Tuesday, October 7CDP Top 30 Of All-Time ('06-'08) - #24.
#24 - "The Geek.Kon Aftermath."
(Originally Published October 10, 2007.)
I had never been to a 'Con' before, and was honestly fearing the worst. I envisioned the sweaty, unwashed masses of overweight humanity, goose-stepping out of their parents' basements, throwing on their best ironic t-shirts or star fleet uniforms, and thoroughly embarrassing myself and my beloved city.
I was pleasantly surprised. I'm also ignorant and more than a little bit of an asshole.
For a first-year, completely free Sci-Fi/Anime/Gaming convention, Geek.Kon 2007 delivered the goods and offered a lot of promise for the future. Thanks to the hard work of volunteers and staff, I firmly envision Geek.Kon to be one of the premiere Cons in the Midwest in no less than five years. The weekend festivities were even featured on CNN!
(My VIP pass ensured that I didn't have to wait in line at the Mark Hamill kissing booth.)
Now that the organizers have earned clout, they can charge admission and gather more paying sponsors. This will generate more revenue to secure a better venue, better guests, better prizes and better ways to accommodate and please the ever-growing fan base. Over 1,800 people attended this two-day affair, and I'm guessing that number might double in 2008.
Furthermore, once the CDP is recognized as the funniest and dare I say, sexiest blog in Wisconsin, I'll probably be signing autographs and collecting hotel room keys like nobody's business come next year.
(Amazingly, the line started forming at 7am on Saturday morning. During CARTOONS!)
My only two criticisms of the event had nothing to do with the Convention itself. The venue needs to be changed (they really had no choice but to hold it here this year), and a lot of the Geeks in question refused to bathe beforehand. However, don't let it be said that Sci-Fi conventions are nothing more than gatherings of pungent, dateless losers with fantasies that would crack even the filthiest psyche, nope! I spotted more cute Cosplay girls than an entire day spent in the Anime section of Suncoast Video. Believe me, I'm there a lot.
(If you were a semi-cute girl in a somewhat-cute looking costume, you pretty much pwn3d the place.)
Here are the details, from what I can recall. I should also mention that a lot of these photographs are not mine. The labeled ones were shot by Chris Norris for Dane 101. Please visit both sites so they don't get mad and make me remove all of them. I've only gotten into copyright trouble one other time, and I really don't want to experience it again.
(This hallway was exposed to natural sunlight, so it was for the safety of the Geeks that they avoid it.)
I wanted to arrive right away at 8am on Saturday, to watch the MST3K episode Jack Frost, arguably the best Mike Nelson episode of the entire series. However, campus parking in Madison is a cruel joke, and the Missus had to actually drop me off at the door at around 9:45am while she continued to look for a spot. Had I been any later, I would have forfeited my place in the Guitar Hero II tournament, which was the main reason for my attendance in the first place.
I brought my own axe (pictured above) with its very own case. Considering that some folks brought robots they constructed out of old washing machine parts, I didn't think I was going to get stared at too much.
(The Geek.Kon vendors accepted cash, check or anything adorable from Japan.)
I found out that the tournament was going to start a little later than announced, so I did some walking around the convention grounds while my friends were in the process of parking 1.5 miles from the venue (seriously). There were three floors of geek goodness, from LAN parties to DDR to cosplay to Anime viewings to artists to vendors to movies...you name it, it was probably somewhere under the roof of the University of Wisconsin Humanities Building.
Walking around by myself, I lowered my jackass facade a bit and took in how much fun everyone seemed to be having. It was infectious, and it in tune made me happy.
Then my friends showed up, and I went back to making fun of everyone. I never said I was a strong man of character; next time, I'm coming alone.
(One of the few chances you can wear a skiing outfit in the Autumn without people thinking you're retarded.)
What shocked me above all was the large amount of press coverage this thing was getting. Every local network, and a few national networks were on hand to roll tape and ask questions. During the Guitar Hero tournament, for example, news crews were really starting to bother the participants while they were trying to play. These poor kids were just trying to win a contest, and some douche from Channel 27 was trying to get their name and information at the same time. Dude, Monkey Wrench is only a three-minute song; just give them a bit, okay?
(Yes, women outnumbered the men here. Yes, I have no idea how that happened.)
Since the convention was brand new and free, the organizers couldn't really bring in the Whedons and Wheatons and whatnot (hilarious), so fans and volunteers set up their own panels in which to talk about these people. Personally, I think they did a great job.
Being a huge fan of Japanese music, I was saddened to see that the entire auditorium for the J-Pop panel was standing-room only by the time I got there. On the other hand, I was satisfied that things were going so well. I knew what it was like to put a lot of work into something that nobody else cared about, so it always makes me happy to see a dream play out better than expected.
For example, when I was in High School, I wrote a pretty amazing song about a kid that used to touch himself in the library while looking at pornography on the school's computers. Imagine my shock when everyone was turned off by the whole thing. I thought it was brilliant, and could have rocketed our band to super-stardom. For the time being, "Library Jack-Off Boy" still sits in my filing cabinet, just waiting to be unleashed on the general public.
(The auditorium was packed to the rafters when the CDP made his presentation.)
Being new to the convention scene, I don't know the deal with photograph etiquette. I mean, if I see someone wearing a neat costume that they put a lot of time into, is it polite or impolite to ask for a picture with them? Is it okay to approach strangers in this regard? There were more than a few people who deserved to be the center of attention (the lady in red up above, for example), I just didn't want to come off like a stooge or pervert every time I asked for a picture.
Each time I stared at a younger girl in costume for more than a second, I half-expected Chris Hansen to pop up and tell me to have a seat next to the plate of cookies. Eventually, I just put my head down and made a beeline to the Guitar Hero room. The tournament was about to begin.
(I don't know who this girl is, I haven't met her and I don't know her name, but I'm almost positive that I love her.)
There were 16 slots in the GHII tournament, and a packed room of about 30 in attendance. The folks who showed up early had the advantage of being able to warm up and get comfortable in the room, while I dashed in 5 minutes beforehand, clutching my guitar and a box of Lemonheads that were my only source of food so far that day. This already wasn't what I had planned for myself.
Nonetheless, I scoped out the competition and took a seat near the back. I stayed unassuming and went through my battle plan and strategy in private.
My strategy? Swear loudly to distract my opponents and throw punches when necessary.
(Say what you want. Those are pretty amazing costumes. My t-shirt and jeans combo didn't stand a chance.)
The preliminary round eliminated the pack from 16 to 8 competitors, which called for everyone to play the same two songs, and cut the bottom 8 total scores. There were a lot of good players in the room, and I was feeling a little nervous before it was my turn to shine. Furthermore, my entourage and wife were late in showing up, and filed in halfway through my first song.
I played pretty good, though, and survived the cut from 16 to 8, ranking #2 overall. This allowed me to have control over what songs I wanted to play during the head-to-head portion of the tournament, excluding if I were to face the #1 ranked seed in the finals.
This did not happen. For, in that very room, my worst nightmare loomed. A sight so intimidating and nerve-shattering, that all who came before it were humbled in their presence.
Of course, I'm talking about the token Asian kid.
(Screw the robot, look at this dude's shirt! Raddest. Attire. EVER.)
You know who I'm talking about. At every arcade, in every video game competition, there is a token Asian kid ready to pulverize and destroy everything you thought you knew. He's going to humiliate you, embarrass you with his work ethic and maybe sleep with your girlfriend if he wants to. I don't know what it is about Asian kids that makes them so damn good at video games, but it's almost unfair.
I won my quarterfinal match with ease, and faced the token Asian kid in the semis for a chance to go to the championships. I tried to keep my composure, but I couldn't help but tremble as I plugged my controller into the PS2. "Stick to the game plan," I said to myself. "Stay cool, you can beat this guy!"
It's a good thing the crowd was standing behind me, because I started peeing my pants pretty early into the face-off.
(Not Natalie Portman, but hey, close enough!)
It was a 2-out-of-3 match, and I got the honors of choosing the first song. Instead of my slow and steady, conservative style I adopted to cruise through the tournament, I decided to pick a hard song and see if I could rattle this kid. Of course, we all know that you cannot rattle an Asian kid at anything.
I was destroyed. Manhandled. Embarrassed in front of my wife and friends. Strike 1.
For Round 2, my opponent had the choice of song, and he decided to pick the one song that I absolutely, positively, beyond a shadow of a doubt cannot freaking play. I was almost laughed out of the room, and graciously accepted my 3rd Place finish as the token Asian kid went on to win the tournament.
His prize? A key chain!
(Here, I take on my quarterfinal challenger while Fidel Castro sits on my right.)
My friends were shocked at how reserved I was at the outcome, considering that I was just raped in front of 30 people. My opinion was that I played the best I could, and I only would have been mad had I choked for whatever reason. I was fine with the finish, and we were now free to roam about the convention in peace.
Eight seconds later, I grabbed a random dude, booted him right in the rod and threw him out of a third-story window.
(Geek.Kon was state-of-the-art, boasting a fully-functional 'chalked board.')
After some more roaming, we finally left Geek.Kon to grab some food. By accident, we wandered into Harvest Fest, which was a huge competing festival dedicated to the legalization of marijuana. I got concerned that I would be photographed and shown on the nightly news, which would assuredly lead to a frantic call from my mother. We hustled out of there pretty quick.
Oh, and to those who want weed legalized? Not going to happen. Ever. Sorry.
(I sure hope this sticker gets noticed more than I do. I didn't give away a single thing that day.)
In conclusion, I can't wait for Geek.Kon 2008. To the organizers and volunteers, you did a great job. My only suggestion is that you put a shower on sight for those who desperately need it. If you ever need someone to lead a panel on how to run a moderately successful and ego-driven local blog, I think I might be able to help you out. You have officially converted me.
Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your day.
Monday, October 6CDP Top 30 Of All-Time ('06-'08) - #25.
#25 - "Eat Me, Cake."
(Originally Published February 15, 2008.)
A couple of weeks ago, I picked up Cake's 'B-Sides & Rarities' disk. Cake has been one of my favorite bands for over a decade now, and I wasn't about to let a collection of cover songs and throwaways slip my grasp, regardless of their previous mediocre album. One trip to Best Buy and $10 later, it was mine.
When I got home, I began tearing the CD out of the plastic as the Missus began to prepare dinner directly behind me in the kitchen. As I opened the jewel case, I was instantly hit with an almost indescribably putrid stench. It was as if a tractor tire decided to have sex with a jar of grape jam while a rouge turd worked them both over with a blowtorch and fine oils. It was hellish.
Not thinking for a second that this scent had wafted out of a compact disk case, I quickly turned around to see what the Missus was up to, and find a kind way to opt out of tonight's dinner plans.
"What...in the hell...are you cooking?"
"Nothing yet, why?"
As soon as the last syllable of the last word escaped her mouth, the molten rubber/jam jar/turd gangbang parade reached the inside of her nostrils. She recoiled, as we both stood there for a fraction of a second, completely dumbfounded and unsure of what was going on. It was only a matter of time before the accusations started to fling over which one of us had crapped in their respective pants.
Having never experienced such an unholy reaction to opening an album (with the exception of anything recorded by Something Corporate), we both cocked our heads and slowly wandered over to the open jewel case, as if it were a bomb ready to spew further noxious gas forth. I pressed my nose to the liner notes and inhaled deeply.
Have you ever been blasted with pepper spray? Well, I have, and this was as close as I wanted to get again. I immediately stopped breathing, my eyes began to water and my mouth dropped open. I was one-hundred percent immobilized; women seriously need to start carrying copies of this album around with them for protection. What in the hell was going on?
It was as if we were watching an alien being hatch from a giant egg on our breakfast bar. "This can't be happening!" I yelled. "What IS it!?!" screamed the Missus, hands pressed against her face. I didn't know at the time what had turned 'B-Sides & Rarities' into a virtual Pandora's Box of ass matter and anguish, but I also knew that it wasn't allowed to stay in the house any longer.
I grabbed a pair of tongs and threw the entire contents of the jewel case into the freezing cold garage. Whatever the problem was, it could work itself out there while me and the Missus began the slow and painful healing process back inside the house. She hit the computer and I reached for the Clorox 'kitchen cleansers.'
A few minutes later, we had determined through Wikipedia that the 'B-Sides & Rarities' album boasted a grape-flavored 'scratch-and-sniff' booklet (one of five different flavors). It is my assumption that the fine folks in Cake didn't exactly 'sample the wears' before these bad boys hit the assembly line, nor could accurately judge what the booklet would smell like after several weeks encased in shrink-wrapped plastic. No band that enjoys making money and pleasing fans could have been a part of something so heinous and wrong. Had I been driving a car when I opened that album, you'd probably be reading my obituary right now.
Still, two weeks after the incident, the case, booklet and disk continue to sit in the garage, atop a case of bottled water. Every day, I come home and give them a passing sniff to see if they had learned their lesson, and each day they continue to fail miserably. I refuse to have this...thing...touch anything inside my house or vehicle until every last microfiber of stink has been frozen out of it. I don't even care if the disk itself eventually shatters like a stick of baseball card chewing gum; it's not welcome in Headquarters until it resembles the normal and respected CD I thought I had purchased.
Each night, I wake up in a cold sweat imagining that it somehow made its way into the house, tainting my music collection, computer and office with its own original brand of Sacramento-based, grape-flavored nightmare fuel. If my iMac smelled like this album, you can bet your ass I'd be dragging it to the curb come garbage day.
Why, Cake? Why?
Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your day.
Sunday, October 5CDP Top 30 Of All-Time ('06-'08) - #26.
#26 - "The CDP vs. PETA."
(Originally Published February 6, 2008.)
You probably already know this about me, but I'm a vegetarian. I've been meatless for many years now, for a plethora of different reasons pertaining to moral values, health and the advocating of animal rights. I'm proud of the decision I made, and I personally believe it's the right one.
The distinction I like to make, however, is that I'm not one of those vegetarians. I won't get in your face if you choose to eat meat, I won't preach if you choose to hunt, and I won't destroy your carnivorous arguments, regardless of how narrow your mindset happens to be. It's not in my nature, and furthermore, it doesn't win friends or convert people. I've known this for a long time now. Bitch to a meat-eater about eating meat, and they'll just want to eat more meat to shut you up. You'll probably deserve it, too. No sense in trying to change someone like that.
Here's how I look at it. I'm pro-choice on the abortion issue; mainly because I feel that my opinion should carry absolutely no weight when it comes to the choices a female wishes to make with her body and her potential offspring. My take on the issue is about as important as Paris Hilton's take on penile cancer. She doesn't deserve to speak on the issue; nor should I. Unless my sperm was involved somehow, my opinion is worth nothing, and rightfully so.
So, when I travel back to my hometown and view a radical pro-life protest in the parking lot of the Catholic church I was baptized in, it doesn't do much for my biased attitude when I see billboard-sized photographs of aborted fetuses. It just reminds me of a robotic, annoying band of exploitative assholes that I wish not to associate myself with. The argument they were trying to make is lost in the presentation. Had they hit me non-intrusively with a few facts, literature and business cards, perhaps I would have taken them a little more seriously. Or better yet, they could have just assumed that human beings were capable of making their own educated decisions without the further distraction of their guilt and shame-driven racket.
Back to vegetarianism.
It is this humble, somewhat-humanistic and non-confrontational attitude that has kept me opposed to the tactics and ad campaigns produced by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Don't get me wrong, PETA is a respected and well-known organization that gets the word out about the healthy and environmental benefits of a meatless lifestyle, along with the typically unseen horrors of the meat processing trade. What frustrates me is their standard method of gaining publicity. Shock tactics, upside-the-head brutality and public demonstrations that remind me all-too-well of the pro-life demonstrations that irk me so.
The comparison may be slightly unfair and on opposite sides of the political spectrum, but be reminded that PETA is also an organization that modeled an ad campaign after the Holocaust. Yikes. When you have a minute, do a Google Image Search for 'PETA,' just make sure you don't do it while at the office. To say that the message is lost at times is a serious understatement.
So, I'm torn. I want so badly to be a proud PETA member, but at the same time, I get embarrassed each time I turn on the news to see another publicity stunt garnering negative attention (not all attention is good, especially when you're trying to change minds through information and education). This conflict came out during my most recent interview with the Wisconsin State Journal. It reads as follows:
CDP: There have been a couple of times when I've been political or talked about pop culture where people react. I remember awhile ago I did something about vegetarianism.
WSJ: And you are a vegetarian.
CDP: Yes, I am a vegetarian. I think it's important but I don't think it's mandatory. I'm not one of those guys. I don't support PETA since I think they have a good message but their marketing is incorrect. I think they need to find a better way to convert people than these shock tactics.
WSJ: So having naked women posing with signs down on State Street is not your thing?
CDP: Well, it's just not going to convert people. It's converting people to naked women, not vegetarianism. That's not the image you want to portray. So I explained it simply to people who were thinking about it. When I first went vegetarian I had a lot of questions, I thought I'd die, I didn't think I'd survive. After awhile it made sense. I'm just an average guy, I don't work out a lot; So I just wanted to put something out there that was just an average person's guide to going meatless. I got a lot of wonderful emails.
As you can see, I didn't waver on my stance. The point that I made was the one that I always make, being that I believe PETA has a good message, but their marketing is incorrect and alienating not only potential meatless converts, but also loyal and unobtrusive vegetarians like myself. Fair enough, right?
Well, what I forgot was that the WSJ article ran nationwide, and eventually grabbed the interest of PETA; specifically one of the campaign managers. I received this e-mail a few days ago; the name has been withheld because I'm not in the business of getting sued:
Dear Mr. Zeinert,
We at PETA were thrilled to read in the Wisconsin State Journal that you’re a vegetarian and have written about 'going meatless' on your blog. However, as someone who has organized and participated in several 'naked' PETA protests, I would like to share our reasons for using 'shock tactics' in our efforts to raise awareness of animal suffering.
Before people will stop buying, for example, fur coats, they must be aware of the industry’s cruelty to animals. Getting the news out in the media therefore, is vital. Unlike our opposition, which is mostly composed of wealthy corporations, we cannot afford costly ad campaigns, and thus have to rely on getting free 'advertising' through media coverage. We will do just about anything to get the word out, even to the point of using 'shock tactics' because we have learned from past experience that the media, sadly, thrives on such shenanigans.
If I can help call attention to the animals’ side of the story in a 'naked' protest, that's a choice I’ll gladly make. We hope that you will consider supporting PETA’s efforts to end animal suffering.
It was an informative and professional letter, and I appreciate that they took the time to send it to me. It does, however, verify a few things concerning PETA and their marketing. Mainly, that they participate in shock tactics and generating confrontational images because it works and gets people talking. Furthermore, they're happy with the press attention they receive, and will do whatever is necessary to gain more.
I honestly can't argue with that. It got me talking, didn't it? At the very least, I'm glad that they actually admitted to doing what they do for the media exposure, and not as much for the intended audience. It still doesn't make sense to me from a marketing standpoint (the audience is more important than the media; regardless of all the exposure you get from these campaigns), but they were straight with me, and I appreciate that.
This was the e-mail that I wrote back to PETA shortly thereafter:
First off, thank you so much for taking the time to write me; I greatly appreciate it. I also want to thank you for explaining and defending the ad campaigns and methods used by PETA to get the word out concerning animal abuse and cruelty.
As mentioned in my interview, I've been a vegetarian and strong supporter of animal rights for many years now. The main point I was trying to make in the interview was that certain shock tactics, while attracting of a large audience, also have the polarizing power to turn like-minded people off to the message. I understand that the main goal is to be seen and heard by as many people as possible with the limited funds raised by PETA, however, certain theatrics tend to distort the overall message at times. When I said "I support their message, but I believe that their marketing is incorrect," that was specifically what I was referring to.
I, myself have brainstormed many ways to positively, intelligently and unabashedly get the word out about the detriment to our planet and bodies that a meat-fueled lifestyle entails. I know it's a difficult path, as ignorance and apathy cannot be easily reversed through a poster or commercial. Conclusively, I think that any group that makes it their goal to educate citizens on the multiple positive values of a meatless lifestyle is doing a service to our nation, polarizing ad campaigns or otherwise.
With that in mind, please accept my $25 donation to PETA (I just donated online), with my best wishes of further success to your organization.
Thanks again for taking the time to contact me,
-Ryan J. Zeinert
I believe I did the right thing. I stood my ground (still do), but made a point to recognize the work that these people do behind the imagery and struggle for media attention. I also wanted to subtly make the point that by reasoning with people on the topics at hand (ie: me), you could change the minds of those that you're overlooking with your dragnet publicity tactics. Nude protesters in a cage didn't change my mind, but personality, honesty and logic did the job just fine.
Or maybe, just maybe, it shows that I'll do anything I can to be voted the Sexiest Vegetarian in Wisconsin for 2008.
Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your day.
Saturday, October 4CDP Top 30 Of All-Time ('06-'08) - #27.
#27 - "1989 CDP Evaluation."
(Originally Published February 27, 2008.)
I found this First Grade teacher evaluation amongst a pile of papers my mother sent me late last year. You're going to want to click on the images to make them larger. It's worth it.
The handwriting on the bottom reads: "The boys think he's really smart, but they're getting tired of his cockiness." She also takes the time to underline 'impulsive' and mention that I have an authority problem, along with the X's painting a picture of me that's nothing short of unstoppable evil.
There's so much more. Keep reading.
Again, she takes the time to mention that I'm 'passively' uncooperative, and circles some of the most life-scarring and potentially damaging adjectives a person can say about a child. 'Tics?' 'Bizarre?' Goddamn. I'm quite certain that they no longer use this evaluation form at Winneconne Elementary School.
Notice that she never had anything bad to say about my academic achievements. This was all due in part to my being extremely bored with the coursework presented. She didn't stimulate me whatsoever, and I had nothing better to do than to entertain myself.
The grand finale is the final comment, which reads: "Ryan is way above First Grade level work. I must always keep him busy, because if I don't, he's distracting others. He has no sympathy for anyone and laughs at other children's mistakes. He also makes up stories and lies."
The 'has no sympathy for anyone and laughs at other children's mistakes' line is, without question, one of the funniest things anyone has ever written about me. I laugh my ass off every time I read it.
Almost 20 years later, and I haven't changed a bit, and that's a damn shame. After all, who would want to be a overachieving, defiant, anti-authority storyteller with no time or tolerance for stupidity? What a terrible fate that would have been.
Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your day.
Friday, October 3CDP Top 30 Of All-Time ('06-'08) - #28.
#28 - "Twenty Photographs Of Door County."
(Originally Published October 17, 2007.)
(Here, the CDP secretly wonders if anyone would notice Ben's sudden and mysterious disappearance.)
The weather was beautiful when we visited Lake Michigan. The Missus dipped her toes in for good luck, and I tried really hard not to fall in and be swept away in a riptide.
(As the CDP ages, the most inane and depressing things make him happy.)
One thing I made a point to do was pick up some apples for my Grandma. She asked for 'Snow Crisp' apples, which only attracted laughing and confused looks from the folks at the orchard. I think she meant 'Honey Crisp,' as the entire acreage was littered with them. Done and done.
(Swedes need to stay big, curvy and beautiful. Chocolate moves God's plan along nicely.)
A trip to 'Al Johnson's Swedish Restaurant' in Sister Bay was eye-opening, in that all of the authentic Swedish waitresses were seven feet tall, blonde and wearing those traditional outfits. All of the arrogant assholes visiting from Illinois were enjoying seasonal jams and jellies that I had never heard of before, as I dug into my grilled cheese sandwich and begged for mercy.
(Sadly, those pants had to be Photoshopped on.)
As much as I feel that scenery and 'being there in person' is overrated, I was quite taken by the beauty of water as far as the eye can see. It's like a more personal version of staring into space and realizing your fleeting insignificance in a random world. Also, there's pie.
(Here, I sit in a comically small chair, and look humorously larger than I normally would.)
Julie's restaurant had amazing pasta and desserts, but halfway through our meal, a huge spider crawled onto the table and damn near gave the Missus an embolism. Minutes later, our waiter crashed into the table next to us, spilling water and food everywhere. Later, when we paid the check, the man working the counter couldn't wait to stop talking to us. It was an awesome place.
(The view from the resort was exotic, in that there were a lot of foreign cars in the parking lot.)
The four of us stayed in a two-bedroom, two-bathroom suite, boasting a full kitchen loaded with accessories. Those accessories came in handy when we were ordering pizza and drinking cider with whiskey. There was a wall-hanging that really bothered Ben, so I pulled it off the wall and set it on top of the freezer.
(My shirt does a fantastic job of obscuring the pee stain.)
I saw this baby at a local car show; the only time I've ever seen a Delorean in person. The owner of the car didn't want me taking a photo of myself next to it, so we simply waited until he turned away. Dude, there's like, 50 of these left on the planet! Don't be selfish!
(I sometimes have dreams of running my own small shop in a tourist city. My dreams kind of suck.)
Without question, you mainly visit Door County for their endless array of knick-knack, specialty and candy shops. I took home a pound of fudge, 10 pounds of apples, two milk chocolate bars, some candy cigarettes I swore were off the market and a candle that smelled like pumpkin pie. If I wouldn't have been wearing my wedding ring, I would have been completely indistinguishable from every other gay guy there.
(No less than 3 seconds later, I drowned. They then asked me to leave.)
At the hotel, I walked around the entire perimeter looking for an ice machine. For a half-hour, I shuffled around, holding an empty ice bucket, while drunks and newlyweds stared at me and skittered back into their rooms. Once I did get my ice, pretty much everyone in my room was fast asleep. I don't know when I started hanging around with infants incapable of staying awake past 10pm, but it's starting to annoy me.
(The only way I was going to get out of this was if I attempted to blend in, and act like a smug prick.)
After the parade was over, about 5000 tourists scurried into downtown, as we walked against the grain to get back to our hotel. I pretended that they were zombies, which actually started to freak me out after a while. In the photo, you can see me lurching in a feeble attempt to blend in, so they didn't eat my brain with a side of boysenberry jam.
(I didn't alter this picture. Sadly, Sherry suffers from a condition known as 'Blurry Face.')
Man, candy stores smell so great. I asked one of the employees, "Isn't this the best job in the world?" The teenage boy looked at me with the face of someone who was about one more scoop of taffy away from an all-out shooting spree, so I paid for my fudge and got the hell out of there.
(We will race. I will win. Always. Probably. Maybe. Not really. Probably not. No. I will lose.)
Taking the MINI Cooper was a no-brainer. The Autumn weather, mixed with the winding roads and limited traffic was simply breathtaking. Also, we could park anywhere and looked like a novelty amongst all of the embarrassingly-large Expeditions and Tahoe's. A co-worker once asked me if I feel insecure about my masculinity when I drive the MINI. This person is an idiot.
(By this point in the trip, I was begging people not to ask me any more questions about where I wanted to go.)
Ben and Sherry wanted to visit a place that sold nothing but Olive Oil. Thinking that it was some niche-place that only attracted a small group of people, I was slack-jawed to see the line for this place extending right out the door. It's just oil, people.
(If you have a MySpace profile picture that looks like this, kill yourself.)
Skipping stones by Washington Island (the tippy-top of Wisconsin's 'thumb') was amazing. I began to fantasize about perhaps owning a Summer home there once I became a wealthy and self-employed author. I then thought about owning a Unicorn that cried quarters and blasted Bad Religion songs out of its ass.
(We spent Saturday night in Door County doing the same thing we do on Saturday nights in Sun Prairie.)
The master bedroom in the resort had a whirlpool hot tub, which me and the Missus were lucky enough to stay in. While we didn't 'use' the hot tub like I had assumed we would, the Missus slipped in it during a shower and almost knocked herself unconscious. Close enough, I suppose.
(Taking a picture of a hotel pool is a lot more legal when kids aren't around.)
Me and Ben played a set of tennis on Sunday morning, and my shoulder still hurts as of Wednesday morning. I won, however, which is the only thing that matters. On the sidelines, the Missus and Sherry tried not to notice how fat, old and out completely of shape we've both become. I appreciated their support and ignorance.
(For those that haven't met me in person, this is a normal-sized pumpkin. Two 'CDP is small' jokes in one post!)
Me and Sherry drove to a local bar to pick up a pizza, where I was instantly reminded that no matter where you are in Wisconsin, you'll always run into people that could probably be friends with your dad. Having more or less been raised in bars ourselves, the two of us didn't stick around very long, instead opting to drink alone, like well-adjusted people do.
(It's funny because I don't understand it. Rich Swedes eat things that I'm unaware of.)
At one of the coffee shops, I bought a little pin that says, "I like sammitches." There wasn't a scrap of irony in that purchase; I freaking love sammitches, and want everyone to know. Later, I bought a hot chocolate that a bee landed in. I'm considering paying someone to follow me around with a muted trombone to make the 'whaa-whaa' sound every time something like that happens.
(I think it's pretty obvious how Ben snared someone like Sherry into a relationship. He got her drunk and pregnant.)
Let it be said that there's nothing more rewarding and special than traveling the world with your best friends. Even if I was a dick at times, and didn't really want to do anything. I still enjoyed myself; I'm picking the vacation next time, though.
(Eating an apple, perched high atop Lake Michigan. This is 100% more Door County content than most normal Door County photos.)
So long, Door County. We'll be back, but not soon enough.
Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your day.
Thursday, October 2CDP Top 30 Of All-Time ('06-'08) - #29.
#29 - "I'm Not Here To Serve You."
(Originally Published November 13, 2006.)
"Why I will never, ever, freaking ever be a waiter as long as I'm on this Earth."
As a man with a sparkling personality, devastating sex appeal and an inviting scent, most people who meet me think I would make a terrific waiter. To support this argument, they remark at how good I am with small details and my ability to make large groups of people feel uncomfortable without even trying. They claim it's a gift from God; my therapist and I think otherwise.
I've had a lot of Public Relation jobs in my life. Bartender, Customer Service Representative, gas station attendant, strip club DJ, rock slanga’, cameraman for Guys Gone Wild and a brief stand-in for Peter Jennings shortly before he died. I've never been a waiter, however. My reasons for this are pretty simple, if you ask me.
I can't tolerate anyone, and I don't like to walk and carry things at the same time.
Me and the Missus go out to eat about 10 times a month. We do this because we're too lazy to go grocery shopping every 2 weeks, as initially agreed upon by contract when we started living together. Nope, we instead spend $60 a night, grinding our teeth in a nice restaurant, thinking of ways to telepathically poison the food of the party next to us and wishing we were at home.
For years, I cursed my luck, thinking that I was consistently sat next to the most annoying table at whichever eatery I happened to be dining at. Nowadays, I know better; every table is annoying, because everyone in the world is annoying.
Even you. Probably even the Missus, but not me. I'm sure of it.
No matter where I am, no matter the restaurant, no matter the city or state, I'm always seated next to one of the following groups. Allow me to elaborate:
Table #1 - Attention-seeking children; non-responsive parents. 96% of families in general.
Look, just because you've found a way to tune out the sound of your childrens' voices, that doesn't mean that everyone else at The Olive Garden* has. If your kid says "Mom!" one more time without you responding to them, I will pick them up by the ankles and beat you to death with your own kid. If you are physically unable to raise a child to keep their mouth shut when at a public place, you have failed as a parent and should never be allowed to enjoy a meal outside of your loud, and no doubt filthy, home.
*Still my favorite chain restaurant.
When I was a kid, it was naturally assumed that children had absolutely nothing of importance to say to adults, and the mere thought of addressing one was met with a look of disapproval and certain death. Not only does that teach respect, terror and good behavior, it also reminds you not to say anything unless it's important. For example, if his or her pants were on fire, or he or she was in the clutches of a registered sex offender. Any other circumstance- denied!
Furthermore, I always see parents and their horrid spawn at expensive and 'upscale' places. Why? Not only are you going to spend $200 on a meal that your kids aren't going to even touch, you've also ruined a decent night out for those of us who aren't inconsiderate mongoloids. If all you were looking for was an easy way to waste a bunch of money, you should have just donated it to Coats For Kids. Kids don't need coats, dumbass.
Another thing that I see all the time are children leaving their tables and walking around unsupervised. No less than 20 times have I been eating, only to look to my immediate right and see some kid staring at me, typically covered in a sauce of some sort. In most cases, I wave the knife around a little and they back away. However, there are those times where I run into a child that's more dense than a black hole, opting to stand next to my table and stare until their parents finally realize that they have strayed.
New rule, parents. If your kid stands by my table for one second longer than a minute, they become my property. I will then kill them, hollow them out and use their husks to smuggle meth across the border. You may have thought that story was just an urban legend, but I'm going to make it a reality with precious Tyler and Cheyenne.
Restaurants should also start stocking chairs that have seatbelts on them. Just a thought.
Now that smoking is pretty much banned in every restaurant in America, I propose that we have a section for families and groups of five or more people, and a second section for adult parties of four or less. Not only does that keep the noise and annoyance where it should be, but I can also fulfill my fantasy of eating an expensive dinner in the nude; this time, without Dateline NBC busting in with their fancy hidden cameras and litigations.
In short, children shouldn't be allowed into any restaurant that doesn't have a kid's menu. And even then, they probably shouldn't.
(If you're one of the very few families that has children who are well-behaved enough to eat in public, pat yourself on the back. Then fly to the Space Station on the wings of a unicorn, because you don't really exist.)
Table #2 - Groups of teenagers. Specifically girls.
If there's one thing worse than a group of butthole parents and their equally-butthole children, it's a group of unmonitored teenage girls, demonstrating why they should still be chaperoned by Daddy and huddled in the back of a diesel-powered mini-van.
Now, before you start calling me a sexist, I'll have you know that I ran this theory by the Missus and she approved it. If at least one woman agrees with me, it can no longer be called sexist. Much like me making fun of fat people as long as one fat person thinks it's funny. Thanks Cliff, you've unlocked months of comedy gold for me.
Most teenage girls that congregate in groups like to talk quickly and loudly about tough issues that matter, like politics, religion and how fat Dakota's ass looks in that skirt. They laugh way too loud at things that are in no way humorous, are almost always rude to the waitstaff (if it's a woman, especially), and are usually so stone-dumb that it's embarrassing to even eavesdrop. Furthermore, they always want to talk to whoever's on their phone far more than whoever's at the table. Next time, they should really invite the person that's on the phone, and they can skip a step.
Oh, and it goes without saying that you may want to silence your phone before you go into a restaurant. If you happen to be sitting next to me, I have a little system I like to follow:
If your phone is silenced during the meal: You will live. Dinner will continue as planned.
If your phone rings, and you immediately silence it: I will be annoyed, but forgiving. Even I forget to silence my phone at times, but my ringtone is so rad that people actually ask me to play it for them again.
If your phone rings, and you let it ring until your voicemail picks up: Your tires will be slashed upon exiting the eatery. Anything left on the dash will be stolen.
If your phone rings and you answer it: It's over. I hope you're having a good meal, because you'll be seeing it again when I tear your stomach open with a broken bottle of Pabst.
If it turns out to be an emergency and you have to immediately leave the restaurant, that's fine by me. Just as long as you don't get to enjoy your meal, and someone that you know is potentially injured or killed. What's important is that I'm happier than you.
Table #3 - The Snobs.
On most Sunday mornings, you can find me and the Missus at a place called Sir Hobo's. Hobo's is a diner a few blocks from our house that serves breakfast anytime and is run by a pushy Greek family. I like this place for a number of reasons. The food is cheap, the place is usually empty, everything's covered in grease, and it's owned by a pushy Greek family. If anything, I'm just happy that places like this still exist in big cities.
Me and the Missus can go there wearing hoodies and caps to cover our unwashed hair, still confident that there will be people at the bar looking worse than us. Nobody knows who we are, we're never approached by acquaintances or co-workers, and the waitresses don't want to chat. In fact, they all but throw your plates down on the counter, and everything's scalding, even the milk*. I enjoy this more than I can accurately convey.
*You'll laugh later; that's really, truly funny.
Last Sunday, we were seated next to a well-scrubbed family of four, who had clearly never been to Sir Hobo's before. They were dressed as if they just left church (which they probably had). I wouldn't be surprised if they had a Range Rover parked outside with golf clubs sticking out of the back, all set for a relaxing drive to the country club to discuss fine wines and munch on unborn baby Yak cheese, or whatever it is that rich people eat when they're around company.
Such a funny sentence.
So, the deep-voiced and not-at-all-to-be-messed-with Greek waitress comes over to take their order. For the next five minutes, she has to stand and listen to a lecture on the differences between wheat bread and whole wheat bread, even though I'm quite certain that Sir Hobo's has neither nor. When they finally settled on an order that suited them, I heard them continuing to berate this poor woman after she left, for being so clearly uneducated in the fine workings of wheatiness.
Unless it's deep-fried and over 1000 calories, you won't find it there. I promise.
I was vibrating with anger. It was completely unnecessary and unspeakably rude. The id in me wanted to jump the booth and piledrive both Soccer Mom and Country Club Dad with ruthless aggression, but I guess I'm not that kind of guy. Next time, however, they won't be so lucky.
I could go on for a few hours longer, but in short, I wouldn't be a very good waiter.
Enjoy your day; sound off in the comments section and let me know if you would want me as your waiter.
Wednesday, October 1CDP Top 30 Of All-Time ('06-'08) - #30.
#30 - "I Can See Your Butthole."
(Originally Published July 13, 2007.)
Ladies and gentlemen, today I present to you a gift. A gift from me to you, free of charge and with no expectation of reciprocation.
Today, I will give you a new saying that you will grow to love and incorporate into your lexicon and circle of friends for years to come. A saying that, once it has become common fare on TV shows and film, you can always be reminded of where it all started.
It's a big day; I'm glad you're here.
We're no strangers to people who clearly don't listen to themselves talking. Day in and day out, we have to listen to these people ramble incessantly about things that they really have no expert opinion on. For our entire lives, we've had to politely nod and smile along with this drivel, pretending that what they were yapping about was being processed and agreed with by us. If only there was a way to get them to stop and think about how much of a douche they were...
The next time a friend starts talking directly out of their ass, let them know that you know. Let them know that you're tired of their idiocy, and you're tired of pretending that you care.
Tell 'em you can see their butthole.
Steve - "Why are you a vegetarian? Everyone knows that animals can't feel pain."
Bill - "Dude, I can see your butthole."
See? It's easy and fun! Here's another quick example:
Steve - "Tiger Woods is an okay golfer, but his career will burn out fast."
Bill - "What?"
Steve - "I just mean that he's got maybe 1-2 more good years left, tops."
Bill - "Steve, I can see your butthole."
Are you starting to see proper usage? But hey, just like any good saying, you can get creative with it and make it your own!
Steve - "So like I was saying, I think that President Bush should be on Mount Rushmore, because..."
Bill - "Hey, what's that down there?"
Steve - "What's what down where?"
Bill - "Oh, it's your butthole. I can see it."
Steve - "Burned again! Blast your impeccable timing and wit!"
Once you get good with it, you can start to really craft it into something special, but it's best to start at the beginning and throw it around your friends for good practice. I've been doing it for a few months now, and people are starting to say it when I'm not even around. It's going viral, and I think it can go nationwide by this time next year.
So, the next time that someone starts saying something stupid, don't try to see their side of things; see their butthole!
It has begun. Sound off in the comments section and have a great day.