Sunday, February 21, 2010

Olympic Fever Week 1!

Last night I went to bed ashamed and then woke up even more ashamed, and, a little depressed. I have gotten up late almost every day this week (this is an "off work" week for me) and have gone to bed way too late. Why? The Effin' Olympics, of course!! The reason for my shame today was I logged how many hours I had sat in front of the TV over the last six days and the number began to reach into the 30's. That's about six hours of Olympic coverage per day. I could have used this time to work out, learn to cook, start an online business, worked on Jil's web page, helped homeless children and a whole host of other, probably more constructive things.

But I chose not to. And it's because I'm an Olympic addict and always have been. I love the Olympics because it's two weeks out of the year where our world makes some kind of sense. Where every country gets a chance on equal ground to show what it can do and no one is in it for the money (well, that last part is not true because every sport is about the money, but the athletes don't get a check with their medal). When some dude from China can lay down with some dude from Japan, side by side, in the Biathalon and for once it's not about the enmity both countries have for each other but whether or not they can shoot a target the size of a silver dollar 100 yards away. Of course both shooters know that either a Norwegian or Swede or German will beat them at this game, but they take heart knowing that other sports their countries participate in have a decent chance of getting a medal (like short track skating).

So what have I learned and seen with my huge time investment this past Olympic Week 1? Let me share:

1) I know that a man wearing snakes on his garment, with perfect hair, can make me pay attention to men's figure skating and that Euvgeny Pleshenko is a little Russian bitch with poor sportsmanship. Way to go Evan Lysacek.

2) That a Swedish ski racer can have the worst wreck I've ever seen on a Women's Downhill and can come back the next day and get a medal.

Anja Paerson

3) One thing about short track speed skating: it is the closest thing to organized chaos in sport. But, Apolo Ohno needs to now shave off his little soul patch. Course, it's probably netted him some extra millions in recognizable marketing endorsements but he just looks like the guy at the frat party who is pumping the keg.

4) Bode Miller isn't a D-Bag. He now is throwing out Buddha-like wisdom on what it means to attend the Olympics. I'm paraphrasing here, but basically he said: you have to choose to give yourself over completely to what the Olympics are about. Once you commit, you can then find the passion and will within yourself to rise to the occasion that this event demands. If you can find that special motivation, you can make a magic moment. Way to go B.

5) There is no bigger letdown than going from watching Mens Halfpipe Snowboarding and then watching the Womens. This is as chauvinistic as I will ever be but here goes: it is like watching an NFL game and then watching a junior varsity high school game. The women have some nice tricks but the air is way low, the pushing of the envelope is basically non existent, and the woman who won the gold, Torah Bright from Australia, had no flair and no personality to her run. Maybe it's because Shaun White is so freaking good that he makes EVERY snowboarder look bad. Come on ladies, step it up.

6) Nothing gets me off the couch, wincing and then covering my face like the crashes in Downhill and Super G. It is completely involuntary and reflexive which tells me all my years of skiing have instilled a fear in me that I don't ever want to crash going 70 mph. I can't believe the guts of the men and women who carry that kind of speed down an ice sheet.

7) The MOST BORING SPORT OF THE OLYMPICS (it's a tie): Ski Jumping and Cross Country. No matter how the announcers build up the stories or try to create some kind of drama, these two sports absolutely blow. Watching dude after dude fly through the air in exactly the same way and then land on a hill where you can't discern if it was a big or small jump is torture (I still watched it). Worse is watching a bunch of cardio idiots zip their way around a track, not even racing each other, to try and get the fastest time when they look like they are going 5 mph (I also watched this).

8) Finally, my favorite moment of the Games thus far: Lindsey Vonn hugging her husband at the end of her gold medal downhill run and both crying and congratulating each other. Not sure if that was worth the 30 or so hours it took me to get there but I had some tears in the eye. Way to go Vonn.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Perfect Valentine's Day: Male and Female Edition

Here is what you need to do to make Valentine's Day the most romantic, perfect day of the year for your loved one. First, I will advise the Males:

Morning--get up at 6am and wash her car. You need to vacuum and detail the inside, then polish the outside so it is nice and pretty and makes her very happy when she gets in it. On the way home from washing the car, stop buy the grocery store and get some flowers. You may need to do this the night before but I've found if you swing by Harmon's at around 7am, they usually have a nice selection of bouquets. Buy these but don't buy any chocolates. Tacky.

Upon arriving home, arrange the flowers in a vase and then begin making breakfast. In my case, I just need to reach into the fridge and pull out a Slim Fast and pop the top for Jil. Pretty simple. In your case, you need to go all out: OJ, pancakes, eggs, fruit, bacon, whatever she loves. And coffee. Get that ready. You should be hitting the 8am mark now.


Now, go take a shower. And clean yourself up. Need I say more? And brush and floss. And use mouthwash. Then dress yourself in something nice and snappy. No t-shirts today. Wear your good jeans and some cool shoes.

At this point she should be stirring. Try to be quiet and don't act too eager to get anything going or even do anything. This is her day and you need to let it unfold the natural way. You have set things up so hopefully it will go your way but you need to be patient. Don't bombard her with questions this early. Just say nice things, listen and be attentive.

After breakfast, suggest a movie or a nice late lunch with some kind of cocktail hour included. If you are feeling brave and want to take this thing to the next level, tell her you'd like to accompany her shopping and she can go wherever she wants and you'll wait for her and love every minute of it. If this is sincere, it's a golden move. If it's not sincere, go back to 6am and start over.

The day is now wearing on and you are creating a perfect mood for what will happen later in the evening. You've done nice things for her at this point, you've cleaned her car, made breakfast, brought home flowers, went shopping with her and now you're relaxing at Starbucks having a decaf latte while she is chatting with her mom or friend and you're reading the paper. The day is flowing just like you planned.

Dinner: Surprise her. Take her somewhere upscale but not extravagant. A place you can afford (in my case, McDonalds), because you do not want her to ask in the middle of the lamb croquette appetizer, "How can you afford this place?" Instant mood killer. Don't draw attention to any weird or fancy dishes either. Some sushi or nice New York strip steak or nice salad with some wine and that is plenty.

Try to get her drunk but don't be obvious about it.

Later, at home: All of your careful planning is now about to pay off. In essence, this has been the longest foreplay of your entire life so don't blow it now. Be patient. Relax with a nightcap, watch an episode of a favorite show and snuggle on the couch. But don't wait too long. Food plus wine plus Dexter means an early bedtime. So make your move as soon as the TV is off. You need to have all your skills ready to go. Use a cheat sheet if you have to. Surprise her. Use the swirl instead of the twist.

Males, you will thank me profusely at how the rest of the night will go.

OK, now, Females, here is what you need to do to make your partner's Valentine's Day the best ever:

Unbutton the top button of your blouse and leave it like that, ALL DAY! Done!

Happy V-Day!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Buried Life: what will you do before you die?

Gabe has got me watching this show on MTV called "The Buried Life". There are four guys on this show and the premise is they make a list of things they would like to do before they die, drive around the country in an RV, and do these things. The twist is once they do one of the things on their list, they then need to help a stranger accomplish something in their life that they've wanted to do. In a recent episode, they encountered a street artist in Dallas who had not spoken to his son in 19 years. So they found the kid, and a phone number, and gave it to this father who then actually called his son. He was very grateful and it was a nice moment on the show.

This got me thinking, or at least thinking more deeply after the funeral two weeks ago, about things that I would like to do before I die. For some reason The Buried Life has me so much more inspired than The Bucket List to actually go out and do some of these things. But where to start? Do I think big and go for the grandiose plans, like one day spending a week in an Italian villa on Lake Como? Or start realistically, like every month donating some of my money to whatever charity I choose, even if it's a couple of dollars?

Maybe a list off the top of my head is the best place to start and then I can begin refining it and planning my attack after the initial ideas are jotted down.

So here goes: TOP NINE THINGS I WANT TO DO BEFORE I DIE (again, this is a preliminary, off the cuff list, so my final, final list is still a few edits away):

  1. Heli Skiing in Alsaska. Joey Watts has done this and said it is life changing. Basically, you have to plan about a 14 day trip and be prepared to only ski about three to four days. The weather is so sketchy that you can only get in the heli on certain days for safety reasons. However, once you have a good day and get the green light, you are dropped at the top of un-tracked peaks and let loose to ski down them. The length of most of these runs is two to three miles. Think of it this way: you would be skiing in powder, continuously, about ten runs back to back starting at the top of the Flathead lift at Sundance and going down to the base of that lift. That is a lot of powder and lot of skiing. Hell yeah.
  2. Spending one week in the U.K. and following my favorite band, The Damned, to all of their concerts on that isle. The concerts would be a blast but I think it's more of an excuse to explore England since I am somewhat of an Anglophile. Going to different pubs, seeing really cool old castles, traipsing through farms and hedgerows, hoping to find a bustle in there (Led Zep shout out--WHATTUP!), visiting the last resting places of Shelly, Keats, Stoker, and other cool authors. I visited Britain briefly a few years back but it just left me wanting more. Oh, and here is The Damned:

3. Playing golf in Scotland. I think for all the golf history in our family it's only right and just to play golf one time at the birthplace of the sport.

4. Writing a book. I actually have a realistic chance of doing this. Joyce gave me an idea that I'm now pursuing and my goal is to have something published within a year. This will be self-published, since there are tons of companies that will bind a book for you, and it will be non-fiction. I just want to go through the process of writing, editing, organizing and coming up with a finished product. I feel this would be supremely gratifying.

5. God-like organization. This idea came to me as Mom and I were going through Dad's files, drawers, and photos. As good as Dad was at keeping items in certain places, he also has so much salad that it's incredibly daunting to think we could go through all of it. Now that documents, photos and such can be archived electronically (discs or external hard drives), the goal now is to collect all journal entries, photos and the like and periodically save them and sock them away in a safe, secure location. After I die, if you wanted to see what my life was like on October 21, 2010, you can go to the archives and find out. Hopefully it will be somewhat interesting.

6. Come to the point in life where money is no longer THE reigning issue in my life. This does not mean I have made a ton of money; this is just a mental and physical transition where you know bills can be paid, funds can be saved and physical needs are met and that money does not occupy the majority of the space in your brain. Honestly, I get so sick of worrying about money and all that it entails that I want to run screaming from my house and head right into the street and get plastered all over the road, Hank-style. Jil and Gabe would reap the rewards from the life insurance and I could stop fretting.

7. Regularly give time and or money to an organization that would benefit from time and money that I would give. This seems easy but it's actually hard and takes a lot of will power. No one wants to go downtown and serve food to the homeless. It's a lot easier to just write a check and hope the funds get to where they should go. Giving of time is the greater contribution and one that requires the greater sacrifice. I think the very definition of procrastination was borne once someone suggested that you should give your time to charity. "Yes, I need to do that, I will get on it tomorrow..."

8. Create an Evil Ball that would be talked about for decades. Why is this important? Why not? Getting your loved ones together is one of the main reasons for living so let's get together and have a Halloween party to end all parties. I will give you a hint of what this party would involve: horse drawn carriages; huge, roaring bonfires; a castle; roaming actors playing all kinds of movie monsters to scare you during the night; a professional DJ; a professional photographer/videographer; gourmet food; an open, endless and enticing bar including ten different kinds of absinthe; and, other fun surprises. This will happen and you will be invited...

9. Obligatory Travel Goal: Europe, Australia, wherever. This is on everyone's To Do list so it's not that surprising or revealing. It's just I haven't done it and I know it would be amazing and now it's on my list.

What's on yours?

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Grammy Post 4: Home stretch!!!

Fourht Screwdiver...secured okay!!!! We go on and on!!!!!

I am way into Grammy fatigue now. Why do we have to until 10:30? I can't last that long. I'm already buzzed and suffering jet lag from my week in Alabama. By the way, don't go to Alabama. It sucks. It is pretty but so poor. No money. I spoke to so many poor people with hardly any hope of making their situation better. And cities with so many closed buildings. Commercial real estate values will absolutely jack this country up and it is coming in a big way. Residential real estate was bad; commercial values falling will be a disaster.

DAVE MATTHEWS ALERT!! Jil likes him. I have never been a fan. I suffer the same kind of A.D.D. with this music that the Wolf suffers on the golf course. I can't stay interested past the first 2 minutes and Larry can't play well for more than 9 holes. I didn't even watch this, I had to pee.

Justice is served: Beyonce wins Best Female Vocal Performance. If it was Taylor Swift, the night would have been over for me.

Who the hell is Maxwell? Good voice I guess. I'm fading. Not sure I can hang until the Best Album or Album of the Year or whatever it is. To be honest the Grammys have kind of kicked my butt. Why don't they have the Best Viking Metal Album? That honor would go to Amon Amarth. Here they are:

Amon Amarth, Best Viking Metal Band (not a Grammy category)

But, Roberta Flack is singing and I was just singing "Where Is The Love" earlier today so that is cool. Great, classic song.

JEFF BRIDGES ALERT!!! THE DUDE ABIDES!!! Can't wait to see Crazy Heart. He is saluting Les Paul. And now Jeff Beck is on. Go Jeff. But who is singing? A gold dressed lady and no one knows who she is but she is into it. However, I think we have reached the end of the Grammy night. I now really don't care who wins and can't stay awake any longer. Oh well, I'm sure we can all read about it ad nauseum tomorrow morning.

Grammy Post 3: Best Rock Album (8:35 to 9:15)

U2 will win Best Rock Album because they are at the top of their game. But, they don't! Green Day wins it which is weird. Because U2 really did have an amazing year including their huge tour. Billie Joe is now going to have shots with Kings of Leon. I would seriously do anything to have a shot with all of those guys. That would be a shot that immediately goes into my legendary Shot Hall of Fame. Included in this shot Hall of Fame is a shot I took with Little Ricky in Moab a year ago. The shot was vodka and the dispensing unit was a warm water bottle from the Wolf. It was the shot heard around Moab for sure.

LEON RUSSELL ALERT!!!! Now the Grammys really are the shizz-nit. He looks pretty good considering he looked basically the same forty years ago except without the white beard and hair. And now I need to hear more Zac Brown because I really like his voice. Oh, here was Leon Russell back in the day:

Where did this Zac Brown guy come from? I like him. I really mean he might usher me into a new phase of my musical life. I can't believe I'm saying this but I am looking forward to hearing more Zac Brown.

Are we really only halfway through now? Not sure I can make it all the way.

Third Screwdriver...secured! On we go!!

Taylor Swift is now performing. Listen closely to her voice. It is not good. It is bland. Bleh. Cool guitar though. Some kind of pearl inlay on the neck. She doesn't have as good a voice as an American Idol reject. Oh, and now a Fleetwood Mac cover with....Stevie Nicks!!! Let's compare voices, shall we? The song is Rhiannon, of all songs. Good luck Taylor. Here we go...

Oh Taylor, you are awful. I really like you because you seem very nice and sincere. But that voice is horrible. Stevie is wondering how the hell she got talked into this debacle. If Stevie and Taylor's voices were tennis rackets, Taylor would have an old wooden racket made by Wilson back in 1974 and Stevie would have a brand new, shiny Wilson racket that Roger Federer just used to kick Andy Murray's butt in the Australian open earlier today.

MICHAEL JACKSON TRIBUTE: This Is It. We must pause now to fully take in the tribute of Michael. But, I don't have my 3D glasses on and it looks horrible. Why didn't someone tell me I needed my 3D gear! What am I missing? Smoky Robinson in 3D? How cool could that be? How awful could that be? The song they are singing is killer--good job Michael. But the 3D aspect is now lost and the song is over. What more enhanced experience could I have had? Damn you Grammys!!!

Prince Jackson. You sound like you are a very old person. Hopefully, you will have a good and healthy life. Good job. Now Paris...and she's done.

UPCOMING HAIR NATION ALERT!!! BON JOVI IS COMING UP!!! YES!!! I'll bet it doesn't surprise anyone that right now, if you were riding in my Xterra, you could reach back to the pocket behind the passenger seat, pull out my CD case, and you would find a CD. That CD would be Bon Jovi's, "Slippery When Wet". You could then put that CD in and completely shake your business to the best butt rock ever recorded. As anyone who has spent time with me can attest, I love a good, simple, goofy pop song. Bon Jovi does this kind of music better than almost anyone. But, what song will they sing? The anticipation is killing me.

Bon Jovi the main guy looks great. Richie Sambora, the guitarist, looks a little beaten up. Here they are back in the day:

Pretty 'effin' sweet: Bon Jovi

Now they are playing the biggest hit of their career: Livin' on a Prayer. Go get 'em John. I love you and your tight Jersey pants. However, they basically played a chorus and a verse. Lame.

PREDICTION: I believe things are going to go badly for Rhianna. She has a new album and it's selling and she has moved beyond Chris Brown. But, she has an aura about her that just screams disaster. I don't know why but we will be reading about her in a car wreck/overdose/lover death quarrel in the near future.

Grammy Post 2: Think Pink! (7:42 to 8:30)


I am also a big fan of Pink. I've read several articles on Pink and she is one determined woman. She apparently works nonstop and now...has just basically stripped down to nothing. So, ok. Gabe is really watching closely now. The acrobatics are kind of nice and hypnotic. How does she not get dizzy, you ask? I learned this tip from my friend and Twitter buddy, Cris Angel--you have to keep your eyes from moving all over. Keep them steady in your head and you won't lose your equilibrium. And now the water? I guess everyone below is getting a quick cool down. To show all of your body like that takes some bravery so good on you Pink. Oh, and her voice is awesome.

KEITH URBAN ALERT! Jil is really watching closely now. I've written about Jil's fascination with Keith in earlier blogs. Her obsession for him remains undiminished.

BEST NEW ARTIST IS...Zac Brown Band. OK, here is fact about Zac Brown: he toured 314 days last year. What Zac Brown does before every show, which I think is about the coolest thing ever, is cook dinner for 150 fans that are part of his VIP fan club. He makes barbeque with his secret sauce and then feeds all these people, hangs out with them, and just gets to know his fans. I don't know one song of Zac Browns but I love him. He might, he just might, get me into country.

Don't hold your breath.


And now...the black eyed peas. neat. looks like The Gimp!!! He totally has the Gimp head gear on!! Way to go will!! I sit here and wonder how much money these idiots make and it is making me very angry. We need to write a song, just one song, that gets picked up in some famous movie or becomes a popular Christmas tune and live off the royalties. And then play it when we're on the Grammys and have a bunch of other idiots dressed like speakers walk around and gesticulate wildly. What does that Indian dude and the other black dude actually do? Can you name them? No. It's the will and Fergie show. Those other dingbats are just riding on some pretty glammed-out coattails. I kid the Peas but I actually think they throw down a mean beat and are pretty harmless. Does anyone remember the time when the Peas were an underground, socially conscious, hip hop outfit that had high ideals and more interesting music? It was about ten years ago.

PERFORMANCE: Lady Antebellum. In the Country genre and I have actually heard of these folks. Never heard them and I'm hearing them now. Yep, it's country. It sucks. The guy singing reminds me of one of those Rascal Flatts dudes, except about 40 lbs. lighter.

Rascal Flatts fat guy

Best Comedy Album? Okaaay. Hope it's Patton Oswalt. And it's not. It's Colbert. Sounds very lame and goofy. Did you know Colbert sang in a barbershop quartet and had some serious chops? And now he just thanked Jesus. So, the night is not a total loss.

Time for another cool beverage...and the Screwdriver is secured, on we go!

RECORD OF THE YEAR: come on, Kings of Leon please!!!! And it's...YES!!!!!!!!! The Followill brothers come through!!! Every time Caleb Followill gives a comment on his new found fame, he sounds disgruntled but he is right up there getting the award, drunk, and very happy. Grammys got it right this time.

ROBERT DOWNEY JR. ALERT!! Love this guy. Go watch him again in Weird Science for a perfect, a-hole performance. Now Jamie Foxx is making me laugh because I can't look at him and not laugh. Full Auto Tune mode. Hopefully 2010 will see the death of the Auto Tune. That is the voice modulating unit that basically allows a crappy singer to actually carry a tune. A crappy singer like T-Pain. Where's the hat T-Pain?? He has, by his own count, about 300 custom made top hats. He buys most of them in New Orleans from a small haberdashery.

SLASH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YAY!!!!!! The Grammys not officially do not SUCK! Go read the Slash autobiography for some insight into one of the best guitarists, not just of his generation, but of all time. And one of his favorite albums is Aerosmith "Rocks", which is my all time fave Aerosmith album.

Speaking of best guitarists, did anyone know that a NEW Jimi Hendrix album is now out called "Valleys of Neptune"? It got a four star review in Rolling Stone and apparently was recorded and mixed just three months before he died. This is one in a series of many Hendrix albums that will be coming out over the next DECADE. Yes, he made that much music. I could not be happier.

Grammy Post: Ga Ga Goo Goo (7 to 7:30)


In the room: Phil, Jil, Gabe
Drink: Screwdriver
Cat: Wherabouts unknown.

OPENING: Lady GaGa, Elton John

She has a great voice, this Lady GaGa, no doubt about it. And Elton! We love Elton. Why does he look all burned and incinerated? Kind of goofy. The makeup is distracting and I can't concentrate on the actual tune. Gabe: "What's up with the one long earring?" Good question sir. I keep looking at the big black streak on GooGoo's face and yet, her voice is keeping me focused on the song. Well played, Miss GeeGee. Jil is still clapping for Elton.

I like Stephen Colbert but I don't find his schtick that funny. And a diss on Susan Boyle? He is mocking her and yet they clap. Kind of lame.

SONG OF THE YEAR: Single Ladies, Beyonce. Not too surprising I guess. It's sort of disturbing when my 12 year old is walking around the house singing, "whoa, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, if you like it then you better put a ring on it". It is catchy. Nevertheless, disturbing.

And now Green Day is partnering with their Broadway cast, so, I don't know how I feel about this expect Billie Joe Armstrong writes some of the best melodies in rock. Sounds pretty good actually. So far the music has been very good and no stupid remarks. Which doesn't bode well for an interesting Grammys. We need some drunk people stat!!

BON JOVI ALERT! They are going to play a fan chosen song so pay attention people!

And now we're into the Country award for Best Album. I hope Willie Nelson's Stardust wins.

Oh. Taylor Swift won. How incredibly remarkable and unexpected. NOW KANYE, NOW!!! COME OUT NOW!!!!

Let's get real about Taylor Swift: her voice is not great. It's not even good. She is probably the nicest celebrity around and her songs are written well. She is not a singer, however.

BEYONCE: Now, this person can sing. Holy cow. I'm a fan of Beyonce, not like Jil is a fan, I don't go buy songs of hers, but I like what she does. She's the real deal. The soldiers walking around don't make any sense to me but they're gone now. I also really appreciate the all female backing band and that they are genuinely trying to rock out. And now, she is going to an old school Alanis tune! Love it! Way to go B!! I'm seriously getting chills right now listening to this performance and she is gyrating on the stage and that is also pretty rad.