Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 - The year that was (because if it wasn't, we'd be in a pickle) -- Part one

As I write this, we are mere hours away from bidding adieu to the year 2008. What does this new year really mean?

It means calendars everywhere will be rendered obsolete.

It means millions of people will waste valuable seconds correcting themselves when they accidentally write or type 2008 instead of 2009; seconds they could be using to read some Writings... and then close their web browsers in either disgust or confusion.

It also means that you will see "year in review" articles and programs just about everywhere you look. They will be more prevalent than awkward conversations with people you barely know during a trip to the local market. You will see so many rehashes of 2008 that you'll feel like you've gone ventured to the past in a time-traveling phone booth (or a Delorean, if you prefer). By the time February hits, you'll be so sick of hearing about 2008 that you'll consider holding Punxsutawney Phil hostage to get the madness to end.

With that said, I really can't think of a better segue into the second-annual The Writings Year in Review.*

*Editor's note: We at The Writings do not condone groundhognapping.

January 2008-
The year started off in fine fashion for the author, along with thousands of others that bleed purple. (Figuratively, not literally. I do not know whether my blood type is B-positive or O-negative, but I do know that it's not "O-crap-how-did-my-blood-get-this-color"). On January 30, the K-State Wildcats topped the Kansas Jayhawks at Bramlage Coliseum, marking the first time such an event had ever occurred. It was a magical night in the Little Apple, as Michael Beasley led the 'cats to the 84-75 victory.

February 2008-
Daniel Day-Lewis wins an Academy Award for his uncanny ability to make the idea of drinking milkshakes both comical and creepy at the same time. There Will Be Blood was nominated for eight Academy Awards, but received no recognition for Best Alternate Title - There Will Be a Long, Long Story About Drilling for Oil... Make Sure You Visit the Restroom Beforehand.

March 2008-
India defeats Australia in cricket to win the Commonwealth Bank Series. The American reaction is dizzying. Millions blink in response. Others offer confused looks and ask the nearest person how people can train crickets to play sports.

April 2008-
The NFL Draft took place, and popular opinion was that the Kansas City Chiefs were one of the most successful teams in selecting draft picks over the two-day period. Eight months later, 14 losses would prove that popular opinion means about as much as a bit of catnip in a tiger attack. In effort to properly demonstrate cause-and-effect relationships to young fans, the Chiefs also traded defensive end Jared Allen (15.5 sacks in 2007). They ended the 2008 season by setting an NFL record for fewest sacks by a team in a season (10).

May 2008-
May lasted 31 days, as is custom.

... What? That's not news?

Also, the Phoenix lander arrived at Mars... unfortunately, minutes after landing, it remembered that it had left the front door unlocked at home.

June 2008-
Ice landed yet another blow in the ongoing conflict with the author, cracking his windshield in the midst of a severe hailstorm. Attempts to strike back by the author were rendered moot when grocery store personnel prevented him from unplugging all the freezers in the frozen food aisle.

... jerks.

July 2008-
A trip across America's northern border was largely uneventful until news arrived that the author was officially an uncle. While ideas of hitchhiking back to Kansas as quickly as possible were considered, responsibility won the battle and the new uncle waited until his work was done before heading homeward. Upon being introduced, the newest addition to the family turned the author into putty in her diminutive hands in approximately 0.7 seconds.

August 2008-
The NFL preseason began and the every third word spoken by NFL broadcasters was some form of "Favre." It was like every sportscaster had come down with some sort of wacked-out version of Tourette's syndrome. Unconfirmed reports (made up by me) even said that the NFL was considering changing the name of the sport it competes in from football to Favreball.


Alas, outside forces* will not allow me to complete the year in review in one Writing. Stay tuned for part two.

*Outside forces include - but may not be limited to - deciding on New Year's Eve plans with seven-and-a-half hours left in the the current calendar year. Who says I don't plan ahead?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Holiday Thoughts

Thoughts while trying to convince myself that frustratingly lengthy waits at fast food drive-thru windows are not signs of a crumbling society. (A 10-minute wait for a few tacos? Aaaaaahhhhhhh!)

-Whoever wrote the lyrics to "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" certainly did not conjure them while risking his or her neck trying to survive a trip through their local mall parking lot on the Saturday before Christmas. After all, there's no muffled cursing in the song. 

-Does it make any sense whatsoever that eggnog became associated with winter holidays? Forgive me, but drinking this concoction that sounds as if it was created by a very confused farmer does not bring to mind thoughts of manger miracles or jolly old St. Nick. (Unless the drink is the reason Santa has a weight problem.)

-I can't figure out why the word "merry" is only used in holiday speak. Have you ever used the word "merry" in a conversation that was not linked to Christmas? If so, odds are you got a funny look for your efforts. You know, the same look you get if you suggest that The Love Guru marks the height of cinematic comedy or that rabid guinea pigs will be the next big thing in American pets. (Take that, dogs so small you can fit them in handbags!)

-Of all the arctic animals, why were reindeer chosen as Santa's beasts of burden? Wouldn't arctic terns have made a lot more sense? They actually have the wings to fly. (However, it would probably take quite a few of them to pull a sleigh, so any rhymes list all their names would be pretty lengthy...) If they were sold on taking the land mammal route, why choose the reindeer ahead of other options? They didn't think "Cleburne the red-nosed caribou" would catch on?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Little Bit of This...

- Some might say that a laptop that takes 44 seconds to pull up iTunes after the desktop icon is double-clicked has seen better days and probably needs to be replaced. I just like to think that my laptop is putting sincere thought into it's actions. ("Now he double-clicked iTunes... Does that means he wants to open the program, or he simply wants to remind me that it's there? I know he uses the program to listen to music, and he currently has no other sound occupying his living quarters... Hmmm... I bet he wants it open... Now what's the safest way to do that?)

- Some also might say that I have too much time on my hands when I'm giving my aging laptop a voice and conjuring up things it might say... Touché.

- Months ago, before my precious little niece had been provided the opportunity to introduce two members of my family to the joy of parenting, I wrote an entry on baby names. I tried to consider a number of different options for possible monikers and may have even given a suggestion or two. Oddly, I failed to address the possibility of naming the newborn after the leader of Nazi Germany. How did I miss that one? Apparently a couple in New Jersey took that very route three years ago, and now has a little trouble getting a customized birthday cake. Granted, I'm no parent, but the idea of naming your own kin after one of the most evil people in history seems just a bit off. (In the same way the idea of giving yourself a haircut with a lawnmower is just a bit crazy.) I'm hoping someone has the decency to give this kid a (non-obscene) nickname he go by when he makes it to school. 

- When it comes to advertising, truth always seems to be in question. I know I tend to get a little skeptical whenever before and after photos are shown on weight loss ads. (Especially when the before and after pictures feature individuals of significantly different skin tones and facial features. Either that diet features some skin morphing nutrients or there's something fishy going on.) With this in mind, there's one ad that just caught my attention. The commercial in question advertises it's product as being the only one that provides permanent hair restoration. It would be easy (and probably smart) to make such claims and then show a bunch of guys with full heads of hair. Yet, this commercial features a balding man speaking of his hair being permanently restored... Either the guy was born with a pretty wicked widow's peak, or he's lying through his teeth (which seemed to be pretty white. Perhaps he was just taking the wrong commercial product).

- I have never undstood the idea of opening a movie on Christmas. Are there that many people that say, "I know how we should celebrate... Let's hop in our cars, drive for miles, stand in lines, pay absurd prices for tickets and snacks, and then sit in a theater where we'll spend half the movie being annoyed by other theater-goers and complaining about the sticky floors"? Or is it those that don't celebrate Christmas that they're counting on, thinking they'll catch a flick while a large number of folks are unwrapping gifts that leave them overwhelmingly excited or cripplingly disappointed?

- I have noticed that Dangerous Minds has been on MTV a staggering amount lately (sorry, I flip through the channels as if it was an obsessive compulsive tic). Does this mean Coolio is becoming hip again? Or does the film just strike those at MTV as a holiday film? At last check, Gangsta's Paradise had not been added to holiday radio stations... yet. It seems pretty simliar to Paul McCartney's Wonderful Christmastime.

- I actually just wanted an excuse to link to the Wonderful Christmastime video... Any video that can combine cheezy video effects, a synthesizer, and an inexplicable explosion is a winner in my book.

- Afer a bit of thought, I don't really understand the phrase "in my book." Sure, I own a lot of books, but none of them categorize what ridiculous traits I find comical to see in a music video... and if I were to write such a book, it seems that it would be rather short, and I doubt it would sell. Feel free to cross out "in my book" in the previous bullet point.

- If you did get out a marker and cross out "in my book" as it appeared on your screen, I'm extremely sorry... I owe you some computer screen cleaning solution.

- Think Planet of the Apes is completely fictional? Think again. If you live near a zoo, I'd invest in some better home security.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Holiday Fiction

What follows is a fiction story that I actually began a couple years ago. Lacking direction and - quite possibly - motivation, I moved on to other exciting ways to spend my free time like seeing how many peanuts I can stack on top of each other (answer: two) and attempting to solve the universal mystery of missing socks (mission: impossible). I haven't written any fiction in a long time, so I recently set a goal of finishing the story before this Christmas.

Is it finished now? Yeah, I guess... Although I'm not sure spacing two years between writing sessions is recommended practice in the world of writing fiction. It may be a bit disjointed (but some might argue that is fitting, considering the author). If nothing else, hopefully there's at least a chuckle in it. (And if there's not, you can at least say you're "being green" by not printing it off.*)

*The Writings: We're here for the environment


“I waaaaant a Playstation 3!”

The young lad on Santa’s lap was making his case for one of the season’s uber-expensive video game systems in the most convincing way he knew. With his sandy hair sticking out everywhere like a threatened puffer fish and his nose dripping like a faulty showerhead, the youngster gradually increased the volume and pitch of each syllable of his request, leaving the long-‘e’ in “3” sounding like a weapon of sound warfare.

Darren Orfelder, a 17-year-old admittedly years removed from belief in Santa Claus or Christmas miracles, cringed at the vocal talents of the baritone-ly challenged, wannabe gamer. To Darren, Christmas meant droves of noisy, mannerless, germ-ridden children converging on one single spot, and it was a spot Darren could not avoid. After all, Darren was an elf.

Granted, he was only one of Santa’s elves in the same way that Tobey Maguire was a superhero or Daniel Radcliffe was a wizard – he got paid to dress up and pretend – but when Black Friday arrived and Santa’s Village opened, Darren’s attitude strayed far from what one might expect from an associate of jolly old St. Nicholas. A perpetual frown lingered on his mug and his eyes rolled more than the dice in an average game of Monopoly.

“Santa’s Village” was located in the midst of the Center Town Center Shopping Center, but that did not keep the migraine-inducing echo of youthful tantrums from resonating throughout the crudely built set. Darren had often mocked the puffs of cotton that passed as snow and the backdrop of Santa’s “workshop” – a structure that had been a collection of shipping boxes just weeks earlier.

“With a voice like that, the kid should be asking for an early puberty,” Darren said under his breath… at least that was the volume he intended. The wide-eyed look from “Santa” and the cold-glare from the tike’s mother told a different story.

“Okay, smile big,” Darren quickly said, pointing at the camera set up in front of the cardboard creation meant to be Santa’s North Pole sweatshop in an attempt to divert attention away from his verbal miscue. He had found that quick-witted remarks were a fine way to deal with the seemingly demonic transformation some children made when meeting Santa. “Mommy’s little angel” quickly became the spawn of something under-worldly when he-or-she had the chance to request what might be under the Christmas tree, and a well-place barb was usually a fine way to deal with such nuisances… but he usually managed to keep them to himself.

As the disgusted mother pulled her youngster off Kris Kringle’s lap, and the little hellion simply asked, “Mom, what’s pooberdy?” Darren began to wonder if he had gotten a little careless lately. It was the third time that week that he had made a parent visibly angry. Should he just suck it up and do his job? Such thoughts vanished like Frosty in the Sahara when he remembered how, two days prior, he’d told a kid dressed in a tacky sweater that he should ask for “new fashion sense for mommy.” He had quite a laugh about that one when he went home that night.

“You aren’t the real Santa,” a chubby kid who looked to be nearing a baker’s dozen of birthdays said. “The real Santa’s cheeks are rosy.” Darren drifted back from his daydreaming and simply shook his head at the little Chris Farley clone’s statement. The tubby preteen had nailed it – this was not really Santa Claus, although the lack of pinkish hue in the man’s cheeks seemed to be an odd way to justify the statement.

This Santa’s real name was Roy Howard. Roy was a retired bus driver who worked as Center Town Center’s Kris Kringle for two main reasons.

First, he had the build for it. Retirement from driving a Center Elementary bus was “strongly encouraged” by the local school board after Roy had picked up three hitchhikers while driving a busload of third graders back from the Larkville History Museum. The simple act of stopping the bus to pick up the three men who were caked with more dirt than most harvested carrots was severely frowned upon, but the fact the one of them was wearing a t-shirt reading “If you can read this, can I see your cans?” was the tipping point. In the three years since “retiring” Roy had eaten enough food to feed a small, starving nation and consumed enough alcohol to keep the Olympic Torch burning through multiple iterations of the quadrennial event. As a result, a festively plump belly hung over his belt, and also provided a respectable dinner tray when sitting down (which he definitely preferred over the strenuous nature of standing). To top off the look, Roy could grow a napkin-white beard, and he was glad to do it. Who wanted to waste time shaving anyway?

The second reason Roy held steady employment as Mr. Claus was simple. Roy’s brother-in-law, Rex Bicksley, managed Center Town Center and kept Roy employed during the holiday season as a favor to Leeann – Rex’s sister and Roy’s wife.

“All right, Santa’s got to go feed the reindeer,” Roy said gruffly as he shuffled a young pig-tailed girl off his lap. In Roy’s Santa lingo, “feed the reindeer,” meant a 15-minute break to run to the john and then puff on a cigarette. Before being employed as one of Santa’s helpers, Darren had often heard the stereotype of mall Santas and their questionable character and hygiene, but he had not seen it perpetuated in the flesh… until Roy. Naturally, Roy scratched himself in inappropriate places as he heaved himself out of Santa’s chair and waddled off in the direction of the men’s restroom.

Roy’s break meant Darren and the other elves had to keep the assembled adolescents entertained while waiting in line. Granted, some seemed perfectly at peace spinning in circles until they were dizzy or trying to figure out what exactly was up their noses, but such ideas would fade soon, just as his job satisfaction had during his first week of employment. He was in his third holiday season of “elfing”, and had reached the point where he hated each day a little more than the one before it. The only reason he kept coming back was that he really needed the holiday cash, and the idea of putting in hours physical labor at a Christmas tree farm was one Darren ranked just above having all his teeth pulled by a near-sighted dentist.

“Who wants a candy cane?” Darren yelled with the enthusiasm one might expect from someone who had been screamed at, kicked, sneezed on and mocked by an assortment of youngsters in the two hours he had already worked that day. As soon as Darren mentioned candy he was mobbed by a swarm of tiny, grubby hands reaching into his bucket for a bit of the sugar-rush inducing bits of goodness inside.

“So this is the holiday spirit?” Darren thought. Here he was, a high school junior wearing a green felt cap, fake rubber ears, and tights that would make any male question his own masculinity, all to make these kids happy and grab a few bucks on the side. In return, he got one hundred sticky hands pushing and shoving to get a crook-shaped candy stick from a tin pail, and not a single thank-

“Orfelder, a minute of your time, please.”

This was not a voice Darren was accustomed to hearing. Nor one he anticipated. As he handed his candy bucket to a fellow helper, he turned and saw Mr. Bicksley himself standing before him. A lumped formed in his throat with the speed and urgency of used car salesman’s sales pitch. He’d been face-to-face with the mall manager just three times before – all when Bicksley would annually greet the season’s crop of Santa’s Village occupants. A one-on-one powwow with the suit-adorned executive was not common. In fact, the only people Darren knew who had spoken with Mr. Bicksley during their mall employment had been seeking new employment when it came time to recall said encounters.

The lump in Darren’s throat grew.

“Orfelder,” Mr. Bicksley begin, putting his hand on Darren’s shoulder and leading him away from the crowd, “We’ve had some complaints. Granted, it’s perfectly normal to get complaints, especially when you’re dealing with kids and their parents. Unfortunately, these complaints have all had one thing in common…”

“They’re a waste of your time,” was what Darren might normally say. Alas, Darren was far from his normal mindset. He knew exactly where this conversation was going.

The lump in Darren’s throat was now so large, he felt as if a second head might come bursting through his neck. Maybe this one would know when to keep his mouth shut.

“Every complaint we’ve had lately has been focused on one employee,” Bicksley said. “They’re all complaining about you.”

Although he knew it was true, Darren’s head still hung in shame at the statement. He was devastated. He had been long convinced that he hated his job, but now, with his employment seemingly at an end, he was terrified. Sweat drizzled down from his brow and his hands shook slightly. He knew a damning sentence was coming.

“You’ve been with us for awhile, and you seem like a good kid,” Bicksley continued, “but we can’t accept this type of behavior. I’m sorry, but we’re going to have to-“

“Giv’em a break, Rexy.”

Fresh from his “reindeer feeding” chores, Roy appeared out of seemingly nowhere (an impressive feat for a man his size), and joined the conversation. “The kid didn’t do anything wrong.” It seemed that Roy had overheard the entire conversation.

“Are you suggesting that telling a young child with thick glasses that he should ask for laser eye surgery is acceptable behavior from our staff?” Bicksley asked, his eyes sharp at this man who had married his sister.

“Not at all,” Roy replied, his hands resting comfortably on his sizable belly. “But why blame him for spitting out my ideas?”

Darren looked up quickly. He hadn’t said a word since Mr. Bicksley had approached him, but now he was truly speechless. This red-clad oaf who had often seemed concerned about nothing more than satisfying his craving for nicotine was taking the blame for his misbehavior.

“You’re saying you told him to say all of this?” Bicksley countered. “You realize you’re out of a job if this is true.”

“I’m as serious as Rudolph’s nasal condition.” Though it was an odd response, Roy emphasized it by flinging his hat to the Town Center floor. His days as Santa were done.

Bicksley stared at the red cap on the floor, as if reflecting on its implications. Firing Roy would not only leave them without a Santa for the rest of the day, but it could make an upcoming Christmas dinner pretty awkward. Nonetheless, he had a reputation to uphold. “That’s it, you’re gone,” Bicksley said, looking up and straightening his suit jacket. He turned and began to walk away, now talking over his shoulder. “I want the suit back by the end of the week.”

“You’ll have it long before then,” Roy replied, struggling to unbutton and remove his Santa coat. “I’m sick of this stupid thing anyway.”

While Roy focused on removing his crimson coat, Darren attempted to come to terms with what had just happened. A swarm of thoughts buzzed in his head. Finally, one became verbalized.

“What the heck are you doing?”

“These damn buttons,” Roy mumbled in reply. “I always struggle with this friggin’ coat.”

“That’s not what I mean. Why did you go and get fired for things I did?” Darren’s sense of confusion began to shift to anger. “You know you didn’t have anything to do with the stuff I said. You’ve been the jolly fat guy here for as long as I can remember, and you’re throwing it away to save my job? What’s this time of year for you if you can’t waste it wearing that suit?”

Roy’s hands quit fiddling with coat buttons. His arms dropped to his sides, and his pasty bearded face was quickly painted with a strikingly earnest look.

“The season ain’t about the suit, son. You come in every day looking like someone served you breakfast from a litter box. I understand if you get fed up with some of the highly visible elements of Christmas – the commercialization and the selfishness that can follow – but you shouldn’t get caught up thinking that’s the reason for the holiday.”

Unbelievably, Roy’s spiel was actually making sense. Up until this point, the only holiday talking points Darren had heard Roy mentioned dealt with torching gremlins, walking barefoot across shards of broken glass, and other elements drawn from movies that were loosely associated with the holiday season.

Darren glanced around the mall. He no longer saw screaming children with clammy hands or their grouchy parents looking to push down others to get their way. Instead, he saw families enjoying their time together. He saw people holding doors open for others and helping with dropped shopping bags.

He looked back to Roy to express his appreciation, but Roy was gone. On the floor, next to his cap laid Roy’s Santa coat, all buttons finally undone. A few feet down the hall sat one black leather boot, it’s large buckle unlatched. A few feet further away lay the other. It seemed that Roy hadn’t lied about returning the suit. Darren cringed at the thought of Roy walking the mall in his underwear. Following the scattered trail of Kringle attire, Darren noticed a figure now halfway down the corridor. It was a hefty man, trudging away, adorned in nothing but a pair of red pants, a large black belt, socks, and a raggedy undershirt.

“Thanks,” Darren yelled his direction.

Roy responded with a chuckle. “Merry Christmas,” he yelled. “Now I’ve got to work on this belt buckle.”

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Thought for the Day - Amazon Kindle

In effort to avoid the crowded parking lots, thrown elbows, and general chaos that come with Christmas shopping, I'm doing my best to take care of at least a fraction of my holiday gift searching via the World Wide Web. In doing so, I have noticed that is doing all they can to advertise the Kindle this holiday season.

What is the Kindle? It's an electronic reading device that kind of looks like an oversized version of one of those old Tiger Electronics handheld games. Unfortunately, the Kindle doesn't seem to be using Bo Jackson as a celebrity endorser.

While I have never used a Kindle, the big draw seems to be the ability to instantly have access to hundreds of thousands of downloadable books. You can also access top newspapers and magazines, all on this glorified Gameboy.

I have no direct issues with the Kindle itself, as I support all forms of literacy (well, maybe not all forms). After all, if everyone was illiterate, these Writings would be kind of pointless. It would be a guarantee that no one was reading (rather than just a highly probable situation).

My issue with the Kindle is the way Amazon is advertising it. They list the product as their "Wireless Reading Device," and also tout it's portability. Hmmm... a reading device that is portable and has no wires... I think I might have one of those already... Maybe even two or three... shelves full.

That's right Amazon, it seems that books -the very paper products the Kindle is lookng to replace - are also portable and involve no wires whatsoever. It also seems that most books cost less than the Kindle's $359 price tag.

The product overview states that the Kindle's screen "reads like real paper." Funny... so do book pages.

The Kindle also involves "no computer, no cables, no syncing." If my books do, I'm missing the instruction manuals.

It seems to me that it would be more effective advertising all the reading choices available at a moment's notice and the ease of use, rather than stessing that it's portable and wireless. After all, my socks are portable and wireless, but you don't see me bragging.

Alas, it seems the advertising quirk is doing little to thwart the fun with e-words product, as it's currently sold out. Apparently a lot of people out there (meaning people not currently sitting with my laptop on my couch while watching a K-State basketball game) aren't quite as picky as I am when it comes to pointless details.

... Imagine that.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Another Evening with Ms. Sony

I just saw a television commercial for a prescription drug during which the following message flashed on the bottom of the screen: "See our ad in Home Cooking magazine.*" Is this really the best way to get people interested in your product? By giving them an assignment? Such ridiculousity** seems like an excellent start to yet another evening with Ms. Sony.

*Magazine name changed to protect the innocent... or because I can't remember it.

**It can be a real word if enough people accept it.

7 p.m. - CBS
It's time for Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, old-school style... Or at least the audio of it. Channel 4 on my television currently seems to be lacking a video feed. How long can one man stare at a blank television as the audio of Rudolph plays through the speakers... Sounds like a challenge.

This is kind of nice... must be like what life was like when people had to rely on the radio for broadcast entertainment.

Okay, apparently my eyes have some form of ADD, and I don't think this Pepsi sitting on my coffee table is helping anything. In a desperate attempt to find some sort of activity, they've now focused on the blinking light on my cable modem.

Whoa, look at that light go!

What's that? The video feed is back... and with that, my interest is gone.

7:09 - NBC
The Kansas Jayhawks are playing against New Mexico State University. Have I ever mentioned how much I love NMSU? No? Well, I've obviously never written while they've been competing against KU. Kansas is currently up six, the announcers are expressing their man-love for a certain Jayhawk, and I kind of feel like seeing how long I can keep my hand inside the toaster to divert my attention... Better change the channel.

7:15 - WGN
It's The Nutcracker... on ice! Obviously, given my history with frozen water, don't approve of the programming. I also don't understand why putting something "on ice" makes it infinitely more watchable to some people. Ice skating provides pretty much the same maneuverability as rollerblading, yet you don't hear about tickets being sold for The Nutcracker... at Ray's Roller Rink!

7:18 - CBS
When the creators of Rudolph made the young reindeer into the equivalent of an awkward teenager, I like to think they did it to give viewers something to relate to. If anyone reading this is a teen struggling with self-confidence, just remember, if you work really hard you too can someday pull an obese man around in a sled.*

*The Writings, motivating youth to achieve their dreams.

7:24 - Fox Sports
Am I the only one sick of seeing poker on every sports network? Isn't slapjack more of a sport than poker? At least there's a semblance of physical activity. When can I see the World Spoons Championship on ESPN?

7:26 - MTV
A 22-year-old named Vanessa is competing to be Paris Hilton's BFF. That's right, a cute female with a ton of her life in front of her is "competing" on a reality show to be the best friend of someone who is in the public eye only because her family has more money than Scrooge McDuck. Instead of having a chance of leading a normal life, she's been sucked in to the absurd "reality" that is Hollywood. It's time like this that I curse the inventor of the television.

7:31 - TLC
It's Jon & Kate plus 8. I can't make fun of this show... I actually like it. This is what a reality show should be. It doesn't involve shallow characters, stupid contests, or people continually trying to get wasted and score. It just gives you a peek into INTERESTING lives.

7:38 - truTV
A woman recounts the story of her husband being struck by lightning. Seconds later, the name of the program flashes on screen. The title? Most Shocking.
... I guess it's fitting... but good grief.

7:45 - A&E
The censor with his finger on the bleep button earns his paycheck on Dog the Bounty Hunter. After having a civil conversation (a.k.a., a volley of swear words that would make Dave Chappelle and the 1980s version of Eddie Murphy blush) with a distinguished (read: inebriated) individual, Dog treks off to find someone, but to no avail.

7:51 - Cartoon Network
It's Sinbad... but not the good one. This cartoon sailor has nothing on the comedian that hasn't really been relevant since the '90s.


We're back after a brief* intermission**. One that interrupted my Sinbad thought, which is a punishable offense in some states.

*Painfully long and nearly requiring the aid of Dog's bleeping censor.

**Writerspeak for a reminder that my laptop operates as reliably as a remote control constructed out of Playdough and jelly beans

8:14 - CMT
Once again, the word celebrity is being tossed around haphazardly. This time, the culprit is Hulk Hogan's Celebrity Championship Wrestling. When I see Dustin Diamond, Danny Bonaduce, and Butterbean, I can't say I'm star struck. On top of that, the wrestling "trainers" include Brian Knobbs and Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake, who were never really known for their in-ring expertise. It seems the title should be changed to Hulk Hogan's Semi-notable Championship Jobbing.

8:21 - CBS
In case you were wondering, Ladies Love Cool James... That's right it's LL Cool J. Unfortunately, it's not in a program that involves Samuel L. Jackson being eaten by a shark in one of the oddest film events I've ever seen. Now he's basically just setting me up for disappointment.

8:25 - QVC
A woman is showing off how effective a vacuum can be in cleaning couch cushions, and mentions cleaning up after her dogs. She demonstrates on a cushion so caked with muck that looks as if it was recently excavated from an Egyptian tomb. Granted, the vacuum does a marvelous job in cleaning the cushion, but I'm a little concerned about the lady's dog at this point. What the heck is this mutt involved in if it's getting cushions that dirty?

8:33 - CNN
A commercial for a Barack Obama "victory plate" just mentioned how it features his "kind eyes." This begs the question, can other body parts exhibit personality traits. Someone may have "kind eyes," but what happens if they have "wicked ears?" What about "stubborn elbows?" I'm getting worried, and I haven't even brought up "lackadaisical lovehandles."

8:40 - Vh1
Young MC's "Bust a Move" is the current subject of dissection. I really enjoy the song, but there's one thing I've never understood. If my best friend Harry, has a brother Larry, and in five days he's going to marry, I know I'll make it there if I can, but why in the ceremony would I be the best man? After all, Larry isn't my best friend... Shouldn't he choose his brother for such an honor? Is there a riff between the two? Did Harry once date Larry's bride-to-be, and they're trying to avoid awkward situations?
... Should this type of stuff keep me awake at night?

I apologize to those readers unfamiliar with '90s hip hop. Odds are, you are wondering what the heck that last paragraph meant... Then again, odds are, this isn't this first time a Writing hasn't made any sense.

8:52 - TCM
I'm not sure what classic film this black-and-white motion picture is, but some guy with the largest nose I've ever seen just passed away in a dark alley... There's really nothing more to it than that... The guy's schnozz was just ridiculously large... It seemed notable at the time.

9:00 - CBS
A performance by Usher rings in the 2008 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show. This program really provides no redeeming value whatsoever... Other than the fact that it contains nothing but scantily clad models and occasional bits of horrendous acting.

... This is a great show.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Assisting with Assistants

With Bill Snyder firmly in place as head football coach of the Kansas State Wildcats, the big question now is who will end up being on Snyder's coaching staff. In his previous stint as the leader of the Wildcats (a 17 year period heretofore referred to as "the good old days"), Snyder continually assembled coaching staffs with more collective knowledge than Stephan Hawking's book club.

We all know that Bill needs no assistance in picking assistants (if today was Homonym Awareness Day, that would be a pretty slick statement... but I don't think such a day exists), but I think it's my duty to my reader(s) to offer up a few ideas anyway. Proceed with caution.

Offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach - John Madden
Anyway familiar with Coach Snyder realizes that he basically serves as his own OC. (Hint to those unfamiliar with football: I'm not referring to some teen drama television program that was about as watchable as a rotting pumpkin) He calls his own plays, be it first-and-10 or fourth-and-one. The offensive coordinator title, therefore, is kind of a glamor thing. With that being the case, why not give the spot to a big name.

Madden's resume is impressive enough. The turducken fan has a Super Bowl ring and was the youngest NFL head coach to 100 career regular season victories. Such information serves as proof that he once did more than continually repeat the obvious and draw things on a teleprompter. If Madden was ever called on to direct the offense, he could simply plug John Madden Football '94 into his Sega Genesis and use the playbooks found within.

The downside to a Madden hire would be that K-State would have to invest in a teleprompter for him to play with up in the pressbox. Snyder might also tire of hearing "boom" or "pow" in situations that don't necessitate it. After all, a bumped elbow probably doesn't call for "he'll be feeling that one tomorrow."

Defensive coordinator/defensive line coach - Obi Wan Kenobi
The "Jedi mind trick" could be valuable in many areas of life, and football is definitely one of them. Poor, weak-minded quarterbacks would not know what to tell their coaches after checking to an option left when three defenders were blitzing to that side of the field. "Sorry coach, something just told me that your call wasn't the play we were looking for."

Sure, the fact that he's not only fictional; not only fictional and overqualified; but fictional, overqualified, and deceased could pose some problems, but the man sliced Darth Maul in half. I'm certainly not going to take him out of the running for such trivial issues.

Special teams coach - Kathy Ireland
Ms. Ireland once played a kicker in Necessary Roughness... Works for me.

(Note from the editor in charge of making the author not sound shallow: What he means to say is, "I'm sure she has an abundance of knowledge when it comes to the Xs and Os of special teams, and she'd be an excellent addition to the coaching staff."... Yeah, that's it.)

Running backs coach - Whoever created Tecmo Super Bowl

I have never seen running backs dominate like they can on that game. Be it Bo Jackson, Barry Sanders, or Christian Okoye, Mr. Tecmo seems to know how to get backs to make defenders look foolish. Don't think I wouldn't enjoy seeing KSU running backs employ the zig-zag "running from an alligator" style if it meant more rushing yards.

Receivers coach - Kevin McCallister

If you're asking "who?" right now, you obviously need to waste more time watching movies. Kevin is the kid off Home Alone and Home Alone 2. You'll have to follow my line of thinking here (which is often a dangerous path). Jerry Rice, the best receiver to ever play, developed his hands by catching bricks. Mr. McCallister is very accurate with his brick tossing, thus it seems natural to give him the opportunity to work with some receivers at the collegiate level.

The downside is that this hire comes with the risk of potential lawsuits at the hands (literally) of angry recruits.

Offensive line coach - The guy who greets people as they enter Best Buy
Do you know this guy? If not, run to your nearest Best Buy right now (I'll wait) and see if you can enter the store without getting a "hey man," "what's up, dude," or "how's it going, buddy" from the guy by the entrance. He continually delays those trying to track down intended purchases. Now consider that the job of the offensive line is to delay those trying to track down the intended ball carrier. Sure, it might be weird when the Wildcat offensive tackle tries to strike up a conversation with the defensive end instead of going for a cut block... but it just might work.

Linebackers coach - Terry Tate
K-State had some definite issues with tackling in 2008. I've never seen the office linebacker whiff on a potential hit. Leadership, knowledge, and intimidation? Tate will handle all such areas, and more.

Defensive backs coach - Mario Smith
He's a former Wildcat safety and was the defensive MVP of the 1995 Holiday Bowl... Who am I kidding? This suggestion is mostly because it gives me an excuse to end with this.