Tuesday, September 30

Elephant Talk

Now this was a superior machine. Ten grand worth of gimmicks and high-priced special effects. The rear windows leapt up with a touch like frogs in a dynamite pond. The dashboard was full of esoteric lights and dials and meters that I would never understand.
                                                      -- Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
After a lot of babble, burble, banter, bicker bicker bicker, brouhaha, balderdash, and ballyhoo -- I finally took the jump and got myself a new cell phone. Mine had been a warrior, but time and age were catching up to it -- to the point where it would barely hold a charge for a day, randomly dropped calls, and rarely if ever could handle pictures or messages from opposing networks.
It was time to make a change.
So I shopped around a little bit and took some valued advice and eventually decided to jump to a new network and step up to something a little fancier.

Good lord, this thing is loaded with stuff. I'm pretty sure there's cup holders on it somewhere. I was telling someone about it the other day and I guess kicked in the voice command feature and almost made a call. Then the next day, (despite having to unlock the keypad before I'm able to do anything) I got a call from someone and didn't realize it, and they were stuck on the line trying to get my attention while I walked around doing my job, unaware of the person shouting at me inside my pocket.

In other words, it's a huge jump up from where I was before.
But really, who doesn't love a little new tech to play around with every now and then?
Still, I can't believe people type on these little keyboards all the time the way they do. I mean it seems like you've got to have really tiny fingers to work these things correctly. I mean -- that's what it is, right? Tiny fingers? Little hands?
Because if it wasn't, then that would mean..

[Listening To:  American Head Charge"All Wrapped Up" ]

Monday, September 29

Funniest Thing I Saw This Weekend

Outside of the Broncos defensive effort against Kansas City, of course..
You know what I wonder though? It's pretty common knowledge that Richard Gere is a Buddhist and spends a lot of time with the Dalai Lama, which you know -- whatever; if that's your chosen faith and you have the chance to keep a regular audience with your spiritual mentor, why wouldn't you take advantage of it?

But at the same time, The Dalai Lama is still a guy -- so I find it hard to imagine that even he would really want to skip out on a weekend of football to sit through like a movie like this.

But if you're the recognized leader of the Buddhist faith, and above all that sort of a Broseph (whether it's by choice or obligation) is this the sort of thing you can really get out of? In other words, if Richard Gere is moving to a new apartment and needs someone to help him schlep couches and bookshelves up the stairs --
The Dalai Lama's kinda stuck, right?
Not that you ever want to jake your best friend or anything, but can't you just sorta see Dalai on his cell phone one day saying, "Oh geez Rich, I don't know.. I was supposed to spend some time with Cindy and the kids this weekend. Can't you just hire Two Guys and a Truck?"

Because honestly, besides the fact that the script for this move is based off yet another awful Nicholas Sparks novel where white people fall in love with each other on some unnamed pristine beach where no one else apparently brings their screaming kids or sets up an umbrella -- it's also apparently set in a house that looks like it should transform into a battle mecha or at least be the perfect lair for a supervillain -- except instead of doomsday weapons and henchmen, all that's inside is Diane Lane and some Motown-ish song that used to be kinda cool but now only serves as an indication that there's gonna be one of those "We're stirring salad in big bowls and dancing around with wine glasses in the kitchen in preparation for our romantic dinner later on" montages that will lead to that one conversation where there's all this chemistry but then Diane accidentally mentions his estranged relationship with his daughter, leading Gere to get up from the table and stare out the window at the ocean (you know, that move where he leans his chin on his forearm that's up against the glass) -- before she comes up next to him and apologizes, leading to a longing stare and a passionate kiss before clearing off the dinner table to get down to the soft focus porn part of the proceedings, only to have Gere stop and tell her he doesn't want to be hurt again..

At which point the Dalai Lama won't be able to help himself from blurting out in front of the entire theater,
"Jesus Christ -- Close the deal already!"

[listening to:  Johnny Cash"Folsom Prison Blues" ]

Friday, September 26

The Friday Hot Sheet

Despite the fact that I've been updating a lot lately, I've kinda dropped the ball on the whole Thursday Thunderdome and Friday Hot Sheet thing. This always happens to me though, I come up with a good idea that I think will always be a wellspring for good ideas, and then after two weeks I can't come up with a damn thing for it.

Well, that's not totally true -- I had like a dozen ideas for Thursday Thunderdomes written down when I first decided to go with it, but then when I went back and looked at the list a second time, I realized they were all horrible mismatches and wouldn't be very compelling to read about at all.

Like one week I was gonna have a battle where I put up a picture of the desktop from my computer at work and then put up a picture of the desktop from my computer at home and see which one you guys liked better -- but when I was writing the thing up it suddenly dawned upon me that my desktop at home featured four naked women, and really -- no amount of pop culture references (regardless of how cool they might be) was gonna beat that out.

So I let it drop for a little while, and went on with my "boo hoo I'm so fat but I still love Cheetos and booze" thing for a few more days. But even if I can't keep the Thursday thing afloat (Event cancelled on account of boobs -- man if I had a nickel for every time that's happened to me..) I still kinda missed the Hot Sheet. I don't know how anybody else feels about it, but it's sort of a fun thing to put together.

So before I head out of here for the weekend -- here are this weeks risers and fallers, and the buzz as it looks from here.
USC Loses to
Oregon State
This is the second year in a row you've pulled this crap. If you don't want to be National Champions, just say so.
Clay Aiken Comes
Out of the Closet
Thank you, god. Honestly, the sheer amount of poon this guy has been blocking from the rest of us with his raging heterosexuality during the past few years was reaching crisis levels. Someone get John Mayer on the phone and tell him that our long national nightmare is finally over.
The Wheels
Coming Off
The Straight
Talk Express
I sorta thought I was having a rough week -- but damn, McCain, if there was ever 5 days you wish you could get back and do over, I gotta imagine the last few probably come pretty close to the top of the list. First the sassy chick you decided to hitch your wagon to turns out to be an idiot. Then you go and piss off David Letterman (good thing he doesn't have a nationally broadcast talk show where he can run you down every night to millions of American viewers, eh?). And if all that weren't enough, when big banks start going belly up and we're faced with the worst financial disaster since 9/11 -- you decide that you want to postpone the debates and suspend your campaign so you can work on the problem (!?) -- which is not only a ridiculous idea, but also suggests that you might have trouble handling two things at the same time -- something that a president might need to do every once in a while. Good luck at the debate, Methusela (you're gonna need it).
Sarah PalinI mean, if Katie Couric of all people cannot conceal her shock over the things you don't know -- what are the rest of us supposed to think? Hey Governor Palin, did you hear the news? Clay Aiken is gay. No, Really!
The New Drink
Matty Invented
in Honor of
My Birthday
Absolut Ruby Red, a splash of cranberry juice, and a shot of soda water. An experiment in flavor that turned out to be a glassful of magic.
The Name Bouncer
Nick Gave the
Drink Matty Invented
And I quote: "Summer Breeze Blowing Up a Dirty Whore's Skirt."
Good news ladies -- He's single.
7th Grade Teacher
Suspended for
Telling Female
Students What Color
Panties They Are
Here's the thing -- This incident happened at the school where I used to teach (I don't know the guy involved). One of the things that we rarely discussed at PTA meetings was the almost daily problem we had trying to figure out a tactful way to deal with the "thong issue" -- which was not so much that 7th and 8th grade girls were wearing thongs (because regardless of how we might have felt about it personally -- as teachers it's really none of our damn business) but that as young women who's sense of body awareness was only just starting to develop -- a lot of them simply didn't know how to really wear them without totally showing them off to everyone. And in this age of lawsuit overkill it was murder trying to figure out the best way to ask little Sally if she was aware that half her ass was hanging out of her jeans. We literally had meetings where it was like "If you see an incident, please tell a female teacher so she can come up with the best way to handle the situation." All that being said, when a 7th grade MALE science teacher ANNOUNCES TO HIS CLASS "Girls, if you wear short skirts and I can see your panties, I am going to tell you what color they are." your butt is going to get fired-ass fired.
This whole Bank
Collapse/Bailout Clusterfuck                  
Honestly, the only good thing to come out of all this mess is this picture. Way to keep me broke forever, assholes.

[Listening to:  24-7 Spyz"Jungle Boogie" ]

Thursday, September 25

Nobody Gets Out Alive

It's my birthday. Get in the pit.

[Listening to:  Suicidal Tendencies"Institutionalized" ]

Wednesday, September 24

No Wire Hangers

Is there anything worse than being forced to stand next to someone who's being a total jerk to their kids in public?

Yesterday I was standing in line at the supermarket waiting to check out and there was this guy in front of me holding a baby in one arm while pointing an angry finger towards a freckle-faced little girl who was hugging on to the gum/candy shelf for dear life while he basically did everything but shout at her.
No! I said NO! Come Here RIGHT NOW!!
And she's literally like 3 feet away from him, and sort of giving him that "I want some candy" look that kids always get when they're standing next to the chewing gum and Reese's peanut butter cups -- but the tone in this dude's voice was filled with nothing short of loathing.

Now I don't know the guy, and I'm not about to stand here and accuse a father of hating his own daughter -- but there's a difference between the love you feel for your child and the tone of voice you use when you're pissed off at someone. And not for nothing, but how much power is a raised voice ever gonna have against a frikkin' wall of candy?

And it's not like I've ever gotten to the end of my rope in a store with my little boy, but there's dealing with the situation and then there's acting like an asshole because people are looking. Because this was not a stern voice, this was not an authoritative command. This was sentences started with phrases like "I swear to GOD if you touch one more thing.." and "What did I just TELL YOU!?"

And here's the thing -- the little girl was probably 8 or 9 years old, maybe a little younger, so there's no way in hell this was the first time something like this had ever happened. Navigating a child through a store without them touching things you don't want them to touch is like one of the most used motor skills you have to have as a parent after the age of 3. I mean, essentially once you get them out of diapers and teach them to walk -- you're then on the hook for about 14 more years on "Yes, that's nice honey, now put it back on the shelf" duty.

The one thing you never really want to do in a public setting is sort of cut in on a parent who's doing the discipline dance with their kids, but I can't tell you the number of times I've had to bite my tongue when seeing someone just out and out shame or cuss out a kid for looking at toys. And although it would be easy to chalk it up to the extraordinarily amount of white trash that tends to hang out in the state of Florida -- but it's the kind of behavior that honestly doesn't discriminate on the basis of tax brackets.
Rich people can be just as shitty to their kids as poor people -- it's just that
you get to see more of one kind when you're standing in line for a happy meal.
And it's not like I'm mister perfect parent over here -- but sometimes I think what so many people forget when they become parents is what it's like to be a kid.

Because this is how a kid's mind works. Your mom and dad will come up to you and say something like, "I need to go to the bank and do some things, and while we're in there I want you to be on your best behavior. And if you're good, we'll get some McDonalds on the way home, OK?"

So you go to the bank and the child is quiet enough, so on the way home you stop by the closest golden arches, and as soon as you get in the door your child sorta goes nuts. They'll spin in the spinny chairs, they'll point to the toys in the happy meal display boxes, they'll try to get to the playground before you have a chance to order the food -- and every time you're in there you see some parent going apeshit because their kids are acting hyper.
But in the kid's head it's like, "Hey, I was good at the bank. I held up my end of the deal here, pal."
Think about it -- You said if you're good here then we'll go there. There being the place where your kid no longer has to be "good" like he did at the other place. So once the child crosses the threshold of McDonalds, it's like what happens when Terrell Owens reaches the end zone. Sure he's gonna get fined and there might even be a penalty -- but he kept his nose out of the press for a whole week so he could get a chance to take it to the house, so now that he's finally there --
Get your popcorn ready.
News flash -- Kids like to look at toys. Kids want you to buy them candy. Children want to play on playgrounds. And no amount of raising your voice at them is going to change that. What's worse, even though there are plenty of places where you don’t want your children to act up or play -- kids will still find a way to do it. Because for a huge part of a child's life -- ANYTHING can be a toy. The ropes that create the stupid waiting line at the bank, the pens on a chain (hell, I play with those), the shopping cart wheels, the scale near the door of the supermarket -- the world is like Disneyland for people who don't have to pay bills, and if you don't understand that then you'll always end up being the a-hole at the grocery store shouting at the little girl.

So when I take my kid to the store, I set it up as a series of games we get to play. First game is jump on the scale. Next game is pick the cart. You let him push the cart a little, or give him "part of the list" to go find. And if there's toys and candy -- then we'll look at them, but it doesn't mean that we have to buy.

And when things start to get out of hand -- which they of course sometimes do, my signature move is basic:
We're leaving the store.
It doesn't make a whole ton of adult sense, I suppose -- but I've literally abandoned full shopping carts once I've decided it's time to leave the store. Because leaving is leaving. No more playing on the scale, no more riding on the cart -- game time is over and we're going to the car.

It works pretty good at restaurants and supermarkets, and you better believe it works at places he wants to go like playgrounds or fast food places. And like all punitive behaviors, if you handle it calmly and do it consistently -- you can get it to the point where just looking like you're about to take him to the car is usually enough.

And I’m not trying to pull that whole "I'm super parent and you're a dick" move on this guy at the supermarket -- because when you get right down to it, I'm the pushover parent. I buy the toys, and I'll watch the same movie 50 times in a row, but when it's time to be a dad, you gotta step up, you know?
All that being said, guy in supermarket -- You're being a dick.
As a matter of fact, I'm half considering teaching my kid to play the drums
so when they get old enough your daughter can date him just to piss you off.

[Listening to:  Dave Navarro"Rexall" ]

Tuesday, September 23

Aunt Joe

One of the things about blogging that makes it interesting is that the pages you read eventually become like characters. But unlike pre-packaged TV or music that's always the same no matter when you check it out, the "characters" created by the blog entries on your favorite sites tend to shift as the authors lives take them to different places. Sure some people tend to blog the same kinds of thing over and over, but the really good ones (IMHO) ebb and flow as their real world experiences change day to day.

So sometimes they're funny, while other moments find them pissed off. Then they're hopeful, or ecstatic -- and it's hard not to get wrapped up into it, because in a small way you sort of get to know these people and experience their emotional ups and downs by the stories they post.

As a result, just like in the real world, you tend to pick up on things. Moods. Threads. Oddly non-verbal clues that tend to show up even in a text-based environment such as this. But because you usually don't actually know the people you're reading, it's not like you can really interact beyond a certain level. It's sort of like watching a mouse in a maze -- because part of you wants them to solve whatever puzzle it is they're involved in, but because you're looking at it from above (so to speak), it's kinda hard not to feel like you have a certain amount of foresight about what is coming up for these people as they discuss their issues and experiences.

In other words, you really do want SO@24 to find success in the dating world, but it's hard not to think his standards might be a little high. You love the kinds of crazy things WIGSF writes when his insomnia hits, but you imagine there's probably a very simple solution to his sleep deprivation problems that for some reason he hasn't recognized yet.

And you might want me to figure out the best way to lose weight and get in shape (or at least quit bitching about it), but until I stop being such a martyr for crap food -- you know it's probably not gonna happen.

Of course a month ago I wasn't writing about any of this type of stuff at all because I was so wrapped up in election politics and whatever -- but lately it seems like the song has gotten stuck on one or two repeating notes, and despite the fact that some good writing has come out of it -- it's hard not to wonder (even as the author) why the guy who writes this blog hasn't been able to figure it out.
But like so many others who write online, what you see is only really part of the picture.
In other words, the whole fitness/weight thing is kind of an easy target for me to rant on, because it's sort of indicative of the way a lot of things have been going for me lately. Not so much that my world is bad, but that I've slipped into one of those regrettable moods where I can't help but be kinda down on myself because of my various circumstances and bad habits.

And it's not really one particular thing -- it's just sort of a collective downness that seems to envelop me now and again. I get overly frustrated with situations I have no control over, I get into this sorta bad loop of second-guessing things I did in the past -- I just become sort of a moping lump for a little while.

People who talk to me on the phone or know me personally can't help but pick up on it, and they try to be supportive -- but to be honest, I think most of them get a little sick of it when this mood tends to stretch on for a while, because I tend to get trapped in it to the point where I start thinking about making all these life changes that get me nowhere, or I plan to do a million things but then get all bummed out that I can't afford or find the way to fit them into my current lifestyle -- all of which would never be a problem if I'd just had the guts to do that sooner, or I'd been more dedicated to this while I was in school, yada yada yada.
My friends call this facet of my personality Emo Dan, and most of them hate it.
Because when I get that way there's usually nothing that can be done. The real advice needed is "Dude, suck it up and stop whining" -- and I get lots of that, but because the mood is just sort of a nameless cloud hovering over me, I rarely find the way out of it without at least some period of rain falling on my head first.
As a result, most of my friends have learned to just ride it out.
It doesn't last forever, but it does come along every now and then. Like some kind of a male menstrual cycle that doesn't follow any sort of regular schedule, or have a lot of good reasoning behind it -- and then much like the natural cycle that effects women on a much more realistic scale, it runs it's course and lets go of it's grip on me, and I get back to my old fun self again.

This most recent bout probably has a lot to do with the fact that I have a birthday racing up, which has brought with it the inevitable barrage of guy-mind lamenting regarding my overall lack of progress towards being a rock star or pro athlete despite the fact that I've done next to nothing to get any closer to any of those things during the past year.

I think lots of guys get their "periods" like this from time to time -- especially when you get into your 30's and start thinking you've "missed out on everything" regardless of your job situation, your kids, your friends, or whatever else you actually have going for you at the time that plenty of other people would kill to have access to.

And I know the first and second rule is not to talk about it -- but it's times like this when a real-life Fight Club would probably do me a world of good. But because I don't really have one of those around to kick my ass and remind me that there's a difference between complaining and living, I tend to go all mopey mope for a week or two whenever I realize that I'm getting ever closer to turning 40.

But when you step back from it (or look at it from above) it's probably hard not to sit there as a reader and say "Oh come on, THIS is what's got you down lately? Pfffft. Snap out of it, you pussy -- you've got a great kid, friends that love you, and an iPod full of songs that you get to listen to at work while you get paid and still have time to blog!"
And you'd be totally right.
But sometimes when you get in that cycle, all you can really do is just sorta wait until your own personal red tide runs it's course and fades back into the sea of your life so you can actually start seeing things with clear eyes again.
At the same time, heaven help the guy who thought this time of the month was the best time to
mess with me, because when I get like this, there's no telling what might happen, knammsayin?

[Listening to:  Ice-T"High Rollers" ]

Monday, September 22

5 Foods You Should Never Leave Me Alone With

Have you ever grocery shopped when you were really hungry? You know, where you end up at the checkout counter with like four times more items than you ever intended (or could afford) to buy, because your appetite was in control?
You know -- you need milk, bread, and a bag of sugar, but you end up walking
out with 3 boxes of pizza rolls, five bags of Doritos, and half the candy aisle?
That's sort of what I'm dealing with right now peering through the glass at all the little bags of chips and candy bars in the vending machine at work -- none of which would be good choices for breakfast, but all of which look really friggin' good right now.

I mean, I'm supposed to be looking for a suitable replacement for a bowl of cheerios here (I woke up late and missed breakfast), so I should be looking at the granola bars or the trail mix down there in the G7 or J5 range -- but when you gotta pass by those shiny new bag of two flavored Doritos to get there, it's hard to keep on the right path, you know?
Because there's nothing better than junk food in the morning.
Of course, when you're a junk food connoisseur like me -- not just any snack will do. Oh no, you want the good stuff. The lick your fingers and get the dust from the bottom of the ripped-open bag type stuff. The kind of snacks that make you mad that the bags in the vending machine are so small.

Of course you can always get bigger servings of the same snack foods at the grocery store -- but the question I have for you is, do you? If you have that one snack food or candy that makes you go a little crazy, does that make you a little more wary of having the same thing at home?

I've noticed recently that I've been shying away from some of my usual favorites -- probably because of this new effort to lose a few pounds and get into shape, because no one is worse than me when it comes to ignoring the suggested serving sizes for my favorite snacks.

Like this one time I was hanging out at Matty's house in Jax Beach. The normal bunch of hooligans were there, watching football, drinking and having a good time -- which eventually led to the need to make a beer run. So Nino heads out to the store and comes back with a couple of cases, and when he sits back down on the couch he opens up this bag of potato chips. And you know how it is, the bag gets passed around a little bit and everyone gets a handful -- but when I take a bite I get this amazing blast of spice and flavor I've never tasted before, and I'm all like "Wow, what are these?"
And Nino's like, "Salt and Pepper flavored chips, my man -- These things are great!"
So he offers me another handful, which I'm more than happy to take -- and then I forget exactly why, but he got up to answer the phone or get another beer or whatever, and by the time he made it back to the couch --
I'd eaten the entire bag.
There's this look people give you when you party foul that badly. This sort of disappointed, wordless stare that you know excommunicates you from future phone calls when he meets a girl and she says "Hey, can you find a date for my friend too?" or anything like that.

And it's not like this is my first time at that rodeo, either. Because when you start talking about stories where Dan hogs food, it's only a short while before someone brings up The Ted Bolt Gingersnap Accusation.

Ted Bolt was the RA at the dorm where the guys I ran with in highschool lived during their first year at FSU. Essentially what happened was we graduated -- they all went off to Tallahassee, while I stayed in town working roadie gigs. But the thing about it was, I'd end up getting a lot of letters from the guys where they would tell me stories about their various Sally Hall antics, many of which involved gushing about Ted Bolt, who was so great and always knew how to score beer and was totally cool if you had girls in your room yada yada yada.
Truth be told, I was a little jealous of the Bolt man.
I missed my friends, and sometimes when they boasted about his party prowess, it was hard not to feel a little like my place in the tribe was being replaced by someone else. So when I eventually got my act together and headed to FSU myself and took the guys up on their offer of helping split the rent on an off-campus apartment -- one of the things I knew was going to happen was that I would eventually cross paths with this guy that I'd heard so much about.

It was sort of like the ex-girlfriend meeting the new girl. I didn't really want to like him, regardless of how cool he actually turned out to be. So when we had that first house party at the new digs and I finally got to shake the guys hand, I was cordial and all but I felt like I sorta had something to prove, like I needed to stake my place in the friendship hierarchy.

So we're having this party, and the drinks are flowing and the music is pumping -- everyone's having a great time, but every now and then I make sure to check in on Ted to see what he's up to, and I notice he's spending a lot of time in the kitchen. And in my half-drunken state, I start to get suspicious. Especially because my prized box of Ginger Snap cookies that I had put in the kitchen cabinet had magically appeared on the counter, and was getting picked over by various people at the party.
Not cool.
These were my cookies. And this Ted guy was all over them, without even asking first. I mean honestly, this is the guy you guys think is so cool? So this goes on for a while; Ted hanging in the kitchen, me seething nearby with a drink in my hand -- and eventually I get past the boiling point and walk right up to Ted (who at this point I'd only really known for like an hour) and pointed my finger right in his face and say
"Alright enough is enough, Ted -- quit eating my gingersnaps!"
He gives me this weird sorta look, but backs off a bit and eventually splits the kitchen. I felt vindicated, and immediately boasted about the incident to Gristina, who had come in to see what all the commotion was -- at which point he sort of pulls me aside and says,
"Maybe you don't realize this because you're a little bit drunk right now -- but you've been
holding that box of cookies since this party started. Ted didn't eat your gingersnaps, bro.
-- You did."
Ted Bolt and I eventually became friends, but it was a rocky start and the story never went away. Neither did the realization I had about the way that I apparently am when it comes to certain snack foods. Which is that while I think everyone enjoys the occasional cracker or chip -- if I'm hungry or drunk there are certain flavors that I will basically lose all of my self-control around. Like I'll get mad if other people have opened the bag first. Or if people ask me to share some, I'll be all like, "Look if you wanted some, then why didn’t you buy a bag of your own?"

Because some snacks you don’t want to share. Or perhaps better said, some snacks you should never share with me. Because if you do, there’s a pretty good chance you won’t get them back.
  • Cheez-Its -- You people don't understand. I don't eat Cheez-its, I massacre them. I eat Cheez-its as if someone were about to take them away from me. The regular ones are ok, but it's best not to put your hands near the cage if I find myself in the same room with a box of Green Pepper Tabasco Sauce Flavored Cheez-its, because those babies are like crack. Seriously, I go completely shark frenzy on them -- all the way up to and including closing my eyes before I take the actual bite and eating anything that is in the immediate neighborhood of the snack when feeding time has begun. In other words, don't reach into the box to get a handful when I'm in the room -- because you'll probably be pulling back a stump.

  • Ritz Crackers -- When I used to bring a lunchbox to school, my mom would always throw a little Ziploc bag of Ritz crackers in there. It was a perfect setup, because once you got to the bottom of that bag -- you were done eating Ritz. There were no more. You wanted more, but there were only so many to start with, so you have to accept it. NOT SO AT HOME. At home you've got the box of Ritz, which are filled with the little sleeves full of crackers. Literally hundreds more than your mom would ever want you to have in one sitting. Maybe it's conditioning from all those school lunch sessions, but I have no problem dusting an entire sleeve of those things myself. I mean, if you open it the right way, you can literally sit it on your lap and flip through it like a Rolodex.

  • Pringles -- I feel like I should sort of get amnesty on this one, because everyone goes a little nuts when Pringles are around. Because Pringles are the perfect fuel for cheaters. Here's how it works -- you spy a guy working a tube of Pringles, and you head over there and say "Hey, can I have some of those?" And what he'll do is tip the tube over and pour some into your hands -- which usually means more crumbs and pieces than actual chips. You'll happily eat the debris, but then you've got full rights to say something like "Aw, come on man -- those were just crumbs. Can't I get a real chip here?" So then he gives you one, and you're like -- "Just one? You can spare more than just one, can't you?" -- and the next thing you know you've eaten half the tube.

  • Twizzlers -- I'm convinced that the real secret behind the addictive appeal of all red licorice candies is that each individual string doesn't really have enough flavoring in it to last you the entire eating experience. Sure it's sweet, but somewhere in the middle of a Twizzler it's more about the texture of the thing, or pretending that it's a cigarillo, or putting two of them in your mouth like vampire fangs. Seriously, have you ever noticed just how much more flavor you get out of a twizzler when you eat two of them at once? But you know what's kinda fucked up? When YOU eat twizzlers, you go two at a time. But if someone wants to share, you'll only give them one.

  • Sushi -- When you're at a restaurant with someone and you order 10 wings, the line is pretty clear. I get five, you get five. We might fight it out over who gets more drummies or who gets to dip first -- but mathematically the restaurant has done most of the work for you. But when you get the big plate of sushi rolls, the numbers not only aren't clear -- they don't repeat. You can get 4 pieces of sashimi and split those down the middle -- but then you get to the California roll that might have 7 slices, followed by the Philadelphia roll that may only have 5. There's no clear line of demarcation -- especially if you're at a real place where the guy is making it right in front of you and not telling you what it is until he serves it. So then you've got to get all devious to get the most of the flavors that you want. See your date wiping her mouth with a napkin? That's the opening you need to snake like two more pieces. I've told people things like "You gotta try this one -- and be sure to put a little ginger on it." and then when they reach for it you can grab two more of the cucumber rolls. The real key here is to keep your eyes on the table. Because if there's just one more piece on the plate left and you haven't claimed it -- I will tell you that someone you know just walked in the door behind you to get you to turn your head.
  • It's like a crossover dribble in the half-court -- if I see your shoulder turn, I'm gonna break the other way.

    *All these moves are sick, but don't miss what happens @ 2:35 (look for the Orange Shirt).

    [Listening to:  Pantera"Revolution is My Name" ]

    McSodom's and Gomorrah King

    One of the funnier things about my recent return to exercise is the fact that the building that houses my gym sits directly between a really great Indian restaurant and one of my favorite wing joints in town. So basically every time I park the car and start walking towards the place I'm usually hit directly in the face with all sorts of tempting aromas wafting out of the doors.
    It's like going to a church that's setup between two strip clubs.
    I can't even begin to tell you the number of times I've headed up there feeling down on my progress and sorta not wanting to work out at all where I start plotting and scheming of ways to pull off the ultimate crime, wherein I say I'm going to the gym 5 days a week but instead take three steps to the right and just drink beer and wolf down chili fries instead. I'll even get so far as to consider ways to make my shirt look sweaty just in case anyone wonders where I've been.
    I mean, come on -- the gym is right next to a sports bar. Right effing next to it.
    So you'd probably think every time I actually end up in the gym instead of sneaking into the curry joint I'd feel a little good about myself, like I'd won some sort of moral victory or something -- but you try concentrating on abdominal crunches when you know all that separates you from a plate or teriyaki spice wings is a few inches of concrete.
    It's like trying to sleep while while your roommates are having sex.
    Every workout I've ever had to endure after catching a whiff of fresh Indian food steaming out of the door has been like building a bridge over the river Kwai. Not only did I not want to be doing it, but you better believe the second I finish my last rep I'm going home so I can booty call some takeout Chinese in for the airstrike that will blow up any good I might have done myself during the actual workout.

    Because in the end that's really my problem. It's not really that I can't find a workout that suits me, or the discipline to stick with a regimen enough to see the kinds of results that will make me want to keep going -- it's the same thing it's always been:
    I love to eat.
    But lately as I've tried to approach this latest shot at getting healthy again -- reading everything I can in the hopes of finding some magic middle ground where I can make the changes I need to make without feeling like I'm taking the first step towards jumping up and down on Oprah's couch because I've sold my soul to some hack sci-fi writer, I'm finding that there really isn't one.

    Of course, everything that I like to eat is bad for me. Everything I don't like is what I'm supposed to have lots of. And even if I go whole hog and start eating rabbit food three times a day, there's still ample research to say that it won't really make that much difference in the end unless I find a way to change my metabolism at the same time. A fact I've always heard, but never been able to put that much stock in.
    Because what does it mean, really?
    Back when I was skinny and in shape I didn't work out. I didn't pay any special attention to my diet at all. I worked on sound and light crews for local and touring bands. It was a physical job -- but it's not like I hit the gym during off hours to make sure I could handle the strength requirements of the gig.

    Truth be told, I spent most of my days sitting in my dad's apartment learning Living Colour guitar solos by ear. I watched ungodly amounts of TV, and filled whatever hours were left with chasing girls or surfing. Sure I was a lot younger, but a lot of my days were really, really lazy. Lazier in a lot of ways than I am now (which is really saying something when you think about it).

    It's a thought that resonates when I look at my buddy Ralph, who manages Endo Exo -- and is basically a walking ball of muscle. For the first year or so I knew him, Ralph never went near a gym -- saying he was too busy with his work. Of course it's not like he's never been in one -- dude's a former college wrestler who spent the better part of his youth working construction jobs and installing air conditioners, but even now that he's started hitting the weights again a few times a week the thing you still notice is that Ralph doesn't freak out when someone offers him a cheeseburger.

    In other words, It's not like he eats crap food all the time -- but he's at a fitness level where his system can handle a little junk now and again. Hell, the occasional fast food meal is probably just low-rent carbo loading for the guy.

    And that I think is the real difference. I think there are times during the day when people like Ralph get signals from their bodies that are like "Need fuel. Please insert freshly prepared complex carbohydrates for maximum performance levels."

    While people like me will be sit at their desk at work waiting to get that mental cel phone text with all the abbreviations and misspelled words that says,
    "Want BBQ sauce flavor. Find BBQ sauce flavor NOW!"
    Sure I get hungry once in a while -- but lately I'm starting to suspect that what my body really wants is taste. Salty, sugary, bitter, spicy savory flavors mixing together and feeding the endorphins that make my brain happy. I mean lets face it -- the reason I'm in this kind of shape right now is that my body has decided to take all the fuel to be used later and store it around my waist, legs, and motivation to work out on a regular basis.

    But no matter how many weeks of winter I could survive using the rations my system has stored up for me, there's really no biochemical process that can match the magic that happens when you put chili and cheese on top of a plate of French fries.
    No salad for that matter, either.
    And that's really the problem, when you get right down to it. Because if there's one thing that healthy food tends to lack, it's the primary colors of flavor that all the things you aren't supposed to eat is slathering over with.

    Think about it, when you hear people gushing over a really good salad, what kinds of words do they use to describe it with?
    Do any of these things sound like something you'd want to dip a chicken wing into ..ever?
    I guess this is what I really need to know. When you're skinny -- do salads actually start to taste good? Is that how you really know your metabolism has changed for the better; when you do more than just pick the croutons out of the thing?

    Because honestly -- lettuce tastes like wet paper. I don't even like it on burgers, because it gets in the way of the taste. And I know I need to stop thinking like this if I'm ever gonna get ahead of this issue in my life -- but really, is this what healthy people like to chew on? Because if it is -- it's no wonder there's so much garbage food in the world. And I'm not talking about processed cheese or things like that. I'm talking about supreme pizzas and ice cream. I'm talking about fresh tuna fish sandwiches, homemade fried chicken, and potato salad. Hell I'm talking about spicy curry or tabbouleh too.
    Foods that let you know you're eating them. Flavors that kiss you full on the lips and leave you lightheaded.
    Maybe salads do that for some people -- but they don't for me. Which was fine and dandy when I weighed 125 pounds, but lately leaves me feeling like Joe Pantoliano in The Matrix when he's decides to sell out the lives of his crew mates ust so he can pretend he's tasting a porterhouse
    ..one last time..

    [Listening to:  Taproot"Facepeeler" ]

    Friday, September 19

    Back to Cram School

    How's your morning going -- Good? Glad to hear it. Oh me? Yeah, I just found out there's an 8-year old who can play Ozzy better than I can.
    Here's my thing though -- when did Mr. Crowley become the standard?
    I mean, it's an OK tune and all, but it was never really what I considered the best song from the Randy Rhodes era. Honestly, Diary of a Madman can't get a little love? Suicide Solution?, Crazy Train?, -- Bueller, Bueller, anyone? I spent all kinds of hours learning those songs back in the day. Hell, I've probably put more time into perfecting my performances of those tunes than this kid has spent tying his shoes.
    And not fer nothing -- but what's with every guitar player in Japan being able to
    afford first-run Gibson guitars? Seriously, do you know how much those things cost?
    Eh, don't mind me. It's a slow Friday where I don't really want to be at work, and when it's like this it's easy for me to wanna take shots at people who are doing things I'd rather be doing right now.

    Plus there's always this deal that happens to me whenever I see footage of that 3-year old who runs triathlons or the 9-year old girl who just graduated from Harvard Medical School and is going straight to her residency at Walter Reed where I think to myself, "What was I doing when I was that age?"
    Possible Answers Include:
    Picking My Nose.
    Popping Wheelies on my Bike.
    Playing Kickball.
    Learning my first chords on the guitar.
    Hiding Lima Beans in my napkin so my mother would think I'd eaten them.
    And it's not like I would trade any of these experiences (boogers notwithstanding) to undergo the sort of parental control/regimentation that it surely took to get this kid to this level of skill on the guitar at his age, and I'm not knocking his talent level, which is clearly impressive -- but sometimes when it's payday and you already know 75% of it is spent before it's even deposited and you're still living in a one-bedroom apartment filled with things you'd rather be doing than captaining the USS Cubicle five days a week, seeing little kids kicking your ass with the things you think you're supposed to be good at isn't necessarily as cute as most other people probably think it is.
    Oh well, at least I'm sure it's a guy this time.

    [Listening to:  Cornelius"Count Five or Six" ]

    Thursday, September 18

    One Vegetable I'll Probably Force You to Eat

    Barack Obama will be holding an election rally at Metro Park in Jacksonville this weekend. It's his first public appearance here since accepting the nomination to be the Democratic party's candidate for the presidency.

    Of course his campaign is about much more than just politics, and although I don't think the color of his skin should be a deciding factor in whether he is elected to lead this nation or not -- the fact remains that his candidacy in and of itself is a historic event, especially considering the plight of African-Americans over the course of this nation's history.
    My son is mixed.
    Unfortunately, he's also 8 -- which leaves him blissfully ignorant of not only Obama's existence and importance, but of the reasons why this is such an landmark election, especially for families like ours.

    This weekend is mine to spend with him, which puts me in the position to take him to this rally -- which I would like to be at not only because of my personal politics and interest and in this election, but I also because I really do think my son needs to see this, even if he might not fully comprehend the significance behind what is going on.
    But just try telling him that.
    Thus far I've had trouble getting him to understand the president angle, the election angle, the "hey it's at a park" angle, and the racial identity angle.

    My son is aware of who he is and where he comes from, but at this age it's not something that's overwhelmingly important to him in his day-to-day life. And he certainly couldn't care less about politics, which is cool -- because the more I stress over it the more I kind of remember why I normally have such short patience for political nerds.

    At the same time, I feel like if we skipped this thing to watch cartoons or run around the park it might come back to haunt me in about 10 years or so.
    This is something he will eventually be glad he didn't miss.
    Come to think of it, he complained the same way before I took him to see his first concert featuring George Clinton and the P-Funk All Stars. Something I think he might just thank me for later.

    So yeah, there won't be a playground there. Or video games. Or toys of any kind. In fact, it will probably just be a lot of grown-ups standing around listening to someone talk.
    But we're going, OK?

    [Listening to:  Red Hot Chili Peppers"Johnny, Kick a Hole in the Sky" ]

    Wednesday, September 17

    Actually Spoken During the Course of My Day

    Oh meow meow goddamn meow meow meow MEOW MEOW!!
    Anyone who's ever lived with a cat can tell you about those days when they get completely underfoot and start yowling at the top of their lungs about nothing. I mean seriously, do I look like a mind reader? You've got food, there's fresh water in the bowl, the litterbox is clean -- I don't speak meow, what the hell do you want!?

    [Listening to:  Jerzee Monet & DMX"Most High" ]

    Monday, September 15

    Fairuza, We Need to Talk

    Fairuza, we've been through a lot. Ever since I first saw you in The Craft and started rooting against that mousy blonde who eventually killed you in the end -- you've had a place in my heart. The unique eyes, the tight little body, the fact that you're kinda crazy (and we all know how I feel about crazy women), not to mention the fact that you bear a slight resemblance to the original celebrity crush object Ornella Muti --
    How could I not fall in lust with you?
    We've had some good times together. I mean come on, American History X, Almost Famous -- Hell, I was even there with you when you took that step to the side and played Adam Sandler's love interest in The Waterboy (although to be totally honest -- once you start crossing over towards movie cheerleader territory you risk locking horns with my girl Eliza Dushku, and that is a fight that very few people [well, really just one -- if I can convince her to wear the outfit] will ever have a chance of winning).
    But relationships take work, Fairuza. Two people working together, or in your case -- you know, ..actually working.
    And I really haven't seen that much of you lately.
    The web says you've got something new in the works with Nicolas Cage and Val Kilmer (wow, Batman and Dumbass -- good luck with that, sister) but it's gonna be a while before that comes out and I get the chance to pass on yet another Nick Cage film -- and it's making me feel like maybe the fire between us is starting to cool.

    And it's not like you've lost any of your beauty or lustre. It's just that well -- you've been gone. Invisible, really. You don't call. You don't show up in re-runs. I hear the theme song to The Craft when I'm flipping the channels and I stop expecting to see that hot sneering lip looking back at me only to find Alyssa Milano's butterface and whatever cast mates happened to be hanging out with her for an episode of the vastly lame spin-off Charmed -- and it makes me kinda sad. There are plenty of roles that have come and gone over the years that you could have easily rocked --
    But alas, you're really nowhere to be found.
    And it sucks, because for a while there you were the queen of the hot Goth chicks. The strange to beat all strange. And now you're gone. I mean seriously, who's the hottest Goth girl left out there now -- Pete Wentz?

    I'm trying here. I keep you in my good thoughts. I defend your honor whenever people criticize your one-note acting. I welcome you with open libido whenever you sneak into my dirty dreams at night. But a man cannot live by bread and water alone. A new picture every now and then might be nice. Some paparazzi photos, or candid shots of you at some premiere or walking your dog, or hell -- 10 minutes of you on some "VH-1's I love shows where we list things we like" type gigs where you kvetch about how you used to make your Barbies cut themselves while listening to Bauhaus -- but instead there's nothing. Big fat, empty nothing.
    In other words Fariuza -- It’s not me, it's you.
    So it's with a heavy heart that I come to you with this. But I feel like you deserve to find this out from me instead of having to hear it from somebody else:
    You're being replaced.
    I tried to stay with you. I really did. But about a week and a half back I was sitting at home watching the otherwise forgettable film/video-game adaptation Hitman, when I found myself face to face for the first time with my new celebrity crush:
    Olga Kurylenko
    Now if you're wondering who this is because you blinked and missed Hitman when it was in the theaters, don't worry -- because she's also the new Bond girl, which means you'll be seeing plenty of her in a few months. And if you're like me and endured the stilted acting and ridiculous plotline of Hitman just to watch the scenes of Olga trying to seduce Timothy Olyphant I wouldn't worry either – because she'll probably play the exact same kind of character with Daniel Craig, and probably again when she stars opposite Mark Wahlberg in the upcoming movie version of Max Payne.
    Which is fine, fine, fine with me.
    Not only is Olga a former lingerie model, but her Ukrainian accent is authentic. And even if none of that came into play, it's hard to ignore the fact that she's doing her part to reclaim the name Olga -- which for most of my life was a name associated with women who looked like this.

    So Fairuza, you need to arrange a time to come over and pick up your DVDs. Not because I didn't enjoy them or that they weren't any good; but because it's time to move on so I can make room for some new ones. I mean let’s face it, the girl's six years younger than you -- and while I hate to be that guy, I get the distinct impression that she's probably in for a few more spots on that shelf than you've made time for in the past few years.

    And don't try to flatter yourself by telling me that I'll never be able to pronounce her middle name and probably can't understand half the things Olga says, because this is me you're talking to -- a guy who's celebrity crush list more or less starts with Stevie Nicks, a woman who's looks and music I've adored since I was a little kid even though I've hardly understood a single word she's said the entire time I've known her.

    Actually now that I think about it, there are a lot of celebrity crushes I've had over the years that I've drifted apart from. I mean maybe that's just the nature of the beast -- especially when you're younger, but that doesn't mean I want to hear about you pulling any kind of psycho ex-celebrity crush nonsense.
    Have some class, ok?
    Snow White never calls me in the middle of the night and hangs up. Aisha Tyler learned (eventually) to stop texting me after she stumbled out of the clubs late at night and wanted a little "attention." Hell, I've even started to entertain the idea of accepting the invite to one of those "harmless, platonic" lunches that Aeon Flux keeps pestering me to join her for.

    Although to be perfectly honest -- I've kinda had to lay down the law with Aeon. In fact just the other day I sat her down, looked her staight in the eye and said,
    "Look, I'm perfectly willing to sit down and share a meal, but the first time
    you start to pull some freaky shit with that tongue of yours, I'm outta here."
    Well ok, maybe the second third time, but that's IT.

    [listening to:  N.E.R.D."Laugh About It" ]

    Sunday, September 14

    The Bunny Slope

    I have absolutely no scientific data to back this idea up, but I feel pretty confident when I say that one of the major differences between the sexes is that while I think everyone has fallen prey to watching an infomercial now and then,
    Only guys are dumb enough to actually buy stuff from them.
    I'm not talking about HSN, which is its own circle of hell -- I'm talking about 30 minutes of in-your-face hard sell advertising. Video montages of people who apparently don't have the motor skills to wipe up a spill on their kitchen counter followed by some dude wearing a headset microphone who’s wiping up Lake Michigan with some wonder chamois while shouting at you about some special offer.
    Women don't fall for shit like that, do they?
    Seriously, there isn't a guy out there who can tell me that he hasn't been flipping channels, or had the TV on while he was doing something else and then came back in the room and got caught up in some quick commercial for some wacky product that uses solar power to run a fan that can cool off the interior of your car while you're at work and didn't give at least five seconds of thought towards buying one?

    In fact I’m pretty convinced the reason I don't actually own half the retarded products I see on TV is that it's sort of a hassle to order them. And even if I get to the point where I'm like dialing the phone to take part in the short term special offer for an extra 30-day supply of super-Oxi whatever, there's this moment where the phone starts ringing, and I realize what I'm about to do and hang up.

    And I hate to out my old man like this, but I know exactly where I get it from -- because although he doesn't go around broadcasting it to everyone out loud, my father buys all kinds of stuff he sees on TV.

    I can't even begin to tell you how many times I've been at my dad's house helping him with some sort of yardwork or whatever and we have a conversation that goes like:
    "The lawn is starting to look pretty good"
    "Yeah, but there are a bunch of dead spots in the backyard I can't seem to get rid of"
    "I saw this ad the other day for this stuff.. Quickturf, Insta-turf -- something like that?"
    Only to have him cut me off with, "Patch-Perfect. Bought some last week. Doesn't work at all."
    I don't know why dudes fall for it, but every now and then you see something on TV that's advertised with a certain sense of logic to it, and it's hard not to get a little sucked in. It's like they have a little flowchart designed to fool people like me -- where they start off saying, "Do you like Pizza?" and I'm like -- "Yeah, I like Pizza!" Which prompts the guy to say "Do you hate it when you heat up a leftover slice in the microwave and the cheese burns the roof of your mouth?" and instead of saying something intelligent like "Well yeah, that's why I reheat pizza in the oven" or "Sure, that's why I let it sit for a few minutes before eating it" I'll be all like:
    "Wait, you guys figured out a way to fix that!?"
    And then they've got me. Then it's all over, because even if I don't dial up the 1-800 number and order the product they're hawking -- the next time I'm at Target I'll come across a display featuring the exact same item and then it's only a matter of time before I fall to the dark side and bring home the new Pizza-Perfect microwave tray -- which of course doesn't work for shit.

    But here's the worst part. No matter how many times I get burned on products like that -- I'll still watch the commercials. I'll still half-talk myself into things. Like the other day, when I came face to face with the latest commercial for something called P90X.

    If you haven't seen it -- P90X is this mega-extreme workout system aimed at building muscle and shaping abs, except that there are no machines or gadgets to buy because the majority of the exercises are isometric. And then on the screen you've got all these charged-up people doing rapid-fire one-armed pushups, yoga moves, and a bunch of Kenpo-styled aerobics. And everyone's got great biceps, and the before and after pictures all look really convincing, and even though I absolutely know EVERY exercise program sold on TV is 99.9% bullshit --
    Something about this program starts to look almost ..doable.
    I'm struggling with my weight. I've been back in the gym recently, but the progress is slow -- and the honest truth is that I'm still sorta finding my way through there to get into a routine that not only provides concrete results but isn't a complete chore to get through or as easy to give up on as it's been in the past.

    Working out isn't fun. I feel good when I'm done -- but it’s frustrating while I’m in the middle of it and then when I go look in the mirror I'm still fat. Worse yet, no amount of time in a gym or good feeling after a workout makes food taste any worse. It’s almost like my body at this point is better at being oversized than it is changing metabolism or building muscle. I'm driven to get to my goals, but the lack of any sort of noticeable changes no matter how much you do when your body gets past a certain fitness level makes the whole process really hard sometimes.

    So I'm watching this commercial and everyone's doing all these weird looking pushups and yoga moves and the trainer is blabbing on and on about this thing he calls "muscle confusion" -- which essentially says the way to really get results from workouts is to shift the muscle groups you focus on often enough to fool your body out of the "plateau effect" that comes from the normal style of working out, where you get quick results early but then can't seem to get any farther along the line because your body adjusts to the new stress that exercising puts on it and then settles into a metabolism/fitness level that can accommodate it.
    Which not only makes a lot of sense, but mirrors things I've heard at my actual gym.
    Then the commercial start hitting you with the testimonials -- the "real" people who use the system and the results they get? And you don't want to believe them, because you know it's advertising -- but you hate hate hate being fat, so you desperately want to find something that can get you out of that corner, which makes the short films of these guys who "were skeptical, but stuck with it and now have a body they are proud to show off at the beach" and the slow-fade transitions from their pudgy starting points to their big-bicep skinnier selves, and it kinda makes you feel envious.

    So then you start looking for cracks in the armor. OK, what's the catch here? How much crap do I have to buy? Is the workout matched with some ridiculously expensive nutrition plan? Do I have to drink a bunch of awful-tasting shakes, or go to meetings where I have to hang out with a bunch of skinny people who all clap when the scale says I lost half a pound?

    In other words, is this one of those "Shame on you for being fat" workout plans, is it one of those "It only works if you drink the Kool-Aid and become a complete douche" plans, or (worst of all) is this one of those -- "It looks like it works on TV, but even you had to know this was a scam when you bought it." type of deals where you know it's not gonna work, but you'll give it a solid week just in case you're wrong.
    Believe me; I've wanted desperately to be the guy who "accidentally" lost 50 pounds using the Ab-Roller.
    But I'm not. -- The reality is that I'm just like every other dumbass that bought one, used it for a while -- realized it was sort of a pain in the ass and then put it under the bed with the 10 other exercise gadgets I should have never bought in the first place.

    The twist here though was that P90X, this super military style crunch/pullup/pushup/kenpo aerobics boot camp thing that is supposed to "get you ripped" in 90 days doesn't come with equipment. It's just a DVD series that you use at home. A selling point that not only makes it seem somehow more genuine -- but also in this modern age, means that there's a whole new twist involved:
    Because if P90X is a DVD -- that means somebody has created a torrent file of it.
    And don't even look at me like that. You know how much Photoshop costs. You know how much of a pain in the ass it is to spend time browsing through porno DVDs at a video store when all you want to do is see some boobs. You know how much your iTunes bill is at the end of the month, even when you only thought you bought "just a few songs."

    Downloading brand-name stuff I can't afford but still have a use for is not a crime. It's adaptation. And it's not like it's a perfect crime either, because for every software package you get without a license, every 4-day download you sit through in the hopes of beating Bill Gates at his home game -- there are 10 versions of the same thing you end up with that don't work, or work great if you can read Norwegian, or infect your computer with a virus, or any of the zillion other types of pitfalls that come when you decide to dig through the cyber-mud for free stuff.

    So I get online, look around for less than 5 minutes, click the button, and start downloading the thing -- when I realize something about the testimonials that are still playing on the infomercial. Yes, the video footage shows overweight people getting skinny and building muscle -- but now that I've sort of sold my soul to the devil and jumped in on this thing, NOW I suddenly start to notice that every person they're talking to is an EMT, or an emergency room nurse, or a fireman, or some guy who did 2 tours in Iraq and then came home and "let himself go a little bit," or a former college softball star who got married and still has a little weight leftover from when she was pregnant with her daughter..
    People who are already in shape.
    So I do a little research, and what starts to come up from some of the medical review sites I'm reading is that P90X is great for people who have a high fitness level, but haven't been able to get the kind of results they want. That it's a great way to go from being strong to getting ripped, -- but that if you're nowhere near your ideal weight that it's likely to be more frustrating than effective because the speed of the workouts is high, the difficulty of the moves is noticeable, and the goal is to maximize muscle, not to burn fat.
    ..Well, crap.
    The review sites all say that if your goal is to lose more than 5-10 pounds or you aren’t someone who is in decent shape already, then you're better off trying out something called Power 90, which is the beginner level program.

    Part of me feels vindicated because I've been able through research to avoid getting scammed by something that wouldn't really be effective for me in the first place (a revelation that makes me feel that much better about downloading a pirated copy), but there's this other thing that sort of slaps me in the face -- this realization that being this far out of shape has once again kept me out of somewhere I kinda wanted to go.

    It's like this thing I've started to notice at the gym. This sort of invisible line that I never really noticed before -- where all the treadmills and crunch machines are on one side of the room, and all the weight sets and full-bore aerobics classes are on the other, or in a different section of the place altogether.

    At first I thought it was just logistics. Treadmills take up room. Weightlifters need open space. But lately I've started thinking about something. Especially because the personal trainer that I spent time with as part of my membership deal was really adamant about starting every workout with aerobics.

    But then when you're in the gym -- when you're actually there on the stair machine hoping you're doing some kind of good for yourself, does anyone else sort of notice that all the really in-shape people slinging around the free weights and marching through their Zumba classes never seem to bother with it?
    Why are the trainers telling me to do things that I never actually see them doing?
    And the answer I'm starting to settle on is this -- you know all that treadmill work? All that stretching in the special room, all those Nautilus-type machines that ring the outer edge of the place?
    What if all of that was designed to keep the fatties out of the way?
    I'm sure Bailey’s Powerhouse would like it if I were to get in shape. But more and more I’m coming to realize that they're not really as invested in that goal as much as they like getting my money. At least not the same way they seem to be for the people who can bench 250 pounds. Not like the way they are for the spinners who get their own room. What I'm starting to feel like is that the fancy treadmills with the heart rate monitors and the varied resistance training programs are actually more like the kiddie pool at the waterpark.

    A concern that was solidified even more when my pirated copy of the "beginner level" Power 90 workout finished downloading, and Tony Horton -- the very same trainer who was in the commercial on my TV a few minutes ago literally shouting in some guys face saying "Go for it, Don't quit -- you can do another rep, you can achieve your goals but you've got to fight for it. Warriors use the pain, that's what P90X is all about!!!!" -- Is standing there on the video player screen leading the Power 90 workout talking in a much softer voice, saying things like:
    "Just go at your own pace. Use our moves as a guide, but don't strain yourself trying to
    keep up. And if you can't do the actual move, that's ok too. Just do the best you can."

    [Listening to: T-Pain (feat. Akon)"Bartender" ]

    Friday, September 12

    The Friday Hot Sheet

    When you take part in a contest on Tuesday night with your buddies to decide which of the chosen five brands of Tequila is the best by taking repeated shots of all of them -- the rest of the week can only pale in comparison. But that didn't stop ish from happening, and happening hard all over the world.

    At the same time, when your daily routines are largely defined by the ebb and flow of the corporate workplace, and that tide has swung hard towards the "not much going on" side of the equation -- it's hard not to get pulled down into the mire of it all. In other words, it's been one of those weeks where a big part of my workday was consumed in trying to figure out how not to sleep through the middle of it -- and that was all before me and the boys went all El Toro on ourselves with the agave.

    So before I go to the records library for some ..uh, research -- here are this weeks risers and fallers, and the buzz as it looks from here.
    When word came out that republican VP nominee Sarah Palin would not be made available to the press for interviews it suggested that her party was worried how she would fare against some of the hard hitters out there who were surely dying to get a crack at her. When they later announced that her first official interview would be facilitated by infamous soft-baller Charlie Gibson, those of us who are flabbergasted over the way people seem to be fawning all over her despite the fact that she appears to be a total whackjob collectively let out a groan, because short of Larry King there are few journalists who have gained a better reputation for not asking real questions than the Gibster. Well I guess he got tired of hearing that mess -- because not only did he open up on her with both barrels, but at times seemed to be openly annoyed at some of her answers (here's a hint -- guess how she pronounces "Nuclear?)."
    You picked the interviewer. You set the time. Hell, your team probably wrote the majority of the questions. This was a real opportunity to shut up a bunch of your critics, and thus far all you've done is give them more ammunition. You looked bad up there, honey. Shaky, under-prepared, and at times flat-out amateurish. Remember Dan Quayle? Remember James Stockdale? Yeah, the rest of the country doesn't either.
    Dude, where the hell are you lately? I mean honestly -- Skeletor hands off to Family Values Barbie, she straight-up fumbles the ball all over the press and the best you've got to show for it is a couple of minutes on Letterman? Look, taking the high road is admirable, but all this letting the screwballs hog the mic business is getting kind of old. I mean, have you seen some of the attack ads they're throwing at you lately? Are you just gonna sit there and take that?
    Big ups to my boys not only for beating the crap out of the hated Raiders, but also for not taking their collective foot off Al Davis and his team's throat even when it became clear that they were vastly overmatched. Hopefully you can carry that momentum into this weeks matchup against the Chargers, who might have looked bad in their opener, but have a pretty strong history of eating our lunch.
    Honestly, this season has really been kinda blah. The challenges are boring, the talent of the designers is kinda questionable, and outside of the fact Kenley's knowitall attitude makes me want to kick her in the throat, the lack of a villain in the cast has really sapped the energy out of a show that I still really want to like.
    Project Runway
    Fashion Show
    Once again the correspondents from the site that were sent to cover Fashion Week in New York have attended the show that will help decide the eventual winner of this year's competition (every year the show's schedule overlaps the actual finale) -- which is fine, seeing that Project Runway is always a hot topic of discussion; but once again those of us who still want to watch the competition unfold have had their thunder stolen by articles that blatantly give away the names of the finalists weeks before the show actually reveals who they are! This has happened a few years in a row now, with Jezebel writers claiming that their priority is covering the events in Bryant Park regardless of who might be sponsoring it, and that if you don't want to know the names of the finalists then simply don't read the articles -- but when you put those names in the effing TITLE it sort of defeats the purpose, doesn't it? Seriously, it's like giving away the teams from the Superbowl in October. Not cool, Jezebel. Not cool.
    Holiday Hill Elementary
    School's Lunch Menu                
    My son Curren is the coolest, cutest little kid I've ever known -- but he cut a fart in the car the other day when I picked him up from school that I was seriously worried was gonna melt the paint off the interior. He's all of 8 years old and I was rolling down windows and shit. Look, I'm not expecting five-star cuisine from an Elementary school or anything, but just what the hell are you putting in the food?

    [Listening to:  Nonpoint"The Wreckoning" ]

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