Thursday, December 30, 2010

You Mean This Thing Actually Works?

            Before I get started, let me say that Brandon’s super power of involuntary diarrhea by telekinesis is brilliant. What he failed to mention, though, was that in that party scenario, if the moderately attractive girl shuts you down, the coup de grace would be sending her off with a parting gift of smeared mascara and slimy brown legwarmers. Who’s not interesting enough now, huh?

            Also, if I had to pick my own super power, it’d either be spontaneous ejaculation or the gift of impulsive Down syndrome. At any moment, any person within a 10 ft radius of me could turn into Corky from Life Goes On… or revert back. Think how interesting life would be. While I may never be able to finish that conversation with Brandon about the devolution of mainstream literature, I would quickly learn that he likes seahorses, wants a cheeseburger, and can fit his whole fist in his mouth. Just be careful not to couple that together with the spontaneous ejaculation super power. God help us all.

Anyway, today’s entry is about how apparently this whole blogging thing works. After my tirade on the idiocy/rudeness of a certain tire store, Tires Plus got in contact with me and had us bring the car in. They realigned the entire thing for free (it was completely off from being aligned to a different model year), reprimanded the guy who was rude to us, gave us a few free oil changes (I change my own oil, but whatever, free is free), and they’re giving us $300 off a new pair of snow tires. Oh, and we were profusely apologized to, to the point of wondering when the manager would just drop to his knees and kiss my snow-crusted sneakers.

So I have to say I’m pleased with how he handled things, and in the future, we’ll consider going back to them… and not just for the free oil. However, let it be known that if I did, and I had the aforementioned super powers, I’d still utilize them, especially on the guy who was unnecessarily rude. Because say what you will, but a free alignment, free oil changes, and money off new tires is nothing compared to the entertainment value of a room full of spontaneously ejaculating tards.

 

Stay classy, friends.

-Bryan

 

Mood: Relieved

Beer: Pitcher of Colorado Native, shared with Brandon

Shower: Nice and warm… and not shared with Brandon

           


Sooper Dooper Party Pooper

I'm a comic-book geek, and always have been. Both the quality stories and the corny ones have earned permanent places in my heart. From the subconsciously homoerotic superheroes, with their Cling-Wrap tights and soap-opera-esque ensemble teams, to the "independent" titles that are salivated over by plaid-draped hipsters everywhere, I'm a sucker for the artistic medium that is the comic-book. And, like any good geek, I often find myself thinking about what the coolest superpower would be. The answer changes daily, depending on functionality, and sometimes in response to the degree of dumbfuckery encountered in any given situation. I'd like to share a couple of my favorites.

First: Body-Doubling
Like Multiple Man in the Marvel universe, I think this would be an awesome superpower, especially if you're the lazy sort. If you were able to make identical copies of yourself, you'd never have to lift a finger around the house again. Nor would going to work be much of a nuisance. Quit your day job, buy a set of aprons and rubber gloves, and start your own manly maid service. The old ladies would love it. Maybe even an escort service? And, if some asshat pissed you off, you could just send one of your doubles over to take care of business, get beat up, shot, stabbed, go to prison, et cetera. No skin off your back. I foresee a couple of downsides here, if I wasn't careful. Knowing myself, probable mutiny would be at the top of the list, and I'd be stomped to death by a horde of overworked, curmudgeonly writers in Doc Martens, spouting off references to The Emancipation Proclamation. Barring that, I'd never be able to leave my fiancee alone, having learned a hard lesson from Michael Keaton's obliviously floozy wife sexing up all those Bruce Wayne clones in Multiplicity.

Second: Involuntary diarrhea by telekinesis.
This is a fun one, and probably my favorite. Say for example you're at a party, talking to a chica who is moderately attractive, and at least as good as you are at concealing her flaws. And, like an elevator fart, some halitotic dick swoops in to suffocate the conversation. We've all been there; there's nothing funny about being cock-blocked by a pushy intruder. But, luckily, you have the power to expel his bowels into his socks at warp speed. He'll slosh his way to the bathroom, not being talked about for his bad breath for once, and you'll be free to work your magic, if you've got any. And, if you get shut down of your own accord, at least you weren't the biggest loser at the party. Of course, this superpower has an endless supply of applications, but for added effect, I'd probably try to use it in a place where there are no restrooms handy.

What would your superpower of choice be? The ability to mentally control a flock of chickens? X-Ray vision for your inner voyeur? I'm curious.

Excelsior!
-Brandon



Beer: Pitcher of Colorado Native
Music: The Smiths

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Love and Road Rage


            Love is patient. Love is kind. Love is blah blah blah however else that flowery bullshit goes.
            We all have different views on love. Some are flowery and make you choke on your own vomit (paging Edward Cullen), some are simplistic and honest, and some are nothing more than a price tag. There are those that are realistic, and those that are as likely to happen as Stephenie Meyer winning a Pulitzer prize.
To me, love is admitting that what she cooked for dinner came out like crap and laughing over it together. It’s being able to have just as much fun shopping for groceries as you do on a real date (our favorites include shopping cart bumper cars, play fighting in the aisles, and ‘put the random embarrassing item in the cart and see when the other notices’).
            Also, love is being a team in everything you do. In chores. In activities. Even in road rage.
            So let me start by saying that contrary to my fun little rants, I’m not an angry person. I just like to laugh, I hate political correctness, and I like to push the envelope. Usually a bad combination, I know, and the other day was no exception.
            Meli was driving us to the grocery store, and a car in the left lane zipped up, threw on their turn signal at the last second, and was tossing themselves into our lane even though we were right beside them. Meli gave a quick honk and the other car swerved back into their lane before they could hit us; apparently the woman that almost struck us felt entitled to our spot, because she promptly ducked into the far right lane on the other side of us, gave us the stinkeye, and flipped us both off.
            Neither of us got mad, because it’s not in our personalities to get upset over idiot drivers, but this woman kept her finger up like a single digit heil Hitler, while simultaneously having some kind of ranting conversation with us (that we were supposed to hear between 2 thick panes of glass and a lane of traffic). I don't know whether she was insulting my mother, or telling me where to stick it, or giving me a recipe for delicious chicken noodle soup... but I'll tell you what, I wasn't gonna take it.
           So I reacted, as any rational human being would, by laughing and saying, “Watch this" (always a precursor to a genius idea). I then pulled my pants down, stood up in the seat, and pressed both cheeks to the glass and shook it like a salt shaker.
            This should have been the part where Meli got embarrassed, pulled me down into the seat, and scolded me for being immature… right? But it wasn’t. She burst out laughing, and as I plopped back down in my seat, I started laughing too. And the woman beside us, well, apparently I just pissed in her cornflakes, because she got all black guuuurl and was yelling at that driver side window like I was the movie screen at a horror flick.
            “Good one!” Meli told me. “Did you see the look on that girl’s face? I wish I could have joined in, too! How pissed would she have been?"
            And so, while some idiot woman got her day ruined because we wouldn’t veer off into a ditch for her, my fiance and I pulled into the grocery store laughing... and later, she bumped my shopping cart into the side of an aisle with her booty to throw off my balance… and then we wrestled in the produce section when I told her her head looked like a watermelon… and then she put a box of Kleenex and a ginormous bottle of lotion in the cart when I wasn’t looking.
            And I only love her more because of it.

Till next time,
Bryan

Mood: Pleased
Beer: A pitcher of Killians
Shower: Like squeezing 2 people into a fogged up phone booth

          

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Glorious Man-Birth

As Bryan already mentioned, the weather in the Rockies is only moderately winter-ish, right now. I'm back in Colorado for the holidays and, even after leaving the icebox that is Chicago, am somewhat disappointed that the only thing remotely white about this Christmas was...well, Colorado. But, even though diversity limps, and the fact that we didn't have any cloud dandruff to set the mood, it's good to be home for a bit. I've missed the dry air...the world's best micro-breweries...the hundreds of ramshackle pharmacies where it's completely legal to buy an ounce of Northern Lights.

So, as is fitting for the recent holiday, I celebrated in biblical fashion, by drinking a blinding amount of vino and giving asexual birth to a child who will hopefully form a devout, and lucrative, religious following in the future. Or, at very least, I'd like to sell him for enough to cover my credit card interest for 2011. This, of course, means that I've started writing a new novel manuscript. It's going to be one part Science-Fiction, one part bullshit, and two parts frothing lunacy. And, no, it's not Ann Coulter's biography (Though I hear Hell's literary agent is making serious headway on that deal with Random).

Here's hoping that my newest progeny turns out to have better genes that his three younger siblings, and at least be as good-looking in the eyes of editors as his half-brother (written with co-author Bryan (and Jack Daniels)). Two eyes, ten toes, six figures. Is that too much to ask for? I don't think so. It's about time, right? Because, I for one, am sick and tired of feeling like that guy at the family reunion who's always drunkenly trying to excuse the dismal status of his delinquent offspring. No, I want my kid to lounge on the top of a bestseller list, bathing in champagne and groupies, not tossing salad for cigarettes, serving life in San Quentin. Who the hell would want to slap that bumper sticker on the back of his car? My Kid Is Prison Bitch of the Year at Canon City Pen! So, what's a father to do in order to ensure his child doesn't wind up serving the function of a prisonwide bidet? If I knew the answer, I'd be a rich man. And my first kids would need much less Listerine.

I have hope for this novel. I really do. That means it's time to crack open a Fat Tire, crank up the Led Zeppelin, and beat my keyboard like it owes me money.

Cheers!

-Brandon

Music: Sick Puppies
Beer: Fat Tire

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Hay-Soos Day

            So today is Christmas and between the lady and I, we’ve gotten many a text message wishing Meli and Brian a Merry Christmas.
            And I’ve told them all… my name is Bryan, goddammit. With a Y.
            (They mean well)
            Today’s also been a beautiful, dry, arid Christmas, which is nothing out of the ordinary for me. See, I’m from Colorado, and people that have never been there just assume it snows its ass off year round. Apparently we live in the North Pole, and everyone just skis everywhere. People here don’t drive cars, they just ski to work or snowboard to school or ride a penguin to work.
So I’ll go ahead and set the facts straight. I’ve never held a pair of ski poles in my life. I once tried a friend’s snowboard on a very small, snow-covered hill, and while I didn’t actually 'snowboard', I did 'fall down the hill, on my ass, repeatedly', until I decided this was a stupid method of transportation and left that job to my small collection of cars, none of which will leave bruises on every inch of your body. I'd probably have had better luck riding that penguin, though that sounds highly disturbing in itself and the use of a saddle and the direction in which the penguin faces quickly becomes the difference between 'riding' the penguin down an icy hill and 'aggressively raping' the penguin down an icy hill.
What the hell was I talking about?
Right. Winter weather. So lastly, and most importantly, we don’t get white Christmases. Don’t ask me why, but the typical Christmas Day is a little cold (40-50), and very dry. I can’t actually remember the last white Christmas I had. I think in 2006 I wore shorts and sandals to Christmas dinner. Not that the level of snow defines your enjoyment of Christmas... it doesn't matter whether it's dry as a bone or 6 feet of snow outside, Aunt Evelyn's still going to give me that awful sweater that makes me look like a Harvard math major.
This year, however, I’m in Vegas with the lady and in the in laws, so it’s especially hot and dry. Seeing nativities and big inflatable Santa Clauses and animatronic reindeer in yards looks absolutely ridiculous, seeing as how there’s no grass, certainly no snow, and it’s framed by nothing but sand, rocks, and palm trees.
I’m hoping for a visit from Santa, but since it’s so damn hot, I figure he and his reindeer might just burst into flames upon atmospheric entry. Plus, being as how this is sin city, I’m imagining the amount of coal he’s lugging on that sleigh has only added to his overall flammability. In retrospect, a terrible combination and he has no one to blame but himself.
So until he comes, you can find me in the shower, taking an extra cold one (and drinking an extra cold one) to keep cool, and to all of you out there… Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanza, Happy Hannukah, Happy Festivus… whatever the hell you celebrate, regardless of whether you believe in Santa or Jesus or flying reindeer or the flying spaghetti monster… quit your bitching and just enjoy your day off.

-Bryan

Mood: Burning
Beer: Home-brewed (ale with a touch of raspberry)
Shower: Evaporating way too quickly for my liking


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Your Child is Not a Genius

            After Brandon’s blog post about 2nd grade, I thought I’d dumb things down a little with a statement that not enough people seem to understand.
            Your child is not as smart as you think they are.
            Now let me preface this by saying I love children, and for the most part, they love me. Maybe it’s because of my creativity and imagination for playing, or the silly responses I give their questions. Maybe it’s my genuine friendliness that I try to convey with everyone. Or maybe it’s because I can still turn a refrigerator box into a race car with the best of ‘em. But I do love them, and I look forward to one day having my own 2.5 children (per US population).
            I also look forward to 18 years of vile bodily fluids, stupid questions, and poor life decisions. I know I gave my parents plenty of each.
             What I don’t understand, though, is the celebration of mediocrity that's become so commonplace with parenting. I’ve had to experience this lately with relatives, and you know you’ve seen the same thing a million times before, too: “Oh, look what little _____ did today. Isn’t he so smart for his age?”
            Ask ANY parent, and they’ll tell you their child is smart for his age. He can walk. He can figure out how to get into a cupboard. He can shit himself and roll in it. Isn’t he so smart for his age? Yes, he’s a goddamned genius. Can I leave now? This house smells like baby shit and feet.
            You should be proud of your child. I truly mean it; you should celebrate their achievements. But I’m continually amazed at how much we laud our children as being ‘ahead of the rest’ for really just being on par with the rest. A 2 year old child learning a few words isn’t the act of Einstein’s reincarnation, it’s nature’s way of telling you, congratulations, your child is not autistic. We applaud a child for being curious and getting into the cabinets, but that’s just a part of being a kid, is being curious and getting into shit. What’s more, which child is smarter? The one that gets into the cabinet, drinks the Drano, and kills himself, or the stupid child that can’t figure out how to open either? The smartest don’t always survive. Chew on that, Darwin.
            I find it amusing when parents commemorate bathroom functions as being exceptional. We celebrate if an age appropriate child can pee in a toilet and deem them tiny geniuses, but I assure you, this is nothing special. I peed in a toilet 4 times last night (I was drinking) and even had about a 95% accuracy rate (I was drinking). Do I get a cookie?
            What you never hear about are the stupid children.
“This is my Timmy. He still can’t figure out that the square peg goes in the round hole and he always falls off of his tricycle. He’s kinda dumb for his age, don’t you think?”
“My Jenny’s not very bright. She’s still pissing herself and looks at the toilet like it's an alien lifeform. She’s a really slow learner, don't you think?”
“Yeah, this is my Billy. He’s 24 months old and only knows a handful of words, most of which are swear words he picked up from daddy. He can't tell me what he wants, he just cries all the time. Isn't he stupid for his age?"
If only.
            Again, I like kids, and I’m looking forward to raising mine and applauding mine for their accomplishments and achievements, but I just wonder, having nothing more than 4 dogs and a cat right now, will I disregard this and be the same naive way? Will you hear me addle on and on about how smart Bryan Jr. is because he can spoon food into his mouth without spilling most of it or stabbing himself? Will I too boast about my child's mediocrities?
            I hope not. I hope I’m a fair, modest, and earnest parent who celebrates achievements when they’re appropriate. I hope I can be both celebratory and realistic. But that’s so far away, I can’t really say one way or another.
            So on that note, I'm out. I really want to figure out how to open this tasty looking Drano that I think might be really colorful fruit punch, and I think I just soiled myself again. (I’m kinda stupid for my age, and my parents are 99% certain I have a learning disability)

-Bryan 

Mood: Painfully optimistic
Beer: Fat Tire
Shower: Uncomfortably cold

PS After Brandon's last post with the tag 'Dumbfuckery,' I must admit I feel compelled to label all future posts with 'Dumbfuckery.'

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Remedial Me

Today I took a trip to the land of the Munchkins. Not the one inspired by L. Frank Baum's dalliance with LSD,  but the one where your average, nose-mining, nine-year-old spends the majority of his daytime hours. Elementary school (or Primary school if you've got an accent): that magical place where our future leaders and/or prison population are shuffled off into classrooms to learn their three R's. At least, in my day, it was the three R's. Probably as a result of my generation, at some point in the last two decades, someone realized that maybe an Education slogan centered around Reading, Riting, and Rithmetic might be sending students the Rong message.  idu WTF d prob S thO . gramA S OvR8d .

Why, you may ask, was I wandering the halls of the local Catholic school today? I am not a sexual deviant on the prowl. And I'm certainly not a man of the seminary. Nor am I one of the scumbags who tries to play both parts.

No, today, I was on official business. Which doesn't mean I was wearing a Santa suit, either. I'm neither fat nor jolly enough to be anything more than a sickly Mr. Claus, so I spread Holiday cheer in the next best way. I got to read Christmas books to second graders in my fiancee's classroom. And it was a blast. Kids are great. They ask what your favorite scary movie is (Beetlejuice), why you're eyes are brown (because I'm completely full of shit), and how many babies you're planning on having with their teacher (enough to make sure I'll have a compatible liver donor when I'm in my forties). It was great fun. I figure, being able to come up with a politically-correct and age-appropriate answer for about one in three questions was pretty good of me.

And I learned this about kids: if you can't come up with a good answer, all you have to do is kick your vocabulary in the ass a little bit, and either confusion will make them forget the question, or awe will lift you upon the shoulders of Einstein. Kids are easy. Obviously, I'm no teacher. But, that's fine by me. After spending half a day in a classroom, I don't understand why you don't see any homicidal educators in the news. Without going into details, I've come to the conclusion that teachers rock. I believe that the good ones are the world's first line of defense against Dumbfuckery, which is the untreatable, terminal, adult-stage result of dumbfuck parenting.

I'm happy to report that Second grade is still every bit as cool as I remember it, except for the fact that I have to kneel to reach the urinals now. Lunch and recess are as regular as Metamucil, the art teacher's room still smells like patchouli, and Gym is still just an adult word for: "Alright you little shits, go run around and scream off some energy, why don't you." Best of all... lunch still comes in a compartmentalized present of mass-produced goodness (See cellophane below).


Yes, that is a spork, and if you make a move for my juicebox, sucka, it's going to take out your fucking eyeball.

All in all, a good day.

Cheers.

-Brandon

Music: Stormy Weather by The Kooks
Beer: Bells - Two-Hearted Ale

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Hvem i helvete ønsker å være meg (Who the Hell Would Want to be Me?)

            My identity got stolen… again. It happened first in 2007 with my bank card, and again this morning when I signed onto my credit card’s website and questioned if I had really purchased $4,000 in garments from a Norwegian clothing store with a name that when pronounced, makes you sound like you’re either vomiting, or yodeling, or maybe both at the same time. No, I thought, never been to Norway, and I’m still wearing my unemployment uniform (wife beater and underwear), so the red flags went up.
            Everything’s taken care of, and no, contrary to popular belief, I didn't hand out my card to a stranger or enter it into some shady website or give it to the nice Nigerian man who informed me I’m inheriting $18 billion via e-mail. In the past month, I haven’t even bought anything; see the previous posts in which I bitch about not having money. 
            Ironically enough, my non-writing career path has always been IT, specializing in IT security, so not only am I pretty confident of what NOT to do with my credit card, my laptop is so secure the only thing it’s missing is a barbed wire perimeter and a big fat guy who’s not quite buff, in a t-shirt two sizes too small, standing out front with a headset, his arms crossed, and a smirk.
            As I understand it, well, these things just kinda happen. Most people I know have had their identity stolen at least once in their life… I’m just extra lucky, perhaps.
            But it made me wonder… who the hell would want to be me? Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a question of self esteem. I’m very self confident, as evident by my chiseled body, movie star good looks, and my dynamo ability in the sack (ladies?), but from a financial standpoint, well… see the previous posts in which I bitch about not having money.
            And yes I know, what I lack in money, I make up for in love and friends and blah blah blah crap
            The point is that a homosexual Norwegian (who else would want $4k in clothes?) wants to be me. And to him I say… good luck. You have just assumed the role of an unemployed writer whose current highlight of the day has been watching the fat guy on Man Vs. Food try to stuff a 2 foot tall hamburger in his gob, who might spend the next half hour playing a video game or applying for jobs he doesn’t qualify for or scratching himself, or hell, maybe all three at once because he can multi-task like a motherfucker. And on tonight’s dining menu, well, tonight’s a special treat. My personal Chef (his name is Boyardee) is whipping up his world famous ravioli. It’s either garnished with a white wine pesto with a hint of sage and garlic… or stale tomato paste. I can’t quite recall which.
            If you're still interested, gay Norwegian, the job is yours. It's lunch time and the TV dinner's already getting cold in the microwave. Plus, I hear another string of bad daytime judge shows is about to come on. Wait, where are you going? Kom tilbake hit homofil norske! (Come back here homosexual Norwegian)
           Crap. Guess I gotta keep being me. 
           So... here's a toast to 27 years of being me, and a toast to 27 more if the alcohol or the gout or poor decision making doesn't take me first.

-Bryan

Mood: Trøtt
Drinking: Blod av et lite barn
Shower: Varm og lun

                               The author's wardrobe of choice while watching Judge Judy.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Homeless Read Hemingway

Yesterday, instead of working, I went to the library. The intent for the trip was two-fold. 1. To stock up on unread Christopher Moore novels. And 2. Perform my semi-contributive writerly duties to society by aimlessly wandering about and watching civilized folks try not to embarrass themselves.

The Harold Washington branch of the Chicago Public Library is the second largest in the world, with seven floors, and over 2 million books. It's an arsonist's wet dream. Well...maybe their dry, tindery dream. Anyway, it's a big brick box full of books. Very impressive and a good jolt for any bookworm's literary libido. But, despite its size and expensive-looking light fixtures, I was surprised to find the place so empty. I ran into a few book shelvers and ambling librarians, but other than that, the place was deserted. I spent the better part of an hour in the seventh floor Fiction section, and during that time, the only other stack-lurker I came across was a homeless guy with two red backpacks and a ZZ Top beard, who looked like a bedraggled Santa Claus, sitting on the floor with his rosy nose buried in a copy of Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and The Sea.

A little while later, I made my way back to the third floor check-out with an armload of books that will hopefully get read before they start costing me quarters. And that was when I noticed that there were actually other patrons in that enormous place besides me. And there were a lot of them. At least one for every computer station. On the library's third level, it seems like half of the floor space is filled with public computers. Every single one of them was occupied. In 1969, the director of NASA likely would have shat himself at the thought of so much raw computing muscle in one room. Just think of how in-tune he could've been, knowing what Neil Armstrong had eaten for breakfast by reading his status update. He'd have filled his pants again if he'd known he could watch teenagers impale themselves with skateboards all day long while lip-syncing Busta Rhymes on YouTube.

The room was full of glazed eyes, glowing monitors, and zombiefied fingers slowly dragging mouse pointers here and there. It was sort of like looking at one of those human grapevines from The Matrix. Besides the infrequent cough or click of a mouse button, the place was as quiet as a library. Free internet. Toll-free cruising on the information super highway. That's the real perk of qualifying for a library card. The hobo on the seventh floor had no idea what he was missing. 

I leave you with a haiku dedicated to today's subway seats:

Bearers of the cheeks,
Too narrow for fat neighbors,
Fart dust in transit.

-Brandon

Song Playing Now: Shuffle Your Feet by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Drink: Dunkin' Donuts coffee

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Fly Like a G6 (Sedan)

            So I personally think it’s lame when people get on a blog and rip a company to shreds, using such wonderful buzzwords as ‘ridiculous and ‘unacceptable,’ over something as small as taking 5 minutes too long or forgetting the extra sugar in their coffee. They whine, and they bitch, and they make it sound like it was the worst thing to ever happen to them.
            With that said… fuck you, Tires Plus, and the 3 wheeled horse you rode awkwardly in on.
            Meli has been going there for years with little complaints, for her summer and winter tires. The summer tires have great tread, and the winters, which they bagged up and handed back to us 6 months ago, were said to have one more season on them. So I called to get an appointment for our 2005 Infiniti G35. The guy says, “Uh, you mean the 2007 Infiniti G35? That’s what we have on file.” In retrospect, I should have seen that this was foreshadowing for what was to come. Her car is not a 2007, but whatever. Small potatoes. So regardless, I snagged an early morning appointment so that we could swap out the tires and milk out that final season we were promised (and to get an alignment).
            What we got… was glorious, glorious incompetence.
            We dropped off the car, as scheduled, at 9 AM. Later, at around 2 PM, we got a call that we assumed was it being done. It was not. The guy informed us the snow tires were so worn they couldn’t possibly be used, and apparently it took 5 hours of standing around scratching their nuts and poking the tires with sticks to figure this out, much as a chimpanzee or a cluster of special needs children might do.
            We came in, and I’ll admit, 2 of the tires looked like shit. They were worn to the bone. This, however, was not cool because they told us 6 months ago that these exact tires would be good for another season, and looking at them, they wouldn’t have been fit for a tire fire. So put the good 2 on the back wheels and call it good, I say.
            We can’t do that, the tech says, because this is an all wheel drive vehicle.
            Swing and a miss.
            No, I say. It’s rear wheel drive. But no matter what I say, the tech insists it’s all wheel drive. He even glances under the car and ‘verifies’ with a quick nod that it’s all wheel drive. “See?” he says. “All wheel drive.” Maybe he looked under there and saw what he thought was the ‘Hi, this is all wheel drive!’ sticker, because the car is clearly rear wheel drive and this man is clearly an idiot. As an avid car enthusiast, as a guy who drives his cars hard and loves to get the back end swung out, and oh yes, as a man with an IQ over 75 who can read the manual that says ‘2005 INFINITI G35 SEDAN REAR WHEEL DRIVE’, I’m pretty sure of my argument. He won’t have it. Exasperated, I just tell him to put the regular tires back on.
            This takes another 2 hours, and then we get a call from the same guy telling us that our G6 is ready. Not only did our car become all wheel drive, but it’s a Pontiac now? Fuck me! Better not bring in my Audi. It might leave as a rear wheel drive Kia.
            We went to pick it up, and they handed us the papers that showed it was aligned to proper specifications… for a 2007 Infiniti G35. At this point, well, you’ve got to be kidding me. The specifications are still close enough to be on par with a 2005, or so they say, but as we tore out of there, the only thing I could think of is that we need a new tire place. And no amount of showering/beer can restore the IQ points I lost dealing with their staff.
            Was this the worst thing to ever happen in my life? No. But as a guy who only works on cars for a hobby, you’d think these people would know as much as I do, if not more, about the simple mechanics of a car, such as its model year, drive train, and oh yes, brand name.
            So anyways, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go hop in my Mustang and take it to the dealer. It just turned into a front wheel drive Hyundai, and I think I should probably get that looked at.

Till next time,
Bryan

Mood: Borderline retarded
Beer: Dos Equis Amber
Shower: Washing away the pain
  
Eerily identical

                                                                 Tech inspecting the tire

Monday, December 13, 2010

I'm Swimming in Your Pants

Since Bryan brought up nudity, let's keep the balls rolling, or hanging, or whatever...

Four minutes of glory. That's what I get each day, no more, no less. Four minutes of steaming, soapy escape from the perpetual icebox that is daily life in the winter of Chicago. Why four minutes? Because that's exactly how long I have before the water heater is drained and my shower becomes the instant urinal of Frosty the Snowman. Even though it's quickly made a more efficient showerer out of me, it's still a pain in the ass. I mean, a man can't even take the time to enjoy a beer in there when he's on that kind of time crunch.

Who'd have ever guessed that jury-rigging a shared hot-water line with the building's laundry machines might have been a bad idea? Certainly not my stoned landlord. Then again, he also thinks it sensible to seek medical advice from a writer. "Brandon, do this look broke to you?" This, while displaying his purple, baseball-sized wrist to me three days after losing a fight with a plumber's toilet snake.

In retrospect, before signing the lease, I suppose it might have been foolish to assume that I wouldn't need to choose between doing the dishes or taking a comfortable shower within the same hour. But, you know what they say about 'assume:' It's synonymous with 'spontaneous shrinkage.' In a good-faith effort, at least the landlord offered to pay most of my gas bill, which directly feeds the community washer and dryer, anyway.

So, like Bryan I found myself in an irritating circumstance. And, I too came up with somewhat of an improvised solution. Since the lion's share of my hot water is spent washing other people's undies, I've decided to embark on a personal mission of water reclamation. Just don't pay attention to that naked guy sipping a Sam Adams, sloshing around in the spin cycle with your Levi's. And if you please, for the sake of my unmentionables, go easy on the bleach, huh?

-Brandon

Song playing right now: Stickshifts and Safety Belts - by Cake

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Blogging Au Natural

                My last post was a little somber, so in the spirit of my not yet brother in law getting a tad better, we resume our regularly scheduled insanity with a much needed announcement.
                I’ve been wearing the same pair of underwear for the last 6 days.
                Before you wrinkle your nose, which I’m doing anyway, keep in mind that we’ve been washing the same pair of clothes every single night. We were only supposed to be here 1 night, but instead we’ve been here 6 nights, so the washing machine has become our new best friend. It’s become quite the ritual, too. Meli’s parents go to bed, we both strip down buck naked, and then we sit upstairs on the couch awkwardly watching TV while our clothes wash/dry.
I’ll tell you, there’s something about sitting on hot, sticky leather while naked that really makes you feel like it’s locking you in place so you can never leave, and why would you?—You’ve got over 100 HD channels broadcasting on your father in law’s 60” big screen TV with said father in law sleeping only 10 feet away. On the plus side, it’s on the second floor balcony, so if he ever steps out to see how we’re doing I’m only a few steps and a jump away from throwing myself to my own death.
                My hair is long and I’m a few weeks and a couple joints away from being a hippie. I spend my time in the hospital waiting room, with Meli’s mom’s bright pink laptop, working on writing while looking like an unshaven homosexual (pink laptop).  I miss my stupid dogs. I miss my home. I miss my bed. Hell, I miss my shower.
                My in law’s guest room shower is far from ideal. The shower head makes this grating, high pitched sound like a boiling tea pot that screams in your face the whole duration of the shower. I’m not often screamed at in the shower, but when I am, it’s not an enjoyable shower, so this week’s showers have not been great. In addition, the selection of shower products is slim to none, so I’ve been washing my hair with bar soap all week. If that wasn’t bad enough, there’s no beer in this household. Oh woe is I.
                I’ll be back in Colorado soon… only to pack up the small animal farm in our car and drive right back (until her brother is better)… but perhaps I’ll pick up a case of beer on the way. Oh, and a change of underwear or two, but that probably goes without saying. Either way, if I’m going to be standing in a screaming shower, the least I can do is lug my favorite brew in there with me.
                Until then, I’ll just have to raise my imaginary glass and give a toast to a warm shower, my brother in law’s health, and my in law’s not yet noticing I’m blogging butt-ass naked on their couch while my undies dry.

Cheers,
Bryan

The Beartender and the Fake Grass

                The warning signs are always there, but sometimes it’s hard to notice. Or maybe sometimes you just don’t think it’s important enough to notice.
                We all know that money can’t buy happiness… kind of.  It can help pay my bills, which will make me happy not to be out on my ass living out of a King Sooper’s shopping cart, but you know that ultimately the old adage is still true.
This weekend my fiancé and I were at a party at her brother’s mansion. Her brother has a lot of that green stuff, but he’s clearly not happy. It shows. When you first walk into the gigantic double doors, into a modern day palace that looks like it could only come straight out of a movie—exaggerated statues, exquisite paintings, a winding staircase, Mexican maids (ironically, for a Mexican family)—the only thing you can feel is that it’s big and empty. It doesn’t feel like an $8 million dream home. It feels lonely. It feels depressing. It feels too big for its own good. This is a house, but it’s certainly not a home.
                The answering machine is maxed out on messages and flashes incessantly, perpetually ignored by the homeowner. The alarm on the wall has had the wrong time since whenever the hell daylight savings took effect and was last armed even some time before that. The only food in the entire house is a pantry full of Lucky Charms and fruit snacks. Again, my fiancé’s brother is not a happy man.
                The night started well enough. I’m not big on parties, but the guest of honor, Meli’s other brother’s boyfriend, had invited a bunch of ‘bears’ to party. If you don’t know what a bear is, it’s not the big furry mammal that attacks men, though that description could be eerily close. A bear is a big burly gay man that has a thick beard, big muscles, and well, looks more like the Brawny Lumberjack than a gay man. They are gentle giants. They’re 6 foot 4, their biceps are as big as your legs, and they look like they could kick your ass…until they give you a huge hug, grab you a coaster so your drink doesn’t sweat on the wood, and ask with a tone that I don’t think I’ve even heard my own mother ask, “Would you like something to eat? You look hungry. Let me grab you something.”
                So there I was, partying it up with the bears, and last minute we found out that there was no bartender.  The bartender they planned to hire bailed on us, so I jumped behind the counter (which holds more liquor than my life is worth) and started dishing out drinks. Apparently I passed for a bartender, as I was asked quickly by patrons if I they could have a ‘seabreeze’ or a ‘red-headed slut’ or ‘my phone number’ (I think that last one was just a come on). I have no idea what any of those are, but they all sounded like frilly cocktail drinks, so I made some cranberry vodkas and surprisingly, didn’t receive any complaints. I made anyone what they asked for, as long as it was something my poor mixed drink dictionary could decipher, and though I didn’t realize it at first, there was a tip jar. In fact, the guy who I think kept coming up to order drinks just to talk to me kept handing me fives and telling me I was great. Grand total, I made out with $58 in ones and fives, and my wallet is so full I can’t close it. My wallet makes me look like I’m a baller, and the inside reveals that I might just be some kind of stripper.
                This was the only highlight of the night, however, and things quickly turned sour. At 1 AM the police showed up, and I thought it was because of the noise, even though it’s been relatively tame, but no one’s saying anything. The music is killed. More police swarm in. Everyone’s asked to go outside, but I’m still behind the counter. My fiancé is panicking. Her mother is crying. Everyone rushes into her brother’s room.
                What is seen is something that no one could ever forget; a not yet brother in law, in his bed, skin so pale it’s white as pearls. He is Mexican, and his skin is supposed to be brown. His lips are the same white color, the veins in his nose are thick and throbbing, and he’s choking on his own vomit. His mother drops to her knees at the foot of his bed and screams in Spanish that she’d rather die. Her son is OD’ing.
                A family friend is wringing out a wash cloth on his face because he keeps trying to sleep. He’s trying to die. By some miracle one of the bears is a doctor and takes his pulse. It’s faint, but it’s there. He’s rushed out by stretcher to the ambulance while everyone is staring and gawking and the family is crying because no one knows if he’s going to make it.
                It looks like he should make it, even after the doctors informed us that he had such a huge infection in his lungs that he wouldn’t make it through the night and we should say our goodbyes. And here I am, in Vegas, stuck in party city but spending my days and nights in a hospital waiting room that is most definitely living up to its name. It’s been 5 days and he’s just barely off of a breathing tube and forming coherent thoughts.
                And yet… the thing I remember most about that night, as I’m standing outside of a mansion, with an arsenal of police cars, and a fire truck, and an ambulance on all sides of me, with people screaming and crying and asking “What’s happening? What’s happening?” is the sound of my feet shuffling on the grass… that overly loud, hollow sound that doesn’t sound like grass, because it’s not. The grass is fake. It’s some kind of tinselly looking green material, lain out across the entire estate, and I really can’t think of anything better to sum this up.
From far away the grass looks very neat, very green, well groomed, and happy, but up close it looks fake, neglected, and unhappy... and I’ve wondered how many people have ever stopped to notice this, besides myself.

-Bryan

Friday, December 3, 2010

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Unemployment

            I got audited by the IRS.
            Long story short, in 2006 I was a full time student living with my parents and they claimed me as dependent. One thing my dear old dad didn’t do, however, was file my W2’s, so as the lady on the other end of the IRS phone bank explained, I have 2 options. Option 1 is that I can file my 2006 taxes now, claim myself as independent, and get the $51 refund I’m owed because I overpaid. This will royally fuck up my parents’ taxes, and they’ll be audited up the ass. Option 2 is that I can let the IRS handle everything on my end and get charged $109 to do it (normally $160, but this is less $51 thanks to that sweet ass return), and my parents will not be audited.
            I picked the very aptly named number 2, and tossed away some more money I can’t afford to lose.
            And so, as I bask in the joy that is unemployment (on the couch in my underwear, scruffy, eating children’s cereal and watching daytime TV), I’ve stopped to think about money. No, not about the lack of it, but about the last time I physically had it, which probably goes far beyond the summer of 2006 when I was a naïve student, studying my lessons, writing my first and admittedly crappy novel, and cooking the books behind Uncle Sam’s back.
            So where the hell is my money?
            Let’s face it; my wallet hasn’t contained anything of value for years. It’s got a few plastic cards with a disappointing credit limit, a health insurance card that means nothing now that I’m unemployed, and a driver’s license that means I’m more likely to get in an auto accident now that I don’t have said health insurance.
            But when was the last time it held paper money? Truth be told, I don’t know. I haven’t had paper money since the days it was handed out to me in singles by my grandparents for my birthday or Christmas. And even then I just blew it on toys, or a Happy Meal, or something idiotic. Man, I was a stupid child. Didn’t anyone tell me about 401ks or stock options or mutual funds?
            Regardless, I’ve made a couple more dollars since childhood (thanks to gainful employment), but now that I stop and think about it, I’ve never actually seen any of it. Never held any of it in my hands. Therefore, using my powers of deduction and almost no feasible knowledge of modern day science, I’ve come to a conclusion: my money is invisible.
Think about it; I’ve worked for the past 5 years, getting paid via direct deposit, in which I’ve been assured money is put into my bank account. In 5 years, I’ve never actually ‘seen’ anything except a digital number on my computer screen when I log into my bank’s website. And yet, at the same time, I have direct debit for almost everything—rent, utilities, cable, phone bill, etc—and so all of those invisible numbers that were pumped into my bank account are sucked out the same way they came in. Money goes in, money comes out, and I’ve never seen a single green shred of it. So long as the number isn’t negative, everything’s fine. If the number’s negative, well, time to panic and find some more invisible money. Or hit up the local pawn shop and hope my fiancé can't tell the difference between diamond and cubic zirconia.
            So does money exist? I don't know. The government says it does, but then again they also say that aliens *don’t* exist, and I’ve seen some pug-fugly motherfuckers browsing the local Wal-mart that couldn’t possibly be classified as humans, so who knows what I believe anymore. All I know is that it throws me off. It skews my perception of success.
            When I think ‘rich’, I think of a guy in an oversized bathtub taking a bath in hundred dollar bills (the beer is optional). But, question: who of us uses only cash anymore? Answer: not a single person I know. We’ve all been converted to invisible dollars, unless your only source of income is buried in the backyard, in a brand of coffee can that hasn't been marketed since nineteen-dickety-two, when the president at the time was famous for being too fat and getting stuck in his own bathtub. Then again, maybe it was hard to fit in there with all that invisible money.
             So how do I measure success? By bragging that the number displayed on my bank account's login page is higher than the number displayed on *your* bank account's login page? Who knows. Maybe success is no longer taking a bath in paper money. Maybe it's taking a bath in invisible money, which I have a modest amount of. Or maybe it's taking a real bath, which I forgot to do yesterday.
             On that note, I'm out, but you're welcome to join me. There's a lot of wading room in this tub of invisible money, so grab a towel, your favorite beer, and hop in. This one’s to success.

-Bryan

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Brimstone Toothpaste

Thanksgiving is over. November has already unceremoniously left the party. December, however, is passed out on top of the pool table (and your cousin June), and doesn’t look like he’ll be making any great efforts at sobering up anytime soon. And, as always, that jolly fat bastard pal of his, Holiday Cheer, is upstairs defiling your refrigerator on a mission for fruitcake. October is getting arrested in the front yard, the dog is wearing your girlfriend’s lingerie, and someone thoughtfully pinched off a chocolate submarine in the fish tank. Why does this always happen when you host the party?
As this annual month-long holiday rager slowly spirals toward the New Year, what can society-at-large expect to see? At a snapshot, three things will occur with absolute surety:
            1. The heating bill will go up.
2. Pedophiles everywhere will be seeking temp-work wearing red suits and fake beards.
3. Mel Gibson will be polishing his best brass knuckles for some jubilant Christmas-caroling at houses sporting window Menorahs.  
Now, I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea. I like the Christmas holiday. I’m a sucker for snow, twinkling lights, steaming coffee in the cold, and the occasional bottomless glass of eggnog. It’s just that for some reason, the season seems to bring out either the best, or the worst, in people. Kind of like Woody Allen. There really is no middle ground. For example, on the Blackest of Fridays last week, as I milled through the thousands of people scouring Michigan Avenue in search of steep price discounts, I was uplifted to see so many smiling folks lugging clunky shopping bags and helping the economy do some needed bench-presses. All the while, I was newly engaged, and with my fiancee on my arm, the city was positively glowing, despite a zero-degree wind chill.
But, in the same hour, after politely declining a pamphlet decreeing the need to “Keep Christ in Christmas,” I found myself being yelled at by an 8-year-old, whose shouts of “You will burn in hell!” were actually less disturbing than the pleased smiles on his parents’ slack-jawed faces. They watched with pride at their successfully lobotomized little religious fanatic in-training. Everyone, including me, just ignored the kid. Pretty sad. What else do you do? Stop and tell him that his parents are assholes? Not likely. With my luck, his dad would have gifted me the leftover pipe bomb from their last stop at the abortion clinic. Somewhere on a heavenly golf course of close-trimmed cumulus clouds, a dumbfounded prophet stopped to shake his head.

Despite the loonies and the tacky music, I really am looking forward to the holidays. And, even though it may not be the season for a nice cold beer, there's no reason not to chase a happy hour. Cheers.
-Brandon

No job, no prob

         So it's been a while since I last posted, because I lost my job. I know what you're thinking; he's been soaking in a tub that must mostly be his own urine now, while sobbing brokenly and sipping at a soggy old beer. But I'm not. I'm raising my glass in celebration. All I've lost is an income that was unacceptable for my schooling/resume/skill level, and a 45-50 hour, week long coma at a job that hasn't challenged me in years.
         It was quite the routine; I showed up in the morning, logged onto my computer, and stared at a screen for 9 hours. Sometimes I wrote e-mails, sometimes I fiddled with computer programs, and sometimes, when I was caught up, I wrote. I excelled at my job, to the point of being routinely bored, and was not often challenged. My brain, rather than being exercised, was being liquefied by dull, repetitive tasks, and so at the end of the day I left with a brain full of mush, and came home to my fiance like a zombie, or a robot, or Keanu Reeves.
          So my sanity has been restored, as I look for what opportunity comes my way next. I hope it's writing full time and living the life of a literary rock star, but since that's certainly not a guarantee, consider my options anything from IT (again), to janitor, to male nurse, to who knows what. Maybe next time you'll see me I'll be standing in the doorway at Wal-mart, waving, next to the decrepit 90 year old man whose title is 'greeter' but really has no air of friendliness about him. Only time will tell.
          In the meanwhile, I'll raise my glass high, enjoy a few dollars off of the government's teat, and complete (hopefully) more writing that I've done before in my life. Or get sucked into daytime talk shows and resume my career as Keanu Reeves.
          Judge Judy is on. ...Whoa...

-Bryan
Posted on by A Beer For The Shower | 1 comment
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Powered by Blogger.