Tuesday, August 30, 2011

It's Gonna Take Time

My best friend got married this weekend. It was an exhausting three days of whiskey, toasts, dancing, and bison.

Yes, bison.

We celebrated the love of these two awesome people and I, as a co-best man, was charged with giving a toast. I struggled to bring to words the joy and appreciation I felt for Brian and Kimi, but finally, a mere hours before the ceremony, I scrawled my thoughts onto a handful of recently purchased note cards.

I realize now, that I should have just shown this video:

George Harrison pretty much sums up the message that I wanted to share to this newly nuptualized couple: Love is awesome, but staying committed to love amid all the other crap that consumes your life, that is the greatest challenge you'll ever face.

It's gonna take time to do it right.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Distorted Reality TV

If you know my personally, you'll know my distaste for reality TV. If you want a basic summation of my disdain, consider the J. M. Barrie inspired sentiments.

Yup. That sums it up.
It's difficult, because so many people I know love these shows. My wife, for instance, is infatuated a show called Cupcake Wars. Luke Burbank, the host of one of my favorite podcasts Too Beautiful Too Live, is all about what he refers to as "his PWP shows". People With Problems. Shows like Intervention, My Strange Addiction, and Hoarders.

As I think further about my irritation with these shows, I realize that it is not all reality TV that wrankles my ire. I've enjoyed episodes of Iron Chef America. I've met and love the work of the folks of American Pickers. It is programs that debase the intelligence and morality of its participants and/or its viewers that truly make me cry myself to sleep.

Take, for instance, the following brain-frapping programs:

The Bachelor
The Bachelorette
Bachelor Pad
Love in the Wild
The Jersey Shore
The Real House Wives of Atlanta
16 and Pregnant
Teen Mom

I could go on, but just thinking of the snippets of these shows that I've been exposed to has made my brain twitch in ways that would make a neurologist queasy. So on behalf of all my friends who enjoy these shows, I endure. I've sat through entire episodes of Toddlers in Tiaras. But when push comes to shove, I think that the majority of these programs are a drain on television programming, bring down the IQ of the poeple who watch them, and glorify negative attributes of our society.

What started so innocently as Real World and Road Rules has turned into a style of lackadaisical, unscripted fluff that brings to the surface all the crass impropriety that makes me sad to be an American.

So the next time you flip on the TV and see that Kate Plus 8 is on, grab a book instead. Pull out that worn VHS copy of Uncle Buck. Hop online, and see if there's a new post to this blog! Just do yourself a favor, and save the braincells.

Or at least find a reality show that makes you a better person. Watch Extreme Makeover: Home Edition or something.

Friday, August 19, 2011

When Life Throws You a 16-wheeler...

Nine years ago on this day, I experienced a series of traumatic events that would forever change the way I approach life and metal detectors.

Many of you know this as "the bear attack".

Others may know it as the Chicago knife-fight.

Others still know of an incident with a shark. Or an alligator. Or a deranged hobo.

Some of you may have even heard a story about a car accident. Believe what you will, there is probably some truth in whatever story you've heard.

Whatever the tale, please know that I am grateful for all the love, support, & fruit baskets that everyone has offered over the last 9 years.

In my mind, a renaissance man faced with adversity should take it on the chin, learn from the experience, and have fun with what the world hands you.

So sometime today, raise a glass of whiskey in honor of my bionic limbs, eventual arthritis, & the hours of entertainment that this trauma has provided. As a wise man once said,

"When life throws you a 16-wheeler, make lemonade."

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

It's the Little Things

This afternoon, around 2:30pm, I was hit with a case of the "hummingbird metabolism" munchies. I considered the breakroom refridgerator, but opted to stay away from my fellow employees' edibles. I weighed my options and opted for the moral alternative.

After scrounging around the floormats of my car for a few pieces of US currency, I accumulated sixty cents, three guitar picks, and a couple of old french fries.

I contemplated the fries for a moment, then threw them onto the asphalt parking lot. Taking the remaining items to the lounge, I briefly reviewed the vending options.

Snickers? I always have Snickers.

Twizzlers? Gross.

T.G.I. Friday's Potato Skins? I'd probably better.

I inserted the nickels and dimes and punched in the alpha-numeric digits. The metallic coil began to rotate and as I watched the foil packaging inch closer to me, I salivated at the thought of the artificial cheddar and bacon deiciousness. Then the package dropped.

I reached into the machine and was shocked to discover not one bag of potato-goodness, but TWO BAGS OF SPUD SKINS!

Today is going to be a good day.

It's the little things in life that make your day.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

All I Want is a Cup of Water...

Earlier this week, I stopped in at the McDonald's that is a few blocks away from my office. This is not any normal Mickey D's. This McDonald's sits across the parking lot from McDonald's World Corporate Headquarters, and features a bronze homage to Ray Crock, Mister "Golden Arches" himself.

It was close to two o'clock in the afternoon, so I thought a quick jaunt through the drive-thru would be the perfect greasy pick-me-up before an afternoon of grind-stoning at the office. I pulled into the dual lanes, only to meet two lines of cars backed up into the parking lot.

The cars puttered through the lines at a moderate pace and soon I was faced with a giant board and electronic screen. An obviously automated, overly enunciated voice asked me if I wanted to try some new menu offering. Then a more appropriate voice came over the intercom, complete with slurred diction and apathetic tone.

"Can I take your order?"

"Yeah. I'd like a McChicken, McDouble, and a large cup of ice water!" I hollered over the din of the car next to me.

"Is that all?" My order appeared on the screen:


"Excuse me? I don't want a small water. I'd like the largest cup you have, filled with ice and water." I'd been through this before, so added, "I'll pay for a soda! Just give me a large glass of water!"

"Ummm, OK. Please pull around." The screened changed to:


I had a bad feeling that this wouldn't end well.

Window 1

I pulled up to the first window, and was surprised by the prompt response of the cashier. She clarified my hydration request.

"So you want a large...water?"

"Yes ma'am."

"But you're paying for a large soda." She stared blankly at me.
Unable to respond in a way that would not be disrespectful, I handed her my debit card in silence.

And so the confusion continued.

Window 2

Before arriving at the second window, I saw a rigid hand shoot forth from the approaching fenestration. In it was a white paper sack. I pulled up to the window, retrieved the hanging satchel of processed meat, and turned to the young man in the window. To my chagrin, he offered forth the smallest pasteboard cup that McDonald's offers, full of water. In his other hand was an equally small cup, full of what appeared to be sweet tea. He seemed confused.

"No. I ordered a large water. In the largest cup you have. Ice water." I tried to speak slowly as his face became fraught with confusion.

The boy looked at the two cups in his hands. Then he turned to his left, where an automated, Henry Ford-inspired soda machine seamlessly executed its viscous design.


You get the idea.

After a few moments of juking and maneuvering with the behemoth machine, the boy turned to me.

"Can I have you pull up? Your...uh...water...will be right out to you."

Seriously? I allowed my car to idle forward with beleaguered exhaustion.

Window 3

After what seemed like 10 minutes of waiting for one of the purest liquids available on the face of the planet, a perky young woman comes to the window.

"Here's your water! Have a great day!"

Thanks McDonald's, for yet another memorable experience. I'm loving it all right.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Summertime, and the living is...

As I sat in a stuffy office park yesterday afternoon, trying to focus on the computer screen in front of me, all I could wrap my brain around was the incessant sound of a little insect, chirping its vibratory call through the panes of glass that failed to keep the outdoors out.

As the cicadas hummed their waxing and waning tune, the work at hand began fading in lieu of a reminiscent image from my youth.

Long shadows stretch across the August lawn, as a young boy stretches his wiry limbs through the cool grass. The verdant blades are showing the incipience of seeds, despite the mother of the boy and her persistent calls for a gas-powered solution to a grasshoppers paradise.

The sugar maples are ablaze with crimson and fuchsia in the front yard, and the oak trees are sending off dry sepia helicopters by the gravel alleyway that borders the back.

As time drags an orange sun beneath the horizon, the boy realizes that he cannot remain supine in this neglect-propagated meadow forever. While his two arms remain folded behind his head, two analogous arms on some unseen eternal clock move him further into the inevitable future of learning, growing, failing, loving, stretching, loathing, and succeeding.

And I'm back in a sterile office park, still trying to focus on the task at hand. Whether it's success or failure, I may never know.