Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Ask The Life Coach

Checking my sitemeter recently, I discovered that somebody had stumbled across my blog by Googling the phrase, “If there is a tree branch impaled in somebody, what should I do?” This is intriguing, particularly coming not long after someone else had discovered my blog by Googling, “How far can I push my liver?”

Why ask Big Dave? Then it came to me . . . these people probably don’t need this particular question answered. Well, yes they do, but they need something even more important. They need a “life coach.” They need somebody to guide them through not only the complex questions of our existence here on earth, but for everyday common sense questions as well.

That’s what a “life coach does, right? Gives sound advice to those in need. I can do that. Through my years as son and father, I’ve come up with many helpful maxims. Among them:

---It’s always darkest before the tornado
---Get out of stocks now
---When in doubt, vote Democrat
---Tomorrow is the greatest of life's healers.

Now some of you may not agree with all of these maxims, but I thought becoming a life coach might be worth investigating. And what I found out was that this is one of the fastest-growing home businesses in this country. All right! I’m all for staying at home and getting paid for it.

So I went to this website where I took a ten-question quiz to determine whether I would make a good life coach. I scored 36 out of 50, after which the website questioned whether being a life coach was right for me. But they offered to sell me a book that would put me on the path to success in my newly chosen career. I’m mulling it over.

In the meantime, let me start out by answering the question at the top of my blog, just in case that web surfer comes back here. What should you do if you should encounter someone impaled by a tree branch?

Call 9-1-1.

Let me know where to send the bill.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

La Diablo

I should forewarn that there is some mature subject matter in the blog to follow. Though I will be carefully choosing my words—my blog is already blocked on my local library’s general use computer for some unknown reason—today I talk about the business of stripping. Oh, the lengths I won’t go to support the blogging community.

Diablo Cody is up for an Academy Award this Sunday for her first screenplay, the movie Juno. I’ll be rooting for her. Diablo is a long-time blogger, having chronicled on-line her days as a stripper in Minneapolis. She even wrote a book about it—Candy Girl-A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper--which I read recently out of curiosity, so I thought I would review it here.

Upon completing the 200 or so pages, I have a great deal of respect for Diablo Cody the writer--very fluid writing, colorful if sometimes overly explicit detail, eminently readable even if her vocabulary is interspersed regularly with the type of words that would challenge the final round participants of the annual Scripps Howard spelling bee.

No kidding! Here are three such words which can be found on the final page: adamantium, frisson, and detritus. Even my spell-checker only recognizes one of the three. Obviously between sets on the runway at Deja Vu, Cody either was breezing through the latest New York Times crossword puzzle or reading James Joyce.

But there is nothing titillating or erotic in the way Cody describes the exotic entertainment business that includes private peep shows and lap dances. Her nightly escapades in the exotic entertainment district are described in minute, unflattering detail, much like those guys from C.S.I. might describe the experience for an official police report, if they knew the big words.

The book reads like an extended blog, a journal of sorts mostly set in the bordello-like atmosphere of the local clubs. The only background Cody relates from her own past is recounted almost as an afterthought in a final chapter, as if suggested by a would-be publisher for those readers wondering why an obviously bright, college-educated young woman from a respectable Chicago family would suddenly lose her scruples. Cody seems to blame her strict Catholic upbringing.

Diablo begrudges respect for the women who sell their nakedness to “bank”, earning their daily pay only to give up a large percentage to the men who run the business. These women ingratiate themselves to delight even the most perverse of male customers. It was all in a day’s work for these women, from high school age to pushing middle life.

Whether they are the managers or the customers, men are generally treated unsympathetically throughout the book, especially the young college age men. They were “abominable tippers” and desired the whispery-voiced airhead strippers “who could make them feel intelligent by comparison.”

Oh, oh. You’re supposed to tip strippers? Uh, didn’t know that. Once I was dragged by my old college roomies to a bachelor party that wound up at a strip joint. This was before lap dances were de rigueur, when stripping meant customers paid exorbitant cover charges and sipped extravagantly priced drinks to stare wide-eyed by the runway’s rail. Cody called it a tip rail, something else I learned.

I remember my old college roomie putting, instead of a greenback, a few credit cards on the edge of the runway once as kinduva joke. It would have been the kind of joke ole Diablo wouldn’t have appreciated had she been working. And our stripper didn’t appreciate it either, gathering up the credit cards and flinging them to the far, darkened corners of the room. We were lucky the rest of the patrons in that hole-in-the-wall were honest and returned them intact.

Now, after reading Cody’s book, I understand why that stripper did that.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Boycott Will Ferrell!

My two sons saw Will Ferrell’s "Funny or Die" comedy concert at Michigan State University’s Breslin Center last week. The Saturday Night Live alum is doing a series of these concerts at selected colleges across the country to promote his upcoming movie Semi-Pro.

So Breslin was packed to the rafters. More kids piled in there than at a University of Michigan/MSU basketball game and just as enthusiastic as Ferrell was introduced to great fanfare and drum roll. He emerged into the spotlight wearing . . . a University of Michigan shirt.

My to-die-for fav university! And this at MSU no less. All right!! But, let me quote my older son Greg on what happened after that:

"I was yelling so loud, one of the few in my section who wasn't booing at the top of his lungs. Then he rips (the shirt) off and throws it into the crowd and reveals his MSU sweatshirt. The crowd went absolutely nuts! Later on in the show, they had an actor run on stage with a Michigan helmet and jersey. Ferrell of course tackles him and kicks the crap out of him. Again, the crowd went crazy."

What’s the deal? Ferrell engaging is slapstick shtick bashing Michigan? Twice in one concert??! Did the writer’s strike have something to do with this absolute lack of creativity?

OK, so I was going to let it go at that. Afterall, a U of M football player getting pummeled there at Michigan State is something their current crop of kids haven’t even seen. But then I wondered. Ferrell’s next stop on his tour was Michigan’s arch-nemesis Ohio State. Do ya think . . . ?

Here’s what saw in a Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch article: "Ferrell began the two-hour show by walking on stage wearing a Michigan sweatshirt. At the sound of hisses and boos, Ferrell ripped it off, revealing an Ohio State sweatshirt and proceeded to desecrate the Wolverines garb with many a stomp. "

Later, even OSU President Gordon Gee got in the act, participating in an interview with Ferrell, in character now as his anchorman character Ron Burgundy. Burgundy says to the OSU president, "Gordon, I forgot how fun you are. What do you say we get a bucket load of Valium and some fried chicken, just go to Michigan and start punching people?"

All right! Enough is enough. I’m announcing today a boycott of Will Ferrell. In addition, I’m writing my state representative asking him to introduce legislation to make University of Michigan bashing a hate crime punishable by life imprisonment (we don’t have the death penalty in Michigan).

This law will be made retro-active to January, so we can swear out warrants for both the OSU president and Ferrell. All copies of the movie Semi-Pro will be confiscated as evidence. (I watch Judge Judy on afternoon TV so I know this can be done.)

Ferrell may have done some funny things in his SNL comedy career--that more-cowbell thing was kinda funny--but his post-SNL movie career has been spent playing borderline mentally challenged oafs with little wit. I don’t think moviegoers will miss him as he spends time behind bars here in the Great Lakes State. Go Blue!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

I Am Da Chili Man

A couple weekends ago, a caravan of six family members including myself braved freezing temperatures and snow-covered walks to attend the second annual Depot Town Chili Tasting Challenge in Ypsilanti. Ten businesses, mostly bar and restaurant types, put their best beans, cheese and chili sauce recipes on the line for charity.

We picked up judging ballots along with the requisite spoons, napkins and empty plastic tasting vessels at the Corner Brewery. After samping their chili—one pot featured venison—we marched onward, visiting each of the ten local merchants clustered about the commercial district.

I think I ranked the venison chili a seven out of ten. Most venues offered two chili types, one vegetarian. At a bakery we visited there was a rowdy crowd of cheerleaders keeping tabs on which chili would-be tasters picked to try (they had two, one being vegan chili).

“I’ll try the one that’s NOT vegan,” I said, drawing boos and catcalls from on-lookers behind the counter. As one smiling chef spooned me a sample from his pot, another gentleman made the “Loser” sign for me, pressing his thumb and extended index finger to his forehead.

But I got a bonus: my chili came with a mini-corn muffin and a dainty cupcake with a colorful swirl of frosting on top. I noticed several competitors offering extras from shots of beer to free wetnaps. It was like a chili primary--anything for a vote.

By the way, my nephew Bill behind me did choose the vegi chili at the bakery, which drew nearly as many boos and guffaws, some claiming he chose opposite of me to avoid the loser label. And Bill didn’t get the bonus corn muffin or mini-pastry, which somehow I got blamed for. I guess my careless dismissal of the vegan chili had put the local server out of synch when he served up my nephew’s chili.

I split my favorite vote, giving perfect tens to both Sidetrack’s Cheeseburger Chili, which was last year’s champion, and Cady’s Restaurant’s Aunt Barb’s White Bean Turkey Chili, which drew the ire of my sister-in-law Denise. “If it wins, I’ll never come back,” she complained, feeling that Aunt Barb’s was really a customized brand of Campbell’s soup.

What makes chili anyway? It’s true that many chilis we sampled seemed more stew or soup than chili. I’d be interested in opinions here, particularly from any Texans since Texas cuisine seems synonymous with chili in my book.

Anyway, among the 20 or so chilis competing, Aunt Barb’s took first place and Sidetrack’s second. Wow, my picks both! My sister-in-law should have new respect for my culinary expertise now. I can say it . . . I am da chili man.

[I've had difficulty keeping up with my blogging this week because our Verizon has been acting up again. First the phones went out, then my Verizon DSL, then the phones came back on, but not my DSL, then the phones went out again. I strongly suspect that robot I wrote about in my "You, Robot" blog a couple weeks ago had been surfing the net, came across my blog and didn't like it. So he's been pulling this switch, pushing that button, and messing with our communications. So I have a new pronouncement that I hope will help here: robots are your friend.]