Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sorry Ladies, I'm Engaged

Ladies, I have terrible news. I know that your parents said that if you dream big and work hard enough, anything is possible. Well, unfortunately, that is no longer the case. I am engaged, so you will have to settle for second best. Here is my story.

My biggest goal was to have the ring for as little time as possible. It was supposed to be ready by 4:00 on Wednesday. My jeweler was going to let me know when it was done. The problem is that I work 45 minutes away from the jewelry store, so I had to leave without totally knowing if everything had gone smoothly.

I arrived, and the ring looked great. I felt like a boss. Also, free champagne (there was a bunch of other stuff in the bag, but I got distracted by the free champagne and tuned her out after that). Then she required me to pay for the balance of the ring. I confidently handed her my card, ready to get home to start making dinner. My card was denied. Aw, crap. I knew I had enough money in my account, but I forgot to see what my limit was because I do not think ahead, and I am not used to making extravagant purchases. I mean, I frequently spend over $100 on groceries, so it's not like that card doesn't get a good workout. I look up the number to my bank and see if they can approve the charge. I chat with a banker, and he tells me that he can, but he will have to call someone else and give me a call back. No problem. As I wait, my jeweler assures me that this happens all the time, and I confidently wait. 

I get a call back, and the banker tells me that he cannot get the charges approved for 24-48 hours. Sweet. But I can go in and get a Cashier's Check to take care of everything (Oh yeah, I also don't have checks, because checks are for old people and I'm a Toys R Us Kid or something). Okay, just wasted some time and now I need to get to the bank and take care of everything. This is not ideal, but I needed to stop by the grocery store anyway, so it's not the end of the world.

I drop by the bank, and the banker I talked to greeted me to get things taken care of as quickly as possible. He asked me where the check should be made out to, and I told him the jewelry store. He congratulated me, which was nice. But then he told me that had he known that, he could have just approved it over the phone as an emergency. I WISH I WOULD HAVE KNOWN THAT OPTION. Anyway, no big deal, I walked away with a large cashier's check (it was actually a regular sized check, but it had a big number on it) and headed to the grocery store.

My girlfriend had made it very clear to me that she wanted something simple. In fact, she flat out told me that if I proposed in any sort of public place, she would not only say no, but we would immediately break up. So, I kept it simple and planned a nice dinner of steak, asparagus, and grilled peppers. With me being able to throw everything on the grill, it was also a fairly easy meal for me to make. I speed-walked through the store and picked up all of the necessary items and got in the shortest line I could find. Just one lady in front of me, so it shouldn't take that long. Of course, the lady I was in front of brought in recyclable bags and a bunch of coupons. I slowly deflated as I saw every line move faster than the one I was in. This probably robbed me of, at worst, three minutes, but I wanted to headbutt that lady into submission.

Back to the jewelry store to finalize everything. I give her the check and take my ring, champagne and other stuff back home to prepare my night of romancing. I get home, let the dog out and start gathering wood, because we have a fireplace that we have never used, and what better night than this one to get started. I was never a boy scout, but I have been to many bonfires, and I am building what I believe is a pretty bomb ass fire structure. Then I get a knock at the door. I have gotten an unexpected knock at the door maybe twice at the house I have lived at for over a year. Some clown is trying to sell me a roof. "I do not have time for this, and I am renting, so get out of here, clown" is what I'm thinking, but I politely decline his offer and get back to fire making.

I didn't get lighter fluid, because I've watched enough Workaholics to be an honorary Beagle Scout. So, I get the fire going a little. There was definitely more smoke than fire, but a little fire is a good thing, that fire is going to catch any second now. But man, it was really producing a lot of smoke. Still, I'm not giving up. I have to turn my head away as the smoke burns my eyes, but I think I am almost there. Still nothing. My dog starts barking, and I look back to realize that the house is beginning to fill with smoke, and my dog is warning me to get out of there. Operation fireplace romance is cancelled, as I shut the doors to the fireplace and open up doors and windows to try to get all of the smoke out of there. I look back at the fireplace and realize that the doors don't close perfectly, and there is a crack right at the top letting a consistent stream of smoke out. I lean a chair against the doors to solve the problem. Things are not going as I had planned. 

There is no fire, but you bet your ass I can do candles. I bought 50 small candles and a few big ones to pimp out the house. I was going to do candles along the path from the door to the dining room, but I realized that my dog is too stupid to not knock them over, and there would be wax all over the place. My girlfriend would have been pissed about the mess, and it would not have set the ideal mood. So, I got two strips of aluminum foil, set them down in a couple locations and started doing some candle drawings. On our buffet, I designed a heart, and my art work was rather impressive. On the table, I wrote "ILY" which was not a poor homage to T.I.'s song, "I'm Illy" but stood for I Love You. Trust me, I know that this sounds very douchey, but I promise that it is more of a joke than anything we take seriously.

As I get everything set up, my girlfriend calls me to let me know that she will be heading home. That's basically my 15 minute warning to get my ass moving. It still definitely smells like smoke, but it's also March in Iowa, so I need to shut the door so she is not shivering through dinner. It's not nearly as smoky as before, but I can still smell smoke, which probably means that it smells pretty strongly of smoke, since I am nearly smell-blind. Blame it on the candles, I think to myself, which reminds me that I need to get like 60 candles lit up. I scramble around and get everything lit, but instead of admiring my masterpiece, I need to get the grill started and all the food prepared. I quickly season up everything and get it on the grill before she walks in the door.

I greet my lady with a kiss and a hug. She immediately asks me if I was burning incense and not in a good way. I explain the fireplace issue. But I apparently did a good enough job of clearing the house of smoke that she does not bring it up again. We sit down for our meal, and everything was going well until she looks over and notices that wax is dripping off my aluminum foil and onto the buffet. Our heart of love had to be extinguished. Not a good sign.

She then talks about her day and how things are going at work. And she just keeps talking. It was mostly interesting, but I was only half paying attention, because I just wanted to get rid of this damn ring. I kept looking for any opportunity to butt in, but she was like the Energizer Bunny and kept going and going and going. I felt like she was trying to filibuster this proposal. Not gonna happen, lady. She got up to clean off her plate (should I have probably done that? Yes, but I had a lot going on in my head, so give me a break), and this gave me my opportunity. As she was at the sink, I grabbed my expertly placed ring from a drawer and walked over, dropped down to a knee, told her a bunch of lovey dovey, mushy stuff about how much I love her and want to spend the rest of my life with her, and boom, popped the question, got the yes, and put the ring on her finger. 

So I got my main squeeze locked down,which is good, because she's actually successful, and I have enough time to write a blog, so clearly things aren't looking up for me any time soon. Obviously, that is number one from this experience. But number two ain't bad either. My lady didn't feel like champagne that night. Champagne-drunk St. Patty's Weekend? Don't mind if I do.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Evolution and the New F-Word

Joe Rogan had a comedy bit that the three most powerful words in the English language were nigger, cunt, and love. Love is a rather boring one, as ladies instantly melt when they hear that word. It means something, and I think it really does in most people's minds. It's rare that a person throws around the l-word when discussing their feelings for another person. On the other hand, I LOVE steaks. I also just generally LOVE free shit. But still, I think we understand the power of this word.

Cunt is a really interesting one, and I completely agree that this word has power. If you drop one of these around a lady, their jaw will drop, as they will be completely shocked that you went THERE. But it really lacks a true meaning. There really is no inherent difference between cunt and twat. Still, cunt just sounds worse. A lot of this has to do with its lack of use. If people walked around and replaced pussy with cunt more often, then it would lose its power. I really feel that within the next five years, the rap game is going to start making cunt more widely used, and it will lose a lot of its power based on use.

The last word is nigger, which from here on will be referred to as the n-word, because it makes me ill just typing it. In my mind, it stands on its own for power. It is an incredibly hate-filled word. I remember using it once as a joke when I didn't know that one of my black friends was around and just thinking about it makes me want to puke. I'm from Iowa, and yes, some of my friends have racist tendencies. I hate to call anyone a racist without a lot of evidence, but a lot of you may consider putting them in that category. They are fine with black people when they get to know them, but they almost always assume the worst when it is a black person they do not know. I'm not wise enough to draw the line on what constitutes a racist, so you can put them in either category. Still, this word will always make me ill when I hear it used by a white person. There is the shit argument that black people use it, so why can't white people? But if you don't understand the difference, you can probably stop reading now. I can jam out to rap music, but I will admit that when I'm singing along in my car, I do get quiet when they are dropping the n-word, as I don't have the social clout or necessity to be singing along with those lyrics. It's a powerful word, and the world would be a better place if it was never used again.

And that brings me to the new f-word, faggot. I have probably said faggot thousands of times, mostly calling my friends a faggot. It is an insensitive word that hurts people, yet it is still widely accepted in many parts of the country. In the past I have used it mostly referring to my friends. I usually didn't use it to imply that they had sex with men, but I basically used it to mean that they were a loser or a douchebag. I was recently trying to justify my past use of the word in this way, and I soon realized that it was a really shitty excuse. The real reasoning behind my choice of using that word is that I was ignorant and kind of a piece of shit. There's nothing inherently wrong with that, because all young people are ignorant pieces of shit. Shit, I'm going to probably look back at myself at this point in my life and realize that I was still an ignorant piece of shit. That's okay, because as long as we learn from our experience, we're doing things right.

But it did make me think whether there was much of a difference between the n-word and the f-word. The n-word makes me sick to my stomach, while I can use faggot pretty freely and openly and not have much feeling at all. But at the same time, words evolve. Using the n-word makes me sick, but two or three generations before me, people used it freely, because that's just what they did. It's partially that we were a much more racist society back then, but a lot of them just used the word, because that's what they always did. It's tough to change, but that's not an excuse for ignorant behavior. Honestly, I hope that in 2-3 generations, the f-word is as widely criticized as the n-word is. I hope that future generations look back at this time and try to figure up how people could actually fight for gay people to not have equal rights as straight people when it comes to marriage. A common argument is that a civil union is separate but equal to marriage, and separate but equal should ring a bell in people's minds.

We should not be using the f-word. I have seen our society moving in a positive direction when it comes to this in sports. Occasionally, a famous athlete will be seen saying it in a game, and they should be called out for it. I remember Joakim Noah ding this and getting called out for it (as well as a $50,000 fine). He apologized immediately, and as far as I know, he was not chastised for it. That's fair, because if I were still competing in something, I would probably let some stupid shit slip out of my mouth out of frustration, but it's good that we are addressing these things as opposed to defending those sort of actions.

We're moving in the right direction, but at the same time, I know that I am not the most informed person to be talking about this. The n-word, f-word, and cunt don't apply to me. I am a white male who has led a pretty incredibly easy life (Thanks Mom and Dad). My whole goal for writing this is to make one other person think critically about their use of the f-word. If not, it will still make me think twice before saying it. I am going to make a conscious effort to stop using it, and I hope you do the same. The world is constantly evolving, but there is no more important evolution than us as a society doing what we can to eliminate hate. The f-word is an awful thing to say, and I can't wait for the day when I am singing along with a gay rapper, and I have to go silent as he uses the f-word for his own intentions. Language evolves, and we need to do the same.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Oscar Spoilers for 2014

Note: This is an article courtesy of Lukewarm Jonah. Check out his other work by clicking the label at the bottom of the article.

I was in an Oscar pool with a film critic friend of mine and was not happy when I got beat.  I’m a competitor, even in stupid things like picking the Oscars.  For mine and everyone’s benefit I’ve decided to break down the probable nominees and winners.  Use this information wisely and you can win some serious dough as well as impressing all your friends at the next Oscars.

Best Picture:
GI Joe: Retaliation
Pain and Gain
Fast 6
Empire State (Not the stupid Zach Braff movie)

Probable winner: Fast 6.  No real drama here, I’m sure all these movies will have their strong suits, but there is no way Fast 6 can lose.

Best Leading Actor:
The Rock- GI Joe: Retaliation
The Rock- Snitch
The Rock- Pain and Gain
The Rock- Empire State
Vin Diesel- Fast 6

Probable winner: The Rock, Snitch.  The Rock really plays outside character in this role by not single handedly taking down the entire country of Columbia, and is actually shown to be vulnerable, even getting beaten up.  The Academy has to respect that kind of range.  If you’re looking for a sleeper, Vin Diesel could steal it from The Rock in Fast 6 because you know that the Academy is going to want to give that movie as many awards as possible.

Best Supporting Actor:
The Rock- Fast 6
Marky Mark- Pain and Gain
Ludacris- Fast 6
Roddy Piper- Fast 6 (Probably)
Liam Hemsworth- Empire State
Mankind- Martin Luther King Day
Tyrese- Fast 6
Kurt Angle- Pain and Gain

Probable Winner: The Rock.  He’s the best actor in the best movie of the year.  When they announce this category at the Oscars, they’ll just invite The Rock to sit on stage while the nominees are read.  Biggest gimmee pick of the year.

Best Actress:
Michelle Rodriguez- Fast 6
Adrienne Palacki- GI Joe: Retaliation
Jordanna Brewster- Fast 6
Rebel Wilson- Pain and Gain
Emma Roberts- Empire State
Jennifer Lawrence- Anything

Probable Winner: Emma Roberts, Empire State.  The Fast 6 run comes to a halt in the night’s biggest upset so far.  Emma Roberts is fantastic, and you pair her up with the Rock and she’s going to be making it rain with awards.

Best Supporting Actress:
Susan Sarandon- Snitch
Vivi Pineda- Pain and Gain
Gina Carano- Fast 6
Nikki Reed- Empire State
Elodie Yung- GI Joe: Retaliation
Jennifer Lawrence- Anything

Probable winner: Susan Sarandon, Snitch.  Classically trained actress playing opposite the Rock in a somewhat adversarial role?  That’s bigger Oscar gold than a movie about World War II.  Carano won’t win even though it’s Fast 6, not in her first outing anyways.    

Best Director:
Dito Montiel- Empire State
Michael Bay- Pain and Gain
Justin Lin- Fast 6
Ric Roman Waugh- Snitch
Jon Chu- GI Joe: Retaliation

Probable Winner: Justin Lin.  Honestly, this is a choice that I’m going against the academy on.  I mean all Lin had to do every day was show up and tell his all star cast to be awesome.  Seems like an incredibly easy directing job, but the smart money is on him taking home that gold statue.  Ric Roman Waugh should win for not directing the Rock to destroy everyone in sight.

So there you have your probable 2014 Oscar picks, I’ve got an in on the Academy and I can pretty much guarantee these nominees and winners.  The only real question left is whether the Rock will Rock Bottom anyone at the 2014 Oscars, John Malkovich I’m looking your way.