Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Snap Poll Question Of The Week

OK, so Billy Bragg, one of my all-time favorite singer-songwriters, will be doing a quick East Coast tour in October. It looks like he will be playing New York a few days after my wife is due to give birth to our daughter.

The poll question for the week is this:

If I try to go to that show, by what percentage is it likely that I will come home to an apartment with the locks changed and all my stuff sitting in the hallway?

a) 0% - You are an ass for even thinking it, but for some unknown reason she loves you and puts up with all your silly faults.

b) 50% - She'll think about it hard.

c) 80% - You better bring her a pint of Chubby Hubby ice cream to have any chance of being let back in.

d) 100% - Her mother will be in town, who the heck do you think will be making the argument for giving you a second chance?

e) 0% - Why would she bother changing the locks when you are just going to end up as a floater in the East River?

Give me your votes.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Random Thought Of The Day

I'm not sure why I was thinking about this....

It occurred to me that since my wife and I now use cell phones as our only phones, with no land line, (something I would not have even imagined just three years ago) and my cell is my work phone, it has been I'm-not-even-sure-how-long since I've actually heard a dial tone.



Monday, June 23, 2008

Monday Hate List

Time once again to see what Out Of Tune is hating this week:

Sean Hannity. Have you ever wondered what would happen if that crazy, racist, sexist homophobic ass-hole uncle, who spouts off on what he thinks is wrong with the world after a few too many beers at family gatherings, got his own TV show? Now you know.

American football. It is baseball season dammit, I'm sick of NFL "mini-camp" news interrupting my baseball highlights on SportsCenter. At the end of the day, I want to catch up on what happened in the real American sport and not have to see any news on what is happening in that silly game of catchy-throwy.

Intelligent Design. The idea that someone can actually believe in this nonsense astounds me. As someone who will be the parent of a school-age child in about 7 years it frightens me that some crazy people are going to try to push this on her. I'm not going to your church and preaching science, so stop trying to teach religion in our science classes.

Former GE CEO Jack Welch. I was watching this jackass being interviewed the other day claiming that Bush has done nothing to hurt America's reputation around the world. He claims to know this because he travels around the world and the people he meets love America and Bush. This dumb ass fails to mention that all the people he talks to overseas are nothing but heads of state and multimillionaire businessmen like himself. He should climb out of his ivory tower and talk to the people who have to actually work for a living sometime. He might see a different point of view about the American government.

The silly accusation of "elitism".

Anyone who is against gay marriage. Seriously? You actually give a crap if two guys you don't even know marry each other? And don't even try that stupid argument of comparing it to polygamy, child molesting and bestiality you ignorant bigot.

That George Carlin will be be given a small fraction of the tributes afforded that journalistic hack Tim Russert. The death of a great social commentator will be reduced to a one-day story, mentioned in 30-second segments and mostly focusing on his "seven words" bit from over 30 years ago.

Whatever those hand-held video games are that people play on the subway. You ever heard of a book?

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. I hope this needs no explanation.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Feeling Love In The City

Living in New York can be trying at times. The crowds, the noise, the stink on the subways and the insane amount of cars on the streets, among other things, can really wear you down sometimes. But just when you think you've about had it up to here with this city, and you are having one of those days where you've just dodged being hit by a cab for the fifth time that day, something comes along to remind you why it is such a great place.

I was out yesterday running errands before I went to meet up with my buddy Noam for a drink. I was wearing one of my anti-religion t-shirts that I was so afraid to wear in Waterloo, Iowa at my family gathering a few weeks ago, for fear of getting the shit kicked out of me by some dumb, bible-thumping hick.

It is a black shirt with white lettering and red strike marks. This is what it says:


Anyway, I dropped off some movies at the video store and then went to the bank. I walked up to the teller window and handed the guy my deposit slip and check. He looked at me for a second and then said, "Love your shirt."
I laughed and said, "Yea, people either love it or hate it."
He smiled and said, "I suppose that's true."

Walking along the street I had another guy say "great shirt" as we walked past each other. Later, in the subway with Noam, I noticed a middle-aged couple with nice clothes on (in a suit and a dress) looking at me. As we squeezed past them to get out of the thoroughly crowded car, the guy says to me, "Where did you get that awesome shirt?"

I told him I got it on-line from Cafe Press and he said something along the lines of, "I've got to get me one of those, I just love it!"
His wife was laughing and said, "Me too, that's just great."

Over the course of the few hours I was out running errands, having a few beers and heading down to the Jill Sobule show, I counted no fewer than five random people who complimented my atheist message t-shirt.

Man I love this town.


Monday, June 16, 2008

Hating On Monday

Time for another instalment of "What is Deni hating this week?"

Will try to get to writing more posts soon, but it has been a busy month.

In the meantime, enjoy this week's hate list:

Jimmy Kimmel. Seriously, who the hell is entertained by this dipshit?

The sound of chewing gum being snapped and popped in a person's mouth.

All of the tributes calling Tim Russert a "tough interviewer" who "asked hard questions." Bullshit, he lobbed softballs and didn't challenge any politicians on their bald-faced lies. He was buddy-buddy with all of them and didn't do his damn job the way he was supposed to. The New York congressional delegation is going to push a bill to name a part of a freeway in Buffalo after him. Does that sound like a guy who asked them tough questions? If there is an afterlife, hopefully Russert is being bitch-slapped by Edward R. Murrow right now.

People Magazine.

New York City traffic control cops. Stand on the corner talking on your cell phone while cars block the intersection, run red lights, make illegal turns and wail on their horns. Is that really the job description?

Jenny McCarthy. Dumb blond bimbo has a baby and suddenly thinks she is an expert on pregnancy, children, life in general and Autism. Children in America will die from preventable diseases as a direct result of this woman convincing parents that immunizations are dangerous, despite the complete lack of any scientific evidence. She should be thrown in jail.

Every person who has ever made a prediction about my life. Since I was young I have had so many people tell me I was going to think/feel/believe/become something when I grew up/got a job/went to college/got married, etc. I've been told, usually by my bat-shit crazy mother or some other family member, that I would become more conservative or Republican when I got older, got a job and/or started paying taxes. Pretty much the opposite of what I really became. Since it became known that I'm going to become a father this year I've had a couple people, one being my Jesus freak mother, tell me that I'll suddenly start believing in god or Jesus when my daughter is born. Add that to the amazingly long list of wrong predictions about my life.

"Reality" television.

That fat Jewish kid from Judd Apatow's movies. He is just not funny.

Guys who wear their Bluetooth wireless headsets all the freaking time. It is not a piece of jewelry, and talking to somebody wearing one is so damn annoying.



Monday, June 09, 2008

Monday Hate Machine

Here's what I'm especially hating this week:

People who clip their nails on the subway.

Soft-serve ice cream. I want ice cream, not ice cream soup.

Dog fertility clinics. No, I'm not making that up.

Manhattan in 90 degree heat and high humidity.

Whole Foods Market on a Saturday.

New Yorkers who don't understand the concept of letting people off the subway before pushing on to the train. This is much more common among women, sorry to say ladies.

USA Today newspaper. It is where the dumbing down of the news began.

The mole on my neck.

Clean coal, hybrid cars, bio-fuels, "eco-shape" water bottles and carbon trading. These are all lies created to ease the conscience of middle-class, white liberals and do nothing to help the environment.


Sunday, June 08, 2008

43 Hours In Waterloo Iowa

A couple of weeks ago I had to go to Waterloo, in Northeast Iowa, home base of most of my family, for my grandmother's 90th birthday. I hadn't been there since my grandmother's 85th birthday because I absolutely loathe the place. A shitty industrial town that offers no real positive asset to society, it's also full of members of my uneducated, white-trash, close-minded, gun-loving, backward-ass family. That would all be forgivable if they hadn't also treated me like shit growing up; making fun of anything I believed in, any music I listened to and generally acting as if they were superior to me and "city folk" in general. Yes, people with (at most) high school educations and 8-dollar-an-hour jobs at places like the local cabinet factory, who have never really been anywhere else in the world except maybe fishing in Canada, think they are better than everyone else, and many believe they know the answers to fix the world's ills. Because if you want to know how to fix the economy or bring peace to the Middle East, you should skip the economists and international relations experts and ask my uncle who worked his whole life on the John Deere assembly line or my cousin who stains wood at Bertch cabinet factory.

So I try to avoid going as much as I can.

But that is not always possible, at least while Grandma is still alive. I will certainly be done with the place after she's gone.

I decided for this trip to try to find the other side of Waterloo, if one existed. I would try to check out the local museum and even try to hit a live music club to see a local band maybe. And then I figured I might have material to write a "travel" post in the style of The New York Times' 36 Hours feature in the Sunday travel section. Maybe I could discover a cultural side to Waterloo that I never got to see as a kid.

It didn't really happen the way I hoped, and my weekend there basically went like this:

2:00pm - Cross the Mississippi River from Illinois into Iowa at the drawbridge in Fort Madison in the pickup truck borrowed from my friend Ray in Macomb, where I went to college. A large knot develops in my throat.

4:48pm - Reach the city limits of Waterloo. Begin hyperventilating.

5:03pm - Check-in to Comfort Inn. Begin paranoia about the locals staring at the "long-haired hippy freak" (me).

5:27pm - Call my sister's cell phone to find out where they are at. She and her family, along with my brother's family and my mother were just leaving the nursing home, where my grandmother lives, after her birthday party there (the family party was the following day).

6:00pm - Walk over to meet my family at a restaurant called Carlos O'Kelly's. Seriously, that's the name of a mini-chain of Mexican restaurants. It is to Mexican food what the Cheesecake Factory is to, well, all types of food. That's to say watered down, homogenized and generally un-ethnicized to be more palpable to your average middle-American. But it is also the kind of restaurant that is good at dealing with a table of 14 people, which includes six kids under the age of nine and about three unreasonably demanding adults in my mother, aunt and brother. The waitresses were complete troopers and dealt very well with the whole situation and kept their smiles. Everyone was happy with their mediocre Mexican food.

Sad fact is that this probably is the best Mexican restaurant in Waterloo.

Before eating, my brother, his wife, their kids, my grandmother, aunt and mother prayed. I continued talking to my brother-in-law and was shushed by my mother. I explained to her that just because she wants to pray, that doesn't mean I have to stop what I'm doing.

7:34pm - Walk back to hotel to pick up the truck.

7:43pm - Change in to my red "Godless Liberal" t-shirt. The decision to wear this was cemented by the prayer shushing.

7:59pm - Make an attempt to go to the Target to buy a straightening iron for my hair, since I couldn't take the one from home as my wife needed it. I have a panic attack when I see all the rednecks going inside and knowing what shirt I'm wearing. I skip it.

8:08pm - Stop at corner gas station and pick up a six pack of Budweiser, the best offering in the cooler.

8:16pm - Go to the hotel where my brother and sister are staying. My nieces and nephews are bouncing off the wall. My shirt is looked at but never mentioned by my Jesus-freak brother, sister-in-law and mother. It seems to make my brother-in-law smirk a little bit as we drink the beer. I hang out with him the rest of the night while all the craziness goes on around us.

9:30am - Roll out of bed.

9:35am - Start freaking out about having to go out into Waterloo again.

10:00am - Walk across the street to the IHOP for breakfast. Sit at a corner table looking at all the fat people eating their "three meat combo" breakfasts. You always know what you're getting at IHOP, so it is a safe choice for breakfast. This may very well be the best restaurant in Waterloo.

10:33am - Go to Target and buy the straightening iron. I am surrounded by trailer trash.

10:51am - Back to hotel to shower.

11:30am - Sit and watch TV, still considering whether to actually go and see something interesting in Waterloo or just hide in my room until my grandmother's party.

12:15pm - Finally get up the nerve to drive to "downtown" and look for the art museum.

12:33pm - At the Waterloo Art Museum. They claim to have the largest collection of Haitian art in the U.S. so I was interested. The parking lot was not very full on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. I waited as a couple of mothers with their kids were at the counter.

When it was my turn I just said "one please" and she told me $5 and handed me a wristband. She then said that when I get inside I should make my presence known to an employee since I didn't have a kid and would need to be monitored.

What the fuck was she talking about?

I told her I just wanted to look at the art and asked where the Haitian collection was. After a little bit of trying to understand each other, she asked if I wanted to go in the Kids' Pavilion and I said I just wanted to see the museum. She gave me my five bucks back, because only the kids' thing cost money, and pointed me to the museum. I couldn't figure out why she was so confused over someone going to a museum to look at the art.

I walked around looking at really shitty art for a while, feeling like I was being watched. Not by an actual museum security person mind you. There weren't any guards there to protect the art. I'm guessing no one wants to steal the crap that's on the walls there and no one actually ever goes there anyway. I was the only person in the galleries the whole ten minutes or so I was there. At one point an employee even asked me if I needed any help, you know, in the way that people ask that when they really mean is "who the fuck are you and why are you here?"

I tried. I really tried to give "culture" in Waterloo a chance. And I was treated like a freak (and a pedophile) for wanting to actually go in the local museum on a Saturday.

2:00pm - Time for Grandma's party. I sat in the truck for about 15 minutes, breathing heavy and considering bolting. After working up the courage I make my way in, wearing my traditional Vietnamese shirt I bought when Lisa and I were there in November. The party was in the basement of my grandmother's church. Refreshments consisted of ham on store-bought dinner rolls, a pickle tray and soda. Sorry, I mean pop. We are in the Midwest after all.

Lots of uncomfortable conversations with the relatives that recognize my existence ensue. These conversations usually involve a good amount of disbelief about what I do with my life or where I'm living at that moment. Saying you live in New York City is about the same as saying you live on Mars to these people. I always feel like Kevin Bacon in Footloose when I go to family gatherings.

The ones who do not recognize my existence continued to ignore me as they always do at these gatherings. These are mostly my cousins who are my uncle Veryl's kids (yes that's his real name). I could be standing next to them on fire and they would not acknowledge me. In their heads they are better than me in every way, with their double-digit IQs and such jobs as assistant manager of of the Country Kitchen.

I do learn that maybe I am finally growing up a little, as I approach 38. My aunt's alcoholic dumbfuck husband tried to start a political discussion, stating with disbelief that anyone can be a Democrat. I just got up and walked away. I knew the conversation would just end with me saying, "Yes Jerry, the world would be such a better place if it were run by uneducated, white-trash, fat drunks like you."

I walked away instead. Anyone who knows me is shocked by this development.

4:26pm - I drive around looking at places I used to know in Waterloo. I'm checking to see what is still there and if I even remember where they are. It is not some sort of nostalgic trip down memory lane like a bad Meatloaf video. Just curiosity.

5:32pm - Head over to my family's hotel and see my brother-in-law coming through the parking lot. He had been at the Lone Star having a beer hoping I would show up. I parked and we headed back over. Yet another of those theme restaurants with no soul, Lone Star is pretty much what you think it might be, a Texas-styled steak house. But it is Texan about as much as George Bush is a Texan.

I sit with my bro-in-law drinking beer until my sister calls him to say we are going to dinner. They are really my saving grace at these family gatherings, my sister and her husband. They are the only other ones who aren't off-the-deep-end Jesus freaks.

6:30pm - Dinner at Pizza Hut. Is there really anything I can say about that? Pizza Hut is the same wherever you go. Shitty.

10:00pm - I had planned to go to check out a music club this night, but I would have had to go all the way over to Cedar Falls to get to one. And after my attempt at a museum trip, I'm not sure I wanted to be adventurous again. Instead I went with my mother, and my brother-in-law to the local casino that has opened in town since the last time I was there. Yet another attempt to prop up the hopeless economy in Waterloo, the last one being the ridiculous and cruel greyhound racetrack that went bust after the novelty wore off.

Sat with my bro-in-law at the bar playing video poker, enduring one of the most god-awful cover bands ever while doing so. After losing twenty bucks each we just sat at a table drinking beer until my mother was done losing her money.

10:00am - Shocked to find a Starbucks in Waterloo, I stop and grab a cup of coffee with soy milk on my way to the family's hotel.

11:00am - Hanging out at my grandmother's nursing home. Not a bad place, but I'd still rather die suddenly in my own bed than waste away at a home.

11:45am - Leave Waterloo

1:00pm - I get to Iowa City and find a vegan organic restaurant that I read about on Happy Cow called Red Avocado. I sat at an outside table listening to a saxophonist preforming for the brunch crowd. I had a breakfast burrito with sides of sesame potatoes and vegan chorizo, washed down by an organic micro brew.

I felt normal again.


Monday, June 02, 2008

Hatey Hate Hate

Starting a new regular feature on my blog today. I've come realize a few things. First, I haven't really been living up to the under title of this blog (How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Hate Everything) as often as I should. Second, I need to make a real point of posting stuff on a regular basis so people know I haven't just stopped like so many other blogs before me. I also need to learn to write some short and to the point postings instead of the long treatises I seem to always do (not that that will stop).

Inspired by my buddy Joe, who has a regular feature on his blog every week, a comedic horoscope, I'm going to make an attempt at my own.

Once a week I'm going to name the things that I'm hating at the moment. Mondays seem like an appropriate day to feature this column.

So here we go with the first stab, and hopefully I'll stick to doing it every week. I have no real rules for this other than naming what I'm annoyed with right at the moment, based on my day or mood. Sometimes it might be one or two things (highly unlikely) or it could be a hundred.

Things I'm hating right now:

Subway preachers.

Every single car in Manhattan.

The sweat that pools in the small of my back when the temperature hits 80 or higher.

John McCain.

People that don't know how to stop their vehicles before the crosswalk.

Texting while I'm talking to you.

All the bitching about gas prices.

Animal cruelty disguised as "sport" like horse racing.

William Kristol having a column in The New York Times.

The existence of William Kristol.

Baby strollers.

The illegal and evil military rule over Burma.