Friday, June 27

"It's A Tire Blowout! Try Not To Get Killed!"

A Life Without Tires.

(NOTE FROM THE CDP: At 8pm last night, I suffered a serious tire blowout a few miles from my house. Me and the car are fine, minus a gash on my finger that bled like crazy and the couple hundred bucks it's going to cost me for two new tires. I'll be spending most of Friday morning at the repair shop, but more importantly, it should be noted that I changed the emergency tire flawlessly. This is due entirely to the following classic CDP essay from 2007, titled 'A Life Without Tires.' Please enjoy while I tend to my little incident; the conclusion to the CDP's Top 30 Atari 2600 Games Of All-Time will arrive Monday. Thanks for understanding, and enjoy your weekend.)


At 6 o'clock this morning, I heard my wife's cell phone ringing.

Wiping the crust out of my eyes, I pinched myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming and rolled out of bed. Just seconds ago, I was celebrating my incredible and inspirational win at the PBA Championships, rolling yet another perfect 300 game; my 19th perfect game overall. This occasion was all the more historic, however, because I had been shot in the ankle by a rival bowler just prior to the tournament. I saw through the pain and persevered though, hoisting my trophy while "We Are The Champions" played and I was carried off by my legions of fans. This was all happening in slow-motion, of course.

Yes, this is what I dream about. But I was awake now, and the phone was still ringing.

We didn't make it out to the phone in time, so the call was dropped. As we both goose-stepped around the kitchen, hypothesizing as to who it might have been on the other line, my cell phone began to ring. Clearly, someone was trying to get a hold of us now, and it couldn't wait until after The Price Is Right. Hell, it couldn't even wait until Regis & Kelly.

"I wonder who died," I said to the Missus before I answered.

People don't call you at 6am with good news. It's always bad. Trust me, since the birth of the telephone, nobody has ever been rushed out of bed because their friend won a tin of jellybeans at the County Fair two towns over. That kind of story can wait until after brunch. Nope, I've never gotten a call between the hours of 2 and 6am that I've looked forward to, nor will I ever.

Naturally, I was cringing when I said hello. I was waiting for the sobs of a grieving relative on the other end of the line. Either that, or the sound of a Federal Marshall informing me that they were in my driveway, and I should just come out with my hands up before they put a large hole in me. I even checked my bare chest for the red laser dot.

"Hello?"

"Hello!" chimed a voice far too cheery for an early-morning phone call.

"Um, hello? Who's this?" I said back. I was so groggy and out of my element, it could have been my doppelganger on the other line, and I still wouldn't have recognized the voice.

"It's Sherry."

"Sherry who? Are you a telemarketer? Because if you are, you just ruined an awesome Bowling Dream, lady. You should be ashamed--"

"I hate you."

As it turned out, it was our lifelong friend (we signed a contract) and new neighbor, Sherry. Apparently, she destroyed her tire on a pothole yesterday, and awoke to find it flat just before she was heading out to work.

I was quite aware of the pothole in question. We have a PetSmart on the East Side of town that has nothing short of a living, breathing sinkhole in the parking lot. I've seen ice cream trucks disappear into this thing, and Sherry thought she could just speed up and go over the top of it.

Now, her right front tire was shredded and she was late for work. It needed to be changed, but she didn't know how. Ruh-roh!

Sherry's husband Ben was working two hours north at the time, so she called me. I get the feeling that she must have called everyone she had ever met in her last 22 years on Earth before she settled on dialing my number asking for automotive assistance. I'd rather attempt to explain the ending of 2001: A Space Oddesey to a dog before even considering popping the hood on a car.

"Hey, do you know how to change a tire?"

So, there I was. Standing in the kitchen in my boxer shorts, six in the morning, approaching a huge crossroads in my path to becoming the least dependable person on the Goddamn planet.

"Um....no."

Yeah, that's right. I never learned how to change a tire. Oh, I know I should learn, you can save the lecture. It just has never come up until now. I always figured that when I finally got a flat tire, I'd just leave the car for dead and settle into whatever town I happened to be in at the time. Maybe get a job at the local grocery store; start a new life. A life without tires.

"You don't know how to change a tire? But you're a man!"

"Yeah, but just barely. Here, talk to my wife."

My Father-In-Law could change a tire in his sleep, so we arranged to have Sherry call him up. If anything, he'd tell her to call a tow truck and shuffle back to bed, much like me and the Missus were about to do. Guilt and feelings of worthlessness were plaguing me, but I didn't know how to change a tire, therefore I had no way of really helping her out.

Trust me, she did not want me to come over there and start tinkering with stuff. Within 30 seconds, I'd have a pulled groin, the bumper would be completely removed for some reason, and two other tires would be flat. I was actually doing her a favor by leaving her out to dry.

As I was getting ready to go to work, I was feeling like a real douche nozzle. I felt like I had let down a friend that had a certain amount of faith and respect in me. I mean, if you let someone down once, chances are they're not going to ask you again if they need help. It may have been the easy way out, but I honestly didn't want that. I may be functionless and lazy on the surface, but deep down, I want to be the person you call when you get locked out of your apartment. When you need a pickle jar opened. When you need to put your cat to sleep. I want to be that guy, but I refuse to take the necessary steps to be in that position of responsibility.

Looking in my bathroom mirror, I looked back at myself and scowled. I was a turd.

An hour later, I pulled out of my driveway and headed off to work. Down the street, I saw Sherry, still sitting in her car, looking pathetic and talking on her phone. Sure enough, her tire was still seriously flat; and sure enough, I still didn't know what to do. I pulled in to let her know that I was a monolithic loser, and she shouldn't ask me to do anything for her ever again.

As it turned out, she was waiting on a tow truck, and she would be charged a little for them to come out and throw the spare on. However, because she was a Saturn owner, they would replace and take care of all the other stuff at the dealership for free. I guess there are some perks to driving one of the worst cars on the road today (don't tell her I said that; her car is way nicer than mine). In the end, she was just a little late for work, and probably out about 20 bucks.

This was a big deal for me, though. Karma isn't good to me, and I knew that this meant that I was going to get a flat tire of my own...and soon. I'd probably deserve it, too.

Furthermore, this meant that I needed to start accepting more adult responsibilities now that, you know, I'm 25 stupid years old, and I've lived on my own since I was 18. How I've made it this long without crashing and burning is beyond me, and I realized that I didn't want to find out.

I buy self-cleaning litter boxes because I'm too lazy to provide basic turd-scooping needs for my cats. I live in apartments and condos because I don't want to do any lawn care or landscaping. If anything breaks in the house, I call a maintainence guy to come over and fix it. The last time I looked under the hood of my car, it was to change the brake fluid, and it took me over 5 minutes just to find the right hole to dump the liquid into. I have jumper cables in my trunk that still have the 'Happy Birthday!' tags on them, and my wife already knows not to call me when something goes wrong.

For God's sake, is there anything more unappealing and sad than a guy who can't do these things? I mean, it's absolutely pathetic. This flat tire was the wake-up call I so desperately needed to function at the base level as every other guy in the world. Yes, it took a borderline-emergency situation to make me realize that I was completely unreliable.

Hey, if you need a Haiku or poem written, you know who to call! Can't remember the name of that one guy that used to be on that one show? I'll be there in a jiffy! For everything else, forget about it! You know I can't get my hands dirty! So what if I only live 50 yards away! Hell, do you know how long it took me to write this entire story? An hour. I can yank a hilarious and meaningful essay out of absolutely nothing in less than 60 minutes, but I can't work a freaking wrench?

DAMN!

Yes it was just a flat tire. Sure, it wasn't even my flat tire. But it made me a better person.

After work tonight, I'll hit the gym for an hour. Then I'll spend an hour in my garage, forcing myself to become a tire-changing machine.

It's the least I can do.


HOW TO CHANGE A TIRE:

1. Find a safe spot to pull over. If you're on the freeway, pull over as far onto the shoulder as you can. Don't park in the middle of a curve, where approaching cars can't see you from far away. Also choose a flat spot; jacking up your car on a hill can be a disaster. If you have a manual transmission, leave your car in gear. Be sure to set your parking brake!

2. Turn on your hazard lights. Get the jack, wrench, and spare tire from the trunk of the car and bring them over to the tire that is flat. Use other tools or supplies if needed.

3. Use the wrench to loosen the lug nuts. You may need to remove the hubcap. Don't remove the lug nuts at this point; simply loosen them by turning the wrench to the left (counter-clockwise). If the lug nuts are really tight, try placing the wrench on the nut and standing on the wrench arm to use your full weight on it. You can also try hitting the wrench arm with a rock.

4. Use the jack to lift the vehicle off the ground. Different car models may have different places to put the jack; consult your owner's manual for specific locations. Once the jack is securely in the correct spot, jack up the car until the tire is about six inches off the ground.

5. Remove the lug nuts and pull the tire off the car. Make sure to place the lug nuts in a pile that won't get scattered, and pull the tire straight toward yourself to remove it from the wheel base.

6. Place the spare on the car. Line up the lug nut posts with the holes in the spare, and push the spare all the way onto the wheel base until it can't go any farther.

7. Put on the lug nuts. Don't put them on tightly, just make sure they're on enough for the spare to stay on the car for a moment.

8. Lower the car back to the ground. Use the jack to bring the car back down to ground level. Remove the jack from underneath the car.

9. Make sure the lug nuts are tightened. With the car back on the ground, you can now tighten the lug nuts. Rather than tightening them one by one in order, start with one lug nut, tighten it about 50%, move to the opposite nut (across the circle) and tighten that one about the same amount. Keep tightening opposite lug nuts gradually in turn until each lug nut is as tight as it can be.

10. Put your flat tire and tools back in your trunk. Make sure you don't leave anything on the side of the road.

Thursday, June 26

CDP's Top 30 Atari Games Of All-Time (30-16).

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Finally, the first half of the CDP's list of the Top 30 Atari 2600 games of all-time. This is my own personal list based on games that I've been fortunate enough to play over the last 22 years, and by no means is a complete document of well-researched Atari 2600 history. Please enjoy.

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30. Air Raid

Air Raid is one of only two games on this list that I haven't actually played. I did, however, feel the need to include it for the sheer rarity and mystery that it conjures. The shape of the cartridge. The fact that it's worth thousands. The artwork on the game itself. This all perfectly represents the nostalgia and wide-eyed wonder of the Atari Age.

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29. Star Raiders

Star Raiders utilized a computer keyboard that I didn't have the instructions for in 1986, so for the first year that I owned the game, it was essentially impossible to play. Once I located the manual and keypad directions, it became significantly more fun, as you would imagine.

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28. Bobby Is Going Home

Sure, Bobby Is Going Home was a bit of a Pitfall!-style ripoff, but at least they picked a decent game to cannibalize. I played (and enjoyed the hell out of) this game when I was in the 4th Grade; it belonged to an old friend named Dave. Judging by how rare the game appears to be now, I certainly hope he held onto it.

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27. Atlantis

Combining elements of Space Invaders and Missile Command, Atlantis is a game that holds up just as well as the afformentioned classics (Just to be sure, I played it again last weekend). The only thing I don't like about it is the generic cover art for the cartridge. It's almost as if they knew it was the generic equivalent to Missile Command, so they packaged it as accordingly.

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26. Grand Prix

I hate Grand Prix. Loathe it with the blazing intensity of a thousand suns. A few months ago, I almost broke the game over my knee. Why? Because Grand Prix reminds me that I'm an idiot. With just a tiny bit of memorization and pattern recognition, you can blaze through racetracks like a man possessed. Hell, you could probably train a chimp to play this game better than me. I on the other hand, have yet to get a mere 70-second track devoted to memory. This is, presumably, because I'm an idiot, and Grand Prix sucks for reminding me of that.

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25. Haunted House

Without Haunted House, there might not have been a Resident Evil. Seriously. The survival horror genre hadn't been invented before Haunted House forced you to walk through a dark mansion in an attempt to retrieve an urn from the ghost of the former owner. On long-term influence alone, Haunted House deserves recognition.

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24. Escape From The Mindmaster

This was the other game on this list that I actually haven't played for myself. I did, however, watch someone play it for hours on end (I didn't own the cassette add-on required to play it), and it was positively groundbreaking and expansive for its time and primitive technology. And while it looks to be nothing more than an early example of that maze Screen Saver that comes pre-loaded in Windows 95, the mini-games and twists were more than enough to keep you interested for weeks.

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23. Galaxian

This would be a good time to explain some nuts and bolts that went into this Top 30 countdown. I'm trying to rank my favorite Atari 2600 games of all-time, not 'arcade games in general.' This needs to be taken into consideration when you see that games like Donkey Kong, Pac-Man and Q-Bert have been omitted from the list. The reason being is that while these were timeless and classic arcade games, they more or less sucked a boatload of ass when reformatted for the 2600. Galaxian is a little bit of both; not graphic-intensive enough to suffer when re-packaged, and not memorable enough to sit alongside of multi-format classics like Asteroids and Space Invaders.

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22. Yar's Revenge

Much like Star Raiders, Yar's Revenge was not a 'jump right in' sort of game if you were lacking the instruction booklet. However, once you understood the missions at hand, it became a strategy masterpiece for the 2600; perhaps overrated in 2008 but underrated at the time of release. Also, the sound effects for this game were fairly epic, and I just read that in 2005, a sequel was created. Rad.

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21. Joust

Joust holds a bittersweet place in my heart for being the final Atari 2600 game that I purchased new as a kid. I think it cost me $35, which is absolutely hilarious to me now that I can find used copies for a quarter at the Video Game X-Change at the East Towne Mall.

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20. Adventure

The main thing I want to mention about Adventure is the same thing that everyone likes to mention concerning Adventure. Apart from the fact that it's a groundbreaking-er, adventure game, it's the first instance of an 'easter egg' in a video cartridge. By following a secret area, a hidden screen reveals the name of the game's creator, thus paving the way for disgruntled developers to implant messages into their games for decades to come.

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19. Defender

Boy, I loved Defender, but did I suck at it. In fact, this game is constantly referred to as one of the most difficult of all-time. I haven't played it on the 2600 or at an arcade for years, and with good reason. I'm too old to get sodomized so violently by a 30 year old game that I look back upon so fondly. It would sort of like imagining your grandmother in hell.

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18. Burgertime

Burgertime was one of those great arcade games that transferred less-than-beautifully onto the 2600, but I still included it because it was still endlessly replayable and just as fun. Also, I'd say that this was a precursor to Tetris in getting my Obsessive-Compulsive disorder on the right track.

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17. Tempest

A 3-D vector game with no ending that was created when the main developer had a nightmare about monsters crawling out of holes in the ground to kill him. You know what; I don't even care that the Atari 2600 port of Tempest never got past the prototype stage; this game ruled.

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16. Kaboom!

This paddle-based game relied on you catching and defusing bombs with buckets of water. Kaboom! was yet another of the 'catching things before they hit other things' game, but a high score of 3,000 points or more got you access into the Activision 'Bucket Brigade;' an exclusive club that I have yet to be invited into.

The conclusion to the Top 30 will arrive tomorrow and round out the week. Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your day.

Related Goodness: The CDP's Top 15 NES Games Of All-Time.


Wednesday, June 25

We'll Sleep On Ice When This Bed Is On Fire.

CDP Liveblog.

I've never tried 'Live Blogging' before, so here's something altogether new for the CDP: The following minute-by-minute log was written by yours truly yesterday, while doing administration duties for a particularly cumbersome and nerve-wracking examination at a nearby hotel. It's a bit lengthy, but it's worth the read in my opinion. Enjoy.

8:15 AM - I leave home at 7:05 am, and after getting lost twice and hitting road construction thrice, I arrive to the Rodeway Inn at 8:05 am, just in time to set up my equipment for the Pharmacy exam and obliterate the free continental breakfast.

8:29 AM - I eat two doughnuts, a bagel drowning in cream cheese and two glasses of orange juice. I ask for milk, but the concierge never comes back. I think he thinks I’m homeless, and I offer no explanation as to why I am not.

8:48 AM - Due to new testing protocol, the amount of work that I’m supposed to do today has gone from ‘entirely too much’ to ‘don’t bother showing up until noon.’ I’m needed for five seconds every 10 minutes, and quickly realize that I brought along no acts of subterfuge to break the monotony. It’s going to be a long day.

8:51 AM - I just ate a rhubarb muffin by accident. I swear to God, that crap tastes just like pennies and battery acid. Who enjoys this stuff? I take my first of what will assuredly be hundreds of bathroom breaks throughout the day.

9:35 AM – We have our first exam failure of the day, and it’s a spectacular one. In fact, the girl in question only scored a few points more than I did. Bear in mind, I didn’t take the test at all. I feel sort of bad, but I can’t help but chuckling when determining the pass point. She has a better chance of winning the Gold in Men’s Javelin than becoming a licensed Pharmacist.

10:00 AM – Bored already, I call my wife at work. She’s less than sympathetic. There are about 35 people on staff today that are running around and making sure things go smoothly, and I’m sitting in the corner, brushing up on my Excel formulas and eavesdropping on stories about meth labs and children named Walker and Mackenzie.

10:21 AM – I’ve just been told that we’re running way ahead of schedule, and there will be about two hours of total downtime between the 9:45 and 12:45 group. I silently contemplate what I will do during this time; either walk to the nearby Denny’s for a halfway-vegetarian lunch (the hotel catering staff stuffed everything with meat), or take in the scenic views of the Madison Beltline. In the end, I decide to kill myself.

10:28 AM – Someone walks past me with a glass of milk. Where did that jackass get milk? Intrigued, I decide to take a walkabout.

10:32 AM – No such luck. From what I can gather, that dude poured himself a glass of milk in his car. I change the wallpaper on my cell phone, and try for the billionth time to connect to a wireless network through this laptop. Not happening. I saw a kid in the lobby with a MacBook; maybe he’d be willing to trade for a 10 year old ThinkPad that’s property of the State of Wisconsin and weighs a shade under 30 pounds. At the very least, he could use it to beat potential muggers to death.

10:45 AM – I take a walk around the hotel. No pool, but an arcade that features such classics as Lethal Enforcers and Cruisin’ USA. Their candy machines are all but empty, and their soda machine still carries Slice. I haven’t had a can of Slice since the last time I was at this hotel; they may be the last place on Earth that still stocks it.

10:47 AM – Man, this electric stapler kicks ass.

10:49 AM – I read a USA Today article on George Carlin. I find it a shame that the media typically focused on nothing but his obscenity trial and ‘Place for your stuff’ routine. I mean, that was all fine and good, but come on; the guy recorded 23 albums and performed for over 50 years. When Jerry Seinfeld dies, will they eulogize him with the headline, “The comedian about nothing?”

10:55 AM – Actual critique from one examiner’s grading sheet: “Candidate wasn’t wearing socks.” I’ll make a note of that; thanks.

11:06 AM – Got busy there for a second. Coffee smells really good right about now. They’re bringing lunch in, and I’m eying up that mixed green salad like you wouldn’t believe.

11:20 AM – Someone just asked me if I carpool to work. I told them that I like singing in my car far too much to share a morning commute with strangers. They laugh heartily, but they don’t realize that I’m serious.

11:30 AM – For the first time this year, it’s amazingly hot outside; maybe 90 degrees while standing on the blacktop. A nearby cottonwood tree covers my clothes with its deposits, while I stand in the parking lot and carefully examine the decisions I made in life that got me to this point in time. I start to get all burny, so I head back indoors.

11:41 AM – A group of people behind me are sharing a very specific set of stories: times that they got caught in traffic on their way to Canada. As weird of a storytelling genre as this is, most of the people have halfway-entertaining tales to tell. I have a couple, but I’ll keep it to myself. I don’t give things like that away for just anyone.

11:50 AM – Catering took the coffee pot away in the main ballroom in anticipation for lunch. This pleases nobody, as I’m once again reminded that caffeine is an addictive drug that turns people into assholes when they’re neglected of it. Grow up, kids.

11:52 AM – Man, I could go for a cup of coffee right now. I broke my eight year caffeine strike a couple of times while me and the Missus moved into our new house. Since then, the thought of consuming more has been in the back of my head for days now. Weird how that happens. Oh, and don’t bother with the ‘drink decaf’ discussion. That is sheer pointlessness.

12:00 PM – A cheese sandwich and potato salad for lunch. Better than I assumed it would be. Miracle Whip instead of mayo, white instead of wheat and Sierra Mist instead of 7up. I feel very proud for being able to make such sacrifices without causing problems. The things I do for the betterment of the state of Wisconsin is staggering at times.

12:05 PM – As the elderly examiners and proctors file into the ballroom for lunch, I’m reminded that senior citizens love nothing more than to talk about their various ailments, surgeries and friends that have died of one horrid disease or another. I suppose there comes a point in your life where you dedicate it to merely staying alive on a day-to-day basis; therefore you’d probably have a lot to say on the matter when it comes up. I should be so lucky.

12:07 PM – Colon cancer. Chemotherapy. A neighbor kid slashed the tires on my boat trailer. My feet hurt. I can’t eat with plastic silverware. I can’t live without meat. And so on, and so forth.

12:09 PM – I miss the Internet. I miss the CDP. I miss the Earth so much; I miss my wife.

12:19 PM – I’m two-thirds of the way through this examination. Even though this is the smoothest year of administering it that I can remember, I sometimes miss the disasters and candidate freak-outs. We once had a girl that refused to get off of her cell phone to answer questions or speak to anyone. Another girl threw up. This is a big damn deal to a lot of recent graduates, and they sometimes handle the pressure with less than grace. Women, mostly; although I’m not making a statement of any kind. Guys typically just up and leave when they’re frustrated, as is their nature.

12:23 PM – I’m sweating straight through these khakis. Whoever invented the term ‘business casual’ needs to have their ballbag pounded flat with a rubber mallet.

12:34 PM – Tragedy strikes. The electric stapler runs out of bullets, and I’m forced to go back to manual. This is like going back to dial-up when you’ve been conditioned to cable. I do some brief wrist exercises and stretches. Should have brought sweatbands.

12:40 PM – I wish I could listen to the new Girl Talk album right now; it’s pretty terrific. I’d say that it’s right on par with Night Ripper, but as is the case with both albums, the profanity and disgusting lyrical content of some modern hip-hop samples keeps me from blasting it when the Missus or my friends are around. Maybe I should remix a clean version. Sort of like a fan edit, only for something that was already good in the first place. Fan edits keep fans of crappy directors naïve and ignorantly unaware that their favorite movies suck.

12:45 PM – Entertainment Weekly proclaimed that Pulp Fiction was the greatest movie of the last 25 years, and I agree wholeheartedly. But they went on to say that the Purple Rain soundtrack was the greatest album of the last 25 years, which couldn’t be more wrong.

12:54 PM – I guess men aren’t doing too well on this exam, as there is a question involved in the interview which may imply that the female subject is pregnant. I guess none of the men are catching on to this, which surprises me none. Guys tend to overlook things as subtle as a pregnancy.

1:00 PM – Somebody puked. I eat an oatmeal raisin cookie. It’s pretty good.

1:08 PM – For as prim, proper, professional and formal as some of these female board members are, I bet they’d get a real kick out of me talking dirty to them. Some of them are just begging for it, what with their pantsuits and handbags. I try my theory out on a girl in particular that has been keeping an eye on me for most of the day. I make a crack about guys not recognizing subtle hints (see above note), and mention that ladies need to lay the flirting on pretty thick for a typical guy to take notice. She laughs deeply, brushes her hair back and puts her arm on my shoulder. She totally wants me.

1:11 PM – The girl in question continues to ask me questions. Even though this is, without question, the most fun I’ve had all day, it’s probably best that I excuse myself. “Will I see you next week?” she asks, in reference to an upcoming meeting at our office. “If you’re lucky,” I shoot back without skipping a beat. Her eyes light up in a nearly giddy way, and I’m reminded that older women need excitement, too. That was fun.

1:16 PM – I’d call the Missus and apologize for flirting if I could get any reception in this hotel. I’d go outside, but it’s got to be 120 degrees out there right now. Besides, she couldn’t care less.

1:28 PM – There’s not even Solitaire on this computer. No Minesweeper; nothing.

1:37 PM – If the dude with the aviator glasses asks me one more question that I don’t know the answer to, I’m just going to tip over backwards in my chair and start kicking wildly into the air. It used to work for me to get out of jams; I haven’t tried it in awhile.

1:40 PM – The last time I was here, it was for a training seminar where they catered us with a punchbowl full of apples. If you’ve never heard what it sounds like when 30 people silently eat apples in unison, it’s damn near impossible to keep a straight face.

1:42 PM – I sure could go for an apple right now. When I get bored, I eat like Kobyashi at Coney Island. I’ve also ingested enough fiber and grains today to keep me regular until Halloween.

1:55 PM – Another note from an examiner; “Candidate was wearing a lab coat.” Poor bastard thought he had to show up in uniform; I wish I could have seen him.

1:57 PM – I wonder how long I could walk around my house wearing a lab coat before the Missus started with the questions. I sometimes think about stuff like that; just yesterday, I was fantasizing that when people donated their hair to Locks of Love, the sick kids were to get the exact same hairstyle as the people who donated. I then laughed myself to tears thinking about various kids in wheelchairs, sporting haircuts by the likes of Busta Rhymes, the Nelson brothers and the guy with the flattop from Kid-N-Play.

2:03 PM – Eighteen seconds. That’s how long I could wear a lab coat before the Missus would inquire.

2:05 PM – If I could have any famous person’s hairstyle grafted onto my head, it would probably be Mike Ness from Social Distortion. I think widow’s peaks are amazing.

2:21 PM – Current background conversation: “My husband got his vasectomy reversed so we could try to have a baby.” Song that I’m humming in my head to drown out such unpleasantries: “Superstar,” by the Carpenters.

2:22 PM – “He wanted to have sex, but I told him it was too soon, and he’d pop a stitch.”

2:23 PM – Baby, baby, baby, baby, oh baby. I love you. I really do.

2:26 PM – Looks like I’m going to get out of here early today; maybe as early as 3pm. In past years, this exam was like…the opposite of Christmas in terms of excitement and fondness, but in recent years, I’ve been a credible hand in streamlining it out of existence. Hell, if I’m lucky, maybe they’ll fire me.

2:31 PM – Aviator Glasses Guy just asked me another question. I didn’t have a tantrum, but I threw an imaginary throwing star into his back as he walked away. Take that, Tom Clancy!

2:38 PM – I was having an e-mail conversation with Pointless Banter’s Kevin Palmer the other day, and we were talking about what we’d do if we suddenly became billionaires. My first order of business was to install a tap in my kitchen that emitted a steady flow of Butterscotch Snack-Pak pudding. I’m unaware of the logistics behind such a project, but I’ll see to it that it reaches completion.

2:43 PM – I could go for some mini-golf right now. Maybe a Tuesday night in Wisconsin Dells is in order. We could survey the flood damage and give back to the community in the form of Shipwreck Lagoon Adventure Golf.

2:48 PM – The exam is waning now, and it’s been more or less flawless. My job has gone off without a hitch, and I’m about 30 candidates away from calling it a day. I want to get home early and surprise the cats. I sometimes think that while we’re gone, they cook meals and take cans to the recycling center for spare change. Today, I’ve got the jump on them. I’m on to you, cats.

2:55 PM – After nearly 7 straight hours of back-breaking labor, my work day is done. See you next year, Rodeway Inn; keep a supply of Slice on hand for yours truly.

Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your day. The CDP's Top 30 Atari 2600 Games Of All-Time is on deck.

Tuesday, June 24

Life Is Worth Losing.

Hero.

Some brief words on the passing of George Carlin.

Last week, it was announced that The Kennedy Center was to award George Carlin with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor; the greatest award that a humorist can receive, and only the 11th recipient of the award overall. This was to recognize his 50+ years of performing and contributions to the world of Comedy. Despite the nature of his act, I know without question that Mr. Carlin would have been gracious and humble to accept it, and it was a shame that he passed away before the ceremony.

From a personal standpoint, I consider George Carlin to be one of my greatest influences. Not necessarily concerning comedy, writing or performing, but my personality and outlook overall. Carlin made me realize that everything needed to be questioned, authority didn't have to be respected, religion didn't have to be believed and the freedom of speech needed to be upheld. The traditions and iconic figures (including Carlin himself) that we hold so dear need to be held up to the microscope and examined, in the hopes of finding the true meaning of life; that we're here to enjoy the show. Be nice to those around you and do what you can to make a better life for yourself and your loved ones, but don't fear judgment and don't be afraid to ask questions.

George Carlin made me realize that the greatest comics do so much more than tell jokes. As a 12-year-old, I remember discovering 70's Carlin material by rooting through my uncle's record collection while visiting my cousin for a weekend (along with Steve Martin and Rodney Dangerfield, among others). His pinpoint delivery and borderline-slapstick mixed with social commentary, one right after the next, absolutely blew me away. It wasn't the profanity and occasional 'obscene' nature of Carlin's work that impressed me so much as a kid, it was the way that he did everything so seamlessly, had a specific point of view and had a brilliant way of making people understand the absurdity of our own existence. Carlin was a true genius.

At the age of 70, a point where most men would be happy (and fortunate enough) to live a healthy life of quiet retirement, Carlin recorded his 14th HBO comedy special, which turned out to be one of his best in a decade. When fans of Carlin's work silently worried that the old man had lost his edge and social relevance, he once again defied expectation and created a fitting and astoundingly brilliant final masterwork. The drive and intelligence of this man was astounding; we should all be so lucky to continue to form new viewpoints and remain so current and bright at the age of 70.

One of the things that I'll miss about Carlin was his off-stage demeanor. Critics state that Carlin was a grumpy old man; a reformed addict that pushed his atheist agenda to the point where it was no longer funny. However, every time we saw Carlin interviewed or accepting yet another award for his achievements, we all were able to see Carlin for who he truly was; a humble, sweet, brilliant and intelligent performer that always knew exactly what he was doing at all times. Anyone who negatively judged Carlin based on his stand-up persona was missing out on a huge portion of who he was as a man. I humorously remember the first time I saw Carlin on The Tonight Show; I had fully expected some tongue-lashing tirade about the English language or the current President, but instead, I was met with an interesting, logical, calm and quiet discussion. He always surprised me.

George Carlin has made me more intelligent. Harder. More angry at the world. More accepting of human beings but continually frustrated by the groups that they attach themselves to. George Carlin has allowed me to accept that there are certain things completely out of my control that I cannot allow myself to worry about. George Carlin reminded me to sit back and enjoy the show. To continually evolve and never accept what people tell me is right. To trust my gut. To make it a personal goal to make at least one person laugh every single day of my life. For all of this and more, I cannot thank him enough.

When Kurt Vonnegut passed away last year, the big joke among his fans was to state "He's up in heaven now." This was in reference to the following passage in God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian:

"I am honorary president of the American Humanist Association, having succeeded the late, great, spectacularly prolific writer and scientist, Dr. Isaac Asimov in that essentially functionless capacity. At an A.H.A. memorial service for my predecessor I said, "Isaac is up in Heaven now." That was the funniest thing I could have said to an audience of humanists. It rolled them in the aisles. Mirth! Several minutes had to pass before something resembling solemnity could be restored."

In many ways, I considered Mr. Vonnegut and Mr. Carlin to share similar worldviews, and I cannot help but think of this quote now that we've lost them both in a little over a year. And it makes me laugh. Hard. And much like Vonnegut, part of me thought that this day might not ever happen, that these heroes would live forever and continue to shine through the garbage until the end of time.

I won't say that Carlin is in Heaven now, but if there is one, he's there.

Thank you so much for everything.

Monday, June 23

Queen Vandals, Bomb Pops & Old-Timey Boxers.



1. Today is the deadline for the CDP Worldwide Mix-Tape Exchange #3, so get those mixes in the mail by the end of the day today! Unless you haven't already gotten back to me and your Mix Buddy with a damn good excuse, don't expect any sympathy from myself or the CDP faithful when it's discovered that you've gone deadbeat. It's just like when you don't get the Big Wheel around all the way on The Price Is Right; even the elderly and frail get booed when they're unable to accomplish such a simple task. Don't let me down.



2. It was one year ago this week that I changed the Internet forever with my very first (and to this day, only) YouTube clip. Please step back to 2007 and enjoy my instructional foray into creating your new favorite Summer drink, the Bomb Pop; featuring the kitchen of my old apartment in all its tiny glory.



3. The always entertaining, vibrant, funny and well-scrubbed Emily Mills sent me this short clip last weekend in promotion for the Kino Louisville Spring Cabaret. Starring herself and Madison filmmaker extraordinaire Rob Matsushita, they were kind enough to throw a CDP shoutout within. Furthermore, Emily can officially do whatever she wants and still look cute. It's quite the talent, I must say.

The CDP's Top 30 Atari 2600 Games Of All-Time will arrive on Wednesday and Friday of this week, so stay tuned. Until then, get those Mix-Tapes mailed out, get a hold of me if you've hit a snag somehow, sound off in the comments section and enjoy your day.