Monday, February 28, 2011


Everything Oprah said about "Freedom" is true. It is that good.

Freedom: A Novel (Oprah's Book Club)

Stuff That Matters

Awards Season is finally over. Now we can get back to concerning ourselves with stuff that matters---like the Royal Wedding.

Saturday, February 26, 2011


Want to know what it feels like when The Truth burns when I pee?  Think of a giraffe with a sore throat.

Couldn't Have Said it Better Myself

Perhaps a good counter-protest sign would read, "More Teachers, YOU'RE Hired!"

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Say What?

Stacy came home from the mall last week with new soap for me.  Concerned about my body’s “sensitive parts”, she told me, she skipped the peppermint and bought a new scent.

“What did you get?” I asked.

“Black Elixir.”

“Blackie Licks Her?! Jesus H. Christ!”

“Yeah,” she paused, “What’s wrong with that?”

“You have to ask?!”

“Um…I guess so.”

“What’s wrong with Blackie Licks Her?”

“Oh for God’s sake! Black pause Elixer.”

“Ohhh. Yeah, that’s much better.”

She shook her head, as she often does with me.

“Who did you go shopping with, Mike Hunt and Heywood Jablomy?”

Sunday, February 20, 2011

What Am I?

Sometimes I think my wife sees me as nothing more than a piece of meat.  The rest of the time I am unhappy.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Mall of America and Me

How berserk was the Mall of America today? It was so crowded with fools that even I, yes I, had to tell a woman to, "settle the hell down." And then I gave her husband a look which told him I wasn't interested in hearing from him anytime soon either. Best time I've had at the Mall in years!

Teach It, Teacher!

The following is the second paragraph of a February 17th editorial in the Chicago Tribune. The first points out everything that unions have done for which they should be proud. Before going on to opine that teacher's unions care more about themselves than they do about the "public good" (as if that is usually considered a bad thing in America) the editorial asks:

"But how proud are they that the children of Madison, Wis., have missed school the last two days because so many of their teachers abandoned their classrooms and joined a mass demonstration? Joined a mass demonstration to intimidate the members of the Wisconsin Legislature, who are trying to close a $3 billion deficit they face over the next two years?"

Should teachers simply take what we give them?  This makes it seem like the Wisconsin Legislature has tried everything else, but they are still $3 billion short. Teachers have the same job they've always had. It is not their fault the state has no money.  And theirs is not an exclusive club- if you envy their job, become a teacher.  The editorial goes on to argue that these are different times, that teacher's benefits would be the envy of a private-sector worker. Maybe so- again, become a teacher if you want those benefits.

The part that really makes my soul ache, though, is the bigger issue- the constant demand for us working stiffs to make sacrifices. It's too bad the private sector has let its unions go and our society has fought over "death panels" as our heath care costs have skyrocketed. Maybe times have been harder on the private sector than the public sector lately. But the answer is not to take away from the teachers, to bring them down to our level, it is to demand more for private sector employees, to fight to regain what we have lost. The argument should not be between working private-sector stiffs and teachers, the argument should be between all workers and the Ruling Class. The money is out there, and we know where "there" is. Here is a graph from the Economic Policy Institute.  Notice that in 1965 CEO's made 24 times more than an average worker. In 2005 they made 262 times more:

Yes the money is there, but it's increasingly in the pockets of the richest among us. And by "us", I am not referring to the richest guy on your street, in your city, or even your state. The richest 1% of Americans, a few more that 3 million people- roughly the size of Chicago, controls more wealth than the bottom 90%.  Here's a graph from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Note that the last time the disparity was this great was the Gilded Age; note also how low the disparity was during what many consider to be the "good old days" of the 1950's and 1960's:

I feel bogged down by statistics. But I didn't want you to have to take my word for it when I said the money was out there. I think we all know that it is, and we know who has it. But they have made us feel like it's rude to ask them for it.  It was not the "free market" that funneled the money to the top- they rigged the system.  They are at fault for our impending bankruptcy, and they remain free of accountability. They muddy the waters, pleased to watch us fight amongst ourselves and go after teachers (our children's teachers for Christ's sake!) for money.  Teachers teach, and today they are teaching us to stare down the Elite and say, "Fuck you, it's your turn to put the "Common Good" first. We've given you all our money. And we want some of it back."

"I get it, Tom," you may say, 'Tax the rich!' Is that really your answer for everything?"

"Take more from the that really yours?"

I thank you for your time.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Free Advice

Listen up, here's some free advice for you:  Whenever someone says something like, "Kids have it too easy; my dad would have whooped me for doing that," figure out if the speaker is someone you hope your kids will grow up to be. Spoiler alert: The answer is almost always, "No." Conclusion: Don't worry yourself with being too much like that guy or gal's parents. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Good Luck!

The guy in front of me at the gas station today bought a box of condoms and a lottery ticket. As she handed him his change, the clerk said, "Good luck."  From where I was standing he seemed like he was pretty certain that things were going to go his way.

The Clowns of Westboro

I support same-sex marriage, not that I’m asking you to care. Isn’t that a funny statement? What could possibly matter less than my feelings about same-sex marriage?  When I hear someone say he or she is against same-sex marriage I think, “Okay. Don’t get same-sex married then.” And as far as I’m concerned that’s the end of the discussion.  This is one of those times when we get to do the right thing by doing nothing at all.  No advocate of same-sex marriage will ever ask you to do anything; simply get out of the way while he or she marries a person who is the sex that he or she was born to love.

As I mentioned in my previous post, Westboro Baptist Church was in the news again. It is tempting to be really angry at that church; off the top of my head I can’t think of a similarly small and powerless group as effective at arousing anger.  But to be angry with them is to grant them too much of your energy. My preschooler could beat one of them in a debate (not that I would let her- I hate show-offs).  Hypothetically, though, it would go like this:

“God Hates Americans, you’re going to Hell!”

“Daddy, what did he say?”

“He said, ‘God hates Americans, etc.’, even capitalized the “H” and used an exclamation mark I think.”

“Isn’t that man an American?”


“I’m confused.”

“Good. That’s the appropriate response.  It’s best not to think too much about what they say. You will get a headache.”

They do offer a teaching moment, though.  If you want to show someone what happens when you bludgeon doubt out of a glorious (perhaps even God-given) mind or the difference between “knowledge” and “intellect”, show him or her the Westboro Baptist Church.  They know they are right and I am pretty sure they are wrong; “pretty sure” because, having just outed myself as a proud doubter, I have to admit that I could be wrong about that church- maybe theirs’ is the path to Heaven.  Wouldn’t that just suck?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Big Boy

David Sedaris wrote this story better than I, or damn near anyone else, could ever hope to. "Big Boy" can also be found in his book, "Me Talk Pretty One Day", itself a must-read.  But I cannot let my experience pass without comment.

When I went to wash my hands in the one-person-at-a-time bathroom at Las Margaritas Mexican Restaurant in Hastings the door was locked.  I could hear that the occupant was washing his hands so I waited in the hallway just outside the door. When the teenaged kid who walked out of the bathroom saw me in the hall, he quickly looked down at the ground and walked by. This I chalked up to his age, for there is no shame in having just used a bathroom. That is unless you have just taken, in fact left, a huge shit in the toilet; one that would not flush and was now going to be discovered.  When I saw it I did give myself a second to chuckle at the poor kid's embarrassment but I pretty quickly got around to dreading my own potential problem. I remembered Sedaris' story, and I knew that I wasn't going to be flushing this thing down either. 

"What if someone is waiting in the hall when I leave? I think I'll say something like, 'Don't go in right away. Someone plugged the toilet. I'll tell somebody.'  No that will never play. Shit. SHIT. I guess I'll leave, just walk right the hell out to my car from where I'll call my wife and explain what happened."

And I think that is what I would have done had not the hallway been as empty as that kid's colon now is.  

The Laramie Project

I am proud to say that I have met one of the wonderful kids putting on "The Laramie Project" at Hastings High School. And I am proud to see that Hastings High School is doing that production. And I am aware that Westboro Baptist Church intends to protest outside of the school before said production. I do not believe in God, but if I am wrong, and there is a Heaven, my money is on the gentle souls inside finding a place in heaven someday, and the heinous souls outside finding one somewhere else.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Day is But a Fetus

I have had the shit of 33.3% of the members of my household (including pets) on my hands today. Now before you goddamned optimists protest, "But, Tom, that means that nearly 67% of your household has spared you!", I will remind you that it is not yet noon.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Bullpen

Penthouse level, left window was where all the magic happened.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Twist my Arm

I really don't know where my daughter came up with this one. Honestly. At breakfast this morning, she looked at Stacy and asked, "Mommy, why did Daddy say, 'Oh, alright, fine,' when you asked him to marry you?"

Friday, February 4, 2011

Too Much Information

The list of questions I hope my kids never ask me in public grew by one last night. In a rush to get out of the house, I went into the bathroom to pee while my daughter washed her hands. She wants to know how stuff works, naturally, so she watched with great interest as I unzipped and prepared to go. Having my daughter stare at the Truth while I pee is not ideal, but I understand that she needs to learn plumbing and anatomy somewhere, so I pressed on.  I think most of us know that a fair amount of shaking and tugging and whatnot is necessary for a man to pee standing up, but my daughter doesn’t, or didn’t anyway.  Perplexed, and still staring at my now zipped-up fly, she asked, “Daddy, why do you tug and wrestle with your peanut?” (I know what you're thinking. No it does not resemble a peanut. "Peanut" is what she heard when I told her what my son's "Thingy" was some months ago.)  Now, there are two answers to this question but I only gave her one. The other she’ll have to figure out somewhere else.  “So I didn’t pee on my pants,” I answered.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Cyborg

I cannot ignore it any longer- my wife is a cyborg.  Rest easy: knowing this does not make me love her any less, which I think is noble.  I should have known this a long time ago; perhaps on some level I did. For whatever reason, the fact that she could live a happy life never eating anything besides ramen noodles, spaghetti o’s, bologna and Cheetos didn’t make me suspicious. Nor did the fact that when she gets sick she doesn’t slow down. I honestly don’t remember the last time she took a sick day; she has gone in a bit late or come home early, but I don’t believe she has ever in her life spent a day in bed.  And she finished law school and passed the bar exam while enduring personal hardships that would have beaten many, many humans. Yes, many have been the times when I have said or thought, “That woman is a machine.”  But I never meant it literally until today. See I always shower after her (when I shower at all) and I usually remember to turn the heat down before jumping in. This morning I turned the shower on but forgot to adjust the heat.  The steam that poured out of the cracks on the shower door should have alerted me, but didn’t. I stepped into the shower like an innocent lamb- and very nearly died. My skin molted, my hair fell out. My cherry tomatoes stewed (if you catch my drift).  I could feel my brain beginning to liquefy (luckily the damage seems to have been contained to that part of my brain that I killed in the decade between my 17th and 27th birthdays).  And this all went down in the few seconds it took me to turn the temp down! I doubt I would have survived 20 more seconds; forget a whole shower.  Yet somehow my wife does it every morning. A titanium interior sheathed in some high-tech skin is the only explanation. Either that or she is tougher than me.  Right- cyborg it is.