Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Rude Mood

It had been almost a year since I was in the Office Max store and now everything seemed different. The lights were brighter, the employee’s uniforms more colorful, the muzak jauntier. It all swirled together in my brain creating a miasma of sights and sounds that left me dizzy as though I had drugged my own Rice Krispies that morning. I was looking for a pack of heavy stock paper but inventory had been rearranged. I wasn’t sure where to go and for one of the few times in my life I wanted an associate to helpfully say “May I assist you?” Staff outnumbered customers 6 to 1. There were 4 female employees standing in a huddle in the middle of the store only feet away from the entrance but as I walked past them no one offered help. Instead what I heard was “I had to go, Joey was there, so you know.”

I almost stopped and inquired, “Do you mean THE Joey?” If JOEY was THERE, I understood why they had to stand in the middle of the store talking about him instead of helping customers. Joey is just . . . so . . . Joey. I wouldn’t wait on me either if it means not talking about Joey. You have to have your priorities straight and even the people at Staples know Joey comes first.

I swallowed my anger because of the beatific Joey and wandered the store like an orphan in search of a home. Aisle after aisle I cast my net for heavy stock paper. Each time I pulled my gear back it was filled with pens, manila envelopes, staplers, cork board, reams of 20 lb 92 brightness paper on sale, organizers and office chairs, but no heavy stock paper.

Then I thought, “What would Joey do?” and the answer came to me like a kidney punch. I doubled over in pain, spitting up a soupcon of blood but I was able to regain my balance before the referee counted me out. Then even though I was puzzling over why there was a boxing referee hanging out in the bubble wrap section of Office Max, I was still able to home in on my heavy stock paper as if it were emitting a beacon. A halo of light encircled my prize while a church choir descended from the rafters singing psalms set to the electronic, ambient music of Moby. I picked up a pack of paper, dropped a coupon for dryer sheets in the choir’s collection plate and headed east for the check-out register. My back was arched; my gait was strong as the choir faded out their serenade.

I approached the only open register but was immediately brushed away with a wave from a bony hand that resembled a chicken foot pointing to a register on the other side of the store. One of Joey’s harem had been dispatched to it, I guess because Chicken Foot couldn’t handle the throng of 2 customers all by himself. He was no Joey after all, as his gnarled appendage proved. So I walked back to from whence I came, laying my purchase down on the counter.

Obviously irritated at her reverie of Joey being broken, the girl worked to dispatch me quickly so as to return to the mid-store huddle before the other females made a territorial grab for her man. I held my hand out for my receipt but instead she lazily dropped it to the counter leaving me awkwardly looking like a panhandler, palm outstretched for ripple money.

As I left the store I tried to think calming thoughts of you-know-who, but my bitterness at the rude behavior of the employees made me restive. I needed to cleanse myself so I went home and used my precious heavy stock paper to make posters for Joeypallooza, a musical festival I will pretend to put on later in the summer. And employees of Office Max are not invited.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Checking in with the GOP

It's been a few weeks since I talked about the hopefuls for the Republican Party in the 2012 election so let's see where we stand:

Michelle Bachmann—undeclared

Sarah Palin—undeclared

Mitch Daniels—not running

Mike Huckabee—not running

Donald Trump—not running

Haley Barbour—not running

Mike Pence—not running

John Thune—not running

Newt Gingrich—running, but doing it poorly. Has already flip-flopped on issues; angered the republican base by decrying Paul Ryan’s destruction of Medicare; blamed everything on the media; branded David Gregory, one of the blandest newsmen on TV, as a bad guy; and has “befuddled” the republican’s Oracle at Delphi, Rush Limbaugh. Newt’s campaign has imploded with such alacrity that people like me have hardly had time to make fun of it.

Herman Cain—Sorry, but I still can’t see people voting for a guy who runs a chain of pizza shops and has nothing new to offer. Every time he talks all I hear is “Our special today is 2 one topping medium pizzas for $12.99. Can I take your order?”

Tim Pawlenty—Tim is desperately trying to position himself as “the man”. He’s puffing out his pale, sunken chest and raising his reedy voice beyond a squeak to proclaim that he knows how to lead this country. From the tundra of the Land of 10,000 Lakes, a hero rises on a cloud of carbon dioxide yawned out by his bored constituents. He sails over the red states, a cape made from his terrible ideas flowing behind him. Able to disagree with anything a democrat says in a single word, able to say with confidence “Michelle Bachmann and myself are both from Minnesota but I’m not crazy” and able to nimbly raise millions because there just isn’t anyone else, it’s The Only Palatable Republican Candidate Who Has No Chance of Winning!

Ron Paul—Ron has a lot of supporters if your definition of a lot is about 1-2 percent of the electorate. So, yeah, he’s not going to win.

Rick Santorum—From my home state of Pennsylvania which is truly embarrassing because Santorum is just the worst. Every time he talks he jams his foot ankle-deep into his mouth. Whether it’s equating homosexuality with incest, pedophilia and bestiality or saying that John McCain, who spent 5 years in a Vietnamese P.O.W. camp, doesn’t understand what torture is, Santorum searches for the worst thing he can say and then digs down one more layer to find something even worse.

That’s the crew: Bachmann is still crazy; Palin is still an idiot; Trump is, was, and always will be a joke; Huckabee is an arrogant clod; Pence, Thune and Daniels are too nondescript to even make a good joke about; Gingrich speaks like he’s smart until you actually think about what he said and you realize, “Oh, I get it, he’s a giant pantload”; Cain is full of meaningless bluster; Pawlenty is trying too hard; Paul is too out there and Santorum is a tool.

And think about this: it’s only May of 2011!

Friday, May 20, 2011

An Imaginary Interview with Newt Gingrich

Newt Gingrich has been in the news lately because for some reason he's declared he's running for president in 2012. The country has responded with a collective yawn. I've taken plenty of shots at Newt and always found it to be great fun so I'm going to fire a few more cannonballs over his bow with this imaginary interview:

CO: If I called you a swollen sack of racist narcissisms, what’s your response?
NG: This bag of ego was once speaker of the house, Bucko
CO: I remember. Dark, dark days for this country. Let’s talk about your Contract with America. Aside from this being a bullshit political stunt, can you point to the provision for leaving our wives to marry our mistresses which . . .
NG: Now look . . .
CO: . . . you’ve done twice
NG: I was absolved of those sins by the church.
CO: You mean a sexually repressed, guilt-riddled priest had you say a few Hail Marys and now you’re as pure as the Colombian coke Steven Tyler snorts for breakfast?
NG: I mean I’ve paid the price for my transgressions.
CO: You’re rich, powerful, have enough influence to run a semi-plausible campaign for president, your current wife’s plastic surgery seems to be holding up . . . what price have you paid?
NG: My political career was deflated. I resigned as SOH . . .
CO: Boo hoo. Let’s talk about why even the republican base isn’t going to vote for you this election.
NG: My exploratory committee showed great support throughout the United States which is why I decided to run. People have responded very positively to my ideas.
CO: Let’s look at those positives: You spoke out against Senator Paul Ryan’s plan for Medicare and republican mascot Rush Limbaugh said he was “befuddled” by your position. In the same time period that a few of your opponents raised nearly $2 million you brought in $53,000 and a man threw glitter on you.
NG: I don’t need money, I have ideas. Rush and I are like sumo wrestlers: we’re both fat and sometimes butt heads but we’re also both revered and who doesn’t love glitter in all its sparkly goodness.
CO: All right, I’m going to give you the glitter, but come on, you need money to run a campaign and everyone knows the republican toadies salivate over every word Limbaugh chokes out between bites of salami and pork butt sandwiches.
NG: I have waited 20 years to run for president! You will not deny me!
CO: You’re right; I won’t, because I’m a democrat. I won’t be voting in the republican primary.
NG: A democrat? Then why am I talking to you?
CO: You’re not. I’m making it all up.
NG: Oh. Well, then I’m going to get on my giraffe and ride home to Neptune.

I will close with a recent quote from Bill Maher about Newt Gingrich: "he's an idiot who has always been wrong about every single thing he has ever talked about."


Monday, May 9, 2011


My clock radio is talking to me. I work nights and mornings so I’m sleeping during the day when the world is making a hell of a lot of noise outside so my clock radio has white noise functionality. I usually listen to either a gentle rain, crickets chirping at night, a babbling brook or ocean waves breaking on shore. At an appropriate volume it masks the noise outside and relaxes me so I can sleep. This morning my eyes were closed, my breathing slowed, a dream about Kate Beckinsale already cued up in my subconscious and I hear: “Give in, become a republican. Join usss. Join ussss.”

My head shot up off of my pillow and I’m looking around the bedroom, confused. Sunlight is peeking through the blinds making me cringe like a vampire. After a few seconds I lie back down and settle in under the covers again. I’m in that hazy place where you’re half awake and half asleep and I swear I heard: “You think Katherine Heigl is a fine actress and her string of romantic comedy failures isn’t her fault.”

“What the . . .” I said as I turned over in bed. I listened carefully but heard nothing but the waves breaking casually over the imaginary shoreline. Soon I was drifting off once more. Kate and I were standing hand-in-hand, watching the sun rise over the Atlantic. I picked up a shell, putting it to my ear and I hear: “The songs of Justin Bieber, Katy Perry and Lady Gaga are not an elegy for the death of music. They are the voices of angels.”

I was so tired at this point I couldn’t fight back. A shrill voice began singing in my ear overtop of a derivative dance beat. I could feel my body tossing and turning in bed, mumbling, “No, no. So awful, like an auditory laxative.” Back in my dream, on the beach, Kate Beckinsale morphs into Katherine Heigl who is jabbering in my face about being in love with her best friend’s dog groomer’s Pilates instructor but she’s already engaged to a high-powered government lawyer with a heart of gold and she doesn’t want to hurt him but the heart wants what the heart wants. I’m just about to punch her to get her to shut up when Jennifer Aniston appears on the other side of me. Normally that’s my Wednesday dream but this is turning into a nightmare as Jen starts telling me what a great job John Boehner is doing as Speaker of the House and his constant bawling just shows how much he cares about this country and if I would just listen to Tim Pawlenty I’d see he wasn’t just this election’s version of John McCain, a boring white man who will gainsay anything a Democrat says to get elected.

The ocean is my only chance. I run into the water until I’m bobbing in surf up to my waist. The girls follow. Heigl has just found out her cousin has been cheating with her fiancĂ© while dressed as a rabbit who chases the fiancĂ© who’s dressed like a carrot. Jen is doing a dramatic reading of a Rush Limbaugh Show transcript and I’m begging, “Come on water, do your thing!” When I chance another look, Katherine and Jen are now both in wedding dresses and singing, their voices auto tuned until they sound like the guitar solo on “Do You Feel Like We Do” from Frampton Comes Alive. I’m jumping up and down in the water when finally . . .

I wake up. My eyes pop open and I realize I have to pee like crazy. After taking care of business I climb back into bed and close my eyes, but I only pretend to fall asleep. The waves are ebbing and flowing from the white noise machine. I can feel the sand between my toes and listen to the gulls calling. Then I hear: “Obama was born in Antarctica.” I sat up yelling “A ha!” The voice from the radio sputtered, “Uh, hey, ocean waves . . . soothing ocean waves . . .” I reached over and unplugged the machine. Wrapped the cord around it and stuffed it in the closet.

I climbed back in bed, buried myself under the covers and fell asleep to the mellifluous strains of my neighbor hammering on his new roof.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Come On, Get Happy

In my last blog I took my own pessimism and struggle with positive thoughts and went completely over-the-top with it for some cheap laughs, because, that’s what I do. But two things happened in the last few days that made me look at positive moments and joy. They made me wonder why we, as human beings, can’t let each other be happy for very long before tearing it all down again.

The first event was the royal wedding of William and Kate. I didn’t have a horse in the race. Whether they got married or not made no difference to me. My only problem was that news of it was EVERYWHERE. Every TV channel, every web site, newspaper, magazine, co-workers, etc. I wanted it to be over so I could stop hearing about it. After the wedding I was talking to my sister about it and she said something that changed my perspective.

I was discussing a comedian that I follow on Facebook and the comments he posted throughout the entire wedding trashing it, the guests, the royal family and the fact that so many were celebrating a marriage between two people they will never meet. My sister basically said that with all the anger, rage, hatred and garbage we let into our lives every day through the news and movies and TV shows, what is so wrong with wanting to watch two people get married that genuinely seem to love each other? What’s wrong with letting the blue birds sing for awhile instead of screaming at them to shut the hell up? Her attitude changed my outlook. And let’s face it, the British can teach you the meaning of the words tradition and pageantry.

The second incident is what the world is talking about: the death of Osama bin Laden. I was watching a baseball game Sunday night when they broke in with the news. My initial reaction was to take a second to remember who he was. It’s been ten years and honestly I had long ago figured we were never going to get him so I kind of forgot about him. I turned to the news, wanting details. Later in the morning I heard on the radio that kids on college campuses were partying like their school had just won a national championship in football. Crowds had gathered at ground zero and the White House, celebrating with dancing and singing as if it were New Year’s Eve. On Monday I read an opinion piece on the Huffington Post where the author castigated everyone in the United States, stating that we haven’t won anything and we shouldn’t be celebrating a person’s death.

First, I think we all know nothing has been “won”. We cut off the head of the snake but it’s already given birth to thousands of children who still want to harm the United States. I don’t believe anyone thinks the suicide bombers will suddenly stop because Bin Laden is dead. Second, his comment about celebrating a death was an interesting one. I’ll admit it gave me pause when I first saw people partying because of Bin Laden’s death. I wondered to myself, is this the appropriate response? But then I thought back to September 11, 2001. I remembered the images of the innocent people jumping from the 103rd floor of the towers because it was either that or burn up in the fire. There was no door number 3 for them where they got to keep living. Bin Laden was responsible for the horrible deaths of those people and now the son of a bitch got what was coming to him. Dancing in the street wouldn’t be my way of “celebrating” but I won’t begrudge someone who feels the need.

The author of the article has a right to his opinions but I question why he had to write the piece so soon and why it had to have such an imperious tone as if we’re in kindergarten? Maybe the celebrations were inappropriate but it took a decade-long manhunt to bring Osama Bin laden to justice so why can’t we be happy about it for a little while? Did the bandage have to be ripped away before the medicine even had a chance to take effect?

In the grand scheme of things William and Kate getting married has little meaning and the killing of Bin Laden won’t stop terrorism, but theses events and many people’s reactions to them still beg the question:

Why can’t we allow each other to be happy?