Monday, July 26, 2010


The family and I are back from a long weekend in Chicago. It will take me a while to process the whole trip, but I can tell you a few things for sure about the city:  it is windy and it has broad shoulders.  It is my kind of town.  Also, based on my experience, it rains very hard on Fridays, is hot and humid on Saturdays (don't try to go to Shedd Aquarium...too damn busy.), and is clear and mild on Sundays (go early to Shedd but don't go from there to Willis, nee Sears, Tower...too damn busy). Before the rain on Friday, if you walk down Kinzie, towards Michigan Ave., you will see a drunken homeless man turn a corner too quickly and fall down two concrete steps into an alley. There he will lay, stunned, and probably unconscious, for a few seconds. But he will rally quickly and refuse help. Then he will stagger into and across a street, miraculously making it to the other side. You will shake your head and think, "That doesn't happen in Denmark Township."  I hope this helps you plan your own trip! 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Dear Smitty

If you have a question you would like to ask either Smitty or T-Boz send me an e-mail, and I'll make sure they get it.

Dear Smitty,

I am a 22 year-old man who just graduated college. I don't have a job yet and don't have much money. I picked up some Rollerblades at a second-hand store, and I'm going to use them to get around. The problem is I don't know how to Rollerblade. Do you know if it's hard to learn?

Rolling on down the line

Dear Rolling on down the line,

I don't think learning to Rollerblade is very hard. The hardest part by far will be telling your parents that you're gay. Seriously, dude. Men should not Rollerblade. Ever.

Dear Smitty,

My boyfriend wants me to ask my best friend to join us in bed. He says that's all I need to give him for his birthday. I know she'd say yes if I did ask her. Should I do it?

Seriously considering it

Dear Seriously considering it,

Your boyfriend sounds like a chump. You would be all I needed. Please don't do anything until we've gotten a chance to talk this over more in depth. Please send in your phone number, and I promise I will help you. I don't usually do this, but I'd be willing to meet you for drinks. It would help us be more honest. Bring your best friend, I'm going to need to talk to her, too.  

Dear Smitty

Dear Smitty,

I've had a disappointing month so far. A couple weeks ago, I learned that my pancreas was going to give me troubles for the rest of my life. The pain is getting better now, but is almost certain to come back. Then a couple days ago, I was rejected by a company for whom I hoped to write. Can you help me cope with these disappointments?


Dear Bummed,

Be glad that your vagina doesn't hurt, too. Unbelievable!

Dear T-Boz,

Your are my last hope. I have written to several advice columnists and none of them has been able to help me. I've attached the letter above so I don't have to retype all my problems. Can you help?


Dear Desperate,

What a baby. Man up. If you want to come see me, I'll give you two actual problems: my fists.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Rejection, or The Cheapening of Our Language

Yesterday I applied for a freelance writer position for an online publisher. If hired, I would look at a list of hundreds of articles that they needed written and write as few or as many as I wanted to. It would have been a perfect job for me at this point in my life. It would have been nice to gain experience. The application involved uploading my resume and a writing sample. One could also provide a link to any writing that was online, so I included a link to this blog.  This is my 50th post, so last night, someone looking at my blog would have had 49 posts to read. There is no question that I could have done the job. It is my opinion that this blog proves that fact. You have no doubt guessed by now that I did not get it.  Here's the rejection letter:

Dear Thomas Morgan,

Thank you for submitting your writer application to Demand Studios. After careful review of your resume and writing sample, we are unable to offer you writing assignments at this time.

Due to the increased interest in freelancing positions at Demand Studios, the approval process has become quite competitive, and we have had to turn down many high-quality applicants.

We sincerely thank you for your interest.

Best regards,

The Demand Studios Team

Please DO NOT REPLY TO THIS EMAIL. This is an unmonitored email address. Copyright© 2010, Demand Media, Inc. All rights reserved
Now, what did we learn from this rejection letter? Nothing. Well, except that I am a better writer than whoever wrote it. I'll grant that it is grammatically correct. But the body is three paragraphs long, and says nothing. And here is the kicker:  It arrived in my inbox five minutes after I sent in the application. So I have to ask: Does the letter writer know the definitions of the words, "careful" and "sincerely"?  It is hard to imagine that my application, resume, cover letter, and 49 blog entries were carefully considered in less than five minutes. This being a form letter which ends up saying nothing, it is hard to imagine that they "sincerely thank [me] for [my] interest." 

My first reaction to being rejected was sadness. I was bummed. I still am. Before long, though, I was mad, too. This is apparently an organization that only hires writers of the finest quality. Why can they not find someone who can write a letter which has some meaning. It doesn't have to be harsh, but it should say something. Maybe they want someone with an advanced degree. Maybe they want someone with writing experience. Maybe they thought I was a fine writer, with a style that wouldn't match their needs. Maybe they thought I was not a good writer. I could write four form letters in 10 minutes that would cover pretty much all eventualities and not leave the recipient wondering what in the hell just happened. Maybe I'll apply.

My Alter Egos, With Advice Columns

Dear Smitty,

Lately I've been thinking that my girlfriend dumped me. She got pretty pissed at me a couple weeks ago, and left my apartment screaming. She said she was "through" with my jealousy. I don't think I'm jealous. We've been together for three years and every time I see her kissing another guy it hurts a little less. I'm really trying to be more understanding, but, like I said, I think she's gone for good. I haven't heard from her in over two weeks, which is unusual. Should I call her?

Afraid to smother

Dear Afraid to smother,

Jesus Christ, dude! What a fucking douche! Go out right now and pick up a chick. Go back to your apartment and hit that shit, then get on with your life. Wait. Before you go out, don't forget to take off your diaper. Unbelievable, dude!

Dear T-Boz,

Last night, my wife caught me looking at a woman. She's been giving me the silent treatment ever since. We were stopped at a light, and the woman was on the back of the bike in front of us. Her ass was totally hanging out! Am I really supposed to not look?

Married, but not blind

Dear Married, but not blind,

Of course you're supposed to look.  If your wife has a problem with that she could lose a few pounds and sit on your hood with her ass hanging out. She's not gonna, though, so don't worry. You should get sunglasses. That'll make your life easier, but you don't have to. Your Mrs. ain't going anywhere, no one else would screw her anyway, I bet. Set yourself up with a cooler and a couch in the garage. She'll settle down in a few days.

p.s. Thanks for telling me how you got your wife to give you the silent treatment. I'll be using that in a future advice column.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

You Might Be An Asshole

If you are offended only when someone compares "your" President to Hitler, you might be an asshole.

If you complain about how much it costs taxpayers every time the President flies somewhere only when it is not "your" President in office, you might be an asshole.

If "Big Government" bothers you only when your party is not in charge of the government, you might be an asshole.

If the deficit bothers you only when your party is not in charge, you might be an asshole.

If you argue using facts that you have to know can't be true, you might be an asshole.

If you think that all corporations are evil or that all people who need public assistance are lazy, you might be an asshole.

If you have actively sought several deferments from military service and, years later, call people who question whether a particular war is necessary "unpatriotic", you might be an asshole.

If you think that everyone who disagrees with your politics is an asshole, you might be an asshole.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Thought of the Day

My wife is in the other room, watching Bret Michael's reality show. I just heard him talking about how hard it is to leave his little girl when he has to go on the road. He said something like: It breaks my heart every time, but I have to go; I made a commitment.

My thought was this:  It's great that you miss your daughter, Bret. To prove to her that you love her, you might consider apologizing to her for rounding up a bunch of broads, throwing them in a house, and then diving in after them.

Bad Boys, Bad Boys, Whatcha Gonna Do

My wife thought it would be a good idea to take the kids to the Hastings' Rivertown Days carnival tonight. She was wrong, as I could have told her, if she had asked, and this I knew before I knew that we were going to forget our stroller at home causing me to have to carry the car seat full of my baby while my sturdy four year-old rode on my shoulders. My wife's hands were full- she carried a bottle of water, bless her. In all honestly, and I can only write this because my wife is no longer standing behind me, rubbing my shoulders, it wasn't a bad time. The people watching was top-notch. I especially enjoyed watching the junior and senior high school packs, who hadn't seen each other in a month. I entertained myself by trying to figure out which one of the kids was me, which was my group; which one's were cool, jocks, on drugs, drunk. I was struck by a few things. Firstly, if I watch a group of adults, it doesn't take me long before I have a pretty good idea what's going on and who is who. But kids are such good actors, and in many cases, don't know themselves what the hell they're doing. Secondly, I realized that it is dangerous to stare too long at a bunch of kids. Maybe I'm a little safer with a baby on an arm and a kid on my shoulders, but still...

Which brings me to the police.  The street that leads from the main road down to the carnival grounds was closed, not surprisingly. As we were leaving we walked past the sign indicating as much and the two cops who sat in a golf cart next to it. Just then, an SUV attempted to turn left, onto the closed road. It was a bone-headed thing to do, but clearly was a simply mistake. There were cars and people and signs everywhere. It didn't take too much imagination to realize that the driver, in his (and it was a man, with a woman sitting next to him and kids in the back- a poorly put together criminal enterprise, if that's what it was) attempt to avoid all the cars and people and dogs had not seen the sign.  One of the cops yelled, "NO!"  The SUV kept coming. Again, it doesn't take much imagination to realize that the driver didn't hear the cop or didn't know at whom he was yelling, "NO!" Now the cop is mad. He's got to get up. He runs out into the road, yelling at the driver, "What part of 'No Left Turns' didn't you understand? Now I've got to run out into traffic..." And this is all I heard. We had walked out of earshot. But I heard plenty. Why do some cops have to be such pricks? I know they deal with a lot of crap, but that's the gig. If I know that, and I'm not a cop, then they should have known that too, before they became cops. And what were the cops doing sitting there? They were there because they knew full well that at some point during the evening, somebody was going to try to turn down that road and they would have to stop them. And now this cop is acting surprised, can't believe someone would try such a thing. And this is it in a microcosm (and yes, I know I'm generalizing.): Cops know full well that they are going to have to deal with criminals and jerks, day in and day out, and many of them act surprised and personally offended every time.

Monday, July 5, 2010

A Mismatch Made in Heaven

For the past 15 years, my wife has been going for haircuts to a salon on Grand Avenue in Saint Paul.  Because it is fancier than Fantastic Sam's, I consider it a high-end salon. It occupies the main floor of a beautifully remodeled house, and is run by an Italian family. The owners are a brother and sister in their 50's.  My wife's stylist, the only one she has ever had there, is the daughter of the female co-owner. She is in her mid-30's, as are my wife and I.  All the stylists look cool; they could easily go to the hottest restaurant in town after work without changing clothes.

Since we live in the country, 30 miles outside of the city, I usually accompany my wife when she makes the trek to the salon. We make the trip four times a year, and I enjoy going for a walk and seeing the way urbanites live in each season.  One cannot walk around that neighborhood without being present in the season. Springtime is landscaping time for many; people are out and busy.  In the summer, the walk is almost entirely shaded by stately, old trees and the sounds of lawnmowers, near and far, fill the air. The autumn walk is my favorite. The leaves have changed and begun to fall, they crunch and rustle underfoot. If I'm lucky, the weather cooperates, and the air is crisp - perfect weather for jeans and a sweater. I even enjoy the winter trip, especially if it's around Christmas, and the houses are decorated.

There are plenty of "manly" things that I cannot do. I am not a mechanic, I don't like fixing stuff, and I have to be in a very specific and rare mood to want to build something.  Still, no one would confuse me for a metrosexual. My clothes are all old, and most fit poorly. I keep my hair short, for the most part, so I don't have to comb it. There are times, though, when it has grown out and should be combed. It doesn't happen; I'm not entirely sure I own a comb. And, finally, I am firmly in the "wear sensible, inexpensive, comfortable shoes" stage of my life.

Considering my "style" and personal hygiene (I shower most days, but I bet you'd never know it if you saw me after an hour walk), I wonder what the stylists think when I come in to pick-up my wife. She is a beautiful woman, she always dresses well; she puts on make-up to get the paper in the morning. And she is a successful attorney. The people in the salon always smile and treat me kindly. But they must wonder what in the hell my wife sees in me.  They know I don't have any money, so they probably have it narrowed down to a couple of things:

"He must know something about her, or have pictures, that she does not want out.  If he took care of himself, he might be okay looking. But..."

"Yeah, either that or it's pity.  She is a very nice person.  Maybe she feels sorry for him."

"Could be. I don't know, and I've kinda tried to look, but I'm guessing he's pretty big, if you know what I mean. Don't look at me like that! I'm just saying... He does have big feet."

I think I know which stylist thinks that, and I don't do anything to discourage her. In fact, I always try to walk by her with a bit of a strut, and I never forget to give her a discreet, knowing smile.