James Dalton for President

This man is James Dalton. James Dalton should be our next president. James Dalton is a “cooler.”

Coolers kick ass as bouncers at rough and tumble bars… especially the extremely dangerous roadhouses of Missouri. On the side, Coolers like Dalton are known to defend the innocent citizens of small towns against baddies like corrupt businessmen, thugs, biker gangs, and possibly mimes.1 Dalton, like most coolers, are also known for their kind and gentle hearts, which results in them gaining the attention of the town’s hottest single woman. Unfortunately, this woman is usually also the focus of attention of the town’s most evil son-of-a-bitch. Love always blossoms between the cooler and the hot woman. This love goes on to be a strength, as opposed to a weakness2 in the cooler’s armor, that the cooler uses to defeat the town’s evil son-of-a-bitch.

Cooler’s are pragmatic, yet true to their inner beliefs. These inner beliefs usually revolve around protecting the young, the elderly, and the defenseless. These sweet inner beliefs are another sign of the cooler’s kind and gentle heart. Coolers don’t want to kick your ass, but they will.

If you are downing one too many shots of tequila at your local roadhouse and feel the need to feel-up your waitress… a cooler will step in to not only protect the innocent wait staff, but also to remind you of your manners. If you are doing funnel after funnel of beer and decide to pick a fight with a fellow patron,3 a cooler uses just the right amount of force to separate the two of you, and then proceeds to throw your drunk asses out into the gravel parking lot. Needless to say, coolers are bad-asses and know how to handle all types of situations.

In these rough and tumble times facing America, Dalton’s time to mount the political stage has come. James Dalton is exactly the kind of man we need for president. His ability to assess all situations, and then properly apply the right amount of force is what we need in our next president. An enforcer with a gentle and reflective personality4 is the qualities the next president is going to need as America navigates the rough waters of fiscal restraints and the continued globalization of trade, crime, terrorism, and war.

One would vote for James Dalton because he is the epitome of the common man.5 James Dalton would be an independent. He would do well in Iowa’s primary because he is not only a man who could beat President Obama in the election booth, but because he would be true to the beliefs of his constituency. No one would have to choose between a candidate that would appeal to large groups of voters and a candidate that appeals to the narrow beliefs and interests of a voting minority.

Unfortunately, James Dalton is not one of the GOP presidential candidate nominees. Instead, the GOP voters are having to choose between nominating a candidate that could, theoretically, beat the President due to his “normalcy”6 or a gaggle of “true”7 conservatives.

This difficult conundrum facing GOP voters was expressed in an article in today’s Washington Post. This conundrum is whether or not to vote for a candidate that has a chance to beat President Obama in the 2012 elections, or to vote for someone who is “true” to conservatism. This, in turn, leads to the following questions: A) is beating Obama really a reason to vote, and B) what the hell does conservatism mean to these voters?

Beating Obama seems to be a valid point if your reason for voting is nothing more than you believe anyone is better than the current president. Following this train of thought results in me assuming that these voters would even be willing to elect me president (you do not want me as your president). Unadulterated hatred of a president, or at least a large dislike, is as valid as any reason within the American political process. The real question is: what is the reason for the hatred? Race and ignorance may be factors in the answer to this question. There are also individuals who won’t vote for any Democrat.8 Additionally, there is the idea that by voting party is the only way to make your vote count. If your party controls everything, then your idea of governing will be more likely to happen. But again, it makes one ponder in the idea of political actions for the pure sake of defeating one’s political enemy. Do voters really want to be a two year-old who says nothing but “no?”

The second question is even more confusing. What conservative means is a discussion the GOP is grappling with. According to the dictionary,9 “conservative” means: 1) disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change; 2) cautiously moderate or purposefully low (a conservative estimate); and 3) traditional in style or manner, avoiding novelty or showiness.

Is Rick Santorum the candidate that defines conservative? His website seems to convey the ideas he is for are ending partial birth abortions,10 overhauling the welfare system, and “fighting” taxpayer abuse and Washington corruption. Are these things that seem “disposed to preserve existing conditions?” Another GOP candidate, Ron Paul, is opposed to US intervention in the world… hasn’t the US been a leading world power since WWII… does over 50 years constitute a “tradition?”

None of these questions really matter. The real question a GOP voter has to ask themselves is this: are my political views, and the political views of my favorite GOP candidate, seen as favorable, or electable, to the majority of my fellow Americans? If the answer to that question is no (and it seems the answer to that question is no considering the problem the GOP voters are having in finding an electable candidate) then maybe those political views, and candidates, aren’t really good for America. If your political candidate is not electable, then your candidate and your views are probably fucked up, or (at a minimum) not popular with the majority of Americans. Conversely, you may be right and everyone else is fucked up.11

James Dalton is not fucked up. James Dalton is a winner. James Dalton is a cooler, and coolers kick ass. James Dalton for President in 2012.

1 Okay, I made the mime part up, but it is possible that a troupe of mimes may invade some unsuspecting Missouri town and render them helpless through deft displays of “man in a box” and “man roping another man.”

2 Caliste Gingrich.

3 Naturally, this patron will be a giant of a man who has a beard, drives a motorcycle, and is always as piss-drunk as you are.

4 Coolers are reflective because they have mysterious pasts and one has to assume they have survived some really nasty shit. Coolers are also known for their ability to master Eastern martial arts, which means they are really smart and deep. They are the Zen masters of bar employees.

5 Common man as in he rocks a mullet, works out a lot, knows martial arts, gets hot women, kicks lots of ass, works in an alcohol establishment but never touches the stuff, and is an all around good guy. Obviously, this is exactly what the definition of “common man” is in the dictionary.

6 Normalcy as in he isn’t a bigot, womanizer, historical revisionist, Bible-thumbing hypocrite, or a bat-shit lunatic.

7 True as in amazingly stiff in their opposition to compromise (I mean who needs to compromise in a country of 300 million), totally committed to treating their fellow Americans as pieces of trash, and totally ignorant of reality.

8 Jimmy Carter, LBJ, the Civil Rights Act, and other “Democrat” factors have truly tainted a lot of voters… especially older, white Southern voters.

9 It seems the dictionary is not used very often in daily discourse, especially daily political discourse.

10 Interestingly, this is the very first thing mentioned on this website. Ending partial birth abortion is the most pressing problem America is facing?

11 In this case you are doubly fucked because not only are you right and everyone else is wrong, but you also have to face the reality that the large group of wrong people are not going to listen to you.

The Art of Bitching, Skinterns, and AC-DC

Capitol Hill sucks in the winter. Even though there are a number of my family members who refuse to believe DC is in the South,1 it is Southern AND we do have some crappy weather during the winter months. The weather isn’t as crappy as real Northern cities like NYC, but it is crappier than Jacksonville. Thus during the winter months the young female Hill staffers, and a limited number of interns, are not rocking their summer glory.2

One of the benefits of working in a Southern city, built on a swamp, is that during the summer months, when it is hot and humid, skinterns3 overwhelm it in their short skirts, tight blouses, flip-flops,4 and heels.5 There seems to be the idea that one should shed one’s clothes to get a job here… DC’s version of the casting couch. They do their job6 and others do theirs.7 My winter bitch is all about the weather restricting skintern clothing options.

Bitching in blogging is very popular. People I Want To Punch In The Throat is a very, very popular bitching blog. It is also highly entertaining and hilariously funny. It has a huge following, and the mom who writes it strikes a chord with her followers. I follow her, but sometimes I don’t get the whole motherhood/parenting angst.8 This mom gets the bitching correct. Sometimes writers get the bitching wrong, or wear out their welcome with their bitching.

Yeah, I’m talking about David Sedaris.  Sedaris has been described as an autobiographical, self-deprecating, middle-class (from Raleigh, North Carolina) humorist. His shit was extremely funny when he was younger and spent all his efforts on describing growing up gay in a somewhat dysfunctional family that included a chain-smoking and alcohol guzzling mother. Busting on yourself and your family goes a long, long way. Angry childhoods, teen age years, and early adult life are periods that make great humor writing. But now he is a really rich guy who spends his time between Paris and Tokyo.9 Sedaris now lives with his partner who is a rich-ass architect. Sedaris humor now revolves around how rough his life is living in French farm houses and Japanese luxury high rises. This type of bitching doesn’t fly. One of his latest books, that revolves around animals talking and acting like humans, reads like he mailed that shit in while sipping wine, or sake, and laughing about all the dumbasses who will buy the book regardless of how awful it is. Sedaris was funny when he was poor and new to making it, now he sounds like an aging silver screen actress who has lost her looks. If he would go back to being angry and poor, I will start reading and buying his books. Bitching is an art that Sedaris no longer masters.

I can be a dumbass though and will continue to buy stuff from artists I love… even if they started mailing their shit in. I am the type of Metallica10 fan that will buy any of their music regardless of how crappy it may be in the future. Long hair, short hair… I always rock to Metallica. Even if they started making music about women11 I will still listen to them. Some argue that Metallica (talking to you Shawn Albertson) is as big a sell-out that Sedaris is. So be it… they ROCK!!!!

This immediately makes me think of the greatest nonsell-out band of all time. AC-DC has never sold-out. Every AC-DC song12 is about sex. When they say “… the girl’s got rhythm …” they ain’t talking about her dancing abilities. Everyone likes AC-DC, everyone cranks them up on their radio when driving. Anyone, at anytime, can get up in a karaoke bar and sing any of their songs. AC-DC is true to themselves and they have never changed their 3-chord theme. Even non-drinkers want to slam shots of Jager when AC-DC starts playing. When AC-DC makes a movie soundtrack,13 they rock it. Interestingly, I am aware of no one who can claim to have had the “ol’ bump and grind14 when AC-DC was playing. AC-DC rocks so hard that it makes you want to stop whatever you are doing (like the bump and grind) and causes you to start throwing your fist in the air.  AC-DC is so bad-ass that no other band gets more military videos made with their songs as the soundtrack. No one bitches about AC-DC, no one claims they have sold-out.

It is not skintern weather here in DC. It is, however, an appropriate time to bitch about bitching. It is also an appropriate time to talk about Metallica, AC-DC, and reference an R. Kelly song.15 This is called keeping it real, and Sublimemonkey is about keeping it real.16

1 DC is below the Mason-Dixon Line, Maryland was forcibly (like Kentucky) kept in the Union, and Arlington (Robert E. Lee’s former home) is no farther than a spit from the White House. My family is in Tennessee and Alabama, to them anything above 36.597889 latitude is “Northern.”

2 At 41, I am starting to feel creepy when I notice 22 year-old young women’s attire and attributes.

3 Skintern is a term used to identify a young female intern that works in DC, usually for Congress, during the summer months and wears completely inappropriate (and revealing clothing).

4 Like any good Southern city, flip-flops are the appropriate footwear to be worn once one steps out of an air-conditioned building. This also helps one identify those around you with “Celtic toe.”

5 Unfortunately, most of these young ladies are either freshly out of college and have not perfected the heel walk. If you wobble or you are unable to understand you must avoid street grates… then you should practice your heel walk in the confines of the apartment you are sharing with 8 other skinterns.

6 Making coffee, copying shit, showing cleavage, playing along with bad sexual harassment comments.

7 Watching them make coffee, watching them copying shit, looking at their cleavage, and some of them actually sexually harass… for the record I have never had an intern nor do I ever intend to have an intern. But I do make inappropriate comments to Jared, Jacob, Matt, and Steve… but they are asking for it by wearing sexy ties.

8 If you are a new reader and not one of the 12 who consistently read my blog, let me introduce myself… I am a childless (by choice) man of 41 and no I am not gay.

9 I am not talking about Paris, Kentucky, or Paris, Texas either. By the way, I was incapable of finding any other city named Tokyo or than THE Tokyo in Japan.

10 If I have said it once, I have said it a million times: Metallica is the greatest fucking band in the world!!!!!

11 Metallica has never sung a song about a woman or women in general… which is sort of like Judas Priest except Rob Halford, the lead singer of JP, is gay and I am not aware of any Metallica member being gay. For the record I love JP almost as much as I love Metallica. Metallica is opposite of the Rolling Stones, the Police, and Aerosmith… because all of these bands are incapable of singing any song that doesn’t have to do with nookie.

12 Unlike Metallica, every AC-DC song is about nookie… even “For Those About To Rock” is probably about sex… just substitute “rock” for “fuck” in the title and you get AC-DC’s point.

13 The movie was Maximum Overdrive and the soundtrack album was Who Made Who, here is the official video to the title song… please note Stephen King’s cameo. Stephen King was the author of the novella that was turned into the movie. AC-DC also did the soundtrack to Iron Man 2… yeah it rocks.

14 Unfortunately, this is the official R. Kelly “Bump and Grind” video, thus it doesn’t include him urinating anywhere or on anyone.

15 Referencing R. Kelly in a paragraph about AC-DC is definitely something you should bitch about… that is just wrong.

16 If you did not click that blue link, go back and do so now. This is not a joke, like telling you to Google “Santorum“<that link makes it easy for you if you don’t want, or you are too lazy, to Google “Santorum.” Yeah, I’m talking to you Shawn Albertson.

Driving History… and Gas Costs What?

I recently had a conversation with a very good friend about explaining one’s life through flow charts. At different times I have attempted to explain my life through secondary education,1 music,2 and relationships. Explaining one’s life is not easy in most cases because of all the inaccurate memories and the harsh reality of growing older… all that shit that once happened turns into static and background noise.

I am, however, capable of providing an automobile flow chart. Cars/trucks of my life can be set up like building blocks that show my life. This is a very American thing to do, because we are a car society. America has a love affair with cars. The car and the sheer size of America has gone hand-in-hand as we have marched forward into the 21st Century. My love affair with automobiles has been more torrid than long-lasting. Each car (girlfriend) has unique memories that can instantly remind me of the time and place that I sat behind her3 wheel and moved down the road.

The following is my life’s automobile flow chart.

– A 1970’s Karman Ghia was the first car I drove. It was in 1983, I was 13, and it belonged to my Dad.4 We lived in Germany at the time and he took me to a small training area on our US Army base to teach me how to drive. This car was a four speed manual, and like all new drivers, I grinded the gears like an epileptic monkey. I can remember driving this well-engineered, but totally ugly, car5 along a trail that had been designed to train US Army tank drivers. This was the first time that I experienced the power and freedom that a car can bestow on its driver. I also learned a significant number of curse words… my Dad was very vocal and colorful as a driver instructor.

– A 1980s John Deere was the second thing I drove. We moved to a farm in Tennessee when my Dad retired from the Army. Bush-hogging,post hole digging, and fire wood hauling is how I spent my summer days. Rural communities don’t have issue with kids driving farm vehicles. Getting a stuck tractor out of a ditch is a skill everyone should learn. People should also learn how sunburned one can get just by sitting on your ass in a burlap sack covered tractor seat. I have no memory of using hearing protection and today I say “huh?” a lot when people talk to me in a low voice. Tractor driving is a completely different from driving a car on an asphalt road. Odd angles that instill the fear of a roll-over teaches 14 year-old boys the importance of (as my Dad would say) “pay the fuck attention.”

– This picture accurately reflects the piece of shit 1956 Chevy truck my Dad owned. He had plans of restoring this piece of his youth. He never fully restored it, and like the John Deere tractor he owned, the seat was covered in a burlap feed sack.6 This truck was a column shifter 3 speed. First to second gear was an astonishing one to two foot movement… it also required moving your right forearm across your vision as you shifted. You never wanted to go from first to second in traffic because you not only lost your view of traffic for a few seconds, but, because of the large amount of play in the steering, you were apt to accidentally steer into oncoming lanes of traffic. Another wonderful7 engineering aspect to this truck was the giant space between pressing the clutch and free space in the clutch pedal. I am not graced with long legs, thus it took superhuman efforts on my part to press and release the clutch when shifting gears. This coupled with the vision reducing gear shifting and play in steering leaves me in awe that I made it through my life behind the wheel of my Dad’s dream truck. I won’t even attempt to describe what it was like to be stopped on a steep grade and the soul-crushing teenage experience it was to go from a stop to a go with an 80 year-old on your ass in her oversized Cadillac.

– A 1972 yellow MG Midget is what my parents thought was a great car to give their 16-17 year-old son. This was 1986-1987 Lincoln County, Tennessee, and my parents’ farm was at the end of a 1.5 mile dirt road. A .25 mile of that dirt road was on my parent’s farm and it was extremely rutted. A 1972 MG Midget is not known for its ground clearance. To this day I am amazed I didn’t sheer a muffler off. I did wreck it a couple of times… the car zipped a little more than a car should that is driven by a teenager.8 It was a pleather topped convertible that leaked horribly when it rained and I don’t believe the British know what “defroster” means because during the winter it was impossible to clear the windshield of ice and fog. On the positive side, I felt like a king driving a British convertible sports car in high school. I installed9 an Audiovox tape player and rocked the Femmes at full volume while dragging the muffler down Lincoln County’s back roads. This car also taught me the importance of low expectations.10

– After completely destroying the MG Midget,11 my parents moved me into a 1984 diesel Ford Escort. That is correct, you just read the words “diesel” and “Ford Escort” in the same sentence. This car, to this day, is the most reliable automobile I have ever driven. Supposedly this reliability is why Ford discontinued making a diesel version. There were no follow-up maintenance costs, thus the Ford Motor Company made no extra money on this model. I drove this sweet12 machine the remainder of high school and all through college. This manual Escort sounded and felt like a hovering helicopter at stop lights. Dark and lung-retching exhaust smoke not only polluted the air, but it permanently stained the back bumper. Needless to say, this was not a nookie-getting machine.13 It’s grey cloth seats, however, were wonderful for soaking up spilled alcohol and beer.14 The fondest memory I have of this car is when, during an extremely cold Tennessee winter my sophomore year in college, the diesel fuel gelled and the car died on I-65.15 My Dad and I had to wait until the temperatures rose above freezing to resuscitate it. It took near zero temperatures to render this automobile inoperable.

– A 1991 Ford Ranger is the first vehicle I bought.16 I was so enamored with this truck that when asked what color it was I would reply “a pine tree, in the spring, at dusk.” This truck is also the vehicle that has the notoriety of being the only vehicle I have ever had an accident in that involved a DUI. I was not drunk, but the 17 year-old girl driving a Suzuki Samurai was (she is the one that got a DUI), and when she decided to pull out, and into me, my truck ripped the back off her little girl “SUV.” What followed next horrified me. Teenager after teenager piled out of this car like a bad circus clown scene. Fortunately her drunk driving only resulted in me ripping her bumper off, if she had been a little slower in darting out in front me I would have probably killed a number of drunk teenagers. I do not know what is the recommended passenger capacity of an early 1990s Suzuki Samurai, but, in my inaccurate memory, there had to be at least 15 teens in it. I sold this truck upon receiving US Army orders for Germany.

– In Germany, the cars soldiers sell to other soldiers are called “Hoopties.” Not all Hoopties are equal. My first American GI in Germany Hoopty was a 1986 BMW 735i. This car was German specs, thus no safety glass and no acceleration governor. However, in an extremely odd case of German engineering… this car had air conditioning.17 This car could fly and would sink closer to the autobahn the faster I drove. This Hoopty cost me exactly $3000. I derived more pleasures from this $3000 than should have been possible. This car was pure pleasure. I sold this Hoopty to another soldier after receiving deployment orders to Bosnia.18 I didn’t think I would ever own a sexier car until I bought this upon returning from Bosnia:

– Upon returning from Bosnia, I bought another Hoopty for $2,600. It was a 1978 Mercedes 450SL coupe and it was sex on wheels. If I thought my BMW made the autobahn its bitch, then I thought my Benz coupe made asphalt quake in fear. This car flew like lightning and I even made German drivers get over when I passed. Unfortunately, due to training and a second peacekeeping deployment to Bosnia, I only got to drive this car for about 6 months. If I could have afforded the costs of converting it to American specs I would still be driving this car today. This car was sold and ended my time in Hoopties.

– When I returned to the US with orders for Fort Hood, Texas, I knew I had to have another truck. Everyone in Texas drives a truck. Please note the dual gas tanks. This truck drank gas so quickly that you had to have two full-sized tanks. Without the dual gas tanks, you would spend all of your time refueling. This truck was perfect for deer and duck hunting, and carrying my golf clubs. Other than Army shit, my time in Texas was spent hunting and golfing. Trucks are for hunting and carrying your oversized sporting equipment… if you own a truck and you do neither of these things… you are wasting your truck’s time. I upgraded this truck in 1998 with this:

– Once I started making, what I thought was, good money,19 I bought a brand new F150. Note there is no dual gas tanks, yet this truck did not get much better gas mileage as my 1994 F150. Again this truck did nothing but hunt and golf. Also, it really handled poorly in rain and ice due to it being real wheel drive. Fortunately, I spent some time on a farm, so during bad weather I would load cinder blocks in the bed over the back wheels to increase the weight and traction. This truck met my needs as a Skoal-dipping Army officer.

– When I left the Army in 2001 and moved to the Washington, DC, suburbs, I bought a suburban vehicle. A Ford Escape was the vehicle of choice and unbelievably it too got real shitty gas mileage. Once again, its primary function was to haul golf clubs and hunting rifles. The only remarkable thing about this vehicle was the fact that after two years I started smelling burning plastic and the radio kept shorting out. Come to find out, the dash wiring was a fire hazard and my Escape was slowly smoldering to death. I replaced the wiring and then immediately sold this piece of shit. Who was I kidding, I was no soccer mom and I needed to get my ass out of this vehicle.

– The last vehicle I owned was a 2006 Honda Civic. It had XM radio, it got something like 80,000 miles to the gallon, it zipped along at a grandmotherly pace. It was the perfect commuting car. After years of sexy German cars and manly trucks, I found my short stature ass sitting in a small economical car. I had reached the point in my adult life where convenience and practicality was more important than self-identification through automobiles. I no longer hunted regularly, and the Civic’s trunk contained (barely) my golf clubs. Thus far, this car has been the pinnacle of my car ownership. I sold this car when I moved into the city.

I own no car. I have no idea what car insurance costs. I have no idea what cars cost. I have no clue what gas prices are. I walk or run everywhere. I do not fight traffic and I no longer have cursing outbursts behind the wheel. If I do need a car, I rent or use ZipCar. I grew up, literally, behind the wheel of cars, trucks, and tractors. Now I focus on comfortable footwear and curse when the cost of my running shoes increase. My mother refused to buy me $100 Air Jordans, but now I buy myself $150 Adidas Supernovas. $150 is a lot cheaper than a car payment though. Cars, trucks, and I have a history… but our torrid love affair is now just fantasy.

I still love cars though. I am not a communist or Buddhist for fucking sake. This is the car I want:

Because when you don’t need a car… you can desire a completely impractical one that screams “my penis is really, really, small!” In actuality, this is probably the car I would buy if I really need one:

This car says “hey, my first car was an ugly European and my next one will also be one.”

1 See my blog post about Department of Defense School experiences and the awesome robot I was in 1980.

2 Every time I mention music in conversations, Facebook, or a blog post, I am contemplating a moment (past or present) in my life that has some significance, even if that significance is nothing more than something like the first time I tried Red Man chew and consumed a Miller High Life pony… both were done in the same night and obviously I threw up that night. Unsurprisingly, Hank Williams Jr is the music that reminds me of this awful evening.

3 Another American “thing” is to refer to cars and boats as females. This is very sexist and so typical of a country that has a history of viewing women as property.

4 My Dad has a history of allowing children to drive his vehicles. His grandson and granddaughter were both adept at driving his farm truck at a very early age. I can remember my nephew being too small to see over the dash as he toured around the farm… so my Dad, his grandfather, would sit in the passenger seat telling him when and where to turn. I believe this is an endearing aspect to my Dad… others might say it is totally irresponsible.

5 What German car isn’t well-engineered?

6 My ass may still have pieces of burlap sack inbedded in it due to the act of me sitting on the sacks that barely covered the rusty seat springs. Pot hole avoidance became a necessity when driving this truck. Seems 1956 car technology didn’t include a decent suspension, thus every bump in the road drove a burlap covered rusty spring into my ass. I have no idea if I got regular tetanus shots as a kid, but I am convinced that, as an adult, I am now completely immune to tetanus due to driving this truck.

7 Wonderful as in “fucking horrible.” I guess America’s engineering experts were too busy in the 1950s perfecting a second nuclear strike capability over reducing the deadliness of America’s cars and trucks.

8 Fortunately, the MG Midget was made of sheet metal and my Dad had some body work experience. A ball peen hammer does wonders

9 Installed as in “I used a lot of electric tape and, fortunately, I didn’t electrocute myself.”

10 This car may have looked cool to my 16-17 year-old eye, but it was notorious for breaking down for no apparent reason. One memorable break down was when while “cruising” Fayetteville, Tennessee, (this is what you did on the weekend for entertainment) the car got stuck in first gear. The transmission gears literally melted and stuck the car in first gear. My parents live (in Hot Rock) about ten miles outside of Fayetteville… ten miles are a long way to drive in first gear at night.

11 Destroying an MG Midget isn’t really that hard because it was nothing more than gocart with sheet metal paneling. It would take a troop of monkeys approximately 15.4 seconds to destroy an MG Midget with their bare hands.

12 Sweet as in totally uncool and nondescript.

13 I did, in total collegiate male arrogance and ignorance, keep a box of (unused) condoms in the glove compartment.

14 This spilled alcohol may have been a contributing factor in the fire that consumed this car years later when my aunt had assumed possession of the White Beast. Then again, maybe my aunt was also spilling cheap vodka in the seats too. Fortunately, the fire consumed all evidence of a possible alcohol-based conflagration.

15 This incident was extremely entertaining, again in a dose of collegiate arrogance and ignorance, because I was wearing a light jacket, no socks, and inappropriate footwear. I was a fashionable dumbass, and fortunately a truck driving Samaritan rescued me that evening.

16 In an almost unrelated note: Google image search is so fucked up that upon entering “1991 Green Ford Ranger” in the search box… Google not only provided a plethora of green truck pictures, it also provided the cover shot of a 1991 porn movie entitled “Butt Park Rangers.” I’m sorry Google but that is wrong… but I am wondering if this movie is any good.

17 German cars made for Germans didn’t have air conditioning, but I imagine, because of global climate change, it is now standard.

18 In a fantastic sense of timing, the Army deployed me to Bosnia on Christmas Day, 1995 for an “unspecified” amount of time. This “unspecified” amount of time ended up being exactly 11 months… I returned home on Thanksgiving Day, 1996.

19 Good money in 1998 as an US Army captain was approximately $40K

I Dream of a Lampshade… The Office Holiday Party Alcohol Consumption Guide

The holidays are upon us. This means there are parties being thrown and there are people expressing their angst about things they don’t like about the holidays. This is a great example of such angst… a great example in why some of you make it harder for the rest of us. I am going to attempt to focus on the positives of the holidays and associated parties.

I guess each of us equate different things, ideas, and memories with the holidays. I equate holidays with alcohol and office parties. I am not alone in my love of alcohol, because it seems the majority of Americans consume it in large amounts. Like a lot of employees, I attend holiday office parties. I have never attended an office holiday party that was worth a shit. I have never been fortunate enough to experience this kind of party. The mythical holiday party that results in panties falling to the floor, asses being photocopied, and coke snorting off stripper bodies is pure, and unadulterated, bullshit. Hollywood set the bar pretty fucking high with the whole bitchin’ holiday party turned bloodbath theme in Die Hard. How can your employer meet these expectations? But if anyone is thinking of stealing billions in bonds over the holidays… please let me know because I know my way around a weapon or two.

But in the holiday spirit, I am going to give you a gift by providing you with an appropriate primer on whether or not to drink at your office’s holiday party. In some cases large amounts of alcohol is allowed, in others controlled consumption is required, and finally there are situations were no alcohol is recommended.

Large Amounts Alcohol1

– It is after work hours and thrown at a bar.

– The party is after hours and thrown in a restaurant that has a large bar.

– The party includes an open or cash bar.

– Your boss doesn’t frown when you enter the party with a case of beer under your arm.

– Your boss enters the party with a case of beer under their arm.

– You work at a brewery.

– You work at the Fredericks of Hollywood factory.2

– You and some friends (who also happen to be coworkers) gather at a bar during the month of December.

– Your November AA meeting really blew and decided that it was okay to drink for the month of December.

– You work with a bunch of drunks.

– You work with a bunch of assholes.3

– You have a new job and your old job is full of a bunch of assholes.

– You have a new job but you’re gonna miss the drunks at your old job.

– You are single and your coworkers are hot.

– You work for the Catholic Church.

– You just don’t give a shit.

Limited Alcohol Consumption4

– The party is during work hours.

– The party is held in your office and only wine is offered.5

– The food to alcohol ratio is more than 3-to-1.6

– The dessert to alcohol ratio is more than 4-to-1.7

– Your boss’ boss will be present.

– Your annual work evaluation falls in the months of December or January.

– Your boss is a recovering alcoholic.

– You are an alcoholic and thinking of quitting.

– Your boss is highly religious, but you don’t work in a religious organization.

– You are single but none of your coworkers are hot.8

– You are married and your coworkers are hot.

– Your spouse attends the party with you.

– A few of your coworkers bring their kids to the party.9

No Alcohol Consumption10

– You work for a religious institution or a religiously inspired organization.11

– You work for a nonprofit like MADD or AA.

– You are self-employed.12

– You work at Planned Parenthood.13

… okay, I really don’t have any idea why you wouldn’t at least drink a little at an office party.

I know I got this out a little too late for most people (since office holiday parties should be wrapped up by now). I hope this has been helpful for next year’s office merriment. My office party was earlier this week. It was in the afternoon, it was held in the office, kids were present, my boss’ boss was present, the amount food and desserts dwarfed the amount of wine and beer present, my coworkers are highly unattractive (except for Steve, Matt, Jacob, and Jared)… needless to say I got shit-faced.

1 Each of you is an individual and understands what “large amounts” means personally. For some of you, this means drinking to total inebriation and vomiting. However, I do not recommend drinking to “double clutching.” Double clutching is one of those words that I learned in college and truly defines “learning through experience.” If you do not know what double clutching is, then imagine both ends of your body that fluids go in and out… now imagine them violently evacuating at the same time… viola, double clutching.

2 I do not work at Fredericks of Hollywood, nor do I know anyone that works at Fredericks of Hollywood, but I imagine lingerie and adult toy manufacturers know how to fucking party.

3 And you are the type of person who needs alcohol to loosen up and let people know how you feel about them. I, fortunately, am not this type of person. I will gladly let assholes know how I feel about them drunk or sober.

4 Like the word “large,” “limited” is also a personally subjective term. For some of us who are professional drinkers, limited might be considered a lot to the sailboater. For the uninitiated, there are two types of drinkers… there are “sailboaters” who gradually float along on the alcoholic waves, and there are “powerboaters” which should be self-explanatory.

5 The types of alcohol served is usually a good indicator on what level of drinking is expected. If wine is the only offering, you can bet that no one expects or wants to see you shit-faced. If beer and wine is offered you are allowed to get a good buzz on, but again shit-faced is highly frowned upon. If bottles of liquor are present… well giddy-up!!!!!

6 This also means you do not work at Jenny Craig Industries and it is possibly an indicator that you work with a lot of females… I know it’s a stereotype, but it seems that the more women in the office the better, and larger amounts of, food present.

7 This might be an indication that you have a lot of “healthy” sized people in your office that put a higher premium on fatty foods over alcohol. Never… I repeat, never mix large amounts of alcohol and desserts. Nothing leads to double clutching quicker than vodka and your cubicle mate’s (who is a 58 year-old grandmother) special holiday spice cake.

8 Waking up next to an ugly coworker after a night of alcoholic induced debauchery is worse than double clutching.

9 Nothing kills a good office party like your coworkers’ corduroy-clad crumb snatchers. I like kids… your kids, but as a nonparent by choice, there is nothing worse than being surrounded by snot, poop, and hyperactivity at a party that I am trying to enjoy. If you do bring your kids, I can not be held responsible for any large amounts of cake icing I may force feed them (true story, I once gave a fellow Army officer’s 3 year-old several large doses of cake icing at a party once just so I could see the kid ping off the wall).

10 I have never attended this type of office party, but I assume they exist. Sort of like I assume the Higgs boson, or God Particle, exists but it hasn’t been seen yet.

11 Unless you work for the Catholic Church. Additionally, my religious institutional experiences are fairly limited to the Southern flavor… thus no one would be caught dead drinking around fellow “Christians”… they just do it with their NASCAR and poker buddies instead.

12 In this case, you don’t have an office party… you have a “oh shit it is Tuesday morning and I got to get my drink on before facing myself” party.

13 With all these budget cuts, who can afford an office party?

Class rings with armored vehicles and Zippy the Pinhead

My sister, a public school teacher in Tennessee, recently linked two articles on Facebook. Her FB linking is usually about recipes and photography.1 The two recent links, however, were not about squash casserole or pictures of squash casserole. Instead one was a New York Timesarticle about Department of Defense Schools (DODS) outperforming public schools on both reading and math tests for fourth and eighth graders. The other was a blog post analyzing this article in a very sympathetic manner.2

These articles are obviously important to her as a public school educator, but they are also important to her because she is the complete DODS package. My sister never attended public school other than DODS schools, except for a few short periods when our Dad was deployed.3 She graduated from Fort Knox High School and her class ring has a tank on it.4

I am somewhat of a DODS product. I attended kindergarten through seventh grade in DODS. Kindergarten through the third grade was in Germany. My fourth and fifth grades were spent in the elementary school that sat beside my sister’s high school at Fort Knox, Kentucky. My first two years of middle school was spent once again in Germany. My Dad retired at the end of my seventh grade year, so unfortunately I was not afforded the opportunity to have a high school class ring emblazoned with a tank, or a bayonet, or an assault rifle, or some other war machine.5 After the seventh grade, my tenure in DODS ended, and from there on out I attended Tennessee public schools.6

I find it difficult to juxtapose my DODS education with my Tennessee public school education… basically I haven’t thought hard enough to consider the differences. Obviously my early childhood education is a distant fog, but since I graduated high school I assume I must have gotten some decent learning then. In reality, I can list my DODS education memories in a fairly short manner:

– I walked to kindergarten with my “girlfriend” Jolene, who I believe was from Guam or the Philippines.

– My 2nd grade class watched a documentary on climbing Mount Everest. 

– Mrs. Ball, my 3rd or 4th grade teacher, was a former nun.

– My sister’s high school boyfriend made me a bitchin’ Halloween costume (robot) that I wore in my 5th grade class’ Halloween parade.7

– I read a lot of Encyclopedia Brown books.8

– My 6th grade’s physical education class in the Winter was ice skating at a local German rink.

– All my classes were racially and religiously integrated.9

– I saw hashish on my Frankfurt American Junior High school bus.

– My junior high got real bomb threats… the terrorist kind.10

– My 7th grade sex ed class involved a detailed discussion on masturbation and the female process of menstruation.11

– I had a 7th grade teacher who wore a Zippy the Pinhead t-shirt once a week.12

The individual and unique educational experiences of a single Army brat does not add anything to the discussion about DODS students outperforming public school kids. It does, however, allow me to think back on a time when driving to BENELUX (Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxemburg) were a weekend event and attending Christkindlmarkts were a holiday tradition. If nothing else, being the product of DODS allowed me to see the world as the wonderful and intriguing place it is at an early age.

1 If you didn’t know her, you would assume she was an obese photophile. That would be only a half truth, in reality she is a thin photophile. If you want to see amazing pictures of squash and sweet potatoes add her as a FB friend.

2 I am now joining this “hotly” analyzed discussion with my own worthless ramblings.

3 Our Dad served in the US Army from 1957 to 1983.

4 I have no idea if Jostens offers this type of engraving to any high school other than FKHS. I’m also pretty sure she is very proud of her tank ring.

5 I graduated, in 1988, from Lincoln County (Tennessee) High School and instead of a tank, I have a falcon (bird of prey) on my class ring. I have no fucking idea where my class ring is.

6 This allows me to say during briefings, conversations, and presentations “slow down, I am a product of Tennessee public education and I need you to talk slower… and use smaller words.” Needless to say, when my sister hears me say this, she gets pissed.

7 Okay, this costume was a collection of boxes covered in aluminum foil… which did not make it bitchin’, what made it bitchin’ was the transistor radio that my sister’s boyfriend built into the “head”… I sounded like a walking boom box blaring horrible static… I may still have hearing loss due to this awesome display of high school boy inventiveness. Additionally, my family still laughs when we see the pictures of me in this costume because: A) the robot’s (my) head is off-center and makes me looking extremely goofy, and B) it reminds everyone on how I couldn’t keep up with the other kids in the parade because I had cardboard tubes over my legs… there is no fucking way one can walk quickly without bending their knees.

8 I don’t know if this was school or home related reading, but my memories tell me it was school related.

9 My first girlfriend, one that I actually called my “girlfriend” … unlike Jolene who my mother calls my “first girlfriend” … was African-American but I never kissed her (I was in that stage where I called someone my “girlfriend” but experienced no girlfriend-having activities like kissing). Additionally, if you look at my 7th grade Frankfurt, Germany, American Junior High yearbook you will see a wonderful hodge podge of names, colors, and races. Not only were the military members integrated, but their children were completely integrated both educationally and socially. This integrated educational experience was not replicated much once I entered Tennessee public schools. 1980s Tennessee was not as demographically diverse as the US military and its schools reflected it.

10 Terrorism in the pre-9/11 era wasn’t something Americans really knew or understood unless they were in military (or State Department). I can remember my mother calling the military police because there was an odd box by a trash can in our American housing area in Bad Nauheim, Germany… I think she thought it was a bomb. On a totally unrelated point, my mother once got us caught (in our giant ass Chevy Caprice wagon) in an Anti-American/Nuke protest in downtown Frankfurt… she swore me to silence because she didn’t want my Dad to know. I believe the statute of limitations has been lifted.

11 I always question my public school educated friends if they got information on masturbation in their sex ed class. Some have never had a sex ed class, and the ones who did respond in the negative. Rock on DODS, Rock on!

12 Seems a lot of DODS teachers were, or had been, hippies. I know, the irony of having hippies instruct the children of the bastion of conservatism is funny.

NOTE: According to my mother, following her reading of this post… Jolene was Hawaiian, it was not a cardboard box that made my mother go into terrorism prevention mode… it was a missing fire extinguisher which was supposedly a common 1980s terrorism bomb casing, and as far as protests go… her exact words were “… you were not hurt when we got in the protest. We went down a one way street the wrong way to get out of it.” See, even my mom is willing to break the law to protect her young.

Kim Jong-il Redux Deux

Asking the right questions is more important than getting the right answers to wrong questions.1 Important questions are also more pertinent than stupid ones.2 The death of North Korea’s (NK) Head Poobah Kim Jong-il (KJi) has raised a number of questions.3

Before attempting to ask the right questions, it is important to think about the kind of man KJi was. He was one fucking crazy dude who knew how to truly enjoy the life of Head Hermit of the Hermit Kingdom.4 The following list5 is supposedly true with very few sources, but as a good friend said yesterday: anything anybody tells me about NK seems to be plausible, nothing would fucking surprise me.

– KJi’s birth was foretold by a swallow (yeah… a bird).

– KJi shot a 34 on a 72 hole golf course with a record five holes-in-one.

– KJi had giant rabbits imported from Germany in an attempt to alleviate NK’s food crisis.

– KJi demanded that every grain of rice served him be of the same color and size.

– KJi had two South Korean movie directors kidnapped because NK directors really sucked.

– KJi made personal staff take same painkillers he was given after falling off a horse.

– KJi was one of the world’s largest importers of Hennessy (NK wasn’t the largest importer, it was him).

– KJi liked to eat roasted donkey (which is better than roasted dog… in my book).

– KJi had NK state-run television edit World Cup games to show NK winning… every time.

– KJi did not shit, ever.

– KJi was the original Hamburgler by claiming, in 2004, that he invented the hamburger.

– KJi wrote six operas in two years.

– KJi had an entire city built for propaganda purposes; no one lives in this city.

I would be a more simple Head Hermit. My list of weirdness would be limited, and boring, compared KJi’s delightfully zaniness. Upon my death, websites and the media would have nothing to report other than Head Hermit Sublimemonkey of Muthafuckistan was addicted to blow and surrounded himself with ‘hos. But if you are in charge of every thing in your country and everyone is in either total awe or fear of you… weirdness would naturally come. I have to admit that I would even try roasted donkey.

Once one overcomes the oddity listed above, the important questions rise to the top. One question is “How is China reacting to and reporting KJi’s death?” The answer is fairly short.6 Basically, China is saddened over their “friend’s”7 death, and China may be inviting KJu up for an official visit soon.8 China needs and wants NK to be stable and doesn’t care who controls NK as long as China can heavily influence that controller. China’s influence in NK is so rampant that when one talks about US-NK relations… one is actually talking about how does US get China to influence NK.

In the end, it’s about ensuring that NK does not implode. China doesn’t want an NK implosion.9 The US and South Korea (SK) don’t want an implosion either. Nuclear weapons, tons of conventional weapons, malnourished millions, and ignorance adds up to a giant ball of shit that will splatter disgustingly all over the region.

Whether or not NK implodes and China’s influence is not the only factors in the NK question. Another issue is the possibilities of a Korean peninsula reunification and the costs that would incur. Studies have been conducted on possible reunification scenarios. A gradual shift to reunification is seen as a “multistage process in which economic and political union will be achieved through negotiations between North and South Korea.”10 Another two scenarios everyone hopes to avoid is implosion and war. Implosion, which was described earlier, is possible if there is a complete economic and political collapse and may result in the NK army assuming control of the state, or a collapse within which no one takes control following an internal conflict (such as KJu not being installed as Head Hermit).11 War is the final reunification scenario, and the only thing that is far more nightmarish than implosion. Reunification of the Korean peninsula through war is either the result of NK winning or SK winning. The military defeat of NK is ideally what SK and the US want… but again the ramifications of another Korean war is borderline unimaginable. What a reunified Korea following war looks like is probably  what the Moon looks like… cratered and lifeless.

Ultimately, one has to ask how much a Korean reunification would cost. “Experts” estimate the range would be between $50 billion and $1.5 trillion. Arguably, this may be bullshit ballparking because German reunification was approximately $2 trillion. It’s hard to fathom that a Korean reunification would be cheaper unless one assumes that both South and Northern Koreans are willing to assume a standard of living below German standards. However, this may be the case, thus a cheaper reunification price tag may be reasonable.

In the end, most NK watchers are probably hoping that KJu is accepted as the new Head Hermit. China will attempt to cultivate this scenario and the US may even assist in this. Ultimately, no one wants millions of North Koreans pouring across any border in search of solace and no one left to guard the keys to the nukes and tanks. Before anyone has to react to this possible nightmare, someone needs to start asking the right questions.

1 Feel free to use that sentence anytime in any conversation. It will make you sound smart even if you aren’t. I think that is an original thought, but I may be mistaken. Regardless, that is one damn fine sentence.

2 Actually, this is misleading because there is no such thing as a stupid question, there are only stupid people.

3 I would like to assume I have the answers to all the questions, but alas I don’t… however, the important and serious questions will be addressed first.

4. “Hermit Kingdom” is defined as a pejorative term applied to any country or society which willfully walls itself off from the rest of the world. There could be a complete different conversation on whether or not NK walled itself off on purpose or felt compelled to do so due to international realities.

5 This is a link to the Mirror.co.uk, which means that some bad toothed and phone tapping journalist may have possibly made this shit up, but these “facts” have floated around for a number of years.

6 It is short because my googlifying skills are fairly limited… along with my attention span.

7 By “friend” I actually mean “crazy-ass little brother who lives in the basement and constantly pisses in the corner.”

8 This is more important than being saddened over KJi’s death.

9 An NK implosion means millions of hungry people who will start looking toward China.

10 Kim Hak-Joon, “Korean Reunification: A Seoul Perspective,” Korea Under Roh Tae-woo: Democratisation, Northern Policy and Inter-Korean Relations, James Cotton, ed., Canberra: Australian National University Press, 1993, p. 48.

11 Jonathan D. Pollack and Chung Min Lee, Preparing for Korean Unification: Scenarios and Implications, Santa Monica, CA: Rand Corporation, 1999, p. 33.

Kim Jong-il Redux or the two sides to the same coin

The front page of today’s Washington Post shows a picture of the Redskins winning against the New York Giants, in the corner it mentions the North Korea’s Kim Jong-il’s death.1 Celebrating a Redskin’s win is no more odd than the hand wringing Kim Jong-il’s death is causing among North Korea watchers. This is similar to comparing the odd belief that a god would be interested in professional sports2 and the odd reaction that North Korean state television showed of Pyongyang’s residents openly weeping after hearing of Kim Jong-il’s death. Mass hysteria is odd no matter the reason. North Koreans crying streams of tears are as heartfelt as sinners overcome with joy at a tent revival. One can ignore these sentiments at their peril; human emotional responses may not be rational, but they sure as shit are genuine. Extremely genuine when supported by either a nation-state’s or an established religious institution’s propaganda machine.

Rationality definitely doesn’t come into play when one thinks that a platform shoe wearing despot is a god, or when one thinks a god wants to see Tebowing. Rationality and irrationality just might be two sides to the same coin.3 This irrationality of men as gods and those same gods’ interests in sports causes me to wonder which will have more lasting effects on the world: a football game win or the death of a dictator of a nuclear armed country with penis envy.

Opinions on Kim Jong-il’s death are going to fly in the world’s media. Speculation on Kim Jong-un’s4 ability as his successor will be the topic of the day. South Koreans are going to wonder and discuss. The truth will not be known until Kim Jong-un’s handlers/supporters take some action. Opinions on his death will be as deep-seated and varied as the opinions of which is better: Apocalypse Now and Apocalypse Now Redux.

In a frightful display of questionable parenting, my dad took me to see Apocalypse Now in the theater in 1979/1980 when I was in the 5th grade.5 Naturally, I have great distaste for the Redux version. My vision of Ap Now is rooted in its original vision of Francis Ford Coppola’s retelling of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. I don’t need odd Frenchmen hiding in their Vietnamese plantations or tangents about stranded strippers willing to provide sexual favors for security.6 I am thankful, however, that Coppola kept the cameras rolling when Martin Sheen had an alcohol and drug induced breakdown while filming the opening scenes.7 I am also thankful for Coppola introducing me to The Doors and their drug addled music. The Doors’ “The End” to me doesn’t talk about an Oedipus complex, it talks to me about napalm.8 Ap Now and Redux are two views on the best movie ever made.

Finally, to beat this “two sides” and “opinions” theme to death in an appropriate Sublimemonkey manner9… recently I heard two competing views on the war in Iraq and its potential connection to the Arab Awakening/Spring.10 One side thinks the US’ intervention in Iraq, and its somewhat quick transition to a fledgling democracy provided a blueprint to other Middle Eastern countries. Conversely, the other side argues that Iraq war, and its call-to-arms to Islamic extremists, drew undesirables to the region which then bled into other parts of the Middle East. In both cases, one has to believe that there is an actual relationship between cause and effect.

Competing opinions, visions, and cause & effect relationships are what builds the bridge between facts and beliefs. Fact: Kim Jong-il is dead, and as The Who says “meet the new boss, same as the old boss;” belief: we will get fooled again… and Kim Jong-un (or at least his handlers) will be the culprit.11

1 To be fair, the Redskins beating the Giants was far more surprising than the Head Hermit’s death.

2 God’s interest in professional sports must be mighty considering the number of overpaid ‘tards (athletes) that render her honor in the end zone, at home plate, and on the sidelines.

3 I tried to think of a better cliché; the best I could was “rationality and irrationality just might be the two sides of the same cow patty” but that would have required me to describe how one side is flat and the other one is slighty mounded… see it doesn’t work, so I went with the coin cliché.

4 I don’t know if Kim Jong-un wears platform shoes, but he did get some elite Switzerland private school learning and supposedly likes video gaming… so in my book he must be an okay guy.

5 The water buffalo sacrifice scene at the end of the movie still haunts me, but conversely I was exposed to Wagner’s Ring of the Nibelungs… I have been a Wagner fan ever since, but not the kind of “fan” King Ludwig II of Bavaria was.

6 This is what Redux adds to the Ap Now story and, in my mind, have no bearing on the fairy tale Coppola provided me in the 5th grade.

7 Sheen’s breakdown was first revealed in the documentary about the making of Ap Now… aptly named Heart of Darkness.

8 If you have no idea why I mention Oedipus complex when referencing The Doors’ “The End” then you have never heard the unedited version where Jim Morrison starts screaming “mother, I want to fuck you!”

9 This means I am going to string together obviously unconnected things in a totally inappropriate manner and cause you to wonder how in the fuck I got from Kim Jong-il to the Arab Spring while throwing Apocalypse Now in the middle.

10 I just wish we (media/analysts) would pick a term and stick with it.

11 Was going to end this post with some obscure Ap Now quote, but I figure I have proven my Ap Now fanatic status appropriately enough.