Friday, January 28, 2005

...Shorts II

* Being Jewish, I never had to deal with the heartbreaking loss of innocence that comes with discovering Santa Claus isn’t real. The closest comparable experience I can think of was when I stood in line with my dad at the Hertz Rent-A-Car booth at the Seattle-Tacoma airport and realized that standing directly behind us was bad guy pro wrestler Harley Race peacefully traveling with good guy pro wrestler “Jumping” Jim Brunzell.

* Something I’ve never understood – Customers who will spend thousands of dollars on a product or system without question, but will bitch and complain endlessly over a modest shipping charge.

* Another moratorium request: The term “I need this done/I need to have this yesterday”. It is overused to the point that it no longer indicates any sort of urgency, only the users lack or creativity.

* Another thing I’ve never understood – people who eat at fast-food restaurants or shop at discount places like WalMart and then actually have the gall to complain about the quality of the service. Those people don’t make shit, you know they don’t make shit, what the fuck were you expecting?

* The one period in my life where I can admit I may have let me ego get a little bit out of control was when I was in my college fraternity. There’s just something about watching groups of people subject themselves to mass humiliation and gross indignity, such as eating bananas covered in crunchy peanut butter out of a toilet while blindfolded, all for the great honor of getting to hang out with * YOU * that tends to inflate a persons sense of self-worth

* I’ve also never understood political party loyalty. I simply can’t believe that anyone just happens to agree with all of the points of view of one political party and just happens to disagree with all of the points of view of the other. I think some people just like to feel like they belong to a group.

*In general, my taste in women tends to be pretty mainstream, but for whatever reason, Julia Roberts has never really done it for me. The most unbelievable part of “Closer” to me was the notion that anyone would voluntarily leave Natalie Portman for Julia Roberts.

* What I've learned from blogging: Women like to talk about sex a lot. Men are more just into doing it.

* Have a nice weekend.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

...Movie Clichés

Thoughts on "Cellular"

If I see one more action/thriller/horror movie where the antagonist has the protagonist in a vulnerable situation and could easily kill him if he so desired, but inexplicably decides instead to talk the protagonist’s ear off, thus giving the protagonist the valuable time needed to think a way out of the situation, I’m going to drink a bottle of Drano and put myself out of my misery. It amazes me how tolerant some people are at having their intelligence insulted. If you watch a movie that contains a scene such as this and justify it with the lame “it’s just a movie, it’s not supposed to be realistic” line, I’m sorry, but you’re a tool. Unless you’re my wife. Then we just have different tastes.
The Fallacy of the Talking Killer (credit the late Gene Siskel - 4th one down)


Tuesday, January 18, 2005

...(Even More Of) What I've Learned So Far

The most nonsensical thing on Earth: Single-person bathrooms marked with a “Men” or “Women” indicator. If only one person can go in at a time, why does it matter what gender the pooper or peeer is?

1) When you’re single, the most annoying people imaginable are those married people or people in long-term relationships who determine that just because they happened to find someone desperate enough to settle for them that they now have some special insight or expertise on affairs of the heart and are always giving out unsolicited advice on how you too can meet * your * special someone. 2) When you’re married, the most annoying people imaginable are your single friends who go on and on about how deeply in love with, how much in common they have with and how spiritually connected they are with some person they’ve been dating for like a month 3) When you’re a parent, the most aggravating thing imaginable is listening to the child-rearing theories and philosophies of people who don’t have any.

People who claim not to like babies, cats or puppies are often just trying to get a reaction out of you.

A big accepted myth is that anyone who listens to NPR is a left-wing liberal. Some people (like yours truly) just don’t have the patience for commercials.

When you’re young and exhibit shyness, people look upon this unfortunate condition with sympathy and understanding. When you’re a grown-up and exhibit shyness, people assume you’re a stuck-up, snooty, snob.

With some exceptions, I’m sure, women who keep their virginity into their 20s do so by choice. Men who keep their virginity into their 20s have simply been unable to find a single person on Earth willing to have sex with them.

We have now reached the point where one of the biggest things you can do to show your individually is to *not* get a tattoo.

The single greatest status symbol of our current generation is being busy. Whenever anyone is trying to impress you, they’ll always talk about how busy they are. The most shameful thing a person can admit to is having some free time on their hands.

There is a certain personality type whose greatest goal in life is to attain some sort of management position, not because he or she has any new, fresh or creative ideas that could help his or her company run more efficiently or more profitably, but simply because he or she is egotistical enough to simply want the word “Manager” in his or her title. That and they want to be able to boss people around. The world would be a far more pleasant place is all such people were rounded up and forced to slide down a 20-foot razor blade into a vat of boiling acid.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005


*Sometime within the next month or two will mark 4 years since I began dating the seductive temptress who ultimately became known as Mrs. Gooch. Amazing how time flies. It seems like just yesterday I was sneaking out of my apartment bedroom late at night so I could bury farts into the couch without her hearing.

*I know I’m a little old for this, but when I’m at the gym I sometimes find myself drifting off into Fantasyland where I imagine my workout is being videotaped for a television montage highlighting my training regimen prior to challenging for the World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania. I usually envision either Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” or Scandal’s “Warrior” playing in the background. Then I look around and notice that even among the regular Joes at my local 24 Hour Fitness, I’m on the smaller side, which causes me to drift back towards reality. So then I imagine that it’s actually the Cruiserweight title I’m challenging for.

*I hate to break it to those who still cling to the fantasy that they will one day be thought of as a “cool” parent, but it’s just not in the cards. No matter how many names of current bands you know, how well you stay on top of current fashion trends, etc., your kids are still going to think you’re a dork. Example: The other night I was making something of a spectacle of myself as I listened to Green Day on my portable CD Player while doing the dishes. What can I say – it’s a great CD. My older stepson, age 10, stopped to inform me that Green Day was a “teenager” band. He said this not in a “…and wow, you sure are a cool dude for listening to them” way, but in a “…dude, give it up, you’re way too old to be listening to that stuff and doing so just makes you look pathetic” kind of way. Never mind that I’ve been a fan of Green Day since before he was born and the members of the band are all older than me. Once you reach the point of having to use facts and figures to prove your still with it chances are the battle has already been lost.

*Can we put a moratorium on anyone asking that, “Why is it you need a license to have a dog, but ANYONE can have a child?” question? First of all, you didn’t think it up so nobody thinks you’re either deep or enlightening. This question got old around the same time pronouncing Target as "Tar-zhey" did. Plus, what exactly are you suggesting? That when two people have unprotected sex without a “license” we take away the baby that was created and placed it in a teensy-tiny cage and if not adopted within a week send it to be destroyed? Yeah, that sounds much more humane.

*I’ve taken to listening to classical music on the way into work in the morning as a means of relaxation so I’m not so full of stress and anxiety before I even walk into the office. I listen to it again in the afternoon to help calm and soothe me so I’m actually somewhat tolerable to be around once I get home. Listening to this incredibly beautiful, powerful, complex music, it really makes you realize how most all other music pretty much sucks in comparison. And it makes me sad that I just assumed for the previous 31 years of my life that classical music was an art form for snobs and elitists. Although the fact that the station I’ve been listening to has regular updates on what's happening in the world of wine probably doesn’t do much to erase that stereotype.

* I’ve touched on this before, but the more I think about it, the more obnoxious it seems to me to have any sort of political bumper sticker on your car. I’m totally non-partisan about this too. I just have a hard time believing that in the last election, for example, there was anybody who was at a loss as to who to vote for who then came across a “John Kerry `04” bumper sticker and said to themsleves, “Well, now that's decided”. Similarly, I doubt that anybody who holds the “Pro-Choice” position on the abortion argument has ever seen a car bearing the “IT’S A CHILD NOT A CHOICE” bumper sticker and said, “Geez, I've never really thought about it like that, I now officially change my position”. So, really, at the end of the day, all a political message bumper sticker is is a big advertisement of your own political beliefs. Which seems to me to be the absolute height of egotism because why the fuck do you think I care about the political leanings of some guy (or girl) I don’t know?

Monday, January 10, 2005

...Other People's Fantasies

What do you do when all of Southern California is being pounded by storms and a newborn baby has prevented you from seeing any grown-up movies for the past 4 ½ months? Rent DVDs of course.

I finally got around to seeing "Garden State". I liked it. A solid *** out of **** in my book. Interesting characters, good acting, funny and often moving.

But I had one major problem.

For those who don’t know, Zack Braff, of "Scrubs” fame, not only stars in the film, but also wrote and directed it as well. Now, maybe as a guy I’m not the best judge of other guys’ looks, but I think I can say with some certainty that while Braff is a pleasant enough looking fellow, he is not in the Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, George Clooney, Colin Farrell, Orlando Bloom mold of a person who is famous primarily because of how good-looking he is.

There is a scene early on in “Garden State” where Braff is among a group of people at a party who get high on ecstasy and decide to play a friendly game of spin the bottle. A montage of the game is shown, with the men and women (or women and women depending on where the bottle lands) giving each other quick, friendly pecks on the lips. This is until a young, sexy, luscious nymphet spins and lands on the Braff character. She then proceeds to get up, straddle Braff’s lap, and heavily make out with him, tongue and all.

It should be noted here that her character did not know the Braff character prior to the party, nor did they speak to each other before playing the game, so there is no possibility she could be attracted to him for reasons other than purely physical ones. And while I guess you could blame the ecstasy, as I mentioned, all the other kisses given during the game were friendly ones, not deep throat expeditions like this.

It just completely took me out of the movie. Admittedly, I’ve been accused on more than one occasion of being somewhat of a drag to watch movies with as I’m one of those people who has a very difficult time “suspending disbelief” and feel compelled to mention out loud all the stupid parts of a movie where reality is betrayed. I guess I just don’t like having my intelligence insulted. But I know I’m not being weird about this, because even Natalie Portman, the film's co-star, calls Braff on this during the commentary track of the DVD.

I mean, I think all of us guys, whether we admit it or not, fantasize about having women who are far out of our league throw themselves at us. Heck, I’m happily married to a wonderful, beautiful woman, but there is still a small part of me that likes to think that the reason Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt broke up is because Jennifer could no longer live in that sham of a marriage knowing that her heart rightfully belongs to the guy in the right hand corner of this page. But at least I don’t charge you a $3.99 rental fee to read about that shit.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

...Space Invaders

I’ve grown to really detest January. Every year at this time my local gym is invaded by the New Year Resolutionists who for the first two or three weeks of every year choose to hold onto the overly optimistic belief that this will be the year they’re finally going to change their lifelong habit of eating too much and exercising too little and make their body go from disgusting to desirable.

I guess I’ve just become jaded to it. Yeah, I know there is always that one person in a hundred, the Jared from Subway type, who is actually able to make a permanent lifestyle change and will stick to a plan of healthy eating and regular physical activity, but these types are far outnumbered by those who go to the gym for the first few weeks of January buoyed by the fantasy of how much happier their life will be once their body more resembles The Rock or Jennifer Garner’s rather than Chris Farley or Sally Struthers’, but quit after a few short weeks upon realizing that getting in shape takes a lot of real hard work, commitment and sacrifice. I know this because at this time every year I start to see all sorts of new faces at the gym and just as soon these new faces disappear and it’s back to the same familiar crew.

I don’t mean to sound so harsh. I don’t really give a shit what people look like – I have friends of all shapes and sizes. And it’s not like I’ve never broken a New Years Resolution. Chances are I won’t be sticking to that one about spending more time this year reading the classics while spending less time following the search for the next American Idol.

But I’m so sick and tired of having my life inconvenienced the first few weeks of the year by the people who further overcrowd my already overcrowded gym based on the fantasy that they’re going to succeed with the same goal they’ve failed with every year previous. Maybe I’m too picky, but I prefer to get my exercise on the weights and machines within the gym itself, not on the 20-minute walk I’m forced to take from my car to the gym entrance because these wannabes have overtaken all of the available spaces in the parking lot. I’m a fairly patient guy; I understand that when you go to the gym during peak hours your going to have to occasionally wait for equipment. But when a full additional hour is added to my workout time because of the extra traffic caused by those who like to fool themselves the first few weeks of every January, well, that’s just kind of annoying.

So, have a great 2005 and stay the fuck out of my gym.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

...Alien Life Forms & Other Creatures

A funny thing happened on the way to meet Make Mine Mike

You’d think with all the years I’ve been in sales, having to constantly tell customers “No” (“No, I can’t lower my price”, “No, I can’t throw that in at no charge”, “No, you can’t return the product you bought from us a year and a half ago for a refund”), that this ability would somehow transfer over to my personal life . No such luck. This has always been a problem for me. A few years ago I found myself attending perhaps the geekiest event known to man - an “X-Files” convention. Why did I go? My friend Leo invited me and I didn’t want to hurt his feeling by turning him down. The only event on Earth I can think of that could possibly match this in terms of pure nerdiness is a Star Trek convention. While I never did attend one of those, I did once spend hours and hours at the Las Vegas Hilton ogling the Star Trek exhibit housed there, even though I’ve never actually sat through an entire episode of Star Trek in any of its incarnations. Why did I go then? My roommate at the time, Scott, wanted to and I would have felt bad making him go by himself. Don’t even get me started on the number of terrible movies I’ve seen, ones I had absolutely no interest in watching to begin with, all because some friend of mine invited me and I just couldn’t bring myself to say no. I’ve actually taken to not answering my home telephone for fear that if I do one of my friends is going to end up making me commit to some event and I will be powerless to decline.

I find it fascinating how some people can function as seemingly normal members of society - owning homes, working at a trade, paying bills, voting, etc., while, for all intents and purposes, they are completely and totally insane.

I’ve had a work-related errand I’ve needed to run for some time now, which required picking up some equipment from one of my company’s subcontractors in Orange County and then running this equipment up to a customer in Los Angeles. This also provided a great excuse to finally get together with Mike. This subcontractor runs an audio-visual repair operation out of his garage. I imagine it must get a little lonely sitting there all by himself every day. I guess I take it for granted that I spend most of my workdays alongside people who double as my good friends.

It is simply a given that when you pick up equipment form this fellow that you’re going to have a difficult time getting out of there within any sort of normal timeframe. You just have to plan your day around the extra 30 minutes or so you’re going to spend there while this guy talks your ear off. I remember years ago an old college acquaintance, a rather shy person who was a friend of a friend, relocated from Southern CA to the state of Washington. Describing the difficulty he was having in meeting people in his new hometown, this person stated that from the time he left work in the afternoon until he returned the next morning, he made no use of his vocal muscles whatsoever. I always picture this subcontractor in a similar scenario, not speaking to any other human beings except for when we occasionally drop by to pick something up.

I thought I might actually get out of there quickly Thursday morning, as it appeared I came at an inconvenient time and figured he’d want to get me out of there as fast as possible. He looked like he had just gotten out of the shower, answering the door in sweatpants and no shirt.

While he was writing out our invoice he must have noticed me looking around, trying to figure out where the voices I was hearing were coming from.

“I taped some TV shows to my computer last night. I’m going to burn them onto DVD’s with some video editing software I just bought”

He then proceeded to describe this new software in detail, how he was able not only to make his own custom DVD’s, but was also able to create his own menuing system, create his own chapters within the DVD’s, etc. Then, of course, came the kicker:

“You wanna come check it out?”

Now, what a perfect opportunity I had to say “No”. I was working. I could have easily said, “Geez, I’d love to but I’ve really got to get this stuff back to our customer.” Hell, my wife called me on my cell phone in the middle of all this; how easy would it have been for me to pretend the call was work related and use it as an excuse to get out of there?

Instead, of course, I said, “Sure”, and proceeded to enter the small room attached to his garage. I was shown a series of small samples of the 30+ hours of custom DVDs he’s produced, carefully edited from hundreds of hours of televison programs he’s recorded, all of which serve to prove the existence of aliens. The footage was enhanced by his own live commentary introducing each piece:

“... they found a cow in the middle of a field that had been cut from it titties to it’s, uuh, you know, it’s pussy.. But there was NO BLOOD. Aliens.”

Pulling out another DVD from his collection, he explained that if you study the bible close enough, you can find evidence of aliens.

“You know where they describe ‘Chariots of Fire’ in the bible? Well, they only say ‘Chariots’ because there was no word for ‘vehicle’. If the word ‘vehicle’ had been around they would have said ‘vehicle’. The Chariots of Fire were actually alien spaceships.”

Peering over at the cabinet that housed his homemade DVDs, I couldn’t help but notice that when he’s not studying UFO’s and Alien Life Forms, he is most likely watching one of the many pornos that are not too well hidden within the same cabinet. I look at stumbling across somebody’s porn collection (or, more specifically, knowing what they use the porn collection for) the same way I look at catching somebody taking a shit. In other words, I know, intellectually, that it happens, but I don’t need to see the physical evidence.

I’m all for taking one for the team, but I think I’ll be sending one of my partners the next time we need to pick something up from this guy.


Mike gave a very accurate description of our meeting on his own blog. What can I say about Mike that hasn’t already been said by the other bloggers who’ve met him before me except to say that I agree with the others - Michael’s on-line persona of being hysterically funny, highly intelligent, thoughtful and extremely friendly is, if anything, just a scaled down version of the real-life Michael. We met for lunch at 1:30 and didn’t end up leaving the restaurant until nearly 4:30. It occurs to me that this may have been one of the only times in recorded history where two people who knew each other only through the Internet met in real life without the intention of having sex. Our meeting even featured a surprise guest appearance via phone fromAJ who also lived up to his well-deserved reputation as everyone’s favorite “nice guy” blogger

Mike mentioned at the beginning of lunch his plan to cease operations over at Make Mine Mike. I’m not going to lie to you - I was a little bummed. I don’t even remember if I mentioned this to Mike or not, but his was one of the first blogs I discovered upon entering the Blog-o-Sphere, and I believe he was one of the first people to ever comment on this site when it was a mere 2 of 3 posts old. I’ve used Mike as something of a blogging standard for myself, in that I’ve used his posts as the goal of what I’d like mine to reach someday in terms of writing quality. Mike, I completely understand your reasons for taking time off and I think it is the right decision, but Blogland is going to be a little less interesting because of it. Good luck and keep in touch.

Happy New Year!
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