Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Who the hell doesn't like doughnuts? I know there are those out there who prefer the dramatic cinnamon roll or would skip breakfast sweets altogether in favor of savory eggs or a nice congealed meatstuff, but all those people are clearly insane. And communists.

The doughnut is shrouded in mystery. Well, not really. Although food historians are not positive on its origins, I'd like to think it came from the European innovators of baked goods, the Dutch. They gave us pie and fritters and all that, but when some sly baker in the mid-nineteenth century poked a hole in the middle so the dough would cook more thoroughly, he stumbled onto greatness. It would soon kick the sorry ass of rolls, scones, bagels and biscuits in any brawl in any flour-lined dark alley from here to North Carolina.

Why mention the Tarheel State? That is where the finest doughnut franchise was created. Krispy Kreme makes the single finest doughnut available to Americans in a mass-market. I'm sure there are some enterprising young bakers out there that could argue, but I don't know where they are. And, I would ask these pastry punks: "Do you hand out warm, free samples to people waiting in line?"

Hell no, they don't!

The original glazed doughnut is soft and sweet and does everything a good doughnut should. They pair up with either hot coffee or cold milk and the breakfast bread goes down smooth. Sometimes it sticks to the roof of your mouth like the first scoop of peanut butter.

I personally prefer to spell doughnut with the "ugh". Krispy Kreme misspells everything in its name except its product. Dunkin Donuts bats .1000. There is something satisfying about the word itself. It has the 'dough' up front. That word seems to be from another age, when mothers used to cook for their children. It's folksy; you can only find it inside the cooking world anymore.

Doughnuts are also friends to singles and tweakers and club kids and drunks and people on the fringes, especially here in Portland. Be sure to visit Voodoo Doughnuts if you're in town. I suggest leaving the kids in the car. The doughnuts are very tasty but the "Triple Chocolate Penetration" and the "Butter Fingering" selections may give you a clue that it's not your normal mom and pop doughnut shop. It's a little f@#!*d up, actually.

Why are these delights in a box so special to me? Simply that. I keep them special. I don't have them very often. I could have doughnuts all the time. I live in America and I could shovel them hand over fist in my fat face, like Homer Simpson's hellish room of Ironic Punishment. Whenever I go out of my to buy them, it is a surprise to everyone. It’s also a surprise that everyone enjoys. Even the grumpiest bastard in the family or the oldest, crustiest curmudgeon in the office likes some type of doughnut. It’s a cheap way to make nice and great way to get people to leave you alone for awhile. A hermit's dream.

Powdered. Chocolate. Cream filled. Jelly. Who cares? If you can't enjoy a goddamned doughnut I don't know how to make you happy.

Just Make A Fuss, Dammit

Thanksgiving is a hassle. Christmas is a pain in the ass. Halloween is so wasteful. It's that time of year when the national whining begins and we all coalesce in to one giant bitch-fest about money, materialism, long lines, Santa's lap, travel, weather, ninja costumes, plane delays, turkey, my feet hurt, why do I have to do this, blah blah blah.

I thought I romanticized the holiday seasons from years ago. My parents actually got their act together during the holidays and put on as good a show as they could for me and my brother. It was really the only time of the year that we felt that the spotlight was on us. As an adult I can safely say they earned some decent scores. But hold on…

We were broke all of the time. The houses we lived in had crappy appliances and my parents both worked long hours. The same with my grandparents. They also cooked for more people on Thanksgiving, and entertained more people on Christmas. I remember neighbors would pull out the stops for those two big ticket holidays and managed to weave some Halloween magic as well. Maybe a costume party or an attempt at a haunted house. Were these people millionaires? Nope. Modest little homes, maybe even apartments, and somehow they found the time to give their families something to remember.

That thing was not food. That think was not a party. That thing was not a gift. It was that we belonged. We were welcome. We were special to our family. It was the sense of attention, of caring, of giving and…buckle up everyone born after 1970…selfless generosity.

(I know. Didn't that die out when Madonna started waving her crotch around in the 80's?)

There is an attitude out there in this country which is similar to one in hundreds of cultures. Parents go out of their way to show love and devotion for each other and their families by work, chores, painstaking detail and sacrifice. It could be a mother toiling away to put food on the table in Paraguay, or a father breaking his back to make some money in Morocco. We are so damn lucky over here that for most of us it doesn't come to that. We can rest more. We can buy more. We can eat more. We can live longer.

Somewhere along the way our culture equated selflessness with being a doormat. (I wonder what that Big Lebowski-looking dude in the New Testament story would say about that?) I'm not religious or even spiritual, but apparently most of you are out there. How about Karma or the golden rule? Is all of that dead now, like Smurfs, Rubik's Cubes and Crystal Pepsi? Ladies and germs of my culture: A change should come. We know the presidential election will change a few things but my proposition is bolder.

Its called kindness, bitches.

We can start at home. Instead of thinking you are a doormat, you can feel a sense of accomplishment and appreciation for the attention and fuss you create. Everyone remembers that stuff anyway. They remember the big parties and decorations long after the crap in the gift-wrapped box is used up and thrown away. Its just a Thanksgiving meal. One meal. Make it awesome.

Men, put up the lights on the house. Go to the stores with whoever drags you there. Build the plastic bicycles and assemble the playsets and actually tie the bows. Tell some stories. Take some time off and take the kids to see lights. Hell, that's free. Ladies, don't get upset when you are expected to be more than you are the rest of the year. This is a holiday. It's supposed to be special. Wrap the gifts and hang the decorations. Stop thinking that cooking a meal equates to submissiveness. It’s a damn turkey.

And for those of you out there (myself deeply included) that gripe about commercialism and materialism: This is America. This is the country you live in. This is how we do shit. You are free to celebrate lavishly or plainly; just celebrate for Chrissakes.

You live here.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

"Define This"

I dare anyone to try and define America. It's understood that every two to four years, we like to examine what and who we are as a country. After we've argued for a few months we go back to downloading movies and putting a fresh coat of paint on our ATV's. The country is too diverse and just too damn big to define. This is the only nation on earth that isn't as much a country as an idea. Uruguay doesn't need to be defined. Why do we?

We shouldn't bother. I do, however, like to notice differences between our society and other around the globe. Granted, I've never been anywhere. Sure. Throw that in my face. But I have encountered plenty of observers from other countries and managed to make a few observations of my own. One in particular:

We are funnier.

Well, it's not to say that other countries don't have senses of humor. I know they do. But we're funnier. Americans are caught in a little rut lately. We really like to hate ourselves and some of us firmly believe we have the worst, nastiest culture in the history of mankind.

To that I say: read a book.

I want to write down my two favorite anecdotes from World War II. Whenever anyone pisses on this country I try to use my background in history to illustrate that we have had some seriously horrible events in our past, but compared to the rest of the world, we're probably still ahead of the game. Even after the Bush presidency.

This is a description of armies crossing into the border into an Eastern European nation during the war. I may be off a little on the geography, but the sentiment is the same. A woman described the invaders:

"When the Germans came, they brought terror. They rounded us up and killed us. When the Soviets came, they brought fear. They rounded us up and put us to work in camps. When the Americans came, they freed us. They brought blankets and chocolate."

The second one is more about our attitude. I think it's been tarnished this decade, but its one that's still essentially the same. America is a New country. Tradition is not really our thing. A German citizen discerns the different styles of marching of soldiers from different nations:

"Germans walk like they own the world. The British walk like they want to own the world. And Americans walk like they don't give a shit who owns the world."

The world still likes us, folks. We represent hope to a lot of countries out there that would kill for our problems. One of the things they love is that we have the time and imagination to be funny. Ever exchange jokes with a recent immigrant from Asia or Europe? Not exactly Don Rickles. I realize comedy is based on joint experience, but Americans seems to have a much deeper well than a lot of places. We laugh at others as well as ourselves. We have planted, grown, groomed and reaped the harvest of sarcasm. Man, if we couldn't claim the lightbulb, the PC, the blues and the atomic bomb, we should as hell could snag that title.

Our culture, as lame as it can get sometimes, goes out into the world. Some people argue that we poison the world with our crap. No more than anything else that enters their country for sale. If people don't like it, they don't buy it. They are adults, too.

Maybe we are spoiled by the joy and mirth and fart jokes we produce by the truckload. But in certain dark corners of the world, it means way more than anyone understands on the IMDB message boards. There is hope. One day, your biggest problems might be that your kids eat too much and the commercialization of your holidays and that you tire of M Night Shyamalan's rehashing of the same old scripts every damn year. Good, down-home American problems. Like mom used to make.

I think we need a little dose of that pride in our country. Actual pride. Not flag waving, mindless pride. The pride that you have on your good days when you look back on your day or your week or your life and reconcile with all the mistakes and screw-ups and realize you've done more good than all the crap you keep remembering over and over.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Things I Never Believe When I Hear Them

I like all kinds of music, I'll listen to anything.

There exists no single human being on the planet who likes all kinds of music. It's just impossible. I'll even up that ante. There is no one that likes all the music of his own culture. Music hits so many skulls in so many waves and frequencies that mathematically speaking, human beings can only gravitate to a handful in their lifetimes. So stop lying!

What you are truly saying by that statement is: "I don't rally care about music. It does nothing for me. Its just background noise." In that case, you should pardon the robotic, soulless carbon-based shell that you are from any further conversations. You obviously were born without emotions, passion and love and would be a qualified candidate for a retail electronics salesman or Fox News correspondent.

My guess is you like something. It fills you with love or joy or sadness or lust or funk or poetry. You like it very much but you are afraid to share it with the rest of the class. It means SO much to you that even outside criticism that would not change the experience at all, still would be too much to bear. Just grow a pair. Next time, tell us you love Barry Gibb and Right Said Fred. Anything is better than hiding behind the dull white noise of "I like everything".

I don't care where we eat.

Again, yeah you do. This one has nothing to do with personal taste, as it does with personal responsibility. When that bomb of a question is dropped one of two things happens. Either the group involved goes to a familiar restaurant that they ended up last time they faced the question, or someone has to take charge. The person who takes charge and makes the suggestion that no one objects to OR just drives everyone to where he wants to eat takes Dinner Responsibility for the meal.

Nobody is in the mood for everything at all times. People are uncomfortable speaking for others. So, they let others make the decision. What happens is this: If the meal is off, or the service or food sucks, the guy who took Dinner Responsibility takes all the shit. He picked it. Some people are so afraid of this scenario they never pipe up. Ever.

But I offer this detail. Just make a suggestion. You might just be a hero for the night for having the best suggestion, or you may catch the heat. If they give you crap, just take it and move on. Its just one meal. At least you weren’t a puss.

I'm an undecided voter.

I have never met an undecided voter. I also don't know anyone who has met an undecided voter. I think they are like ghosts and all those people who kept "JAG" on for a decade. They are made up by the media or political parties or an advertising firm deep in a basement in New York City. There can't possibly be some many people riding the fence in a time when opinions are so polar opposite of each other.

I think, that is, if they actual are out there, that these UV's are people who usually like a lot of extra attention in life. They are the ones who show up fashionably late to parties, or announce that they will be having a birthday in a week. They want to be fussed over. Either that or they are bereft of opinion and passion, and quite frankly they should stay home on Election Day. In their home they spend hours flipping through channels, standing in front of the fridge for hours, not deciding on anything.

Sometimes it is time to fair handed and rational. A courtroom is always a place for this. But there are times, and we're in one right now, where you have to make a decision and a stand. It is perfectly acceptable to pick a side. You get to pick the side, but most importantly while you are there, you can play the game EXACTLY THE WAY YOU WANT TO. If you don't like a political party because of their behavior, then don't behave that way. If they share your beliefs, they still need you. Hell, maybe they'll start acting the way you would prefer.

The point is that for some reason we all think we need to think like judges. We don't. We all have vested interests in our own lives. Business owners, parents, city workers, teachers, people with disabilities, stoners…whatever. Its okay to be opinionated. The trick is to find the crowd that is actually going to help you, not…well…the Republicans.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Dad Stuff - Lesson #92 "Notes on Money and Girls"

Once a year I read an article that states that I will need $200,000 to raise just one of my three kids. That's a grand total of 600 grand for everything. I sat down and tried to crunch the numbers and my meager, tenth grade math skills still can't reconcile the cost to reality. I'm happy, because I've never seen that type of money in my life; but somehow I have three kids that are alive and doing well.

My only assumptions, apart from saving a small fortune for college for each kid, is that the projections appropriated too much cash to get the job done. In other words, it can be done well on the cheap. And some could argue (which is a wimpy way of saying "I THINK") raising kids with less money makes better human beings. I won't get into a preachy deal because I just don't care enough. But I will break own one aspect of child spending that will help the parents of the future.

I know human are insane because at the same time I feel disgusted every time I take a load of used plastic toys my kids are done with to Goodwill; I go to Target and pass by the kids' aisles and lament the days when I would buy my boys Star Wars spaceships for their birthdays . So, I'm messed up. I'm ruined. I know. But I am here to give you a list of all the toys your kids will need for the first 8 years or so of their lives. This will not make them popular. They won't be able to brag about what they have at home to the kids at the playground. However, they will have JUST as much fun and you will have money to live and eat with.

The list is: Balloons, cardboard boxes, flashlights, crayons, paper, a ball, paper towels rolls and books.

What is that, like $100? The books you can get for free from the library and everything comes in bulk. I'm telling you, they have just as much fun knocking each other in the head with a paper towel roll and crawling into boxes than any bullshit Leap Frog game that tries to shoehorn learning into playtime. When the power was knocked out during three Florida hurricanes, my kids barely noticed because they had flashlights to goof around with. I was ready to throw a chair through the front window because I missed TV too much. They just laughed and drew pictures of stuff they liked.

Just a suggestion.

Along the lines of playtime, I have a bit of information for fathers with daughters. Hey guys? Those little girls play strange, strange games. My girl plays school. And business. And job interview. Where are the monsters and swords and epic battles? What kind of playing is that?

I asked her how her sleepover went after her friend left the next morning. She said:

"We played pretend, where our parents moved away and we had to be alone, and go get jobs and get an apartment together…"

What the hell is that crap? That's not fun, that's life! That's work! This is a girl with two older brothers that never fail to drag her into a wrestling session at least once a week. She knows how to avoid a headlock. But when she's in her room, the plush toys are at makeshift desks, the homework is given out and roll is called.

I know nothing of this. It was just me and my brother growing up. When we weren't throwing snowballs or citrus at each other outside, when we beating the piss out of each other and farting in each other's faces. If he mentioned "Hey, lets' play school!", I could not imagine the ass-kicking I would have to give him.

The point? We're different, guys and gals. Sometimes you can't blame the media. My girl is more organized than my wife. She has a more concrete work ethic than her dad.

Not a bad thing.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Elitist – Issue 17

"The Machine"

Late October, somewhere in Blue State America, The Elitist monitored the electoral map. Usually he sipped his cognac and made witty remarks to the young professional women that visited him on campus. His alter ego, a humanities professor, was the perfect deception; wry and clever, yet seemingly nerdy and weak. But there were no flirtatious females or anecdotes this night. The Elitist was watching. He was watching for a sign.

He knew Red Force had been in hiding for months. The map showed that the usual effects of deception weren't working. Common sense and rational thinking had spread back into the country somehow. It was difficult to tell what brought on this stroke of luck; perhaps it was a giant dose of reality in the form or potential financial catastrophe, or empty promises from impotent leadership. The Elitist could feel it in the air, but more importantly, it was in the air for everyone who wanted a big snoot-full.

Diligence was on the docket. This night, vigilance was the main course of a meal the Elitist ate all too often; and Red Force always gave him violent diarrhea.

Tonight, he searched for The Machine.

It was Brazen Man; the toughest, most stubborn Kentucky-fried sonovabitch The Elitist had ever locked horns with who first fired up The Machine. The specs of which were a mystery until an anonymous report came in from Illinois only a week before. The report was of camouflaged man, on top of a giant metallic box about the size of a school bus, billowing pink smoke into the air. The witnesses heard scratchy noises, like an old AM radio from the dashboard of a 1950's Ford. Then, before they knew what happened, everyone around the thundering contraption buckled to the ground.

When they stood up again, The Machine was gone. Only a pile of unearthed topsoil was left. Brazen Man had tunneled away. The remaining witnesses then felt the effect of the device. Their eyes glazed over as logic and reason left their brains. They spoke of their worst fears as if they were real. They repeated ancient phrases their parents had taught them and knew to be wrong. They became hateful of strangers, bigoted, sexist and angry. Luckily, one lone man wore an MP3 player loaded with alternative music and news podcasts and was spared the effects of the Machine; just long enough to warn The Elitist.

The Machine was only a whisper of a fable of a tall tale of a legend until then. It was real, and it was turning people into fear-mongering idiots. Brazen Man had to be stopped and the Machine destroyed.

The Elitist tracked the reports that had come in over the past two weeks, and since politics was such a topic of conversation this October, the Machine was making more news. It was erratic. He would pop up in Ohio, then in Florida. Then back to Virginia and Tennessee. The trail wasn't as troubling as the Machine itself. The Elitist pieced together some specifications, but a major detail was missing. How was it powered? He fully expected it to guzzle gasoline but he could not be sure. There could be new solar panels installed…but, come on.

Then it hit him. Before he could work it all out on his iMac, he took a last sip of his nightcap and headed to Pennsylvania. He hopped in the hydrogen-powered jump jet and raced off to intercept.

When he got there, the Machine was already in business. The Elitist set the plane down and retrieved his trusty utility backpack, some goggles for eye protection in case there was a bright flash, and ran down a steep hill toward Brazen Man.

The Machine had two large pipes that emitted a pinkish steam into the air. Presumably this was the toxin that made people ignore reason and make decisions based on stereotypes and the opinions of talk show hosts. Brazen Man cackled maniacally on top of the behemoth as The Elitist snuck behind him with a pair of giant hedge clippers. He snipped the wires attached to the ground one by one.

The citizens of southeastern Pennsylvania ran screaming with fear into the night. Within seconds, the Machine ceased to shake and tremor. Before Brazen Man could see what was happening, The Elitist knocked him out with a rubber band-rolled New York Times. He fell into a heap on the meadow below.

"Pretty diabolical, I have to say." The Elitist said, as he dialed the local authorities.

Dazed, Brazen Man looked up: "How…how did you know?"

"Come on, man." The Elitist said. "I've seen you guys exploit the power of fear, racism, hazardous waste, fossil fuels and religious-inspired fear mongering. I just thought about the election coming up in a few days. I thought to myself: 'How could these Brazen Rednecks use the first legitimate black candidate for the president of the United States to their advantage?'

Then I realized you made all your stops with The Machine in graveyards. I put Halloween together with racism and I figured out that you clowns figured out a way to harness the raw, ignorant power of a million racist grandpas, sickened by the though of a black man running the country, literally rolling in their graves! Ingenious!"

"Actually", Brazen Man said, "It was just an old tractor motor. I used cooking oil."

"Same thing." The Elitist said. "Shut up."

Monday, October 13, 2008

Bad Poetry For Random CoWorkers

That girl in the office

Always grinning. She says:

"Lighten up, It's not that bad!"

You smile

Again and again and again

You say you are the type of person who likes to smile. Grin. Giggle.

Have a good attitude

Look on the bright side of all of life's obstacles

White teeth and plump cheeks.

One thing though, and this may be critical

It's always a smile. You never smirk, or frown or pout.

People who love to smile don't have to tell anyone.

They just do it.

But, on those occasions that they can't brighten the room... They just don't.

They are off. Out of whack. Pissed off. Sad.

But you are never any of these things.

So I think, and I have no hard data. Evidence. Proof.

You don't like to smile. You just have to smile.

You smile like I make jokes, or like that guy on the second floor works out.

It’s a defense mechanism. You are beating people to the punch.

One problem with that: If I succeed, I make someone laugh. Relax. Forget.

But a fake smile does nothing for no one. We all see through it.

So I would ask you:

Lighten up and smirk. Frown. Pout.

It's not that bad.

And yes.

I'm hardly working.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

My Childhood Was In the 1980's and All I Got Was this Lousy Essay

Ugh. The Eighties. I used to have a huge problem with jealousy in my life. I had to learn to be happy for others and appreciate what they have…blah. I don't think I'll ever get over growing up in the lamest decade since the 1930's. Only the Great Depression can outdo the cultural damage caused by hair bands and black stretch pants with stirrups.

There seems to be too many targets, honestly. The Reagan years were teeming with awkward trends and gaudy fashion and dumb artistic ventures and Don Johnson. I'll stick with two that irked me the most. Girls and pop music. Those were the main topics of my youth anyway so it should be no surprise.

I'm not hearing the twentieth anniversary resurgence of 1980's music, like I heard twenty years after the 60's and 70's. Somehow it's just been left alone for some reason. Sure, I hear a few people admit they like a Journey song and there seems to be home for the alterna-pop of the 80's here in Portland. But for the most part, it's throwaway, right? MTV killed radio, but it just took a generation to figure that out. We allowed hundreds of songs to affect our brain because the girls looked good in the video or the lead singer took his shirt off. It opened the gate for Justin and Britney and Justin and Kelly.


But when you listen to these "classics" they sound like Weird Al Yankovic parodies of themselves. Electronic, clunky songs and embarrassing metal. No wonder I listened to the Beatles. There wasn't much to yank out of that grab bag.

So let's get the timeline down: The seventies gave us Stevie Wonder, The Sex Pistols, Elvis Costello, Tom Petty…then the eighties threw up New Edition, Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam with Full Force, Glass Tiger, Poison and Ratt….? I see a lot of skipping on that playlist.

I don't think Kurt Cobain gets enough credit for killing that shit, to be honest.

I want you to picture a young woman in the seventies. Maybe you picture long hair across her shoulders and a pair of bell bottoms. Maybe she's a little more urban and she has a collared shirt on. Hell, how about a T-shirt and shorts. The point is, there wasn't a lot of fuss outside of the disco. Now picture a girl in the early nineties or so. Same chick, right? She could be a bit grunged out with a flannel shirt, but her hair is still pretty natural or on a ponytail or something. Those high school girls were less unencumbered by, well, clothes. The music was varied and so were the looks.

Now let's take a peek at the ladies on Ferris Bueller's bus on their way to Shermer High School to find out who taped Larry Lester's buns together. Those are the fashionistas I went to school with. Smack dab in the Republican wet dream of 1985 and 1986 or so. Let's start with the hair. Thirty eight ounces of Aqua Net was just the beginning to keep those art installations on top of those heads. No guy I ever knew said" "She's fine, dude. She has towering hair." So they must have loved punching a hole in the ozone while shaping a garden rake over their foreheads in an attempt to make solid bangs you could bounce a tennis ball off of. Watch Working Girl if you can. Half the budget was spent encrusting bangs and arching hoops of hair. Think of the starving Ethiopian kids we could have fed with that money. We could have at least kept them shaded from the African sun in the shadow of Melanie Griffith's bouffant hairdo.

Now, the clothes. What the hell was up with the shoulder pads? Again, I never heard any man, or woman for that matter, say: "She's pretty, but too bad about those rounded, soft shoulders. They could use some squaring off into a ninety-degree angle." The billowy button-up shirts that hid all curves and sometimes, the knees. The fluorescent colors and the big stupid bracelets and sweatbands. Huge hideous belts with awkward buckles. Stretch pants. It was a ten year costume party.

If you combine the giant head and the billowy clothes it almost looks alien. Or, the silhouette was that of a warrior period in the Middle Ages where the men wore giant robes of silk and animal pelts while their hair was adorned with the skull of a fresh kill. ANYTHING but the natural lovely form of a woman. That is reason #146 I hate Reagan and all who praise him. It was a decade of covering up, and impersonating men who were assholes.

Please reject all notions of 80's revival! No clothes, no music, no fads! Nothing. It was an enormous waste of ten years or so that yielded little that was worth saving.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

"What The Clash and the Pittsburgh Steelers Have In Common."

Since I was nine, I have watched football. I distinctly remember the Cincinnati Bengals playing the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XVI. (I also remember being the only kid in my class who knew that was "16") I asked the kids at school who they wanted to win and they all said the Niners. So I picked the Bengals, even though I never heard of a "Bengal" and probably didn't know where Cincinnati was.

Okay, I knew. They also had a cool rock radio station there.

The point is, I watched football every fall with my family. It was normal. It is what I did if I was home on Sundays during the "-ber" months. And, lets' face it, I was always home. Sometime in high school I let it slip that I was going to chill out and enjoy the late game on Sunday and I received my first "Oh my God, you watch football???!!"

"Yes" I replied sheepishly. I thought that's what everybody did. Doesn't everyone watch 300 pound millionaires smash heads together while a retired coach-turned color commentator uses a telestrator to draw yellow circles around there butt sweat? Doesn't every mom, dad, son and daughter, absorb thousands of hours of pickup truck, beer and salty snack ads? What the hell else do you do on a Sunday anyway?

So I caught a bunch of shit for doing what millions of Americans do without criticism.

But it never stopped. I was drawn to people to whom football was a nonentity. It was tough. For awhile I wanted to hide my tradition (again, shared by tens of millions) from my circle of people who apparently had no idea John Elway had to wait so long for two championships or that the Bills went to four straight Super Bowls and lost all of them.

Man, that sucked.

Instead of analyzing to death I just carried on and made my wife a convert after a decade or so. She succumbed.

There is a little part of me that insists on watching the games every year. I can walk a way a lot easier; and living on the west coast makes that a cinch with the sheer amount of losers that play out here. (Sorry. Montana and Elway are long gone.) For some reason, I think it is a small burning ember of punk I've had nestled in the base of my skull that is to blame. So why would I continue such an endeavor without reason, support or monetary gain?

It's simple. Punk. I'm gonna do it anyway. But first, I have to explain. Not a fan of punk. Understand punk. I get punk. Don't need much. Punk is more of a seasoning that a foodstuff. A dab will do ya.

Punk can be summed up in an equation. What you love and believe in ≠ what I love and believe in. What you love I hate and what you hate I love. Punk is the pure, boiled down essence, the demi-glace, of being sixteen years old.

I like that. But I don't live that.

The Punk element is the reason I will watch football tomorrow at ten in the morning and enjoy myself. It is probably why my son plays Pop Warner football. It is why my wife can name a dozen starting quarterbacks. It is part of my stupid personality.

And, now that I think about it, punk is also the reason I picked the Bengals to win when I was in fourth grade. I bet on the fear of the underdog. I knew they weren't the favorites to win. I wanted them to win anyway.

But…they still lost.

Monday, October 6, 2008

American White Collar Work Ethic, Vol 67

There was an episode of Friends where a coworker of Chandler's thought his name was Toby. Being the bastion of sitcom sarcasm that he was, Chandler thought the time for polite correction had passed, thus never correcting him until something funny happened that I can't remember. The point is, there are people out there that think like situations like this and those that happen on The Office are pulled from some deep, dark comedy chasm rather than culled from real-life escapades.

Not true. The office is just as boring, pointless and stupid as depicted. In fact, unless you've spent some time there, you have no idea. It is very much like prison. The food sucks, you are in an enclosed space and you're lucky if you see daylight.

Like Chandler, I have managed to maneuver my way through more than just some security badge mix-ups. I have done much more. However sad and silly, I have carved a niche for myself that would boggle those with managerial aspirations and infuriate job seekers.

This is how you do it:

First, you need a job that is beneath you. The job does not have to be demeaning; it has to be below your skill set. The job I am describing was my first in a new city so it's a good excuse. You need income and sometimes you can't be picky. Your resume and experience usually blow away the competition. My experience had almost no bearing on the job I applied for but I still impressed them with a moderate interview.

Once you start, you have to be on time and lay low. Most companies care more about numbers than performance. Attendance can be as important as doing your job well. Ooh, that is another tip. Gauge your fellow employees as quickly as possible. You should know within a week or two the level of expectation from the quality of employees you work with. Are there sleepers and people that come to work drunk? Are there retirees, junkies and college dropouts? Find out who they are and avoid all of them.

Now, if you are awake, sober and on time you will soon stand out. Its time to ascertain the managerial structure. Are they offering more work for basically the same pay? Are there 'volunteer' opportunities that only get you noticed but don't include any bonuses? Here's my secret: Go ahead and volunteer a few times. It’s a good way to break up the monotony of your day. Soon management will discover that you are a vital part of their team and they will attempt to mistreat you and put too much work on your plate. Their job is to not hone your skills or encourage your work ethic. They are there to punish you daily and see how much you can take. What they're looking for are those who eat shit and lick it off their lips with a smile. Just a few times, help out and try not to kill anyone. When it is time to bail you must remember this; it is crucial. Time this just right. You tell them you need to 'roll back' your responsibilities.

You need an excuse. Illness is good. 'Parental responsibilities' is better. They'll believe any lie you give them. Tell them you have the gout or the plague. The heebie jeebies.

Unless of course you want to feel alive and wanted and useful and human. Then no, I don't recommend this. I recommend a carpentry apprenticeship, a medical practice or a few years in a bakery to feel all of that. I just know how to get people to leave you alone so you can write stuff.