Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The whore is coming to Minnesota (unedited)

Less than 24 hours from now that whore Bristol Palin will be signing copies of her new memoir at Mall of America.

As I said before, cash in for all you can, but don't expect people like me to have an ounce of respect for you. Palin, at 20 years old, has already danced as a celebrity, will be featured in a reality television show while "working" for some nonprofit and bunking with pseudo-celebrities in California and is currently signing copies of her book, explaining how she made a bad choice as a teenager, embarrassed the Republican party days after her crackpot mother was thrust into the national spotlight and wrangled with the dopey father of her child publicly. And morons will be buying copies of this important tell-all book and having her sign it, as if she's more important than your average crack whore on the streets of St. Paul.

We are done as a society.

And just for fun, the whore's mother is joining the whore at Mall of America to prove the apple didn't fall far from the tree. The Palin whores will both be singing books. But mom won't sign hers if you don't buy the teen slut's book, and the teen slut won't sign the book unless it is purchased on site. And morons will line up for hours for the privilege of lining the pockets of these whores, treating them like royalty instead of as the fame whores they are.

It's a sad, sad world.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Summer vacation, oh boy! (unedited)

I'm turning the Fourth of July holiday into a vacation week. I'm going to visit and stay with friends at their summer place a couple of hours north of the Twin Cities.

I'll have a good time, I'll bike several hours while I'm there and I'll occasionally forget that my life is empty and meaningless.

Rick Warren wrote a book I have never read, a book about a "Purpose Driven Life." All I know is I don't have one, and I have tried not to care about that, but it bothers me. There are people who are dying that would give the world to to have a healthy future ahead of them. I'm relatively healthy and well, yet I wouldn't argue if the ghost of Peter Falk knocked on my door right now and told me my meter has expired.

Chip is coming to visit next weekend. We're going to two Twins/Brewers games during the Fourth of July weekend. Then I head north to the lake for five nights. I'm going to a minor league baseball game one night, weather permitting, I'm playing in a free poker tournament at a bar another night and I'm hoping to spend several hours on my bike. It's not the summer vacation I want, but it's better than nothing.

One summer when I was in high school I made a difficult choice about my future, a decision that became clear to me thanks to the many hours I spent on the seat of my Schwinn bicycle. I'm not sure if I will find the clarity I seek next week, but I'm desperate for a sign, any sign, that the past 40 years weren't in vain. I don't have the energy for another 18 years of bicycling.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

I'm a liar

I said I wasn't going to write about my meaningless, pointless life again this summer, but I lied.

I spent another Saturday night by myself. I had a rather worthless Saturday, actually, and although I have told myself several times this week that life is too short, and I can't afford to piss away my time, I have come up a bit short in the success department.

I spent about 90 minutes of my time Saturday night at the grocery store. I have professed my love of coupons and ridiculous coupon deals previously, and this week was an extraordinary week as I bought a lot of Diet Pepsi. It took a bit of effort on my part, but I bought multiple 12-packs of Diet Pepsi, and one 12-pack of Pepsi for Chip, who will be in town next weekend. Each and every one of them cost me less than 40 cents. That's right, 12 cans of soda for about three cents per can. I'm a genius.

As I was making the last of my Diet Pepsi purchases at 10:30 on Saturday night I was doing so at a grocery store in St. Louis Park. This grocery store is near a new, trendy commercial development. They call it The Shops at West End. There are several restaurants that double as hang outs for the beautiful people. Many of the restaurants appear to have the sacred outdoor seating that Minnesota rubes piss themselves for the privilege to sit at. I'm sure the drinks are uber-expensive, but that's not a problem for the beautiful people. God bless 'em. Somebody has to fund the service industry, and it's certainly not going to be me. All I can afford to do is buy cheap soda and submit liquor rebates so I can enjoy a few cocktails on the cheap in the confines of my apartment.

The West End has parking ramps for the beautiful people, and my grocery store is across the street from one of the trendy nightspots. Although signs claim parking in the grocery store lot is for customers only, it was obvious at 10:30 that rather than comb the ramps for an open parking space a few of the beautiful people chose to use the grocery store lot. I noticed a group congregating in the lot on the way to my car. It wasn't hard to deduce that this group was assembled for the purpose of a bachelorette party.

Although I had a limited view of the group from several yards away, I'm pretty sure I spotted the bachelorette. I'm guessing the woman in the tight, tiny dress with the stripper heels and a sash was the future Mrs. Somebody. Lucky guy, whoever he is. I didn't get a good look at her, but I saw enough to determine the future groom will have quite the trophy.

As I drove home with a car full of Diet Pepsi I thought a lot about the world I live in, and how there's no place for me in it. I found myself thinking back to 2007. In 2007 I watched a documentary called "The Bridge." It was intriguing, albeit a bit gimmicky and lacking in substance. I won't go into detail about it, but I will say that one of the people featured in it reminds me of me.

I remember talking about that similarity with Rush. I remember telling him there's not enough joy in my life, despite the fact my life is not particularly difficult or miserable. I also remember calling Rush from the pool of my Florida resort in late December 2007. I remember sitting there with my feet in the pool, telling him how warm and beautiful it was in southern Florida and how that was the joy in life that made it all worth while. And I wasn't kidding.

The problem, I have found, is that the moments of joy are few and far between. I'm not miserable most days, but the joy I find is temporary, and doesn't sustain me. This has been a recurring issue since I graduated from college, and there were times it crippled me. Nowadays I'm barely numb to it.

I spent a few hours Saturday night sorting though crap I have held onto for far too long and wondering why I was going through the motions of sorting it when I could literally dump entire boxes of crap into the Dumpster of my apartment building and not miss a thing, or be worse off without it. Sure, the Gilligan and Skipper figurines I came across warmed my heart slightly, but had I never seen them again, would I be worse off for it? Not a chance.

I sorted through worthless crap, wondering what to do with most of it and why I was bothering to waste my time sorting it. If I were moving to Utah this fall the exercise would have meaning and purpose, but I don't know where I'm going next, unfortunately.

Lately I find myself wishing I was moving to Utah. It seems like every sign in my life is pushing me toward starting a new life in Utah. There's just one little problem: I found out four months ago that I'm not good enough for my ex-girlfriend, who moved to Utah in early February. When she left I couldn't see myself leaving Minnesota. Now the idea of moving to Utah makes more sense than ever, except for the whole I'm not good enough thing.

The future is what you make it, they say. America is the land of opportunity, I'm told. That's all true, but there's only one thing I want at this point in my life, and when it comes my way is largely out of my hands. I'm trying to tip the scales in my favor, but all I can do is hope and pray, as I have been doing for most of my adult life. Some day my prayer will be answered. That's the only certainty I have in this world.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Sick and tired of being sick and tired (unedited)

Something ain't right with me, and I don't know what it is.

Do I drink too much diet soda? Would drinking less soda magically solve my problems? I drink at least four cans a day. It may not have sugar in it, but whatever it does have probably isn't making me a healthier person.

Gluten-free products are growing in popularity, in part because of celiac disease, but also because some people find a gluten-free diet leads to better health. It seems as if every other product on the supermarket shelves contains gluten, and perhaps the American diet is filled with too much of a good thing. Is gluten responsible for the fact I feel lousy all the time?

Would I feel better if I lost weight? Is it just carrying 40 extra pounds that makes me feel so lousy all the time? Should I find some organ-damaging diet drug to lose weight? Or should I just live off of eggs, bacon, cheese and chicken. There are nutritional downsides to the Atkins diet, but cutting out potatoes, bread and other carbohydrates pays dividends, at least temporarily.

What if my daily discomfort has nothing to do with what I eat or drink? I doubt it, but it's possible? What if there's something internal that is affecting my daily life?

I'd love to know, but I'm not eager to begin an expensive battery of tests to try and determine if there's something I should eliminate from my diet. There's no question my diet could benefit from a few adjustments. I'm sure I'd feel better if I didn't cheat myself out of sleep most nights of the week.

I feel horrible, I look worn down and I'm less than energetic on a daily basis. I'm not sure what I have to do to improve my health, but I didn't have heart surgery five years ago to go through life feeling like a punching bag. I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired, and I'm not going to die with an empty tank. I have long said I'd be content to die at 58, while I might still have a few decent years left. I want to make sure there's still something left in my tank when my time is up. I don't want to be a shell of a human being.

When the ghost of Macho Man Randy Savage comes knocking at my door, telling me my time is up, I want to be slightly bitter about it. Today I wouldn't be, and that's not right.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

People are idiots (unedited)

I could easily start a new series of columns about the idiots and misfits I encounter in this world, but I'm not sure I'm in the mood to shoot fish in a barrel.

But I'm having a hard time forgetting the clown I passed while bicycling Sunday night. He was an older gent, older than me anyway. Not quite geriatric, but there's no chance he has more than 50 percent of his life ahead of him.

He sure looked the part of the serious bicyclist from my brief view of him prior to passing him on my 10-year-old bike. He had a long-sleeve yellow bike jersey. It was bright yellow, ensuring people could see him in broad daylight, and had the fancy pockets sewn into the back, providing a place to carry maps, cell phones, keys and anything else bicyclists like to carry in a pocket on their back. It wasn't a hot day, but it was warm, and slightly humid, so I'm not sure why the dude needed long sleeves. It looked a little silly to me.

But not as silly as his capri Spandex pants. Many bikers have some form of Spandex shorts, myself included. I wear traditional shorts, and I always were some sort of nylon short over them, because I look silly walking around in just Spandex shorts. Most men do. But to each their own, I guess. At least they're wearing shorts. I saw a guy inline skating years ago. His shorts of choice: old-fashioned mens briefs. I'm talking Fruit of the Loom. Perhaps not a crime against humanity, but somebody should have called the fashion police.

The bicycling dude opted for Spandex only on Sunday, and I guess his confusion about the weather dictated that he shouldn't wear traditional, above-the-knee shorts. He specifically needed pants that went below his knee. I saw two women sporting similar Spandex that day. One was running, the other was walking. The concept of below-the-knee Spandex is just as silly when women wear them, but it looks less ridiculous. Mr. Capri looked stupid.

But his insistence upon wearing a long-sleeved jersey and capri Spandex took a back seat to the most ridiculous aspect of his biking attire. The dude's helmet made me laugh the most.

His helmet wasn't some dorky, outdated model. It wasn't a ridiculous color either. Why did his helmet make me laugh? The grey fox insisted upon biking with his helmet strapped under his bike seat, displaying his flowing grey locks for all the world to see.

Not only did this guy look like a clown, he insisted upon making it known he was nothing more than an idiot.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

My My My My My (unedited)

I went to a Sunday night comedy show to see a local celebrity peform: Fancy Ray McCloney.

Fancy Ray is the textbook definition of a local celebrity. I'm not sure how his career has evolved, but he does standup comedy and local commercials, and has hosted a cable access show. He has parlayed his local fame and charisma into appearances on national TV. He was featured on Maury Povich's talk show, (which isn't anything to be proud of,) and has also appeared on one of the 12,000 syndicated courtroom shows people seem to love. I believe his case was aired on "Texas Justice." One of his earliest television appearances was not as Fancy Ray, but as Bruno El Diablo on the 1980s lip sync show "Puttin' on the Hits." (He is called "Skeebo," I think, by the host at the end of the clip.) Ray has posted a clip of his appearance on YouTube.

Ray is a Minnesota guy, evidently, but has parlayed his local fame into commercial gigs in markets around the country and even overseas. Clips of some of his commercials are also available on YouTube. Locally many of his commercials have been for adult-oriented businesses, or businesses that appeal to lower-income viewers. His commercials rarely appear outside of late night time slots.

Nationally he can claim he has appeared on "The Tonight Show," "America's Got Talent" and "Last Comic Standing." He hasn't, to the best of my knowledge, been a featured performer on any of those shows. He was featured in an on-the-street clip on The Tonight Show, as I recall, and I'm guessing his appearances on NBC's talent shows were for his auditions. I don't think he was a contestant on those shows, but perhaps I'm wrong. Had he been a contestant, I'm guessing he'd never let us forget it.

Although he has long worked as a standup comic, I've never known him to perform on a regular basis here in the Twin Cities. The first time I saw him was when I worked in Canada. He did a weekend of comedy shows in the middle of winter on the Minnesota border. It was rather entertaining. A few years later I saw one of his rare local shows in the Twin Cities. I bet that was 11 or 12 years ago. Sunday night I saw his schtick for the third time, spanning more than 15 years.

Part of his show is playing up his love of himself. He calls himself "the best looking man in comedy" and the "human chocolate orchid." He talks about how much he loves himself, making jokes about having candlelight dinners with himself, making love to himself and so on. It's kind of funny, but it's not comedy so much as it's schtick. It's a flamboyant guy who admits to being androgynous, talking about how much he loves himself. It's entertaining, but to a point. His act wouldn't work if he didn't do traditional comedy, which he does.

His show on Sunday night was outdoors. A lakeside bar/restaurant is hosting weekly shows all summer. They call it Beach Blanket Comedy. It's cheap, just $10, and allegedly comes with a $5 drink credit. Each week you can see a local comic headline the show. (Maybe some of them are touring comics, what do I know?)

Sunday's show started 30 minutes late, for no reason I'm aware of. Ray was hanging out at the outdoor bar and talking with anybody and everybody that crossed his path before the show ever started.

Eventually the show began. As is the case with most standup comedy, there's a host who introduces each comic and gets a chance to do three or five minutes of comedy at the beginning of the show. The dude they had hosting the show was painfully funny. He was so bad it was funny.

The opening comic was OK, the second guy started out strong but faded into mediocrity too soon. Ray finished up with a decent set. Despite that, I doubt I will see Ray perform again, and I'm not interested in going back to Bayview Park/Bayside Grill for another comedy show.

The show was held in an area they must use for outdoor weddings. It was fine for 90 minutes of comedy, but as it got dark, the lack of lighting on the stage was a bit annoying. By late August, when I'd consider going back to see another local guy I like, it will definitely be dark before the show ends. That was the least of the problems.

Add the terrible host, the late start and the mediocre warm-up acts into the mix and you have a weak comedy show. To make it worse: despite the fact this was the second Sunday of standup comedy at the venue, they were out of vouchers for a $5 drink credit. I was told to find somebody specific about getting my $5 credit. I didn't bother, all I wanted was a Diet Pepsi. And it's not as if the Sunday night comedy show is a big hit. People aren't lining up to see the show. They were already selling discount tickets to the show via Groupon. Yet somehow Bayview didn't have vouchers to hand out to its patrons? That's ridiculous, and unprofessional.

But the coup de grĂ¢ce was something beyond Bayview's control. Some dude, his wife, children and parents -- or some dynamic similar to that -- sat in the front row. Middle-aged dude decided that he needed to interject himself into the show. He got ripped by one of the warmup guys, and he seemed to take it in stride, and enjoy it a bit, but he couldn't stop flapping his gums. The dude was damn annoying. Ray had an exchange with him, as well, but it wasn't as drawn out or painful. Nonetheless this chumbolone managed to annoy me as I sat through an unprofessionally conducted comedy show.

As I said, it's likely the last time I see Ray perform. Forget what a lousy job Bayside did, Ray just isn't as entertaining to me. Perhaps I'm getting old, but his fawning over himself and telling people how pretty he is just doesn't entertain me like it use to. There just wasn't enough real comedy in his show, and I wasn't as entertained. I wasn't bored. I laughed plenty, but I don't feel the need to see his act again.

Would I go see him again if you offered me free tickets and drinks? I suppose, as long as the show isn't at Bayside.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

People #6

Coworker E is not originally from this planet.

He has a wacky religious upbringing that probably didn't do him many favors as he has progressed through adult life. He has a weird sense of humor, a real lack of social grace and below average self awareness. He has no idea what a complete moron, clown, idiot and dufus he can be in the course of his daily life. And his symptoms are not erratic, they're part of his daily life.

He not the type of person you would immediately dislike, but he will rub you the wrong way. And his awkward laugh at the end of almost every sentence he utters will drive you insane.

He's tall, lanky, slightly awkward and eclectic, not exactly a dream come true for most women, or gay men, I would guess. He has friends and knows a lot of people, but I've never known him to have a girlfriend. That doesn't mean he hasn't had one in recent years, I've just had no indication of it.

They say there's somebody for everybody. That's probably true. I also think that some people are destined to be alone if they hold out for exactly what they're looking for. Life is about compromise, and for some our looks, personality and interests don't combine to form a dynamic, winning combination. Even if the most unattractive, dull, uninspired person has a perfect match out there, will s/he ever find that person? Probably not, especially if the unattractive, dull, uninspired person seeks perfection from another human being.

Coworker E may very well find someone who wants to share his or her life with him, but the odds are against it, and the odds get longer every day, especially knowing that he seems to prefer young, blonde women. If he holds out for a young, blonde hottie, he has no chance of ever getting married.

But life is full of surprises. One lightning strike, near-fatal car crash or health scare may shake his foundation to the core. He may reinvent himself in some way and become a hot commodity on the free agent market. Stranger things have happened.

If my competition was a world full of Coworker Es, perhaps I'd have a chance at long-term happiness.

But the world doesn't work that way.

Monday, June 13, 2011

People #5 (unedited)

I have already introduced Holly, a former co-worker.

Today I received an email announcing her engagement to Roger.

Holly didn't get married until her 40s, as far as I know. (I'm guessing her marriage to Phil was her first, but I don't know that for a fact.) It's a bit surprising she didn't get married sooner. She seemed like the type. She'd have made a good trophy wife, I think. I don't say that to be disrespectful, even if it sounds that way. She isn't afraid to find her own way and have a career., but women like her usually attract successful men.

The end of her relationship with Frank was hard on her. She rebounded, however, and married Phil. I remember Oct. 7, 2005, very well. I was there.

Less than four years later she was moving to California, divorced from Phil and doing something I haven't the guts to do, starting over. She didn't randomly pick southern California, she had a few connections there. But nonetheless she moved away from home, and all the comforts of home. I'm not sure if she knew Roger before she moved, but the duo hooked up shortly after she arrived. And now they're planning a 2012 marriage.

I'm slightly conflicted about the fact that I went to Holly's wedding less than six years ago and now she's planning marriage No. 2 less than seven years later.

Despite that, I'm happy for her. We all make mistakes. We all hope for the best, but fail to produce results that match our expectation, sometimes as a result of our actions and decisions, sometimes through no fault of our own. I'm not sure who is to blame for Holly's failed marriage, but she has always been somebody I've thought deserves happiness. I hope she gets it right this time.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

103, you say? (unedited)

We hit 103 degrees today in God's Country.

It didn't last long, I'm told, but we hit 103F for a short time. For several hours, however, we hovered at 102.

Considering we were shoveling snow less than two months ago, that's hot. In Nevada it routinely tops 100F in the summer. When I was in Nevada last July it was hotter than 103. I went geocaching during our first morning in Laughlin and it was 100 by 9 a.m., and that's dang hot, even if it was dry heat.

We spent two nights in Vegas before spending one final day in Laughlin. It was about 116F that Wednesday afternoon. It may have been a dry heat, but it's still too hot to spend a lot of time outside.

Minnesota never gets that hot, but it's almost always humid when it's hot. I'd argue a 95-degree day in Minnesota is as bad, if not worse, than 115 in Nevada. Bottom line, neither is tolerable if you're not in the shade, or a swimming pool.

We rarely hit 100F in Minnesota. It has been almost five years since the last time we hit 100. There's not much difference between 100 and 103, but it has been more than two decades since we hit 103, if I understood the weather report. The last time we hit 103 in Minnesota the mercury climbed to 105 in 1988.

So how did I commemorate the 102F day we had in Minnesota? I went bicycling.

I learned several years ago, on a 99F Sunday afternoon, that I have limitations. I was bicycling three loops around a lake at the time, and each loop was about 8.25 miles. I thought I could do my usual three laps around the lake as the mercury climbed toward 100, but I realized I was kidding myself by the time I started my second lap. I finished two laps, but that was all I could do. I'm not sure I could have finished a third lap if my life depended upon it.

Given today's heat, and the fact I'm behind my usual bicycling pace for early June, I had no problem limiting my evening bike ride to 13 miles. No matter how hot or humid it gets during the day, I don't have much of a problem bicycling after 7 p.m., as the sun isn't overhead, so it isn't beating down upon me as I ride. I waited until close to 8 p.m. to start riding since I'd be on the road for less than 60 minutes.

The biggest challenge wasn't the heat, or the humidity. Although there's rarely dry heat in Minnesota, when it gets ridiculously hot, the humidity typically drops. It was rather humid on Monday and Tuesday morning, but the humidity decreased during the day on Tuesday. By Tuesday night I'd argue we had dry heat.

But it was windy this afternoon and evening. When it's hot, wind provides little comfort, but on rare days like Tuesday, it wasn't the worst thing to deal with, unless you were bicycling. It certainly made my final miles home more challenging than I cared for.

But I made it, and in a couple of days the high temperature is going to fall short of 70F. In my old age I don't need heat, I'd rather have a high temp of 65 than 85, so you won't hear me complain that it's not warm enough. Today reminded me of that.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Thank Jehovah it's June (unedited)

I don't like using the symbolic turning of the calendar page as an excuse for making wholesale changes in my life, but the start of June seems to coincide with the end of a long, painful spring.

I never intended for my blog to be a vehicle for me to whine about how shitty life is. Unfortunately tales of woe have found their way into my blog during the four years I have been writing about the world around me.

I'm not excited about this summer, even if I have plans to look forward to. I'm not going to be a different person by Labor Day, but I won't be the same person, either. I wish I could be excited for my future, but that's just not possible. I guess the fact I am free to do what I want with my life is something to be thankful for, but I'm not going to forget the sadness that will shadow my life for years to come. As I noted previously, I'm coping quite well with disappointment. I have come to expect it in life. But that doesn't mean I won't be haunted by my sadness. I know myself well enough to know it's a cross I will bear for a long time to come, no matter what else happens in my life. I really wish I could treat people as disposable, I mean that sincerely, but we all have our faults, and caring about people is one of mine.

I'm not going to quit smoking, drinking and swearing with the turn of a calendar page. I'm not going to start exercising four hours a day, volunteering at the soup kitchen and studying for a master's degree simply because we've reached the unofficial start of summer. But during the past week I have made conscious choices to better my life in a few small ways. I'm not ready to slap myself on the back for my effort through five days of June, but I'm better off than I was five days ago, even if it's only psychological.

There's a light at the end of my tunnel, I can see it. More important, I believe in it. I know I will reach it. And this will be the last I'll write about my pointless, meaningless life this summer.