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Monday, October 22, 2012


I sold my car about a year ago, figuring that I would just waltz right out and get a new one. After about 6 months I realized two things: 1.), that they don’t currently manufacture a car that I wanted to buy and 2.), that I can’t dance very well. 

The car had to be relatively inexpensive. I see a lot of people driving around in Escalades or Mercedes that don’t look like they could pay the mortgage on a refrigerator box. With the bass turned up so loud that some of the fillings in my teeth fall out when they roll by. I like to pull up next to them playing the same song only with the treble boosted to 10, so I can get a decent mix. 

It had to have some styling. Did you ever see a Scion? It looks like you’re driving around in a Kleenex box. And that little Chrysler thing that looks like a tiny little gangster car for little tiny gangsters. I can’t be in a pookie car; I’m a 6’2” guy, and I can’t be in any car that says “Mini” right in the name. A Smart Car? If you get hit by a pickup truck in that thing it’s going to smart. 

I like a sports car, since I play tennis. The sports car has never really helped on the court, but we also have a sports utility vehicle, and it’s very convenient for storing my sports utilities, which are a can of balls and a tennis racquet. 

It had to have a well-appointed cockpit. It seems to me that a cockpit should have an altimeter. If I notice that I am driving at 2,000 feet above sea level I’d like to know why. I’m not sure exactly when cars started having cockpits. It used to be called the front seat. I have four sisters and a brother and you had to get out to that car quick, possibly the night before, if you wanted to sit in that front seat. I picture the co-pilot of a plane busting ass to get out there early before all the passengers try to sit in the front.  

It has to get decent gas mileage. I wanted to decrease my carbon footprint, while increasing other parts of my carbon anatomy, if you know what I mean. I can’t wait around for more fossils to become fuel. And by the way, it irks the crap out of me that somebody a million years from now is going to be driving around in a Kleenex box with gas from MY FRIGGING FOSSILS. Shame on you. 

I already have a separate GPS so I didn’t need that, and I purposely did not order the “voice-activated command center.” I could picture the GPS telling the voice-activated command center to do things, just to yank my crank. The GPS has already sent me down a one-way street RIGHT IN FRONT of a police station- no lie. And when I looked at it it was like, “Dude that was an honest mistake but you have to admit it was funny.” The car salesman asked me whether I had a Bluetooth, which was weird because my dentist asked me the same question. 

The salesman was very low-pressure, I have to give him that. He didn’t even seem to think that I needed a new car at all. He gave me the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, and he suggested some other prices to add onto that. I had a couple of suggestions too, which I would rather not repeat here, but I made an offer and he disappeared to go check with his manager. It turns out he WAS the manager, so we struck the deal.

He handed me a goofy plastic thing instead of a key. It opens the locks, closes the locks and has an alarm signal to call for help. It’s huge, like having a trout in my pocket. So if you happen to ask me, “Is that a trout in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?” the answer is probably both. 

Warranties are much better than they used to be. My first car had a warranty for 3 years or 6 months, whichever came first. My second car was a Nissan Sentra which came with extensive "power train" protection, but I just knew they would never honor it. The car had about 120 horsepower soaking wet, and I pictured them dickering about if that could actually be considered a "power train." This car comes with one year of "roadside assistance," and I have already used it, since I needed some help with the leaf raking. 

I love driving the car; it handles well, I like the turbo-charger, once you get used to it. A couple things: I have all kinds of allergies, and I drive with my knees about 70 percent of the time so I can sneeze. This car has so much crap mounted on the steering wheel that when I am in the middle of an allergy attack, I change the radio station, set the cruise control and open the gas filler cap. 

So I get the car home and go to back it into the garage, and I can’t get the damned thing into reverse. I tried jamming it hard, I pushed down on the lever, I pulled, I yanked it hard to either side, I even considered that they had installed the knob upside down- nothing I did would make it go backwards. I was about to key my own car, but all I had was that stupid thing that looks like a trout, so I hit the alarm signal, and my wife came out of the house. “Did you press the release button to get it into reverse?” She asked. “Of COURSE I pressed the release button! I PRESSED and PRESSED the release button! Do you happen to know where the release button is?” I don’t know if you’ve ever been whacked on the head by a trout but it hurts. 

Incidentally, the car I ended up buying is a 2013 Dodge Dart. My family owned not only a Dodge Dart when I was in High School, but a Dodge Dart SWINGER! It was neon yellow, and it was a great make-out car because it had bench seats. You stick a girl on one side of the thing, and if you don't have enough time to bother with foreplay, you just make a hard right and she slides into your lap for a threesome with the gear-shift lever, and both of you end up fighting over her. It was a great car- the "slant-6" engine with a "three-on-the-tree" automatic. I liked the car more than the girl, but one summer I deflowered both the girl and my mom's garden while my parents were away for the weekend, and the Dart was involved in both.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


They have finally reached a deal to replace the replacement referees in the National Football League, and NO ONE is more upset about this than I am. I was watching the game on Monday night, and the calls by the officiating crew at the end of the contest were so comical that I actually laughed out loud. I was guffawing! I woke up the cat, the dog and the eel, which may have already been awake; it’s hard to tell. Good comedy is hard to come by on network TV, and this was good.

It was the last play of the game, and Seattle was down by 5 points since Green Bay had tried an unsuccessful 2-point conversion earlier. You have two choices in that situation: 1.) you can go for a running play where you combine the games of “Keep Away,” “Hot Potato” and “Kill the Carrier.” The person with the ball waits until he is about to be hurt very badly, then throws the ball at the last minute to someone else who notices that he is also about to suffer bodily harm, and this goes on for ten or fifteen minutes while the team with the ball moves steadily in the wrong direction, since you are not allowed to throw the ball forward, only backward. Or, 2.) try a “Hail Mary” pass, where you throw the ball 50 yards into the end zone, where 20 people have gathered to try to catch the ball, some not even on the team.

If you are a person named “Mary” sitting in the bleachers you stand a statistically equal chance of catching the ball for a touchdown as anyone on the field, given a margin of error of three percentage points.

So the quarterback makes his desperate heave, and everyone queues up in the end zone to try to catch it. Everyone is there except the two replacement officials, one of whom is doing his taxes and the other is watching a cat video. Meanwhile as the ball is in the air, the players are all engaging in bad behavior. There is some name-calling, some pushing, some disorderly conduct, some aggravated assault, and even some on-line bullying and troublesome tweets. NONE of these things are allowed, and at the last minute the Seattle player simply shoves the defender out of the way while one of the referees is busy lining up three beanbags. The offending Seahawk doesn’t even catch the ball with more than one hand and part of his chin. The Green Bay guy has two hands and an ear on it for the apparent interception, and they hit the ground like a pair of Siamese twins. Ten players are on the ground with the twins trying to perform that difficult operation that may save their lives, where they extract the ball without anesthesia.

By this time the zebras have galloped into the area- one referee waves his arms over his head for a touchback, and the other hikes them straight in the air for a touchdown. Even as they are making these signals, they are two feet from one another, looking into each others’ faces and thinking, “YOU A-HOLE! You have just cost me an official’s job that I never officially had had!”

One year at the TV network where I work, the stagehands went on strike, and we management personnel had to fill in and do their jobs. We schlepped scenery, we dressed sets and we adjusted lights. I was told to man the catwalk, and I thought I was going to get to model something. We got yelled at by directors, lighting directors, and goofed on by Connie Chung.

We were useless enough, but I remember thinking, WOW- what a lot of pressure to be management personnel at a hospital during a doctors' strike. I just know I'm going to drop that goddamn gall bladder on the floor and look like a total dipshit. What about when the hookers go on strike? That is NOT going to have a happy ending.

The NFL during this infamous period has taken on the flavor of a high school math class with a substitute teacher. The players were all pushing the envelope of unacceptable conduct, trying to figure out exactly what they can get away with.

They held, they encroached, they ran into the kicker. Why would you run into a kicker? It's almost suicidal unless you run into him with your car on the way out of the stadium. They falsely started, they roughed the passer, and they illegally used their hands. Mind you, these football players aren't just flagged for using their hands against the rules of football; whatever they are doing with them is actually ILLEGAL! God only knows what mischief four fingers and a thumb can get into. They deliberately batted or punched a loose ball. Enough said there.

And they got away with just about all of it.

Whenever my high school had a teacher’s illness they would call upon the ever-vigilant Mrs. Levy, who seemed about 100 years old, but in reality was only 90-something. Usually if there was a substitute teacher you would just skip the class, but you would NEVER skip Mrs. Levy’s entertaining appearances; you might miss something good.

I remember one time we pulled the old “bee swarm” routine, where someone pipes up a subtle buzzing sound, and one-by-one the rest of the class picks up the cue, until an ersatz plague of biblical proportions engulfs the room. That was the day we found out that Mrs. Levy was pretty close to completely deaf. We continued to attempt other minor assaults on her remaining senses, and finally concluded that she was completely senseless. Still, you couldn’t get away with much. She seemed to have eyes in the back of her head, but it turns out her wig was on backwards.

Meanwhile, Green Bay refused to come back for the kicking of the extra point, and had to be coaxed out with a dog biscuit. The crowd was definitely abuzz, but it could have been the old “bee swarm” gag, who knows?

Incidentally, there have been many labor actions that have changed the course of history, and others, not so much. There was an actors’ strike in 2001, where those filling in the roles were only acting actors. In 2008 there was a communications strike in India. For one magic day, people could understand how to fix their computers. The city of Leeds in England saw a refuse workers strike in 2009. The city asked for them to come back to work but they refused.