Saturday, March 31, 2012

Bracket Anguish (Or how I broke a glass over a garbage time free throw)

It has been well noted that I am a man of many vices.

Drinking: Love it.
Carousing: Huge fan.
Watching naked ladies do naked things: Two thumbs up.
Laughing at the misfortune of others: I revel in it.
Eating three times my weight in foie gras: BEST ACTIVITY EVER.

As wonderful as I find all of those activities they pale in comparison to my love of gambling. It is important to understand that there is a difference between enjoying gambling and having a gambling problem. The way that I have always rationalized things is that I have never had enough money to actually have a problem. When you're dropping 5-10 dollars on a bet it's not going to have a notable effect on your life, even when your income is as meager as mine is. Plus I don't even know any shady bookies or loan sharks to get in deep with in order to end up at the bottom of the Chicago River when the Bears fail to cover. Now that I have firmly established that I don't need an intervention let me continue.

I LOVE GAMBLING. Poker, roulette, black jack, Star Wars slot machines, betting the ponies, sports bets, fantasy baseball and football, betting tickets, Super Bowl Squares and March Madness brackets all take up far more of my time and money than they probably should. I know in the long run that I'm going to come up behind but I don't really care, I figure that's the price of being entertained. As much as I love football it's always a little more interesting if I need 110 rushing yards and at least 42 points scored if I don't have a vested interest in either team.

It is the sports gambling that leads to almost all of my fury. When I'm playing roulette I know that I have long odds and no real way to stack them in my favor, it's pure luck. (Yes, I know some bets are better than others, my point is that no amount of research I do beforehand can tell me that a certain number is going to come up more often) So when I lose my money to a bad beat in poker or a run of red in roulette I shrug and attribute it to bad luck. When it comes to sports betting I feel like I am an expert, as if I already know the outcome thanks to the legwork I did before hand. I can look up stats, watch games, listen to real experts discuss the match ups. I should be able to piece all of it together to have an informed opinion that will lead me straight to the bank. Of course this rarely actually happens. And then I throw a fit.

The arrogance I have when making sports bets is both hilarious and infuriating. On my bracket this year I had UNLV making it all the way to the Final Four. Why? I had watched them twice. Not even for an entire game either time. Yet I decided that they were pretty good and put all my faith in them. Naturally they lost in the first round. All it took is that one tiny little act of hubris and my entire bracket became bupkis. I DON'T EVEN LIKE COLLEGE BASKETBALL THAT MUCH. I'm certainly not a student of the game, why the hell would I trust my opinion? How fucking arrogant am I to think that I actually know what is going to happen, especially about something that I don't even care that much about? If I just went ahead and picked teams with blue in their school colors I would be sitting pretty right now.

Where I find things to be really galling is in fantasy baseball. I love baseball to death. In between March and October I spend as much time as I possibly can taking in baseball in any form I can: watching it on TV, reading about, going to games, arguing with friends. In the weeks leading up to my fantasy baseball draft I read over every bit of information I can get. I look at the rosters of the other people in my league from the previous years to try and determine what players they are likely to target. I go through at least two mock drafts to see where players are falling. What was my team's record last year? 6-15. They were horrible. Yet I walk around with my chest out beforehand because I know how well prepared I am, what an absolute moron I must appear to be.

It's so much easier to digest a failed bet at the horse track than it is a fantasy loss, at least at the track I make my bets almost entirely on the name of the horse. Although, truth be told, I have often drafted Taco Wallace to my fantasy football team for the same reason. It's just unbelievably galling to me that I have zero edge whatsoever when it comes to things that I should know a little bit about. Of course this just leads me to try and read more so that I won't suffer such ego shattering defeat the next year. I'm sure you already know how that turns out.

Like a complete sap I keep going back for more. I still field fantasy teams and fill out brackets. I still try and pull off a huge score on an eight team parlay with a $2 bet, I still always bet on gray horses and I play every Red Sox retired number in both roulette and the lotto. Even though I know that there is very little chance I will win I still do so willingly and full of hope. Despite the loss being expected I still scream obscenities and throw things at the TV. It's really the silliest my rage can get. At this point I might even be filling out brackets for the sole purpose of having something to get angry about. I see my folly but I certainly don't see it ending any time soon, and I'm OK with that. The wins are nice even if they are few and far between. I just need to find a way to stop getting so irate about things that are obviously out of my control. More importantly I need to realize that I have no goddamn idea what the outcome of a sporting event is going to be and just chill. Although I did hear a pretty good tip about the 5th race at Hawthorne tomorrow. . . .

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

You car is not a greenhouse

I was sitting at a red light the other day, staring straight ahead and zoning out while rambling on about something to a friend. Then something caught my eye about the car in front of me. It was a Volkswagen Golf and in between the two passengers in the front seat were a couple of leaves coming off of a stalk. As I kept gawking I thought that they must be carrying a plant home with them or something of that ilk. Nope. Upon further inspection it was a bamboo plant. On the fucking dashboard.

What in God's green Earth could be the purpose of a bamboo plant in your car? Unless you are a panda longing for a snack on your lengthy morning commute there is no excuse and these were no pandas. If I saw pandas driving a car down Western Ave I'm pretty sure that would be the lead of the story. Aren't there enough distractions in a car that we don't need to add foliage to the list? Can you imagine trying to explain that the biker you just pancaked was in the blind spot created by your idiotic attempt at creating some feng shui in your German automobile?

As much as I want to blame the blithering moron who decided to turn their greenhouse into a mobile arboretum they did not act alone. Volkswagen put the idiotic idea into their pea brains but installing flower vases in their new fangled Beetles. I'm sure on the surface it sounds like a cute idea to have some flowers in your car but it's not, sorry. Unless you actually live in your car you do not have a valid reason to spruce things up by adding some flowers, and if you are living in your car I'm pretty sure that money could be used a little more wisely. For example, maybe you could clear out the back seat and plant an entire garden so that you'll have some vegetables to can and keep in the wheel well for the winter. I digress, if you do a quick search on your Google machine you will see that there are all sorts of different types of plant holders available for car use. Can you imagine the asshole who was able to patent this idea? I'd love to see how that meeting went down:

Inventor: So as you can plainly see it's a receptacle that can hold a small potted plant right next to the stereo.
Patent Officer: Why?
Inventor: Oh, I thought that would be obvious? When we live in an increasingly industrialized society it's easy for man to lose his connection to the Earth and all of the bounty that God has given us through the beauty of flowers and plants and. . .
Patent Officer: Stop. If I just give you the patent will you shut up and leave me alone?
Inventor: Of course!

I can really see no other way for that conversation to have gone. I also assume that the patents for the Brazilian Butt Lift and the Flowbee were given in a similar manner. Back to the bamboo, I like bamboo. I think it's cool that it's a grass that is sturdy enough to make scaffolding out of. I enjoy watching pandas chomp on it. But I don't want to see any of it sitting on someone's dashboard. I seriously found myself rooting for the driver to get rear ended and impale themselves on the precious little plant. If you want to decorate your car get some fuzzy dice or a little stuffed Snorlax like I used to have, just save the plants for home.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Letters to the editor: The Mos Eisley of the newspaper

I know it's been a little bit since I promised a two part blog about the joys of reading the Florida Times Union while home with my parents. So long in fact that I bet one could assume that it was just a dirty lie and I would never follow through with part two. Not so fast my friend.

My favorite part of reading any newspaper in a city far from home is the letters to the editor. I feel like you can get a good glimpse of how thoroughly bat shit crazy the citizens of a populace are by reading what issues have caused them to angrily write to the paper. It is no secret that letters to the editor are rarely rational in the opinions they present. When people read something in the paper that they agree with they aren't going to head to their typewriter to write a thank you letter for such an inspiring article. It is only when someone is infuriated that the passions become deep enough to write in to the paper, and that's where things get good in my opinion. I want to read people's asinine opinions about how our country is going to hell because prayer is not allowed in school or how the local school board is conspiring to raise everyone's taxes to pay for their own yachts.

When the scandal of a burned Quran on a US military base in Afghanistan happened I knew that it would prompt some good venom from Times Union readers. Even when I expected to read some horrible things I was not prepared for one of the most hateful and ignorant letters I had ever seen published in a newspaper. While I am going to quote it pretty liberally in the rest of this blog I'll include the link in case you want to read it in it's entirety: Click Here! This is the opening lines from Totally Wrong by Frank Healey of Jacksonville:
"The recent apology by President Barrack Obama to the Afghan government for the burning of the Quaran confirms this administration's warped and pathetic opinion of the role of the US." Wow. Mr. Healey certainly doesn't pull any punches here, does he? What exactly is the role of the US in his opinion? Our military committed an act that is considered extremely offensive in Afghanistan and apologized, I don't see what the problem is with that. Things aren't exactly black and white, we aren't at war with Afghanistan. We are working along side them and want to foster friendship with their government and people, we aren't supposed to be a bully who does whatever we want while in their country. I think that in the situation an apology is a pretty reasonable response. Healey would go on to accuse the left of being weak for apologizing and groveling after every mistake the US makes. This was followed by what may be one of the most offensive things I have ever read:

"In my view, not enough Iraiqis and Afghanis died. Not enough to pay for our 7,000 dead or 41,00o wounded. Not enough to pay for their freedom. They didn't want these wars? Well, tough. They asked for them by not taking care of their own corrupt and terrorist-associated governments."

My jaw dropped after reading this. I was completely dumbfounded. Maybe I surround myself with a bunch of peace loving hippies but I have never once heard someone say that not enough people had died in a war. Ever. It doesn't matter what country they come from or what their religious or political ideas are, they are still human. You can't just throw the numbers into some equation to figure out an exchange rate of American lives to Iraqi lives and decide if the war was worth it afterward. These are people we are talking about. People with mothers, fathers, wives, husbands and children. If one person dies in a war that is too many for me. Even in the most justified wars the loss of life is still a horrendous consequence, it is never a thing to be cheered or applauded. To clarify I'm not saying that it is wrong to celebrate victory in a war, I'm saying that it is wrong to celebrate the loss of human life and clamor for more of it. Each individual death is a tragedy, albeit on a small scale, but a tragedy nonetheless. It takes a person void of all empathy and compassion to wish for more death. Mr. Healey would go on to list all the casualties from our most recent world wars and conclude:

"...the 'evil' American military industrial complex earned the freedom, prosperity and future of millions and all their descendants. They can never, ever pay us back. America apologizes to no one."

Of course, how could I forget, the entire world owes us their freedom so we can do whatever the hell we want to do at all times. Silly me. This arrogance is absolutely disgusting. Frank Healey embodies what is known as "an Ugly American." While it's fun to joke with European friends that they'd be speaking German (or more realistically Russian) if it wasn't for the good ol U S of A it's a completely different thing to actually believe that the world owes us a debt. It troubles me that there is even one person out there who thinks like this. Sadly I know that Mr. Healey is far from alone and that many of the people who read this letter nodded along approvingly the entire time. I know that lots of people like to make the argument that "the terrorists hate our freedom." I won't even begin to point out the flaws in that. But if you want to say that our freedom is what allows many Americans to have this arrogant perception of how the rest of the world needs to bow down to the US and that their lives are far less important than ours, well, then I think I understand where the hatred is coming from.

Green with disgust

It's St Patrick's Day. I'm a pretty big fan since I enjoy any holiday that involves heavy consumption of beer, boiled potatoes and corned beef. I know that it's trendy to hate today because it brings all the amateurs out to the bars and everyone makes a fool of themselves as they reinforce very negative Irish stereotype. This doesn't really bother me. It's all in good fun as far as I see it. I'm a pretty easy going guy who has never minded watching other people become complete shit shows out at the bar, I like to think of it as a free stage show for my enjoyment. Don't be misled into thinking that this means I don't have any St Pat's day rage. I'm irked by the idiocy of dying every damn drink/food product green.

Green bagels, green ketchup, green cupcakes and the most egregious of all, green beer have me seeing red. You're not going to fool me into thinking Miller Lite is an acceptable beverage by pouring a gallon of food coloring into the keg, sorry. Any beer I drink today is going to be black. As awful as green beer is this year Burger King really upped the ante by giving away free fries with green ketchup. My stomach is doing somersaults just thinking about it. If you think that I trust Burger King enough to believe that the ketchup is dyed as opposed to just moldy you're sorely mistaken.

When did it become acceptable to show holiday spirit by just dying everything a sickening color? I feel the same way about every pastry being frosted orange and black at Halloween or pink at Valentine's day. At no point have I ever complained about a cookie not being festive enough or my beer not showing enough holiday cheer. So please, do the world a favor and refrain from eating any of that shite. Do what the Irish actually do, eat food that has had most of the color boiled out of it and wash it down with a pint of the black stuff.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Hey Autocorrect, Funk You!

For years I fought against having a cell phone. I'm not sure exactly why I resisted for so long. I assume that it was a combination of not having the money for one, hating when people ignored me to take calls and generally not having a very large desire to talk to people. While I was one of the last of my generation to finally get a phone it did not take long for me to become completely addicted to it. I'm not sure what to do with myself if I'm not checking the damn thing every 5 minutes. Thinking back on my phoneless years I'm not sure how I didn't want to blow my brains out every time I took the bus. I did read a lot more books back then now that I think on it, maybe I should be phoneless once again? I digress, as I always do. The point is that eventually I bit the bullet and bought an iPhone. Now, I didn't buy a fancy new one and wait in line for a couple of days like a hipster douche nozzle. In fact, I didn't really buy one at all. I used a free upgrade to get a 3gs and other than ATT raping me by lying about how my rates would need to be changed it has been a pleasant year or so. Although I wouldn't be me if I wasn't enraged about something and that's where autocorrect comes in.

I understand autocorrect. It's incredibly helpful when my phone tells me that I have misspelled "vomitose" in a text message sent to my parents at 2:47 am on a Wednesday. I even appreciate how if you use a word often enough it will learn it despite the fact that it is not an actual word, Mexcellent has been added to my phone's vocabulary. It actually is quite impressive that my phone even has the ability to check my spelling let alone learn new words. So I don't think it would be that far out of line for my phone to learn it's role and understand that much of my standard vocabulary tends to be a little blue. (Here's the part in the blog where you should probably hide the kids)

My goddamn phone tries to edit out every single time I swear. The most infuriating of them all is that every time I type "hell" (probably about once in every 28 words) it changes it to "he'll." Do you know how many times I've actually intended to say "he'll?" NEVER. When I'm ranting about the ineptitude of the Bears offensive line I can't have Jonny K thinking I said, "Mike Martz should burn in the fiery depths of he'll for eternity!" First of all my statement now makes zero sense. On top of that it has lost all of it's oomph. Swears are used to give a possibly mundane statement a little extra zip. Nothing takes that away more than what appears to be an idiotic typo. THE WHOLE PURPOSE OF AUTOCORRECT IS TO FIX TYPOS, NOT CREATE THEM! I told someone to "shut the funk up" via text this week and I'm pretty sure with it I lost what little street cred I had. That makes me look like the sort of higher than thou asshole who makes a big fucking production out of his ability to avoid swearing. Or even worse, it makes me look like a parent trying to curb his swearing so his kid avoids detention.

Here's the thing, I like to swear. I like the versatility of words like fuck. It's a noun, a proper noun, a verb, an adjective and an adverb. It's basically a sentence diagrammer's wet dream. I enjoy making up creative swears such as cock gobbler and spoogemaster. While I appreciate that my phone is trying to be helpful I don't want those to be changed to clock goblin and sponge master. How difficult would it be to add 10-15 more colorful words into the autocorrect? Or at the very least let my phone eventually learn that I am a foul mouthed son of a bitch so that it adapts. If it could do that I promise I won't even complain when I text someone that "hell be here in a few minutes."

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Mayo is not the main ingredient of a sandwich

I believe that some smart fella with crazy hair once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results. I like this saying and I find that for most situations it is very apt. What if the only thing I am expecting to change is for a Subway employee to pull their head out of their ass for 21 seconds and not ruin my sandwich? Is it insane for me to expect them to pull this off JUST ONCE?

Let me paint a picture for you. I walked over to the local Subway in order to pick up sandos for the lady and myself. As you well know I am a classy man who only showers the finest things upon my girlfriend. Of course her sandwich is made with absolutely no incident. Almost. The girl making the sandwich seemed pretty insistent that it should be grilled but I managed to convince her otherwise. Then came my order. In my head it seemed pretty simple but apparently I was asking for the impossible. I shall now give you a transcript of the ordeal:

Our hero, Charlie: I'd like a 6 inch ham on white.
Our Villain, Sandwich Lady: Cheese?
C: Pepper Jack please.
SL: Toasted?
C: No thanks.
SL: Are you sure?
C: (audible sigh) Yes, I'm sure. I like it cold.
SL: (disappointed sigh) What do you want on it?
C: Lettuce, onion, pickles, jalapenos, green peppers. I would also like a very small amount of lite Mayo, a very small amount.

I'm going to pause to interject for a second. It was at this moment that I felt like a jerk for repeating that I only wanted a small amount of mayo. If I say it twice it makes it sound like I think the sandwich lady is an idiot. This was not the case, yet, but I wanted to be clear because I have been burned before. The sandwich lady places all the condiments on. I think she shorts me on onions but I let it pass. Then she gets to the mayo. She absolutely drowns it in mayo. She made 4 passes. Normally when you say to use a small amount they make 2 passes of the sandwich, if you say nothing they make 3. I know this because I'm an anal retentive jerk who assumes that everyone is out to get me. FOUR PASSES. At this point the main ingredient on the sandwich is mayo. We return to our transcript:

C: What the hell? I said I wanted a small amount of mayo.
SL: Yes, this is a small amount.
C: No it isn't. You have covered the entire thing in mayo, it is ruined. I don't want that. Can you please make my sandwich again without drowning it in mayo?
SL: No. You said to put a small amount of mayo and I put a small amount on. The sandwich is fine. Do you want anything else?
C: Are you kidding me? Can I speak to the manager? I want another sandwich.
SL: I can scrape some of it off but you should have told me to not put any on.

I'm sure you can tell where this is going. We go back and forth on the issue some more, I ask for a manager again, she's the only one working (which did seem to be true), she won't make me another sandwich and sadly I'm too damn hungry so I just let it go. I just don't understand why it is impossible to get a Subway employee to use a small amount of mayo. Every single time I ask for a small amount they cover the whole damn thing in mayo. Granted, it usually is less than they would put on if I hadn't said anything but my God is it a lot of mayo. I find it impossible to believe that people actually want their sandwiches like this. What if this excessive generosity poured over into the other aspects of their lives? I imagine my sandwich lady's kid asking for "a small amount of money" for school lunch and being given a gangster's role of hundreds. Strangely it seems to only apply to mayo. When I ask for a lot of jalapenos or onions I end up with a slightly above normal amount. If I were to ask for extra mayo they would probably just give me the squirt tube and tell me to go to town. The thing that galls me the most about this is that mayo is the one ingredient in my sandwich that has the potential to destroy it. If you put on too much lettuce you just let some fall out. Not with mayo. That shit sticks to everything. After she scraped off a large amount of the mayo I made peace with the notion that this was as good as things could get for me and my sando. In all honesty it wasn't that bad either. Sure, it would have been nice if it was actually prepared the way I had asked. Next time I should stop being so insane and just take make the sandwich myself. At home. . . not by jumping behind the counter and making it. That truly would be an act of madness.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Defending My Ninjas

This week I was left in a horrible situation; I had no games of Words with Friends to play and I was no where near finished TCB'ing in the bathroom. I decided to head over the ESPN's Grantland to pass the time. Immediately I came upon an article entitled "A Brief Journey Into the Dark Heart of JuggaloBook" by Rembert Browne. I should have just kept moving and read a different article. I would have saved myself a hell of a lot of time and effort that way, especially since I could have already told you exactly what the article was about. Over the last couple of years a tried and true checklist for mocking Juggalos seems to have made its way around the internet and almost every article I have read fits it perfectly, Browne's article certainly did.

Make fun of Juggalo Slang - Check
Include a clip to the video of Miracles - Check
Insinuate that Juggalos are stupid, racist or both - Check

That's pretty much all you need to do. Throw in a couple of easy jokes about being called Ninja or how your life is in danger for exposing the Juggalos and your article is done. Browne decided to throw in some shots at TeamBreezy for good measure and that was that. I'm not saying that it was a bad article, it wasn't. Despite the relative quality of the article I have two enormous problems with the article; it's an incredibly lazy article to write and more importantly why bother attacking Juggalos at all? I feel that I've already made the point as to why it's so lazy, essentially all Browne did was follow the same pattern that other writers have been using for a while. It's the second point that I find so intriguing and I feel I have a pretty unique point of view to address it from for I am the Defender of the Juggalos.

When I first saw the 20 minute infomercial for The Gathering of the Juggalos a few years back I never thought that I would be standing up for Juggalos, certainly not in public. Like most people I thought that it was hilarious and I made fun of it to no end. Especially the part when they advertised guys on stilts. When have "guys on stilts" ever been used as a selling point for an event? I joked about how I wanted to go and that it would be an amazing thing to write about. I'm pretty sure I said that I wanted to be the Hunter S Thompson of the Juggalos. A couple of years later I was actually given the opportunity to attend The Gathering and write a feature for Inked Magazine about my ordeal. (Self promotion===>

When I showed up in Cave in Rock for The Gathering I was fully prepared to write an article eviscerating the stupidity of Juggalos and their little party in the middle of nowhere. When Jimmy and I (Jimmy is codenamed George in the article) pulled onto the grounds it was the culture shock of a life time. Waking up in Beijing was nothing compared to the sense of alienation I felt when I hopped into a golf cart with a publicist from Pychopathic Records for a tour of the premises. By the end of the weekend I was so comfortable that I felt like I had always belonged.

That's not to say that my opinion of the music changed, I still find listening to ICP only slightly preferable to being deaf. What changed radically was my opinion of Juggalos. Every person that I had met when I was there was welcoming and incredibly nice. Even though it was abundantly clear that I was an outsider they still took me in. Almost everyone had a pretty cool story about how they had ended up at The Gathering, whether it be explaining how they had to hitchhike the last 100 miles or the reasons they ended up liking ICP in the first place. I'm sure the mass quantities of alcohol and drugs helped everyone open up a little bit more with each other but that's to be expected. What was completely unexpected was the complete absence of the other side effect those substances bring about, violence. I guess that's not completely true in that there was the incident with Tila Tequila getting everything under the sun thrown at her on stage. I don't think that's something that would only happen with Juggalos though, remember Green Day at Woodstock and all the mud flinging? Other than the Tequila thing I did not see a single fight the entire weekend. Not one.

Yet whenever someone sets out to write an article about Juggalos they pick on them in a way that is probably pretty similar to the abuse Juggalos received in high school, so I guess it's all just one big circle. People talk about how violent Juggalos are yet in my travels I saw far less violence than I would out in Wrigleyville after a game. People talk about the racism that is prevalent among Juggalos, I certainly saw none of it. I met Asian, Hispanic, Black and White Juggalos and they all seemed to be getting along. It certainly wasn't like walking through the infield of a NASCAR race filled with only white faces and confederate flags flying from campers. (I know I shouldn't be refuting one stereotype with another but it's the truth.) More than anything I certainly wouldn't classify Juggalos as being stupid. Would I pick a bunch of Juggalos if I was trying to assemble a nuclear power plant? Hell no. I doubt I would pick very many of my friends for such a task either. People are just people, there are smart ones, dumb ones and a lot in the middle. Juggalos were no different. You may think that it's silly to listen to ICP (as I do) but acting intellectually superior because you prefer listening to the Magnetic Fields is far more idiotic.

Yet for some reason people still seem to have a fascination with picking on and making fun of Juggalos. I just don't get it. We've made every joke there was to make 15 times already, nothing new is coming out of this. Sure, Browne's article is concerning a new social networking site for Juggalos, but all of the jokes are exactly the same. Despite their penchant for talking a big game we all know that Juggalos are harmless, isn't picking on them kind of like picking on the kid with the back brace? You can disguise it as being a social experiment but to me it really seems like an excuse to bully a bunch of strangers. I may have not matured in most facets on my life but I'm damn sure I outgrew bullying when I was in 8th grade.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Circle of Swill

I have spent the last week in Florida with my parents. While my parents are still on the younger end of the retired community they have fully embraced retirement living. Their days are filled with bridge and canasta games, complaining about the home owner's association, considering 72 degrees to be "chilly" and planning meals my father has discovered in various magazines. Don't be quick to think that I am mocking their lifestyle, far from it in fact. If I could substitute poker for bridge I would consider it quite the idyllic lifestyle. One constant of life with the parents is reading the paper in the morning. All three of us will read some if not all of the lovely Florida Times Union and proceed to mock various sections of the paper. Without going in to too much detail let's just say that the Times Union will never be confused for The New York Times. Today and tomorrow's blog posts will be related to this glorious newspaper and its contents.

When it comes to his paper choices my dad is still a six year old at heart as he grabs the comics section first. I know that some of this is so that he can get to the crossword and the sudoku before I do. This is a smart move, I would not it put it past me to put double digit numbers in every box on the sudoku just to drive him crazy. It is not merely the puzzles that motivate him, he loves the comic strips. In fact, he may like the comics more than anyone else I know. I find some sweet irony in this since he openly mocks my love of comic books. For the most part he has very good taste in comic strips; he likes Pearls Before Swine, Non Sequitor, Brevity and Get Fuzzy while he despises Sally Forth and Cathy. He seems to enjoy Andy Capp a bit more than what I would consider normal but I assume this is because he and I share far too much in common with the titular character than my mother would like. There is one comic where we don't see eye to eye, Family Circus.

Now, don't be mistaken, my dad does not like Family Circus. The problem I have with him is that he doesn't hate Family Circus and tries to convince me that my own hatred is misplaced. I can't help myself. I hate Billy, Dolly, PJ and the parents. I have a special pedestal of hatred for Jeffy. I despise every little thing about him from his mischief filled trips around the neighborhood to when he blames "not me" when he gets caught. I hate how gosh darned cute every punch line is. It's not supposed to make me laugh like other comics. No, when I read Family Circus I'm supposed to give a delicate little sigh about how precocious and wonderful childhood is. Fuck that. I don't want my comics to be wholesome. I want to see Lucky Eddie take an arrow in the ass or watch Calvin steer him and Hobbes off a cliff in their trusty wagon. I want slapstick and fun, maybe a darkish premise being made light of (like Andy Capp's alcoholism). The last thing I want is to say "Aw shucks, ain't kids grand?"

In the movie Go Timothy Olyphant's character spoke about his disdain for the Family Circus. He put it better than I can when he said; "Okay. You sit down and read your paper, and you're enjoying your entire two-page comics spread. Right? And then there's the Family fucking Circus, bottom right-hand corner, just waiting to suck." Much like his character I can't do the mature thing and just skip reading The Family Circus. I'm oddly compelled by it and I force myself to read it whenever I see it. Look, I know the names of the character's for God's sake, this proves that I actually read the stupid comic. I don't know why I can't avoid it but every time I'm sucked in. Without fail I slam my coffee on the table and start complaining to anyone within earshot about the supposedly sweet bullshit that Dolly just did and how no child ever actually acts like that and blahblahblah.

Despite my searing hatred for The Family Circus I have been sucked in nonetheless. I probably read it just as often if not more often than comics that I actually enjoy. If I'm in a hurry I might not get a chance to look at Pearls Before Swine (probably the best comic currently running) but you can be damn sure I'll look at the bottom of the page just to make myself upset. It's sort of like a five hour energy for my rage. I don't know why I do this, I sort of wish that I didn't, but I guess it's just a messed up gene that I have. I assume it's the same gene that makes me watch Fox News or read New York Yankees fan sites, I seem to enjoy making myself angry. If only I had some sort of outlet for all of this rage. . .