Thursday, July 29, 2010

Have you ever noticed.... - July 29 thought

Have you ever noticed that the people that spell "moron" with the m-o-r-a-n letter sequence also seem to publish thoughts with that word more often than most folks in a public forum?

I've never been an expert in irony - especially since Alanis Morissette's song has a skewed view on the subject - but it seems that this phenomenon may be reeking of it. 

Sunday, July 25, 2010

People in Your Neighborhood - The Concert Edition

On Friday night, I had the opportunity to see Ben Folds in concert for the second time. The show was excellent. The people were prime subjects for examination. Join me, won't you, as look into the cast of characters one might meet up with at a concert.

The Vulture
In the wild, vultures fly circles around dead or dying animals in anticipation of a fly-caked feast. At a concert, the vulture drives circles around the City Market where the concert is taking place, stopping their truck in the middle of the street to ask pedestrians who is actually performing in the concert that night. Upon hearing the name "Ben Folds" the vulture will provide a quizzical look - the type one might see on the face of someone attempting to set up their cell phone while using instructions written in Latin - and reply back in the most southern of twangs "Band Folds?"

I don't think the vulture ended up buying a ticket.

The bargain shopper
Just outside the gate to get into the concert, as it is with most events, there were folks in bulk working to purchase tickets and folks looking to sell. One particular buyer did not seem to have a convincing purchasing pitch. As others just spoke of wanting tickets for the chance to get in, this hopeful buyer hollered out that he wanted to "get a cheap ticket." Note to buyer: if I'm looking to sell my car and I know that there are several potential buyers, I'm not going to be sucked in by the guy who calls me saying that he wants to buy a car for cheap. The same goes for you and your ticket purchase.

The hippie lady who likes giving directions
While navigating the crowd to find the best locale for our concert viewing, we zipped in front of some folks and behind others. The band prior to Ben Folds played music slightly more rockish* than the featured artist, and some folks found such rhythms fit to dance to. Hippie Lady, with her braided hair and tie-dyed outfit, swayed to the music as if she were a shirt on a clothesline drifting in the breeze. As we approached Hippie Lady, she stopped her dancing, and - with an annoyed look gracing her face - went into air traffic controller mode. She waved for us to cross in front of her with the urgency of Dwight Schrute trying to get his office mates away from a fire. At no point did she ever shout "Have you ever seen a burn victim?" but it may have been coming if we hadn't hustled. After we had passed by, Hippie Lady went back to dancing in a manner that may have been last seen in 1969.

The guys with the funny-looking pipe
Maybe this one doesn't need examination. We better leave it alone.

One of the kids had an awful cough, though.

The Sleeper
Attending a "rock fest" takes a lot out of a person. In fact, for some, it's all they can do to stay awake for the 5.5 hours the show goes on. As you may have guessed, the sleeper didn't make it to the end. Instead he lay flat on his back on the City Market sidewalk, just feet away from the edge of the concert crowd and used the brick wall of a storefront as his pillow. Though the sounds of Mr. Folds' piano were quite amplified for all in attendance, The Sleeper snoozed as though he'd ingested a double-dose of Ambien.

Odds that he had ingested just far too much of something alcoholic by nature? Pretty strong.

The best way to end this Writing? With Mr. Folds' own clsing, of course. (Please note that the camera-work is not mine; just uploaded from YouTube. My cellphone video looks more like something filmed from a neighboring town and the sound features more static than a transmission from space.)

Ben Folds closing song

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Words to live by

In response to a customer service e-mail the other day, I received the following reply:

"I'm not sure how I screwed up, but I appreciate the cooperation."

Someday, if I am married, I will have this sentenced printed on a 3x5-inch card and have it laminated so that I can read it out loud whenever an argument occurs.

The Writings: We're sensitive.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Weather or Not

I watched the film "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs"* recently. While the film is a fictional story (I think it's fictional anyway), it brings an interesting thought regarding weather. In the story, a scientist invents a machine that affects the weather in a manner that delectable meals will fall from the sky. Want to treat your entire town to cheeseburgers? Tell the scientist. Boom, quarter-pound patties dressed in cheddar for all. Been craving sweets? Track down Dr. Foodcrafter and you'll be riding a brownie sled down a sundae hill tomorrow afternoon. The scientist became a celebrity and everyone was thrilled with the weather... Until the food mutated into massive proportions that crushed homes and ruined people's lives, then folks weren't so happy.

*One might be saying to him-or-herself, "I wonder who this guy watched a movie intended for children like this one with." The answer to such a pondering? Surely not by myself via Netflix streaming online service... Boy, would that be embarrassing. (Insert nervous laugh here.) Follow up response: Why do you refer to me as "this guy" anyway? C'mon, my name is in the URL of this blog. (No, my name isn't Blog Spot.)

Frankly, the film is extremely far-fetched, though not for the reasons you think. Raining meatballs? I think such a weather anomaly is far more likely than the truly tall tale in this story: the fact that everyone feels the same way about the weather.

As I type this, the weather outside my apartment is - in my opinion - disgusting. With the near-triple-digit heat and humidity that rivals most aquarium habitats, a simple walk to my car is akin to walking face-first into a giant sponge that has been toasting in the oven. I'd rather encounter nearly any other sort of weather (aside from natural disasters, which are stricken from this discussion, since we're assuming that all people actually have souls) when offered the choice. And yet, on a drive by the park I'll see people out walking or jogging and enjoying themselves. I'll see kids having a blast at the pool. I'll even see folks motoring by with their car windows down and looking comfortable. It seems unbelievable to me, but some folks do actually enjoy this weather.

When you sit down and really examine it*, the weather is a lot like a political issue. You're never going to have consensus. Some people hate the rain. When my area had a run several consecutive days with precipitation a few weeks back, there were grumblers all over the place.

*Or even if you stand up and sort of examine it.

"Oh, I wish the sun would come out."

"The clouds are so gloomy."

"This rain really sucks."

... and so forth. Frankly, I love the rain. It may be the result of some sort of mental imbalance, but I find a rain shower to be relaxing. I just like to hear the drops littering a window, or a roof, or a sidewalk. Weird? Most definitely, but I'd choose a rainy day over one like today every chance I could. (Sorry potential future wife that I have yet to meet that potentially wants a sunny, outdoor wedding.)*

*Now we're really getting far-fetched.

In winter, there's snow. Kids love snow. College students who attend universities whose presidents love to call for snow days love snow. Folks with towing and/or plow businesses love snow. Unfortunately, those that have to go out and shovel their sidewalks and driveways are so fond. Same goes for the folks that never learned how to actually drive in the snow and fishtail on the road more than the entrees at a Japanese restaurant.

Whatever weather situation your mind can conjure (again, barring the natural disasters), I'm confident you'll find folks on either side of the fence. It's a beautiful Spring day? Not for some folks with seasonal allergies. Isn't the fall breeze wonderful? Not if you're the one raking those leaves. It's the weather, and it's a subject for which there will never be consensus.

... Though there should be. The heat/humidity combo is an ache that hinders the summer and I'm sweating just thinking about it.*

*No, shouts of "Captain Sweaty" my direction are not appreciated.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Summer hoops, summer not

It's a Thursday night and I've already polished off the critically-acclaimed film "The Hurt Locker." (Verdict: Not bad, but it's no Highlander.) I'm now faced with hours left in my evening and nothing to fill them. Sure, I could do the dishes that are piling up in my sink or do some ironing, but it's a Thursday and that seems sacrilegious on such a day.* Besides, how could I do any sort of housework when I have the chance to watch a couple top draft picks, a collection of NBA hangers-on, and a whopping handful of guys that have as much chance on suiting up for an NBA squad next year as I do. It's the NBA Summer League and it's Faaaaaaantastic! On to the highlights...

*No, I have nothing to support such a claim. Nothing. (The Writings: Make less sense than usual since July 2010.)

- Cartier Martin, a member of The Writings' All-Time Favorites K-State Basketball team* has put together quite a game for the Washington Wizards' summer league squad. He has 23 points so far. No joke here, just some purple pride.

*Who makes up the five man roster? Thanks for not asking. (Note: I'm not exactly an old man. I don't remember K-State hoops prior to 1988 and this obviously sways the judging.)... G- Jacob Pullen; G- Askia Jones; F- Mitch Richmond; F- Cartier Martin; F- Michael Beasley

- The 2010 top pick in the NBA Draft - John Wall - is playing for the summer Wizards*. The kid is faster than most animals in the Serengeti, leaps like a spider monkey, and apparently skipped the ESPYs last night to show his devotion to the team... Hey, I skipped the ESPYs, too; where's my recognition?

*That name sounds like some horrible band that does nothing but Harry Potter tribute songs, no?

- The coach of Washington's squad is Sam Cassel. You probably know Sam for one of two things: 1. He won two NBA championships with the Houston Rockets in the 90s; 2. He kind of looks like an alien.

- The Dallas Mavericks' summer league roster features three guys I recognize and a load of players that may or may not be vacuum salesmen during the winter. Honestly, the rest of the team could very well be the cast of High School Musical and I wouldn't know any different. (Although if they broke into song after a missed layup I might grow suspicious.)

- The Washington roster also features a young big man by the name of JaVale McGee. Mr. McGee's mom played in the WNBA. Now, Mr. McGee's mom is being interviewed during this NBA summer league game shown only on NBATV. Am I wrong to think the crowd seeing her tonight is still bigger than any that saw her on television during her playing days?

- After the game, McGee says that his mom gives him tips of "things he didn't realize" after the games, like "go for the rebound." Being that he is an NBA player, let's hope JaVale realizes this one on his own before long.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

What can we learn from commercials? Lesson #1

#1 - Driving a Kia is decidely better than being a hamster attempting to drive a toaster.

Friday, July 09, 2010

The Dating Handbook

If you know me (and since you're reading this, odds are pretty good that you do. (Good to see you. It's been a long time. How are the kids/dogs/televisions?)), you probably laughed when you read the title of this Writing. After all, I've never been confused for any sort of ladies' man. Generally, I go on dates about as often as someone says "That was a great way to spend two hours," after watching "Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny." Nevertheless, The Writings have given advice on subjects like child-rearing and stress-relief in previous entries even though I have never fathered/adopted a child nor do I live an insanely stressful life. (Though it can be tough deciding which frozen dinners I'd like to purchase at the market.) With that in mind, one has to figure I'm at least somewhat qualified to breakdown different options for entertaining a date. (After all, you can only go watch a bear drive around in a tiny car so many times.*)

*Note: If you did not understand this reference, you should really make a concentrated effort to see more episodes of The Simpsons. Watch them all and it will almost be like we're speaking the same language.

Though I've never lived in a larger city, I have to imagine dating options might be more diverse in locations where one can find some sort of live entertainment any night of the week. Keep in mind that this guide is written for an area where "supporting the arts" might mean going to watch a school rendition of "A Very Snoopy Musical."

Dinner and a movie
The good - It's a dating classic. When one hears the term "date night" this combo is likely the first thought to come to mind. (Unless one is a really big fan of dried figs.) There's much to like about this combination. Who likes dinner? Everyone. Who like moves? Nearly everyone. (Perhaps not the Amish.)

The bad - Scheduling can be tricky. If you plan to see a 7 p.m. show but restaurant service is slow, you're looking at a pressure situation, and even facing the possibility of missing the preview for the next M. Night Shyamalan film that no one understands.
There's also the rare (though terrifying) chance that the chef at the eatery will be someone who holds a grudge against you for declining a birthday party invitation in fourth grade. You didn't eat the birthday cake then, but you might be eating something that tastes like it's been sitting out for 17 years now.

Walk in the park
The good - It's scenic. You can enjoy the outdoors. You get exercise. The walks can even present new topics for conversation if you're struggling for ideas. (Or if you really just enjoy observation humor... Not speaking from experience or anything here.)

The bad - If you're prone to perspiring in the face more than the average person (again, certainly not speaking from experience), said feature may look like you've been steaming in a sauna after just a quarter of a lap.
If your date falls on the Attention Deficit side of the fence, your nice stroll might turn into 20 minutes spent chasing a squirrel.
Parks are public. That's not a bad thing, but the fact that old men wearing clothing that puts the "short" in "shorts" might be walking ahead of you puts forth an interesting date environment.

The good - Who doesn't love live music? (Other than the Grinch when Whos are involved... and I suppose those that can't hear are probably indifferent.)

The bad - If it's a popular act your going to see, you're going to pay good money and you'll have to deal with horrible traffic. If it's not a popular act, the concert might be free, but you might end up hearing a curse-filled song about Wal-Mart. (In hindsight, that would be pretty funny, but your date might be offended at the time.)
If your idea of going to a concert is sitting in the hallway outside your neighbor's apartment to listen to his horrible attempts at rapping, you won't have to worry about many more dates.

Putt-putt golf/Bowling
The good - There's nothing wrong with a little friendly competition. In fact, it can be an excellent way to break any (figurative) ice that might be present.

The bad - There can be something wrong with competition if you're a sore loser. Serious accusations that your date stepped over the foul line or didn't count a golf stroke, though they may seem relevant at the time, might ultimately have you viewed as "insane" or "unstable."
If you are genuinely horrible at either "sport" true embarrassment could be encountered. Sure, you're date will probably be civil, but it's never good when 7-year-old in the next lane over is laughing at the 89 you rolled.

Watching live sports
The good - There's action and there are an endless amount of conversation topics, from the play of your team's point guard to the fact that the chubby cheerleader looks like she's going to eat floor every time she does a backflip.

The bad - There's the chance your team will lose (If you have the author's luck, they almost certainly will) leading to an awkward close to the date when you say, "I had a really good time tonight... except for the fact that we can't make a freaking free throw! That was unbelievable! My niece's Elmo toy could shoot 48-percent from the line!"

With that, we've run through the most basic of date options. If you can think of any that I've missed that you would like analyzed, feel free to comment. Due to the fact that many females seem to have unfortunate allergic reactions that cause them to leave the area when I'm near, you probably don't need to worry about having any such date ideas stolen.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

I thought the real king was on those Burger King commercials...

The internet was abuzz today when, after much wait and speculation, basketball star LeBron James… joined Twitter.
Yes, you read that correctly. The biggest NBA free agent in years had reporters scrambling to type up stories all because he joined a social networking site. (As of 6:37 p.m. CT, Google News shows 1,731 articles related to the topic of his enlistment in the Twitter army.) I think a large headline reading “Slow News Day” would have been more worthwhile.

Whatever the case, LeBron is a tweeter. His account has beenverified by the good folks (or super-intelligent birds… think about it) at Twitter, so you know it’s really him.* Though he’s had a profile on the site for less than one Earth-day, he already has 150,000 followers. My assumption is that these 150,000+ folks signed up to follow Mr. James as quickly as they could, thinking that he might potentially announce the team he will sign with via that very medium. Thus, they’ll get the news 3.2 seconds faster than everyone else on Earth. Good for them.

*I’ve been on Twitter for awhile now. (@dereklarson… This ends my shameless plug.) Why haven’t they ever wanted to verify my
account? Are you telling me that there are not people out there that might want to pretend to be Derek Larson?**

**Yes. That is what you are saying.

One intriguing part of this whole “story” is James’ account name, which seems to embrace royal bloodlines. You can find his feed by
looking up @kingjames on Twitter. His first tweet was even “Hello World*, the Real King James is in the Building 'Finally'...

*Am I the only one who wishes that he would have followed "Hello World" with "there's a song that we're singin'..."? (The Writings: Your one-stop resource for references to 1970s/80s television shows about singing families that ride around in technicolor buses.)

I hope you all realize the importance of LeBron's first tweet. If he's the "Real King James" that means he's the author of the King James Version of the bible and he's actually much older than the 25 listed on his player profile. Thank goodness he clear all of that up and put all of the poser King Jameses in their place. 

Few realize it, but I think his first tweet ever (to soon be etched into stone and preserved in the Smithsonian) actually spills the beans on his free agency destination. After all, there’s a certain team in Sacramento with a royal feel to it, and how can someone call himself a "Real King" if he doesn't play for said team?

Do what you need to do, LeBron. Sign with the Kings.*

*I’m looking for my Blog Approval Ratings to really skyrocket in northern California after this Writing.

Monday, July 05, 2010

It was your birthday, USA, and all you got was this lousy blog

How does one celebrate a country's birthday? This weekend, I encountered a number of methods, from the practical to the ridiculous. (Actually, most are pretty ridiculous.) It's time we examine a few such party games.

In the small town of Randolph on Saturday, I took in a car show. Along with V8s and chrome, I also had the chance to see plenty of folks in sleeveless t-shirts at the vehicular exhibition. It was here that I was reminded of one simple lesson: sleeves are for suckers.

Just down the road from the car show, a large group of folks celebrated the nation's birth with an extremely patriotic activity: trying to run a four-wheeler through a pit full of mud. The event, known as the Mud Bog, is one that is known for it's complicated scoring rubric and abundance of sophisticated rules... That, or it involves nothing more than, again, running a four-wheeler at full speed and trying to drive through a mud-filled bog. (... I'm not sure why it's called the Mud Bog. It's a mystery.) There was quite a large gathering of folks watching young men drive into the ditch only to get caked in mud and be forced to have their four-wheelers towed out by a tractor. It's interesting; the event is no more a sport than when a person's 1980 Impala with bald tires gets stuck in the snow, yet people love it. Happy birthday, America.

Another staple in the celebration of America's independence is, naturally, eating as much greasy food as one can fit in their face. It's time for funnel cakes and deep-fried pork rinds. Why, one might ask, is overeating such an important part of celebrating America? The answer is one you'll find between two pieces of fried chicken posing as sandwich bread. Overeating is such a staple in our society that we have Competitive Eating competitions. In America, the person who eats the most hot dogs on the 4th gets a championship belt. In other countries, competitive eating refers to actually fighting for food in order to, you know, live.

The main way we celebrate Independence Day is the most subtle one imaginable: we blow things up. We're free... It's time for bottle rockets! We have the right to say whatever we want and practice religion as we please... Toss me an M-80 and a couple G.I. Joe figures, would you?

I joke about some of the idiosyncrasies that result from being a free country, but I'd be remiss (and no one wants to be remiss) if I didn't mention how much such freedom is actually worth. It's undeniably important to be thankful each and every day for the rights we do have. After all, without freedom to express ourselves, The Writings would not exist. Then how happy would you really be?

... On second thought, don't answer that.