Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Gonna Sigh Now

A few weeks ago, I decided it was time to get fit and lose approximately six hundred pounds. Despite encouraging reports that the world’s fattest man had become engaged to be married1, I reckoned that a fitter, thinner me would enjoy improved confidence and quality of life.

Displaying a level of both fiscal responsibility and pragmatism that most gym-belonging humans never reach, I quit the gym a year ago because I never went. Not eager to pay the exorbitant fee required to sign up yet again, I recalled that my apartment building has a fitness room. In advance of my first workout, I went down to see what kind of equipment was there.

To my dismay, I found a graveyard of broken equipment that would look very much at home in Miss Havisham’s decaying mansion. There was a Nautilus weight machine with a broken cable and a missing pull-down bar. There was a stationary bike that worked in the sense that the pedals turned, but the electronics were ripped out. There was a step machine with steps that sank straight to the floor and exhaled with a “thoooop” as soon as you stepped on them. There was a trampoline that was intact, but rather inadvisable for use in a room with an eight-foot ceiling. And there was a treadmill that sort of worked. The treadmill runs, but that’s a very generous description. The destroyed plastic overlay makes the control panel nearly impossible to read, the machine has a habit of shutting off by itself when you raise the speed past 3.5 mph, and it also arbitrarily raises the incline by as much as 15 degrees in a matter of seconds entirely on a whim.

I briefly considered living out my remaining years as a fat man, reasoning that at this rate at least there wouldn’t be many of them. I also toyed with the idea of performing an exorcism on the treadmill. But as always, we find our redemption in the movies.

I had recently watched one of the gems of American cinema, Rocky IV. As you surely recall, this is the one where Apollo Creed is beaten to death in the ring by a steroid-gobbling Russian meathead, prompting Rocky to travel to the Soviet Union to train and then avenge his fallen friend by fighting the commie cyborg in Moscow.2 In an attempt to prevent Rocky from properly preparing for the fight, his Russian hosts put him up in a log cabin in the middle of Siberia with no modern amenities or training facilities. However, in a stirring montage to the strains of a Survivor song that is not “Eye Of The Tiger”3, Rocky trains with what is available to him. He chops wood, rolls logs, runs in the snow and pulls a donkey cart. The clear implication is that Rocky has been toughened by his experience and is better prepared for the bout than his Soviet counterpart, who is shown in very antiseptic environments getting shot up with needles and working out amid enough technological machinery to launch a Space Shuttle.

Of course, this leads to Rocky not only winning the fight but getting an arena full of commies, soldiers and KGB stooges to chant his name, much to the consternation of an actor portraying Mikhail Gorbachev. I decided that much like Rocky, I would use the sad state of the fitness room as motivation. No fancy chichi gym with plasma TVs and safe, operational equipment for me! I’m getting down in the muck and slugging it out with both my flabby body and that broken down crap!

It’s been three weeks. The stationary bike is somewhat usable but frustrating. I’ve managed to work around the treadmill’s quirks to a degree. I’ve even added “Gonna Fly Now” to my workout mix.

But on the whole, I’d rather pull a donkey cart.

1. Where does he even meet girls? Honestly. Unless his wang is the fattest one in the world too, I don’t get it.

2. If Rocky had only realized that this was no fearsome warrior, but merely Dolph Lundgren, I imagine a lot of this nonsense could have been avoided.

3. I didn’t know there were any others, either.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Rocking For The Weekend: Matthew Sweet

Welcome to a new feature at Words, Words, Words...Rocking For The Weekend! Every Friday I'll post a fun song I love that is perfect for flying out the door at 5pm on Friday (or 8pm if you're me) and cranking the stereo on the way home.

Well, maybe not every Friday. But at least until I am sick of it. (See "Seven Word Sunday" food posts.)

Today's song is "Girlfriend" by Matthew Sweet. It rocks. It's one of my ten favorite songs of all time, and the drum break is sick. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

This Is My Rifle, This Is My Gun...

...books are for learning, TV's for fun!

When I watch television, I watch pure entertainment. Sitcoms, sports, even the occasional reality show. I promise I don't learn anything. This both perplexes and on occasion infuriates some who know me. They say things like "You're too smart for that." I assure you, I am not. I also like to read, but very rarely read novels or frivolous books. I read a lot of nonfiction...essays, biographies, science, sociology, etcetera. Reading a novel makes me feel like I'm slacking or wasting time. I've always operated under the tenets of this clear delineation - TV is fun, books are work. But it always infuriated me that I didn't have a ready answer why.

I think I have a workable theory. When most people go to work, they have to dress up a little. A tie, maybe a suit. But no one complains because a tie and a suit are the uniform for work. Sure, you'd probably rather not, but you just do it without complaint because you understand that that's the way it is. But imagine that you went on vacation to Hawaii and at the airport you were greeted not with a lei, but with a tie and suit. You'd say "Screw that, I'm on vacation! That's what I'm getting away from!" You feel comfortable rejecting the tie because you've come to expect that vacation is for shorts and t shirts.

I think TV and books are like that. In school, we find that books are for learning. Almost everything we read as a child is related to school. But when we get home, we turn to TV for cartoons (or if you were me, The McLaughlin Group.) If we got home from school, turned on the TV, and found someone doing math problems, we'd throw a tantrum. I guess along the way I determined that TV was for my entertainment and books were for my enrichment. This would explain why I don't want to learn anything from TV, and why I feel guilty getting frivolous entertainment from books. I'm not sure I need to change anything, or that it's bad to operate like this. But it's nice to have figured it out.

I'm aware this might be really banal, and if that's the case, I am prepared to blame it on novels.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Springfield Rock City

It occured to me the other day while watching The Simpsons that Krusty the Clown is the Gene Simmons of comedy. After thinking about it some more, it only followed that Gene Simmons is the Krusty the Clown of rock and roll. These two men, while probably not acquainted, have similar attitudes, values and foibles. I'm certain they'd get along like least long enough to have a debauched weekend in Vegas. Come, won't you, and let's examine the startling parallels between these two titans of the entertainment industry!

Gene SimmonsKrusty the Clown
HairstyleThree-pronged afro (black)Three-pronged afro (green)
MakeupEvil clownSad clown
Abandoned CareerImparter of knowledge (schoolteacher)Imparter of knowledge (rabbi)
AddictionPoultry-related (chicks)Poultry-related (dodo egg omelettes)
SidekickHairy ape (Paul Stanley)Hairy ape (Mr. Teeny)
Secret ShameJudaismJudaism
Ill-Advised EndorsementsKISS coffin/beverage cooler, KISS wine, KISS Mr. Potato Head dollsKrusty Brand Imitation Gruel, Krusty Brand Home Pregnancy Test, Lady Krusty Mustache Removal System
Skill At Chosen CareerQuestionableVery Questionable
Eventual Cause Of DeathShot by hookerShot by bookie

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Kanye West To Pick Winners At MTV Awards

NEW YORK (AP) - In a shocking turn of events, music channel MTV announced today that beginning next year, all winners at the MTV Music Video Awards will be chosen by rap music star and noted tastemaker Kanye West.

Sunday’s broadcast of the network’s annual flagship event was marred when West interrupted “Best Female Video” winner Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech. West stormed onstage and shouted over a stunned Swift, asserting that singer Beyonce should have won for her video “Single Ladies”, calling it “one of the best videos ever”. The incident was only the latest in a string of awards show shenanigans by West, whose hijinks frequently include interrupting speeches to issue pronouncements that he was wrongly denied a meaningless award. Curiously, West did not interrupt host Russell Brand at any point in the proceedings, a move that would likely have put him back in the good graces of those in attendance and a television audience of millions.

The decision to appoint West to such a powerful post would seem unlikely considering the embarrassment he caused the network on the one night each year that people actually consider watching MTV. Not so, says MTV Networks president Doug Herzog. “At first we were angry at Kanye,” Herzog said. “But when we were honest with ourselves, we had to admit that he really does know best. His opinions, even on topics as disparate as music videos and 19th century pre-Raphaelite art, are invariably correct.” Herzog also noted that convenience was a factor in the decision. “We realized that having one person decide all the winners was much easier than actually conducting a vote of the general public. Besides, what are we really losing here? This is a group of people who have bestowed the coveted (sic) Moonman on the likes of Paula Abdul, Kylie Minogue and the Pussycat Dolls. Frankly, I think I should receive some kind of award myself.”


At press time, it was rumored that officials of the Oscars, Grammys and Emmys were contemplating offers for West to choose the winners of their awards shows as well. In related news, 20th Century Fox this afternoon greenlit the lavish biopic Kanye West: A Man For All Seasons.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Mildly Amusing List

Phrases I Have Read This Week In Other Blogs That Would Make Good Band Names

The Stingy Vaginas

Cobra Kai

Frequently Naked Neighbors

Heels Or Flats

The Dutch Rubs

Superior Brew

The French Style

Chinese Five Spice

Looming Manhood

The Ginormous Zucchinis

Black Life Forms

Glorious Tooting

Lexicon of Love (more of an album title, really)

The Chupa Chups


Great Aunt Helga

The Blogging Tools

Sexy Menz

Sullen Teens

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Fun With Camera Phones

Fun with camera phones at the sporting goods store!

I can't tell you how relieved I am to learn that these golf balls are experienced and professional. Those golf balls you hire right out of college aren't worth shit.

I'm glad the marketing pros at Sportcraft have taken pains to assure their customers that this is their good bean bag toss. Not to be confused with their bad bean bag toss, which I can only assume is not a top seller. I imagine it consists of two old coffee cans and a Ziploc bag of actual beans.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Desk Hero

Klank thumpthump klank thumpthump klank thumpthumpthump klank klank

“All right!”

Klank thumpthump klank thumpthump klank thumpthumpthump klank klank

“I got somethin’ to say!”

After my thunderous drum intro, Mark took over on guitar and proceeded to rock this place to the ground. I don’t know how to play drums and he doesn’t know how to play guitar. But we had played the hell out of “Rock Of Ages” just the same.

We’re not a band. We’re Desk Band.

When you spend about 12 hours a day cooped up in a room with two other guys with nothing to entertain you but each other and three iTunes-equipped laptops, you have to make your own fun. Desk Band started innocently enough, with Mark drumming the pads of his wrists on the desk to the sounds of Rage Against The Machine. Like that hackneyed movie cliché where one guy stands up in an auditorium and claps alone only to slowly be joined by the entire room in a standing ovation, our officemate Shane and I chimed in and forged a three part cacophony.

Shane was cashiered from Desk Band in a matter of days for utter lack of rhythm. There was none of the usual acrimony attendant when such things happen though, as he is our production assistant/flunky/errand boy. It was but the latest of his humiliations. Desk Band lives on as a two-piece act. Whenever we’re bored or stressed or mad, you can feel it coming. Just crank up the volume, and it’s showtime.

Dutdut dutdut dutdut dutdut dutdutdut THUMP

“I can feel it coming in the air tonight, oh Lord…”

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

That's What She Said (Really)

This morning our PA was dispatched to the Apple Store to pick up our boss's computer, which had been in for repair. The clerk at the store called to ask my boss if our PA was "authorized to pick up your unit." The clerk actually stifled a chuckle as he realized what he said, then let out a proper laugh after hearing my boss laugh. This has led to an hour's worth of "unit" jokes in the office, after which I've come to learn that there are about twenty minutes' worth of good "unit" jokes. The incident made me think of this classic gaffe by my old roommate Edie.

Edie and I were in Vegas for the weekend and we were trying samples at a fancy chocolatier in the Venetian. Edie was a particular fan of fudge, and asked to try the milk chocolate flavor. As she tasted it, a glow of infinite joy lit up her face and she immediately asked for a quarter pound. The clerk asked if she would like it wrapped in a box or loose in a bag. "Just put it in a bag," she said. "I can't wait to cram it in my fudge hole!" The clerk and I immediately started laughing, although he tried to stop himself. I absolutely did not. It took a second for her to realize the alternate meaning of what she'd said, and when she did she tried to apologize through her laughter. "Don't apologize," said the clerk. "That's the best thing that's happened all day!"

Edie and I make "fudge hole" jokes to this day. They're way better than "unit" jokes.