In another visit to the mail bag I get to talk about the DNC, Michael Phelps and my personal stand on cancer (hint . . . I'm against it)
I’ve been paying rapt attention to the DNC (a.k.a. 4-day infomercial) and cannot stop myself from imagining the SNL parody of it almost the entire time. Amy Poehler does a great Hillary, and I’m sure that skinny guy could do Barack spot-on…like tonight: instead of the “surprise” entrance by B.O., Michael Phelps would come out, the entire Biden clan would swarm him and in the ensuing melee the monstrous stage would collapse into a blue metallic heap….now that would be interesting!
Does this make me evil, or a true American (as my personal hero Sean Hannity would say)?
Thanks for the question, CM. First, let me handle the True American thing. If you're pro-Phelps, you're perfectly patriotic. To be against him is like being pro-cancer or against happiness. So as long as the little melee you envision ends with him restoring order amongst the podium pile and then winning another gold medal you're quite anti-communist. Your infomercial reference is money. I've quoted you a few times without attribution since I saw your email. Now I have yet to see a good B.O. impersonation, but we're in desperate need of one. Anybody who has columns constructed in the middle of a massive football stadium so they can be used as scenery while he talks earnestly about how government will solve all of our problems (including, I'm happy to report, male-pattern baldness) probably takes himself a little too seriously. So I'm looking forward to your SNL parody.
PS - If you're bothered at all that I poke fun at you dems, this week is RNC week, so I'll get to talk about JohnnyMac selecting his moose-burger-eating granddaughter as a running mate and other important campaign developments. However, the hurricane may keep me from blogging (just as it will keep the GOP from spouting too much political rhetoric for a few days), cuz I'm a weather-geek, so what's going on in the gulf is like a tragic super-bowl.
Please send in your questions or comments to email@example.com. Remember that you're guaranteed to either like or not like the response. Thanks!
In another visit to the mail bag I get to talk about the DNC, Michael Phelps and my personal stand on cancer (hint . . . I'm against it)
I'm sure your mailbox is full of very important questions and comments, but I have a major style dilemma. As you know, I am a fan of the fedora & noticed that fedoras were on sale at Macy's yesterday. I started getting more and more concerned the longer I thought about the fedora clearance rack (how about THAT for a band name??). Were the fedoras on sale because they are not in style, but are actually going out of style? I always thought that Macy's wanted to bring styleto the masses, but now I am wondering if Macy's is trying to make room for a new funky style instead. If so, what would that be? Should I assume the new style is Olympics based & spend my Benjamins on a grill to wear in the swimming pool or on feet of gold (a la Lightning Bolt's flashy kicks)? Should I instead look to see what the ever stylish Justin Timberlake is wearing these days?
Future Member of the Fedora Clearance Rack
FMFCR, thanks for the profound questions. You're clearly very prescient (by which I mean you must be a few falsettos short of a boy band) in asking me questions about style. I am in fact the king of style, having turned down opportunities to design with Christian Dior, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Elmer Fudd, and Larry the Cable Guy. So you came across fedoras on the clearance rack. The fedora is actually native to the clearance rack and thrives in that habitat, feeding on the other clothes that wouldn't sell at a 93.6% discount. My advice, leave it there. Don't assume that because this piece of head wear graces the melons of a few celebrities that it's "cool" for you. . . you're not a celebrity just yet. When you do become one you too will be able to look ridiculous and say stupid things that suddenly become hip. You will also suddenly have deep political insights that you feel the need to share with millions of people who may or may not think you're clueless.
Thanks for your important question, my fedora friend. May you find a gem or two in the treasure trove that is the Macy's clearance rack!
Ah, can't get enough of the Democratic National Convention. I'm in the comfort of my living room instead of crammed into a stadium in Denver that is just sick with screaming Democrats. The talking heads are readying all of us for Hillary's love speech tonight. They're bouncing around the room each asking key people what Hillary is about to say. From what I can tell the one thing all of the interviewees have in common is that they have absolutely no idea, but are for the following specific policies:
2. Democrats roaming the White House
4. Party unity
5. Change we can believe in
Bill Clinton just walked in the "hall." According to the commentators, the crowd is "electric" and the attendee's "exploded" when he walked in. I wish they'd pick different words. He's hugging people . . . including one hug with a young lady I've never seen that seemed uncomfortably long. Bill being Bill.
These video tributes are pretty good, I'm suddenly ready to vote for Hillary . . . Is that really Chelsea?! She just introduced mommy and looks pretty comfortable up there - looks a lot like the Senator. Uh-oh, Hillary is wearing an ORANGE pant-suit. Goodness . . . Lots of Hillary signs, but they don't say "for president" anymore. In all seriousness, for the second time in my life I'm looking at her feeling quite sorry for her. People are tearing up - including Bill. And now the speech: "we're on the same team, we must unite, Republicans evil, "sisterhood of the traveling pant-suits", together we made history, make sure that Barak wins . . . etc." Bill is smiling widely.
Well, it was a good speech, but a little anti-climatic. The way the talking heads set it up there was every chance that she could make any of the following declarations:
1. Let's have a quick raise of hands to see who thinks this should be my convention!
2. Since you guys didn't nominate me, I'm running as a Republican next time.
3. This is way cooler than the Republican's podium - nee-ner, nee-ner, nee-ner
But no such luck. I suspect this won't be the last-ever Hillary convention speech, and she'll probably be for change in the next one too.
I was watching the men’s beach volleyball last night (can you tell I haven’t gotten much done lately?) and noticed how pumped up the crowd was and really “into” the game (then figured out later it was the bikini girls’ dancing that probably did it). Then I thought about how that’s usually the case (the crowd – not the dancing), except for only two other sports: tennis and golf. Those are the only competitions where the spectators are actually “shushed” during play – and this is accepted by the crowd. I’ve been to a couple tennis matches, and you can’t even go to your seat while they’re playing – you just stand there until there’s a break in play. Kind of like if you’re late to a show at The Music Hall and have to wait until intermission to find your seat (an excellent policy, IMO). I believe there was even one incident when Tiger Woods jumped all over somebody for being too noisy during his tee-off – I think they were taking pictures and the noise bothered him.
Hockey, basketball, baseball, volleyball, football, soccer etc. all have these hugely LOUD crowds – even gymnastics for Heaven’s sake – talk about needing concentration! But at the U.S. Open or Wimbledon you can practically hear a pin drop during play….odd, don’t you think? (and don’t pull the “that’s because those are more civilized sports” excuse…PUH-LEASE!!)
The short answer to your question is "that's because they're more civilized sports." But I'm just guessing that's not what you wanted to hear. There are a couple real reasons that people are asked to be so quiet during golf games:
1. Before public profanity became so socially acceptable, golf games were the one place where people could go to learn all the new cuss words and phrases from the golf participants. But sometimes those are muttered under people's breath, so extreme silence is necessary. We've unwittingly carried on this tradition.
2. So the people attentively watching at home on TV can sleep.
As for tennis the major driver here is so that the audience can hear the very odd grunting sounds perfected by Monica Seles. Check out this actual information about her from Wikipedia:
"1992 was an equally dominant year. Seles successfully defended her titles at the Australian Open, the French Open, and the US Open. She also reached the final at Wimbledon but lost to Graf in the final 6–2, 6–1. Some observers, however, attributed her lop-sided loss to her decision to remain silent throughout the match, resulting in less penetrating shots. Two opponents (including Navratilova in the semifinals) had strongly complained about Seles's grunting".
Need I say more? (also, the same reasons for silent golf above apply to tennis)
Thanks for the question, CM!
Every four years an event happens that captures the attention and imagination of the world. It kicks off with a bang and ends with a party. In between we watch the participants and ask ourselves how many hours of focused work it took for them to become what they've become. We root for heroes and sneer at villains. It lasts far too many hours for people to watch all of it, but that doesn't stop the networks from showing non-stop coverage and commentary where we hear the same things over and over again. There are winners and there are losers, but we sit on our couches with certainty that we couldn't dare to be like the people on the screen. When it's all over we only remember a name or two, but we know that we'll get to tune in again in four short years. I'm not talking about the little shindig that is wrapping up in Beijing, I'm talking about the Democratic National Convention.
I can't get enough of presidential politics and I thank you dear Democrats for providing the most entertaining primary in recent memory. Seriously, rewind a year or so. Hillary wasn't just the inevitable nominee, but there were debates about whether or not anyone would even challenge her other than the Kucinich powerhouse or a bearded Al Gore. She must wake up every morning in shock that someone else is the nominee - like Political Groundhog Day. I'm pretty sure that Obama's qualifications to be president are limited to the fact that he has in his life actually run for president. Hilary and her still rabid supporters have to continuously ask how the political New York Yankees lost to the equivalent of the Scranton YMCA co-ed softball team. She'll give a great speech through gritted teeth I'm sure, but she may well need dentures after it's over. It would be fun to watch a little more Clinton/Obama friction in primetime, but the party mukitymucks will make sure that doesn't happen.
Sen. Obama gives stunning speeches, so the best he can do is live up to his billing. But the party in Denver will rage and there will be confetti, balloons and a podium to rival all other podiums. The silly inevitability of the conventions is what always gets me. We knew the "result" of the convention months ago. It's like me getting handed a speeding ticket from the policeman and then announcing to him that I was in fact going 78 in a 65. Still, one should never underestimate the desire of geeky political-types to show up in their sport coats and pant suits and party.
Don't think for a second that I won't poke similar fun at the Republicans who bucked conventional wisdom and nominated a white, male, Washington insider, who if he worked at your company would've retired a decade ago.
I'm still holding out hope that Michael Phelps somehow shows up and steals one of these nominations.
Here's a question from a new reader who I will call M&M (in spite of what he calls himself):
This morning I was browsing the web and visited my favorite site, you know the one... www.menwholooklikekennyrogers.com, and I couldn't help but think Kenny Rogers doesn't even look like Kenny Rogers. Would it be culturally unacceptable to create a site called www.menwholooklikekennyrogersafterplasticsurgery.com?
-The Real Henry the Frog
First off, impersonating "seasoned" singer/songwriters is one thing, but impersonating me (in amphibian form) - not cool. I'll let that pass though. So your favorite website is a little troubling. Perhaps you could spend some time on www.shrinkswhohelppeopleobessedwithkennyrogers.com. Your point about Kenny not looking like Kenny anymore is fair. For instance I think Will Ferrel is a way better George Bush than George Bush. I'd like to see the Kenny Rogers Look Alike conference . . . on second thought I'd rather not. As far as the plastic surgery question - I think that's terribly wrong. (and you'd have to decide which of Kenny's facial decades to target) Anyone who has surgery to look like someone else should definitely not have their own website. Wait a minute, that means 87.6% of celebrity web sites have to come down now . . . hm, if that were to happen we'd have a sudden dearth of keen political insights (and self promotion). I'm good with that.
Thanks for the question, WannaBeHTF. Remember, "you never count your money when you're sittin' at the table. There'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin's done."
Here's a question sent in by avid reader, CM, who describes an interesting and all-to-common dilemma about time zones, DVRs and Niki Cage:
So I’ve been DVRing the Olympics faithfully, and actually watched some of it, but this time-difference thing is really throwing me off. I was really looking forward to watching the balance beam finals tonight, but while I was reading my “on demand” news on my phone today at lunch, I saw the headline that says Shawn Johnson won the gold…and I am so bummed!
So now I don’t even want to watch it – if I’m going to give up a few hours of my life, shouldn’t I at least be surprised at the end? Except for movies – I like happy endings and get very upset at sad ones. For example: HATED The Wicker Man. When has it EVER been a good idea to kill off Nicholas Cage????
By the way, that DVR REALLY came in handy during the marathon….
I feel your pain. In fact you point out something that should be obvious to the rest of the world, but apparently isn't. If the event is important it should happen live during primetime in the USA, even if it is happening 13 time zones away. If Dancing With The Stars can do it, the Olympic organizers should play along. But alas, it's almost like there are more people in China than there are in the US, and they want events to happen sometime other than between 4 and 7 in the morning. Nice job having the DVR running - as your hero Sean Hannity would say, "you are a true American." (hat tip for learning that with that wonderful piece of technology you can watch an entire marathon in 43.2 seconds, and then ask yourself why they look so tired at the end)
The solution to your problem of finding out the results before you've had a chance to watch the event is pretty straightforward - simply call in sick for a couple weeks and hop on that quick flight from Kansas City to Beijing (58 seconds with a DVR, in actuality, with the time zone thing, you'll land in China several hours before you actually take off from KC). I'm sure you'll have no trouble getting a hotel room and scalping a few tickets. The Olympics really aren't that big a deal, probably you'll just see a few of the athlete's family members and a couple of reporters from the Kazakhstan Daily News. You are, however, guaranteed to run into Michael Phelps and his mom, because apparently they are ubiquitous around there.
Now, in answer to your Nicholas Cage question - I totally agree - taking him out at the end of the movie is a bad idea, it's better just to avoid giving him the part in the first place - better to cast Kevin Bacon or look-alike Danny DeVito.
Thanks for the questions, CM. Enjoy your time on the other side of the world - please don't text me the results, I have 687 hours of Olympics in the DVR to watch!
The mailbag is getting a little bit of action lately. Today's question from a friend in St. Louis is both extremely deep and utterly pointless at the same time. Here it is:
So, in every city that I have ever driven through in the United States, I notice the shoes on the side of the road or occasionally in the median. 99% of the time they are mens shoes. On two separate occasions I have seen a child's shoe, but they were boys shoes also. I have never seen two shoes in the street - tied together and thrown over the power lines is an entirely different story. Today I saw a single black flip flop.
Quite often the shoes are work boots and so I figure they have fallen off a truck. But when I see a really nice mens Nike shoe, or a leather sandal, I really wonder... what the heck makes a person lose just one shoe? Wouldn't you notice? Are there medical emergencies that would cause a person to remove their shoe quickly - or maybe a paramedic does a routine foot test and they just aren't any good at remembering to bring the shoe along in the ambulance?
I can see kids throwing their own shoes out the window, but their parents shoes?
I used to think that it would be the kind of documentary that Paul Buckner (Mad About You) would do. He was always filming things like the Koala Bear chewing on his Eucalyptus. It could however be rather harrowing to document it on film while playing in traffic and all.
Anyway, I am interested in any opinions or expert knowledge on the subject.
Sincerely, THE Beckster
Oh you've definitely come to the right place for expert knowledge. This is a long one, so I'll take it in pieces. First, the reader seems intrigued that 99% of the lonely sneakers (a good name for a rock band) are male shoes. This one is actually fairly intuitive. Statistically speaking, only 1% of women will ever willingly part with their footwear under any conditions. In fact, since 1960 the amount of space taken up in the average home by female shoes has tripled. By 2050, most men will be sleeping in the garage because the shoes will have taken over. 1 out of every 2 men will be perfectly ok with that as long as there is access to cable TV and a toilet - preferably in the same room.
And now, on to the crux of the reader's question. Why the unmatched shoes? There are many answers. Here are the 3 major reasons in reverse order of prevalence:
- Sudden Onset Athlete's Foot - you just hope this hits the passengers and not the driver. All you can think of is to get the shoe (and the toxic sock) off and as far away from you as possible.
- The single guy who, while on a date, suddenly realizes he's wearing a hiking boot on his left foot and a flip flop on the right (or some other combination that made perfect sense during date prep.) A married man typically has his outfit thoroughly audited by his wife before he leaves the house each day, but the single guy is not so lucky. Better to subtly throw both offending shoes out the window and claim that it's "cool to be barefoot." The date is effectively over at this point.
- The old "I'll bet you can't hit that sign with your shoe while we're going 50 MPH" trick - never underestimate the combination of a stupid dare and the male ego.
Hopefully that helps you understand that most things that don't make sense usually have "guys" as a root cause.
Thanks for the questions, Beckster!
If any of you have questions or comments, please send 'em in to firstname.lastname@example.org, and invite your friends to play along as well.
I'm fighting the urge to blog about all the important current events going on in the world today, such as:
- Apparently my pre-kindergarten daughters can compete on the Chinese gymnastic team
- Barak "I'm only slightly less famous than Michael Phelps" Obama announced that he was going to declare his VP choice via text message. So maybe a year from now we can declare war on Iran by leaving a post on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Facebook page.
- It was announced today that Anheuser-Busch CEO, August Busch IV (a good name for a rock band) will be paid $10 million after the company is acquired by InBev. In a shocking announcement he revealed that the acquisition was a "good idea."
- Women's beach volleyball is being shown in primetime and somehow is attracting (pun intended) an attentive male audience.
- It is rumored that both the Republican and the Democratic nominees will be announcing their VP choices very soon, and they will both be choosing Michael Phelps. A McCain spokesperson was quoted as saying, "Mike is on a roll, and we'd like to 'swim in that relay' if you know what I mean."
I'll go ahead and stop fighting that urge now. Any questions?
I stumbled across this a few weeks ago and it made be me pretty late for work one morning. Totally worth your time - I was on the floor laughing for significant portions of it. I'll put the first part of the speech here, but can click here to get the other four parts. May it make you late for whatever you need to go do now.
It's just hard not to blog a bit about the Olympics tonight. My day started by watching USA basketball make Spain look muy estupido and it just ended by watching the 100M men's final where a guy named Nuts N. Bolts or something broke the world record and actually cheered himself on before the race was even over. That probably made the guys he was smoking feel good. Oh yeah, that Phelps guy got that 8th gold medal. I did let out a little cheer at the end of his relay. Imagine if they would've just gotten the silver - people would've been talking about the BIG DISAPPOINTMENT. I tip my sombrero to him though - may well be the biggest sports feat of all time - if you take don't consider when Redskins QB Gus Frerotte gave himself a concussion after head butting a wall while celebrating a touchdown. I'm not sure what NBC will do now that they probably need to talk about somebody other than Michael Phelps or his mother every once in a while for the rest of the Olympics. In between those big events I used the fast forward button on the DVR to catch some of the less popular sports like:
- Badminton: In the gold medal match two Chinese women slapped that birdie around impressively. I remember playing this in junior high gym class - I just don't remember anyone fantasizing about going pro.
- Women's Shotput: I had to watch for several minutes before I was clear on the gender of the folks chucking the little ball of lead, which I can see weighs more than any of the female gymnasts. These young ladies open their own jars at home!
- Rowing: I think it's called "sculling" or something officially. Either way, if you have a boat with a questionable motor, I'd bring along one of these guys and a couple paddles. Pretty sure you could water ski behind one of these teams.
- Women's Marathon: This has to be one of the toughest events to televise. It's 2.5 hours of people just running. Not sure even the best color commentator in the world could keep the attention of an audience for that long. Thank goodness for the fast forward on the DVR. Still, I did get chills when the lady who won entered the stadium for the last lap. I get tired just driving the minivan 26 miles . . .
There was more, but those were some of the highlights that came to mind. I was in denial for a few days, but I'm embracing my Olympic addiction now. I'm also speculating that they have a body double for Bob Costas or at least some really good CGI guys, cuz he's always on . . . but not as much as Michael Phelps.
PS - E-mail me your olympic questions or comments, guaranteed you'll get a response on the blog which you may or may not like.
We have the first response to my little plea for questions/feedback a couple of posts ago (and in less than 24 hours). Pretty soon I'm sure I'll be pouring through the mailbag, but huge hat tip (a fedora no less) to AGM. Here is her timely question:
I found your Olympic comments very insightful & thought I would write you for advice. I have this addiction to Olympic coverage, but I find myself rooting against Michael Phelps and for Ryan Lochte instead because I have an incapacitating case of Phelpsfatigue. Do others have this problem? I find myself turning the channel whenever NBC does yet another profie of him. Am I un-American, jealous, and/or mean because I think that Michael Phelps is an egotistical, spotlight loving, crazed, mutant half-man-half-fish instead of an Olympic hero? Can't he just spread the wealth a little more & give others a chance? Also, I read that he has flippers instead of feet. If that is true, where can I get some?
I Honestly Love Team USA (just not Michael Phelps)
P.S. Can a get the recipe for your warm strawberry compote with fruit fly garnish?
Fair questions. First, I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt that you're not a communist-in-denial. Cuz that would explain much of the sentiment here. That being said, your term "Phelpsfatigue" is a winner. I hope that none of us ever have to watch one of those profiles again where we see that the guy's life consists of sleeping, eating 3,500 calories, swimming, eating 3,000 more calories, spending several more hours at the pool, eating 5,000 more calories, then sleeping again. The message is clear: if we all become unemployed, eat a lot, and hang out at the pool, our lives will be perfect. Also, from the profiles I now know more about his family than I do my own. That's not right. Now I do think you're a little off-base with the insults. There's one way to know though - we need Bob Costas, with deep sincerity, to ask Mikey to let someone else win a race. Phelps's response would be some good reality television. As for the flippers, well, I'm not at liberty to talk too much about it, but let's just say that extreme toe-jam (a good name for a rock band) is not always such a bad thing.
On the recipe question - let's just say that NOTHING could taste good enough to go through what was necessary to make that little treat happen.
Thanks for the questions. May the Webbed-One fade from view a bit.
I remember as kid thinking that my parents were all powerful (if not all-knowing). They told me to do something, and I think I pretty much did it. (My mom probably will laugh when she reads that last line as it may not be very, you know, true.) When we started having the kiddos I just sorta assumed that my superior size and intelligence would have the little people doing whatever I asked. As those of you with kids (who are now rolling your eyes at my naivety) know, it's easier to tell clouds where to go than to get perfect obedience from kids. I know that now . . . or maybe it's just my kids. Occasionally the Mrs HTF and I will find ourselves actually yelling. We're not yellers. And experience has taught us that yelling is only effective if the kids are a few hundred yards away from your mouth. But for some reason we still do it as we get increasingly frustrated at the lump under the bed spread who needs to leave for school in the next 30 seconds.
Oh I know that we should just have clear, consistent consequences (the Utopian Cs!), which will let the kids make the decisions without us getting so riled up. Does that work perfectly in your house? We have a 9-year-old who seems to love to push our buttons. Lately when he does something wrong, he always does it "accidentally." (i.e. "Dad, I accidentally stole my brother's Pokemon cards and tore them up into ant-sized pieces.") Not sure why he thinks this works, but he keeps using it. There's some odd idea in there that if we "accidentally" do something there won't be consequences. Ironically I hear adults use the similar "oops-logic" sometimes. (insert the name of your favorite scandalized celebrity/politician/sports-star here)
This parenting thing . . . harder than it looks when you're a kid.
Sorry Mom & Dad, for all the stuff I did wrong . . . it was all an accident for sure!
I've had this ongoing internal debate floating around the melon about what I want to make of this blog thing. I've been posting in spurts for almost 3 years now. There were a few podcasts, which got some ok reviews. I track readership off and on, but I'm not sure that's really the goal. Here's the thing, and this is a recent personal realization, I have this odd secret desire to be some kind of a syndicated columnist. With the blog thing, anybody can do that, so, in spite of lack of writing talent or much interesting to say, I can fake like I'm a Dave Barry or Tom Friedman. I was talking to my friend, BP, about this the other day and mentioned that blogging is an awful cheap and not-to-taxing hobby. I could try to be an astronaut or an olympic gymnast, but being a blogger is a bit more realistic.
I track along with quite a few blogs and podcasts. Many of the blogs I read are "penned" by gals I know, which has made me question a bit if I should really be doing this. One exchange I read on a friends blog - she asked her husband why he never wrote on the blog. His answer - "I'm not a woman." Profound words . . . that gave me some pause. I got over it.
So here's the deal. I'm gonna work to make the blog better and I'm asking for your help. Here's what I'm gonna do: write more, link more, do more. So my goal is to post at least 25 times over the next 30 days. Here's my asks of you:
1. Read along and comment occasionally, maybe even let others know about it
2. E-mail your questions or feedback to email@example.com (don't expect profound answers - you should expect what you typically see in the blog: sarcasm, cheekiness, and answers that aren't remotely factually correct) I'll answer the questions on the blog. I'll keep you anonymous or just use whatever name you tell me to. This is my attempt to make the thing more interactive. They can be about stuff I often blog about like family, sports, odd observations, etc. Or they can be utterly random, like "which 80's rapper had the biggest ego and/or gold chains?"
I'll still trying to pull off the occasional podcast and that would be a good place to answer some of the questions. BTW - don't put it past me to make up some questions to make it look like more than 2 of you read my blog. :)
I'm off to watch the olympics and I'll leave you with this astounding observation from Doug Collins who was commenting on TV during the USA vs Greece basketball game this morning:
"In a 40 minute game you don't have the same number of minutes as you do in a 48 minute game."
Truer words were never spoken.