A Character Entry

He’s a squirrely fellow; I can’t seem to tell if his odor derives from his mouth or body. He fidgets a lot, shakes his hands as if a vice is needed. I’ve been observing him for some time and he has the tendency to whistle and stretch much too often.

His devious smile and snicker show his age, but the experience in his wrinkles does not offer worthy wisdom. He suffered a rough past, and hides his body’s softness to maintain an image that has run its course.

He attempts to conceal worry, yet it just creates suspicion.


An Observation Concerning… Boring Covers.

“And cover me, Cause I’ve been branded, I’ve lost my mind.”
-Candlebox, “Cover Me”

I’m a strong supporter of cover songs because usually – usually – bands either put a unique twist on a classic or sometimes make the original a little better with a new sound. I could provide you with a list, but it could go on for a while – feel free to leave a comment if you want some rockin’ suggestions.

Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies make their living off their ska versions of hits, and Justin Mauriello put out one of my favorite cover albums, Justin Sings The Hits. I know, super original album title. Also, we’re all well aware that rap artists use beats from older songs, and even Lady Antelbellum’s new hit, You Look Good, briefly included the chorus of Bill Withers’ Use Me during an award-show performance. Then you have to think, what would life be like without the great, drunk, or humorous karaoke performances people embarrassingly struggle through? Awful, that’s what. Lastly, we must recognize the carefree tone-deaf individuals who save their belting for the shower and car. The artists thank you for the tribute, and we thank you for keeping it to yourself.

That brings us to our issue: some people don’t keep their talent to themselves. YouTube and social media has truly taken the uniqueness out of the individual and entertainment. Having a good voice is nothing nowadays – just like if you won a million bucks you could blow through it pretty quickly and you don’t even have to try. Everything has become devalued, but we can do a whole series on that direction of society. No? Okay good. I don’t feel like working that hard at the moment. Anyway, to prove my point, why do you think reality singing competitions and talent shows can have a new season every year? Because there’s that many people out there who have talent. The real question is, what puts you ahead of the rest?

Becoming a sensation is easy as long as you have a camera and a microphone – which are both on your phone by the way. Even easier!  It’s also easy because – and I think I’ve mentioned this before – we have too many people who believe that average things are amazing. Reference: “An Observation Concerning… People Loving Amazing Things” on this amazing blog. See what I did there? It will come to you.

The main reason behind this post is the annoying plethora of slow covers by female singers with sultry voices. It was cool when one person did it, but now everyone does it, and they sound exactly the same. It’s like they’re trying to be deep with another person’s words, which ultimately shows that the meaning of cover songs have been lost. They used to be for fun and/or a tribute, but now it’s to get attention and/or sell things like Wrigley Gum and dumb, pointless features on an Iphone.

What would you want to hear while in a bar? A slowed down version of a song, creating a depressing cloud over what was once a fun night, only so the singer can get noticed by some drunk people who won’t remember anything anyway; or something fun and exciting or an amateur who really worked hard at learning Friends In Low Places or Bohemian Rhapsody, passionately expressing themselves and getting the entire bar involved? Neither is also a valid answer, but one is still better than the other.

On a personal note, I once won a t-shirt for my rendition of Oops, I Did it Again during karaoke night at a dive bar.  Cool. Really cool.

An Observation Concerning… People Who Exercise.

“Now wait a minute, y’all; This dance ain’t for everybody, Only the sexy people.”
-Salt-n-Pepa, “Push It”

That title is a little on the vague side. I know many people exercise in many different ways. Some live at the gym, some take classes every day with little results, some are outdoorsy, some do yoga and Pilates, and some walk from the couch to the refrigerator and back a few times a night – remote or mouse clicking and phone poking have been found to cut a ton of calories. Don’t look that up; it’s not true.

I’m more of a traditionalist: I go to the gym each weekday for some basic lifting and cardio exercises, and then some outdoor activity on the weekends like soccer, volleyball, golf, or skiing (seasonal, duh). It’s a good balance, and yes, there was a time when I was obsessed, but I needed to lose weight and I did… and I’ve maintained it.

PERSON: What the hell do you know?
ME: I published a book on healthy living.
PERSON: So what? I’ve been working out for weeks now!
ME: Cool.
PERSON: That’s right, cool, why don’t you feel my abs?
ME: I don’t want to.
PERSON: Why not? They’re awesome!
ME: Because you’re really sweaty, like awkwardly sweaty, and you’re not an attractive girl, and though you’re abs are awesome, there’s still some good coverage so I couldn’t feel them anyway.
PERSON: You’re just jelly, bro.

I think there needs to be a revolution against the trendy Crossfit-like gyms that are still popping up all over – like weeds and breweries.

PERSON: Let’s go to Crossfit and then get a beer!
ME: I’m just going to get a beer.
PERSON: AHHHHHHH! I’m totally pumped!
ME: Cool.

Anyway, enough of that guy, he’s gone – he sprinted miles and through doors and walls to get to his session, probably kicked a baby somewhere along the way because it was moving too slow. I thought this obsession would fizzle out eventually after everyone ended up getting injured because they break their bodies down at an intense rate with very little recovery time. It was once a theory, then a fact, and now just an ignored statement. People are fixated, even when the workouts turn uber-stupid. I saw an instructor having his clients walk on rocks barefoot outside his converted-warehouse. What the hell is that going to do for anyone? Toughen their feet? Cause an infection? It’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a lot of dumb things (I look in the mirror every day). It’s not like we’re in Africa and the only way into the tribe is by walking over burning coals.

I think it’s come down to what are people actually trying to accomplish here? Not everyone can be in the Crossfit games or a Ninja Warrior. I’m not saying it’s not possible, I’m just saying it’s not worth it – literally. I don’t think anyone other than extreme exercise enthusiasts are actually impressed with people working out 16 hours a day and then showing off their abilities on daytime cable television or on a network like USA where the station is immediately switched once someone realizes their rerun of Law & Order: SVU or NCIS isn’t going to be on – all for a couple bucks. In addition, people who aren’t going to be participating in a bodybuilding competition need to stop training like they are. The only thing this is going to get you is some complaints and judgment because you’re hogging the mirror and weights or a lot of requests to help people move. People need to relax!

Listen, everyone can do whatever they want – I have likes that others won’t agree with as well – but I’m just suggesting that there needs to be a balance. You know the Canada Dry commercials with everyone exercising to the point where sweat is being flung all over the room and working so hard at the office that a paper cut or spilled coffee is bound to happen? No? Okay, maybe I watch too much TV, but that’s fine because the end of the commercial advises to relax harder.

I exercise and am outside a lot and I eat healthy, but I also relax and don’t eat healthy and drink beer and whiskey from time to time, and you know what, I still look and feel great. Find a balance, people, before you can’t do anything at all.

An Observation Concerning… Public Restrooms.

“Excuse me mister if you please, I gotta go.”
-Robert Earl Keen, “I Gotta Go”

Let’s not talk about all public restrooms here; there’s no reason to bring up disgusting portables with absolutely no lighting at outdoor nighttime concerts or just people peeing freely in parks. In fact, even the facilities specifically built for relief in public areas aren’t sacred anymore. For example, the last time I was in Washington, DC, I used the bathroom next to the reflective pool between the World War II and Lincoln Memorial monuments and saw a homeless man shaving in there. He didn’t say hi back. Probably thought he was better than me. Whatever. We’re going to focus on two places: airports and restaurants.

When traveling, a new airport is part of the experience whether that’s during a layover or upon arrival. You get to explore the below-average food options that are available, people watch and guess who is traveling where and who will be the first to have a nervous breakdown, and of course, use the restroom. I will tell you this: the best airport bathrooms in the nation are at Albuquerque’s International Sunport. I’m not going to be stereotypical and tell you it’s because the city is full of Hispanic people and they’re quite good at certain custodial aspects of buildings, but there could be a connection. Okay, I guess I was stereotypical, but it’s a compliment. If I could use that airport’s bathrooms every day I would – other than my house, they’re probably the cleanest, most comfortable bathrooms around no matter the building. Every other airport is disgusting, but out of necessity, you must fight the lines, clogs, dampness, noises, smells, trash, and faulty motion sensors.

Then there are restaurants. I like to eat, but if you ever found a picture of me you would think that’s hogwash. Mmm, hog, yum. I also enjoy most cuisines and dishes I order – or at least I convince myself that the food is good if I’m going to be overpaying for it. I know that it works both ways and people are picky because they want to make their dining experience worth it, but you have to eat, and it’s not like you’re going to get your money back because they already made the food and your fingers and used fork have been all over it. Maybe a free dessert, but you don’t like the food so what’s that going to do for you? After tricking my mind, I find other ways to be annoying in food establishments – like judging the condition and design of their restrooms. I could have a horrible dinner, but if the bathroom is in extraordinary condition with clean floors and toilets, designer sinks and lighting, and johnny boards with comics or the sports sheet above the urinal, it makes the experience balanced. On the contrary, I could have the most fantastic dish of my life, but if the bathroom has paper towels and unspecified liquid (for whatever reason) on the floor, exposed pipes, and rusted porcelain under a flickering dying florescent, then I might as well just skip out on the bill and drive home (or to the airport). With all this being said, I think we’re all in agreement with the following claim: Asian restaurants have the coolest restrooms – I’m just waiting for there to be coy in the toilet water.

This was a completely pointless post, but we’ll find something to think about. Airport runners and restaurant owners, people are always judging so clean up. Travelers and food patrons, the sign that states, employees must wash their hands, isn’t just for employees. I gotta go.

An Observation Concerning… People and Their Damn Dogs.

“I’m gonna tell myself I might not get angry.”
-Baha Men, “Who Let The Dogs Out”

We have a growing issue in America. No, it’s not unimportant stuff like healthcare reform, equality, poverty, or attempting to mend our divided country – it’s people and their damn dogs. They’re everywhere. What ever happened to the days when you could just go to someone’s home, be pestered by an animal that’s cute at first, but its charm wears off after your face is constantly licked and your leg is continuously humped? Or the days when you visit your friends or family and the dog is skittish or unwelcoming, passing gas because of its anxiety, creating an uncomfortable conversation between guest and host? Those moments are still there, so don’t worry, but now they just happen in public places.

I have nothing against dogs; I think they’re cute, I think they’re funny, and I think they serve a great purpose. With that being said, I don’t think it’s necessary that they need to be with their owner every minute of the day. For example: Breweries. It’s bad enough people bring their children to these places, but when the dogs start rolling in, you might as well be drinking at a petting zoo. The children want to play with the animals, the dogs are either too rough or unresponsive to the child’s advances, creating tears and screeching cries from the youngling. Hooray, just what I wanted to hear while trying to enjoy my adult conversation and good overhead music. Now let’s introduce another dog into the equation which doesn’t get along with other breeds. They bark, growl, and tug on their leash, knocking over glasses and moving chairs around in the process. Yippee, another great variable to my rare night out. I don’t know what’s better: that or the dogs becoming overly excited when they see each other, peeing all over the place, and slobbering all over my clothes because there are so many that I’m bound to be close to one. I guess it serves me right for sitting outside on a beautiful summer evening, leaving my beer exposed so a dog’s floating hair can land in my $5 treat and its bad breath and spit can cover by $10 plate of food. I should just go inside, sit in the corner by myself, and avoid human contact so everyone who has a pet can converse freely. Kind of like how a dog would be treated. Interesting.

A quick note: I sympathize with people who need service dogs, but they’ve become as common as a gluten allergy – and just like the mysterious rise regarding the intolerance, I feel that some people may be over-exaggerating their problem.

I get it; it’s hip and trendy. However, bringing your mutt to work definitely needs to stop. I work in a building that has four suites, including ours. We don’t have any pets staining our carpets, but there are 7 (yep, 7, you didn’t read that wrong) amongst the other three offices on a daily basis – and these are very small businesses. If you count the 6 dogs in the two businesses across the street, you have a full on kennel in the industrial area. I just hope one of these poor things doesn’t get run over by a semi during one of the employee’s 10 breaks that are required for their pet to use the bathroom and exercise. They take more breaks than smokers – and people complain about them all the time, especially when their dog is subject to secondhand smoke. That’s why those same whiners just vape inside the office and nauseate their co-workers with their unregulated scented chemicals. Interesting.

It reminds of the story last week about Joey Barge who was told not to wear shorts to the office per company dress code so he decided to show up in a dress the following day. Loser. We get it, it’s hot, but everyone else is obliging to the company’s regulations – which I’m sure this genius agreed upon when he scribbled his signature on the policies and procedures during the hiring process. So not only did he deliberately break his company’s rules, he also disrespected his superiors. For what? To prove a point and get some likes on social media platforms? Big whoop. He should be fired and replaced by one of many other people searching for jobs who are apparently much more intelligent. My point is that we can’t just keep doing whatever the hell we want because it’s ruining many aspects of life; people need to start thinking about the effect their actions have, because it’s a long spiral of distress for many parties.

People tend to believe they’re nicer and more caring than they actually are. We live in a closed-minded, inconsiderate, selfish world full of double standards, and the epidemic continues to spread. I heard horse therapy works for anger and stress. Maybe I will start bringing a horse to the office and ride it to the brewery after.

An Observation Concerning… The Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals.

“There’s no compromise, No second prize.”
-Airbourne, “Rivalry”

I was born in Washington, DC and have devotedly supported the area’s professional sports franchises for the last few decades. I do lean more toward the Orioles because the Nationals weren’t around when I was born, and they just can’t enter my life like some arrogant stepfather. It’s a relationship that has taken time, but I already have a dad (I mean, team) in my life.

As a Capitals’ fan, I would like to congratulate the Pittsburgh Penguins.

With that being said, I don’t believe a Penguins’ fan would offer such a gesture if the Capitals were to ever win the Stanley Cup. I know a handful of Penguins fans – sadly, I’ve been to Pittsburgh more times than they have combined – and they just aren’t that type of person. There’s nothing wrong with that; it just makes it easier not to like the team or players.

Imaginary Penguins’ Fan: You’re just saying that because they’re rivals.
Me: Perhaps, but why?
Imaginary Penguins’ Fan: You’re just jealous.
Me: I’m asking you why we’re rivals?
Imaginary Penguins’ Fan: Because we’re bad ass and you suck!
Me: Why won’t you actually answer the question?
Imaginary Penguins’ Fan: Woo! Go Penguins!

I’m coming to grips with the fact that it’s actually not a rivalry. A rivalry usually includes two teams or individuals that are evenly matched and equally decorated like the Celtics-Lakers in the 80’s or Federer-Nadal in the 21st Century. The Pittsburgh-Washington rivalry is completely one-sided and predictable. It’s similar to Ohio State and Michigan; a rivalry that has completely lost its luster because since 2001 the Wolverines have only one twice. Of course, they have a more storied history, but my point is that rivalries can become very bland and uninteresting.

Imaginary Penguins’ Fan: You’re just jealous.
Me: You already said that.
Imaginary Penguins’ Fan: Fine, you’re bitter.
Me: That’s the same thing.
Imaginary Penguins’ Fan: Woo! Go Penguins!
Me: Hmm…

I am bitter, I will admit it. However, Pittsburgh fans can’t say anything about it because they don’t know what it’s like. They’re spoiled brats when it comes to sports. Not in like an inherited classy New York way, or rags to riches Boston way, but more like a trailer trash wins the lottery kind of way (it’s a joke, not a stereotype, calm down, everybody). Let’s look at the Pittsburgh-Washington rivalry if it were between the two cities as a whole:

Super Bowls: Pittsburgh 6, Washington 3.
Stanley Cups: Pittsburgh 5, Washington 0.
World Series: Pittsburgh 5, Washington 0.
NBA Championships: Washington 1, Pittsburgh 0 (because they don’t have a basketball team).

16-4 overall. How pathetic. Rivalries aren’t supposed to be pathetic; they are supposed to move us, keep us enthralled, make us anxious, and make supporters from other teams tune into the matchup just because it’s an amazing unpredictable game. The Penguins-Capitals has become hardly that.

I always thought the window was closing for the Capitals the last few years, but I believe it’s now shut. The hope of just a shred of glory has drifted away; especially with the emergence of the Blue Jackets, Maple Leafs, and Sabres (you’ll see) in the East and the Predators and Oilers in the West. Las Vegas has once again given Washington high odds to win the Cup in 2018. Sadly, I wouldn’t take that bet. In my disgruntled eyes, the Golden Knights have just as good of a chance.

I will always support you, Capitals, but when the hell are you going to return the favor to the fan base? Forget about Pittsburgh and just rock the red.

An Observation Concerning… Doctors and Mechanics.

“I just shook the handshake, I just sealed the deal, I’ll try not to let them, Take everything they can steal.”
-MGMT, “The Handskake”

We can go straight for the obvious comparison and conclude that both these professions fix things (so we think). By the way, if you didn’t read the title, we’re talking about doctors and mechanics here. Maybe you should go see a specialist concerning your attention span.

We could also make the other obvious comparison that both rip you off in some way, shape, or form. Mechanics: a figurative rectal exam; doctors: a literal rectal exam – and a prostate check for good measure (for men, of course – for women, the use of a speculum).

Every time I go to the mechanics I’m onto their little tricks. They load you up with free coffee and soda, maybe a stale donut or cold popcorn, and distract you with daytime television which you shouldn’t be interested in, but damn, it’s just too hard to look away from a soap opera like it’s some car accident – maybe I shouldn’t compare something to a car accident while at the mechanics because it’s bad juju – just so they can tinker with your vehicle, lifting it up, fondling it’s undercarriage, violating its private parts, and then deny the fact, tell you the car was asking for it and there’s something wrong with it, not them. I’ve seen enough Law & Order to know what’s really going on here. You molested my car, and now you’re raping me. They make up some cockamamie diagnosis that you just have to trust is true. So, I take great satisfaction in saying that I will not be replacing the air filter. Why do they have so many of those anyway?

Kind of like those little plastic cones doctors stick in your ear. I went for just a consultation once, kind of like a meet and greet because physicians change hospitals more than waitresses change restaurants and finding a new one takes months to make an appointment (or reservation), then another month to build a nice relationship (or for them to know your usual dish after a long drawn-out pathetic attempt at flirtation). What the hell are we talking about here? Anyway, the doctor stuck his thing in my ear (gross) and I didn’t want or need it to be done, but just went along with the situation, and then he charged me $50 like he was doing me a favor. My next appointment involved a recommended physical (reference above paragraph for Law & Order similarities, and also the previous sentence for charges). Unlike mechanics, doctors don’t necessarily tell you what’s wrong, but rather state that you’re fine. However, they have a specific tone when explaining precautionary measures that fill your head with curiosity, intrigue, and paranoia. Your other alternative is to check WebMd which is why you’re at the doctor’s office in the first place because the internet site always gives you the worst case scenario for your symptoms. A cough and stuffy nose? Brain aneurysm. So you agree to some tests which means you agree to fees that will eventually either be paid out of frustration or end up at a collection agency.

Two different sales tactics, but two that work, and both offer the it’s your funeral approach. A mechanic intimidates and forces you to eventually coincidently return out of spite for denying an air filter; a doctor is vague and makes you feel guilty enough about your lifestyle that the stress and worry will eventually land you back in their office and not by choice.

Where does this all stem from you may ask? Even though you didn’t I’m still going to tell you. I received two emails this past week. The first, my mechanic is convinced my car is due for service; and the second, my provider claimed my body is due for service. When did they start doing that anyway? Sounds like someone is in cahoots, and I’m not buying it.

Disclaimer: I’m not saying don’t go to the doctor or mechanic when something is wrong. Or do what you want; what do I care.