Five things I’ve concluded regarding the Olympics based on hours of viewing and much scholarly research

11 Aug

1.  If there was a a medal awarded for “epic amounts of ass” at the Olympics, it would surely go to the women’s volleyball team from The Dominican Republic

Because… damn.  I don’t really even care how terrible those girls are at volleyball, somebody needs to give them a medal.  As a matter of fact, whoever the hero was at the International Olympic Committee Volleyball uniform symposium who, when it was his turn to offer a suggestion said, “Let’s go with hot pants and spandex tank tops”… that guy deserves a medal, too.  A gigantic, perfectly shaped, supple yet firm, gold medal.  Are you listening, WNBA?  If you can’t figure out why your ratings are so low it’s because dudes don’t want to watch extras from “The Hills Have Eyes” run up and down a court while they’re not dunking basketballs.  And to think that I was once so ignorant to have though that indoor Olympic volleyball was just twelve dudes with Kleinfelter’s syndrome smacking a ball hither and thither.  Indeed, I have seen the light.  My gender bias in sports has been washed away in a flood of congratulatory touchy-feeliness and a Golden Globe worthy performance by whoever the cameraman is for Olympic Volleyball.  That guy definitely deserves a medal.  Come to think of it, as long as we’re handing out medals like clean syringes in Central Park, let’s be sure to give one to the guy who decided NOT to field an Irish or Scottish indoor women’s volleyball team.  I think I’d rather watch Bob Costas pretend like he gives a shit about the heptathlon for an hour and a half.


2.  For 99.9% percent of the population, swimming only exists for two weeks every four years

 That’s why Michael Phelps smokes so much weed… Modern Warfare 3 isn’t going to play itself for three and a half years straight.  Hey Michael, it’s like three weeks before the Olympics, don’t you think that you should start stretching out or something?  Shouldn’t you get into a pool or, at least, a hot tub before you get to London?  If a guy with damn-near two dozen medals in swimming doesn’t give a shit about swimming, what hope is there for the rest of us?  I’ve watched several dozen swimming events this past week and so far not a single person has drowned!  It’s like watching the worst episode of “Deadliest Catch” over and over.  Crab fishing can be a cruel mistress and Olympic swimming can be equally as fickle.  Soak it up, Ryan Lochte… nobody’s going to care how fast you can swim when you’re holding up the line at American Eagle because you still can’t figure out how to change the register tape after a year and a half.  I’m sure Michael Phelps could do it much faster.  If his Olympic success and world-wide notoriety have taught me anything, it’s that if you’re not the greatest swimmer of all time, then nobody has any idea who you are.  My apologies to Rowdy Gaines, Darrah Torres, and Mark Spitz… it was really nice meeting you all at the momentarily famous and currently unrecognizable Olympians support group the other night.  I passed myself off as a bronze medalist in the 100m butterfly from the Atlanta games to get in, but nobody gave a shit enough to bother calling me on it… and the sign in sheet didn’t even have a spot for your name, just two boxes labeled “Michael Phelps” and “Not Michael Phelps.”  The finger sandwiches were delicious but the bitterness was thick as the London fog.


3.  The easiest way to get an Olympic medal is probably to buy one

 The good news is that, if you really, really want an olympic medal… all you might have to do is check your local pawn shop.  Former olympians need cocaine, too.  The landscape for an athlete past their prime is a bleak one, especially if we’re talking water polo instead of baseball.  And with the price of bronze these days, who can really afford NOT to sell their third place triple-jump medal from the ’88 games?  The climb to the ranks of elite athlete is a steep one fraught with peril, but at the top is a few blinding moments of bliss…. followed, almost immediately, by an endless and unfathomably dark chasm where you should get used to hearing the phrase, “So, you don’t have any sales experience?”  After all, being the guy that yells at the real athletes to row from the front of the boat doesn’t have the same kind of clout on a resume that it used to.  And with the commission rates being what they are right now at Sears, it’s a long, bumpy trip to the bottom.  Just ask Kerry Strug, the architect of one of the most courageous moments in sporting history…. when you officially peak at nineteen, the gold on that medal starts to tarnish pretty quickly.  She’ll be okay, though… she’s got assistant manager material written all over her.  I heard that once, she sold seven extended warranties in a single shift while stuck in a bear trap… that sort of courage is as inspiring as it is rare.


4.  Gymnastics is stupid, but rhythmic gymnastics is beautiful and extremely entertaining… actually, that shit is pretty stupid, too

 Here’s the deal, Gymnasts… I understand that you spend a lifetime training for your moment to shine at the Olympics and I don’t mean to belittle that accomplishment with my wry commentary… but it’s probably gonna happen anyway.  This may sound callous, but I’m not really that impressed that you can do lots of flippies really fast.  I’m not impressed that you can do flippies on the floor, I’m not impressed that you can do flippies on the bars, and I’m not impressed that you can do flippies on the big, springy thing.  You’ve successfully spent the entirety of your time on this planet perfecting an athletic endeavor so useless that it’s literally only applicable while on top of a balance beam… congratulations?  I sure hope that bronze medal was worth the compressed spine and underdeveloped social skills.  But, as we all know, the true measure of someone’s usefulness as a human being is how effective they would prove to be during the impending zombie apocalypse.  And, I’m sorry gymnasts, but if the apocalypse actually happened while I was at the Olympics, you guys would be at the very bottom of my list… way after the archers, riflemen, weightlifters, and anybody whose sport involves a boat.  The last person that I need hanging around during a cataclysmic event is a borderline midget with a serious napoleon complex and a nagging, on-again-off-again roid-rage.  Now, stop putting chalk all over your hands, quit worrying about your form, and put some shoes on, for the love of God, because we’re all about to die.  But it’s okay, gymnasts, death is a fate far more palatable than working at Subway, which is what you’d be doing after the Olympics, anyway


5.    The Olympics are a magical fortnight every four years where countries around the world unite in competition… and China gets to extend their giant middle finger to all of them

Consider yourselves warned, rest of the world… if China put half as much effort into invading your lazy-ass country as they do into Winning the Olympics year after year, you’d be eating a lot more rice and a lot less of whatever it is that you people eat in your backwards, non-synchronized diving nation.  I get the feeling that even the Chinese doubles ping-ping team could throw a triple gainer in your face in near-perfect unison.  And let it be known that any country that takes badminton as seriously as it takes human rights is a country that you should fear no matter how you slice it.  China’s potential for Olympic dominance, however, is largely woven into the fabric of it’s culture.  What I mean is, the guy from the nation of one and a half billion who’s better at the pommel horse than anybody else is probably going to wipe the floor with you, guy from not-China.  And as to women’s events in particular, when you’re only allowed one daughter, you’re gonna want to make it count.  And by “make it count,” I mean have her feet bound and ship her off to some desolate athlete factory as soon as she can say “uneven parallel bars.”  Having developed a healthy respect for China’s homegrown brand of athletic sticktoitiveness, I hereby propose a bi-national, unilateral Olympic event proliferation treaty.  You can have the summer Olympics, except for basketball, of course… and you just stay the fuck out of the winter Olympics.  As a matter of fact, you can have that whole hemisphere over there if you just promise to leave hockey alone.  Oh, and good luck with that whole Middle East situation, although I’m sure that you’ll find a much more expeditious and ruthless solution to that problem.


Five Things That I’d Like To Get Off My Chest For No Other Reason Than I Now Have An Outlet To Do So

10 Aug
1. Yes, I can absolutely believe it’s not butter

 And what kind of name is “I can’t believe it’s not butter” for a product, anyway?  Is it a perjorative statement of one’s inability to trust their instincts… or is it an admission of a deep-seeded and twisted denial of what they’ve known to be the truth since the beginning?  Never has a dairy substitute so sternly demanded an introspection into what it really means to be human, indeed, to be just one among shelves and shelves of choices in the seemingly endless aisle that is our moral labyrinth.  The truth is, my head tells me that stuff in the tub is definitely not butter, but my heart believes that it is.  Every fiber of my being, every bit of my marrow, every piece of my soul believes… I think we all believe.  Only together, only united can we truly overcome this plague of confusing and manipulative packaging.  I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of uppity ad executives suggesting questions that I really don’t have the answers to.  Here’s an idea that will not only strengthen their brand, but save money on print and eliminate all this confusion… shorten the name to “Not Butter.”  It’s simple, direct, to the point, and unpretentious… like having David Mamet edit a Samuel Beckett play.  If you’re keeping score at home, I just won a bet for mentioning Samuel Beckett in the same article as I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, and that’s a little epic.  People, you can keep on believing it’s butter all you want, but at some point you’re going to have to admit to yourself that you’re living a lie.  It’s probably going to involve a fair amount of counseling, some mood stabilizers, and a long conversation with your father that I think we’ve all seen coming for a while, now… be strong, be strong for all of us.


2.  I’ve Seen “Con Air” More Times Than I Can Count On Both Hands

Wow, that was a lot harder to say than I thought it would be, but it’s true.  I’m addicted to terrible movies.  Any possible combination of Nick Cage and/or John Travolta in a big-budget spectacular will get me to cough up twelve bucks for a ticket faster than a re-make of “The Jazz Singer” with Kevin James in blackface.  Actually, I’d go see that in a heartbeat… Hollywood, are you listening?  And when are we going to get a look at “Broken Arrow 2?”  It’s been far too long between Howie Long vehicles and the sharp, stabbing pain in my brain is almost gone… and I think I’m starting to miss it, just a little bit.  If “Face Off” has taught us anything, it’s that John Travolta trying to act like Nick Cage acting like John Travolta is no more interesting than John Travolta trying to act like a throw-rug or a poorly trimmed shrubbery or an infant that can talk.  “Look Who’s Talking” had like, three sequels and I can’t get a little “Battlefield Earth 2?”  The first movie was just so unclear about whether or not scientologists are completely fucking crazy that I really need a sequel to give me some closure.  What’s that?  You want me to star in a movie about having to break into Alcatraz to stop a group of militants from wreaking havoc on the city of San Francisco?  Why, that sounds so plausible that we can’t possibly not make this movie!  Speaking of plausibility, I’m afraid that it is my duty to inform all of you that any movie involving time-travel is automatically ridiculous because time travel is impossible.  Like, really impossible.  Here’s what would really happen if you were able to travel at the speed of light: You’d go really fast for a while.  That’s it.  Buildings don’t magically rebuild themselves from fifty years ago, people long dead don’t become reanimated, and the notion that you might be able to run into your past or future self is so fucking ludicrous that only past, present, and future Nick Cage could possibly pull it off.


3.  I Don’t Like “Pearl Jam,” Not Even a Little Bit

Do you know that I’ve actually lied about not liking Pearl Jam on more than one occasion.  Isn’t that fucked up?  I’ve tried to like them, I really have… but goddamn it, I just don’t… and somehow, I’ve become insecure about it.  That’s information that I usually keep locked in my vault of shame along with the fact that I’m a huge Billy Joel fan (which I am) and that I enjoy watching soccer (which I do).  Every time I’ve told anybody that I don’t like Pearl Jam, they look at me like it’s 1957 and I just told them that I was Russian.  I’m sorry, but I can’t understand what the fuck Eddie Vetter is talking about and the last place that I want to be at a concert is wedged between a sweaty dude with no shirt and a hemp necklace and some gross hippie who hopped off the Grateful Dead tour bus and onto the Pearl Jam tour bus as they passed each other on the highway in 1994.  And for someone who doesn’t particularly like their music, I seem to go to an awful lot of their shows.  I think I’ve been to like, four Pearl Jam concerts, which just goes to show you what a fucking mess I am.  The last one I was at, I smoked a bunch of opium, drank a bottle and a half of red wine, drove home, wretched my guts out all night, then couldn’t find my car in center city Philadelphia for a day and a half only to find out that it had been towed shortly after I parked it vertically in a horizontal parking spot on the side of JFK boulevard.  I don’t remember any of the concert, but I’m sure I would’ve hated it, anyway.


4.  If I Was Stranded On A Desert Island And Could Only Have One Book, It Would Be “The DaVinci Code” Because I’ll Only Read Something If Tom Hanks Is In It

What I want to know is, if Steven Spielberg loves to direct Tom Hanks so much, why didn’t he take him into consideration when he wrote “Jurassic Park?”  I mean, I love Sam Neil as much as the next guy, but let’s stick to a proven formula, here.  The fact is, Tom Hanks plus over-written, nonsensical, literary garbage equals box-office gold!  If only Dan Brown had the foresight to have written “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” before that Swedish guy, then I probably would’ve seen that movie.  Listening to somebody trying to explain the plot of “The DaVinci Code” is almost as painful as being the person trying to explain the plot of “The DaVinci Code.”  No, No you get either a believable premise or Tom Hanks, Mr. Howard.  We don’t have the budget for both.  Of course you take Tom Hanks, because he’s way better than Morgan Freeman was in those James Patterson books.  Dan Brown has the right idea after all, if I can’t finish a book before my order of corn-dog bites and a medium diet coke, I’m pretty much over it, anyway.  I just finished Dan Brown’s most recent novel, “The Lost Symbol,” and here’s a spoiler alert: It’s absolutely terrible and the shocking twist ending is that the several hundred pages preceding it are a complete waste of time.  Tonight, I think I’ll spend some time Googling random conspiracy theories and intersplicing them with bits of dialogue and conjunctions that I’ve managed to insert inside my magic eight ball.  You can pick up a copy of whatever it turns out to be at your local airport, soon.


5.  I Like Wilco, But Im Also Pretty Sure That I Hate Everybody Else Who Likes Wilco

Wilco is easily the greatest band of all time.  That phrase struck my eardrums with such force that I almost fell off my barstool.  I almost immediately checked my nose to see if my brain was bleeding and, of course, it was.  I’ve had the same allergic reaction since I was six or seven, every time I hear hyperbole becoming slowly accepted as fact, my brain bleeds a little bit.  Now, listen Wilco shirt and skinny jeans, your French bulldog is adorable, but I’m pretty sure that I saw three or four other people walking that same dog on my way to this bar… and I’m not totally convinced that you guys aren’t just handing him off to each other around the corner somewhere, jingling the keys on your belt as a signal to pass him off like a relay baton.  Wilco is easily the greatest band of all time –  that’s not even up for debate, apparently.  Apologies to The Beatles, Steely Dan, Blue Oyster Cult, David Bowie, Mark Knopfler, and The Talking Heads… you guys clearly need to get yourselves some Chuck Taylors and a couple of obnoxious belt buckles.  No, David Byrne, I don’t care if you’re trying to rouse me from my superficial, cookie-cutter, shallow-and-loving-it suburban nirvana… you need a cooler belt buckle.  Maybe, like, one with a PBR logo on it or Che Guevara portrait on the front?  Get your shit together, David Byrne.

Five Things That I’d Like Everybody To Be Aware Of…

9 Aug

1.  If You’re Preparing For The Apocalypse, I Don’t Want to Come to Your House For Dinner

Chief among the impetus behind my reasoning is the looming fear that I’m going to hear you say the words “Do you wanna know how I made this?”  If I wanted to spend a night drinking water filtered from urine and eating a slurry of the green sludge that’s collected on the surface of your shady, indoor pool… I would just go to the Olive Garden.  And although I appreciate the effort, I’m not sure that Martha Stewart would approve of individualized gas masks as part of a sensible table setting.  To be fair, Party games are always fun, but somehow I think that a full de-lousing before I’m even allowed in your house is really pushing it.  I’d much rather just hang out in the front yard and play Trivial Pursuit through the window.  I suppose the most pressing reason that I don’t want to have dinner at your place is that if the apocalypse actually happens while I’m there, I’m immediately the most expendable person in your company.  I’m either going to get stuck riding the stationary bike that powers the TV all the time or ground into a delicious sausage and eaten with freeze-dried grapefruit for breakfast.  I’m, of course, only assuming that I’d make a delicious sausage… I suppose I’ll never really know regardless of how that situation would play out.  And I don’t want to feel your pity-vibe all night just because I’m not “prepping” enough, either.  If John Cusak can narrowly outrun the apocalypse in a series of vehicles for what seemed like an eternity longer than two hours, why can’t I?  I’m affable, I’m a six or seven-out-of-ten, I like Peter Gabriel.  The closest I’ve ever come to surviving a global disaster is during college when I was stuck in my dorm room with no power for two days during hurricane season.  I ended up eating raw ramen with the flavoring sprinkled on top like a piece of toast in order to get by… and that shit was delicious.  I don’t like to use the word “survivor” a lot, but… anyone who was there knows what I’m talking about.


2.  You Should not Expect a Helpful Answer When You Ask Your iphone “Where Da Baby Formula At?”

That may not surprise everybody, but it certainly seemed to enrage some dude wearing an “Affliction” tank top at my local Food Lion recently.  Food Lion, for the uninitiated, is where people who can’t afford to go to ACME shop, which explains why I was there.  And according to my iphone, which is the principal reason that I can’t afford to go to ACME, the baby formula is at Walmart, Target, and some store called Wikipedia.  If only we had this kind of technology eleven months ago and he had the foresight to ask his iphone “where the condoms at”… our collective gene pool would be just that much deeper.  The baby formula is, of course, located behind the security glass at the customer service counter because people steal that shit like they found some way to make meth out of it.  And shaking your phone when Siri doesn’t give you the answer that you’re looking for is not going to help, you should have figured out by now that women don’t respond well to that… but it will shut a crying baby up pretty quickly.  A small piece of advice, prefacing a question to your phone by screaming “look, motherfucker” at full volume in public is not a good look, but then again neither is wearing any piece of UFC apparel… even Food Lion has standards, or so I’ve been told.


3.  If You Can’t Train a Dog, Don’t Get a Dog… Or Don’t Live In My Apartment Complex, Either Way

Seriously, guy down the hall that I avoid like the plague, if you can’t train your dog… just get a cat.  Even the most well behaved cat will make you as miserable as a poorly trained dog and that way, I don’t have to fucking hear about it.  Sometimes I wonder if you actually have a nice, plush house somewhere in the suburbs and that you rent this apartment just to have a place to keep your dog where you don’t have to hear him scream for structure and direction at the top of his lungs all night.  I also subscribe to the philosophy that if your dog can’t get along with my dog… then your dog is automatically a dick because my dog is awesome.  Training a dog is very simple: Dogs like delicious treats, and they hate frownie faces.  Good dog, delicious treat… bad dog, frownie face.                  Repeat until desired outcome is realized.  Your dog wants to be a good dog, I know he does.  But instead, you took what was once a perfectly normal, adorable little puppy-dog blank canvas and painted “asshole” all over it like Jackson Pollack having a seizure.  I feel like the only people more annoying than those that don’t spend enough time with their dogs to train them, are those that spend way too much time with their pets.  They take their dogs to the store, to restaurants, to the movies… when does it end?  I mean, come on blind people, get a grip already.


4.  If you’re going to wake up every day and decide to be a total asshole, you should have to wear a bell or something so that I know not to get in line behind you

What the fuck you mean I can’t get chicken fingers and fries?  What she means is, this is a Mexican fast food restaurant and they don’t have chicken fingers or fries.  Other things you cannot get at a Mexican restaurant include but are not limited to:  A two piece and a side of mashed potatoes, a sausage biscuit and an old-fashioned, and a california roll and a large popcorn.  I think there’s probably some people out there who just forget from time to time to not be assholes, but I’m pretty sure that this guy woke up this morning and checked one of two boxes in his journal that I’m almost positive he doesn’t really have.  And listen, baggy jeans-shorts, getting the manager involved is not going to help the situation at all.  If there’s one guy in here that probably has less to live for than you, it’s him.  A job at a fast food restaurant is one thing, a career at a fast food restaurant is a decision you make after a lot of soul searching and seven years at community college.  You know what works in any fast food restaurant?  Just walk up to the counter and say “number one”… or almost any number, for that matter.  What doesn’t work it getting into an argument with the pregnant seventeen year old behind the counter about the philosophy behind what one should and should not serve at any given eatery.  There’s got to be an amendment or something, somewhere in the Constitution that guarantees the availability of chicken fingers…. right?  Is this a third world country or is this America?  What sort of cruel dystopia is this that all manner of meat is not readily available in breaded, fried, cutlet form at all times?  What terrible species of false freedom have we wrought for ourselves to wallow in?  What twisted and distorted… what… oh shit, I’m sorry… I’ll just have a number one.


5.  If you hand me a hip-hop demo of yours during a job interview, I’m probably not going to hire you

It really doesn’t matter how strong your resume is at this point, “Running shit in the streets since Malcolm had beef” and “showing these bitches how the game is gamed” (all actual lyrics from this very real demo that I was really handed during a job interview) are not job requirements here… or anywhere.  And a hand-written resume, by the way, is not as charming and indicative of your work ethic as you clearly think it is.  By the way, we’re a hundred miles from the beach, it’s raining outside, and you and I are sitting in an office with no windows, so take your goddamn sunglasses off.  Yes, for real.  Now, this is typically the part when I’d ask you if you have any disabilities or shortcomings that would prevent you from fulfilling the responsibilities of this job but, clearly… the answer to that is a big “yes.”  Conversely, if you have to ask at the end of a job interview if you got the position… then answer to that is a big “no.”  I really am sorry, I can see that you wore your best pinky ring and everything, but there’s just not a position, here, for you.  I thought I was very clear in the ad that we’re looking for people, not caricatures of people.  All the best in your future endeavors.

Jeff Vrabel

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