Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Things I am Tired of Seeing

People posting photos online and then adding a caption that reads “No words needed.” -  Doesn’t the fact that you feel it necessary to point that out to people undermine the message it conveys? 

Ill-maintained, primer-covered vehicles adorned with large decals announcing membership in a car club. – If I am looking for an organization that oozes vehicular pride, I am not sure a quad-tone S-10 with mismatched tires is the best recruiting tool.

Television ads for movies so terrible that they have resorted to scouring unverifiable sources or taking bad reviews out of context –

“The greatest vegetarian-themed Canadian horror film of the summer!” – Chet Farkle Soda Springs Episcopalian Penny Saver

“[I hope to God] there will never be another movie like this one!” – Rolling Stone

Unnecessarily-elaborate mailers for car dealerships – I do not understand how providing me with a fake key or asking me to scratch off a 12-digit code and match it with a farm animal would influence my decision to purchase a Dodge Crew-Cab. One even came in a counterfeit FedEx envelope using the same colors and fonts except it said “Priority Expedited.” I think the illusion is shattered when “Bulk Rate” is stamped on the front.

Complicated sizing for men’s jeans – When I walk into an Old Navy , I just want a denim article with two numbers clearly labeled on the front. Now I have to be cognizant of whether or not I want “retro slim fit” or “Moroccan whisper-cut.” I just want a pair of pants tight enough to remain in position with minimal intervention but loose enough to prevent testicular distress should I chose to sit on a park bench.

Eateries not sure when to proudly display their restaurant scorecard – If you received a 98, then by all means drop that bad-boy in an illuminated shadow-box and keep it at the register. A 77 you might want in an inconspicuous tinted-frame beside the Fanta dispenser.

Stingy Hotel Internet Access – How is it that the more I pay for a room, the less likely I am to be provided with complimentary wireless? The place has a Norwegian day spa and a 2-story lobby waterfall but they can’t absorb a couple of Linksys routers and a monthly fee?

On a side note, I saw a hotel the other day still advertising “in room telephones” as an amenity. Do they really believe someone is going to see their sign and pull over? To be fair, if I were to stay at that place it might be comforting to know that I had the landline as a backup in case my cell phone lost reception during the meth-tweaker break-in that night.

The intersection of commerce and the Facebook “Like” Button – Every single entrepreneurial venture I come into contact with wants me to like them on Facebook. Just because I utilize your automatic car wash does not mean I need to “like” it, sometimes I go there because it is on the way home. I reserve my “like” button for important things like the birth of a child or nacho coupons.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


Every few weeks or so, I find myself cleaning out my e-mail spam filter. I am fully aware that this is a pointless exercise, but the tiny little number beside the spam folder infuriates me to the point I go through and delete everything. This time I had 60 messages in the folder and for the sake of brevity I will place them in three distinct categories:

  • Women with unfortunate surnames looking for “casual relationships”
  • Canadian pharmaceuticals designed to enhance “casual relationships”
  • Imitation Rolex watches

The “women with unfortunate surnames” category is apparently comprised of college students currently attending “the university” who, for whatever reason, have started websites in order to get random strangers to sleep with them. Their desperation for carnal contact is only eclipsed by their grasp of the English language. In one memorable correspondence Danelle Mccorkle revealed that “My collegues at a coffee brake gave me the site where I can find a person with whom I can date without any obligations.” Wendy Fontenot is “sure we can have some great time together” and Rosalinda Redinger is eager to “perfectly spend time with me.”

First of all, I am not sure where “the university” is located, but if it is receiving state funding someone may need to open an investigation immediately. Secondly, I am fairly certain that it is unnecessary for attractive college girls to launch a personal website just to get a random stranger to sleep with them. In today’s society “implied consent” has effectively replaced “domain presence” as the character trait of choice.
Under the Canadian pharmaceuticals category I was given a plethora of choices. Once reputable apothecary website, ( is having a sale on generic Viagra ($1.85 per dose) and professional Viagra ($3.85 per dose).  Another online pharmacy assured me that their “herbal enlargement supplements” could be trusted because they have been featured on Fox News and are shipped in discreet packaging.

While I would have no reason to question the quality of prescription medication originating at a site called, I was somewhat shocked to learn that there is a “professional” grade of Viagra. It is still unclear whether requiring an industrial strength erectile dysfunction drug would be flattering or embarrassing. Are talking about the difference between Tylenol and Extra Strength Tylenol or this is more of a differentiation between being a casual hobbyist or being licensed and bonded in Delaware?  

I do like the insinuation of trustworthiness because they have been “featured on Fox News.” Of course, they do not specify whether the graphic above their product said “Medical Miracle” or “Pennsylvania Man Forced to Quit His Job as School Crossing Guard.”  There was even one e-mail reminding me that medical marijuana can be used to treat “a wide variety of ailments.” Indeed.

The final category featured Rolex watches at “blowout sale prices.” I too can accessorize my body with all the trappings of financial wealth without paying through the nose for a timepiece. My first clue that the vendor might not be completely on the up & up was the absence of vowels from the e-mail address ( If it is not a news organization, an all consonants domain name could spell trouble.

Conveniently, they accept all major credit cards. I have to wonder about the people who voluntarily give their credit card number to websites they discover through a spam filter just to seem like they can afford a designer wristwatch. There is a glorious irony in making one terrible financial decision in order to fool people into thinking you have made a series of sound ones.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Handsome M.D.

Recently, my wife was experiencing acute ankle pain. Although we did not think it was broken we decided to use the opportunity to visit a new walk-in clinic in the area. Unlike other local clinics, this one was equipped with a playground, movie theater, and complimentary snacks. There was even a concierge onsite to make sure our experience was as pleasant as possible.

Once signed in, we were issued a small paging device (akin to those used at restaurants) that would vibrate when it was our turn to consult with the physician. I especially appreciated this amenity as there is nothing more nerve-racking than hearing a member of the staff repeatedly mispronounce an ethnic name at high volume.

I must admit that I was somewhat reluctant to bring my wife here because a female co-worker of my father’s had commented that the doctor she saw there was “the best looking man she had ever seen.” It is bad enough that I have to compete with the genetically superior pharmaceutical reps every time we go to a medical clinic, I was not about to pay for the privilege of introducing my wife to Dreamboat M.D.

However, I estimated they must have scores of doctors and it was statistically unlikely that ours would be either male or unnecessarily attractive. I was sadly mistaken. He was tall, dark, and handsome and was probably born with the ability to salsa dance. When he started rubbing my wife’s foot and asking if “she felt anything” I wasn’t sure how I wanted her to answer. To be completely honest, I almost asked him to check my feet.

As if that wasn’t enough, he managed to working in the fact that he sometimes experienced similar discomfort whenever he “rode his motorcycle.” I interrupted before he had a chance to reveal that he had a rare condition that caused permanently-sculptured abdominal muscles. I was afraid that if the visit went on any longer my wife was going to develop hypochondria and require ongoing therapy.

I even reassured myself that while he may be better looking and more financially appealing, I still considered myself somewhat of a pseudo-intellectual. Perhaps I could convince my wife that they would run out of topics of conversation once they had finished discussing how the light reflecting from his diploma highlighted his chiseled jawline.  

It was about that time he noticed we had been watching a History channel documentary and remarked, “I love the History channel!” Of course he does. He probably even has a blog just called “Exceptional” and plays poker with Matt Damon every other Saturday.

I finally managed to steer the conversation back toward tendonitis and I was prepared to ask questions about explosive diarrhea if necessary just to kill the mood. Fortunately, he handed us a prescription and was out the door to diagnose someone else. If everyone on staff looks like that, I fear my wife’s health may decline at an alarming rate....

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Road Trip

A few weeks ago, my wife and I took an overland tour of the south-eastern United States. During the 1,700 mile road-trip I observed three oddities I feel it necessary to detail here.

The first occurred along Interstate 10 in Alabama. Low on gas, I pulled off at an exit and began filling the tank as my lovely bride attempted to utilize the service station restroom without making contact with any non-porous surfaces. While retrieving my receipt from the pump, I noticed an adult bookstore directly across the street. This, in and of itself, was not unusual. What was unusual was that this particular adult emporium also sold fresh fruit.

It appeared that the location was having a sidewalk sale of some type and alongside bins of what I can only assume were volumes of cerebral erotic poetry sat a veritable farmer’s market. Even more astounding, the entire enterprise was played straight. Not a single one of the signs employed double entendre or innuendos of any kind. I would have expected a suggestively-illustrated cucumber or, at the very least, a reference to their “big melons.”

There were even a handful of customers purchasing fruit from the stand. I do not know whether the bookstore and fruit-stand shared a proprietor or two local entrepreneurs had simply stumbled upon a mutual beneficial business model. At first I could not understand why anyone in lower Alabama would voluntarily acquire their produce from roadside pornography vendor, but upon further reflection I am willing to admit that this may be the most brilliant marketing in adult content.

Imagine you are live in the area and wish to pick up the dirty version of Muppets in Space. You can’t tell your wife that you need to run by Dirty Dan’s Mags & Stags so you simply explain that you have a hankering for some cantaloupe and plan stop at a fruit stand you noticed the other day. This draws no suspicion from the wife and technically you aren’t lying. Plus, if your choir director spots your car in front of the video store you can just tell him it was homemade smoothie day.

The second strange thing I noticed was the ubiquity of coin-operated scales in truck-stop men’s rooms. While the color-schemes varied, the basic premise remained identical: drop in a few quarters and you will be provided with your weight, lucky numbers, and horoscope. Several even sported signs encouraging potential customers to “do it for their health.”

Now if there is one thing long-haul truckers are known for it is their commitment to weight management. I hate to generalize, but why market to a demographic whose entire paycheck is based on remaining seated? How are these machines making money? If I was so obsessed with my appearance that I weighed myself every time I dropped a deuce I think I would just keep a scale in the cab.

Even if the technology to ascertain personalized destiny-altering numerical codes existed why would anyone believe that its deployment would be limited to Pilot stations in Mississippi? Now if it dispensed imitation cologne and questionable prophylactics you might have a deal.

The last curiosity we experienced was Billy, the waiter. Billy worked on staff at a coastal bar & grill and upon initially approaching our table he immediately inquired if we would “like a shot of Jager.” This would be only one of many times Billy would repeat this question over the course of our dining experience despite being repeatedly assured we were not pledging to a fraternity. Other than the occasional brand-specific liquor suggestions, Billy spent most of his time with a four top of females nursing unusually large margaritas. He appeared to be valiantly lobbying to become one of their future regrets, but alas the comely maidens were in no condition to appreciate his charms and left unimpressed.

Somewhat dejected, he slinked over to our table and didn’t even have the heart suggest Jager. It was at this moment my wife and I heard the sound of a balloon popping. As it turns, the restaurant employed a female clown known as “Chuckles” who was busy fashioning balloon animals for children. Chuckles looked as though she had lived a hard life and perhaps even served some Federal time, but she was doing an admirable job of delighting the kids despite the occasional popped balloon animal. So Billy’s reaction to the second balloon pop in as many minutes caught us by surprise.

At the sound of the burst balloon, Billy’s eyes narrowed and with a surprising degree of menace informed us that he “hated that f*****g clown.” Somewhat taken aback by his candor, we sat and listened as he vented about having to clean up the remnants of broken balloon animals while good ole’ Chuckles stood out by the boat dock sucking down Marlboro Reds. By the time we received our check, I had become convinced that Chuckles was one loud noise away from a violent demise.

Since our trip I have not become aware of any clown homicides so I assume Billy has kept his anger in check. On the other hand, I am willing to bet that if she gets ahold of a sturdy pool cue, Chuckles ain’t going down easy.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

What's In A Name?

When your wife is a school teacher, you can amass an impressive list of rather unfortunate names. Just a few years ago, my wife taught a lovely young girl who was named after a very specific brand of liquor. Other children, while blessed with phonetically traditional names, are saddled with incorrect spellings (Lawrhen, Mykcoal, etc…) that make it excruciating to teach them to write their own names in lower grades.

While musing over these difficulties with a coworker, he revealed that he had once met a woman whose legal birth-name was Sexually. This poor girl’s parents had gazed upon their newborn and decided that she reminded them of an adverb that is usually followed by the word “transmitted.” Even just sticking to “Sexual” would have been a less emotionally devastating choice. Either way, this young woman is faced with either bearing the legal expense of changing her name or getting used to the question, “When did you know you wanted to be an escort?”

Of course, in all of these cases their given names were assigned to them without their consent officially making them the victim. But what happens when a consenting adult, of a relatively sound mind, decides to change their name from a reasonable moniker? There are two recent cases that exemplify this type of behavior.

The first involves 23-year old Nebraska resident Tyler Gold. Certainly there is nothing embarrassing about his name.  In fact, I could easily see such a name on packages of free-range antelope meat or on an illuminated sign positioned above a moderately-successful Ford dealership. Despite this, Tyler just felt his identity was missing a certain pizzazz. So, on May 7th of this year, he completed legal proceedings to change his name to Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Tyler "T-Rex" Gold
When asked about his unorthodox decision, Mr. Gold admitted that his new name was “cooler” than the one his parents had given him and “as an entrepreneur, name recognition is important and the new name is more recognizable.” The news report and court filling were frustratingly absent of the specific business T-Rex was in, but unless his career is Jurassic-era paleontology supplies it is possible that he has made a grievous error.

After all, just because a name is memorable does not necessary mean it inspires consumer confidence. I think we can all agree that no one is going to jump at the chance to acquire a set of Jeffrey Dahmer Tupperware or stop by the Jack Kevorkian walk-in clinic. Despite this, I suppose that there is always a chance that Mr. Rex will be featured on Forbes List once his chain of steakhouses goes public.

Wisconsin resident Jeffrey Drew Wilschke is also a businessman who felt his driver’s license needed some zing. So, while still on probation for a 2011 misdemeanor, he legally changed his name to Beezow Doo-Doo Zopittybop-Bop-Bop.  Shortly thereafter was re-arrested in a city park when several citizens became suspicious of his behavior. Once in custody he was found to be in possession of a gun, a knife, and a substantial amount of Jamaican finger-ash. It still unclear whether the name change was part of an overall strategy meant to keep him off the radar of law enforcement, but it takes a certain amount of self-assurance to file paperwork making “Doo-Doo” your go-to nick name.  
Beezow Doo-Doo Zopittybop-Bop-Bop
To be honest, I am somewhat disappointed that it took an observant citizen to bring in Mr. Bop-Bop, because if there is ever someone to keep a surveillance team on it is a repeat offender who only answers to a string of sound effects lifted from the 1960’s Batman TV series. I imagine he will regret his new name when he attempts to create a Twitter account or tries to find a personalized keychain at Alvin’s Island.

I have no problem with creative monikers, but at least put some thought into it. It needs to be something catchy like “Mopar” or “Jaundice” and if it takes more than two dashes keep it from going off the rails you may want to reconsider. Perhaps T-Rex & Doo-Doo will join forces and open a chain of fireworks stands in Arkansas. We can only hope.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Zombie Apocolypse

Much has been made recently of a series of horrific incidents in Florida, Maryland, and New Jersey. Many believe them to be a harbinger of the coming zombie apocalypse due to the bizarre mixture of cannibalism, gore, and a stunning disregard for self-preservation.

The first, and perhaps most infamous, of the zombie trifecta involves 31-year old Miami-resident and highway nudism-enthusiast Rudy Eugene who was shot and killed after eating the face of a local homeless man. Police were forced to kill Mr. Eugene after he refused to stop eating the stranger’s face and the first four bullets were unable to persuade him otherwise. Early reports attribute the behavior to bath salts.

The second incident involved Alex Kinyua of Maryland who murdered his male roommate with a knife and proceeded to eat part of his brain after posting references to “mass human sacrifice” on his Facebook page. Both killer and victim had attended Morgan State University and Mr. Kinyua is presently being held without bond while he awaits trial.

The third incident involved Hackensack, NJ resident Wayne Carter who barricaded himself in a bedroom and began stabbing himself with a 12-inch kitchen knife. When officers attempted to disarm him he began throwing pieces of his skin and intestines at them. Finding two full cans of pepper spray to have no effect, a SWAT team was called take him into custody. He is currently in a mental institution.

While each and every one of these occurrences qualify as an abhorrent act of brutal violence, I am not certain the juxtaposition of three unrelated incidents qualifies as an impending zombie apocalypse.

I briefly remember an angle of the face-eating story where a pedestrian was criticized for riding by the attack without offering assistance. While some in the media dubbed this an act of cowardice, I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. It is entirely possible that the scene of a naked man dining on the face of another human being on the side of the freeway might take some time to register. Either that or the neighborhood was so rough that the passerby felt relieved that it was just one guy eating someone’s face.

I would also to be curious to see if anyone “liked” Alex’s status update of “mass human sacrifice,” because everyone has someone on their friend list that will like anything they post without really reading it. Did his acquaintances chime in with forced optimism like “Hang in there Alex :-)” or “I had a rough Monday too!”

The New Jersey incident is obviously a mental health issue and not a zombie attack. If the worst we are to expect from the zombie apocalypse is dodging an internal organ or two I believe that humanity might survive. This is an aspect of zombie attack they never portray in horror films; a band of survivors hunkered down in a Quizno’s while the lookout yells, “Here comes a kidney, and look alive down there cause’ he’s got another one!!!”

Despite this, there are brave entrepreneurs willing to cater to those whose fear of the undead supersedes their fear of financial ruin. One such organization is, a New Jersey-based group that offers training packages to those interested in post-apocalyptic longevity. For a little less than $500 a person, you can spend a weekend learning basic skills such as:
  • Proper crossbow usage
  • Hotwiring a vehicle
  • Melee weapons classes
  • Suture techniques
  • Zombitsu(Zombie jujitsu)
The website offers corporate team-building exercises, private sessions, and even bachelorette parties as well as discounts for large groups. Meals and sleeping accommodations are provided.

While I applaud the creativity of the group, I am somewhat skeptical of Zombitsu™. What changes would need to be made to existing self-defense techniques to make them effective against slower-moving opponents than they were originally designed for? Would Bruce Lee have been overwhelmed by a zombie’s glacial reaction time or diminished mental capacity?

Also, I completely understand firearms training and the grand-theft auto dissertation but a crossbow? Aren’t we trading functionality for whimsy?  Off all possible weapons, what are the odds that you will find yourself in possession of a functional crossbow during the apocalypse? If I am not mistaken the crossbow’s current claim to fame is extracting biopsies from large ocean mammals.

I do wonder how many bachelorette parties these people book every year. If your future wife sees a $500 Zombitsu™ training camp as a sound investment you are going to face some tough financial hurdles in your marriage. Plus, it is somewhat disconcerting that your fiancĂ©e feels the need to make sure she is efficient at taking human life just before your nuptials.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Cross

Two decades ago Kerry Brown’s father had a vision. A vision that he should build the world’s largest cross in the heart of the Ozark Mountains. Thanks to Kerry’s determination that dream (known as Images at the Cross) is one step closer to fruition. The land has been acquired, the rezoning completed, and the 501c3 status bestowed. All that remains is to raise the estimated $5 Million to begin construction on the 200-foot structure to be located just outside Branson, Missouri.

The final plans would have visitors riding up in one of the two elevators inside the structure and interacting with displays all while enjoying the panoramic views. The ultimate goal, according to the website, is to create “an engaging Disney-like family friendly production for entertainment and education centered on a first class multimedia and sensory experience.” The cross will overlook Interstate 65 and the group expects to draw in millions of visitors each year. 
Artist Rendition of the Finished Cross
The purpose statement of the website is divided into two very distinct sections which I will refer to as “problems” and “solutions.” The problems include elevated divorce rates, single parent families, “un-churched” American citizens and a demoralizing secular culture. The solution is building an “entertainment center in Branson, Missouri that creatively depicts the life changing story of Jesus Christ to spiritually motivate and personally transform all visitors” leading said visitors to “make the right choices to save their eternal lives.”

In order to fund this vision, Images at the Cross offers various levels of sponsorships ranging from a $50 certificate to a $5,000 inscription prominently-displayed in the monument’s first-floor dedication room. If you are going to drop more than $5,000, they just want you to call.

I am somewhat torn about the project. On the one hand, it seems like a creative method of presenting the gospel narrative to the un-churched. This man had a vision and has gone about making that vision a reality through private funding, the same entrepreneurial l model that produced The Snuggie or Melrose Place.  On the other hand, how many people within driving distance of Branson, Missouri are not familiar with Jesus? 

 Don’t get me wrong, it is entirely possible that the Lord came to this man in a vision and asked him to construct a Christian symbol tall enough to endanger single-engine aircraft I just feel that a solid community of discipleship might be a more effective route of evangelism.

The interesting part is the problems and solutions section. I agree that the frequency of failed marriages is troubling, but I am not sure if a 200-foot cross nestled in the Ozarks is going to affect the national divorce rate one way or the other. Do any of these marriage dissolution documents cite “lack of enormous cross” as the primary source of estrangement?  I suppose if we place enough single parents in a small elevator for long enough some of them could hit it off and reconstruct a nuclear family, but that is a long shot.    

It is difficult for me to accept that there are not better uses for $5 Million dollars. Perhaps a donation to St. Jude or a homeless shelter might provide a more lasting impact, but if we are going to go big then let’s do it right. I am proposing at entire Biblical theme park where families can experience their favorite scriptures brought to life.

A few sample attractions:

  • The Stoning Station – you are given seven rocks and your objective it to strike as many harlots as you can. Winners take home a plush replica of John the Baptist’s head on a decorative platter.
  • The Whore of Babylon Coaster – A ride so intense you’ll break all seven of your seals at once!
  • Elijah’s Gravity Drop – Experience the great prophet’s ascension with this intense 15-story free-fall.
  • Noah’s Log Ride – Look out for the floating carcasses of your friends and neighbors as you ride the flood waters to dry land. Just don’t plant a vineyard when you get there!   
  • Pharaoh’s Chariot Challenge – Chase down those pesky Hebrews before they get to the Red Sea!
If all that Biblical fun gets to be too much, you can stop off at Lot’s Salted Nut Stand or Mt. Carmel BBQ for a little refreshment.

For couples there is Herod’s Resort, a no-children allowed paradise. Mingle with other couples at the Forbidden Fruit Smoothie Bar or dance the night away at Rahab’s Rave. Don’t forget to ask the concierge about the Bathsheba suite equipped with a rooftop hot tub.