Monday, December 17, 2012

Ten Things I'll Miss When The World Comes To An End

Well, this is it.  The last work week of human existence.  Only the Mayans know if the world will cease to be early or late in the day on Friday, December 21, 2012.  I'm hoping it's early, since I have planned to do some last-minute Christmas shopping in the evening and you all know how much of a pain-in-the-ass that can be. 

Since I'm trying to eat as much pepperoni pizza and Twinkies as I can between now and then, I don't have all that much time for blogging.  David Letterman has always done well with lists.  So here's mine...

Top Ten Things I'll Miss When The World Comes To An End

10.  Magic Mondays at McDonald's.  Buy one Big Mac or Quarter Pounder with Cheese and get a second sandwich for $.25.  This would be higher on my list if the promotion hadn't just started this week.  I only get one Magic Monday -- I'm going to make the most of it.

9.  Nutella.  The delicious hazelnut spread.  Mmm, mmm (emphasis on the second mmm).  Not sure if the FDA checked this one out yet.  No way is this stuff good for you.

8.  Jumper Cables.  My first non-food related item in my top ten.  Not once have I regretted the purchase of jumper cables in 2006.  I just wish I could take them with me into the next life. 

7.  The Amish Mafia on the Discovery Channel.  I was so hopeful after week one of the series that I'd be able to follow Levi and company lay down a little Menonite justice.  I guess not.

6.  My Nosehair Trimmer.  Do I need to elaborate?

5.  Wind Turbines.  Man, I could watch those things all day long.  If I see one off the highway, I just pull over and gaze.  I often wonder how they keep moving, even when there's no wind to speak of.  Oh well.

4.  Pop Tarts.  I eat them sober. 

3.  Milk.  Gotta have something to go with the Pop Tarts. 

2.  Gold Rush on the Discovery Channel.  Hey, I'm just keeping it real.  Afterall, there are no rules when it comes to how many Discovery Channel shows you can have on your Things I'll Miss When The World Comes To An End Top Ten list.  I only wish I could have seen Dakota Fred strike it rich by hitting the mother load in the Porcupine Creek glory hole.

1.  Olestra.  I always thought that's what would have killed me.  Who knew. 

Well, that's it.  I have many others that just couldn't make the cut.  Good luck to everyone, especially you doomsday preppers out there who have been stockpiling gallon cans of chili beans and brussel sprouts, hoping to outlast the rest of us. 

Farewell.  But, if for some reason the world doesn't end on Friday, please don't tell me what happens on Gold Rush this week.  I DVRd it.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Bad Signs

I hate to go all political on this blog, but I thought you might be interested in something I recently submitted to my town's weekly newspaper, The Strongsville Post.  It published on September 1st, but they made me cut it down to 500 words.  A little background: the city used $130,000 from the General Fund to construct a large brick sign with the word "Strongsville" on it.  Seems like kind of  waste to me.  Here's the unedited version.

A few months ago, I noticed the beginnings of some landscape and brick work being done on the northbound side of I-71, at the SR82 /Royalton Road exit.  A few weeks ago, the work completed, I saw the result, a very nice brick wall with the word "STRONGSVILLE" attached to the front and rows of greenery directly in front of the wall.

The idea for the sign came from a city council member who drove past a similar sign while on a trip to Columbus.  If it was good enough for a Columbus suburb, it certainly must be good enough for a Cleveland suburb.

I wondered just how much this sign cost the city to construct.  It seems that the landscaping was paid for by an ODOT grant of $48,000.

But, what about the brickwork and the giant letters?  Last week the Strongville Post's Terry Brlas reported that the sign itself cost the city $130,000.  Whoa!  Hey, it's a nice sign, but is it a worth the same amount the parents of this community are asked to shell out to have 325 student-athletes play a high school sport this fall?

But, in reading Mr. Brlas' article, I found out that there's really more to this sign than meets the eye.  See, apparantly "the purpose of the sign it to let motorists traveling northbound on I-71 know that they are in Strongsville and the Royalton Road exit is the place to exit."

That's interesting.  I guess a motorist might not notice the several big green signs advertising the Strongsville exit placed on the the highway starting at about a mile and a half before they would have to make their mind up to turn.  Maybe people who like to just stop to discover new cities can only read words attached to brick.  Maybe their GPS is broken and would steer them past Strongsville and into a less desirable place like Middleburg Heights.  If the purpose it to ensure we lure as many potential out-of-town consumers off the road and into our town, why not just build the brick wall on the highway itself, replace the big letters with a large arrow pointing to the right, forcing motorists onto the exit and right into the Strongsville Commerce Trap?

A little crazy, right?

But is it as crazy as what Mayor Perciak said about the sign?  In the article, the mayor is quoted as saying the sign "identifies what our community is.  We're sound, we're stable, we're safe and it displays all that.  It also displays a certain amount of pride in our residents, our schools and our businesses."  I personally drove past the sign eight times this week, the last three times driving really slowly to make sure I wasn't missing something.  Not once did I see anything other than the word "Strongsville."  I didn't feel more stable or safer.  I didn't feel more prideful or feel better about the schools or want to patronize any of the businesses in town. 

Or, is it as crazy as having members of the committee who helped to organize the construction of the sign stand next to the highway with large letters while others on the committee drove past.  The purpose was to determine how large the letters needed to be in order for them to be easily read as they drive by.  How about just sending one person down to the Columbus suburb where the idea came from in the first place and measure their letters?

Maybe Mayor Perciak's assistant would be able to help me see the light on this.  He said, "Folks are flying in to see some of our tech businesses and this lets them know where to access Strongsville."  Really?  They're flying in, yet have no means to figure out how to get our town from the airport, which is three miles away?  I doubt they'll be coming from the south anyway, but don't worry, the city is planning another sign for the southbound side of the highway.

I'm not sure how we ever break even on a $130,000 pricetag for this sign, much less adding another one, ultimately costing the city $260,000.  The good news is that the dollars come from the city's General Fund.  Apparantly, that's the fund used for uneccessary projects.  The General Fund must not cover things like adding sidewalks for children who walk to school, fixing potholed and cracked roads, or beefing up police patrols to catch up with youth gangs who sell drugs right out in the open in the common areas of certain residential developments.

And, the General Fund must not cover the cost of looking into ways to solve the backed up traffic leading into and out of the Mall and the Costco/Best Buy shopping plaza off of Royalton Road and onto I-71.  Yes, the same Royalton Road and I-71 the city is hoping random motorist will unwittingly discover with our new nice but overpriced signs. 

According to Mayor Perciak, "the business community wanted the sign."  Well then, here's a sign that I (a taxpayer who most likely contributed to the General Fund) want: "Strongsville: Leadership WANTED."  Maybe someone will see it, run for office and help stop wasteful spending in this town once and for all.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Down For The Count

I'm beginning to think that Groupon may have something to do with the Mayan end-of-the-world prophecy.  Nothing can take down a civilization like two-for-one, month-long boxing lessons at the mall.  In my case, I didn't need the entire month -- I only needed about fifteen minutes.

My oldest daughter will be heading to high school in less less than two weeks.  She loves to work out.  I'm proud of how she takes care of herself, though I'm not exactly sure where in her DNA that trait came from.  Anyway, my wife finds a Groupon deal that would give two people unlimited month-long access to a new place at the mall called The Empowering Punch.  It's a place where you can take workout classes, most of which are boxing-related.  The crazy part about The Empowering Punch is that it's located inside the mall, between a pet store and the entrance to Dick's Sporting Goods.  There's a big window just for shoppers to watch you while they down their Auntie Anne's pretzels and large fresh-squeezed lemonades.  It's just what the  public has craved for all these years, a place to watch people sweat while taking a break from the exhausting chore of shopping.

My daughter couldn't wait to go.  She has like a thousand friends, according to Facebook, though none of them were willing to step up and take a class or two with her.  And, she didn't want to do it alone.  My wife wouldn't go with her and didn't even offer any sort of legitimate reason as to why.  So, my daughter was faced with going alone or...

"Why don't you take her?"  My wife every once in a while has a great idea.  This was not one of those times.

I needed to come up with something really good, an excuse my wife couldn't deny.  But, before I could answer...

"It would be great for you two to do something together.  I mentioned it to her and she really wants you to go with her."

Crap.

There's no way out of this rabbit hole.  My wife had played the guilt card and she played it well.

When we arrived at The Empowering Punch, another class was finishing up.  The class was led by a man wearing a Garth Brooks-type headset, yelling out commands to people who looked like they just spent the last hour working a dunk tank at the local Home Days festival.  The killer part was that almost everyone was in amazing physical shape.  I've never seen healthy people sweat that much.  God only knows what this class would do to somone like me.

We signed in.  I think I signed some sort of waiver, not holding The Empowering Punch accountable for my death.  My daughter was excited.  Apparantly, the guy running the class was "hot."  Really?  That's what she's thinking about?  I reminded her that she has a boyfriend and to focus on the task at hand -- checking every couple of seconds to make sure my eyes were not rolling into the back of my head during the class.

I sized up the next group, the ones who would be my classmates.  There was a guy who seemed less in shape than me, so I started to gain a little confidence.  Maybe I could pull off this 55-minute workout afterall.  It's just punching, right?

Wrong.

With just five words, the instructor hit me with the biggest dose of reality any fat man could ever hear.

"Get out your jump ropes."

Gravity and excessive weight is not one of your classic combinations, like, say peanut butter and jelly.  Gravity and excessive weight go together like, "Holy shit" and "Get me out of here, now!"

But, I couldn't let my daughter see how frightened I was.  And, certainly I couldn't show any signs of weakness with the instructor.  So, I grabbed a jump rope, pretended to unwind it for a few minutes, then took my place in the only open area left -- the freakin' front row, right in front of Garth.  I had planned to be in the back row, so he couldn't see me and I could go unnoticed at my own pace.  What happened?  Now I'm in the front row?  This is not starting well at all.

"Let's go everybody", he yelled into his microphone.  I heard him say "everyone", but I know he was talking to me.

Since I haven't jumped rope since my eighth grade physical fitness test, I had no idea if I could even make it over the rope once.  Yet, somehow I did it.  I was jumping rope -- eight, nine, ten in a row.  And I was really getting some elevation when I jumped, maybe a foot or higher with each jump.  I was clearing the rope easily.  The problem was that I really needed to only be just barely off the floor.  Doing a full-out leap into the air every time that rope hit the floor really wasn't helping me conserve my energy. 

This went on for ten minutes I think.  It felt like an eternity.  Good God was I getting tired.  And this was the warmup.

I should have conserved what little energy I had.  I tried to see what was going on behind me.  It seemed that no one was working as hard or jumping as high as I was.  Finally, after pushing my body to the limit with a seven-foot length of chord, the instructor commanded us to go get our gloves.

Gloves.  Now that's more like it.  There is no jumping with gloves.

I found a pair of black ones.  I liked them -- they made me look tough.  Don't mess with me, I jumped rope for ten minutes and now I'm ready to take your head off with my fists of fury.  I'm going to make this class my bitch.

Then the truly hard part began.  The instuctor showed us various punches, all of which were numbered.  Number one was a left jab.  Number two a right cross.  Number three a left hook.  And so on...

Whatever number Garth Brooks called out, we'd do.  "Two."  Right cross.  "Four."  Right hook.  "Five."  Left uppercut.  I got cocky, thinking I could do this all day long.

Then Garth started with the combos.  And, he picked up the pace....big time.

"One, one."  Jab, jab.  "One, three, two."  Jab, left hook, right cross."  My mind worked slowly, but my body worked even slower.  I was still halfway through the last set of instructions when he barked out the next combination. 

"Four, six, two, one, one, three."  What?

Now I was tired and confused.  I started to make up my own combinations thinking that no one else would notice.  I thought maybe the instructor would be too busy calling out the orders that he wouldn't be able to tell if I was doing things correctly. 

But this guy was some kind of freak.  He zeroed in on my cheating ways by standing in front of me holding padded mits.  He called out the next round of instructions.  I tried, I really did, to make sense of it, then execute.  When I failed to translate his orders, he made me try again...and again...and again.  Either I did it right on the eighth try or he finally gave up on me, I'm not sure.  The good news is he was gone. 

But so was my stamina.

I couldn't do this any longer.  We were about fifteen minutes into this fifty-minute workout.  My daughter was doing everything correctly.  It looked like she was hardly breathing.  I, on the other hand, looked like an escape artist who had been unable to breath after being chained underwater for three minutes.  I gasped and wheezed and struggled to do what was being asked.

I had had enough.  I slipped into the side room next to the boxing studio.  It was quieter in there.  Maybe Garth wouldn't notice I was taking a break.  The instructor kept going as if nothing had happened.  Cool.  I bent over, exhausted.  Then, one of Garth's helpers appeared out of nowhere asking if I was alright.

"Oh yeah, I'm fine."  I lied.

"What did you have to eat tonight?" he asked.

"Umm, uhh...that's a good question."  You know, I couldn't remember.  Wierd.  I thought maybe I was punch drunk.  But no one hit me, so that ruled that out.  He waited until I finally just randomly called out whatever food I could think of... "a sandwich, I had a sandwich."

"Did you have any fruit?"

"Uh, no."  Didn't I just say I had a sandwich?

"Well, you should really have fruit before coming to one of these classes.  Next time make sure you have a piece or two."

Oh, I'm sure that piece of fruit would have given me the stamina to fire through this class like Sylvester Stallone on Red Bull.

"Next time?" Did he just say next time?

"Right."

I started to laugh.  And, I couldn't stop.  He walked away after about six minutes and I never saw him again.

Going back into the class would not have been the right thing to do.  I was embarrassed and I didn't want to embarrass my daughter more than she probably already was.  So, I watched her and she did great.  I was really proud.  They took her up into what looked like a small version of a boxing ring and Garth worked one-on-one with her, calling out combinations.  She stuck with it.

Good for her.

After it was over, she asked me what happened. 

"Are you okay Dad."

"Oh, sure."  I lied again.  "Apparantly, I should have had a banana before I came here tonight."

"Well, maybe next time."  She was encouraging at least.

Then I started to laugh.  And I didn't stop until we got home.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

For Old Time's Sake

So, I'm at the gym this morning and...

No, that's not a punchline.  Occasionally, I do make a half-hearted attempt at getting back in shape.  If you still don't believe me, I suppose I could supply witnesses, but I've already gotten my workout in for the day.

Let me start again.  I'm at the gym this morning and notice something.  Have you ever noticed something that you probably should have noticed way before you noticed it the first time?  Like how Napolean Dynamite is wearing different clothes during the same movie scene.  Things like that.

Today I noticed just how many old people work out at 6:00 a.m.  I noticed it because at every machine, I had to wait for them to finish, which slowed my usual 45-minute workout to a little over three hours.  Agonizing.  It's not like you can work in with them since they put the settings on the lowest possible weight.  Air would provide as much resistance as what some of these geriatrics are doing.  So, I wait.  And wait.  And wait.  Finally, when they're finished, they do a slow walk to the disinfectant spray bottle in the corner of the room, grab a rag and wipe down the machine like they're polishing their walker after a shitstorm.  I'm really not certain what they're wiping off, but it isn't sweat.  I never see old people sweat -- it's why they never need air conditioning and heat their homes in the summertime.  I think when you turn 65, your body just morphs into a cold-blooded reptilian on the inside.  Temperature change doesn't seem to affect them at all.

I shouldn't have to worry about all of this at six in the morning.  I'm worried about lots of other things.  I have a busy day ahead and try to use this short workout as a way to prepare myself.  The fact is I have to get up early.  They don't.  The only time I'm able to work out is early in the morning.  They have all day.  They should at least have to wait until I get to work before they start their workout.  As a society, we already surrendered the mall to them.  What more could they want?

Old people have also impacted my grocery store experience.  When do I do grocery shopping?  After work or on the weekends.  These times should be "old people free."  If they can't get their shopping done and workout during the 40 hours I work each week, then I guess they're just looking for trouble.

I suppose you might call me insensitive and an ageist, but I'm only trying to be practical.  Think of how much faster you'd get to work during rush hour if you took all the people who weren't in a hurry off the road.  Think of the line at the deli in your supermarket and how efficient it would be if they didn't have to deal with the 82-year-old woman ordering three slices of every cold cut she could remember.  Think about a workout that doesn't last all morning.

Most of us know old people.  Some of us might even be old people.  If you know someone who is old, suggest this new way of living and see if they're willing to change.  If you are old and I've possibly offended you, I'm sorry.  You go ahead and keep doing what you're doing.  But don't expect me to wipe the machine off after I'm done.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Having Your Cake...

In two days I'll be 45 years old.  My wife thinks my birthday is funny because I'll be able to round up my age to 50.  I think she needs to trade in her sense of humor for something a little, well, more humorous. 

Birthdays are supposed to be enjoyable.  My kids seem to enjoy theirs.  They have parties and sleepovers with friends and presents and cake with butter cream frosting in the design of whatever they happen to be into at the time.  Growing up, I don't recall ever having a birthday party that included anyone other than my parents, grandparents and brother.  I recall having friends, but I don't remember any of them cheering me on while I extinguished a cake-full of birthday candles with a single mighty exhale. 

And, I know for sure the birthdays of my youth included cakes without frosting.  That's right, the first time I had a cake with anything other than lemon glaze or powdered sugar was on my wedding day.  It was usually a standard 12x9 rectangle.  Occasionally, if my mother was feeling creative, I'd get a bundt-style cake.  The only suprise I ever had during my birthdays was when I took a bite of one of those cakes, not knowing if I had a mouthful of cake with glaze or cake with melted candle wax -- they looked so much the same.  Surpisingly, the flavors weren't all that different.

So, most people who hate birthdays hate them because it makes them feel old.  I hate birthdays because of cake trauma.  I call them "prison cakes", though I'm sure convicts at least get frosting.

For the past few years I've just avoided cake altogether on my birthdays.  Part of the reason has to do with my mother.  Pent up guilt from having tortured me with those nondescript cakes for so many years caused her to attempt a make-good.  For a good three or four years she would bring over a frozen ice cream cake for my birthday.  A lot of people enjoy ice cream cakes.  They combine both of the festive treats in one simple package.  Plus, they eliminate the need to ask the question, "do you want cake, ice cream or both."  You don't have a choice with an ice cream cake.  You get both whether you want it or not.  There is just one small problem -- I've never wanted ice cream with my cake, mostly because I hate using a fork to eat the soupy mess from a woefully inadequate paper plate.  So, being forced to eat something on my birthday kind of rubbed me the wrong way.  I never told my mother how I felt, but after a few years, the ice cream cakes stopped coming.  Now, we just go out to a nice dinner and I try not to think of cake, frozen or baked.

Only one of my kids eats cake.  So, only one of my kids should want cake for their birthdays, right?  Wrong.  They all do.  And, they always want elaborate designs that I end up attempting, as if my name was Buddy from Carlo's Bakery.  My attempts don't always turn out as planned.  The Arthur-themed cake was quite impressive.  The Poke-mon cake was not.  Sports themes are usually easy to pull off, unless you're trying to put together a realistic-looking soccer ball and don't pre-plan the hexagon pattern.  You might end up with a few hexagons, some triangles and a new shape I call a squaircle. 

The kids are getting older now and the requests for special cakes don't seem to be as important to them as they once did.  A simple rectangle with a cream cheese frosting and some sprinkles often does the trick.

They say kids end up turning out just like their parents.  I've been fighting for almost fifteen years, but I'm thinking my days are numbered.  Cake making is hard work.  Maybe someday I'll be able to drizzle a lemon glaze onto a 9x12 sheet cake and call it a day.  Or better yet, I could just give DQ a call.

As for my kids, they can have their cake, but I don't have to eat it too.  Afterall, I am 50.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Barney My Brother

I have to admit, I feel a bit like Barney Fife these days. Barney, from TV's classic sitcom The Andy Griffith Show, was only able to carry one bullet in his pocket "in case of an emergency." Restricted by Sheriff Andy Taylor due to his overzealous ways, Deputy Fife couldn't be trusted to have a loaded gun.

Relating to Fife's situation isn't difficult these days. As a journalism major, it's always been my duty to point out misspellings and grammatical errors in the written work of others. I can be a bit of a snob that way. So, a particular event that happened to me this past week really knocked me down about six pegs.

My eldest daughter's school was having a fundraiser where you send a handwritten Valentine's Day note to your children. My wife suggested that we each do one for our kindergartner. I crafted a beautiful message to my youngest that surely would stir the emotions of anyone who read it.

On Valentine's night, my wife made me aware of just what kind of emotions my note would stir -- ridicule. "Here," she said. "Read the note."

"Why?"

"Just read it."

So, I read it...

"Dear Meghan - Your the coolest kindergartner I know. Have a great Valentine's Day! Love Dad"

Holy crap. I used "your" instead of "you're."

"How embarrassing." My wife has this very natural way of making me feel like a real turd.

"Well, Meghan won't know the difference."

"Yes, but copies of these were posted at the school." Really? She had to tell me that?

At that moment, everything I thought I knew about myself suddenly was in doubt. Now, I was just like all those "other people" I've chastised for being lazy and stupid. "That's what they get. Text-ebonics is ruining this country. Our kids are never going to know how to professionally communicate when they get out into the world and have a real job. They're doomed, doomed I say."

I searched for a response. Should I just return my journalism degree now?

My oldest came into the kitchen where were having this discussion and asked what we were talking about. I showed here the note.

"Oh yeah", she started. "Emily saw that and was making fun of it and telling everyone at school today."

Great.

There was only one solution to my dilemma. "Can I still get into the school?" I asked my wife.

"I think so. Why?"

I didn't answer. I was on a mission. The doors were still open. I found the bulletin board where the Valentine's notes were displayed. Luckily, the note I wrote to Meghan was one of the first I saw. I took a pen out and proceeded to correct my mistake. It didn't take long, but I was more than satisfied with the result.

It now read: "Dear Emily: Your the coolest 8th grader I no. Have a grate Valentine's Day. Love, Dad."

Now, give me back my bullet Sheriff Taylor.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Most Super Super Bowl Party Host...

The other night at the city recreation center, I ran into a friend of mine who also happens to be the person who hosted the Super Bowl party I attended (and blogged about) this year. He was visibly upset. At first, I thought it had something to do with the fact that he had witnessed something seen less often than a yeti in Texas -- me working out. Well, I wasn't actually working out. I was preparing to work out. Preparing to work out is almost as taxing as the actual workout. Sometimes I win by convincing myself that I'm too sick or too tired to put myself through such physical torture. Sometimes I lose when the small amount of common sense I still have left swims its way to the top of my stream of consciousness. Last night went into the loss column.

But my friend Ron was angry about something much more important than seeing me self-induce a heart attack on the treadmill. I should have prefaced all of this by saying Ron has lost like 40 pounds in the last few months. He's in very good shape and he happened to be wearing a tank top during this particular verbal confrontation which helped accentuate his new-found upper arm muscles. Hey, if you're going to go through all the effort of working out and eating right and taking all those illegal steroids and human growth hormone, you may as well let people see the results. How many woman do you know with fresh boob jobs that hide behind a ski parka or baggy sweatshirt? See. You can't blame him.

As soon as he saw me, his testosterone kicked into high gear. "Hey, I read your blog. What the hell?"

This wasn't the reader reaction I was looking for, but at least he read it. "What are you talking about?" I asked.

"You didn't even talk about the host of the Super Bowl party."

"You're right", I agreed. "I apologiz. I'll edit it tonight and mention what a great job your wife did with it."

I hadn't used up my daily allowance of sarcasm, so I felt the need to unload whatever was left in the tank on him.

"Listen", I tried to calm him by using a soothing manner of speaking. "I did have a whole section about you during the rough draft stage." Two lies in one sentence. First, I didn't right a think about him. Second, there's never a rough draft stage -- it's like live television, I type it and hit send. Who has time to edit?

"Go ahead, I'm listening." Great, buying signals.

At this very moment I decided to adopt a new policy as it relates to my blog. If anyone sees me at the rec center and wants to talk about PierogiLogic, I'll give you free mention in the next article. Keep in mind I have trouble with facts and keeping them straight. I embellish and flat out make stuff up quite a bit so what I write may not be completely accurate. You've been warned. Finding me at the rec center will not be hard, if I'm there. The "if I'm there" part is the key. But, if I'm there, it'll be like playing a fairly obvious version of "Where's Waldo." I'm not too tough to spot.

"I feel bad," I continued. "But somehow that entire section was removed. Since it's virtually impossible to deal with the little blog fairies who obviously messed with the article in the middle of the night and deleted all the extremely complimentary stuff about you, I'll dedicate and entire blog entry to just you."

Ron's threatening demeanor softened.

"So, you're going to tell everyone what a great host I was?"

"Not only that, but if you play your cards right, I may even tell them what a great job you did with the hardwood floors in the kitchen and foyer. I'm impressed."

For whatever reason, that didn't seem to matter to Ron. But, the thought of me at least mentioning what an amazing host he was caused him to ease the pressure from around my neck. The blood vessels in his neck and head weren't as bulgy either at this point.

"Hey, thanks," he said.

"No," I said. "Thank you."

So, here's my tribute to Ron, the world's greatest Super Bowl party host...

Ron, you're an awesome host. Thank you for inviting me and my family. We had a great time and hope to do it again next year. And, speaking of next year, can you please, please, please stash a couple of Super Bowl squares away for me and the kids? I'm feeling lucky. Also, please tell whoever made the amazing sausage sandwiches that I love them. I love the sausage sandwiches and I love the person who made them. And, by the way, that hardwood floor is killer.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Super Bowl Balancing Act...

So, a record number of people watched the Super Bowl last weekend -- 111 million to be exact. It's too bad that the technology used to determine this gaudy number can't tell the difference between those who were actually paying attention to the action on the field and those who just happened to be in the room during the telecast.

I've only been to a handful of Super Bowl parties in my lifetime. Though the truth is that I've only been invited to a handful of Super Bowl parties in my lifetime, I prefer to say that I chose not to attend as a way to make a personal statement against glam-football.

In my limited Super Bowl party experience, I've discovered that there are three distinct types of people you'll meet there. Since I know there are still those of you out there who don't get invited to Super Bowl parties, I thought I'd provide a bit of a primer into what to look for and how to deal with each of of the groups.

Here goes...

The Purists - These are the people who would prefer that the Super Bowl was played outdoors, in a foot of snow, with leather helmets and goal posts moved from the back of the endzone to the goal line. They don't care which teams are playing - the fact that is football is more than enough for them. They drink hard during the game action and go to the bathroom during commercial breaks. Don't bother them during live action and never question their ability to dissect a play or their take on playcalling or strategy.

The Squareheads - These people would show up to an International Cricket Championship party, as long as they could buy five or six squares from a game grid. Without the excitement of losing forty or fifty bucks, they would just as soon be at the dentist getting their molars capped. These are the men and women who question the strategy of kicking an extra point in the first quarter because one of the Super Bowl squares they purchased had the number six in it.

The Ad Spotters - These partygoers show no outward interest in the game while the game is going on. The talk. They eat. They turn their back to the action. Yet, at the very moment a commercial break begins, the Ad Spotter drops their plate and cup, closes their mouth and cranes their neck to get a premium and unfettered view of the Super Bowl ad now showing on the television. So intent is the ad spotter, you'd think they were actually appearing in the commercial. Spotters are quick to judge and offer an opinion about what they've just seen. As if Larry Tate were somewhere in the room looking for agency talent to help with a new campaign for next year's big game.

I clearly don't fall into any of the three categories I've just described. So, there must be a fourth group. I've had to stop writing to really think about this. It's a bit like looking for the missing link and then discovering that it's you. But, I think I've got it...

The Foodies - I love football, but I don't worry about whether the defense is running a cover 2 zone defense. I'm late for everything, so I'm sure how I feel about Super Bowl squares -- they're always gone before I get to the party. I used to be in the advertising industry, but frankly the Super Bowl ads have not lived up to the hype since about 1995. But dammit if I don't love party food. Wings. Pizza. Chips and salsa. Six versions of seven-layer Mexican dip. Sausage sandwiches. Cookies. Cake. It's a fat sports fan's heaven. Foodies like me are the heart and soul of any Super Bowl party. Plus, we're the most versatile of all partygoers. Just because I'm eating doesn't mean I can't watch the game, buy a square or comment on the commercials.

So, it's a miracle all four groups can get along so well. We all have different agendas, but rarely does a fight break out. It's kind of like an African nature preserve. Lions living with antelope in harmony because the lions are fed so well by humans they think of the antelope as friends, not dinner. Think of it as the Pridelands after Simba returned home.

The good news is that you have an entire year to get ready for your next (or your first) Super Bowl party. Heck you may even decide to break down and throw one of your own. If so, keep in mind the delicate balance that is the Super Bowl Circle of Life.