Friday, April 30, 2010

Why GM Shouldn't have Gotten Bailout Money

Quick question for you:  What's the difference between Dave Creamer and a Chevy Cobalt?

Answer:  One is about 265 pounds, slow and ugly.  The other one is writing this blog.

I'm on the road for work right now, and I have a rental car.  In case you don't know, I work for a non-profit (we do lots of great things for kids, you should give us money...ask me how.  Thanks for reading), so I'm very budget-conscious in both my personal and professional life.  So when I needed a rental car to drive to Helena, I thought I would try the "Intermediate" class at Enterprise.

I got nervous when I walked into Enterprise and the manager, Doc, said, "Hey Luke, does the Cobalt have a full tank?"

Oh crap, I thought.  First of all, I knew what a Cobalt was, and I knew I wasn't going to fit very comfortably. Second, he said "THE Cobalt", as if it was their cute little mascot.  It makes me think it has been sitting there for a few years.

Luke responded with a confused look on his face.  "I don't know, why?"

Oh crap.  I said, "you don't have anything bigger, do you?"

Being asked two questions at virtually the same time, Doc politely said, "Just go make sure it's full and bring it around front".  Without a pause, he turned to me and said "Dude, you know I always upgrade you for free, but this is all I've got".

I had noticed that there were no other cars of any size on the lot when I pulled up, so there wasn't much to say.  I would take the car and be happy.  Before I even got in, I could tell that Snoop Dogg and a skunk shared the car last.  I think we all know that skunk-smoking-pot smell.  I was in for a long day.

I guess I assumed "Intermediate" and "Mid-size" were the same thing.  They both kind of mean middle, right?  Apparently not.  Size-wise, it's much smaller than what I would consider intermediate.  I can't believe people drive cars smaller than this.  And they do, because there are still economy AND compact cars that are apparently smaller.  I'm not sure I understand.

If you've never seen a Chevy Cobalt, I'll let you know what it looks like.  Take a permanent marker and draw four tires on a peanut M&M, then imagine it was just a tiny bit bigger.  Then imagine it's being driven by a guy who is almost the same size.  I'm like the peanut.

But even as uncomfortable as the size was for me, I was mostly blown away by the lack of features available on this particular vehicle.  I didn't think they made junk like this anymore.  I don't know the last time I had to manually roll a window up and down.  And you wouldn't believe how inconvenient it is to lock four doors one at a time.  I got out of the car and tried to lock it with the remote, which did not exist.  Then I opened the door and tried to push a button to lock them.  No dice.  Like a Neanderthal, I had to literally get back in the car and reach around to every door and lock them all.  Somebody needs to tell kids these days that this is how their ancestors had to lock their doors.  That's way worse than walking 10 miles to school in the snow, uphill both ways.  And don't get me started on unlocking!  I actually couldn't remember how to unlock a door without a remote for a second.

I understand they're trying to keep the car cheap, but I've never owned a car all that nice, and at least they have cruise control and power windows.  How much could that cost?  And is it that expensive of a feature to have blinkers that turn off after you make a turn?  I had to manually adjust the passenger-side mirror, but at least that was within easy reach from the driver's side.

Nice work, Chevrolet.  No wonder you needed government money.  That was a big mistake, and if you don't believe me, go drive a Cobalt.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Words cannot describe, but youtube can

I recently wrote about infomercials on this blog (read it again here).  There are a lot of great things about watching infomercials, but without question, the best part is when they show the poor idiots who desperately need the products they're about to introduce.  From milk spilled all over the kitchen to violent and sudden backaches, we all have these catastrophic events that ruin our lives.

This video montage of the best images from humanity's most helpless is a highlight reel of laughs.  This is what I was trying to write about in the blog, but the video clip does it way more justice.  I hope you feel better about yourself after watching it.  It's therapeutic, like going to WalMart.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

More Workout Etiquette

A couple of months ago, I wrote about how I'd like to see things go at the gym. Among other things, I wanted people to dress appropriately (especially depending on their age and physical condition), to be clean when they go work out, and not to talk to me. I got some great feedback and saw a little bit more myself, so here's Volume 2. You can read the first one here.

I was at the gym yesterday and saw something I thought just wasn't really happening.  The weather has been great, so most of my town must be working out outside...or maybe just drinking on somebody's patio.  But there was a girl who came in and got set up on an elliptical machine.  She was wearing all velour and had beautiful blond hair with the roots dyed black.  She sat on the floor for a moment before she boarded the machine, and when she got to her feet, she had her laptop in hand.  She placed it on the magazine holder and walked for a few minutes.  I figured she was just reading a website, so I didn't think much of it.

But when she got off the elliptical and carried her computer to every other machine she used, I started thinking she might not be all there.  As I got closer, I saw that she was in the middle of a video chat with her boyfriend...or at least I'm assuming he's her boyfriend.  Even when she was on the leg press machine, she held the computer so the webcam was facing her and this guy could watch her go up and down.  I thought about just walking over and kissing her right in front of the webcam, but I kept thinking of reasons that was a terrible idea...and none of them included that such an act would be mean.  I dated a girl once who needed that kind of attention.  For about a minute.

Video chatting is not something I would have ever thought needed to be banned from the gym.  It's like saying you can't bring a rhinoceros with you on a roller coaster.  You just can't think of everything, nor should you need to.

Here are some additions a few people made to my list of do's and don't's for the gym:

Shani said:  "no farting at the gym...there's little worse than being nasally assaulted while breathing hard...My gym has a 'no cellphones' sign, they should have a 'no farting' sign too."  I only toot privately, thank you very much.  My conscience is clear.

Cory said:  "No one cares you are about to set your own PR of 385 on the bench.  Please do not walk around the gym slapping yourself in the face and psyching yourself up before the attempt."  Seriously.

Jill doesn't want you "sitting on the weight machine for 10 minutes trying to work up the strength to do another set."  And neither do I.

And finally, Rachael reminded me that I completely forgot about locker room etiquette.  "Even though it is acceptable to be completely nude, DO NOT bend over and show everyone your goods...from both sides."  I know how bad that is in the men's locker room.  I can only imagine how bad it could be next door.

Rachael's comment reminded me that I've always been troubled by the (usually quite old) men who sit on the furniture completely naked for long periods of time (or any period of time, for that matter), watching TV.  Fortunately my gym now has brown pleather chairs that can be wiped down and disinfected, but I'm not taking any chances.

And I hate to mention this last point, because the guy who violates this is much larger than I am.  But he probably can't read anyway, so I'm good.  If you can leg press over 1300 pounds, you might as well stop lifting.  You probably can't wear pants other than your sweet Zubaz, so let's quit.  What bugs me about it, besides him telling everybody around what he's doing, is that he has just about every free weight in the room on the machine so he can get the weight he needs.  Now I'm loading 20 of the five-pound weights on each end of the bar for my bench-press, and people are looking at me like I'm the idiot.

Oh well, I guess if people weren't doing these things, I wouldn't have anything to complain about.  

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Pack your bags, kids! We're taking a vacation to a field!

We all have at least a couple of locales in mind for where we'd like to take our ultimate vacation.  For me it starts with Europe and South America, then I can tone it down depending on how much I'm willing (or able) to spend.  When money is a little tighter, maybe I'll go see family in Georgia and the Carolinas, or friends in Arizona, or maybe I'd even stay here in Montana and see more of Yellowstone or Glacier Parks.  There are plenty of great places to see here in the U.S.  One thing that should be noted, however, is that not all places here on the Mainland are worth the effort.

As much as I hate to admit it, I agree with Joakim Noah.  Noah plays for the Chicago Bulls, and they are playing the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA playoffs.  In a pre-game interview, he said Cleveland "really sucks", to which the residents of Cleveland responded with respectful disagreement.  I'm only saying it was respectful because they didn't kill him.  Then after the game, he didn't back down from his comments, basically asking people if they had ever planned a vacation to Cleveland.  I can't imagine even the Mayor of Cleveland listening to that interview and saying anything other than "you know, the big ugly guy has a good point".

That all happened last night.  Today, I saw an advertisement on Facebook that said "PLAN YOUR ND VACATION".  My first thought was, "surely they don't mean North Dakota.  Maybe they mean New Delhi," I reasoned.  "Or maybe that stands for 'Nebraska Dumpsters'.  Even that makes a little more sense."

But I clicked on the ad, and to my disbelief, it was for the North Dakota Department of Tourism.  That doesn't seem right to me.  Being from a neighboring state, I have never once considered North Dakota a vacation destination.  Idaho, Washington, Wyoming...they're enough like Montana, and maybe you'd want to go there to go whitewater rafting or skiing.  But nobody goes to North Dakota.  You go there when you have to drive to Minnesota, and even then you're trying to get to the other side as quickly as possible.  So the fact that North Dakota even has a Tourism Department just doesn't make sense.  They might as well have a Deep Sea Fishing Department.

I'm not like Joakim Noah;  I don't think North Dakota sucks...necessarily.  I've known a lot of great people from North Dakota.  But beyond that, I'm a little surprised anybody lives there.  Even though I live less than 100 miles from the Canadian border, I've never felt cold like I've felt in North Dakota.  A North Dakota summer is uncomfortably hot, and this is coming from a guy who survived a few summers in Phoenix.  And there are 17 trees in the whole state, so don't go looking for shade.  I won't even talk about the giant mosquitoes or oppressive wind.  Wait, maybe I just did.

So on this website, you can see the attractions to North Dakota.  Both of them.  Surprisingly, they haven't embraced what they're known for.  There's nothing on the site saying "Experience the coldest, strongest wind man has ever known", or "See the longest, straightest, flattest road in the Universe."  There's a plug for their ski hill, which has a vertical drop of 290 feet.  I'm not exaggerating.  Big Sky Resort here in Montana has a vertical drop of 4,350 feet.  That's not a knock against North Dakota, I'm just saying I've seen oceans that aren't as flat as North Dakota.

The website clams that North Dakota was "Named by AAA to be America's Most Affordable Vacation State".  Wow, that's really surprising.  I would have thought camping in the middle of a field and skiing down a 290 foot drop would cost a fortune!  Thanks North Dakota!

So I'd like to officially wish the Director of Tourism for North Dakota the best of luck.  There can't be a tougher job in all the world.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Apology Accepted, Big Ben! You're the Best!

We heard another attempt at an apology yesterday on SportsCenter. It seems like we are hearing these about once a week these days. The latest was Steelers' Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, apologizing for being involved in a sex scandal with a 20-year-old college student in Milledgeville, GA. He also thanked the Baldwin County Sheriff's Office for losing the security tapes at the bar...I mean, for the extensive and conclusive investigation.

Can we just stop being surprised when professional athletes do this stuff? It's like being surprised when a dog eats a steak that you left on the floor, or not expecting your car to get stolen when you leave it running in a bad part of town. I'm not saying it's okay, I'm just saying it's bound to happen when we treat these people like gods. It's easy for a guy like me to say you shouldn't sleep with every woman you meet, but that's probably because I don't have beautiful women throwing themselves at me, one after another. Just kidding, yeah I do. I was just being modest.

So now that we know this is going to keep happening, I think I might start a new side-business as a speech writer. Is anybody putting any thought into these speeches? They're all pretty much the same thing. In fact, I think you can find them on Microsoft Word in the Templates section called "Professional Athlete Apology".

In these speeches, you need to start out by saying you won't answer any specific questions, then thank your attorneys and the "Justice" system. Next, apologize to your team, your city, your league, and especially your fans. But don't apologize for what you did, apologize for the distraction that this caused. After that, assure everyone that you will be working harder than ever to prove to your teammates and your fans that you will be a great teammate and an even better role model from here on out.  Finish the speech by thanking everyone listening and by thanking God.

With your content taken care of, it's now time to focus on the delivery.  Based on Big Ben's model, you want to show up with the greasiest, most white-trash haircut you can think of.  And if you think a mullet is the right haircut, you just don't know white trash.  He had his greasy hair slicked back and hanging down to his neck, dripping vegetable oil onto the collar of his shirt.  He didn't shave either.  I'm sure even the blue-collar Pittsburgh fans thought he looked like a slob.  I would imagine the Stinky Pines Trailer Court in Western PA was abuzz yesterday afternoon with talk about how badly Big Ben needed to use a Terrible Towel to start to clean himself up.  When you actually start reading your speech, try as hard as you can to make it sound just like a fifth-grader reading his book report on Superfudge.  That makes it sound way more sincere.

Here's what went down.  Roethlisberger and his posse were in Milledgeville, GA.  I can only speculate as to why they were in a suburb of a suburb of Macon, but I'd say it's a pretty safe bet that they were out trying to find Big Ben some new "No Fear" and "Big Johnson" shirts.  After a long day of shopping, they all went clubbing, where they met up with some really drunk women and posed for a picture with a Milledgeville Police Officer.  One of the girls, a 20-year-old, was especially drunk, and one of Ben's bodyguards escorted her down a hallway to a small bathroom.  Big Ben took over from there and was gone for a few minutes.  More than likely, he was just smiling politely while she insisted she never drank this much, because she was a good Southern girl.  She later made accusations of sexual assault, and the cop doing the initial investigation was the one who posed in the picture with Big Ben.  You can go ahead and draw your own conclusions, but would you let him around your sister?  Because as you can see, Ben is a good guy who acts like a mature millionaire should act.

I don't expect him to be perfect.  I don't even expect him to be a good guy, even though I'd like to see it.  I'm just saying that maybe we shouldn't be so shocked when these guys start hooking up with every woman who either flirts with them or gets black-out drunk around them.

On a related note, it was nice to see Phil Mickelson win the Masters the other day.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

You're bad at Facebook. Here's how to be worse.

In today's culture, trends don't last as long as fresh fruit. You better jump on the bandwagon quickly, otherwise you'll almost certainly miss it. By these standards, Facebook is really old. What was once such a great social tool has become something many of us hate, but can't quite bring ourselves to get rid of.

Facebook itself hasn't done anything to get worse, but now that seemingly every person on Earth has a page and can share their boring life with the rest of us, it's become terribly annoying. If you have a Facebook page, it's your fault.  You have screwed this up for me.  I know I could just quit Facebook altogether and never have to worry about this, but I'm not willing to do that just yet.

So I'm going to give you some pointers on how to make me hate Facebook so much that maybe I'll finally just be able to quit entirely.

Status Updates

Updating your status is an excellent way to get the word out about something or just call attention to yourself.  There are a lot of ways to do this poorly.  Unfortunately this is what everybody sees when they check their own Facebook page.  Avoiding this entirely is tough.  Many people over-share, while others under-share while still giving frequent updates.  Either way, make sure you use poor grammar and use as little punctuation as possible.

We all know somebody who posts about once an hour what they're doing.  I can't imagine anybody who is cool enough to have anybody care what they're doing every waking hour.  But we've all seen it.

"Buzz Quimby is eating at Subway again lol"

"Buzz Quimby just saw a cloud that looks like a sloppy joe"

"Buzz Quimby is watching Rugrats LOL"

You know what I'm talking about.

Under-sharing could be a great thing, especially when you have a few friends that over-share.  But these are still putting themselves out there.  Facebook should be renamed "Vaguebook" for these people.

"Trixi Stickley is over it"

"Trixi Stickley is wondering..."

"Trixi Stickley is thinking about somebody ;)"

Clearly the motive here is to have people comment and say "Tell us more, Trixi!"  Thankfully there's a quick and easy way to delete friends for those of us who really don't care.

Another thing you need to start doing is telling me just how drunk you got last night (or are now).  It's one thing if you're in college or maybe a couple years out, but for most of the rest of us, we should probably keep some things to ourselves.

Wall Posts

This is a good way to quickly contact a friend without having to commit to an hours-long phone call because you haven't talked to them in several years.  Again, there are lots of ways to get my eyes rolling, so keep these things up.

If you like something, you can only truly show your affection for it by saying "love" three times in a row.  "OMG I love, love, love your new Crocs they are so pretty and green and plastic yay lolz!"

And if you miss someone, admit it--you don't really miss them, you miss their face.  So tell them like it is.  "I miss ur face call me soon puh-leeeeeeazzzzzzzzze!"


Facebook is a great way for us to show photos that are important to us.  Years ago, people carried pictures in their wallet.  Now we can show pictures of our families to everyone via Facebook, but let's face it, we just want to show pictures of ourselves.  Here are some things to make sure you do next time you post pictures.

Flex your muscles in the bathroom mirror.

Give gang signs.  This includes the scissors, or sideways peace sign, the West-Side "W", and the rocker.  This is super-awesome.

Ladies, make that kissing face.  Guys see "she wants to make out with me", but you're just thinking "my cheeks don't look as fat when I do this."

Also, take the strategic self-portrait from up above.  For some reason you never see girls in turtlenecks taking this photo.  Oddly enough, it's only done while wearing a low-cut shirt.  The view of Cleveland is always best from up above, if you know what I mean.

Post every picture from your latest outing.  And I mean every one.  Even if you have 23 pictures in a row of the same thing, post them all.  And let us see the blurry ones too.  Those are the best ones.


I'm only on Facebook so I can see how you're doing on Farmville or Mafia Wars.  Your page should look like a trophy case.  I want to know everything that's happening in your life of virtual organized-crime.  Please invite me to play your game with you every chance you get.

Fan Pages

Facebook is a great way to show the world what you're interested in.  You can "become a fan" of certain things.  You can show people you're a fan of a restaurant or a band or a university.  But what's really nice is that you can become a fan of things like "Texting the person next to you stuff you can't say out loud" or "Texting while laying down on your back and dropping your phone on your face".

Quite a few people are only on Facebook so that they can promote their business.  I understand that and don't have a problem with it.  But if I'm going to hate Facebook forever, you need to keep asking me over and over to become a fan of your business, even after I've rejected the request multiple times.  Now that I think about it, ever since you got an expensive camera, you're a tremendous artist, and I want to show the world that I support your photography business.


I'm sure I do plenty on Facebok that people hate.  There's nothing worse than somebody who tells their friends to go see their blog or look at pictures of their new nephew.  If you don't like me anyway, I guess you don't care about those things.  If that's the case, you have my permission to delete me from your list.

This is all my fault.  Being on Facebook for a few years has made me irritable.  I, like most other ornery people, don't like change very much.  But I'd like to know if I'm all alone here.  Let me know what bugs you about Facebook, and maybe I'll have to issue an updated version.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

It's a High-Tech World, and We Don't Even Realize It

Technology gets a bad rap sometimes. Texting while driving, cyber-stalking, facebook obsessions, tweeting EVERYTHING you do all day--all problems. Don't take it out on the technology, take it out on the idiots using them.

I know it gets said all the time, but where would we be without all this stuff? Forget living off the land, we feel like we'd be roughing it to not have the internet or our cell phone for a couple days. Don't act like it doesn't affect you...everybody knows somebody who says "I hate this cell phone, and I never use the internet." Even if you are telling the truth (and you aren't), nobody wants to hear it. We've all got to stand out for something, and if you need to stand out by being belligerent, more power to you. Just don't expect anybody to like you.

It's not like this stuff has been around for all that long, either. If you could go back in time just 10 years, I'd like you to drop a comment about texting while driving at a cocktail party. "Texting? What are you talking about...I mean, what are you WORDING about? Idiot, get out of here." Seriously, we take 20 minutes to invent words to talk about this stuff.

My buddy Brad and I were talking tonight and trying to figure out how old a particular baseball player was. In just a few seconds, we knew he was 34...and we're not even smart. Well, he's the one who found out, so maybe he is. But we got to wondering, how did people find this stuff out 15 or 20 years ago? I can't even remember back that far anymore. I guess you just try and find out by getting lucky. "How old is Eric Byrnes?"

"Beats me. Guess we'll never know."

"I'll write a letter to the newspaper. Maybe we'll get a response. I'll let you know in a couple months."

No way that would work today. If somebody tells me I have to write a letter, I'm like "what? No way! I don't even think I could find a piece of paper, let alone an envelope! And how much are stamps nowadays?" And if I get a letter in the mail, forget it. I'm nervous for a week. Maybe it's a ransom note...maybe I owe somebody money...maybe this is chemical warfare.

I'd like to see somebody go back 20 years and explain their facebook addiction. You might as well be explaining it to cavemen.

"Facebook? What? Do they have phonebooks with pictures in the future?"

"No, it's a website. Uh, it's this place on the it's this thing on my computer."

"You have a computer at your house? Nerd alert!"

"Yeah, I have a couple, but it's this place on the computer where people communicate with each other. All the computers are hooked together, all over the world."

"Wow, even in Russia? Russia sucks man...stupid Commies. So are there just wires all over the world or what? What are you, like pen pals with people everywhere?"

"Oh man, no, I don't know how it works. But anyway, there's lots of information on there, and I have a farm and a mafia on my page. I spend about nine hours a day on there. Plus more time on my cell phone."

"What? What are you talking about? You're a farmer and a mobster? Your page? You sell phones? I am so confused."

"No, it's a cell phone, like cellular. It's where I do my twitter."

"Get away from me, man. I don't want to hear anything else about your twitter."

Monday, April 5, 2010

What a Basketball Game Should Look Like

Whoa.  That game was amazing.

I was pulling for Butler, but it wasn't an easy decision.  I actually like Duke.  Coach K is a pretty classy guy, and his team reflects that.  Sure, it's a private school for rich kids, but so is Butler, so I can't really make a comparison there.  I hated Christian Laettner just like most of the rest of our solar system, but he's been gone for a long time, so maybe we should all get over it.

Hating Duke is not like hating the Yankees.  The Yankees (or more appropriately the "Bankees") win because they spend more money than anybody else can spend.  They get the best players in the world because they can out-bid anybody for contracts.  Duke doesn't have that luxury.  They pay Coach K a lot, but plenty of schools pay their coaches a lot.  Hate them because they're good?  Duke has been to the Final Four four times since 1999.  Michigan State has been there six times, and nobody hates the Spartans.

It's too bad everybody hates a team that is fundamentally sound, plays as a team, has less NBA prospects than the other elite teams, and graduates its players (at one of the best schools in the world).  It's too bad class gets confused with arrogance.  Yeah I guess they're a little arrogant, but you don't see nearly as much of the chest-pounding and dancing out of Duke that you see from just about everybody else.

But still, I was pulling for Butler.  This would have been one of the greatest sports stories ever.  Don't you love how the experts picked them to lose every game in the tournament?  Everybody said, "They won't beat Syracuse", even though they'd won every game since December.  I agreed with them, but after every game, these same experts talked about how they weren't surprised.  Same story tonight.  Not only did everybody think Butler would lose, they all thought Butler didn't have a chance.  Now after the game, they're all talking about how they knew this would be a close game.  Just once I'd like to hear one of the experts say, "I had no idea this team was that good".  Then I guess they wouldn't be experts.

But I'm a much bigger Butler fan after this game than I was before it.  When they lost one of the most heartbreaking finishes I've ever seen, none of the players fell down on the court and pouted.  Nothing is more irritating at the end of a basketball game than a team full of guys who collapse on the court and cover their faces.  Butler's players were probably more disappointed than most teams after a loss, but they didn't start crying, and they didn't fall down into sobbing convulsions.  They had to watch the celebrations, then shook hands with the Duke players.  I don't think I've ever seen a team lose with more class that Butler did.

I wish every team was like Duke or Butler.  I don't care about the superstars who go to college for a year just because the rule says you have to.  I watch the NBA to see those guys.  College basketball should be about guys who are going to college.  There shouldn't be a rule against guys going to the NBA right out of high school.  Ask LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant, Amare Stoudemire, and Kevin Garnett if that worked out for them.  Let them go straight there.  They can play, and you don't need a college education to play in the NBA.  You can go later.  You're an idiot if you have a chance to make $10 million a year and decide to go to college instead just because you want to have something to fall back on.

But tonight's game was what it's all about.  I hope we see a lot more of it.  Butler has almost everybody back next year from this team, so it looks like we could be in for a good show.  I'm just worried about all the people who will be die-hard Butler fans.  We've all seen it with the Red Sox, Steelers and Saints.  Be a fan, but admit it--you'd never heard of the Butler Bulldogs until they made it to the Final Four in 2010.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The All-Frat-Boy National Championship

As I spent the last few hours watching commercials (with some college basketball scattered in), I was dumbfounded at just how odd this tournament has been.  They say it every year, but 2010 has seen a strangely-high amount of upsets in the Big Dance.  But just when we think we have everything figured out, two of the whitest teams we've seen in a while are playing for the championship.

The Butler Bulldogs, the team from the tiny school in Indianapolis (the campus is six miles from the site of the Final Four), are suddenly America's team.  Butler is coached by Brad Stevens, a 16-year-old from Des Moines who won the chance to be a coach from collecting box tops from Cap'n Crunch.  I can't confirm this information, in fact I think I might have made it up, but if you've seen a picture of him, it's pretty believable.  His older brother, Gordon, is the star of the team.  They might not be brothers either, but they look a lot alike.  But seriously, the guy's name is Gordon, and he really is the star.  Gordon.  Yeah.  Probably their second-best player is a guy named Matt Howard, who is trying to grow the worst mustache in the history of adolescent mustaches.  Yes, even worse than Adam Morrison's, he's just not quite as ugly as Morrison.

Their opponent needs no introduction, except to say they are probably the most despised team in all of college sports.  The Duke Blue Devils are almost always good, and they have a tendency to have a rich-boy team.  It's like a fraternity team in Intramurals, except they're really good.  Their best players are named Kyle and Jon, and they're backed up by Miles, Mason and Brian.  Even the guys who aren't white are named Nolan and Lance.  Their coach is Polish.  His name, generally shortened to Coach K, looks like a two-year-old was left alone at a computer keyboard.  I don't even think it has a vowel in it.

If you don't like this kind of basketball, I have a feeling you might need to get used to it.  A few years back, the best high school players were going straight to the NBA.  Now there's a new rule that says players have to go to school and try really hard and get an education for at least a year.  Clearly that's their priority when they get to college.  So the best players are on good teams, of course--teams like Ohio State and Kentucky this year.  But they're freshmen, so they're not going to be very dependable.

The schools that get the second-tier players--the ones who won't make it to the NBA without some more work--have teams with juniors and seniors.  They're smarter players, and they're used to playing together, and they've had a few years to buy in to their coach's system.  So these talented teams that are often more fun to watch are losing to the more mature, more disciplined teams, and I think we might see that trend continue.  And I know it's a terrible stereotype, but most people are aware and would privately admit, that white players are not quite as good as their African-American counterparts.  If that's offensive to you, please, get over it.

So enjoy it with me, if you will, watching a couple of teams from small, expensive, private schools, play fundamental basketball.  You might not see any dunks, and there could be a lot of jump-shooting (using the word "jump" loosely), but I can promise you the competition will be great.  But if you're not already a true basketball fan, you just might hate it.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Happy April No-More-Jokes Day...

The more you love a holiday, the more depressed you are a day after.  Nothing worse than going to work on December 26th.  The day after the Super Bowl is awful because you just realized there's plenty more winter left but no more football.  Plus you're either hung-over or sick from the copious amounts of Crock-Pot cheese dip you ate last night.  July 5th, worst day ever.  Oh wait, that's my dad's birthday.  Sorry Dad, BEST day ever!  I hate the 4th of July because I'm just anxious to get to your birthday!  Yeah, that's it.

April 2nd is not quite as bad, but a little disappointing nonetheless.  April Fool's Day is the one day where blatant lying and unabashed tomfoolery are not only tolerated, but embraced.  I have such an active imagination that I'd love to just lie to people all the time.  As for the tomfoolery, well, I just wanted to use that word in my blog.  I love playing pranks on people, so April 1st is a special day.

If you're one of the six people who read my blog (thank you, by the way), you probably read about a terrible day that I had yesterday.  For the record, not one word of that was true.  A few of you figured it out, but a few of you just felt bad for me.  I have to say, it's kind of nice getting sympathy when nothing bad actually happened.

It was a tricky balance I tried to find with that.  Part of me wanted to write something completely outrageous, but I knew nobody would believe that.  So I wrote something that seemed plausible, but now people will read it and say, "that's not that weird, that guy's just a liar".  Sorry.

One of these days I'll come up with something really good.  Something like the story of Sidd Finch.  You may remember reading Sports Illustrated in April of 1985 (I don't, I'm just a student of history with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge), where George Plimpton wrote about the New York Mets' discovery of a pitching phenom who could throw a baseball 168 miles per hour (the previous record was 103) with pinpoint accuracy.

It was a great story about an English orphan who was adopted by an archaeologist who later died in a plane crash in Nepal.  The boy grew up, went to Harvard for a while, then traveled to Tibet to learn the ways of the "Great poet-saint Lama Milaraspa".  He became proficient in Siddhi, the mastery of mind and body, and subsequently mastered "the art of the pitch".

When he came back to America, Finch accepted an invitation to the Mets' Spring Training camp, where he pitched wearing one shoe, a hiking boot on the right foot.  At the end of camp, he told the Mets he needed some time to decide if he was going to pursue a career in baseball or his other passion, the french horn.

The story ran on April 1st, and on April 8th Sports Illustrated announced that Finch had held a press conference where he announced that he had lost the ability to throw with any accuracy and that he would not be pursuing his baseball career.  One week later, SI came clean, telling the world that the story was, indeed, a hoax.

Maybe the readers should have known, because the sub-heading of the article was "He's a pitcher, part yogi and part recluse.  Impressively liberated from our opulent life-style, Sidd's deciding about yoga".  It didn't help me, but when you look back, you'll see that taking the first letter of every word in the previous sentence and putting them together, you get "H-A-P-P-Y-A-P-R-I-L-F-O-O-L-S-D-A-Y".  Genius.

The real beauty of the story was in how elated Mets' fans were at this pitcher who could throw a ball that one player said was not "humanly possible" to hit.  Thousands of letters flooded Sports Illustrated, wanting more information, and their disappointment must have been comical to see when they learned the truth.

A hoax like this in today's instant-information society would be difficult--almost impossible, really.  Almost.  Maybe someday I'll think of something.  And if anybody tells Snopes, we're not going to be friends anymore.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

How NOT to Spend a Thursday

Today started out just like any other spring day. I stumbled out of bed, checked to see how much snow had fallen, then made sure my neighbors hadn't stolen my car or tried to break into the house. I continued my daily routine by making my pot of inhumanly strong coffee and spilling yesterday's coffee grounds on the floor when I missed the trash can. As I sat on the toilet and read for the next 45 minutes, I began to develop a hunch that today would not go smoothly. Sometimes I marvel at my intuition.

My first appointment--a coffee meeting with a donor--began without event. I drank more coffee and realized I was wearing one brown sock and one black sock. If I've been up for three hours or more and that's all that's gone wrong so far, I'm doing alright. During one of my trips to the bathroom I decided to try going sockless, but after looking at my bare ankles, I decided this wasn't the solution. As I put my mis-matched socks back on my feet, I dropped the second one into the urinal, which had not been flushed. Sockless it is.

About a quarter-mile from the coffee shop on the way to my office, I noticed a Highway Patrol car following me closely with his lights flashing. Cops are always suspicious of those 2007 White Toyota Camrys, I thought to myself as I pulled to the shoulder. I wasn't speeding, but I knew exactly what the problem was. About a week ago, I'd been pulled over for not having a license plate on the front of my car (apparently I didn't buy the nice enough model to get a place to mount a front license plate). Graciously, I was given a warning and told to get that taken care of. I didn't, of course, and received a ticket today, along with a stern scolding from officer Filbert.

My next stop was the dealership for an oil change and an inquiry into how special you have to be to get a car with a license plate mount on the front. I guess it's my fault since I've had the car four years now. Right around the time I finished my third pass through Log Cabin Living magazine, a mechanic with a somber look on his face came to the door and called my name.  He rattled off a handful of things that my car needed, as I'd just passed 60,000 miles and never had a tune-up.  I knew it all had to be done, so I told him to get to work and I poured myself yet another cup of coffee.

After a few minutes, the old lady who had been staring at my lap for a terribly awkward amount of time, finally came clean.  She just nodded and said "I'd like to see that if you don't mind".  Right before I had a chance to say "I get that a lot", I looked down and noticed she was pointing the magazine that I'd long since stopped reading.  Close call.  I turned red for reasons she'll never know and politely handed her the magazine.  As I did, however, I managed to spill my hot coffee on her arm (I'm blaming it on the 8th-cup jitters), which already appeared to be afflicted with leprosy.

She screamed and yelled at me, surely not trying to be mean, just reacting to the newly acquired third-degree burns on her already-diseased arms.  She said something about me keeping my magazine, then she didn't let me help her clean herself up.  "I don't want you touching me!" is something nobody is ever prepared to hear, but especially not out of a sweet little old lady.  The looks of disapproval and, frankly, utter hatred, from the other patrons in the waiting room are something I'll never forget.  I couldn't handle it, so I spent the rest of my time in the showroom reading a pamphlet on the new Prius.

Two hours passed and new people came and went in and out of the waiting room.  I returned shamefully to the scene of the incident and read e-mails on my phone until Lyle came out to tell me my car was finished.  Part of me expected that everything would just get better after I tried to maim the old lady, but I somehow forgot that I'd have to pay for all the work the dealership had been doing on my car.  Maybe I was coming down off the caffeine binge or maybe I wasn't happy about spending $1,237 on my car, but as was looking at the bill, I had to use all of my strength to choke back vomit.  The best option was to swallow what had come up, but after doing so I immediately began to think just throwing up all over Lyle would have been a better idea.  It's not like I was making friends with anybody there anyway.

Sensing my unhappiness, Lyle kindly said, "these are just the things you have to do every few years".

I wanted to swear at him and punch him in the teeth--er, tooth--but I gave a sarcastic smile instead.

"Well, we did wash and vacuum your car for you, free of charge.  Thanks Mr. Creamer, your keys are in the car and it's sitting..."  His pause made me quite uncomfortable, mostly because it was accompanied by a confused look, which was quickly replaced by a terrified look, which followed after a speeding white car as it left the parking lot.

Nothing surprised me at this point, and Lyle went running into the shop area.  He returned to inform me that someone had, indeed driven off with my car.  I let him call the Police.  As he talked to the dispatcher, he started to ask me questions.  Turns out I don't know my license plate number, and I also don't know the policy number on my auto insurance.  When asked if I could get this information, I reported that it was at my house, and my keys were in my car.

Sometimes it is a great idea to buy the most nondescript car on the market.  Sometimes.  When the Police are on the hunt for a white Toyota Camry with unknown license plates, however, you really wish you had bought a yellow stationwagon.

As luck would have it, the Kalispell Police were hot on the trail of my car for a different reason.  Apparently one of our great crime-fighters noticed a car with no license plate on the front and commenced hot pursuit.  The car's driver, obviously not wanting to disclose the location of his meth lab, tried to escape.  He made it quite a ways (the Camry, after all, is one of the sportier vehicles out there today) before he lost control of the car and collided with an empty school bus.

About this time, Kalispell's finest were connecting the dots and realizing that this was, indeed, the vehicle that went missing from Kalispell Toyota only 15 minutes earlier.  We piled into a dealership car and drove about 10 miles to the scene of the accident.  When we arrived, the officer asked for my insurance information, due to the fact that the driver of the vehicle was "at-large".  This was my fault.  Awesome.

The good news is that, while my car gets fixed (on my insurance, for now), Kalispell Toyota has loaned me a white 2009 Toyota Camry.  Gotta love an upgrade!