Things I Learned in College

Golf Ball + Tennis Racquet + Indoor Hallway = Awesome!

No toilet paper, no paper towels… got coffee filters?

You can make pizza with Bisquick and spaghetti.

You can make a screwdriver with Gatorade. It will not be very good.

It is possible to snort instant coffee.  It is not a good idea.

If you get stoned and stare at the TV for hours people will make fun of you if it’s not turned on.

A crossbow bolt will go completely through drywall.

How to patch drywall.

Yes, there are mermaids in Weeki Wachee Springs, but you cannot get there by canoe.

If you’re going to jump the fence to get into Busch Gardens, you should know where they keep the lions.

“Kinda” good at nunchucks is not good enough to avoid serious head injury.

Threatening someone with a hammer just one time will forever earn you the nickname “Thor”.

It is possible to steal furniture from the study lounge if you wear a mask and cape.

The value of study lounge furniture is highly overstated on police reports.

If you have access to three sets of identical twins, you can make someone think they’ve gone crazy.

You can survive a week on a loaf of peanut butter & jelly sandwiches.

Uncooked lime jello can be used as a popcorn seasoning.

It doesn’t matter how much tequila you’ve had, you cannot catch a duck.

Prayer (Tim Tebow)

Let me be clear with everyone – I believe in the power or prayer. I really do.

For years I prayed that my mom could get over the anger and hatred she carried for my father. God answered that prayer – he gave her Alzheimers. In a way, it was a blessing, the reasons for the anger and hatred were the first memories to go. She was happy, or at least content, for a time.

A prayed a lot for my mom over the next several years. A few were answered, most were not. The last prayer I said was near the end. The dementia was at it’s worst, and serious physical symptoms were beginning to manifest. The peace and quiet of the retirement home was replaced with the noise, pain and confusion of the hospital. It was horrific. Her suffering was more than I could bear.

My last prayer was this: God, if you can’t do any better than this, why don’t you go ahead and take her now. Not too long after, he answered that prayer. And I am truly grateful for that.

We haven’t spoken much since.

So, you’ll excuse me if I don’t get caught up in this holy Tebow praise Jesus nonsense bullshit that’s going around lately.

Pervasive Language

So I’m watching TV, and a commercial comes on for the movie “Ides of March”. It’s rated R, for… “pervasive language”. What? pervasive language? Like what, English? Yeah, English is spoken damn near everywhere, so that’s pretty pervasive I guess, but how does that call for an R rating? Language is pervasive amongst kids under 17 too. Damn pervasive. Heck, almost all of them speak it. Sort of. Some of them even speak more than one. Sort of. Anyhow, I’m pretty sure most kids have heard a few different languages before they reach 17, so what’s the deal? Oh, wait… is “language” code for boobies?

Transitions

For five days I was on a ship where a team of no less than 1,000 people were standing by, with no other purpose in life than to bring me a bloody mary at a moments notice. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Tomorrow I return to work, where a much smaller team awaits. Two things make this team very different than the team aboard ship. One, they will expect me to actually do things. Two, even if I actually do things, none of them will bring me a bloody mary. This hardly seems fair…

Treasury Bonds

Okay, let me see if I’ve got this straight. S&P downgrades US Treasury bonds, indicating they are not as safe as they used to be. Investors, fearing economic collapse, pull all of their money out of the stock market, and put that money into… wait for it… US Treasury bonds, because… they are a safe investment. Humans are weird.

The “27 Club”

Another musician dies at age 27.  Another member of the so-called “27 Club”.  Is it coincidence, or is something deeper going on here?

Shortly after the death of Amy Winehouse, Rolling Stone magazine (no, not really) sent me on assignment to find out.  My first stop, an exclusive interview with the Prince of Darkness, the Devil himself, who offered a unique insight into this phenomenon.  Here now is that interview…

 

RS:  Amy Winehouse, Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Brian Jones…  They all have two things in common.  They were groundbreaking musicians in their day, and they all died at age 27.  I understand you know something about the origin of this so-called “27 Club”?

 

PD:  Sure, yeah.  It all started with Robert Johnson.

 

RS:  Legendary blues guitarist Robert Johnson, alleged to have sold his soul to play the blues.

 

PD:  Right, you know the story.  Robert Johnson wants to play guitar better than anyone so he goes out to the crossroads at midnight and strikes a deal with your’s truly.

 

RS:  So that really happened?

 

PD:  That really happened.  There really was a crossroads.  It really was in the middle of nowhere Mississippi.  It was hot as hell there, even at midnight.  I’d heard he wanted to make a deal, and some idiot told him that’s the place to go if you wanted to meet the Devil.  Dumb-ass idea if ever I heard one, but what the heck.  So on a lark I go down there to see if he shows up.  Sure enough he does, and he’s serious, dead serious, so in about half an hour we have a deal.  The rest is history.

 

RS:  And dying at 27, that was part of the deal?

 

PD:  Well I had to put some sort of time limit on it, but age 27 was Robert’s idea.  Said if he hadn’t made it be then, there was no use in going on.  It’s as good a number as any I thought, so I put it in the contract.  I few years later, I collected his soul, closed out the contract, and then forgot all about it.

 

RS:  So 27 became the standard age for that sort of deal.

 

PD:  Not intentionally.  You have to understand, I make lots of deals, but the Robert Johnson deal, a musician deal, that was new, and the kid was ahead of his time.  It would be another 30 years before kids started asking for that kind of deal.  And when they did, I just dug up the old Johnson contract and reused it, you know, changing bits here and there for the particular situation, but mostly using it as boilerplate.

 

RS:  Who asked for that type of deal next?

 

PD:  That’d be Brian.

 

RS:  Brian Jones, founder member of the Rolling Stones?

 

PD:  Right.

 

RS:  And his contract with you was the same as Robert Johnson’s?

 

PD:  No, his deal was a little different, but the part about collecting his soul in his 27th year was the same, that was copied verbatim from Robert’s contract.

 

RS:  How was his deal different?

 

PD:  Well Brian didn’t just want to be a great musician himself, he wanted success and recognition for the band.  He wanted the Rolling Stones to be huge.  He wanted the band to go on forever, with or without him.  I think my work there speaks for itself.

 

RS:  You seem very proud of your work with the Stones.

 

PD:  Hey, you try keeping Keith Richards alive for a few decades.  It’s not easy, I’ll tell you that.

 

RS:  Then there was Hendrix?

 

PD:  Yeah, Brian and Jimi were both huge fans of Robert Johnson, but Jimi wanted exactly the same deal as Robert.  Robert Johnson was the greatest blues guitarist of all time, Jimi wanted to be the greatest electric guitarist of all time.  And he was already talented to begin with, I just helped him reach that next level.  Man, I tell ya, I still get goosebumps when I hear his Star Spangled Banner.

 

RS:  I think a lot of our readers would agree with you there.  How about Janis Joplin?

 

PD:  Ah yes, Janis.  Sweet kid, Janis, a lovely soul.  Quirky though, you know what she asked for?

 

RS:  No idea.

 

PD:  A Merecedes-Benz.  Figured if the Lord wouldn’t buy her one, maybe the Devil would.  Cute story, yeah?

 

RS:  That’s all she asked for?

 

PD:  No, no, no, there was other stuff to.  But that Mereceds-Benz was at the top of her list.

 

RS:  Then a color TV?

 

PD:  Ha, ha, ha… right.

 

RS:  And Jim Morrison?

 

PD:  Yeah, I had a deal with him.  What a total freak that guy was.  I kinda regret that one a bit.

 

RS:  Why, what happened?

 

PD:  I really don’t want to talk about it.  Let’s just say, he asked for… things… really dark things.  And I though I was dark.  Let me tell ya, I had nothing on him.  This guy was world class f***ed up.  I stopped doing deals with musicians for a long time after that.

 

RS:  You stopped until Kurt Cobain, many years later?

 

PD:  No, that’s a misconception.  I never did a deal with Cobain.  He was a talented kid on his own, his big problem was that he never believed it.  In his mind, he was still a wannabe.  He wanted to be a rock star like his heroes, and he wanted to die at 27 like his heroes.  So one day he realizes he’s 27, and grunge has no future, and he doesn’t know what to do next, so he eats a shotgun.  Sad really.  Like I said, I stopped doing deals with musicians after Morrison, and mostly I’ve stuck to that.

 

RS:  But what about Amy Winehouse, that had to be another of your contracts, right?

 

PD:  Amy who?

 

RS:  (pause)

 

PD:  No, I’m kidding.  But Amy wasn’t my deal either.  She might have made a deal with some other deity, but it wasn’t me.  Think about it, when you make a deal with me, people know it.  You’re name lives on forever.  Winehouse was a good singer and all, but lets face it, at the end of the day she was basically a one-hit-wonder.  That’s not my handiwork, that’s not my style at all.  If Amy Winehouse had made a deal with me, believe me, she would be huge right now.  Heck they’re still writing songs about Robert Johnson. You sure wouldn’t have those wiki-nerds arguing over whether or not she belongs in the official list.

 

RS:  What about Brittany Spears? a lot of people speculated you had a deal with her.

 

PD:  I did, but that was a different deal.  I didn’t use the musician contract with her, that was more of the standard entertainer, Dick Clark / Bob Sagget kind of deal.

 

RS:  So, do you have any deals with other musicians who are still alive?

 

PD:  Sure I do, one or two, but I’m not at liberty to say who.  That would be unfair.

 

RS:  Can you give us a hint?

 

PD:  No, I would never do that.  But let’s just say, never say never…

In case you were wondering…

… Yes, all of our animals have jobs, and compound nicknames.

Phineas, the big dog, is known as Security-Dog.  He was born a security dog.  He takes great pride in patrolling his domain at all hours, keeping us safe and secure from all threats, man or beast.  He knows more about physical security than most people I know.  I have seen him literaly keep one eye and one ear on the AC repairman, whilst simultaneously keeping the other eye and other ear firmly trained on the front door, just in case more of them were coming.  His only professional flaw, if you can call it that, is target discrimination.  He is not convinced, and will not be convinced, that large waterfoul do not present a clear and present danger to our safety.

Guiness, the all black kitty, is called “Princess”.  She was born and raised a barn kitty, but has very quickly taken to what she considers to be the elegant sophistication of modern suburban life.  As a princess, she does not work, per se.  But if she’s available she will offer her services as personal bodyguard.  If you go outside to do some yardwork (not involving power equipment, in which case you are entirely on your own) she will escort you.  If you sit down to pull weeds, she will sit behind you facing the other way, to watch your back.  I assume this is behavior she learned down on the farm, where kitties had to stick together lest they be trampled or eaten by larger beasts.  She is completely unaware that her role is rendered moot by Security-Dog.

Drake, the white kitty with a nub for a tail, is known as Anger-Management-Kitty.  He is so named for his tendency to transform into a wild Incredible-Hulk-esque flailing, shredding, bobcat-like creature if you attempt to touch his nub, or rub his tummy for half a second longer than you should.  Do not make him angry, you would not like him when he’s angry.  Drake’s job is this:  He has been appointed the official Curtis-waker-upper if the cats are out of food in the morning.  He accomplishes this by jumping up and down repeatedly on my chest.  The other two kitties watch from a safe distance.  I attempt to retaliate, but in the morning he is quite nimble, whereas I have not been nimble since the late 80’s, and even less so in the morning.

Osiris, the black and white kitty, has two nicknames.  One is “Sylvester”, based on his dead-on impression of the cartoon kitty when startled.  However his primary nickname is “Obsessive-Compulsive-Kitty”.  He is so named on account of his job, which is this:  His duties are to closely monitor all three cat food bowls, and notify me immediately the second one of them drops even imperceptibly below the full mark.  (Unless of course it is morning, in which case he is to immediately inform Anger-Management-Kitty, who will then proceed to awaken me with circus-like abandon.)  Osiris is well suited to this job, being both an obsessive-compulsive and a brilliant conversationalist.  He speaks frequently and eloquently on all manner of subjects.  He speaks in complete sentences.  He will carry on entire conversations.  Aside from the words for “treat” and “lizard”, I have no idea what he is saying.

Sam, the little dog, is just called “Whiney-Dog”.  His “job”, if you will, and only discernable talent as far as I can tell, is to whine incessantly, often for no apparent reason.  Since coming to live with us, I have given him two other jobs. One – don’t poop on the patio, and two – don’t walk into the pool.  After years of training, we now enjoy moderate success on both fronts.  We’ve also managed to replace most of the whining with “use your big dog voice” barking, which I take as an improvement.

Drake the Bouncer-Kitty

Drake, our white, stub-tailed kitty, (aka Anger-Management-Kitty) apparently will abide no fightin in his establishment.  He was lounging by the pool this morning while the dogs were eating, when the dogs get in a fight over their food.  Drake jumps up and runs TOWARD them, as if to break them up.  The dogs had separated before he got there, but not before Phineas, the big dog (aka Security-Dog) got the advantage of Sam, the little dog (aka Whiney-Dog).  No damage done, but Sam, his cheek firmly planted in Phineas’ mouth, duly screamed and yelped until released.

Excitement over, except, at this point Drake (who I should point out is noticably smaller than both dogs) MARCHES over to Phineas, gets right up in his face and does that hissing-spitty thing cats do when they wish to express extreme disapproval of the present situation.  I’m pretty sure that if translated to English I would have heard him say “Bad dog!”  Phineas, now simultaneously stunned and chastized, has nothing left to do but back up, turn, and walk away.  I’m not sure about this, but I think I saw Sam smirk.

Afterwards Drake and I had a little conversation about the dangers of meddling in the affairs of dogs.  Something along the lines of… Do not meddle in the affairs of cats, for they are subtle and quick to anger.  Do not meddle in the affairs of dogs, for you are crunchy, and taste good with ketchup.  Okay, so, that wasn’t exactly the conversation, but it was early, and my mind was still trying to work out whether Drake was incredibly brave, or incredibly stupid, or perhaps both.  My only conclusion – sometimes there’s a fine line between brave and stupid.

Happy Holidays Everyone… That’s Right, I Said HAPPY HOLIDAYS

(I’ll keep this one short and light, I promise.  And there’s a joke at the end.)

I don’t know, maybe I’m crazy but… When someone says to me “Happy Holidays”, I don’t assume they are trying to insult my faith.  I don’t think they are pushing some kind of liberal atheist agenda.  I don’t believe they are trying to tear down the fabric of western society.  I just think it’s a friendly greeting, and they are just trying to be nice.

By the same token…

I may be crazy but… When someone says to me “Merry Christmas”, I don’t believe they are trying to push their right-wing Christian agenda on me.  I don’t think they are intolerant of other faiths, or are xenophobic, or that they hate the Jews.   I just think it’s a friendly greeting, and they are just trying to be nice.

On the other hand…

When someone says to me “Seasons Greetings”, I think of this little cartoon I saw where these little bottles of garlic, parsley, and oregano were all saying “hi” to each other.  And that makes me smile.

Merry Xmas Everyone… Yes, that’s right, I said XMAS

For all my dear Christian friends who have made an annaul tradition of getting bent this time of year about the use of the term “X-mas”, please kindly consider the following:

1.  X- (the greek letter Chi) has been used in English as an accepted abbreviation for Christ for over 500 years.  Chi (“X” to us) is the first letter of “Christ” as spelled in the original Greek.  Just for fun, go to Google translate or Babelfish, and try translating “Christ” into Greek.  As a Christian, you should recognize the Chi-rho (Xp) symbol, one of the earliest and oldest symbols of Christianity.  Yes, I know crosses and Jesus-fish are all the rage now, but back in the day the Chi-rho was THE symbol for followers of Christ.  That the “X-” has lost acceptance as an abbreviation for Christ is a reflection of a modern educational system with no focus on classical language, much moreso than any real or imagined atheist conspiracy to replace Jesus with algebra.

2.  December 25th is the birthday of a great many deities, however Jesus Christ was not originally one of them.  That we celebrate his birth on december 25th is a somewhat arbitrary choice made by the early Roman church, as they established the calendar of new Christian holy days.  They could have just as easily chosen May Day or Groundhog’s Day.  (Yes, really, Groundhog’s Day.)  While we don’t actually know the date of His birth, we do know with some certainty that it is very unlikely it was in December.  (Or May, or February, for that matter.)  So the real question should be, not who’s trying to take Christ out of Christmas, but rather who put Christ into Christmas in the first place.  (Believe me, that’s a much more interesting question.)

3.  Almost all of the traditions of Chrismas are older than Christ.  There were decorated trees, and gift-giving, and decorations, and parties, and holly, and mistletoe, and yule logs, and wreaths, and carolling, and probably eggnog, all long before Jesus Christ was born.  Putting Christ into Christmas really didn’t change it all that much.  Just the name really, and it gave us some new songs to sing.  I suspect taking him out of it wouldn’t really change it that much either.  These old traditions, with or without their Christian overlay, are important – they are our connection with our past.  If we don’t know where they came from, if we don’t understand our own traditions, they are no longer meaningful to us.  They become nothing more than pointless, mindless ritual.

4.  A significant number of Christans to this day do not celebrate Christmas.  Certainly no Christians prior to the Roman Emperor Constantine celebrated Christ’s birthday, on December 25th or any other day.  The pilgrims who came here, nearly died, and in the process invented Thanksgiving, did not celebrate Christmas.  Today our modern view of the Christmas tradition is more shaped by Dickens and Coca-Cola than by anything from the Bible.  The New Testament tells a great deal about the activities of the early apostles, and the early (pre-Roman) churches they served, in the years and decades following the death of Christ.  Missing from the scripture is any mention of any remembrance or celebration of the birth of Christ.  From a dogmatic point of view, the birth, aside from being to a virgin, is nearly inconsequential. It is the death and ressurection of Christ that is the central tenant upon which Christainity is founded.  (This is why a magic bunny hides eggs for the kiddies on Easter.)

5.  Two out of three people on the planet are not Christian.  Nearly half of these non-Christians are Muslim, the other half are mostly Hindu or Buddhist.  None of them care what you do with the “X” in Christmas.  This great atheist conspiracy you are concerned about, well the number of atheists in the world is amazingly tiny, and most of them don’t care about your “X” either.  The ones that do care, they ONLY care in the context of where a government agency is involved in the establishment of religion.  You need to understand this – Using government resources to establish religious belief is forbidden by the most holy of their sacred texts, which they call the First Admendment.  Aside from that, what you do as a private citizen, or as a business, or as an organization, with respect to Christmas, honestly they don’t give a fuck.  In any case, you will NEVER hear a true atheist saying “Merry Xmas”.  Their traditional greeting is “Happy Holidays” or “Seasons Greetings”.  NOW LISTEN CAREFULLY:  Just because someone says “Happy Holidays” or “Seasons Greetings” does NOT automatically mean they are an atheist.  More than likely it means they are trying to be friendly and inclusive to the two thirds of people on the planet who are not Christians. Despite appearances to the contrary, being Christian does not prohibit one from being friendly and inclusive.

 

Now…  For all my dear non-Christian friends out there, who have to put up with this nonsense every year:  Sorry, and Happy Holidays!