Sunday, May 02, 2010
The Beauty of Facebook
Earlier this week, a former classmate from elementary school requested to be my friend. I accepted the request and went about my business. When I logged on today, I was alerted that I had been tagged in a photo by that classmate. So of course I immediately clicked on the link to see what the photo was, because I hadn't seen this person in a number of years and was curious to see what the picture was of.
The picture was some random photo from a class trip in middle school and I looked gawky as hell in it. Oh well. The picture was part of a collection that another kid that I went to school with uploaded to Facebook. I wasn't friends with the kid, but still wanted to see the rest of the collection to see who else I recognized.
I acted like the typical Facebook stalker and clicked on the profiles of anyone I recognized and killed some time without finding anything particularly interesting. Then, I found the profile of the guy who was the absolute weirdest kid in my middle school. Jackpot! He was a spaz, a nerd, a social outcast, and proud of it. Sometimes he was nice enough, but usually he was surly and purposefully weird as fuck. He shook his dandruff on people and would wear the same shirt for days in a row. I couldn't wait to see how this piece of work turned out.
Well it turns out he is gay. If I had really thought about it, I guess I shouldn't have been surprised by that. But I have to admit that I was. And in the grand scheme of things, him being gay is not a big deal. But again, I have to admit that I acted like I had just found irrefutable proof that Tom Cruise was gay. In my defense, though, he also identified himself as a swinger, so some of my giddiness was justified. I took a screenshot of the guy's profile and emailed it to my friends who also knew the guy, with the hopes of brightening their day.
I was about to close the page when I noticed that the guy had his own online diary. Well I couldn't pass that up. So I clicked on the link and dove in. The first few posts I read were what I would've expected; weird pop-culture references that I couldn't place and some notes about some nerd shit on the Web. Then I clicked on a post where the guy was bitching about some screw-ups that his bank made that left him short on cash. Again, stuff that people typically bitch about online. But then I read the comments and was led one step closer to comedy gold. Someone commented on the guy's financial situation and asked if there was anything he could do to help. My former classmate responded by saying that people could help by buying some stuff from his online store, which he then linked to.
Did I click on that link? Are you fucking kidding me? Of course I did!
And my nosy behavior was well rewarded. After I scrolled down past a number listings for various used books and cd's for sale, I came across an item that I was definitely not expecting to see. My former classmate had decided to put up his copy of "The World's Best Handjobs Volume 3: Daddy's Best."
As soon as I read the title, I couldn't stop laughing. Then I saw the asking price: $68.38.
I nearly died. There were just too many things that were funny about this situation. For starters, the guy is selling used fetish porn. And is not shy about it! And the price. How did he come to that exact figure? Is that really the price the market will bear?
I mean, the guy is in such financially dire straits that he's forced to sell used porno, but refuses to sell this porn at a bargain. He'd rather starve than sell "The World's Best Handjobs Volume 3" for a cent less than $68.38. I'm sure his reasoning is that he knows that whoever buys it is going to get a lot more than $68 worth of enjoyment out of it - because God knows he has. And if people don't want to spend nearly $70 on used handjob porn, then maybe Volume 5 is a better match, which is also for sale for $43.98 and is presumably worth every penny. It has to be - it's obvious that this shit means a lot to the guy, otherwise why would he set such a steep price? And if this is the used price, how expensive are pristene versions of the "World's Best" collections?
Needless to say, the revelation of what this guy is willing to sell online spawned a number of unanswered questions. But for me, the biggest question is if you're going to sell something so gross, why wouldn't he go to greater lengths to ensure his anonymity so that friends, co-workers, and acquaintances can't find out about it by going to his Facebook page and clicking their mouse 5 times?
Friday, March 12, 2010
I do solemnly swear to objectively and subjectively evaluate each Barbeque meat that is presented to my eyes, my nose, my hands and my palate. I accept my duty to be an Official KCBS Certified Judge, so that truth, justice, excellence in Barbeque and the American Way of Life may be strengthened and preserved forever.
This past weekend I took the above oath – with my right hand raised – to become a certified judge for barbeque competitions. And I’m not embarrassed to admit that the pride and sense of accomplishment I felt was not minor. This type of certification isn’t handed out just willy-nilly. You have to earn it.
The way I earned my certification was by attending a 6-hour class run by the Kansas City Barbeque Society. Apparently these guys are the gold standard for judging barbeque competitions and are the driving force behind the TLC show “BBQ Pitmasters,” which follows the lives of people who barbeque competitively. I had seen the show a few times and enjoyed it (it was no “Pawn Stars,” but still good). My friend Scott was also a fan of the show and was intrigued by the whole world of competitive barbeque. How do people get into competitive barbequing? What are the rules? Who decides who the judges are? What criteria do they judge on? How do you become a judge? So he went on the Internet and figured out that the KCBS holds classes throughout the country to certify barbeque judges. Once he found out that the KCBS was holding a class near us, it was a pretty easy decision. We sent in the registration fee (which included membership into the KCBS) and prepared to become official barbeque judges.
As the class neared, I kept getting more and more nervous about it. I didn’t know what to expect from the class and was worried that it’d be a big letdown. I mean, I was expecting to get to eat a ton of awesome food as part of the class and if that didn’t happen, I’d be pissed. Scott shared the same concerns and admitted that he was going into it with low expectations just so he wouldn’t be disappointed. Though he still believed it would be worth our time and money: “Dude, nobody in the world has big enough balls to charge people 75 bucks to learn how to judge barbeque and just tell them ‘if you like the food rank it high, and if you don’t like it then rank it low.’ People would kick the guy’s ass if that’s all they got for their money. There’s not way they pull that shit. They gotta give us actual food to judge. At least I hope the do…”
The day of the class finally arrives. It’s held on a Saturday morning and starts at 9:30. As I’m shuffling my tired ass out the door to meet up with my four other friends that are taking the class with me, I see my little brother’s buddy passed out on my couch. He wakes up, looks at me groggily and says “Good luck at your hot dog eating competition!” then goes back to sleep.
As we’re driving to the class, my friends and I are guessing how big the class will be. The consensus was that there couldn’t be more than 10 total people in the class, because seriously, how many people are as retarded as we are and want to become a BBQ judge? Well the answer to that question is 60. The class was packed. People came from Iowa, Indiana, Canada and all across Michigan to attend this class. It’s safe to say I was taken aback.
The class was being held in the activity center of a church with a bunch of tables of 6 set up in front of a dry erase board. We were introduced to the leader of the class, a gruff but nice southern gentleman outfitted in a Canadian Tuxedo. He explained that barbeque was his life and his passion: “Some people golf, some people ski, my wife and I…well we barbeque. We enter barbeque contests 30 weekends out of the year and I teach these classes the rest of the time. We love it.” Obviously.
He started by extolling the benefits of the KCBS and noted that there are 2 sitting State Supreme Court justices that are members. Then he defined what barbeque entails, saying that true barbeque involves cooking through indirect heat. Then he started to lose me by going into the different barbeque methods: “Pretty much anything goes as long as it’s indirect heat. You got your Oklahoma Joe’s method, your Jambo Pit, your Big Green Egg, your pellet cookers, or you can do it like Ronnie K’s Smoke On The Water and use cook shacks, standard Weber’s, coal houses or the good ol’ smokers.” Uhhh, what? I looked around to see if anyone knew what the hell he was talking about, and to my surprise, people were actually nodding their heads in recognition!
He went on to explain that competitive BBQ consists of 4 categories: chicken, ribs, pork, and brisket. For each category, a competitor fills up a Styrofoam box with 6 separate pieces of meat (6 pieces of chicken in one box, 6 ribs in another, etc.). Competitors have the option of surrounded the meat with a garnish. Each judge then rates the entries on appearance, taste and tenderness on a scale of 2 to 9, with 9 being “excellent” and 2 being “inedible.”
It became pretty apparent pretty quickly, that I was a stranger in a strange land. The instructor and many of my classmates were throwing out terms I’d never heard of and cracking inside jokes about the better-known BBQ competitors and their methods. Many of the other people taking the class wanted to start competing in events that KCBS judged, so they were asking very specific questions about shit I couldn’t care less about. Like what constitutes pooling or puddling of sauce (which involves creating an area for “dipping sauce” and is a huge no-no when competing and is punished with a disqualification), what types of garnish can and can’t be used (“don’t even think about red-tipped cabbage, because it’s not allowed”), and if rib tips can be submitted in the ribs category (“a rib isn’t a rib if it doesn’t have a bone in it, so you’re not gonna win with rib tips if that’s what you’re thinking”).
People were not shy about asking stupid questions and didn’t seem to notice the instructor roll his eyes whenever he had to field the really stupid ones. It seemed like people kept getting hung up on how to rate the food and what they should factor in.
The instruction did not hesitate on setting us straight:
Q: How do we determine what is the amount of tenderness?
A: It should feel good in your mouth.
Q: Is there anything specific you look for in excellent barbeque?
A: It should be an emotional experience. You should be willing to drive to Milwaukee to get some barbeque that good.
Q: How much should we factor in the flavor of the barbeque sauce?
A: Did I say anything about this being a sauce competition?
Q: Should we rank an entry lower if they decide not to garnish the presentation box?
A: This is a meat contest not a garnish contest.
Q: Will the contestants know who is judging their entries and will we know whose food we’re judging?
A: It’s a double blind judging system. So you don’t have to worry about anyone coming after you with a gun if you rate them low.
Now it may sound like this guy was joking around about being chased with a gun and that his gruff demeanor was just an act. It wasn’t. He kind of reminded me of Wilford Brimley in The Firm or in the Seinfeld episode where he’s the United States Postmaster General – basically this guy didn’t fuck around. If he was assuring us that we wouldn’t be chased by a contestant with a gun for giving someone poor marks, it’s most likely because at one point a judge was chased by a contestant with a gun and that he has made the necessary changes to the judging process to prevent the threat of gun violence from happening again.
After everyone’s questions were answered, they finally let us dig into some good ol’ barbeque. They took us through a mock BBQ competition and all of us were able to test and rank the four types of entries. We tested and rated three different chicken entries, three rib entries, two pulled pork entries, and two brisket entries. It was a ton of food and a lot of it was really, really good. But the fuckers around me were acting like they were sitting at the judges’ table for Top Chef or some shit. They were being ridiculously picky and really low-balling the scores. You’d think someone who cleaned their plate and was licking sauce off their fingers would rate the food a little better than “average.” It quickly became apparent that the people who were judging like assholes were the ones who planned on entering BBQ competitions in the upcoming year and were just trying to come off as knowledgeable. It didn’t work.
Wilford Brimley helped direct us a bit on how lenient and strict we should be with our rankings and then took the final few minutes of the class to peddle some KCBS merchandise and announce upcoming BBQ competitions in our area. After a final check for any remaining questions, he led us in taking the aforementioned oath. We had done it; we were now official KCBS judges and eligible to experience all the fame and prestige that came with that title.
It was a long day, but the class did not disappoint. With just a 6-hour investment and a nominal one-time fee, my friends and I were able to ensure that we have the ability and opportunity to not only eat a shitload of free barbeque, but to give our opinion on that food and have people care. It’s okay to be jealous.
Friday, March 05, 2010
"California Dreams" Reunion
The lessons here? The first is that “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” should hire me as a writer. The second is that I’m awesome for being so far ahead of the curve on identifying what's cool and funny in pop culture and remaining so humble about it.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Phoenix and DC
So I got to visit Bill in Phoenix. March Madness was going on when I was out there so we were drinking all day long. At night we end up going to some bar and meet these girls. Bill tells them some shit about me just breaking up with my girlfriend and that I need to be cheered up because I'm all depressed, and this girl starts eating it up. She was good looking, I guess. She had huge fake tits. I mean huge. And really fake. It was pretty obvious with the shirt she was wearing. Shit, she could've been wearing a Triple Fat Goose coat and you still would've been able to tell her tits were fake. But who cares, ya know? Tits are tits.
So anyway, she's all about it, so I end up leaving Bill and go back to her place with her. She lives by herself and so we don't waste anytime and go at it. Then right afterwards she starts acting fucking crazy. Like nuts. She starts telling me how much it sucks that I'm only gonna be in town for the next three days and that she's gonna miss me. Dude. I don't even know this girls NAME. What the fuck is she talking about, ya know? So I was like yeah that sucks...ANYWAYS. Then she starts saying how we gotta figure out what we're going to do for the rest of the weekend. At this point I'm ready to fucking jumpoff her balcony just to get out of there. So I play that off and she calms the fuck down and we're just laying there in her bed. She gets up to go to the bathroom and turns to me and says "I just realized that no one in the world knows where you are right now. I could kill you right now and no one would ever know." And then she laughs and goes and takes a piss or shit or whatever.
But seriously, what the fuck? I mean she was right: she could kill me and no one would ever know. So my first thought was that maybe I should kill her first, because no one she knows knows that I'm here. But then I thought I should just bolt, because who the fuck knows what's up with this girl and it might be my only chance. So I grabbed my clothes and my shoes and fucking ran out of there, and didn't look back, cuz I didn't want her to run out of her place and see me in the parking lot.
I get a safe distance away and realize I left my fucking Oakleys at her place. A $200 pair of sunglasses that I just bought gone with the wind because of this bitch. Fuck it though, it was worth it because if I would've stayed there she might've killed me. Or I might have killed her.
So now its like 2 in the morning and Bill's not answering his phone and I have no clue where I am, where he is, where he lives, or how to get back to anywhere. Basically I'm fucked. I was walking down this main road and must've been near a college because I kept walking by these house parties filled with Mexicans and meatheads just yelling shit at me. It was the fucking worst, dude. Honest to God, everyone in Arizona must drink and drive because it seemed like every time a car passed me, the people in it were throwing empties at me. Bottles of beer just whizzing by my ear while they're calling me a cocksucker and faggot. It was like payback for any bad thing I've ever done in my life. I just had to shut up and take it because if I said anything or gave a look, I was gonna get my ass kicked by some Mexican gang and anyone I know who could've helped me out was a thousand miles away. All I could do was take off my chain, wrap it around my fist and hope I could find a motel to crash at. I probably looked so fucking pathetic.
Anyway, it's like 3 in the morning and I stumble into this town and see a cop standing on the sidewalk. I've never felt so relieved in my life. So I go up to him and ask for help. "Excuse me sir, but do you know where the closest hotel is? I'm not from around here and got separated from my friends and really need to sleep." He just looks at me and starts to give me shit! "Turn around," he says, "and take three steps." So I do and I realize I'm right in front of a hotel. "And he's being sarcastic and shit and asked if that was close enough for me, so I just looked at him, waited a second, and then told him to go fuck his mother and went inside.
He probably saved my life, but seriously, I didn't need to take shit from this asshole; I was drunk as fuck, my life was threatened by some random chick that I probably caught something from, I lost my brand new sunglasses, and I just went through a gauntlet of flying beer bottles while being called a faggot. Just tell me where the hotel is and mind your fucking business, ya know what I mean?
So I walk up to the hotel counter and I realize that this hotel is pretty nice. I ask for a room and the dude behind the counter tells me the room is like 200 bucks or some shit. Fuckin' perfect. Of course it is. Banging this chick is costing me half a grand now. But what am I gonna do, ya know? So I pull out a credit card and give him my license and the guy takes it and says "Oh you're from Michigan? I went to Michigan State. Lemme see if I can give you a discount." So he knocks fifty bucks off the bill. It's the only good thing that happened that night.
So I pass out and finally get a hold of Bill the next morning. I'm waiting in the lobby for him to pick me up and he pulls right up to the door with "Jessie's Girl" blasting. You could hear it from inside the lobby. Everyone's lookin' around and I get up, with no suitcase, looking like dogshit, and slowly walk tothe car. If anyone who I had passed on the street the night before had seen me right then with an 80's song blasting, getting picked up by a dude, they would've been like "See? I told you he was a faggot." But whatever, it was funny. Bill couldn't stop laughing. And I still got laid. Oh, and I never did catch anything from that chick. I don't think she was clean, but either way I didn't get anything from her. Which is good, because I would've killed her the next time I was out there to see Billy.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Phil Collins's Girlfriend Hates Him More Than You Do
Everybody knows that Phil Collins was the absolute shit in the 1980’s. He was in the zone that decade and a majority of his output - both with Genesis and as a solo artist - was indisputably awesome. Despite his commercial success and legions of fans, there were people that couldn’t stand Phil Collins. I call those people assholes. Phil Collins calls them his exes. Just take a look at his songs from that era and it is apparent that pretty much anyone who had a relationship with Phil treated him like a piece of shit.
Phil starts off with bad news and it keeps going downhill from there. His date is late and he’s stuck in the rain waiting for her. Then he figures out she stood him up. Ouch. Then he admits to partaking in some minor stalking by calling her repeatedly and driving by her house. And his reward for that behavior? He gets to see some other dude walking out of the girl’s house after (presumably) boning her. That is some mean shit to put Phil through. Why did she have to lead him on like that?
“No Reply At All” (1981)
Phil gets to experience the dreaded silent treatment. “Look at me, you never look at me/Ooh, I’ve been sitting, staring, seems so long/But you’re looking through me/Like I wasn’t here at all/No reply, there’s no reply at all.” Well that sounds like fun.
“I Don’t Care Anymore” (1982)
Phil reaches a breaking point and stands up to the bully that is his girlfriend. She keeps talking shit about him and making fun of him, so he finally breaks up with her. Just think about how badly she had to treat him to make a sad sack like Phil be the one to end the relationship. Phil Collins doesn’t dump. He gets dumped. That’s his thing.
“That’s All” (1983)
Phil’s got another doozy on his hands, and this one likes to bicker: “I could say ‘day,’ and you would d say ‘night’/tell me it’s black when I know that it’s white.” He knows that this isn’t healthy, but he can’t help himself. He’s learned to like the abuse.
“Easy Lover” (1984)
Another relationship with a girl who treats Phil like shit. His buddy Phillip Bailey tries to alert him: “She will play around and leave you/Leave you and deceive you/Better forget it/Or you’ll regret it.” But does he listen? Fuck no.
“Against All Odds” (1984)
Phil manages to find himself a girlfriend who finally sees him for the catch that he is: “You’re the only one who really knew me at all.” Yet she’s still walking away from him. Not only that, but she won’t even let him down gently: “I wish I could make you turn around/turn around and see me cry.” She won’t even turn around? When the whole song is Phil pleading for her to just look at him, you know he’s dealing with someone who couldn’t care less about him.
“One More Night” (1985)
Phil is pleading with a girl he loves to give him a chance to tell her how he feels. By now, Phil is so beaten down that he realizes that his efforts will be fruitless: “I know there’ll never be a time when you’ll feel the same/And I know it’s only words/But if you change your mind you know that I’ll be here/And maybe we both can learn.” This broad thinks so little of him, that Phil can’t even fathom that this girl would ever think of him the same way he thinks of her. It is becoming apparent that Phil has given up hope on being in a loving and healthy relationship. Now he’s just settling for small victories like getting one more night or getting the woman he loves to turn around and look at him while he cries.
And the women in his life have finally gotten him to speaking jibberish. Yet another song about Phil crushing on a girl who doesn’t know who the hell he is. Which is weird, because in 1985 Phil was pretty fucking famous. How did she not even know his name? I wouldn’t date someone now - 25 years after his career apex - if she didn’t know who Phil Collins was and didn't enjoy his music. If this girl that Phil fancies has never heard of him then that means that she has horrible taste in music, has been in a coma, or is retarded. All three of those should be deal-breakers for not only Phil, but for all of us.
"Take Me Home" (1985)
Phil’s family had him committed and put in a mental hospital. This is an act of love and concern if the person being committed is actually insane or unstable. However, when the person is sane enough to write such a kick ass song as this one and is only sent away because his friends and family had their fill of listening to Phil bitch about his failed relationships then it just seems drastic and mean.
“Invisible Touch” (1986)
“She don’t like losing, to her it’s still a game/And though she will mess up your life/You’ll want her just the same…” Okay, maybe Phil is insane. Is Phil drawn to manipulative women or is there something about Phil that makes normal women become mean and abusive once they get to know him?
“Throwing It All Away” (1986)
Well the title pretty much says it all, doesn’t it? Yet again, somebody is breaking up with Phil and willing to throw everything away just to end the relationship. It’s like he’s the abusive husband from “Sleeping with the Enemy” or something. Seriously, it couldn’t have been that bad. Even Phil can’t believe it: “Who will light up the darkness? Who will hold your hand? Who will find you the answers when you don’t understand?” The apparent answer to all three of those questions is “I don’t give a shit,” because she still ends up leaving him, driving Phil to hurl the empty threat that “someday (she’ll) be sorry.”
“Something Happened on the Way to Heaven” (1989)
At this point Phil begins hating himself as much as everyone he’s ever dated hates him. “We’ve had our problems, but I’m on your side.” He’s taking the side of the most recent woman who has become sick of him and left. This song finally lets us in why people tend not to like Phil: “You can run, and you can hide, but I’m not leaving unless you come with me.” Um, Phil, it isn’t considered leaving if you’re still in the presence of the person who wants you out of their sight.
If you think about it, Phil Collins is practically a saint. He suffered years of abuse from a variety of women and spun it into hit records for our listening pleasure. After reading this, you may start to feel sorry for Phil Collins since he obviously had a rough love life in the 80's and was treated like an asshole for all those years. I felt the same way while writing this piece. But then I remembered that this is the same guy who wrote "I Can't Dance" and I didn't feel so bad for him anymore.
That said, we should be thankful that we had Phil Collins in our lives in the 1980's and that he had such horrible, horrible women in his. He has made a significant contribution to the soundtracks of grocery stores and dentist offices throughout the country that cannot be forgotten nor ignored.