Wednesday, January 29, 2014

My Big Dumb Snowpocalypse Experience


I am a survivor of the snow storm.

The recent weather event reminded me of a "Zombie Apocalypse", except it wasn't nearly as much fun.

I should have left work earlier than I did. It didn't look that bad to me and I thought the roads would be slushy since it has been warm here recently. Wrong.

The snow was not that fluffy "every snowflake is different" snow that you see on television. It looked like remedial snow to me. Not quite sleet, not freezing rain, and not snowy looking.

Where I went wrong was that the temperature dropped, which almost never happens when it snows here. The cars ran over the snow and instead of turning into slush, it turned into ice. This is when the fun began.

Oh yeah, I also went wrong trying to go home at the same time as 5.5 million other people. According to the media and government officials, this was wrong.

So, instead of my usual 15 minute commute from work, it took me 9 hours to get home. I usually start having a stroke when it takes me 25 minutes to get home.

Of course, about 30 minutes into my 9 hour trek home, I got that old familiar feeling. I had to, as us macho guys express it, go TEE-TEE.  I thought of the words my father used to tell us during our trips to either Northeast Tennessee or Mississippi to see our various kin. He used to say, "Boy, you can just hold it". So, I held it for 8 and half more hours.

I was on the same stretch of road, Church Street in Marietta, Georgia, for about 7 hours. I wondered if I would ever see my family again. I was wondering if I would ever see a bathroom again. I kept thinking if I could only relieve myself, this gridlock wouldn't be that bad.

My wife called me and I told her to stay at work. I did not want  her to get stuck somewhere and I didn't want her to walk in the ice and cold. She decided to hitch a ride with her boss from their office in Buckhead, which on a normal sunny 75 degree day is a nightmare. During their trek, they went through Vinings, a la-te-da suburb in Atlanta. Of course, they got stuck. They saw a man get out of his car and make yellow snow on the yard of the million dollar piece of property. Ah, something to tell the grandkids.

I must admit doing that crossed my mind. But I'm a shy fellow and I probably would have been arrested for indecent exposure and peeing without a permit. Plus, they probably would have shot me. Thoughts like these have kept me on the straight and narrow for years.

Besides my bladder, my biggest concern was my gas tank. I had a little over 3 quarters of a tank when I left work. For some reason, running a car for 7 hours drains the gas tank. My thought, that turned into a plan was this: Somehow get to The First United Methodist Church. I would park the car there and walk the four miles home. There is a Waffle House about a half of mile from the church. I could stop there and get some relief.

Then my plan became: get to The First United Methodist Church, park and pee on the ground next to the car. I was thinking of spelling out something uplifting like "Bless You". However, my bladder was so full I could have written "Once Saved, Always Saved".

I finally got on the 120 Loop which meant I was only a good city block from the church and blessed relief.  After another hour, I went only a half of a block. But I noticed a little road that I take to work all the time seemed like it had no gridlock on it at all.

It was Polk Street, the same street I saw Kevin Bacon on a couple of years ago.  There was no back up on it and I was able to zip along. I was able to abort my parking and peeing at the Methodist Church plan and I got home about 30 minutes after I took Polk Street.

It was there I saw the most beautiful sight: my bathroom.

After about an hour, my wife and her boss drove up. She spent about 8 hours on the road.

I thought we had a rough experience, but after seeing the stories of the people stuck in their cars for 16-17 hours, people having to sleep at Home Depot, kids sleeping in the schools, etc, I have come to the conclusion that we had it pretty easy.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Silly Talk

You may have heard the news. The Super Bowl is next Sunday!

It is being held in New York, this year, due to what sports writers call "The NFL Every Now and Then Brain Flatulence". The NFL is the most successful professional athletic venture ever, but sometimes they come up these wacky ideas like having the Super Bowl in cold weather cities like Detroit, Indianapolis and New York.

Another wacky idea that The NFL has is having sideline reporters ask athletes and coaches questions after a game. Usually these reporters are good looking females and they ask the tough questions like "What was going on through your mind when that guy threw that ball thingy to you?"  However, at the end of the NFC championship, FOX Sideline Report Hottie McHotterson Erin Andrews interviewed Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman after Sherman made a game saving defensive play. Here it is if you missed it the first four billion times it was shown.

I did not see this live. I have this thing, called a job, and I like to be semi-awake for it on Monday morning, just in case someone brings in donuts.  However, reaction was swift in the social media world. The main jest of the reaction is that Sherman displayed poor sportsmanship and was not a gracious winner.  Of course, it didn't help things that McHotterson Andrews acted like the mom trying to find out "who started it".

However, I know that this may surprise people, but this didn't bother me at all. Granted, it was graceless, classless and it seems Sherman is preparing for a second career as a WWE wrestler. The horse of Good Sportsmanship has run out of the barn long ago. Dignity is always the first to leave. Sure, I want a world where after a hard fought contest you see the winners and losers shake each others hands and go church to get an ice cream cone. That's just not the world we have.

In any event, was Sherman's rant worse than this?

Number 60 in this picture is Chuck Bednarik. He just tackled Frank Gifford (yes, that one) and was celebrating his tackle. Gifford is unconscious and was unable to play football the following season. That's football. It is played by people that knock other people unconscious and then celebrate it.

Of course, the reaction to Sherman's interview caused another reaction. This reaction caused an emergency meeting of the Humor Me staff (me and my cat) to see if I should comment.  I have one big rule for this blog: I will not ever comment on race and various race issues. However, due to the seriousness of the subject (something getting in the way of real Super Bowl coverage), I have decided to grant myself a one time waiver on the topic of race.

Earl Ofrai Hutchinson wrote in The Huffington Post that Sherman's "rant again blew the hinge off the door of racial stereotypes". Hutchinson says, "The stereotypes flew fast and furious" because on Twitter Sherman was referred to as a "thug", "dirtbag", "scum" and a "disgrace". I'm not saying there wasn't an over-reaction, but is calling somebody a "disgrace" (in this instance) an example of racial stereotyping? Does Hutchinson or anyone actually know what the reaction would have been if a white player had gone on the same tirade as Sherman?  David Zirin of Nation says, " (Also) get ready for two weeks of utterly uninteresting coverage that paints Peyton as a Southern gentleman in shining armor who will hopefully slay Richard Sherman, Compton’s “loudmouth” dread-locked dragon". Well, it has been one week now, and I haven't seen one story painting Pey-Pey Manning as a Southern gentleman ready to slay any dragon, much less one with dread-locks. We still have one week to go so it might come up.

Sherman, who is a graduate of Stanford University, says that  calling someone a thug "is an accepted way of using the N-word".  He complains  nobody calls hockey players thugs and they fight all of the time. (Actually, there is a name for hockey players who fight all the time: "Goons".)  Even Bill Maher, who the last time I checked was my shade, was getting in on the act, unequivocally calling the word "thug" a coded racial slur.

My question: Is there a place where we can find all of the acceptable and unacceptable words to use when trying to comment on an interview after a football game?  That would be real helpful because we could say, "Stanford graduate, Richard Sherman, issued a statement regarding his deflected pass that won the game for The Seahawks that might or might not be to your liking depending upon your level of racism".

All of this is a bit silly. Here's what it was. A player, who was hyped up after making a great play and ticked off at his opponent blew off some steam in front of a nationally televised audience, most of whom probably wouldn't know Richard Sherman from Allan Sherman.  They had no idea that he graduated from Stanford. They saw a football player act like a football player. People who use racial slurs on Twitter reflect only on themselves and not on America as a whole. Now, can we get back to the game?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Real Scarlet Letter

Current GOP Presidential Heavyweight, Chris Jellybelly Christie, is in BIG trouble over a traffic jam. In fact, if Christie ordered the lane closures at The George Washington Bridge last September, it could turn his Presidential hopes from "Most Likely" to Fat Chance.

I don't know if Christie ordered the Bridge lane closures to punish the Mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey. I'm not saying I want a President that acts like that or creates a culture in his administration that would encourage punishing political opponents. A President Christie could use the IRS to harass and discourage his political opponents and that would be wrong. Oh wait.

I am disappointed in the News Media, but not surprised. The News Media Muckety-Mucks have decided that Secretary Senator Former First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton is destined to become the next President despite handling a real crisis like Benghazi as if she was all Three Stooges rolled into one Secretary of State. The New York Times is telling us that not only Clinton should be the next President, but she will  be the next President. Resistance is futile not to mention sexist.

While I wouldn't say this isn't an important story, I'm not sure how important it is to anyone who doesn't live in the New York/New Jersey area or doesn't compulsively think about the 2016 Presidential election.  What is important is that it continues to confirm what I have been thinking for most of my life. The News Media has one set of rules for Democrats and another set of rules for Republicans.

Back in 1991, we were introduced to Clarence Thomas who President Dad Bush nominated for The Supreme Court. Democrats, led by Senator Edward Where's Mary Jo? Kennedy, fought against The Thomas nomination saying Judge Thomas had sexually harassed women. Let that sink in for a moment.

There was a woman, Anita Hill, a brave and forthright professional who claimed that she: A) Heard Thomas use the phrase "Pubic Hair" in front of her and B) she saw a Playboy magazine in his apartment. This caused the news media to catch the vapors. Imagine a single man having a Playboy magazine! You know he didn't read it for the articles! There was something obviously wrong with the man even though we had been told through popular culture that a magazine featuring nude women in pictorial essays was acceptable as long as there was an interview with Issac Asimov or an article about improving your stereo system in it.

Somehow, Clarence Thomas was confirmed and he's been a Supreme Court Justice of over twenty years. The Republic still stands. However, the next year Democrats nominate for President a man that used state employees to troll for women.They would bring these lucky gals to meet Gov. Bill Clinton in his hotel room. Somehow, these visits always included the most powerful man in Arkansas (and soon the world) having his pants drop on the floor while asking these women for their assessment of his lieutenant governor.

One of lucky gals to meet Bill Clinton was Paula Jones, who we got to know so much better later on in the 90's.  You would think the party of "women's rights" would rally around this middle class woman when she was being harassed by Clinton. They had a duck fit over Clarence Thomas saying "Pubic Hair" in front of a woman and owning a  Playboy.  No, the most telling remark came from President Clinton's right hand man, James Carville who said, "Drag a hundred-dollar bill through a trailer park, you never know what you'll find." The Democratic Party: the party of the little man or woman, unless you live in a trailer park.

I won't rehash the late 90's for you, except to say there were a lot of interesting debates about the meaning of words (for example: "is") and the amazing proclamation that a particular sexual act isn't really sex. The main point is that the news media treated the Thomas hearings and the Clinton scandals differently .  Thomas was guilty, no matter what, because he was somehow associated with the real scarlet letter: "R" (Republicans).  Clinton was different and was very charismatic (Really? He always reminded me of a softer Biff from Back To The Future) because he had a better letter: "D" (Democrats)

Despite being whale-like, Gov. Christie is popular with the mainstream press because he has an over sized personality. The New York Times generally concedes that most Republican politicians are carbon based life forms, but that's about it. Christie is good copy. The last Republican that got great copy was John McCain. When he clinched the Republican nomination in 2008, those defenders of the Republic, The New York Times, breathlessly published a report of how McCain was fooling around with a woman that was not his wife. That's what having the letter "R" by your name gets you.

Just a little bit of advice for Gov Christie. If you run for President, you better buy an asbestos suit, XXL.

Friday, January 10, 2014

A Son Is Given

I have been writing humor for over 30 years as a hobby. For a majority of that time, I wrote in a notebook and called what I wrote "essays". Then came The Internet and now I call what I write "blogs". 

This is what I wrote twenty-three years ago after my son was born. I have added highlighted editorial comments.

I was there when the future President/Chief Justice of The Supreme Court/Shortstop for The Atlanta Braves, Benjamin William Manis was born at Kennestone Hospital in Marietta Georgia on January 15, 1991.

He weighed six pounds and fourteen ounces. He has baby fine light brown hair. He has his mother's nose and his father's chin. (Actually, it is the other away around. It wouldn't be my first mistake as a Dad.) He eats Enfamil with iron (more on that later). He hates a poopy diaper.

Let me tell you the truth about men and childbirth.

Truth One: It is really neat seeing your child born. Actually, this is a half-truth. Seeing a baby born is like watching a real long version of the lunch room scene in "Alien". The baby's head pops out and then the rest and everyone is happy. Suddenly, nurses come out of everywhere and do all sorts of weird things to the baby. Meanwhile, the obstetrician is busy sewing the mother up. The rest of it-the blood, watching your wife scream in pain, hyperventilating because you were too cheap to take a Lamaze class-this part is sheer Hell and if I ever catch the "mutha" who suggested  fathers should take part in the delivery, I don't know what I'll do. (Yes, I hyperventilated during the delivery. Women find this very funny.)

 This is sort of what it looks like in a delivery room except it is a woman and there isn't any food.

Truth Two: Men care more about Baby Names than women. With my wife being a notable exception, I have noticed that many women want to give boys "sweet" names. My mother was one of them. (Warning, uncomfortable truth is coming in Three..Two..One..). My given name is Leslie Alan Manis because it sounded "sweet" to my mother.  (My mother said she thought the name "flowed" and "sang". She also said she went through the Marietta phone book and put the names together. You can imagine what joy that brought to my two older brothers) Look, I'm only going to say this once: a boy's life is not sweet. Give a boy a name that will look good on a check, like "Benjamin William Manis". Benjamin means "Son of my right hand" or "Son of The South" or "A Ben that has jammed". William means "I am Will".  Manis is Welch for "Handsome Stallion Gazing Down on a Field". The kid can't lose. (One of my favorite episodes of "The Dick Van Dyke Show" was about Rob and Laura naming Ritchie. Rob's dad wanted the baby Petrie to be named "Sam" because "it was a nice name to do business with". I think that is what I was going for here.)

Truth Three: Beware of The Breast Terrorists. There are groups of people very interested in your wife and her breasts and if those breasts are feeding your child. One group is a your wife's female friends that have breast fed in the past and want your wife's breast to hurt as much as theirs. The second group is their husbands who want to check out your wife and if she is nursing it doesn't make them seem as perverted. 

Truth Four: It was an experience I will never forget. If (God help), we have 80 kids (It didn't happen, it was "One and we're done"), I'll never forget seeing Ben for the first time. I'm not a misty-eyed or an ooey-gooey emotional person, but it was just the happiest moment of my life.

(January 24,1991)

Friday, January 3, 2014

New York State Of Mind

It turns out that the city was so nice, we just had to visit twice.

As a combination Graduation/Christmas/Birthday/Valentine’s Day/BetterNotAskAgain Present, we took our son and his girlfriend to New York City. His girlfriend wanted to see Tiffany’s . I think our son wanted to spit off of the Empire State Building.

The trip started with a celebrity sighting. My wife said, “Don’t turn around but there is someone famous behind you.”  Like all good husbands, I turned around because “Don’t turn around”  means “Turn around and look stupid, preferably with your mouth open” to us.  I turned around and didn’t see anyone famous.  It would have been great to have turned around and saw George Will. My wife's boss is always running into famous people I want to see, like George Will. However, instead of seeing George Will, I saw a well groomed young man. More on this later.

The trip was uneventful. No problems getting our luggage. It was here the fun started.

Last year when we went to New York, we took a “shuttle” from the airport to the hotel. It was okay from the standpoint that we “survived” a trip with 20 other people cramped into an SUV going 400 miles an hour, but this year we decided to do something a little different. We decided to take a taxi.

At the airport, there is a guy who is in charge of getting your taxi for you. He is straight out of central casting. Big guy, with a booming voice, who spends most of his time yelling at people to “get outta here”.  Since, we were four adults with luggage, we had to have a special taxi.

The Guy In Charge of Getting Your Taxi motioned us to this taxi, which was small, yellow Ford Escape.  We put the luggage in the back. The driver asks where we need to go. I tell him, “Marriott Renaissance, Times Square”.  He said, “Do you have the address?” I was going to tell him that it is the Hotel that had the Big R on it before my son, using the web surfing skills he’s acquired in college, told him the actual address.

The taxi ride was ok. No near death experiences (for us; for a couple of cyclists-yes). I asked the driver how long he’s been driving a taxi. “Six months.” “You like it?” “It’s a living.” We’ve haven’t even gotten to the hotel, and the kids have experienced the real New York.

We arrive at the hotel and the check-in clerk was extra snotty with a dose of passive-aggression. Fortunately, we let the clerk know that this was not Jethro and Elle-Mae coming to the big city and we better get something we want or we will not be happy. Somehow, she found something that made us happy.

We went to the room, deposited our luggage, and went out into the night to find something to eat on Christmas Day.

We were walking in Times Square when my wife pointed at a billboard and said, “That’s the guy on our plane”. It was a picture of George Will. Seriously, it was a billboard for new show  on FOX called "Enlisted" and the guy on the plane was actor Chris Lowell. He was Skeeter's boyfriend in "The Help". That's how my life is now: I don't recognize anyone on a billboard in Times Square.

Believe it or not, there were a lot a places closed on Christmas Day. We stumbled into The Hard Rock, which would have been great if it was 1994. We amazed our waitress (who informed us later that she had "partied" with George Will Metallica) by telling her we had been to The Hard Rock in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. My son, the college graduate, committed the ultimate faux pas and asked for "Sweet Tea" to drink. Kids, you try to train them right.

The only bad part of the vacation is that we all came down with this killer strain of an upper respiratory/swine flu that was just awful. One evening, everybody wanted to go shopping some more, but I couldn't take it, so I went back to the room. When they came back to the room, they told me they saw another celebrity: George Will The Naked Cowgirl.

The Naked Cowgirl is a subsidiary of  The Naked Cowboy, INC which is a guy that stands around wearing a cowboy hat and a pair of briefs playing the guitar. The Naked Cowgirl is the same exact thing except she wears a bra, too.  My wife said she had a big Ponderosa.