Thursday, April 30, 2009

Talking Points

This Writing is getting a late start. As a result, I have little time to write before my head drops wearily onto my keyboard as my mind shuts down completely. To make up for the lack of words on my end, I'm giving you the opportunity to add some on yours. What follows are discussion points. Review them. Contemplate them. Respond to them. (Or just ignore them... Who am I to tell you what to do?)

- I attended a "roundtable" discussion today. Alas, the table we all sat at was not round. How am I supposed to concentrate on the topic at hand when such a glaring case of false advertising is present? Do I have the right to pursue legal action?

- The hot topic this week has been the swine flu. Is it me, or, by calling it the swine flu, are we adding insult to illness?

- A popular question is, "Which came first - the chicken or the egg?" Where's the love for the other animals that hatch from eggs? Can't we replace "chicken" with "turtle" or "fish" now and then?

- Much recent discussion is also surrounding the president's first 100 days in office. The media is quick to examine what has gone right, what has gone wrong, and what has gone to that large gray area in between. What's the most significant thing you've accomplished over the last 100 days? For that matter, what's the most significant thing I've accomplished over the last 100 days? Can I even remember 100 days ago?

- I plan on attending K-State's spring football game on Saturday - a game that will feature more dives than a synchronized Olympic event that involves plummeting into a pool. A football game lasts 60 minutes and contains 4 quarters of action. Will the combined scored of the two scrimmage squads be closer to 60 or 4?


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Lessons Learned

I started thinking about movies today, and I'm not really sure why... I take that back, I was at work, so it was only natural that I attempted to think of something else. That seems to be the way the human mind operates. Anyway, with movies on my mind, I'm now thinking of what movies really mean. (Deep, I know.) Every good story has an underlying theme. For example, 12 Angry Men shows that one person can make a difference, if he sticks to what he believes. I think it's time to dig those themes up and find out what the movies we watch everyday really mean.

American Psycho - If your friend continually talks about returning some video tapes, it may be time to find a new friend.

Back to the Future trilogy
- Many of your relatives, both in the past and the future, look so much like you that you could be their exact duplicates with just a little bit of makeup.

The Bourne Identity - Don't mess with amnesiacs.

The Bourne Supremacy
- Seriously, don't mess with amnesiacs.

The Bourne Ultimatum
- Don't say you haven't been warned.

Cast Away
- You're never alone if you have a volleyball.

The Dark Knight
- If someone asks you if you want to see a pencil trick, run the other way.

Field of Dreams - If you build it, you get to hang out with the voice of Darth Vader.

Forrest Gump - If you're running from kids on bikes with braces on your legs, your legs will break free of the constrictions and will somehow morph into those of a 24-year-old world-class sprinter. Fortune and fame will follow.

From Justin to Kelly - People will pay to see anything if there's a
bucket of popcorn floating in buttery-flavored goo involved.

The Fugitive - U.S. Marshalls are quick-witted and hilarious.

Gladiator - Falling in love with your sister is creepy. Oh, and a wronged honorable general always gets redemption.

The Godfather Parts I and II - Never go against the family...

The Godfather Part III - ...unless they're watching Part III. Then you can go against them all you want.

The Goonies - If it's wet, it's water.

Jurassic Park - If you're ever running from a tyrannosaurus rex in a
rainstorm, don't go hide atop a toilet. If that rest shelter collapses,
you're going to look pretty foolish right before you're shaken like a
chew toy and then consumed.

King Kong - Beauty can kill a beast... Particularly if an attacking airplane is named "Beauty."

The Lord of the Rings trilogy - Those that are small can accomplish big things... Wait, did I get this confused with Rudy?... Let's try this again...

The Lord of the Rings trilogy - If you walk-on to a famed college football team, work hard in practices for years, and then get a sack in your first (and last) collegiate game, you're fit to help your pal take throw a powerful ring into the depths of Mount Doom.

The Matrix trilogy - I have no clue. Really. What the heck did that last movie mean? It was supposed to answer questions. My head hurts just thinking of how my head hurt when I left the theater.

Mission: Impossible
- Never accept gum from someone you don't know. You could end up with an exploding headache.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - It's all fun and games until somebody gets a lobotomy.

The Patriot - Good Mel Gibson attacks with a hatchet and leaves British soldiers fearing for their lives. Boring Mel Gibson reads Helen Hunt's thoughts.

Spiderman - Chicks dig arachnids.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - In New York, if you're dressed like Humphrey Bogart, no one will bother noticing that you are actually a giant turtle sporting a colorful bandanna.

The Wizard of Oz - There's no place like home... even if home is devoid of color.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


When the Kansas City Chiefs finished the 2008 season with just two wins, it was obvious that change was on the way. As a fan of KC's professional football team, I simply hoped this change wouldn't involve any desperate measures. I wanted to see a plan in place; to see the team pursue personnel with the future in mind, rather than going for an Air Bud: Golden Receiver* quick fix. To this point, new general manager Scott Pioli has taken steps in that direction. He brought in a young coach who could have a bright future in Todd Haley. He traded for a young quarterback that could very well be a "franchise" signal caller, Matt Cassel.

*The Writings: Your source for references to movies no one has ever seen.

With these additions, plus a few veterans added for good measure, they had already done enough to prove competitive in a weak AFC West. It seemed that a quick fix could actually have KC competing for a playoff spot next season. Perhaps Air Bud (or even Gus, the mule that kicks field goals) might not be a bad move, I thought.

Today, Pioli proved that he has the future in mind.

In trading tight end Tony Gonzalez to the Atlanta Falcons, Pioli has cemented the idea that this team is going in a new direction. Gonzalez, a 10-time Pro Bowler, was by far the most identifiable player on the roster. Mention the Chiefs to an average fan in Green Bay or Cincinnati and, odds are, they would not be able to tell you that Tyler Thigpen was under center, that Jarrad Page was roaming the secondary, or even that KC Wolf was pounding his head against the uprights.* They would be able to tell you about Gonzalez, though.

*He does look a bit raccoonish, after all.

One of the greatest tight ends ever, Gonzalez was a force opposing defenses had to develop new gameplans for. Cover him with a linebacker and you were toast; with a defensive back and you had to deal with his remarkable strength. Also a basketball player while at the University of California, TG went after every pass as if it were a rebound up for grabs. After working through the dropsies in his first couple seasons, he became one of the best receivers in football. He was named 1st-team All-Pro (or the best tight end in the league) five times in a 10-year span. He led the NFL in receptions in 2004, is sixth among active receivers in touchdown receptions, and has broken just about every all-time receiving record that exists for NFL tight ends. If the Chiefs were successful, he was involved.

Now, he's gone.

In return, the Chiefs receive a 2010 second round draft pick from the Falcons. It's a move that shows a commitment for the future, but I have to wonder what it means for the present. I'm a strong supporter of the idea that a quarterback, especially a young quarterback, needs a safety outlet - a receiver they are comfortable with; a receiver who can seemingly read the QB's mind and be depended on to come up with a difficult catch when the quarterback is under pressure. Gonzalez was the ultimate example of this. He seemed to bail his quarterback out with a catch in traffic every other possession. I think Damon Huard may have been considering making Tony a friendship bracelet for this very reason in 2007. In 2009, while Gonzalez is quickly becoming Matt Ryan's BFF in Atlanta, Tom Brady's former understudy Cassel may be presented with the option of either taking a sack or heaving the ball downfield to Brad Cottam or Jeff Webb. I'm not sure which is the least painful option.

As is the case with most Writings, I'm sort of rambling with no real direction and I'm making little sense. In this case, it fits perfectly, as I'm trying to decide if this move by the Chiefs shows any direction and makes any sense.

Those in favor of the trade will argue that it's best to put the past behind us. The Chiefs never won a Super Bowl, or even a playoff game, with Gonzalez at tight end, so his absence can't be that devastating. He's getting old - in football years - and is eating up salary cap space. Succinctly, he's not part of the future of the team. He's not part of the Pioli plan.

Those refusing to hang their red No. 88 jerseys in the closet will tell you that, despite the fact that he'll be 33 this season, Gonzalez is still one of the top offensive weapons in football. He caught 96 passes last year (good for 4th in the NFL) for 1,058 yards. Sure, the Chiefs are bringing in a talented quarterback, but it's one that was sacked more than any other in the NFL last season, and the Chiefs offensive line isn't exactly a razor wire fence when it comes to protection. He could use a receiver as reliable as Tony. Beyond football, Gonzalez was a great representative of the team in the community. He participated in outreach programs and charities and was not one to have his name appear in the news for negative reasons.

With the trade finalized, there's seemingly little I can do about it. (Oddly, we at The Writings do not have veto power of NFL transactions... yet.) The move seems to make sense for a rebuilding franchise, and there's really no better time for rebulding than when you're coming off a season where you won slightly more games than a team of directionally challenged howler monkeys might.

It makes sense, but is it the right move?

Uhh... Next question please.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Ode to Employees at the Local Consumer Electronics Retailer

I apologize in advance... It seems I am really into celebrating National Poetry Month this year.

Ode to Employees at the Local Consumer Electronics Retailer

I walk through the doors, and you're there to greet me,
That courtesy welcome is fine;
But then at the DVDs, another of you will meet me,
As if he were second in line.

I wave off all help. I say I'm "just looking,"
And, honestly, that much is true;
But three steps later another clerk thinks a sale is cooking,
And I wonder why you can't take a clue.

As I browse video games, another Blue Shirt attacks,
This one tries to start small talk;
Yes, I like playing games. That's why I'm checking out this rack,
What I don't like are salesfolk who stalk.

I'm an adult. If I need help, I'll ask,
I consider it my duty as a consumer;
In the mean time, relax. Try to find another task,
Instead of hanging off me like a tumor.

I feel like sprinting away. Your approach I am fearing,
Because everywhere there's blue-shaded interrogation;
Maybe, like Elaine Benes, I should pretend I'm hard of hearing.
Or just sign you all up for treatments of sedation.

At long last, I'm at checkout. I found items to buy,
Relying on nothing but my casual consumer form.
Don't worry, Blue Shirts, when I return you can again try,
To secure my patronage with a tactical swarm.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Thought for the Day

If you're happy and you know it, and, as a result, your face surely shows it, why is it still necessary for you to clap your hands/stomp your feet/shout hooray?

We have already determined that we can tell whether or not you are happy by the look on your face. It seems that all else is just pointless calisthenics.

This message brought to you by the the Society for Preventing Unnecessary Physical Activity.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Pretty Nice Little Saturday

To paraphrase an insightful man called "Frank the Tank," I'm in the midst of a "pretty nice little Saturday." Granted, Home Depot and Bed, Bath and Beyond have not been (and will not be) prominently involved, but I am doing my best to make the most of a beautiful day. In other words, I'm planted on my sofa in front of my television watching any sports I can find. If you are concerned that I'm not outdoors on a 70-degree day, don't fret... I have my apartment windows wide open in effort to bring the outdoors to me.

I started off the day by running out to get a (much needed) haircut, and to pick up some (very much needed) allergy medication. Now, with my head no longer resembling an unkempt Chia Pet, my throat no longer feeling as if I swallowed a prickly pear, and my nasal cavities no longer imitating faulty showerheads, this Saturday can truly be enjoyed. What's ahead? How about four games in the NBA playoffs, at least two baseball games, and even a spring football game (which I have no interest in, but, hey, it's football). With me each dribble, pitch, and snap of the way will be my trusty laptop. It's true, it doesn't laugh at any of my self-proclaimed quick-witted remarks, but there's a good chance that no one else would either. (Plus, my computer can't raise an eyebrow or roll its eyes.)

Join us, won't you, for an afternoon/evening taking in all that this Saturday has to offer.*

*That is, if you like sports, eating nothing but junk, and rarely moving from the groove your posterior has created in your couch.

- Next time you're watching a televised basketball game, pay particular attention when the game's commentators are shown on screen as they spit out conversation (normally lacking much insight) on press row. Watch the fans in the seats directly behind these announcers. Now count how many of them wave at the camera, crane their necks to see themselves on the TV monitor, jab their friends to show them that they're also on TV, or perform any other action indicating their excitement about being seen on television. You may want to be ready to make tally marks, because there will be a lot of them. Maybe it's the side of me filled with social anxiety, but I cannot figure out why people would be so excited to be on TV. Sure, there are plenty of famous people on television, but the fact that you show up on screen for 3.3 seconds and celebrate the occasion by waving your arms like you're trying to signal a rescue plane does not mean that you'll soon have your own talk show. It happens so often, that it almost seems like a Pavolnian response that people have developed when encountered with video cameras. I will not be surprised to see shoppers waving madly at store security cameras or random strangers flashing peace signs in the background of someone's home video in the future. What these folks need to realize is that being on TV isn't that great. Just ask this guy.

- Boston Celtic's forward Paul Pierce could have clinched a victory for his squad over the Chicago Bulls by sinking one final free throw with one second left in regulation. He clanked it off the rim. Pierce is a former Kansas Jayhawk, so that event brought forth a bit of glee in my "faithful to our colors" heart.

- Unfortunately, while Pierce is a star for the Celtics, another former KU player, Kirk Heinrich, plays significant minutes for the Bulls. I'm trying to figure out whether there's a way that both these teams could lose. Perhaps a double-disqualification could occur, like when Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant battled in the WWF Championship tournament at Wrestlemana IV.* Somebody better start swinging folding chairs.

*This bit of pro wrestling trivia brought to you by the I Need New Hobbies Foundation.

- In Cleveland, the Cavaliers are facing the Detroit Pistons in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. You know the look a person gets on his or her face when they know they have screwed up and they're just waiting for punishment? That is similar to how the Pistons look every time LeBron James touches the basketball. The kid, (he's still only 24) came into the NBA straight from high school in 2003 and had one of the greatest rookie seasons ever. Somehow, he's found a way to improve in each of the six seasons since. Currently, the guy who is built like a power forward, runs the floor like a point guard, and jumps like he was imported straight from NBA Jam is the most difficult matchup in basketball. Just ask Tayshaun Prince, one of the NBA's top defenders, whom was just torched for 22 points in one half by LeBron.

- The Snickers commercial featuring Patrick chEwing is excellent... and by "excellent," what I mean to say is that it features one of the worst stunt-doubles in recorded history. When you first see Mr. Ewing, his 7-foot frame is looking extra large in its retired form, as if he's taken over for Adam Richman on Man v. Food. Nevertheless, when Ewing/chEwing goes up for the slam, the dunker appears to be missing about eight inches of his height and 100 pounds off his frame. I thought the camera was supposed to add 10 lbs.

- Someday, when I compose my list of the 10 or 25 or100 (I'm still determining the number) people I would least want angry with me, Chicago Cubs' manager Lou Pinella will be on that list. I mention this because he just yanked a relief pitcher that walked two consecutive batters without tossing a strike. I knew there was a reason that I'm not a Major League pitcher.* Also included on the "Please, Don't Yell at Me" list will be: Frank Martin, Bob Knight, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Joker (I don't like pencil tricks), and Darth Vader.

*Another reason is a severe lack of talent.

- It's time to test your short-term memory. Remember that look that LeBron's defenders get on their faces? You know, the "oh crap, this won't end well" look? Well, batters who face Kansas City's Zack Greinke have been stricken with the same expression lately. Greinke enters tonight's game with a 0.00 earned run average, and so far this season his pitches have been dodging bats like a nimble spelunker.

- We end the night with Greinke finishing off a complete game shutout of the Texas Rangers, fanning 10 batters along the way. The Royals are first in the AL Central and Greinke looks like one of the best pitchers in the game... That's a pretty nice little Saturday.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Model of Sarcasm

Do you ever feel like you aren't quite sarcastic enough? Do you wonder if your everyday conversations are lacking a bit of cynical zip? Don't worry, dear reader, The Writings are here to help. Feel free to use these five quick talking points to help unleash your inner wiseacre.

- Any film featuring Zack (Zach? Zac? Zaq?) Effron has potential to be comedy gold. On top of his enourmous talent is the fact that the idea of having an adult become a kid again is one that is completely original and has never been seen in film before. I'll be the first in line to see his new flick.

- TV needs more prime time cop dramas. I really don't know how we, the American public, get by with only having three to choose from in every half-hour block. More doctor shows, too. It's amazing how these genre's can have so much untapped potential.

- I can't get enough of the Subway $5 Footlong song. It's so catchy, and hearing the tune over and over never makes one feel like going Van Gogh on his own ear.

- The commercial for Life Alert features some of the greatest acting ever captured on film. We're talking about Oscar-worthy stuff. Al Pacino and Meryl Streep could be taking notes.

- The ideal neighbor when you live in an apartment with thin walls is one who is seemingly hearing impaired when her alarm clock is involved. Waking up to your neighbor's alarm each morning is undeniably pleasing, and the joy can extend for nearly 30 minutes as the neighborina's ears refuse to acknoledge the continual beeping of her waking device.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Wise men say...

Someone once said, "the customer is always right." Since that time, the phrase has become common in every service industry. Customers at the market? They're always right. At the gas station? Always right. Even folks in line to see Hannah Montana: The Movie? Yup, according to the genius who took this mantra mainstream, they're always right, too. It's a succinct phrase. It's a catchy phrase. Unfortunately, it's wrong.

This may come as a shock to some of you (especially those male readers whose wives have effectively altered their thinking*... I kid, I kid.), but no one is always right. Think about it. If I were to walk down the street to Buffalo Wild Wings, order some food to-go, and then tell the individual at the register that I'm going to pay $3 less than what my meal costs and walk out with my dinner, my request would not be granted. (Despite the fact that the food is ridiculously overpriced.) I could argue until my face was as red as the sauces that glaze those wings, but the counterfolk** would not give me my food until I paid the full price of my meal. In such a case, I (the customer) would not be right.

*Reason #432 why the author doesn't get many dates: Comments like this.

*People who work at a counter, obviously.

Thinking about these "words of wisdom" (if you did not read the quoted words with a sarcastic tone in mind, go back and re-read them. It really makes a difference that I think you'll appreciate.), made me realize that there are plenty of other sayings that are commonplace in our 21st century USA vernacular that make about as much sense as a tiger with a salad fork. It's time we expose these phrases as fraudulent and do what we can to eliminate them from the vocabulary of all that speak and are heard each day.*

*The Writings: Battling Nonsense with Nonsense

"The early bird gets the worm."
I am not a morning person. Oddly, I'm not a night person, either. Actually, if you really examine it, there's really only a three-hour-and-45-minute window (5:15 p.m. to 9 p.m.) that I would consider myself at my peak.. and that's only if I'm well-rested. Nevertheless, that is beside the point, as I also don't make a habit of hunting for worms... Unless I'm going fishing. Then again, I haven't been fishing for probably 12 years, so this point is also a moot one. Have you ever started a paragraph with a point in mind, but then, in the midst of that same paragraph, realized that you are not making any sense? Welcome to The Writings. Anyway, the point of all this, which I have not even flirted with at this time*, is that early birds are not the only ones that get worms. I have seen feathered creatures yanking worms from their earthy homes in the middle of the afternoon. Thus, stating that only "early birds" get worms is erroneous.

*The Writings: We play hard to get.

Simply put, this phrase should be changed to "Birds get worms*." Sure, this adjustment renders the statement useless in the world of motivating people to get an early start, but at least now it's true. (Plus, the idea of getting a worm really doesn't seem that motivating.)

*By this, we mean that birds hunt and eat worms. We're not speaking of stomach parasites infecting those with beaks and wings.

"I wish I could have been a fly on the wall..."
A recent blog entry by Joe Posnanski (a ridiculously skilled, award-winning writer for the KC Star. If you're not, you should be reading his blog and his columns... heck, even anything he scratches down on a napkin if you happen to see him in public.* Seriously, read it.), brought this phrase to mind recently. Are there really people out there that would like to be a fly on the wall in any setting? Do the positives of having the opportunity to overhear a conversation really outweigh the negatives of having your regular pastime be sifting through filth, living your life in constant fear of being swatted by a rolled up Entertainment Weekly, and knowing that you're only going to be alive for about a month?

It seems a better saying would be, "I wish I could have been an invisible person with very quiet footsteps..." Sure, being invisible is not (yet... dun dun dunnnnnn) a situation that is scientifically possible, but we are talking about a "wish" here. (Plus, at last check, morphing into a fly is not possible either. If only Calvin's Transmogrifier were ready for public distribution.)

*Disclaimer: We at The Writings do not condone stalking of any sort.

"Beating a dead horse."
Is it just me, or does this phrase seem to connotate the idea that beating a live horse is okay. Where's PETA when you need them?

"Piece of cake."/"Easy as pie."
It seems that some people out there find desserts to be excessively simple. I have never attempted making any sort of either confection, but I'm guessing I could find a way to screw them up. I'm not exactly Wolfgang Puck in the kitchen.

Because I don't appreciate the idea that I would probably set off my smoke alarm in finishing simple culinary processes, I think we need to disassociate desserts and simpleness. Instead, those wishing to convey the idea that an activity was not difficult can say, "Easy as finishing this very statement... The one that I'm speaking right now... Period." How easy is that?

"So easy, a baby could do it."
This phrase echoes the idea that anything a baby does is easy. I disagree. Over the weekend, I watched as my eight-month-old niece continually crawled across a hardwood kitchen floor and was consistently entertained by her own sneezes. As a young adult whose knees get sore when i think about kneeling, and who no longer finds sneezes to be fascinating and/or fun, I don't consider either of these tasks to be easy.

"It ain't over, til it's over."
Actually, I can't find any fault with this one. I just really needed something to close with.

It's over.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Number Crunching

Recently, The Writings conducted a survey about the NCAA men's basketball tournament Final Four. With the championship game now well in our past and the North Carolina Tar Heels cemented in history as champs, its time to examine the survey results.*

*If you're saying, "Actually, it would have made a lot more sense to examine these results right after championship game," you're a rather astute reader. However, you're also making me look kind of foolish. I hope there's no one around to listen to you.

Question 1 - Who will win the NCAA Tournament?

Results - One-third of the field correctly predicted that Tyler Hansbrough's natural "I'm very surprised" look would be prominently featured in the post-game "One Shining Moment" video package with UNC becoming National Champions. Unfortunately, half of respondents picked teams that did not even wind up in the championship game.

Conclusion - It seems my readers take after me. On the whole, they predict things with the precision of Robin of Locksley's arthritic grandmother.

Question 2 - Which team nickname would be the least creepy for a member of the opposite sex to call you?

Results - There was no clear winner, as Wildcat and Spartan split the vote evenly.

Conclusion - Note to self: It seems that calling a female "Huskie" is a bad idea. Who could have guessed that?

Question 3 - I would rather watch...

Results - The University of North Carolina wins another one, as alum Michael Jordan's Space Jam picked up 2/3 of the vote. MSU alum Magic Johnson's instructional video was the only choice that did not earn a single vote.

Conclusion - In the world of The Writings, playing basketball with a cartoon rabbit against aliens is cool. Learning fundamentals is not... That, or readers have seen Magic recently and realize that he doesn't look to be doing much running up and down the court himself.

Question 4 - My interest in the remaining games of the NCAA Tournament is best described as...

Results - There was no consensus. Answers encompassed the entire spectrum.

Conclusion - The readership is diverse when it comes to the world of sports. Some readers like nothing more than a good game, while others would rather watch highlights of a results show for "So You Think You Can Yodel While Tap Dancing and Shotgunning a Schlitz?"*

*Actually, I think that sounds like a pretty entertaining show. Can someone make that happen?

Question 5 - I know who Lastings Milledge and/or Justin Upton are/is.

Results - Alas, we have consensus, and it comes in the form of an overwhelming "no."

Conclusion - It seems normal people, (yes, dear reader, I consider you normal) are not concerned with knowing the starting lineups for the Washington Nationals or the Arizona Diamondbacks. While this is a bit startling, I will attempt to proceed.

Ques-... C'mon, you aren't even remotely interested in knowing that Milledge bats leadoff and plays centerfield for the Nationals? Or that Upton is a former No. 1 pick and starts for the Diamondbacks despite the fact that he's only 21? I think you're going to regret this when the two clubs meet in May.

...What do you mean you won't be watching?

Question 6 - I think this quiz was worthwhile, and I'd like to see more in the future. Yes or no?

Results - If we were in the midst of a game of Family Feud, you'd be feeling pretty good about picking "yes" as the top response.

Conclusion - People love providing their opinions... That, or readers like boosting my confidence after feeble attempts to try something new. Either way, I'll take it.

Question 7 - In seven words or less, describe a topic you'd like to like to see The Writings cover.

Results - I can't list them here. That would be like the writers of Lost coming out and saying what key plot twists are ahead in the series... Wait, no. That's not right, because the writers of Lost are actually talented. Nevertheless, I'm still going to refuse to release such sensitive information.

Conclusion - None, however I do have to speak on something else. As I type this, I have a nationally televised baseball game showing on my TV. A commentator in this very game is continually mispronouncing the name of one player. It's not even a difficult name to pronounce, yet he's butchering it as if he's attempting to speak Klingon or Elvish. Perhaps I am a bit idealistic, but I would think that one might double-check name pronunciations when he or she knows that they'll be mentioning said names on national television. Honestly, it's like posting something on the World Wide Web without proper editing.

... Oh, nevermind.

Question 8 - In one sentence, word, or incoherent fragment, type anything... seriously anything...

Results - Responses ranged from the very literal ("I am typing anything... seriously anything"), to quick-hitting ("beets" and "poop") to suggestions for the future ("multiple choice only").

Conclusion - The reader participation is valued, and I hope to have more of it in the future... That, and apparently one reader has a finger condition that makes it difficult to type, but not to click things with a mouse. We wish him a speedy recovery.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Attention Deficit Writing

While stopped at a stoplight the other day, I noticed something strange. A middle-aged man on a motorcycle was making a left turn from the cross street to my right. As he turned, he gave a head nod to one, and only one person. He acknowledged no one else. I glanced to my left to see who this nod-worthy being was. Was it an elder he was respecting. Maybe someone semi-famous or perhaps a soldier? Nope. The lucky recipient of acknowledgement was just some younger guy, also on a motorcycle. I'm sorry*, but is there some kind of code that Mr. Borntobewild was following? Do motorcycle owners have to sign waivers saying they'll only acknowledge fellow bikers? Naturally, I've put too much thought into this. We better move on to other things occupying too much space in my head.

*I'm not really sorry. There's really nothing to be sorry about. Forgive my usage of common language standards that really don't make sense if examined... Now I guess I am sorry.

- The Royals are 2-1 after topping the White Sox today. In three games this year, KC's starting pitching has been so good that it makes one want to laugh hysterically (or cry uncontrollably) about the fact that Scott Elarton (5.29 career ERA... if you don't know baseball, just know that number isn't good) started for the Royals on Opening Day just three years ago. While the pitching, aside from one reliever whose name rhymes with barns-girth, has been stellar, the offense has been lacking. Unfortunately, I'm guessing the boys in blue may have to score more than two runs to pick up a victory on several occasions this season. Nevertheless, one should not complain about topping a division rival in the first series of the season.

- Is there anything more frustrating that waking up earlier than you need to and not being able to get back to sleep? Anything? For some reason, despite the fact that i was legitimately tired, I was stricken with such an issue last night. Upon waking up, it seemed that every sound was amplified as if it were being broadcast via bullhorn. I tossed. I turned. I put a pillow over my head to attempt to cut down on the noise. All of this, yet sleep did not come. Often when this is the case, it's because thoughts are running loose in my head like wild dingos in the Austrailian Outback. Oddly, last night the main thought in my mind was, "Hey, stupid*, go back to sleep."

*I'm mean when I'm tired.

- I have to mention the Ben Folds concert I had the opportunity to attend on Wednesday evening. It was fantastic; well worth the price of admission. Even the opening act, Jukebox the Ghost, exceeded expectations. A trio featuring a pianist, lead guitar, and drummer, Jukebox the Ghost's (JtG, since we at The Writings are hip) style somewhat resembled that of Folds himself. Their tunes were fun and, with the crowd on its feet as they left the stage, JtG certainly helped gear the crowd up for the evening's main attraction. Alas, Mr. Folds was not the next performer. An a capella group from St. Louis took the stage next. They got in the audience's good graces by opening with a Ben Folds song, going as far as including a beatbox specialist (although he had a bit of an Opie look to him). A couple seemingly endless songs later (sorry, but this group was no Here Comes Treble*), the Hart Foundation** exited stage left (or is that stage right? No, it's left... I think), and - after a lengthy sound check - it was time to rock... well, rock as much as one can when a piano is involved.

*I know at least two readers get that reference.

**This was definitely not the group's name, but I don't recall what it actually was. I figure, when in doubt, go with the name of a classic WWF faction.

From the first strike of a hammer on a piano cord, Folds had the crowd wrapped around his rapid-fire fingers. He played songs from his newest album, classics from the days of Ben Folds Five, and even a couple songs that were created with the sole intention of misleading folks into thinking they were tracks leaked from his most recent album.

If this concert accomplished anything, it confirmed the idea in my head that Folds is a musical genius. He rigged his piano with Altoids tins to give it an eerie, almost Nintendo-esque sound for the song Free Coffee. He improvised a song about a fly he saw on stage, and even worked in some "second grade jokes" in the midst of it. His work on the piano keys is unbelivable - something one might not expect considering that, at different points in the evening, he played with his foot, forearm, elbows, and piano stool. Overall, it was simply an excellent evening.

- You may notice a new link on the top left portion of the page. That will take you to a page where you can view things I post on Associated Content. You should probably check it out.*

*The Writings: We're all about shameless self-promotion.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

What rhymes with Ichiro?

Well, after submitting a poem about The Office in a call for content on Associated Content, I'm feel like keeping this whole "thinking in verse" thing going. (Seriously, the rhymes are flowing.) The question is, what can I spit some rhymes* about? (Most likely a topic without much clout.) Faithful readers will attest that my baseball fanaticism may be taken further than it should be. (Faithful readers? That may be just me.) They'll also tell you that I enjoy making horrendous predictions that don't have a Hershey's-at-fat-camp chance of coming true. (If by this you're offended, please don't sue.) Stir all these details in a pot and you get the inaugural edition of "The Writings Opening Day Poetry Jam"... I mean it. (Anybody want a peanut?)**

*Note to self: The phrase "spit some rhymes" may work well for rappers making millions of dollars, but it doesn't quite fit for a mid-western writer whose stanzas rival those submitted in 10th-grade English classes. Drop it.

**Thank you to the genius writers of The Princess Bride for this last rhyme, along with the general premise of that entire paragraph. Sorry to those same genius writers for butchering their shtick.

National League East
Meet the Mets, Meet the Mets,
It's guaranteed someone will defeat Mets;
They choked away divisional leads each of the last two seasons,
They addressed their bullpen in the offseason, thinking relievers were the reasons.
I apologize to those in Queens, but this is how I call it,
The fellas in Philly will win it again, despite your enormous wallet.
Alas, Met fans, don't go thinking that your poor franchise is cursed,
You'll make the playoffs as the Wild Card, giving you a few more games before your bubble bursts.

National League Central
It seems that last year, for no good reason,
I picked against the Cubs;
I wrote them off and picked the Astros,
basically considering the Cubbies schlubs.
2009 is a new year,
a time for setting things right;
This season, the Cubs are my pick in the Central,
instead of choosing someone else out of spite.
Fueled by Soriano, their lineup is strong,
And their pitching staff can turn a few heads;
However the main reason I picked them,
is because I could not convince myself to pick the Reds.

National League West
"Manny being Manny." Wow, that refrain will never stop,
I can't stand he or the Dodgers, so I hope they're a flop.
The Rockies dumped their best player, and the Giants' lineup is a joke,
The Padres remind me of a AAA squad, (I could also cite some Royals' teams whose memories they evoke)
Just one team remains, and it's one that won't make traffic halt,
Arizona wins by two sweet words, as Homer Simpson would say "de fault."

American League East
If you're a bird in the AL East, you're pretty much out of luck,
The Blue Jays and Orioles stand no chance, some might say they're... in trouble*
The Rays, the Yankees, and the Sox, which one will it be?
Here's a vote for the Red Sox to take it, with the Rays getting the Wild Card seed.
But what about the Yankees, and their personal stimulus plan?
They'll serve as models for the rest of the league, in determining which stimulants to ban.

*This edit brought to you by the Censor's Association of America.

American League Central
The Royals... No, I can't.
The Royals... Wait, I won't.
Unbridled optimism tells me to pick them,
but the fact that I'm horrible with predictions tells me "don't!"
They have a legitimate shot,
there's no standout in the group,
but I fear that the moment I pick them,
to unbelievable depths they'll stoop.
Injuries could strike, the pitching could falter,
Alex Gordon could get the bird flu,
What the heck, who am I trying to kid by picking anyone different?
KC wins the division by two.

American League West
Nothing much here, the Angels will win,
you see, the rest of the division is McLovin thin.
There's really not much else to say, though there's space to fill,
I thought about attempting to rhyme "Ichiro," but that seems to be an unclimbable hill.

Eight teams will have a chance at the World Series,
but only two will succeed,
We'll begin by eliminating the Diamondbacks,
They have a few too many areas of need.
Alas, the Royals don't make the cut,
So they're crossed off the list,
You can also say goodbye to the Angels,
although Danny Glover will be missed.
I don't see the Phillies making a return,
so that cuts us down to four,
Cubs vs. Mets and Red Sox vs. Rays,
what do the league championships have in store?
The young Rays are a year older and wiser,
they'll drop the Red Sox in six;
Meanwhile the Cubbies will finally return to the Series,
causing much joy near ivy covered bricks.
The Rays were part of Major League expansion,
just 11 years ago;
While the Chicago club has seen three different centuries and 27 presidents,
and enough bad luck to make the Washington Generals say "whoa."
Is this the year? Could this be it?
Will the Cubs finally be champs again?
Not if Upton, Longoria and crew have their say,
Look for the Rays to win.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Here's Your Sign

Driving home today on the tail of an impromptu weekend trip, I noticed a sign on an interstate off-ramp. It was situated so that any drivers that might erroneously attempt to use this off-ramp for "on" purposes would notice it. The message of the sign is a simple one. It simply says, "WRONG WAY."* I support the message this sign is getting across, as it seems that driving against the flow of traffic could result in very few positive outcomes. In fact, other than working to sharpen the reflexes of the offending driver and those law abiding drivers with terrified looks on their faces, I can think of no gains whatsoever that might be drawn from such a loss of direction. Nevertheless, I wonder if a better sign could be created for the purpose of diverting errant-minded vehicles. Can we replace WRONG WAY with something that is both more effective and aesthetically pleasing?

What's wrong with "WRONG WAY"? Well, first of all, it's not really even a complete thought. With signs like "STOP" and "YIELD" the reader is being directly told to act in a certain manner. The "You should.." in the thought is implied, creating a complete thought. I don't see the "WRONG WAY" sign in the same manner... especially if the reader continues to operate with the thought that signs imply "You should..."

It also seems to me that anyone who makes the mistake of going the wrong way on an off-ramp (or on-ramp, for that matter) deserves to have the matter rubbed in his or her face. If they're going to learn not to do it again (and 13 near-accidents have no effect) they're going to have to be spoken to in a manner that will be memorable. What follows are my suggestions (to be submitted to the department of transportation at a later date) for successors to the WRONG WAY sign. If you have any suggestions, please pass them along.

- If you don't see anything wrong with this situation, please pull over, grab your driver's license, chuck it out your window, and prepare your thumb for hitchhiking. Driving is not for you.

- If you are reading this, you may not be reading much longer. Consider making an evasive maneuver.

- You know those people that slow down to look at car accidents? They might be checking out your vehicle soon.

- Your horoscope for the day: If you continue the path you're on, things will get much worse before they're any better.

- Hey, Goober. Turn around.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Your Source for Journalism

Attention readers:
The governing board of The Writings has decided that this writing will contain no horrible attempts at humor. We're devoting this column to covering important issues with a fair and balanced view. It will be journalism at it's finest.

I'd say "April Fools" right here, but I'm pretty confident that my readers are too sharp to believe the previous paragraph... That, or they quit reading* because a blog that has spent time detailing conversations overheard at Burger King doesn't exactly scream "journalism at it's finest." At least I'm pretty confident I never misquoted those folks.

*Wait, if my readers already quit reading that who is reading this? I think that thought just popped a blood vessel in my head. It's kind of a question with the "sound of one hand clapping" vibe to it.

Anyway, with the employment that actually pays my bills consuming far too much time lately, I've had little time to observe much else. Because I'd rather ride a tricycle in a game of chicken than write about my job, we're kicking it old school (I don't really know what that's supposed to mean here, it's just a fun phrase to use. Try it. I'll wait... ) and passing along some quick observations.

- A commercial refers to Fast and Furious as the best in the relatively recent series of movies that team up the words "fast" and "furious" in their titles. It seems to me that this is kind of like calling a half-eaten bearclaw that has soaked up an unidentifiable liquid the most delectable pastry in a bakery dumpster.

- I recently joined, a website that allows you to customize a sort of online radio station, and serve as your own disc jockey (headphones, glowsticks, and annoying catchphrases not included). Other members can listen to the songs you choose to play and give you "props" (please note: these aren't props in the Carrot Top sense). I received props from three different listeners for playing Paul Simon's Call Me Al... and it was strangely satisfying.

- Another note on blip... To notify me that I'm logged in, the website says, "You are dereklarson" up in the right hand corner. I'm just glad to know that, should I ever get amnesia while on my laptop, will be there to help me remember my name (even if I do end up thinking dereklarson is all one name). Blip - your memory is safe with them.

- In other online, social networking news, of sorts, an NBA player recently was reprimanded for "tweeting" (updating his status on Twitter, for those unfamiliar with online terminology seemingly inspired by ornithology) during halftime of a game he was participating in. Yes, folks, professional athletes tweet during their games... Next up, surgeons. Soon you'll see a post saying "Just sewed up appendectomy patient, but now idk where scalpel is. :( " *

*Texting language used to demonstrate absurdity of situation only. Please do not try at home.

- We're just days away from Major League Baseball's Opening Day 2009, and I'm beginning to lie awake pondering important questions like "When he's in the lineup, should Mark Teahen bat second in the order?" and "Can Sidney Ponson actually be a worthwhile starter?" On top of that, I participated in a fantasy baseball draft last night and landed the player I consider to be the best in the game - Albert Pujols. All this really means is that in a few weeks you will probably get to be part of a poll asking if I should seek help for a baseball addiction. Your input is appreciated.