Monday, December 19, 2005

Break (Stuff) Dancing

The other night, I was at a party. It was a nicey-nice wine party. (Which made our Jagermeister and Red Bull a little awkward. I just want to add here that they need to just say it if it’s a wine party. At a wine party, it’s not BYOB, it’s BYOW. Just put it out there. Don’t be coy about it. I don’t want to bust in like one of the Blues Brothers if it’s a violin sort of thing.) The hosts were also serving a German drink made of heated wine with whole oranges, burnt sugar, and other stewed spices called Gloog. (Umlaut over one of the “o”s. Don’t ask which one. Google it, monkey!) The attendees were mostly couples that were professors/intellectuals. This was confirmed for me when at one point, there was a brief nerdoff about German linguistics near my liquor! This was just a case of of two warriors circling each other, struttin’ their stuff and showing their plumage to intimidate their opponent.

So, I went outside…

My goal was to one, cool off. The small house was hot and crowded. It almost rained nerdsweat ™ from the ceiling. My second goal was to draw people outside where cool air could be found. I heard later that a true nerdoff started after we went outside. Men whippin’ out their calculators like they were six-shooters. (Nerds do not walk ten paces. They walk ten meters, and turn around. Or, they agree upon a longitude and latitude, and just go there, hopefully without tripping on nothing. They may not keep their balance every time, but eventually, they do turn around.) One guy at our table outside, an employee at Sony (who was not thoughtful enough to hand out electronics) started calling our picnic table the “VIP Area” loudly enough to be heard inside. Within one hour, every attendee was standing outside (not enough room at the VIP table) watching people breathe fireballs fueled with Bacardi 151. Once again, a party brought down to the lowest common denominator. Just call me Caligula. *bow*

Later, back inside…

There were two Indian women inside dancing to Indian/hip-hop mixes. (crap, I’m going to get the terminology wrong. Last night, in my haze (see above) I claimed that Indians speak Indian. This is the intellectual equivalent of saying that Mexicans speak Mexican, or Americans speak American, and they were not shy about letting me know by their response. I claimed a hot-wine mulligan, and that seemed to work, at least this one time.They ARE Indian. They SPEAK Hindi. (IhopeIhopeIhope.) Still, they were kind about it.

I had noted that it was cool (cause cool is such an intellectual word) seeing people perform the dance moves that I saw on Showtime India Extreme on the AZN Network. When I commented on the moves, I found out that one of the women dancing was a choreographer for bhangra (Too lazy to link it. You gotta Google it.) competitions. She was kind enough to offer to teach me some moves. With a wooden floor, I knew it would be best to go shoeless. So, she starts a move with just feet, and begin to copy it successfully. She calls out that she’s going to add arms, and I cry back, “NO ARMS! NO ARMS!” (When you “add arms,” you add the arm movements, which will take away from the concentration on your feet movements. I WASN’T ready to stop concentrating on the feet movements.) Eventually, we add feet movements and rotating the whole thing in a circle. From what I heard, I did a good job. I did not get to dance long. Despite my making sure that Mongo was not dancing near anything breakable, something broke. With a crash. To the floor. Out of my arms reach. Too close to me.

We were all confused, because nobody hit anything. Then, I figured out that there was a small candle in a glass holder that had a Jurassic Park moment. (You know, where the vibrations of the T-Rex made the surface of the drink ripple.) Poor, poor candle slowly but surely vibrated its way off of the edge of the television set it was upon. (Probably calling for help the entire time, but Mongo was beating the poor wooden floor to death, and with the music turned up, the call went unanswered.) THAT was the end of my dancing.

Later, I heard a quote that came from the kitchen.

In response to the shaking, “What IS that”?
“Oh, Mike’s dancing.”

They peaked out, and I was indeed dancing.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


It’s when you find out that you cannot get an X-box 360 until next February, so you turn right around and go home.  

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Guest Blog: Bacon Reinforced Homeland Security

This is my first, hopefully, in a series of guest blogs. A friend of mine wrote this as a class assignment after we joked about it at happy hour. While is talks about homeland security, it REALLY talks about bacon, and bacon is what it’s all about.

     Sec. 46910
Grade B+
A somewhat modest proposal for the 21st century
for protecting the good American people from the evils of terrorism

One of the most vital concerns in America today is terrorism. Guarding against another September 11th is at the top of the government’s priority list. One of the most difficult issues faced is the early detection of threats. It is vital that those wishing us harm not board planes so that they cannot use them as weapons and interrupt the travel plans of hundreds of taxpayers.
But how can the most dangerous of criminals be identified while putting the least burden on the average hard working American traveler?  As yet it has not been possible to easily identify potential terrorists. To ensure the safety of the American people, it is imperative that new security measures be implemented. Rather than the current "random" checks by profiling, I propose a simpler yet infinitely more reliable system.
It is a well known that no American can resist free samples; in fact the huge success of the Costco chain can be directly attributed to their practice of giving out a large variety of samples on a regular basis. Hardly anyone in this country actually needs pallets of toilet paper or drums of vegetable oil but yet there are always a large number of people shopping there, most looking around hopefully for a sample table.  
While we do not know exactly what most terrorists look like, we do know that Al Qaeda is a Muslim fundamentalist group and that knowledge tells us a few things about them: They do not eat pork, drink alcohol and they hate Jews and Americans.  
Keeping the above in mind, I propose a new security checkpoint system. This system can be installed on top of the current lines for metal detectors, which will stay in place.
The first checkpoint will sit at the entrance to the security line. It does not need to be large, only the size of a small fair booth. A very friendly attendant will greet passengers and offer them samples of delicious, fresh off the griddle bacon. The majority of people will be very happy for the free snack and will simply thank the attendant and move on through the line. Of course, this may offend some passengers for either religious or dietary reasons.  Security will make note of these people. No matter the reaction the attendant will smile and ask them to move on to the next checkpoint.
Approximately halfway through the line will be another booth. Another smiling, happy to be American, attendant will greet passengers and offer them their choice of cool refreshing beverage while they wait. They will have their choice of either Budweiser, Jack Daniels or, if they require something kosher, Manischewitz. Of course there are many people in this country that don't drink, they will be sent on down the line with a smile and, of course, security will make note of them.
The final checkpoint does not have the free samples but instead ask passengers a few questions about their experience. A couple of questions will be asked about the samples and if there's anything that would make the process more enjoyable. The final question will be slightly off topic. Passengers will simply be asked which major religion’s God has had the greatest impact on the world. It in choices will be Christian, Jewish and Muslim.  This of course is a trick question as they are all the same God. Passengers will be informed of this and any that get upset will be taken over to security.
This process will of course be watched over by security officers specially trained to look for irate Muslims. People can be taken out of the line at any time if they are behaving strangely. By the third checkpoint a true fundamentalist Muslim should be incredibly upset; they will be taken to security for further questioning. At times non-Muslims may be pulled out of line for questioning. Though they are not the primary targets, if they are acting oddly enough for security to question them chances are they are up to something and a few hours in a cell will do them some good.
In addition to the obvious security benefits, this plan also produces two added benefits. Firstly, even though this adds an extra step in the airline boarding process, customer satisfaction will improve. No true American can resist free food and the free alcohol will be just enough for a pleasant buzz. Also, the smell of freshly cooking bacon will bring to mind pleasant memories of relaxed weekend breakfasts.
On a practical level, this undertaking will give a much-needed boost to the economy. Not only will the need for sample booth attendants directly create new jobs and take thousands off of unemployment, the bacon industry as a whole and Anheuser-Busch and the Jack Daniels Company, both fine American alcohol makers, will increase sales dramatically, leading to the creation of even more jobs.
This system will be far more effective than the random profiling done in airports now. In addition, it will help big businesses and create jobs. Most importantly, it will give people free bacon and, really, isn't that what America is all about?

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Supporting The Troop

A poker buddy of mine was sent off to Iraq. The day before he left, his wife got the car into a major accident. Luckily, there were only minor injuries, but you can imagine how painful it must have been to leave your wife and three kids at that time. The poker group decided to make a care package. There were going to be things like coffee, porn, cigars, some more porn, venison jerky, even more porn to jerky to. This was going to be my contribution. I wanted to make a video of all of his friends and family, so he knew we were thinking about him. After writing this, we discovered that it takes up to six months to send something to someone Over There ™. After hearing Doug say, “I was laughing and crying at the same time,” as a writer, it killed me.

Poker Video for Dougie

Opening scene: Knocking on Mom's bedroom door. Sounds of her giving rushed, hushed instructions. Frantic clomping. Opening of the door. Mom's in bed, bedsheet pulled to her neck. Window open.
     "Mom, I'm going now."
     "Where are you going?"
     "Uh, ... bible study."
     "You're not going up the street to play poker with the boys, are you?"
     "No, Mom. They don't play anymore. They said it wasn't the same without Dad's money."

     Son leaves. Mom heavy sighs. Next camera angle is from Mom's point of view. (P.O.V.) She scoots out of bed, walks over to the window. On the floor there is a clown's wig and one giant shoe. (I have a friend that can loan me this stuff.) She hands the wig and shoe out the window.
     "Slow horn honk."
     "No. You'd better get going. You free Monday?"
     "double honk"
     "Good. Bring some pies."
     "Frantic honking."

     Camera angle leaving Doug's porch, and filming walk up the street to Victor's driveway. It might be funny to have the camera come up with Victor's back turned. He is squatting by the cd player, some super soft rock song is playing. He's singing along, and when he's caught, hits the switch button, putting on Iron Maiden, saying

     "Oh, I was just getting the music ready."  

     Four bbq's going. Between the four grills, we have as many different things going as possible, ALL wrapped in bacon. The entire time, we're talking, but you cannot understand what we are saying, because we are constantly nibbling off of each other's grills. If we want, we can rename the meats anything we want. (Random voices)

     "Hey, you try this Iguana? Yea, but you gotta try this SQUID. You try the polar bear? Not as good as this elephant."
(Then, in unison.) "MMMM... KITTEN!!!"

Kitchen scene: We're all washing and toweling off our hands.
          Me: Can you believe it? Four strippers needing help because they got too much pudding on'm?
          Don: What are the odds?
          Bud: What could they do? They forgot towels.
          Me: Can't go into the store like that.
          Don: It would be a crime.

               Sitcom look at each other and laugh. Toss towels to married guys, with sad sad sad looks on their faces. Can even make the wa wa wa waaaaa sound, depending on how things are going.

Back outside: We're all around the table. We can pause, get up, and start munching on the grills again, have desserts and bacon beer, or start the game from here.

First hand: One person sniff's his finger, and says " can still smell the bacon." Everybody else follows suit, and does the same, making "mmmm" noises. Then, one of us goes, "Did we have bacon fish tonight?" Everyone stops, and can either be disgusted or slowly pick back up their cards and go back to the game, quietly pretending they never heard that.

Twenty Minutes Later: We can use a shot of someone's watch to denote the passing of time. Twenty minutes later, Don has a majority of the chips. Don's daughter comes up three times with Morgan and Doug's daughters in tow, asking "Can I go to _______'s house"? Each time she comes up and distract's Don, his kid takes some chips.

Substitute Dad: We can get an inflatable woman in DOUG'S SILKY SHIRT, and write the word "DOUG" across her forehead. I'm not sure exactly what he could ask, but his son could start asking for things his Dad would not allow him to have.

     "Substitute Dad, can I (fill in the blank)... Really? Thanks. Substitute Dad, can I... really? Thanks."

     Also, with each scene afterward, we can have more and more mayonaise leaking out of the doll's mouth.

One hour after that: Don's and Kid's pile are 65/35.
     Someone says to kid: You're doing pretty good.
               Don:   Has he even won tonight?
              Someone:   Look at his chips.
                Another:  Yea.
           Don shrugs.

New baby scene: Vic's kid's cradle next to the table. On the deal, her cards are flicked into the cradle. Shot inside of cradle, we can rig the cards to stand up in front of baby. Next shot, from baby's angle. Lousy hand. One card can be an Uno card or something. Hand tosses cards in disgust, and starts crying out loud.

Don shot: Looks at his hand. Pulls card out of his sleeve. Leans over, looks at kid's hand. The card he took out of his own hand works in the kid's, so he slips it to him.

Next hand. Vic gets four Aces. Don says, "Nuh uh uh... FIVE aces." Takes the pile. Again, disgust noises.

No need to cheat: Don takes out a 3rd "2," then puts it back. He wins with a pair of twos, and we can all jump in with How can you do that?'s. "How do you do that?"
               Don: I have a pair of two's.
              Someone: Yea, and I have a six. Six beats four!
                Another: You know what, so do I!
                Again:     Me too.

FINAL HAND OF THE NIGHT. All guys have lost everything, except what they are betting in this hand. There is a huge pile of chips, silverware, car lighters, keys, a package of bacon, ect. Girls come up again.
          Don's daughter. Daddy, I wanna...
               Don:     Look! I'm trying to play, here. You wanna go to                     college, dont'cha? Just pick a place, and stay there. Call me on the cell                once you're there. Ok?
          Don's daughter: Yes, Daddy. (I personally would love for her to refer to him                         as Fuckin' Dad, but I'm sure that won't leave these      

Doug's son mouths the word "HELP." at the girls. She looks worried, but then runs off. Seconds later, Don's cell rings. We hear a one sided conversation on Don's side.

               Don:      What? (pause) You're where? (quick pause) NO, you can't                     spend the night in the hotel! I don't CARE if Sherri said it was                     alright! You're my daughter. I have all the legal documents that                     PROVE I love you. At least, until you're eighteen. (pause)                     MAKEUP? Look, you come home right this instant! You're                     getting another "Take your daughter to work" day. That'll put                     you straight. (pause) Now, honey. Don't make daddy sue you.

While all of this goes on, the kid has got to switch a card with Don to make his the winning hand, and Don's come into a close second. If you like, the five Aces vs. four Aces thing again. You can have Rick start to protest mathematically, and Victor puts out an arm to let the kid do it. When Don gets off of the phone, the kids gotta make the last bet, and call quick. Kid wins, and pulls the pile to him. From beneath the pile, he slips out the Playboy. He holds the cover facing the camera, and says,

          Kid: I love you, Dad.

Outside shot. Kid takes the pile in a sack, and leaves. Down the street, he meets up with the girls. He gives them each a share. (Play theme to C.O.P.S.) They hold up their part, and send a message to their father. Kid can hand makeup to Don's daughter. She takes it saying, "You guys bet makeup?" Then can send her wishes to Doug. Ect ect.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch: In the garage, we're all sittin around lookin sad. We all give a message to Doug. Then, return to looking sad, say

          Vic: C'mon, guys. Let's go inside and fry some bacon.

We all light up, and someone says, "Mmmm... beer battered bacon." We all "Mmmm."
I say: "Can we use that Crisco Dip I brought?"

Optional ending. All of us in bed with his wife in the center, bedsheet pulled up once again. She can be wearing the clown wig, the shoes on her feet, sticking out of the end of the sheet. We can all say "Thanks, Doug." at random times, waving to the camera. Light goes out. Horn goes honk!

End Scene

Thursday, December 01, 2005

ONE Of Us Was On A Date

At the end of every marching band season, there is a banquet. First you eat, then there are awards, and it ends with dancing. There was one year in band where I agreed to give a friend in band a ride to the banquet, because she did not have a car of her own. In addition, she only lived a few blocks away, so carpooling only made sense.

The day before the banquet, she asked if I could pick up her best friend on the way. It was not on the way, but her friend was cute, so it was easy to add her. That evening, I go and pick up my friend. There was nothing out of the ordinary. That is, until we arrived at her friend’s house.

Once we get inside her friend’s house, the friend’s parents are there with a camera. They start taking all sorts of pictures, like we were going to prom. (For those of you that have not gone to prom, that is A LOT of freakin’ pictures.) I played along, but felt like someone that had crashed a stranger’s wedding. Had I been older and wiser at the time, I might have seen the signs. Where my internal alarm began to go off is when the parents removed their daughter from the picture, leaving only my “carpool” and myself in a series of couple’s pictures. Finally, we are allowed to leave. On the way to the car, I complimented her friend’s dress, and got a slap in the arm for it. When I turned to my friend and looked at her, she just laughed it off.

At band banquets, players and their dates usually sit in their section. (When you spend your class time spread across a football field, you generally are most familiar with these players.) So, it was nothing for me to part ways with the people I drove, because I thought that was what they were doing, too.

The award ceremony ended, and the music started. As if on cue, everybody moved to by or onto the dance floor. I sort of remember passing her by and saying hello. I was saying hello to all sorts of people, but I started to notice that the women were awfully chilly. Okay, MORE chilly than normal. Happy?

Finally, the friend that rode with us took me aside to tell me what-for.

“I can’t believe this. You haven’t talked to ______ all night. You have been completely ignoring her. That is no way to treat a date. I… “
“WHAT? We’re not on a date.”
She paused. “What? You’re not”?
“NO! She asked me for a ride to the banquet, and I said yes.”
“Oh. My. God.”
“What? What? What did she tell you”?
“She has been telling everybody that you were taking her to the banquet.”
“I was. As in date”?
“Yes. You were ‘taking’ her to the banquet.”
“No. She specifically said, ‘Can I get a ride.’”
“Okay. Let me go fix this. Everybody thinks you’re an asshole.”
“I appreciate that.”

I watched her make the rounds. She would whisper in someone’s ear. They would make eye contact with me. Then, the nodding would begin, and I knew they had just received the second half of the story. The rest of the night went just fine. Her friend was good enough to make sure they got a ride home from someone else to give me a break.

I will never know what was going through her mind.