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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Top 5 Bottom 5: Merry Christmas And Stop It Immediately

Whew! So...that's over. Pretty much all the hardcore Christmas stuff is done with. All the diet and weightloss commercials have already replaced the food and booze commercials on tv and radio, and most retail outlets are done blasting us with Holiday Music.

Good, because now I'm sick of all of it.

But there are a few Christmas songs I always abhor. Are you with me? Let's find out. Here's my list of
5 Christmas Songs I Absolutely Hate

1. Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer
2. All I Want For Christmas Is You
3. Merry Christmas Darling
4. The Twelve Days Of Christmas
5. We Wish You A Merry Christmas

Oh, don't even tell me that these don't make your skin crawl. I've already talked about that first one; it's so godawful that it made my All-Time Worst Songs list, which was my first ever Stuff post. In it, I characterized #1 by saying it "is the most retarded, rednecked bastardization of the Yuletide tradition I have ever heard. If I have heard one West Virginian-accented male voice hee-haw his way through a request for this little ditty on the radio, I have heard a thousand. Time to thin the herd." #2, a song by Mariah Scarey, is hilariously described on Wikipedia as a song whose "protagonist declares that she does not care about Christmas presents or lights; all she wants for Christmas is to be with her lover." How sweet. And Mariah declares this in a shrill, hooting voice that makes us aware that not only did she supposedly train for opera, but she also belongs in a Memorex commercial. She is just horrifying in general anyway. #3 is a terribly soporific song brought to us by the originators of the Soft Rock Genre, the Carpenters. This awful, draggy, when-will-it-be-over song is so boring that it should be used to quell prison riots. I once had to sing it in choir in high school. We all detested it, and the only way we could make it remotely endurable was to enunciate one memorable piece of phrasing thusly: "...I wish you could see...I wiSHIT ev'ry day." The director begged us not to do it during the concert and was positively ashen with anxiety the night of performance. Finally, the last two are self-evident, I think, but since #4 has so many incarnations, someone obviously thinks it has redeeming value. To which I must respond, "Like What!?" It's dreadful in absolutely every respect. Even The Muppets can't save this atrocious carol. It's repetitious, annoying, and possibly worst of all, slightly mathy. Ugh. And #5 suffers similar maladies, minus the mathiness, but with the addition of plain old bossiness. What other holiday song contains a stern order to "bring figgy pudding right here!"? Moreover, those martinets threaten that they "won't go until they get some," which I'm pretty sure is squatting or unlawful habitation, both of which are illegal. Makes the title of that song pretty ironic now, doesn't it? Wow.
But, all that's over now, and we are spared for another year. Bring on the Groundhog Hymns.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Out With The Olde And In With The New: Jazz Things Up With More Modern Christmas Songs


For some, Christmas is all about tradition, right down to the songs. I used to be that way, but as I got older, I started to get downright sick of all the Same Old Christmas Carols. It really hit home when my brother-in-law Tom started singing It Came Upon A Midnight Clear to the tune of O Little Town Of Bethlehem and it fit! (Try it. Seriously.) So many Christmas carols are boring and repetitive. They get annoying, let's face it.

Add to that the fact that my husband is sort of a Christmas Curmudgeon. It was time to shake things up and embrace some new Christmas Music. (Thank goodness for Trans-Siberian Orchestra!) I did, and here is a sampling of

New Christmas Songs I Like

1. Wizards in Winter by Trans-Siberian Orchestra
2. Happy Christmas by John Lennon
3. The Charlie Brown Christmas Soundtrack
4. Old City Bar by Trans-Siberian Orchestra
5. God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen by Trans-Siberian Orchestra
6. God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen by Mannheim Steamroller

I know. It seems like I'm a little stuck on God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen, but in actuality, I'm not. Fascinated by the grammar possibilities presented by the comma placement, yes, but beyond that, I like when someone jazzes up a stodgy old song. And, truly...anything done by TSO for Christmas is excellent. If you listen to their entire CD of Christmas Eve and Other Stories, it follows a very captivating narrative. Rick, Jared, Sam, and I really enjoy going to see them when their tour comes to Cleveland. And although Charlie Brown has been around for years and years, most people don't put those tunes in the canon of Christmas carols. Especially that catchy instrumental called Linus and Lucy that plays when all the kids are dancing at rehearsal.
Next post: Christmas Songs We Hate. (You know they're out there.)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

On The First Day Of Christmas, My True Love Gave To Me...Hey! What Was Up With All The Birds, Anyway? There's A Guy Who Needed Some Therapy.

'Tis The Season. Christmas music is everywhere, and you cannot escape it. Some retail outlets have been playing it since November 1st. At my house the rule is No Christmas music until December 1st. I'm kind of a Traditionalist like that.

And some people are Traditionalists about their Christmas music. They like the Old Stuff. No jazzed-up versions, no new soft-rock songs from pop stars to break into their pantheon of standards. Some people, however, are more eclectic; they eagerly add to their collections of Christmas music and embrace the New Stuff.

Let's take a look at both kinds, shall we? In this post, I'll give you a list of

Classic Christmas Songs I Like
1. Do You Hear What I Hear
2. Carol of the Bells
3. The Little Drummer Boy
4. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
5. Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy from The Nutcracker
6. In the Bleak Midwinter
7. O Come O Come Emmanuel

Some of these I like because I used to sing them in choir or, even longer ago, in church. I can still remember the rising crescendo and harmony of Do You Hear What I Hear when we sang it in high school. It always made me cry just a little. And the lyrics of In the Bleak Midwinter are so lovely. I like the James Taylor version; his voice is so comfortable, like this old pair of bluejeans I used to wear of Rick's that were already broken-in and soft. When James Taylor gets to the last verse, I am already misty and thoughtful. And even though the lyrics of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas are full of rose-colored lies, I can't help myself. Sometimes, I think a few moody, haunting Christmas songs need to be tossed into the mix, and that's where O Come O Come Emmanuel fits in. It's got a great lilting depth to it and some really sad, scary lines in there that remind everyone that not everything about the whole Christian thing is all holly berries and eggnog.

Now it's your turn in Comments. What Christmas Classics do you favor?

Next post: New Christmas Carols I Like

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What In The Hell Am I Talking About?

Did you ever hear something come out of your mouth and think, That's something I never thought I'd hear myself say"? That happens to me way more than I care to admit. Here's my list of

Stuff I Can't Believe I Heard Come Out Of My Own Mouth

1. They should have put a hip roof on that shed.
2. Who is available as a free agent at the All Star break?
3. With his speed and heat, Kerry Wood should have been a closer all along.
4. They are going to lose control of that concrete in this heat if they don't put some water on it.
5. The Titans will never cover that spread; I think the line is way off this week.

I know, right? Who is writing the post this week? This is what happens when an artsy-literary-foodie marries a carpenter/construction/sporty guy and gives birth to two sons. It's called self-defense. I now have an expanded lexicon that includes building and carpentry terms like hip roof, and sports terms like free agency and closer. During one memorable dinner, I mastered the complexities of the NBA's midlevel exception and Bird rights and how it all related to "our" team, the Cleveland Cavaliers. Good heavens. And while last year, I couldn't even sit through a football game, this year I'm in the family pool and betting the Vegas line. (Which I detest, by the way. I can do swimmingly picking the winners, but is that enough for Jared? Oh, no. For it is not enough to know who is better. "Anyone can know that, Mom," he says derisively. "The challenge is to know how much better they are. And that is the point spread." Sigh. Why is he so difficult?)

What about all of you? What do you find yourself talking about that amazes you? Let's see if your stuff expands our vocabulary!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

This Year I Am Thankful For Myth Busting



Thanksgiving is here. I love the turkey, the potatoes, the dressing, the wine. More importantly...THE GRAVY! I fucking love gravy. However, there are a few people propagating a few egregious Thanksgiving patterns and I am DONE letting them off the hook.

I will now dispel five Thanksgiving Myths. They are in order of their egregious ridiculousness.


5 Thanksgiving Myths That Need To Be Stuffed


1. It is not Christmas.
2. It is not Turkey Day.
3. There is no such thing as Cranberry Sauce.
4. Dressing --V-- Stuffing
5. Black Friday

1. Be prepared for this. I have always defined Christmas the way it was defined for me by my family, the calendar, and other things such as...logic. That definition? December 25th. Call me insane. I know, this is a radical approach to The Giving Of Thanks, but it is one that is tried and true. I like to have my holidays in order and clearly defined by the dates, or "set times that they are supposed to happen." Starting Christmas the way retailers and lunatic shoppers do in November, or even (gasp) October is like making a date for a Friday night and showing up on Monday to wait for her to get ready. See? It's silly, isn't it?

2. We have a name for the Holiday that occurs on the last Thursday in November. It is "Thanksgiving." Why this insistence on calling it Turkey Day? It sounds stupid. It sounds juvenile, and most importantly, it detracts from what the Holiday actually is. It is not a celebration of Turkey. Trust me, I looked. It is a celebration of the things for which we are thankful. Come on, people. Look at a calendar. If your calendar denotes this day as "Turkey Day," do nothing. Leave it hanging. Why? Because something so juvenile and obnoxiously cutesy has likely fallen into your possession as a gift from a child who handmade it in kindergarten.

3. Sauce = A liquid one pours onto one's food as a condiment. If your cranberry side of choice is a liquid, someone owes you some actual pieces of cranberry. Also, if it can be poured the same way you pour gravy (as this is how one would pour "sauce"), it has probably gone rancid and should not be consumed. Throw it away. Relish? Yep. Jelly? OK. Hell, if you like the gelatinous cranberry side, throw it in a creative and festive mold! You're welcome. You can use that.

4. Stuffing goes inside the turkey. Dressing goes alongside it. In a separate pan, even. Unless you are using "stuffing" a verb. "Man, this bread-based side dish is STUFFING me so full!" See? It is DOING the stuffing in this case and that is fine. You are saying it is filling. I can get with that. But to say that your chef has "made a pan of stuffing" is ridiculous. Make sense? Excellent. Moving on.

5. Why are we calling it this? Seriously. Black Tuesday was an AWFUL DAY in American history. And while yes, the Friday after Thanksgiving can be awful for many reasons, this is not the lineage of its nomenclature. Retailers began calling it that because it was the day they could get their books back into "the black" meaning positive numbers. Have you ever seen a retail report that details such things? If you are in the positive, the numbers are green. This is also the color of money. Furthermore, it can be the color of zombies, which is what most males turn into after 40 pounds of Thanksgiving gluttony clogs their arteries. It is also the color I used to turn when girlfriends would ask me to accompany them and their mothers on 4AM shopping trips. I feel like Green Friday works much better.

I hope I have not turned you totally on your ear or offended your Holiday Verbiage. But really, guys, I could no longer sit idly by and allow my sense of logic to be assaulted my these gross Thanksgiving travesties any longer.

What about you? What do you call it? Do you do holidays one at a time? What bothers you about these sorts of things? Do share.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Christmas Stalking, Or Slow Down And Count Your Blessings, Turkeys!


Oh, I know how cliche it is to get all steamed up about how the stores put out their Christmas decorations on the fifth of July and how incredibly commercial it all is anymore, but this isn't about that. This is about how Thanksgiving has been shunted to the Off-Ramp Of Holidays all of a sudden. Relegated to the Minor Leagues along with Earth Day and Arbor Day. It's insane. People do more about stupid Halloween than they do about Thanksgiving, and I'm plenty irritated. So vexed, in fact, that it's High Time we got Downright Thankful about Thanksgiving. Here are a few

Reasons To Be Jazzed About Thanksgiving

1. Turkey Gravy
2. No Gifts
3. Side Dishes
4. Stuffing/Dressing
5. Rolls
6. Cranberry Sauce
7. Sanctioned Slothfulness and Gluttony

Like I even have to explain these! Everyone knows that most food exists only to serve as a conveyance for gravy, which is, quite possibly, the most comforting foodstuff ever. And the King Of That Realm is Turkey Gravy. Sad are those whose cook cannot make a decent turkey gravy. For me, that is the single best thing about the meal, and I AM NOT KIDDING YOU. Just give me a bowl of turkey gravy and perhaps a piece of toast and I am in bliss.... Okay. Wait...I had An Episode just then. Okay.

The second best thing about Thanksgiving is that there is no bigass Gift Exchange. NO SHOPPING FOR PRESENTS. How wonderful. How liberating. One can simply enjoy the pleasure of the company of others for A. MEAL. Totally not mercenary. No frantic mall-running. No online retail hellraising. No last-minute shelf-raiding. It's heavenly.

I can make my entire Thanksgiving meal out of the side dishes alone. For me, the turkey is tertiary. I make one, of course, but it's purely ritual. I live for everything else. The Brussels sprouts, the mashed potatoes, the sweet potatoes, and, of course, the...

Dressing! Or, you can call it Stuffing if you actually cook yours inside the turkey. I don't. Thanksgiving is about the only time I make it, so I make approximately eleventy pounds of it. (Or is it cubic feet? I forget. In any case, I make a lot.) We then eat it for the next several days pretty much on the hour, every hour. Cold, warm, whatever. Isn't it incredible that you can make something so orgasmic from just some bread and eggs and...stuff? Unbelievable.

Speaking of bread, I love it, but nothing compares to having rolls with dinner at Thanksgiving. Oh, sure, I know you can have them anytime, but we don't, and even if we did, it would not be the same. I get those tiny little puffy square potato rolls, and it's embarrassing how we attack them. Sad, really, but do you know how good they are?

And cranberry sauce! My mother never had this, not even the canned junk, (not that I would have eaten that), but once I found out how easy it was to make the real stuff and how good it was, I couldn't believe it. I do make this every now and again as an accompaniment to pork or roast chicken, but do try to save it for Thanksgiving. And cranberries last forever in the freezer. What a deal!

Finally, Thanksgiving is such a no-guilt holiday for everyone, unlike Christmas. What other day can you simply eat yourself into oblivion, lie around like Henry VIII, and be totally okay about it? Oh sure, if you're the cook, you have the dinner to do, that's true. But I cook for my three men only--made sure of that a long time ago. It's a very relaxed affair, and we all enjoy the day hanging out, eating, spending time together, watching football and the dog show, and just taking it easy. When I require their services, they jump in. Very low-impact, high reward for everyone.
O Thanksgiving! So many holidays could take a Lesson from you! Good food, good company, good feeling, and good times. The Stuff that dreams are made of. (Who needs all that "visions of sugarplums" nonsense?)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Who Needs A Reason? Not Me When It Comes To This Irritating Stuff

Ever get crabby and dismissive over something for no good reason? I do this often and I don't apologize for it. Hey, it happens.

Stuff I Am Unreasonably Irked By

1. Brett Favre
2. the Dallas Cowboys
3. Short leather jackets
4. Chihuahuas
5. Chris Farley/Adam Sandler/SNL Male Comedian du jour Movies
6. Balloons

I'm going to try to discuss these in a reasonable, calm manner. Don't piss me off and end up on this list, whatever you do. ;-)

1. Okay, look: Brett Favre is a spoiled diva who held at least two teams hostage while he farted around and ninny-nannyed and Kept His Dream Alive, along with ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPN753's ratings. He is a Walking Soap Opera. I am sick and tired of athletes being allowed to retire as many times as they want and then come back like Saviors Of Their Sport (do you hear me, Michael Jordan?). And if I have to hear one more time about how BF is *gasp!* FORTY, and yet so exuberant and wonderful, I will vomit all over myself. Big Effing Deal. All BF fans need to look at THIS. End of discussion.

2. Do NOT call the Dallas Cowboys "America's Team." I am an American, and they are not my team. Who started that bullshit, anyway? What is so American about the Dallas Cowboys? Their roster of criminals? I hate having any pseudo-patriotism shoved down my throat, so this automatically frosts my cupcakes. The cheerleaders are bad enough. They even had two movies made about them. And, while we're on the subject, why do NFL teams even have cheerleaders? Can anyone think of anything more pointless?


3. What is the deal with those short, tight leather jackets that some chicks like to wear? I'm not talking about as a fashion accessory; I'm talking about--ostensibly--for warmth. There is no way in hell that they are warm. They cannot be. It doesn't cover the butt; hell, it doesn't even cover the entire midriff area. Looks ridiculous. Every time I see one, the person wearing it looks like she's freezing and can barely put her arms up high enough to fit her hands in her pockets. It's insane.


4. When will these sad, pathetic dogs finally be bred out of existence? I mean, Chihuahuas look like an old man who was left out in the winter naked and wet. They shiver constantly and they look...guilty as hell! All of them look like they have either just been beaten or like they should be beaten because they just peed on the dining room rug or something. What is with these dogs? I don't get the appeal. They kind of look like they need a fix...like they've been trying to get off meth but it's just so damn hard! And those Chihuahua owners who dress their dogs? Please. These poor animals have a hard enough life. Don't rob them of what modicum of dignity they possess.


5. Every time someone tries to tell me of the comedic genius of Chris Farley, I want to smack that someone. Hard. I'm sorry, but being a fat guy with no physical boundaries is hardly on par with the wit of David Sedaris or even Richard Pryor. Jiggling your fat will eventually make someone laugh. That is always true. And Adam Sandler? Using a funny, gratingly annoying voice in an inappropriate situation will make males between the ages of 2 and 26 laugh. Not to self-aggrandize here, but I need more. For the rest of the SNL Male Comedians, merely extrapolate. (Hey, even Fletch wasn't really funny. Noted exception, Bill Murray, but even The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou sucked. And you know it did!)


6. Is there anything on Earth more pointless than balloons? Come on, now, really. Sure, they look festive, but then what? After twelve hours or less, they sink sadly, pucker up, and become...sad. Sad, drifting obstacles and reminders of the transience of happiness. And when your little toddler gets a balloon and it A) blows away B) pops C)becomes pet fodder and is destroyed, how fun is that? ZERO--FOR EVERYONE. You can't do anything with a balloon, really. Either when it is inflated or when it's done. It's the single most pointless thing there is. Balloons are awful. Just awful. I abhor waste, and balloons are wasteful. Just seeing them, especially a "bouquet" of them, irks the hell out of me.


Are there more things I am unreasonably irked by? Of course there are. But it's your turn now. What Stuff irks you? Be bold and brave! Call them out once and for all! How dare they, after all, bedevil you?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

It Starts With An Airplane And Ends With Underwear, But It's Not The Mile-High Club--But There Is Sighing Nonetheless

At the risk of showing my age, I remember stuff being a Whole Lot Better. Oh sure, there are plenty of things now that I am damn glad I have: a home computer, a hybrid car, Project Runway, just to name a few. But in my dotage, I find that there are more than a few times that I find myself thinking about

Stuff I Miss

1. No-hassle air travel
2. Mars bars
3. Good crayons and coloring books
4. Real TV schedules
5. Drinking soda
6. Cheap nylon bikini underwear


An eclectic list, I know, and one that cries out for explanation. Allow me:

^*^I can remember not so very long ago when I used to take two or three little trips a year to visit friends in Florida or Maryland or Chicago or Denver. As long as I bought my tickets about a month in advance, I could get away really cheaply, pack a decent-sized bag, and zip away with not a care in the world. I'd arrive at the airport about 45 minutes ahead of time with Rick and sometimes the boys in tow and they'd even wait with me at the gate! I could stroll through security--such as it was--in a comparative millisecond, walk onto the plane with a full meal and full-size toiletries in my bag and jet off. Forget all of that now. Air travel now is nothing but an exercise in torture and logistical nightmares involving calculations that defy me in every way. Don't even mention the prohibitive cost. Screw that. The "friendly skies" can kiss my ass.

^*^I have already spoken about my Lost Love Affair with the Mars Bar here. It is nothing short of tragic that I cannot buy this simple confection in the US. If any International Reader wants to hook me up with this fine sweet, email me. I remain morose.

^*^When I was a kid, I adored coloring pictures. I would sprawl out on the floor with my Crayola 64's and my Big Book of Nature coloring book and be in Heaven. Back then, the crayons colored wonderfully. They did not flake and curl and peel on the page when you pressed hard to make the colors dark and shiny. Now, crayons are crappy. And what is up with the new colors with the dorky names? Crayola keeps screwing around with crayon colors and, obviously, with their formula. And what is up with coloring books, too? Now they are all corporate bullshit. You can't find a decent coloring book. All they are is product tie-ins or licensed characters. That's lousy. Every once in a while, I'd still color a few pictures for a therapeutic effect if they made decent crayons and coloring books that weren't commercials for dolls and cartoons. If I tried to color now, it would just make me more pissed.

^*^Remember the days when the new TV season started in September and ended in June? And the shows were on certain days of the week? And you could count on that? NOT ANY MORE! Now, reruns happen IN THE SAME WEEK AND WITHOUT ANY SORT OF RHYME OR REASON. The TV season might start in January and end in March. A show might run on Tuesday and again on Thursday. The next week, it might run on Thursday. Then, the rerun might appear on Friday. WHO KNOWS? THEN THERE MIGHT BE A HIATUS! Does anyone know what happened to "House?" Did I miss something? Sigh. I feel like I'm getting mugged by TV.

^*^This one is a personal thing. About ten years ago, I went on a medicine to prevent my constant and debilitating migraines. It worked, and I'm so grateful. But, one of the side effects that remains is that I cannot drink any carbonated beverage. So, no soda for me. Every once in a while, I miss Diet Coke, Diet Dr. Pepper, even the occasional root beer. The only soft drink I drink is water. Water, water, water, water, water. It has also altered my tastebuds and there are certain flavors I can no longer discern, like tea. So, no iced tea either. The tradeoff is, of course, no more frequent migraines, but I miss soda.

^*^As a child of the seventies, I was a devotee of nylon bikini underwear. My older sis and I both wore it. We loved buying it at a local cheapo store in all kinds of wild patterns and colors. I still love it--it's comfortable, snug pants and skirts slide right over it, seams don't show, it's lightweight. Why is it impossible to find now? Everywhere you look for ladies' underwear, it is all cotton, microfiber, and ridiculously overpriced. IT IS JUST UNDERWEAR, PEOPLE. GOOD HEAVENS. And I am all about the bikini cut. No thong, no high-thigh cut, no boyshort bullshit. Come on. This should not be that tough. Yet it is.

Your turn, Stuff Readers. No matter your age, there have to be a few Things You Pine For, too. What are they?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

How's That Workin' For Me?


I am really awful at some stuff. I know, it is hard to believe but I promise you that it is true. I am awful at math, returning phone calls, most video games that aren't sports, and separating laundry before I wash it.

However, there are a few things that I am undeniably outstanding at. Will they ever get me anywhere? Maybe. Is that the point? Be serious, people. Of course it isn't. Try to hold yourself back from wanting to come to my house and spend time with me. It may be difficult, but please, the outpouring of affection will do nothing but embarrass us both when I enumerate the


5 Things I'm Terrific At

1. Fantasy Football
2. Ninja Moves
3. Pouring a Soda
4. Countdowns
5. Moving A Couch Bed

Let us explore my aptitude in each area with varying degrees of detail.

1. I just get it. I understand value. I understand matchups. I understand players' roles. But the kicker (watch for falling puns)? I am a master at managing the salary cap. For instance: Quarterback is simply the most overvalued position there is. Why spend $50 fake cash against a $550 cap when for only 50 total points less on the season you can have a very good QB for only 24 dollars of your fake money? You know how long a season is in fantasy? 14 weeks. 50 points over 14 weeks isn't even 4 points per week. Go stock up on backs and for Christ's sake, please get at least two top 35 WR. You'll thank me.

2. I am nimble. I am quick. And I have unparalleled execution. What? Dad isn't paying attention at the dinner table? KARATE CHOP HIS ASS UNDER THE TABLE! Now he's back with us. What? Nance is silently wondering what a double ninja kick off of the arm of the loveseat would look like? BAM! Now she knows. She wants another? FINE! SMASH. You're welcome, Mom. Sam thinks he is safe on his way to the kitchen? WRONG! BLAMMO! A good solid swat will make him think twice next time he thinks he needs dinner! Don't be afraid to practice them, either. But do it in front of people. That's how ninjas do. Make people think they know what your go-to move is...then...at just the right time...hit 'em with a flying-double-punch into a mule-kick! Now that's what the fuck is up!

3. You laugh, but I implore you, do not. This is an art. You ever tried pouring a ginger ale? Good luck dealing with that fizz. Here is how you do it. DO NOT pour, wait for the fizz to subside, and then pour more. Always stay pouring. That's right. Just gauge your speed. Slow it down, speed it up, keep it guessing. Also, please, I beg you, avoid the ice. I have a theory that cold = more fizz. But you have to have the ice in there first to account for the volume ratio of ice to soda. These are huge factors here. I warn, it's going to make a prolonged fizzing sound as the effervescent glory enters your vessel for glorious consumption. Tune it out. It'll be worth it.

4. This one is so important. And, like the others, has real life application. Counting down the hours before we can leave work is something that we all do. Even if we love our job. Here is an example: It is 3 o' clock and you can leave at 5. As soon as it is 3:05, do not think "almost two hours still." Think "less than two hours left! Pretty soon, it'll be an hour and a half!" See what I did there? This way, once you hit that 90-minute mark, you can think "we are almost at an hour left, and an hour is nothing!" I cannot tell you how many days this has gotten me through. Try it. If you aren't 100% satisfied, return this method for a disparaging remark of your choice.

5. It is hard work, moving a couch bed. Do this though: do not, under any circumstances take the bed part out. Why? Well, then you have to put it together. I recently navigated a couch bed down three flights of winding stairs and through hallways about 6 feet wide with my friend Paul. It took about 25 minutes but was worth it. The amount of satisfaction at the end is unparalleled. We talked about it for two days like we cured cancer, delivered a child, and won an election all in the same day. Oh, and a word of advice: don't be afraid to flip that bitch end over end...vertically. You'll thank me.

So, fans, what are you good at? What is one thing you do that you think "wow, I am really fucking good at that; too bad nobody cares and it doesn't matter"? It does matter. To me, at least. Plus, if we cannot have these things, these small upsides, these super important meaningless things, well...how sad would we all be?

--
JPD

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Random Pleasantries Only, And Under No Circumstances Should You Feel Any Pressure Whatsoever To Feel Grateful For Anything...Anything At All

Don't you hate the people who wander around with auras of sweetness and light who admonish you to "count your blessings" or--even worse--to "stop and smell the roses"? Ugh. They make me fussy.

In this post, however, I will be listing a few things, in random order, that I find pleasant. If you are moved to do something similar, why, avail yourself of the Comments Space!

Some Stuff I Enjoy

1. Listening to a man speak in a British accent
2. Going for a drive
3. The smell of dinner in the oven
4. Baby laughter
5. Looking at black men in dreadlocks/long braids

Briefly then,

1. I could just sit forever and listen as men like Daniel Day-Lewis or Patrick Stewart or Hugh Laurie simply...oh, I don't know...just read the phone book to me. Seriously. Why can't all men have a posh British accent? It would be like a combination of velvet and chocolate syrup being applied directly to my ears. Or something. Excuse me. I'm...never mind.

2. Like a big old dog, I am a sucker for a nice ride in the car. Hold open the door, call my name, and say, "Want to go for a ride?" and I get pretty excited. I love to go, and it does not matter where. Out to a farm stand for apples and cider, out to a mall to look for shoes, out to just explore...whatever. I'm in. As long as I don't ever have to drive or decide, pack me up.

3. Right now, I am making a lovely pot roast for Sunday dinner. I have been smelling it for hours, and it is heavenly. Is there anything as wonderful as lovingly placing a chicken and herbs or a roast and potatoes into the oven and then leaving it there to merrily roast away, knowing that those incredible smells will soon be marvelous flavors? And all you have to do is sit there and wait. So satisfying.

4. There is something indescribable about hearing a baby laugh his deep, chuckly giving-himself-over-to-it-completely laugh, isn't there? You know that you are hearing a pure, simple, joyous sound that is unaffected. And that baby could be laughing at something as simple as a dishtowel. Love that.

5. Ever since Milli Vanilli, whose videos I watched with complete and utter fascination and devotion, and whose music I still love (I don't care who really sang it; it was catchy and fun), I have been unabashedly attracted to men with braids and/or dreadlocks. I once saw an incredibly beautiful black man with braids AND dreads get on the El in Chicago about 13 years ago, and I still can't get him out of my mind. I am not kidding, either.

There are, of course, more things that give me satisfaction, but this is a nice sampling for now. Have you a List Of Happies?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Hey, How Come You're Doing That?


Nobody is perfect and we all enjoy different things. I get that. Also, I am not so self-centered as to think that everyone enjoys, or should enjoy, the same things that I enjoy.

However, there are some things that people do that make me scratch my head and go "why?" Here is a list of activities that people enjoy...and I cannot figure out why:

5 Things People Enjoy That I Don't
1.
Running
2. Convertibles
3. Halo
4. Rain
5. Sledding

Follow me here...

1. Running has to be my least favorite thing. Is something/someone chasing me? No? Then I'll walk, that's fine. It is sweaty, and it makes your legs, back, and sometimes lungs hurt. I'm sorry, but if I want to inflict pain on myself, I'll watch a Cubs game and punch myself in the face 100 times. Plus, there is something discomforting about setting out on a fast-paced journey all the way to...where I started? I'm confused.

2. I guess convertibles look cool. Sorta. But how can you enjoy trying to drive while the wind barrels down on you like you're on a roller coaster? They are a climate nightmare as well. If it is hot and you have the top down, IT'S STILL HOT. If it is cold, you cannot put the top down. Also, what if it begins to rain and you are on the highway? You're gonna pull over and put the top up? That just sounds dangerous. Plus, all that drag cannot be good for gas mileage. Simply having these things to think about during my ride would stress me to the point of no return. I would simply get in the car and say "eh, fuck all that, I'll just ride with the top up." And if I am dying for a stiff breeze, I'll borrow my mom's hair dryer.

3. Full disclosure: I am terrible at Halo. And that may be why I don't get it. But also, there's nothing to gain from it. It is a time hog, and if you win, there's no proof. At school people used to LOVE to play Halo. It caused more arguments than anything, and it always made at least one person completely irate when he lost. And the winner? Well, he got a ton of money, fame and recognition. False. He did not. (True, you could say some of the same things about fantasy football which I am in love with desperately. However, you CAN win money and gain some recognition on a large level depending upon who you are and who you are playing with. I am in a league with some notable experts from aroud the country. It also makes watching the actual games more enjoyable. Also, at least it is based on things that happen in real life.)

4. If you're one of those people who say you love walking in the rain, this is me giving you an out. Admit here, in the blogosphere, that you're lying. Because you are. It isn't romantic. It isn't relaxing. It's...wet. And sloppy. And potentially dangerous. Please, stop trying to seem thoughtful. Or "deep." Thoughtful people have the wherewithal to wait for the rain to stop.

5. Again, sledding is an activity that is wet, sloppy, definitely dangerous, and more work than it is worth. First, you go down the steep hill next to other people who, like you, have ZERO CONTROL over where the thin piece of plastic between them and the snow is going. And as an added bonus, you get to then haul your wet, tired self BACK UP THE HILL WHILE YOU HOLD YOUR CHARIOT! What? I'm not trying to be dramatic or employ hyperbole here, but...every time I see someone carrying his sled back up the hill, I cannot help but think of Jesus carrying his own cross. Also, have you ever had snow inside your shoes? Your gloves? Your hat? Well, if you haven't, or if it's been a while and you're dying for discomfort, please, go sledding. Even when I was little, I hated it. Fuck snow. Also, look around you. When you go sledding, if you are over 12, there is a 99% chance that you (or someone you are with) are the oldest person there.

I am not saying that people shouldn't enjoy these things. I am simply letting everyone know that I don't get it. Please, try to explain these things to me. Just do me one favor-- do not say things like "you should try it again!" or "get in touch with your childhood!" I can do that AND stay dry. If I want to be thoughtful and youthful, I will simply wait until it rains or snows and throw in a Disney movie and try to find symbolism or gender characterization, or some sort of overt, poorly hidden sexual innuendo or imaging, or links to communism, or something.

Thoughts?

--

JPD

Friday, October 9, 2009

No, I Didn't Always Listen To My Mother, But When It Came To This, I Did: Stuff That's Good For Me

The old cliche is, of course, that kids hate to eat their vegetables. I was never That Kid. I loved--and still do love--vegetables. I am a fan of The Vegetable. As a matter of fact, I cannot think of a single vegetable that I will not eat. (Oh sure, if it's just a damned bad representation of it, like those horrid grey mushy canned peas instead of what Peas Should Be--round, green orbs of Springtime-- then yes, I suppose you can argue that there is, in fact a vegetable that I will not eat. But then you would be Really Annoying, so stop it.)

I do, however, have some favorites. In no particular order, here are my

Top 7 Vegetables

1. Asparagus
2. Corn (on the Cob)
3. Broccoli
4. Squash
5. Pea pods/Sugar Snap Peas
6. Mushrooms
7. Garden Tomatoes

Right away, I know I'm going to hear about at least two of these because Asparagus and Broccoli are in the "Love Them/Hate Them" category. No one is tepid about those two vegetables. And I am completely smitten with them both. Nothing is better than fresh Asparagus drizzled with terrific olive oil, sprinkled with sea salt and cracked black pepper, and grilled. We have it all summer long. Broccoli? I can eat it every day, and I don't need to drape some distracting cheese sauce over it, either. Feh.

Squash might be another iffy proposition. I hate to see summer end, but autumn is worth it mainly for two things here in Ohio, apple season and squash season. Screw the pretty trees. Big effing deal. Bring on the cider and the squash. Makes it almost okay that Tomatoes and Sweet Corn are done with. Was there anything more delightful than wandering out to your garden, picking a sun-warmed Tomato, taking it inside and slicing it thick onto a sandwich? Or just biting into it right then and there in your little spot of earth? And Corn on the Cob--normally, I don't like to (A) eat with my face directly in my food, or (B) have to work that hard at it, but Corn on the Cob makes it okay and worth it. Why isn't corn OFF the cob the same? Still good, but not quite as good.

Regular Peas are good, but I am all about those Sugar Snap Peas in their little briefcases. Raw, especially. They're addictive. I grab a bag of those and it's fifty-fifty as to whether any will make it to dinner. And Pea Pods are the first things I fish out of my Chinese vegetables when we get carryout. They're incredible. (And sometimes, they squeak companionably when you bite them.) Finally, probably Mushrooms are an odd item to include, I know. It's not like they're something that gets scooped onto a plate like a mound of peas or corn, but I love them. I find it one of the great Tragedies Of Food that they are rather pricey. And I am mystified by that fact. After all, those things grow overnight. In the dark. How hard can it be, you know?

So, Stuff readers, what about your faves?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Bring Out Your Dead!


The time has come to starch the finest linens, polish the heirloom silver, bring out the fine china, and light the most elegant tapers you have. Set the table, Stuff Readers, for the Dead Dinner Party!

Invite 5 guests. Anyone you want from That Graveyard Of History, Ancient Or Recent. Let's reanimate some of The Past's Best, and get things underway. This round will be a general group.




Top 5 Dead Dinner Party Guests

1. Mary Lincoln
2. President Abraham Lincoln
3. Edgar Allan Poe
4. Oscar Wilde
5. Cleopatra

So, I went pretty historical on this one, I know. I think we'll do another round that's more focused so that I can get some of my political and journalistic faves in there. But, come on. Don't even try to tell me that a dinner party table with Oscar Wilde and Mary Lincoln isn't going to be something. Toss Cleopatra in there for some far left-field mayhem (she was married to her brother--twice), and now you've got something. President Lincoln and EA Poe can sort of be a little melancholy together and then be jollied out of it by Mary and Oscar. Seriously, this is one incredible dinner party. I can speak French with Mary, too.

Your turn. Assemble an awesome Dead Dinner Party of your own. We can't wait to see which parties we'll crash.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

In Which I Cease My Incessant Bitching


OK. I know I complain a lot. But in fairness, it isn't like there is any shortage of stuff to bitch about.

Now, however, I flip the script. Today, readers, not only will I prolifically and profusely use commas, I will find things to be plus-side about. Plus-side is a new word I have come up with. The meaning is obvious. If it isn't, sound it out.

Without further ado, though there is much ado about plus-siding (VERB!), my

List Of Happies
1. Lifting weights
2. Next weekend
3. Vintage friends
4. The Browns
5. Colin Cowherd
6. Dance Moves

*Honorable mention: my flawless comma usage. (It's almost sexual.)

How come the happiness, or, if you will, plus-sides? Alas, I divulge.

1. It has been a few months of steady lifting so far, and despite my general hatred for exercise, I am enjoying it. A lot. I am noticing very nice results, blowing off some steam, and there is something other than eating and boozing to fill my spare time, however little I may get. Plus, when my brother goes along, it is a nice chance to hang out one on one. Plus-sides galore.

2. My best friend, who shall remain nameless to protect his innocence and potentially his reputation, lives just outside of Columbus in Dublin. I haven't seen him in a couple of months, and I work like crazy, so I requested a weekend off of work to go see him and some other friends. What will we do? Booze, mainly. But also catch up, maybe be athletic, go to dinner, and enjoy some good old fashioned time together. It is going to be amazing. Perhaps post-worthy.

3. Sort of piggy-backing on 2 here. Some of the old friends I will see there are people I was never particularly close with, but have recently reconnected with. It's nice to see them and hang out and do some catching up. Also, I have rekindled a bromance with a friend from a few years ago that, for no good reason, I fell out of touch with. All in all, a very positive experience. I love that we all just pick up where we left off. Only guys can do this. Ladies, take note.

4. For some reason, it brings me great joy when the Cleveland Browns are as bad as they are. And folks, they may be HISTORICALLY bad. I mean like, 2-14 bad. Browns fans have a tendency to be obnoxiously optimistic every year, and most of them are delusionally defensive of their group of sorries. Plus, the Unintentional Comedy Scale is on the verge of having to be redefined every Sunday. Open letter to Browns fans:

Dear Depressed Browns Nation,
0 playmakers + 0 coaching + good division + tough schedule = FAIL FAIL FAIL PUNT!
Sincerely,
The Guy That Tried To Tell You This Two Months Ago

I feel better.

5. The single best guy in radio. Do yourself a favor and youtube "Colin Cowherd Purdue Fan". Even if you don't care about sports, do it. The sports part is irrelevant and not the point I am making here. You're welcome. Keep in mind it is a radio show, so none of the visual stuff is actually part of the show. He is, unapologetically, ruthless. He tells it like it is, calls people out for being myopic, biased, and delusional (Browns fans). He is practical, open about his personal life, and doesn't take himself or sports too seriously. I listen to his show, which airs M-F from 10-1 in the afternoon on ESPN Radio, before bed on my computer. It is a breath of fresh air.

6. Oh my god, dance moves. I have several. My nimbleness borders on stupid, that's how impeccable it is. They have names such as, but not limited to: Get That Bug, Glass Cutters, Windmill, Stuck Right Here, and my personal favorite, Just The Hips AKA I'll have a G&T. I execute them regardless of the presence of any music, anyone else dancing, where I am, or who is watching. I don't care. I have also recently re-visited the slow dance. I have taken it upon myself to attempt to dance with my mother any time there is cheese, or a cheeselike food present. I call it "Cheese Dance". Usually it goes like this:

JARED: Is that cheese?
MOM: Sigh, Yes, Jared. This is cheese.
JARED: Alright, stop right there. Cheese Dance.
MOM: Again? Jared...
JARED: Don't fight it, Mom.

I recently convinced a woman at a bar that she had better slow dance with me during a Journey song. A particularly LOOOONG Journey song. She obliged, and was subsequently swept away into a world she had not likely known heretofore. Legitimately, she was enjoying herself. About four minutes in I gave her an out by saying ,"We don't have to dance the whole song if you don't want to". Her response? "No, that's fine. It's fun." Damn skippy it is. The catch? Married Woman. I had no way of knowing.
Open Letter:
Dear Betrothed Woman Upon Whom I Recently Bestowed The Pleasure Of A Spontaneous Slow Dance,
Did you enjoy the plus-side that was our slow dance?
You're welcome.
Sincerely,
The Greatest And Best Dancer Ever, Who Took You To Dancing Heights You Had Previously Only Thought Of In Movies But Never Even Dreamed Of, As The Human Mind Is Incapable Of Dreaming Of Such Wonder

So, what are your plus-sides? Or, better than that, what are your dance moves called? And please, don't act like you A) don't dance, or B) don't name your moves.

--

JPD

Friday, September 18, 2009

Yeah, Yeah, I Know It's A Movie, But That Isn't My Concept Here


Ten Things I Hate About You

1. You have a big dog and let it jump on me when I come over.
2. You pronounce the initial "S" as an "SH" sound in words like "straight" and "street."
3. You listen to and believe Rush Limbaugh.
4. You keep saying "nucUlar."
5. You ask me about my vacation or weekend, then say "Wow. It must be nice."
6. You pull up next to me in traffic and keep your music blasting at arrhythmia-inducing levels.
7. You won't pull up your pants.
8. You let your children run around in a restaurant.
9. You let your dog bark and bark and bark and bark and bark and bark and bark and bark.
10. You don't care about anything and act amused that I do.

Thank goodness that this doesn't describe any one person, or I'd probably have to shoot myself that I actually know A person like this! But sadly, don't we all know people who bug the crap out of us and, on days when we just can't take it anymore, can send us to the moon if we don't take special care to avoid them?

Go on. Vent. We care; we really do.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

How Come Everyone Thinks I Need This Stuff?


People, there comes a time in everyone's life where it is time to re-evaluate basic needs relative to the amount of things that he (or she) has. For me, I try to do this once every couple of months and sort of systematically weed out things that everyone thinks that I need. Upon further review, here's a list of

Stuff I Don't Need Anymore

1. Spoons.
2. Beer cozies.
3. Strainers for the disposal.
4. 98% of TV channels.
5. Daily news.

In order to streamline your life, I have taken all of the thinking out of the equation for you. You're welcome.

1. A few summers ago, I decided to renounce the spoon. For several months, I simply did not use a spoon. I mean, seriously, what real use do they provide. Soup? Sip it. Ice cream? It'll stay on your fork. Trust me. Mashed potatoes? Please. Even rice. If it is made properly, it will be dense and moist enough not only to pack a flavor punch, but also to sit proudly atop your fork, remaining atop it for the duration of its ride from plate to mouth. It became fun to annoy girlfriends, friends, parents, and especially my brother by strutting my forking self over to lay the spoon to rest where it belonged before a meal. (In the garbage? Tempting, but in this case, I am referring to the drawer.)

2. Where the hell are all these people that sit on a beer so long that they need to find a way to keep it cool for more than 10 or 15 minutes? I mean, really. Just. Drink. It. I'm not saying that one should pound one's drinks. Not at all. Enjoy them. Relax with them. Just do it in a timely manner. I swear on all things sacred, if it takes you longer than 15 minutes to drink a beer, you probably didn't want it in the first place. In this case, you are basically stealing. That's right. You are stealing that beer from someone who not only might have actually wanted the beer, but also knows that beer is only useful if one drinks it. Cold. And promptly.

3. My mother is particularly fond of our sink strainer. Nobody knows why. For the rest of us, it gets in the way. Of everything. Of me rinsing out or wiping out the sink after a meal, for starters. But most egregiously, it stops food from entering the bowels of the disposal. Also, if you forget to remove said impediment, you then have to rinse the disgusting meal remnants out of the beast to get it to the...yep, the very thing the strainer is designed to keep it from, the spinning, whirling, all-consuming blades of the disposal. Silly, really. Isn't it?

4. Does anyone need C-SPAN? No. How about MTV2? Doubtful. Fox News? Please. Even I will admit that there are too many sports channels. ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic, Fox Sports...the list is really endless and rivaled only by the number of 24-hour news channels all telling the same story. People, find one you like and trust, roll with it, erase the rest. I promise you that, one way or another, you will be able to hear approximately 92,567 different opinions on the price of oil from one channel. Try it. It is liberating, really. For example, the television in our livingroom skips from channel 15 directly to 26, courtesy Yours Truly. Once you erase one channel, you'll think "Holy shit, that felt great. Book C-SPAN, you're next!"

5. We get it. The economy sucks, Cash for Clunkers was a rousing success, California is dealing with their Crisis Of The Week, and it is still baseball season. Everyday, it is the same crap. Over and over again. You know how when you lift weights they tell you to go every other day so that your muscles don't treat your workout with a sense of "ho-hum, fuck this?" Let's apply this to the news. It may actually have an interesting effect...THINKING FOR OURSELVES. Imagine if there was news on Monday and they gave you Tuesday to reflect on what you learned; come back to it with fresh eyes on Wednesday, get some new stuff, and think about that in time for Friday. Colleges do this with class schedules. It is a system that is tried and true in every regard. Let's make this happen.

So, readers, what do you think? Challenge yourselves! Live without some things. In current economic times, people often talk about tightening financial belts and making sacrifices. Who the hell wants to do that? What fun can be had there? Instead, tighten your frivolity belts in terms of daily usage and viewing. Just a suggestion. Keep fun stuff, eliminate boring unnecessary stuff, and see if it makes each day just a little more interesting. I like to say that we should always try to be fantastic. However, if you can't be fantastic, at least be interesting. One thing is for sure, eating Jell-O with a fork, while perhaps not fantastic, is ALWAYS interesting.
--

JPD

Monday, September 7, 2009

Stuff That Needs To Be Straightened Out...For Me, Anyway

Our world is a confusing place, and even though I'm pretty damn smart, there are a few things that I have to admit I just don't get. Oh, I'm not talking about the usual Big Stuff, like republicans and geometry and why some hysterical Wrinklies are all steamed up about Health Care and a Public Option when they have been happily subscribing to Medicare and riding free scooters from Wilford Brimley all this time. No, I'm talking about

Random Stuff I Just Don't Get

1. The Emphasis On Women's Feet
2. The Bathtubs In The Cialis Commercials
3. Shelf Paper
4. The Big Deal About Breakfast
5. People Doing A Lot Of Stuff Outdoors

So, after I work 'em, maybe you can help me out.

1. First of all, what is up with all these (primarily male) photographers in magazines like Vanity Fair and Entertainment Weekly and whatnot taking photos of female celebs in frou-frou gowns and bare feet? Or the Sally Field commercials where she hawks Boniva and she and the little "granddaughter" are both barefoot? And all these products like a Ped-Egg where you grate off your dead skin into a receptacle? Holy crap. We're talking about FEET, people. Yikes. If I have to read one more Super Feminine Piece Of Bullshit in a magazine somewhere with the cutesy word "pedi" in it, I'll slit my wrist. For the record, I have never pumiced, Egged, had a pedicure, or any of that baloney. My heels are not cracked; my toenails are not polished. Leave my feet alone.

2. If Cialis is a medication to correct male erectile dysfunction, how is sitting in separate, clawfoot bathtubs out in the great wide-open an immediate product reference? Personally, I enjoy a nice, hot 45-minute soaker with a good book, a beverage, and dim lighting. ALONE. Sex in a regulation bathtub full of water is one of those "sounds romantic until you actually try it" things. The goofy thing here is that Cialis doesn't even try that metaphor. The couples are each in their own little tubs, barricaded from one another by enamel coated cast iron and some airspace. Huh?

3. I currently have this much shelf paper in my house: zero. Does anyone even use this stuff anymore? When I first moved into my house 25 years ago, I was all about it. It was the thing to do. I'm not sure I understood why, but my mother and my mother-in-law and my grandmother-in-law were pretty damn firm regarding shelf paper. WTF? Wipe down the shelves, stack up your stuff, the end. Those of you that do have it, how often have you replaced it? If you have, why?

4. I hope all of you are sitting down. I do not eat breakfast. EVER. And guess what? I live. OMG. Here is another Shocking Fact. No one in my home eats it. I come from a long line of Breakfast Shunners. I think all that Breakfast Is The Most Important Meal Of The Day crap is bullshit. I struggled to eat breakfast my entire life, and all it did was frustrate the hell out of my poor mother and make me nauseated for the first few hours of each day. She finally gave up and so did I. I went on to excel in school, reach my goals, attain my chosen career, and vote Democrat. Also, to marry a nice guy. So there.

5. Ladies and gentlemen, we have evolved as a civilized society to the point of creating shelters with roofs to protect us from the elements. This includes our conveyances, such as cars. Why then do people persist in having outdoor parties and weddings? Why do they choose to pay to eat outdoors at restaurants? Why do they fling themselves down super-heated asphalt roadways at the mercy of the elements? Why not take advantage of the science and technology that our intelligence and evolution have wrought? No. Instead, we must contend with wind, bugs, heat, humidity, and other natural inconveniences for...I can think of no good reason. NOT ONE.

What Stuff don't you get? Or...can you help me to understand any of this Stuff?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Ode To The News


We carry each other. We help. We pick each other up when the other just cannot bring himself or herself to do it.

Am I talking about family? Absolutely. But I am also talking about things here at Stuff. When my summer took a nasty little turn for the worse (due mostly to me steering it into The Tree of Life), Nance picked up my slack and posted the bulk of the entries for the summer months. And now, I return the favor. Readers, I regret to inform you that there is a chance that there will be a slew of JPD posts.

Why? You deal with 140+ kids, 90+ degree heat, 90% humidity, and construction five days a week after a summer without them. See if you have the gusto left to post a thoughtful salvo on the world as you see it. Promise you, you won't. That's where I come in.
And thanks to CNN and MSNBC, I've been looking at the world plenty from my spot on the couch when I'm not within the confines of my retail prison.

So, here are my
Top Five Favorite News Stories Right Now

3. NFL football.
4. Town hall madness--no link needed. Duh.

Each of these has its own merits. Let's examine, shall we?

1. Wow. They skipped steroids, hormone supplements, and any other form of cheating and just flat out insulted this person. I think that my favorite part is where it says that they are not treating it as cheating, but as a "gender issue." Um...excuse me? Isn't participating as a woman when you are really a man sort of the ultimate cheating? The worst part is that no matter what, this gender-nonspecific athlete cannot sleep even if she is a woman. If she hadn't done anything wrong, she could basically say "Fuck you, I know I'm right. I'll sleep easy". But now she has to think, "Oh. My. God. I train for years and years for this one moment, and all anyone thinks is that I am uber mannish." I hope she (?) is cleared. Or do I?

2. BILL! How much do you love this man? Seriously? I never really realized how amazing he was until my mother began to adore him so adamantly. But she is right. He just said, "OK, to hell with this. I'm going in. And I'm coming back with these two women." (Insert joke here). For months this thing was not solved. Billy does it in a day. If there was no term limit, is there any doubt that he would still be Prez? My biggest regret politically (aside from voting for Bob Dole in a 6th grade mock election "to be different") is that I never got to vote for him.

3. Oh my god, football. It seems like forever since I was able to watch a game. To smell the way the air smells during football season. To wake up slightly hung over, roll out of bed, get a coffee, and settle in for 10 hours of pigskin purity. It is glorious. And I refuse to let Brett Favre (the anti-christ?) ruin it for me. And for the record, GO CHIEFS! (Eagles over Chargers for the Super Bowl crown.).

4. It has become... hilarious. Watching these "adults" show up and act a fool in the name of their "rights" and their views on things is one of the most unintentionally hilarious things of all time. Do they really think that they matter? Because uh...they don't. Can you imagine that conversation?

Child: What are you gonna do today, dad?
Dad: I'm going to head over to that town hall meeting and act like a jackass. Maybe I will get on CNN.
Child: Why?
Dad: Uh...

5. THIS IS PERFECT. Flawless, really. This guy's life was so mundane, so awful, that he pretended he was dead. The hitch? When everyone realized he was NOT dead, HIS LIFE ACTUALLY GOT WORSE! On one hand it is sad that he felt he had to do this to better his standing in life. He, on some level, really thought that he and the world would be better off without him. Now, he is without the world, and the world without him, but now he has to deal with something that there is no way that he foresaw...HE IS ALIVE AND HAS TO WATCH IT ALL PLAY OUT! Am I the only one that thought "this is fantastically hilarious" instead of "how tragic" or "what an idiot!"? Doubtful.

So what is going on in today's wild world that makes you giggle? Makes you want to make a difference like Bill? What catches your eye when you go to the paper or turn on CNN with your morning beverage? Do share!
--
JPD

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Annoying Annoyances


Stop saying that. Do you know how you sound?

As my friend would say, "You sound uneducated, homey. You're better than that. Be real."

I am sick of hearing people say some things. Not because they are cliche or tired or whatever, but because they are redundant or just plain careless. They make no sense. Here is my list of things that people say without realizing they are sounding like idiots. If you say any of these things, I apologize if I offend you, but see my friend's quote for guidance.


Stuff I Am Sick Of Hearing

1. PIN number.
2. Young kids.
3. I could care less.
4. Small little.
5. Little baby.

Why does it infuriate me? Oh, you KNOW I have my reasons.

1. PIN = Personal Identification Number. Get with it. When someone says PIN Number, he is really saying personal identification number number. See? Now, doesn't that seem ridiculous? How do you get one? Do you have to go to the Department Of Redundancy Department to fill out an application for an application? I am confused. Let's just say PIN and end it. Good? Deal? Excellent.

2. All. Kids. Are. Young. That is the definition of kid. Young person. Young young person is just verbal tomfoolery. It's adjective overkill, really. Nobody says Old Senior Citizen. I don't ask for much, really. I just don't need you to spell it out for me that the young person is, indeed, young. Just assume that I am smart enough to detect his or age on my own. Thanks.

3. The expression is that you "COULDN'T care less." If you COULD care less, then just do everyone a favor and care a little less. There is a good chance that if you are even talking about it, you do care about it a little bit. So either you literally COULD care less, or you COULD NOT care less and are not communicating effectively. This one really fires me up. "I could care less if he wants to go out with her." Awesome. Then go on. You care less! Just make up your mind and communicate it to me like an adult.

4. Someone told me the other day that she had a "small little charm" that goes on her necklace. Well, now I can certainly rest a little easier. I mean, I was worried that the charm might have been small big. Or worse yet, the dreaded large little. I hate that. Am I making sense to you right now? I hope that I am preaching to the small little choir that we have here at Stuff.

5. BREAKING NEWS: Relatively speaking, all babies are little. My friend West doesn't have huge hulking beasts for children. He has babies. They are, like most babies, little. When people say "little baby" I like to think about the opposite of that. Big baby. The delivery room would be a hilarious place on that one wouldn't it? "I see the head. OK, one more big push. WOW! Congratulations folks, it's a beautiful six-foot, 200-pound baby!" All babies are little. Get with it. Please?

Am I being picky? Maybe. Am I being unreasonable? God, I hope not. Because if it is unreasonable to expect people to speak effectively and like adults, I am not long for this world. Blame it on my mother. Despite our sometimes vulgar speech patterns, we do our best not to sound like morons and to hold people to a certain standard. For as long as I can remember, I have been correcting--sometimes, only in my head--people's speech habits in the hope that one day, it will matter. Heretofore (what a fantastic word that is!) it has been largely ineffective.

So what gets you going? What makes your brow furrow and your skin crawl when your friends, family, or co-workers make an attempt at the English language? Do share. You can do that by entering your username name and typing in your password word. From there, leave a small little comment. But please, if you are going to comment like young kids, or whine like little babies, don't bother. Because frankly, I could care less.

And no, surprisingly I did NOT burst into flames when I typed that last paragraph.

--
JPD

Monday, August 10, 2009

We're Such Party Animals: Another Little Event, And This One Is So Smart!

It's still Dinner Party Time, and you're the host or hostess. You're feeling like some especially stimulating conversation about Big Ideas--you know, inventions, concepts, the kinds of things that require labs, a whole talk show to themselves, or a whole book to explain. So, for this round, you tell us which 3-5 Big Thinkers (still alive and kicking) you'd invite for dinner. This one is a toughie, I know.

Top 3 Big Thinker Dinner Party Guests

1. Stephen Hawking
2. Dalai Lama
3. Richard Branson

Okay. Tell me this dinner party isn't going to be a hoot. You've got Stephen Hawking, who will be using his synthetic voice device, explaining the entire universe in scientific terms. Then, you've got the Dalai Lama, who will be metaphysical and serene and wise and ethereal. Then, for a whole lot of very mercenary fun, you've got Sir Richard Branson of the megabusiness Virgin Freaking Everything, who basically has formed ventures ranging from selling records out of the trunk of his car to opening a chain of healthcare clinics. (No, I am not kidding.)

Plus, I know I'd get plenty out of the conversation. Now, your turn. Which bigheaded smartypants people are on your list?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

It's Your Party, And You Can Have Whom You Want To: Top 5 Cultural Commentators


I don't know about you, but I dread going to parties. I especially dread going to gigs like wedding receptions, moreso if I know that I'm going to be the only person there whom I know. Why can't I be sure that I'll sit with some really kickass people who will be fantastic to talk to? I chatted about this idea a bit at my other blog and thought it might be fun to talk about here.

Let's do a few rounds. I'll set some guidelines each time. This round is Cultural Commentators. The deal is this: You're giving a dinner party and you can invite 3-5 people. (For this round, they must be alive. We'll get to the Dead Dinner Party in later rounds.) Who would they be? Here are my:


Top 5 Cultural Commentator Dinner Party Guests
1. Ken Burns
2. Rachel Maddow
3. Tom Brokaw
4. Garrison Keillor
5. Garry Trudeau

Let's talk about my Guest List, but just a little bit. First of all, I know--only one woman (but what a woman!) and my girl Hil is not on it. Basically, I'd rather wait to talk to her when she's not holding public office and isn't all constrained by politics. There's some humor there with Trudeau and Keillor, but they are both also incredibly smart and insightful. Brokaw has seen a lot of news all over the world but strikes me as very human. Ken Burns, the documentary filmmaker, (credits include The Civil War, Baseball, Jazz) would be incredible to talk to...about anything. He has one of the most haunting quotes--to me, anyway,--of all time: "There are no ordinary lives." I think my list is pretty nicely balanced. I also know that there is no big honking republican on it, but that is so that I am able to eat as well as talk. Ahem. And listen.

Okay, so which Cultural Commentators are on your Guest List? And, it's okay to invite any of mine as well. I'm sure they'd be happy to be so popular.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Thoughts From The Mall


The Mall is a magical place full of retail wonder and people watching splendor. People in pajamas, people in suits, people with kids...you name it, The Mall has it. Being as I was recently employed by a large retailer at the local Mall, I have had some time to make some observations. Here is what I have come up with.
Stuff That Goes On In The Mall

1. There is an air of "It's all about me."
2. Food Court = No Rules.
3. Escalators are often mistaken for jungle gyms.
4. Nobody ever really knows what's going on.
5. Most people don't care...about anything.

Allow me to explain.

1. As I said, people show up wearing and doing all sorts of ridiculous things. Wearing pajamas, wearing bikini tops, screaming on cell phones, using the MP3 player function on their phone...on speaker...at full blast. These are all things I run into at The Mall. Seriously? News Flash: There are a lot of other people at The Mall. Most of them do not care about your love of country music, Hello Kitty PJ's, or the fight you are having with your significant other. You are almost NEVER the only person there. Can we keep this in mind when we get in the car? Please? Please? Thanks.
This is a perfect time for my Say It Out Loud Rule. It goes like this: If you are about to do something that seems normal, say it out loud. "I am going to wear Hello Kitty PJ Pants and a 'wife beater' to The Mall." If it STILL sounds like a good idea, then do it. If it sounds like a bad idea, stop yourself immediately. The SIOLR is flawless. Always. You can use that. You're welcome.

2. I saw some kids throwing food today while a security guard was standing right there saying...NOTHING AT ALL! Wow. Also, the Sbarro guy was loudly shouting the fact that they had "hot pizza." Nuh-uh. At a pizza shop? Uncanny. Perhaps the people that were not in line for the heralded pizza didn't know it existed, despite the sign advertising for it...that was lit up. Helpful Hint: Dude, tomorrow, yell about the pasta. Nobody really thinks about pasta there. Someone might say "No shit? Pasta? Is there Ziti? I AM IN!"

3. Down means down. Up means up. When I say "Get off the escalator, where are your parents?" what I am really saying is, "If you were my kid I would snatch you off of that thing so fast you wouldn't know if you were trying to go up the down, or down the up." They were teenagers. Trying to RUN up the escalator explicitly labeled "Down." Grow up. And the first time I ask you to stop had better be the last, or you will be shopping somewhere else. Just saying.

4. "Where is mom?" "Who is that for?" "Why can't I have this?" "I JUST BOUGHT YOU PANTS WHAT HAPPENED TO THEM!?" I suggest simply having an easy game plan before you arrive. Write it out. Here is an example:
-We are here for X
-No, you may not have Y
-We are not eating
-If we separate, meet at Z
-You can/cannot have it because I said so and you don't wear/use the one I already bought you. Do you even know where it is?
This should eliminate any questions. Also, it may eliminate passengers who were interested in anything other than X, wanted Y, were hungry, do not know where Z is, or are tired of their parent's bullshit cliche answers to questions.

5. This is evident by the first four items on this list. If you cared, you wouldn't let the little shits throw fries. You would put on some jeans or something. You would not let your kids climb on the escalators. Also, nobody would argue with their kids, which usually results in a parent saying, "I don't care, you aren't doing/getting/going to it."

So next time you go to The Mall, keep these things in mind. Or better yet, don't go. Shop online.

Should you consider your other options and still see it fit to go to The Mall, I have two bits of wisdom: 1. Give a fuck. 2. BE CAREFUL! It's a jungle out there.

--
JPD

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