Thursday, December 22, 2011

It's the most wonderful time... to drink beer

Is it seriously Christmas time again? Seems like only a few weeks ago I was removing tinsel and wiping off a hot buttered rum stain from my holiday tie, which thankfully only comes out once a year. Yet, I'm wearing it again today for my company holiday party, and there's a damn Hannakuh Bush in my family room. What happened to 2011?

Fortunately, the incessant television advertisements and Christmas carols will only survive a few more days before they go back into hibernation and rise again from the dead next year on Halloween. Halloween of course is now the start of the modern holiday season (pushed forward by whomever decides this shit) since apparently the 5 weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas just wasn't enough for most people to get quench their insatiable desire for holiday spirit. Little do most of them know that an Egg Nog martini with a splash of sour mix the day after Thanksgiving will kill every ounce of that spirit within an inch of it's life - and frankly save a lot of the rest of us from the chaotic and rather annoying idiocy that precedes Christmas.

I wish I could just enjoy it for what it is, but the truth is I'm a bitter old soul and I tend to look for the bad in things before I see the good.  It's not my fault.  When the holidays became about X-Boxes and iPads, or waiting in line for 16 hours to get a $99 piece of crap flat screen TV - which will inevitably konk out before next Thanksgiving, that is if you avoid the stampede and actually make it home with your Chinese, economy-killing, sweat-shop supporting television still in tact - so with it came the cynicism I display here.  Don't give me the argument that going out and buying these kinds of things helps boost the economy.  Not a single thing most of us will give or receive this Christmas was manufactured in the United States, save for the occasional homemade gift that warms the heart but mostly ends up just taking up space in a brown box stuffed deep in your storage closet.

Then there's the company Christm- errr, umm, make that Holiday Party, where at least one guy get's atrociously drunk and begins talking freely about his female boss's anatomy, along with his utter distaste for his job and his employer in general, whilst spilling his drink all over in unison with his overly embellished hand gestures.  Thankfully, that hasn't been me in recent years. 

How Christmas morphed into an ogreous, dispassionately robotic exercise in indulgence is anyone's guess, but most probably a long story that this author knows very little about.  So I'll just leave that alone for now and wish that you and yours will enjoy the holiday for what it was intended - Peace, Joy, Family & Friends. 

...and perhaps a hot buttered rum or three to get you through it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Get Well, Andy

In the news today is an article about Andy Rooney, who retired from his 60 Minutes video essay column about three weeks ago.  He is currently hospitalized for complications arising from minor surgery he underwent last week.  This guy is one of my heroes, and each time he systematically picks apart anything and everything, I want to clap my hands and say "Yeah! Why didn't I think of that?"

Andy has done commentary on everything from Obama's election to coffee cans, and even did a spot on his own (somewhat outlandish) eyebrows.  In one essay, the technologically challenged writer quipped, "Computers make it easier to do a lot of things, but most of the things they make it easier to do don't need to be done."  In light of the recent passing and subsequent borderline sainthood of Steve Jobs, I couldn't agree more.

My wife is a Food Network addict, and to the foodie craze Andy said, "I don't like food that's too carefully arranged; it makes me think that the chef is spending too much time arranging and not enough time cooking. If I wanted a picture I'd buy a painting."  I wonder how many Food Network reality TV show hosts would disagree.

One of my favorite things about Andy is his overflowing optimism.  Everything he says needs to be taken with a grain of salt, but that's just my kind of person - someone who says it like it is, but embelishes it just a little because he can.  Andy once said he believed in "the 50-50-90 rule: Anytime you have a 50-50 chance of getting something right, there's a 90% probability you'll get it wrong."  Amazing!

So I, for one, just really hope that he pulls through and continues to bless us all with his cantankerous wit.  He's an icon for a generation that is for certain writing it's final chapters, but I'm hopeful to get at least a few more before his time is up. 

"I didn't get old on purpose, it just happened. If you're lucky, it could happen to you." - AR

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Puragtory, DC

Clearly this city has a target on its forehead - and for good reason.  Our dysfunctional, ingorant waste of a government has finally angered the gods to such a degree they have no choice but to shake the ground beneath our feet and hurl violent tropical cyclones in our direction.  Who saw that coming?

Wait a minute, we all should have seen it coming.  Whilst we were supposedly trusting the charlatans we elected to congress to run this country in our best interest, they decided their time would be better spent poking voodoo doll likenesses of their opposing party counterparts in the underground congressional cafeteria instead of actually solving problems.  To wit:  Speaker Boenher poking the eyes out of little Obama's head while intermittently enjoying a Waldorf chicken salad sandwich on marbled rye.  GFY.

Nevermind that the President is a pseudo-Socialist, anti-free market, fiscally incompetent fool.  Anyone smart enough to read this is also likely smart enough to understand that if we ran our household or business with one-tenth the absurdity that this government operates, we'd be dumpster diving for the majority of our future meals.  Think about it for a second, how illogical is it that politicians, arguably the worst human specimen at money management the world has ever known, can vote willy-nilly to raise our nation's credit limit?  Then when they don't agree on the terms, hold our fragile economy hostage like a newborn baby being dangled nonchalantly from a 10th story terrace and threaten to let go?  In the immortal words of Mugatu, I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!

Unfortunately, just like my blog in general, the political outlook is bleak with a field of monkeys looking to take the reigns from Obama in 2012, some of whom are just downright chilling prospects (read: Palin, Bachmann).  Congressional districts are drawn to virtually guarantee relection of these bafoons, and term limits have to be voted in by the very people who are taking advantage of government like a professional wrestler kicking a puppy.  Talk about the fox watching the hen house.  Surely this is what our forefathers had in mind?

Hence, the ground shaking beneath the floor of my downtown office, and the mammoth maple tree which now spans gracefully across Massachussetts Avenue in morbid, horizontal fashion.  Today is Day #7 of the District of Columbia school year, and already the system has been closed half of the time for two separate natural disasters.  Do the math and tell me that our day of reckoning isn't on final approach.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Dog Days are Over

Can you believe that there are seriously still people in this world who deem it appropriate to allow their animals to defecate outside without even considering for a moment that they should clean it up?  This has to be one of the most egregious and disgusting character flaws a person can have.  I mean seriously, what is your deal?

If you know me personally, then you probably also know that I rarely miss an opportunity to swiftly and directly confront anyone I observe disregarding the cardinal law of dog ownership (and maybe a few other reasons too).  I think nothing displeases a crap bandit more than the loss of their anonymity; and coincidentally, nothing pleases me more than calling them out on the spot.  These people aspire to be just like the phantoms who place fliers on your car while you're inside shopping at Old Navy and ten minutes later when you return you see that the entire parking lot has been plastered with hot pink nightclub invitations.  Come on people, have you never experienced the lingering poop stench that follows you inside your house after an evening walk outside?  At first you get a whiff of the pungent unpleasantness and hope it goes away, but then it returns and you do the obligatory check of the bottom of the first shoe (check), then the bottom of the second..... AARGGGGH!  I mean who on Earth enjoys that and wishes it on others? 

More than anything in the world, a crap bandit crystallizes the fact that neanderthals still roam amongst us, clinging desperately to their instincts to fling poo at one another and laugh while they count their fingers scratch their heads. 

Crap bandits, you're on notice!  We're watching for you. 

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Shut It Down!

I woke up this morning to the news that our elected officials a few miles down the road in Washington have come up with a plan to keep the government open for business.  And while I know that is good news for so many, I can't help but feel a twinge of sadness for what could have been......

With the Federal Government shut down, my commute to work would be pure bliss.  MetroRail cars normally packed to the gills with lanyard-wearing government overhead would be immediately replaced with empty seats and breathing room; my bag would no longer get caught in the closing doors behind me as I wriggled my body into the usual pancake position; and the platform would be absent of the normal mooing cattle en route to their cubicles. 

The excrutiatingly slow line at Starbucks would cease to exist, my Grande Bold and Mallorca Sweet Bread would be served in an instant. 

At the cross walks, the usual beehive of people would no longer be rushing to get their few millisecond-head start on the white light.  I'd be maybe one of two waiting patiently.

The DOD busses would no longer park in the middle of the road whenever they desire, thereby allowing the free flow of traffic for the first time since.... well, since the last government shutdown I suppose.

The White House, US Capitol, National Archives, Smithsonian and other tourtist destinations would be closed for business, therby nearly eliminating probably the largest hinderance to my daily routine:  THE TOURIST.

Daffodils, Tulips and Cherry Blossoms would immediately bloom with the knowledge that the Federal beaurocracy was no longer there to stifle their growth.  Children would play freely in city parks, doors would no longer need to be locked. 

There would be no more motorcades to stop traffic for 30 minutes at a time.

There would be no emergencies because there would be no FEMA.  There would be no Pentagon because there would be no more wars.  Planes would take off and land safely without the pesky neusance of air traffic controllers buzzing in their ears all the time.  The FBI would have nothing to investigate, and the homeland would be secure because the only thing terrorists want to attack is the Federal government anyway, which would be at home earning their wages on their couches and loveseats.  Difficult targets.

The Department of the Interior would no longer be there to establish guidelines on drape and carpet designs and lighting schemes in all federal buildings.  The IRS would stop being douche bags.  The Department of Agriculture would no longer do..... whatever it is they do. 

Alas, it's not to be... but what a blissful day it would have been for me and the 37 other non-government people who live and work in this city.  Just for one day to erase the madness, eliminate the insane, and omit the overabundance.

Now that's change I could believe in.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

When the Line Stops Moving

What the hell?

I've been standing in line for five minutes now at the Starbucks on the corner of 8th Avenue and E 35th Street in Midtown.  That in itself isn't so much the issue as the fact that the line has STOPPED moving.  When I walked in, I was number six in line.  Now, five minutes later, I'm still number six in line.  What's going on?

There are literally dozens of people behind me about to reach the same conclusion about our shared fate in this inherently doomed queue.  My attention is focused on the customer standing at the register, my eyes are trained like daggers on the back of her head.  What on God's Earth did you order that seems to have this barista so suddenly ineffective in doing her job; a job that in all likelihood she's done for at least a few hours, if not years?  I mean, is the mochachino not foaming properly?  All I want is a small cofee (cough, excuse me, "tall" coffee).

The guy behind me is nervously chewing gum.  I wonder if he's going to remove the gum from his mouth before he takes a sip of his coffee.  There's a service animal in the front of the restaurant looking at this line with equal amazement and gratitude that his master already has their bit of java.  Another guy is pecking angrily at his Blackberry, periodically switching between heavy sighs and dirty looks towards nobody in particular.  I wonder if he is as perplexed about lady in front as I am.

Two more minutes.  Now I really want to know what this lady ordered.  I mean seriously.  You know what?  I'm resolved.  If this line doesn't start flowing in the next 2 minutes, I'm going to leave.  This is ridiculous, there has to be another Starbucks around here somewhere.  I'm out of here.

Oh, wait, the line just moved.  I guess I'll stay and wait it out. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Replacement

A wise person once said that you shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth.  Yet when I hear that, I'm also reminded of something that Ted Danson said on an early episode of Larry David's Curb Your Enthusiasm, when Larry gifts Ted a new shirt that has a small hole in the collar and tells him he can take it to the store to be fixed.  Ted says, "Larry, this isn't a gift, this is a problem."

My three-month old laptop computer crashed last week, thereby causing a chain of events that would eventually derail my equilibrium in this universe, and make me question the very humanity within myself (and frankly, mankind in general) that would allow us to universally and unequivically tie our organically beating hearts to these inauspicious devices that 30 years ago when I was born wouldn't fit into my two-bedroom apartment.  Nevermind that it's virtually impossible to complete a routine task without the assistance of our circuitous friends.  Let's consider that a computer that was manufactured only a few years ago is highly unlikely to perform to our ever-changing standard, which develops at such a staggering pace that can only be measured by the relative number of Steve Jobs' new product release ceremonies that have "revolutionized the world" since you bought your now-considered-old-ass-piece-of-crap device.

Even still, a 10-year old anything these days is considered antique, and the enormous monstrosity that my employer has designated as a replacement while my laptop undergoes surgery and a long-term rehabilitation program gives new meaning to the word "obsolete".  When I first saw it on my desk this morning and recovered from the anachronistic shock of seeing something so out of place, I was immediately reminded of my combination refrigerator/microwave that was in my dorm room Freshman year in college (only, as my luck would have it, this one had no cold beer inside).   Seriously, I've urinated in smaller airplane bathrooms than the amount of space this thing takes up. 

As I searched for the on/off button, I began to realize that not only was there no mouse, but it was also missing another critical piece of hardware - a keyboard.  So, I walked a few blocks down the road to Staples and picked up the necessary accoutrements, stopping along the way for a hot coffee, and also a nip of Baileys to throw in there just in case things got too out of hand. 

I returned and cringed once again as I rounded the corner into my office and saw the R2D2-esque machine proudly revealing it's ugly transom like a cat walking around with it's ass in the air.  Is this thing a Tandy?  A few minutes later, I still couldn't find the on/off switch; maybe because instinctively I was looking for a choke and a pull-chord.  I must have been on to something though, because when I did finally find the button and pushed it, this thing revved up like a Craftsman lawn mower.  Neatly stacked papers flew off my desk like Hurricane Ike had miraculously developed in the middle of my office, noise and dust permeated from deep within the machine like an old diesel engine awoken after a 10-year hibernation. 

Like an old cougar at a singles bar after a few too many glasses of wine, the computer unabashedly displayed signs of its age with big slots for floppy disks you can fold in half and archaic programs that I thought had died with the Reagan era (Microsoft Works???).  I began to wonder if there was a warehouse-type room filled with tubes and processors somewhere that were ultimately responsible for the operation of this beast.  So, as the lights flash and sounds whirr around me, I am reluctantly starting my day of trying to catch up on a week's worth of work that I've missed since my laptop has been down.

Sure, this washer-dryer-sized contraption is a small step above nothing at all; vis-a-vis it allowed me to squeeze out this blog post.  I must disclose, however, that this post is mostly self-therapeutic in nature.  After all, kicking and punching this behemoth machine as it spends countless valuable minutes thinking about each single command I give it would be undoubtedly soothing at this juncture.  At the same time however, that behavior would certainly risk the chance that it will be able to provide me with the same substandard level of service tomorrow, not to mention I'd likely earn myself a hasty appointment with HR.   In contrast, the blog post allows me to intelligently vent my frustrations and verbally attack its very existence without it having even the slightest idea of my pure disdain for it.  It's kind of like telling a dog in a sweet voice that they are completely worthless and ugly, they can't possibly know what you're truly saying.  And despite the fact that I type at a rate four to five times faster than the words appear on the screen in front of me, I feel decidedly better now that I've berated and verbally abused it to its core.

Now I just have to figure out where I fill up the gas in this thing.