Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Random Thoughts Part 5

  • One day I would like to see a car commercial for a vehicle that wasn’t a top government safety pick. I think it would be refreshing to hear a television voiceover announce that, “While it’s true that our vehicle’s poor design and substandard craftsmanship increases the likelihood you will perish in a roadside fireball, we both know that you can’t afford a Volvo so let’s stop kidding ourselves.”

  • It is amazing how quickly the prevalence of a technology causes it to lose its cache. It wasn’t long ago that biometric authentication was the stuff of science fiction, and yet I discovered last week that my local Wendy’s has fingerprint scanners at every register (presumably for employee verification). One minute this innovation is safe-guarding nuclear missile silos and the next minute it is in danger of becoming yet another victim of Wendy’s chili.   

  • I have always thought that “For Sale by Owner” signs contained an unnecessary clarification. Doesn’t the very act of putting an item up for sale imply legal ownership?

  • Since there has always been a stigma associated with people or companies that require a non-disclosure agreement, I have always wondered if there is a way to prevent someone from disclosing the fact that they signed a non-disclosure agreement. That way if a reporter asks, “Did you sign a non-disclosure agreement?” they were legally obligated to yodel until someone changed the subject.

  • Recently I saw a “help wanted” sign outside of a Manpower staffing agency. I found this confusing since it was unclear whether Manpower itself was seeking employees to staff its local office or they were letting prospective clients know that there was contractual work available through Manpower. If the latter was true, it was clever marketing. If the former scenario was true, this was terrible marketing. After all, my first thought as an employer would be, “if a staffing agency is unable to locate quality employees for their own offices, how effective could they really be?”

  • There are two kinds of people: those willing to place humanity into unrealistically-broad categories and those who aren’t.

  • Dress Barn is a terrible name for women’s clothing emporium. The juxtaposition of a formal garment and livestock housing sends mixed messages. I can tell you that I would be unlikely to shop at a place called the “Tuxedo Shed”. Plus, I doubt many women would find it desirable to have their clothing associated with a structure known for its width. Perhaps “Gown Trough” would be more appealing.
  • I love it when a network leverages unverifiable Twitter reviews to increase their audience for a show. Like someone might be on the fence about placing a series on their DVR schedule until they see that @Sassy4Lyfe314 found it to be “My fav new custodial drama!” #solventsofsadness

Bumper Sticker Ideas:

  • If You Can Read This Bumper Sticker, Then It Is Highly Unlikely That You Are Illiterate.

  • Follow Me to Learn More about Individuality

  • I’d Rather Be Constantly Dissatisfied

  • Proud Parent of a Tax Deduction

  • Ask Me about My Middle Finger

  • Your Mom is My Co-Pilot

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Gay Bands

I was recently searching for information on a band when I stumbled upon the website of Donnie Davies. Mr. Davies is a self-proclaimed “reformed homosexual” and “Christian youth expert” who developed a program to cure people of same-sex tendencies. His program is called C.H.O.P.S. (Changing Homosexuals into Ordinary People), and is a multi-tiered approach to “C.H.O.P.S. away the Gay” in your life. 
I found his site interesting because one of the most important aspects of the CHOPS program to prevent your child from being exposed to “gay bands.” I will let Donnie explain why:

There are multiple levels of Gay Music.  Some bands are what we like to call Gateway Bands.  They lure children in with Pop Grooves and Salacious Melodies leaving them wanting more.  They’ll move on to more dangerous bands and the next thing you know you’ve got a homosexual for a child.

We’ve taken the time to highlight the bands that are particularly Gay.  Please take the time and dissect your child’s CD / iTunes catalog. If you find 3 or more of these bands in their collection it is time to take action.

So which secular music acts should strike fear into the heart of Christian parents? The list was as extensive as it was eclectic, so I have highlighted some of the more peculiar entries here:

Lil’ Wayne – (had the distinction of being listed twice)
Toby Keith
George Strait
Bob Dylan
Frank Sinatra
Ted Nugent
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Cannibal Corpse
Ghostface Killah
The Doors       
The Rolling Stones

There was even an entry in the list of bands that just said “black people”, which is either an extremely underground band that Google is unaware of or the site’s author is racist. I also failed to discern a pattern as to what qualified a band as gay. For instance, Audioslave is listed as gay but Soundgarden and Rage Against the Machine did not make the list even though Audioslave was comprised exclusively of the remnants of those two groups. Ghostface Killah makes the list, but the remaining Wu-Tang Clan brethren are conspicuously absent. Occasionally, the entries appeared with a brief explanation in parenthesis. Elton John’s name had “really gay” beside it. It is unclear whether this is meant to inform the reader of his stated orientation or to indicate that even amongst gay men he is disproportionately homosexual.  

The site did not provide any scientific basis for the Ted Nugent = Gay Child hypothesis and WebMD did not list spontaneous same-sex attraction as a complication of Cat Scratch Fever, so I will continue on the assumption that this theory is based purely on conjecture.  Despite developing a friendship with several openly-gay adults, I cannot recall any of their life stories containing a chapter that began:

"So there I was an all-America God-fearing heterosexual male until I turned 17 and heard “Dust in the Wind” on the radio. The next thing I know, I am shacked up with some dude named Miguel and updating a Richard Dawkins fan-page from my exquisitely furnished timeshare in Miami."

If you discover any of the aforementioned “gay bands” in your child’s collection there is only one course of action:

We Strongly recommend that you burn the CDs.  Make sure your child is watching.  Make sure they can feel the heat. It is crucial that the image remains emblazoned in their young minds. They need to know that if they continue to listen to these bands they may Burn eternally as well

Far be it from me to criticize someone who spends their spare time generating acronyms with silent letters, but how exactly does setting fire to a compact disc reverse the effects of hearing it? Not to mention the impracticality of such a gesture in an era of smartphones and Spotify. I don’t care how committed you are to raising a heterosexual child; no one can afford to symbolically-burn an iPhone without an upgrade credit.  

Friday, March 14, 2014

Kroger Dreamin'

I have had my share of strange dreams, but I recently experienced one that was as nostalgic as it was disturbing. I found myself shopping in an inordinately large Kroger whose only customers happened to be people that I graduated high school with. We would speak to each other and reminisce briefly before continuing on our way. None of us apparently found the coincidence of an entire grocery store being populated with our graduating class noteworthy enough to mention.
As I walked the aisles, I perceived that many of my former classmates had begun turning into zombies. I found this rather upsetting. Not because my friends had begun feasting on the flesh of the living, but because they keep choosing to do so in the middle of the aisles I needed access to. I became so upset by a particularly inconsiderate member of the living dead that I repeatedly rammed into them with my cart until I was able to reach a box of Cheerios.

I continued to casually glance down at my list and navigate the aisles as utter chaos unfolded around me. Occasionally, I would run into a fellow survivor, but instead of discussing our impending doom or the tortured cries of our fellow shoppers we would bemoan how difficult it was to find Rotel and continue on our way.  

The gravity of the situation continued to elude me until I had completed my list and found myself searching for an open checkout lane. Much to my chagrin, the now soulless cashiers were uninterested in completing my transaction and continued to ignore my repeated request to scan my Kroger Plus card. I made a mental note to file a complaint with the manager and began weighing my options.

Theft would obviously be frowned upon, but there was nothing to eat at the house so I had to do something. And then it dawned on me: the self-checkout. Fully-automated and still functioning, the self-service kiosk would have me out of there in no time. Things went well until I reached an item that would not scan and the screen halted the transaction and informed me that a “Cashier Has Been Notified to Assist You.”

That was the last straw. I could make my peace with the flesh eating-patrons and the breakdown of human civilization, but Kroger was sadly mistaken if they thought I was going to sit there like an idiot waiting on “Debbie S.” to come and put in her code. Sadly, this was the first time I remember experiencing fear. Not because a zombie apocalypse was clearly underway, but because I was going to have to drive across town to get my groceries.

It was at this point I noticed the pharmacist was lounging behind the counter and seemed as serene as I was distraught. When I approached him and demanded he do something about the situation, he calmly produced an aerosol can and began spraying. Almost instantly, the zombies returned to their previous human form and resumed their shopping as if nothing had happened. Then I woke up.

Seeking enlightenment, I visited and entered several keywords from my dream in order to determine their subconscious meaning. The presence of a grocery store indicates an unfulfilled emotional or physical need, but the presence of a shopping cart indicates that I am reaping the benefits and rewards of my hard work. The presence of the undead indicates feeling helpless and overpowered while the presence of my former classmates indicates my need to draw on old insights in order to shed light on my current situation. The pharmacy apparently tells me that I need to stop relying on outside influences.

So, in summary, I am an emotionally-unfulfilled individual being overwhelmed by the rewards of my hard work and the only remedy is to look to my past influences while completely ignoring them. Maybe I should stop eating Eggo waffles before bed.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Baby Story: Year 1

Reflections on the first year

1.     You only need one bottle of baby oil. We received several of these and a friend advised me to take all of them back but one.  I am glad that I listened to him because even after using the same bottle for 12 months I am pretty sure I could still return it to the store for a refund. Once our children are grown, I plan for it to be passed down to subsequent generations like a family heirloom.
2.      Infants provide a uniquely passive-aggressive method with which to criticize your spouse. While looking at the child (and ensuring that your significant other is within earshot) you can say things like, “Are you upset because daddy forgot to lower your crib mattress to the appropriate height again?” or “Did you soil yourself because mommy keeps changing the password reset question for our online bank account access?”
3.      As a parent, you will do absolutely anything to hear your child laugh. I will sacrifice what little pride I have left at the altar of humiliation if it means I get to hear that sound again. This can lead to rather awkward scenes of educated adults making flatulence noises with their mouth while pantomiming fly-fishing to a Justin Timberlake album. Still worth it.
4.      You become acutely aware of which kid’s shows put forth a solid effort and which ones are phoning it in. There is no substitute for Sesame Street and I have come to really appreciate Dinosaur Train, but Thomas and Friends is a snooze-fest. Is it that difficult to toss in a plot twist? I am not saying Sodor needs its first homicide, but a faster-paced narrative isn’t going to alienate your fan base. For whatever reason, I also find myself disturbed by all-male children’s quartets (The Wiggles, Imagination Movers, etc.) because I spend their entire performance speculating on which member is hiding a criminal record.
5.      You will call your pediatrician’s after-hours emergency line at some point. You can feign a calm demeanor all your want, but when your child is running a weekend fever, refusing to eat, and cries every time the dog sneezes; you are going to make that call. I always begin apologetically and somewhat disingenuously, “I hate to bother you...” (but obviously I don’t hate it that much since I made a conscious decision to call you at 10 PM on a Saturday) “…but my son appears to be under intestinal duress… (he won’t stop pooping) “…and I was not sure what I should do” (is this wait-until-Monday-serious or hospital co-pay serious)?
6.      Your home is a death-trap. Despite all the child-proofing measures and good intentions, a toddler has an impeccable ability to utilize common household objects to produce self-inflicted wounds. That metal bathtub spout? Blunt-force head trauma. Those decorative pantry doors? Hinged with patented finger-smash technology. Your window blinds? Pre-configured garrote system.
7.      You cannot get it back. I am eternally grateful that parents are given the joyful anticipation of future milestones to temper the melancholy of those we can’t experience again. While I cannot wait to hear my son say, “I love you” or tell me about his day, I know that even this will never replace the very first time he laughed or deliberately reached for my embrace. I know that each of his birthdays will be bittersweet and pray that I have enough perspective to remain present in the moments that I will forever cherish, instead of being distracted by concerns that will invariably wash away with the passage of time.       

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Purge

I recently watched The Purge starring Ethan Hawke and while the concept was intriguing, it brought about some logistical questions. The setting is 2022 and apparently America has undergone a dramatic shift in governance at the hands of “The New Founding Fathers.” Crime and unemployment are now at historic lows and this socio-economic progress is attributed to an annual “purge” where all crime is legal for a 12-hour period. During this time, all emergency services are suspended and all United States citizens are on their own.
Those participating in “the purge” are free to harm anyone (except certain government officials) utilizing anything (except certain military-class firearms) for any reason. Apparently, this annual felony festival provides the catharsis necessary to mollify the collective anger of the populace and prevent economic downturn. An emergency broadcast at 7 PM signifies the purge’s onset and its conclusion is similarly identified at 7 AM.

Those that choose not to participate (but wish to convey their support for the process) are to place purple flowers outside their home or place of business. This implies solidarity with those who participate and would presumably make the occupants less likely to become targets. For others, it has become a social event and they host “purge parties” in their home where they socialize and become inebriated while watching coverage of the event on television.

As I sat through the film, I could not help but wonder if the “new founding fathers” had rescinded daylight-savings time in order to eliminate confusion. Can you imagine being the one guy who got prosecuted for a homicide because he forgot to “spring forward” and thought he had another hour to settle the score? Do I get an extra hour to commit grand theft-auto in Arizona? Time zones would be even worse. Does the purge begin at 7 PM everywhere simultaneously on just the contiguous US? Is the purge the same day every year or is it a floating holiday like Easter?

It would appear that our “new” government officials are not too terribly different from the ones we have now since they enjoy creating legislation almost as much as they enjoy exempting themselves from it. Judging from the obligatory purple bouquet, I would say that the floral lobby is still a force in Congress as well.  It is somewhat depressing that America can apparently come to a consensus on the temporary legalization of sexual assault before we can agree on civilian gun control.

I also found the idea of the purge party somewhat disconcerting. I see social events to be somewhat intimidating already, I cannot imagine attending one where a simple faux pas could so easily lead to my impalement. One caddy remark about Sara’s plunging neckline and suddenly the den looks like the sound stage from Mad Max.

Even if I got invited to a purge party, I would spend hours agonizing over whether or not I should go. What if you unintentionally slighted this person last spring and they plan to jack you with a sock full of pennies the second you walk into the house? What if you erred on the side of caution and didn’t attend, but your refusal to attend was viewed as an insult therefore leading to the very situation you were trying to avoid?

Staying home with your own family could be just as detrimental to your health. Suppose your wife is still stewing about that new cabinet hardware you promised to have installed before President’s Day? You think you are going to get any sleep knowing that she might decide to hold a pillow over your face until her luck changes? And how many women would harbor suspicion when their husband looks up from his phone and casually mentions that “we should invite your mother over for the purge this year.”   

The film never provided a satisfactory explanation as to how “the purge” lowered unemployment. I suppose the legalized killing of others would create some openings in used car sales and investment banking, but I doubt the overall economic effect would be that profound. I can only imagine the Twitter updates from that 12-hour period, “Just stabbed the hostess at Chili’s!” #yousaid10mintuewait #iaskedforabooth #slowservice=box-cutter #lol