Sunday, December 31, 2006

Routine Blog!

Breaking news! Saddam Hussein executed. Lindsay Lohan's New Year's Eve plans not affected.

Have you all made your New Year's resolutions? I have not. In fact, I'm not going to. I have some goals for the New Year, but I don't bother with resolutions. Though, I have some suggestions for those of you who do.

Take small steps. I think the problem with New Year's resolutions is that many people make their resolutions too big, too soon. For instance, instead of resolving to quit smoking cold turkey, do so in manageable steps with a not-so-distant future date set for quitting entirely. Here's why I'm suggesting baby steps: Let's say a guy resolves to stop smoking (cold turkey). Then, on January 4, he gets into a fight with a girlfriend, probably over something ridiculous like money or punching her in the face when he was drunk the other night. So he starts hittin' the Jameson and decides he needs a cigarette. Well, he's already blown it. So why stop now? He develops this defeatist mentality because he's already blown his resolution so early into the New Year. The natural reaction is to say "fuck it" and start shootin' smack and pimping his girlfriend to make the rent payments. Next thing you know, he's in prison 'slingin' tits' to keep the Aryan brotherhood at bay.

However, if his goal was to smoke less with the goal of quitting altogether by a feasible date in the future, then he still has a good chance at meeting his objective, thus keeping his sanity and well-being in check without the hassle of having a swastika carved into his ass. I've always felt that New Year's resolutions place too much pressure on an individual to change right away with no buffer zone.

Make realistic goals. People can't just change overnight and it doesn't help to set unrealistic standards for yourself such as the aforementioned ceasing use of tobacco products, losing weight, becoming a nicer person, or solving world hunger. Face it, you're going to be an emphysemic fat asshole for the rest of your life. Ok, just kidding. But why not resolve to do something small at first? Perhaps eat less red meat, give up sugared soda, take some guitar lessons, or buy that new pornographic DVD you've been wanting. Imagine how many ways that will make you feel good. In fact, I can teach you guitar lessons. And then we can watch the porn. But you can't sleep over. I'm not a whore.

Think outside the box. I always hear about the same clichéd resolutions (see above!). Snooze fest, my friends. Why not dare to be different? Why not resolve to gamble more? Developing a new addiction is not something many people make it a point to do, but that doesn't mean it's wrong. How about putting on some weight? While all of your friends are trying to lose inches and get in shape for the new year, why not resolve to pack on 10 lbs of pure lard? Go on girl! Go up 4 dress sizes. That way when all your friends are having salad at dinner, you can look at the waitress and say, "The salad sounds good. Can I get it fried?"

Whatever your resolutions may be, I wish you all the best!

The Routine.

Ok, so here I go again with another blog. I do this every week. It's kinda my routine. But it's not all that bad. The word "routine" really gets bad rap. It is defined as "a regular course of procedure ... a habitual or mechanical performance of an established procedure," according to Merriam-Webster online dictionary. Synonyms for "routine" are often drab, like "plain Jane" and "unremarkable." This word really can't catch a break. So, I am going to attempt to defend the "routine."

Routine is everywhere so we might as well get used to it and like it. Routine is a fact of life. I get up, go to the gym, go to work, come home, eat dinner, check my email, watch a bit of TV, and crank one out to an episode of 'Full House' (I usually finish up right before Danny Tanner has his heart-to-heart father-daughter talk with DJ, Stephanie or Michelle. That shit just kills the mood.) Then I go to bed. That's pretty much my routine. And within that routine are other routines.

In the mornings I'm at the gym. There, I've got a whole other routine: my workout. My friend comes up to me and says, "Hey, I just started a great routine!" His friend comes up to him and says, "After a while your muscles get bored and accustomed to your workout. You should change your routine up every couple months." So I say, "Okay, well, the idea of changing the routine up every couple months is a patterned behavior that eventually becomes routine." This kind of intellectualizing does generally not occur at the gym. In real life, the above conversation would be a series of grunts interrupted by brief stares at the girls on the treadmills.

Here's another example: Some guy goes home and his girlfriend says, "Our love life has become routine. I need you to be more spontaneous." So he surprises her with something new and different every single night until even that becomes routine. "Honey," she says, "the idea of me coming home from work every night not knowing what to expect from you is becoming routine. Maybe you could just stick to one thing. You know, for a change." Does this example make much sense? No. Then again, neither do a lot of women.

There are some times you want things to be routine. Like at the doctors. You want the doctor to tell you that you'll be undergoing a "routine procedure." It implies that you'll be okay and that the doctors are proficient in the practice of said procedure. It's a lot more comforting than, "Well, we've never really done this before. In fact, you're the first. We'll probably fuck it up and kill you. Hope you've updated your will."

When it comes to food, I tend to eat many of the same things at the same times of day. It keeps me energized and I know what kind of foods my body likes and reacts well to. Veterinarians say to feed your dog or cat the same food because if you change it, they become finicky and won't eat. They thrive on routine. Perhaps we could learn something from our pets, besides the idea that being able to lick our own crotches would eliminate a lot of the desire to go out on Saturday nights.

Basically, I've always felt people have too many options and sometimes that can lead to being easily dissastisfied. I like routine. Yes, I do like some spontaneity, but for the most part, I'm a guy who appreciates structure and being able to plan certain aspects of my life accordingly.
Happy New Year!!!!!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Holy Shit! It's Christmas!

Hey everyone!

This is my Christmas blog, not my holiday blog and most certainly not my winter blog. See, for some reason, our country is so obsessed with political correctness, that we've convinced ourselves that wishing a Merry Christmas to someone of another religious affiliation is bad when it's not. This was NOT an issue when I was younger.

Jewish people are not offended by Christmas. If the phrase 'Merry Christmas' was anti-Semitic, Mel Gibson would have let us know. Hanukkah is only really associated with Christmas because of its timing on the calendar, but it is not a major Jewish holiday.

And growing up, all the black kids I went to school with celebrated Christmas, not Kwanzaa. And, maybe it's just me, but the idea that 'you're black, you must celebrate Kwanzaa,' almost seems a bit racist to me, which defeats the purpose of all the politcally correct bullshit. So let's get our heads out of our asses and just celebrate. It's fucking Christmas!

Oh, and Wal-Mart employees being encouraged to guess the religious affiliations of customers is probably one of the worst ideas I've ever heard. "Well, sir, he looked like a Jew!" As if you needed another reason to hate that store.

Oh, the Guilt!
Don't you hate it when you get a gift from someone you're not expecting, perhaps a friend you don't see often, a casual acquaintance, or a co-worker? Then you gotta pretend that you have a gift for that person, but just forgot it. "Hey, Joey, look I'm really sorry. I had your gift at home. I thought to myself 'I gotta remember that gift for that awesome guy Joey.' In fact, I left it right next to a note that said 'bring Joey's gift.' I'm really sorry, man." Then you hope you don't see him for a while and he forgets. Meanwhile, his gift to you is a constant reminder of what an asshole you are. Joey ruined Christmas. Again.

That said, there are many things I love about this time of year: spending time with friends and family, seeing the festive decorations, eating great food, taking time to think of, and help out, those less fortunate than ourselves while at the same time trying not to make eye contact with the Salvation Army solicitors outside of the supermarket.

I also love hearing the Christmas music. As cheesy as it sometimes can be, the music is, for the most part, the one aspect of the holiday that still reminds me that Christmas is about more than just buying shit. So yes, I like the music. Ok, most of the it. For your reading pleasure, I've compiled a list of Christmas songs that I'm not too keen on.

Grandma Got Ran Over by a Reindeer
The festive nature in which this song is sung and revered is quite disturbing. While it is true that holidays and vehicular homicide often go hand in hand (drunk driving, anyone?), it's still odd to think that one can smile, toss back some egg nog and sing about one's grandmother being brutally killed by a reindeer, and on Christmas Eve of all days. Tragic. However, what some don't realize is that grandma's luck had been running out even before Christmas Eve, as evidenced by the less than renowned 'Grandma Got Raped by the Easter Bunny.'

Last Christmas
"Last Christmas I gave you my heart/The very next day you gave it away." Wham! gave us this classic holiday ode to one-night stands. Though I suppose it's better than "The money is on the dresser, bitch. Good luck finding a cab on Christmas."

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
Infidelity is not funny, let alone appropriate for the subject for a Christmas classic. This song is sung from the point of view of a voyeuristic child who witnesses his mother cheating on his father with Santa Claus, someone who is supposed to represent innocence and joy to a child. Now I know that you'll probably say that the mommy was really kissing her husband (the boy's father) dressed as Santa (yes!), but the kid does not know that. The song goes, "Oh, what a laugh it would have been/If Daddy had only seen Mommy kissing Santa Claus last night." Oh, child, a laugh it would not have been. Unless you find humor in being removed from your home by DCF after your father beats your mother and her jolly lover with the rolling pin she used to make the fat man his annual cookies. On second thought, that does make me chuckle a bit. Merry Christmas everyone!

Santa Baby
If you buy me expensive stuff, I will fuck you. This song is actually the most honest and relevant of the bunch.

All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth
"Everybody pauses and stares at me/These two teeth are gone as you can see." Christmas time should be an innocent and joyous time for a child, yet this kid is dealing with being ridiculed by his peers and made fun of because of a naturally awkward phase of his life. Therefore he must use his Christmas wish not for a video game or toy that he greatly desires, but simply that his two front teeth grow in so he will feel accepted amongst his peers. This song is just fucking mean. I guess calling the song "Ugly Kids Don't Deserve to be Happy on Christmas" was a little too obvious?

Santa Claus is Coming to Town
This song never sat right with me. It always seemed both threatening and creepy at the same time. It's the whole 'knowing when you're sleeping and when you're awake' part that just makes me shiver and turn the radio off when this song plays. I guess if John Mark Karr had written a Christmas song, this would have been it.

On that note, I hope you all have a marvelous Christmas and happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Am I the Only One? Part IV: The Revenge

Am I the only one boggled by the phrase "educate yourself?" How does one do that? It's impossible. You cannot logically teach yourself something that you do not know! If you pick up a book to help you, the book is educating you. You are learning on your own, which is a concept I agree with, but you are not educating yourself. If you learn to play an instrument without taking lessons, you are "learning" on your own, however you are not educating yourself and not teaching yourself. It's illogical to think that you can teach yourself something that you don't know!

Am I the only one who thinks tribute albums to bands that have ONE album are pretty stupid? ONE. That's like...12 songs. . What's next? A tribute album Tribute. "Man, that tribute album totally rocked! We should pay tribute to it." And don't forget string tributes for those who like Slayer, but prefer the riff to 'South of Heaven' played on the cello.

Am I the only one who finds our obsession with anti-bacterial soap a little funny? Imagine a soap that is ANTI opposed to regular soap which is....also anti bacterial. Soap certainly doesn't promote bacteria. My friends, I think we've all (myself included) been taken for a little ride courtesy of some ingenious marketing. Anti-bacterial just sounds good. It sounds bad ass! It sounds more active than plain old soap. People are tired of passive soap. They don't want soap that politely asks the bacteria to leave, you know, when they get the chance, if it's not too much of a problem. They want soap that sounds like it is fighting to keep us clean. Not only does the soap fight bacteria, but it grabs hold of each bacterium, gives it a good swift kick in the nuts, and then disembowels it with a sharp knife. 'Fuck you, Bacteria' the soap cries as it stands upon a mountain of dead bacteria. Now that's clean!

Plus, it puts a stigma on those who use plain soap. 'Don't shake hands with Biff. He washes with...regular soap!'. Biff. That gross bastard.

You know those big trucks that carry all the cars on them? The ones that you pull up alongside on the highway and hit the gas to get by them, hoping to God that none of the cars suddenly come loose and slide off of the truck onto the highway, turning your seemingly uneventful drive into a goddamn Jerry Bruckheimer movie. Yeah, you know what I'm talking about.

So… I the only one who would absolutely love to see one of those trucks fuckin' jackknife and all those cars go flying and bouncing along the highway? Seriously, I would. Preferably where I can watch from a safe distance and no other cars are around. I am not hoping for a mass fatality situation here. I'm not that evil. I would just like to see 12 brand spankin' new cars defy gravity on an interstate one of these days, sending a shower of sparks and twisted wrecked metal raining down around me. Hmm… Dear Santa…..

Am I the only one thrown off when a host/hostess at a restaurant says "good evening" as I'm leaving? When I am leaving a restaurant in the evening, I expect to hear "goodnight" not "good evening." "Good evening" is something you say when someone first arrives, as is "good morning" and "good afternoon." Likewise, if they said "goodnight" to me as I arrived, I would be put off. On the other hand, "have a good evening" is a perfectly fine utterance as I'm leaving. Though you could always say, "good day" and that would be appropriate for either coming or going. These are the things I think about as I'm staring at the waitress' chest.

Am I the only one who believes that an article about Lindsay Lohan not having a drink in a week is a waste of a headline? Now you see why, when people ask if I'd ever consider going into journalism, I just shake my head and look around for something to cut my wrists with.

Am I the only one who thinks this Barack Obama/Osama Bin Laden name comparison is pretty fucking ridiculous? I've actually read articles speculating if Obama's name could ruin his chances at being our first black president should he choose to run. Yes, Obama sounds similar to Osama, but considering one is a college educated senator and the other fucks goats, lives in a cave, and orders his friends to fly planes into buildings, I think the differences are more profound. Even so, this country has shown that similarity isn't always bad. After all, George W. Bush sounds surprisingly like….George W. Bush, and somehow the American people found the guts to keep that bag of failure in office for another 4 years.

Lastly, am I the only one confused by the term 'late.' When do you stop referring to someone who is dead as 'late'? I can understand the late Steve Irwin or the late Ronald Reagan. However, I recently read about an actor who portrayed "the late James Dean" in a movie. Um, Dean died in 1955. That's over 50 years ago. Was your favorite president the late Abe Lincoln? Is there any rule established to when we just accept the fact that someone is dead? Can you refer to fictional characters are 'late'? In Spiderman 2, James Franco plays Harry Osborn, the son of the late Green Goblin.

And where did that term come from? If someone's dead, they ain't just late, they probably won't be arriving at all. Unless it's to their funeral. Then again, some people will be late to their own funeral, as the saying goes. That's an interesting concept. That would make them doubly late. Late to the second power. The late Joe Smith is late. Actually, you'd have to blame that on the driver of the hearse.

From what I gather, 'late' is term used out of respect. You don't hear much about the 'late' Uday Hussein, nor was I informed about details for the 'late' Jeffrey Dahmner's funeral. Eh, I'll stop before I get too ridiculous.

Or perhaps it's too late

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

A Day at the Office

Before I get to the meat of today's rant, here's some shit goin' down in the news:

When Britney Spears isn't having babies or nearly dropping them and then crying about it, she's trying to find ways to sabotage her chances of getting full custody of said babies by partying it up with Paris Hilton, the queen of rich famous-for-nothing whores that people just seem to love so much. If the only qualification for being a good mother was simply having a vagina, then Britney has made it perfectly clear to the world that she has what it takes. By giving the world a peek under her skirt, she has created both controversy and a worldwide cry of "I think I just threw up in my mouth." Perhaps it's a message to her soon to be ex, K-Fed, who, after a nasty divorce and custody battle with Spears, will likely be so broke he'll be unable to afford a pair of underwear.

And he certainly won't be able to afford a PlayStation 3, which is a hot item right now. It's as hot as the searing pain of a bullet ripping through your flesh as you are gunned down for your precious PlayStation, which is then stolen and sold on Ebay for thousands of dollars. One such occurrence took place in the lovely state of Connecticut at (surprise, surprise) a Wal-Mart. What the fuck is wrong with people? Seriously, folks, it's a fucking video game, and unless I missed the part about how, aside from killer graphics and a high definition DVD player, the PS3 also cooks dinner and jerks you off, then I do not understand the hype. I always thought that people who shut themselves in their rooms to play video games all day were pegged as dorks and losers. Now, apparently, it's a lifestyle worth killing over. At least I can play my Super Nintendo without fear.

In New Jersey, nearly three dozen people got e-coli poisoning after eating at a local Taco Bell. Ok, let's all put down our Seven-layer Chalupa Cheese Supreme Grilled Wraps (so it's good to go!) and think about it: Taco bell has been creating Mexican sounding foods for the past however many years using, say, 8 different ingredients, including meat that the USDA says isn't quite good enough to feed a stray cat with feline AIDS. Let's stop pretending that this news surprises anyone and take a minute to realize that a healthier alternative to Taco Bell would be a can of dog food and salsa. Yo no quiero Taco Bell.

A Day at the Office

If you're like me and work the 9-5, chances are there are things about the corporate culture that piss you off. Here's my list:

Do not use the elevator to go up only one floor when there are stairs 10 feet away. Only handicapped people (and pregnant women) have any good reason for doing this. People make fun of you when you get out of the elevator. Trust me.

Similarly, my building has handicapped accessible doors. You press a button and it takes 2-3 seconds for the mechanical door to open. People are perfectly willing to stand back and wait for the mechanical door when it's plainly faster to just walk a foot and half to left and open the regular doors. This is what is known as a crossroads: when laziness and the need for instant gratification collide, and it's the leading cause of aneurysms in the corporate setting.

Another reason to take the stairs is to avoid having to stare straight ahead at the walls in morgue-like silence during the elevator ride. Then again, you can always opt for awkward elevator chit-chat. But there are guidelines for that, as well as general inter-office banter:

Don't talk to me about the weather. It's tantamount to admitting you have nothing to say, which isn't always a bad thing considering we are most likely strangers. But I was just outside. If it's cold, I'm aware. If it's unseasonably warm, ditto. I can look out the window. Please, just talk about anything else; your daughter's flute recital, last night's episode of Bones, or the affair you're having with your co-worker. Anything but the weather.

Ok, almost anything.

Don't talk about religion. If you insist upon it, do so in a manner that does not come across as you pushing your beliefs on me. It's not appropriate and you most likely will not like what I have to say. At my office, a woman who is a Jehovah's Witness recently chastised a fellow co-worker for dressing his infant son up for Halloween. I have no idea what Jehovah's Witnesses have to say about Halloween, but she had no business thrusting her religious beliefs on my friend in the form of criticism, especially for something as innocent as dressing up his seven month old son in a lobster costume to take some pictures. It must be great to be part of an institution that preaches tolerance only of others who are exactly the same as you. But that's a blog for another day.

On a related note, don't volunteer your views on abortion. I'm only bringing this up because it's happened to me before and it wasn't pretty. There's a 50/50 chance that we disagree and I will argue this one to the death, no pun intended. Like religion, that's a blog for another time. So let's skip the pro-choice/pro life debate and stick to pro sports.

Moving on…

Don't say T.G.I.F. We all look forward to Fridays. T.G.I.F was only cute and catchy the first 3 million times it was said. It's old and clichéd by now. May I suggest: "Thank God it's the day that I get to meet my co-workers out for Happy Hour, have way too much to drink, end up sloppily fondling the 'sorta' cute girl who just got hired and then have to explain that when I say 'I love you,' I only mean that she has pretty eyes and this doesn't have to affect our working relationship." While long winded, you'll get points for creativity. And it may score you some after hours sex on the copy machine.

Lastly, don't tell me how fat or out-of-shape you've gotten since you started working in an office. My first day at my current job, one guy said, "I used to work out, too, until I started this job." Don't question my dedication or project your dissatisfaction with your current physical condition on me. It's not the job's fault. I'm not criticizing those who choose not to exercise, but am simply saying that if you truly wanted to get in shape, you'd make the time. That's what people do.

Saturday, December 2, 2006

Gun violence

I wrote this piece for a writing group I'm part of. I can't take all the credit for it so I must give Vern, a co-worker and fellow writer, some credit. He is the one who came up with many of the main ideas expressed in this blog as well as brought Dr. Cohen's article to my attention. I have reworded things a bit and expressed some of my own views. Enjoy.

In the days and weeks following any school shooting, the media is full of reactive solutions to the violence, such as metal detectors, random locker searches, and zero tolerance rules that do little but infringe upon the students’ rights and make schools feel more like prisons. And we know how safe prisons are. Then along comes The Hartford Courant columnist Laurence D. Cohen with his solution to let school administrators and teachers carry weapons in an effort to combat school violence. Now it all makes sense! It’s no wonder kids believe that bullets solve problems. Apparently everyone else does, too.

Cohen cites an incident in Joplin, MO where a kid fired a shot into the ceiling of his school, the gun jammed, nobody was hurt, and the boy was apprehended. But Cohen begs the question of what would have happened if the rifle had not jammed and goes to suggest that, “Maybe the story would be more reassuring if the school administrator spotted the boy with the rifle, told him to drop the rifle; the boy refused—and the school executive pulled out a revolver and shot the kid in the head.” So we train these administrators to shoot to kill? Even the police are trained to shoot to disarm. Cohen comes across as the crotchety “you damn kids get off my lawn” type old man whose solution to dealing with troubled youth is to put them out of their misery. I read Cohen’s article waiting for the punch line or satirical slant but, alarmingly, there was none.

First off, the kids who bring guns to school are not afraid to die. Often times, they commit suicide after their attacks are complete because they can’t bear to face the consequences of their actions. These are angry, scared and weak kids. Then sometimes they are shot by police. So replace suicide and the police with school administrators and the only thing that really changes is who is pulling the trigger. It won’t lessen the body count.

Rarely do we hear about proactive solutions. The words “massacre” and “violence” grab more headlines than “peace” and “love.” We crave violence almost as much as we abhor it. What’s even more prevalent is our need for instant gratification. We want a fast and easy solution to everything. A teen brings a gun to school to instantly get the respect he craves and as a result, we want our instant solutions to stop these types of tragedies from ever happening again.

What about the idea of raising kids in a culture of love instead of hatred and violence? The cynical hear the cry of love as a plea by the uninformed, the power malnourished and the weak, but nothing is more powerful than love. Children aren’t born with the innate desire to hate. They are born to love; to give it, receive it, crave it and depend on it. The hate comes later but it does not have to. Kids are not genetically predestined to bring a pistol to school and unload it into fellow classmates.

Our society may not like this solution because it is not tangible. “Love” is not something you can hold in your hand and there’s no cookie cutter idea of what love is or how kids should be raised. This idea also puts more responsibility into the hands of the parents and asks them to be more accountable for the actions of their children. For instance, talk to your children and occasionally take a peek in the garage to see if they are building crude pipe bombs.

You can’t put a timetable on “love.” Tactically, the answer is complex because it requires a societal change; change in belief, attitudes, and most importantly, actions. People are slow to change because it means relinquishing control, exposing some vulnerability and risking that someone or something could gain advantage over you. If society as a whole is urged to change, to embrace a culture of love and kindness rather than selfishness and violence, does that mean that more kids won’t be shot to death in schools in the meantime? No way. I’m not that naive. That’s just as ridiculous as the idea that teachers packing heat would solve the gun violence problem in our schools. But it’d be a start.