Saturday, June 29, 2013

$50,000 and a Blowjob

The title is slightly misleading—it is there for three reasons:

1.  The ads on this web page are selected by Google.  Their selection formula is proprietary and about as secretly vague as a presidential candidate's jobs policy.  Over the years, I have discerned a small pattern.  When I wrote about the Trojan War, we had a few weeks of condom ads, but when I deliberately included the phrase “push-up bra” in my blog for several weeks, all I got were ads about mail-order divinity degrees.  I’m trying very hard not to visualize any connection.

I can't wait to see the ads this week.  And each and every one of you should click on one of those ads--those ads not only pay Google to run this blog, they pay for the beer that fuels my writing.  More clicks would buy better beer that might (who knows?) mean better-written blogs.  See?  It is in your interest to click those ads—between the two of us, you are the only one who actually reads what I write.  (Well, except for my long-suffering wife who edits out both the overly profane and the obtusely inane.)

2.  No matter what I write about, people write me hate mail—lots of it.  I could write about kittens and apple pie, and some jackass in Arkansas would still respond with the inevitable, "You will never see the sweat (sic) face of Jesus."

From several Arabic-speaking countries, I have received at least a half-dozen emails that contain the word "fatwa."  I've gotten creepy letters from men in prison and incredibly strange emails from India (quite a lot of these make inexplicable references to the nude scene in the movie "Titanic").  Actually, the only country that consistently sends me polite and intelligent responses is Sweden.  I have no idea why—maybe it is just too damn cold to be stupid.

Now, if I'm going to get a lot of weird email this week, I want it to at least start off with a possible offer of fifty thousand dollars and a blow job.

3.  And last, the title actually refers, at least peripherally, to a real suggestion.  My idea—and I admit that it comes after a very late faculty meeting where copious amounts of educational brain juice (Laphroaig) were consumed—is obviously brilliant!

It seems impossible to pick up a newspaper and not read about some Hollywood actress arrested for drunk driving, a celebribitch appearing in public wearing only a Fruehauf mud flap as a loin cloth, or some infamous nitwit accused of felonious theft.  And that’s just the stories about Lindsay Lohan.  There are always a few additional stories about a few other talented—but stupid—people in the public eye being arrested because they need keepers.

How many NFL stars have been arrested for crimes with guns whose calibers were higher numbers than their IQ’s?  How many slow-witted basketball stars have had fatal accidents with fast cars?  How many heiresses have had hit-and-run accidents while racing to make their next “accidental” sex tapes?

We are not talking about college students—these people all have two things in common:  They are rich and stupid.  I expect students to do stupid things, but alleged role models with seven figure incomes have the resources to prevent stupid childish behavior even if they don’t have the intelligence.

Frankly, I don’t really care about these people.  For the most part, I don’t even care about their victims.  If you are dumb enough to party with Plaxico, when the gun falls out of his underwear, you deserve to get shot.  If you invite Lindsay to your house, you shouldn’t be surprised when your best jewelry vanishes.  I just wish I didn’t have to hear about it when I’m trying to watch the news.  As I kept telling my sons, What’s-His-Name and The-Other-One, “Daddies don’t want justice.  Daddies want quiet.”

So, Lindsay-Paris-Kim-Reese, here is my suggestion:  Hire a chauffeur.  If you make over a million dollars a year, you can afford a chauffeur.  I suggest you recruit a great big bruiser of a guy, preferably a retired cop who can bench press a Chevy.  Then make a simple deal with him.  He stays with you from 4:00 in the afternoon until he locks you in your bedroom at 1:00 am.  He drives you, stays with you in the bar, and keeps you out of trouble.

He won’t let you leave the house unless you are wearing at least some of your clothing.  He won’t let you leave the jewelry store until you pay for the necklace.  And, if necessary, he drags you out of the bar, locks you in the trunk of your limo, and drives your drunken ass home.

For these services, you pay him an annual salary of $100,000.  Then, at the end of the year, if you have not been arrested one time, if the tabloids haven’t published a mug shot that shows you trying to lick your own ear, and if not a single department store is claiming you are an inept kleptomaniac, then your chauffeur earns the bonus mentioned in the title.  In the long run, it will be a hell of a lot cheaper than paying a gaggle of lawyers and seeing a premature end to your career—to say nothing of all the sexual favors you will have to perform in prison.

Plaxico, this advice will work for you, too.  You’ll just have to be an equal opportunity employer.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Pillars of Sophistication

On several occasions, I have written about my bewilderment concerning the differences between the way men and women go shopping.  Personally, I think men are hunters.  If we need a pair of jeans, we drive out to the game preserve (Sears), track down our prey (admire the power tools on the way to the clothing section), kill the pants with a credit card, tie it to the truck, then drive it home.   Women are gatherers, which means they have to walk from one end of the mall to the other, just to see if there is anything worth taking back to the cave.  For most men, this is just weird.

Strange behavior aside, men can generally put up with this. Check out the women’s clothing section of any large department store and inevitably, right in the middle of the racks of dresses, there are a couple of chairs for a bored husband to patiently sit and play video poker on his cell phone while his wife tries on dresses.  (For the life of me, I cannot understand why there aren't more bars at shopping malls.  They could be daycare for husbands.)

There is, however, one kind of store that is beyond male understanding.  The craft store—whether it is Hobby Lobby or Michael’s—is a bizarre world where no man ever feels comfortable. To be perfectly frank, the entire store is filled with useless crap.  For the life of me, I do not understand why any man would willingly set foot in a store full of plastic plants, unpainted plaster animals, and ugly furniture.  Frankly, I would trade the store’s entire contents for a set of six-point socket wrenches.

Why do these stores even exist?  Who buys packages of 2000 Popsicle sticks?  Who needs a five-pound can of silver glitter?  Is there any real need for an endless collection of cute rubber stamps?  Why do they sell Christmas decorations all year long?  Sooner or later, most of the poor men forced to accompany their wives to this store end up on the glue aisle.  Glue seems to be the only useful item these stores sell.

Since every single item in the store seems to be an incredibly cheap import, these stores actually must be some form of Asian plot to rob American men of their will to live.  Otherwise, they would realize that they could vastly improve their sales by offering just a few items of interest to men.  Add a few tools, or barbecue grills.  Surely, someone must scrapbook Playboy centerfolds.  I could patiently wait in that aisle for a loooong time.

Men, since these stores refuse to cater to our needs, you should do as I do to pass the time.  Find the section of the store that sells plaster of Paris architectural columns, and then tell a sales clerk that you have to speak to the manager.  When he arrives, point out to him that every single column in the store is mislabeled.  I have no idea why, but invariably the Tuscan columns are labeled as Corinthian, the “Doric" columns are actually Ionic and so forth.  Tell the manager that this insensitive mislabeling is deeply insulting to your race, your pagan religion, and your culture.  Trust me, this will use up at least half an hour.

What?  You don’t know one type of column from another?  I can help you.  Luckily, I have taught countless classes of Western Civilization.  And as every student is told, the reason that every student must have Western Civ inflicted upon them is so they can become culturally well-rounded—and NOTHING marks a cultured person more clearly than the ability to pedantically rant about columns.

 “Lookie here,” you can say.  “Notice the stylish grace those Corinthian columns lend to yonder mobile home.”  This will amaze and impress your friends and relatives.  That degree in the Social Justice in Reality Television wasn't a waste of tuition after all.

Let’s start.  We will look at our columns from the simplest style to the most complex.  As you can see from the illustration, Column A is a simple smooth-sided round column—this is a Tuscan column.  (For the grad students among you, this a Roman form commonly employed in military buildings, warehouses and docks. The simple design of the Tuscan column facilitates easy construction, so it is very commonly used in modern architecture.)  Tuscan—Get it?  Got it.  Good!

Column B is only slightly more complex.  This is a Doric Column and it, at least traditionally, has 20 flutes running from the top to the bottom.  (Grad students, this is a Greek column named for the Dorians who developed it.)  Any dork can remember Doric!

Column C indicates the Ionic column.  This one is really simple--just take a Doric column and add the little scroll-like capital on the top of it.  (Grad students, this type of capital is known as a volute, and was developed in Ionia.)  Ionic—it would be ironic not to remember Ionic.

Our last column, Column D, is the easiest to remember. The Corinthian column is a fluted column that wears a leafy hat.  (Grad students, it usually has 24 flutes and while it was developed in Greece, it was the Romans who popularized it.  If you want to be especially pedantic, you can watch for columns that have both the Corinthian petals and the Ionic volute.  Invariably mislabeled Corinthian, when you combine the two features they are more accurately called Composite.)  Lots of flutes and a leafy headdress mean Corinthian.  Right!

So in order of complexity, they are smooth, fluted, flutes with a scroll, and flutes with leafy petals. It is easy to remember this progression of complexity.  But how to remember the order of the names?  They are Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian.  More simply:  T-D-I-C.   Or as anyone can remember:  These Dummies Is Columns. I doubt you will ever forget it.

Now that you are an educated sophisticate, go annoy the manager at Hobby Lobby.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Baptists Don't Play Well With Others

Once again, the Boob Scouts are in the news.  Well, no, actually, it is the Southern Baptist Bumpkins and their adverse reaction to the recent decision of the Boob Scouts  to allow gay scouts into the canoe.  Of course, once those kids get a little older, you have to throw them out of the boat and take away their paddles.  The Scouts won't let in gay Scoutmasters, but the Baptists know this compromise isn't good enough.  They have already decided not to play, and have folded up their campfire and gone home.

Well, who can blame them?  Once you let gay kids put inside the pup tent, it's only a matter of time before there is a rainbow merit badge for a gay pride parade.  

The leadership at the Southern Baptist Convention are taking an active stance against this inclusion.  They have taken half the Baptists with science degrees---that would be four---off of watching old reruns of the Flintstones in hope of discovering new ways to debunk evolution, and reassigned them to a new emergency project: trying to isolate homo cooties.

In the meantime, they are starting their own "Christian Boys Club" that will
exclude all gay people of any age.  Is it just me, or does the act of excluding children sound about as un-Christian as letting loose a pack of hungry wolves on a daycare center?  Let's give this idea the acid test: try to think for 30 seconds straight about a Christian Boys Club run by the Baptist Church that excludes the "wrong type of boy" without once thinking about the Hitler Youth Group.  Go ahead...try it.  I'll just sit here, quietly humming the Horst Wessel Song while you're busy.   (I wonder what the new oath will be like?  And the salute?  Nah.  They wouldn't.  Would they?)

All of this is a little confusing to me!  If a homosexual lifestyle is a choice, then you would think that the Baptists would welcome "sinners" into their fold, in order to lead them "straight" by example.  After all, in Matthew 28:18-20 didn't Christ exhort his disciples to become "fishers of men" in order to spread his word?  (I'd double check that if I were you.  As Shakespeare said, "the devil can cite scripture for his own purpose.)  If I were dragging a net for sinners, I wouldn't do it in a desert: I'd pick a target-rich environment.

Obviously, the Baptists don't want to do that, which implies that homosexuality is not a choice but an uncontrollable, inherently God-made trait.  But why would God do that?

I have a theory: God is bipolar.  Think about it: what else would explain a platypus?  Or the people in MallWart?  On his good days, God created coral reefs, forests and the fjords of Norway.*   His bad days resulted in volcanos, swamps, and Oklahoma.

Until all of this is figured out, perhaps the Baptists should exercise a little humility and/or  not be so convinced they completely understand God or his will.  As a group, the Baptists have been on the wrong side of important social issues for over a hundred years.  Whether it was slavery, civil rights, feminism, evolution, global warming or just enjoying a cold beer on a hot day, the Baptists have always seemed to be championing the side of stupidity.  It is really hard to learn anything if you stop asking questions in the belief you already know all the answers.

This reminds me of an old story that hasn't happened yet.  The college of cardinals were sitting around a large table waiting for the pontiff.  The door opened and the pope trudged in with his shoulders stooped, staring at the ground.

"Santa Merda," exclaimed the pope as he put his elbows on the table and sank his forehead into his hands.

"What's the matter?" asked the concerned cardinals.

"Christ has risen!  The second coming is now! " said the pontiff.  "Christ just telephoned me!"

"That's fantastic!" shouted the assembled cardinals as they jumped to their feet.  "But, why are you so sad?"

The pope slowly lifted his ashen face from his palms and spoke slowly, "It was a collect call.  And she was calling from Salt Lake City."

*According to the preeminent Bible scholar, the Right Reverend Adams, when the Norwegian fjords were created, God had help from Slartibartfast.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Brand This!

Enema U is having an open discussion about football.  Well, actually one of the university's Evil Overlords wrote a letter to the local newspaper claiming that the university needs football.  As he explained it, football helps brand the university. 

Personally, I think that Division 1 football for a southwestern Ag school is more like an anchor—or a millstone—around the financial neck of an impoverished state university, but who am I to argue with an Evil Overlord.  And I confess, not that long ago, I made a suggestion for re-branding Enema U.

Unfortunately, the whole idea of branding is so 1990’s.  It is a marketing idea whose time has come and gone.  Perhaps we should refer to Jonathan Salem Baskin’s book:  Branding Only Works on Cattle—a perfect choice for an Ag school.  In his book, Baskin points out that branding as a marketing scheme simply does not work.  He carefully points out that the Burger King mascot is readily identifiable, but probably never sold a single hamburger.  There is a reason why Taco Bell had the Chihuahua put to sleep sent to live on the happy farm and Geico sent the cavemen to a museum.  They were identifiable, but did not attract new customers. 

Successful marketing links a product or a service to something new, valuable, or unique.  Baskin gives the example of Starbucks, who took the common cup of coffee and promoted the image of high quality and convenience.  None of this is possible with a football team that hasn’t had a winning season since…well, shit!  The last time Enema U had a good enough season to be invited to a bowl game, John-John was playing under President Kennedy’s desk.

In a media-saturated market, successful marketing no longer works with cute phrases, goofy mascots, and marching bands.  What works is carefully analyzing what our students really want and then delivering a high quality education.  And this will be true no matter how many times our Evil Overlords scream, “Go, Zombies!”

I hate that whole “Go, Team, Go!” mantra crap.  Life is not a game that you play for an hour.  Winners are not the ones with the most points.  Everything truly good in your life will be the result of years of hard work and preparation and your successes will be slowly accumulated over time.  You know, kind of a like a four-year degree program.  How many places in life would it be appropriate to scream out these simplistic moronic platitudes to people hard at work?  Do nurses scream at surgeons, “Cut, Doc, Cut!” in an operating room?  The next time you are on an airplane, get as close as you can to the cockpit door, and at the last possible moment, scream, “Land, Pilot, Land!”  I hope the sky marshal shoots you in the crotch with a rubber bullet.

Since I have worked at Enema U, the school has probably spent on football (and I admit this number is only a semi-educated guess--which means it is probably as ignorant as a lady’s watch) a quarter of a billion dollars.  Fortunately, New Mexico didn’t need that money.  The taxpayers couldn’t possibly have done anything more effective with the cash--the state didn’t need more schools, hospitals, or fire stations.  Surely, the university hired the finest professors who taught in up-to-date classrooms while charging the lowest tuition.  And I believe in Tinkerbelle.

Yes, I know what you are thinking: College football brings in donations and makes lots of money.  No, even in the big league schools it usually doesn’t.  Take the time to read the report from the Knight Commission, or look at the data on the U.S. News and World Report website.  That quarter of a billion dollars is over and above gate receipts, donations, and the loose change the coaches sweep up under the stands after we finish losing a game.

Naturally, I have a suggestion--a fair suggestion.  In order to generate enough cash to continue to fund the bottomless pit of football, Enema U has privatized several services on campus.  We leased out the campus bookstore and turned it into a Hukked on Foniks T-Shirt Shop.  We leased out the cafeterias to a company that specializes in providing meals to airports and prisons.  (Presumably, we get their leftovers.)

If leasing out university services effectively delivers a quality product to our students—and I believe that is our state mandate—let’s shut down the football program until a company steps forward and is willing to lease it and run it at a profit.  Since I’m sure the coaches and athletic supporters who have claimed that college sports actually make money have been telling us the absolute truth for years, it shouldn’t take long for a smart investor to step up and lease our team. 

And the new owners can brand each other on any body part they can reach.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

No Rescue Tonight

The trouble started with a hotel fire in Manila.  The fire spread so rapidly the guests could not get near the fire escapes until it was too late.  All that was possible for the guests was to flee ever upward, hoping to stay safe by moving up the stairs ahead of the flames, but steadily moving higher and farther from the ground.  By the time the fire department arrived, no ladder could save the trapped guests.  Eventually, however, most of the stranded guests were evacuated from the roof by helicopter.

The Flagship Hotel also had a perennial fire safety problem.  First, the hotel was seven stories tall, built on a pier that extended out over the ocean, and the fire department--whose longest   ladder wouldn't reach to the top floor of the hotel--could only park on one side of the hotel.  The firemen would have needed a boat to access the other side.

The General Manager read about the fire in Manila and immediately decided that the Flagship should keep the door to the roof unlocked at all times.  This was a decision about as flawed as deciding to store beer in a fraternity house.  The
security guards were catching a drunk every week up on that roof and we were not catching the morons who were busting the fluorescent 'L' in the hotel's name.  I was getting really tired of wags calling the front desk asking, "Is this the love boat?"

Weekends, the hotel hired an off-duty policeman to stand security outside the hotel's bar--a duty that usually fell to my friend Bill.  I won't give his last name, since he still has a lot of friends on the island.  Now, before I can finish the story about Bill, I suppose I have to mention his funeral--even though this is bass-ackwards from the way you talk about anybody else--but whenever I think of Bill, his funeral is the first thing that comes to mind.

Bill looked like Dracula.  He didn't need a costume: he had the thin angular face, the black hair that came down to a widow's peak over his forehead, and the deep dark eyes.  Hell, on a good day, he looked like Dracula.  As he began to slowly drink himself to death and his liver started shutting down, he turned a pale yellow color.  If you ran into him at night, he was terrifying.  Eventually--no matter how hard his friends tried to prevent it--Bill ate his gun and ended his life. 

Bill was well-liked and missed by a lot of friends, so his funeral should have been a solemn occasion.  It should have been--but it wasn't.  Without exception, as his friends entered the funeral parlor and made their way up the aisle for the viewing, every single one of them started laughing: there was a pasty-faced Dracula lying in his coffin, with his hands crossed over his chest. Bill would have loved it!

Where was I?  Oh yes--one night, right about midnight, Bill and I were having a cup of coffee in the deserted restaurant.  The bar was open, but it was a very quiet night, so Bill and I took advantage of the solitude to sit at a table and stare out the glass wall at the waves.  The sea was rough and the wind was sending an endless series of rollers under the hotel to crash onto the beach.

And then, my radio went off.  A guest on the top floor was reporting that a woman was screaming from the roof and was threatening to jump.  

As we raced to the elevators, Bill used his police radio to report the jumper and to ask for the fire department to be notified.  By the time we got to the roof--sure enough--there was a woman standing close to the edge of the roof, threatening in a very loud voice for us to stand back or she would jump to the parking lot seven floors below.  

I think I spent about two minutes trying to talk to the woman.  She was in her thirties, and I never did learn exactly what she was upset about.  Suddenly, the sound of the sirens of the fire trucks could be heard and we all stopped to look at the distant rotating lights coming closer.  

I can remember wondering what use the fire department was going to be since they didn't have a net and their ladders weren't long enough.  Just what were they going to...

"Bullshit!" roared Bill as he walked past me, getting closer to the woman.  "This is all bullshit!  I used to be a fireman before I joined the force and I know all about you jumpers.  You're going to wait until the last minute, and then try to pull some poor guy off with you.  Well, not tonight, bitch!"

Bill kicked at a brick that was holding an electrical conduit up off the roof of the hotel.  He raised the brick over his head and said, "You don't get to jump.  I'm going to knock your ass right off this roof before any of my friends get here.  You have 5 seconds!  One!  Two!  Three!..."

Before he could get to four, she had passed us and was down those stairs.  We searched, but never found her.  If she jumped, it wasn't from the Flagship--I locked the rooftop door that night and it stayed locked.

It was a unanimous decision by the management that in case of fire, the guests could just jump into the ocean.