Friday, May 30, 2014

The last donut

That, my friends is a donut. It's covered in powdered sugar and filled with chocolate creme. There's no hole in the center but I assure you, it is indeed a donut. As such, there's no question it is delicious. Because it's a donut. It's delicious-ness is inherent. Yet, no one will ever eat that donut. Nobody will ever even touch it. Not because there's anything wrong with it, but because it's the last donut.
There were once many donuts in that box. Dozens! Over the course of time (this morning, in the office), people visited this box of donuts, which was at one time, full. People came by, sometimes one-by-one, other times in small groups, and they would each take a donut to enjoy. They would make these individual selections based entirely upon their own personal preferences. For no good, less-arbitrary reason than that, all the other donuts were selected before this one. It became, through no fault of its own, the last donut.
After this, people still came by to look at the donut box. Some of them were people who had previously selected a donut and thought about treating themselves to a second donut. They changed their mind when they saw that the only thing left in the box was the last donut.
Why, exactly, is this true? Why is there stigma attached to a donut based entirely on it's status as being the last one? Because it's actually less of a stigma against the donut than it is against the person who might take it...
"Oh look, who took the last donut. You couldn't resist, could you? Had to eat it. Just had to!!"
"Huh? No! I just got here and I didn't have time for breakfast and I saw the donut box and..."
"Liar! I parked next to you this morning. You filthy, lying scavenger!"
"B-but what's wrong with eating it...?"
"You're a pig, that's what's wrong. Nobody else felt it necessary to finish off that box of donuts. But you sure did."
"Hey! It's not like I ate all the donuts. I just happened to have the last one."
"Oh, shut up, reviled eater of the last donut. Your very existence disgusts us."

As though eating an entire box of donuts except for one demonstrates an admirable level of restraint and moderation. How silly. Still, nobody wants to be the office pariah. So instead, for the sake of nothing more than a false sense of shallow, human pride, somebody had to throw this poor, innocent, delicious donut in the trash.
Yeah, that's probably what happened to it.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Finally! A new idea!

I spend a lot of time complaining about stuff. Since there's a finite amount of stuff in the world, I spend a lot of time complaining about the same things over and over again. One of my consistent complaints is that there are no new ideas, that we stopped inventing stuff back in the '50s. Yep, right around the same time time somebody figured out there was more money in treating diseases than curing them, we stopped coming up with inventions. Sure, there are better, faster, smaller (or bigger) phones, computers, televisions and kitchen appliances, but those are tweeks on old ideas. All of those things existed before and now we spend our resources maintaining their viability rather than coming up with The Next Thing. So while we have smaller phones with incredible computing power, we still drive around on the remains of used dinosaurs. That's why we haven't had a The Next Thing in a long time. Until now. Check this out...
All right, technically this isn't a new new idea. Roads have been around for a long, long time. But not like this! THIS can, could and should be The Next Thing! I won't go over all the positive benefits because the video does that just fine. However, I dare someone to try to come up with a reasonable argument for why this is not an absurdly great idea.

Monday, May 26, 2014

That's not a truck. THIS is a truck

When people find out that I was in the army, their first question (Well, first after "YOU were in the army?!?", all incredulous-like. I understand, though) is usually, "what did you do?". I answer that I was a truck driver. That's kind of underselling it though. I did spend some time driving trucks but a majority of my time was spent with the 3rd Armored Division in Frankfurt, Germany where I drove this...
This one was mine, B554 of B Company, 4th Support Battalion, 3rd Armored Division. AKA The Mongomobile
That, my friends, is what was known as the M-746 Heavy Equipment Transporter, or HET for short. It was 27 feet long, 10 feet wide, weighed 22 1/2  tons and was paired with a 60 ton trailer. They were designed to retrieve and haul broken tanks. There were less than 200 of them ever made, all between 1973 and 1977. In 1985, I was chosen, along with five other guys, to be part of a squad driving these things for the purpose of determining whether or not they should keep them or suck it up and buy brand new ones. So on one hand, we had higher-ups that wanted us to succeed and keep the beat-up old things on the road so they could save money, as well as those who wanted us to fail miserably so they could buy new toys. We were loved and hated like rock stars and we acted like it, too. Uber-cocky and arrogant to the point of being insufferable at times. What fun! It wasn't always easy but we managed a 100% mission completion rate. Every time we were sent out, we came back with tanks. I have no idea why I was selected to be a part of that team. I was not, nor am I now, by any means a motorhead. Maybe it was my attitude. Regardless, it was an honor to be part of a group doing good good work.
L to R: Sumaster Newell, Ricky Holstein, Lt. Kathleen Costello, Ken Gates, Paul Tucker, me and Dave Mansfield

As you might imagine, there are some pretty good stories from that time. I will try to list some of them here in the days to come. Anyway, Happy Memorial Day to you and yours.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Of course there's a gift shop at the 9/11 Memorial Museum

Let's be honest; the only thing that would have been more shocking and appalling than the new 9/11 Memorial Museum having a gift shop and snack bar is if it didn't have them. After all, there were over 46,000 casualties at the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863 and they have a gift shop there today. More than 1,500 died when the Titanic sunk in 1912 and today, you can rent an inflatable bouncy slide version of the doomed ocean liner for a kids party.
"Whee! I'm plunging to an icy death!"

Let's not waste time pretending that this is a new or sopmehow more tacky development. Come on. You know how we do. And though I can't really think of a lot of situations where it would be appropriate for me to pop on a 9/11 commemorative t-shirt, at least I know where I can get one. So let's go shopping!
A wide variety of souvenirs means there's something for everyone!

Blankets with our favorite corporate logo symbol of freedom


Hey black teenagers, minimize your odds of getting shot with this memorial hoodie!

"Arf! Arf!", says your fuzzy first-responder in this doggy fireman's jacket

Scream blindly through your own miniature urban hellscape with these emergency vehicle replicas

Who is the most patriotic and introspective third baseman in your Thursday night softball league? You are, if you're wearing this hat!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Seeking assistance on a project

Christina is a co-worker of mine and she is a big soccer fan. I am not a soccer fan. She is currently working on trying to complete a sticker album for the upcoming World Cup. It's a book with blanks that you're supposed to fill in with collectible stickers of players, stadiums and logos that you get in packs. My first instinct was to make fun of her for this pursuit, so I did. However, being a collector of baseball cards (among other useless things), my penchant for ridicule faded after I actually looked at her album. Once I saw what it was all about, my inherent collectors' obsessive need to complete sets, which is a severely twisted, highly specific form of OCD, kicked in to a high degree. She could have had an album of war criminals (for all I know, some of those guys are war criminals) and I would NEED to see it completed. Turns out helping a fellow collector experience the thrill of "got 'im, need 'im, need 'im, got 'im, got 'im..." outweighs the desire to point and laugh at how silly soccer is.
She really wants the Cristiano Ronaldo (#523) sticker. When I told her I was enlisting the help of the internet, she said, "Wait, I only need one. What if we get a whole bunch of extras?". I tactfully explained that excess inventory is useful for making trades, duh. Okay, maybe I could have been more tactful. Point is, she gets it now.
Anyhow, here's where we appeal to you: Help us complete this album by either sending us packs of Panini stickers (word is that Walgreens carries them for a dollar a pack) or if you have individual stickers (especially the Ronaldo one) you'd like to give or trade. Let us know either in the comments section or by sending an email to Please help us; if this doesn't work out, we'll have to go to eBay. Thanks!
Actually, I don't want anyone to go out of pocket and jeopardize their financial status. So steal them instead of buying them.
Wait a minute. It's not right to take something that doesn't belong to you without paying for it. Don't steal them. Okay.
How about if you want to send any extra money you might have, we'll spend 75% on stickers and the remaining 25% on cancer. Not pro-cancer but on anti-cancer measures. All right. Yeah, do that. That's better.
She really wants this one.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Think twice, speak once

I used to be really bad about opening my mouth without thinking, watching helplessly as stupid words spewed out into the atmosphere to go forth and ruin my life. With maturity (and hard-learned lessons), I've gotten much better about taking a half second to think before I start talking. But old habits die hard.
That's why this happened...

ME: You know, it's been driving me crazy but you look like a movie star.
HER: Oh, right.
ME: No, seriously. A celebrity if not an actual movie star. Somebody famous. I just can't think of who it is. It's driving me nuts.
HER: Wow, I've never had anyone tell me that before! Who do you think it is?
ME: I'm trying to think of it.
HER: I need you to figure out who it is!
ME (to myself, inside my head upon realizing the movie star I've been thinking of is Scott Thompson of Kids in the Hall in drag.): Uh-oh.

Friday, May 16, 2014

That's it?

The other day, I posted this status on Facebook...

"To the people who are all upset about having The Gay Agenda "rammed down (their) throat", first of all, let me compliment you on your absolutely top notch choice of idioms. Secondly, I spent all weekend watching sports and I haven't seen the video of Michael Sam kissing his boyfriend. Not one time. If you've seen it several times, over and over, and it bothers you, maybe that's your punishment for being a person who actually watched all seven rounds of the NFL draft."

I felt I had to say something because, well, it's not every day I get to take a shot at homophobes AND the NFL Draft. You simply can't pass up opportunities like that.
People are pretty worked up about it though, and they're making comments like this (all posted to local sports radio station 620 WDAE's Facebook page):

"It always make me wonder if we are to accept the gay thing, why does it seem like that have to shove it down our throats?"
"Keep that garbage behind closed doors that's pathetic"
"Too much for TV"
"vomiting in my mouth can't type..."
"Just that most us dont like GAY P.D.A...dont care about his personal crap..lets see if he can play."
"No 7th rounder had ever been showed on tv when they were drafted and neither should he have been. Them kissing was sick"
"Sorry nothin against Gay people but it's not right to see a football player kiss another man in the mouth"

I think in the case of some of these people, it's less about homophobia than it is about maintaining the traditional stereotype of football players as warriors. I've always thought equating sports with war and players with soldiers is stupid, simply because they're not even close to the same things. Folks do love that outdated, false convention, though. You gotta know that on some level, they're as annoyed by the dreadlocks worn by so many African American players as they are by the existence of Michael Sam.

"This is what football players are supposed to look like, goddamnit! Also, gas should be .36 a gallon."
Anyway, the other day, since making the comment on Facebook, I saw The Kiss. Somebody felt obligated to make me watch it so they showed it to me on their phone. All I can say is...that's it? That's what has people so upset? Honestly, based on the level of outrage, I would have guessed that they had stripped down to leather harnesses, oiled each other up and went to town on each other on top of a Little Tikes playhouse filled with grandmothers. But that? That's nothing! As someone who was also witnessing it for the first time said, "I kiss my dad like that." Seriously, I've seen more over-the-top public displays of affection on "The Price is Right".
The irony is that many of the people upset by this are also the ones who bemoan how everyone in America has allowed political correctness to make them too overly sensitive.
Just yesterday, a co-worker was moaning about a reality show about Sam that is being developed for the Oprah Winfrey Network.
"And that bothers you why? Because it will pre-empt other programming that you enjoy so much on that channel?"
"No. I don't watch the Oprah Winfrey Network!"
"So what's the problem?"
"It's just too much, that's all."

I don't know. Maybe it is. Gay people who are looking for opportunities just to be included in more aspects of day-to-day life in America might say it's not close to enough. Again, I really don't know. Michael Sam is a seventh round draft choice who may not even make the team. Even if he does, statistics indicate the average length of a "career" in the NFL is just over three years. What I'm pretty sure will happen is years from now, when Michael Sam and his career are distant memories, some kid who drew inspiration from his example will feel free to be himself and live his life. He'll be drafted in the first round and lead a team to a Super Bowl victory. Then everybody will be okay with it.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Stiouxpid White Kids

Did you know that Dakota, Lakota and Nakota people comprise the Oceti Sakowin and that Oceti Sakowin were called ‘Sioux’ by their enemies because 'Sioux' is a slur?
"Sioux is a derogatory slang word that means devil. Serpent is the original word for "sioux" but was mistranslated as snake. Nadowessioux is two words Nadowessi and Oux (Nadowessioux). The slang word sioux comes from (Nadowes sioux)." - Lakota Country Times

If you did know that, I'm willing to bet you didn't learn it in the same public school system I came out of. We were taught that 'Sioux' is the proper name of an Indian tribe. We were also taught that Native Americans were Indians.

Well, you know, that's what we were taught. I was in school a long time ago, though. Maybe teachers didn't know any better back then. Sorry. So what do you do? You make mistakes, you acknowledge those mistakes, you learn from them and you move forward better informed, right?

Mere weeks after this happened in Cleveland, we have the students from the University of North Dakota and their "Siouxper Drunk" t-shirts...

The university's former mascot The Fighting Sioux was removed in 2012 after the NCAA had declared it was "hostile and abusive" in 2005. But this is about tradition, goddamnit!

Specifically, the interwoven traditions of white kids spending entire weekends getting wasted with their besties and generations of Native Americans being decimated by alcoholism.

"Oh, lighten up. Stop being so sensitive. Racism is over. All of this stuff happened hundreds of years ago. None of us had anything to do with all of that. Besides, it's not like these kids were knowingly committing any harm, right?"


Monday, May 12, 2014

I'm a moonshiner now!

Way back when I was stationed at Fort Campbell in Kentucky, some of my more adventurous comrades would go out in the woods and get moonshine. I don't know how they knew where to find it but they did. This was the stuff that came in fruit jars with tin foil lids. Since I had been raised to believe that drinking that stuff could render you blind (or worse) I never partook. I do remember my friend Paul drinking some while we were talking to girls at a party when the front of his jeans suddenly became soaking wet. He had pee'd himself while he was wide awake and having a relatively coherent conversation and had no idea that it happened. Up until recently, that was my experience with moonshine.
Back in January, Lee Nelson with The Florida Distillery approached me with a proposal involving his efforts to produce a legal, safe, smooth, tasty moonshine that people would be able to buy in stores and restaurants:

"This is going to be a VERY high proof product (109) and has a very light, almost buttery, profile to it... There is no other moonshine product like this on the market for two reasons: They usually price, package and sell themselves as a whiskey. Moonshine is unaged whiskey -- but it's significantly cheaper to produce and if distilled correctly can be lighter and smoother. Also, none of them are 109 proof... We are going to market it as the craft-mixologists choice and the 'affordable sophisticated' moonshine. So that's why I'm reaching out to you... One way we can unify the theme is with a short and intriguing story on the back of each bottle. It could be a single story line that runs across the bottles. It could be about four unique characters whose profiles are all written similarly. Or, why I specifically thought of you: It could be four humorous observations. About anything! It does not have to mention the flavor profiles but I would like it to."

I was beyond flattered so of course I said yes. Even more important than my being flattered was that it sounded like it would be fun so of course my yes was pretty emphatic. Now, just under five months after that initial proposal, Sunshine Moonshine was officially unveiled this past Saturday and will be hitting the shelves soon. There are four flavors: Sunrise, High Noon, Sunset and Midnight and each one has its own blurb written by yours truly. I'm pretty excited to see it in a liquor store when I will compare that experience with seeing my book on the shelf at a local bookstore. Another perk is that Lee and his partners gave me a case (one of each flavor). I have them displayed on top of my 'fridge, figuring that if I ever bottom out, I can drink it, get wasted, read the blurbs to myself, ruminate on a past when I was a big shot who wrote blurbs for moonshine bottles, look sadly into a mirror and then smash the bottle into the mirror. That'll be super dramatic!
I'll probably just drink it and share it with guests, though, the way it should be enjoyed.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Another mystery solved

Back in early March, I presented an odd situation: the belief that somebody I didn't know was cutting my grass. Turns out I was right and I found out who and why.
At the time, my theories were that either it was a good samaritan or somebody making a mistake. The answer is that it's kind of the former, but not entirely a selfless deed.
I went out to my mailbox the other day and my next door neighbor was in his driveway. Small talk ensued and I mentioned that I would eventually need to figure out a long-term solution for having my yard mowed. He said, "I've been meaning to talk to you about that." Uh-oh. Is this where I find out I'm the bad neighbor and that everybody on the block hates me? Geez, the grass has never gotten THAT long. "I was hoping you'd let me do that. I used to do it for the lady who lived there before you moved in." Oh. Cool. How much will that cost me? "Nothing..." Nothing? That fits my budget perfectly! "...but I'd like to keep the clippings and use them in my composting." Let's see; my grass gets cut on a regular basis, the resultant detritus is hauled off, I get to take a little credit for helping the environment and it doesn't cost me anything? I know virtually nothing about composting, other than it's like controlled rot to produce fertilizer and that it involves worms and pee and is good for nature. But even if he has a way of turning my yard waste into actual, shiny, spendable American pennies that he uses to make himself wealthy, that's fine with me.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Happy Sinko de Dishes!

This is a 100% true conversation I had with someone this past Sunday...

THEM: Hey, tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo! What are you doing to celebrate?
ME: I am probably going to celebrate Cinco de Mayo by going home and washing dishes.
THEM: Wow. That... that is EXTREMELY racist.
ME: Is it?
THEM: You know that it is. Ha ha. Washing dishes. Ha ha ha. Very funny.
ME: I have dirty dishes that need to be washed...
THEM: Right. And then what? Are you going to mow lawns and pick lettuce?
ME: No. I don't mow my lawn and I don't grow lettuce.
THEM: Please. Don't act like you're not familiar with the stereotype of Hispanic people having low-wage, menial labor jobs.
ME: Yeah, I'm familiar with it. Is that what you think I'm doing?
THEM: I know it's what you're doing and you know it's what you're doing and I don't appreciate it.
ME: Because perpetuating that stereotype offends you?
THEM: Yes, it does actually.
ME: So your perception of my portrayal of Mexicans as people who do tough, low-wage jobs that other people don't want to do is more offensive to you than if I were to participate in the annual tradition of portraying Mexicans as drunken clowns?
THEM: Wait. What?
ME: Have a Corona for me, amigo.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Preparing for the deluge

This album deserves better, and frankly, so do I.
 I've written previously about my unique relationship with Prince. Naturally, I'm very excited about the news that he has reached a new agreement with Warner Brothers records. For one, as an advocate for the rights of artists, it pleases me that he is gaining control of his publishing rights. I'm not somebody who feels that record companies are useless and should cease to exist, but the relationship between them and those who actually create the product has been hideously lopsided since forever. This is a step in the right direction toward more equitable relationships going forward.
Then there's the expectation that we stand to receive just a ton of new material from Prince, including the already-announced album of new material and a special 30th anniversary edition of the "Purple Rain" album. That has fellow Prince fans sitting down and writing long wish lists with hopes of hearing the hundreds (thousands?) of previously-unreleased gems that have been locked away in the legendary Vault.
I guess I'm relatively low maintenance because all I really want is a re-mastered "Sign O' The Times" album, complete with extended B-sides, and a proper home video release of the accompanying film. The album, which is my all-time favorite was originally released in 1987. '87 was a good and bad year for me and that album supplied the soundtrack to some pretty significant events in my life. It has never sounded as good as it could, with curiously low levels requiring you to crank up the volume to even hear it. As far as the film, I saw it once in a theatre and bought it on VHS when it came out. It's never been released on DVD or BluRay in America. I bought a legit DVD via Amazon, Canada a while back but the only other DVD is a virtually unwatchable Portugese bootleg that has been floating around for years. Even the legit version is lacking in that it contains no special features. A new version with outtakes, behind-the-scenes features and a commentary track would be fantastic.
Of course, I'll probably wind up buying everything that comes out but if they could just make those two things happen, I'd be thrilled.

Friday, May 02, 2014

This is a test

"A test? I didn't even study!" (nervous laughter)
  This is a test. This blog is conducting a test of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. This is only a test.

It occurs to me that I have exactly as many commendations from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and exactly one less hot, mixed-race girlfriend than Donald Sterling. How bad a person am I to be tied or trailing in categories like that to that guy?

"So that's it? We're giving it to Sterling then?"
"Yeah, I'm just not that impressed with Brooks."
"Hey, no argument here! Ha ha!"
"I mean, it's not like we have recorded evidence of Sterling being a racist or anything."
"And if we did, there's nothing that says we have to commend anybody."
"The odds are solidly in our favor on this one, for a change."

And the hot, mixed-race girlfriend? What the hell is going on there? Sure, I'm not worth $1.9 billion but women don't really care about material things like that, do they?
Maybe not, but apparently, they are really into Daft Punk though.

Because aside from that, we're practically twinsies. I'm old. I'm creepy. I'm a megalomaniac with a wildly inflated ego who's drastically out-of-touch with modern society. Who knew self-loathing hotties were that into racism? Well, I can take a hint. I know when to step my game up. One romantic, candle-lit dinner at Golden Corral with me, during which I outline how the Jews control the media (among other things) along with Blacks ability to sing, dance and play basketball, how weirdly smart Indian and Japanese kids are and the illegal aliens from Hispanica (or wherever) are taking all the non-acting jobs and how the homos are taking what's left along with how all Muslims are terrorists, well, I expect her to be licking my big, fat, white feet before we've even had the banana pudding.

This has been a test of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The bloggers of your area in voluntary cooperation with the Federal, State and local authorities have developed this system to keep you informed in the event of an emergency. If the First Amendment didn't actually function the way it's supposed to, armed government officials in uniforms would have rapelled from black helicopters and stopped me from writing it in the first place or at least erased it from the internet before you had a chance to read it. Being as it appears to be in perfect working order, I am not protected from the reactions of those who might find the stupidity posted above to be objectionable for any reason at all. This concludes this test of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.