Archive for February, 2012

Here’s the deal. Quick reminder – only a few days left to enter and win a free copy of the book I reviewed in my last post. Entering couldn’t be easier; all you have to do is leave a comment on that post. Do you feel like you have nothing to say? Don’t worry, just post, “Me want free book.” It’s that simple. And, if all goes well, next time I’ll be giving away a free TV episode. I’m thinking about Magnum P.I., Season 7, Episode 22, “A Pretty Good Dancing Chicken.”

Speaking of dancing chickens…what’s the deal with exotic pets? Some people are just obsessed with bringing less and less appropriate animals into their homes. A quick scan of an exotic pet website and I found that I could purchase a porcupine, zebra, antelope or baby water buffalo from individuals who, for inexplicable reasons, are in possession of porcupines, zebras, antelopes and baby water buffalos. Have you ever seen a water buffalo? They can grow up to 2,000 pounds. Here’s a helpful rule – it shouldn’t be a pet if, when it sits on you, you die.

English: Water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis), Thai...

2,000 pounds of cuddly, fun

Look, I understand the impulse. When I was a kid, I imagined having a pet alligator. I thought that if I raised it from the time it was a baby, we could get along. But then I grew up to not be a Bond villain.

Alligators aren’t sentimental. Neither are the rest of these exotic pets that foolish people attempt to tame. A few years ago, Paris Hilton had to go to the hospital when her pet kinkajou bit her arm. Now, this isn’t a great example, as many of us would bite Paris Hilton if we were given the opportunity. But the point remains. These creatures do not want to be your pets.

Get a dog. Dogs dream of nothing but being a pet. It is the pinnacle of dogness. They love following you around and making you happy. They live to fetch and be a companion. And, most importantly, they don’t want to kill you. Most exotic pets do. I think that even a lot of cats would give it a shot if they were a little bigger.   

And this exotic pet trend is only growing. For example, an animal cruelty line got 23 calls about endangered pet bearded dragons in 2001. And, in 2011, this number grew to over 1,700 calls. And, perhaps most surprising of all, these bearded dragons were originally just plain dragons…they grew the beards in an attempt to disguise themselves from all of the people trying to turn them into exotic pets.

So, how am I going to do it?   How will I convince humans that we don’t have the right to put a leash on anything that moves? Sure, movies like Every Which Way But Loose make it look like a grand old time to have a pet monkey…but they tend to downplay the scratching, biting, and feces flinging. Trust me, those gorillas should stay in the mist. These pet owners need to stop being so short-sighted. All animals look cute when they’re babies. Even I looked cute as a baby. But when it comes to trying to own the wild, it’s time to grow up.

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Here’s the deal. A couple of weeks ago I got an email from writer, blog enthusiast, and gal about town, A.S. Newman asking if I might be interested in reviewing her new book. And, while I am generally suspicious of people who hide their names with initials, I gave her a tentative definitely.

I know what you’re thinking, “What, so this is now a blog that reviews stuff?”

I guess so.

The book in question is Things to Bitch About, by A.S. Newman and P.C. Trauth. It’s a journal with each page featuring a topic to complain about followed by a blank, lined page where the reader can fill in their own thoughts. Essentially, A.S. and P.C. have created Makya McBee Vs. – The Home Game. Sure, you enjoy reading my comically skewed takes on daily annoyances, but now, with the help of Things to Bitch About, you can play along at home.

Some of the topics are to be expected, like taxes and bad drivers. But others offer the fortunate owner an opportunity to sound off on strangely unique subjects. My favorite prompt in the book is omnivores. Come on, who among us hasn’t had a gripe or two about omnivores? I can’t stand them. Thinkin’ they’re so special what with their highfalutin, we eat anything attitude.

I think these authors have hit upon a great idea by leaving much of the writing to the reader. They’ve inspired me to create a do-it-yourself novel. Here’s a sneak preview of the first chapter.

CHAPTER ONE

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What do you think? It’s sure to be a best-seller, as each reader can create the type of novel they’d be most interested in reading.

But I josh with A.S. and P.C. (I wonder if they’ve ever considered the fact that they’re just an “A” short of being the ASPCA?). What they’ve created is a good tool for those who want to write everyday but never know how to get started. And a nice gift book for those special moaners in your life. They’ve written the first gripe journal, or complaint diary. It’s a gurnal. Or a complaintary. Wow, I am not very good at combining words. You might say I’m bad combiner or a poor linker. A babiner. A poonker. Yes, I’m quite bad at this.

Anyway, the book is available (in exchange for money) here. A.S. gave me a copy so that I could review it, and suggested I then give my copy to some lucky reader of my blog. But I’m not going to do that. You guys need to earn it. Besides, what A.S. failed to realize is that if I give the book to somebody else, I will no longer have it. How does that help me? [New development…after reading this review, the author has offered up a free copy of the book from her own collection…all you have to do is leave a comment and you’ll be entered into a random drawing…come on, how many things in life are free? Or random?]

So if you have anything you’d like reviewed (movies, books, erotic pottery), just send them on over. I’ll review anything. By anyone.

Except omnivores.

I hate omnivores.

Here’s the deal. As a youngster, I attended an alternative, no grades, hold hands and dance in the fields type of school. Then I went to a public high school. My parents were concerned about me making the transition and wanted to find a way for me to make some friends before school started. When they discovered that Cross Country running began weeks before the school year, they decided to sign me up. Granted, I subtly voiced my opinion with such nuanced hints as, “No, please dear God don’t make me go run around in circles with those strange kids.” But they knew I needed the extra time to socialize.

What they failed to take into account is that it’s difficult to carry on a conversation when you’re gasping for breath.

For those of you unfamiliar with this “sport,” it is a 3.1 mile race over natural terrain. Which just means that the course can go pretty much anywhere – over open fields, down the road, up wooded trails, and through the occasional 7-11.

Here’s the cool thing about Cross Country running. It starts out as a run…then, after awhile, it turns into a run…following this, the athletes transition to a run…and it ends with a nice run.

In other words, there is nothing cool about Cross Country running.

Minnesota state meeting – Cross Country

Hold on...I'll be coming around the corner in another twenty minutes or so...

Here is how our “coach” would train us (and, no, I’m not making this up), he would put the team in the back of his pickup truck and drive us 3.1 miles away from the school. And leave us there. He would then return to the school in the comfort of his vehicle and wait for us to run back.

And did I mention – I’d never run before. Unless, of course, someone was chasing me. And that didn’t come up very often. So I was the worst runner on the team. At the beginning of each practice, my parents would be happy to know, I socialized with the back of my teammate’s heads, as I called out, “Hey, wait up! And where the hell are you going with the pickup truck? Is this legal?”

And the actual races weren’t any better. The main difference was that instead of me running with my seven teammates who were faster than me, I was running with thirty or forty guys who were faster than me. The starting gun would blast and I would somehow instantly find myself in last place. It was about nine second into any given race that I would begin to ask myself why I was there. Finally, some forty minutes later, I would arrive at the finish line…my teammates and all of the spectators long since having gone home.

I still don’t know what the point is. What a crazy name for a sport – Cross Country running. One shouldn’t run across a country, that’s what trains, planes and automobiles are for (that, and reminiscing about John Candy).  

So, how am I going to do it?   How will I put an end to this child abuse pretending to be an athletic event? I already put an end to it. I put an end to it sophomore year. Then I became one of the theater kids. Where I could act like I was a Cross Country runner, without any of the actual running.

Here’s the deal. Everyone’s had the experience. There you are, minding your own business, when someone walks up to you and asks  why you’re not wearing any pants. How many times have you thought to yourself, “Why isn’t there a resource to help me cope with moments like this? Why hasn’t some intrepid blogger created a list of excuses with which I might defend myself?” Fret no more my friend, that list has been created. That intrepid blogger is I.

 

Top Ten Explanations for Why You’re Not Wearing Any Pants

 

11. The parameters of casual Friday were not clearly defined.

10. “Have you ever read that story, The Emperor’s New Clothes? Well, I got so caught up in it, I forgot to put my trousers on.”

9. Denim allergy.

8. “I was wearing my favorite purple slacks, but you got me angry. Do you recall me mentioning that you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry? Well, there you go. Frankly, you’re incredibly fortunate that my pants happened to tear in such a way that, although thoroughly tattered, they still cover my naughty bits.”

7. You traded your pants for a yo-yo. (Seriously, what’s more fun, pants or a yo-yo? I’d like to see you do a loop the loop with a pair of Dockers)

6. “My thighs need to breathe.”

5. They shouldn’t call them acid wash jeans if you’re not supposed to wash them in acid.

4. You got too big for your britches.

3. Pants, schmants. (Is it just me, or is adding the letters “schm” to the front of any word the very best debate strategy and/or way to get out of any situation in the fewest words?  (a) “Sir, you were going ninety in a twenty-five mile per hour zone.” “Ninety, schminety.”  (b) “Senator, your feelings on economic reform?” “Econmic reform, schmeconimic reform.” (c) “Proceed with your closing argument.” “If it pleases your honor…murder, schmurder.”)  

2. “As a compulsive liar, all of my pants are on fire and thus unsafe to wear.”

1. Don’t worry…no explanation necessary…

Here’s the deal. Tomorrow, chocolate will be purchased. Flowers will be delivered. Candles will be lit so that couples can dine in their glow. Hands will be held. Lips will be puckered. Love will be celebrated. For tomorrow, it is Valentine’s Day.

And it must be stopped.

Look, I don’t need an excuse to buy chocolate. And I certainly don’t need some baby with wings trying to impale me with his love arrows. And nobody needs the stress, the envy, and the destruction of this saintly holiday.

According to multiple “reputable” websites, the first evidence of Valentine’s Day being associated with love goes all the way back to 1382, when Chaucer wrote, “For this was on seynt Volantynys day, when euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.” While he apparently didn’t have his spell check turned on that day, Chaucer’s words are evidence of a long history of chesing our make each and every February 14th.

But do we really need a special day to chese our make? Let’s take elementary school for example. Few things are as depressing as seeing the kids exchange cards and there, all alone, while others revel in their pile of heart-shaped sentiment, sits the one child who received nary a note. To combat this historic injustice, many schools now mandate that kids bring cards for each of their classmates. A nice thought, but it also renders the whole exercise pointless. “To My Very Special Friend…Who is Exactly Equal in Specialness to All of the Other Members of My Class, Even Jimmy Who Eats Crickets When He Thinks No One is Looking.”

That’s what this holiday does. It either makes you feel bad because everyone around you is getting signs of affection and you’re not, or it makes you feel less than special because you realize that your significant other is only giving you a gift because the calendar is telling them to.

Sweet violet

Violets are blue? I guess "purple" was too hard to rhyme.

Sure, this might sound like the jealous ranting of a man who hasn’t been on a date since the Carter administration, but I can assure you that (a) my feelings about Valentine’s Day are unrelated to my love life and (b) I went out with one girl when Reagan was president.

Come on, what good can come of this? Valentine’s Day is like a giant highlighter for lonely people. Look, everybody, over here! This guy’s spending his Valentine’s Day at the Taco Bell drive thru! And half the guys in relationships are nervously trying to walk the fine line between impressing their women and going bankrupt. A dozen roses cost how much?!? Don’t these things grow in the ground?

Doesn’t the very notion of the romance being expected make it that much less romantic?

“Happy Valentine’s Day, I got you twelve of these dying flowers, this bright red, heart-shaped box of chocolate covered walnuts and orange goo and I had this copywriter from Hallmark put together a couple of lines about the color of violets. This is how you can tell I love you.”

So, how am I going to do it?   How will I convince the world that this holiday causes more friction than affection? I say all of us who are fed up with the whole production gather and let our voices be heard. We can hold hands and protest the fact that we’re being told to hold hands. We can have an anti-love love-in. And we can meet…at the Taco Bell drive thru.

Happy Volantynys Day.

Here’s the deal. Everywhere I go people ask me the same question, “What are you doing here?” I should probably stop showing up at random homes unannounced.

Here’s another deal. People often ask me, “How do you write so prolifically?” Well, after I introduce myself and explain why I’m at their house, I tell them that it’s easy to write when you know that you have literally twos of adoring fans. As my dear Uncle Bobo used to tell me when I was just a tot, “Makya, if you can make just two people laugh, you’re successful.” Of course, years later we realized that my uncle had no idea what the word “successful” meant…he was also commonly confused by “corduroy,” “enamel,” and “marshmallow.” Sweet guy though.

But I guess my point is – writer’s block doesn’t exist.

Writer’s block is something that authors made up to allow themselves to avoid writing. If one wants to write, one can write. There’s no inspiration levee in our brains that can stop us. Writing is easy. (Writing well, that’s another issue)

Most people don’t want to do their work, but they don’t make up mental disorders to explain their apathy. You ever hear of plumber’s block? Or a lawyer asking for a recess because they’re suffering from attorney’s block? Or a football player claiming they can’t play their position because they have blocker’s block?

English: Marshmallows

Corduroy.

“I just don’t think I can unclog that drain, I haven’t been able to plumb for weeks, I’m just not feeling it.”

Sure, other things in your daily existence could distract you or keep you from writing. But that’s not writer’s block. That’s called life. “Writer’s block” is when you have the time, but you’re just staring at a blank screen, unable to type a word. Which doesn’t exist.

You can always type a word. You could, for example, type “corduroy,” “enamel,” or “marshmallow.” All perfectly good words. Writing fiction and don’t know what your character is going to do next? Here’s an easy solution – have them do something. Anything. Type some words. At the very least, you’ll make your character do something they wouldn’t…you can then use this knowledge to rewrite the scene.

Again, I’m certainly not claiming that everyone can write well. I’m just tired of artists claiming that they can only work when the muse graces them with her presence. As my Uncle Bobo used to say, “Writing is 4% inspiration and 98% perspiration.” He wasn’t great with numbers either. Sweet guy though.

People who claim to have writer’s block suffer from the delusion that writing is some divine gift. Writing is work. If it wasn’t work, we wouldn’t need second, third and fourth drafts. And, while I don’t employ them on this particular blog, writer’s need second, third and fourth drafts.

So, how am I going to do it?   How will I convince the scribes of the world that writer’s block doesn’t exist? I don’t know about this one…I’m having a really hard time coming up with anything…

Here’s the deal. The Super Bowl just ended and I’m hoping that everybody saw my commercial for this very blog. It was 3.5 million dollars for a thirty second spot this year. I don’t quite have that kind of money, but I did empty my bank account and, for just under twelve thousand dollars, I purchased a tenth of a second Super Bowl commercial. It was right after half time, so if you have the technology and can go frame by frame, please check it out.

English: John Stamos at the World of Color Pre...

Image via Wikipedia

As to the companies who could afford the millions, I’m sure everyone is eager to discuss the best ads this year. Not me. I want to talk about the worst.

They can’t all be winners. They can’t all feature a yogurt-induced John Stamos head-butt. So, without further ado….

The Top Ten Worst Super Bowl Ads of 2012

11. Ferris Bueller 2 – Sure, there were probably worse ads, but this one suffered from potential. Where was the twist? The original take on the classic movie? It was just Matthew Broderick repeating the lines he spoke twenty-six years ago. If I wanted to see actors repeat decades old performances, I’d rent Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull…or Rocky Balboa…or Live Free or Die Hard…or…

10. You Missed a Spot – At the end of the first Go Daddy ad, the ladies say, “We missed a spot.” How right they were. This spot missed (get it? Cuz a “spot” is a commercial? These things practically write themselves). For thirty-two years in a row, Go Daddy has used this gimmick. They almost show nudity and promise more of it on the internet. Guess what – people who want nudity on the internet aren’t going to your site. There are, in fact, a few other websites dedicated to the subject. And your ads are not shocking or titillating…nor do they have anything to do with your product. Enough is enough.

9. King John – Elton John is a king who denies Pepsi to his subjects until some woman sings really well and then Elton is dumped into a pit with Flavor Flav. You spent millions on this, guys. You can’t just throw a bunch of familiar faces into a bizarre scenario that doesn’t make any sense…well, I guess you can.

8. That’s NOT Ironic – After Tom Brady broke Joe Montana’s record for the most consecutive completed passes in a Super Bowl, Al Michaels noted how it was ironic as Brady grew up in San Francisco. (Obviously I understand this wasn’t a commercial, but this is my list and it really bugged me). Mr. Michaels, this is definitely not ironic. It’s not even a coincidence. It’s a stretch to call it an interesting side note. Don’t call it ironic, call it time filler. Call it a random, barely-connected fact. Call it pointless trivia. Anything but ironic. (For a more detailed analysis of irony, click here).

7. Flower Power – We all know that sex sells, but I fondly recall a time when sex sold with a little more subtlety. This flower delivery commercial featured a sexy gal cooing, “Give and you shall receive.” That is, buy a female flowers and she will have sex with you. They could have saved a couple million and just bought a ten second spot with the graphic, “Flowers =” and then two dogs humping.

6. Lead Poisoning – There were a number of commercials for a new product – Bud Light Platinum. The first spoke about turning lead into gold and gold into platinum…which just made me question the intelligence of starting this concoction with a highly poisonous substance. Plus, the final product was an unholy bright blue color. None of this made any sense. Blue mixture of metals, mmmmmmm.

English: Andretti Green Racing's Danica Patric...

And the Oscar goes to...

5. Road Kill – A guy’s driving down the road and his boss, in the passenger seat, suddenly dies. So the driver quickly accelerates and brakes a few times…reviving the man. The tag line was something about the car getting your pulse going. Which makes me wonder, what the stopping and starting was all about? Does driving get your pulse going, or does braking repeatedly get your pulse going? And then what do you do with the zombie boss next to you?

4. Hulu Minus – I watched two ads for Hulu Plus, and I still don’t have any idea what it is.

3. Go Daddy…Please, Go  – The second Go Daddy ad featured a guy dreaming about a heaven full of scantily clad women. In addition to the points I made above, let me just say that she may fabulous behind the wheel, but Danica Patrick is not an actress.

2. This is a Hold Up – Okay, this one isn’t a commercial either – so what, sue me. Did anyone else notice that all of Madonna’s dance moves involved burly men holding her up (and when she was required to stand on her own she stumbled)? “Here, hold my leg and I’ll bend forward and stick my arm out…look, I’m dancing.” (Side note – best part of the halftime show was the crazy-afro-tight-rope-guy, I have no idea why he was on the stage, but I was lovin’ every second of it).

1. The Rest of Them  – That’s right, I said it. The rest of them. Were there really any good commercials? Any that warranted millions of dollars and weeks of hoopla? (Granted, all of the ads for upcoming movies were fantastic…hey, I work for these people, I’m not going to bite the hand that occasionally feeds me). I’m sorry, the ads just weren’t that good. It’s almost as if we’ll have to start watching the Super Bowl for the football…

But how about that John Stamos getting head-butted? Stamos teased me with a carton of yogurt back in 1993 and I’ve been waiting for someone to do that ever since.

You know what, I’m going to start saving up right now. And next year I’m buying a two-tenths of a second ad starring John Stamos and crazy-afro-tight-rope-guy. And…what the hell…throw Flavor Flav in there…couldn’t hurt.