Friday, August 28, 2009

Things I Hate (#2)

You know what I hate? Poker. I hate the people who play poker. I hate the channels that air poker. I hate Matt Damon for starring in Rounders, a movie that made more stupid people want to play poker.

I hate poker.

My biggest problem with poker is the fact that I can't hate poker without people acting like I just said I hate Jesus.

"Why? Why don't you like it? Why don't you want to play?"

If I ask someone if they want mayoinnase on a sandwhich, and they say no, I don't throw a fit.

"Why don't you want mayoinnase? What's the problem? It'll be good."

And therein lies my hatred for the game. It's that others think it is the greatest thing on Earth, that they will someday end up wearing a hat on ESPN2.

I've tried to play the game in the past. And there's always that one person. You know the guy. He's sitting there passing out cards like he's Gambit. He rattles off stupid terms that he knows are stupid, that nobody else uses and that he just Googled, only to condesendingly explain what it means when everyone looks at him blankly.

"You don't know what a 'broadway' is? It's a 10 through ace straight." I hate that guy. And if you've never played with that guy, you're that guy.

I hate how someone ALWAYS quotes Rounders and how it's ALWAYS Teddy KGB. I love movie references. They make up 95% of my dialogue. But when I just lost $20 that I didn't want to pony up in the first place, I don't want to hear your broken record of "it hurts, doesn't it? Your hopes dashed, your dreams down the toilet."

If poker is so great, why is that you always "just need one more guy" to get a game going? I have never been in a situation where there were too many people who wanted to play poker. And why the shortage of players? People should be lining up around the block just for the chance to play. If that's not the case, blindly call someone up.

"I don't know, man. Free pizza and naked chicks? I'm kind of tired. What's that? Poker? Be right over." Boom. Done.

The absolute worst is when you're already at someone's house and someone whips out a deck of cards.

"Brought some cards in case anyone wanted to play poker?" No. If I wanted to play poker, I would be playing poker already. I came over here to hang out, talk about how much I hate people like you and not throw away my money.

My beaches of Normandy is walking into someone's house and seeing a dogs playing poker photo on their basement wall. That means you know you're going to have to play poker. With no other hobby is there some stupid unverisal painting that says "Hate Me" like that photo. None. If that photo was shown to me as part of a Rorschach Test, I would say, "Impending Awfulness."

And if I ever get coaxed into playing, after I've accepted that fact that I just lost $20, I become Sisyphus because someone always plays the "why don't you buy back in" card. Always. It's pointless to go Sad Sack on them, because when you're playing poker, you're the most generous person on the planet.

"No, man. I gotcha. You can just pay me back." If I asked you for $20 five hours ago you would have told me to go to hell. Now, psh, it's only money.

Not to me it's not. It's money on top of another 2 hours wasted watching you biding your time, just waiting for your hand, just itching to drop "I flopped a nut straight" on the table.

And I will hate you for it.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A Lesson in Great Voicemails

Woke up this morning to history. Looked at my phone and saw a text message from Chris, my little brother who is entering his final year of graduate school at Virginia Commonwealth.

"Everything hurts"

Saw I had voicemail as well. What follows is a series of voicemails from Chris, as I received them, and a recollection of the first time I ever cried laughing listening to messages. One thing to keep in mind is that Chris and I are in a pay fantasy baseball league that keeps scoring on a weekly head-to-head basis. For example, if I go 6-5 on an opponent for a week, I win that week. Currently, I'm in first place and he is in third.

12:28 a.m.: Hey, I got an awful message. Ahhhhh, hey, my name's Jason Michael. Leave a message. I'm eating honey- roasted peanuts out back. Adam Wainwright..making me call everybody in my phone book saying, uhhhhhhh, hmmm, it will feel a lot better when, capitalization, W-H-E-N, WHEN we win a World Series. Damn. Damn. I gots to look up on my phone and say 'Adam Wainright is shutting out just another opponent?' You say, uh, we're going to win another World Series. Say something. Say something. I got to go. People are calling me...........Dan Bettlach. YaYa. I'll see ya.

12:50 a.m.: Yeah, I didn't think so. Not going to lie to you, I don't know if I already called you already or not, but....... Shit is that I think about it, I already called you. Hang in there. You'll get yourself a championship. Just keep waiting. Keep on hanging on..KEEP on keeping on..................Hang on.

1:11 a.m.: Alright, 3rd message. know what, I said, "If Jason's going to go 11-1 on a motha fucker, I gots to go 10-2. Look at this. Runs. Homers. Ribbys. I mean, I'm blowing out him. I might, he's not out. Yeah, I'm talking while I'm looking. One.....two...three...four, no he's still in it...two, four, six.....Vick's Second Chance is out. See ya. I mean, guy's been talking all kinds of shit. Half of these guys aren't even over .500. Yeah......there you have it.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Worst of the Worst

Article on CNN today that ruined my morning.

"Their Hands are Worth $1,200 a day"

It's an article on hand models. It's an article that made me hate people even more than I do now. It's bad. It's so bad I almost clicked over to FoxNews instead.

The reporter, Breeanna Hare, is responsible for the hard-hitting article a few weeks back on how Jennifer Aniston is fine with being single. This woman is the Edward R. Murrow of stupid. Good Night, and You Suck.

But Hare isn't the one I hate the most in this article. It's the hand models, and it's not because they make an obscene amount of money for All-Stating. It's for their views on what they do. They sound like George Costanza when he became a hand model in 'The Puffy Shirt' episode:

"The knuckles are all out of proportion. you got hair over there - where do you get off comparing your hands to my hands?! This is a one-in-a-million hand."

I'm looking at you Ashly Covington.

"Most people can walk away from work when they're done with a job, but parts models can't, because [our parts] have to be flawless. I moisturize 20 to 30 times a day, and wear gloves 90 percent of the time."

You might remember Ashly from such ads as La-Z-Boy, AMF Bowling and MCV Woman's Nursing. If not, check out her Web site to see what it is she can offer:

It gets better.

"You have to know how to hold the hand so it looks beautiful."

I want to stick my average fist in her face.

Do I wish I had that job? Absolutely. Would I let everyone laugh at how ridiculous my profession is as long as I'm cashing $1,000 checks each day? Without a doubt. Would I ever let someone make a hand turkey out of my hand? Easy. These babies are worth some coin.

"I was doing a shoot where I had to pick up a cheeseburger and bring it to camera, but they wanted it to be the most delectable cheeseburger. So I said 'mmmm,' and really conveyed the emotion entirely to get it reflected in my hands."

When can we really see your range? Katherine Heigl me.

"I've had some of my mom's friends say, 'When will it be your face?' But I'm not trying for that. I'm really proud of all the places that my hands have been."

Hare really drives the point home with her glorification of the art that is hand modeling.

As a result, parts models have to do what seems like the near impossible: "Your hands have to convey emotion," Covington said, whose background in drama serves her well.

Did she study at the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts? "This one time, at Hand Camp..."

With all of the reality TV showing what it takes to prance the runways, none depict the truth about being a parts model. There's the discomfort of contorting one's hand in an uncomfortable position for hours.

Covington's Web site has a bevy of reviews (you read that right) and this one is by far the best:

"An excellent and subtle performer, a pleasure to work with."-Brian Bartusiak, Producer Metro Video

Yeah, that is THE Brian Bartusiak, Producer of Metro Video. When you get his seal of approval, you've got a DeNiro/Scorsese partnership of digital proportions.

Congrats, Ashly. Let's all give her a hand.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Birthday for the Aged

Everything in life gets harder as you get older.

In grade school, we could play street hockey for 3 hours a night, 7 days straight and I would feel fantastic on Day 8. Now, I roll out of bed, crack every joint in my body and my knee is killing me from playing kickball once a week.

As a kid, I would sneak Hostess Sno-Balls into my room, stuff my face and hide the wrappers under the mattress. Wouldn’t gain an ounce. Now I can’t look at Suzy Q without gaining three pounds.

Vacations were a breeze. Parents said we were going to Myrtle Beach, we’d sit around and watch them pack everything, store food in the cooler and we never once considered picking up the tab for anything. Now I have to constantly watch my bank account and request off work weeks in advance if I just want to go to Meramec Caverns (which I don’t).

But one of the most difficult tasks that comes with old age is buying presents for your parents.

My mom celebrated her (edited for content) birthday this week. I’ve known her longer than anyone else in my life, yet I had zero idea what to get her. Right out of the gate, I ran through the stand-bys: flowers, dinner and jewelry. Cliché, she still hasn’t used the gift certificate I got her for Christmas and I have no taste. Back to Square One.

Last year I got her Lion King tickets. She really liked those, but she took my dad. Unless it’s a Conway Twitty revival or features Bruce Willis, chances are he won’t like it. So I figured I had to go a different route.

Thought about sentimental. My brothers and I had our photos taken a few years back for Christmas. There was less water in the Flood of ’93 than there was coming from her eyes that day. But I already went to that well for Christmas when I gave her a black-and-white photo compilation of the three of us. Plus I'm drawing a blank for Christmas this year and Glamour Shots has a special.

So that led me to Mom Heaven – Target. But here’s the problem: if my parents want something, they can afford it. They have much more money than I do. They see something they like, they just go out and buy it. They have a waffle maker. That means there isn’t much more that could possibly make their lives easier. And our tastes are quite different. When she opens presents from my aunt in Kansas City, she sees an amazing sculpture or painting. I see Dorian Gray when things went south.

I wandered the aisles and settled on a reasonably priced vegetable slicer. It looked like the credit card machine in taxis. It’s too big for easy cleanup and for simple slicing. It cuts potatoes for French fries, I think, but so does Ore Ida. There are something like 5 different slicing components in case she wants to get crazy with her red peppers. And I’m pretty sure I heard the cashier say, “your mom is going to hate this.”

The ensemble was completed when I dropped $2.99 on a neon pink bag and another $3.50 on an inappropriate, humorous card. Card brought a smile. Bag will be recycled. And the enthusiasm from the gift would have made Ben Stein seem excitable. Needless to say, I left the receipt on the counter. When all is said and done, I think all I got her for her birthday was a trip to Target to stand in the return line.

So it was a typical adult birthday in my family. I celebrated by eating a Suzy Q. It made my knee hurt.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

That ain't no word

Anyone can just slap some words down on a template and call it a blog, but it's those people who remain topical and in tune with current events that leave people wanting more.

So you folks heard about this O.J. thing?

Speaking of O.J., a language monitoring site this morning indicated that the one-millionth word was added to the English language That word was.......drumroll please, "Web 2.0."

I know what you're thinking: that's awesome. But I have news for you: it's not. How is that a word? It's a sequel. What was 1,000,001? Shrek 3? (It was actually 'jai ho' which is a song, and that was followed closely by 'slumdog' which clearly is derived from Slumdog Millionare. That's where we're pulling words these days? Blockbuster? Was 'Pootie Tang' in consideration?)

Basically, what this all boils down to is that Scrabble is royally screwed. There are no periods or numbers. Sure, there are blank pieces, but those are being used already to spell 'weiner' and 'fart' in the later stages.

Hasbro has a problem on its hands, one that will not be easily solved. And if they indeed begin to incorporate both characters into the game, we run into another problem. If I play 'Web 2.0', two things happen. One, I get double word score and 17 points. Two, I am awarded 12 nerd points. Nobody wins.

The fact is, there is no way to know what is a word and what isn't. Is great-great-great-great grandmother one word? Should be. Is 'bear' one word or two? It means an animal and can be used directionally, like "bear right." I have no idea.

Even more to my dismay is the use of these words. 'Web 2.0' was chosen because, "in the last 6 months, it was more commonly used" outside Star Trek conventions. But it's never going to make it into normal conversation. Why not use something that will? What about 'pssshhhh' as the one-millionth word? Who doesn't use that word? "Wait, what? You saying Ray Ray slept with Shontell? Pssshhhh. You crazy."

You know what the most used word is in the English language? The.

'Web 2.0' can't touch that. (Sidenote: 'he' is ranked No. 11. 'She' is ranked No. 50, proving once again that men are better than women. Thank you, English language.)

Hopefully the English language - in which I hold my degree and love it dearly - will reconsider the one-millionth word. And if it does, I would like to nominate a word from Urban Dictionary (which, sadly enough, added its four-millionth word last week). That word is 'Alt-Tabbin,' which is the act of quickly switching the current application to something work appropriate when the boss walks in.

Can you use it in a sentence?

"My boss almost caught me looking at porn. Good thing I was Alt-Tabbin."

I think we've all done a little Alt-Tabbin in our day. It's time the English language did the same.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Things I Hate (#1)

You know what I hate? People who toast. People who take their glass - no matter if it's filled with $100 wine or Dr. Schnee - hold it in the air and make some ridiculous statement that will be the reason we all should drink.

"To great friends!"

"To Billy and Jessica."

"To true love!"

"To our journey in life and the choices we've made that have brought us all together tonight!"

"To wasting my time and letting my beer get warm!"

It's not that I hate friends getting together. Quite the contrary. I love it. There is nothing more enjoyable than 4+ people, all of whom enjoy the company of one another, sitting on a patio in the spring and sipping some suds. Nothing beats that. If I could pick a perfect evening, that is it right there. Head to a bar, turn on a baseball game and everyone sit around laughing at all the self-important people around us toasting.

But Jason, how will people know you enjoy it if you don't clink your glass with their glasses?

You know how? Because I'm doing it. The plans were made, I said I'd go and here I am. What's the motivation behind the lead toaster? "They said they wanted to come, but this will be the ultimate all of us coming together!" Fail.

The only place toasting should be allowed is weddings. The place it should never be acceptable is when shots are being taken. Weddings = classy. Shots = alcohol irresponsibility. Want to get messed up a lot faster than we would casually drinking beers like adults? Hell yeah! Vodka shooters, man. One, two............oh wait, what should we drink to? To finding the woman of our dreams while slurring our speech after these shots. Three!

But what really chaps my ass about toasting is that I'm usually mid drink when the lead toaster starts making a toast. I've got 1/4 of my Bud Select already making its way through my blood stream when I hear, "What should we drink to?" How about to you realizing you left the iron on and having to go home.

And what's worse is when there are 10 people sitting at a giant table. That means I have to stand up and reach across the table to toast your sister's boyfriend's imported beer. God forbid we don't clink everyone's glass. Then the toast won't come true. Will you years from now be like Mouth in The Goonies? "This toast......this toast right here.....this was mine. And it didn't come true. I'm taking it back. I'm taking them all back."

So I raise my glass to you, the person strategically positioned at the head of the table who is loving too much the fact we all got together. Here's to no more wasted moments. Here's to you finally knowing that the reason I'm drinking is because it's $2 you-call-its and not because I want world peace. Here's to never again having to sit and wait for you to stumble over your two-syllable words that make up the toast we will all laugh about later when you leave.

Here's to never toasting again.

Friday, May 22, 2009

I Have A Dream(sicle)

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of prodding from Facebook or a mass email. Some of you have come fresh, wondering if this is going to be as cliched as I believe it to be. And some of you have come from areas where your quest - quest for a diet pill that leaves you un-battered by the sweat of an early-morning workout or staggered by the winds of a late-evening jog - leaves you shamefully tired. You have been the veterans of creative procrastination. Continue to work with that belief that Panera Bread is good for you. Go back to your McDonalds, go back to Arby's, go back to Steak-n-Shake, go back to Wendy's, go back to Captain D's, go back to the onion rings and nuggets beer battered and fried, knowing that somehow those love handles can and will be changed without effort.

But do not invite me to wallow in your valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.
And so even though you face the constant glaring of your peers with your mushroom tops and man breasts, I still have a dream(sicle). It is a dream(sicle) deeply rooted in the American dream(sicle), deep below the layers of fat you have piled on since college through laziness your children will soon emulate.

I have a dream(sicle) that one day this nation will rise up before 10 a.m., eat a healthy breakfast and live out the true meaning of its creed: "It is your fault that you are overweight, and you can't change that by substituting sugar with Equal."

I have a dream(sicle) that one day in the gyms across America, the sons of former obese men and the sons of former obese women will be able to sit down together at a table and eat something that doesn't start with the letters Mc.

I have a dream(sicle) that one day even the more than 22 million overweight children in America, a country set on blaming the media for unhealthy body image, always looking for the quick diet pill that will help shed 100 pounds overnight, will realize they can still be transformed into healthy citizens through hard work and diet.

I have a dream(sicle) that my three (beautiful but still far from being born) little children will one day live in a nation where they WILL be judged by the respect they show for themselves by having proper eating habits and an exercise routine, as well as the content of their character.....and the success of their never-seems-to-be-aging father.

I have a dream(sicle) today!

I have a dream(sicle) that one day, people on their couches in front of reality shows, with their Pringles and sour cream and onion artificial flavoring, with their his lips dripping with the grease from "Pandamonium" and "Five Dollar Foot Longs" - one day right there on those couches, those people their friends say have a "healthy appettite for life" will be able to join a gym, without a doctor telling them, so they can live a life that isn't filled with late-night crying and motorized carts through the grocery store.

I have a dream(sicle) today!

I have a dream(sicle) that one day every colon shall be cleansed of fatty residue, and every curve and lump on a woman will be ones that make the men on the street go ga-ga , the chubby places will be made hard, and the flabby places will be made tight; "and the glory of swimsuit season shall be revealed and all flesh shall be seen with a longing instead of everyone kind of throwing up a little bit in their mouth."

This is my hope, and this is the faith that was instilled in me by my parents, both of which are incredibly fit for their age.

With this faith, we will be able to take the Dew out of the Mountain and drink water for a change. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling arm fat of our nation into a beautiful bicep. With this faith, we will be able to workout together, to jog together, to eat a complete meal together, to not drive around for 10 minutes to find a close parking space together, to stand up and change the channel instead of using a remote together, knowing that we will all be fit one day.

And this will be the day - this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing without shortness of breath:

My dinner's trans fat free, sweet stalk of celery, low-fat whipped cream.
Land where my food's not fried, land of fruits I've tried,
Eat beans that aren't refried, no Burger King!
And if America is to be a healthy nation, these must become true.

And so let the workout sting from the prodigious Hill of Art.
Let the workout sting from the bench press at Gold's Gym.
Let the workout sting from the treadmill at Club Fitness.
Let the workout sting from the yoga mat in your living room.
Let the workout sting from the medicine balls at Bally's.
But not only that:
Let the workout sting from a walk in Forest Park.
Let the workout sting from 5ks, 1/2 marathons or the full.
Let the workout sting from every hill and bike trail in Missouri.
From every cardio machine, let the workout sting.
And when this happens, when we embrace the workout's sting, when we let it sting in the mornings, or on our lunchbreak or late at night, from every gym to Abs of Steel DVD, we will be able to speed up that day when our health insurance isn't through the roof, when black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Goldfish crackers spiritual:
I love fishes, they're so delicious!
But I think I'm going to have an apple instead!