Sunday, September 29, 2013

Dear DJ's of the World

I work at a resort.  Most weekends, from April until October, we have a wedding.  That's roughly twenty weddings a year, and I have been at this job for eight years.  Given various weeks we didn't have a wedding, or the rare day off on a Saturday, I have worked through about 140 weddings.  That means I have heard every godawful wedding song there is.  I have suffered through countless Chicken Dances, learned how to spell YMCA more times than I care to recollect, and endured the Electric Slide enough to want to get the electric chair.  I have also lived through several fads, like Gangnam Style, Call Me Maybe, the unprecedented long life of the Macarena, and that ungodly song that just keeps going "To the Left, to the Left" that I just call the Zapruder Song.  At least with those, they have a set dance, and serve a purpose of getting your drunk uncle up and moving before the vodka settles in his lungs.  There is one song, though, the worst song ever, that you DJ's refuse to retire.  That song is Kool and the Gang's "Celebration", and it is time that we put a stop to this madness.

The origins of the song are shrouded in mystery.  Some believe it was written as a funeral dirge in 1300's Latvia, as an urging for villagers to live life to the fullest before the plague took them.  Others believe it is a lullaby written by a madman that he sang to his collection of sock puppets.  Regardless, all agree that it is an insipid piece of trash that took roughly three minutes for a kindergartener to write in between snorting lines of blow and punching an ostrich in the face at a petting zoo. 

Let's take a look at the lyrics.  Here's the chorus and the first verse.

Celebrate good times, come on
(Let's celebrate)
Celebrate good times, come on
(Let's celebrate)
There's a party goin' on right here
A celebration to last throughout the years
So bring your good times
And your laughter too
We gonna celebrate your party with you

If the urging to celebrate was not clear with the "come on", it is cannonballed with 'Let's celebrate" to make sure that everyone that wasn't paying attention 2 seconds earlier got the gist.  The whole deal about a celebration lasting throughout the years is both a prophecy of doom and a vile threat by Joshua Frederick Kool and his associates.  The confusing part is where they are trying to suddenly make it my party, and act like it is a favor they are doing me by celebrating it with me.  If I am having a party, it will have a slip n' slide, some Moxie cola, and tunes that are much better than this load of post- disco drivel.  In fact, there is only one group of people I ever see at weddings or events that get up, start dancing, and just really thinking that this song "gets"them:  The whoo girls.  God, please help the whoo girls, with their unquenchable lust for red bull flavored shots and "Sweet Home Alabama", both the song and movie.

Things take a much darker turn in the bridge.

We're gonna have a good time tonight
Let's celebrate, it's all right
We're gonna have a good time tonight
Let's celebrate, it's all right

Anyone else getting a good old molesty vibe here?  The fact that they feel the need to reassure us that it is alright is bad enough.  Want to make it worse?  Imagine Willem Dafoe saying these words.  


Congratulations, now you are pregnant, because despite what they told you in grade school, that is really how babies are made. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Dear Local Golf Course

Broadcasters for sporting events like to use contrived and cliched phrases like, "Legends are made, not born" or even argue the inverse of that.  What most fail to recognize is that sometimes, legends are just there, waiting for the right opportunity to introduce themselves to the world.  After wasting thirty years on this planet witnessing nothing but the common dregs of society and the general unspectacular riff raff I am forced to cohabitate this world with, I was finally able to witness and share a moment with true, unmitigated greatness.   

I can only attribute my brush with legend thanks to the high aspirations I thrust upon myself for my recent day off.  My checklist for the day, scrawled hastily on the back of a note stating "The cat has eaten.  Do not believe his filthy lies", looked like this:
  1. Clean kitchen
  2. Go to Lowes for things to fix cabinets
  3. Fix said cabinets
  4. Bask in the splendor of the aforementioned fixed cabinets.
  5. 18 holes of championship caliber golf. 
  6. Vigorous calisthenics and the repeated lifting of heavy objects.
  7. See movie
  8. Plant 400 garlic bulbs.
  9. Watch the Eagles game.
Obviously, that particular diem was soon to be carpe'd.  I finished steps one through four in the time it would take most boring people to get their hazelnut coffee to the perfect temperature and read Marmaduke.  My basking completed, I loaded my clubs in the car, and drove to your course.  Even without a tee time, I was able to walk out and begin play immediately, and for that, I thank you.

What transpired over the first twelve holes cannot be put adequately into words.  If one were to make an attempt, they might try to use words such as "abominable", "cringe-worthy", or variations on voiding one's bowels in their sleeping area.  What can be said is that all thoughts of a championship caliber round had gone by the wayside, and what was left was a bitter death march towards futility. 

What I failed to notice was the patterns that were emerging, signifiers to the greatness I was about to behold.  Through the first six holes of play, I posted the following scores:

Hole 1: 7
Hole 2: 6
Hole 3: 7
Hole 4: 6
Hole 5: 7
Hole 6: 6

Alternating scores of 7 and 6, adding up to an unlucky number 13. I finished the front 9 with little hope of breaking the elusive 100 mark.  False hope arrived at hole 10, with a quick and flawless par, but holes 11 and twelve repeated the pattern of a seven and a six.  So, standing on the tee box of the 13 hole, the very hole that had been portended all morning, it could be said that I had hit rock bottom, and that hope was something in short supply. 

I selected a new ball from my bag, after having executed my previous ball in the murky depths of the #12 pond for high treason.  As you well know, hole 13 is not a great hole to play when your game is not going well.  A vast expanse of water lies to the left, while the set of the movie "Dune" is displayed in all it's glory to the right, buffering the hole from the highway.  I teed the ball, and looked of into the yonderland, praying that my ball stay true and straight.  That was when I first saw him. 

His presence was trumpeted with the rumble of the gas cart he rode, like a valiant steed conveying him to battle.  He crested the ridge of the mightiest sand trap, and there he stood, rake in hand, and went to work.  I knew he was too far to hit with my drive, so I took a breath and swung away.  No other drive on the day sounded so sweet off the face of my driver.  My ball cleaved the air like a knife, and landed softly well down the fairway, safe from sand and surf.  I strode triumphantly to my ball, and gave the man a grin.  He nodded slightly, as if to let me know I had done well, but there was more work to be done.  He stopped raking and stepped back so he wasn't so close to the line of my shot.  Whatever golf karma was gained from the good drive disintegrated as my shot sailed far right, over the dunes, over his head, and straight towards the highway.  To his credit, he did not duck, did not judge, he just went back to raking the gutter. 

Defeated again, I went to the fence and began searching for the ball.  After a couple of minutes, I dropped a new ball, ready to take a penalty.  As I lined up my shot, I heard the gas cart approach.  English was not his first language, and I did not speak his.  Sign language didn't seem to work, and neither of us could follow semaphore, no matter how vigorously I tried.  In the end, he jumped off the cart, walked over, and pointed with his rake 20 yards further from where I stood.


With one word, everything crystallized.  Almost an epiphany, it became clear that I had entered a Bagger Vance situation, and this man was to be my golf mentor.  I also somehow understood that he preferred to be called Queequeg, and had a very strong passion for collecting Pez dispensers.  Amazed, I walked to the ball, and put a great shot on the ball.  I hurried to my cart, looking back as Queequeg climbed into another sandtrap, as if he hadn't just changed my life forever.  I drove up, got to out, and again, I couldn't find my ball.  I walked towards the left of the green. 

"No" he said, just loud enough for me to hear, but not bothering to look up from his work.

I stared back, wondering if I had actually heard him, then took another step.

"No.  Bunker."

I walked to a bunker thirty yards to my right, and there lay my ball, directly in the center of a bunker in front of the green. I looked back, and he just raked away.  My next shot landed ten feet from the hole, and I putted in for bogey, possibly the best I had ever had on that hole.  Luckily, my manners returned, and I yelled a thank you to him.  He ignored me, and raked on, as if to say it was time for me to spread my wings and fly solo.  Reinvigorated, I stepped onto the next tee box, teed the ball, and hit it directly into the woods.

Queequeg shook his head, and raked his disappointment into the sand.  I drove away, playing slightly better for having gained wisdom from him.  I like to think there will always be a little bit of Queequeg in me, whether in my heart, or in my horrific slice that bananas back onto the fairway.

To my knowledge, this is the only known photograph of Queequeg, and I think it catches his essence well.  Stoic, slightly blurry, and always raking.  Please, give this man a raise, or at least a nicer rake, with comfort grip handles.  And maybe a popsicle, because it gets hot out there. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Dear People Getting Caught Kissing in Movies and Television

I am getting really sick of this scenario.  Two characters on whatever show or movie I am watching shouldn't be kissing/sleeping with each other, but inevitably they do.  Worse yet, they get caught in some wacky situation that only makes it LOOK like they are doing something wrong, but actually aren't.  Inevitably, another character will come in at that exact moment, and the drama begins. 

This trope needs to be put to rest.  It is boring, predicable, and completely unbelievable.  Seriously, think hard about the last time you did something you really shouldn't have been doing.  Kissed a coworker at the office party?  Tripped and fell on the babysitter then struggled to get up while yelling "Oh God!"?  Accidentally fondled the UPS guy?  Chances are, I'm not the only one who has done any of these or all of these in the past month.  Thing is, I was never caught.  Most people that do bad things don't get caught.  That's why Detriot isn't one giant prison island run by the chemically fabricated love child of Nick Nolte and Gary Busey.

I may not have the best track record with keeping relationships, but I think I could probably listen to whatever explanation my partner had, and hopefully trust them enough to consider the circumstances.  Hollywood and tv writers try to make up get invested in these relationships,but they they throw these little cutesy "whoops" things out so they have hours and hours of tearful fighting and discussion to follow, because that is the lazy way to create drama.  This is "Saved By The Bell" level plot laziness.  Do you understand what I just said?  They used to have Screech, a 90 pound frizzy haired nerd that had about as much femininity as Rosie O'Donnell, dress in drag to trick the girls on that show.  It worked.  That is the level of writing you are all aspiring to. 

The whole thing got out of hand for me during a recent Netflix binge of the show Parenthood.  Sometime in the first season, I thought I saw this coming from a mile away.  The weird guy on the show that looks like Zach Braff but with even less of a chin, if that is possible, has a girlfriend.  Then he finds out he had a kid with an old girlfriend, because they both show up at his houseboat.  He gets confused, because he didn't know he had a son, and he just got engaged, and presumably he is in the works trying to get a show about Zach Braff and himself living on a houseboat and solving mysteries, so this couldn't have come at a worse time.  Anyway, his ex and he get frisky, and I just knew that his girlfriend was going to walk in, because the actress that plays her was in The Mighty Ducks, and the Ducks never lose or something along those lines.  But then, she didn't come in.  He got away with it, and for the next two seasons, the writers kept doing this.  You thought someone would get caught, but it didn't happen and the situation resolved itself without high school drama.  It was glorious.  Then, as it kept happening, it got tedious.  Having the exact opposite of it was almost as bad as having the thing I hate.  By not doing it, they seemed to be patting themselves on the back.  I had to grudgingly watch two more seasons of it.

I think my whole point is, that this kind of stuff never happened in The Mighty Ducks, so I am just going to keep watching that.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Dear Swimming

Water and I don't have a good history together.  I try to enjoy myself around it.  It tries to make sure that I drown.  I don't care if people say it isn't a bad way to go out.  All I want is to go fishing, and water conspires with gravity to dethrone me.  Think I am lying?  Here's a brief timeline of our Ike and Tina relationship.

1987- My parents decide that it makes sense that my sister takes swimming lessons.  I am given a toy truck to play with instead.  I begin to assume that they only ever wanted one child.

1989- I fall off of a dock while crabbing.  This is the first time, it will not be the last by far.

1990- My friend Todd throws me into a pool. I do not speak to him for twelve years after this.

1992- While swimming in North Carolina, the sea swallows my favorite Ninja Turtles t-shirt.  That was the day I learned to never love anything ever again.

1996- I freak out in the underwater tunnel at Sea World.  No more shall be spoken of this.

2001- I am forced to take a swimming test upon entering college in order to use the school's sailboats.  Somehow, I only go underwater whenever the proctor looks away, and I pass.

2001- Weeks later- The only life preserver left when I go to rent a sailboat is a child's small.  This is not an inaccurate depiction of how I looked.
The entire sailing team laughed at me from the dock, and I heard more than one of them refer to me as Baby Huey.

2004- While drinking on a raft in Maine, I fell into the water and barely made it to shore.

I stayed away from the water from that point on.  That is, until this very week.  Cindyloo called me to tell me she was in town house-sitting and that we should hang out.  I had plans to meet up with Kentucky Jim, so she told me to bring him, and to bring our swimsuits, since the house had a pool.  Against my better judgement, I agreed. 

Firstly, "pool" is a euphemism in this case for "scientifically engineered liquid filled murder hole".  The shallow end abruptly ends in am 80 degree, greased up decline to the deep end.  I found that if I stuck to the side if the pool, I could perch myself in just the right amount of water to relax, but not enough to have to leave the property in an ambulance.  I was able to do this for approximately three minutes before Poseidon deemed my actions a mockery of his powers, and that is what he went biblical on me.

It began with a faint hum, vague enough to push out of mind, but present enough to unsettle you in a part of your brain you aren't even aware is working.  Then, there were brief glimpses, mostly from the corner of your eye, and nothing would be there when you focused.  Just when I began to question my sanity, that's when the horde of horseflies laid their siege.  They circled my head by the dozens, trying to land on my beautiful bald head and suck out the delicious goo housed inside.  As I tried to twist away, I lost grip of the edge, and slid down to the deep end.  If the flies couldn't have me alive, they would wait until my body floated to the surface.  Through a combination of agile karate moves, frantic flailing, curses and blood oaths of revenge, I somehow made it out of the pool with only a gallon of water in my stomach and lungs.  My only condolence was that I was able to kill several of the winged demons as I made my retreat to the house and my defeat.

I can only assume that I will never be allowed to enjoy maritime activities, just like I am not allowed to buy clothes in a normal store, or play the ukulele.  This is one of many burdens I am forced to endure.  Unless I am supposed to sacrifice something, and then I will be allowed to swim, because I will totally do that.  If I am supposed to sacrifice something, please give me a sign.

I will assume that since "Twilight Time" by the Platters just came on my iTunes, that is the sign.  Now to find me a goat.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Dear Movie Theater Ticket Taker

My local movie theater can be underwhelming.  It only has four theaters, where one of them is a glorified big screen television with maybe forty seats.  In those four theaters, there is always at least one children's movie, one mindless action movie, and one lowest common denominator comedy.  The fourth theater is used either for a good movie, or for overflow should there be two of any of the previous type of movie out at the same time.  It is typical for the theater to have gotten only one or two of the movies up for Best Picture Oscar over the year, and I mean since they widened the category to ten pictures.  Most of the time, when the theater refuses to carry a movie I want to see, their sister theater, which is twenty minutes away, will carry it.  That theater has a whopping six theaters, although still with one the size of a living room, but a larger living room at least.  

All of these factors came into play during a rainy day off.  Unable to do yard work, play golf, or jazzercise in the driveway, I made the 20 minute trek to see that only movie of the six that I wanted to see.  This particular movie had some wildly mixed reviews, so I only had some reserved optimism that I would at least enjoy myself.  Still, it was that or clean my kitchen while watching reruns of Supernatural on TNT, and I had overdosed on that my previous day off.  Trying not to think too hard about just what life choices I had screwed up to get me to this particular rut, I got into the car and drove.

I will fully admit, as I approached the ticket booth, I did not think very much of you.  I am being objective in my description here, so please take as little offense as possible.  Your considerable bulk was barely being contained by the stained Stark Industries shirt the theater had issued you three months previously when Iron Man 3 came out.  You were breaking two of my age appropriateness rules by being clearly over 21, yet working at a movie theater and sporting a ponytail.  Worse than all of these was the thin, spotty mustache that looked like it had been adhered to your lip by stale chicken grease and the sheer willpower to prove that you could be a man.  It was like you wanted to be the Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons, or you decided one day that your personal fashion template would be "What if Mario Batali just gave up completely?"  I expected you to be like most ticket vendors, and not make eye conduct, just mumble the price and slide me my ticket with disdain.   You disappointed me in that respect, and only that respect.

See, when I told you the movie I wanted, you looked up, smiled, and said to me "Good choice.  I saw that last week and it was really entertaining."  I was shocked.  There was one movie theater employee I have seen that ever tried to make pleasantries with customers, and she is a teenage girl who just absolutely can't seem to help but be an overwhelming ray of overbearing sunshine.   This is not the look you give out to the world.  It was not a random occurrence, either.  When I was leaving the movie, you were hanging out in front of the snack counter, talking with your coworkers.  The guy behind the counter was talking bad about a kid's movie that was playing, and you hushed him up as a mother with three kids came by.  When they were gone, you told him to lay off, because people were going in to see that movie, and that wasn't cool.

Honestly, I almost have no idea how to deal with a person like you.  You seem to be just a genuinely good person, who really likes what he does.  From what I can see, you want people to enjoy themselves at the movies, because you know that is what they have come there to do.  How can anyone condescend to that, or make fun of you?  Would it matter if they did?  My guess is no, not to you at least. 

Seriously, my hat is off to you.  Keep on doing what you are doing.  You made me look like a dill hole, all because your lack of being a dick just highlights what a jaded ass I can be.