Friday, June 29, 2012

Toilet Talk

This photo is... flush left.
You'd be surprised by the crap people say… while on the crapper.

We've all suffered through it. The ramblings of people who are waaaay too chatty in community, corporate and public bathrooms. I'm not just talking about the guy (or girl if its the ladies room) who continues a conversation even after you have selected your favorite stall.

No dear reader, I am referring to the yahoos who sing while pinching a loaf. Who continue, work or in-depth conversations while launching a fleet of subs or who answer phones calls while sending the Cleveland Browns to the Super Bowl. It's unsettling, tacky and gross… if not just a hair funny.

Toilet time is just not a time to chat. Brood? Maybe. Meditate? Possibly. Read? Absolutely! Why, you may even be able to squeeze in a level or two of angry birds while you squeeze out… other things. So, hang-on to your danglers, kids, it's Arth Vader's top five culprits and dodo's and don'ts for the shared bathroom etiquette:
"Almost... there..."

1. The Grunting Bombardier.
This guy's the worst, having a body-rattling colon cleanse while he continues conversations either on his cell phone or with a buddy. co-worker or even complete stranger in the next stall.

2. The Ankle-Grabbing Crooner. Listen, I love when someone has music in them (among others things) but do you need to share your melodic tendencies while releasing the python? Seriously, singing while on the potty is just plain… wrong. This also applies the cousin of the Ankle-Grabbing Crooner, The Ankle-Grabbing Tuner. This rocket scientist goes into the stall with their iPod headset so loud, people in the next building are tapping their feet.

Please, stop.

That's how I roll.

3. The Chat and Squat Diaries. Every colon-busting, under-achieving sub-human commits this arguably worst of all shared bathroom atrocities: answering the cell phone while on the porcelain throne! Example; "Hi honey, how's your day? (groans) Oh me? Work's ok–hey, did you (grunts, than a splash) pick up those pastries for Grandma's coming out party on Sunday (groans)? No… no it's no problem, I can grab them on the way (more splashes) home." I can't help but think the person on the other end of the call is saying "… wow, really?"

4. Musical Deliveries. Hey, I'm the first to acknowledge that when you gotta go, you gotta go. But, if you're in your stall and your… movements, sound like a thousand pebbles dropping into a pond for five seconds or more–please, change your diet! Or at least try and time your time bowel releases to be at home or where they psychologically damage the fewest bathroom visitors.

"No, I did NOT watch 'Storage Wars' last night... now SHHH!"
5. The No-Urinal-Is-Sacred Gossip Buddy. You're standing at the urinal and this gold-medalist in disturbing behavior begins a conversation that doesn't stop! Riveting topics like Sports-Center news, directions to a pub or scientific breakthroughs on laundry detergent–no topic is too trivial. Just be sure not to irrigate your shoes in a crazed furor trying to get away from this lunatic.

Sorry, I don't mean to–uh... dump on these dimwits but it's high time we wiped out (sorry) these boneheaded bathroom barbarians. Sometimes, I just need a little quiet time in the stall... is that too much to ask?

Monday, June 25, 2012

There be giants!

"Please sir, no photos of giant man's crotch."
In a home with three teenage and preteen boys… the only thing I can do now is look up. 

I knew the day would come. The day when my little boys, became… well, bigger. Not yet men, but definitely NOT boys anymore. Their voices are all changing, they eat like a ravenous pack of wolves and they continuously grow out of their clothes like it's a bad running joke. I'm just not laughing.

Giant thoughts.
Discussions about which super hero I would rather be or who would win; The Empire or The Borg have not yet gone away but are now interspersed with discussions about which swim suit models are hotter; Maxim or Sports Illustrated.

Then of course, there's the matter of porn.

"resisting pop culture is futile..."
Every computer and phone in their world has attempted to access 'nudie' pics, sex sites and adult sexual content of every kind. Governing this access–and policing it– is a full time job. It mortifies the boy's Mom and their sister dry heaves every time the subject is brought up. As a parent, my job is to monitor this behavior and make sure it is clear–beyond any shadow of a doubt–that this stuff only gets into your head and quickly becomes an obsession. But that, as any Conan (The Barbarian) comic book would say, is another tale.

Giant confusion. The world is a confusing and intimidating place for today's young people. Lots of revisionist history (like Sherlock Holmes stopping World War I or that Abraham Lincoln declared war on the Southern Confederacy because they held an alliance with Vampires), lots of mixed messages about the road to adulthood, sexuality, education, politics, nutrition and morality.

"um, how do I turn the page again...?"
I can't imagine the world makes much sense to today's young people–although that at least is consistent with the world view from when I was their age. Modern music is wrought with keyboards, synthesizers and re-mixes. Movies are re-imagined or re-booted. Books are read on tablet devices (like iPads) and video games are a part of–or replacement for–recreation. Everything is fast-food, push-of-a-button and instantaneous. There are 500 channels, free online games and Smart phones more powerful than the computer systems that sent Astronauts to the moon in the 1960's.

Giant aspirations.
And that brings me to back to real-life. Today's generation (they are "millennials" at last note) have role models that are rappers, actors and athletes who have entourage's and tons of 'hotties'. Everyone wants to be an entrepreneur and satisfaction in anything needs to be instantaneous. I have endless discussions with my kids over what career will make them the most money. Very little conversation about the meaning of work or having an understanding of a fulfilling career.

My kids: their future–our world. Giant Expectations.
But, alas, there is promise for tomorrow. My daughter, who has an incredible aptitude for art–painting, illustration and photography–has aspirations of being a Marine Biologist. My eldest son is fascinated by law (after a glorious career in the NBA!). One of the twins harbors a passion for medicine, inquiring about Harvard Medical school and at age 11 had in-depth inquiries about cardiovascular surgery. The other twin shows incredible compassion for animals and is considering veterinary science–after a career in the military and/or the NBA. Hey, they can dream can't they?

With an abundance of distractions, mixed messages from society and rampant levels of ADD and ADHD to contend with, I am surprised these kids can even spell the things they are discussing about their futures. As we all know, life has a funny way of helping us decide the course of our fate, but with bright eyes and ambitious goals at heart–well their future just might have some promise. Daily, I look to the heavens and give thanks for their health, ambition and smile at the prospects of tomorrow for each of them. For all I know, they may all just might be giant men (and one woman) who vastly underperform.

But who knows, in the end, they might be giants.
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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Shuffling Dead

In cubicles, supermarkets and post offices across America, the undead walk among us.

I have got to admit, there are few guilty pleasures more satisfying than watching AMC's The Walking Dead. If you haven't seen the show–oh man!–you gotta watch it. Based on the highly graphic and incredibly ground breaking Image Comics series, the story describes how a killer disease covers the world and causes the dead to re-animate into human flesh-devouring monsters that prey on the living. They are brainless, animal-like brutes whose sole motivation is to devour every living thing in their path. They communicate in a mindless, unintelligible series of grunts and snarls. The really scary part about it is the "walkers" (or Zombies) aren't very different from our world's everyday brainless buffoons.

I'll bet you've met a few them already.

There's something going on in American society these days. Something horrifying, something so unspeakably twisted, it defies description. It is the common, widely held belief that many people have that makes them believe they are the only ones in the world. Or on the road. Or in line. Or watching a movie in a theater.

Just like the book "How to survive a Zombie Apocalypse" (also a fun web site you can visit here), there are things you can do to avoid an unpleasant demise at the hands of these re-animated dopes. In fact, modern living in the early 21st century gives us insight of how to identify the dark and gruesome days to come, should a Zombie uprising occur. 

Here are five common Zombies in everyday life we can identify–and defeat!–if we are prepared. Remember, identification is the first key to survival!

1. Mindless Road Fiends (MRF's). You've seen them, these undead ghoulies drive as though they are the first, last and only ones on the road. They see you coming down the road and speed out in front of you–causing you to stand on your breaks, only to reach a blinding top speed of 12 miles an hour right in front of you. As they bumble along in front of you with complete disregard for you and all their fellow drivers. 

How to defeat MRF's: The mindless road fiend is both clueless and dangerous. Get away from it as fast as your acceleration will (semi) legally allow! As you blaze past this lumbering loss of life, you can hammer-down on your horn. This will seriously disorient and confuse said brainless drone.

2. Supermarket Line Loafers (SLL's).
You have a cart full of groceries, you're already exhausted from the day and the undead people magazine aficionado in front of you is hungrily destroying what few lingering brain cells they have left with an extended review of the latest goings on in US Weekly, Soap Opera Digest or the journalistic monolith known as the National Enquirer. When you ask them to politely move ahead (when the thorough throat clearing and impatient shuffling doesn't work) they turn and give you the soul-melting stare of defiance. 

How to defeat an SLL: There are two paths you can take to overcome this adversary. First, scream "Oh my God! Lean Cuisine just went on sale in the Frozen Food isle!" This is the primary source of sustenance for the Line Loafer. Just be sure to avoid the stampede. Your other option is to smack the magazine out it's hands and in the ensuing chaos and groaning, skirt your cart around them. Unorthodox but effective.

"Hey is that on sale?"
3. Chatty Chaos Bringers (CCB's). This is one of the undead all-stars here. Pick your favorite store or to-go food stop. Its busy, you have two items and you just want to go, but the clueless social invalid in line in front of you decides to strike up a riveting conversation about the weather or the soaring price of tomatoes and asks the cashier all kinds of life-altering questions like where does the store get it's paper from for its bags. Time to take action!

How to defeat CCB's: You can short-circuit the worthless brain of this walking terror by simply interjecting non sequiturs into their inane banter. This will result in more moaning and other bodily noises. Don't despair, stay the course. Example: "Did you know that all dog breeds are derived from the canine lupus phyla? This means all dogs are essentially wolves–!" Enjoy the witless grimacing that ensues... 

4. The TV Terror Talker (TTT). Often identified by discussing television shows like "The Real Housefraus of Berwin" or "So you think you can Cha-Cha?", this undead nightmare could infest your own family! Usually waxing idiotic by discussing ANY TV show you happen not to be watching, they can drone on endlessly. Caution! They can chat for hours and suck you in to their endless vortex of mind-numbing reality show prattle. Resist–they are trying to convert you!

"For the last time, I HATED LEGO Indiana Jones–!"
How to defeat Triple T's: The best defense here is to begin brandishing an invisible remote control and in an over-exaggerated motion pretend to point it at them while trying to change the channel–inches from their nose. Soon, silence will be yours once more!

5. Moronic Movie Monster. Perhaps the most deadly of all, this unseemly beast inhabits almost every movie house in the lower 48 states. Often known to discuss the finer points of their domestic lives, favorite recipes and offer play-by-play critiques of the feature film real-time, this brain-dead, life-less husk can ruin even the most timid movie-going experience. Dispatch with extreme prejudice!

How to defeat Triple M's: This is the granddaddy of all modern-day Zombies. You and your fellow movie-goers are best advised to put this creep out it's misery fast. You all must band together to defeat this one as a united force. Crowd around the fiend and stare at them intently and demand that the movie be paused so that the all-important conversation details can be shared by everyone in the entire theater. Since it was necessary to disrupt the film we should all hear of the fascinating turn of events of their child's play date last Saturday.

Sometimes, I think we all might be better off if a Zombie infestation broke out to let us thin out the herd. Well I can dream, can't I?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Shut that kid up!

You know the annoying kid that won't stop running his mouth during the movie? He's a real nuisance–and he's learned from the best.
"Why are they kissing?! Ewww–! Gross!"

WARNING! This rant is focused on the inexcusable behavior of parents who bring toddlers and preschoolers to movies that are inappropriate for their age group. If you are one of these parents and you don't want to hear what a crappy parent you are–please avoid this rant.

By show of hands, who here has been in a movie theater in the last six months to see a movie–meant for adults!–where some toddler is running his or her mouth asking "who's she?" or "Why did he do that?!" or laughs inappropriately too loud at events they don't even understand? If you raised your hand, then you have been the victim of social troglodytes who think none of us will notice a two-year old is watching a Rated PG13 or Rated R movie.

And they need to stand trial for their crimes against humanity.

Yes it is a free country and yes there is NOTHING keeping me in my seat when there is an annoying audience member who somehow has missed the general cues of  common behavioral etiquette. But I did not pay a $8-to-$11 single ticket price to hear your kid's inquisition of why each person on-screen is "not being nice" as they shotgun their way through a horde of zombies and/or aliens. 

"I don't like Emma Thompson–!"
Recently, a 21-year-old man was put up on felony charges for smacking the ever-loving popcorn out of the mouth of an obnoxious kid (age not disclosed) who was running his mouth, throwing popcorn and being generally unruly. You can read more here. Now I am NOT condoning hauling off and whacking some random pre-teen blabbermouth. That's not cool on every level. But deep down... way deep... we can all relate to how that guy felt.

As a parent, I'm compelled to offer three notable points to qualify my thoughts here. First, I disqualify any PG or made-for-kids flick. Anything with brightly colored characters, talking animals or inanimate objects–like cars or teapots–that have faces, are exempt. These movies are made for them. Second, while my children are all adolescents or teenagers now, I know kids can get chatty during a movie. Lastly, I fully understand that this is NOT the child's fault. Their dim-witted genetic sires thought none of us would mind if little Susie or tiny Timmy would share their thoughts on the film's finer points throughout the entire show.

"Why do they charge so much
for popcorn momma?!"
Be advised it does NO GOOD to confront these sub-human ingrates directly. They will argue with you, often right in the theater, and further disrupt the experience. You can opt to go tell one of the pimply-faced future brain-surgeons who are masquerading as ushers, but they tend to only grunt and point  toward the manager's station anyway.

The only way to get really back at these noise-makers is to hold the theater accountable, and that means putting on an unhappy face and marching ourselves, en mass, to the supervisor or manager's station and demanding a refund for the unacceptable environment created by these little prepubescent chatterboxes. It sucks of course, because the movie theater folks had nothing to do with it. But it is their job to police the audience  and keep the experiential damage caused by mouthy people to a minimum.

When we make the experience unpleasant for the movie workers, they will in-turn, make the prattling tyke in row six button his lip or even inspire their brain-deadened parents to re-consider being there in the first place. After all, there is always NetFlix

Let's face it, your three year old doesn't need to see a guy unload a full-Uzi clip into a crowded street trying to nail a bad guy and have 6,000 bullets miraculously miss every bystander for four blocks. Isn't it bad enough your kid's being read stories about bears eating porridge and dishes and spoons eloping?