Sunday, January 31, 2010

Live Music in Bars

HUHHHH????WHATTT????? OHHHHH!! YEAHHH I COME HERE ALOT TOO!! We have all dealt with this before. You get to the barrrrr, you're getting a nice drinnnnk, you're sitting downnnnnn, you're gonna enjoy a nice eveninggggg. Next thing you know..."OOOOOHHHHHHHHHH WERE HALF WAYYYY THEREEEEE!!!! OHHHHH OHHHHH LIVINNNNN ON A PRAYERRRRRRR!!! TAKE MY HANNNNNDDDDD WE'LLL MAKE IT I SWEARRRRRR!!!" The bass is way to deep and loud. The drummer is trying to upstage the vocals and guitar by playing too loudly. The vocalist usually just sucks. You thought your fun night of hanging out, busting balls, and work was underway. Wrong. The live music has taken the stage oh my brother. Get me something to be sick in! Whatever ambiance the place had going on has been completely shattered by painfully amateur musicians. They play the same old crap, butcher the good crap, and say things like "do we have eagles fans in the house"??? The same people who enjoy deafening loud music are often attracted to shiny objects and the like. They are stimulated by what stimulates the senses, not the cerebral. These idiots probably enjoyed the 2002 version of E.T. over the 1982 version. I am not trying to sound like a crotchety old man bitching to no end about these damn kids and their music. I enjoy quality live music at a bar, but let me keep my hearing and allow me to hear myself think just a little bit. It doesn't have to be the dance of the living dead, but demonstrate some semblance of skill. I'm not expecting Copacabana-esque performances, but please show me something.

They Paved Common Sense, and Put Up a Parking Lot

Ever think about how much time we spend in parking lots? From tailgating before a game to just driving around looking for a place to park at work or a crowded mall, the time clocked in parking lots or garages adds up quicker than you'd think. So of course, if people spend enough time in a certain setting, there are bound to be a few annoying things going on. For tonight I'll point out three and then get back to not watching the Pro Bowl.

1. "Stay within the lines, the lines are your friends" - Remember this lesson that you learn while coloring in kindergarten? Well, the guy with the spanking new car must have forgotten it, because he's got his new puppy straddling two spots near the end of the parking lot, just to be totally sure that no one parks near him. Believe me pal, when you park that far away, it's never going to be terribly crowded with cars, so the option of actually parking within the confines of the painted stripes is not going to backfire on you. I know it's tough for you to not look like a self-important douche, but allow me to quote Tom Arnold in Austin Powers: just grab a hold of something, bite your lip, and give it hell. Come on, we're gonna get through this!

2. The domino effect of bad parking. This is a phenomenon in its own right that is only done justice by photographical evidence, but you know what I'm talking about. You get this a lot in parking garages with tight or diagonal spots. One person parks crooked or uneven (or both), which throws off the person parking next to them (because if they park evenly in their spot they won't have room to open the door and get out), and the next person, and so on and so on. So don't be that guy or that girl who throws off the entire row. Straighten yourself out, because you never know how karma will come back at you. Just ask this guy. (Not that it's related to anything, but who can pass up a chance at a Favre jab?)

3. If you are about to immediately walk indoors from the parking lot, take the sunglasses off. You may have to take a big leap of faith and just trust me on this one, but if you walk from the car to the building without your sunglasses on, I don't think you're going to get hounded by paparazzi. So unless you're about to spend an extended period of time outside once you get out of the car (i.e. you're tailgating, heading to the beach, or taking a walk around a park), leave the sunglasses in the car. The only other mitigating circumstance is if you expect to have to field a fly ball at some point between the car and the building. And since there usually aren't many dudes hitting fungoes at unsuspecting people in parking lots, we can rule that one out too. Although it does give me an idea to spice up the morning at work....

Miss Irrelevant

Who gives a shit about the Miss America pageant? Apparently not many people do because it aired last night on TLC. The Learning Channel. HAHAHAHA! The Learning Channel!? No one is interested in these overachieving, overzealous, holier-than-thou, untouchable women. "And here comes Miss North Carolina. She enjoys mountain biking, kick boxing, yoga, and watching football with the guys. While not studying her Neurosurgery textbooks, she devotes her free time towards reading to blind kids, rescuing puppies, and other empty deeds to build her resume. She was the girl in high school who ignored you. You have no shot with this girl, so get it out of your head. If you were laying in a puddle of your own blood in her path, she would probably step on you".

No one cares to watch this false competition anymore. Unfortunately, I do not know any of these girls personally, so why should I care about what they do. It's a class president race on steroids. I'm not impressed. It's shameless self-promotion. My opinions are often not backed by the masses, but I feel the people are with me on this one. The Miss America pageant is bogus.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

"Thanks, I Appreciate It" - Part Two

To round out this latest miniseries (which is code for "I intended it to be one entry but got carried away writing the first part"), we take a gander at hollow gratitude, namely the phrase "I appreciate it."

Appreciation is a sentiment, unlike love or respect, that requires some sort of carried-out action in order to be more than just a word. When someone tells you they appreciate you or something you did for them, it doesn't mean a damn thing if the benefactor does not show their appreciation in some form. Sure, it may sincerely mean that the other person now thinks more highly of you, but since there is no "Kelley Blue Book" for people, that really does nothing for you. To borrow an investment term, paper gains are nice, but you're in it for the realized gains.

If your boss tells you, "hey, thanks for all that extra work you did to cover while we had people out sick this week, I really appreciate it," you just give a half smile and say "no problem, glad I could help, blah blah blah." But what you're really thinking is the boss had better remember times like this when annual reviews and bonuses roll around. It doesn't even have to be sizable. He could just say "hey, I really appreciate your extra work this week, why don't you take next Friday as a free vacation day, on me?" Sold! That's a tangible, low-cost (for the boss and company) method of showing gratitude, and can only help an employee's morale going forward.

Men are like dogs - we just want you to throw us a bone every once in a while and say "good boy, good boy." Ever see how happy a dog gets when he knows he's done something good and he's about to get a few slices of steak and a belly rub? It's all about the two-way street - the dog brings in the newspaper and gets his treat, making the owner happy and the dog happy, creating incentive for each party to do more of the same in the future. I'll use another human example before you get to thinking I'm trying to be an amateur Dog Whisperer.

Say you have a girlfriend and you choose to surprise her one day with flowers sent to her office (or better yet, waiting for her in her room when she gets home), a nice piece of jewelry, whatever. Your underlying hope is that she loves it and is floored by your level of consideration for her, leaving her wanting to reciprocate somehow - maybe tickets to a game, or that Mickey Mantle throwback you'd had your eye on lately. One hand washes the other - this cyclical action will go a long way in strengthening a relationship.

So when she says, "thank you, this is awesome, I really appreciate everything you do for me," she better not be bitching at you 12 hours later because the trash hasn't been taken out. Excuse me? You just said you appreciate everything he does for you, now you're bitching the first chance you get? You, darling, are a liar and do not truly appreciate anything. And you have just eliminated any incentive for your significant other to ever want to do something particularly nice for you again. If you were really appreciative you'd muscle up and take the trash out yourself, or at the very least, ask nicely if you want something done.

If you really wanted to be honest, you could have said "Thanks so much for everything, but I think so highly of myself that I feel that little trinkets like this are periodically necessary just to keep you out of the doghouse." At least then everyone would have a good understanding of each other.

So, in conclusion, thanks for reading, I appreciate it!

Snuff This Bitch

Here is Flo. You have no doubt seen her invade your television set time and time again in one of the more egregious ad campaign in recent memory. Personally I find myself cursing at the TV set and hoping she disappears. She must be stopped. Hopefully you are boycotting them as an insurance company. I find it amazing that Geico can place far more ads with a $600 million advertising budget, yet manage to amuse me still, while Progressive chooses to annoy. I don't understand this marketing tactic and it certainly does not work on me.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

"Thanks, I Appreciate It" - Part One

I've spent plenty of time musing about the lack of etiquette (see the award-winning "License and Registration, Please" 3-part series) already, but now we must spend a minute on misplaced and/or phony efforts of gratitude.

Please please please stop the excessive use of "Thank You" at the office. I feel like I hear "thank you" and "thanks" so damn much during the day that it puts that circa-1999 Alanis Morissette song in my head (you know, the one with the piano background, the one where she went pseudo-nude in the music video and officially jumped the shark). I understand being courteous and all, but it's gone over the top. You don't need to thank me for simply doing my job - I get a paycheck deposited into my bank account every Friday that serves that purpose.

It's even at the point that I see a ton of people with "Thanks," preceding their default email signatures. So you're telling me that you find it necessary to thank someone every single time you send an email? Half the emails I send at work involve telling people how or why they've just screwed something up, followed by detailed backup and explicit instructions on how to unscrew the situation. You can bet your last dime those emails do not include the words "thank you" at the end, because I do not believe in thanking people for being inadequate and wasting my time.

Thanking people at every turn, regardless of the quality of their actions, is a fertility drug for mediocrity. It's like having "4th-place" or "Participant" ribbons hanging up on your wall as a kid, or your parents slapping onto the fridge a science test with a nice 80 on it. People should be thanked for exceeding expectations, not for going through the motions. Those who overuse phrases of gratitude are either way too easy to please, or they operate on autopilot and don't pay enough attention to what comes out of their mouth. But maybe I'm the weird one.

Simply Sloppy

Sloppy (adj.): marked by a lack of neatness or order; marked by a lack of care or precision
Sloppiness (n): marked by an absence of due or proper care or attention

There’s an ever growing epidemic in this country. It’s everywhere. It’s right in front of us. On television, in restaurants, EVERYWHERE. The places are endless, and so are the waistlines. Americans love to eat. If you don’t understand the definitions stated above, let me make this simple.

Sloppy IS defined as:
a fat, overweight, or obese person PERIOD;
a person who has no regard for how he/she looks; or
someone who doesn’t have their act together

We believe that we are the #1 country in the world, a leader above all. Yet, we carry ourselves like fools. Is it fun when you can’t breathe? It’s not good when a girl turns you down at the bar. Are you trying to look like Joaquin Phoenix? You don’t impress anyone. It’s time to open your eyes (it’s a shame your cheeks are too big).

I have my act together, which doesn’t give you the right to disgrace me with your presence. Do us all a favor and buy a shirt that covers your fat? I shouldn’t be sitting in a PUBLIC library and see the bare bottom of your midsection bounce when you walk by me. Clothes are made to fit your body NOW, not ten years ago. Women are terrible at understanding this, especially heavy high-school girls.

Men have a different problem. Please shower. Please shave or trim your beard, at least. And don’t wear Nike shocks with a suit. People aren’t laughing with you. How does a guy who hasn’t moved from his bed in two years get a show on TLC? What could possibly be so interesting about his life? And others are sitting on the couch watching this mess (in HD). Don’t tell me that I’m too skinny or that I need to beef up. You obviously don't know what's right and what's good. I promise not to criticize you when you come asking questions about how to cure your diabetes.

There’s no excuse for sloppiness. Read a book on nutrition and healthy living. Mix exercise into your daily routine. Basically, DO SOMETHING to avoid embarrassment. Having a great job means very little if you are unhealthy and unhappy.

Red Light...Green Light It

Gambling is a billion dollar industry. The Catholic Church calls it a vice. People claim that it brings in a seedy underbelly and leads to crime. I won't dispute this completely. To some degree I believe it to be true but I feel its blown out of proportion. Its an age old agrument but don't let the actions of some ruin things for the majority of us. Most people enjoy gambling for fun and are prepared to lose some coin when the go to the casino because they expect to have some fun along the way. You go down the shore and hang out with your friends and family and enjoy a night or a weekend of controlled mayhem.

I like gambling of all forms because it taxes the dumb, weak willed, and poor that do not contribute enough to taxes. Buy your scratch offs on your lunch breaks and on the way home from work. You might get lucky some times but in the end you will lose. Thank you for contributing to the state funds.

People who bitch about gambling are the ones that don't do it and because they are not having fun, they don't want you to either. These people need to get a life. Casinos are beginning to pop up around our area in limited form to raise dollars for the Tri state area. They are popping up throughout the rest of the country as well because they are generating an interest in otherwise uninteresting areas and are helping to pay for government deficits.

Sports betting is one area that Delaware tried to pass an ultimately failed. 3 team parlays were approved in the state but thats a far cry from single game betting. For the life of me, I don't understand why federal law limits single game betting to Las Vegas. The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 allowed Delaware and Oregon to run sports lotteries but not single game betting like Nevada. I specualte, to the point where I am nearly certain, that politics and the mob are involved in keeping in in Vegas. The NCAA and NFL are the biggest professional roadblocks to sports gambling spreading making several threats.

The point is that people enjoy sports gambling, perhaps even more so then table games. Bookies exist throughout the country and would continue to exist (because they allow betting on credit) but gambling would be more regulated. The mob presence would subside some because some people will choose to gamble legally and the states across the country would have some added revenue. I look forward to the day where betting palors are outside of stadium and you can place bets at halftime of games. Gambling may be considered part of the red light district but its time to green light it for the sake of the majority.

Why I Can't Watch the News

I like to stay up on current events and such, so I read online. With the internet, I pick what an issue that interests me, I read it, end of story. What I don't need is some excessively bubbly anchor trying to be my friend. Don't be my friend, I don't know you, and I don't like you. Just give me the news. Yet, this proves to be a challenging task. The programmers for these shows include so much irrelevant crap that I could not care less about. For example, take when a bad snowstorm dumps a large amount of snow on the area. The press is out there covering this thing like it's the damn moon landing. And they always have those helpful "tips" from "experts". These are my favorite. They find experts on anything and everything. "When shoveling snow, lift with your legs, not with your back. Try to shovel every few hours to avoid doing it all at once. Put salt down to melt the ice". Really? Gee TV news, thanks for the advice. If it weren't for my news anchors, who knows where I would be with this catastrophic weather event. I really would not have figured this out. Even the average moron knows how to handle this. Stop assuming how dumb the average person is. Granted, the average yokel out there is pretty damn stupid. But the news somehow decides its interesting to offer obvious advice. They also love to sensationalize shit by allowing the average idiot that is out and about to utter the spoken word on air about the situation. Its really not interesting to hear how people are handling the snow. I mean come on, enough already with the everyday people interviews.

Anchor: How are you handling the snow, sir? Idiot: Oh well Im out here shoveling. The kids are out sledding, they're thrilled not to have school. I can't wait to get inside and have some hot cocoa. My wife doesn't like to come out in the snow so I'm stuck, haha.

Well, that was riveting. Fascinating, other people have to deal with the snow, wow. What outstanding f***ing journalism. Walter Cronkite eat your heart out. The magnitude of your work in Vietnam, the moon landing, Watergate and so on simply pales in comparison to Joe Nobody's heroic snow shoveling. And I can't stand to hear people bitch about the weather in the Northeast whenever its cold or we get a snowstorm. Move then. Leave. No one is keeping you here. Do you understand you live in the Northeast? Have you noticed how the climate changes miraculously in synchronization with the changes in season? The cold weather tends to range from barely tolerable to unspeakably cold from November to March here. DEAL WITH IT! Put on a jacket and stop your bitching. Unless you work outside, stop complaining. These are the same people that complain about crowded malls during the holidays. Nobody cares what you think. Yet, the news loves asking common morons to comment on matters they know little of. Obviously, the news is trying to engage the average moron viewer. Typically, the topic of discussion is something inherently negative by nature.

This brings me to my next point. The news can be intensely depressing and emotionally draining. Nonstop weeping mothers of fire victims, rape, murder, robbery, the economy, the Eagles, and anything else negative that can be harped on. As a result of the nonstop negativity, I just cant watch daily TV news in the morning or any time for that matter. Its too draining. I'm too spent to devote any emotional calories to these people. I don;t like seeing people suffer in pain, anguish, or grief. I care about what happens, therefor I am indifferent becuase I choose not to acknowledge what the problem is. It is estimated that 146,000 people die give any 24 hour period. The vast majority of the time, it won;t affect me. I don't need the emotionally draining murder and destruction updates from the news. I wake up, go downstairs and throw on sportscenter. I want to get my day off on the right foot. Do I really care who died in a robbery overnight? No. Unless I knew the person, then I'll invest emotionally in the situation. I acknowledge mine and my family's health and such, but I don't need to share in the misery of life events that occur to total strangers. It's cold, but life is too short to constantly feel grief. Thats too much for me to handle. So please, scale back the pull-at-my-heart-strings bullsh*t. People are intrigued by death and destruction. Im not. I choose not to be. Thank you.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Save Your Money...Don't Go to the Major Event

Thinking of going to the Final Four, the BCS Championship, or the Super Bowl? Save your money, it probably isn't worth it unless your team is playing. The two biggest reasons for the letdown is the atmosphere and your seats suck worse than you could have imagined. I'm sure Lou can second this concept, having attended a Super Bowl.

Avoid Neutral Predetermined Locations

Corporate "Champions" have a hold on so many seats at the Final Four that if you get public seats to the game you can watch them milling behind the scenes and stuffing their faces while the game is going on. You see because its a great idea to have a basketball game on a football field and stick the paying customers so far out of the way they have a better view of the corporate tents then the game.
The atmosphere blows at these games because the real fans have little time to snatch up tickets and make travel plans. Many of the tickets have been distributed to the corporate sponsors coaches and other people that care little about the teams.
I have sat in the last row behind the basket at these events and also in obstructed view seats. I don't usually buy into watching the game on TV but in these instances it can be ideal.

Pro Sports win here
Having been to the 1993 NLCS Game 1, 1993 World Series Game 5, and NHL Eastern Conference Finals game 6, I can say that its better to these pro events as opposed to NCAA tournament regional semi finals and finals. The atmosphere is better because its filled with raucous home fans willing their team to victory.

Go to a rivalry game
Shell out your cash to go to a on campus rivalry game and you won't regret it. The exchange between fans no matter if its football or basketball its awesome. Feel the hatred in the building and the shift in emotions hindging on each big play and witness the fans chanting as the clock runs down. Immerse yourself in the true culture of the real fans and you will have a more enjoyable time. Even a titantic NFL clash like a divisional game probably packs more atmosphere punch then the Super Bowl. Spend your money wisely.

You Aren't Special

Stop. Just stop. It's bad enough the back of your Volkswagen is cluttered with anti-Bush, save the environment, dave matthews band, and other excessively apologetic liberal bumper stickers. We get it. You're different. Congratulations, you're so enlightened. You must be so smart. Your workouts consist of 90 minutes of stretching. You wear dark-rimmed glasses, you haven't shaved in 3 days, your hair is messy, and when you shake hands you throw a dead fish out there. Do not give me a dead fish. Shake my hand in a firm fashion. You don't have to put my hand in a vice, but let me know you're alive. I am sick of these American hipster douchebags and their tight jeans, multi-color scarfs, while wearing a pea coat. You have no edge whatsoever. You have this sense of superiority because you think your trendy stylish ways are so forward thinking.

Most often these are wealthy suburban white kids who move into major city and are desperate to shed their suburban identity. You know there are pictures of them on the wall in their parents homes with parted hair and knit sweaters. There is probably a 85-90% chance they ran cross country or track in high school. I can't even begin to comprehend the dumbass lame music they listen to. They often have bookbags with them wherever they are going. What is that all about? What do you have in there? You don't impress me. I know why you carry that stupid ass bookbag. You can't fool me. You are telling the world you're an enlightened sensitive guy who lives in the city because the suburbs are so commercial and oppressive, and you need this bag for your yoga mat, philosophy literature to read while using public transportation (because owning a car is a republican plot to pollute the atmosphere, exacerbate global warming, all in order to kill the polar bears), and nalgene bottle. As for me, I wear jeans and a polo shirt, a nice sweater or thermal, or something of the sort. Do you have a problem with me? Like all people who "don't care what others think", you are pretty damn hung up on making sure that all who see you know you don't care what they think. I'm not impressed, and you aren't special.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Surgeon General's Warning

Peering out the office window on a cold and dreary winter afternoon, I can't help but snicker at the crowd of poor saps huddled outside the building. They are always there at their regular intervals, not because they are locked out, but because they're smoking.

Maybe I'm going to offend a lot of people, but if you were born circa 1975 or later and you smoke, well, you my friend, suck. It's one thing if you're from an older generation when smoking was pretty much a universally accepted practice. But if you grew up in the mid '70s or later, as the anti-smoking movement really gained legs (although the United States banned cigarette TV commercials in 1971), you have no excuse to be a smoker besides the fact that you are a weak person.

Be honest. You started smoking in high school or maybe even in college, as a way to rebel against your parents and try to be cool. And maybe it worked. Maybe it made you cool in high school and launched a series of events that got you to second base on your prom night. And now you can't stop. Now you're spending 8 bucks a pack. Now you're told to get the hell out of the bar if you want to light up. Now the value of your property plummets if you smoked inside on a regular basis. Now your insurance rates are higher. Now you can't seem to get up and down the basketball court in those pickup games quite like you used to, and you always feel a bit extra tired. Now your clothes stink and your voice is starting to get raspy.

"Oh, but I have a stressful job, I need it to relax." Riiiiight (you know, you could try working out a few times a week to alleviate that stress, but you're too tired for that, yes?). "Oh, it's ok, I only have a few when I'm drunk." Uh-huh. You were weak then because you started smoking as an all-out effort for short-term social status, and you're weak now because a.) you can't admit to such things, and b.) you can't commit yourself to quitting. I love how these morons in my office, the vast majority of whom blow at their jobs as it is, take 30-45 minutes out of their day to bundle up, go out into the piss cold of January, and slowly kill themselves. So you're that committed to your little habit that you'll go through such measures just to knowingly harm yourself, but somehow finding it in you to kick said habit is "too tough?"

I find it even funnier (and by funnier, I mean terrible) when a woman gets pregnant, valiantly manages to not smoke for 9 months, and then practically has the lighter ready the second that baby is popped out of there. So let me get this straight - you were motivated enough to not harm your yet-to-be-born baby as it grew inside you for 9 months, but not motivated enough to keep from subjecting it to secondhand smoke thereafter?

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to start working on opening up a hot chocolate/coffee/donut stand right next to where all the aforementioned Mensa members congregate outside the office. If everyone else is making money off of these shitbirds, then I might as well too.

Hating the Past: Outlines and Rough Drafts

Remember in Elementary school and middle school and high school and even college when teachers forced you to do outlines and rough drafts.

For some people this may have actually been helpful but for me it was always a nuisance that I have dreaded. It was bullshit that got in the way of the finished project. Stuff like this should have been optional because for some kids it did not help organize shit. Teachers should have been worried about the finished product and not how you got there. If you can successfully complete the finish product you don't need to complete mundane tasks. If you can't and the outline helps you then have at it.

I bring this up because today at work I am being told to write an outline for a half page summary of a 10 page report. Really I wrote a 10 page report and you don't trust me to write a half page summary. Needless to say I wrote my summary and didn't do the outline only to bitched at after the fact. Forgive me for cutting the bullshit.

The 60/40 rule

I'm going to take some heat because this opinion is unpopular. I am going to be classified as cheap but whatever. When a guy and a girl are going out, the guy can be expected to treat his girlfriend from time to time, but not all the time. It's not a cut and dry money thing, guys just don't want to feel like they are being taken advantage of. I'm sure just about everyone feels that they have been used for free meals at time, or that in some instances they are indirectly paying for sex. This is an awful feeling for most. However, I am convinced that most women are not taking advantage of guys for free meals but rather they would like you to take care of them. They want to feel special and that someone likes them enough to buy them a meal or take them to a movie. I am starting to understand this and when you are dating its expected that a man pays a greater deal, he drives to see you, and whatever.

When a male and female are in a relationship the female should start to pick up some slack. I'm not saying she has to buy dinner, but she should surprise her boyfriend with tickets to a game, pay for a movie from time to time, drive to see you…..contribute. Eventually it should become a two way street. I will not tolerate being the sole provider, Mrs. Degrees are not offered here. Chivalry and catering to the girl's wants from time to time are nice things to do but reciprocation is necessary.

The 60/40 rule has a nice ring to it, but its not in stone. Guys can expect to pay more often, and drive more often, and maybe even make more money but don't take advantage because I'm allowing a 60% threshold.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Chocolate Caramel Supreme Protein Bars

My life changed some 2 years ago when I met the love of my life: the Chocolate Caramel Carb Conscious Supreme Protein Bar. 30 grams of protein, low in sugar, only 5g saturated fat, fulfilling, and of course delicious. The caramel in the orange wrapper supreme gives the bar long lasting substance, not allowing to consumer to scarf the bar. The caramel gives the eating experience longevity, since it cannot be chewed and swallowed like the peanut butter bar or the cookies and cream bar. I am finding that I finish those 2 flavors far more quickly than the caramel bar. There will be no talk about the Rocky Road flavor, f*** that bar.

I was inspired to write this post as I was driving home this evening. Wawa's bright lights beckoned me as the Durango 95 purred real horrorshock. It has gotten to the point where the site of a Wawa triggers a Supreme craving in the way a ringing bell causes Pavlov's dog to salivate. It had been a long day, so I stopped in and got myself an orange wrapper Supreme. Of course, I was already eating it on the way out the door. As I drove home eating it, indifferent to the crumbs I was getting all over my jacket, I came to the conclusion that Chocolate Caramel is certainly my favorite flavor. Peanut Butter is a very close runner-up. However, I am curious as to how quickly I consumer a PB Bar versus the Chocolate Caramel. The overall experience of eating the Chocolate Caramel bar is superior to the others, in that it tastes better (very slightly), has 55% the saturated fat of PB and Cookies 'n Cream, and lasts longer. Chocolate Caramel launched the empire. It put the Supreme family on the map, and now the WaWa store owners are giving Supremes primo shelf space in their nutrition bar sections.

Think of the four Supreme Protein flavors as the Corleone children. You have Santino Corleone as the PB Bar. Powerful, smooth, very likeable, but a bit hot-headed. PB is too obvious a flavor for a protein bar. Everyone assumes Peanut Butter is the ideal for any sort of healthy food. Sonny was the obvious heir apparent to Vito Corleone. Then there is Fredo. What are we going to do with Fredo? Send him to Vegas to run some mickey mouse casino? The guy got passed over. But hey he is still family. Fredo is the Cookies 'n Cream Bar. It's effective when its not banging cocktail waitresses two at a time. Michael is definitely the Chocolate Caramel Supreme Bar. Michael was hardly the heir apparent. He wanted to stay out of the family business, he went to college and joined the Marines. Who would think a caramel protein bar would be the best? But it quietly gets the job done. Now for the most obvious association. Connie is definitely the Rocky Road Supreme. F*** Connie Corleone, and f*** the Rocky Road Supreme Bar. Both are a disgrace to their family name. They both rie the coattails of their much more relevant family members (even Fredo is much better than Connie).

So there you have it. The Chocolate Caramel Supreme Bar is the best choice you can make in the Supreme Protein line of nutrition bars. Enjoy the other flavors, but when in doubt, falling back on a classic never fails. I am also hearing rumblings of a Chocolate Pretzel flavor. Excellent potentional, but the taste and nutrition stats remain to be seen.

NFL Overtime - The Rebuttal

Part of the appeal of a multi-person blog is the opportunity for contrasting viewpoints and light-hearted debate, despite how much the three of us have in common. KG posted some intriguing thoughts on overtime in the NFL below, so go read that before reading this.

OK welcome back. The best aspect of KG's post was that he managed to inject new ideas into a seemingly tired debate. However, I still feel obligated to look at the "pro" side of NFL overtime in its current, sudden-death format, and offer only a slight tweak that could placate many of the arguments that the coin toss ends up being way too much of a deciding factor.

First, the conundrum for a defense under the current overtime format is this: after 60 minutes of defending one goal line, they essentially now have two goal lines to defend - both the actual goal line and the yard line that marks the entry of the opposing kicker's range, usually between the 35 and 30 yard lines. This leaves defenses with something of a catch-22, since the deep halves/thirds/quarters (depending on the coverage scheme) must still be respected while at the same time not leaving soft spots in the zone where offenses can get those 10-15 yard chunks that just bleed you to death when only a field goal is needed.

Without getting statistical, we can point to the following factors, among others, that further work against the defense in an overtime setting: the collective improvement of NFL kickers in the past decade and a half (this postseason notwithstanding), the prevalence of FieldTurf and retractable roofs that provide optimal planting and kicking conditions, the increasing amount of quality pass-catching tight ends in recent years (to find those 8-10 yard soft spots in zones), and the onslaught of rules that facilitate success of the passing game (watch a replay from a game 15 years ago or older and look at how receivers could get mugged without penalty before the ball was released).

I totally see where anyone is coming from when they make the "change overtime!" argument. But let us also not forget that it's not as if a defense has no chance to make a stop or even create a turnover to win the game. Just take the Green Bay/Arizona Wild Card game from a few weeks ago. How many people thought Green Bay had that shootout won as soon as they won the toss, only for this to happen? Other memorable instances of the defense making a play to win an overtime game can be seen here, here, and here. So while the fans of the team who loses the coin toss may groan, it's not exactly like the 11 defenders about to go back onto the field are slumping their shoulders in automatic defeat.

I believe that to break a tie in a football game, you just need to play more football, exactly the way it had just been played for 60 minutes. You lose the coin toss and have to kick off? Ok, say it's returned out to the 25. It's easy, just don't give up 40-50 yards to the offense and then your own offense will get its shot. In yesterday's NFC Championship, New Orleans netted 219 yards of offense in 14 possessions during regulation. Take out the two ditched series at the end of each half and the Saints gained 214 yards on 12 possessions - about 17.83 yards per possession. Had Minnesota's defense maintained that level of performance for one overtime series (and not spotted the Saints 17 yards' worth of penalties), the Vikings offense would likely have gotten its chance with the ball.

I don't hate college overtime, but I just think it belongs in college. It cheapens the regulation part of the game and inflates everyone's statistics, which, in the pros, equate to money. Players make big contracts based on their stats and can you imagine the grappling between owners and agents over a running back who scored 15 touchdowns in his contract year but 7 of them took place in a college overtime setting? Plus, with all the Collective Bargaining Agreement problems that are going on as it is, such a radical change to overtime will not be approved by both sides anytime soon, so it's best left out of the conversation. Most of those collateral elements don't exist or don't matter as much in college as they do in the pros.

The prospect of playing an additional full 15-minute quarter without sudden death is too much; it's like making two heavyweights go another 3 rounds to solve a split decision. The game is brutal enough for the players as it is, and extending it any more than necessary will just create more long-term health problems (another post eventually coming about this). I used to like the idea of a 6-point threshold to end a game (where the first team to score six points in overtime wins, not just the first to score, period), but then I thought of situations where a team would take an intentional safety just to buy itself field position (i.e., backed up against its goal line and already down 3 points, so that the 2 points don't matter anyway), and that does not sit well.

KG mentioned how he liked extra innings, and I agree with that. Extra innings in baseball captures the best of both worlds - the game is not altered and both teams get their chance at bat. Shootouts in soccer and hockey are entertaining, but they're just as much a measure of "let's get this thing over with because it may never end" as they are to decide which is the better team. So, if I were to make any change to overtime in the NFL, I would allow each team to have possession once, and if the score is still tied after each team's possession (which would be like the first "inning"), it then goes to sudden death. That way, the gameplay is manipulated as little as possible, and we can all stop claiming that a game can hinge on a coin toss - although we have no problem with it hinging on an ambiguous side-view spot of a ball surrounded by a pile of 15 or more gigantic men, or a subjective definition of what constitutes "pass interference," but I digress.

Where US Sports Fail: NFL Overtime

It's obvious. I probably don't even have to say it. But.....what happened in the NFC Championship yesterday was an abomination. A trip the Super Bowl was largely determined by a coin flip and a bad pass interference call.

Things currently being done that are better then NFL Overtime
  • College Football Overtime- Each team gets a chance to score from their opponents 25 yd line. In the 3 OT, each team must go for two to avoid the tie
  • FA Cup Soccer- If the teams are tied after final whistle their is a replay. The away team becomes the home team and the new match is played the following week. (Home teams are random in this tournament)
  • NBA Overtime, NHL Overtime, Extra Innings
  • The XFL fight for the football to determine possession

The NFL is stubborn to adjust to rules of the college game. Instant replays requires a coaches challenge instead of the booth reviewing all plays and buzzing down if they see an issue. In college you can also make your own challenges. For the longest time you couldn't go for 2 in the NFL after a touchdown. They are slow to adapt to change because they could give a shit what you think. Actual game play is shorter now then it has ever been due to out of bounds rules, yet they still last 3+ hours. The NFL will get their commercials in even if it means cutting game play.

What they could do

1. Each team gets the ball at the opponents 40 yd line. This is fringe field goal range and good four down territory. It would be exciting and relatively fair.

2. A full quarter is played with the coin toss still in effect.

3. Kickoff and exchange trying to go the length of the field. Each team gets a chance. 4 Downs. No field goals.

4. Tug of War- Start at midfield and exchange 1 play for 1 play. First team to score a touchdown wins. This idea is insane but I think it's at least worth mentioning.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

It's Not What You Think It Is, Part I

Americans are especially guilty of this. Our language is constantly morphing to cushion the impact of reality. Not only is our healthy food coated in sugar, the reality of our lives is coated in sugar as well. What good is it to ignore reality? You might feel better in the short run, but you're only torturing yourself in the long run. Ultimately, you will be very very disappointed when reality shows its ugly face. Why not acknowledge what is happening in your life now? Don't BS yourself. Don't make unattainable promises to yourself. Because you will be horribly disappointed and worse off than you would be if you just took a course of action that was reasonable. I'm not saying don't set lofty goals, I'm saying don't torture yourself. You won't lose weight on the sugar-free tastykake diet. Go ahead and try the Taco Bell drivethrough diet, and see if you only order their "healthy" tacos only. Thats right, you got a soda with it didnt you? Your kid isn't starting at quarterback? He sucks, get away from the coach, your kid will get on the field somewhere. The current economic depression is not as bad as the great depression, but its still a depression. The news likes to refer to it as The Great Recession. Imagine if we replaced the word "depression" with "recession" in our everyday life. "Yeah I drink when I feel recessed". Sounds stupid to me.

This series will expose the latest fads, products, and things that just aren't what they claim to be, AND DEFINITELY NOT WHAT YOU THINK THEY ARE.

Do Yourself Favors

So many things in life hinge on preparation. An extra minute of thought can make a bigger difference than you'd imagine. We've heard the sayings "put your best foot forward" and "allow yourself to succeed" for years, but far too often we don't put those maxims into practice. It's not about trying your hardest or being dedicated, etc., but more about doing the little things to accentuate your strengths and suppress your weaknesses.

I admit that this post was spurred partially by the famous "gym, tanning, laundry" clip from Jersey Shore. Like him or not, Mike "The Situation" has a point there. If you want to feel at your best, then take the necessary actions to reach that point. If your confidence will be high because you feel pumped and fresh, then so be it. Do what you gotta do.

You can take so many measures to optimize your appearance that it bothers me to see people out in public that look like total shit. Your hair doesn't look good when it gets long? Get it cut on a regular basis. You're a few pounds overweight? Don't wear horizontal stripes (and get off the couch, but we'll try to stay on topic). You're below average height? Don't wear excessively baggy pants, they make you look shorter. You're very fair skinned, even in summer? Avoid too many dark colors that make you look even whiter. Finally, keep in mind that while image isn't everything, it's quite often the only thing. Like it or not, we all make unconscious snap judgments about other people based on how they appear to us, no matter the setting. So it never hurts to spend that extra minute in front of the mirror before leaving home.

It's not limited to appearance. If you're habitually late, set all your clocks and watches 5 minutes ahead. If you know tomorrow is going to be a very busy day at work, get there a half hour earlier than usual. If you don't like to dance or simply suck at it (my hand is raised), then don't try to meet girls on the dance floor of a bar or club.

It's simple. Figure out what you're good at and stick to it. Fortune favors the bold, but it also favors the smart.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Pillars of Meaningful Conversation

Have you ever been stuck in a conversation with someone (co-worker, relative, significant other, stranger you just met at a bar and now regret walking over to, etc.) and been so disinterested that you'd consider trading places with this guy just to get to hell out of there? I feel like I have been on the receiving end of entirely too many of these exchanges in recent years. Here are a few pitfalls that can make people sound like a cross between a vacuum cleaner and a yipping 9-lb terrier dog.

1. Understand if you are not interesting -- There is nothing wrong with being on the plain or boring side when it comes to personality. There really isn't. But if you can not recognize that you will not exactly be having Dos Equis commercials made about you anytime soon, then you are now committing a punishable social offense. There are a few interesting things about myself, and otherwise I'm not that exciting of a person. I can live with that. But does it get much worse than people who feel obligated to tell you, without being asked, about their trip to Florida last week, or how they cooked the crab legs they had for dinner the other night, or what time they get up in the morning? Oh wow, so you went on vacation to Florida and it was really warm, huh? You had martinis while lounging under a palm tree? Phenomenal! That is so great you brought that up, because 24 years of life and 16 years spent in school somehow earned me the ability to infer that it's warm in Florida and that makes for an enjoyable time more often than not. Now, if you met Jack Nicholson while you were on vacation, or you swam with dolphins, that is actually interesting. What you had for breakfast, however, is not interesting. Please learn that difference.

2. Talking about people you don't know -- You get this a lot with relatives telling you about their grandkids, who are your 5th cousins or whatever, and in that case you just have to feign interest and deal with it. Oh, so my 2nd cousin once removed whom I've met once and who lives 2000 miles away got a B in high school chemistry? Oh wow, I wonder what the going rates are for billboards, I gotta announce that shit to the world. This happens a lot on holidays and whatnot and usually there's some beer around and something on tv, so you can get through it.

When non-relatives do this, it is 20 times worse. You get this a lot with the self-important career types. I've never met your boss or these 9 co-workers you are talking about, so what significance does this rambling hold for me, your audience? Am I just supposed to be impressed because you had a conference call this morning with these faceless names about cc'ing people on emails? I have an ex-girlfriend (and if you're reading this, which I doubt, well, I don't care anyway) that once cornered John I for half an hour on this rant about how her parents loved her sister more than they loved her, blah blah blah blah blah, while John (who did not know any of the people she was bitching about) and I were trying to watch a baseball game. It got so bad I had to apologize to John afterward for subjecting him to such drivel. Even if he had known any of the people she were talking about, what could he possibly do about the situation? There was no meaning behind that 30 minutes' worth of hot air other than casting a lure for sympathy.

3. Complaining about everyday things -- We all have to deal with traffic. We all have to deal with the cold in the winter. When it rains, it rains on all of us. We all pay more than we'd like to for gas. None of us particularly like getting up for work in the morning or working long hours. We've all waited in a long airport line or had a train get delayed. SUCK IT UP. There are few larger turnoffs than a person who acts as if any sort of transgression or inconvenience that goes against them is the biggest catastrophe in the world. Just because the traffic light turned red on you does not mean that the transit authority has a vendetta against you. On the other hand, maybe they do, if they've ever heard you talk.

4. Overuse of superlatives -- I did not major in English, nor would I consider myself anything resembling a linguist. But what I do know is that the words in our language have stand-alone meanings intended for the efficiency of communication. For example, ever hear someone, often times a newscaster or other dim-wit, exclaim they are "absolutely amazed!" The word "amaze" and all its forms are superlatives - they stand alone. There are no separate levels or degrees of amazement, there is just amazement itself. Saying another word in front of it is a waste of time and of breath. There are other examples - "that was a very key play in this game," "I was totally shocked," "this pizza is so awesome!" "what an incredibly perfect throw!". Those who overuse superlatives or try to further pump up powerful words are often compensating for and/or navigating attention away from the fact that the rest of what they have to say is garbage.

So, until next time, just remember that just because something happened to YOU, does not necessarily make it engaging subject matter for other people.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Passport to the American Dream

We met some foreign exchange students in Old City who went to Penn. They were from all over Europe and came to study law on scholarship. 90 people are in the program and are getting hooked up with a top notch education from Penn. I didn't study this students to see what exactly their credentials were but I am bothered in general by the influx of foreigners that attend our countries top universities. It's getting harder and harder for the American born students to attend the best schools. This is a crime and is at the very core of what is wrong in our country. Little Billy lives 10 minutes from the school and grew up dreaming of going to Penn but fuck him we'll take the foreigner. You wonder why other countries are catching up to's because your letting them. Fuck the idea of the bread basket to the world. If two applicants are equal you take the homegrown. But NO.... we want to improve are global image. Fuck Penn for doing this but they are not alone. The American Dream can only be obtained by passport nowadays.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

License and Registration, Please - Part Three

The theme of this series of posts involves the uninformed and oblivious screwing with the time and money of the informed and focused. Thus far, we've looked at ineptitude in the gym and on the golf course, which directly screws with a man's time and indirectly screws with a man's money. In this final installment, we go where the action is, directly to the money - the casino floor.

A great thing about living in South Jersey is the proximity of Atlantic City, our own (very) miniature Las Vegas. While those from North Jersey, New York, Washington, Baltimore, etc. may have a trek of 2-3 hours or more to AC, many a South Jerseyan can make it to the bright lights within 50 minutes of backing out of the driveway. For a lot of us from this area, AC stands as the crown jewel of the 21-and-over life, something we drool over as 18-19-20 year olds like a dog staring at a steak. What beckons to us is not necessarily the bars and club scene, because once you hit college the party life becomes habit. No, I'm talking about gambling.

There's a reason that the gambling age is 21, and whether you believe it should be lowered to 18 is another issue. I don't have a problem with it being 21, because I want the population of gamblers on the floor at any given time to be as SMART as possible. I don't mean book smarts, I mean knowing a.) what their limits are, b.) what their surroundings are, and c.) WHAT THE HELL THEY ARE DOING. Towns like Atlantic City were built on the losses of those with clouded judgment. The casinos welcome you with open arms in anticipation of feeding you drinks and blinding you with visions of jackpot grandeur until your pockets are empty. Understand that going in.

Foremost, if you do not know the game you are playing, you are not only being reckless with your own money, you are being reckless with the money of others much of the time, and that can get you into trouble (or at the very least it will yield you the scorn of everyone around you). The first time I ever played in a casino was in Montréal at age 20 (legal age is 18 there), and I only played roulette (I know, soft) because I knew at least I'd be essentially playing a game independent of those at the same table as me. I was honest enough to admit I didn't know blackjack or craps well enough to deserve a spot at one of those tables. And to this day, I still don't know craps that well, so I have never put one red cent on a crap table. Part of that stems from seeing two acquainted friends nearly come to blows in Vegas over how to bet during a crap game.

But what I have come to know is blackjack, and blackjack possibly above all others is a team game. Everyone sitting at that table is playing against the dealer. And since every decision you make alters the card progression for the rest of the shoe, it is overwhelmingly imperative to know what the hell you are doing. It's not that hard. Spend an hour on or read the Wikipedia article on blackjack and you'll know enough. There is a right way to play and a wrong way to play, and both are outlined pretty clearly.

John I and I recently won about $600 between us in just one shoe, largely because everyone was playing right. Playing right means hitting a 15 when the dealer shows an 8, even though you know you're probably busting. Even if you do bust, you have to take one for the team, not only because what goes around comes around, but because it perpetuates a mathematically proven winning strategy all the way around the table. For instance, if you chicken out on that 15, maybe the next card is a 10 or face and you do get to live a bit longer when hitting would have busted you. But now the guy next to you rightly hits his 14, gets the 10 you would have gotten, and he's busted. Then the guy next to him with the 10, he doubles down and gets a dog-crap 6. While you cross your fingers for the dealer to bust, she flips over a 10 on her 8 to give her an 18, and now everyone at the table has lost the hand, including you, and now both dudes to your left are giving you the Manning Face. Had you hit your 15 and busted, the guy next to you gets the 6 to give him 20 and the doubled-down guy after him is still in good shape with the next card coming. One decision takes the table from 0-3 to a likely 2-1 on the hand. I've seen it way too many times.

Obviously this case is hypothetical and could easily go the other way, but the two underlying themes are these: 1. karma comes back to you - play right and the cards will fall the way you want over a long enough time period; 2. not playing right screws with other people's money as well as your own. If you don't care so much about your money, that's your business, but I damn well care about mine, even if it's the money that I've deemed expendable enough to cash in for casino chips for an hour or two.

Where US Sports Fail: NBA, NHL Seasons

Previously on Where US Sports Fail.

I realize the only real goal in professional sports is for everyone to make money. However, I have been completely beaten down by the lack of excitement in the regular season. The NBA plays 82 games and the NHL plays 84 games. Except it doesn't really matter much because in each league more teams make the playoffs then stay home. The NBA and NHL each have 30 teams and 16 make the playoffs. Why should I as a fan watch the regular season. A common quote from the players mouths when the playoffs roll around is "the real season starts now." To a large degree they are right. It's like getting into a state school, its an accomplishment of sorts sure, but don't pat yourself on the back for getting into Florida State and avoiding Central Florida. The regular season because of the amount of teams in the postseason on nearly even ground. Home court advantage is important in a one game setting but in a 7 game series it only means something if you actually get to game 7.

The English Premier League works so well because the season is the playoffs. Just about every game matters. There are 20 teams in the Premiership. You play each team once home and away for a total of 38 matches. There are no divisions or conferences only a league table. Everyone is on even ground. There is no worry of imbalanced conferences. No worries over the West having teams with a winning record left out of the playoffs while the East has teams with losing records in the playoffs. In the EPL team at the top of the standings at year end are your champions. The top four are placed into the UEFA Champions League to determine the best team in Europe. The bottom three teams drop into the lower division. The league is fair and balanced because you play everyone and equal amount of time and teams at the bottom are not taking things lightly because they are fighting for the Premiership lives. Teams also recieve a payout based on their final standing so the team finishing 7th recieves a bigger payout then the team that finishes 8th. Players have incentive to play every game because it affects their paycheck. In the NHL and NBA not everygame matters and teams can tank it at the end of the year to get a high draft pick.

It is debatable whether the NBA and NHL have real rivalries that would actually be affected by eliminating some games and playing each team home and away. The fewer times you play a team each year the more the game matters. Without further ado, my proposal that will never happen because it could negatively affect the bottom line.

-Play 58 Games (play each team home and away) and eliminate the conferences
-12 Teams make the playoffs with the top 2 recieving byes.
-Adjust revenue sharing to punish bottom feeders
-5 Game series first round and 7 games the rest of the way but consider adjusting home court advantage to 5 home and 2 away

-Play 58 games and eliminate the conferences
-Eliminate the shootouts, award 3 points for a win and 1 point for forcing OT. Play until a goal breaks the deadlock even if it takes 5 OTs. This happens so rarely anyways and when it does its good publicity for the league.
-8 teams make the playoffs but the 1st and 2nd seed get 5 home games in the first round. You will climb a mountain to tear down what they worked for all season.
-Consider having an international cup to play foreign teams- could even be teams that don't make playoffs.

Final thought: I want my regular season to matter so please don't rape college football with a 16 team playoff. My only endorsed college football playoff proposal coming soon.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Everyone is a Scratch Golfer

To further comment on Lou's post on golf etiquette, I would like to get something else off my chest. After ten years of caddying I have seen alot of bad golf. I mean just awful bleeping golf. What makes it so bad is that these guys have time, equipment, and money at their disposal yet they still can't strike the ball. However.....most of these guys are great players, just not the day I caddy for them. You see, I have heard every excuse humanly conceivable. "I can't hit this club", "My back is out of whack", "In a few weeks I'll be more loose", "These bunkers have no sand", "These greens aren't rolling", "The greens are too fast / slow", "The course doesn't drain well", "My knee", "How could i come up short? I hit it so true", "I don't know whats wrong with me today", "This pin placement is excessive", "I prefer my set of clubs in Florida", "This putter has no feel", "I have a cold", "I don't know about these lessons I took", "I slept funny", "My asthma", "I played so well yesterday", "I can't get a bounce", "That dog was barking", "I need to try new shoes", "When are they going to re-sod", "I can't play with that guy", "My ball was on a root", "This rough is ridiculous", "I was on the fairway with no access to the green" (tough shit, heaven forbid you have to employ some course management, or even something called "skill"), "My hands are sweaty", "Club got caught up in this rough", "These greens are hard", "I misread it", "I misshit it" (well, what's it gonna be?!?!? Did you miss your spot or did you not read the green? Trick question, you just suck at golf), "I changed my routine", "That swing was too fast", "If I could just bring my hips through", "I didnt have a chance to warm up", "Wrong club", "Wheres the wind? I thought it would knock 20 yards off this shot" (wind is an overrated concept in golf in my opinion), "This laser is inaccurate", "These greens don't hold anything", "How could that happen? I hit that ball perfectly", and the list goes on. The only excuses for sucking at golf are lack of practice and lack of athleticism, usually the former. However, you rarely hear this. You will typically hear some lame ass excuse for poor performance. Golf being a gentleman's game, no one ever calls out the person they are playing with on making limp dick excuses. They simply empathize and play on. Wrong club? Oh really, because your swing is so flawless, the only logical explanation for your misfortune is some flaw in club selection. Stop with the excuses, stop putting people on. We know you suck, but you don't have to continue to suck. Just practice, know what it feels like to hit a ball on the screws. But don't feed me weak excuses. When you fuck up a chip, say nothing, no one cares. Admit to yourself you don't practice. Stop kidding yourself, its not healthy. Don't swing scared, just address the ball, relax, and meet it. This post is starting to lack humor, I'm pretty tired, I think I'll go home now.

License and Registration, Please - Part Two

Yesterday we looked at my rudimentary solution to the "crowded gym full of January piss-ants that are either 20 lbs overweight or 20 lbs underweight and don't know what the hell they're doing in any regard" issue. Today we'll apply the same principle to golf. I totally respect why certain upscale courses won't let players above a certain handicap play. Of course that's totally unfair to do everywhere, but some form of education/licensing system would be very beneficial. It wouldn't have to be rocket science, just play a few pitch and putt rounds (with either a knowledgeable friend or family member as your "sponsor" or with a golf equivalent of a personal trainer), learn the nuts and bolts, pass the short written test, and you've got another shiny little card for your wallet.

I'm lucky to have been taught the game at a very early age (6) by my father, and I will say right away that most people are not in that boat - they teach themselves, or pick the game up as a teenager just for shits, or get mildly into it as an adult partially because a lot of their friends play.

However, once you pull into the parking lot of an honest-to-God golf course, the question of where/when/how you began playing is moot. If you do not adhere to the game's written rules of etiquette and do not engage in "Ready Golf" (outlined impeccably by John I here), then you, yes YOU, are harming those who plunked down decent money and chose to invest 3-4 of the precious non-working, non-sleeping hours out of the week on the condition that the game will be played correctly and respectfully.

Since John I explained "Ready Golf" from atop Mt. Sinai already, I need not go too much further into its detail. And since standard golf etiquette can be Google'd (or better, Wikipedia'd), I need not delve extensively into that. But I must point out specific, common-sense type issues that will trim valuable time off of your round, get you into a better rhythm (spelled it right on the first try!), and maybe, just maybe lower your scores.

--The first player in the group to sink the ball on a hole is responsible for replacing the flag stick after all others are done. Grab it quietly after your putt and hold it, waiting for the others to hole out.
--ALWAYS have a spare ball on you. The group behind you will scorn your whole family if they see you searching fruitlessly for a ball in the weeds or trees, and then run 50 yards back to your cart to grab another ball so you can take your drop. Cardinal sin.
--Practice is for between rounds, not during rounds. If you need to take a practice stroke or two on a delicate pitch shot or an awkward putt, fine. But otherwise, no practice swings. I mean it. Try not taking practice swings the next time you play - I guarantee you that you will not throw up a horrid number and that the world will not end either. But you will shave incredible time off your round and may even find it a more effective habit. Too often, people waste their good swings on practice strokes, only to top that 6-iron into the drink anyway. See ball, align with target, center yourself, deep breath, swing. That's it. I know the pros on TV take practice swings, but they also post 67s on championship courses like you or I break wind. Until you're THAT good, no practice swings. At least pretend to be an athlete and have some muscle memory.
--Always be looking behind you. This especially applies on weekends and other busy days. If you shank your tee shot into a brush while a foursome is standing with their arms folded at the tee box behind you, have another ball on you (remember?) and look for your original for about 30 seconds before just taking a drop and moving on. Penalty stroke or no penalty stroke depending on whether or not you would have had to punch back out into the fairway if you ever did find your tee shot.
--On the green, always ask a person with more than a 10 foot putt if they want you to tend the flag. I still remember a guy who once pulled the stick on a par-3 when I was 50 feet out and instead of asking if I wanted it tended, just dropped it on the fringe and ambled over to his own ball. Yeah don't worry pal, this 50-foot snake job just might as well be a gimme anyway. I now have a voodoo doll of this asshat.
--Head on a swivel when about to hit the gas on the cart. You don't want to be gunning it in the golf cart right in the middle of someone else's backswing or putt. If necessary, wait a moment before going if someone within 100 feet or so is about to play a shot.
--Understand that walking renders you a second-class citizen. Most places will only allow walking during off-peak hours anyway, but if you don't want to have to constantly be letting people play through, then pony up the extra cash for a cart.
--And, for the last time, TURN THE DAMN CELL PHONE ON SILENT AND DON'T TAKE IT OUT OF THE BAG. If a call is that important that you need to take it (or worse, make it) on the course, then you shouldn't be playing golf today anyway. It's good to have in case of an emergency and that is it.

That's all for today without making this segment unbearably long. Remember, the less time on the course usually means the better round you've had. You don't have to be a scratch player to get 18 holes in under 4 hours. My old man and I have had plenty of 2.5-3 hour rounds in which neither of us broke 90. And if you need any further motivation, playing smarter gets you to the 19th-hole beers in less time as well.

Tomorrow, we take a look at casino gambling in the final part of the series.

Red Flags for Women

If your like me you have a certain list of qualifications in your head when your dating. Mine are here. There are also several red flags that should go off in your head to get the fuck out of there. A grenade has been thrown in your bunker, bail.
-She smokes weed or does any other drugs
-She doesn't return the favor
-She doesn't say thank you after dinner or movie
-She is an only child and lives in a nice area
-She is determined to live in NYC without a chance of a decent job
-She was or is in the hot sorority at school
-She wants to try modeling and bartending for a while without a real job

Feel free to add some in the coments but these are things I have run into all too much.

Monday, January 18, 2010

License and Registration, Please - Part One

First off, this is not intended to sound like I'm pining for the ways of the world to change just so they can fit the very way that I see things. If you want to listen to liberal high-minds who think they know "the way everything should be" that would produce undisputed utopic results, then there are plenty of other forums out there. I'm not here to complain, but to observe.

There are certain activities in life, driving a car being the ultimate example, that require education, testing, and licensing in order to partake. This is done for the ultimate safety and well-being of society. What if such a testing and licensing system were made a prerequisite for several other leisure activities? I'll use the examples of working out, golf, and casino gambling, exploring one per day.

Working Out - If you are a longtime gym-goer, you dread the month of January for the influx of New Years' Resolution people. I can't blame the gym itself for offering membership deals to out-of-shape newcomers after the holidays because that's simple market capitalization. But it burns me to the core that these new dickwads come in and by their very presence take away from the experience of the paying customers that are there 4, 5, or 6 days a week all year, every year. Why do they take away from my experience? It's not because they create a crowd, because a crowded gym is still an operable gym if it has the right layout. It's because they are uninformed, oblivious to etiquette, and just don't know the ins and outs yet. I understand everyone has to start somewhere (although I'd prefer that somewhere to not be in the same room as me), but if you are walking around with your iPod on so loud that it renders you unable to communicate with others, or you count your reps out loud so that it throws off all the red-blooded Americans in there that manage to count to themselves, or you walk too close to someone while they're in the middle of a set, then you are creating an unsavory and even unsafe environment for everyone.

-----The solution: If you join a gym, you need to pass a simple, 20-question multiple choice test in order to be able to hop right in and work out at will. The test would consist of questions about etiquette and generally accepted best practices (i.e. putting the heavier plates at the bottom of the rack, putting dumbbells back in the spot that you got them from). If you don't get an 80% or more, you have to spend four gym sessions with a trainer that will show you the ropes and point things out to you, like a remedial week. If you pass that, then you now have your exercise license and are steadily on your way to being a worthwhile member. Making someone work even just a little bit for something creates a greater appreciation for the task.

King for a Day

First of all I do not understand giving holidays for remembering a particular person. Columbus? By many accounts the guy was an asshole. However, I do not argue for the recall of these holidays because the working people deserve these days off. We just shouldn't hide them behind some person. Things get tricky after awhile when you start retiring too many numbers in athletics and while there are more options in the calendar eventually your playing with fire.
If Martin Luther King Jr. had not been gunned down would he have his own holiday? Again I'm not complaining because it usually comes in handy around my birthday but would he? It is debatable, but one thing is certain and that's that we would not have been observing the day so soon. King was killed in 1968 and had his holiday first celebrated in 1986.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Excessively Peppy / Overexcited People by John I

Calm down. Just calm the f*** down please. Stop bulging your eyes with enthusiasm as you tell me about something that isn't that amazing. Stop accentuating stupid details. Excessively enthusiastic people are easily excited, amused, and stimulated. They prefer ultimate fighting over baseball. Good news is often great news to them. They were definitely at the Phillies parade. They wear body paint to sporting events. And worst of all, they have a terrible sense of humor. They laugh at obvious humor. They laugh a little too long and a bit too loudly. Generally, these people are compensating for something. Their lack of intelligence, sense of humor, personality, or physical fitness causes them to be excessively outgoing and loud. And worst of all, they smile way too f***ing much. More on this topic to come

Things That Aren't That Good

Consider this the warmup set. I just want to rattle off a quick list of things that are not as good as they are made out to be and/or popularly believed to be. If you want my explanation or reasoning behind anything on this list, I can bring it all to light upon individual request.

-Dave Matthews
-Dane Cook
-Ben Roethlisberger
-99.5% of anything associated with Boston
-Grady Sizemore
-Slumdog Millionaire
-crime scene investigation shows, or any cop show to come out in the past 10 years not called The Wire
-Bud Light
-leg presses
-the "Wii Fit" video game
-Guitar Hero/Rock Band/DJ Hero/or whatever they come out with next, my guess is "Coked-up Roadie Hero"
-hybrid engines
-hunting (an overwhelming amount of avid hunters truly deep down only enjoy it because it's the one thing in the world that gets them away from their wives)
-American Idol
-85% of bands you ever hear playing in a bar or club. You'll have an easier time finding the dentist that doesn't recommend Trident gum than finding a bar band that actually adds something to the experience.

Coming Soon: the underrated list to counter this overrated list, as well as certain activities in life that should require a testing and licensing system like driving does