Sunday, November 30, 2003

Extreme Shopping

A woman was trampled while trying to buy a DVD player at Wal Mart Friday morning.

This disturbs me on so many levels: why in the name of God were all these people shopping at 6:00 AM? Did anyone notice the speed bump as they herded up the aisle towards electronics? And why in the hell did no one in this herd stop to help her out? Sadly, it was only a matter of time before something like this happened.

I used to work in retail, and I dreaded the day after Thanksgiving, like many holiday workers do. I just spent a pleasant holiday with my family, and I would have to wake up at 4:30 AM to make it into work, so I could watch thousands of people, wild-eyed with cold and exhaustion, bottleneck through the doors and fight their way to the electronics and toy departments. Thank God I worked the service desk, so I had a seat from the sidelines.

Shrieks and cries would fill the store as the manager would unlock the doors and fly back before the flood. Men, women, children flew in through the doors and like water through a channel, shot straight to the back of the store. Children would be crying in the aisles, separated from their parents, and God help you if you tried stopping in the crowd to go back to them.

Call me crazy, but I don't think that's any way to live - flying from store to store hoping to find a bargain. I'm all for saving money, but dying in a Wal-Mart to save a buck is a crappy way to go.

The real tragedy here is that the DVD player the woman will end up buying will probably last about three weeks before it burns out. At least she can enjoy it while her bruises heal.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

What I'm Thankful For This Year

  • Michael Jackson will be arraigned on my birthday
  • I don't have work tomorrow, and nearly everyone else does
  • The Return of the King opens in three weeks
  • I'll get to see a lot of friends who I haven't seen for too long
  • Since this counts as a long weekend for me, I won't read too much news, meaning I won't have the pleasure of learning what's going on in the important things: Ben & J. Lo's marriage, the Michael Jackson saga and what the American Idols are up to this week
  • Oh, and more Post-Dispatch new mall coverage
  • That my friends and family will be spending time with loved ones and having a great weekend celebrating the coming holidays.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Chesterfield & More!

Fate caused me to spend two evenings out in the Ballwin/Chesterfield area this week. Generally, I don't make it out there; generally, I try not to acknowledge that there's a world out past I-270. There's just so much open space and strip malls waiting to happen. - shudder-

But while I was driving up Manchester returning home, I noticed a strange phenomenon in Chesterfield: it seemed as if every store just had whatever it sold and & More! tacked on the end of it. So I started thinking: haven't these store owners ever thought about coming up with a new name? Why & More!?

That's when it hit me -- I can start coming up with names for businesses! Some of these just write themselves!

For example, Herbs & More!. I assume they sell herbs and firearms -- you know, more than just herbs. But why not go for a little alliteration? You could have Herb's Herb House or Herb's Herb Hut or even Herbert's Herb House. Come on, wouldn't you be more likely to hit a store with a lot of Hs in the title?

Next, there was Birdhouses & More. I'm guessing they sell birdhouses and corn whiskey (that & More leaves things kind of vague). How about the Mynah Mansion or Alan's Aviary (I'm kind of into this alliteration thing for some reason tonight)? Again, no ambiguity. I think I'm on to something here.

The final store I can think of is Dinettes & More. I'm thinking they sell Dinettes and diapers. I was thinking of something like Dan's Dinettes or Table Dancing or something.

To the proprietors of these businesses: I offer you my services for free; for others, contact me and we'll talk about prices. I'm telling you, this is my vocation. I can feel it in my bones.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

My Prayers Have Been Answered

"Honey," she says as she walks in the door. "You remember how we said we want to start eating better? Well, now I have the answer." And she draws a piping-hot steaming bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken from the piles of bags deposited on the counter.

I shook my head clear of the cobwebs as this little domestic drama played out on my television. Surely she didn't just say that eating greasy, but tasty, KFC was the key to eating healthier . . .

"Two pieces of original recipe have less fat than a Whopper!" she exclaims. "With the skin off, it goes down to three grams of fat!"

Now, at 43 grams of fat, there's not much on this earth that has more fat than a Whopper. A stick of butter. Homer Simpson's Moon Waffles. Probably those butter burgers I've seen advertised on billboards along Highway 70. Two pieces of original recipe chicken come in at 38 grams of fat (mentioned in the (extremely) fine print at the bottom of the screen - below the succulent-looking pieces of chicken), so while close, they're just under the wire. How long do you think KFC execs searched for a burger or fast-food competitor that they could nail to the wall?

Just when I thought that advertising in this country couldn't become more cynical about the gullibility of the American public, they go and pull something like this.

I like KFC; yep, it's greasy; yep, it's probably killing me (that's why I only eat it once every few months), but those KFC execs better quake in fear, because these ads could work cause KFC to work its way onto my "annoying commercial boycott" list. That'll show 'em . . .

Still, I give them credit for having the cajones to actually air these ads. Brazen courage counts for something in my book. So watch out KFC, you're close to being on my list . . .

It's Raining Again

It took me nearly two hours to make it into work this morning. Normally, it takes around 20 minutes, so I had a lot of extra time on my hands to reflect about my situation. OK -- actually, I made funny faces at the drivers around me. Fortunately, traffic was so backed up no one could call the cops on me, and even if they could, Johnny Law couldn't have caught me, since it took about 30 minutes to go a half mile. Not good conditions for a high-speed chase.

Apparently, a pothole caused all of this mess. That must have been one hell of a pothole -- the grandfather of all potholes. Do you think it had little notches on its side, telling us how many cars it destroyed this morning?

Honestly, it's only rain kids. Nothing to get too worked up over. You don't need to slow down to five miles per hour, nor do you have to come to a complete stop when merging into traffic. That water that's falling from the sky? It's not a sign of the end; it's a natural phenomenon. Really -- I wouldn't lie to you. (Well, yeah, I would actually, but you would enjoy it, because I tell only the most entertaining and flattering lies).

What's the over/under on all the leaves on the parking pad I share with my neighbor being over on my side of the pad by Thursday afternoon? Damned retired people. They can do anything to my yard while I'm not around to give them dirty looks. I'll show them -- I'll be sending them an anonymous cranky letter. That'll learn 'em.

I usually like rain, but this is getting old. 38 more days and I'll have to speed up construction on my ark. Anyone know the conversion for cubits to inches?

If you can name the band who sang referenced in the title, I'll be impressed. If you have an MP3 of the song, I'll be scared, and in your debt if you send it to me.

Monday, November 17, 2003

My Claim to Fame, Pt. II

My throat feels like someone just ran sandpaper up and down it for about 20 minutes, but this is better than the burning sensation, which just stopped.

I decided a nice mug of hot chocolate would be a nice afternoon treat, so I made one for myself and took a big swallow. Now, there's a reason it's called "hot" chocolate and not "cold" chocolate -- probably because it'd be chocolate milk, and the water that comes from our hot water tap on the coffee maker -- it is definitely hot. I know that now. After my eyes stopped watering and I could breathe again, I began pouring water down my throat.

So yes, the curse continues. Maybe I shall apologize to Aaron for laughing at him when he burned himself baking cookies years ago, but right now, I need to figure out how to spread Noxema on my esophagus.

Any suggestions are welcome.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

My Claim to Fame

If everyone has a secret power, I think mine must be the power to burn myself every time I cook. Right now, my knuckles still hurt from where I brushed them against oven rack just before I jerked my hand up and hit the top of the oven.

Nothing permanent, but it hurts like hell.

I still don't have feeling along one part of my left pinkie - that was from the time I picked up the grill pan without an oven mitt - 15 minutes after I removed it from the 400-degree oven.

When I fry food, every grease splatter seems to find its way to my exposed arms. When I bake, inevitably I shall pick up the cookie sheet or cake pan without an oven mitt (I haven't dropped any cookies or cakes yet, though).

I'm thinking someone should give me my own show on the Food Channel - I'll go in and cook up a chicken and show people how easy it is to burn yourself or cut your finger off or set the house on fire.

However, so people can take advantage of my long years of experience -- cool water works well in the short term. Build up callouses on your fingers, so that you simply don't feel the burn (plus you can impress the hell out of people at parties by holding your hand inches over an open flame - I hear the ladies dig that a lot . . . it hasn't worked yet, but I'm optimistic).

Friday, November 14, 2003

A Midautumn Night's Musing

It's been an exhausting week, and I'm happy it's over. I feel weary; not tired - weary. Nothing sounds good right now; nothing sounds fun. I'm tired, burned out and ready for the weekend.

I want to go somewhere with the sun. I want to swim with dolphins. I want to walk through the perfect stillness of a forest path at sunset, listening to the wind whispering through the leaves, knowing that I'm the only person for miles around.

I want to leave the world of resumes, raking leaves and rain-befuddled drivers behind for awhile.

The really lame thing here is that two months ago, I was in Las Vegas, enjoying three days of drunken irresponsibility. Perhaps three days wasn't enough.

I hope everyone is safe and warm tonight, and not out in the cold, biting rain.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Random Thoughts

  • The Matrix Revolutions would have been an okay movie had they cut the first 45 minutes off of it. Not good -- but watchable.
  • Coming to a theater near you: Tom Cruise in Dances with Swords.
  • Much as it scares me to say this, Troy looks as if it might be pretty good.
  • Dec. 19 isn't too far off . . .
  • The guy who sings the background songs in those Budweiser "Real Men of Genius" ads is the lead singer of Survivor (yes -- that Survivor - "Eye of the Tiger", "High on You", etc. Not the gameshow where pretty people live in the wild and preen for the camera).
  • That extra lane in the center of the road? You know - the one you don't use? It's there so you can make a turn without impeding traffic behind you.
  • I know more about '80s music than any human being alive should. Really -- I scare myself.

Monday, November 10, 2003

Computer Geeks Rule

I returned home Friday night, dejected and tired. We'd just had our asses handed to us in a trivia night. I hate losing under any circumstances, but especially at trivia nights. So when I sat down and turned on the old PC, I started screaming like a banshee.

For the past two weeks, my home page in my browser has been hijacked. I've tried everything I knew how to do, but nothing worked. So I went to the 'net, figuring some tech-savvy person would come to my rescue.

Twenty minutes later, armed with a little knowledge and foolish pride, I opened my computer's registry and removed the offending code -- along with some non-offensive code. Unfortunately, I didn't realize that at the time.

I knew there was a problem when I restarted the computer only to see that it wouldn't boot up. Panicked, I called David, who didn't answer. What the hell else did he have to do at 12:30 AM on a Saturday? Jesus. Some people . . .

After trying all my tricks - basically restarting the computer in safe mode, I gave up and took it to David.

At the crack of noon the next day, I crept into his darkened room. Light filtered in from the blinds. The dog skulked in behind me, her tail hung low. I walked over to the bed, and shouted "WAKE UP!!!" Incoherent mumble. Growls. Finally, the mound of blankets by the pillow asked me "What?" Supplicating at David's feet, I described the problem and asked if he knew what was wrong. "Yep," he said. "You're fucked."

Six hours later, we (and when I say we, I mean he --- I sat around and played Knights of the Old Republic on his X-box) nearly finished installing all the software, only to hear the hard drive start clicking like a Geiger counter at a plutonium sale. We looked at each other, then at the computer.

David poked at it. Nothing. He hit some keys. Nothing. More keys. Clicking. Lots of clicking. Loud clicking. "Well, there goes the hard drive," he said, resigned to his fate.

Now I'm typing this out with a different hard drive in the PC. David had several lying around. Who knew?

All this is why my brother, David, kicks ass. Who else would have spent two days fixing my screw-ups? Now, I can get back to my important internet work, like researching obscure movie facts and ferreting out movie spoilers. God bless the internet. It's good to be back.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Of Course It Wasn't His Fault . . .

Today, I ran to the bank at lunch. Romey was in the basement, so I was flipping stations. Unfortunately, I found Rush's program.

Now, Rush is out for awhile. I'm sure you've all heard about his problems, and I say nothing about the apparent hypocrisy of someone who gleefully attacks drug addicts then begs for compassion and forgiveness when his problems come to light. But I digress.

Rush's replacement had a gentleman on -- David Horowitz. Mr. Horowitz decries the lefties who have dominated our college campuses over the past 30 years, but that's not my problem with him.

No, my problem is that he talked about how in the 70s, the Democrats "chased Nixon out of office." It was basically a coup, he said.

I'm not the smartest guy in the world, but my recollection is that Nixon resigned after all his shennanigans with CREEP started being aired out, and those shennanigans were just like my six-week-old laundry: they stank.

So those traitorous lefites teamed up on poor, misunderstood Richard and chased him out of office in a power grab. Right.

The real tragedy here is that there are several thousand people who believed this guy. Open a freakin' book, folks. Read newspapers. The greatest source of information known to man is at your fingertips: the Internet. Use it. If you want to believe Rush and his syncophants, go right ahead, but do it after you know what you're talking about -- not just taking this guy's word for it.

This is why politics in this country are such a god-awful mess these days.

Monday, November 03, 2003

Am I alone in finding those "Average Joe" commercials on NBC a little insulting?

Here's this rather attractive young woman, looking for love (on national television - the first place I would think of checking out. Of course, given my successes of late, it might be worth a shot . . . ), and NBC sets her up with 16 "average" guys.

From the snippets NBC has fed us, it looks like the producers hit every Star Trek convention and sports bar they could find.

Now, I'm sure these are great guys here. Hell, I'm sure some ladies out there will find them cute. And I'm sure I could probably hang out with some of them happily.

But why does NBC have to show them as a bunch of inept losers?

One of them runs into a tree while catching a football. One of them beans the other in the back while playing doubles tennis (I'm not sure that wasn't intentional). One of them seems like he's getting ready to show her his Captain Picard costume.

So is NBC saying that the average guy, who doesn't look like Adonis and kiss like Don Juan, is so backwards and inept that NO woman will find one of them attractive, let alone her?

Television depresses me sometimes.

I Dream of . . . NPR?

It was a crisp, clear autumn afternoon. I was hiking along a rapidly-flowing creek, watching the leaves bob and dance accross the surface of the water. The air bit into my cheeks a little, and the creek whispered its soothing lullaby to me.

I came to a house, where President Bush and Vice President Cheney were having a
conversation on the porch, when a woman screamed. I looked over, and a baby was drowning in the creek! I dove in and saved the child.

Two reporters walked up and started to interview me, and suddenly they started talking about soldiers who were killed in Iraq yesterday.

Then the President said "Nice job, boy!" Gave me a thumbs up, then started telling me what the weather would be today.

The alarm finally penetrated the fog. Don't you hate when NPR starts cutting into your dreams? I need to find a new radio station to wake up with in the morning.

Sunday, November 02, 2003

We Few, We Happy Few . . .

Six men and one woman sat around the table, patiently waiting for their food. No one sat anywhere near them; they were dirty, sweaty, wet and smelled vaguely of cowshit, but they were laughing, having fun and didn't even give the manager trouble when their food took forever to come out.

We'd just staggered off the fields and went in search of a local pub to laugh heartily and share tales of our exploits. We found a Hardees.

I can only imagine what people thought when we walked in, sweaty, soaking wet, covered in mud, wearing partial camoflague outfits, smelling like shit and one of us was wearing sunglasses (I broke my regular glasses while playing).

I'm half surprised no one called the cops on us.

In any case, the manager, chagrined about our wait, gave us all free cookies, so not only did we get to scare the beejesus out of the nice Wentzville residents, we got free food.

So the afternoon ended with us sitting around, wet but warm, full and happy, and making plans for our next expedition.

There are worse ways to spend a Saturday.