Sunday, August 15, 2010

Random Thought Patterns

Look, I’m going to be perfectly honest. I had a hell of a long week, and I briefly considered announcing that I would be taking a week off from this column. But the idea actually made me feel like a slacker, and so I went to work. I am totally saving this one as an example of “work ethic” to use with my kids. I can just see how that conversation will go.

Me: Blah, blah, blah, and I stayed up late to come up with a new column for that Sunday morning.

Kids: Dad, your blog sucks. And it’s embarrassing us. Please stop.

Me: Oh, and there’s something else about the Internet you need to know. It’s forever.

Kids: Terrific.

Anyway, in my eternal quest for interesting topics, stumbling around my subconscious like it was my fraternity house circa 1993, I will often come across random thoughts in the corners of my mind that, while interesting, may not initially support a 1,000- or 1,500-word column. I collect these and wait to see if any will grow a pair and give me an entire column’s worth of material. To date, these have not. Although they may be things you’ve thought as well.

First, let's start with the Dumbest Thing I Heard All Week. In fact, this is a frontrunner for the Dumbest Thing I Heard in 2010. I was at a minor league baseball game last week, and while getting our food, I asked for a straw and lid for my soda. The cashier told me and my friend that straws and lids were banned at minor league baseball games because of an apparent epidemic of people throwing them on the field. At first, we gave her the understanding head nod; as we made our way back to our seats, we realized how stupid that sounded, because if I were inclined to throw something on the field, wouldn't I go with something a little more aerodynamic than a f-cking straw? Like maybe the CUP? The more we thought about it, the more perplexed we became. If anyone has further insight on this, please email me immediately.

1. The thing that bothers me about Giada de Laurentiis from Food Network is that, as sultry as she is, she has a disproportionately large head and she over-enunciates every word she utters. And yet I can’t look away -- I once found myself making fried polenta on a Friday night because she convinced me about how LighTTTT and TAYS-TEE it would be with a PATTT of BUTT-TERRR.

2. I find it very unsettling to hear about the end of a friend’s or acquaintance’s marriage. It’s not just sadness for the people involved, even if it’s best for all involved, although that’s part of it. It also has to do with the fact that divorce seems very grownup, very adult, and no matter how old you are, you still see yourself as 16 with your whole life in front of you. That's probably why they call it adultery.

3. I remember thinking a few years ago that it would shatter my faith in humanity if it came out that Lance Armstrong used performance-enhancing drugs en route to winning all those Tours. Think of all those Livestrong bands! Now I just don’t care. I never thought that we’d get to the point that we wouldn’t care about the fact that the greatest athletes of our generation were juiced up. No, seriously, I don’t give a crap. And, I’m guessing, neither do you.

4. I figured out why the last hour of sleep is so fantastic, and I can attribute this revelation to my college economics class. Let’s say you plan to go to bed at 11:00 and wake up at 6:00. For the most part, at 11:00, you can probably come up with something you’d rather do than go to sleep -- maybe you’d rather eat a bag of Doritos and watch Family Guy, perhaps try and woo the spouse, perhaps both simultaneously -- even if rationally, you know should go to bed because the kids will be up at 5:00, or you need to be at work by 7:30 or whatever.

At 11:00 p.m., the night’s supply of available sleep is at its peak, and you’re not as tired as you will be three hours from now. So your demand for sleep is at its lowest. Fast forward to 4:58 a.m., when you’re suddenly awakened by the dog barking. You get up to pee and crawl back into bed, and suddenly, there is nothing better than hunkering down for that last 62 minutes of sleep. Because the supply of sleep now mirrors that of, say, the available iPad inventory, and because you can never have enough sleep on weekdays, demand for sleep suddenly shoots through the roof, thus making the last hour of sleep an extremely precious commodity. You should be able to buy and sell sleep futures.

5. The city of Richmond made a poor showing on its episode of Man v. Food. Honestly, it didn’t look like Adam Richman really had that tough a time with Caliente’s Stupid Wing Challenge. Sort of made our fair city look weak in the spicy-wing department, even with the cleverly named “Container of Poor Judgment.” For God’s sake, in one spicy wing challenge, where the wings were coated with sauce derived from something called the Ghost chili, Richman couldn’t make it through one wing. I was a little embarrassed for us.

6. Boycotting BP gas stations is an exercise in futility for a reason entirely unrelated to the fact that you’d be hurting the local franchisee and not BP Corporate. I was getting gas the other day and was halfway through filling up my tank before I even realized it was a BP station. And the fact that it was a BP only registered because every other sentence I hear on television or read in the news includes the initials “BP.” I don’t know the corporate name of any gas station that I frequent. There’s “the one up by Panera Bread,” there’s “the one up near Food Lion,” and there’s “the one by my kids’ preschool.”
6(a). On a related note, is there any stranger descriptor of a natural resource (or, for that matter, any other tangible or intangible item in the universe) than describing oil as “light, sweet crude?” I always picture maple syrup.

7. If a car passes me on the highway, and I notice it’s got a bumper sticker, I’ve made my peace with the fact that I’m probably going to speed up so I can read the sticker, and I’m going to be annoyed if I miss my chance. I have no rational explanation for this.

8. There is no stronger evidence of malevolence in the world than the existence of the Little Einsteins. We're going on a trip all right. I hope there are ice picks I can poke into my eye when we get there.

9. For years, the concept of living in the suburbs with two kids and a dog was the ultimate cliché. Recently, I’ve noticed that that cliché has been subsumed by the cliché of being aware of the cliché that is your own life. I will sometimes perform suburban tasks and think, “man, this is some clichéd sh*t I am doing here.” I then drive over to Starbucks and get a big-ass coffee to soothe my jangled suburban nerves. You didn’t know “big-ass” was an actual Starbucks size option? Yeah, it’s not on the menu.

10. I have downloaded, and will continue to do so, a number of books for my Kindle that I will never, ever read. Because they were free.

11. I really don’t get the worldwide fascination with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It is not a good book. For a while, I worried that my contempt for the novel stemmed from the fact that I’m an unpublished novelist and Dragon Tattoo is one of the biggest publishing phenomena of the last decade. Then again, Stieg Larsson has been dead for six years.

So, I guess the lesson in all this is: if I kick it prematurely, someone please get my manuscripts to an agent and help pay for my kids’ college.

12. I’m unnecessarily proud of myself if I make it to the end of the day and I have not used the Internet. Somehow, you feel all superior because you don’t know what’s been going on in the world, like it takes some sort of intellectual or moral firepower to not log onto That is f-cking strange. I’m not sure what this says about me, the Internet, or the world.

13. I own a number of movies on DVD that I have never removed from the case. However, if I stumble across one of these very movies on television, commercials and all, I’m watching to the end. A Few Good Men and The Shawshank Redemption, I’m looking in your direction.

14. I confess that I’ve rooted against my favorite professional sports teams (the Washington Redskins and the Cleveland Indians) because it would benefit my fantasy football and baseball franchises. Because let’s be honest, since I started playing fantasy sports in 1998, neither team has had anything to root for. I’m a little ashamed of this, and so with all due respect to the Mustache Farts franchises, I won’t do it again. Because it’s hard to pass on the glory and splendor of sports to your son when your favorite team’s logo is a screenshot of Peter Griffin with Brian the dog affixed to his upper lip as a mustache.

This concludes this week’s tour through my subconscious. I’ll be back with something more focused next week.

I hope.


  1. 1. Giada... Um, yeah. Haven't managed to look above her neckline enough to notice the disproportion issue. Sad, I know.

    7. Only slightly more evil than the bumper sticker you never get close enough to read... personalized license plates that make no sense. I'm a hypocrite here, because I have had two license plates like that.

    8. If you think "Little Einsteins" is bad... Dude... Just wait. It really does get worse... much, much worse.

    11. Haven't read "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" yet, and I've been horribly curious about the book. Hearing you say the book stinks does give me pause, though... and at the same time makes me even more curious.

    14. Oddly enough, I'm having the reverse problem because of my newfound love for fantasy football. I now find myself in the awkward position of having to pull for teams I would normally despise and wish nothing but defeat. "Oh, look! Those bastard Cowboys are playing! Wait. My Tight End is on their team. Darn. Very well then. Go, Cowboys! But only if you're passing to my player!"

  2. Bill, I haven't found anything that drives me battier than Little Einsteins. Fortunately, my son is way, way over them, and my daughter never seemed to get into them (and I will never let her).