Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Baseball season is over. Finally. Thank goodness. I think it’s hard to deny how awful watching that game can be. The immense boredom it oozes has on more than one occasion caused me to reach for the dictionary just to make sure that I correctly understand the definition of the word game. Because I don’t know about you, but I was raised to understand that that word connotes some degree of fun. And—let’s get honest—the level of fun provided by watching baseball falls somewhere between trying on dress slacks and Swiffering.

One of the least tolerable aspects of the professional baseball season is the length. A 162-game regular season sounds like something that started out as a joke and eventually everyone forgot that it was a joke and so it gradually became kind of normal, just like faux hawks or Bill O’Reilly or anything that’s a throwback to the 80s. Add to that an eight-week spring training and a post season of approximately equal duration and the whole racket spans something like thirteen months—virtually every moment of which I find torturous. “Hey, here’s a sport that is super boring. But don’t worry; there’s a freaking ton of it.”

When fans discover the loathing I harbor for baseball they invariably respond by referring to their beloved pastime as “the thinking man’s game.” Somewhat offended at their implication, I typically reply by asking them what their least favorite food is. “Oh, so you hate pineapple, huh? Well, it just so happens that pineapple is the thinking man’s food. How unfortunate that your personal preference contradicts such a completely arbitrary assertion and therefore disqualifies you from intelligence.” As if baseball is so darn complex that the only explanation for not liking it is an inability to comprehend. I plangently disagree. If I can figure out what those daffy Ikea assembly instructions are getting at, I’m sure I can figure out baseball. As is the case with Lost, it's not that I can't follow what's going on; I just don’t care.

Fans refer to it as America’s pastime. I think that’s a fairly antiquated characterization. If Americans are anything like me, they don't often want to simply pass time. And when they do, that kind of mindlessness is now reserved for activities such as Will It Blend? and Nicolas Cage movies. These days we view our free hours as valuable. People want to be entertained, enlightened, or at the very least briefly deadened to the painful disappointment that is their respective daily lives. But none of those experiences are provided via the all-too-real halt of the sixth inning in which Jonathan Paplebon warms up by pitching to no one for twelve minutes. It’s unflinching archaicism like that that causes individual games to stretch on seemingly forever—three, four, five hours in length. And who in the world can afford to invest that much time into a single sporting event? It’s utterly preposterous. Unless, of course, we're talking about football.

Monday, July 18, 2011


Call me old-fashioned, but I am of the staunch opinion that things should function for the express purpose for which they were intended. I know it might sound a little crazy, but I would never purchase a see-through shirt, a spoon with a large hole in the center of its typically sound basin, or cubic car tires (no matter how well they complimented the shape of my automobile). For me, functionality is primary. My shirts must cover my skin. My spoons must reliably convey to my mouth the brownie batter that I am too impatient to let fully bake. My car tires must facilitate motion. Yet, quite surprisingly, this is not an opinion shared by all. My wife, for one, disagrees with my stance vehemently; namely, it is her position that the primary task of shoes is to be cute. Conversely, I hold that shoes should, if nothing else, aid in walking.

In the name of what they broadly deem "cuteness," my wife and countless other women prance about on footwear that not only fails to aid in, but actually substantially hinders, the task of transporting oneself. These women attempt to prop themselves upon long skinny stiletto heels which fundamentally oppose the physical laws that govern balance and stability, providing virtually unending entertainment for those who feel inclined to perform Youtube searches for such key terms as "Miss USA falls down" and "Maria Shriver hits the deck."

But perhaps this fight in which women are constantly engaged to keep themselves upright is worth it. Perhaps these seemingly deliriously conceived shoes are in fact so supernally comfortable that their inherent inconvenience is merely a figurative bird-sized mosquito that must be endlessly shooed while touring the breath-taking Amazon rainforest. That would be understandable; if that were the case, I could certainly see enduring even a constant lack of balance for the sake of almost otherworldly comfort. Except that's not it at all. These shoes, it is almost universally reported, actually hurt like the freaking dickens. They crowd the toes like ornately polished sardines. They birth and rebirth bunions. Their stark edges can eat straight through skin with severity not altogether different from that ushered in by MRSA, and their practically pernicious absence of padding causes bone spurs to crop up like weeds over an untended grave. Such shoes are hardly suitable for lounging on the couch, much less hiking around the office for eight hours a day. Yet, due to their perceived cuteness, the women of the world persist in every morning strapping themselves into devices which could reasonably be expected to at any time transform a fashionable stroll along the edge of a public sidewalk into a messy demise beneath the massive tires of an oncoming city bus.

When I see my wife roll her ankle right off her high heel and crumble onto the living room rug like a game of Jenga which has reached it natural conclusion, I often wonder about the person who first invented shoes and what he would say if he could see her. "You're missing the point!" he would scream, as he stands in the world's first pair of shoes, which he tirelessly wove from palm branches over the course of six months and then lashed around each foot in hopes of creating a barrier between him and the reef upon which he must daily tread while mostly unsuccessfully throwing spears at much-too-fast fish swimming in the water below. "How, in shoes like that," he will ask both skeptically and loudly, "will you be able to track the water buffalo needed to feed your family? What if a wooly mammoth charges you? Good luck getting away in shoes like that!" In an expression of true sympathy colliding with exasperation, he would begin to unlash his palm branches and offer them to Angela, that she might have some decent footwear for once.

All this talk might make it seem as if I am opposed to the idea of high heels for the sake of aesthetics. That is not the case at all. I can see the appeal. I am not entirely immune to the concept of fashion over function. Really. I just think that if there is a time in a woman's life wherein she ought to enjoy footwear that is eye-pleasing but counter productive for walking, that time ought to come in the period before which walking becomes a major facet of life. This is why I've recently become a cash investor in a new product line aimed exclusively at infant females. It's called Baby High Heels and it is precisely what it sounds like. Since our main clientele merely rolls around on the floor or is carried by people equipped with the necessary footwear for standing, functionality is of no concern at all. Subsequently , the world's shoe designers are now free to really let loose in the creation of footwear that is strictly fashionable in the purest sense of the word. Twenty-inch long stiletto heels? Well, if the shoes are never to be walked on, why the heck not? Gigantic flowers the size of an adult cranium hot-glued to the top of a shoe's toe area? There's no tripping if there's no walking; let's go for it! Bedazzling atop bedazzling atop bedazzling until the shoe is essentially a sparkling disco ball into which a parent slides the child's foot? It's already in production.

I would wager a healthy sum that even the inventor of the world's first palm-branch shoes so many thousands of years ago would look at a baby clad in disco ball pumps and think to himself "See, now that makes sense."

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Angela has long accused me of being an unsatisfactory outdoorsman. Apparently, before our marriage she was somehow under the impression that I was the type to camp for long periods, to shave my face using only a straight edge and frigid mountain stream water, and to jump at the chance to remove the skin of a sentient being whose life force I had just watched slowly seep from its eyes due to a bullet accurately discharged into the artery in its hindquarters. Yet, to her chagrin, our marriage has proven many times over that I am just not a big camper. She thinks it stems from an excessive attachment to my electronic devices or a desire to limit my oft-repeated tendency to somehow manage to transform my pant leg into a conduit for any camp fire built within a football field's distance of me. But that's not it at all. I avoid camping because of one thing—mountain lions.

A few years ago, I saw a Discovery Channel special on mountain lions. Before this time, I knew them only as the cartoon-y mascots of local high schools. After watching this program I came to understand that mountain lions are, for all intents and purposes, just like the infamous African lions of the Serengeti, except that mountain lions live in the mountains by my house. The way I figure it, never in a billion years would I opt to unroll a sleeping bag on the plains of Mozambique or Botswana and attempt to nap, knowing full well that all that separates me from a pair sabre-esque canines sinking themselves into my neck flesh is a thin layer of tent fabric. This being the case, why would camping in Arizona be any more acceptable, given that all that substantially differentiates a mountain lion from an African lion is a mane—a hairdo, really. To me, a murderer rocking a pompadour is no less or more scary than a murderer with a buzz cut. Hair just isn't of prime concern. The way I see it, the teeth are just as powerful; the claws are just as deadly; between the cats there is no appreciable difference in hunting acumen, especially if the prey they stalk is a group of vacationing suburbanites occupied by the challenge of bending a clothes hanger in the most optimal fashion for s'more production.

I think an important difference lies in the way a person would react when attacked by these two different lion varieties. Amid the grasslands and herds of hippopotami, to be attacked by an African lion would be horrifying, but not necessarily shocking—like being mugged on a street you knew you shouldn't have walked at so late an hour. But to be attacked by a lion while hiking the hilly nature trail a stone's throw from the Circle K where you and your friends purchased Thirst Busters for the trip—that would be truly shocking. And I think it'd be a real pity to spend my final moments on earth reflecting not of my wife, or family, or of how I probably shouldn't have embezzled those hundreds of thousands of dollars from that Alzheimer's charity (they don't remember anyway), but wondering to myself, "Am I really being attacked by a lion? In Arizona? This doesn't seem right."

It is this scenario of a distracted and mis-focused demise, in concert with my historical preference to not be mauled, that causes me to conclude that camping is just too risky. Especially when a microwaved s'more provides about 85% of the tastiness of a camp fire s'more.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

stainless steel

I think stainless steel may be one of the most deceptive products ever perpetrated. Sure, it doesn't stain permanently, but it dirties up like the dickens. You can't touch the stuff. Given stainless steel's propensity for attracting and displaying smudgy fingerprints, I must infer that whoever originally conceptualized its use on household appliances like microwaves, dishwashers, and refrigerators must have been raised in a home wherein formal long white gloves were standard issue, as if a trip to the fridge to fetch a Snack Pack were a distinguished affair on par with attending an awards ceremony or a black tie save-the-whales benefit. I've noticed that, at least in our house, breaths breathed from the whole other side of the kitchen show up on our stainless steel refrigerator as if I'd wiped an un-showered and therefore greasy forehead back and forth across the french doors and between refrigerator magnets for a solid half an hour.

I find it unbearable the way that all our stainless steel appliances live in a state of constant discoloration that can only be undone with the most generous application of liquid cleaner and the most earnest scrubbing, at which point the smudges and blemishes do finally relent. So, technically, yes, it doesn't stain. But naming it stainless steel seems somewhat nebulous, as if to underscore the material's singular and rather oblique merit, while failing to mention it's far more audacious defect. It's a little like naming the criminal act of battery and assault "murderless touching." Or referring to maleria as the "cancer-free bug that's been going around." Or dubbing Osama Bin Laden as "Mr. Not-Hitler."

So now I know what you're thinking: "Did he really just equate stainless steel to Osama Bin Laden? That seems rather excessive." Well, now you know just how strongly I feel about fingerprint smudges.

Monday, April 25, 2011


From what I can tell, tattoos are pretty hip these days. And by these days I mean the period from about 1960 to present. Despite the allure of the ring of barbed wire around what I can only presume was a once toned bicep belonging to the female night shift clerk at the gas station near my house or the illogic of Polynesian tribal tattoos on suburban white males, I highly doubt that I will ever indulge in such permanent hypodermic adornments for myself. Who among us has not looked back at photographs from high school and laughed at the ridiculousness of sagging pants or the frumpiness of a perm that seemed so right in the moment? It seems to me that proponents of tattoos are doomed to repeat this lesson over again, except instead of a photo album serving as a pre-requisite for the profound reminder that general fashion and personal tastes change, all one must do is look in the mirror. That's a pleasant thought: after a few years, your skin acts as the constant admonition that you have a hard time picking up on basic patterns. I do admire the confidence that such people have though. "Oh yeah man, I will never get sick of this Volcom logo emblazened into the center of my back. It will always be cool." And then three years later, Volcom is selling patterned Christmas sweaters in the little boys section at Target. This is not to say that I don't respect a person's right to get a tattoo. I absolutely do. Nor do I intend to convey that I have never encountered a tattoo that strikes me as nice lookin'. I certainly have. It's just that I, a man whose former and absolute abhorrence for brussel sprouts has transformed into a full-fledged love affair, simply do not trust my tastes to stay fixed long enough to justify such a permanent commitment. I just don't have those kind of feelings for foot roses.

On a related note, I find it fascinating, the unending expansion of what is considered an adequate amount or location for body art. Why, just a few decades ago a forearm anchor or a single punctured heart above the name of one's mother was deemed sufficient. Nowadays, there is hardly amount or area that is considered off limits. I was shocked the first time I saw a neck tattoo. I hoped that its owner was independently wealthy or could at least afford a whole collection of turtle necks for the next time he had to seek gainful employment. Because, at least to me, any neck tattoo, whatever its likeness, might as well be capital letters arrayed in a earlobe-to-earlobe swoop that reads "UNEMPLOYABLE." It seems as if the expansion of tattoos to the neck area only became generally popular as space on arms, legs, and chests became scarce, sometime around 2002. As a result, many of today's necks are almost full to the brim with the names of ex-girlfriends or oversized puckered lip prints that would indicate some sort of romantic encounter with a dolled-up pituitary giant.

I wonder where tattoos will venture to next. The face and head are obvious possibilities. But I think it is a well established fact that face tattoos highly correlate with mental illness, prison, or both. (But if that's the message you're looking to send to the world, more power to you.) Perhaps instead people will begin to think outside the box and start to have grafted to their torsos whatever undamaged limbs remain from car crash or heart attack victims. Think of all that untouched flesh--a blank canvas upon which one can illustrate his lack of forethought or express all his current brand loyalities! At the DMV, on the forms to apply for a driver's license, there will be a checkable box beside which are the words "Tattoo Donor," just in case a horrible accident strikes the driver down before he or she has time to memorialize on skin his or her own drunken decision making.

And until the day that limb grafting is considered to be cost effective, I imagine that folks will continue to cram more and more tattoos onto themselves. The only difference is that with so much body art already present, new tactics may have to be employed to ensure that the new tattoos can be noticed amongst the old. May I suggest italics? Underlining? Double underlining?

Thursday, January 20, 2011


There seems to be an expectation amongst the world’s human population that early in our lives each should select one certain way to sign his or her name and then never deviate from it. If at the crucial era of decision Julie decides to insert an obscenely large loop into her “J,” well, then that giant loop she is expected to maintain to her very grave.

But the problem is that I never agreed to keep the same signature for the duration of my life. When I signed the back of my first library card at around age five, or my school ID as a teenager, or my driver’s license at age sixteen, there was no disclosure provided to me, no document to indicate that the signature I then used would serve as the standard by which all of my future signatures would be measured. In what government building lobby is the single signature for life regulation posted? In what free and fair election was this system voted into law? Never do i recall being asked if I was amenable to these terms. Never.

So you know what I say? Screw convention and social expectation. My signature is my signature. If one day I want it to be half print and half cursive and the next day I want it to increase in size with each progressive letter until the final “N” in Hardison takes up a full half of the sheet of paper, then, by goodness, that is my prerogative.

The far reach of this unofficial but much enforced protocol has caused my rebellious juices to stir. For years now I’ve gone out of my way to not only frequently modify my signature, but to change it beyond recognition. Eventually, I started signing receipts with the names of my favorite notable personalities. It was all in hopes that whatever establishment I had patronized happened to employ some individual whose job it was to filter through each receipt for accounting or other purposes. He’d be sitting in a dimly lit and tiny room in the restaurant’s kitchen, just a few feet from the deep fryer, the stink of grease forever saturating his flesh. He’d shuffle through stacks and stacks of crinkled white receipts and finally see in blue ink the name “Michael Jordan.” The employee’s heart rate would rise and his mind would race as he wondered if the Michael Jordan had come to this lowly restaurant and, somehow, he’d missed it. Think of the unrealized photo op, the autographed napkin that would never be. What rotten luck.

The next phase involved signing the names of dead people. For a period of about a year Abraham Lincoln, Sunny Bono, Karl Marx, The Linbergh Baby, The Beatles, Henry VIII, Hitler’s girlfriend (I would have put her actual name had I known it), and Waldo of the Where’s Waldo book series (I'm sorry to have to be the one to inform you that he's dead) each frequented various restaurants and gas stations in the Phoenix metropolitan area’s East Valley. After that method grew stale, I began to just draw pictures. Boats mostly.

After multiple years and a host of different receipt-signing techniques, I think I’ve found something that I can stick with as my signature—the one with which I can forget my roving ways and settle down for good. It’s odd because the whole thing started as a rebellion against the implied expectation of fidelity to a single signature. But now I do it not because I must, but because I like the signature I’ve chosen for myself. Here's how it goes: a scraggily gas station clerk slides the receipt across the counter, past the rack of jerky and king-sized candy bars. With leashed pen in hand, I take it and, using up far more than the allotted space provided, jot in large, all-capital letters my patented signature and casually slide the slip of paper back across the counter top. As he rotates to deposit the receipt in the undertray of the register, he cannot help but notice the giant scrawl I've produced. His brow crinkles dramatically. He looks at it again, more deeply this time, to make certain that the words read as they first seemed to. They do: "YOUR WORST NIGHTMARE."

The receipt still in his hands, the drawer still open, he looks back at me as I stand, all stoic, and cracking my knuckles before the backdrop of innumerable Baked Lays and extreme-looking energy drinks displays. I gaze at him through squinted eyes, my shoulders flexed in subtle threat, and nodding my head ever so slightly, as if to say, “Yes. You read correctly. Your worst nightmare.”

Monday, January 17, 2011

cosmetic surgery.

On many occasions in my life, children—those supposed fountains of unbridled truthfulness—mostly nieces and nephews, have approached me and asked the following question: “Why is your nose so big?”

Every time this happens, I find myself a little disappointed. Old issues about body image are drudged up from the proverbial basement of my psyche. In that moment, I’ll often grab for my nose, covering it self-consciously with wrapped fingers, wondering if it could only be, as these children indicate, plus size.

With evasive insecurity, I’ll think on how my nose must not really be that large. Certainly, I lack of the type of regal nasal endowment of an Adrian Brody or a Manu Ginobili, because were my nose of such a stature, comments regarding its size would flood from not only children but from adults as well. And adults almost never say anything about it at all. So obviously, my nose is nothing to write home about, no aberration from the boring old norm, barely if at all beyond the crest of the bell curve. But how I wish it was.

You hear about people whose smiles brighten up a whole room, actors whose trademark looks make them instantly recognizable, and captivatingly striking girls whose arrival to the school dance causes the music (which is obviously being projected via an mp3 player plugged into a PA system) to inexplicably halt with the screeching properties of a needle being dragged from a vinyl record. The whole crowd turns to watch her step across the gym’s threshold and into poorly executed decorative themes as logically incongruent as “Prom on the Moon” or “Romance in Bubonic Plague-era Europe.” And that’s the kind of thing I want from my nose. I want to enter a room and see every eye fixated on the protruding center of my face. I want to be repeatedly accosted with horribly unoriginal Pinocchio-related jokes about my having recently fibbed. I want a nose that causes car accidents as oncoming drivers become mesmerized by its sheer volume and forget how to brake.

Unfortunately, the most attention my nose has ever garnered has been, as stated, from little children. And most of them won’t even have their driver’s licenses for years. It has me thinking that if I really want a nose that people will talk about, I may require assistance beyond what was naturally gifted to me. And so I contemplate a nose augmentation.

The notion of cosmetic surgery might seem silly to some. “Clint,” they’ll say, “you already have the biggest nose in the family. There’s no need to make it bigger. You’re perfect the way you are.” And they might be right. I may very well be the possessor of the largest nose of my family or of all my co-workers, and may even be in or above the eighty-fifth percentile for nose size in these United States, but until I can look in the mirror and feel comfortable by having the end of my nose touching the reflective glass while the rest of my face is still a full eight inches away, I don’t think I’ll feel completely okay with myself.

My only hesitation has to do with the type of example that this sets for the next generation. I don’t want kids hinging their worth as humans upon their nose’s capability for water displacement. Because after my surgery is complete, no way will they be able to surpass my record-setting figure of forty-seven milliliters. And I’m not sure what effect that might have on their self-esteem.