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 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, sad would we all be?


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
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.




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.


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