Saturday, September 10, 2011


It’s official: I am now less mature than my 13-year-old son. The following pieces of dialogue should be enough to convince you.

My Son: Hey Dad, what’s for dinner tonight?
Me: I believe your mother said we are having poop.

Son: Dad, you’ll never guess what this kid did at school today.
Me: Pooped in his pants?
Son: No.
Me: Threw up?
Son: No. Come on, Dad.
Me: Well, then I really don’t care.

Son: Dad, how come the dog smells like Cheerios?
Me: Because I gave her some earlier and she just farted.
Wife: Get a life, will you?

Son: Hey Dad, do we have anything for lunch?
Me: I think there’s a carton of poop in the fridge.
Son: No, seriously.
Me: I’m just kidding. There’s also a jar of pee.

Saturday, August 27, 2011


I haven’t read the Harry Potter books, and I barely stayed awake during two of the films, so I freely admit I am no expert, and I’m sure that Potter fanatics (“Potheads?”) will take pleasure in shooting holes in my theory.

But from my brief exposure, I must state that the series just doesn’t work for me, and here’s why.

Every time Harry gets in a jam, he always resorts to the same solution for his predicament: Magic. To me, this automatically yanks all the suspense out of these stories.

I know nothing will ever happen to Harry, and that he is never really in danger, because magic will always save the day. It just seems so convenient, such a cop-out and a cheat, and that there are no restrictions or rules regarding how magic can save Harry each time.

Let’s compare this to another extremely successful franchise, the James Bond films. I am completely aware that James Bond will also get out of any tight squeeze and, like most protagonists in a series of books/films, Bond will not die. (Cash cows are rarely slaughtered.)

But here’s the difference: James Bond cannot just conveniently conjure magical powers out of nowhere; he must use his wits and strength, and deal with real people and utilize things in the real world to stay alive.

Yes, I know that it is ridiculous when Bond uses a tree limb as a snowboard to escape villains, but the point is that we have all seen tree limbs, except that Bond is creative enough to use such ordinary things in a creative way to beat the bad guys.

Harry doesn't need to be clever or outsmart anyone. When he gets in a fix, he just whips out his wand and, shazam! Problem solved.

Now don’t get me wrong. I think J.K. Rowling absolutely deserves all the money she has made from the Harry Potter books and films. And any author whose work results in millions of young people standing in line worldwide to buy a book should be given the Nobel Peace Prize, the Pulitzer Prize, a Peabody Award, the People’s Choice Award, the Zombie Chicken Award, etc., etc.

I guess some people enjoy the fantasy of being able to access magic whenever things get harry—er, hairy. But I’d rather be like a James Bond, and be resourceful enough to use whatever is handy to stay alive and--of course--get the girl.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Maybe some of you pet owners have experienced this, but it was a new one for me.

The veterinarian needed a fecal sample to test our Golden Retriever, Molly, for intestinal parasites.

Hey, no problem, I figured. I’ve got a whole backyard full of dog crap! Come on by, Doc, and take your pick among the variety of colors and textures. You can find the pungent piles right next to the spots of dying grass where my little princess empties her bladder every five minutes.

If only it was that easy. You see, the vet needed a fresh fecal sample that was less than four hours old.

So now I can add monitoring my dog’s bowel movements to my resume. As soon as I see her contributing her morning glory, I need to run out to the back yard and scoop up a dollop of doody.

But wait: Is there is a special kind of container in which I must place this cargo of crap? Maybe some sort of non-corrosive moon metal? The vet tells me that any container will be fine, even a baggie. OK, glad I got some clarification on that one. Saved me a trip to Petco.

For some reason, I felt ridiculous as I drove to the vet with a baggie full of dog shit on the seat next to me. (Maybe it was the seat belt. At least I could use the carpool lane.)

And then I felt doubly ridiculous when I approached the attractive young vet assistant at the counter, because then I had to explain exactly why I was there.

Assistant: Can I help you?

Me: Um, yeah. I have a fecal sample. It’s my dog’s.

(I added that last part just so there was no confusion, though now that I think about it, I wonder what my own sample would have shown. Food for thought.)

Assistant: OK.


Me: Uh, do you want it?

Assistant: Sure.

Her beautiful azure eyes oozed with erotic ecstasy as I reached up and handed her a Ziploc bag brimming with crap.

Assistant: That will be forty-two dollars today.

I felt like I was in some weird porno movie, because in what other scenario would excrement and money be in such close proximity? Aside from my wedding night, that is.

Next time, maybe I will smear some chocolate pudding on my cash beforehand just to see her expression when I fork over the fee. Oh well, that gives me something to look forward to.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


I rarely ever notice what shoes someone is wearing, except when I’m interested in buying shoes for myself.

Since I recently decided that I didn’t want to wear only sneakers while I’m wearing shorts, I thought I’d look at some alternative casual footwear.

Along with shopping for shoes where I buy all my clothes (Pep Boys) I also found myself constantly looking at what shoes guys are wearing along with their shorts.

I know that’s a weird thing to do, but take comfort in the fact that I have been mentally castigating myself every time I catch myself doing this.

The logic was, of course, that if I saw something I liked, I would perhaps copy that look since I have absolutely no style of my own. I still dress the way I did in junior high, with flippers and a top hat.

My main conclusion from this extensive fieldwork is that most guys wear sandals with shorts. I do have a pair of decent sandals, but I don’t like wearing them for extended periods of time. And I certainly don’t understand how people can drive wearing sandals.

They are so floppy and flimsy, I’m concerned that my sandal would get caught on the gas pedal and I’d wind up mowing down some old folks at a farmers market. (Should I ever get charged with that, I’ll just say that my father molested me. Thanks, Casey!)

So, sandals are not an option. My choice in this was confirmed last weekend when I noticed a Starbucks patron wearing sandals. His feet were truly filthy. The bottom of his feet seemed clean enough, but the top of his feet looked like they were caked with dirt.

See, I said to myself, there’s another strike against wearing sandals. People can see how dirty your feet are.

But it was then that I noticed I was looking at the feet of an African-American.

Did I feel ashamed? Yes. Foolish? Yes. Like a racist? Yes.

Fucking sandals.

Monday, July 11, 2011


• If your nickname is “Giggles,” and you’re over 13 years old, something has gone terribly wrong.

• Whenever a character in a movie or TV show picks up a large box or sips from a paper cup, it always looks fake, like the box or the cup is just an empty prop.

• The interstitial music on NPR (the music between breaks) is consistently annoying.

• If you still believe in God or some sort of divine justice, consider this: Clarence Clemons is dead, and Phillip Garrido still lives.

• Why do people say, “Where are you at”? Do they really need to include the “at”?

• You know all those action movies in which the hero falls five stories, smashes through a wall, and then gets up with just a few grunts and a shake of the head? Exactly how much longer are we expected to suspend our disbelief?

• Can we at least all agree on good writing when we see it? When Don Draper asks Peggy Olson on “Mad Men” if she ever thinks about the baby she gave up for adoption, Peggy simply replies, “Playgrounds.”

• Whenever people say that they “built a house,” 90 percent of the time someone else did the actual building.

• On “The Biggest Loser,” morbidly obese people cry about having too much food to eat. Only in America.

• Half of the scenes in any Sundance film consist of the main character staring thoughtfully into space.

• Why do people say, “That’s too funny”? How exactly can something be too funny, like it’s dangerous or something?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


At some point, we all want to walk out of work-related meetings, mostly because 99.99999% of them are useless, ridiculous, and annoying.

I usually stay for the duration, partially out of optimism that maybe I’ll find something valuable, but mainly because I’ve had to give presentations myself and I know how difficult it can be.

A recent workshop I attended was called, “Empowering Students to Make a Difference,” and it was supposed to help teachers instill leadership skills in students.

Before it began, one colleague told me that this speaker was “tremendous.” I can now add that word, along with “amazing” and “phenomenal,” to my list of Words People Use to Describe Things When Actually the Opposite is True. Consider yourself warned, my friends.

This workshop began with the speaker, who was a dead ringer for Ned Flanders on “The Simpsons,” explaining that we will be moving around a lot and getting in groups during this session.

That’s like going to a play that forces the audience members to be part of the performance and interact with the characters. My feeling is: I’m in the audience, you are on stage, do your job and leave me alone.

But I stayed anyway, hoping to see something “tremendous.” Plus, I was giving my own presentation later that day and therefore didn’t want to create any bad karma.

On the walls of our meeting room, Ned had placed copies of Time magazine covers portraying famous leaders. We were instructed to write descriptive words (“Determined,” “Sincere,” “Inspirational,” etc.) on post-it notes and walk around the room and place our notes on the portraits. We were then asked to share what we wrote. (My portrait was of Abe Lincoln, and 24 of the 25 post-its said “Honest.” Wow, I bet you didn’t see that one coming.)

What was the point of this exercise? How the hell should I know?

One of the magazine covers pictured Barack Obama. As we shared what the post-its said, Ned pointed out as a side note that he didn’t vote for Obama.

I thought that was a weird thing to say in this setting, but OK. I am friendly with people of various political persuasions, but at work, I usually keep my political opinions to myself.

Ned couldn’t help himself, though, and his comment stuck in my craw. (Where exactly is one’s craw, anyway?) Because if he didn’t vote for Obama, that probably means he voted for… Sarah Palin!

Wait a minute. He’s conducting a leadership workshop and he voted for Palin?! (Yeah, I know John McCain was at the top of the ticket, but it was still a vote for Palin, and if he voted for a wacko third-party candidate, that was worse.)

Say what you want about Palin, but the truth is that the Time magazine covers showed people from a whole other (intelligent) universe: Einstein, JFK, Mother Teresa, Ghandi, and the like.

So, that was the first chink in his armor of credibility. Still, I stuck with him.

A few minutes later, Ned mentioned that every Friday, his wife, a teacher, would show her students a movie that provides a good example of leadership, “such as ‘Braveheart.’”

Wait a minute: Isn’t that a movie directed and starring Mel Gibson, the anti-Semitic, racist, girlfriend-beating, drunk-driving jerk-off?

Keep in mind that this is a conference about leadership, in which Ned listed Trust, Compassion, Stability, and Hope as the four reasons people follow others.

Does Gibson display any of these? And why exactly is Ned’s wife showing movies to her class every week, especially R-rated ones?

That was it for me. I’m thinking to myself, “I’m 54 years old. How many more ridiculous meetings am I going to sit through in my life, instead of doing the right thing and leaving?”

So I left, just as we were getting ready for another fascinating group activity. As I made for the door, Ned loudly bid me a sarcastic “Oh, OK, goodbye.”

And that was when I flung my feces at him. Hey, he wanted an evaluation!

Monday, April 11, 2011


“God is a concept,
by which we measure our pain.”

--John Lennon

It seems like most people have it all figured out.

The majority of people find a way to process and explain everything that happens by filtering it through their chosen belief, whether it’s God, Jesus, Buddha, Mother Earth, Allah, Yoga, Scientology, the Mystic Chicken, or the Shadow Government.

Whatever comes their way, their one all-encompassing philosophy of choice seems to apply and explains everything.

Is that because drinking that particular Kool-Aid makes life easier to cope with and understand, like some sort of cosmic security blanket?

Struggling to comprehend the overwhelming injustice, violence and evil that exists in the world (in people?) can make you feel lost, alone, and frustrated. Isn’t it much easier and convenient to just have one answer—one size that fits all?

I have no such singular answer that I can stretch and manipulate to easily explain away every incomprehensible event that occurs. I wish I did.

Sometimes I envy those people because it boils life down to a much more manageable experience. Yet, most of the time, I am just too skeptical of any quick fix.

As an example, let’s take a common belief in God. Some recent events will help me illustrate what I’m talking about.

Event #1: In God We Trust, Despite Evidence to the Contrary

You probably read the horrific story last week about the Brazilian nut who killed 12 children at point-blank range, and wounded several others, while shouting, “I am going to kill you all!”

One girl was shot in the leg, and her mother wonders if her child will ever be able to walk again. Here’s her quote:

“She’s such an active child. That’s the biggest fear I have, her not being able to walk again. But we have to trust in God.”

Amazing, isn’t it? She is still able to “trust in God” after what happened to her kid? I would imagine that she has been placing her trust in God before this happened, and yet look how that worked out! Yet, she still hangs on to this.

Is it just too scary to think that there is no superpower (Daddy?) that will take care of everything for us?

By the way, the gunman, before killing himself, left a note with these instructions:

“A follower of God must visit my grave at least once. He must pray before my grave and ask God to forgive me for what I have done.”

That’s right, he believed in God, too, and since God will forgive him, he won’t really suffer for his actions.

You might be thinking that this guy is just mentally ill…but then you would just be proving my point, wouldn’t you?

• Event #2: God Knew Drugs Were Good for Me

One week into the season, baseball player Manny Ramirez tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance and decided to retire rather than face another drug ban.

“I’m at ease,” Ramirez said. “God knows what’s best for me.”

Hmm. So, if God knows what’s best for Manny, why didn’t God step in when Manny was first considering using these drugs?

The argument, of course, is that God gave Manny free will, and it was his choice to use the drugs in the first place. I actually would tend to agree with that.

But I don’t think Manny would agree with that. And yet, when he gets busted again for the same thing, he conveniently brings in God’s name, as if He has been guiding him all his life.

• Event #3: God Made Me Lose

Matt and Christa are contestants on “Survivor” this season, and both are very Christian. Before their final one-on-one match, they each prayed to God for victory.

Matt beat Christa in the competition, and she was sent home.

Does this mean that God liked Matt better? Didn’t they both pray for victory? Will Christa now become an atheist? I’m sure these cool kids would answer “no” to both questions, and they will find a way to twist their views so that they are at peace, there is no free will, and that Santa Claus is watching over all of us.

To Sum Up:
Considering these three examples I have described here, in which peoples’ beliefs in a higher power seem to backfire on them—and yet they still continue to believe—I can come to at least one conclusion, even though it may be a cliché:

You can’t have it both ways, people.

Life is made up of your own personal choices, and it’s a cop-out and a shirking of responsibility to attribute everything to God…or Allah…or Buddha…or whomever.

And if you have never heard the song, “God,” by John Lennon, by all means seek it out immediately.