Wednesday, August 26, 2009

King of Popping Out

It's hard to believe, but it's been two months since the world began to mourn Michael Jackson's death.

Since he died, fans have been so affected that they have cried, swayed, moonwalked, been tardy at their jobs, completely overreacted, and up to a dozen have reportedly packed it in and fallen on their swords for their idol. If only we had known that man nor God's laws were good enough for some, but under the law of Jackson, justice and peace prevail. Hopefully these men were not detained for following that law to the T... or underage P or the V, if you get my drift.

I have not begun to mourn over the death of Jackson, and it's not because I wasn't a big fan. In fact, since I was a fetus, I've been getting down to the King of Pop. My father literally put headphones on my mother's womb while I was still inside so that I could begin my appreciation at an early stage.

My brothers and I grew up with Jackson. I determined I sucked at dancing when, at the age of 7, I got dead last in a breakdown contest for doing a jig something like the unnamed character wearing the orange shirt in Charlie Brown's Christmas. My brother was a fantastic dancer, though, learning nearly everything he knew from Jackson. As my own tribute, I memorized every Weird Al parody of Jackson's songs (even at the age of six, my voice wasn't high enough to touch Michael's soprano). We never even cared that he coddled little boys. We just enjoyed his legal talents.

The reason I haven't begun to let go of Michael Jackson is because I don't even think he's dead. Don't throw the evidence in my face. It's that very evidence that leads me to believe good old Michael will be popping out of that casket just like these guys. Hee-hee indeed.

Here are the facts, mostly taken from a much more detailed timeline.

  • Michael was training for a comeback tour with Lou (Incredible Hulk) Ferrigno prior to his death.
  • Jackson was $400 million in debt and was extremely cash poor at the time of his death.
  • Some who knew Jackson make contradictory statements about his health in the days before his death. Video shows him appearing healthy and doing signature dance moves including the moonwalk, but reports persist that he was thin, frail, and dependent on painkillers.
  • A day after his office was searched, court documents say Dr. Conrad Murray is the target of a manslaughter investigation into the singer's death.
  • Two days ago, a law enforcement official tells The Associated Press that the Los Angeles County coroner has ruled Jackson's death a homicide. The official says the coroner determined a fatal combination of propofol and sedatives was given to Jackson hours before he died.

Interesting financial facts
  • All 10 albums on's bestseller list are Jackson's; the 25th anniversary edition of "Thriller" is No. 1. Sales figures from Nielsen SoundScan show that in the three weeks following his death, 2.3 million Jackson CDs have been sold.
  • The mayor of Los Angeles says the city will pay an estimated $1.4 million for Jackson's memorial service. He says a Web site seeking donations from the public is "ridiculous."
  • The Web site offering tickets for the Sept. 26 Jackson tribute in Vienna crashes after a million people log on even before sales are due to start.
  • Sony announces that a film called "Michael Jackson: This Is It" will be released Oct. 28. The film is built around rehearsal and behind-the-scenes footage for Jackson's comeback tour. It will play for two weeks in theaters worldwide. Columbia paid $60 million for rights to the film, but Jackson's estate is to receive 90 percent of its profits.

Just to line things up, Michael Jackson is working out every day to get ready for a concert, but even at the age of 51, there's a chance that even the friggin' Hulk can't get MJ up on his tippietoes for a moonwalk anymore. These guys conjure up a way to get some more time.

Jackson can't just push back the tours. He's already got too much money invested in the thing, and he owes 400 million bucks. Instead, Jackson fakes kicking the bucket at his ranch, the paramedics rush in, pull him out while he's in a coma and he "dies" at the hospital. While the family mourns privately, the fans buy CD's to remember him. Jackson's stock goes up a bajillion dollars.

The cops have enough evidence to put Dr. Murray in jail and throw away the key but the progress on the case is slothful. A month after the Jackson died and weeks after his autopsy is finished, his family announces they're pushing his funeral back EVEN LONGER without offering any sort of reasoning. Their logic to the fans is that Michael's skin is made out of the same thing action figures are made out of, and if babies can't chew threw the stuff, then there's no friggin way bacteria is getting in. We say, 'Oh, Michael'

The LAPD keep pulling out the charades. The verdict turns slowly from manslaughter to homicide. They still aren't charging anyone with a crime, even though Dr. Murray basically admitted giving the drugs to Jackson to help him sleep. This is perfect because it keeps the media on the hook to keep plugging the story all the way up to Sept. 6 when Jackson's ready to come out of that box like he's God damn Huck Finn.

Sure, the Brits are a little pissed because they lost their concerts, but they're just happy that people don't have to off themselves in the name of a guy who dangles his baby over balconies for fun. Jackson's completely out of debt because the cash-strapped citizens of the world all found the 21.99 to buy the special edition of Thriller. Sony's thrilled because they get to shoot Jackson coming out of the coffin, which is worth the 60 million even with proceeds going to the estate. They're also now in line for cheap rights for a movie on his life, with Jamie Foxx playing young Michael and Johnny Depp playing less-black, more messed in the head Michael (I wish I had the creativity to have made that up, but I read on a rumor site weeks ago that was the plan). The fans are ecstatic to have their hero back, and even Michael wins because, so happy are we, that we've forgotten how much he enjoys pleasures of the prepubescent flesh.

And the government isn't going to to SHIT because the L.A. police knew it was going on the whole time, as did the Mayor who was more than happy to lay down 1.4 million of the city's money, knowing there was an even bigger financial return. Hell, Barack Obama was probably even in on it. He can tell you it was the buyouts and Cash for Clunkers that are bringing our economy out of recession, but really it's the Michael Jackson sales. How do you think Reaganomics worked? (Thriller hit store shelves the same year that Reagan went into office.)

Far fetched? Maybe, but I'm not the only one suggesting this. Hold on to your butts.

Monday, August 24, 2009

addition by subtraction

The problem with social networking is that an addicted person never knows when they're violating codes that affect the enjoyment of others.

It was ironic that, while servicing my facebook addiction, I noticed a link in my friend's commentary that forced a face-to-face with my problem . If it weren't for a conversation with my dad's conservative friend Bob one night earlier, I may have checked myself into a clinic. "Adam, I'm proud of you for reading the news. But don't take everything on CNN so literally, they're biased. You should check out FOX news."

Since I'm not about to go the extreme of actually reading something that tells me I'm wrong in my fundamental beliefs, I just decided a days worth of skepticism of all news would qualify for an effort in diversity. It was a good thing that I did because that was the day I stumbled over my friend's link that described, in detail, facebook's 12 cardinal sins. Among them:

The Let-Me-Tell-You-Every-Detail-of-My-Day Bore. The Self-Promoter. The Town Crier. The TMIer. The Bad Grammarian. The Sympathy-Baiter. The Lurker. The Crank. The Paparazzo. The Maddening Obscurist. The Chronic Inviter.

Of these 11, I could not claim to be a saint. Most of the sins, I'd found annoying as well. Occasionally I'll give too much information, but anyone that's agreed to be my friend should have known that attention to detail, good or bad, is my pride and glory. Even with lapses in judgment in that category, I wasn't peddling the online corner that intersects Sodom and Gomorrah.

Just when I thought it was safe to say I was one of the cooler cats in all the cyberland, I came to the description that jarred me from my perch atop Mount Internet.
The Friend-Padder. The average Facebook user has 120 friends on the site. Schmoozers and social butterflies -- you know, the ones who make lifelong pals on the subway -- might reasonably have 300 or 400. But 1,000 "friends?" Unless you're George Clooney or just won the lottery, no one has that many. That's just showing off.
I hadn't checked my friend count on purpose in a while, but while checking my profile only a few days before had only noticed the number because it was 911. Americans are inclined to notice when a number reads 911, both because it is a number called during emergencies and because of the tragedy suffered on 9-11. In any context, it draws the viewer to stop, the way a red octagon or perhaps a female's nipple hair might.

Not thinking myself to be a show-off, I looked at my reflection in the mirror and realized I was no George Clooney. I'd just spent 65 cents of my last dollar for a Diet Pepsi, later regretting the decision. The 3 Musketeers would have been much more satisfying. That pretty much eliminated the possibility that I'd won the lottery without knowing it.

In a mental tsunami that could only be considered a flashback, I remembered a few facebook friends that I'd met, not on a subway, but on the Blue and White loop that transferred students to and from class at Penn State. People that had agreed with me how ironic it was that 50-cent could not hint at drug use in his songs, yet The Grateful Dead could flat-out say "Driving that train, high on cocaine," and it was considered art. That, my friends, is racism -- Hello Gamblar, my name is Bruce. I too am not a racist, nor am I a fan of those stupid dancing bears. I've done coke once, but it didn't appeal to me.

Another friendship forged through collegiate liberalism.

As that memory faded from the forefront of my mind to the wrinkles in my brain ironed flat by another well known collegiate practice, alcoholism, I realized what must be done. It was time to say goodbye to Bruce.

Not even taking a moment to check my news feed, I began working through the friend list. Along with Bruce there were other drifters, squatters and outliers in my book of allies:
Cuties I'd wanted to date after meeting them at a party, only to find out that sometime between 3 a.m. and noon the next day I'd either pissed away my liquid confidence or realized the lighting at the bar/party hadn't been honest with me.
Former raquetball partners - people that only really gave me pleasure when I hit them in the back of the head "on accident."
Former co-workers; people I'd never wanted to be friends with, but was too afraid of confrontation to deny their awkward overtures.
Friends of friends that were far to fratastic to be considered from any other world than Planet MTV, but were able able to find me a beer college parties.

What a whore I had become. It was time to let go of some customers.

Only one man has summarized perfectly the feeling one gets while deleting these people who you once, at least hoped would be friends. Though George Carlin was talking about erasing dead people from his address book, the emotions involved were eerily similar. The feeling of permanently removing people from your life is one that should never be as easy as the click of an x-button. yet somehow, it's also kind of empowering. World War II might have been prevented if only Hitler had been a facebook addict.

Since I moved back to my home town after college, the deletion project was not a complete demolition.
There were friends from high school that probably wouldn't miss me until they saw my name on the "suggested friends list" on the top-right corner. In this scenario there are two reactions that are likely to occur.

The first is a bar scene confrontation which only leaves everyone uncomfortable, except for the bartender, who's benefiting from serving an extra couple of rounds of make-up Yager.
The second is the one that I've only experienced once, but it chilled me to the inside of my jibs. Only a few days after I'd deleted a Chronic Inviter who had moved from my elementary school in second grade, I randomly ran into her at the outlet mall. Without a thought of her borish dismissal from my life, I greeted her with a warm smile and hello. The look she sent back would have made you think I killed Bambi's mother. So thick was the guilt trip, it wouldn't have poured through a sieve.

I knocked my number down from 911 to 868, effectively ending 43 friendships that had lasted anywhere from six months to five years, even if only hanging by a microfiber on the web. I did not shed a tear.

For spin control, I posted a note on my facebook feed.

"Just cut 42 friends from facebook. If you're reading this, congratulations. You've made the cut, or else facebook just reaaally sucks at making instant updates, in which case if you're offended, then I'm sorry for hurting your feelings but I barely remember hanging out with you."

Though the number of friends had decreased, I hoped that this would only make the friends that I kept feel more valuable in my life. I laid down to take a nap symbolic of a moment of silence for my lost brosephs and brosephines.

When I awoke I was shocked to find that, within the first hour of having left the message, 13 comments had been left. Some were tongue-and-cheek approval but a few were in true appreciation. By the end of a 24 hour period, 19 had commented. Even though 19 was still a small percentage of my friends, it was far more than I'd ever anticipated. The plan had been a great success!

The Great Friend Sacrifice in order to save my facebook reputation hadn't really cut loose people that would have cared, but in some ways seemed to further solidify friendships that had been coming to a standstill. Before I got home from work that night, two more people had added me as a friend. One even said that she read my status while logged onto another friend's status and felt she had to add me. I realized how foolish it was of me to let CNN make me believe that having so many people that I associate with was anything but a luxury.

It was because of this monumental error that I decided, from now on, the only news source I will trust is FOX news. Don't get too excited, Bob. I'm just yanking your chain.

Friday, August 21, 2009

There's the rub

The one where playing wiffleball almost forced my hand in my abnegation of back massages.

Last night I found myself at work an hour late, still panting and sweating after showering and dressing. Even though my lungs and hamstrings were burning, I felt better than I had in months - all because my brother asked me to play in a wiffleball game.

First, it should be known that I'm not in the best of shape. I ride an exercise bike, but more to avoid being lethargic than for any serious workout. At the same time, wiffleball was a way of life at our house for years. We woke up in the summer with our sneakers open on the floor and the phone by our bed with our friend's number's programmed on the speed dial. My brother and I had no-hitter duals that would make Nolan Ryan jealous. He'd throw a riseball that mowed the lawn before coming back into the strike zone. I dropped a curveball that would give a left handed Pinocchio a nose job before it cut back into the strike zone.

We were intense.

Following the game, all I could think about was how fulfilling it was to be active in athletic competition rather than just writing about it. There's something about baseball -- even the plastic, holey ball variation that uses a bat no thicker or heavier than an Olsen twin's wrist -- that always leaves out-of-shape men feeling that they're only a diet and year's workout away from making Class AA baseball. I went to bed with a smile on my face after dumping photographic evidence of our game on to facebook.

I'm pretty sure that smile carried through into the evening, right up until my phone began chirping with the "Whistling Wizard" alarm clock ring tone; normally the worst part of my day. The only reason I haven't changed the tone is because songs performed on anything other than a dog whistle instantly move on to the list of things I hate, if they wake me up in the morning.
I'd put eight more slugs in 50 cent to make him stop with In Da Club before 10 a.m.

Alarm noises aren't the only thing. Cereal. Apple juice. Coffee. Showers. Sunrises. My sister's cat, which pounces on me, hoping that will encourage me to feed it. Before 10 a.m., these all rank up with Wild, Wild West as things I never want to experience again. By programming the songs you hate as a ringtone, the only thing lost is a little bit of sanity.

Today was different, though. As I reached to turn off my alarm clock, I only prayed that the wind-singing wizard could conjure me a spell to soothe the crick in my back, or at at least walk/hover (whatever wizards do) to the kitchen to get an aspirin tablet and half a glass of water.

Laying there in my bed wishing I'd never enjoyed sports, (I'm sure I'd have made an average chess player, never facing any injury worse than carpal tunnel) I thought to myself how nice it might feel to get somebody's fingers all up in the painful areas. Then, as I always do, I pushed the idea out of my mind.

It's not that I don't appreciate a good back massage. There's few things better than being delicately prodded by unbiased, familiar phalanges. The problem with massages is, unless you've got a significant other that is willing to administer them when necessary, you're really just teasing yourself.

First of all, no one, save maybe a specialist, gives an ideal massage the first time they get into a back. It takes knowing where the sensitive areas are, where to knead, to prod, to rub, to gently scratch. You can't just get in there all nimby-pimby.

Even if you would happen to find a friend or relative that has just the right touch, there's no way they're going to be able to take care of it every time you recklessly decide to: play a sport you're too old for, dig up a tree stump, lift something that everyone said you wouldn't be able to carry, try a new sex move like they do in the erotica movies during a one night stand. Your mom is not coming near that one.

Back rubs are like heroin. You're not going to be able to get one fix, walk out the door and call it a day. You need mental therapy just to get over the physical therapy that, in just in one session, you learned to love.

There's also the chance that the person you ask to stimulate your spinal column has no friggin clue what they are doing. This is so much worse than the one-time tease. I've never even been close to marriage, but to all the lovers out there, test out your sig-other before you tie any knots because when it comes to massage time, they'll be the one lacing up your back.

People to watch out for:
First there's the steroid user - You can tell who this is long before they get to your back. When they shake your hand, they want to crush it. When they work on your back, they push until you're squeamish. They'll tell you that's the true trick to a massage, and you believe it until you wake up with your spleen stuck under your shoulder blade.

Mr./Mrs Delicacy - Working the back too softly is also no bueno. Lightly rubbing over the top of someone's shirt only teases the muscles, eventually forcing them to tense up. A good masseuse shouldn't be worried about getting a little dead skin under their fingernails. They're also gonna need a somewhat developed bicep, tricep and forearm. There are certain knots in the back that require more than a rub. Failing to do so just leaves a person chiropractically frustrated.

The honer - This is the very worst type. They are the ones that never learned that there can be too much of a good thing.

The honer begins rubbing the back confidently, but inside their head, they're panicking. They have no idea what you want or what they are doing, so they're looking for signs that they are succeeding. The second you make a noise that suggests you like what you feel, or make a motion that appears to be one of relaxation, they believe repetition is the key to victory.

Pretty soon the fingernails that once felt like probing ridges are now knives from a slasher movie. Your skin is starting to turn red, but the honer thinks it's just the blood beginning to do its work.

They continue on.

You don't want to seem impolite, asking them to stop or telling them they're doing it wrong so you let it go. Meanwhile inside your head, all you want to do is travel back in time, find their six-month-pregnant mother and push her down a flight of stairs. It's a horrible way to think about someone trying to do a favor for a friend or lover.

So unless you have someone that you trust that will always be there for you, be a tough guy and skip the massage.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The return of a villain breaks blogging slumber

For the two or three of you that have missed me in your lives, you have one person to thank. You may be the only ones to thank him so make it loud and proud, like Rainbow parades.

Taking a cue from his best buddy Michael Strahan, Favre sent a message to Green Bay. Favre will STOMP... you out!

Once, twice, three times a lady is what Brett Favre has become, crawling back to the only thing that has ever cared about him, the NFL. One could argue that this only really happened twice but others would argue that Favre's last three years in Green Bay were really just a constant, flower pedal, "Love me, Love me not" game for the Packers as they waited for the return of their precious. I'm sticking with three because the song isn't called two to five times a lady.

Earlier today a friend asked which quarterback I'd prefer, giving the options of John Elway, Payton Manning, Tom Brady, Steve Young and Brett Favre. Prior to the last three years, I'm positive Favre would have been somewhere in the middle of that list. At this point I'd put King PorkSkull...aka Ben Roethlisberger in the mix higher than Favre. Even riding a motorcycle without a helmet and still being revered as someone who's not a complete freaking moron isn't this annoying.

In the Dark Knight, a movie which should be treated as gospel because of how friggin cool it was, Harvey Dent says, 'you either die a hero, or live long enough to become a villain.' Favre had his opportunity to go out as a hero with the Packers. He could have gone out as a fallen angel, like one of the Watchmen if he'd have chosen to retire after a shoulder injury finished his days with the Jets. But going from the quarterback who never died to the quarterback who never knew when to give up has made Favre the villain, and unfortunately, the worst kind.

Favre is like that dorky second grader, or perhaps that 35-year-old single guy at a baseball game with no friends, who cracks a decent joke and much to his surprise, people laugh. To his delight, he continues to throw out variations of the same one-liner until people eventually grow sick of his antics and stick gum in his hair/ poor a beer on his head.

Some chose to ignore our Wrangler man. He put his special fragrance of B.S. out there so many times that even -- his own personal live blog -- didn't jump on the story until it was official this time. Others are just waiting for the chance when the teacher/usher isn't looking so they can get a couple shots in.

"After all those years of not being able to hit him, do I want to hit him? Of course I want to hit him," said (Green Bay linebacker) Nick Barnett "He's an awesome guy. I wish him the best."

Unfortunately Barnett finished with what I pray is an insincere addendum, when he said, "He's an awesome guy. I wish him the best."

The sad thing is that at this point, Michael Vick has to be happy that Favre is out of retirement. How the hell does a convicted felon and murderer of Lady and the Tramp get to breath easy before he even gets into the NFL?
Here are the reasons that people hate Brett Favre:
  1. He flirts aggressively with the truth -- Not only did he reiterate just how retired he was in April and again at the beginning of August MAKING HIM A BIGGER LIAR THAN BILL O'REILLY, but he also came back to a team that was his enemy for the first decade and a half of his career. Trading sides is for hunchback turds that can't fight.
  2. Fantasy football --1/3 of all fantasy leagues have already drafted under the impression that Favre would not be playing this year. Now some asshole who didn't even really pay attention to his draft will pick up Favre who will somehow pull a statistically significant season out of his underpants and take them into the playoffs, screwing someone who drafted carefully.
  3. Time for a quarterback-- Many people were shocked to find out that Michael Vick was killing dogs, but later and later in Vick's career, there were things that made you wonder just how good of a guy he was. Flicking off the fans. Trying to sneak wacky-tabacky through airport security. These things helped people cope with the fact that the QB who was supposed to reinvent the position was actually just a dumb asshole. Besides that, football players are expected to be a little violent in the mind, and crave destruction. It's part of the sport.
    Favre was different. We all wanted to celebrate the man, even though his 85.4 career passer rating wasn't a thing of complete beauty. It wasn't until his second and third go-around that we really started to analyze just how mediocre several of his seasons were. Part of what drew attention to this, was that, even in retirement he SUCKS AT MAKING DECISIONS. Quarterbacks are supposed to make better decisions with more time. Not worse ones!
    There's a chance this Hail Mary into the Twin Cities with two minutes left in his career will pay off for him, but there's an even bigger chance that he gets picked off, destroying the chances of a team that still, even in desparation mode, had a chance to win this year. If this doesn't work, there's no way the Vikings personel recover from this.

Lewis Black once said that Michael Jackson was his own walking punchline, and didn't even need a reason to be included in a joke.

"Michael Jackson. That's all I gotta say. That really is all you have to say. You don't even have to say anything. You don't even have to say a joke. Everyone has a vision in their head, as soon as you say 'Michael Jackson,' you see a guy, a (freaking) deformed (dude), running around with a God-damned monkey, you go 'what the (heck)!' He's become a punch line. He has. Michael Jackson is a punch line to any joke you want. If you forget the punch line, all you have to say is 'Michael Jackson.' Two Jews walked into a bar...Michael Jackson. Why did the chicken cross the road... Michael Jackson. Knock knock, who's there? Michael Jackson."

The gutsiest man on the football field for almost two decades may eventually head down the same path as the King of Pop - not a road to fame, but a road to ridicule. He didn't even have to touch little kids to do it.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Incomplete assignment

The one where a crabby teacher and a girl I sorta liked helped me to understand life on a broader scale.

If a teacher ever wanted to make me hate their soul, all they had to do was say, "Turn in something. A zero is better than an incomplete."

In my freshman year of college, when I still had visions of becoming a computer scientist (I've never heard of this title in any working environment so I guess they change it to sound more professional once you graduate with the degree), I had a teacher that would say that very phrase periodically throughout the semester.

I was never a stud with math past algebra, but the last time I checked an incomplete WAS a zero. For me to spend even fifteen minutes trying to put in a code that makes a '1' turn into a '2' by the press of the 'k' key is only going to make me hate myself for realizing I could never do it. Besides that, there already IS a '1' key, AND a backspace key AND a '2' key. Bill Gates wizards already conjured that spell. I wanted to learn something those super sleuths haven't put their stamp on.

It was not immediately obvious to me that my comprehension of computer science was about as poor as my understanding of women, so I gave the first one or two assignments a shot.

The furthest I got was making it so when I struck the 'k' key, the screen remained blank. I did this by disconnecting my keyboard and throwing it against my wall.

Without a keyboard, it was pretty difficult to turn in anything. I was pretty okay with that.

The next time my teacher ended a lecture talking about zeroes and incompletes, I only wished I'd hung onto my keyboard so I could smash her across the face Wanted style . I will take my incomplete with a couple shots of Southern Comfort, thank you. Hold the ice.


Last weekend I was supposed to hang out with a girl that I've been friends with for over a year and a half. I would only be telling a half-truth if I didn't say I had feelings for her. We met in an Orioles facebook group, and have spoken daily since, either by chat or by phone. Even without meeting her face-to-face, I've already told her in a moment of weakness I'd probably marry her if I had the opportunity. I'm 99.9 percent sure she looks as good as her pictures advertise and isn't actually a troll kept shacked up in a basement.

I've known since about our third conversation that she was out of my league and that having a female friend who updated me on the status of my fantasy team while I was at work was going to have to be victory enough.

As any spaznoid in the presence of a gorgeous girl does, I gave her an out clause, telling her if she changed her mind for any reason, just to let me know before Thursday. Through Wednesday we spoke on the phone and texted throughout the day. Things were looking up.

On Thursday afternoon, we conversed about the Orioles, and about an opportunity I recently received to cover the Lingerie Football League for a story (expect a future post). That was about where our communication ended.

Thursday rolled into Friday. By Saturday morning, I was sure she wasn't coming, though I never received official confirmation.

For five years I'd done everything I could to forget the tragedy that was my computer science class. I received a D+, and because of my several incompletes, could not even talk my way into a C-. I hated the teacher even more for throwing her faulty math in my face.

Fast forward back to last weekend, where, for the first time in my life I eased up on the teacher. I understood that she wasn't even necessarily trying to get us to work harder, but to teach us a lesson about the perception of effort in accompaniment with how much we really care.

My friend had her reasons for not coming, and I don't hold it against her. We were friends for a year and a half without meeting one another; waiting a little longer isn't really a big issue.

I'm even glad to have experienced it, and not because I want to give the crabby teacher that ruined my first semester of college her due.

It took getting stood up to realize how many times, on smaller scales, I've done the same thing to friends, failing to send in my R.S.V.P. for weddings or parties I can't attend and later being unmoving and even sometimes cold when they approached me about not responding.

Sometimes a zero really is a whole lot better than an incomplete.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Melissa Means Business

I hate to shop, especially with other people, and supercalifragilistespecially when they don't know what they want.

I'll gladly sit in traffic with the radio on, I don't mind standing in line for hours at an amusement park, but tell me to be patient for five minutes while someone is trying on some clothes and I start to get the itch.
During that brief moment, claustrophobia and depression overcome whatever thoughts were rolling around in my brain while I try to suppress tics and twitches. My temples pulsate and I pray for the clothing of my friend, significant other or family member to rip, sending them into their own fit of depression. That way we are at least birds of a feather.

There's only one thing that can make this scenario any worse. A child, usually three-to five-years-old walks around the corner and sees an airplane on display, one that's not for sale, but is only there to draw the attention of the kid so that when he points, mommy looks at the clothes and says, Little Tommy would love like a young Jerry Mathers in that outfit.
Only this particular mom has no interest in the outfit because she spent the rest of the week's paycheck on Newport Lites and Daddy's "really big root beer barrel" in the garage.
She explains to her son that the plane is not for sale, and besides, she's already bought him four toys similar to the the object of his affection and he's turned them all into Wall-e chores.

This doesn't suit Thomas and pretty soon a vein bulges out of the side of his neck big enough for even Mr. Magoo's vampire reincarnation to suck with sweet succulence on the first bite.
Before you know it, you can see Tommy's nipples, his t-shirt is so wet from his own tears. He's planted his feet so firmly into the ground that he's begun to take a number 2 in his Spiderman undies, and the noise coming out of his mouth makes you wish wonder how much of your arm will fit down his throat before he chokes. We all sit and wonder when super-mom is gonna get her wits together and figure out a way to make this little sucker shut up, but she just turns her back to him and says she'll deal with him when she gets home.

This is my own private 9/11.

Then Melissa Means steps into the picture.

Means, apparently a mom of few words, seemed to have noticed that the public was not in favor of her son's similar sobfest, and took matters into her own hands, dragging her son through a Rome, Ga. Verizon Wireless store, using a leash connected to his bookbag.

My first thought... FINALLLLLLY! I mean, the kid doesn't look like he's really struggling much. In fact, it's hard to say that he doesn't enjoy it. Sure, it might look a little like when Achilles dragged Hector around the city of Troy, but come on.... there's no stones or anything in the kid's way. He actually looks to be gliding pretty effortlessly.

"Means, of Gaylsville, Ala., told police that she suffered from lupus and pneumonia and that her son was refusing to walk and because of her health problems, she could not pick him up."

Okay, I understand that, being a mom, sometimes you have to go out when you're sick to pick up emergency supplies: medicine, food, condoms, etc. But what the hell did this lady need at the Verizon Store while she's suffering from pneumonia? That shit kills people!
"I understand I look a little under the weather sir, but I really want my ring tone to play the Beyonce remix of Fever, you know, to put me in the proper mood."

"According to the report, Means said her son liked being 'pulled around by his monkey.'"

Are we sure the police weren't confused by the nature of this pulling when they made the arrest?

The inspecting officer said that the child had a bruise on the left side of his cheek from the backpack strap, but how could he be sure that wasn't from the car's seat belt that the kid was probably too young to be wearing? Could it not be from hand-to-neck strangulation?
"Representatives from the Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) were notified of the incident and the child was later released to his grandmother.Means was charged with cruelty to children and taken to the Floyd County Jail."
Well I know I'll sleep better tonight knowing that Means is in jail. I'll also shop better next time I need something, knowing that at least one child has learned that he can't always get what he wants.

The moral of this story, of course is, don't perform crimes or even misdemeanor in a store where every single product in it comes equipped with a tiny camera. Save those wifebeater-collar crimes for K-Mart or the Costco.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Bette Midler = biggest pimp on planet earth

If there's 10 levels of boredom, starving for entertainment enough to peruse has to register at least at level 8. I'm not talking about clicking there quickly to see what the top story or late breaking news is, even Cletus does that.

No, I'm talking about that type of boredom where you've already been updated on Obama's health care plan, you've made sure Brett Favre is still retired, you discovered that caffeine increases your risk of Elephantitis by half a percent and all the sudden you're reading an advice column and starting to wonder if maybe you should get your hair cut like Zach Efron because it's the ONLY WAY that women will notice you.

That's the lethargy puddle I was wading in when I discovered this story about Jennifer Aniston's apparent inability to find the kind of love that grandmommies and granddaddies celebrate at the country club with all 27 grandchildren in attendance that are trying to avoid the old guy with the dentures that thinks he fought in the Revolutionary War.
Dentured geezer: "I say we take the British in their sleep!" --Salutes. Falls face first into a bowl of pudding. Spits out fake teeth. After a second of stillness, begins moving mouth slowly to let the sweetness seep in while inhaling more glop through his nose.

Aniston's inability to find Mr. Right is an injustice on the level of eight dollar beer sales at a baseball game. There hasn't been a single Aniston role where she hasn't come off as anything but a fairytale princess. She's caring, she's funny, she shows emotion at all the right times and she has a cute butt (see The Break Up and bring a bib). Oh yeah, and she's gorgeous.
How many guys watched Bruce Almighty and saw Jim Carey yelling "Love me! Love me!" and didn't think, "and if not him, then me. I don't have God on my side, but I'll do more than finish your friggin scrap book."

If she's anything like the characters she plays on screen, she's got to be irresistible enough to find someone to take good care of her when she needs an emotional partner. And if she's not, then shouldn't she be up for some kind of Academy Award? I've seen more than enough movies where Denzel Washington, Mel Gibson and Jack Nicholson play the same character over and over again, and those dudes are in the running every year!

Just as I'm starting to build up the courage to fly to Hollywood and ask the former Rachel Green out on a date, I read this from the one and only Bette Midler.

"She should find somebody who is really hot, who's not in show business. Somebody with a lot of money, and she should live the large life and forget about these a--holes," Midler said.

Not you Bette! Not one of the few actresses I actually respect!

Cue Eddie Griffin! (NSFWish- language)

"They say a black man is a pimp.
Well let me tell you the biggest pimp on planet mother(lovin) Earth, is her momma It's her MOMMA that told her,
"Get a man that got a good job gurl! Make sure he got a good car gurl! Make sure he can take you out and buy you somethin gurl!"
What happened to just fallin in love with a (cool guy) with a bus pass --
-- just cause you love the (cool guy)? But I'm the pimp mother(lover) I gotta be the player.
This is why I don't pay attention to celebrity gossip. Finding out about their real lives and thoughts is too depressing. No more CNN after midnight, even if Michael Jackson rises from his grave and does the Thriller dance.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Melvin Mora is not a son of a gun, nor does he have hair on his tongue

As readers will learn, I'm a baseball-o-holic with a strong preference for the Baltimore Orioles. It goes down rough. Every time.

Though their record doesn't indicate it, times are as good as they have been for eons in Birdland. The roster contains eight rookies. At least six of them have shown promise. Nolan Reimold and Brad Bergesen lead the pack as each have a chance to become the AL Rookie of the Year. Baseball Jesus, a.k.a Matt Weiters hasn't lit the world on fire yet, but O's fans are content knowing Judgement Day is just around the corner.

The home grown talent in the majors might not seem like a blessing to most other teams, but for the Orioles, it's an open bar at church. Keep in mind from 1998 to 2006 the only farm system O's to make the MLB their permanent home are Sidney Ponson, Jerry Hairston Jr. and Brian Roberts. Sorry Rodrigo Lopez, emergency starts with the Phillies don't cut it. No one cares if you get a World Series ring out of it.

The Orioles had few bright spots during their eight years of confusion, but the one that shines like the crimson eye of Cerberus, was the trade that brought Melvin Mora over from the Mets for Mike Bordick in the final year of his contract. The not-so amazin's were blessed with a .260 regular season average for two months and a 1-for-8 performance in the postseason while the Orioles got nine years of an above average third baseman and utility man. It's hard to believe he got moved to the outfield temporarily for the man who batted like his pee-hole contained his third eye. Mora's meatus was known for talent in other areas.

Mora has remained as classy a player as anyone could ask for during a decade-long regrowing period. He's the first Oriole to try to lay down a bunt, he's dealt with position changes only slightly begrudgingly, and he's played injured. That's why yesterday's news that Mora felt disrespected by his coach Dave Trembley was pretty distressing.

It's fair Mora felt he wasn't getting a fair shake to show his stuff in what's likely to be the final year of his contract. He's in the worst power outage of his career, he's an aging player and now he's not getting a chance to work out of it with his last chance at a pay day coming up.
Only a few days prior he said he'd like to play for four more years. That probably a reach unless he's willing to take a role as a bench player.
He's played his tail off for the last six years, earning an average of $5 million per year during his most productive years, a steal for a guy capable of 20 homers and 90 RBI's routinely during that time. Now, when he needs the O's the most, he feels abandoned. Welcome to the league, bud.

The Orioles showed more patience then most clubs would though. The logical transition to Ty Wigginton seemed to take forever. He's sure to be their starting third baseman next year as he's more productive with the bat and there's not much drop off with his glove. Mora seems to know it, and showed his full array of emotions today when clarifying. He sounds like a guy ready to move on.

"Whatever happens the next 24 hours, the next week, the next two months," Mora said, "I just want to walk out of here with my forehead up so that everyone can remember me as a great Oriole and not as a son of a gun."
My favorite story about Melvin Mora, was in 2004 when he transitioned back to the infield from the outfield after Tony Batista's departure. He'd become so comfortable using his outfield glove that he refused to turn it in for the smaller infield version, despite his coaches' advice.
With six errors in the first four games of the season, Mora finally came into the dugout looking defeated after making an error early in the fourth. He frustratedly chucked his outfield glove into the locker room and grabbed an infielders glove. He only made 15 errors the rest of the season.

That orneriness was still present tonight when he spoke about his frustration yesterday. But in the end, he did what was in the best interest of the team. It was classic Mora.

"I'm glad I said it because that's the way I feel," Mora said. "I don't have hair on my tongue. When I feel something like that, I'm going to tell everybody. I never get tired [of] thanking this organization because I've had my career here. I always thank the fans because they've been outstanding with me. ... I've had a good time here with the Orioles, but if you have to move on, you have to move on. I'm always going to be an Oriole, no matter what I'm going to be."

I'm not sure exactly what it means to have hair on your tongue, but I'm glad Melvin doesn't have it. Maybe it's an old Venezuelan idiom. Even if Mora does grow an abnormal tongue beard over the next few months, his departure from the O's is one I do not look forward to.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Terror Surrounding the First Entry

This is the first time in more than three years that I've experienced any serious anxiety about a writing topic. I've always believed that I could get a blog started, if I could only come up with the first piece, a reason to write.
Other blogs have a specific focus or thread that carries, at least loosely, through all of of the entries posted, whether it be sports, theatre, movies, self evaluation, or observations from their writer's daily lives.
As my friends can verify, I am not a focus aficionado. Conversations jump from poor pitching performances of the Orioles bullpen all the way to the thin line of legality that divides pornography from prostitution - sometimes without a breath.
While a single happy-medium will not exist in this blog, I hope that readers will at least be able to dial down the center of each post with ease. I also hope to work on tightening my work. Constructive or even demolition-style criticism from my readers, all two of you, is greatly appreciated.
Don't be afraid. This is Carrot Top's last appearance.

In college I dealt with my anxiety creatively, but still counterproductively to the project at hand. This is a coping mechanism I learned erroneously from my father.
Growing up, I was never a very clean kid, nor did I have a whole lot of work ethic. In my first summer home from college, my pops enlisted me in a construction job. It would give me character. It would make me appreciate why I was going to college. With a degree, I'd never have to work with my hands again.
Somewhere along the line I entered a misguidance chip to the plan. Instead of learning the value of a good education, I decided that the only time I would ever perform manual labor was when I was putting off something mentally agonizing.
The theory spread through my entourage in college. Soon, the only time anyone cleaned our apartment was on nights where one of us was supposed to be studying or finalizing a paper.
As you can see, this led to some pretty ridiculous predicaments.

My roommate Joellson chose to battle this particular mess on Thursday of finals week. My other roommates had finished our tests earlier in the week and were on autopilot for the rest of the winter. If it weren't for Joellson's chemistry test, this mess probably would have grown festive-colored mold during the 12 days of Christmas.

It wasn't until I began writing for my college paper, The Daily Collegian, that I began to enjoy writing.
Anxiety was still an issue, but rookies on staff were expected to suck. Most wrote their first three stories with a lead about the weather.
If you managed to cover something other than the color of the sky by the third story, you were considered to have potential.
Though I worked quickly ahead of the curve, leading with a description of a boat crossing the finish line in story No. 3 (my first beat was crew), I still toiled for hours before finally laying down 12 inches of poo-etry about how one boat went a little faster than the other.
In my second year on staff, my girlfriend at the time found the perfect solution to my anxiety issue - she dumped me.
For six weeks I was a wreck. I couldn't eat. I didn't want to get out of bed. I could only drink a six pack before I caught a serious buzz.
Things were bad.
That's when my doctor prescribed me with Effexor, a drug used to ease depression and anxiety.

The first few weeks were pretty interesting. Every time I felt a severe pang of guilt or sadness, it was followed immediately by a feeling I can only describe as a tiny worm crawling from the the back of my brain, down my spine, and finally settling comfortably between my shoulder blades where the feeling subsided. To this day, no other patient has described the same feeling.

Around the same time that I got used to the props from Tremors nestling between my vertebrae, other writers on staff began to notice confidence in my voice. Not in my actual speaking voice; I was a somewhat pudgy, wide-eyed amateur covering Penn State field hockey, admittedly more because the players were hot than because I had any interest in the sport. Lord, I was a pussy.
Instead, I was loosening up and getting comfortable with the words that were flying from my fingertips. When my future best friend at the Collegian commended
a lead I'd written involving Miss Cleo hiring the field hockey team for her second go-around with future prediction, I felt like I belonged. From that point, my anxiety crawled away. Doctors located the worms six months later.
I didn't forgive my ex-girlfriend for months. Even though she cursed me with residual trust issues that still last in a smaller form today, I have to thank her for helping me hit my breaking point. My parents had worried I was suffering from depression prior to the breakup, but I wouldn't face my issues until I hit rock bottom.

Now I'm a sports writer at a local paper, covering mostly high schools. Any full grown adult that has anxiety issues stemming from talking to 16-year-old girls should probably be checked into a sexual abuse clinic. A preemptive strike would have saved Michael Jackson from a life of misery.
In my job, I'm given writing assignments. If I can't find a beginning, I work from the middle and find my lead later. It's not nearly as nerve-wracking as figuring out what to write about in a first blog entry. Though this probably wasn't the best way to introduce the malady, it feels like it fits.
Hi. My name is Adam. I suffer from LCM Syndrome.