I consolidated the stories about Fred.


...long live, Hill Blocks View. I miss writing. But the thought of one more round of "welcome backs", or obsessing over stats, or thinking of the clever response to a comment, or the obligation to read everyone else's blog... not so much. So I'll try and write. No pressure. If you feel the need to respond, you can email me. I like email. flipaul@yahoo.com

Monday, February 28, 2011

There Is Crazy and There Is Trying Too Hard

Sometimes people just go overboard. If you want to go crazy, why can't you just do it nice and quietly like in the old days? Put on a Napoleon hat and stand in the corner mumbling to yourself. No. Nowadays when we go crazy, we have to go all overboard. It all started with 'Ol Charley Manson; did he really have to murder a whole bunch of people and tattoo a swastika on his forehead? NO, a smiley face would have sufficed. A smiley face tattooed into your forehead says crazy just as good as a swastika does. And murdering people?! Walking around in a bathrobe and throwing cats at people says "crazy!", as well or better.
     People make it out to be so admirable to be an overachiever, but it led directly to Lady GaGa.Who is just a wannabe disco/drama queen that tries WAY too hard. If we weren't in America, nobody would give a crap about her trying so hard to shock us. (Or Marylin Manson, before her, for that matter.) Instead of her going to karaoke with her best friend who just happens to be Jamacian drag queen and singing bad ABBA songs, we elevate her to star status. She goes overboard and we call it artistic integrity, and let her wear meat and ramble about the military, and somehow manage to care when she chews off her own eyebrows and crawls out of... whatever. I can't wait to see the next generation. The next act that comes along and tries to outGaGa, Gaga. Somehow, I imagine it will look a lot like GWAR meets Hello Kitty meets sequined thong Cher.
    I fear there is no going back now, though. With the advent of reality TV, crazy people have their own shows. Hoarders are all the rage. And to get on the boob tube you have to be a little bit more crazy than the last crazy person. If they collected stuff that they found on the sidewalk, you have to one up them, and collect stuff out of your neighbors trash. If they collect cats, you have to have a bazillion snakes, ferrets, and cockroaches. Or, "Hey, I collect giant balls of old scabs!" Ooh, see you're trying to hard.
     I go crazy in my head also. Only, my crazy manifests itself as: I think about jumping out of my vehicle onto the flatbeds that are passing me on the freeway, or what would happen if gravity was reversed, or if I could fly by gently lifting up my legs, or what if I suddenly developed a irresistible hunger for cat hair. So I assume that lots of people are crazy like me. I just don't think you should try so hard. You don't have to be the best at everything, it isn't always good to overindulge. I am content to be run of the mill, average crazy. So I am just going to put on my bathrobe, my tinfoil headband (a whole tinfoil hat makes my head sweat, and that leads to baldness), grab the cat and write something. That seems to keep the crazy at bay.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Science Fair Projects, Procrastination, and Pavlovian Parental Response.

T minus 42 - Today my teacher told me Science Fair is in six weeks, and that all fourth graders are required to enter. I brought it home right way because my dad says if I don't tell him about projects until right before they are due, he will take away TV for the rest of my life, kill me, or possibly just make other empty threats.

T minus 41 - I checked out a book about science fair projects.

T minus 40 - I returned the book about science fair projects.

T minus 36 - I think I am going to do a damn project. I mean a project on dams... or levee's if you prefer. But saying damn is alot more fun. Damn, damn, damn.

T minus 14 - Hmmh, I think I there was something I was supposed to be doing. Oh yeah, science fair. I haven't done anything in four weeks, it's been kinda nice. My Mom and Dad are starting to get a little nervous. Maybe, if they get real nervous the energy they create will help my project complete itself.

T minus 13 - I asked my teacher what project you can do at the last minute. She told me volcanoes are pretty easy. I guess I will do a volcano.

T minus 12 - Everybody does volcanoes.

T minus 11 - I already started the Damn project, I'm going back to that. Damn, damn, damn.

T minus 10 - Volcano, dam, volcano, dam, damn volcano, damn volcano. Maybe I'll combine the two.

T minus 5 - I am doing a project on Dancing Milk; I saw it online.

T minus 4 -  My mom and dad are feeling guilty that they let me wait until the last minute. They are going to "help" me. That's more like it. My dad says that this is more of a demonstration than a science project. My parents design a science project. My mom goes and buys the materials, I watch TV, my dad starts setting up the experiment.

T minus 3 - My dad calls me into the room so I can watch him perform the experiments. It's pretty cool. I write down a couple of notes. He doesn't let me help too much. I don't think he trusts me with his science fair project. He takes pictures of all the different steps. I write down some illegible henscratch and give it to my dad. He takes it into the office and types it into the computer for me.

T minus 2 - My mom pretends to be translating more scribbles that I gave her, in fact she is writing the last of the info I have to write up. My mom prints out all of the pictures and the info for me. My mom cuts out the pictures and text and starts gluing them on for me. My dad gets home from work and figures out how to make the display stand up. My mom packs up all of the materials I will need for the demonstration at school. My dad does the demonstration one more time, to make sure it will work when I need to show it to my teacher. Maybe next year I will conduct an experiment about getting my parents to do my work for me. Well it's time for bed, I'm finished one day early. Hey, science fair projects aren't that bad.

Monday, February 21, 2011

What is Wrong With You Lazy Jerks?!

"What are you guys doing? I can't believe how slow you are working. You are never going to get ahead with this kind of work ethic. STOP snickering! Don't you want to be like me? I started where you guys are now, but with determination and discipline, I worked my way into management. Don't you realize we are an important cog in the machine of our great society? If we fail at our jobs the terrorists might have as well won. Get to work, and work hard. Didn't your parents ever teach you about hard work? That is what is wrong with America today. It makes me sick. You are all so unmotivated. Where is your pride? Learn some self motivation! Take some pride in your work.
     Let me tell you a story. During World War II, the Germans really had the Allies back on their heels. They were getting their butts kicked all over the continent. It was because the the French and the English were lazy and stupid! Then the Americans showed up on the scene with their motivation, Esprit de Corps and atomic weapons and really kicked the crap out of those damn Krouts. Keep that in mind while you work, I'm sure it will inspire you like it has always inspired me. Yessirree, that WWII sure was inspiring.
     So, let's shift this whole paradigm. Think outside of our little box, turn our motivation up to eleven and get back to it. With some American know how and smarts we'll see this job through to the end. OK, everybody put your hands into the middle and give me a big 'yeah team'! Now get back into those stalls and scrub those toilets. The Akron Greyhound Bus Terminal is counting on us."

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Most Healthy and Happy People Around.

If laughter really is the best medicine, and we all agree it is, (except people dying of AIDS, and they're crybabies) it's stands to reason that comedians are the most healthy of all of us. I would love to have a career in comedy. I am smart and funny enough, and with some practice and work on timing I could do stand-up or write comedically. Alas, it isn't to be; I'm just too damn negative. As hard as I try, I just can't get it right. Instead of being happy, I spend large amounts of my day full of anger, thinking about how stupid the people around me are (shamefully; so unlike a comic). I can't find that spot inside of me were I want to share a belly laugh with my fellow man. Instead, I think of twisted scenarios where stupid people do stupider things. I think about sex. Sometimes, I even think about something profane, and then laugh and laugh.
     If only I could look at someone who is different than me (read: stupider) and enjoy the diversity in humanity, and not think about how idiotic they are. How do comedians do it? How can they look around them at the ridiculous things happening everyday, and not write mean things that ridicule the situation? Instead they stay pure, and good, and bring joy and light. I guess they are just better people than me. I guess I will have to give up on the dream, until that day when comedians aren't expected to live up to such lofty ideals. Someday, maybe just maybe, America will be ready for a comedian that isn't entirely positive, that bitches a little bit, that thinks that air travel is a pain in the ass... and laughs at people instead of with them.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Black Eye For Valentine's Day.

Valentine's Day is an evil made up holiday that was designed to get men to spend money on the special women in their lives, and for those special ladies, in return, to be disappointed in this years offerings. And it's here! If you are reading this and haven't already purchased gifts for the woman in your life, you're screwed. Wait! Wal-Mart is open 24 hours a day now, maybe all hope isn't lost. Get going. But, before you run out, let me share some of my observations from 15 years of marriage with you. Some of it may seem counter-intuitive, trust me though, these tips are from real world experience.

1) Most women love roses, so get some of those. But this isn't good for a last minute present because, around Valentine's Day, roses cost roughly the same amount as a vacation home. So plan ahead for next year, put a little aside from each check and you can afford a dozen next year. Do not try the fake roses you buy at convenience stores, it doesn't work. Even if they are the kinds with pens on the other ends and you tape 12 of them together.

2) Chocolates are good. I suggest something in a tasteful box from Godiva or Rocky Mountain Chocolate. Here are several that didn't go over as well: Nestle chocolate chips, chocolate coated cockroaches, leftovers from the kids Halloween bags, a can of unsweetened cocoa, and Ex-Lax.

3) Jewelry is a great gift. Earrings, bracelets, and necklaces are always a big hit. And an engagement ring on Valentine's Day? Home run. You should actually go to a store though, those quarter machines are a rip-off, you had your eye on a big gold ring. Instead; a super bouncy ball, and while undeniably awesome, it isn't romantic. Avoid sparkly rhinestone Playboy bunny pendants. Also, pink fuzzy handcuffs are not considered jewelry.

4) Lingerie. Sounds good; but don't. You really should let her buy that. But, if you are young and foolish and feel the need, here is my best advice. Don't. It doesn't work. You can't win; not if it's from Victoria's Secret, Fredericks of Hollywood, Target, Wal-Mart or the local "adult" store. (Especially not from there, heaven help you.)

5) Sharing a romantic movie with your wife or girlfriend is wonderful. Even if you only sit through one chick-flick a year, this is a good time to do it. But, don't ask the teenage boy at the video store to recommend a good chick flick, you aren't talking the same language. Also, anything with "bikini", "go-go", or "carwash" in the title will be a failure. Except if it is "Bikini Carwash Go-Go Girls", and then it will be a cataclysmic, "Me and the kids are going to visit my mom for a while", kind of failure.

6) A card is a nice way to say what you would like to express, but can't. But, you need to read the whole card first, not just the pretty part on the front that says "Love is a drug". Nothing ruins the mood faster than the inside of a card that reads "Hope your stay in rehab is successful. From all of us."

7) A day at the spa is a nice gift. A gym membership is not. Also, No exercise equipment, clothes or gear. No Zumba, no P90-X, no butt shaping shoes, and no jogging stroller. Really, you will regret this more than you have regretted anything in your life.

8) A romantic dinner with just the two of you is fantastic. An "intimate affair" with your friends down at the pub during dart league night, not so much. In that same vein, going out with your buddies to the mesa, having a bon-fire, drinking tequila out of the bottle, firing off shot-guns and peeing on things, does not equate to a candlelit dinner in her mind.

Well friends, it's late, and I have to get over to Wal-Mart, before they run out of the good Valentines Day teddy bears holding a heart that says "I WUV U". Hope I was able to help you and your special someone, have a fantastic bull$#%t  pretend holiday.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Is the Glass Half Empty or Half Full? Or is it an evil alien plot to take over your mind?

I had another birthday. I just turned the answer to life, the universe and everything. (Geeks will get it. On a side note, I am sad I didn't think of this before my birthday, and then I would have had a Douglas Adam's inspired party.) Anyhow; I decided it was time to take stock of my life. I could either look at my life pessimistically or optimistically. OR, like the cubists, I could look at it all three ways. (Don't forget the tin foil hat perspective.) Here goes:

A) Another day closer to death. All my joints hurt and getting up is getting to be an adventure.
B) At least nobody asks me to help move furniture anymore.
C) The world is flat. That is four (4) edges, plus the front and back, that's two (2) sides. 4 and 2.  42. It's a sign man, I've ripened. They're coming for me!

A) I have thinning hair, and what's left is mostly grey. Even the beard; which I don't really even care for. (The wife likes it.)
B) Right now, it is stylish to have ultra-close shaved hair. And the beard makes me look muy macho, plus it helps make my aquiline nose look smaller. (Pretty sure that's why she likes it.)
C) If you have too much hair the foil doesn't sit right and then you're practically a lizard alien mind slave.

A) Despite my creative talents, and an AA degree in Computer Animation, I am a plumber.
B) I don't have to pay some idiot $75 bucks an hour to fix my pipes; I am that idiot.
C) Don't drink the water man! The "government" adds fluoride to subdue and control you, man. P.O.E.

A) I can't even be alone in the shower. The baby, the kitten, and countless toys always join me.
B) I never get lonely. Or bored. Trip over stuff? Yes. Bored or lonely? No.
C) You have to keep clean, they track you by the hair and dead skin you leave behind. Get it off, GET IT OFF!

A) I have been married to the same woman for 15 years; being married is hard.
B) I have been married to the same woman for 15 years; being single is WAY harder.
C) I have been married to the same woman for 15 years; she would lay eggs in my ear if I thought about leaving.

A) I have to spend most of my free time working on the house so it doesn't fall down.
B) I have gotten pretty handy, I am now a cross between McGyver and Bob Villa. I can repair that car-shaped hole in my wall with a ball point pen and a crew of illegal immigrants.
C) You should coat your walls with lots of lead paint and asbestos. It's the only thing keeps "them" out of your mind. Why do you think "they" outlawed it?

A) I live in a madhouse, mainly due to three whirlwinds of yelling, door-slamming, fighting, destructive prepubescent testosterone.
B) At least I don't have three girls.
C) I'm pretty sure the alien overlords have replaced my original children with genetically created world conquering shock troops, but they sent me the defective ones that got rejected from regular service because they were naughty and unnecessarily violent, plus they are brain damaged.

A) I drive around in a beat-up, ugly-ass, broken-down mini-van.
B) The thing about mini-vans? All your crap fits in them. ALL of it. And who am I going to impress? Have you seen me?
C) Why are you driving?! You shouldn't leave your house. EVER. And get yourself some cats. Lots of cats. Cats make excellent alien invader perimeter alarms. Plus if you get hungry... Kitty Tacos are hard to beat.

A) I have been working for twenty years and have no retirement plan.
B) Maybe this writing thing will pay off eventually. Tell your friends, spread the word.
C) Bah, who cares? The world ends in 2012.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Euphemisms and Subtle Boobs.

So the other day, I took the youth pastor from my church out to lunch. I'm not a youth; but I own several. I pulled into a restaurant some of the guys at work had been talking about.
He said, "I can't go here, you idiot." (Must be his nickname for me.)
"Why not?"
"Because this is Hooters; you moron."
"Aah", I said, "and you hate owls."
"No, the waitresses".
"You hate the waitresses? That's not very Christian."
"No, stupid. The girls that work here, dress in tight little running shorts and T-Shirts, and they generally have... well, you know, breasts."
"Don't all waitresses have breasts?"
"I'm sure they do, but all restaurants aren't named after them."
"Hooters, don't you get it? Hooters is a euphemism for boobs." He explained, "The women at this restaurant, draw attention to their... assets. How can you be this dumb?"
"I don't know. Why don't they call it Boobs? I wouldn't go to a restaurant called Boobs."
"Nobody would eat at a restaurant called Boobs. That's why they give them subtle names."
     So, I took him to another reaturant I had heard about.
"You heard about this one from the guys at work, didn't you?"
"Yes, how did you know?"
"Because you brought me to Twin Peaks."
"Yeah, and?"
"You are mind numbingly stupid. This is the same kind of place."
"They wear running shorts here too?"
"Gah! No, it's a pin-up girl theme. Or so I've heard. Don't even ask about The Library or TD's."
"Hmmh, that's good to know. So... is a Big Mac a euphemism for large scottish, uh, thingies?"
"No. And you're a pinhead." (Probably has to do with that eye of the needle story, right?)
"You want a Big Mac then?"
"Just take me back to work."
     Later, when I was having a Big Mac by myself, I thought; So the thing is, you don't want to be too obvious. Maybe I should apply what I now know about subtlety and euphemism, and open a restaurant myself. I will combine two of the things I love: Monty Python and Mexican Food and S-E-X-Y. (I will combine three things of the things I love.) At my restaurant we will also have alluring waitresses. Except at my place, only about a quarter of them will be women, the others will be really butch men in drag. And, we will serve Spam. Lots of spam; Spam burritos, Spam tacos, Spam enchiladas with a side of Spam. Menu is set; now what shall I call my place? How about,  'Huge Tracts of... Land', 'Naughty Bits', 'Bad, Bad Naughty Zoot', or maybe, 'Wink, Wink, Nudge, Nudge'? Nah, I don't know if those are subtle enough; I'll call it 'The Cheese Shop."

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Sarcasm Meets Sanctimony.

By nature I am not a sarcastic person. I love to laugh, but I prefer bizarre nonsensical stuff like “The Jerk” or “Monty Python” to the caustic humor of “Seinfeld” or “The Office”. But we all joke around with our friends, and that often takes a sarcastic tone. The problem is that sarcasm doesn't translate well in the digital form, (I'm the first person to postulate this). This was demonstrated to me recently in a hilarious back and forth.
     First, some background on what led to the conversation. I have a buddy from the Marines Corps that I have stayed in touch with throughout the years. His family has always been in the restaurant biz, and when he got out, he opened up a little pub. He wanted to have a place where it was possible to have a conversation, so he didn't install any TV's. He figured if you wanted to watch TV you could stay at home. His wife of many years played a large part in him not being just another “bar”.
     Last year he was accused of being a front for a mafia money laundering operation. It was an utterly ridiculous accusation from a rival bar owner, but it floated out there for a couple of weeks. Most people didn't give it much credence, but I thought it was pretty funny for my buddy to be accused of something so egregious. So I decided to tease him about it. (That's what you do to a friend, right?)
     Now, I have spent many an hour inside the confines of the neighborhood sportsbar. I love a beer and watching one of my teams on a BIG TV. That being said, I enjoy meeting friends at my buddy's bar. It is a nice grownup place with good food and beer and fully clothed waitresses. I don't really want him to put in TV's, but I like to play the “Ugly American” whenever possible, so I texted him.

Me: For a million dollars you would think you could spring for a TV or two. Geeze.”
Funny, right?

Brian: I bought a restaurant in the heights, no $ for televisions”
The second restaurant is right near my house and I even helped a tiny bit, so I know this.

Me: “There is always an excuse. TV needs to come first. What about the children Brian?”
In what universe could this possibly be taken seriously?

Brian: “There are planters and fountains and stairs and bar stools and and other people to play with. What kind of negligent parent uses a tv to babysit their kids? This is June...
Wow,where did that come from? That's my friend's wife and either she is sarcastic at a whole other level than me or she is annoyingly sincere.

My first instinct is to apologize and say “I'm only kidding” But...
Come on, really?! OK, here.

Me: “The children. Nobody ever thinks about the children. The children are our future.”
And after that offering, I text:

Me: “You're not saying bar stools make better sitters than a TVs? That's just silly. Or are you saying that my kids can play in the fountain? Cause that's pretty cool.
It IS a pretty nice fountain, for what it's worth.

June: “I'm saying that our future will be dependent on mechanical pacifiers if we don't intervene and teach our children about the necessity of creating a healthy community through example. Which is why Brian O'Brians was created with no tv's. NO WHINING
Wha??? She is really taking this seriously. Probably wrote a thesis on the subject. I should really tell her I was joking. But can't reasonable people tell I was?
Here we go again. Am I being too subtle? Is that it?

Me: “You're not subscribing to the extreme notion I should spend time with my OWN children? Barbarian.
Laying it on thick.

June: “No, you have a wife. And I'm sure there are other adults (and probably children) capable of educating your children so you can watch tv.
Is she firing back with her own sarcasm? Ooh, and patronization also.

Me:...and drink. See? We're finally on the same page. Now about those TVs?
He shoots. He scores.

June: “Brian is giving that sportsbar idea some thought, 2 pacifiers at once... he will keep you posted.
Sarcasm met Sanctimony... and kicked it's ass.

     Isn't it funny how the people that know best how to raise kids don't have any of their own? Childless people are often so positive that if your kids watch TV they are morons and you are a child abuser. Let them have had a crazy day of screaming kids and hectic schedules and see if they still feel so indignant about letting little Johnny watch TV while they pick toys up off the floor or read an email. (Sometimes, while having a beer).
     For the record, both of my older kids watch more TV than they should. Both would play on the computer from now until doomsday if I let them. BUT they are both borderline gifted, and my wife and I read to them every night before bed (since birth). And yes, we occasionally even throw them outside. But what do I know? (See, did you catch that? That was Sarcasm.)