Thursday, May 7, 2015

Lying Lord Silverbottom

It’s been three months now since my Seahawks forfeited governance of their bowels on the one-yard-line of Super Bowl XLIX.

And I have to admit, not one of those ninety-five days has passed devoid of a mental reunion with that sorry-ass finish. It’s like raking your elbow knob against metal. It’s a pain that stabs with intensity, then slowly ebbs, but not before muted oaths are spat about to whomever created my mouth in His image. 

My heretofore healing Hawk hematoma was infused yesterday with a fresh helpin’ of sour blood. Tedd Wells, an independent attorney hired by the National Football League, issued a 243-page report concluding that “it is more probable than not” that New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady conspired with equipment personnel to under-inflate the Patriots’ game balls, thereby allowing Brady an easier grip and giving New England a competitive advantage.

Brady, when initially questioned in the days leading up to the Super Bowl, replied, “I didn’t alter the ball in any way. I have no knowledge of wrongdoing.”

Liar, liar, hair blow dryer. Yo, GQ, no one likes a lying patriot, because while you refused to cooperate with the investigation, the other parties to the caper rolled over like Kim Kardashian putting on a dress. 

According to Wells’ report, the following text exchange occurred between equipment handlers Jim McNally and John Jastremski, after Brady complained about the ball pressure following a game with the New York Jets:

McNally: Tom sucks… I’m going make that next ball a (expletive) balloon.

Jastremski: I have a big needle for u this week.

McNally: Better be surrounded by cash and new kicks… or it’s rugby Sunday. (Expletive) Tom.

From the looks of things, the entire report could have been condensed down to that three-line text trail. It’s apparent that Mr. McNally was counting on some quid pro quo from Brady in the form of money or shoes, lest he inflate the football to the size of its rotund cousin, the rugby ball.

It’s hard to blame the superstar quarterback for lying back in January. He had to, or else risk disqualification from the big game. But now, with last season a speck in the rearview mirror, we’ll see what the NFL does to punish Tommy Football for his “more probable than not” bullshit story. Perhaps nothing.

For those of you nice enough to have read all the way through to this point in my essay, I’ve got a little treat for your troubles. Don’t ask me how I got my hands on this; suffice it to say it involved combining the Patriot Act with a few loathsome yet invigorating favors. I’ve obtained a partial manuscript of a conversation between Tom Brady and his Brazilian supermodel wife, Gisele Bundchen, just after the allegations surfaced. 

Is it authentic? More probably than not. The following conversation allegedly took place during a helicopter ride between their three-car garage and five-car garage:

Gisele: Oh, Tom, I am so tired of all these ball jokes. Hmph. Americans. It is so hurtful to the person who actually has a relationship with your testicles… and that person is me, Tom.

Brady: Baby, Gronk sees mah balls all the time! Heh! No, really, ahm not ashamed of the old giggleberries. Ya’ll shouldn’t be either, Baby.

Gisele: I think you know what I mean, Tom. So it is now that I must ask you this. You are my husband and because of that we are married. I need you to be honest with me, Tom.

Brady: Of course, Baby.

Gisele: Are you sure, Tom?

Brady: Sure as shit, Baby.

Gisele: Good, my Tom, good. Because if a man cannot be truthful with his wife, their marriage is nothing more than a feeb.

Brady: Feeb? Oh, a fib! Yeah, Baby, yeah. You know ahm a straight shooter. Go ahead, ask me.

Gisele: Well, okay…here goes…

…My abs—do they look nice today?

Damn. Thought we were on to something.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

It's Not All Good.

The bus was already crowded when it stopped at 3rd and University. Passengers poured in and out, front and back, many eager to leave downtown after a long Monday. As I sat scribbling in my notebook, folks settled into their positions for the ride back to West Seattle. 

Without warning, a shrill noise bellowed from the speaker above my head, shooting through my torso and jolting my bottom into a pair of convulsing Bundt cakes. 

“Will the woman in the pink scarf sitting by the back door please come to the front and pay your fare?” It was so loud, the driver’s voice contorted like Motörhead in a Tuff Shed, somewhere between one-and-a-half and two chainsaws in volume.

"This isn’t the Rapid Ride! You must pay the fare to ride this coach,” the metallic shriek continued. "Please come to the front, pay your fare and it’s all good.”

My ears rang. All good? Really? I thought. Not for those of us just bludgeoned by your bountiful tweeters, and definitely not for the lady in the pink scarf. 

Sitting just a few feet away, the woman gathered her purse and stood, her head bowed. Fifty sets of eyes watched the shamed moocher as she weaved her way slowly toward the front, surely destined for one last admonishment from the captain.

Well that was bullshit, I thought. Come on. Sure, the lady didn’t pay her fare, but you, King County Metro driver, took it upon yourself to hijack your riders’ attention in the most invasive manner available, just so we’d all be present for the awarding of the scarlet letter. 

Moments later the woman returned to her seat, her face still pointed at the grainy floor. Passengers surrounded her but all ignored her, their eyes glued to their smartphones like Mrs. Butterworth to the Sunday sports section.

Most of us have encountered our share of bullies, especially growing up. But have you ever observed an oppressive adult and wondered the extreme: 

What if that bus driver was on the other side in 1940s Nazi Germany? What if she were given free reign to intimidate, to manipulate or worse?

Would she? Nah. Maybe.

Your brain may not perform these types of pointless exercises, but every so often I’ll run across a fellow American who makes me a little happier that the Americans came out on top in World War II. 

I’ve always liked the term, “It’s all good.” A friendly, positive phrase, it’s one used most effectively when diffusing an awkward situation. 

This time it created one.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

She's Fifteen. Wait, What?

She’s fifteen today. 

Holy sweet mother of Burt Reynolds, I feel old. My little girl—all those years such a wee, giggly tot—has shot up like a gull durn beanstalk in Zoo Doo. And, might I say, a hard-working, smart, awesome beanstalk at that.

How about you; do you remember turning fifteen? How about just being fifteen? I’m asking because…I kind of don’t. Sure, I’ve got some fairly sturdy memories of the larger milestones of that era—thirteen, sixteen—but my recollections of Year XV are overcast at best. 

Based on the day’s teenage mindset, I can deduce what I may have asked for. Perhaps a pair of these:

I doubt I received HASH jeans though, since it cost around thirty 1977 dollars for the privilege of hiding your shoes and flaunting your loin rimple. Chances are I picked up a cheaper imitation at the Clothes Fair down by the railroad tracks. 

I probably requested slightly smaller ticket items, like this:

Or maybe this:

Or perhaps a subscription to this:

I can tell you with near certainty that for dinner, I went here:

After which, my family and I returned home, sat back on the couch and flipped on this:

Yep, from what I’ve observed, teenage birthdays are quite a bit different now. By the time my daughter arrives at school this morning, a large swath of freshmen will already be digitally clued in. Upon her entrance, she’ll be engulfed in a million gentle hugs—each with one hand lightly patting the birthday girl’s back and the other clinging to its smartphone like a mountain goat to a mossy boulder.

In 1977, most of my friends didn’t even know I’d had a birthday until they noticed my annual Milk Dud-sized forehead zit from eating chocolate cake for breakfast all week.

I’m not bitter. Digital attention is shallow. Wait, forget I said that. 

I suppose when the rubber hits the road, teenagers haven’t changed all that much. Allow me to illustrate.

Here’s a recent photo of my daughter:

Here I am, also at age 15:

And of course, James:

See what I mean? A youngster’s a youngster’s a dork. 

Fifteen can be a tough age, a time of awakening and with it, one of elevated uncertainty and angst. Thankfully, our kid seems to be navigating the waters well; in fact, she’s doing great. 

And just between us, or as the kids say, "TBH," I love the girl so much, sometimes I feel like I could just cave in. But knowing how she’s loathed being the subject of my long-winded posts over the years, I’ve decided to bestow upon her the greatest gift a father can grant on this, my baby’s fifteenth birthday:

I’ll stop talking.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Blame it on the Brain.

It was during the summer of 1984 that I'd last lost my wallet.  I left it in a Tacoma Mall men’s room. 

I know how that sounds. Why would I place my wallet at risk in a public restroom if money weren’t changing hands? Suffice it to say my early twenties were a time of low self-esteem and financial prosperity.

No, actually, I was with that girlfriend at the time. Remember her—the one who insisted I buy a blow dryer and tie a sweater around my neck? While I don’t remember the exact circumstances, it’s possible that she handed me her portable dryer; the one she kept in her purse. She very well may have insisted that I visit the boys’ room to re-apply some product and incinerate my hair to a crispy sheen like hers, and only then could we re-emerge hand-in-hand from between Orange Julius and Squire Shop and freaking own that Tacoma Mall.

So yeah, that was the last time I parted ways with my wallet, back when Reagan was president and her husband incessantly confused Mikhail Gorbachev with his dead Uncle Rusty. 

It was a nice thirty-one-year streak of walletfulness, even longer than Jerry Seinfeld’s impressive no-vomit stint that lasted from June 29, 1980 until February 3, 1994. And that’s why I’ve decided that, even though I am ultimately responsible for maintaining a relationship between my credit cards and my clammy torso, this mishap is hardly my fault.

A lot of other folks could be responsible for this, and I think you may agree once you've read this.

1) Sure, I was a fool for placing it in the front pocket of my new zip hoodie, but my wife was responsible for purchasing a defective product. After 26 years as a preferred Value Village shopper, I would have thought she'd know inadequate pocket depth when she saw it. Apparently not, so I could pin this on her.

2) Even at the risk of losing his livelihood, the cab driver may have found it just too tempting not to pinch my goatskin accessory and all its spoils, including a ten-cent per gallon Safeway fuel discount. With his new identity and a swipe of the red card, he could surprise his family with a free movie rental and two Selsun Blues for the price of one. If Safeway had whale patrons like Vegas does, I’d be a freaking Orca, so this guy scored.

3) I could blame Obama. After all, the guy’s been picking all of our pockets for the last six years, am I right or am I right?

4) My brother took it. This is the most statistically probable answer. Although he seems trustworthy, after all those years in prison, the guy’s got some clever hiding places up his…sleeve. He’s an opportunist, and that wallet had some nicely rounded corners.

At this point, all I know is that the thing just vaporized. After getting up in the morning and not seeing the humbow-sized black Fossil in its usual spot, I obsessively scoured the house for well over an hour. Thank God it wasn’t in the silverware drawer or washing machine when I checked, as that would’ve escalated my issue into the health care realm (please see Ronald Reagan above). 

Losing a wallet is the epitome of a First World problem, though, right? Everything is replaceable, so this too will prove to be but a teensy skin tag on life's dandruff-smothered scalp. And just to inspire you, doggone it if I didn’t turn misfortune on its ear by getting free, two-day shipping on a new fanny pack. 

A light one, for summer.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

It's Not Like Pulling Teeth.

I spent an hour-and-a-half at the dentist the other day. 

I’ll tell you, nothing says Monday morning like a drill-tipped jolt to a rogue nerve because the Novocaine only got you to the point of numbish. 

A rare brand of perspiration occurs when I’m reclined in that dental chair. Sweat accumulates in small, concentrated areas—between my interlaced fingers, under my hamstrings. Normally, it isn’t until I rise from the chair, that I discover how perilously close I’ve come to terminally saturating the denim that’s spent ninety minutes percolating between the plastic chair cover and my atrophied thigh shanks.

It’s funny how, nowadays, dental offices strive for a spa-ish look. You know what I mean—the richly stained woodwork, the wispy, fake butterflies perched in the ceiling lights? In my opinion, though, no amount of high def tropical snorkeling video set to Kenny G can alter the reality: Spending time in that sticky recliner is closer to Theodoric of York, Medieval Barber, than it is to Gene of Juarez.

There have been improvements—heavens to Mergatroid, yes. When they called your name back in the Sixties and Seventies, you rose from the couch and nervously tossed the bacterially-seasoned Highlights magazine onto the coffee table. A pleasant lady led you into a brightly lit room, its sterile green walls reflecting an aberrant green tint onto everything contained therein. 

As you were settled in and bibbed, the glistening instrument tray mocked you from your nine o’clock. To your right was a porcelain spit sink, into which you’d soon be drooling pink ropes of saliva, your left cheek rubbery and ravaged from its bloody dance with the silver pliers.

After an adequate amount of time to soak in the events that lay dead ahead, you were greeted by the dentist. He entered the room in his crisp, snap-down tunic, ungloved and unmasked. He cheerfully whistled a Herb Alpert tune while washing his hands beside the “this is what your mouth could look like if you stop brushing and flossing for the next ten years” awareness poster. 

Then, without further fanfare, he would turn, lower himself onto his rolling stool, and boldly declare his sinister intentions:

“Alrighty, open.”

Okay, enough with my first-world sob stories. What I really want to tell you about is the man behind the drill, the guy who was my first dentist—and my neighbor.

In the summer of 1968, my family bought a home in a new development. Our place turned out to be two houses down from from where our family dentist lived with his wife and two daughters. 

When I met his older daughter, who happened to be my age and in the same kindergarten class, I immediately deemed it unnecessary to pursue further friendships. My six-year-old sensibility surmised that since she was smart, nice, really cute and only two houses away, what point was there in venturing beyond her tidy, brown rambler to establish a rapport with any of the lads in the hood? 

I'll say none.

I can remember being over there quite a bit, playing in her back yard, quietly contemplating if I'd propose to her at Christmas or Valentines Day. When he was around, her dad would play his accordion while we sat in her house drawing with her Spirograph, or toss the football with me outside. From what I remember, the guy knew how to heave the pigskin. At home, he never talked shop, never admonished me for my chemical-weapons-grade breath.

Years later, I learned that the family’s firstborn child—a son—had died at age five, just a year before we moved into the neighborhood. I’m sure I felt sad, but not until I became a father myself could I remotely fathom what that must have been like for those parents. It’s hard enough to imagine losing a son, but then a year later taking the time to hang out with the chubby neighbor boy who always seems to be hanging out with your daughter and scarfing all your Fig Newtons? 

Not sure I’d be capable of that.

The doctor passed away several years ago. I regret that I never expressed to him my gratitude for the lesson he taught a six-year-old kid about kindness and perseverance all those years ago.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Your Pre-Primary Presidential Prognostication Primer.

Wow, that snuck up on me. Sorry for being a little slow on the uptake this time around.

Maybe you didn’t realize this, either, but were you aware that less than a year from today—next February 1—the Iowa Caucuses kick off the 2016 presidential campaign season?

What’s that you say, friend? You care as much about the Florida primary as Chevy Chase cares about what happened to his neck? Understandable.

But for better or worse, this is the way our storied republic whittles down its lengthy list of oligarchs, leaving two battle-worn billionaires to throw down in November. It’ll be another bloody cage-match to see which smarmy suit wins the privilege to age ungracefully at 1600 Penn for the next four years.

Since my only motivations for this analysis are a well-informed electorate—and some easy jokes—I’ve decided to break down the race based on today’s front-running candidates. And while gambling on elections is illegal in Nevada casinos, it isn't in Europe, where several British sports books have posted the 2016 presidential odds. 

A popular wagering site called Ladbrokes, currently lists Ms. Clinton as the overall favorite at 6 to 4. We’ll go ahead and save the party of donkey for another time, because currently, Hillary Clinton’s closest challengers are Elizabeth Warren at 25 to 1 and Backrubbin' Joe Biden at 33 to 1 odds.

In my opinion, the biggest obstacle Hillary faces is herself—and that freaking voice of hers. With each decibel raised above a normal conversational tone, its earsplitting pitch makes another part of my exterior retreat hastily into the rough-hewn recesses of my body. 

So let’s talk about the Republicans, since this one is wide open. I had no idea how huge this field was, but according to, no less than sixteen G.O.P. hopefuls are already carving circles in the corn crops of Iowa in hopeful anticipation of a good showing next winter. Barring any major gaffes (which should never be barred with these folks), here are next year’s likely front runners:

Senator Ted Cruz, Texas

Current odds: 33 to 1

Why he may be our next president: America likes cool names and Cruz is a cool name, as opposed to Cruise, which implies Napoleonic douchery.

Why he won’t be our next president: In April of 2012, Cruz threatened to throw his body in front of a train to stop Obamacare. Should that ever happen, chances are he won’t be president. Plus he looks too much like Joe McCarthy, with many of the same attitudes about “us” and “them.”

Inspirational quote: “If you hate Jewish people, you are not reflecting the teachings of Christ.”

What he was also thinking: “But those Muslims? Different story.”

Prediction: Out before Super Tuesday. 

Governor Bobby Jindal, Louisiana

Current Odds: 12 to 1

Why he may be our next president: Governor Jindal continues to support a constitutional amendment to define marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman. 

We know America is champing at the bit to get that done. 

Why he won’t be our next president: If you’re going to run for our nation’s highest office with a name like “Bobby,” you better be as good as the original Bobby. 

Don't think so. 

Inspirational quote: “Members of Congress must live according to the same laws as everyone else.”

What he was also thinking: “That’s why I’m a governor.”

Prediction: Jindal’s momentum will carry him through the Arizona Primary on March 22. 
Unfortunately, he’ll be profiled, pulled over and jailed on his way out of a Cheesecake Factory in Yuma and completely drain his war chest proving he really isn’t Latino.

Senator Rand Paul, Kentucky

Current odds: 8 to 1

Why he may be our next president: Again, the guy’s got a great name, one that reminds us of Almond Joys, Butterfingers and maps.

Why he won’t be our next president: Paul is a self-avowed Libertarian who opposes a woman’s right to choose. That’s like opening a restaurant with awesome food but no plates.

Inspirational quote: “I’m not someone who’s sort of still trying to figure out what I believe in.”

What he was also thinking: “You know, sort of.”

Prediction: Senator Paul’s campaign will implode prior to a televised debate in Indiana. Not knowing his microphone is live, he’ll refer to the former Arkansas governor as “Mike Fuckasheep.” Chris Christie will be seen silently snickering, leading to a surge in his poll numbers.

Governor Jeb Bush, Florida

Current odds: 11 to 2

Why he may be our next president: Because he deserves it, goddammit. How many late nights did he lie in bed, woken up by his eff-up older brother drunkenly screaming at Poppy while Mom tried to sooth his angst with back rubs, her pearls cool against the small of his neck?

Why he won’t be our next president: He’s an idiot, like all the rest of these people.

Inspirational quote: “Our children can achieve great things when we set high expectations for them.”

What he was also thinking: “Not too sure about your kids, though.”

Prediction: Governor Bush will lose the general election to Hillary Clinton on November 8. He'll get the silver medal, besting the largest field of challengers in recent memory, from Trump to Walker to Santorum to Perry to maybe even good old Grizzly Mom. 

Good God, what a shit show.

I hope this primer has helped. The goal of course was to save you a bit of homework, while providing some timely gambling advice.

Game on.