Posts Tagged ‘writing’

My bladder has consistently proven itself to be one of my trickier organs. In the past, I’ve been compared to pregnant women, children, and once, a goat. The latter was in another country. One where the goats pee quite often, and at inopportune moments.

My inopportune moment would turn out to be a bit more technologically complicated than that of a goat. But in the grand scheme of things, a frequent pee-er (for lack of a better word) will always be a frequent pee-er, no matter the gadgets, the country of origin, or even the species.

Another difficulty that many frequent pee-ers might be familiar with, is the lack of a cut-off valve. Now, I know I’m getting pretty scientific here, so try to keep up. While some folks can turn it on and off like a faucet, others cannot. This is a key piece of information moving forward.

So let’s get to it. There I was, on a dark and stormy Tuesday night. I was in the bathroom, shirtless, staring at myself in the mirror (as is often the case on Tuesdays). Soon, I began the intricate task of trimming my ear and nose hairs (Please, stop throwing your panties at the screen, ladies).

Suddenly, my phone rang. Not a text, email, or social media, sort of notification, but an actual phone call. Suffice it to say, this was a harrowing turn of events. I scrambled away from the sink and stared down at my pocket, in disgust.

In that same instant, my bladder sprang a surprise of its own. I was now scrambling to unbutton my trousers and hop over to the toilet. With the seat up, and my unmentionables out, I got down to business (Remember, no cut-off valve).

The phone rang again. Who on earth was calling me? And without so much as a text, to warn me of the impending call. It was 2017 after all, and I was under the impression that we’d moved past phone calls.

Unless of course, this was the sort of news that could only be shared through live conversation. Deaths, births, and bizarre sexual encounters, being the three standard scenarios I knew of that allowed for this.

I shoved one hand into my pocket and pried my phone out. While trying to balance the phone, my pee stream, and also swipe that damn green button, I lost my grip…

…and down, down, down, it went. Flipping in slow motion, like a televised Olympic diver, milliseconds before a career destroying belly flop.

Sploosh. This was the worst kind of gold medal. The kind with pee.

Because of my aforementioned lack of a cut-off valve, I continued to whiz as my phone descended into the bowl. I silently cursed the heavens, knowing the terrible maneuvers that I would have to set into motion.

It all happened very fast, then. I flung my arm down, toward the pee-filled bowl. In doing so, my hips tilted away from the toilet, thereby forcing me to pee on my jeans. At the exact moment I began peeing all over legs, my hand broke through the murky water, in a desperate search for my befouled phone.

phone

An accurate interpretation of events.

 

Finally, with my bladder emptied, and phone in hand, and also way too much of my body covered in urine, I stood triumphant… okay, maybe triumphant is too strong a word. But I was standing there. You know, covered in pee.

Sure, I still had to rinse off my phone, and my hands, and my jeans, and more esoterically, perhaps a part of my soul. And yes, I still had the chore of chopping through a forest of nose hairs, but the worst of it was behind me. A toast to small victories.

Luckily, the S7 edge is kinda-sorta waterproof. Not to speak for the nerds that designed the thing, but I’m guessing they made these advancements because of just such occasions.

Perhaps this scenario was worked out during Samsung’s beta-testing. Or perhaps one of these science nerds dumped their phone in a random toilet, while out chasing Pokémon’s, or whatever it is nerds do on their off time.

Regardless, it’s a helluva device. Kudos to them. I’m currently writing this blog entry on it. An entry which was inspired by it. And I’m writing it for people who I’m connected to because of it.

Thought of in those terms, saving my phone from the toilet was almost like saving a group of drowning people.

I’m kind of a hero, when you really think about it.

I decided to go for a run. Maybe, because I needed to shed a few pounds. Maybe, because I wanted to tempt fate and test my middle-aged heart. Regardless of the reason, on that run, I recieved a sign. Now, I’m not saying it was from God… but yeah, it was probably God.

I was about two miles into that dreaded form of exercise, and all of the rattling and gasping, was loosening up the crusty stuff inside of me.

Suddenly, I had to spit. And it was a particularly juicy goober. Apparently, a bone fragment had made its way from one of my shins to the back of my throat.

Steely-eyed, with my luscious hair blowing in the wind, my impossibly square jaw set in determination, and my muscles rippling (I’m on a roll, don’t judge me) I forged on toward home.

While doing so, I coughed up the morsel and spit it out.

Now this is where the sign comes in, so pay close attention. The celestial-goober launched itself from my mouth, but instead of falling onto the pavement a few feet ahead of me, it floated in the air at eye-level. Held either by the wind or the hand of God… but we all know the wind is God. So, yeah, it was God.

After floating in front of me for a long moment, it was quickly returned to my face with a splat. At that point, I stopped running.

Now, how to interpret this supernatural act, is the piece of the puzzle that still remains a mystery.

Did having to stop my run in disgust, and wiping away my own awfulness, prevent my heart from exploding?

In this scenario, the jolly bearded guy upstairs was sending me good vibes and a thumbs up. And that’s good, I think.

OR, was it that some cosmic prankster elbowed his buddy, and said “Hey god-bro, check this out.”  and then slapped me with my own slime. Then they probably chuckled and exchanged a fist bump, as my muffled curses passed under their fraternity of clouds.

In this scenario, the afterlife is not looking too good, for yours truly. An eternal pledge for some cosmic frat, where they diddle and humiliate you. Jesus… That’s some dark shit right there.

I don’t know, man. I just don’t know. That’s the thing about signs. They’re open to interpretation. And that leads you down some treacherous philosophical roads. The kind where you need to determine how full glasses are. And nobody has the patience for that.

Bottom line. I spit in my own face… but it wasn’t my fault, like at all.

It was and act of god. And he or she (calm down) is a mysterious being, whose intent is beyond our mortal comprehension. But the most important thing to know is: If you, or any of your friends, talk to the lady that was walking her dog (Off of 22nd and Hampton), I DID NOT spit in my own face. It was way more complicated than that.

And she’s a goddamn liar.

It’s just terrible. Sure, some might say it’s a mixed bag, but those are most likely the same, sadistic folks that I see jogging around the neighborhood when it’s under five degrees.

It makes sense that these people enjoy our current, frozen hellscape. They’ve been secretly trying to kill themselves every winter, under the guise of exercise.

They do this, so you can feel twice as bad.  First, for how sloth-like indoor life has made you. And second, for the fact that the cold won’t kill them. Yet it would you.

This same sort of deception is at play when someone says “Eh, it’s not so bad.” Or the most obnoxious of all: “It could be worse.”

Yeah, it could be worse. We could be naked, fighting off wolves in Alaska. But I probably wouldn’t have time to update this readerless blog, if that were the case.

And you know what else?

It could also be better, a lot better. We could be cuddling koala bears, while snapping pics of tropical drinks, on a beach somewhere in Honolulu (If that’s even a real place).

That said, I guess it’s not all doom and gloom. After all, December does bring with it the holiday season. And yes, there’s a lot to be grateful for. And the different holidays and their rich traditions make life that much more special. Yadda yadda yadda.

But seriously, who are we fucking kidding? It’s 10 degrees below zero, right now . And I’m willing to bet cold, hard cash, that almost all winter traditions were invented for the sole purpose of stopping us from walking off into the frozen night. Even something as small as a catchy jingle can stop one from giving in to death’s warm embrace.

So you see, If cavemen had Christmas ornaments, we’d all be a lot hairier. That’s just plain science.

Unfortunately, when it’s this kind of cold outside, even heartwarming holiday cheer can mutate into something a bit more ominous.

Take classic Christmas carols like Deck the Halls, White Christmas, or Silent Night. If you’re cold enough (And if you live in Chicago, you are), you begin to decode what these songs are actually about.

Some might point to cabin fever, but the sort of chill I’m talking about is beyond psychological symptoms. And it’s beneficial in one way, and one way only. Like Neo in the Matrix, you begin to see things for what they are.

Fa la la la la is the sound teeth make during their final death rattle. It’s obvious that the poor bastard who wrote this tune, never could get that sound out of his head. Betchya didn’t know that.

Silent night, holy night was evidently written by someone suffering from hypothermia, and preparing to meet his maker. You can’t get much holier than that.

And White Christmas? Well, Bing Crosby might as well have been part of the alt-right. The jury’s still out on him. *Note: Just kidding, Bing. That was a low blow.

“But, what about fun traditions like building gingerbread houses?” You ask.

I agree, it’s a wonderful way to spend the day. Architecture meets sweet delights. It’s the sort of combination that would’ve made Frank Lloyd Wright shed a tear and loosen his belt a notch.

Still, it was an invention most likely born out of necessity. Cabin fever and dwindling food reserves, forced folks to get creative and combine their resources. After all, there’s only so many times one can read Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Yes, I’m assuming Gingerbread houses are an old German thing (no time to google, I’m on a roll).

I suspect I’m starting to sound a bit unhinged. So I won’t even get into the issues I have while drinking and driving (under the legal limit, of course) during the winter months. That would probably be bad form.

Seriously though, even with the salt, it’s like a slip-n-slide out there. And it’s even worse if you’re seeing double (or so I’ve been told).

See? This is what the winter does. It sends you on chattering tangents. Anything to keep your core temperature up.

Well, I’ll stop preaching to the choir, now. We’re all in this together. And if their is a deity in charge of the changing seasons and groundhog shadows, then I hope he or she is a merciful bastard, but I suspect this is not the case.

Also, if you’re from a tropical climate and reading this, you should thank that same cruel deity (who is undoubtedly in charge of the geographical lottery, as well). And know this, you’ll probably be reincarnated in Aleppo. Fair is fair.

A friend of mine, who will remain nameless for this blog (eh, let’s call him Ricardo. I always liked that name). Ricardo’s family started a holiday tradition of their own. His family celebrates Christmas in July. Because, and I’m speculating here, it’s too damn cold to celebrate anything in December.

And they do so with a White Elephant party, which on an unrelated note, I recently learned does not involve car keys, a hat, and condoms (boy, was that an embarrassing night).

Anyhow, Christmas in July seems like a tradition I could get behind. After all, snow is great for about one day. After that, it’s all busted shovels and thrown-out backs.

I guess June or August could also work. But a counterpoint to this would be that those months are already great, and without the holidays, December is undoubtedly the worst month of the year… which is saying a lot.

Jesus, this blog is all over the place. And I’m not sure how I feel about any of it. Except for the part about hating winter. I feel quite strongly about that.

I guess what I’m trying to say, in a very roundabout way, is we’re lucky to have the holidays. Because without em, we’d be a bunch of miserable assholes.

Happy Holidays to you and yours.

 

 

I have to dredge up a lingering issue. One that really chaps my hide (god, I love that phrase). Recently, against my better judgment, I begrudgingly settled on the Studio Movie Grill, for a family outing. It’s one of those all-in-one theater chains that thinks combining drinks, dinner, and a movie, is the ULTIMATE MOVIE GOING EXPERIENCE.

Which is kind of like calling an anal fissure EDGE OF YOUR SEAT EXCITEMENT.

The corporate mission statement behind these abominations, is much like a slogan from McDonalds or Burger King. Super-size it! Make it a combo! And don’t forget to add a McNugget Flurry for only twenty-five cents more! 

See, this is how it works: You take a movie, and then you add an overpriced, frozen dinner, and a lot of terrible drinks, and you wrap that all up into a burrito of poor decision-making, and then you shove it in your face-hole. Where stuff goes. And please remember to reserve your seats ahead of time, online. Because there’s always an online component, when you’re destroying something beautiful.

At a glance, like most successful sales pitches, it sounds like a good idea. “Hey, we can get a drink at the theater, then we can eat our meal while watching the movie! Oh, and there’s a red button we can press on our tables! Wooooo!”

This sort of logic might seem sound, if you have a babysitter watching the kids, and you have exactly two hours to spare. Fine, crowbar it all in. 

But for those of us lucky enough to have a night out, and a desire to watch a movie and share a meal, this is the worst possible option. It’s like a candlelit dinner at White Castle. Except there’s a possibility of more diarrhea and less ambiance.

Problem #1: You have a drink or two at the bar beforehand, while you wait to be seated. Great, now you’re slightly buzzed going in. One soggy quesadilla later, and let’s face it, you’re not exactly on your A-game. So yeah, enjoy that movie you’ve either misinterpreted, talked over, or fallen asleep to.

I’ve been trapped next to two drunken middle-aged housewives, complaining that they didn’t “get it” between wet slurps of margaritas and whispered conversations with the waiter. Of course they didn’t get it. They were doing everything but watching the god-damn movie. And it was fucking Jurassic World, not Truffaut.

Problem #2: You’re dealing with waiters in the middle of the movie. They’re scrambling around like ball boys at the French Open, and someone in your group is inevitably going to ask “Should we get another bucket?”  No. You should get a gun and put it in your mouth. Because art is dead.

Problem #3: The food is awful. It’s microwaved soylent green. And we swallow it down like the gluttonous, indecisive children we are. God forbid we hold off on saturated fats for a couple of hours, and choose where we’re going to eat. No, that would be too great of a decision to make. Instead, let’s ruin a movie along with our night. Whatever it takes. Just feed us your soggy quesadillas, and turn up the background noise. This is a decision-free zone.

These places fail miserably in everything they set out to do. They’re a failure as a movie theater. Your experience will undoubtedly be compromised by the wait staff, by your own buzz, and by the people on either side of you (who are either continuously pressing shiny red buttons, or devouring unholy quesadillas between wet burps).

Let’s face it, if one of these places was just a restaurant and bar, it would be a Planet Hollywood without all of the accoutrements.

Movie theaters with a bit of history and a varied movie selection, are getting harder to find. While in their stead, we’re being offered something we don’t need or want. And yet, somehow, we’re still being coerced into thinking that this is our preferred method of movie-going.

And it’s too easy. And they know that. And we like easy.

Enough is enough! So, um, I guess this is the part where I stand up and quote something… and that something is one of the greatest American songs to ever grace a film: “There’s no easy way out. There’s no shortcut home.”  *koff* Rocky 4 *koff*

It comes down to this, dinner and a movie has been co-opted by corporate assholery. We are being sold an inferior alternative. An alternative that cuts out a vital part of this shared, cultural experience. It cuts out the part where you choose for yourself. The part where you walk out of a theater and say “Hey let’s grab a bite to eat, or a drink, and talk about whatever it was we just saw.”  And I fucking love that part.

I guess it’s our own damn fault. We’ve allowed this to happen. We’ve went along with the program, and in doing so, we’ve betrayed a piece of our cultural identity for the first shiny, new thing that came along. 

And with less and less real movie theaters left, this inferior alternative is quickly becoming the only game in town.

 

The year was 1990, and Tecmo Bowl was my jam. I would take the rock to the house, spike the controller, and shake my ass all over my brother’s bedroom. This was my twelve-year-old version of the Ickey shuffle, and it was glorious. And if our Nintendo controller had to suffer because of this, so be it. It did so in the name of art.

Then came WCW Championship Wrestling. I would write out brackets on notebook paper, and inevitably get Rick Flair chest-chopping his way into a championship bout. After a successful title run, I would let out a “WOOOOO!” and shuffle out of the room. And occasionally, I could be heard hollering “Twelve pounds of gold, baby!” to no one in-particular.

Because that’s what WCW video game champions did. We shouted cool shit like that.

My teenage years brought with them games like Altered Beast (best when accompanied by Metallica on your Discman), as well as the NBA Live and Madden franchises.

Sports games were the last to hold my attention (even after women entered the picture), but my time spent button-mashing was quickly coming to an end. It also helped that video gaming went the online route, while I had begun to develop a case of tech-allergies (I blame 90’s public schooling).

That said, I still drank beers with buddies, while they argued with thirteen-year-olds. Thirteen-year-olds who viciously murdered them in video games, and called them “bitches” or “punk-ass bitches” over their headsets as they did so. Ah, those were the days.

Then came kids. The first seven (or so) years of child-rearing were mostly video game free. Sure there was Angry Birds, or some other iPad inspired silliness, but the console driven madness of first-person shooters and Hail Mary touchdown passes were still a ways off.

And then my kid was nine, and all he wanted for Christmas (Besides his front teeth and a BB gun) was an Xbox One. And being the exceptional, fantastic, and all-around swell dad that I am, I got him that Xbox One.

With one caveat, I pledged an oath to my wife that he’d only play age-appropriate games. And only for ten minutes each day. But soon after the pledging of said oath, other kids in the neighborhood started getting Call of Duty Black Ops.

And then everything went to hell.

Fast forward a few months, and we had an Xbox Rambo on our hands. He and his friends conducted clandestine missions in our TV room, while we yelled at them to “Turn it down”, or “Go outside!” Although I had to admit, the game looked pretty fucking awesome.

But I’m a dad, so I dad-watched from the doorway, and I shook my head dismissively. As if I wasn’t impressed by the insane graphics, and the cool, shooty-gizmos they were using. I said things like “Okay, wrap it up”, Or “Five more minutes, guys.” Or “Any of you kids ever hear of Golden Eye?”

But what I was really thinking was more along the lines of “Holy shit, dude! Is that a fucking flame thrower?!”, followed by “Holy shit that IS a fucking flame thrower!”

Then one day, my son asked if I would like to play him in Black Ops. And I was all like “Pfft, I mean I’m a really busy guy, but I’m also an awesome dad, so yeah, whatevs, I guess so.”

Truth be told, I’m a bit of a trash-talker. And yeah, maybe I spit a little bit of that old school trash-talking game in my son’s direction.

Stuff like “Kid, I’ve been playing video games since you were a gleam in my sharp-shooter eyes.”

“A gleam in your eye? What does that even mean?” He asked.

It was neither the time nor the place to try and explain the birds and the bees. That’s what a 6th grade field trip to the Robert Crown center was for.

“Er, nothing. Don’t make this weird.” I shot back.

“Speaking of eyes, you ever hear about a little game called 007 Golden Eye?”

“Jeez, Dad. No one knows that game.”

“Well, it was awesome and your old man left quite a few digital bodies in his wake.”

“Yeah, okay. You can pick your armor and weapons now.”

My god, all that armor and weaponry. I was a golden-armored god, with a machine gun forged by Ares himself. The world would have no choice but to bow before my unholy might, or it would be crushed beneath my shiny, armored boots… or so I thought.

After I finished outfitting my unstoppable bringer-of-destruction, my digital warrior king, I clicked save and awaited my son’s doomed character to appear.

My son, worried about his father’s new obsession with dressing up video game characters, tried to soften the painful lesson that was soon to come.

“It’s okay, Dad. I don’t need any armor, and I’m just gonna use a knife.”

“A knife? A KNIFE?! I have serious firepower, you don’t stand a chance, kid.”

Was he patronizing me? He was definitely too sure of himself. Was he bluffing? Was he underestimating my merciless first-person shooter acumen?

Or was I about to step into a world of shit?

The game began. Our characters spawned on different sides of a bombed-out city. I ran through the streets, aiming and shooting at random stuff. Because it just seemed like the right thing to do.

After a bit, I stopped trying to blow stuff up, and decided to find my target. Through my gun’s scope, I finally spotted my son. There he stood, maybe a hundred yards out. A sitting duck (or standing in this case). He faced me, unflinching, with nothing but a knife. It reminded me of Jason Vorhees right before he brutally murders a bunch of teenagers, in any of the Friday the 13th movies.

The kid was toast. I hooted a war-cry and opened fire. A lot of things happened then. First, I realized it was really hard to aim my gun. Bullets bounced around him, and then he began to strut toward me.

Suddenly, he was in a full sprint, sliding and jumping and doing weird slidey-jumpy moves, as I continued to fire and miss.

“Hey man! No! Hey! I can’t— just stay still!“ I cried.

John Rambo’s words rang in my ears: “I could have killed ’em all, I could kill you. In town you’re the law, out here it’s me. Don’t push it. Don’t push it or I’ll give you a war you won’t believe. Let it go. Let it go.”

I was the oafish, stubborn-as-a-mule Sherriff Brian Dennehy, as I stood my ground and continued to fire and miss. Rambo-Son scaled walls and did those slidey-jumpy maneuvers again… and soon he was on top of me.

It was all so fast, violent, and efficient. He sliced through me like butter, and I was no more.

“AHHH! What the heck!” I yelled, as he plunged the blade into my chest.

A toothy grin was all he gave in response.

I respawned a moment later. Whole once more, and ready to continue the battle. His face still held the grin, as his character appeared before me like a demon summoned.

I suddenly knew the answer to a previous question: I hadn’t just stepped into a world of shit. I was dancing a goddamn jig in it.

I fired sporadically, while I ran in the opposite direction. He gave chase, and again I was cornered, and soon after that I was dead. This process continued for the next fifteen minutes. I shot at, and around him, then I screamed and ran, then he laughed hysterically, and then he murdered me.

The controller fell from my hand.

“Dad! Don’t throw the controller!”

“What’re you talking about?… It fell… from my hand.”

“No, you threw it down. Come on, let’s keep playing.”

“Kiddo, I think this is way too violent. You shouldn’t be playing this.”

“You’re just saying that because I’m way better than you.”

He was right, mostly. Something had shifted in our relationship. I was always the best at pretty much everything we did together. And now, he had surpassed me in something. At the age of nine.

I’d like to say my chest swelled with pride at that. But after watching him bury a knife into it for twenty minutes straight, I instead gave him a pat on his back.

“You got ten more minutes, then wrap it up.”

“Ten minutes?!”

“I’ll tell you what, when you’re done, we can go outside and shoot some hoops. Sound good?”

“Aww, yeah!” He said, with that toothy grin I loved so much.

He wouldn’t be grinning soon however, because I took him to the hoop. Repeatedly.

Some might say that last part was a bit harsh, and that maybe I’m a little immature. Hell, even just a tad insecure.

But I won that basketball game 15-5. And that’s what counts. I mean, not crossing him over and taking him to the hole repeatedly. Not that.

No, what counts is we had some honest-to-god, father/son bonding time.

Yeah, that’s what I meant. Jeez.