friday morning monologue

Let’s be clear – In the world of reporting, there are headlines and then there are headlines.

Emmy nominations are out this week, with Netflix’s House of Cards reeling in 9 nominations, a stunning total for the streaming service’s first go at original programming. Netflix is said to already be prepping for a win with new categories like Dramas We Told You Were Awesome Like A Year Ago. If they return trophy-less however, brace for categories like Critically Acclaimed Series Shunned By An Out-Of-Touch Academy.

Also out this week – Forbes list of the highest paid actors of the last year. In order the top 5 are:
Robert Downey, Jr. for putting on a suit
Channing Tatum for taking one off
Hugh Jackman as the star of Les Mis: French Wolverine
Mark Wahlberg, who will keep less of his money pending a nasty divorce with his right bicep.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, a virtually unknown character actor whose nuanced performances let him disappear into roles like Quentin Compson in William Faulkner’s The Sound And The Fury and Benedict in Joss Whedon’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.

This weekend is, of course, San Diego Comic Con – the annual celebration of Things That You Got Beat Up For Liking In Middle School. While much of popular culture has now embraced fantasy, science fiction and super heroics, a group of devoted former bullies will still gather next week in Boulder, Colorado for their yearly convention – Fireworks, Shut Up & The First Half Of Metallica’s Black Album.

Fair to say Jon Hamm killed as host of the ESPY Awards this year. He appears to be good at everything he does, and that’s why America is allowed to both love and hate him. But the ESPYs themselves are a wonderfully weird event. It’s basically a physical-fitness-obsessed version of Jeopardy’s Tournament of Champions. Everyone there is already a winner. Already in the winner’s circle. But much like elevating from Yankee to True Yankee, their winningness has granted them access to a subjective competition about who among them will be a winner’s winner. Who will enter the winner’s circle inner circle?

Since the awards show catalogs the previous year in sports, it’s not too much of a challenge to guess who will win Best NBA Athlete Named James or Best Hair on a NCAA Coach, but it seems like they’re really missing out by not handling out a few legacy awards for popular sports from previous eras like Fastest Athlete (Non-Horse), Best All-Wool Uniforms and Most Courteous Velocipede Rider.

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friday morning monologue

Dwight Howard broke the news that he’s decided to leave the LA Lakers and sign with the Houston Rockets. “I’m proud of the time I’ve spent not winning championships in LA, but it’s time to move on. Houston is an amazing team and I can’t wait to get to work not winning a championship with the Rockets.”

In a new campaign to promote fire safety, Smokey the Bear gives out hugs instead of gruff advice and furry finger pointing. It’s cute, different and most importantly, it provides Smokey with the opportunity to pickpocket unsuspecting campers. Hey, husky jeans and personalized monogrammed hats aren’t exactly cheap.

Other mascots whose names seem counterintuitive to their messages:
Tipsy the Sober Ostrich
Snappy the Polite Turtle
Sir Waste-a-lot, the Recycling Walrus

Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig is said to be preparing to suspend as many as 20 MLB players for suspected steroid use. Selig stated, “People really hated when I let the 2002 All Star Game end in a tie, but that was over a decade ago. Baseball fans are a loyal group and truly deserve a fresh reason to dislike my tenure and question my erratic, possibly vindictive decision-making process.”

Breaking news: Edward Snowden is still literally somewhere, technically nowhere, and digitally everywhere. If he cannot reach an asylum agreement with Russia, Venezuela or Nicaragua, he may be forced to apply at the last nations on his list: Latveria, Atlantis or Dinotopia.

Prince William and Kate Middleton’s baby is due any day and London is in a frenzy with news crews camping outside the hospital and bets being placed on the royal baby’s name. Odds-on favorites include Alexandra if it’s a girl and George if it’s a boy. The royal family has downplayed rumors that the baby will be named Magna Carta Royal Grail and available exclusively on the Samsung Galaxy SG4.

The FDA has recommended a limit on the amount of arsenic found in apple juice. “Bummer!” said two ladies from a 70-year-old Cary Grant movie.

Rave reviews for that TV show about that dude with anger/violence/inner-demon issues. No, not that one. Not that one. Not that one. Nope. Sorry, no. No. Wait, that one. Critics say it really stands out from everything else on TV.

Wells Fargo recorded a 14th-consecutive rise in quarterly profits and a Q2 increase of a frumoinous percentage. “It’s totally vorpal”, said Wells Fargo spokesman Jeff Kagen, conforming to the company’s new policy of using nonsensical words to address huge sums of money. “It’s a number so high, it’s really beyond physical comprehension. For all intents and purposes, we just made a quintobazillion dollars. A Queeg-load of cash.” Kagen declined to comment on the previous quarter’s brief scare, where the mention of the thought of the possibility of regulation changes nearly cost the company a cool 1.2 Darseks.

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friday night monologue

A great title for a not-written-yet book on DIY accounting:
What To Expense When You’re Expensing

A great not-Kickstarted-yet summer product:
A combination badminton net / jumbo hammock

“Do you trust this shot put?”
“Only as far as I can throw it.”

Have a question about beard trimming? Use Occam’s razor.

5 revelations in the wake of finding out Cap’n Crunch isn’t a real Cap’n:
Tony the Tiger has been dying his stripes for years.
Sadly, Lucky the Leprechaun had invested most of that gold with Bernie Madoff.
Diagnosed in 2009, Count Chocula waited 3 years to disclose he has Type-2 diabetes.
Boo Berries contain no ghostly fruit.
Toucan Sam? Cosmetic beak surgery. Actually a parrot.

In searching for a used car (our ride was hit while parked a few weekends ago…), the information in different ads all seem to run together. Here’s what I can tell you – nearly every car advertised RUNS GREAT, LOOKS GOOD; ONE OWNER, NO ACCIDENTS. In fact, it’s amazing that anyone makes any money selling cars seeing the INCREDIBLE DISCOUNTS on cars with ALL HIGHWAY MILES. Own a repair shop? You might as well retire, because according to my research, every car in existence is GOOD FOR ANOTHER 100,000 MILES.

Late night update: a Craigslist scammer emailed me back after I sent him a note about a pristine looking Acura MDX priced at about one quarter of its list value. His email read like a Scammy Mad Libs. “Why, of course I’m still interested even though you’re now (near Dallas, TX) and (awaiting a military deployment). (Shipping the car to me) sounds like a great idea. Let me just (send cash through the mail) and I’ll just (wait forever for nothing to appear).

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friday morning monologue

I asked Siri to take a note for me:

IMG_0260

Shoe-tying elitist: a Lacist.

Polite, Spanish Meme: YO LO SIENTO

Tim Tebow officially signed with the New England Patriots this week. Committed to make the most of this opportunity, the rumor is he’s already started an intense, off-season regimen of clipboard-holding.

Possible titles for the already-green-lit-sequel to Man Of Steel:
Man Of Steel 2: Kryptonian Boogaloo
Kal-El Unchained
Men Are From Krypton, Women Are From Daxam
It’s a Zod, Zod, Zod, Zod World

Already existing movie titles that could be repurposed for the sequel:
Cape Fear
Flight
Alien
Up

Thing I thought of that I don’t have a use for yet: Mapkins. Is it a cloth map, a way-finding drink coaster, a local micro-restaurant guide? I don’t know. If you figure it out, please share.

Speaking of menus, thanks to one of them at local restaurant Hell’s Kitchen, I’ve found my If-I-Ever-Have-To-Dress-Up-In-Drag Name: Ricotta Frittata. It sounds both cheesy and delicious, which seems to make it the perfect drag name.

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Saturday Night Mini-logue

I’m always looking for ways to make my life simpler. For instance, to be prepared for any future address, I’m changing my name to Current Resident.

Candy Crush doesn’t give you advice, it gives you badvice. Its trademark ‘flashing shapes’ alert is a great reminder ‘don’t make this move right here, unless you’re admitting defeat already.’

In talking about Tea last week, I neglected to mention her ability to identify by name just a few relatives, but every regular cast Muppet on Sesame Street. In particular, we’ve moved into the Elmo phase of childhood development. Anywhere, at any time, she can spot him. From 100 yards away – Elmo. A quarter-inch drawing on the back cover of a book – Elmo. Not watching Elmo – how about we watch him? Just watched Elmo – how about a little more Elmo? If toddlers were allowed to get tattoos, you can bet his face would be more prevalent than the Hula Girl and the Mom In A Heart combined.

Pulling dandelions and planting grass seed for weeks. Finally getting some grass to grow really well – in the cracks of the sidewalk leading to our front steps.

Drinking MDG lately and using the Punch-Top. I know, I know. I’m not sure that you can say for certain that it’s making the experience better. But you can’t say it’s not making it better, either. That limbo space is an advertising dream come true. It doesn’t affect the taste, it just gives you an effective anchor for your metaphors about boldness, difference freedom and AMERICA [rev motorcycles, cue fireworks, make impossible-looking billiards shot, high-five good looking friends, drain your Punch-Top can of domestic beer].

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friday afternoon monologue

I ran some errands at lunch yesterday. Two old ladies were standing near the snack food aisle (white hair, tight perms, embroidered sweatshirts) and one of them starts tap dancing. Because, of course, she’s wearing tap shoes. Why wouldn’t you be wearing tap shoes while doing a little shopping? She busted out a couple rhythm patterns and a full spin, just to show the friend that she’s still got it, I guess? Maybe it was like a senior citizen version of Step Up? (Step Up 4: Tapper’s Delight)

Old people (like babies) have a leg up in the cute game. They can be doing most any everyday activity and for whatever reason, it’s just so much more precious than when it’s done by someone in the middle of the age bell curve. But this was way beyond standard cute, old-people things like wearing a hat/holding a cell phone/chewing bubble gum. This was so powerful I got a temporary perma-grim on my face and as I walked past them, my head rotated to keep watching. Thankfully, it was a pretty quick performance, so I could readjust myself before walking straight into a Pepsi Max display or something.

 

On the opposite end of chronological, categorical cuteness, the Sweet Tea is quickly approaching her second birthday. The great thing for me is that I can finally stop counting her age in months. I’ve already started, using the phrases ‘almost 2’ and ‘she’ll be 2 in June’ instead of ’23 months’ but I’m looking forward to upcoming era of whole number/number-and-a-half age descriptions.

Almost-2-year-old fast facts:

Every person she sees from a distance of 10 feet or more is deemed a ‘baby.’ It doesn’t matter where we are or who you are; if you’re just out of arm’s reach, you’re a baby.

Every answer is ‘no’ before it’s anything else. I’m assuming it’s the first rule of toddler improv – Always answer, “No, and…”

She’s slowly but surely developing her own secret language. She says ‘yum’ instead of ‘yes’, she insists on calling cheese ‘guy’, she transposes the syllables in ‘cookie’ to ‘ki-coo.’ Bad news – it can be a steep learning curve and will probably lead to some hilariously embarrassing public conversation in the near future. Good news – a few more unique words and we’re eligible for our own Google Translate tab.

Thinking of making some custom bracelets:
WWDJJJD (What Would DJ Jazzy Jeff Do?)
Who wants in?

Also – if you didn’t see it make the rounds yet, watch this Fresh Prince of Bel Air ‘impromptu’ reunion and tell me you’re not a little shocked that Alfonso Ribeiro is far and away the best dancer on stage. And. AND! – that’s not even the best part of the video. The best part is that Bradley Cooper and Heather Graham’s roles on the show were basically reduced to that of background furniture, due to the Category 5 nostalgia storm caused by referencing a 20-year-old (!) TV show. In the land of too-long headlines, theirs would be: Oscar Nominee, Beautiful Actress Upstaged By Tom Jones Medley, Jazz Hands.

 

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friday night monologue

Thanks, all, for the kind birthday wishes this week. It was great to get that pile of internet attention, and also a great challenge for a lazy corresponder (correspondist?) like me to write 50+ unique replies on the Facebook. If your response came later in the day, sorry for the loopiness.

I’m having a difficult time, lately, staying out of a dangerous territory of jokes that I call Dad Jokes. It’s a zone that feels like it’s reserved semi-exclusively for dads, like the hook shot or the overstuffed wallet.

Here are 2 recent examples to shame me into working up better material:

“It’s a zoo in here!” Me, commenting on how busy the zoo was on Mother’s Day.

Lyndsay: 2 tickets for Iron Man 3, please.
Me: Or 1 ticket to Iron Man 6. Your choice.

 

I’m thinking of making a new cheese. It’s made by taking the discarded bits of other cheeses, shredding them up and pressing them all together. I’m calling it Provoloney.

I had the opportunity this week to host a guest speaker at work. He gave us an awesome hour discussing the work he does at Industrial Light & Magic and walking us through some recent projects. Immediately after I introduced him to the crowd, I thought of a much better opening joke, so I’m going to cathartically post it here:

Our speaker today is from Industrial Light & Magic. I know that sounds a lot like Bed, Bath & Beyond, but it’s totally different. Well, maybe the ‘beyond’ part is kind of similar…

I’d love an April Fool’s Day prank where a NASCAR driver (Dale, Jr; I’m looking at you, buddy) lists every single sponsor in a post-race interview. “I’ve gotta say that the Number 88, Mountain Dew Amp, National Guard, Goodyear, Quaker State, Simpson, Sunoco, Siemens, Bosch, Adidas, 3M, USG, AutoMeter, Jegs, Purolator, Moog, Taxslayer, Mahle, Budweiser, Hendrick Motorsports Chevy Impala team did an amazing job today.”

As some of you know, Lyndsay and I stepped into the year 2011 by finally buying smartphones. In the past week, we’ve experienced what most all y’all did years ago. The oddly empowering feeling of not-really-having-to-remember-facts-anymore-since-you-can-just-look-them-up; the sudden compulsion to play games, any games, all day every day; the constant vigilance of “don’t drop this on the tile floor, don’t drop this on the tile floor.” The pristine new glass touchscreen that reminds me how dirty my hands are. “Sorry, I was just gonna call you, but I ate Fritos a few hours ago and my hands are still too greasy to touch the iPhone.”

Lastly, given the recent amount of research I’ve done recently, I feel uniquely capable of predicting the next few generations of the Apple bestseller. Behold:

Screen Shot 2013-05-24 at 1.57.34 PM

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birthday morning monologue

Okay, I know that last week I said that I’d type up any other vacation stories that I re-remembered during the week. I remembered some, but I didn’t write them down, so I’m giving myself 35 minutes right now, before things officially turn into Birthday Town at midnight. Here goes:

My personal mantra for the vacation was going to be Drunk ‘n Sunburnt, but I figured that there was probably a Kenny Chesney album by the same name, and I didn’t want the connotation.

On the opposite side of the vacation weather spectrum, the one time it really rained during our trip was one of the few times we needed to be somewhere – right at the start of the rehearsal dinner. As we started to walk from our room to the chapel, the rain was steady but not outrageous. We figured if we could duck in between covered walkways all the way there, we would be fine. 2 minutes later, the rain went from steady to monsoon and we had no chance. We turned our walk into a stroll and by the time we got to the chapel doors, we looked like a cologne ad.

Lyndsay: Only you would put a joke in a prayer.
Me: Only I would cut 2 jokes from a 3-joke prayer.

There was a Russian family on the plane ride back home who let their daughter sprint up and down the aisle. They seemed put out when the flight attendant picked her up and carried her back to them. A small (but awesome) argument ensued between two parties who absolutely couldn’t see the other side’s point of view. It was not, however, better than the mom at the ticket desk who showed a fake passport for one of her children, and, upon being called on it, attempted to smooth it over with, “What? I do this all the time!”

It was snowing before we left for vacation. It snowed while we were on vacation. The week we got back, it was 98 degrees. Not the band, the temperature. Actually, it doesn’t matter. Either way, it’s gross. The thing is, the late snow threw my internal clock way off. I was putting The Sweet Tea to bed and thinking, “Boy, it’s still really light out for 8:55.” And then it hit me – it’s basically June. Next weekend is Memorial Day – we’re pretty much in Summer right now. That joke about spring in Minnesota being a weekend, not a season is no longer a joke – it’s a forecast. (Plus, it ruins my joke about starting a springtime-in-Minnesota boy band called 58 Degrees…)

Birthday morning note: I can see how Shakespearean kings got crazy-paranoid. I wore my birthday Burger King crown on the bus and was acutely aware of every smartphone around me. I fully expect to be tagged in the Facebook photo albums of people I’ll never meet. Maybe I could turn it into a moneymaker, though. Bring the crown and the harmonica on my commute and become the busking bus king.

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friday morning travelogue

Our trip to sun-drenched Tulum, Mexico is complete. The trip was a blast, Josh and Crystal’s beach wedding was beautiful and no one stepped on a jellyfish. Success. Even the flights were smooth.

Fact: if Rick Bayless’ O’Hare restaurant has a breakfast menu, it should open before 11:00am. If your restaurant opens the minute McDonald’s takes down their breakfast menu, you’ve got a problem. I’m sure Jimmy Buffet’s AirMargaritaville in Cancun is slinging branded booze and paradisiacal cheeseburgers as soon as the sun comes up. Get with it, Chicago.

Jimmy Buffet – this guy is killing it. Jimmy Buffet is the Warren Buffet of People-Not-Named-Warren-Buffet. Jimmy Buffet is worth more than Sting, more than Mick Jagger, more than Elton John. $400 million dollars (Don’t even do the pesos conversion. It may kill you. Okay, it’s 4.8B. Are you dead? If so, I’m sorry.) What exactly is he doing? He’s just yelling the idea of Margaritaville into your head. It would be different if he, say, invented the margarita. He didn’t. He’s just pointing at a margarita. That’s all. He’s like a waiter onstage with a guitar. “Hey, can I sing you the specials?” It’s not ‘drinks before the show,’ it’s drinks as the show.

I’d really love it if, like the Batmen of All Nations, there were different, wildly successful versions of Margaritaville based on different drinks, like Russia’s Vodkaville, Mexico’s TequilaTowne and Japan’s SakiCity. Crap, now I have a fictional Justin Timberlake singing, “Bring it on down to Vodkaville” in my head…

On the way back home, we decided to categorize the food at the resort as unreliably delicious. The steak was heavenly, the buffalo wing sauce was turkey gravy, the sushi was great, the veal was… not veal. The great thing about an all inclusive resort is that you can just call it quits on a plate and give something else a try anytime you want to. It’s like It’s Just Lunch, but actually for lunch.

Fortunately for us, we were able to dispel the ‘they water down your drinks’ rumor from the very first glass of front lobby champagne.

Drinks of choice:

The Iceberg – a scoop of blended margarita on top of a glass of Corona. Does it make a Corona better? No, but it certainly doesn’t make it worse. We didn’t try the same trick with a Heineken, but that would really be the true test.

Caipirinha – a tumblerful of Brazilian liquor; sugar, lime. (it’s pronounced “headache.”)

Rum Punch – color, flavor, gone in the blink of an eye. The magic trick of mixed drinks.

 

Saturday, I played a round of golf at the Riviera Maya Golf Club. As a dude who’s played maybe 2 rounds in the last 10 years, I had exceedingly low expectations for myself, but it turned out to be a blast. Also, I may be addicted to golf now. Two standout stories from the afternoon:

One: On the forth or fifth hole, after hitting a decently long tee shot that bounced near the rough, two dogs appeared on the course (regular old dogs, not, like chupacabras or anything…). They fought over the ball for a bit, then ran it 20 or 30 yards further down the course and dropped it back onto the fairway. Sweet. After my second shot, they chased my ball and hauled it off into the woods. The dogs giveth and the dogs taketh away.
There are a few possible explanations, but the most likely one is that their owner sets an empty bucket on the back porch of his golf course condo, the dogs get treats once they fill it up and this genius never pays for golf balls again in his life. (other animals on the course: white-tailed deer, crazy birds, huge iguanas, and a few coati that were waaaay to happy to eat the snacks we had in the cart)

Two: this round of golf contained One Of The Two Best Athletic Moments Of My Life. The first occurred while played softball in high school. After seeing my woefully bad swing, the 4 ft 1in gym teacher, Ms. LaPorte barked out a series of orders “bend your knees, lift your arms, tilt your head, lift the bat, throw him the ball” and I hit a high, arcing double into center field. On the golf course last weekend, Josh gave me a series of pointers “bend your knees, change your stance, choke up, lean in, swing it easy” and I crushed that drive. Long story short: I’m hiring a life coach for everything I do from here on out.

Josh and Crystal’s wedding ceremony was right on the beach. Because he’s a class act, Josh didn’t make the groomsmen wear ties or coats in the heat. Because I’m a class act, I wore both. The tagline for Alien was “In space, no one can hear you scream.” That afternoon, my tagline was, “in a jacket, no one can see you sweat.” And it really wasn’t too bad. Until I discovered that I had sunburned my flip-flopped feet. Basically the only exposed skin I had going at that time. More than anything, it’s a tribute to the power of equatorial sunshine. Most summers, I make a valiant effort to move my foot color from undead to recently deceased. Mexico compressed that 3-month effort into about 8 minutes. Oh, well. That’s what the booze is for, I guess. !Caipirinhas para siempre!

Note: there are many, many more stories from the trip which elude me right now. If they come back to me, I’ll share them next week.

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friday afternoon monologue

Sorry, but it’s gonna be all snow stuff today.

Are you kidding me with this 8-inch overnight snowfall? Today’s yacht-rock-themed work party just turned into a Shackleton Expedition.

(fact: without using spellcheck, it takes me an average of 5 tries to correctly spell “yacht”)

It’s like living in a snowglobe – the snow flies around every so often and looks pretty, it just never leaves.

Hotel Minnesota (with the mildest of apologies to The Eagles)

On a white midwest freeway, wind chill in my hair
Hot steam from the sewer grate, rising up through the air
Up ahead past the salt truck, I saw a shimmering light
The snowmobile crossed the road just ahead
And it blinded my sight
There she stood in her snowsuit
Leather mittens on hands
Protecting her from an eternal winter
No one quite understands
Then she lit up a road flare and she showed me the way
If she spoke it was drowned out by the wind,
But thought I heard her say:

Welcome to the Hotel Minnesota
Such a frostbit place (such a frostbit place)
Such a frostbit face
Plenty of room at the Hotel Minnesota
Any time of year (any time of year)
You can find snow here.

Her mind is Arctic Cat-twisted, she got the all-wheel drive
It might keep you in your lane, but it won’t keep you alive
How they sled at the ski hill, gross winter sweat
Some sled to remember, some sled to forget.

So I called to the mailman,
“Please bring me my bills”
He said, “sign up for online bill-pay, delivering this junk mail kills”
And still that snowblower’s working from far away
Wakes you up at the crack of dawn
Just to here them say…

Welcome to the Hotel Minnesota
Such a frostbit place (such a frostbit place)
Such a frostbit face
Plenty of room at the Hotel Minnesota
What a cold surprise (what a cold surprise)
When you realize…

Snow and salt on the driveway
8 inches over black ice
And she said, “If they plow the street by next week, that’d be nice.”
And in a local church basement
Past the cheese/hashbrown bisque
They stab with plastic forks and knives but
It’s still lutefisk.

Last thing I remember, I was
slipping down the stairs
I had to find some dry snow pants.
Swore I still owned 2 pairs.
“Relax,” said the snowman,
“Pretend it’s Christmas Eve.
You can get all the snow that you want.
Just no green grass or leaves!”

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