Monday, October 29, 2012

No One Likes a Sore Winner.

It was a beatdown, an ass whoopin', a curb stompin'. Sweet mother, those guys were dragged behind the woodshed and force fed a couple heapin' shitloads of chucknorris.

Oh, yeah, and really boring.

Aside from a few randy fetishists who occupy the outlying regions of society's bell-shaped curve, does anyone really enjoy experiencing total domination?

Well, that's just what happened last night, when the San Francisco Baseball Giants finished off the toothless Tigers of Detroit, sweeping the American League champs four-zip in a World Series with about as much spice as a Mitt Romney knock-knock joke.

It normally lives up to its billing as the Fall Classic, usually expected to extend into the blustery month of November.

Yeah, not this one, which returns me to my point—how dull is it to witness this kind of stuff?

And beyond the viewpoint of a passive observer, I maintain that an unchallenging sweep doles out an equal amount of harm to the broom clutcher as the dust bunny skidding along the linoleum.

In the 1972 presidential election, Richard Nixon defeated George McGovern in the largest landslide in American history, clubbing the hapless Democrat 520-17 in the electoral vote tally. Holy shit, that's almost as bad as those lop-sided ping pong victories my big brother still brags about even though I was still in utero.

Nixon seemed to think such a resounding political mandate provided the keys to a brand new thugmobile, thereby allowing him to back over the Constitution and shred it in his spinning Goodyears.

All I can say is, thank God for Deep Throat.

That didn't come out right.

Or how about when Titanic swept the Oscars, winning eleven golden eunuchs including Best Picture, Director, Actress and Supporting Actress? I'll tell you, when James Cameron barked out, "I'm king of the world!" I couldn't have cared less about the frozen North Atlantic, because I would've drowned his smug little weasel face in two inches of tepid bathwater.

Then, of course, there was Team USA's stirring medal sweep in the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics. The stars and stripes needed a couple of railcars to contain its haul of one hundred and seventy four medals. The next closest competitor was Romania, who tallied a paltry fifty-three.

Of course, the Soviets and East Germans boycotted those games, but how cool was it to rub Romania's face in it? Sure, we're talking about a country the size of a large shopping mall, but whatever. It was morning in America. Ronald Reagan had upped our VISA card max and Mary Lou Retton made it okay to be attracted to adults who had stopped menstruating due to abnormally low body mass indices. USA! USA!

Years later, in response to the taunts of a defiant dictator who eluded capture through a sophisticated network of rat holes, American forces swept into Iraq, occupying Baghdad within days. The city was looted by throngs of grateful citizens who then greeted their liberators with bouquets of improvised explosive devices.

Mission accomplished, indeed.

Sarcasm aside, people don't take kindly to a drubbing. Whether it's that kid who's just moved here from Illinois to pitch for the other team, and he's, like, five-feet eleven, with more facial hair than your great aunt, or that woman who wins some sort of award at every quarterly work meeting, it gets old pretty fast.

And trust me, this has absolutely nothing to do with my daughter's soccer team, who hasn't won a game in two years.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

How Well Do We Really Know Each Other?

It's been a while, now.

As of this juncture, I've been hurling my half-century-old carcass through the blogosphere for three years plus some change.

And throughout four hundred and fifty three posts, I've offered unsolicited insights into my worldview, submitting these thoughts while clenched in a perpetual kegel of misplaced paranoia.

Okay, that's a little much, but I do appreciate your patronage and care what you think.

So, as a small test of your loyalty, I've decided to play out a fictional scenario to see how well you've been listening. Since I've hung my wife and daughters out to dry more often than June Cleaver with a Clorox jug full of clothespins, I'm going to spin a yarn involving every member of our tribe, and you must decide which statements ring true and which qualify as slanderous ridiculousness.

If you can find at least one falsehood, I commend you and your vigilant readership. Let's begin.

I arrived home after a long, yet satisfying day spent brainstorming new baking recipes for the dispensary. My wife greeted me at the door, assisting me in peeling off my threadbare, yet favorite, Count Chocula hoodie and hung it neatly in the closet.

She pecked my cheek and carefully re-arranged my comb-over, finally stepping back and asking, "Hello, foxy guy. How was your day?"

"You know, it was really nice," I replied. "Nothing beats a nice modified Toll House cookie recipe for helping Americans deal with their chronic pain. For you see, dear, the good lord has chosen that I should be a healer."

"Yes, he did. I married the right guy, that's for sure." She straightened her apron, turned and cheerfully bellowed, "Girls. Your father's home! And dinner's ready!"

As I scooted my chair in to my customary position at the table's head, I glanced into the kitchen, where my bride readied the final touches on a promising repast. "And how about you?" I queried. "Still being hassled by those derelict kids at school."

She exhaled deeply. "It just keeps getting worse. Two of my fifth graders fell asleep today. After I woke them with the super soaker, which, by the way, was the most thoughtful of birthday gifts, I asked one of them why he had nodded off. He said he was up late playing video games because his single mother was working her second job cleaning office buildings and he didn't have anyone to put him to bed."

"What do you want to bet she's an illegal," I offered.

"Of course she is. And let me tell you, she won't be cleaning offices in this country much longer if I have my way." She set the casserole down on two of her famous hand-crocheted pot holders. The heavenly aroma of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup toyed with my senses. "And if they can afford an X-Box, they can afford a good immigration lawyer."

I placed my linen napkin across my lap. "Amen, sister."

"Hi, Dad." My seventeen-year-old daughter kissed my forehead and settled into the spot to my right. "Is it okay if I clean the basement after dinner? It's really been bothering me."

I playfully slapped her face with the back of my hand. "Oh, I suppose. Hey, by the way, did you notice that our Mitt Romney for President sign has been stolen from the front yard?"

"I did, Daddy." My twelve-year-old entered through the kitchen, sliding a frosty martini to my dinner plate's two o'clock. I couldn't help but marvel at what a great little wife that gal is going to be some day. "I'll bet the gay couple down the street swiped it. They're always causing trouble."

I gingerly sipped the sweet liquor—so soothing. "I'd bet dollars to donuts you're right, honey. You stay away from those people. Now go wash up. It looks like you've gotten a little gay on you. Heh, heh!"

"Oh, Daddy. Can I dish you up some tater tot casserole?"

"Absolutely. I've been thinking about this all day."

She scooped a heaping pile of the steamy hot dish onto my plate. "Hey, Dad, is it okay if I go to a rave on Saturday night? I'm not sure where it is or how I'm getting there or how I'm getting home."

"I suppose," I said sternly. "But you have to promise to leave a couple candy necklaces on the table for your mom and me, or no deal."

"Oh, Dad, you're so strict."

"Life is about rules, sweetie. And the sooner you realize that, the better."

At length, we ate quietly, but a look of concern betrayed my older daughter's face. Finally, she spoke.

"Dad, we've been learning a lot about evolution in my biology class. It really seems to make sense, but I know it's not true. What should I do?"

I thought carefully, since knee-jerk reactions only apply to the weaker sex. "I'll tell you what. I'm going to let you take my handgun to school tomorrow. If that biology teacher of yours wants to spout any more lies, you tell her that Smith and Wesson disagree and show her the business end of that thing. I guarantee she'll tell the class the world started when Reagan was elected. Ha!"

"Dad, you're so smart."

At the opposite end of the table, my wife's eyes welled up. "We are the luckiest ladies in the world, girls. God has truly blessed us with your father and his profound wisdom."

I drained my martini and stifled a belch. "Thank you, honey. She's right, girls."

Monday, October 22, 2012

Lance, What Did You Tell Your Kids?

Twenty years ago, Nike aired a television spot featuring Charles Barkley. As the camera framed his round face in an extreme black and white close-up, Barkley proclaimed, "I am not a role model...just because I dunk a basketball doesn't mean I should raise your kids."

True enough.

But if Swoosh and Company's aim was to evoke emotion in its audience, mission accomplished. Even though I was still two years removed from being a parent, I recall thinking:

Screw you, Chuck. First of all, you're shilling for a company who's made its fortune selling overpriced merchandise to children.

Secondly, your employer, the National Basketball Association, an organization that has secured your future and likely several generations of your descendants, currently sells a jersey with the name "Barkley" scrolled across the back for around $39.95.

And if I'm not mistaken, it's offered in kids' sizes.

So, whether you like it or not, you've chosen a profession which renders its employees role models. Don't agree, Chaz? Then be a mail carrier or a life insurance salesman, because you can't have it both ways.

A few years later, my six-year-old daughter discovered the allure of professional athletics and its personalities, deciding to hitch her wagon to Alex Rodriguez, then a young shortstop on the Seattle Mariners.

We spent countless summer evenings watching him play, discussing his work ethic and his respect for the game. Toward the end of that season, in jagged, unsteady words betraying her new found literacy, she scrawled A-Rod a note, proclaiming her admiration for him and his playing style. 

Before his reply could grace our mailbox, Rodriguez jumped the good ship Mariner, signing a two hundred million dollar contract with the Texas Rangers. In his parting press conference, he emotionally maintained that Texas was a better fit in his quest for a championship; money was not a factor.

Until that moment, I hadn't held an ounce of contempt for Rodriguez' decision. After all, who'd turn down a couple hundred million bucks to play baseball? But when he chose to proclaim to my kid and everyone else that it wasn't about the money, his hypocrisy hit a walk-off home run.

I can remember thinking, Alex, you can't have it both ways.

With A-Rod in the rear view mirror, the search for an heir apparent commenced immediately. And since no parent wants to hasten his child's journey down the path to cynicism, my cackles stood tall for a worthy candidate.

It wasn't difficult; he stood out so vividly in his yellow jersey.

Back in 2001, what larger source of inspiration existed than Lance Armstrong?

Yes, that's a real question.

After vanquishing a disease which ravaged the most sensitive region of the male anatomy than spread to his brain and lungs, he recovered to win the most grueling athletic contest known to humanity, the Tour de times.

We latched onto Lance like a piece of bacon to a maple bar. My girl and I spent countless July mornings chatting about his latest Tour exploits. We'd look east toward our mountain range, the Cascades, and marvel that anyone could traverse such heights in a bicycle, let alone pull away from world class competition.

And almost every year, one of Armstrong's chief rivals would succumb to a dirty drug test and withdraw from the race in disgrace, unable to maintain Lance's lofty, drug-free standard of excellence. We'd shake our heads and smile because cheaters deserve to get caught.

In a world where our children are modeled such a diverse spectrum of adult behavior, Lance Armstrong stood tall among the pretenders; he showed our kids that they can play by the rules and still be the best.

And now this. And he won't admit it.

I haven't really discussed this with her, but I plan to. She's seventeen now, and obviously her world view has changed substantially since that summer of 2001 when Lance Armstrong swooped onto our radar. She's seen a lot of people mess up, especially me, and she's seen how those people handled the consequences.

And I hope she's learned that, while we're human and we'll never cease erring, we can nevertheless be accountable, because therein lies a sliver of virtue and a first step toward redemption.

I hope she knows you can't have it both ways.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

What's the Big Deal About Binders Full of Women?

Binders full of women?

To make a Gilligan's Island analogy, last night's debate reminded me of an argument between the professor and an exotic hybrid combining Gilligan and Thurston Howell III.

Good God, where do we begin?

According to the talking heads, President Obama needed to climb through the ropes clutching a couple of canisters of Whoopass with the lids already off. He knew this Romney guy was girding his loins for a street fight.

And considering that special underwear he sports, that's a lot of Kevlar.

At the outset, the former Massachusetts governor looked cocky and relaxed. He leaned against his bar stool, casually rose and swaggered across the red carpet, clutching the mic like it was his second Shirley Temple on an empty stomach.

No podium, no notes, no problem.

The debate's format was town hall style, comprising an audience of undecided voters, a few of whom had been selected to ask questions of the candidates. Surprisingly, none appeared filthy, bearded, or exhibiting any other attributes of having lived in guano-oozing caves without cable or internet access for the past two years.

Governor Romney initially employed the same tactic for which he received little challenge during the last debate, utilizing numbers to appear competent and truthful. He claimed that oil drilling on federal lands has decreased by fourteen percent during Obama's tenure, thereby causing a surge in oil and gasoline prices.

Our president stood and glared at Romney, as if to say,"Not so fast, my gray-templed, Just for Men spokesmodel." Oil production on federal lands did decrease once— during 2009—but that was due to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and overall, drilling has increased by ten percent during the Obama administration.

Oh well, potato potahto. Romney hadn't campaigned relentlessly for the past seven years to cut and run now. If numbers don't work, maybe he could skewer Obama with his own words. When the topic switched to the aftermath of the Benghazi attacks, he asserted that Obama waited fourteen days to label the killings an act of terror.

The President appeared annoyed, as if he'd regretted not having shown up with his daughter's Etch-a-Sketch, since it would have been a lot easier just scrawling out the word "bullshit" and holding it up to the camera every couple of minutes.

With the same incredulous look, Mr. Obama retorted that on September 12, the day after the attacks, he declared that ""No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for."

This time, it was Mitt who lacked for words. Little help, Candy Crowley? He did say that? Whatever, he's still a commie.

Finally, Romney called off the dogs, believing that since facts and figures were just tools for manipulating the truth, he could sell the audience on his own accomplishments as Governor of Massachusetts.

Asked by Crowley what he would do as president to tear down the glass ceiling denying women equal pay for equal work, Romney avoided the question, instead deciding to boast of a mandate he enacted while governor.

He'd adeptly noticed that, since few women were being vetted for cabinet-level positions, he would initiate a search for qualified women.

Here's the thing, though—that didn't happen. Romney was actually presented his infamous "binders full of women" by MassGAP, a group of women who had resolved to present a list of qualified personnel to whomever was elected governor.

In the end, it was a win-win for Massachusetts, since women comprised forty-two percent of the cabinet and they didn't cost as much.

But I'll tell you, even though Mitt lied about it, it's not like possessing binders full of women is that big of a deal.

When I was a teenager, I didn't put them in binders because that would have been really uncomfortable and hard to fit under my mattress, but I totally could have put them in binders if I had wanted to.

I wonder what ever happened to those.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Bless the Beasts and Cabbage Patch Children.

Seriously, this couldn't have come at a better time.

After basking in eighty-one straight shimmering days of Pacific Northwest sunshine, I awakened at five-thirty this morning nearly as grumpy and sore as Jerry Sandusky after an evening horsing around with the prison tickle monster. Things were damp and things were dark.

Usually on Mondays, I drag my carcass, newly heaped in the weekend's toxins, through the throbbing florescent glare of the gymnasium lobby. Once inside the door, I'll do just about anything to forestall the anguish of an impending anaerobic frenzy.

And since I'd already memorized the fire exit diagram and Puget Sound YMCA location poster, a freshly printed item perched atop an easel beckoned my dilated pupils and encrusted eye sockets:

Did I say I was cranky? Yeah, I thought so. Yet sometimes the smallest gestures, the tiniest beacons, can morph your outlook from sour to super, from grim to vim, and by God, that's just what happened as I stumbled upon this poster in the lobby that the Y shares with a local church.

Finally, our furry friends can receive the same blessed Godscreen SPV 50  the rest of us have been slathering on this whole time.

If our lord and savior can ensure that Tim Tebow runs for a first down as a reward for pointing skyward, why can't my one-toothed cat Leo receive a little unwavering heavenly intervention? Could a quick nod to JC possibly spare him from yakking his profoundly undigested Little Friskies grilled veal spleen into the crevices of our steamy baseboard heater?


In 2006, Star Jones claimed she was spared certain death from the devastating Asian tsunami thanks to her devout faith and prayer.

And of course that thirty-day gap between when she was there and when the thing hit. But still, you know, let's not split hairs when it comes to divine intervention.

Pat Robertson prayed during the Bush era for Supreme Court vacancies and his request was granted.

Sure, John Roberts cast the deciding vote in favor of Obamacare, but how is it God's fault that Robertson wasn't more specific?

Convinced of her personal status on God's VIP list, supermodel Linda Evangelista once proclaimed, "It was God who made me so beautiful. If I weren't, then I'd be a teacher."

Well said, but come on, she's way too smart to be a teacher.

I would like a little more information, however, about this animal blessing coming up on Sunday. It says it's okay to bless a dead pet. Sounds fantastic, although I had a cat named Simon, and I think he may have been Jewish. The last thing I want to do is pull a Mitt Romney and retroactively baptize him into another faith like the Mormon Church did with millions of dead Jewish people, including Holocaust victims like Anne Frank.

Yeah, no.

The lobby sign also suggests bringing a stuffed animal if you don't own a pet. That's cool,  but I am wondering if it's okay to have other stuffed stuff blessed— like is it plausible that God might reduce the fat content on Costco chicken bakes or various deep friend fair foods?

Because that would be awesome.

Anyway, I'm really stoked about this, and it's nice to have a full week to ponder all the live and inanimate objects which can now be engulfed with a condom of heavenly protection, thanks to Fauntleroy UCC.

And it's so wonderful living in Seattle, a place where Leo won't have a problem finding something nice to wear.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Youngest Child: Victim or Victor?

Since he was thirteen and six years my senior, he played on his knees while I was allowed to stand.

The living room was the stadium, our avocado carpet serving as the faux turf field and the fireplace mantel the glorious pay dirt of the end zone.

Clutching the football in the crook of my right elbow, I feigned left and nimbly juked right, my brother's awkward lunge embracing nothing but the stale living room air.

I slowed my sprint to a jog, confidant that he'd surrendered the touchdown to his overmatched little brother. Without audible warning, his fleshy talons hooked my shins from behind, chopping my balance and sending me airborne.

Cradling the pigskin to avoid fumbling, my face slapped the cold slate of the fireplace foreground like a seasoned spaghetti squash. A burst of crimson blinded me upon impact, the polished stone shattering my horn-rimmed glasses. I struggled to my knees, nauseous from shock and dripping thick pearls of blood onto the carpet and my favorite mustard-tinted turtleneck.

But goddammit, I had scored. Touchdown, little guy.

This tale from 1969 poked its way into my consciousness last night as my family attended my elder daughter's high school volleyball senior night. It was her final home game, prior to which she and her fellow seniors were regaled with flowers, praise and adulation from fans, teammates and families. By the end of the evening the only missing accolades were a beer-massaged calf for each player and a case of Turtlewax.

And there next to my wife and me, watching her sister...again...was my younger girl. She's been dragged to so many of these contests, someday she may pave the way for a new breed of humanoids who can sit comfortably without back support for hours on end.

Throughout these twelve years, she's packed water bottles and books, crayons and Barbies to pass the time huddling in drafty gyms and soaking on muddy soccer pitches. Through no fault of hers, she's hoisted that splintered wooden cross of being the younger sibling.

Can I relate? Why, yes I can.

As the youngest of three, I grew up sharing airtime with a brother and sister who weren't exactly excited to see my jaundiced little noggin show up in the baby carrier, the one that my dad had to dig out attic and try to bleach off the mildew spots. One boy and one girl already rounded out our Cold War family, so I'm pretty sure the bomb shelter wasn't really built with me in mind.

Nonetheless, I was allowed to stay, albeit with stipulations—I was entitled to a mere fraction of the photo ops to which my brother, a.k.a. "Prince William," or my sister, a.k.a. "Only Adorable Little Girl if the Family," were afforded. I never had the option of sleeping in the top bunk, and many of my t-shirts weren't exactly gently used. Never certain of the source of the stains, I was still confident that they contained my brother's DNA.

And of course, the youngest child gets lowest billing in all family marketing pieces. You know, like "Merry Christmas, from the Haywoods—Lionel, Peggy, Tom, Ann and...hang on...I know this...Shit...Oh, Tim, yeah, Tim."

Am I bitter? Hell, yes, but it's not all bad being the kid who comes along when his parents are so freaking worn out already, they don't care anymore. As a teenager, if my brother arrived home a minute past midnight, he'd activate an alarm which also scanned his pupils and searched his orifices.

When I reached my teenage years, I could cruise in at one-thirty, turn on the lights, build and chow down a bacon sandwich that Elvis could smell from his Graceland toilet perch.

All the while, my parents slept the sleep of the weary traveler.

So, yeah, I can understand the plight of my number two daughter. She isn't as sporty as her big sister, but few people are. In a pinch, that kid would play catch with a shovel.

But our twelve-year-old does have orchestra concerts and soccer games on the horizon.

And by God, her big sister will be attending.

Monday, October 8, 2012

A Heartfelt Appeal to Hallmark's Struggling Business.

Dear Hallmark,

Why did you allow things to get to this point without calling me? Come on, you guys, you know I'm here for you.

It's obviously too late to reverse this current wave, now that you've announced the impending layoffs of seven hundred and fifty full-time American employees due to struggling sales.

And let me emphasize, the era of the paper greeting card has not perished; I love receiving material greetings. It shows effort, not just the mindless thirty-second response to a Facebook tickler.

But look, people, it's time for a little upgrade. The same cheesy lines that made Uncle Hector laugh so hard that Aunt Sarah had to tuck his hernia back in just don't cut it with today's cynical card shopper.

If you're looking to downsize, here's where to start, and it's really simple: get rid of all kids' cards. They're a waste of money. When six-year-old Jakey is sitting in the living room, waiting to ravage a mountain of presents, the only thing standing between him and that new X-Box is some card with a picture of Optimus Prime that says, "Wishing you a 'Transformative' birthday!"

Mom makes him open the card so she can write down who gave it to him so he can send a thank you note later. Here's an idea—just skip the card altogether and write who it's from in big, black Sharpie right over the Elmo wrapping paper.

From a kid's point of view, the only good cards arrive with Benjamin inside. And those don't get read, either.

So, yeah, Hallmark, let's nix cards for anyone under, say, twenty years old. After that, we can tweak the subject matter for more adult audiences.

A huge portion of your market is the card which lampoons those advancing into older age. Most are meant to skewer folks who've begun to experience physical challenges. These contain messages like, "You know the worst thing about getting older? Gravity!"

That's not funny. It's true, hurtful and mean-spirited, but not the least bit humorous. What's funny about showing cartoon boobs hitting the floor, when a lot of us have been watching it in real time every day for the past twenty years? That's like telling someone in the elevator that they look tired. No point, you know? Why not use the Marine Corps method and knock down while building up?

If you want to really slam someone, yet compliment them as well, you can avoid paying all the fancy illustrators and photographers and offer a simple white card with black type. On the cover it will say, "Dude, seriously, I didn't think you'd make it this far, especially after all those years not using protection..."

He'll open the card to find a little envelope of sunscreen taped inside with the words, "You're welcome."

But hang on. Underneath that, again in black letters it will read, "Plus, oh my God, you were a slut. Seriously, anything that moved..."

His wife and kids and mom will love it, and I'm pretty sure he'll feel better about himself.

Another area of dead weight that could really use some pruning is your sympathy card business. Good Lord, those cards are terrible. Have you ever tried finding one which simply states, "I'm sorry for your loss"?

It's impossible and it reminds me of when someone is trying to express his or her condolences but they're uncomfortable and don't know when to stop. They end up saying something like:

"Hey, I'm really sorry about your mom. It's probably good, though, right? I mean, you know what I mean? It's good that she's not suffering, you know? I mean, I'm assuming she suffered, like, a lot, right? Like super, super painful probably, right? Yeah, so it's good she's dead. Take care, and if you need anything, just text me, but not after eight."

Here's an example of an actual Hallmark sympathy card:

"Your loved one's with our Lord above,
Away from earthly pain.
And over time,
The Lord will lift,
Your sorrow once again."

That's nice. Kind of a Dr. Suess feel, too.

Hallmark, it's good to know that someone at your fine company can pen such a personal note to me and my unspecified loved one.

Good luck with your foundering business, and in addition to the above suggestions, I implore you to revisit the time-tested idea of limericks.

Tim Haywood

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Why Obama Won the Debate.

I'm obviously in the minority, here.

Apparently, I can be counted among those groups whose memberships are painfully small:

Those who feel O.J. didn't do it.

People who decided that it was finally safe to open the sliding glass door and let the raccoons meet the kittens.

Parents who choose a daycare based on the size of the trampoline and love the teacher/student ratios provided by the halfway house next door.

You see, I believe Barack Obama won last night's debate. In fact, I didn't even think it was that close.

It's hardly a secret that I'm all in for this guy. I'd still vote for him if he'd walked onto the stage and become Barack Madonna greeting Mittany Spears with a one-tongue salute.

Frankly, I was taken aback by the overwhelming sentiment against the president's performance:

Score One For Romney—

Debate Praise for Romney as Obama Is Faulted as Flat—New York Times

Presidential Race Reset, GOP and Some Democrats Say—Washington Post

Romney Obliterates Muslim Antichrist, Says He's Happy to Take the Job Off Jesus' Plate*—Fox News
*Among headlines considered but not chosen

I must have been in the bathroom when Romney walked into the party and passed around Kool-Aid beer bongs, because I just didn't spot a sizable advantage. My daughters and I agreed that, while far calmer than his challenger, the president stated his case using facts rather than platitudes.

In addition, we broke the contest into the following categories:

Appearance—In a nutshell, we felt that Romney looked like hell. His eyes were bloodshot and his lips cracked and dry. I'm not sure what looked worse, last night's pallor or the freakish facial dye job Mitt donned for an interview on Univision two weeks ago to appear simpatico with Latino voters.

President Obama looked more relaxed, yet with a considerably heavier dusting of gray than during his 2008 campaign. I'm thinking a lot of that may have transpired during that whole Bin Laden reality TV episode in the Situation Room.

Delivery—We surmised that Governor Romney may have received a special church dispensation and guzzled seven cups of Folger's Crystals prior to the debate; the guy was geeked up. Hopefully, the Secret Service had a nice stash of Handi Wipes to pass the president immediately afterward to squeegee his opponent's caviar-laced spittle from his face and neck.

Mitt interrupted and spoke over moderator Jim Lehrer so frequently, I thought Lehrer might cut his mike, walk up and punch Romney in the hair.

Message—This is the most disturbing reason why I'm stunned that so many believed Romney excelled last night. He provided no solutions for our foundering economy, other than lowering tax rates and eliminating deductions. How much lower and which deductions? Too complicated. You wouldn't understand.

He hates Obamacare, that's loud and clear, but what's his alternative? Romney's already stated that we've got a system in place for the uninsured, and that's provided by America's emergency rooms.

According to Romney, parents should be free to send their children to the best schools, not the ghetto schools that contain all the lazy teachers. Come on, folks. If you live in a bad neighborhood, just move to a good one. For Pete's sake, why must he spell everything out for you people?

It's true that President Obama didn't display the stress-induced energy that Mitt poured onto the stage like a sack of Jello. He also didn't capitalize in Romney's innumerable gaffes: the forty-seven percent comment, the flip-flops on women's and gay rights.

So, Mr. President, you've got two more chances. Please finish this bonehead off. As Mrs. Romney said, "Stop it. This is hard."