Friday, August 31, 2012

Why Mitt Romney's Got My Vote.

I finally got him last night.

Or should I say, he got me.

Mitt Romney's hit some potholes along the way, no doubt about it, but he keeps coming back like a a grinning rash with graying temples.

Remember pretty early on, when he had to explain the whole dog misunderstanding? He handled it like any seasoned CEO would.

Apparently, it was son Tag's job to secure Seamus to the roof of the car anyway, but Tag had forgotten to pack the nail gun. Governor MittGyver deftly deduced that, while a nail gun is certainly the most reliable option for attaching a dog to the top of a car for a twelve-hour trip to Canada, a crate may work just as well.

Although the entire family believed Seamus would revel in a high speed joyride on the roof of the Family Truckster, he became so distraught that he lost canine muscle control all over the crate's interior.

Faced with few choices, Mitt chose to lead. He pulled into a gas station and hosed off both Seamus and his personal traveling compartment. Family vacation...on!

He's also experienced some difficulty relating to women's issues, actually, to women in general. I understand; he's got five sons. That's a six pack of non-caffeinated Romney beef locking horns with each other on a daily basis. No room for hens in that cockhouse.

For a while, as governor of Massachusetts, Mr. Romney was pro-choice, because after all, it's Kennedy country. He played their game masterfully, and once he broke free of those liberal New England shackles, he was free to represent the soul of America.

All along, he'd intuitively felt that women possessed too many rights, another point of which he and I concur. I know I'm not alone in saying that I really screwed up raising my first set of kids, and I'm aching for a chance to redeem myself by raising one or both of my daughters' children.

Thank you, my champion.

Same-sex marriage? Are you kidding? If it were legal, can you imagine what's next—a man and a donkey legally adopting donkey children?  It's good to know he can lean on his faith, one which has pretty much opposed non-traditional marriage since 1890.

Neither he nor I support federal legalization of medicinal marijuana, and once again Mr. Romney sacrificed for us. He freaked out really bad one time when he tried it in his dorm room, and he was sure his dad was just outside the door for four hours. Since then, he firmly believes that no American should ever have to be that paranoid or super hungry.

But he still hadn't shoved me all the way up his camp until last night., when he brought out the heavy artillery.

Clint Eastwood.

Mr. Eastwood utilized one of those tried and true acting exercises he learned to master while in drama school during the twenties. He spoke to an empty chair, pretending that Barack Obama sat in it.

When he wasn't stumbling over lines, Clint played the invisible president like a Duncan Butterfly. For an eighty-two-year-old, that guy can almost act.

By the time Governor Romney took to the stage, I'd already built up such a lather from Clint's stirring monologue and the video vignette of Mitt's magical family that I couldn't contain a quivering-lipped "Cmmfff," from escaping my mouth.

And just as with the dog incident, Romney seized command.

He promised twelve million jobs.

Twelve million! Finally, white people can pick my produce.

He pledged to yank healthcare from the 6.6 million Americans who became insured under the president's Affordable Healthcare Act. Good, because I'm sure at least half of those people let their kids take two suckers at the doctor's office.

Finally, he promised to assert U.S. might and influence worldwide, because "a free world is a more peaceful world." And since there's only a skeleton crew left over in Iraq and things are definitely powering down in Afghanistan, Iran looms as the next logical threat and business opportunity.

And I'm all in.

Mitt Romney sees America for what it is—a dirty, dirty place that could use a little cleanin'. And since it worked so well before, he's holding the hose again.

What do you say, America? Are you ready to be hosed?

Monday, August 27, 2012

On Turning Fifty and a Special Message to Jon Stewart.

I've got a few friends who don't like to acknowledge their birthdays, especially those that end with zeroes.

Maybe it represents another year of dreams unrealized or jeans unwearable. Perhaps it's just the notion that some of us have scampered substantially past life's fifty yard line, the end zone looms ahead and we're just not quite ready to spike the pigskin and kick off.

Yeah, well screw it. Tomorrow's my fiftieth birthday and I'm going to wear it like a freaking halter top.

Fifty years old. Seems like a long time when you consider that John  F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy and Malcolm X still had beating hearts and passionate aims when my mother awoke with a raging spinal headache and a gooey little meatloaf named Tim swaddled up next to her.

Oh, but there were others who broke onto the scene in 1962. Wal-Mart, K-Mart and Target all got held upside down by the ankles and whacked on the arse that year, ushering in the era of retail box stores.

Had to have been a C-section. Ouch.

Coincidentally, 1962 was also the year that eight-year-old Chinese kids learned to weave horse hair into Barbie Doll heads while assembling Etch-a- Sketches with their toes and elbows.

I also felt compelled to google celebrities born in that Year of the Tiger, and  I must admit, we've got an impressive smattering of crazy among the ranks.

Demi Moore and Paula Abdul are fellow fifty-year-olds. While I wouldn't exactly say they're insane, I also wouldn't ask them to babysit my pain meds while I run to the Circle K for some Corn Nuts.

Then there's the Scientology contingent: Kelly Preston and the man himself, Maverick, the king of shiny-faced weirdness, Tom Cruise. Those two do look fantastic—too fantastic in fact. It's hard to tell if their youthful complexions are the fruits of having arduously attained an operationally clear thetan state...or...you know, Botox.

Add Travolta to the mix and you've got yourself a nice steamy stew of creepy.

Also turning fifty this year is a Puget Sound institution where they're not called Tater Tots, doggone it. They're freaking Mexi Fries and I'm referring, of course, to Taco Time.

Back in 1972, my mom and I established a tradition of hitting Taco Time for a taco salad following Weight Watchers meetings. If I'd lost weight that week, I usually went for the sour cream ranch dressing. Otherwise, just hot sauce. Since then, I've consumed so many of their forearm-sized burritos I can actually enter the restaurant and order a number seventeen without speaking.

Really.

But since this blog is all about reflections and since I've made more mistakes than Mitt Romney trying to figure out a washing machine, here are a few anecdotes which, if given the hypothetical opportunity, I'd pass along to younger versions of myself:

To eleven-year-old Tim: Dude, seriously, just because you watched that movie of the week about that girl who was kidnapped, buried alive and left to breathe out of a straw until her parents scraped up the ransom—it doesn't mean it's going to happen to you. Calm the hell down and turn off the light. It's three in the morning.

To twenty-five-year-old Tim: Dude, seriously, you may think that mullet looks good, but it doesn't, especially in a pony tail. Get rid of it and tell your twenty-seven-year-old self that by no means should he get a mullet perm prior to his trip to Europe.

To thirty-two-year-old Tim: Dude, seriously, I know you haven't had any coffee yet, it's super early and your ten-month old wants you to read "Busy Bear" to her for the fifth time. Just do it and enjoy it. She's going to be a high school senior some day and you'll miss your baby girl.

To forty-nine-year-old Tim: Dude, seriously, try to be a little nicer, a bit kinder to everyone you encounter. You're always talking about how our behavior produces Doppler waves of karma. Practice what you preach. And eat more vegetables.

Oh, yeah, and before I forget. Jon Stewart turns fifty later this year, so whether you know him or actually are him, I thought I'd pass along this birthday nugget to Mr. Stewart:

Yes, Jon, its true. I'm finally willing to write for your show.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Stupid Men, Volume 73

Remember Time-Life Books?

During the pre-internet age, they served as definitive series on thousands of topics. If you had to write a report about Neanderthals for fourth grade science, you could drop into the school library, slide out a volume on early primates and copy a few meaty paragraphs word-for-word.

You then gave yourself the tools to pen a substantive thesis in a mature voice. Plus, what were the chances your teacher would ever figure out that you'd copied the whole thing?

Time-Life produced millions of pages covering a spectrum of subjects, from the Third Reich to the Art of Sowing. And after exhaustive research to ensure that my claim rings true, I've determined that one subject has evaded the storied publisher's editorial sensibilities:

The Time-Life Library of Stupid Men.

I've covered my share of moronic males in the past—Rush Limbaugh, George W. Bush, Senator Larry "I'm only gay in airports" Craig—and now I'm starting to think the series should be more of a monthly magazine than a finite hardbound collection.

Because the stupid dudes just a keep on being stupid.

Who would you say deserves first mention in this installment: Vladimir Putin or Todd Akin? How about we call it a wash and start with Putin.

The Russian president obviously has paranoid psychosis characterized by megalomania and delusions of persecution...either that or it's because he's short and could never get his eyebrows to grow out all fierce like Brezhnev could.

Whatever the reason, Putin's brought the old hammer and sickle down on the members of Pussy Riot, a feminist Russian punk rock band.

Oh, and by the way, Pussy Riot, thanks for stealing the name of my softball team.

Here's what the anonymous performers did at Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. After this video appeared online, three members of the group were arrested and charged with hooliganism motivated by religious hatred, convicted and sentenced to two years' hard labor.

How can I put this? It was a complete and total richard move by Putin, throwing a tantrum and punishing a few artists who spoke out in a highly creative fashion. Tell me that video isn't entertaining, yet completely harmless.

And how about our favorite congressman from the Show Me state, Todd Akin (By the way, doesn't he seem a little old to have the name "Todd?"). Mr. Akin also covered his load with the Tarp of Stupid, stating that, in cases of "legitimate rape," women's bodies have a natural ability to stave off pregnancy, and thus, abortion should be banned in all circumstances.

As the great Mike Brady once said, "You know Cindy, you're not only hurting the entire Republican Party...you're also hurting yourself. And is that the kind of hurting you're hurrying to hurl?"

Legitimate rape? Does that mean sexual assaults in prison are legitimate since men can't impregnate each other, yet a pregnancy resulting from some guy raping his wife or girlfriend doesn't count?

All I can hear right now is Lisa Loopner yelling, "Todd, sometimes you're such a dumb bell!" (courtesy of Gilda Radner)

Ever since Akin shat himself, his allies, and more importantly, his financial lifeline, have shriveled to the size of a tropical fish I found on the rug while doing pushups.

One day, it just wasn't in the tank and about a week later, there it was on the rug, looking like a tiny version of a dead and shriveled up ET sprawled by the riverbank. So yeah, that's what Congressman Akin's chances have amounted to in his senatorial bid against incumbent Claire McCaskill—all dried up and wrinkly.

And now, with both Vladimir Putin and Todd Akin reeling from overwhelming public backlash, their stars must soon dim and make way for the next vitriol vomiter to grace the cover of Stupid Men Weekly.

Who will it be? I'm betting on Romney again.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Fighting Big Food With a Plastic Knife.

When the consumer takes on the corporation, it shouldn't be too difficult to know who to root for, right?

It's like choosing between Rocky and the Soviet killing machine (played by a nice Swedish man who studied chemistry at Washington State University).

It's similar to picking between the 1980 USA hockey team and the Soviet killing machine (many of whose members were active duty military who had reserved double-occupancy foxholes at Disney World-Afghanistan following the Lake Placid Olympics).

It's akin to making a choice between a ragtag Afghan militia and the Soviet killing machine (the guys who weren't hockey players and had already been sent over).

The consumer climbs through the ropes and meets his corporate opponent mid-ring. The champ stifles a laugh, dwarfing his challenger by a foot and fifty pounds.

David would stand a better chance facing off against Goliath while wearing a beehive and raspberry jam cod piece.

But wait, who's that shadowy figure lining up just behind and to the left of the consumer, raptly absorbing instructions from the referee?

Aha...it's a lawyer.

Instantly, the oddsmakers reshuffle the deck and score the contest a tossup.

Are you sick of my metaphoric rambling yet? Okay, I'm done. Apparently, the new trend in consumer lawsuits, after reaping windfall damages from Big Tobacco, automakers and drug companies, has gravitated toward food manufacturers, also known as "Big Food."

PepsiCo, Heinz and General Mills have grown so heavy on the branch that not even a couple of phone books are necessary to reach their over-ripened fruit.

People are angry—angry that they're being bamboozled by false and misleading ingredients, such as "evaporated cane juice," rather than sugar. Yeah, that's a little sneaky. And I understand that no company favors listing "anal beaver secretions" over a nice word like "castoreum," but shouldn't we be made slightly more aware of how our friend the beaver makes vanilla stuff taste more vanilla-ish?

Then there's the "generalizing" of nutritional information, which has incited a lawsuit in California against ConAgra, makers of PAM cooking spray. Benignly listed as one of its ingredients is the word "propellant."

Seems friendly enough, until the components of propellant—petroleum gas, propane and butane—reveal that the blueberry muffins we scooped effortlessly out of the tin this morning could be used as fuel for our weed eater.

But then there's the other stuff people complain about.: foods that claim to be "healthy" or "natural," yet common sense would dictate otherwise. A 2009 lawsuit against the manufacturer of Cap'n Crunch with Crunch Berries was tossed out after the judge ruled that no one in their right mind would consider Crunch Berries some kind of fruit.

Hang on a second. Does that mean those green clovers in Lucky Charms aren't chlorophyl-rich superfoods which assuage protein-deficient anemia ? Are you telling me that BooBerry contains no antioxidant rich vitamin complexes?

Damn. I thought digging deep to choke down that third bowl of Fruit Loops would pay dividends with my urinary tract and and immune system.

So here's an idea—read the freaking label—not on the front, but the back. Where it says "nutritional information" in eighteen point Futura Bold, check out the fat grams, carbs, calories and serving size.

And just because they're called "Skinny Cows," you shouldn't eat three for breakfast.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Sheriff Joe, We Need You.

Sheriff Joe, we need you.

Don't you want to feel wanted again? Isn't it time to thrust up those chubby little hands and say, "Peace out, Arizona."

Look, you're being sued by the Justice Department for constitutional violations, which, you know, seems like it would be one of those "Oh Shit" moments. You're hated by everyone but a large handful of elderly white-ish people who, let's face it, aren't getting any younger.

Nevertheless, you, sir are a patriot. But you're digging the heels of those seven-and-a-half Red Wings so far into the desert sand, I'm afraid some Chinese illegals try to sneak in through the hole.

You're misunderstood. The people have elected you to perform a task, which is dealing a little peace by rounding up people who wouldn't think twice about stabbing the ground with a shovel.

I can't believe all the hoopla over your "Equation":

Tinted windows = tinted skin x i'm comin in

Well here's your opportunity to stick that disrespectful quagmire in the rearview of your 2009 Crown Victoria.

Come to Bellingham, Washington, SheJo. Please.

You see...it's those Canadians...again. So many maple leafs have fluttered south, my blower has seized up.

And that's where you come in, because these maple leafs could use a little baggin.'

They assault the border twenty five miles north and clog the roads and aisles, stocking up on cheap food and gas. Sure, they're nice and it's kind of cute the way they say "Grade Four" instead of "Fourth Grade," but there I am, just restocking my marshmallow vodka after a crazy weekend on the jet ski, and I'm stuck in line behind more milk and beef than a Romney family cookout.

Apparently, the store would like to grow, but a Bellingham ordinance prohibits large box stores from expanding, so Costco is looking into relocating.

Whatever.

Until then, Sheriff, we've got a bunch of pissed off Americans up here. Why not climb out of that disrespectful quagmire down there and head north? You'll be welcomed like Douglas MacFreakinArthur.

Here's the pitch: We're requesting that you and your entourage enforce "American Hours" at Costco.

The store would be open to American citizens only between ten and six.

You'll be given carte blanche. If someone flips you any guff at the door, you've got full authority to investigate that individual's citizenship by any means necessary. Should you opt to employ your signature "digital citizenship exam," I'm confidant your boys will know the feel of a Canadian after a couple of weeks.

The illegals can be processed at a detention facility inspired by your Maricopa County outdoor prisons, so if those Canadians want to enjoy a cup of coffee or a Marlboro red, can you say, "T.F.B., eh?"

Anyway yeah, Sheriff, Joe. We'd really appreciate your help on this one. If we lose our freedom to shop and be back home in time for Ellen, what's next?

Please help; the sooner the better. I need toner.

-A Concerned American and Gold Star Member Since 1990

Friday, August 10, 2012

Google: Hiding More Cookies Than a Sorority Girl.

If you had to choose, would you consider the word "Google" to be a more of a noun or a verb?

I'm going with verb in a landslide. "Googling," which has come down the trail a couple of miles behind "xeroxing" and "spooning," has now endured the noun-to-verb reassignment surgery which can only be performed by profound public familiarity.

But here's the thing—Google, the Noun, has sprinted to within half a lap of his cousin in the wake of a $22.5 million fine for duping Safari browsers.

The Federal Trade Commission didn't exactly bring down the hammer; the amount of the monetary penalty more closely resembled being spanked by a finch feather since the massive interweb goblin's fanny pack is stuffed with forty-three billion dollars in cash.

Apparently, Google's been baking secret "cookies," small files which websites place on your computer's hard drive upon your first visit to their site.

Mmmm...I love molasses cookies.

Anyway, Google designed these cookies to not be be detected and therefore blocked, by Safari, thus enabling the mammoth search engine to gather users' personal habits and reap the clandestine benefits.

Even before the company had its hand slapped for putting the cookies back into the jar,  Google's been dodging rotten public relations tomatoes over their corporate motto, "Don't Be Evil."

What the hell kind of slogan is that? Can't you aim a just a smidge higher, Googs? How about something like "Be Nice" or ""Be Cool, Fool"? Simply requesting that employees not be evil leaves a gaping vacuum which could facilitate meanness and sneakery.

Evidently, it has.

But here's the irony for a lot of us: We worry and get angry about this assault to our privacy and we chafe at the notion of someone peddling our cyber information like a pogo stick on eBay. We're appalled at the ads we started seeing after "liking" the Shake Weight.

Then we get online and tell two-hundred-eighty-three of our best friends what our daughter says we look like in bike shorts or that we're currently enjoying the beef brisket at Dixie's barbecue in Bellevue and probably won't be home until around ten. Oh yeah, and we're really irritated that we had to peel two stickers off that nectarine from Safeway.

Google has no excuse for its hijinx. I wish it had to pay a far steeper penalty than a fine for which it can generate the funding in four hours of Internet commerce. Justice would proscribe that this corporation owes us, the Safari browsers, for its underhandedness.

So come on, Google, own up to your dishonest ways and do right by your customers rather than some faceless government agency.

Free Internet for a year might be a good starting point.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Fighting Change Is Possible, But Only If You're Willing to Change.

Throughout our lives, we hear more sage phrases, more ironic parables, more downright clich├ęs, regarding the word "change" than any other lone word I can pry loose from the corroded cast iron that is my brain matter.

Whoa, that was a long sentence.

Our parents begin bludgeoning us with lessons about change almost before our cranial soft spot closes up. My mom and dad were no different in doling out enlightened nuggets.

When I was three:
"Nothing's permanent, little Timmy. That's why your mother accidentally backed over the cat. Rusty felt no pain, especially since the station wagon has a V8 and rear-wheel drive."

When I was thirteen:
"Look, Tim, in the next few years your body is going to experience some changes. You'll get hair under your voice and your arms will get lower. Oops, well you know what I mean, buddy. Anyway, listen. A lot of things you'll want to do are totally normal, which is why your mother and I have decided that now is a good time for you to start doing your own laundry."

When I was twenty-three:
"Hey, listen, Tim, congratulations on graduating from college. Things are going to be a little different now. How do I put this? You need to get a job. That's how people get money to pay for stuff."

So, yeah, we're inundated with advice about how change is part of life, so we'd better be prepared. Here's a photograph of some pennants I've tacked up to the wall in our basement stairwell:


These were my favorite pro sports teams from the 1970s: the Seattle SuperSonics, the Los Angeles Rams and the Baltimore Colts. For those who aren't familiar with the fate of these storied franchises, I'll try to sum it up succinctly—gone, gone and gone.

The Colts bolted for Indianapolis in 1984, the Rams moved to St. Louis in 1995 and I'm not exactly sure where the Sonics ended up. I think it was someplace around Fargo called Mooseknuckle or something.

Not shown, but lined up to the left of these pennants are three others, from my elementary, junior high and high schools. Chances are that they would've eventually flown the coop as well had they not been purchased by a local casino chain.

Throughout all these years of unmitigated flux, however, every blue moon I'm a bit gob smacked by something which, on the surface, wouldn't have seemed like much of a big deal. And it happened again a couple of weeks ago.

Ichiro Suzuki— thirty-eight-year-old all-star right fielder for the Seattle Mariners—was traded to the New York Yankees. The transaction was beneficial to both parties; Ichiro had spent the past thirteen seasons with the Mariners and, after determining he's become slightly more useful than a three-inch floppy disk, requested to be traded to a championship contender before calling it quits.



















It's just seeing him in those pinstripes that chafes my sweetbreads. Sure, lots of players have ended their careers on other teams. Here's Joe Namath in a Rams uniform:



By this time, his knees were held together with that old dental floss that always ends up breaking off, so then you have to floss it out, too.













Michael Jordan had a cup of coffee with the Washington Wizards:















He was still pretty good, even though he couldn't do this anymore:


But watching Ichiro in a Yankee uniform is uncomfortable. Maybe it's because his first year with the Mariners was an incredible ride, but culminated with a loss to the Yankees in the American League Championship Series.

Perhaps I'm feeling my own creaking mortality. In the beginning, Ichiro was a wide-eyed greenhorn and I was still thirty-something. Now I'm twenty-one days and a few unplanned naps from hitting fifty.

Whatever the reason is, whichever is the underlying cause, I must meet life's ointment flies with the same resolve as I did upon learning that my wife was pregnant with our first child:

"Oh, my God. That's awesome! You don't think it's a big deal if I go ahead and leave my pennants up in the baby's room, right?"