Thursday, June 30, 2011

Have heart, you just might lose

“Why can't every one of you play like Kevin. If all of you did that, we'd be undefeated. He just plays with such heart. Lord knows he isn't good, but wow, what effort!”

This is the motivational speech that every one of my coaches has given to the team at some point in time. And I'm not speaking hyperbole when I say that. It's literally every coach, from baseball to soccer to made-up sports like Hopscotch, Magicianing or Ultimate Frisbee.

Some employed more profanity in their statements, but the basic idea remained—I sucked. Of course, I could only respond to this “motivation” by sitting there uncomfortably and saying, “Hi...” or “Yup, I sure do suck!”

My goal wasn't to make people hate me, my crappy ballhandling accomplished that. I couldn't help but feel like the star of a nature documentary. You know there's always the scene featuring a lion preying upon the old and weak antelope? And then, although the thing is old and weak, it still puts up a heck of a fight before ultimately succumbing to a horrific and ghastly death that makes the documentary-viewing audience cheer with bloodlust? I am that antelope. My coaches noticed this and raised me up as the antelope. I guess the strategy intended to make the rest of the team into vicious carnivores.

I also made a really good heckler. Just look at the fat blue
guy's demoralization. Now look at my heart.
But here's the thing, this strategy didn't work. It's like my coaches pointed out the blinding obvious and then expected it to motivate the rest of the team. It didn't. They would have been equally successful claiming “The sun is yellow!” or shouting “The Quadratic Equation solves for ax^2 + bx + c = 0 by placing -b plus or minus the square root of b2 – 4ac all over 2a!” While these statements are equally true, they do nothing to inspire the troops.

I fully admit I'm not a good sportsplayer guy. The only thing I have going for me is I can run... kind of. While this might make me a strong track person (not “track star”), it does little for other sports, ones that are “fun.” However, those ones also require “coordination.” Running without coordination apparently equals heart. And my coaches definitely locked onto this heart.

But after my coaches made these statements, we'd either win, or we'd lose (most likely the latter). What he said didn't inspire us, the outcome came from someone on the other team pulling a vital life muscle or exactly when the earth stopped spinning on its axis and sent a ball in the net.

I'll admit, I've never actually coached anything. The closest I've come is being an assistant director for a youth theater group. However, my main task in that environment involved controlling the raging hormones of pre-teen actors and also dream casting which pre-teen actors would fit into which role for a stage production of “Pulp Fiction.”

Lesson learned - heart can only get you clip art trophies.
But trust me, the real deal look fantastic.
From that experience, I learned all I needed to know about coaching/leading/running a cult. I just needed to say what was true and stick to it. Only in hindsight do I realize my coaches had no clue what they were talking about. All they knew is we were losing, and we shouldn't be. And I knew Fletcher would make an awful Winston Wolfe. We needed to gender switch the roles, because nine-year-old Katie would be perfect for that position.

In a similar roundabout fashion, I realize my coaches weren't the best. They did what they could, I was an easy image of what worked, so they latched onto it. But they latched onto someone who sucked—their mistake.

Even with the suck, I did have the heart. My coaches correctly surmised that point. There's nothing like going out there and giving it the old college try. Who knows, all this heart might result in a trophy rack full of somewhat impressive second place trophies.

Monday, June 27, 2011

You'd Be "Nutty" to Dislike Peanut Butter

Hey breakmentals, it's Kevin here, and I've got a little update for you. My editor has recently decreed the uber-controversial stories I've been penning have been a little too “controversial” for the mamas and papas in mid-America and is refusing to publish any more of them.

Sure, my expose on how the Catholic Church should not hatch and harbor underground sea monsters might have rankled a few feathers (or in this case, monster gills), but it was a grand story that needed telling. The same goes for my one about how Rupert Murdoch is actually a discarded bowl of tapioca pudding. And don't forget my one about how the “New” Deal was actually inspired by an Archie comic.

The man in charge wants me to scale it back and go less controversial. I believe the way he put it was “You can write about how the metric system sucks or puppies are cute—that's it.” He's so strict, he won't even let me write about how puppies attempting to measure things in centimeters are adorable.
I'm three kilometers of cute!

Being true to my antidisestablishmentarianist roots, I'm gonna go against the wishes of everyone by embracing his controversial uncontroversial decree. I must go for the most vanilla of tastes with this column. So with that I say—peanut butter, it tastes awfully good.

Much like how everything poops, everything loves peanut butter. From humans to dogs, to elephants to Sasquatch. It really seems like everyone loves to get peanut butter all up in there. Who hasn't dipped a spoon into a jar and come out with a heaping helping of legume-filled goodness?

What's great about peanut butter is it's such a self-contained snack. If you have the container, you don't even need the spoon to get goodness into your belly. With just a little force and pressure, you can fashion the lid into a crude spoon. Sure, afterward the lid cannot close, but that's just more enticement to finish off the entire jar in one sitting and earning 98 grams of health-filled protein.

You can also just forgo the lid and dump the whole jar out on your bed where you proceed to roll around naked in it, getting all sorts of peanutty goodness all over your nutty badness. Who here among us has not felt the bizarre, yet oddly pleasing feeling of peanut butter up where the sun don't shine? Again, everything poops, and every one has had that feeling.

Now that I think about it, I suppose peanut butter has some level of controversy, because it's one of the few foods, aside from poison, that commonly poisons people. Really though, that's just mind over matter. They're weak and give in to their so called type 1 hypersensitivity reaction. But there's no “I” in “peanut butter.” There's also no “allergy” either. Stop all of this belly-aching and start up on some belly-thanking by dropping down peanut butter by the cup full. Although I will still refer to you as hypochondriac, you hypochondriac.
Insert spoon. Die happy. This applies to both people
with peanut allergies and normal people.
Aside from unwarranted controversy, the one bad side of peanut butter is some of those “natural” ones. They come with a thick layer of sedimentary oil on top that you get the pleasure of kneading into the rest of the peanut butter. Typically this results in a vaguely erotic churning motion and definitely results in sore wrists. When everything gets incorporated, it's good. However, that never actually happens. Most people incorporate some of it, their wrist falls off and then they say screw it. This mistake ends up tasting like peanut-tinged wallpaper. Not good wallpaper at that.

But, like the great Achilles, every thing has its weakness, and that's where peanut butter stumbles. Otherwise, it's delicious. It's so very very delicious in a totally non-controversial way. Despite what I said about the controversial aspects.

Thanks for reading my oh-so-happy post. After the success of this one, tune in next week when I infiltrate a gang of Antarctican ex-patriots who have banded together to create a hovercraft tribe while hopped up on moth placentas.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

So it's come to this, a BreakMentalDown Clips Column

“I've called together this meeting of the supervillians of evil, because I've realized we must do something,” purred the Intergalactic Space Kitty. “We must break breakmentaldown! Oh, you better believe it's going down.”

The Space Kitty had assembled all the usual suspects. If there's evil in the world, they were currently suckling at the oversize teat of cattitude. Everyone from a whiskey-swilling lord of all the land, to the Dark Prince of Yahtzee to Bono had shown up as part of the Consortium of Bad Guys. They had one goal—take down this beloved blog.

I think the stench alone would be enough to
do me in!
The plan was simple enough, Boris the Spider would violate all his social mores and slither into the box fort of awesomeness Mr. Nelson called home. Once there, he'd strategically place a pencil attached to a raisin in an ominous location. Boris knew that for the normal person, this “bomb” would represent no harm, but for Mr. Nelson, it would be his end. Just for good measure, he left a box of Hidden Treasures cereal, but there would be no treasures in this cereal, he will leave an empty box!

Fortunately, the elite squirrels in my SRAS battalion were inadvertently marked as “evil” and CC'd in on all nefarious supervillain plans against me. They chittered and let me know we should hole up in the second bedroom. They planned to just hide out in the infinity loop that is the M.C. Escher's Relativity room.

But I wasn't going to let some villain just come and boss me around. I don't care how super they claim to be.

I stayed up til the wee hours of the morning, coming up with a plan. However, when my bedtime hit at three AM, I still didn't have anything. I contemplated taking another caffeine pill, but Zach Morris' words reverberated through my ears and I withheld. I knew I wasn't getting any younger, I knew I'd need to take on the CoBG before I became an old man of 27-and-a-half years old.

With exasperation, I threw up my hands. However, I must have somehow formed a hitchhiker's signal, because I suddenly found myself surrounded by 14 chainsaw wielding psychopaths. One had even, god bless him, tracked down a CPS 2000, which he had loaded up with sulfuric acid. Combined with my SRAS and Doug the Vampire (who would do anything for my diabetes blood), I was set.

Your move, Intergalactic Space Kitty.

The Space Kitty pounced on this opportunity like it was a normal non-universe-sized cat—one that just likes to kill stuff. First it stole my bike seat (which, for some reason, set off my car alarm). He then gave me nutted cookies (meaning crappy) and opened an umbrella indoors. He even challenged me to a game of Dots and Boxes! I stood strong though, I would not let his psychological torture bring me down.

Finally, he willed all his power into one statement, “You are one tough cookie, Kevin,” he said.

Argh, he had said my name! His first successful hit! I retaliated by unleashing my group of psychopathic hitchhikers upon him, but as they streamed at him, he realized the power of saying names and vaporized each one of them with a single word.

“Fred. Alan. Launchpad. Simba. Cuba Gooding Jr. Cannot Act (it's a family name). WoW. Happy. Doc. Grumpy. Sleepy. Bashful. Sneezy and Dopey,” it said. Fourteen names and fourteen untimely deaths. Suddenly my squad didn't look so hot, especially because my squirrels had gone off to film some sort of pornography—a new pornography involving squirrel and vampire copulations.
This card, in fact.

Backed into a corner, I did the only thing I knew how to do. I gave him a card.

The space kitty looked at it and suddenly felt attacked from multiple sides. Not only did this repurposed Valentine's Day card offend his lack of heart, it also said his name. This double dose of deception did him in.

As the smoke cleared, I smiled and raised a sarcastic thumbs up at the smoldering remains of Intergalactic Space Kitty. I proudly walked off into the sunset, so I didn't see when the camera slowly panned back to the dust of the kitty.

“You may have won the battle, but the war is far from over, Mr. Nelson,” purred the kitty who remained cute even in his ashen state. Fortunately, a passing vacuum sucked him up, ending the war.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Arm yourself and de-arm opponents with acid squirt guns

One look at the mercury shows this summer is heating up. And as just about anyone who has slipped on a slide or sprinkled on a sprinkler (ewww), they know it's time to suit up and arm yourself with a water gun.

But one must choose their H2O weaponry wisely. Going with a standard (IE Lame) pea-shooter variety of guns is sure to result in disappointment. Even worse than the “chump” using a Super Soaker 50 in this early 90s “Zap It” commercial.

Growing up, I used the Super Soaker CPS 2000 as my weapon of choice. Now, aside from having about the bitchingest name ever (CONSTANT pressure system), it also sported the warning “Do Not Shoot at Anyone's Face or Eyes.” For a 12-year-old, this obviously meant “Do not shoot at anything but the face and eyes.”

It was truly a blast a minute, but eventually I grew up. I progressed in age past 13. Suddenly I became a teenager, and it's no longer cool to play squirt guns. We're supposed to use this time to become interested in girls—and not just as squirt targets (although, I suppose this statement somewhat holds). My beloved CPS probably went to Goodwill (when it should have gone to eBay—that thing is now worth over $150!)

Yes, squirt guns have been pigeonholed as something only played with by people under the age of 13. When I hit the big one three and suddenly realized I could no longer squirt, it was dark times. But those times soon lightened when I realized a perfect substitute—sulfuric acid guns.

The delivery system of sulfuric acid guns is largely the same, instead of filling the Super Soaker with water, you use sulfuric acid. Hydrochloric acid is also acceptable. The after effects of this gun are a thing of beauty. Only after creating the H2SO4 gun did I understood the phrase “You just melted off my aorta.” Also, oddly enough, my use of the gun coincides with my increased appreciation of Salvador Dali paintings.

Is there really any question if this guy was on acid (guns)?
But as the old saying goes”Sulfuric acid is all fun and games, until someone runs out of acid—then they're a defenseless smoldering target. Zap zap.” And this is a mantra I like to live by. After all, when you introduce acid to any situation, fun ensues.

Things then got scary though. My love affair with sulfuric acid acted as a gateway to the harder stuff. By the time I was 13 and a half, I had developed an arsenal consisting of Micro Machines with base dispensers, some bongos (I have scary-awful rhythm), a falcon and a M20A1 Super Bazooka.

The latter one is a whole nother pile of fun. When I played with that thing, I always liked holding it sideways with one hand, because it looked so cool and gangsta. I could then blast anything I wanted and be wildly off target (because I was so gangsta), but it didn't actually matter, because shit still exploded. Haystacks, lawn gnomes, celery stalks all felt the blast of my bazooka.

So kids, get out there and enjoy this summer. If you're under 13, feel free to shoot off some squirt guns, they're reasonably fun, and they definitely make things wet. And if you're over 13.5, there's nothing like the haze of a bazooka blast rising up through the setting summer sun. Well, that is except for a blast from the Super Soaker CPS 2000, but who could afford that?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Viewers 'Line' Up for New Sport on ESPN


Dots and Boxes to Air Six Nights a Week on ESPN
Original Broadcast at 7pm, rebroadcast at 9pm

A line scrawls along the board, connecting two dots. Another line is drawn, completing the set! What's the next move? What's the next move? Should the player go upper right or lower left, where will he go? Will he be able to write his initials in the box, or be boxed out and have to settle for second place.

Pretty soon this will be a common scene playing out all throughout America as the Worldwide Dots and Boxes Federation launches this Fall on ESPN.

Also known as “The Line Game” and played by just about everyone capable of drawing either lines or dots, this brand new sport promises all the thrill of line game, with none of the overpaid players and steroids of real sports.

A quick primer on standard Dots and Boxes gameplay. A 6x6 grid of dots is drawn out. Players take turns drawing lines until they form a 4-sided box. And then BAM! Box game.

“I want us to relive the glory days when, against any sort of logic, we aired poker nearly 24/7,” says ESPN spokesmen Martin Jefferson. “Some might call Polo 'The Sport of Kings,' but we know that's actually based upon a mistranslation. Dots and Boxes is truly a sport designed for royalty.”

Climactic board from Raumstein V. Hartigan III. Yes, it was
played on the back of a Netflix envelope.
This might seem like an odd statement, however recent discoveries out of Egypt show the system of hieroglyphics once thought to symbolize words, numbers and communication actually came about as a rudimentary form of this grand game.

And it has continued on past dead pharaohs to become one of the hottest international hits. From the Prime Meridian to, well, the Prime Meridian, everyone knows Dots and Boxes.

“This game is just so universal. Sit down next to anyone in any culture and draw that 6x6 grid. Take the first move and hand it to them. As long as they're not from a former Iron Curtain country or Mississippi, they'll know exactly what to do next,” says Jefferson.

The superstar players of the WWDaBF are certain to make numerous appearances throughout the season. Don't be surprised if Marty “Bam Bam” Raumstein squares off against Bruce “The Praying Mantis” Hartigan for another one of their epic battles.

“I remember the last time I played Bam. I think it was Raumstein v. Hartigan IV. I was all like 'Oh, you want to put your line there, eh? Well, I put my line here! And I take that box! And that box! And that box! I will now add my initials to those boxes with pleasure.' It was intense,” says Hartigan.

While there's inherent drama to any Dots and Lines match, ESPN will elevate it with amazing camera techniques, star wipes, slow-motion rolls and unique camera angles lifted from “Requiem for a Dream.”

“What's going to revolutionize this whole concept is our new camera located inside the pencil. This way viewers can see the lines form as they hit the table. No need to wait for the instant replay or dramatic recreations—but we will have those too,” says Jefferson.

The inagural season will feature 50 intense matches, played out over how long is necessary to determine a winner. The average match runs three hours, but several have dragged on for 12 hours. When every line is an agonizing decision, the drama of selection becomes an intense and enduring decision.

“With this league, we really just want to prove that we're better than Yahtzee. Way fucking better,” says Jefferson. “That game really sucks. It's all luck, not pure skill, like Dots and Boxes. Plus, we get the added benefit of not sucking.”

The Worldwide Dots and Boxes Federation will air Wednesday through Monday at 7pm every night starting September 13. Of course, there will be no shows on Tuesdays, because that's a nigh-religious day for Dotters worldwide as they contemplate the fate of their existence.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Almost halfway to halfway to my half birthday--let's full on celebrate!

I don't want to be one of those people who gloats and trumps up “big” days that nobody really cares about, but this relates to me and is therefore quite big. In a little over nine months, I'm turning 27-and-a-half.

I know, I know, you only turn the big 27.5 once, so I definitely need to plan big. But I think the best way to celebrate this momentous occasion is to let everyone know, it's all right to celebrate half birthdays.

I've been accused of celebrating this holiday
solely to have additional cake. This is only half true.
Whenever I mention my half birthday to someone, no matter my age, they proclaim me immature and demote me to the level of a six-year-old. The worst part about this is it's not even a six-and-a-half-year-old, just a plain six-year-old. And that hurts the most.

But there's hope in this world. My dad's old insurance agent used to hand out sticks of gum on clients' half birthdays, because “Actuarily, it's your birthday.” This had the double disaster of being a pun and requiring talking to an insurance agent. However, for free gum (hopefully of the Yikes! Stripes! Fruit Striped Gum! variety) and acknowledgment of half birthdays past the age when anyone should care about them, I'll gladly talk to said agent!

With this strong support for the half birthday, you're probably planning on adding your correct age to everything from your stationary to other people's stationary. And I fully support this. However, don't get too precise, as that comes across as just trying to hard to make every day a birthday.

Whenever I tell my mom I'm 26 and a half, she's quick to point out I'm several twelfths older than that. I'm well aware of this fact, but aside from math nerds like insurance agents or babies, who actually gets that precise in their birthday numerology? Absolutely nobody! It's leading us down a slippery slope towards 21/365 birthdays or even 211/365 birthdays. And that just detracts from the joy of the half.

Many people think they can get a half present for
a half birthday. No. This will result in full expulsion
from half-birthday party.
So I never do that. A half is a half is a half. It's the perfect way to celebrate the advancement of age without the pretentiousness/depression of being a step closer to an untimely end.

In further support of my half-birthday good theory, just think of how many people share the SAME half birthday. With a sample size of just 57 people, there's a 50 percent chance that two people have the same half birthday. That's right, a HALF have a HALF chance of having a HALF birthday together. If that's not the ultimate justification for the halfness of birthdays, I do not know what is.

But really, my solution to this whole quandary is to celebrate my birthday as my half birthday, because I know it means I'm halfway to my half birthday, which I treat like my real birthday. But as we've established, I treat my real birthday like my half birthday and my half birthday is real, so basically, I age about 27 years every March... or September... or maybe even October. I'm really not sure which one slaps on the decades.

Either way, when that September or that March or that any of the other 10 months of the year rolls around that features a time six months from your birthday, you must celebrate. Celebrate long and hard, because you never know when you're going to half age again.

When March comes around and I half age, please do raise a glass of Half-and-Half to me, and we shall celebrate like kings. Even better—half kings!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

With this robbery task force, I can squirrel my way out of anything

This weekend represented the supreme double whammy for my apartment complex. First someone broke into my neighbors house. They broke a window, climbed in and made out with several hundred dollars, a couple computers, DVDs and probably some merchandise relating to their stellar community college baseball team. So that kind of sucked for them. But it's not yet a crimewave.

It BECAME a crimewave, when it happened to me. Pure, innocent Kevin was standing in his living room when he looked out the porch and saw a rogue squirrel making off with the carrots seedlings on the porch. Sure, it was exceptionally cute, but those carrot seedlings were going to be my dinner in several to many months! How are he abscond with my meal!

Just give us the nuts and nobody gets hurt!
It might seem odd for me to draw this crimewave conclusion based upon two seemingly separate events. I mean after all, squirrels don't rob houses. But au contraire, might I point out these events happened within 24 hours of each other. Obviously there is some sort of man-squirrel crime ring operating out of my apartment complex. But the great part is, I'm not mad, I'm intrigued. I want to start my own squirrel-man crime spree.

Now I want to make it perfectly clear for Investigating Officer Chapel, I had no part in either of these crimes. I had not yet assembled my Squirrel Robbery Action Squad (SRAS) yet. For if I had, I wouldn't have needed to break a window while my neighbor was out of town for four days. I could have merely walked through the front door, blinded them with cute, and my neighbors could not resist. Then we could have made off with their LED. It's even cuter when you imagine squirrels using their tiny little paws to do this.

The Artful Dodger would proudly support this endeavor.

Even if SRAS had assembled, I wouldn't break into my neighbor's place. As the saying goes, you never poopoo where you eat. Now, this is a hard concept to explain to things with brains the size of walnuts. Especially when those rodents are mainly only known for doing that. However, I think with my peer pressure and commanding good looks, my multi-national-squirrel-robbery-task-force will hit the ground running and leap over these hurdles... because squirrels are good jumpers!

Our syndicate will operate on a truly global scale. If we can't be pinned to a geographic location, we can't be caught. And when I have everything from an Eastern Grey Squirrel to a Neotropical Pygmy Squirrel to some sort of Antarctican Freezing Squirrel in my band of thieves, capture will elude us.

The odd thing is, I didn't actually set out to become a crime lord—especially of the squirrel persuassion. I just realized how darling a squirrel would look wearing an eye patch and carrying a giant sock with a dollar sign drawn on it. If I set out to do that as part of a non-criminal enterprise, then suddenly I get branded as some sort of animal abuser. But by adding a simple crime syndicate aspect, animal rights groups are too scared to speak up—probably because they realize how sharp my squirrel compatriots' teeth are. And they've probably seen my poorly photoshopped squirrel to know I mean business.

So, get ready for a hell-of-a Bonnie and Clyde esque ride. My chums and I will be coming to various houses, apartments, nut factories, nurseries, squirrel porn stores and apple orchards near you soon. Assuming squirrels can move at roughly 117 miles per hour, I'll definitely be seeing you. We'll try not to scratch up any of your DVDs, but you know, squirrels gotta have their claws.

Oh, and just a little BTW, if most of my cats weren't idiots, I'd bring them into the syndicate too.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Hallmark of a great card--bizarre modifications

"To a beautiful princess who's seven."

With this simple six-word phrase, a battle royale started. My oldest brother, Brent, struck first when, for my 14th birthday, he lobbed the above card at me. Now, as a 14-year-old boy, I was not a girl, nor had I recently turned seven. Well played Brent, well played. But little did he know, the arms race had started.

Over the next 12 years, my whole family has engaged in this battle. We use cards subtly modified to make a bizarre meaning or cards that are bizarre in-and-of themselves to odd up and make any birthdays, mother's days, arbor's days, talk like a pirate days and halloweens as bizarre as possible. Our weapons are weirdness, specifically related to birthday/holiday cards.

Throughout the years, there have been hits and misses, but mainly there have been bizarre memories. A brief recap of some of the more memorable ones.

For Brent's birthday one year, I found something like a “Congratulations on becoming a Rabbi day!” Now in some circles, this card probably holds great sway. For a gentile family with little chance of anyone passing the final rabbinical tests (that is, if there is a test), this card is just amazing.

Brent sent my middle brother, Eric, a “birthday” “card” by fishing a used piece of paper from the copy room at work. He wrote “Birthday! - Brent” on the inside, folded the sheet over, crossed out the copy room garbage and wrote Eric's address on it. He attached a stamp and dropped it in the mail, not entirely certain it would get to its destination. Somehow it did.
For one of the bestest brother-in-lifes ever!
My Grandma even got involved in the act when she sent me a card that had cut out Muppet Baby puppets for my 22nd birthday. In and of itself, that card was awesome. From my Grandma, it reached a whole new level of amazing. Especially for a 22-year-old.

Over the years, I've developed a card-modifying philosophy that rarely lets me down. First off, the more original copy left, the better. I aim for roughly 50-75 percent of the original copy. The rest gets crossed out for comical effect or wholly rewritten. For example, strategically placing a “3” on an Elmo birthday card for a 2-year-old becomes a great Elmo birthday card for 23-year-old Eric. Generally inserting things where they don't belong makes for better cards. Your mom might have told you to never do that, but she wouldn't have had to if you had simply modified the card.

One of the best cards I've ever sent went out to Brent. It was intended to be from a dad to his daughter and basically acted as a “Cats in the Cradle” setup, letting her know how proud the father felt. Touching and endearing, tear-worthy and happy are the only ways to describe this card. However, when the “daughter” is changed to an “older brother,” things become weird. When it talks about taking him to the bus stop on the very first day of school (and he waved at me!), it's creepy. When I talk about him sitting on my lap and making me smile, it's borderline incestuous (although, I suppose that subtext existed in the original). Even better, I actually forgot to sign that card. This prompted Brent to say “It was really weird to start, and then, it just ended. And that made it even weirder.” Unintended success!

The "Mother's Day Mother" card. I don't
remember what the inside said, but it was
probably awesome.
One thing to remember, the “Humor” cards never work for modification purposes. Not only are they not funny in their own right, but the images associated with it are hard to separate from their copy. Although it's unfunny copy, it's the only type that works with image of a man wearing cut off jeans and a stupid hat. Until they start making a “Mother's Birthday Girl Mother,” card, just like that with “Birth” and “Girl” crossed out, I have no need to delve into the humor cards. And even if I did, I'd change the “Mother's day Mother” card to be something else.

Recently, I purchased my mom a normal birthday card for her birthday, she didn't know how to react. “I was expecting something strange, but this was just... it was just a normal birthday card.” She expected references to space ninjas or gigantic cards sent postage due with a 20-inch tall Dora the Explorer (which I did send a couple years ago). Instead, she got a card. This confused her. Card success.

With all this said, it was my dad's birthday yesterday. I found a card for a “Sweet Princess.” It became one for a “Sweet Birthday Dad” and sent his way. Weird on its own right, even weirder with the callback to a card my brother sent me 14 years ago.

My birthday is next in the family. Bring it on, I'm expecting some good ones this September.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

But I know I'll go crazy if I don't see U2 Saturday night

This Saturday, my girlfriend and I are finally going to see U2 at the Qwest Field in Seattle. I had originally purchased the tickets for her as an anniversary present back in December 2009. The show, scheduled for June 2010, seemed quite a ways out, but very doable.

Then Bono hurt his back, and the show delayed a year, making things less doable, but still bearable. And now, finally, that bearing year is complete.

So I encountered a slight hitch in the whole Bono-seeing endeavor. But as I said, it was a slight hitch, it doesn't compare to the massively awful, no good, bad bad bad bad experience that ultimately turned out amazing from the last time I saw the band.

At the time, I lived in Madison, WI, and U2 played 70 miles away in Milwaukee that weekend. On Wednesday afternoon I decided I'd purchase some tickets off of Craigslist, Greyhound over on Saturday, crash at a friend's house and enjoy the show.

The only ticket you can bring is all that you can't
leave behind
Ostensibly, I did do all of that, but the journey took oodles of twists and turns that had me crawling through garbage, getting drenched and hanging out eight feet from The Edge.

The first few parts of this went all according to plan. No problem with Craigslist, $100 for a General Admission ticket. Greyhound ride, scary, but that's Greyhound. Hanging out at friend's place, tons of fun. When the U2 portion of my U2-centric trip started is when problems arose.

I arrived six hours early, because of the way the General Admission system worked. People with floor tickets would go through a line and scan their tickets. The laptop attached to the barcode scanner then showed one of two messages. Either the “We like you, but not all that much. Please proceed to the normal floor with all the normal people who do normal things, but they do it several hundred feet away from Bono.” It also said the far less common “VERTIGO, VERTIGO, VERTIGO,” which is some sort of U2-language for “You're going hella up front. This is not normal.”

It made most sense to get there relatively early, because in the (likely) scenario where you received the first message, your spot wouldn't be too terrible, you'd still be near the stage.

Six hours of sitting outside might seem like a long wait, but as long as it didn't start raining, I'd be a-okay.

When it started raining, I realized I was not a-okay. Luckily, the line allowed you to seek shelter when the organizers weren't doing a line check. During one of these breaks, I headed to a local sports bar to dry off / drink alcohol. While there, I took the tickets out of my (drenched) wallet, and noticed said tickets had somehow become drenched as well. For some reason it struck me that the best thing to do with the tickets was to place them on the table. Not just on the table, however, but wrapped up in a napkin, looking like common garbage, but they weren't garbage—they were U2 tickets, which are inherently worth more than napkins. Regardless, I finished my drink and headed back to the line.

When the line checkers came through the reassembled line, I reached into my pocket, pulled out my wallet and was about to pull out the tickets, when I realized what I had foreshadowed earlier—the tickets were back at the bar, on an unbussed table, wrapped in a napkin.

I let out some profanity as I jumped out of the line and sprinted to the bar. I run to the bouncer and I'm no longer able to form sentences in coherent English. I struggle out something like “I... just here... while ago... U2 tickets. Need! Show!”

At this point, holy Bono spirit calls out to
me, pointing out how I still haven't found
what I'm looking for. Well duh.
Despite this apt description of my current situation, the bouncer could not follow my line of U2-deprived insanity. I took a deep breath and tried again. “I was just here,” the bouncer nods that he remembers me, “and I set my tickets to U2 on the table. That table over there.”

As I point, to the exquisitely bussed table, I realize my tickets aren't there. Finally, the bouncer figures out my situation and let out his own profanity preceded b an “Oh.” He recruited the waiter to help me. He asked where the waiter bussed the table to. The waiter knows he put it in the garbage can behind the bar... the garbage can that had just been emptied.

There's little the bar can do for me now, except let me dig through their dumpster out back. I came a long ways, I sat through rain, I was chilled, tired and raring to see a show with one of the biggest bands in the world. You bet I'm going to dig through that garbage!

My enthusiasm quickly waned—digging through garbage is not the most fun of tasks. Oh yeah, and remember how it was raining? Well, digging through garbage WITH garbage juice is even less fun. After about 9 bags, I give up. I'm now tired, wet, probably have several STDs (Go garbage chlamydia!), and I'm not going to my show, which is the only reason I came to Milwaukee. But it could be worse, it could be raining. Oh wait.

I try one last ditch effort. I go to the box office and ask if there's anything they can do to reprint the tickets. After punching some keys, I'm informed that nope, they can't. I then ask if there are ANY seats available. More key punches, but instead of the cheerful “Nope!” I get a “We have a floor seat available for $59 total.” I give him my credit card and smile on my little bit of good luck. And hey, it's actually less than I paid on Craigslist.

Back in the line, my spot had been graciously held by fellow concertgoers. As they saw me coming back in line with ticket in hand, 20 people from the surrounding spots started clapping. This round of applause lifted my spirits. I figured, I had lost my ticket, against all odds, but I had found another one, against all odds. I even picked up a distinct new odor—although that was kind of expected. Who knows, maybe I could beat the bad odds and get a VERTIGO spot. I had earned it. I crawled through garbage.

This sense of confidence ebbed as I approached the line and saw not many people getting VERTIGO and proceeding to the normal floor. I went up and scanned my recently acquired ticket. The screen seemed to take forever to process, I had already resigned myself to the normal floor when the screen popped, “VERTIGO VERTIGO VERTIGO.”

Being eight feet from The Edge eased the whole situation.
U2, I don't expect this same amount of crazy for Seattle, but I know I'll go crazy if I don't see you Saturday night.