Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Day Would be so Much Cooler in June

Happy February 29th! Happy Leap Day! Happy Broads are Allowed to Propose Marriage Day!

Isn't February 29th the coolest day ever? It's like a special bonus day that allows all of the jerks who were born on it to claim that they are only 6 years old, isn't that the most wonderful and clever thing in the world?! Who gives a shit? The only way I would care about leap day was if I were one of those jerks whose birthday was today but I'm not because my parents love me and gave me a real birthday.

Scientifically I understand why we have leap day. The Earth is too damn slow and lazy to make it around the sun in exactly 365 days so we need to make up the extra 1/4 of a day it takes in one way or another. I guess. Personally I don't care if we just let it throw off our precious calendars a little bit each year. It would spice things up if it were snowing in July or 60 degrees in February. Oh, wait, that second thing we've already taken care of thanks to global warming. We are so uptight as a society that it seems as if that won't fly so the leap day is the best thing they could come up with. I think I have a better idea.

One idea that I have heard tossed around, I believe Bill Simmons may be responsible for this, is that it should be an actual holiday. That since it only comes around every 4 years (except when it doesn't even have the common goddamn decency to show up on years divisible by 100 but not by 400. . . I can't be bothered to the rule, just know that it doesn't always show up) we should get to fully celebrate our extra day. No work. No school. You get the idea. This seems pretty solid to me with one eensy weensy flaw, it's at the end of February. Weather is usually crappy so we wouldn't spend leap day doing any thing fun anyways.

I have a slightly modified version of this. I think we should just add an extra day on to one of our better holidays. Maybe we can throw a bonus day into Thanksgiving weekend so that I can do even more drinking and turducken eating. Or possibly throw it in between New Year's Eve and New Year's Day so that you have time to recover from one hangover and then start fresh on New Year's Day so you can watch all the bowl games and create a new hangover. Why not add it to the 4th of July and call it Super 'Merican Freedom Day? The best country in the world deserves more than 1 day to celebrate it's Raditude, does it not?

I figure that we could make a whole big thing about it. Instead of wasting all of our news time watching the Republicans try to discover who is the most reprehensible human we can try and decide where our precious extra day is going to go. You could even throw in corporate sponsorships and everything. It would be an all encompassing campaign for most of the year before and then a massive celebration. Sure, other countries would end up having their days at different times but what does that matter? They can either conform to us or deal with us making fun of them for already being in September while we take a nice leisurely 32 day August. I mean, most of the countries worth visiting are so far away that it seems like you lose a day traveling anyway, what's the big deal if you miss a random Wednesday?

I think this is far better than the current system. Or maybe each year we can just add on 6 hours to a special day of partying. Of course this would completely reverse day and night but I think that it would be kind of neat to live a year backwards, I could pretend that I'm at the Arctic Circle. I really think this is something we should look into. Now, excuse me while I go pound a couple of 40's and party like it's a super weird day that doesn't normally exist. WOOOOOHOOOOOO!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Hell's Waiting Room

Today I got the pleasure of spending some quality time in a doctor's office waiting room and I was horrified. Normally when a story starts like that you would expect my horror to be in response to a patient with a gruesome injury or a pool of dried pus in the corner. No, my horror was caused by something far more mundane than that. The reading selection was absolute garbage.

Actually I feel as though that my be an understatement. If the goal of this waiting room was to drive me insane to the point that they could throw a straight jacket on me and wheel me down the hall to psychiatry they damn near accomplished it. Luckily I brought a book with me in anticipation of a meager reading selection. I knew it would be bad, I had no idea how bad it would be. I know that from time to time I have pretty lofty expectations, especially when the subject is reading material, I tend to be a wee bit snobby. That being said I don't think I'm asking too much when I hope that there would be a Sports Illustrated or a Newsweek. Sure, it would be nice if they had a copy of The Smithsonian, The New Yorker or Inked (The finest magazine known to man, especially last month's issue when I wrote about Fat Mike from NOFX. God, I love self promotion.) but I didn't expect this to be the case. Even when factoring in my incredibly low expectations this waiting room went above and beyond in their efforts to bore the hell out of their prisoners, uh, I mean patients. Here's the list:

Highlights for Kids - A fine magazine for children. Personally I preferred Zoo Books but I spent many hours reading Highlights. 25 years later I can't say it really holds my attention the way it once did. This is as good as things would get.

Florida Doctor - Fantastic! A trade magazine about doctors in Florida. I only flipped through the pages quickly but I was not able to find an article ranking waiting rooms in Florida on the basis of their reading material, so this was of no use to me.

The Bible - I understand that it was a Baptist hospital and that others tend to be fans of The Bible but is it really the kind of light reading you want to get into before seeing the doctor? I'm already preoccupied with the ailments of my worldly body since I'm at the doctor I don't particularly want to start fretting over my soul as well.

A larger version of The Bible - I didn't pick this up so I don't know why it was bigger. Maybe it came chock full of extra scenes and commentary by the author. This being Florida I think it would be safe to assume it was in large print.

The 2007 Jacksonville Yellow Pages - I have to admit that I wasn't aware that they still produced the yellow pages in 2007. I'm 87% confident that this was brought into the waiting room to stand on while changing a light bulb.

That's it. If I had not been previously prepared I'm pretty sure I would have lost my damn mind. They didn't make up for the lack of reading materials with a television either. In all honesty I get just as irritated by TVs in waiting rooms but I would pick a TV over this Murder's Row of awful reading material any day of the week. At the very least I would have hoped for some toys or an aquarium to stare at, no dice. There weren't even any windows to look out of. As much as I despise going to the doctor I would gladly welcome whatever poking and prodding that were to come just to escape from the pit of boredom I was held captive in. Now that I put it that way maybe they were on to something. Turning your head and coughing wouldn't seem so bad once your brain had been turned into mush.

Please, don't fall victim to this trap. BRING A BOOK TO ALL WAITING ROOMS. You're welcome.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Killing Zombies with Detective John Kimball

This is a little bit of a departure from my usual anger but I couldn't resist myself. Last night I had one of the most insane dreams I've ever had and I absolutely have to share it. It turns out that I am a far better writer when I am asleep, if only I could channel that creativity while awake. Anyway, here is the extreme craziness that my brain came up with last night.

I wake up in a tent seemingly in the middle of nowhere. I'm by myself wearing a Canadian tuxedo (jeans, denim shit, sleeveless jean jacket). This is sort of odd since I'm probably the only adult in America who owns zero denim. In the corner of the tent is a pile of weapons. A shot gun (the cool kind with the handle thingy that Arnold uses in T2), twin Desert Eagle .50s, a machete, a couple of grenades and a bandolier with a ton of ammo. I quickly suit up despite having no idea why I would need any of these and step outside the tent. I look around and realize that I am on Hershel's farm from The Walking Dead. All of the usual characters are around talking to each other. I am greeted by Daryl saying "What up, Scro?" On the horizon I see an entire herd of zombies coming out way. I point and yell and we all swoop into action. I am going to town on a bunch of zombies with the Desert Eagles, blowing undead heads up with the greatest ease. I was self aware enough in my dream to know that I could never handle the recoil from a hand cannon like that in real life so I was really impressed with my accuracy and badassery.

Quickly we were being over run. I watched Rick get his head torn off and shared by two zombies, I had to start going to work with my machete. Then out of nowhere something grabs me by the back of my shirt collar and pulls me into the air. It's Optimus Prime. He and other Transformers have come to save our group. At no point does this seem bizarre. We fly away from all the zombies and soon land on an island surrounded by a huge moat. When we landed I was greeted by all sorts of action stars from different movies, television shows and comics. It have to emphasize that I was greeted by the characters, not the actors. So some of the more notable action stars were there in a few different characters. There were 4 Arnold Schwarzeneggers; Detective John Kimball (Kindergarten Cop), The Terminator, Dutch (Predator) and Jack Slater (Last Action Hero). I was a bit peeved that Conan wasn't there as I thought he would be the most useful. So, it turns out that the Transformers had gathered all of these heroes so that we could fight in one last battle royale against the zombies that had taken over.

In order to battle the zombies most efficiently we would be placed in teams of 8 and be dropped into an area where we would be encircled by zombies. This seemed like a ludicrous idea to me but as I started to protest Doc Holliday (Val Kilmer's version from Tombstone) told me that they had been doing it this way for a while and that I shouldn't be such a yellow bastard. I seem to remember that every time I have heard about an army being encircled it was shortly before they were either destroyed or captured. I go along with the plan anyway. My team consists of myself, Bumblebee, John McClane, Detective John Kimball, Nightcrawler from the X-Men, Tequila Yuen from Hard Boiled, Snake Plissken and Robocop. Which is a pretty bad ass team if you ask me.

We were flown in to battle and dropped in a middle of a giant swarm of zombies. Everyone just starts firing with our backs to each other. Every time a zombie got too close to someone Nightcrawler would grab them and disappear transport them elsewhere before appearing back among us a second or two later sans zombie. I was next to Kimball and McClane and we were just laying into the zombies. We did one hell of a job. As we were killing them we kept advancing forward. Unfortunately we moved too far out and the three of us ended up being surrounded. I was starting to lose my shit as I noticed that my bandolier was damn near empty and the zombies just kept coming. And then. . . .

I was laying on the couch with a cat staring at me. This is the crappy thing about dreams. Sometimes you just wake up before the story is over. I rolled over and figured if I could fall right back asleep I would be able to see if we made it out alive, dead or undead. As everyone knows this has never worked, you always just start another dream if you are even able to fall asleep, which I couldn't even do. I'd like to think that we made it out successfully but the odds were really against us, I guess I'll never know. Hopefully my dream skills will relate to real life if I'm ever in such a situation because, damn, I was a total badass for a few minutes there.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Act of Idiocy

For the last couple of weeks I have been bombarded by ads for the upcoming Razzie shoe in movie Act of Valor. Every time one of the ads comes on I feel the bile begin to rise in my gut and I start to yell at whoever has the misfortune of being in the room with me. What irks me the most about this abomination is that it isn't just a run of the mill shitty movie, no, this atrocity is bringing a little something special to the table. Instead of just using horrible actors this movie has decided to use actual active duty Navy SEALs. I know this because the commercials mention it roughly every 4.8 seconds. This gives me two reasons to absolutely eviscerate this movie.

1. When I watch an action movie I couldn't possibly cares less about whether it is authentic or realistic. You know what the best action movie is? Die Hard, duh. Do you have any idea how many times John McClane should have died? A thousand, roughly. Having to run across all of the broken glass while barefoot should have been enough to completely hobble him the entire rest of the ordeal, but is that the movie I want to see? Hell no. I want to see the heroes of my action films get shot, look angry, yell something about it just being a flesh wound and then move on to kill somewhere between 10 and 432 more bad guys. The only time that you want realism to factor into an action or war movie it's when it is something like Saving Private Ryan. And let's be honest, Act of Valor isn't going to be Saving Private Ryan. Cinematically I'm not sure if this turd will even be as good as Saving Ryan's Privates. Introducing extreme realism to a movie like this can only hurt the end product.

I think the best way to explain this is using the amazing Nintendo game Contra. What most people remember about Contra is that if you entered the Konami code (up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, b, a, select, start) you would have 30 lives instead of the normal 3 codes. Do you know why you remember this? Because the game was fucking impossible without the code since every time your player got shot he died. Almost all video games allow you to get hit a couple of times before it ends your life, Contra was one of the very first to introduce "realism" by making you die after 1 hit, and it sucked. It sucked so much that the producers of the game put in a secret code to get around it in order to make the game beatable. It's the same thing when it comes to action movies, 99% of the time the realism only takes away from my enjoyment.

2. Don't active duty Navy SEALs have anything better to do than be in shitty movies? These are the guys who go miles behind enemy lines with no possible chance for reinforcements and do amazing covert operations. These are the guys who hunted down and took out Bin Laden. Shouldn't they be doing something just a tiny bit more important than starring in a d grade movie? Like, oh, I don't know, training to take out the next terrorist threat? These are among the most elite soldiers that our country has and we are letting them spend their days off shooting a home movie detailing EXACTLY HOW THEY OPERATE?! This seems to be a pretty idiotic move if you ask me. Now, I'm not saying that Al Qaeda is going to watch Act of Valor and suddenly have the upper hand against us because the movie is so real. But we are talking about the frickin' military. If there is a defining characteristic about the military, other than shitty haircuts, it is a lack of humor combined with a desire for secrecy. Wouldn't it seem to make sense that they wouldn't want to let a bunch of active duty SEALs act in a movie and attempt to make it look as realistic as possible?

Mind you, if this movie wasn't going to completely blow I don't think I would give a shit one way or the other. The only selling points for the film are realism and the appearance of active duty SEALS and it has been shoved down my throat through constant commercials for the last month and quite frankly both of those selling points ASSURE THAT THE MOVIE WILL BE HORRIBLE. So, take my advice and commit a real Act of Valor this weekend by not going to see this movie.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Like everyone not employed by FTD or Hallmark I'm not a fan of today

Valentine's Day. Great. The easy route to take here would be to write a diatribe about how much I hate Valentine's Day or that it's a fake holiday made up by corporations to make money. You get the idea. While it is true that I am a pretty big hater of Valentine's Day it would be boring to write the same crap that everyone else has been saying for years. Instead I decided that I would take you on a little stroll down Memory Lane.

When I was in high school I wasn't exactly a lady's man. In fact this may be the understatement of the century. I was (and still am) a chubby punk nerd, being alone on Valentine's Day kind of goes with the territory. In my younger days I would make an effort with broads around V-Day. I guess I believed that if I did something romantic on VD that the rejection would be minimal since it was expected. Sort of like how the government will offer an amnesty day to pay parking tickets with no extra fees. The way I figured it was if I gave the girl I had been staring at in French class flowers on April 14th it was completely out of the blue and the ensuing rejection would be soul crushing. But if I acted on Valentine's Day it would be expected and I had a far greater chance for at least a glorious pity kiss.When I would picture all of the possible outcomes in my mind there were basically 2 possibilities: Fierce and humiliating rejection or a pity kiss. Yeah, I wasn't exactly an optimistic 13 year old.

When I got to high school any of my John Hughes inspired romantic notions had been obliterated through years of rejection. So I went a different direction, I embraced the shittiness. Not only did I decide to embrace it for myself I felt that I needed to share my bitterness with all of my friends in the form of a mix tape. Now, I know as a 31 year old it seems a little lame to be reminiscing about mix tapes from the past. As an adult it's easy to forget the importance of mix tapes during adolescence. If you made a tape for someone, especially if it was for a girl, it was a way of showing how cool you were. Sure, the radio hits might have been better songs but if you put on an only released in Europe Smashing Pumpkins B side it showed that you were a connoisseur. Plus you could try and mind fuck them through subliminally placed lyrics. This is why I put at least 3 Slackers songs on every one I made. I kid. We all know the scene in High Fidelity when Cusack explains all the rules for a mix tape, that scene was very formative on my mix tape creations. Despite the fact that my Valentine's Day mix tape was not attempting to woo a lady I didn't just haphazardly throw a bunch of angry songs on to it. I don't want to be a pretentious D-Bag but there was an art to it.

In high school I was really into punk and ska. REALLY INTO IT. So the majority of the music that would go on my annual mix tapes would be from these genres. Luckily when it comes to churning out depressing songs of heartbreak punk, particularly 90's punk, is second only to the blues in output. While some of my favorite bands (Bad Religion, Minor Threat) never made break up songs there were plenty of others who seemed to exclusively make bitter love songs. Hell, I could have saved myself a lot of time and effort and just passed out Mr. T Experience albums to my friends. I had to try not to use too many of their songs, I think I even managed to wait until my 3rd or 4th annual mix tape to use Even Hitler Had a Girlfriend. If that's not an epic feat of restraint I don't know what is.

When picking songs I tended to stay away from the most overtly angry tunes, although I'm pretty sure I included the classic Goldfinger tune "Fuck you and your cat." Instead I preferred the songs that told the tale of a young man with the best intentions being wronged by the object of desire. "My Skateboard" by The Aquabats is a prime example of this:

Its Friday night, I wanted to go out
I didn't want to go to no show
Didn't want to cruise main street
I didn't want to go to no disco (no no)
I just wanted you to come over
Sit on the couch and hold me tight
But you went out with some dumb jock
And left me alone
With my skateboard tonight.

While there is definite anger involved the predominating emotion is disappointment and that's how I would sum up my romantic life as a young'un. Sure, it sucked when my lady friend cheated on me on Valentine's Day my senior year and I wanted to strangle everyone, but most of the time I was just a bit bummed that things weren't different. I would collect all of the songs that seemed to be coming from the same place I was and listen to them at maximum volume while driving aimlessly through cornfield after cornfield and I wouldn't feel lonely any more. I wish I could find some of those tapes now, I would jam them into my iPod dock and hope for a miracle since I don't have a tape player any more. Think it would work? Neither do I. Since I can't do that I went to grooveshark and threw a playlist together of some of my favorites from VD Bitter Tapes past. If you want to do the same here's the playlist! Enjoy!

GSF - MxPx
All I want is More - Reel Big Fish
Old Friend - Rancid
My Skateboard - The Aquabats!
Even Hitler Had a Girlfriend - Mr T Experience
Jen Doesn't Like Me Anymore - Less Than Jake
My Girlfriend's Dead - The Vandals
Sarah - The Slackers
Kristina - Catch 22
Miss Michigan - Mustard Plug
She Won't Ever Figure it Out - Big D and The Kid's Table
Song for the Dumped - Ben Folds Five
I Don't Wanna be Friends - Screeching Weasel
Hope - The Descendents

And don't forget this classic, Used to Love Her by Guns N Roses.

Monday, February 13, 2012

I am now more glue than man

Sometimes I really wish that I filmed the idiocy I go through on a daily basis. Sure, you would have to sift through hours upon hours of me staring at the computer or reading to get to the nuggets of brilliance but I'm pretty sure that it would be totally worth it. Today I put on a slapstick routine that would cause Youtube to crash from too many hits. I attempted to fix something with crazy glue.

My girlfriend just returned from Kenya and brought a pretty awesome beer opener/magnet shaped like a wildebeest. The first time I used it I thought that it's legs felt pretty brittle so I should be careful with it. At some point on Saturday night one of his little legs came off. I don't know if I did it or if it was someone else but it was my responsibility to fix it. Luckily I had found his leg and not accidentally tossed it in the garbage.

I need to go back a little bit. I didn't use Crazy Glue. Apparently Crazy Glue is the kind of glue used by Commies and terrorists, a true patriot would never use such filth. I was wowed by "All American Surehold Super Glue." Not only was "American" in the name but the flag was on the package not once, not twice but four times. How could I resist such a patriotic sealant? Soon I was at home and I prepared the patient for surgery. I had everything laid out on my desk; the glue, the wildebeest, his leg, paper towels in case I made a mess. I thought I was prepared. Lord, was I mistaken.

I read the instructions on the back of the package. Then I read them again. I would not screw this up. So I take the glue out and prepare to open it. I noticed that there was a slight glue smell already but I figured it was due to the glue being super bad ass, I didn't think it was a harbinger of sticky doom. I unscrewed the cap and used it to break open the seal, screwed the cap back on and prepared to reattach the leg. I lined everything up and squeezed the bottle ever so gently. Nothing came out, at least that's what I thought at first. So I squeezed a little bit harder. All the glue in the world poured out of the side of the tube covering my hand, the bottle, the towel, everything. It turns out that there was a tiny little hole on the side of the tube. The glue had sealed the hole but once I squeezed tightly enough it opened up the rupture. Here is where the fun begins.

This glue got hard quicker than a 13 year old looking at his first Hustler. Almost immediately my fingers were stuck together, my wrist was stuck to the towel, the towel was stuck to my desk and the tube of glue was stuck to my other hand which also had some fingers stuck together. Panic set in immediately and I started flailing around and yelling. It is during the flailing that I somehow managed to get the glue tube also stuck to my cell phone bill, immediately post flail I managed to get my wrist stuck to my desk. As far as I could tell everything was stuck together with the wildebeest and his leg being the only exceptions. I managed to not get an iota of glue on the target.

I ran to the bathroom and filled the sink with hot water and soap. I proceeded to soak my hands and attempted to scrape off the glue with minimal success. Some was coming off but for the most part it was just turning white. After about 3o minutes I decided that it might be easier to scrape off it I just gave it a little more time. Plus I couldn't rest for too long, I had a wildebeest to fix.

It is here in the proceedings that I came up with a brilliant idea, I was going to wear kitchen gloves for my second attempt. Thankfully ALL AMERICAN SUREHOLD SUPER GLUE comes with two tubes and a smart man would just throw out the tube that had caused all of the trouble and start in with the second one. I am not a smart man. I decided that there was plenty of glue left in the broken tube and now that I knew where the hole was I should have no problem using it. The hole wasn't really the problem before I rationalized, rather it was the fact that I didn't know about the hole that had been the key to my problems. I'm sure you can see where this is going but in the spirit of total self-deprecation I will include the transcript.

Holding the hole up to the leg socket of the wildebeest I squeeze gently. Glue goes everywhere.
I try to get a different grip on the magnet to get a different angle with the hole of the tube. My fingers are stuck together.
I finally pry them apart and tear the glove a little bit. I think nothing of this as I am able to get the glue in the right place and I'm starting to taste sweet victory. As I loosen my grip I learn that the leg has been successfully reattached. . . to my finger.

For a second time I find myself to be the mark in a slapstick routine as I scream obscenities and flail about. I return to the sink to soak and remove the glue for a second time and curse myself for being so inept. As I soak my hands I gaze up at the shower head that I replaced on Friday. Replacing a shower head had been my high water mark when it comes to handiness. It had been a breeze, almost too easy. Now as I wallowed in self pity trying to remove the symbol of my utter failure, the dried glue that was covering my hands, to no avail I was forced to stare at that goddamn shower head. I'm pretty sure it was giving me a smug look in return but it is inconclusive whether or not inanimate objects are capable of smugness.

After scraping off about 7% of the glue off my mitts I decided to give it one more try. By this time I had fully given up on the broken bottle and cracked open the new one. In just under 1 minute I was able to apply a dob of glue on the leg socket, reattach the leg and seal the glue without any incident. As I whooped with joy and performed a Tiger Woods fist pump I was hit with a soul crushing thought. I wasn't celebrating a great victory worthy of such exuberance. I was merely celebrating the completion of a simple task, a simple task that was delayed by roughly an hour of dicking around and incompetence. As my mood dropped and I started to feel bad about myself I looked at my stubby sausage fingers covered in dried glue and remembered that it's a miracle I can do anything requiring a modicum of precision, so I rolled those stubby fingers into a knuckle-less fist and pumped away as I resumed my victory dance.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

I want to set my computer on fire

Last night I got all prepared to write yet another manifesto of vitriol on my angry little corner of the internet. I had a glass of bourbon and, uh, well, that's all I actually had in order to prepare. I was all ready to complain about how kids today don't get it or about how everyone is a moron or some other tripe, I can't remember any more. I clicked over to the blog and started to write.

Nothing. I hit the keys harder since hitting things harder fixes everything. Nope. Nothing happening. As I begin to hulk out I check the keyboard connection despite the fact that I know it will be tight. Of course it is. There is nothing visibly wrong as there never is. This happens 3-4 times a week. The only thing that fixes it is restarting the computer, sometimes a couple of times.

Now, let me stop all of you self righteous Apple users before you start commenting. Look, I get it. I'm already aware that every Apple computer ever created has never had a single flaw and that they even cure world hunger in their spare time. Stop. I have a Dell because I was persuaded by the loveable little stoner from the commercials. Or because it was the computer that I could afford at the time.

This keyboard thing happens in spurts. It won't happen for a long time so I assume that my computer has fixed itself and all is right with the world. Then, POW! I'm ready to throw my entire desk out the window. Once I was calm enough to not be a danger to those around me I finally broke down and called Dell customer service. Maybe it's a little thing that can be fixed with minimal effort. HAHAHAHA. If there is one thing I know is that it is NEVER just a little thing, especially if you are on the phone with someone on the other side of the world who tells you that their name is "Sam." Chances are that "Sam" will try to convince me to spend an immense amount of money to fix the problem only to learn that the problem can't be fixed and there is no way in hell I'm getting that money back either. I knew this going in and I made the call anyway because I'm a glutton for punishment.

I explain the problem. With maximum condescension I'm told to check the cord. I do this despite the fact that I've done so roughly 5,678,236 times already. Here's where it gets good.

Me: The connection is tight and fine.
"Sam": And now your keyboard will work.
Me: No. It's not working.
"Sam": Did you plug the keyboard back in? It should be working. Try again.
Me: Yes, I plugged it in. I know that it should be working. If it wasn't plugged in I wouldn't have called customer service. I would have realized my idiocy and fixed it.
"Sam": OK, well, unplug it and plug it in again. Now it should be working.
Me: (After doing plugging and unplugging again) Yeah, it's not working. Any other ideas, hotshot?
"Sam": The connection must not be correct, is it plugged into the approp. . . .

I'm sorry to cut off the conversation here but I threw my phone against the wall and screamed around this time. Apparently the only solution they had for me was to tell me to do the same thing over and over until eventually a miracle cures my keyboard once and for all. I guess I have a ghost in my computer that just enjoys messing with me. I can live with that. I'll just keep restarting my computer every time it happens while grinding my teeth. The one silver lining is that the keyboard very rarely stops working when I'm in the middle of a blog post. I'll just have to fight my urge to take an ax to my computer on a daily bas

Just kidding. Keyboard still works. For now.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Where have all the Cool Papa Bells and Oil Can Boyds gone?

It is common practice to look at one tiny little aspect of American life and claim that it is a harbinger of doom, Fox News has basically turned this into an art form. I am not immune from this practice, I just choose to focus on things that most people never spend more than a second considering. After a few long hours and a significant amount of whiskey I determined that there is one place where all of the creativity and ingenuity from the past have been lost more than any other; the nicknames we give our athletes.

Once upon a time every star athlete had a completely badass nickname. Cool Papa Bell. Three Finger Brown. Night Train Lane. The Raging Bull. There's just something about a cool nickname that makes a player's legacy even greater, something that the majority of superstars now a days are lacking. What raises the previous list I gave of nicknames to the epic level is the creativity behind them. Jake LaMotta was a fierce boxer who was always coming at you when he was in the ring, like a raging bull. If his highlights were running on tonight's Sportscenter I'm pretty sure they would call him something lame like J-Mott. Finding an athlete with a nickname that isn't based on his name is difficult these days with all the A-Rods, LTs, K-Rod, and even Gronk. If that isn't bad enough one of the better monikers for a current athlete, The Black Mamba, is guilty of the number one sin when it comes to nicknames. Do you know who gave Kobe Bryant the name Black Mamba? You guessed it, Kobe. YOU CAN'T GIVE YOURSELF A NICKNAME. This is completely unacceptable.

America used to be the land of ingenuity. Hell, we had so much spare creativity in the early half of the twentieth century that George "Babe" Ruth and Ted Williams each had 3 or more nicknames better than any current major league players. Ruth was known as Babe, The Big Bam, The Colossus of Clout, The Sultan of Swat and The Great Bambino. Williams was called The Kid, The Splendid Splinter, Teddy Ballgame, The Thumper and The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived. I would kill to have any of those nicknames, the coolest nickname I've obtained is Charizo because of my penchant to eat chorizo at 2 am, by any measure this is far less dignified than The Colossus of Clout.

Part of the reason that nicknames were so much better back in the day has to be because of the hero worship that was far more common in sports pages of yesteryear. The cynicism that is prevalent when sports is covered in a 24 hour news cycle takes away the desire to elevate athletes to heroes, and it is when they are given this status that the best nicknames tend to come out. Players aren't going to end up with nicknames like The Great One, Duke, Sweetness or Magic when the media is constantly trying to tear them down by exposing their flaws or arguing about whether they are worth their contract in their daily columns. I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with exposing these flaws or covering sports so heavily but I do think that it definitely kills the innocence that was once there.

Another factor for the decline in nicknames is what is probably the greatest innovation to happen to sports in the last 100 years: television. The best old nicknames were born in a sportswriters attempt to describe the player for all the people who could not witness the actual games. The Galloping Ghost and Crazy Legs Hirsch are two nicknames that are taken directly out of the newspapers and would never be thought of today. When every person with any interest in sports can easily access every game there is no need for heavy description in sports columns and sadly we lose out on some of the most creative names.

While I think the cynical attitude today hurts the creation of notable nicknames there is a flip side to that coin. Not every nickname has to be positive. In fact, some of the best nicknames focus on either a negative trait of the player or at the very least a peculiarity about them. Spaceman Lee is one of the best examples of this. He loved his drugs and loved speaking his mind about anything and everything, one couldn't think of a more fitting nickname. Charles Barkley and Robert Traylor were infamous for having weight problems while they were in the NBA, so they were called The Round Mound of Rebound and Tractor Traylor respectively. Chubbiness also lead to what may be my all time favorite, El Guapo. As we learned in the Three Amigos El Guapo means "The Handsome One." So when the chubby Red Sox reliever Rich Garces was ironically given the nickname El Guapo it probably stung a bit, but that's what makes it so great. And when El Guapo was coming out of the pen and throwing bullets in 1999 I thought he was the most handsome man in the world. OK, maybe that's stretching it a little bit, but you know what I mean.

As fans I think we need to pick up the slack and start to come up with some creative nicknames for our athletes. We need to reject every name involving shortening a player's name. We need to eliminate every recycled nickname, there's only one Pudge and his last name ain't Rodriguez, sorry. And more than anything we need to come up with goofy names for our favorite players. I feel that Bulls fans have been upping their game this year in this department. Rarely used bench player and notable Ginger Brian Scalabrine has been given the brilliant nickname The White Mamba. Sorry, Kobe, Scalabrine has bested you here. Sure, there is no actual snake called a white mamba but that's beside the fact, good nicknames are bestowed upon you. All hail White Mamba.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Spirit Airlines: Crushing your spirit since 1980!

Last week I took a little trip out to New York to hang out with some friends. Since I am not made of money I opted to buy the cheapest plane ticket that I could come find. For a shockingly low price (I don't remember exactly after taxes but I think it was $116) I found a ticket on Spirit airlines. Sure, I had to leave at 6 am and return at 11 pm but I can handle those inconveniences in stride. What I was not expecting was that Spirit Airlines would be the cheapest and worst airline in the history of air travel.

I feel that I might be understating how horrible Spirit is. Allow me to shed some perspective on the issue. Most of the time people complain about their travel experience they turn their anger toward the TSA. This is understandable. On my morning flight I was chosen for special screening, got the back scatter thing-a-majig where they took pictures of my junk, had a pat down, and as a cherry on top had my bag completely searched. THIS WOULD BE THE BEST PART OF MY TRAVEL DAY.

Luckily for me I had decided to check in 24 hours before my flight. I never do this. Ever. I decided to take the leap and do it this time so that I could reserve a seat so my fat ass wouldn't be crammed in the middle seat between two other amply sized asses. In order to reserve a seat I would need to pay $18. Yes, you heard that correctly, $18. No, this is not to upgrade into first class or whatever the hell they are calling the fancy leg room seats these days. This is simply to reserve a seat so that as a single passenger I am not forced into a middle seat. I don't understand how picking a seat is not part of the standard ticket price.

On top of that nonsense there was a baggage fee of $28 for a checked bag. While I find checked bag fees to be repugnant they have become standard practice, I may dedicate a blog to complaining about that at a later date. I then learned that Spirit has another baggage fee, a far more sinister baggage fee. $30 for a carry on. I understand that this is shocking so I will repeat it in all caps for you. $30 FOR A CARRY ON BAG. Part of me wants to tip my hat to the people at Spirit for this one. You were the first airline to have the brass balls to charge people for carry on bags, kudos. Passengers are allowed a "personal item" for free but will be charged for a carry on. Another fun thing about this is that it is $30 if you decide to pay for it before getting to the airport. That price goes up to $35 if you buy your ticket in a non-online manner, $40 if you pay for your bag at the ticket counter and $45 if they decide at the gate that your personal item is too big. Of course you can save ten bucks on all bag fees if you join there frequent flyer club. . . for sixty bones a year. If you want to join for a 60 day trial it only costs $19.95, which conveniently happens to be the exact amount of money you would be saving on a bag for a round trip ticket.

It is safe to say that I had worked myself into quite a frothy fury after learning about this. Luckily I read this the day before the trip or else I would have shown up with a carry on bag and completely lost my shit when learning of the fees and then boom, pow! Next thing you know this blog is never updated because I'm taking an alternate vacation to Gitmo. I decided to pack as sparingly as possible and throw everything in my backpack. I noticed that the dimensions of my bag were still bigger than what they laid out for a personal item but it could easily be compressed into the required size with a little cramming. It was worth the gamble, and it paid off on my way to NYC.

Allow me to throw the story out of order a little to explain the problems I had at the gate at LGA on my way home. As I was about to board I was told that my bag was too big and that I needed to pay for a carry on fee. I used every ounce of my eloquent charm and responded, "Bullshit. My bag is fine." It is at this point that the woman asks to see my bag. She places it in the handy little box they have to demonstrate whether a bag is too big to be considered a personal item. While doing so she makes sure to stretch the bag as much as possible so that the top 3 inches or so are peeking over the rim of the box. "See, it's too big to be a personal item," she said to me with maximum condescension. I will admit that yes, she was correct to some degree. Except that the last foot or so of my bag had NOTHING in it. So I reached over, crammed it down and then announced, "Actually it fits perfectly fine. I'm not paying for anything and it's going to go under my seat. That's that or I would like to speak with your supervisor." She sighed and admitted defeat. Although to make sure that I knew my place I was sent to the back of the line to get on the plane since I had been pulled out. I'm pretty sure she did this so she could glare at me disapprovingly for the next 5 minutes.

Back to the out going flight. Check in went fine and I wasn't hassled about my bag. When I boarded the plane and found my seat I was given another treat by our friends at Spirit, a seat that would not recline and apparently only had one arm rest (on the aisle). Now, my row may have been defective because my row of seats on the way home had arm rests but on the way there, nada. There's nothing more fun than sitting next to a stranger (who was also around my size) without the benefit of some sort of barrier. Now, I don't blame Spirit for this, but my neighbors happened to be Jehovah's Witnesses. What a lucky day! So starting around 5:45 am when we were seated they immediately started in on me. I tried to be a trooper and endured it for about fifteen minutes before finally quipping, "Look, I grew out of having a imaginary friends when I was 7, please leave me alone."

I realize this has been going on for pretty long but you need to understand just how crappy Spirit Airlines is. I could complain about how it cost $3 for a coke and that even water wasn't free but by now I'm pretty sure you already have been convinced to never fly Spirit. I just want to do a little math for you. My ticket was $116. I could have flown United and been saved almost all of this bullshit for $145. So I ask myself in order to enjoy the same benefits that I would have had on United (free seat selection, free carry on, free soda, reclining seats etc.) how much extra would it cost on Spirit? Here we go:
Outbound carry on : $30 +
Outbound aisle seat: $18 +
Outbound soda: $3 +
Inbound carry on: $30 +
Inbound aisle seat: $18 +
Inbound soda and water because I was a parched little fella: $6 =
$105. Add this to the original price of ticket and that's a grand total of $221!

In summation, in order to be treated like a normal human being on Spirit you will need to pay roughly double the ticket price. Awesome. When I went to their website today I found a special little nugget of joy, apparently Spirit is complaining about how the government wants airlines to include taxes into their quoted ticket prices. They had a nice little page saying how this is unfair and even had a link so that I could write to my congressman to protest. Once again I underestimated the size of Spirit's balls. The level of hypocrisy required to post that on the website when every tiny little detail of the Spirit flying experience requires extra fees is mind numbing.

End Rant.

TL:DR - Spirit Airlines is only slightly preferable than traveling in an unheated boxcar.