on TV, too.  That is why we all have to throw huge parties to watch the game.  The problem, truthfully, is that no one is ever in it for the whole thing.  The football people are in it for the football, which is completely disrupted by the million billion commercials and the extra long halftime.  The commercial people are in it for the commercials, which are interrupted by football and all the sixty-five hours of pregame.
     If you are, however, one of the people who doesn't give a shit about either, then this is the day for you.  On Super Bowl Sunday in just about every place in America, you can go out wherever you want and do just about anything you would like and not be in anyone's way.  You can hear a pin drop in every grocery store.  You can go to the amusement park and ride every ride without waiting in a single line.  Seriously, I have had the occasion for a whole bunch of the last few years to be driving long distances during the Super Bowl, and the highways are a ghost town.  Just me and a bunch of semi trucks.  The trick, however, is to make sure that you are home by the time the game is over, because by the time The Blacklist comes on, there will be approximately 150 million people drunken driving home.  So watch out for that.
    But anyway, whatever gets you excited about today I hope you enjoy it.  And if you are an employer, I would not bother to plan on getting anything done tomorrow.  In 2008 a study estimated that 4.4 million people are late to work on the day after the Super Bowl, 1.5 million don't show up at all, and productivity losses are in the millions of dollars.  So it sucks to be you.  Enjoy the game!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Ancient Accidents

     So let's set the scene, shall we, Company?  It is a thousand years in the future.  A thousand.  That is a one with three zeros.  That is how much you spent on that bumpin' system in your Corolla.  The world, as Dr. J has predicted many, many times, is vastly different.  Yellowstone has blown its top and wiped out a large amount of civilization.  Those who were left have managed to sort of restart, and a lot of guys got lucky using that "We have to save the civilization, baby.  We are the only two humans left in the whole world." line and now they are at the point where they are re-discovering shit.  So somewhere along the way an archaeologist is digging through the ruins of North America, which has been buried Vesuvius-style. 
The paper was found in the hand of this Unpaid Intern's skeleton
He is digging through the thousand year old ash-soil (relax feministas, this archaeologist happens to be a guy, there are tons of female archaeologists discovering exciting things elsewhere) and he find the ruins of an old building.  As he and his team start the digging for real, one of his interns comes across the remnants of a paper, saved from immolation by ash and lava be being buried under a million billion other papers on someone's desk.  And on it he sees a stamp which reads "Big Dave and Company, Received, January 62, 2015."  OH. MY. GOD.
      Okay, Company, now we jump into the way back machine and come back to the now times.  This might surprise you, Company, but the media empire that is Big Dave and Company is a huge, giant, bureaucracy.  One that is so huge, and lumbering, and complex that even the Federal government or your health care provider.  So it should be no surprise if you think about it, Company, that we have stamps.  A LOT of stamps.  We have ones that say "Copy," some that say "Faxed."  a couple that make pictures of cute kittens, and lots of them that say "Received." and have a date that you can set for whatever the date is. We even have one that says "Denied" for some reason.  And they are all those ink stamps that are really hard and annoying to re-ink, especially when you are trying to do it in business clothes like a white shirt.  It's tremendous.
A selection of our many important stamps.
     Anyway, I am a great boss, and I like to do all that sort of Undercover Boss type stuff.  Included in that is things like opening the mail.  Well, I went down to the mail floor (yeah, we have a whole mail floor, not just a mail room, so suck it other major corporations) and I opened up the mail like, well, like a boss.  I did this on January 23, which was a Friday, so when I was done I went ahead and set the received stamper to say January 26, 2015, so that it was ready for Monday morning.  I know, considerate, right?  Or was it?  Because I didn't set the stamper to say January 26, 2015.  I set it to say January 62, 2015.  I was looking at it upside down and I made a mistake.  Like a boss.
     So fast forward again to a thousand years in the future, and the infamous paper has been transferred to a university somewhere where guys in tweed are looking at it.  And they are using it, along with other articles and items that people have dug up, to try and figure out everything about our civilization.  Like our language or in this case, our calendar.    And they are going to write a textbook all about it, because that is what people in tweed do after they have looked at things.  And now, students at just-a-little-more-than-a-thousand-years-in-the-future university are learning through the first, second, third, and fourth editions of "Ancient America" that we had a sixty-two day long calendar month.  Uh oh.
Additional evidence may lead us to find that these really are cool

     That is wrong.  We don't use a sixty-two day calendar month, unless you have a strange misprint bargain bin calendar that accidentally forgot to separate July and August from one another.  We use a calendar that is sort of based on the moon but not really at all and named after dead people from Roman times.  But the tweed people or male archaeologists or university students of a thousand and change years from now don't know that, because someone found a paper stamped with my incorrectly dated stamp.  Now, maybe another thousand years later they find the National Archives (there has to be a couple of calendars in there, right?) in what used to be Washington, D.C. and things change.  Just like Pluto used to be a planet but then wasn't and now maybe is again.  Or like how we used to think that parachute pants were cool until we found ample evidence that they were not.
      Anyway, Company, the point of all of this is that you never, ever, know how a simple action of yours will affect the course of history. Simply making the simple mistake of setting the stamper incorrectly can make a whole generation be dumbasses.  Or is that archaeologist had chosen to dig over there instead of over here, then maybe it would have just been a mystery until that big National Archives find.  It works the other way, too.  How do we know that something that we have found in an ancient Egyptian tomb isn't a one-off mistake that the carver made.  Maybe it was supposed to be a bird but he carved a snake into that clay tablet.  Maybe we are the dumbasses.  Maybe we have ancient Egypt all wrong.  Just like they will have it all wrong with Ancient America.  Just as wrong as we are about them. 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

MST3K the Liberty Lantern

Let's watch a video.  Shall we, Company?

This is the television commercial that I just recently watched for a product called the Liberty Lantern, which is actually not the worst idea on the face of the Earth.  It is an LED, solar-powered lantern that has a built in USB port for charging your phone or whatever, It is also water resistant and stays cool to the touch.  Sounds pretty good, right?  I think so.  But let's talk about the commercial.  This is one of those "As Seen on TV" products and as you have seen the commercial feels it.  And since these commercials are everywhere these days, I thought that it was about time someone went all MST3K on it.  And this is the one that I picked.  So let's go through it.

0:07 - If this is the weather outside and you don't know that shit is up, then you probably deserve to be wallowing in darkness with no iPad.  Next question.

0:10 - The makers of this video have obviously never suffered a power outage.  The lights aren't going to get BRIGHTER as the juice runs out.

0:12 - Does that actually go through a thing to make it look like a flame starting?  Nice touch.

0:13 - Wait, wait, wait.  So you mean to have me believe that a.) the power goes out and this family just continues playing its board game like nothing happens?  Usually when my power goes out first comes the expletive, then comes me grabbing my phone for some form of light to guide me to where I keep the flashlight, but then again these people have their Liberty Lantern right on the table next to the Monopoly board, which brings me to b.) Who the fuck just hangs out with their Liberty Lantern?  That's messed up.

0:21 - Okay, I will bite on this one.  It is hard to get anything useful done while holding a flashlight.  Ask any plumber or electrician.  But on the flip side, if you are so intent on making coleslaw even through you have no power, well then you have bigger issues than the lack of a third hand.

0:28 - Reading in bed.  When the power goes out, that is the perfect time for, oh I don't know, sleeping maybe.

0:40 - The charging capability is a good idea.  A really good idea for all the just in cases.  But in reality, if you are trying to use your iPad in an emergency, your router is not going to be working, the cell phones might be out, etc.  Enjoy watching your digital copy of Frozen, though.

0:43 - Dear Lady, that lantern has a hangy hoop on the top.  Maybe hang it from the walker and leave the platform free for whatever you are going to get.  Just a suggestions.  Sincerely, Big Dave.

0:54 - What the hell kind of date is this?  That guy is trying awfully hard and failing spectacularly.  He is almost naked and that girl is still in all of her clothes.  If you are in your swim trunks, and your date is still in a hoodie AND bringing something to shed more light on your romantic hot tub area, you aren't going to get some.  Might as well use the charger to charge up your Fleshlight.

1:04 - If that is the only source of light you have outside on your patio, then you are not equipped for nighttime patio parties and should not be holding them.  Also, no one is going to be noticing the lantern, except maybe for one "Wow, that thing really throws off a lot of light" comment.  And approximately zero people will be bringing their children around specifically to check it out.  It is not the prairie dog exhibit at Zoo Boise.

 1:06 - Take it camping?  Now that is a fantastic idea.  It will recharge itself every day, and if it rains it is water resistent.

1:28 - You can charge it from the same things that it charges?  We have broken the space/time continuum.

The Flag of Japan
1:31 - Okay, we don't need to make the "i" be the Statue of Liberty.  Everyone does that for their logo these days, I get it, but in this case it is an awful stretch and just looks cheesy.  Also, if the sun ever looks like whatever that is in the "solar powered" badge, we are all screwed.  Even the Japanese flag has a more realistic sun.

1:31 - What the hell is that crazy blue plazma stream coming off the back of the Liberty Lantern?  Is it on fire with weird blue two-cycle smoke coming off it?  It is a color tornado?  Can someone please explain this to me?  I am so confused and more than a little nervous.

1:33 - I am glad that I get to see all these awesome scenes again.

1:40 - Finally it's over.  I'd buy one.  No wait, check that.  I would not.  I would not buy one on my own accord.  That being said, I would be relatively stoked if I received one as a gift for say Christmas, my birthday, or a bat mitzvah.  And if you were to buy one, Company, I would be like "That's cool.  I saw that thing on TV."  And I can see an instance in which I am camping and I think "I wish I had one of those lantern things that is solar powered and can charge stuff."  So that is that.  It's cool.  Despite the lame commercial.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The State of the Union

    The State of the Union address is on television right now, at least if you live in the United States.  And since it is important, it is on every channel, except, oddly enough, CSPAN.  Yet, no one is watching it.  And that is kind of a sad thing.  But I know why.
     First of all, half of the people in the country aren't watching because they hate the President.  And I don't mean cold, straight, hate, which baffles me.  It is fine to not like the man's politics, but I have never seen such a visceral personal reaction to a President before.  I don't think that people were calling Truman an asshole out in public.  Maybe in private but not just out in public.  But that is why half of the nation isn't watching.
     Second, there are a bunch of people out at work.  And it is important to recognize that.  There is a HUGE number of people who work late or odd hours that make this country go around and get shit done.  And they aren't watching because they are working.  So that is a bunch of people who aren't watching.
     Third, and here is the big one: television.  Network television.  And cable television.  ABC. CBS. CNN. CSPAN. ESPN. Fox News. MSNBC. NBC. PBS.  All of them.  Here is the problem with all of those networks: They are going to tell you what was in the speech.  Sure, they are all going to put some sort of slant on it that fits their agenda, but you can choose whatever slant you want. Left. Right.  Despite the fact that all of these networks, ESPN excluded I am sure, are currently showing the speech, most Americans won't be willing to sit through the whole thing, with all the weird clapping, watching Joe Biden and John Boehner mugging in the background, and synthesizing what the President says into their own opinion when they can just hit the "guide" button on their remote and have their opinion given to them.  If this were the corporate world, we would say that doing things this way is much more efficient.
     Fourth, the Internet.  If you maybe don't have all those channels, then you are just going to go on your smartphone and get your opinion there.  Even if your opinion is that the President is a puppet that is controlled by Communist aliens from the shadow of Jupiter.  You can get that opinion out there somewhere I am sure.
     So no one is watching, but it's on every channel, and we really SHOULD be watching.  And the weird thing is that the fact that no one is watching is probably the most telling fact about the state of our union of them all.