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Wednesday, November 23, 2016



     A couple weeks ago Rio de Janeiro, a city awash in political scandal, Zika virus, rampant crime and economic upheaval, encountered a new problem it hadn't accounted for, and its name was Ryan Lochte. In the murky morning haze following a binge-ful bender, something happened at the intersection of alcohol, youth and invincibility when Lochte and three other swim team members stopped their taxi at a gas station.

     Or maybe it didn't happen. Was it a mugging? An extortion? A robbery? Or was it a case of some young athletes expecting to participate in the 4 x urinal relay, and possibly the restroom was locked? His exaggerated account of the details was disputed by footage from security cameras. Can you imagine what Ryan Lochte does when there are no cameras around? The answer is: Nothing. What a waste of time that would be.

     If it's all some sort of cry for attention I can't figure out what for. Not only does the guy have every medal short of the purple heart, but he's so unnaturally good-looking that he is probably invited to participate in breaststroke events that I don't even have a joke for.

     He had several sponsorship deals that have been terminated as a result of what started out as an alcohol-fueled prank and careened into an international incident. Speedo ended its relationship with him, even though he didn't do anything wrong from the waist down. The Gentle Hair Removal company also severed ties with Lochte, but if you dye your hair gray and it turns green, it's probably about to fall out anyway, rendering the product useless.

     By the time I was Lochte's age I had been undertaking stupid stunts for many years, which continued until about two weeks ago, when I did something dumb. But nothing since then, so it was probably just a phase I was going through.

     My friends and I were just talking about a swimming-related shenanigan that we pulled as teenagers, where a bunch of us trespassed onto somebody's property to swim in Mead Lake. "Trespassing" is a pretty big word that I arguably couldn't be expected to know with only half of a high school education, plus it's in the Lord's Prayer, so I figured it must be fine. Anyway, a couple of us swam across the lake, oblivious to the fact that those who had stayed on shore had been arrested by the police.

     Nobody thought to spin it into a wild tale of intrigue, so they just paid the fine. But now that I know that blaming things on Rio is an option, I plan on trying it next time I get a traffic ticket. "There were these two dudes wearing blue uniforms, and they had guns. They stopped me on the street and made up this story about how I was going 45 miles-per-hour in a 30 zone. They looked like they could be from Rio de Janeiro, so I just complied even though I was only going 43.

     What I'm saying is, don't judge too harshly. Because he who casteth the first stone knoweth not that a photo existseth of him passed out at a frat party with his underwear on backwards waiting to be instagram-ethed.

Friday, November 11, 2016

This is your day

Yesterday was the day after election day, and it felt like someone punched me in the stomach. This is not unusual for me, but usually it's because someone punches me in the stomach. This time it was due to the kind of shame and fear that comes from other people making bad choices for me that I have no control over. Aside from a joke here and there, anyone who knows me would tell you that I am not a political person. So I'm going to get this off my chest once, then hide in a corner for four years, hopefully not any longer.

When Barrack Obama walked through the door, he was the smartest one in the room. And the coolest. Michelle Obama was a shining light by any standard. The President knew what he was talking about, and if he didn't, he didn't say anything. And now he's walking back out the door, and in his place will be an orange-colored fatuous boob. I never thought I'd refer to the president of my country in those kinds of terms. Yeah, Bush senior was a little nutty, and George W. might have been a little goofy, but I liked them as people. This is new territory, a dangerous place. America has elected to its highest office someone who says something ill-informed, self-congratulating, misogynistic and indefensible every single day, sometimes all in the same sentence.

He's a weak-minded, psychologically unstable individual who can't contain his emotions if someone says something unflattering about him, whether it's true or not. His oratory has the sophistication of a middle school debate team member. And when someone professes to know everything, there is no  reason for that person to learn anything else. They don't know what they don't know, and don't have  much interest in finding out.

If you voted for him, this is your day to shine. He's all yours, and now America can move forward, if you think that moving forward is to try to bring back all those factory jobs that robots and free trade took away, or all the other careers decimated by the internet. It's a pretty dream, but you might get a wake-up call pretty soon.

Maybe moving forward means removing health care for about 20 million people, so that when they get sick you and I can go back to paying for it instead of insurance companies. Maybe progress means concentrating more on oil, gas and coal instead of those other silly renewable technologies. If common sense gun control sounds like a good idea to you, this is not your moment, either. Have you ever sat on the parkway behind serious traffic, and car after car passes you on the shoulder, and finally you give up and do it too? That's what gun ownership is going to look like, only now the country will be more polarized and less temperate. Did you like the financial collapse of 2008? Well less bank oversight might be the progress that you voted for.

Maybe it means rolling back civil rights a good few notches. And I'm not even talking about women's rights, minority rights, religious rights or gay rights. I'm talking about the right of one person to expect another to be civil to him. Civility has been tabled. The douchebag-in-chief has already set the agenda.

Now when a horrible tragedy befalls this country, instead of turning on the TV to hear a little bit of wisdom from someone smarter than me, I have to go it alone. Because he'll say something stupid. That's what he does, and he has no reason to change, since that is what got him elected.

This feels like a win for bullying, for making fun of the less fortunate, for not doing your homework and getting rewarded for it. For body-shaming, groping and taking things that aren't yours just  because you feel like it and you're bigger. It's a victory for cutting the line.

Douchebags, dickheads and assholes, this is a day to celebrate. The overwhelming majority of people who voted for trump are not douchebags, dickheads and assholes. They're your neighbors, your friends, and that made me call my own values into question for a moment or two. That moment passed. I don't think my feelings are a mirage, and I think America's reputation will suffer damage in the eyes of the world and of its own people that will take decades to undo.

So I have to grit my teeth for four years and hope he goes away, but I don't think he'll ever go away now that he's found his people. I'm in the unenviable position of hoping he does a horrible job as president so I don't have to see as much of his bloated face anymore. I don't want him to crash the country, that would be bad. I just want him to put a huge dent in the fender so that somebody takes the keys away from him.

Friday, November 4, 2016



     The Olympics rolled on last week, and I took in a healthy dose of it, even though I had to forego watching dead people on Forensic Files. Once you get a taste for dead people, they're hard to give up, but that's a topic for another day. As I watched the  competition unfold I couldn't help noticing that some of the events make you question what it really means to be an Olympian.

     Children all over the world are watching the games, thinking that someday maybe they will be the best in the world at their chosen sport. Will it be handball or ping pong? You might as well hand out medals for darts or skee-ball. Fencing is essentially trying to kill a guy with a sword, which is a weird thing to dream about doing when you're a kid.

     The people who compete in gymnastics are obviously nuts. No one should ever hire them for any other job, because they obviously will NOT follow directions. Think about it: How many times when you were a kid, walking along a balance beam that was actually a tree trunk that fell in the back yard, did your Mom say, "GET DOWN FROM THERE- YOU'LL BREAK YOUR NECK!" But these girls do it anyway, and somehow they don't get their allowance docked.

     My sister and I used to do backflips in the basement onto an old couch when we were kids, and if our Mother ever caught us she would have hit us over the head with a shovel. She never caught us, and maybe that's when we turned our efforts from gymnastics to long distance running.

     Women's diving was also on last week. If I was participating they'd have to wait for me to get into the water a little at a time, takes about 20 minutes. No sense just rushing right in in case the water's freezing. There would also be plenty of other questions about why I was on the team.

     Anyway, they dive from a platform about a million feet in the air, do a bunch of flips and turns, and when they hit the water not much happens. It's a little anti-climatic. I could make a bigger splash just walking into a room with a purple tie on. But I certainly wouldn't jump in the water from all the way up there. It's not that I'm afraid of heights, I'm just afraid of what happens when you fall from them. I'm also afraid of depths, so I'll stick to sports that are played at sea level, and events where I can only hurt other people.

     I've also been watching the women's beach volleyball competition, which seems to be contested on a clothing-optional beach, judging by their swimsuits. I was wondering why the sand never sticks to their cabooses when they take a tumble. I figured it must be some type of agent that they spray on themselves. It must be a secret agent, or else I would have found out about it by now so I could spray it on the bottom of my beer cooler.

     In equestrian sports or sailing, the athlete who stands on the medals podium is just a dude riding on something else that's doing all the work. Why not let the sailboat hear its national anthem and take a bow right from its bow. Let the horse be on a Wheaties box for once.

     Maybe your child is thinking of becoming a future star in the hammer throw. Good luck finding it in the neighbor's yard when you need to fix the mailbox. Come to think of it maybe Dad threw it there.

     So kids, if you're out there, dream big. Take in those victory pictures of athletes biting into a gold medal, since they are high in fiber. I'm already looking forward to the next summer Olympic Games. They will be adding some new events, a competition where participants pass a balloon back and forth without using their hands, an egg- rolling race and a contest where athletes guess how many jelly beans are in a jar.