Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What the...?!?

There are a lot of "firsts" I remember. My first car (Chrysler Lebaron that only started once out of every 5 tries), My first kiss (I missed her lips on the first two tries because I closed my eyes too early), and my first roller coaster ride (well, only part of it. I passed out right before the downhill portion of the Colossus and my dad had to hold my limp body in the car for the remainder of the ride.)

There are definitely some firsts in the world I wish I could've been around for. Mainly because I would want to see the reactions of everyone around, or to see what knuckleheads cooked them up.

1. Gatorade Bath - How did this tradition get started? It's a staple of big football games now, but who on earth thought drenching the coach with electrolytes would be a fitting celebration. It for sure had to be an offensive lineman. The guy that kind of stinks, is really vulgar and unpleasant to be around, but so big that no one can tell him off. I can just see him sitting on the sidelines as the clock winds down telling other guys on the bench, "I'm unna drench the coach wif dis gat-or-ade. Ha Ha." Everyone kind of thought, "Meh, that's not really funny. But I'm not going to say anything." Next thing the coach knows he's getting a Lemon-Lime shower in mid-January.

2. Neckties - Every Sunday I curse the guy who first came up with this. Actually - No - I blame the woman that came up with this. I imagine sometime during the 10th Century a guy had to go to some ball with his wife. All he wanted to do was wear some comftorable armor. But that wouldn't fly with wifey. Instead, she said "Honey, you know what looketh good? When they cutteth down Jethro from the Gallows and he still had that noose around his neck. That looketh classy." The rest is history. And now I'm stuck in church feeling like I'm choking. Not to mention I have yet to wear a tie I didn't spit toothpaste on.

3. Surgery - I know we regard the medical profession with great esteem, but there's no way anyone but drunk hillbillies came up with surgery. At some point the words, "I bet I could cutcha open and fix it" had to come up. Think about it; surgery involves all of a hillbilly's favorite things - knives, trying to open things up to find out how they work, and weird injuries. Throw in some firecrackers and Slim Jims and you got yourself a hillbilly dream come true.

4. Novels - Didn't writing start out as a way to keep track of family histories? Then it stands to reason that the first novel had to be written by the biggest liar in the village. I can just see someone stumbling upon the first novel:
Neighbor: Ummmm...hey James? I don't remember your family fighting any dragons.
James: Oh, uh, yeah. That was, uh, before we moved here.
Neighbor: Oh, ok. You sure are heroic in this history. I mean, magical
powers, getting the girl. There is rising action, a climax, falling action. This is quite a remarkable life.
James: Oh, uh, well, yes. It has been a pretty exciting life I've led. Uh, I just didn't, uh, tell anyone about this before.

5. Braces - How bad must've the person's teeth been that required the first set of braces. It's not like people didn't have mangly teeth back in the day, so a jacked up grill wouldn't have really stood out. But someone's teeth were so bad that the dentist actually thought a mouth full of sharp metal would be better for this person than the teeth they had. I can only imagine how the kids at school reacted to the first person in the world to have braces.

I guess it's best to not always know how things were first invented (how someone first decided to try milk...).

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Office Politics 101

I have a college degree, meaning I spent at least four years of my life learning the skills and knowledge it takes to make it in the real world.

The only problem is they never taught me how to really make it in the real world. I only learned useless junk like how to do a cost –benefit analysis, how to read a balance sheet and how to price an item in high demand.

Fascinating, I know, but none of those skills are in any way valuable for someone looking to climb the corporate latter. Here are the classes that they should have offered:

1. Saying Yes to the Boss- Who hasn’t had a boss lean back and thoughtfully say something insane like, “You know…we really ought to start chasing our customers with pitchforks.”?

Wouldn’t it have been nice to take a course that prepared you for that? A course designed to help you learn to not burst out laughing or not blurt out “That is the dumbest thing I have ever heard.”?

I could’ve used that course, anyway. Instead, the guy who “loves it” and “has a buddy in pitchforks” and “can get us a huge discount on pitchforks” gets all the attention now.

2. Integration of Buzz Words and Cliché- Nothing tells meeting attendees you know business like the following sentence:

“Going forward, I think we can get a better vision of this if we compare apples to apples. If we can capacitate creating a sort of outside the box thinking to initiate synergy for the customer, at the end of the day we’ll see a ripple effect on our future price points. Otherwise, it is what it is and someone ends up getting thrown under the bus.”

It took me years to master that sentence. Just think where I could be today if I learned it in one semester!

3. Feigning Interest –This course could focus on developing the ability to talk passionately about topics ranging from 17th century literature to early 90’s gangsta rap.

4. The Value of Putting in Extra Hours- How valuable this course could be! The professor could teach tricks like parking your car close to where you know your boss parks and making sure your car is there when they arrive and when they leave.

They could discuss ways to pass the time from closing time to about 25 minutes after so that you always leave later than everyone else.

Additionally, too many people have a naturally calm and happy outlook on life. The professor could emphasize the importance of a constant haggard look. A look that says, “Don’t come near me, I’ve got a gun! I’m so stressed out I can’t think straight. That’s what makes me such a good employee.”

Bosses respect that kind of wild-eyed craziness in their most trusted people.

5. Covering your Ass- No one wants to be THROWN UNDER THE BUS! This class would teach the basics of identifying scapegoats, avoiding too much commitment to an initiative with the potential to fail and documenting key conversations to use out of context at opportune times.

Conversely, the course could also discuss various methods for taking credit for work not done.

Hey, I know it is a long shot to get these courses accredited and into the Business Departments. At some point, though, students will demand universities do a better job preparing them for the real world.

Until then, however, we’ll have to massage the data while looking for a way to incentivize this initiative. If any of you find some low hanging fruit that I may have missed, shoot me an email or ping me and we will run with it.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Tipping Point

When I used to work at a pizza restaraunt, I would take orders from customers, make the pizza, and bring it out to the patrons when it was ready - along with any condiments, utensils, etc., that they asked for. Most people would leave a few bucks as a tip. Except people over the age of 60.

They would leave anywhere from a quarter to a dollar. No more.

I always thought they were cheap jerks but now, apparently, I've began my descent into "crotchety," because I see where they're coming from. I hate tipping.

Wait, let me rephrase that: I hate the expectation of tipping.

Whenever I go to a restaraunt, it seems like the majority of the time I get one of two servers. 1) The guy with a sleeve of tattoos whose meth I'm no doubt paying for with my tip. 2) The girl who acts like I just took a dump on her birthday cake and now she has to serve me.

Here's how the whole ordeal of a night out goes down: I walk into the restaraunt and ask a 13-year-old hostess for a seat. She acts awkward like it's weird that I'm talking to her, and finally, inaudibly tells me to follow her. She sprints ahead and makes me think she's trying to ditch me. Then, when I've used my boy scout skills to follow her tracks, she's standing at a table to tell me my server will be with me in a minute.

Meth Tattoo guy or Dump Birthday Cake girl shows up and asks what I want to drink. 100% of the time they are disappointed it's not alcohol. And if I order water, I may as well have just told them I am going to kill their firstborn. They get all disgusted and walk away. Then I get my drink and my order is taken. If there's any deviation from the menu (no pickles, please) there's a noticeable eye-roll and sigh, then an "OK, sure."

Random strangers then bring me my food. When did the title "server" not including "serving"? Has anyone else noticed this new practice of restaraunts of having other waiters deliver your food?

Methy/Dumpy doesn't usually reappear until they throw the bill like a ninja star at my table from 10 feet away. The bill has a personalized "Thanks" with a smiley face. Now I'm forced to give them a minimum of 15% for doing little more than dictating the kind of food I want to the cooks in the kitchen.

Somewhere along the line, tipping went from GRATUITY (which I take to mean I'm grateful for their pleasant service) to PAY 15% NO QUESTIONS ASKED OR YOUR TIRES WILL BE SLASHED.

The way I look at it, servers are salespeople. Like a car salesman. If they are good at what they do, they get paid. If they can't close the deal, they go home empty-handed.

It should be that servers are hired because they have a personality that will win people over and make the dining experience enjoyable, thus customers will want to reward the server with extra cash to show appreciation. If they don't make my experience enjoyable, what am I tipping them for? 15% of my bill seems steep for something a simple cart with wheels could've done.

I'm starting a new scoring system for tips. 15% will be my starting point. If you fill my drink, make eye contact, get the order right, make me feel like I'm doing you a favor by eating at your restaurant, you get added percentages for these. I may even tip up to 25% or 30% if you're really good.

However, if you act like I'm in the way of you texting back in the kitchen, look at me like I just strangled a puppy because I want some extra ranch dressing, or tell me you "can't" substitute vegetables for onion rings (Really? You can't? Is there some kind of force field that doesn't allow that combination to occur? I'm willing to pay extra, but you just "can't" do it) your percentage will go down. It will never drop below 5% because I am willing to incentivize you for actually having arms and legs and the ability to walk while carrying food.

I no longer pay anticipated tips. If you want my money, you have to earn it.

Now, where's my cane? I need to catch the early bird dinner.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Bow to Your Sensei!

Steve Jobs has got to be some sort of sorcerer. Maybe not a sorcerer…but at least a hypnotist. How else can you explain the wool he has pulled over the eyes of millions of Mac Freaks around the globe?

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Apple Computers. I shot my first buffalo on a Mac (even though I could only carry 100lbs of meat back to the wagon).

I got my first case of Typhoid on a Macintosh. Apple taught me how to caulk the wagon and float it across the river. I wouldn’t be nearly as good at negotiating with Indians if it wasn’t for Apple.

But now, Steve Jobs has duped the masses into believing his company stands for something nobler than the bottom line.

Now, saying “I’m a Mac” is much like proclaiming some sort of spiritual enlightenment, while owners of a PC might as well confess to being toothless and illiterate.

Now, placing a lower case “i” in front of anything makes it infinitely better. My wife and I get excited every month when we sit down to pay our iBills. My kids can hardly stand the wait in anticipation of doing their weekly iChores. In fact, simply calling this site “iTwoBrotherRant” would immediately quadruple our hit count.

By unleashing a carefully planned marketing strategy aimed at the hip liberal crowd, Apple convinces us they are the choice for the green, intellectual anti-capitalist. We somehow forget they are a multi-billion dollar, multi-national juggernaut modeling entrepreneurial perfection.

Steve Jobs’ Buddhist belief, his oneness with the Universe, is well known. His net worth of 5.5 BILLION DOLLARS is conveniently swept under the rug.

Dancing silhouettes with cool white earbuds can’t hide Apple’s $260 per share stock price, ahem, with 910 million outstanding shares (Yes, hipsters and Michael Moore; Apple is traded on that scary thing called the NASDAQ over on Wall Street).

Have you seen the new iPad? It’s like a huge, clumsy iPhone, only with an optional keyboard that makes it sort of like a laptop. It might be the most worthless thing I have ever seen…and yet I want an iPad more than I want world peace.

And the “Hi, I’m a Mac” commercials? Wow. They make even me want to pour gasoline on my PC and light a match. They make me want to simplify my life and wear t-shirts and listen to underground bands and focus on my art projects.

Steve Jobs is a genius and the greatest capitalist alive. Steve Jobs is my hero

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Take Me Out to the Ball Game?

I may not be a Bible scholar, but I know one thing for certain about the Old Testament: There was no softball being played in the Garden of Eden.

Co-Ed softball has to be a creation of Ol' Scratch himself, because there's no way harmony can exist between a husband and wife playing on a softball team together.

For the past four years, my wife and I have played Co-Ed City League Softball. Actually, it might be a stretch calling it a "Softball League." We actually play in the C-League which, if I've figured this out right, falls in line accordingly:

1.) A-League
2.) B-League
3.) A bunch of 12-year-old immigrants playing stickball
4.) Helen Keller trying to swat flies
5.) Monkeys picking lice off each other
6.) C-League

That's right. We play in possibly THE most uncompetitve league of all time. But that doesn't stop us from getting 10-run ruled by McDermott's Lawn Care every year - and they have a guy named Corky batting fourth.

To give you an idea of the kind of wunderkinds you're dealing with in C-League, here's an example from last night's game: Our first baseman's wife was at bat. (This same girl in her first at-bat this season asked the umpire, "ummm...excuse me, referree, or judge, or whatever you're called - how many scores is it worth if I hit the ball in the air?") Anyway, last night she steps into the batter's box, and while the first pitch is on the way, our first baseman yells, "LET'S GO HOT STUFF!" to her.

The pitch went above 10-feet high, making it an illegal pitch. The umpire yelled,"Illegal" to indicate the pitch didn't count. Our first baseman, however, thought that the "Illegal" call was in reference to him calling his wife "Hot Stuff," and proceeded to run onto the field in a rage to argue with the umpire that he can call his wife "Hot Stuff" whenever he wants. The umpire was confused at the outburst, and we had to drag our first baseman off the field, while explaining that it is perfectly legal for him to have a pet name for his wife.

Needless to say, it was an awkward scene for everyone involved.

That's one thing about Co-Ed softball - there's never a lack of excitement. Two years ago our team got in a bench clearing brawl that ended with one of the Chambers brothers breaking the nose of an opposing player. It escalated quickly. The other Chambers brother may or may not have called a guy "Chubby" which led to the whole ordeal. What made it worse was that, being C-League co-ed softball, there was about 20 crying kids watching while their parents brawled on the field.

In our four years of softball, we have had four couples from our teams get divorced. I don't believe this is a coincidence. Softball brings out the worst in couples. If I play Men's League, I have no problem yelling at the guy playing center field to scoot back because he is too fat and slow to chase down a ball that goes over his head. I will yell this to him in front of everyone. He doesn't care, and I don't feel like I've said anything uncalled for. We are still friends back in the dugout.

When I play Co-Ed, on the other hand, the mere mention of telling my wife that she needs to scoot in, move back, choke-up, or put her mitt on the other hand somehow leads to a fight about me not helping around the house enough. Then she doesn't speak to me for the rest of the game, and all of the other wives on the team give me the evil eye like I've done something terrible.

But when it comes down to it, it's a lot more fun getting into marriage-counseling-inducing fights on the softball field than it is watching another re-run of Everybody Loves Raymond on a perfect summer night.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Artist, Hobos and What Do You Tip a Magician?

Let me begin by declaring art officially dead.

I’ll get back to that comment in a minute, but before I lose your interest too quickly, let’s talk about magicians.

Two nights ago, the restaurant I went to featured a magician wandering from table to table doing magic tricks and making balloon animals. So I guess he was a magician/clown…or whatever you call someone who makes balloon animals for a living.

I should add that the only magic trick he could do was the one where you make a business card disappear and reappear. And since you, I and every person over 11-years old knows that trick, my table was a bit nonplussed by the whole thing.

Since the guy was about 42 and the whole thing was very sad, I decided I need to do my part with whatever influence or platform I have to stop this madness. The new rule is that unless your name is Harry Houdini, David Copperfield, Penn, Teller or Lebron James, you should just give up the dream of doing magic.

You’re just making the rest of us feel really awkward. Also, telling your friends you are going to pursue magic full time is like the first step in a three-step process:

1. “Hey guys, I feel like if I don’t do it now, I never will. So I want you guys to know I will be doing amateur level magic tricks for my full time job.”

2. “You know, that Justin Beiber is pretty talented.”

3. “Yeah, that is me on the sex offender website.”

So that was dinner.

Afterwards, we went to the “Modern Art Festival” in downtown Boise. Basically, every self-proclaimed artist (homeless person) in Boise was given a hotel room to display their “art.”

Except there was no art.

One room was filled with suitcases and was titled “traveling salesman.”

Another called “Celtic Fertility” was just a messy room with the artist telling us she had slept in the bed for the past two nights and she was very fertile.

Additionally, there was a three-room display featuring a makeshift carnival, like the ones that set up in mall parking lots. Complete with carnies and everything.

The least popular room featured an old man smiling as people poked their heads in, saw that all he had was a couple of his sculptures and some paintings and quickly left for more grandiose “art.”

Laziness has ruined art. The idea of creating something that lasts from generation to generation as a work that truly speaks to and inspires the masses has died. Art has given way to this idea that people who simply don’t want to shouldn’t be expected to contribute in any way to society. That those of us who love getting up early, working 50 hour weeks for “the man” and paying our bills on time ought to support artists in their insanity.

Eh. I’m boring myself. Even writing about this has me anxious and disgusted.

Let’s just say hipsters were out in full force saying words like “poignant” and “conceptualize”. It was as if all my wildest dreams had come true, only the exact opposite.

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Blogging Version of Golden Corral

I hate buffets. From the sex-offender-looking servers refilling the food bins to the kool-aid mustached, dried-snot-nose kids hogging the ice cream, to the tapioca-nibbling old people, to the "can-I-pay-for-half-of-this-with-food-stamps-cuz-if-not-i'm-only-paying-for-one-plate-and-will-use-that-plate-to-feed-my-family-of-8" patrons - buffets just don't do it for me.

Unfortunately, I couldn't narrow down which event from this weekend to blog about, so I'm serving it buffet style. Please, don't put any rolls in your pockets, and no dipping your grimy fingers in the gravy.


My brother and I went to game 6 of the Jazz/Nuggets game and watched the Jazz close out the series. The game was fantastic. We lost our voices yelling, made friends with a Mexican guy (how do Mexicans find black and gold jerseys for any team they are cheering for?), got freaked out by the Jazz's new midget Bear mascot, and were told to sit down several times by the "fans" sitting behind us.


I'm at a stoplight and a homeless guy is walking around with a sign asking for money. I had some change sitting in my cup holder so I roll down the window to give it to him. In the midst of this exchange, the light turns green and the car behind me starts honking like crazy.

I finally make the hand off and look in my rearview mirror to see what heartless jerk doesn't want me to help out my fellow man (who, if I've learned right from fables, could be Jesus in disguise, just testing me out.)

It's a hippie. Yep. Wearing an oversized, knit beanie, with the trendy thick-rimmed glasses (that probably don't have prescription lenses) and driving a Subaru. A Subaru with "Bush Lied, Thousands Died," and "Obama 08" bumper stickers.

I don't see what could possibly have made this person upset. I mean, if they support Obama, it's not like they have a job that they were rushing to get to. Also, I was giving someone a hand-out. Free Money. Straight from the hand of a working man to someone doing nothing but begging for money.

The only thing I can think is that the hippie was mad that I wasn't giving more than just some spare change. The hippie probably wanted to see me hand over my car keys, take off my clothes to give to the homeless guy, and buy him 4 meals, only to have the hippie then call me money-driven, capitalistic, conservative scum for not offering my underwear as well.


I'm watching the Jazz/Lakers game, during which I saw something that confused me greatly. And no, it wasn't the Kobe signature underbite after hitting a jumper. Even though I do get confused as to how mimicking poor orthodontics is supposed to intimidate a defender.

During a commercial break, I saw a trailer for The Karate Kid. Not Karate Kid 4, just The Karate Kid. "Hold on a second," you're probably thinking. "There already is a Karate Kid, with Ralph Macchio as Daniel San." You're right. But I'm not lying. There is a new Karate Kid. Instead of Ralph Macchio, though, Will Smith's kid plays Daniel San (I'm not sure if that's his name in the new one) and Jackie Chan is Mr. Miagi.

I'm confused because I feel like there is a new world order that allows any movie to be remade and presented as an original, as long as black people are starring in the new version of it, i.e. "Death at a Funeral," "The Nutty Professor..."

Who knows, maybe they are currently in production of "Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi - in his '64 Impala," "Slumdoggy dog Millionaire," and "Dumb and Dumbah"