Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Who the Hell is Murphy?

In the opening scene of the movie The 25th Hour (a decent enough movie) a Russian mobster is talking with Ed Norton's character about how some drug deal or something that went bad.

"One thing goes wrong, everything goes wrong. You know, Doyle's law."

"Doyle? Who the hell is Doyle? You mean Murphy's law?"

"Who the hell is Murphy?"

There was probably a lot more swearing than that, but that was the jist of the dialogue. It's been a few years since I've seen it.

My point is, there are a number of irritating expressions that mean a very specific thing that are terribly stupid or confusing. Just who is Murphy and why does he get a law? Sure, I could take 30 seconds and look it up on Wikipedia and educate myself about the origins of this phrase. But I prefer ignorance in this case. The problem is, even though I don't like this expression, it does communicate a very specific idea in two short words. And I can't think of a better way to say it. So even though the phrase bugs me, I use it. I wish I was articulate enough to rise above obnoxious cliches, but I'm not. I'm just too lazy. I wallow in the tired colloquialisms of my time.

So here is a quick list of cliches that bug me, yet I often find myself using them anyway.

Apples to Oranges / Apples to Apples: Uuugh. This stupid thing is beaten into the ground in the business world. "We're really not comparing apples to apples here." There has to be a better way to reference an asymmetric comparison. Chuck Klosterman had a great riff about this. He points out that apples and oranges are incredibly similar in almost everyway. You should compare apples and carrots or apples and laundry detergent. It's a stupid phrase that I try to avoid.

That's the pot calling the kettle black: This communicates a simple concept of hypocrisy and yet we feel the need to introduce a reference to cast iron pots and kettles. Who uses a kettle anyway? Much less a black one? If I need to boil water, I use a pyrex measuring cup and a microwave. And is there something inherently wrong with being a black pot or kettle? I think we need to collectively retire this outdated, quasi racist expression for good. Instead, just say, "Well that's the Nascar fan calling the Walmart employee fat." or "That's the Frenchman calling the Pakistani smelly" or "That's Tom Cruise calling John Travolta gay." I got a million of em folks!

He threw him under the bus: This one is used all the time when discussing politics and sports. "TO really threw McNabb under the bus." "Obama threw Reverend Wright under the bus." Just what is this bus everyone is always referencing? Why a bus? Why not a truck or a train or a steam roller? And it isn't "a" bus, it is "the" bus. As if we should all be aware of this specific bus whose singular purpose is to provide a means of violent betrayal. Also, the word "under" is a little strange. Are we riding on this bus? If so, wouldn't we throw them off the bus? You can't throw somebody under a moving bus if you are riding on it without some serious back spin. And if the bus is driving by, wouldn't we throw them in front of the bus? To throw somebody under a moving bus would take some precise timing. You would have to get them behind the front wheels but in front of the rear wheels. Quite a difficult task considering we are talking about throwing and entire human being. We're not pushing them. Their body must completely leave the ground for at least a few feet of distance in order for it to be considered a throw. A lot of effort just to screw somebody over.

Touche: Any word that can only be used as a complete sentence should rot in hell. You cannot combine "touche" with any other combination of words and make it work. It only exists as a complete sentence. I think that's pretty arrogant. Especially considering it's French.

No pun intended: When people drop this sentence fragment at the end of an obnoxious double entendre they of course are really saying, "Pun completely intended! My word play is so incredibly clever but I didn't even mean to say it! And I want to be sure you didn't miss my sparkling wit so I'll emphasize it in a passive aggressive attempt to appear accidentally brilliant! Aren't you glad I spelled out the obvious?" Is there a lower form of humor than a pun? I don't think there is. That is why Sex and City is an awful show. It isn't the fact that the four main characters are repulsively self absorbed, or that Kim Cattrall insists on displaying her dimpled, 50 year old butt in every episode, or that Sarah Jessica Parker looks like an overly made up horse with a wart on its chin. No, it is because there isn't one line of that wretched dialogue that isn't dripping with it's own clever punniness.

Well, that's enough ranting for one day. I'm sure there are more expressions that just need to go away but I can't think of any others right now. Feel free to add your own.

Monday, December 29, 2008

A Good Reason Why You Shouldn't Live a Lie

A photo taken by my dad at the Salt Lake Airport, Saturday Night.

Wow. In case you can't see it, this is a guy who has lost control of his comb over. After a long flight, the furry animal on the right side of his head revolted and our friend here surrendered. Me and my folks noticed this poor guy as we got off a flight from San Diego upon our return from a fantastic Mexican cruise courtesy of Paul and Darolynn. They're champs. After a long day of lay overs and delayed flights, I guess we needed a reason to laugh and this guy was nice enough to give it to us. Paul was quite stealth in his recon work, sneaking up behind this defiant, untamable quaff while we were waiting for our luggage. Our friend (victim) was none the wiser.

I feel kind of bad taking easy, anonymous shots of some guy I don't know for a cheap laugh. I'm sure he's a nice enough guy. Actually, I'm not sure of that. Why should I assume that he's a nice guy? For all I know he's a wife beating drunk that loves the Lakers. I prefer to think that he deserves my ridicule. That my assholeness is some sort of karmic justice for him being an abusive dick that shouts at children and leaves pubes on public toilet seats. Yeah, that's it. He's got it coming. So don't feel bad for joining in on the fun.

And this is not a wagging finger of scorn aimed at male pattern baldness either. It's quite the opposite, actually. Look, I have my share of genetic screw jobs working against me. Fortunately, bladness is not one of them. But there comes a time in all of our lives when we need to accept our reality. There is no reason to hide behind futile, transparent attempts to mask the obvious. Embrace it! There is a dignity to an unapologetic bald man with tightly trimmed sides. There is no dignity in a comb over. Notice how I didn't bother to say "bad" comb over. The phrase "bad comb over" is the definition of redundancy.

Growing up, one of my buddy's dads wore a toupe. For anonymity's sake let's call him Ron Bishh. It wasn't an obvious rug, it looked decent enough. But, when you commit to a lie like that, it takes over your whole life. Well, I went off to college and didn't see him for a few years. During that time he decided to come free and lose the bird's nest. One day I bumped into him and had a difficult time hiding my confusion.

"Hey Ron, how are ya?" (unvoluntarily studying his scalp)

"Doing great!" (awkwardly smiling as he awaited eye contact)

It was if I had run into someone I always knew was gay who had decided to come out of the closet, shave his chest, go shirtless with some pink leather pants and call me "honey" while eating a corn dog. I wouldn't need to say "So you're gay, huh?". It's obvious and it always was. Likewise, I didn't need to acknowledge Ron's baldness. Not because it was rude, but because it was completely unnecessary. But either way Ron had to go through that awkward moment with every single person he reaquanted himself with for a span of probably several years. It's just not worth it. And the thing is, he looked just fine as a bald guy.

So my message is simple. Make life easy on yourself and embrace your reality. There is no need to fight what you truly are. On that note I would like to announce that I'm gay.

Not really. I love boobs too much to be gay.

Seriously, I'm not gay.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Buzzcut McNipple and the Hyperventilating Scenester

Scenesters, Hipsters, Emo pussies. Is there really any difference?

So I was hanging at South Town mall the other day. You know, trolling for ass and buying presents. Tis the season. And between being hassled to buy a new cell phone and marveling at the Israeli guys selling the fuzzy thing that jumps into the cup (that thing blows my mind) I happened by my favorite store in the whole wide world. Hot Topic. Oh how I love Hot Topic. The reason for this is somewhat simple. I find it strangely reassuring when stereotypes totally live up to their expectations.

I’m a guy that likes to think he’s pretty perceptive. That’s code for, “I’m a judgmental ass that makes sweeping, unfair assumptions about people I know nothing about.” Now, I don’t always like that about myself and I feel my fair share of guilt as a result. Not enough guilt to actually change, but just enough to feel a little bit crappy about it. However, when a moment arises when one of these seemingly unfair assumptions totally comes true, it’s like a wave of vindication pours over me. For example, when I see a pack of emo / goth / scenester douches walking out of Hot Topic with their forlorn eye make up, spiky, dyed-black hair and contempt for consumerism plastered on their sour faces (as illustrated by their new My Chemical Romance T shirt they just bought), I smile inside. As it turns out, I really can pigeonhole people I know nothing about into preset classifications based on a few obvious, superficial observations. And all is right with the world.

Well, it was my pleasure to behold a group of these cheery folks the other day at the mall and it reminded me of a particular anecdote from my not so distant past. Like most of these stories, many of you have heard it before. Feel free to enjoy it again.

I think it was the summer of 05. I was living in an old house in Sugarhood (the shit part of the Sugarhouse area in Salt Lake.) I lived with three of my buddies who were in a band together. When you’re in a band, only part of the effort you put into it actually involves writing, practicing and performing music. A lot of your time is spent trying to build a following. You can be amazing but if people don’t come to see, no one cares. This means you end up throwing your share of parties, in an effort to embed yourself into the local scene.

As such, there were parties at my house on a fairly regular basis that involved a large amount of inebriation. Now, I knew what I signed up for when I moved in. And even though I am a good little Mormon boy, I don’t think I’m much of a prude. Do what you do, I totally don’t care.

Most nights I would hang around and try to chat up the various people. I met a couple of pretty cool people, but to be honest I found most of them to be stuck up jaggoffs. Although, I’m sure they would say the same thing about me. Now there is something you have to understand about this particular demographic. They were among the ilk that considered themselves “scenesters”. That was a term I was previous unfamiliar with.

A scenester (like they are a part of the “scene”) is someone who, according to some chick I talked to at one of these parties, is “committed to fashion, art, music, politics and rejects the conventions of society”. Basically, take every goth pussy you ever knew in high school and cross them with an fashion snob who knows absolutely nothing about fashion. If they didn't shop at Hot Topic, they sure looked like they did. And of course they scoff at us foolish, conformist Mormons. It didn’t take me long to realize that it’s best for me to just hang out with some other friends on the nights of their bashes.

To be clear, the buddies I lived with were only friends with about 5% of the people in attendance. And those 5% were cool guys. But the rest was that “following” their band was courting.

Well, on this particular night I went to my cousin’s house where we watched Hotel Rwanda of all things. I drove home, feeling pretty introspective. It was about 3:00 in the morning and I thought I had given them decent time for things to settle down. Well, not quite. I got home to about fifty to sixty drunken folks that were enjoying themselves. I hung out for a little while. I remember seeing this particular weird looking girl. She was short, fat and had a buzzed haircut. She was wearing a wife beater, no bra and had nipples that darted out a quarter inch from her gross boobs. She never said anything. She just walked around with a big closed lipped smile. It was creepy. After chatting with a few friends I decided to head to bed.

We didn’t have cable, which meant I watched a lot ot PBS in that house. I like PBS. I was enjoying a documentary about Jimmy Carter when I heard some commotion in the kitchen.

“Mike, I’m gonna slit your f*cking throat!”

“F*ck you man, I will murder you!”

I walked into the kitchen and some guys were holding my buddy Mike back into the corner of the kitchen and there was some cocksucker hyperventilating in the other corner of the kitchen.

Now I am a large man. I am 6’5’’ and, as of this morning, weigh 276 pounds. Every other person at this party was a frail, vagina pants wearing beanpole. I had at least 80 pounds on any one else in that house. As such, several of them said, “hey man, can you help take care this?”

Apparently, this guy had hit a girl or something and Mike blew up on him. Mike is way cool guy and typically quite mellow, but he was pissed off.

I am a pretty levelheaded guy. I have been in exactly one fight in my entire life and that was against Robby Wilkinsen in the 7th grade. I can have a temper, but it usually involves swearing at a referee. But I’m quite in control and nonviolent in these types of confrontations.

I walked up the hyperventilating asshole, got quite close to him and in a very calm but firm voice explained that he is no longer welcome in this house and he needs to leave. “I live here, this is my house, and you need to go now. There doesn’t need to be any trouble, you just need to get your stuff and go.” He started to calm down. But just as he was about to mellow out, he snapped back into fight mode.

“Mike, I’m gonna find you and slit your f*cking throat!”

Alright, I’ve been calm. I’ve been rational. But we’re done with that. I grabbed him by his shirt, shoved him into the wall and then dragged him to the front door and gave him the old heave hoe. I turned around and didn’t see it, but apparently he broke the rail on our front porch and fell through it on the front lawn.

I gotta be honest. It felt good.

At that point the party was over. Everyone cleared out. Some people stayed behind to help clean up. Among them was Buzzcut McNipple that I mentioned earlier. Although she didn’t clean anything up, she walked around with her strange, wide smile. But I must have made an impression.

Even though it was late, I was pretty wound up at this point. I went into the kitchen and started baking myself a Totino’s Party Pizza. Man those things taste good at 4:00 in the morning. When it was properly toasted and bubbly, I took it out, cut it up and headed to my bedroom. There I found Buzzcut McNipple sitting on my bed, bare ass naked.

Dude, she looked like soft serve ice cream cone that was rapidly melting. Lots of folds and they were all quite droopy. And as unpleasant as her nipples were poking a hole through her tank top, those silver dollars were far more offensive when they sitting on my bed, pointing straight down. Seriously gross. Which is a good thing. As previously mentioned, I am both single and Mormon, which means I am also both celibate and horny. And if she was half way unrepulsive, things might have happened a little differently that night. But fortunately for me and my temple recommend (swearing isn’t part of the interview process), she was about the most unpleasant thing I have ever imagined.

I didn’t say a word. I turned around, found my buddy Gregg and commanded him to get that thing off of my bed. Gregg was my roommate who was also of the single/Mormon persuasion and helped throw the party. He got her out of my room and I returned and immediately stripped the sheets off my bed. I figure it was decent odds that her lice infested butthole had made direct contact with my sheets, so there was no way I was sleeping in those things. I then ate my Totino’s Party Pizza on my bare mattress.

A few minutes later, I heard music playing in our front room. I went out to check things out and there was Gregg slow dancing with a topless Buzzcut McNipple. At least she had put some pants on.

Now in Gregg’s defense, he wasn’t a willing partner. In fact he had his hands up in the air as if he were surrendering to police. The fact is Gregg is a really nice guy who didn’t feel right about throwing a clearly intoxicated nutcase out on her huge, bare ass in the middle of the night. He was telling her to crash on the couch when she put the music on and grabbed him. But that didn’t stop me from getting Mike and laughing at Gregg.

So that’s my crazy party story. Since most parties I go to are incredibly boring, I’m glad I have this little account in my arsenal.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ticking Away The Moments That Makes Up a Dull Day

I previously posted the lyrics to the Pink Floyd song Time. There was a reason for this.

For the last three days I have been sequestered in a Courtyard Marriott conference room enduring sales training. It consisted of ten hours a day of Power Point, fighting sleep, role playing and arguing over the arbitrary, semantic differences between the implicit needs and the explicit needs of the customer. It was seriously nauseating.

Now I have spent a fair amount of my life in similar circumstances. Between working a number of boring offices jobs, security jobs, several cross country road trips, every single day of high school and most Sunday school lessons, I would say a decent percentage of my existence has been spent actively trying to kill time. It’s all about letting your thoughts wander into their own world while maintaining the appearance of attentive listening. I’ve gotten pretty good at it. If I am ever incarcerated, I feel pretty well prepared to sit in a room by myself for ten to twelve years.

One important technique is to train yourself to not look at a clock. And when you do, guess what the time is before checking it. Always guess low. That way, when you tell yourself, “I bet it’s 2:34” and it turns out to be 3:06, you fool your brain into thinking that time is flying right by. Of course if you think you guessed low at 2:34 and it turns out to be 12:57, you just might burst into tears.

A vital aspect of this process is to maintain an attentive fa├žade. My boss was in these trainings with us, so I couldn’t very well put my head down on the table and sleep. I like to try to remember song lyrics and write them down one or two lines at a time. This way it looks like I’m taking copious notes. But I do it in segments. If I just sat and frantically wrote for twenty minutes, it would be clear that I’m not listening. I might as well doodle fighter jets shooting a giant monster. Instead I write one or two lines and then look up, making eye contact with the presenter keeping my pen on my paper. While I feign interest in what they are saying, I am really just jogging my memory for how the fourth verse of “We Didn’t Start the Fire” starts. Before I go back to my “notes” I like to throw in a subtle nod, as if something the speaker said resonated and I am recording my epiphany. I then scribble out, “Pope Paul, Malcolm X, British Politician sex J.F.K. BLOWN AWAY, WHAT ELSE DO I HAVE TO SAY?” They are none the wiser.

Another game is to try to list specific things that begin with each letter of the alphabet. This is more difficult than it seems, especially with no source material. Below are two lists I made up on Monday. The first are albums that I love. The second is the same, but for movies.

I did pretty well. I only had to cheat twice. The Xanadu Soundtrack is not really on par with the rest of the albums listed. I know. Blasphemy. And I’m also pretty sure that I have never seen a movie that starts with the letter “Q”. Quantum of Solace, The Queen, Quills, I haven’t seen any of them. And since this was a list of movies I love, they are disqualified. So I put Quantum Leap. Not the TV show, but the independently produced film I am currently making starring myself as Dr Sam Beckett. I am in talks with Tommy Lee Jones to play the part of Al, but things have stalled. Tommy wasn’t impressed with my script. But screw him. It's gonna be amazing. Scott Bakula will be proud.

Albums I Love:

Abbey Road – The Beatles

Blonde on Blonde – Bob Dylan

Californication – The Red Hot Chili Peppers

Diamond Dogs – David Bowie

Elephant – The White Stripes

Fresh Cream – Cream

GNR Lies – Guns N Roses

Hello Starling – Josh Ritter

In Through the Out Door – Led Zeppelin

Joshua Tree – U2

Kill Em All - Metallica

Lola vs. the Powerman And The Money-Go-Round Part 1 – The Kinks

Melon Collie and the Infinite Sadness – Smashing Pumpkins

Nevermind - Nirvana

Odelay - Beck

Pet Sounds – The Beach Boys

Queen - Queen

Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust, The – David Bowie

Straight Outta Compton - NWA

This Year’s Model – Elvis Costello

Ummagumma – Pink Floyd

VU – The Velvet Underground

Wall, The – Pink Floyd

Xanadu Soundtrack – Olivia Newton John

Yellow Submarine – The Beatles

Zwan - Zwan

Movies I Love:

Apocalypse Now


Cool Hand Luke

Darjeeling Limited, The

Empire Strikes Back, The


Godfather, The

Hudsucker Proxy, The

I’m Not There


Kids Are Alright, The

Lost Highway


No Country For Old Men

O Brother Where Art There

Punch Drunk Love

Quantum Leap (It's gonna blow your mind!)


Shining, The

Thin Red Line, The

Usual Suspects, The

Velvet Goldmine

Waiting for Guffman

X Men 2

Y Tu Mama Tambien


Friday, December 5, 2008

It’s True We’ll Make a Brighter Day, Just You and Me

Keeping with my theme of random analyses of Pop Culture minutia that is both out dated and irrelevant, I now dust this little beauty off from 23 years ago. Ah, We Are the World. So very many things to ridicule. I could go second by second of the things I love about this video but I’ll keep it relatively brief.

You know it’s gonna be good when it begins with some sweet computer animation of a globe and self signing autographs courtesy of the finest technology 1985 had to offer. And then BAM! you’re looking right at Lionel’s very well groomed mustache. For some reason I want to sculpt his face out of clay . . . poorly.

The best part of these celebrity circle jerks is the way they battle each other for the spotlight. Example: Bruce’s over done, tough guy singing duel with Stevie Wonder complete with his “taking a huge crap” face and leather jacket. Bruce did you ride your suicide machine to the studio that morning? Did Wendy wrap her legs round your velvet rims and strap her arms cross your engines? It’s hard to pick on Bruce though. Everyone else is doing the same crap. Cindy Lauper wins the “look at me, everybody look at me!” award for her Christina Aguilera level of over singing.

Who the hell is the guy at 2:21 that looks like Yackoff Smirnoff?

Here’s a fun little insight. I read this on the interweb, so you know it’s true. Apparently Waylon Jennings walked out of the recording when Stevie Wonder wanted to substitute a line in Swahili. I guess the red neck in Waylon wasn’t a fan of Swahili. It was a nice gesture for the recipients of this fine cause but Ethiopians don’t speak Swahili. They instead decided on a phrase made up by Michael Jackson, “Sha-lim sha-lingay”. They then made up a meaning to the made up phrase, “One world, Our children.” Doesn’t that just make you feel all warm inside? I guess it’s no more meaningless than the chorus of this song. But this is what the UN doesn’t get. The answer to the intensely complicated issues surrounding African poverty is in fact fluffy, meaningless feel goodery.

You’ll notice that my buddy Bob is featured. The music snob in me doesn’t like seeing a guy like Dylan in the same room as Hewey Lewis, Tito Jackson, Oates and Dionne Warwick’s nostrils. He just doesn’t fit. It’s like hearing him sing a Pepsi commercial. There’s nothing wrong with Pepsi commercials. Someone has to sing them. But leave that to androgynous, noseless, Beatles’ catalogue stealing pedophiles. But whatever. 1985 wasn’t the highest point of Bob’s career, so I’ll cut him a break.

You may be asking, “Brian, why all the hostility?” Well, the quick answer is that after five months and about 90 entries, I have very little left to talk about. But there is also a greater issue here that is quite applicable to today.

Few things deserve more mockery than self absorbed, self serving celebrities earnestly out singing the guy next to him in a solemn display of narcissism. I’m sure that all of these fine people involved in this project were very sincere. But that’s the problem. They were so sincere, and full of their own bullshit they honestly believed that they themselves and this thoroughly crappy song were the solution. “My celebrity is so powerful that I only need to sing a song and Africa will be healed of centuries of corruption, poverty and starvation.” It is the ultimate example of putting a band aid on a tumor and then endlessly celebrating yourself for doing it. Placebos are a wonderful way to insulate yourself from reality.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

OMG, R U 4 Real?

Sparkly, isn't it?

Like most people not born in the nineties, I have always been a little conflicted about the whole texting phenomenon. It always seemed like a pretty stupid way to communicate. Why write someone a note, when you can talk to them just as easily?

Now, it does have its uses. A mass text informing a group of friends when the movie starts, getting a note to someone in a meeting . . . . well, that's a bout it. I have never fully understood the advantage of slowly and awkwardly typing out abbreviated messages when I am in fact holding a phone in my hand whose defining function is to allow me speak with that same person as if we were face to face. Especially when the phone call is effectively free and I'm charged for every stupid, little text. Seems like a technological step backwards.

But what is really interesting to me is the way texting has become an intregal part of the dating scene. Now I am by no means any kind of an authority on this subject. My observations on wooing women are about as valuable as a deaf guy's take on the subtleties of Mozart or Lennie Small's insight at caring for rabbits. And my lack appreciation for the medium of texting is evidence to this. Just calling a girl is no longer an acceptable way to get their attention. Sure it's effective. You call them, they answer, you talk for a while. But it can feel like a job interview if you're not careful. It's too obvious, too direct, too hamfisted. It's not flirty enough. This is why texting has become the adult version of passing notes in school. It's covert and sneaky. As if you could get in trouble if someone found out but it's still playful and harmless.

Now the act of texting itself does not bother me in the least. I feel a little behind the curve on its intricacies but I'm behind most curves in most aspects of my life. It's actually something I take a bit of pride in. But one thing I have no hesitation in bitching about is text speak. LOL, OMG, WTF, ROFL. Drives me crazy.

The good news, however is that I think it's coming to a close within the next few years. With the IPhone, the Blackberry Storm and other qwerty keyboard phones, it is easier and easier to type out whole words while texting. I like to think that this will lead to the end of this obnoxious, cutesy poo abbreviated bullcrap. But I guess the places I see that sort of crap are usually message boards and IM's which are places where a full keyboard is present. So maybe that's a little optimistic.

But I do think that when we look back on this decade, texting abbreviations will be one of the quirky little technological punchlines we make fun of. Like Laserdiscs or Calecovisions. By the way, what the hell is this decade called anyway? We're almost nine years into it and I still don't know what to call it. The zeroes? The aughts? We need to come to a consesus on this.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Do you ever wish that life was like a Juicy Fruit commercial?

Well, it’s December. This means cold short days, coworkers coughing their brains out in the cubicle next to you and lots of Lexus commercials that feature luxury cars sitting in a driveway with a giant bow on them. “Gee honey, you either dropped fifty grand out of our savings on this thing or you entered into a massive financial commitment on my behalf for a glorified Toyota. Thank you very much.”

One good thing about the dreary months of the Utah winter is skiing. Now, I’m not going to pretend to be a ski guy. I’m not. I didn't ski that often growing up and I only go about 10 times a year now a days. And I suck. Oh man, do I suck. I can get down the hill okay. But you won’t see me attacking any moguls or flying over any cliffs. Although as much fun as I have gliding down the mountain, somehow I never seem to enjoy myself quite as much as these guys.

Every single time I pull into the parking lot at Alta and I start the awkward ski boot Frankenstein walk to the ticket office, my brain starts playing this Juicy Fruit commercial. It’s kind of annoying, really. But with the glory of Youtube, I get to again experience the random images that I somehow remember 20 years later. That “Simon and Simon” country style guitar, that one guy following the pack of gum with his nose, the way the one girl folds the gum in half with her tongue when she “pops it in her mouth”.

Who are you to resist? If Juicy Fruit is powerful enough to get the Chief to talk to McMurphy, it is powerful enough to make you a great skier. It chews so soft, it get’s right to you. Juicy Fruit. The taste the taste the taste is gonna move you!

I am shameless tool of the Wrigley Corporation.

Monday, November 24, 2008

HoneyBaked Hams and Fat Dogs

My brother Cam and my dog CoCo. Don't you just want to cuddle up with that thing? The dog, not Cam. It's like holding a furry water balloon.

Last week I had to rummage through my parent’s photo albums to come up with the picture of our painted lawn. As I was doing this, I came across a lot of pictures of the single greatest dog that has ever lived. This, my friends, is CoCo. Adorable, affectionate and fat as hell. Please indulge me for just a moment as I bask in a little bit of nostalgia.

Now I understand that there are few things more boring than listening to someone else drone on about their dog or their cat. Most of us have childhood pets that we loved and we don’t really want to hear about anyone else’s. And if you didn’t have a dog, than you really don’t care. Demitri Martin has a great joke about the direct relationship between a girl’s cuteness and his willingness to listen to her talk about her cat. (That joke is at about 4 minutes, but the whole clip is genius.)

But I think this glorious beagle is a unique scenario. I mean look at her. She was 27 inches long and 36 inches around. We wore the same size of pants. Yet even though she was morbid in her obesity, she was always a happy, playful and energetic dog. She would weasel out of our backyard and just graze around the neighborhood all day. She would go over to 7-11 where they would give her all the day old donuts. They would then call us to pick up our dog. “You really should put that thing on a diet.” Thanks.

I had a buddy in college who lived about five miles away from me but went to a different high school. When he asked me where I grew up, I told him next to that 7-11 on 21st. “Isn’t that the one where that really fat dog is always walking around?” That’s right. CoCo was a local celebrity. She was the mascot of Oneida Street.

Sometime in the early 90’s we hosted my mom’s family for Thanksgiving. We moved the couches out of the family room and replaced them with folding tables from the Ward. There were a ton of people and way too many leftovers. It was a cold day so my mom stashed a spare ham on the porch in a Tupperware bowl when the fridge filled up. After the feast, when we were playing Risk while watching football, I heard my mom cussing out my Uncle Shane.

Now you have to understand something. Shane is a retarded asshole. He’s no longer married to my aunt, so he is in no way a part of my family. And I’m quite certain he has no idea how to use a computer, so I’m not worried about using his real name. Well, apparently the ham was missing and for some reason my mom was blaming Shane for stealing it. This was an untouched Honeybaked Ham. Those things cost like fifty bucks. It sounds ridiculous that someone would steal a ham but I wouldn’t put it past Shane, so I have her back on this one. Like I said, he’s retarded asshole. I don’t remember if there was an actual confrontation. I’m not sure if she was cussing at Shane or about him. But either way there was a ham missing and he was to blame.

Well later that night, I found CoCo sprawled out on the floor of my room like a beached whale, struggling to breath. She had a ham bone under her paws. When I tried to pull it away from her, she let out one of those “I’m really a wolf inside” growls that all dogs release when someone tries to steal from them. She ate the whole friggen ham. The entire thing. It was like seven pounds. She only weighed about 70 pounds (which is a crazy amount for a beagle). She was like a python that just ate a hippo. I could hear he stomach loudly attacking the unchewed hunk of salt cured pig that was lodged inside of her.

I don’t know if Shane was ever publicly vindicated. Probably not. And I’m not too concerned about it. Again, retarded asshole. That’s actually a insult to all the other retarded assholes out there.

This was one fine dog.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Entertainment As Pain

In 1992, Nick Hornby wrote Fever Pitch, a memoir of his obsessive allegiance to the English Soccer team Arsenal. Now I have little to no respect at all for the sport of soccer (if you're American, don't call it football) but his insight on the burden born by fans crosses any cultural barriers.

He speaks of sports being the only source of entertainment that is directly associated with pain. And since it is just entertainment, that pain is always self inflicted which is in and of itself absurd. But especially since such profound pain is experienced at the cost of something as trivial and meaningless as a soccer game (fill you sport here) that makes it all that much more indefensible. It's one thing to feel empty and defeated as a result of real life failure. But to allow such a trite, insignificant thing as a damn football game make you feel truly despondent, well that adds a level of self criticism into the equation. Why am I so stupid that I let myself care so damn much?

By the way, please do not associate this book one bit with the pile of smoldering feces that is that Jimmy Fallon / Drew Barrymore abomination. Red Sox fans deserved more.

But back to Hornby. In light of the game which will never again be mentioned (see previous post), I would like to share with you an excerpt that articulates my conflict quite nicely:

I had discovered … that loyalty, at least in football terms, was not a moral choice like bravery or kindness; it was more like a wart or a hump, something you were stuck with. Marriages are nowhere near as rigid — you won't catch any Arsenal fans slipping off to Tottenham for a bit of extra-marital slap and tickle, and though divorce is a possibility (you can just stop going if things get too bad), getting hitched again is out of the question.

You're stuck. Integrity prevents you from leaving, no matter how badly betrayed you may feel. Again. It's all just so stupid. Here is a link to a previous post I wrote when my Red Sox went down in flames last month. This loss is much much more painful.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

That Time of Year, Again

My house the morning of the Rivalry Game in 1992. Now this wasn’t a hate crime. It was an affectionate prank pulled by friends. But it illustrates that the Westenskow house was alone in its Cougar support in our neighborhood.

Growing up, I was the only BYU fan in my grade at Roslyn Heights elementary school. The only one. As such I caught tons of crap whether BYU won or lost (it was the 80’s, they always won). In 1988, my friend Luke Geddes invited me to go to the BYU/Utah game at Rice Stadium. BYU had won that game 10 years in a row. I was in fifth grade at the time and I painted my face, and got all decked out. BYU got crushed. I mean they were destroyed by Scott Mitchell and the Utes. And I guess a decades worth of frustration needed to be released from those Ute fans because I was abused. By grown men.

“You see that! You see Covey get his ass kicked? BYU is a bunch of pussies! You SUUUUCCKKK!”

“Dude, I’m ten.”

The next Monday as I went into Mrs. Goodwin’s class, everyone stood, pointed their figures and laughed.

I know, I know. Boo friggin hoo. There are a ton of traumatic childhood stories that that involve actual abuse and damage that put this to shame. In fact there’s probably a ton of traumatic childhood stories where I am the jaggoff inflicting the trauma. Adam Hemmmart would be happy to tell you a couple. So this is nothing to cry about. But it did instill in me a resentment toward the obnoxious, asshole fringe of the Utah fan base.

It’s important to note that my resentment is very specific to that fringe, so don't get all butt hurt. My whole life most of my good friends have been Utah fans. We always got along, exchanging good natured jabs at each other. And there is no doubt that the Ute fans out there could tell similar stories about dick BYU fans giving them crap. Actually, BYU fans can sometimes really piss me off as I have previously posted. So it’s a complicated two way street.

I don’t intend to rehash this whole rivalry. It’s destructive, pointless and often very hateful. And I despise the term “Holy War”. I hate it.

Instead, I am going to document a strange occurrence. Since that game in 1988, the rivalry game has been 50/50. BYU has won ten games, Utah has won ten games. Taking 1997 and 1998 out of the equation (I was on my mission and didn’t watch them) I have attended eleven of the remaining eighteen games. Of those eleven games that I have attended, BYU has lost nine of them (88, 93,94,95,99,02,03,04,05). Of the seven games that I didn’t attend, BYU has won all of them (89,90,91,92,96,00,06).

Put simply, with the two exceptions of 01 and 07, every time I go to the stadium and watch the game, BYU loses. Every time I sit at home and swear at the TV, BYU wins. In 2006 I was offered tickets and refused them because of the undeniable historic fact my presence is a jinx to BYU’s success. If I went to that game, Harline would have dropped that ball (that really is an amazing photo). Last year I had to be dragged to The Ed by my buddy Steve to use my season tickets (I've had them since college). Even after the 4th and 17 conversion, I was still convinced that BYU would blow it due to my attendance. I'm not terribly superstitious but 2-9 is a pretty terrible track record.

There has never been more at stake for the rivalry game than this one. And I give BYU about a 50% shot of winning this thing. BYU has a ton of weaknesses that could easily be exploited (just watch that TCU monstrosity) and Utah always plays out of their mind in this game. But ultimately, I just don’t think Utah is that good. I’ve watched every game of theirs this year and as impressive as their season has been (and it has been a very impressive season) they are still a very beatable team that needs to be exposed. I just don’t know that BYU has the balls to pull it off.

But I’ll be doing my part. I’m staying the hell away from that soccer stadium they call Rice Eccles. I will be locked in a room by myself surrounded by lots things that I can smash against the wall. This damn game brings out the worst in me. Soon it will be over.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Werewolf Fighting Vampires? This is What Women Love? Really?

It has been well documented on this blog that I am in fact single and male. I have neither a wife nor a vagina. As such there is a long list of things that are present in the lives of my married friends that are absent in mine. A quick list would include the following:

  • Matching plates
  • A Tivo full of Grays Anatomy
  • Cute stenciled blocks of wood with decorative straw glue-gunned to it hanging from by front door.
  • A working vacuum
  • Scented candles
  • Scented anything. Except fabric softener. I love fabric softener.

I grew up with two brothers in a very male house. I have since lived with probably about 50 other dudes over the last 10 years or so. Some day, I’ll take the time to actually count my roommates. Nah, that’s probably not worth my time. My point is this; I get guys. I know how we think, I know what we like, and I know why we like the things that we like. These things are pretty basic and obvious. We are not terribly subtle animals. But the other side of this world has always been a bit of a mystery to me.

That’s not to say I’m a complete idiot when it comes to the ladies. I have decent understanding of the farer sex as well. I like to think I’m reasonably in touch with my feminine side. I Tivo two different cooking shows. Earlier this year, I got totally hooked on Veronica Mars, which is a hell of a good show for being a high school drama on the WB. (That clips sets up the first season. Seriously, it's a good show.) Here is a link to one of my earlier posts declaring my affection for unicorns and braiding hair. But every once in a while, there is a cultural phenomenon that baffles me. Ladies, please help out with this one.

What the hell is the deal with Twilight? Look at this trailer for the upcoming movie.

It looks pretty stupid to me. Maybe not stupid, but I would have never thought that every woman age 12-35 in the state of Utah (and the country) would been consumed by this. They are currently anticipating this week’s release of the movie like a shaky drunk on Election Day. Is every Relief Society Enrichment Leader really a forlorn Goth chick deep inside? Is all they really want in life to be rescued by a bloodless, pale vampire that can apparently fly? And since when could vampires fly? He didn't turn into a bat. Why does gravity not apply to the undead? I'm really confused by all of this. If I was told that a romance novel would grab the attention of the collective subconscious of every young female in my immediate vicinity, I would never guess that the storyline would include a family of vampires living in Forks, Washington.

My initial instinct is to mock and deride this absurd storyline and ridicule the fans of this for wallowing in cultural mediocrity. But that would be kind of dick thing to say for a guy that got equally excited about the Star Wars Prequils. Even after I knew that they would suck, I still got up for them. There’s nothing wrong with embracing guilty pleasures. Ladies, enjoy your movie.

So instead of further alienating myself from a demographic that I am in fact very interested in, I figure I am going to take advantage of this anomaly to gain some insight on the female mind. Ladies and gentlemen, today I declare that I will read the first Twilight book. I figure I’ll get some inside information. Like looking at the enemy’s battle plans.

And I wouldn’t put it past myself to get hooked on them. I was equally skeptical of The Da Vinci Code. And after reading it in a weekend, I went out and bought Angels and Demons. I got totally addicted to the first season of Desperate Housewives. As distinguished a taste as I pretend to have, I can be a sucker for a soap opera. But this is pure research. I will attempt to answer the question of why Twilight is all the rage. I of course will then exploit my findings to my benefit.

Let the great experiment begiiiiiin!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Music, Sweey Music. I Wish I Could Carress With a Kiss - 5 Songs From Jimi

Mitch Mitchell died last week. For the uncultured among you, Mitch was the drummer to the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Jimi’s band for his first three albums. Mitch had a distinctive rhythm heavily influenced by jazz. Now, there is no doubt that when you back up Jimi Freakin Hendrix, no one in the crowd is going to pay much attention to the drums. Jimi is the show. But Mitch gave significant contribution to Jimi’s sound without trying to compete for the spotlight. He’s on the short list of great drummers.

So with that in mind, I give you five badass songs by James Marshall Hendrix.

Manic Depresion
Manic Depression – Are You Experienced 1967

Are You Experienced is a shockingly impressive debut album. It obliterated any limitations that Rock and Roll previously was perceived to have had. It is loud, abrasive and primal but not angry or dark. It was groundbreaking but completely unpretentious. No artsy crap here. It is relentlessly energetic ranging from the head bangin, ear bleeding glory of Purple Haze and Stone Free to the psychedelic chill of The Wind Cries Mary and Third Stone From the Sun. Every song is different. Every song is brilliant. This is a record that needs to be consumed in its entirety. It deserves your full attention as you listen to each of the 22 songs in order. The next road trip you take, invest about two hours and explore this unbelievable piece of work.

Manic Depression is a pretty well known song from Jimi. I chose it because it illustrates Mitch’s unique rhythm. The guitar hook, bass line and drums are all truly bipolar. It is both loud and mellow.

Little Wing – Axis Bold As Love 1967

(for some reason I can't stream Little Wing. So here is a clip of Jimi playing it live at The Royal Albert Hall on Youtube.)

It’s one thing to blow the doors off of the entire genre of Rock and Roll with you debut album. But to then follow it up with a completely different sounding, equally brilliant sophomore album within the same year is astounding. Seriously, when was the last time any major modern band even bothered to release two albums in the same year? Much less two records (really three since Experienced was a double album) of this depth and quality? He recorded and released 35 songs on only his first two albums in the year 1967 and every one of them are amazing and distinct. How many great songs does Nickleback have?

Little Wing is a classic covered in concert by every guitarist aspiring to be considered “great”. Stevie Ray Vaughn released a fantastic instrumental version of it. But Jimi’s lyrics and vocals are an overlooked characteristic of his music that deserves attention. He has a great delivery.

Voodoo Child ( Slight Return )
Voodoo Chile (Slight Return) – Electric Ladyland 1968

Jimi used very little overdubbing. Most of the time, all the noise you hear is coming from one guitar. There is no rhythm guitar or no lead guitar in Voodoo Chile. Just a single right handed Stratocaster being played upside down producing this layered magnificent chaos. Jimi bought a wha pedal from Frank Zappa just prior to writing and recording this song which gives his guitar that porn funk you hear in the intro. This song is a good example of the atonal “noise” that is often associated with Jimi’s music. It’s not for everyone. But I love it.

Castles Made Of Sand
Castles Made of Sand – Axis Bold As Love 1967

As much as I love the face melting power of Jimi’s heavy stuff, I find I listen to his mellow songs a lot more often. He knows how write a tune that just makes you float. You can hear a lot of backwards guitar work in this song, including a full solo. It sounds so strange and so beautiful. Jimi’s lyrics and vocals are outstanding, as always.

My Friend
My Friend – First Rays of the New Rising Sun released 1997

With all the feedback, drugs, volume, distortion, drugs, stage antics, burnt guitars, smashed guitars, raped guitars, drugs, flamboyant uniforms, groupies and more drugs, Jimi is ultimately just a Blues Guitar player. This song was recorded with a bunch of army buddies called the Band of Gypsies after the Experience broke up. No elaborate solos or distorted power chords here. It’s just a great barroom jam session.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Damn Cat Story

Over the weekend, I went to the USA verse Uruguay Rugby match held at the new Rio Tinto Stadium. It was a fun night. The Eagles blew them away in the second half. A few of my friends played for the Eagles and I hung out with some old friends from the BYU Rugby team. For the last two years I helped coach the forwards as well as coached the JV team, so I know the current players quite well. I haven’t seen most of these guys since we lost in the National Final in May. One of the first things that was said to me was, ”Dude! Westy! Tell the cat story man. I haven’t ever heard it!”

Somehow the infamous cat story has followed me around. It’s been five years since I played at BYU and this is my legacy. Actually there is another characteristic that I am also known for, but that doesn’t need to be mentioned.

I first told this story in the back of a van on the way to Vegas for a tournament in 2000. I remember thinking that this was a particularly funny story but I never thought it would take on a life of its own. Those of you who know me, have heard this story. Probably several times. For the record, I never bring it up. It is always requested. Which I suppose is flattering, but at the same time, I’m a little concerned that this event is so closely associated with me. Personally, I think the "Accidental Roadtrip" story is funnier. So is he boner story. I'll save that one for later.

So I am using this forum to forever retire this anecdote. From now on, I am just going to email a link to this site when the cat story is requested. Loyal readers, I give you, the cat story:

It was Spring of 1997. I was an LDS missionary in Bremerton, Washington. It was my first area and as such I have a great deal of affection for it. Bremerton is an interesting town. It is on the Kitsap Peninsula across the Sound from Seattle. As far as natural settings go, it is about as beautiful a place as there is on Earth. There are inlets and peninsulas all over the place. Dyes Inlet, Sinclair Inlet, Port WashingtonNarrows, Rocky Point, Oyster Bay. There is waterfront property and dense forests everywhere. You have a great view of the Olympic Mountains to the west and Rainier to the South and Seattle to the East. On a sunny day (there’s a lot more of them than you think), it is incredibly scenic.

That being said, the actual town of Bremerton is a crap hole. The majority of the town was built during World War II when the shipyard opened up, so there’s a ton of old Naval housing everywhere. The place is pretty run down, nowadays. There is a government funded housing project called West Park there that brings in all sorts of flavors to Bremerton. For a small town, it has all the drugs, crime and poverty of most big cities. But, let me stress that I love this town. I had some incredibly good times there and every time is travel to Seattle, I always hop the ferry and visit my old turf.

There was a family there that we were working with. The father was an inactive member and the mother wasn’t very interested. But they have four kids that went to church. We were working with them, trying to get them back into the whole church thing.

They lived in this little ghetto part of town in a two bedroom duplex. Now, these kids were great. Really smart kids. But their dad was a schlub. Total loser. He was unemployed and didn’t seem too concerned with that. There's a big difference between a guy who has hit a tough time and is down on his luck, and a bum. This guy was the latter. He was a die hard Star Wars / Star Trek / Medieval Knights nerd. Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. But this guy definitely crossed any lines of sanity. He had a giant mounted dragon head on their wall. Like he slew the dragon and had his proud trophy to show the world. He would teach his kids Ye Olde English and insist that they speak it in the house. He would spend tons of money on Braveheart replica swords and then practice his skill in his backyard on a bail of hay. Meanwhile his four kids slept in a single twin bed with no sheets and lived off of toast and rice everyday.

Now, in my mission we had a list of approved movies that we could watch on P-day. The Star Wars Trilogy was on that list. So my companion and I decided to go over to their house on a Monday and watch some Star Wars, appeal to his nerdish leanings and BSRT with this guy.

So we walked down to their house. The kids weren’t home and he was in the backroom on his computer arguing over the proper translation of a Klingon Proverb with some other unemployed schlub online.

“Hey guys. Empire is in the VCR. Go ahead and start it.”

Now, I am by no means a neat freak. Any room mate of mine will tell you that. I am currently wearing jeans that have not been washed in about two weeks. But I do have limits. Their house had that musty, sour milk/mildew/cat pee smell that every poor person’s house seems to have. The only place for me to sit down was on the couch where there was a two foot pile of pooh-stained laundry. I nestled myself in and started watching a movie I’ve seen a thousand times on a TV that was too dim and had one blown out speaker. So it would buzz during loud noises.

I was a little irritated because we weren’t making any progress with this family and we were just wasting my only day off after working a 70 hour week. I was still new enough on my mission to where I still had a pretty nice suit. Since it wasn’t May yet, we had to wear the full suit when not riding our bikes. As I was watching Luke get attacked by the Wampa, their cat jumped up on my lap.

I’m not a big cat guy. Their tongues are scratchy, their hair is clingy and I always get a little weirded out when they start purring on my lap. I just feel like they’re enjoying themselves a little too much. So I politely push the cat off my lap. It jumps right back on. I push it off again and it comes right back. At this point, my nice suit is covered in cat hair so screw it. I surrender. So I just pet the damn cat while I watch the Empire invade the Hoth system.

You know how when you reach your hand into your pocket and you can feel your keys and some changes and whatever else? You know how you see can what you're feeling in your mind? Well that was me with the cat. I was focused on watching the Millennium Falcon elude the Imperial fleet in the asteroid field. While I imagined myself somewhere else, I felt this nasty scar on this cat. I thought to myself, “What the hell happened to this cat? Did the dragon slayer put a cigar out on it?” It confused me, but I didn’t bother to look down. I just continued to reluctantly pet the thing while it purred loudly. Well, about the time Han Solo was frozen in carbonite, my curiosity got the best of me. I looked down to investigate this cat abuse.

The cat didn’t have a tail. I had been rubbing the cat’s butthole for the better part of a half hour.

Talk about cat abuse. In a purely instinctive action, I bounced that cat off the wall. It must have been a very confusing experience for that cat. I’m sure he thought we were friends, what with the rim job and all. I sat there in my shame, on a pile of pooh stained laundry wondering if I could ever look at my right index finger the same way again.

That, my friends, is the cat story.