50 Things To Do Before I Go Splat

It may sound so trite, but the recent assassination attempts on my life have really given me time to realize that life is a precious gift. I now understand that we have limited time on this earth and that we should strive to do new and exciting and unique things every chance we get. Upon reflection, I see that I haven’t done much of anything noteworthy with my life. This is not counting my highly successful humor blog or my 1141 lbs. prize winning pumpkin at the county fair last year (Take that, ol’ man Weatherspoon!) which came in 2nd place (I’ll get you next year, Farmer Todd!).

After considering that, I spent a good deal of time on the Internet and I became inspired some of the brilliant goals people set for themselves in their lives. I decided that I should also make a list of the things I need to accomplish before I die. I don’t want to be an old man and have a bucket list that I race to complete before the end. I want a huge motherfucker that should take years to finish. With any luck, I should be able to get most of it done before I turn 40, the age where I will be long overdue to be dead and buried. Many of these are more like chores, but others satisfy my impotent sense of adventure and personal curiosities. I would not doubt that some of you would have a few of these crossed off your list, but these are things I feel I need to do. I will cross them off as they are completed.

Here are the first 50 items in my soon to be extensive list (in no particular order):

  • Tour through Europe
  • Acquire a passport
  • Grow a handlebar mustache
  • Attend the Source Awards
  • Master the rock the cradle move with that damn Yo-Yo
  • Read War and Peace
  • Throw myself from a plane, float gently to the ground
  • Slay a wolverine (rabid or sleeping)
  • Adopt a highway
  • Run for City Dogcatcher
  • Spit on Derek Jeter
  • Make a hole-in-one
  • Sit through an entire poetry slam without leaving early
  • Get a tattoo
  • Attend a Beck concert
  • Build, treat, later burn down a deck
  • Visit a nude beach
  • Support the troops
  • Eat 50,000 49,983 chocolate chip cookies (cumulative)
  • Watch, review the entire Jim Carrey oeuvre
  • Maintain ant farm for 2 weeks
  • Meet Jared Fogle
  • Have my portrait painted
  • Sink a hole-in-one (mini golf)
  • Witness sunset from the highest natural point in Kansas
  • Buy 10 shares in Google
  • Shame first born in front of his/her mates
  • Get back hair lasered off
  • Mail a chain letter
  • Count the number of licks to the center of a Tootsie Pop
  • Meet Internet girlfriend face-to-face
  • Build 1:3 scale model of St. Louis Gateway Arch out of Lego
  • Interview Maya Angelou
  • See “Cats”
  • Bowl a 295 or better
  • Listen to own heartbeat with stethoscope
  • Have a Napa weekend
  • View all Academy Award Best Picture winners
  • Learn how to make my own pasta
  • Perfect butterfly stroke
  • Attend a World Cup match
  • Determine once and for all if I am allergic to clam chowder or just clams, if either
  • Befriend a Jew, black guy, and a fireman, walk into a bar together
  • Visit all Major League Baseball stadiums in one season
  • Judge a beauty or talent contest
  • Go 365 364 363 362 consecutive days without accidentally biting my tongue
  • Participate in guerilla marketing for a cell phone company or oatmeal product
  • Study and master the Waltz, Lambada, Charleston
  • Visit the pyramids in Egypt
  • Have a fight set to techno music

And there we are! The first 50 of many great things I will accomplish before I die! Keep checking in on the list over the years to see how I’m doing with it. I am adding to the list as time goes on, but I’m not posting them right away. If any of you have some amazing and unique experiences you think I should do to further expand the fullness of life, your suggestions would be very welcome!

I Love This Amnesia!

My name is Frank T. Waters. That’s what it says on my driver’s license, my bills and my checkbook. I have to believe it’s true, because I just lost my memory. And I have to tell you without any bit of exaggeration that I’m really enjoying this amnesia thing! This is probably the best thing to happen to me, but then again I wouldn’t know that for sure because I don’t even know who I am. Every day is full of new surprises and wonder. People are generally pretty nice and understanding because I can’t remember simple things like where I live, what my name is, and who the hell that guy is in my basement!

Every day is an adventure for exploration and discovery. Take yesterday as a for instance; I found out that I like sandwiches, denim, the History Channel, Frisbee, and the taste of envelope glue. Plus, I discovered I definitely don’t like rap music, crunchy peanut butter, my next door neighbor Jerry, and clementines. I guess that would be pretty mundane for people like you who have a complete identity and perfectly functioning long and short-term memories.

It’s really been fun meeting new people every day. Most of these people are so comfortable around me because they already know me, so it’s easy to relax into these new friendships. Apparently I have this hot girlfriend, Tammy. She seems a little neurotic but I suppose that’s why I loved her. Besides, no one’s perfect, right? It’s been fun getting to know her and hearing stories about us. Apparently we knew each other for a long time and had a great platonic friendship, then we slept together and the friendship ended because things got really weird. But after realizing my true feelings, I raced to the annual New Years party we usually always went to together, my breath reeking of something called Mallomars, and professed my love to her in the street. It sounds like it was really romantic.

And I’ve been trying to learn as much about myself as possible. I’ve been in my house for a week, but nothing has really clicked. That’s okay, though, because I still get to learn so many things. I see all these pictures of myself with strangers, but boy if I don’t look like a stranger myself! I see pictures of me playing rugby but I look a bit younger. Tammy says I haven’t played for years because of a traumatic accident a few years back. Apparently I was on an international flight with the rest of my team and we crashed in the cold peaks of the Andes mountains. We were stranded for weeks and to survive before the rescue party could reach us we had to eat the remains of our friends. Tammy says I only told her what really happened up there. It sounds like it was absolutely horrible, so I guess there’s another benefit of this amnesia!

I have extended family all over the country, but I haven’t met any of them yet. I talked to a cousin in Des Moines, but she didn’t inspire any more memories. She talked fondly of my parents, though. They seem like they were really great people before they died. Tammy said my mother died in a war in the Gulf in the 90s. She was a chopper pilot who was killed after her squad was downed and there was an engagement on the ground. Apparently there was a big investigation into whether or not she should receive the Medal of Honor posthumously. In the final analysis, it seems like she had a lot of bravery, especially with all those bullets flying over her head.

And as far as I know, my father was a good man, and he and I got along alright before he died. Tammy said that while I loved him, I always resented that he hid his true feelings behind tall tales about his past. He was never straight with me or my mother; all he did was tell stories, as though reality always needed an augmentation to make his life seem more interesting. Tammy said that in the last days before his death, I finally cracked through his facade and got to know him through the reality of his triumphs and failures.

See, how interesting and exciting is all of that? My life certainly seems to have some bit of drama, but whose life doesn’t? I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings. Tammy and I are going to see if I like roller coasters, laser tag, coffee, and Jägermeister. She says she knows already knows the answers, but that’s part of the fun. I love this amnesia!

Oh right, the guy who lives in the basement evidentally has been renting it from me for three months. He even showed me the cashed checks in my old bank statements. He also insists we have a lot of sex together, but I think he’s trying to manipulate me into trying that. I don’t think that any of that nonsense is true. If he keeps it up, I think I’m going to kick him out. But other than that, this amnesia is working out great!

Clean: My Battle With Sobriety

Below is an excerpt from Chapter 4 of my new memoir, Clean: My Battle With Sobriety. My book recounts my vicious fight against sobriety, with all the peaks and valleys, laughter and tears, successes and failures. I’m proud to say I’ve been drunk for 49 months now and, while every day is difficult, I will never forget the journey of how I got here.

Chapter 4, Surgin’ Urge:

I was in a meeting with Ken, my boss, Roger, his boss, and Louis, our VP of Marketing and Sales. I was pretty buzzed, but being a long-practicing functional alcoholic allowed me dazzle Louis (as usual) with the new plans to saturate the Midwest market with our new outdoor and print campaign. But it was when Louis said to me, “Carmine, your ideas really feel like a breath of fresh air,” that I felt it. The tingle in the back of my neck was back after months of absence. That small voice in my head started to speak to me. Fresh air, it told me, can be enjoyed when you think clearly. I thought I pushed that voice back down, but now it was coming back more fierce than ever. Fresh air, bright skies, optimism, accurate tastebuds; the things enjoyed by a sober man.

I went back to my office and got ripped out of my mind on peppermint schnapps. I had to drown out that tiny voice, which I nicknamed The Urge because always urged me to make a change. The Urge started small, but they always gnawed away at me. I would resist, but eventually I knew I would succumb. The Urge to put down the flask or the bottle or the can or the NyQuil tugged at me. It felt like it would be so easy to give in and just enjoy a ‘normal’ day of waking up refreshed, eager to start the day, being exceptionally productive, establishing and maintaining relationships. I spat at the very thought. I woke up three hours later, my drool-soaked desktop portfolio beneath my face. I took two long swigs of the schnapps and straightened my tie. I decided to fight the Urge. If it wanted to come back stronger, I would fight harder.

That meant removing all temptation to keep alcohol out of my system. I cancelled my weekly racquetball game with Mike. I hired a housekeeper to come by twice a week so I wouldn’t have to worry about cleaning. I bought a second Kegerator to keep in the bedroom and upped the delivery schedule. I went only to 21-and-over rock shows to be sure I would be around people who drank. I kept my gym flask full at all times so I’d be ready to go after a workout. I sold my car so I wouldn’t be tempted to not drink because I had to drive somewhere. I created as many opportunities as possible to remove responsibilities and distractions so I could refocus my energies. The Urge would not let up, so neither would I.

But, as things go when you have a goal, sometimes the obstacles lead you to failures. I was at the office late on a Friday, working on copy for a Monday presentation. It was 7pm and I just finished off the last of my Chivas when I grabbed my coat to head down for a cocktail at Morton’s. With my office on the 42nd floor, I usually take the express elevator. That night, of course, I was drunk as a skunk and feeling saucy enough to take a regular car down. As luck would have it, the elevator got stuck between floors 17 and 18, the exact middle of the 6 floors that were completely empty because of renovations. My calls on the emergency phone went unanswered. My cell phone had no reception. Worst of all, my work flask was due for a refill.

I was stuck in an empty building on a Friday night. My drunken screams and banging went unheard. The anxiety of being trapped for potentially three days and the sweating due to the 80 degree heat in the car meant my buzz was completely killed in about 3 hours. The Urge moved right in, telling me I didn’t have to live like I was living. I could see the world with clear senses, I didn’t have to feel numb all the time. I should be able to feel my teeth all the time, It told me. I cursed the forced sobriety, and I cursed myself for finding it appealing.

I was in that elevator for 14 hours before security noticed a problem. It was another hour before I was home to funnel six beers in a row. The Urge had become so loud and nagging, and the beers quieted it only a little bit. So I pulled out one of my Power Hour CDs and played it twice. I blacked out until Sunday night, but apparently I performed one my signature standbys: downing half of each bottle in my 4J Cabinet. The 4J stands for José, Johnny, Jack and Jim. The Urge was at bay for awhile as I went back to my routine of screwdrivers at breakfast, a four-Bass Ale lunch, and vodka tonics with dinner. It was nice to relax into my routine, I always found a certain security and peace with it.

Little did I know that my constant benders would soon halt due to incredibly great news with my family. Not only did my brother and his wife announce the birth of their new son, but my favorite aunt married a fine gentleman and my sister received a huge promotion. All these personal triumphs for my loved ones gave me an intense joy, and I neglected the drink much more than I would have liked. It allowed the Urge to take over and tragically, I did not touch a drop of alcohol for three months. It would take some real reflection and determination to turn things around and push away the Urge once and for all.

Read the rest of Chapter 4 and the details of my heroic journey to complete alcoholism when Clean is released in Q2 of 2009, available wherever books are sold.

First of All, Your Mom Came on to Me

Listen, Marty, I know we haven’t spoken in twenty years. But I saw your name on that popular social networking site and it made me think about the old days. It’s been such a long time, but I remember when we met as kids that we immediately clicked, like we were brothers. We had so many good times together. Remember fishing at Manitoba Lake? Remember that time I hid out under your bed for two days because I accidentally set fire to my garage? Remember all the laughs when we’d pal around town after midnight, pretending to be badasses? We were children when we met but we became older and wiser as we grew up together, learning so much about life from each other.

Our old friendship still means a lot to me. Those were some of great years that I will never forget and I’m willing to bet it you haven’t forgotten them, either. And while they were great, well, things changed between us. Obviously, you know this. I swore to myself that I wouldn’t keep apologizing for it, but maybe that’s why we haven’t spoken in all this time.

So I’m writing to apologize again, hoping that the time since then has allowed the pain to heal. I’m sorry for what happened, I know it hurt you a great deal. I wasn’t thinking straight and I didn’t consider your feelings whatsoever.

The best thing I can do is try to explain everything. First of all, your mom came on to me. It was not the other way around; I wouldn’t have actively pursued your mom behind your back. I need you to believe that because we were best friends I wouldn’t do that to you. Second, it was only that one time; it’s not like we had this ongoing thing. There was no plan, it was just a heat of the moment kind of thing.

She looked at me like no other woman had. I was going through a rough patch and I definitely had some self-esteem issues then. Most of the time, I didn’t really feel like much of a man, but when she spoke to me she made me feel like one. Plus, that night started to get crazy, remember? Everybody was acting a little unlike themselves and things just got a out of control at your 8th grade graduation party. It was hard to resist what developed that night. Again, it just sort of happened and I’m really sorry about it and I know she was too.

Look, I know we’re adults and we’re probably so much different now that trying to resurrect this friendship may not even make a lot of sense. But I felt like I was part of your family back then, and I owe it to our history to try one last time to apologize and explain. My life would have been so different if not for your friendship. And I really don’t think I would have lost my virginity as early as I did, and that was a huge thing for me. Okay, that probably wasn’t the right thing to say there, but I’m trying to be honest.

You have to understand, I was a stud in high school from day one, and it was all because of your mom. Plus, the whole thing was colored with danger and mystery and edge because she died a week later. I was likely her last sexual encounter before she died. Doesn’t it give you some comfort that she had some happiness from someone who was so close to you all?

I guess maybe it woudn’t.

Still, I’d like to hear what you have to say about this. Write me back, tell me how you’re feeling. I can understand if you never want to speak to me, but I had to try one more time to apologize to my best friend for wronging him. Whether or not you can forgive me, I’ve done all I can to fix this. I hope your are well, Marty, and I hope to hear from you.


So I’m Thinking About Taking Up Smoking

God, I’ve just been itching for something new to keep busy with. I recently completed my third screenplay (still shopping around those other two!!!), that albino kid I tutor math and geography to on Tuesdays and Thursdays is traveling with his family to New Zealand for the next three months, and I just Swiffer’d the hardwood floors! I need something to occupy all this free time!

So, I’m thinking about taking up smoking. And I know what you’re thinking, how late to the party can you get? Without doing any research whatsoever, I can confidently say people have been smoking since at least 1200 B.C. and in the U.S. it had a huge upsurge in the 1950s all the way through the late 1980s. Smoking was it, you know? And now it’s 2008, and it seems like everyone’s quitting for some reason or another. Cancer takes thousands of lives. Towns across America are placing bans on smoking in public. The taxes on the sweet, sweet tobacco sticks are going through the roof.

But this really feels like a habit it that fits well with me; I won’t lie, I was arrested at the oral stage. I’ve been putting things in my mouth to pass the time for years. Pens and pen caps. Ice cubes long after the Sunny D has been consumed. Tooth picks after a satisfying dinner. The funny thing about it is I’ve never choked on any of these inorganic things. No major scares, no hazard-filled moments, no life flashing before my eyes experiences, nothing. It doesn’t make much sense, seeing as I bump into stuff and fall over all the time. All these years of walking and using visual cues to keep me safe and I still crash into things and take big tumbles. I’ve bitten my tongue and the side of my mouth more times than I care to remember, but three meals a day plus snacks for over 25 years is plenty of practice and you’d think that wouldn’t still happen. So how I’ve never actually sucked a pen cap down the ol’ windpipe is a complete mystery. I’ve either used all of my good luck on keeping myself alive all this time, or our old pal God still has work for me to do.

But like the Bible says, idle hands..!!! So, why not keep myself busy with the refreshing taste of a menthol deep in my lungs? I can’t stop putting things in my mouth, so instead of that third or first Pop-Tart, why not try an oh-so-divine cigarette? Truly, there is nothing like the sulfur scent after a freshly lit match igniting the packed end of a loosey.

The smoking sub-culture has always fascinated me, too. People gather in rain or shine, blazing hot sun or deeply cold evenings to share a few brief moments away from life. Their shared experience is literally a time-out from life. Everything stops for the smokers: working class folks take upwards of 10 smoke breaks per shift![citation needed]; drinking games come to a halt while the smokers go take their moment to catch their breath. “I’ll be back in a minute,” is their war-cry that, in effect, means, “I can’t really deal with this right now, I need time to consider my options while you stay here and face reality.” For the insane people who are comfortable smoking indoors and stinking up everything, that little phrase gets punched up to include, “I may have to face life, which causes me eternal grief, but I’m going to enjoy this and make you suffer a little while I’m at it. Plus, I don’t care if my couch stinks.”

So, yeah, I’m definitely going to look into putting this together. With all this time I’ve got lately, I’m sure I can learn to love tobacco, like I love the drink. For you expert smokers out there, I’ll need tips on a few things:

1) How to hold a cigarette
2) Frequency of puff-taking
3) How to flick the butt and look cool as hell (advanced)
4) Pretending like it isn’t the most awesome habit in the world (stop your faux grumbling already!)

Please feel free to offer any further advice on getting started with this new habit!

One Potential Inner Monologue Before Getting My Ass Beaten

Ho boy. This guy is huge.

Okay, crap. Okay. Okay, his shoulders and arms are pretty big, so if he hits me in the face it’s really going to hurt. Okay, if that happens DO NOT CRY. Man up and take it.

His midsection is exposed, but I think he’s ready for that. Damn it to hell.

Jesus, it looks like I’m getting what’s coming to me. Maybe not with this guy, because all I did was laugh at him when I bumped into his girlfriend and she spilled her cosmo (was it a cosmo?) on his nice shirt. Sure, a dick move, but it’s not like I meant to do it. And he looked ridiculous; it was hysterical!

Maybe his neck? I just see muscle and veins, I don’t think his throat’s even vulnerable. Christ, this guy is a damn body builder.

Well, I guess I deserve this any way you look at it. This could be for all the times I took money out of the children’s cancer donation jar at the drug store. Yeah, it netted me only $18.45 over the course of 6 months, but that was pretty damn awful just on principle. Or it could have been for that 3 month stretch when I pretended to be blind at the YMCA just so I could “accidentally” walk into the women’s locker room. All that background and careful set up just to pull it off once. Taking away my membership and fining me $1,000 was not enough for karma, it seems.

Okay, stand up straight, let this guy know you’re not some cowering simp. Back up a little, he’s moving closer to you. Is his eye twitching? Gouge the eye, maybe? But if I tried that and failed, it would only enrage him further and I’d be in an ambulance in minutes. I’d pretty much count on bleeding all over the place. Oh, I could use some levity! Hey man, you don’t want to knock me around too bad. That cosmo will come out, but try getting B negative out of silk!

Yikes, I don’t think he’d find that funny, or anything else for that matter. Look over at the girlfriend, maybe she will sympathize. Hey, look over here! Christ, make eye contact with me, lady! Your man is about to smash me and you’re looking through your cell phone contacts! What the hell, a guy bumps into you and spills your drink and five seconds later you’re already calling one of your skanky friends to complain about it? You lousy bitch, I hope he beats you next.

See, there I go again. Making assumptions about people and just getting all ragey about it. No wonder this guy is going to rearrange my face, I’m a terrible person! I definitely have this coming!

Don’t you cry now, he hasn’t even touched you. All right, what are my options? The exit’s behind him, so I can’t run. Should I use this other guy as a shield? No, he’ll just team up with Johnny Roids here and then I’m doubly screwed. There’s always the kick to the groin, but that’s such a pussy move. I couldn’t do that to another guy unless he has a knife or something. See also my other point about enraging him further.

Okay, in the next life, don’t be so quick to judge others. Don’t talk suggestively to the Hooters girls and think you’re so damn clever, because they’ve heard it all before. Don’t make fun of other people, even if they have little Jew-y haircuts. Don’t pour water all over your neighbors’ walkways in the middle of the night in the winter. Don’t make calls to 900 numbers on your mom’s neighbor’s phone; just because she’s laid up and can’t move doesn’t mean you can sneak in and run up her phone bill. Don’t call your 11 year-old brother a faggot in front of his classmates when he brings you to fill in for “Father’s Career Day.” For chrissakes, you’re 32 years old! Rethink ever pulling a strawberry shortcake on your girlfriend. And don’t take your friend’s car without asking and return it with vomit in the back seat. Boy oh boy, I’m the worst person I know!

He’s cocking his fist back, this is it! Okay, make some fists, get ready to dodge this thing. Maybe he’s not that fast! He’s a lumbering monster, I should probably stay low.

“Let’s do this, retard.”

WOW, WHY DID I SAY THAT?! It’s too late to apologize for everything now! Oh God, here it comes! Remember, don’t cry! Just know you absolutely deserve this! Aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!—*

A Stupid Thing I Said

When your job requires you to be on the phone for hours every day, you end of leaving lots of voicemail messages. After doing it enough times, leaving messages develops a second-nature, sing-songy type of rhythm. You have standard phrases that you often use, just like you have different phrases when you’re closing up a live call. Leaving a message, you tell them to call you with questions and concerns, that you look forward to hearing from them, etc. Closing up a call, you ask if they have further questions, you mention it’s been a pleasure speaking with them, etc. Sometimes a mild distraction will make your lines cross, though, and you have to be deft enough to recover. For example, in leaving a message, you accidentally start to say, “Thank you for…” but maybe you normally don’t thank them for anything when you’re leaving a message so you modify it mid-sentence. “Thank you for… considering your options further with us. Give me a call any time before 6:30.” Swish. But there are those times where you really start a sentence that can only end one way. See if you can find where I decided to forgo modifying it in mid sentence and I just plowed ahead:

[at the end of leaving a phone msg. for work] “…Please give me a call at 800.xxx.xxxx at your earliest convenience, Mr. Schmidt. It’s been a pleasure… leaving you this message. Have a good day.”

Lord. I just did that on Wednesday. I think my favorite part is where I stopped mid-sentence, laughed quietly, and acknowledged the absurdity of the statement just by continuing on. I hope my customer got a chuckle out of it, because I sure did.

What kind of silly things have you said when it became too late to do anything about it, or what kind of verbal faux pas have you made without knowing it?

Fantasy Football Fever!

If you’re at all familiar with me, you know that me and sports are not a good combination. I have a cousin in the football Hall of Fame and I was at Super Bowl XXXIV, but I couldn’t tell you four players on any current NFL team. Some sports nerds would argue that this lack of knowledge basically means I’m not a man or cool, but I have way better reasons to support such a statement (i.e. my fashion sense, my Fantasy Football!physique, my unquenchable desire for frappuchinos, etc). But I thought it was time to show the world that I can manage a Fantasy Football league with the grace of an old pro, so I put together my own league on Fleaflicker and came up with some scoring rules that I thought would still be fun. I then crafted a recruitment e-mail to tell my fantasy sports buddies all about it; below, you can see a variation on the e-mail that describes all the greatness involved. You’ll undoubtedly want to join up after reading the recruitment letter, so get in touch if you’d like to become a part of history. The new season starts in like 2 months, so you have precious little time left to join or start up a league of your own! Get on it!


New for the 2008 Season: the hottest Fantasy Football League since the 2004 season, brought to you by Fleaflicker.  

League Name: Kicker Confidential  
Divisions: Two  
Teams: Eight  
Action: Unlimited!  

That’s right, the insane custom league you’ve always wanted is finally here! Just how insane is it? Check out these Roster restrictions:  

Kickers: Three  
Defensive Linemen: Two  
Defensive Backs: Two  
Bench: Five  

Holy mother of Christ! The fate of your team rests on the accurate legs of the best, the worst and the mediocre kickers in the NFL! The scoring rules are highly customized, so BIG points will be given to the kickers who kick far, kick often, and meet and break records! And to round things out, you receive some decent points for your DBs and DLs who happen to get a good amount of tackles, sacks, and interceptions! And if your Kicker tackles someone? Holy crap, look out!  

Check out the scoring rules here: fleaflicker.com  

Sure, it makes little to no sense, but that’s why you want in!  

There is a limit of 8 teams to allow everyone to have 3 fairly reliable kickers starting every week. Plus there are DBs and DLs all over the league putting in a good effort. If you lose a guy due to injury, you can likely find someone to fill in the roster spot without sacrificing performance.  
Be sure to also check out the players available and you will see how many points they scored based on the customized league rules. Remember when Bironas had that record-breaking day last season? That’s why he has the most points for 2007.  
This is a private league, so if you want the password to join, let me know. We’re just about half full! If there is somehow an incredible demand, just know I’m basically sending it out on a first-come first-serve basis. So get in soon!  
There will be more tweaks made to rules and points, and suggestions will encouraged and largely ignored. BAM! No, really, this is just a league to have some goofy fun, so if you can commit to making proper roster changes every week with the rest of your leagues, you’re welcome to join.  
Let’s have some fun out there! Let’s go football!!!

We need American Gladiators now, more than ever

Hot off the success of my terribly conceived and poorly writen Hayden Panettiere post the other day, I thought I’d try to stick with another NBC show for my latest. Of course, all fans of this blog know that NBC shows have shown up quite often in my first thirty posts. I believe I mentioned Cheers, Frasier, Friends, The Cosby Show, Ed, and Scrubs, and probably all in the same post.American Gladiators!

ANYWAY, I believe now is a time for Americans to take a moment to reflect the current state of our country. With increasing gas prices, bridges collapsing, a supposed “global warming” scare, the rise of secularism, and a black man running for President, most Americans don’t know where to turn for answers or comfort. This post-9/11 world reminds us every day that Everything’s Changed. Stars are dancing, idols are singing, and sub sandwiches can be purchased for an even five dollars. Last year CNN dedicated an unbelievable amount of hours to the death and funeral of Anna Nicole Smith, whose contribution to society was, what, exactly? Of course, there are no more easy answers.

That is why, now more than ever, we need American Gladiators. The hit show grabs somewhere around 113 million viewers every week, dazzling the citizens of this great country with feats of athletic Americans squaring off against unbelievably large and/or attractive Gladiators. Normal, everyday people, who mostly hail from upper middle class backgrounds, are the contenders who face off against the Gladiator powerhouses. Those contenders are there to tell us that everything is going to be okay. Your dreams of being on television do not have to submit to the disgusting standards of Tila Tequila or The Littlest Groom. You too can one day be upper middle class, or athletic, or a Gladiator. Maybe all three.

When the liberal mainstream media shows us a world where people are dying on the street and babies are having babies, where politicians want to tax you just for living, where suicide bombers blow up dozens of innocent people and our young men and women fight for our freedom in some mystical far-off desert wasteland, where it’s alternately in vogue and out of style to crack jokes about Starbucks, this country will always have American Gladiators to show us that things can be simple. Nothing is more straightforward than Joust, where contenders must hit or be hit with sticks. Survive for 30 seconds or knock a Gladiator into the water to score points. Fall in the water yourself, you get nothing. If only life could be so black and white.

American Gladiators?But that’s the point. Most often, life is not like going head to head against Justice on Pyramid, racing up The Wall hoping that Venom does not pull you off, or wrestling Wolf on Earthquake. But for those brief thirty seconds, those contenders represent what is great about America. They represent perseverance, optimism and surmounting great challenges. In short, those contenders represent the American Way of Life. The battles in the Gladiator Arena are not battles of good versus evil, they are more like battles of man versus self than man versus man. We are idealized through those contenders.

The battle inside is not whether or not you will pinch the occasional office supply. The battle is deciding whether or not pinching those binder clips is unethical to you. We must answer the bigger challenges inside of ourselves. Every day we must battle the Titan or Crush inside to help us choose to help our fellow man, use manners and be polite, make someone smile, or tip over 15%.  The world is full of too many gray areas, the Gladiators must show us who we are really made of and if we will accept the losses along with the victories. We need them now, more than ever, to reach self-actualization.

Thank you, Gladiators. Show us the way.

Bush approval rating down

A recent USA Today poll asked 1012 Americans:

“Which do you disapprove of the most?
a) blowing up the moon
b) the job Preseident Bush is doing
c) the Holocaust.”

Surprisingly, 39% of Americans most disapprove of the job Bush is doing, while 33% disapprove of the Holocaust the most, and 22% least approve of blowing up the moon. Three percent were undecided/no opinion. The margin of error is +/- 4%. Bush’s job performance is actually worse than the Holocaust or blowing up the moon.

When asked, “If President Bush turned out be responsible for the Holocaust or if he tried to blow up the moon, would you disapprove of his job performance more, less, the same, not sure/don’t know?” 84% respondents answered “more,” 6% responded “less,” 3% answered “same,” and 7% answered “Not sure/don’t know.”

Get me out of this Romantic Comedy!!

How many times must I endure this?

My rather handsome and charming best friend since childhood, Derek Jackson, has been single for awhile. And boy, if he’s not out of luck in the love department, he sure can’t hold down steady work. Sure, it’s hard being a successful executive at an advertising firm where it was “work, work, work” all the time. And okay, when he was Mr. Good-Looking-Veterinarian before he changed jobs, he hardly had time for the extremely good looking women who brought him their pets. And now he’s managing a team of wildly different folks who all bring some quirky humor to the mix at a modern office building, where the job description isn’t very clear but everyone is busy. It is hard to maintain a relationship when you worked at some ambiguous place. As Michele would say, “No time for Love, Dr. Jones,” much to the mild groans and eye-rolling for the rest of the gang, because making pop culture references is the only character trait we’ve been able to discover for her.

It’s hard being Derek’s best friend and watching him unable to find true happiness. We occasionally talk about his search, usually when we go jogging in the middle of the day or when we play racquetball after work. But he doesn’t really bring it up unless some woman pops into his life and he starts reconsidering everything he thought he knew. Usually he’s already in a semi-serious relationship with some successful woman who is smart, funny, and an inexplicable dark brunette. She says all the right things, brings Derek a vegetarian lasagna lunch and encourages him in everything he does. Then some high-maintenance blond woman bumps into him at the elevator lobby AND the cafe around the corner, and suddenly Derek doesn’t know if his two year relationship is working. He doesn’t really say that, so he stays in that relationship all while talking to me about the batty nutjob who’s so different than anyone he ever met because she wears a kangol hat with a matching scarf. And somehow that chick saw him without his shirt on without him knowing and she started hyperventilating and he doesn’t even know her last name.

So then he breaks it off with the dark-haired one and starts seeing the blood pressure queen. She’s also successful, of course, so she isn’t really blown away by his large Manhattan loft apartment. (Even though I work with Derek, I can barely maintain a one-bedroom apartment in Queens.) And it seems to go okay for almost twenty minutes, but something gets in the way and there is all sorts of confusion and they get mad at each other and she doesn’t want to see him again and he avoids her. Then I’m at home thinking, “Why is my best friend dating that horse-faced chick from Sex And The City, and why can’t they get it right?”

Then he goes back with the dark haired woman for a little bit, all while staring out the window thinking about the blond mess. Of course, I know the truth about said mixup, but I don’t realize I know it and when I finally tell Derek that crucial piece of information that allows him to piece together why he was wrong in all of this, she’s already on her way to the airport to Vienna for six months on a lecture tour.

My role as best buddy looks easy, but – trust me – it takes plenty of practice to offer him funny little quips, euphemisms for sex, and bits of sage advice inbetween checking the ball during our one-on-one basketball matchups over on 6th. I usually meet the blond girl only once but I have to really get to know her by the things he tells me about her and of course I have all these insights that are either insanely off-base or dead-on-balls accurate. And I don’t have a current girlfriend, but I talk like I’ve been around and seen just about every kind of woman imaginable but pigeonhole every woman into one of five or six archetypes. He’s better looking, more successful, with many more women beating down his door, but he likes to hear my insight on women.

Oh well, Lord knows I’ll be doing this for the rest of my 30-something years. Better get back to my inexplicit job before Michele quotes Bogart or Derek meets someone else to get all confused about. I should see if he wants to lift weights later.

Oh God, 8 hours in Newark….

If you’ve been paying attention to this blog, and I know you have, you know I currently work in Life Insurance. I work in Chicago, a primarily new market for our New York-based company. My superiors thought I would benefit from some training in our NYC office because I would meet the folks who have been doing this for a number of years and I could really see how they get things done. So, a free trip to NYC, staying at Sheraton Towers and Hotel for a week (just blocks from Times Square), and learning some best practices so I can become a stronger asset to the company. Sounds like a pretty good week, right? Well, one tragically unexpected thing occurred; I was to spend one full day in our Newark, NJ office because our trainer had some things to take care of in that office. This was not planned ahead of time, and it certainly wasn’t the news I wanted to hear at 5:30pm on a Tuesday. I spent the next day in that hell, not fully prepared to take it all in. The day, overall, was a wash because no real training went on, but I had some free time to absorb my environment.

Below is the actual correspondence via text message between me and a friend I hold in the highest regard in March, 2008. Cleaned up for formatting and punctuation.

Me 1:16pm: Newark is the shit!

Da Bomb!

Zack 1:21pm: Where is that? Is that Newark?

Zack 1:23pm: Good god! It is Newark! I recognize the filth!

Me 1:32pm: This place is awful. Dregs of humanity prowl the streets. I heard they just got Snapple here.

Me 1:34pm: 12 stories up!

Another angle

Zack 1:38pm: Good lord! What a vile hole of festering spew! Where are they sending you next? Dover? Good god not Dover!

Me 2:08pm: If I have to go to Dover I will quit immediately and walk home. This is bad enough!

Zack 2:09pm: Damn straight! You’re a human being, goddammit! There’s only so much you can be expected to deal with.

Me 2:20pm: This place is of the devil. How mankind dares thrive here is anyones guess. Persistence of the foolish and retarded perhaps.

Zack 2:43pm: That sounds about right. Any serious amount of time spent in Newark renders you that way irreversibly. Get out while you’re not retarded!

Me2:50pm: I’m here until 6. I hope I make it! I was starting to think about watching NASCAR this wekend. What’s next, stop bathing!? Throw out books?! Make Steak-Umms?!

Zack2:55pm: Bah! Horrible! The influence of that shithole may not be evident in your brain for years. But if you start talking about volunteering for the Nader for President campaign, I swear I’ll shoot you.

Me3:42pm: This is murder. I’ve been to ghettoes that look like Six Flags compared to this place!

Zack 3:47pm: I’ll bet they didn’t pitch this trip to you with the caveat that you’d get to visit Newark! You should bomb your work when you get back!

Me 3:54pm: For the sake of mankind I should bomb Newark Fucking New Jersey! God. Plus its been a totally meaningless work day. Unproductive. This sucks!

Me 4:21pm: Oh god no

I think their biggest exhibit is a dog skeleton collection.

Zack 4:26pm: Ha! Jesus Christ! I wouldn’t be surprised. What a disaster that town is. Better get out while you still can!

Me 4:33pm: I saw a homeless man walking a pig on a leash!

Moments after that message was sent, I managed to find a way out and get back to NYC in one piece. Zack heard nothing of my fate until the next morning.

Me8:30am Thu Mar 13: Made it safely back to NY but my clothes still smell like ham and burnt hair. Fuckin Newark.

Zack 9:46am: Thank god you made it. You are of the lucky ones. If they make you go back, go in a tank, take some of that town with you!

Me 10:42am: I’m never going back. God no.

I recommend you absolutely stay the hell away from Newark, NJ. You’ve got too much to live for to go headfirst into one of the worst places on the face of the Earth. My adventure was tame, but a torture to endure. You do not have to face what I did. The text and pictures messages do not tell the whole story. I cannot reveal the whole truth because you do not want to know.

This is your warning.