Friday, May 30, 2003

longest friday afternoon ever . . .
When it's 99 degrees outside, but at least 108 degrees inside your office where you sit at your desk sweating and hallucinating in the heat and non-moving air because the building air conditioner lost it's will to live long before noon, it's definitely the longest Friday afternoon ever.

I want to go home. Or at least outside where I can get a nice sunburn to go with my heat exhaustion.


More Search Word Fun
This week's weird keyword search winners are:

'berserk new season tv 2004'
No idea what that means, but I'm apparently the #1 source for all info regarding whatever it is.

"larger than skinny"
I have nothing to say about that.

"carmen electra's hips"
They were just here a second ago, but now I can't seem to find them. I usually keep them in a box over there. Sorry.

"clay aiken skinny white"
Um, did you really need to do a search to research that fact? Did you find any new scoop concerning Clay's skinny whiteness? If so, let me know. I'll put a newsflash on my blog.

And what's the prize for your search being exploited on my blog? Nothing but my admiration for making it here via silly search.

Thanks for playing!


Can You Hear Me Now?
I stumbled onto a blog the other day, and found this piece. I don't know anything about this blogger except what's on her site. But thanks to alexthegirl for beautifully capturing a thought on the subject of really listening.

Sometimes I'll read something that really says what I've felt at times with words that convey the thought better than I could. Alexthegirl makes a great, well-written point about something I think we all feel from time to time: the need to be heard. We desire to have people in our lives who will say (and I quote alexthegirl here), “I hear you. I will hear you until you have told me everything you need to say.” What a beautiful idea, to be able to give or receive such a powerful promise. It's a great expectation that we will inevitably fall short of, but it doesn't hurt to try a little harder.

I'm not much of a people person, and not much of a talker. I don't think I ever realized how good it feels to have people who listen to me when I have something to share, until I had a need to open up and I was blessed to find a few willing to hear me. And I don't think I ever realized how much I'd miss that until I didn't have that so much anymore. There is a tremendously wonderful feeling of peace and security when you know that people know who you are because they've taken time to be with you, listen to you, and also let you listen to them. Knowing you can share things with people, and they are interested in sharing in these things with you, is a perk of relationships that is extremely valuable. It's unfortunate that so many things depend on getting to and being able to stay at that stage of relationship. It's a fragile state that can be destroyed when we let things get in the way, and when we stop listening and start assuming.

I think we often feel there is a huge responsibility that comes with listening, and this fear of responsibility keeps us from letting people in our lives know that we hear them. We don't take the time to listen, and we don't want to give of ourselves to spend with someone who needs to share a sorrow, or a joy, or just shoot the breeze for awhile. We're so busy packing as much into our schedules as we can, that we become unapproachable to those who would enjoy a few minutes with us. We create a life that doesn't require us to commit more than a few minutes here or there, and we end up not making time to spend with each other. We take on so much responsibility in every area of our lives, and yet we feel the responsibility of being a dependable listener for a friend or loved one is a major responsibility commitment to avoid. Why? Because we feel like we are supposed to do something with what we hear.

I'm guilty of this myself. Our first thought is, "Ok, what am I expected to do with this information? I can't fix this. Does she expect me to fix this for her? What if I don't say the right thing? Will I have to keep listening the next time she needs to talk? What am I getting myself into? Do I have time for this? Am I the right person for her to talk to about this?" We miss the point that the point of listening is just to listen. I don't think many people go to a friend to talk, expecting that this is the chosen person to fix whatever is shared. The point of being with others is just to be with others. It's being available for awhile. It's not up to us to take what we hear and do anything with it. The act of listening is pretty simple just in offering the support of receiving whatever is going on at that moment. You don't have to have the answers. There may not even be any answers. And that's okay. Just hear people. You'd be surprised how much that helps just about any situation.

Thinking back over people who come and go through my life, the most meaningful and memorable times for me in each of those relationships were the conversations. Sharing and receiving and getting to know people by talking and opening up our lives. Letting them know me and being thankful that there were at least a few people in the world who seemed to want to know me, and even perhaps enjoy me. I love hearing people tell me about their lives: past, present, and future. It means a lot to me that people will let me into their world and share that with me. But that doesn't mean I'm supposed to do anything with what they share. I think the main responsibility with listening is to commit to it. Commit to hearing. Commit to sharing. Commit to knowing someone, and letting yourself be known. Just commit to participating, and quit being afraid of 'what it could mean' or 'what you might be expected to do'. If you listen and know someone well enough, you'll know when it is your time to do something, and what you need to do. How cool is it to know someone well enough to know what makes them happy, sad, scared, excited, silly, or quirky, and how you can be a part of that? And how cool is it to know they know the same about you? Very cool.

It's so important to hear people. I'm guilty of not really listening as much as the next person. My brain is very busy, so sometimes I find it hard to stop thinking about whatever is going on in my brain for just a moment, and instead turn my full attention to someone else for awhile. Sometimes I find I'm concentrating too hard on 'appearing' to listen, that I'm not actually listening as well as I should be. But, knowing how bad it feels when I don't feel heard, or when it doesn't seem like anyone wants to listen to me, or when no one seems available, I want to be a better listener for others. It isn't a good feeling to feel like no one really hears you, or worse, mis-hears what you have to say or feel. We all need to be heard, especially heard correctly. When we're sad, when we're scared, when we're excited, when we just want to chat for a bit. How good does it feel to pick up a phone, call a friend, and know that throughout the next few minutes of conversation, you absolutely have their full attention, and you are heard and known for those few minutes? It's priceless, really. And something probably not many of us have.

It shouldn't be a burden to listen, to make time for it, to seek it out, even. If people matter to you, just listen, and let them listen to you. Like you mean it. I promise that will vastly improve any relationship, both the good ones or the ones needing some improvement. Listening helps us know how to interact with the people we care about. Let listening affect you. It's not such a bad thing to relent control of your world for awhile, just to listen.

It's important to remember that in our desire to be heard, that need will never be entirely filled by any loved one or friend. And, we are never expected to fill that need entirely for anyone else. But we do what we can, and that is enough.

Hear me now.


Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Meat of Mystery
Working in a homeless shelter, as I do until I can escape, I see some strange and intriguing sights on a daily basis. This includes the food served here.

Generally, I'm impressed by the quality of food. Granted, it is homeless shelter food. No way around that. But we try to treat our homeless clients with the utmost respect here, and that includes serving food that is respectable. If nothing else, we hope each person comes away from here having a decent meal, thoughfully prepared for them as something edible.

One of the 'perks' of working here is that staff can eat meals here as often as we like. Now, you may think this is horrible. How can we take food from the homeless??? Get your own food, you greedy paid employees!! Calm down. Let me explain. The food we serve is almost entirely dependent on donations, mostly from the large local food bank, some from other vendors, and the rest we pick up here and there when cash allows. Now, understand that donated food is often food in bulk, nearing the expiration date. People only donate things, including food, that they either don't need or can't use. By the time it gets to us, it has very few days left on its Health Department approved shelf life. It often comes in large quantities, usually from a store that has rotated out old stock that didn't sell, etc. and they therefore shipped it over to the food bank or directly to us, and we must then attempt to serve it before it goes bad. So by allowing the staff to eat the food here, we help the joint effort to not throw away any food. We take great care to not let anything go to waste.

Now, don't get the impression that there is tons of food rolling around your local homeless shelter, and therefore you don't need to worry about giving when you get those nice letters in the mail begging for your pennies. There is always a shortage of properly balanced food items in your local homeless shelter. When I say 'large quantities', picture all the stuff in the grocery store that you would never think of buying because it either doesn't interest you, or it's a weird flavor that you assume must be experimental, or you just have no idea what it might be. This is the majority of the stuff we get. We see flavors of Doritos and softdrinks and other 'drinks' that the general public has no idea even exists, and will likely never see. We also get bulk items of stuff that just can't easily be served. For instance, a few weeks ago we received a large shipment of giant canisters of parmesan cheese. But, no spaghetti came with it. So, while our shelves were full of parmesan cheese just waiting to be eaten, we really couldn't put it to good use very quickly, and we also couldn't use the shelve space for say, boxes of spaghetti noodles. See the dilemma?

But, even though staff is allowed to eat in the dining room for meals, not many of us do. The food isn't great, even when great care is taken to come up with well-balanced meals. It's just difficult to prepare gourmet meals with donated food items. So some of the staff prefer to lunch elsewhere, and they will likely live longer than the rest of us because of their choice. But, I choose to eat lunch here most days. For two reasons. One, because I'm not paid well enough to afford food elsewhere, so I choose to take advantage of the food 'perk'. And two, it shows respect to the men who are our clients. When they see that staff members are willing to eat the same food they eat, and sit in the same room with them to eat, it gives them a little confidence that we value their presence. Even though we are not in their desperate situation, we are not above sharing a meal of donated food.

See, I do have a heart after all. Somewhere.

So what about the meat? Day after day of seeing the experiments that come out of the kitchen for lunch, I've seen many interesting concoctions, mostly pertaining to the meat variety. Meat is always hard to come by, but it's the most important part of the meal. It's important to serve as much protein as possible to these malnourished people. However, one can only hope the 'meat' we get is actually at least part meat. I've seen some questionable meat type entities.

Sometimes we get lucky. There was the Great Chicken Donation of last spring, in which we were awarded 1,000 pounds of chicken. All at once. We had chicken everyday for weeks. The freezer was full of little frozen chicken parts. We had fried chicken, baked chicken, fried chicken, chicken soup, fried chicken, chicken and dumplings, fried chicken. And some experiments I'd rather not speak about. One thing I will say, the kitchen crew became very skilled in the art of frying up a greasy batch of chicken.

Then there was the Sausage Jackpot, also last year. The kitchen people called them sausages, but they more closely resembled hot dogs. Thousands upon thousands of them. Same situation. We had a variation on sausage everyday for weeks. I have to admit I couldn't make myself eat the sausage everyday. But the men sure enjoyed it. Especially chili cheese dog day.

However, sometimes even the kitchen crew is stumped. This happens often when fish is the meat of the day. Most of the time, I don't ask what it is. And I usually steer clear of fish served here. I've been told the fish of the day is catfish, perch, salmon, whale, and shark. I'm not sure what local food bank has a stock of donated shark meat. But apparently we were the proud recipients of this delicacy on more than one occassion. Or else the pesky kitchen crew is telling tall tales.

Yesterday, the Meat of Mystery was a complete mystery to me. It was a brown patty-type thing. At first glance it looked like it could be chopped beef. But upon second glance and every glance thereafter, I was convinced this was not beef. The kitchen crew told me it was buffalo. Then they said is was beef. I didn't know what to believe. They tried to 'fancy' it up by adding foreign objects to it before cooking it. I could identify onion, but the other objects were too foreign even for my trained eye. I cautiously tasted a small bite, but alas could not determine the variety of meat. I tested a few more tiny bites, but after not being satisfied with a safe conclusion, I gave up on the Mystery Meat of the day. This one I just couldn't stomach.

Who knows what Meat of Mystery awaits me today. Perhaps some parmesan cheese will help.


Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Every Weekend Should be a Three-Day Weekend
Seriously. I do so enjoy my weekends. I look forward to each upcoming weekend with great anticipation. But two-day weekends just don't do it for me anymore. They feel incomplete.

I get so excited when I have a three-day weekend on the horizon. I love time to myself, time away from work, time to do with as I please. I get to be the boss of me for three whole days. I expect very little of myself in general, so three-day weekends give me a nice block of time to do as little as is required to achieve my low expectations, and still feel like I've accomplished something.

The beauty of the three-day weekend is that there is a day for each of the three main components of a weekend: play, relax, prepare. With only two days on a normal weekend, these important components are either crammed together, or at least one component must unfortunately be left out for time's sake. They each deserve their own special attention, since the three components work hand in hand to form a successful weekend. This is why a three-day weekend is ideal for proper transition from week to week. Without each of these vital aspects to end one week and begin another, it is difficult to be at one's best in between weekends.

Within a three-day weekend there is ample time to play, which is the first important component to any weekend. This is time to be with people, hang out, party, get out of the house, shop, catch up on phone calls, etc. We are excited that the weekend is finally here, so we must celebrate with others, engaging in activities, having much fun. An ideal time for this is during the first part of the weekend. Beginning on a high will allow you to rest easier as the weekend progresses. Also included in 'play' can be less fun activities that fall into the 'get out of the house' sub-category, such as running errands or working out. The goal with 'play' is to get all of the busy stuff out of the way, in order to make way for component #2: relax.

This next relaxation phase of a weekend is possibly the most important part of the entire weekend. It involves doing a lot of absolutely nothing. Often while in pj's. This can include laying on the couch, reading, watching movies, watching bad weekend television, and sleeping. It is important that physical activity and intelligent conversation is at an absolute minimum during this time. The brain must recover from strenuous activity, which leads to the final stage of the weekend: prepare.

The 'prepare' stage of the weekend is designed to mentally and physically prepare for another long week at your job, often a place that you hate or dislike. It is very tough to make it through four to five days in a row of working long hours doing whatever it is you do that pays your bills. Often, the thought of returning to work after a wonderfully fun and relaxing weekend brings deep feelings of anxiety, dread, and even fright, sorrow, or desperation. It is therefore important to set aside time to deal with these feelings, preparing yourself for the week ahead. This stage can often be an extension of the 'relax' phase, in which you would continue to keep activities to a minimum, while also distracting yourself with small tasks or superfluous activities. This is a good time for things like ironing, or light cleaning. Activities that are not fun, but that also do not require much thinking or strategy, and which can also help ease your upcoming week at work. The goal of this stage is to be able to get up the next morning and make it to work, hopefully carrying through the rest of the work week until another weekend is here to rescue you from the doom of your job.

Now, as you can see, this is a lot to do in one weekend, even having three days. But each component is vital to the purpose of the weekend. When we skimp on any one component, the others suffer, and therefore render a weekend almost completely useless. Without a useful weekend, speaking for myself, I am absolutely no good throughout the rest of the week, at the place where I am all day: work. If I am expected to perform well in my job, I must be given ample time to recuperate from week to week. Ample and reasonable time for me, as I've proven here, is at minumum, three days.

Logically and practically speaking, even with a three-day weekend, we are still working four days out of the week. That is still a majority of time out of the week, devoted to a place where we are required to be, serving someone other than ourselves. And really, by Thursday or Friday, are any of us actually working? I don't think so. We are burnt out by Wednesday, and the rest of the week we are only there because we have to be present to earn our paycheck. Weekends are truly the most important cog in the great machine of the workforce. To keep us running, to keep things going, to help us be effective in what we do, we must be given the weekends we deserve.

Every weekend should be a three-day weekend. It only makes sense, and definitely, absolutely, scientifically would increase worldwide productivity.

I rest my case.


Friday, May 23, 2003

Weighty Issues
I'm about to offend anyone who considers his or herself larger than skinny.

I don't care how the issue comes up, who starts it, who participates in it, or what the conversation is about, but when discussing weight issues, skinny people will always be on the losing end of a weight-y conversation.

Even if skinny people have nothing at all to say on the matter, being within earshot and eye-shot of a conversation about weight will get you into trouble. You are guilty even if you don't say a word and aren't apart of the conversation. Just 'being' skinny in the vicinity is your offense.

Weight loss, diets, swimsuits, exercising, calories, hips, thighs, fat, food . . . all of it. Losing topics of conversation when a skinny person is around. By no fault of our own, except that we are non-large.

As a voice of the thin, I will speak up to let the world know that weighty issues do not only pertain to those who are non-skinny. It's tough being skinny.

But I'm not complaining.


Holiday = Idiots on Wheels
I realize that this is a holiday weekend, and therefore I have three days of bliss away from the place where I am all day: work. What I don't understand is why a holiday automatically turns everyone on the road into Idiots on Wheels. It takes all the fun out of fleeing my office via Jeep, only to make it to the freeway to deal with traffic mishaps and delays caused by said Idiots.

It started yesterday. The worst traffic messes I've seen in several weeks. People driving like they just have no clue there are other people out there with them. I don't know if it's a mad rush to get out of town, or just that people's brains check out early when a three day weekend is on the horizon. But none of that is a good excuse to be an idiot in a car.

I was stuck in non-moving traffic on the freeway yesterday for almost an hour. By the time I got to where the pile up was, it had cleared. So I essentially sat in traffic and never saw the actual cause of delay. Not that I wanted to see it, but still it's nice to know what the hold-up is if I have to suffer because of it. People could have been up there sunbathing, or birdwatching, or just doing donuts across four lanes of traffic, for all I know. What I do know is that I sat very still, not moving forward, in my Jeep for a lot longer than it should take me to get home.

As traffic started moving, I seemed to keep getting stuck behind more idiot drivers who didn't realize traffic was actually moving now. What is with the slow drivers who insist on driving below the speed limit, in the far left lane, leaving 108 car lengths in between their car and the car in front? Do they think they are being safe by allowing so much space? And why is there never room to get around these people?

The left hand lane is essentially the U.S. version of the Autobahn. Sure, the posted speed limit applies to all lanes of traffic. But unless you want to end up with someone's hood up your tailpipe, you should seriously consider getting out of the Autobahn lane, and into a lane where you can drive as slow as you want without endangering the lives of others. Yes, you are the one who is a danger to others on the freeway. Not the speeders. We keep traffic moving, while driving at a responsible speed slightly above the suggested maximum velocity.

Even with all the traffic hangups yesterday, the one thing I saw that pushed me over the edge and fully into anger was the Idiot of All Idiots on Wheels. I was stuck behind an early 90's version white Toyota Corolla (if this is you I am very angry at you), poking along, weaving from side to side in the lane, oblivious to the fact that traffic was speeding up and reaching normal speeds. Cars were getting in front of the Corolla, speeding past me, moving along quite nicely while I was trapped behind Pokey. When I was finally able to get out from behind the car and pass by, I looked in the window to see a middle-aged woman driving the Corolla, cigarette in one hand, holding it out the open window, packet of papers in the other hand inside the car, reading. No, not just looking at a map or glancing at what was on the page. She was READING.

Now, tell me this. If you are smoking with one hand, reading with the other, eyes looking down on the page, how much attention are you paying to your own car and driving, much less the cars and drivers around you? And really, how much are you getting from what you are reading? Unless it is the manual on how to drive the car you are presently driving, whatever you are reading should not be read while driving. This was rush hour traffic, lady!! We'd just passed 108 car accidents, fender benders, stalled cars, delays, pile ups, etc. Does this mean nothing to you?? These problems are caused by idiots in cars. A great way to avoid being the cause of more traffic issues is to not be an idiot in a car. Therefore, quit reading and drive.

Watch out for Idiots on Wheels. Enjoy your three day weekend.


Thursday, May 22, 2003

Idol-ees: Where are They Now?
To wrap up my slew of end-o'-season Idol quips, I would like to jump ahead six months to check in on our favorite Idol-ee finalists. Join me as I take a glimpse into life after Idol, to see how it has improved, or un-proved, the lives of our winner and losers:

1. Vanessa Olivarez- First to be voted out of the finalist round, we all know Vanessa quickly shed her clothes to bare all for PETA. As the latest nude spokesmodel for PETA, Vanessa's popularity grew. As did her weight. In her obsessive quest to prove Simon wrong about her butt and need to lose weight, Vanessa struck out in the other direction, attempting to gain as much weight as possible. She now heads up the PETA Sumo Wrestling Team, headquartered in Boise, Idaho, where she freely roams the countryside, indulging on potatoes by the bushel. Vanessa plans to join the 2004 Olympic Sumo Wrestling Team, if that does actually exist. She credits her newfound fame and fortune to American Idol. And to Simon, her source of inspiration.

2. Charles Grigsby- Who? After Charles was voted off of the show, the entire world forgot he was ever on the show. He currently walks the streets of his hometown in Oberlin, OH, completely anonymous in the sea of several thousand people. He continues to work at the grocery store that so enthusiastically supported him throughout his brief time in the competition, although he had to show two forms of I.D. in order to get back on the payroll again. In his spare time, Charles is working on his Justin Timberlake impersonation, in case we ever misplace Justin Timberlake and need to replace him with a more tan version.

3. Julia DeMato- Her demise from the show left her uncertain of what to do. During the weeks following her exit, she continued to lurk around the set, hoping to blend in through the final round and somehow win the title. Currently, Julia is 'working' as a hairstylist at a mental hospital in Los Angeles. Sources say she simply drove herself crazy trying to remain apart of the Idol excitement. A security guard found her inside the auditorium a week after the big finale show. She was on stage singing 'Miss Independent' to an empty audience, dressed as Kelly Clarkson. After being subdued with tranquilizer darts, she was removed from the stage and admitted to the hospital. She spends her days trimming a leafy fern with a pair of 'scissors' made of two straws and a rubberband.

4. Corey Clark- Corey's disqualification from the show took everyone by surprise. But to friends and family who knew Clark well, it was no surprise. Corey's middle name is Damien, and his life is a testimony of pure evil, violence, and mesh shirts. Corey took some time off after he left the show, trying to reinvent himself with a new image. But after a full 24 hours without a mesh shirt, Corey went berserk in a local Wal-Mart, attacking two of those friendly old people who stand at the door to greet people coming in and leaving. Today, Corey is working on his comeback appearance, while he awaits the end of his four year sentence for assault and battery, and bad fashion sense. His prison mates have helped Corey shed that goofy grin off his face, and have also raised his voice another octave.

5. Ricky Smith- Ricky is currently in negotiations with Eddie Murphy to develop The Nutty Professor III - Hercules in Hawaii. Mr. Murphy is an avid fan of American Idol, and upon seeing Ricky's impersonation of his character from The Nutty Professor, he quickly contacted Ricky to collaborate on the third installment of the Professor Trilogy. This third part to the story is a two hour finale in which Sherman is remade as a cyborg, sent on a cruise to Hawaii to meet his long lost son Herman, and together the two of them must save the islands of Hawaii from Neo, Trinity, Jar Jar Binks, and Voldemoort. Look for this blockbuster to hit theaters in Summer 2004.

6. Kimberly Caldwell- Kimberly wasted no time pursuing a show business career after she was chosen to leave Idol. She was immediately signed as a correspondent to a new extreme sports show on the FOX Sports Network. She spent several months covering events such as Extreme Snowboarding in Hawaii, Extreme Bungy Jumping off a Low Bridge, Extreme Cross Country Skiing in Quicksand, Extreme Underwater Bowling, and Extreme Monsoon Fly-Fishing. With the popularity of the show gathering an audience in the tens of twenties, Kimberly knew her own popularity was growing nearly as fast. She quit on a high note to pursue a career as a pierced navel model. You can see her pierced navel on almost ten billboards nationwide. Kimberly hopes to return to the stage next spring in Carmen Electra's Semi-Burlesque show currently touring the States. And about that torrid love affair with that other Idol loser who didn't even make the finalist round? She dumped him because she realized that he is a total goon. He was not ready for her jelly.

7. Carmen Rasmussen- Carmen went on to complete the ninth grade. She starred in her All School Talent Show, and was voted out after being booed offstage and run out of the building. From there Carmen decided to pursue her life-long dream of being Sarah Michelle Gellar. She will star in the upcoming Christmas release I Still Kinda Know What You Did Last Summer and the Summer Before That- the Revenge of Helen the Small Town Beauty Queen. Carmen reprises Sarah Michelle Gellar's role as the beauty queen who was hooked to death in the original movie of this trilogy. She returns as a cyborg intent on avenging whoever messed up her hair and caused her to break a nail. Hilarity and horror ensue as the Beauty Cyborg dons her tiara, battles through a song and dance number, rescues a Hobbit, slays a vampire, and ultimately triumphs over evil, but at the price of losing her voice forever. Don't miss the Carmenator in her big screen debut. Opens Christmas Day 2003.

8. Trenyce- Trenyce left the show amidst a flurry of Old Navy controversy. In an effort to prove she does not need to rip-off anyone else in order to make a name for herself, she has since opened her own nationwide chain of budget priced retail clothing stores, Old Burgundy. While she did struggle briefly with stealing her own clothes from her own stores, she is in a twelve step program to cure her addiction and begin a better life of honestly paying for her own cheap clothes. In her spare time, she stalks Whitney Houston. Trenyce can be seen during the fall in her series of Old Burgundy commercials, along with RJ, Ejay, Jim Varraros, and Ryan Starr from American Idol 1.

9. Lance Corporal Josh Gracin- Josh, the pride of the Marine Corp, returned to base immediately following his exit from American Idol. It was a hero's welcome. The following day he was sent to the South Pole on a recon mission, and has not been heard from since. God Bless America.

10. Kimberley Locke- Kimberley is currently in the studio finishing her second album, Songs With More Emotion That I Wished I'd Sung During the Competition, a companion compilation to her first album, In Search of a Personality. After Kimberley left the show, she hired Simon for private lessons in personality development, to go along with her physical metamorphosis throughout the show. Eventually, the two fell in love and were married in a small ceremony in Ryan Seacrest's garage apartment. Kimberley and Simon will soon be the proud parents of twins, a boy and girl to be named Randy and Paula.

11. Clay Aiken- Clay packed up the Rent-a-Choir from the finale shows and hit the road on his Clay Ain't Broadway world tour. Filled with lavish dance numbers, colorful costumes, exotic facial expressions, and a full orchestra, Clay's show is the story of one tall skinny white boy's journey to overcome the stereotype of possibly being too Broadway-ish to gain respect as a pop star. With his last stop in New York, Clay and the town of Raleigh, North Carolina moved into the theater recently vacated by Les Miserable. He is currently collaborating with Billy Joel to put American Idol: The Musical on stage during Spring 2004.

12. Ruben Studdard- Ruben decided to forego his singing career to start his own clothing line of 205 shirts, one day hoping to expand to include 205 pants, hats, socks, underwear, and trenchcoats. He invested the million dollar recording contract won by his victory on American Idol into recording radio spots to promote his 205 shirt business. Ruben is also campaining to change every area code in the country to 205. He plans to run against George W. Bush in the next presidential election. And, he hopes to one day compete against Vanessa Olivarez in the World Sumo Wrestling Championships.

Wow, it really is amazing how American Idol can change your life. I wish them all the best in their endeavors.


Favorite Search Words O' the Week
Following are searches that lead to my blog at some point this week, and my responses to help those of you who found your way here in search of these things:

'workplace scent etiquette'
I say it's important to smell good, but not too good.

'purple barney prison torture'
In a recent study conducted to determine safe alternatives to the death penalty, purple barney prison torture won by a landslide as equally as horrible as death, definitely more tortuous, yet ethically and environmentally favored by four out of five dentists.

'ryan seacrest must die'
Now, who else would we make fun of on Idol if Ryan was no longer with us? Well, Simon. And Paula. And all of the contestants. Ok. But we don't want him dead, people. That's just not nice.

'ryan seacrest midget'
Dwarf. Not midget. Dwarf.

And there are the usual various asundry of nude searches. To which I reply, you people have way too much free time.


Idol Over
So, did anyone catch who won last night? There was so much fluff and superfluous singing and clips and whatnot, I think I missed the big announcement. Was it at the end??

Not really. Congrats to Ruben, the new American Idol 2003. After a long night of reminiscing and stalling, the arduous competition is finally over.

Some memorable moments from Part 3 of the big finale:
- Worst Use of Time During a Two Hour Finale. No other network wastes an hour and forty five minutes quite like FOX. I could have done without the Singers Who Sucked montage again. Especially the second one in the form of a music video. Yes, they suck. We got it. Please make us never listen to them or see them again.

- The World's Longest Song Medley Ever, starring all the reject finalists. I counted 108 songs in that medley. But I may have missed one. And not surprisingly, the finalists that sucked the most didn't get any better during their time off. They still were unpleasant to listen to, and see. I still heard too many goat-ish vocalizations. And does anyone else notice that Julia Demato doesn't have a waist? She'd oddly shaped. And I never want to see her sing 'Let's Get Physical' again.

- Best use of a Rent-a-Choir. For the second night in a row the choir made several appearances throughout the night. I had no idea you could use a choir for so many songs. I should have voted for them to win. They rocked.

- Best Girly Pink Flamboyant Dressing Room for a Guy. Clay's dressing room must have been Ryan's at some point. That room was too pink and frilly for any respectable guy. I'm not quite sure what to think about Clay seeming to enjoy it so much in there.

- Best Celebrity in the Audience Sighting. I'm pretty sure I saw Sinbad caught on camera unexpectedly. Whatever happened to that guy? And why did American Idol draw him out of hiding?

- Best Effort to Rip Vocal Chords Out on Stage. Kelly Clarkson screaming through 'Miss Independent.' I seriously thought one of her eyeballs may just pop right out on stage, she was straining so hard. My throat hurts today thanks to watching her abuse hers last night.

The rest of it was pretty much a blur. I have to admit I didn't sit with it through the entire two hours. I fear I've reached my Idol limit for this season. It will be nice to have a break for the summer, before we go at it again in the fall. Let's try to get Paula Abdul on Extreme Makeover before the summer is over. She needs help all over.

Hmmmm. How will people get to my blog now, without searching for the latest Idol news and ending up here? I may have to blog about Idol throughout the summer, just to keep traffic coming here. Hee . . .


Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Idol Finale: The Ultimate Boredom
I was so bored last night watching American Idol. I mean, I didn't even sit on the couch and watch it. I wandered around my apartment looking for something to do to keep me awake. Clay and Ruben sang six of the slowest songs on earth, in the slowest possible arrangements ever. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz..............

I was hoping for a big finish. Something really spectacular. Something requiring at least a little movement from one or both of the Idol-ees. I mean, James Worthy, the world's oldest living former NBA player, and apparently the only Idol-interested celebrity in the audience, was moving faster than Clay or Ruben. And he was sitting still! And he's old!

But, I thought Ruben performed better than Clay. I didn't love either one of them, but as Simon said, Clay seemed off most of the night. I mean, what was with that first 'original' song? Who wrote that giant hunk of cheese? Is that the song I predicted would be written in a compilation effort by Julia Demato, Carmen, and Satan? Phew! It stunk!

And then, what was with the choir for 'Bridge Over Troubled Water?' Clay "I'm Not a Broadway Singer" Aiken busts out with this huge Broadway choir version of this non-Broadway song. Why didn't Ruben get a choir, too? Or back-up dancers? Or at least Ryan Seacrest doing the wave, or running man, or robot from his perch on stage? I didn't know you could bring props!! I think that's cheating. And again, everyone in that choir was moving more than Clay did all night. Are his feet made of concrete? Is he missing knee joints? Why can't he get at least a little groove going???

Oh well. I think Ruben will win, but it will be close. And really, it doesn't matter who wins. We'll have to sit through an hour and forty five minutes of clips, Idol music videos, remembering the entire season and previous losers (much like we do every week), and several group numbers including all the rejects, especially the ones we love to hate. Then after 108 commercial breaks, Ryan will announce a winner. The newly crowned American Idol 2003 will be presented with a sash and tiara from the reigning American Idol 2002, Kelly Clarkson. Carmen will try to steal it, only to be beaten down by Corey Clark who somehow made it back into the building past security. Julia Demato will go berserk that her Idol Carmen is being destroyed, and she'll totally rip out every curly 'fro strand on Corey's head and then personally escort him out back to the parking lot, shoving him into a dumpster. Meanwhile, the winner will have to sing his new #1 single, packed with cheesiness, written for him by Diane Warren, Neal Sedaka, and Billy Joel. He'll then make a movie with the loser: Clay and Ruben's Broadway R&B Beach Party. And we'll be all set for the next season of American Idol.

Oops. Sorry if I spoiled tonight's show for anyone. You may not want to read this completely accurate spoiler before watching the show tonight.

May Idol-ee with the most votes win.


PS: Was there a comment last night about Ryan Seacrest being a midget, or non-tall? I think I missed it, or else it's just a coincidence that I've had many hits to my blog since the show last night, referring to Ryan's midget-ness, or looking for answers about his height. Well, people. You've come to the right place. This is the #1 source for all the answers to your American Idol questions. Ryan is not a midget. He prefers the term 'dwarf'. And he is nearly 3 feet tall, when his hair is spiked just right. What you see on screen makes him look like a nearly normal-heighted person because the camera actually adds 2.5 feet. Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Idol Overload: Martha Stewart is a Home-making Psycho
I protested the three night American Idol finale by not watching the show last night. It is not necessary to do three shows in order to pick between Clay or Ruben. Truthfully, I don't even care who wins at this point. We've been Idol-ed to death already. Just pick one and let's get on with the next season. The best part of the show is making fun of all the early losers anyway.

I did flip by FOX towards the end of the show last night and caught a minute too much of the 'God Bless the USA' finale. I think I'm just not ready to deal with the likes of Julia Demato and Carmen so soon. I was just getting used to the peace and quiet without them. But there they were on stage again. Along with the fully clothed Vanessa Olivarez. What a group.

Since I chose to avoid the Idol, for the bulk of the evening my TV landed on the Martha Stewart movie. Did anyone else realize she is such a psycho?? Wow. My mom will be so disappointed. She's all about Martha.

You know, I noticed some striking similarities between Martha as portrayed in her made-for-tv movie, and Hitler portrayed in his made-for-tv movie the night before. Hmmmmmmm. . . . .


Still More Nudity You Just Won't Find Here
People, there are no naked American Idol contestants here.

Funnily enough, my blog appears at or near the top of many searches for nude American Idol-ees. And not just the Idol-ees you'd expect people would possibly want to see sans clothing. Consequently, the majority of the searches leading stray people here are for nude Idol-ees. What is wrong with you people? Gross.

Thank you! Come again!


Monday, May 19, 2003

Cynical "Wrong Turn" Tyrant
Or, "The Century Bike Ride That Never Happened." Or, "How to Get Lost on a Bike in North Texas." Or, "How the Heck am I Back at my Jeep Already?" Or, "Heartbreak at the Hundred." So many catchy titles to pick from. One disappointing event.

Let me break down my anger and disappointment for you, before I get to the details of my attempted weekend bike adventure:
Cost to enter event: $18.00
Cost of equipment, etc. to train for event: $1,000.00 +
Cost of tank of gas to get to event: $23.00
Value of good signs and a good map to clearly mark the way for cyclists attempting to ride 100 miles in the wilderness of North Texas: PRICELESS

I had been talking about this ride, my first century ever, to many people for many months. I'd trained hard for about four months. I'd sacrificed a lot of time and hard earned money to do this thing right. Many people were very excited for me. Some friends even came to see me off. There was much excitement. I was ready for this. I was nervous, but I was determined to make it and enjoy the ride. I was soon on my way towards 100 miles on a bike, lost in a sea of spandex-clad cyclists.

All went well for the first leg of the ride. It was a bit crowded until we were able to spread out. I stuck with a group until mile 20, at which point I decided to stop at the second scheduled rest stop. I was taking pictures. I was smiling. I was having a great time.

But, it was downhill from there. And I don't mean in the good way where I could coast down a hill for the rest of the ride. I mean the quality of the ride took a massive dive. Between mile 20 and mile 30, they sent us down the Road of Eternal Bumps and Wind. This road should be blown up and completely re-paved from scratch. Riding through a rock quarry would have been a smoother ride. The combination of the wind blowing directly against me, plus the world's bumpiest road, made this stretch of 10 miles absolutely miserable. It went on forever. My whole bike and my entire body shook from the uneven pavement. This slowed me down quite a bit. Whoever paved this road (if you can call it paved at all) should be shot. This road should not have been included on the route for this ride. I'm seriously surprised my bike and I came out of it still intact.

I skipped the next rest stop and was rewarded with flat pavement and much less wind for the next leg of the ride, mile 30-40. I made up some time here. I felt good again. And I almost forgave the event for the previous bumpiness. Almost.

The next rest stop came up quickly around a curve (still on a busy rural highway). I intended to stop here, but couldn't. Why? Because the Boy Scouts were apparently sponsoring this rest stop, and they were lined up along the side of the road, screaming at passing cyclists that "This Gatorade will quench your thirst!", then literally throwing cups of Gatorade, and bananas out for the bikers to grab coming around a curve. Um, does this make sense to anybody? The point of a rest stop is to stop and rest. Not to dodge incoming food and drink projectiles. When navigating around a curve, downhill, it is not feasable to reach out and grab a cup of drink, or a banana. At 20 miles an hour, you'd better hope I don't grab whatever is in your hand because your hand is likely coming with me. Plus, the Scouts were out in the road, banana shrapnel and empty cups strewn about, making it hazardous to navigate around the debris. They did have a table on the other side of the highway, but there was no way to make it over there once I saw it. Curse the Boy Scouts. Their eagerness to shove bananas at me made me miss my scheduled stop.

So, on with miles 40-50. I was sure I could make it to the next rest stop without having stopped at the Boy Scout stop. I made it to mile 50, and crossed over the highway (not sure about the logic of placing these rest stops on the opposite side of rural highways from the side where we were biking) to the rest stop. I still felt really good. My knee was in pain, but the rest of me felt good. And I was halfway finished! Woo-diddily-Hoo!

You are almost halfway finished reading this 'brief' recap, by the way.

At this 50 mile stop, a kindly automobile passerby expressed some thoughts that I'd had during the first 50 miles. He stopped his car in the road across from our stop, and promptly yelled at us that we were endangering ourselves, and the cars on the road by doing what we were doing. Thank you, kind sir! My thoughts exactly! Throughout the ride, most of it took place on narrow shoulders along rural highways. This left very little room between the bikers and the passing cars and large trucks flying by at high speeds. The shoulders were often full of debris, much like the Shredded Tire Shrapnel stretch of highway between miles 30-40, during which I had to pay close attention and maneuver through a mine field of shredded tires along the shoulder of the highway. Of course, this man yelling at us didn't help us feel better about risking our lives for this ride. But he was right. There was a severe lack of traffic control from the beginning of the ride. Cyclists must obey all traffic laws and safety practices. But still, you can bet you'd never catch me on any of these roads on my own, had I not been participating in this event. Anyone would be crazy to be out on these roads on a bike. Yep, one more strike against this whole bizarre event. A few orange cones scattered throughout 100 miles does not a safe riding environment make.

Then as I munched on a banana at the stop, I heard some people wondering if the 100milers had made it this far, yet. Hmmmm. I didn't say anything, but I began to wonder what that meant. Obviously I had made it that far. But did that mean I was riding faster and better than I thought I was, and faster than the majority of the other 100 milers? Or, did it mean that my biggest fear had come true: I'd made a wrong turn somewhere and missed part of my route? I was beginning to be suspicious. Something wasn't adding up.

Small, yellow signs posted along the way were supposed to help you stay with the route length of your choice, coinciding with the map. In theory, the map and signs should all work together, clearly directing you on your desired path, be it the short routes, or the longer 100k or 100m routes. However, I'd long since discovered that the map was impossible to match up to the route, or the rest stops. I'd realized long ago that I had no idea where I was in relation to the map. The signs were very small, and many of them had blown over and couldn't be seen while passing by. Plus, they were not exactly clear on which ride length they pertained to. I'd decided the best way to not get lost out here in Area 51 was to keep bikers in sight in front of me, and follow the signs as best I could.

I continued on my way from mile 50. I soon noticed a sign that pointed the 100 milers in a different direction than the 100k group. I took a right and promptly found myself squarely in the middle of nowhere, without another biker to be seen for miles. I'd thought I was pretty much smack in the middle of nowhere before I took this turn. But now I was quite embedded in the very core of nowhere. Cows, hay, and fields surrounded me. But no other intelligent life could be seen or heard. It was eerily quiet.

I began talking to myself. And cows as I passed them. They didn't have much to say in return. And I'm pretty sure I saw a few of them pointing and laughing at me. I'm sure they knew what was up, while I still did not have a clue where I was or where I was going. All alone. This didn't feel good.

I was worried. At this point I figured I was the last of the 100 milers, and that was one thing I wanted to avoid. Then, I began to wonder if I was even in the right place at all. It didn't make sense that I saw absolutely no other people on bikes. Just when I was about to pick a new home from the variety of shabby farm houses scattered in the fields around me, I finally saw another little yellow sign. I followed it to yet another little yellow sign, and suddenly found myself hooking up with another group coming from another direction. Phew! I'm okay. And now heading the right way, for sure.

Well, mostly.

Somehow I was now leading a small pack of people that I'd left when I took the turn to the right for the 100milers. So it was up to me to follow the signs, now being in the lead of this small group. The next major turn came up unexpectedly, and led us again across several lanes of highway traffic. I swear, much of this ride was a dangerous gauntlet of traffic and road debris! The guy behind me said he would have missed that turn if he hadn't been watching me. Great! I don't want to be the leader. I have no idea where I am!

We were soon riding on residential streets. This seemed strange to me, since my odometer told me I had about 40 miles left to go to complete my 100 miles, and residential streets usually signifies getting closer to the finish line. The people behind me were now in front of me, still in the pack. I really began to worry that something wasn't quite right. The people in this pack were there for the 100k, not the 100m. 100k is about 62 miles. So if I'm now riding with them and they are only doing 62 miles, something ain't quite right.

We came around a corner and there before me was . . . my Jeep. This was the first time I had ever not been happy to see my beloved Jeep. There it was, in the parking lot. At the start/finish line. What the??!?!???!!! I still had 35 more miles to go!!! I'm not finished, yet!!!

Apparently, I was, in fact, finished.

I was furious! What had happened? How did I get back here so soon? I rode around the parking lot on my bike, trying to figure out what to do. Can I go back? No, the course isn't marked from here to go backwards. That would be more dangerous than riding it the 'safe' way they'd set up for us. Could I start over, then turn around? No, they'd cleared the early streets of traffic control and signs, and I wouldn't be able to remember how to get back. How many laps around the parking lot would equal 35 miles??? I did not want to admit defeat. I felt good. I was still ready to finish the remaining 35 miles to equal my century. I could not believe I would not be able to meet my goal.

I finally accepted that I was finished. I rode over to the Jeep and looked at my odometer. 65 miles. No more, no less. True, 65 is a lot, and a great accomplishment. But I had come there to ride 100 miles, and there were 35 more miles out there waiting for me. What a disappointment. All the hype, and I didn't make it.

I've looked at the map intensely, obsessively since Saturday morning, and I still cannot figure out where I missed a turn. I've retraced the route I took in my head, trying to match it to the map, and something just does not add up. I did hear a few others talking in the parking lot after the ride. The same thing happened to them. I felt a little better knowing I wasn't the only one who was directionally challenged. But not a lot better. I'd really wanted to do this thing. Had I been injured or physically unable to finish, that would be understandable. Poor directions? Unacceptable.

So, the Tyrant failed. But not because I couldn't do it. I feel confident I would have made it. It is infuriating, extremely disappointing, and definitely heart-breaking that I could not meet my goal due to the incompetence of others. What a let down. These event organizers are going to get an earful about it. Via email.

But, at least it makes for a good story. Leave it to the Tyrant to keep things interesting.


PS: Thanks, my bloggers, for your well-wishes. I'll have to try it again sometime soon. And not disappoint.

PPS: Go MAVS!!!!!

PPPS: This is a really long post because whether 100 miles or 65 miles, I rode a long time and therefore deserve to re-tell the tale in great detail. And I still left out a few things . . .

Friday, May 16, 2003

Crazy is as Crazy Does
I've realized today that I may literally be crazy. My months of intense cycling, weight lifting, and eating healthy (except for the Coke I just finished) have all come down to the big event tomorrow. It's suddenly the real deal. I will wake at an unreal hour of the morning and bike 100 miles with a bunch of people I don't know, until I finish. Or until the ambulance picks me up. Whichever comes first.

I'm nervous. The most I've biked at once is 56 miles. It hurt. I wonder why I think it's a good idea to do more than that.

Looking at the map of the route, I can't help but see myself getting stuck at that point way out there in what looks like the middle of nowhere. It looks lonely out there. It's the point furthest from the ending point, before the loop heads back towards civilization and ice cream. The point of 'must return', or call 911 for a ride home.

You know, maybe I can live there. I might get out there, pause to catch my breath, and decide I like it at the corner of Nowhere and Where the Heck Am I? Just north of Who-ville, near No Man's Land, east of Void Into the Eternity of Nothingness, almost but not quite at the border of that northern most part of Canada where nothing but frozen million year old amoeba live. Sounds nice.

The friend who was going to tackle this major Feat of Strength (a la Festivus) with me mysteriously cannot attend the event now. We were going to drag each other along through this thing, supporting and cursing each other along the way. Now, I will be pedaling all alone. With several hundred of my closest strangers. Maybe they will like my new home in the galaxy far, far away, too. Do you think they would help me start a new neighborhood out there in Area 51? I don't mind the company, as long as I get to be mayor of the Land Before Time.

I'm excited. It will be quite an accomplishment to complete the ride. I will cross the finish line, dismount my bike, make sure my bum is still attached to me where it should be, stand briefly in victory, then likely fall over, landing in a mushy heap on the ground. I assumed I would no longer need to walk past the age of twenty-seven. So that fits well with my legs falling off tomorrow promptly at the completion of the ride. It will be a proud moment.

I hope to survive and have wonderful stories to tell of my adventure. But in the event that the Sasquatch of the North Texas Wilderness chases me down and devours me while out in his neck of the woods, it's been nice blogging with you.


Thursday, May 15, 2003

Idol: The Final Two
FOX should really think of another name for their elimination 'show'. Because in all honesty, it's truly an elimination 'five minutes', with a bunch of other junk to keep the audience trapped there for a full hour. I'm a fan of Idol, but really. Enough is enough.

Last night we found ourselves in deep suspense for 55 minutes as to who would be sent home, and which two Idol-ees would remain to duel for the title of American Idol. During those 55 minutes, I became extremely ADD, and therefore flipped the channels for most of the hour.

My first pass by the 'show leading up to the elimination five minutes' landed on the Triumphant Trio singing a medley of something. Flip. Not interested. I hate to admit it, but the final episode of Dawson's Creek, in which the WB had promised me that someone would die, was way more interesting than the filler junk on Idol last night. I hate Dawson's Creek of Whiney, Overly-Dramatic, Doom n' Gloom People, and I never watch it unless my tv just happens to land on it and my finger suddenly breaks and I therefore can't physically change the channel. But if they are killing someone off, it's worth a pass by every few minutes, while making the rounds through my 8 channels, courtesy of rabbit ear antennae. They should have started off-ing people several seasons ago. Then they might have earned my viewership on occassion. And these angst-filled characters would finally have something to be depressed about.

My second pass by the 'one really long AT&T and Nokia commercial leading up to the elimination five minutes' resulted in Tamyra Gray singing 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow', with her very own guitar person. Good for her, snagging a guitar dude! I decided that was worth a watch. While she sounded a bit shakey at first, she finished strong. Good to see her. Totally dug the 'fro hair, including Ryan getting his sleeve caught in it. Good Idol fun. Flip.

Apparently Jen is the one dying on Creek. Sadly, I'm not sad about it. And it's only 45 minutes into the two-hour show. Goodness, she has to die for a long time tonight. Flip.

My third pass by the show 'all about Ryan Seacrest, oh and we have an elimination five minutes' almost lost me for the rest of the night. What did I just say yesterday about 'Unchained Melody?' There, to my horror, was Justin Guarini belting out an over-dramatic version of this song that I can't stand to hear anymore. Seriously, why must every contestant in every audition sing this song? Or 'Genie in a Bottle?' Justin isn't even auditioning anymore. Pick another song! I guess his appearance a few weeks ago on Idol and the singing of one of his own songs proved he needs to steer clear of his own songs. That song was not good. But 'Unchained Melody' is worse. Always.

And is it just me, or is tonight's show basically American Idol: Season One again? Do all the non-winners of the past get a chance to sing tonight? If Nikki McKibben shows up during this show, I swear I am so outta there. Ryan promises results after the break. Flip. Quickly. Justin is still unchain-ing.

Commercial on Creek. Must everything on tv tonight be drawn out to excruciating lengths? Flip. Results on the way.

After 3 more breaks, that is. I realized after Justin's song that there were still 30 minutes left in the show. Of course they wouldn't announce the results until the very stinkin' end. But I was determined not to miss the precious results announcement. Not that I couldn't find it online later in the evening, or this morning, and be just as satisfied. But for some strange reason I quit flipping and hung with Idol. I'm nothing if not semi-loyal.

My question is, how in the world did FOX justify this show as an hour-long show? Why torture the loyal fans by holding them hostage for an unnecessary extra 30 minutes? Take out the fluff about Ruben, Clay, and K. Lo and their big day out on the private jet, signing autographs and throwing a baseball like a girl. We don't care. Make it a 30 minute show.

108 commercial breaks later, K. Lo gets the boot, in a seriously dramatic and nail-biting announcement moment. Are the Creek writers scripting this show, too? I mean, Clay and Ruben did a great job of pretending they really thought they could go home tonight. But, we all knew it would be K. Lo. And so it was. I was sad to see her go. I thought she'd really kicked up her game in the last few weeks. True, at first I didn't like her. She had an attitude that didn't sit well with me. When they showed her 'greatest moments' montage, I was reminded of why I initially didn't like her. But she shaped up, played well, and apparently grew two extra arms in the process. Did anyone else notice all the arms in that shot of her doing her hair? That's pretty cool.

So, Ruben vs. Clay. The final showdown. I can't pick a favorite. Although Clay annoys me more and more these days. I dunno. We'll see next week. After three hour-long episodes of the show.

Flip. Everyone on Creek lives happily ever after. Except Jen. She didn't make it. And my tv will never suffer through being stuck on that show again.


Wednesday, May 14, 2003

I Wish I Had a Superhero Name
Why? Because people remember superhero names.

When I was in college, I had an internship at a radio station. One of the 'big-wig' DJs managed to never get my name right. But it was never the same name twice. At that time, it was humorous. The guy was kind of an idiot, but he thought he was a big deal, so he was always trying to impress us 'little people' by calling us by name when he'd pass us in the hall. Except without fail, he'd never get my name right. As many times as I corrected him, he was still oblivious to the fact that he always called me by the wrong name any time we'd meet. Tracy, Tammy, Tori, even Trixie. None of those are actually my name. Trixie? Does anyone think I really look like a Trixie? Are people even really named Trixie? I don't think so. Not regular people, anyway.

Once out of school, at a previous job I went through a long phase where no one could spell my name correctly. Having a non-common name, I'm used to this to a certain degree. It's no big deal. But this was a unique take on having no clue how to spell a name. It was a strange epidemic affecting people all over the country who had no connection to each other, except me. People could remember my name, at least. They just either didn't care to try to spell it right, or it was apparently an impossible name to spell. Every fax, email, letter, package sent to my attention would have my whole department laughing, just seeing what variation of my name would appear on said deliveries. We waited with great anticipation for people to send me things, just to see the latest version of my name. Bizarre spellings, often things that weren't even close to my actual name, or actual English words. I eventually gave up trying to spell my name over the phone to clients or whoever. It didn't matter how much I tried, I'd inevitably see my name spelled incorrectly on almost anything coming my way. We decided to make it a secret contest for the weirdest misrepresentation of my name. I'd cut them out and save them, proudly displaying them on my cubical wall. I don't remember the winner, but the whole thing was quite hysterical.

At my current job, I've worked here for over a year. One of my co-workers still calls me the wrong name almost every time he sees me. He calls me Tracy. I assure you my name is not Tracy. I've told him my name is not Tracy. He knows my name is not Tracy. We don't even have a Tracy in the building. He remembers after he says it, but still. By now he should get it right the first time. This is no longer humorous. It's annoying.

And I think the culmination of all the name blunders has left me in a huge identity crisis. At this point I'm wondering if I have a face, and if so, does it change for every person that I come into contact with, so that I am unrecognizeable as the same person that I am, from person to person. Who am I? What do I look like? Have you seen me before? What is my name? It's all very confusing.

So, I figure if I have a superhero name, people would definitely remember me and my name. And I can know for sure and with confidence who I am. I just don't know what my superhero name should be. Cynical Tyrant isn't actually my name, nor is it a superhero name. It's purely my blog moniker. I don't refer to myself as the Cynical Tyrant outside of this arena. I need something catchy. Something brave, valiant, and interesting. Something commanding respect. Something smartly humorous, yet not ridiculous. Something that leaves an impression. Something that sums me up, so that when people hear my name they know that it is me. And when they know that it is me, they also make no mistake about my name.

One thing I know, I am not Trixie. And I might need a cape to go with my superhero name.


Idol Disappointment
Yes, overall I was disappointed with American Idol last night. Or maybe I'm just weirded out that Quentin Tarrantino was in the audience, cheering like a silly teenage girl. I seriously think he's stalking Ruben.

To recap, the three remaining Idol-ees (Clay, Ruben, and K. Lo) were called upon to fill an hour-long show. How is this possible, you might ask? I will tell you. The producers decided to have each contestant sing the number of songs as related to the number that is their area code. Ruben chose his 205 songs, but at that point Ryan Seacrest pointed out that if Ruben sings 205 songs, there will not be enough time for Clay or K. Lo to sing any songs, nor will he have enough time to make videos of himself using his Nokia cell phone, to show during the show. So, a compromise was reached. Each contestant would sing three songs, and Ryan would shoot and show one cell phone video.

My first disappointment of the night came when I realized there was not to be a celebrity judge for the evening. Clearly they did not get my 108,000 text messages volunteering myself for that job this week. I was ticked that the fourth chair stood empty, while I sat at home watching the show. Paula seemed to attempt to channel Michael Jackson by wearing a poor imitation of the 'Billie Jean' hat. But to no avail. No celebrity judge was present.

Then came the Random Song Choice round. My first question is, who picked the songs to go in that bowl? There seemed to be at least 100 slips of paper in the bowl, which seems ridiculous for only three contestants. Yet, the three of them managed to somehow pick the three worst songs in the Bowl of Random Choices. I hated all of those songs. But I thought K. Lo performed the best in that round. 'Vincent'? What the heck is that song? Is it even really a song? Poor Clay. No way to win on that round. He was sabotaged by The Bowl.

Next, the Judge's Random Song Choice round. I think. I get the last two rounds mixed up, as to which one came first. Nonetheless, the songs the judges picked for the Idol-ees seemed to also be completely random, and I didn't think the songs suited the contestants at all. Simon's biggest complaint about Clay is that he is too Broadway cheesy. So what do they give Clay? 'Mack the bloody Knife'! The cheesiest of all big-band, 'destined to be a Broadway stage performer or lounge singer' songs. I was so cheesed out by that whole performance, I could hardly watch. I hate ' Mack the Knife'. Too many bad experiences of playing it in every jazz band I was ever in, middle school through highschool. Judges, I am so disappointed in you. It's all about the song choice. Bad choices.

The Idol-ee Song Choice Round was a bit better. My favorite song of the night was K. Lo's Natalie Cole song. But, if I hear 'Unchained Melody' one more time, I will seriously throw something at my TV. Something soft, so as not to break it. But still, can't stand that song anymore. Too oversung. I was seriously annoyed by Clay all night. It's unfortunate for him, since two out of three of the songs were not his fault.

To end the evening, I caught a shot of Vanessa Olivarez, the nude PETA posing Idol reject, in the audience. Thankfully, she was not nude while sitting in the audience last night. Although I'm sure someone will do a search for 'vanessa olivarez nude' and end up here today.

My prediction is that K. Lo and Paula's outfit will be in the bottom two tonight. Even though Paula's outfit deserves to be voted off of the planet, K. Lo will go home tonight, although I think she did a great job last night.

I can't believe the season is almost over. What will Ryan Seacrest do in the off-season? I guess he could be a bachelor on Simon's new Cupid show.


PS: Sources tell me that the song theme for next week will consist of four songs each: one song written specifially for each of the final two contestants, by Ryan Seacrest. One song written by each of the final two contestants for the other contestant. One song written by the trio of Julia Demato, Carmen, and Satan, for each contestant. And one song written by the audience an hour before the show. Each song will require hand motions.

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Update on Proper Exercise Attire
Yesterday I gave my thoughts about exercise attire. I wrote about my issues with spandex on 3/24. I've also written quite a bit about nudity, and the lack of it here versus the world's apparent fascination with it, much of that fascination leading them here for some reason. Should my permalinks decide to work properly anytime soon, I will gladly come back to link directly to these fine blog entries of mine.

Then today, I stumbled upon this guy linked from Dave Barry's Blog. A lone biker seems to sparsely cover all the bases as related to lack of spandex, improper exercise attire, and flirting with nudity.

In his case only, spandex would be an improvement. Someone please kindly attack him with a pair of shorts.


Things I Thought Had Long Since Disappeared
On my way to work this morning, I saw one of those suction cup Garfield things that people used to stick to the windows of their car in the 80's. Like Garfield was inside the car hanging on for dear life, pressed up against the window. I used to see them everywhere, and I'll admit I even had one. I was too young at the time to own a car, but I had one stuck to my mirror in my bedroom. I was cool.

People who have them now, however, are not cool. I didn't even think these things still existed, or were currently manufactured. This was a fairly new Mazda Miata convertable, which could be the problem. This is not a cool car, but people who drive them seem to think they are cool. And there it was, a big ol' Garfield suctioned to the window. The front windshield, no less. So many things about this scene were just simply uncool.

I should have turned the Jeep loose on the guy and his Miata and his Garfield.

There are things from the 80's that could justifiably be revived and still remain cool, or retro. The Garfield suction thingy is not one of them. Let it go, people.


Monday, May 12, 2003

Idol Themes
Continuing with my obsession about American Idol, in the final days of the current Idol season I feel it is important to blog about the show as much as possible. In a few short weeks the show will be over, and I will lose yet another good source of blog material. Until the show resurfaces for the next season, that is.

So, here are some song themes I'm glad we did not have to suffer through during this season of American Idol:
1. Andrea Bocelli, the Three Tenors, Charlotte Church, Josh Groban, et all-
While these singers are respectable in their genre, I am thankful we did not have to endure a Julia Demato crap version, or a Lance Corporal Josh country version of 'The Prayer'.

2. Whitney Houston-
Ain't enough crack in the world that could make me want to listen to an hour of Whitney, sung by people who don't sweat enough to do her songs justice. Plus, I don't think she could make it through an hour of being a celebrity judge without getting into a cat fight with Paula Abdul. Or Randy. Or Simon. Or Trenyce.

3. Celine Dion-
Nothing against The Celine personally, but ain't enough crack in the world to make me want to sit through an hour of 'The Theme from Titanic'.

4. Michael Bolton-
I can't even think of anything he sings off the top of my head, but I do know I hate every song he's ever sung. I don't even think the Idol-ees could make it any worse, and I'm glad they didn't get the chance to try.

5. Christina Aguilara-
I realize just about every contestant of the thousands of contestants during the nation-wide search sang 'Genie in a Bottle'. But that has never been, and will never be, a good song. Thank goodness I don't know any of her other songs, and we did not have to explore what they are.

6. Chicago-
Not the musical. The group. I'm basking in the glory of not having heard that song from Karate Kid in quite a long time.

7. Chicago-
The musical. Or any other musicals, for that matter. Not that I don't enjoy a good musical now and then, but I'm not interested in hearing bad versions of good musicals.

8. Michael Jackson-
This one is almost too obvious to mention. Not that I wouldn't enjoy a few of his classics, like 'Billie Jean', or 'Beat It', or 'Bad', but he'd probably bring more of his home movies and make everyone watch, and we'd all be really bored. Plus, he's creepy.

9. Dixie Chicks-
In light of all the controversy with Frenchie and Corey Clark, I really think it was a good decision to not bring in the Chicks. I mean, there is only so much controversy that Idol can handle. Plus, they'd probably show up naked, and this is a family show.

10. Mariah Carey-
I don't know what to say about this one, except that I'm just really glad we didn't go there.

Now, with just a couple weeks left in the competition, I would like to offer a few suggestions for the final song themes:
1. Gloria Estefan-
I would like to single handedly spark a comeback for her, and encourage Clay to let the rhythm get him.

2. Destiny's Child-
The contestants have just not been bootylicious enough this season. I am quite ready for their jelly.

3. Aerosmith-
I mean, there are just too many good classics here to let the opportunity pass. Bring in Steven Tyler as a celebrity judge, and let's start livin' on the edge.

4. Pink-
I would like to hear three different renditions of 'Get This Party Started'. K. Lo with a slow, sultry version. Clay, with a big Broadway version. Ruben, with a teddy bear-ish version. Whatever that may be.

5. Donnie and Marie-
Too bad for Josh, he will miss his opportunity to be a little bit country. But let's go ahead and bring in the Osmonds, and get to the rock and roll.

6. Drinking Songs from Around the World-
I just think this would be entertaining. That's all.

7. Kenny Rogers-
But only if Will Sasso from MadTV will come as Kenny Rogers for his celebrity judge appearance, and play him drunk and insane as he usually does. I don't like Kenny Rogers, nor do I have any idea what he sings. I just think Will Sasso as Kenny Rogers on American Idol would be stinkin' hilarious.

8. Cher-
She's on her farewell tour. Might as well say farewell on Idol, too. And loan the Idol-ees some of those sweet wigs for the show. There just have not been enough wigs this season.

9. Sheryl Crow-
She's been the official spokeswoman-artist-singer for just about every other commercialized event on the planet lately. I cannot believe she hasn't hit Idol, yet. We need the Crow.

10. Paula Abdul-
Why haven't they done this already? It seems to make perfect sense. Straight Up.

I also think, as a final twist to the show since all of the reality shows are adding dramatic 'twists' these days, they should allow a loyal and obsessed fan come in as a celebrity judge. Seeing as I'm already a celebrity, and clearly quite knowledgeable about the show and music and whatnot, I pick me.

Do you think if I just show up and sit in that extra fourth judge's chair they will understand the twist and let me stay?


And People Thought Blogging Was a Colossal Waste of Time . . .
Forget American Idol. Real Idols air guitar.

Apparently air guitar is a sport, and there are now championships. They are judged similarly to Olympic sports, including originality, technical ability, and artistic merit.

Oh, and 'airness'. Can't forget that.

Everyone, go home, get in front of your mirror, and practice air guitar like you never have before. All those years of air guitar-ing in your bedroom when you were in highschool have finally paid off. Now you could be an air guitar star.

How hysterical would it be to go witness this competition? Someone in LA or New York, please go to this and make a documentary.


People Look Funny While Exercising
Myself included.

While biking many laps around the lake, I don't have much to entertain myself as I pedal. Fortunately, there are plenty of people around to provide entertainment for me. Following is my analysis of people while exercising.

First, there are the serious exercise people. They run or bike like they really mean it, including their attire. They are professionally spandexed from head to toe, usually in bright colors, lest we lose them or not be able to see them coming in broad daylight. Some runners often sport those too short, fly-away running shorts that have no business even existing, let alone attempting to cover anyone's backside. They are meticulously evenly tanned from top to bottom, somehow overcoming the tan line conundrum which arises from exercising outdoors while wearing clothes. They have expensive bikes or running shoes and equipment to let them know how fast they are going, their heart rate, the time in seventeen different time zones, the gravitational pull of the moon, the migratory patterns of the wildebeest, and the lunch special at their favorite chinese restaurant. These people are out for a major workout, and they want everyone to know how serious they are. Overly professional, attractive depending on how well they can pull of the spandex, and not convincingly enjoying themselves.

Next, there are the semi-serious exercise people. Runners, cyclers, and even walkers alike. I fall into this category. I bike like I mean it, but not like I need you to know that I mean it. I wear minimal spandex, prefering to be comfortable and economical, rather than spend all of my money on neon jerseys and shorts decorated with flames or catchy 'to the max' phrases. I have an oddly shaped tan pattern resulting from biking out of doors in a situation where not all of my skin evenly sees the sun, and the skin that does get sun just simply burns. I have most of the right equipment, although not top of the line, since I priced and purchased items I could afford without having to sell a kidney. I look semi-professional, in that I have good equipment and decent attire, but I don't need my equipment to tell me any superfluous information other than my speed and the time of day. Semi-professional and serious, yet not attractive, but enjoying myself.

Then we have the clueless people. These are the people out biking or running or walking, but who seem to not realize it. They intend to make it exercise, rather than just go for a nice walk outside, yet they don't seem to quite realize their own intent. They are also dressed head to toe in spandex, but it usually doesn't match, is a strange off-color of some sort, and truthfully should not be on their bodies in public. They wear headphones so they can 'rock out' to their favorite tunes while 'exercising', including air-drumming. They wander about at a ridiculously slow pace, often in the middle of the trail or path, creating a hazard for others to avoid, oblivious to other exercising people around them. They bike so slowly that it is a wonder they even have enough momentum to remain upright. They seem to think they are exercising and getting a good workout, yet they only break a sweat because they are wearing too many layers of spandex. Not at all professional or serious, definitely not attractive, but apparently enjoying themselves.

Finally, there are the random people who exercise in packs doing something odd. These are the ten or so people dressed alike in matching spandex jerseys and shorts, rollerblading at high speeds within inches of each other, at a lake where rollerbladers rarely exist. Are they training for an event? What event would that be? We don't have a large rollerblading population as an organized sport in this area. So the question begs to be asked, what the heck are they doing? And why are they all doing it together, in unison?

Now, aside from these categories of people according to look and attire, no matter how professional or non-professional you may be, or how much fun you may or may not be having, people just look funny while exercising. There's no way around it. Your category of exercising is really a moo point when it comes to anyone's ability to not look funny while exercising.

Yes, I said moo point. Cows look funny while exercising, too. Therefore, their opinion doesn't matter.

The 'professionals' think they look good, but in thinking they look good, they actually look funny. They breathe in rhythm. They run or cycle in some sort of odd form that is supposed to be proper technique, but in all reality, it just looks funny. Some of them have an interesting spring to their step, or a creative arm flail or hand flop. They all have seriously intense looks on their faces, as if their face needs a workout along with the rest of their bodies. They are in the 'zone'. Even though the 'zone' makes them look funny.

The semi-professionals try to look good, but we don't. We huff and puff and try to keep up with the professionals whizzing past us, but we can't keep up. We take pride in being able to valiantly pass the non-professionals. We deal with things like superfluous amounts of snot that accompany us as we pedal, for some reason brought on by exercise. This causes us to sniff while trying to also breath, resulting in hyperventilation. We look great going downhill or pedaling on flat surfaces, but when hills or wind attack we lose all focus and pretty much crawl our way to the top and out of the wind. We have basic good form, but we are easily distracted by birds or small children or other exercisers who look and perform better than we do. Personally, when fully suited up and in full cycling mode, I tend to resemble a gangly praying mantis of sorts, complete with bug-eyed sunglasses, a head protected by a large helmet-like shell, and extraneously lengthy limbs flailing about. We search for the 'zone', and we see it pass us several times a day. Sometimes we catch it for a bit. Mostly, we miss it.

The non-professionals could care less if they look good, yet they secretly think they do look good. Their faces are red, even though they haven't exerted enough energy to justify raising their heartrate. They feed the ducks as they walk. They talk on cell phones. They carry weights equalling up to 1lb, waving their arms back and forth as though they are getting a complete upper body workout to go with their leisurely stroll. Some of these people have dogs wandering with them. These people have no idea a 'zone' exists, and therefore exist in more of a Twilght Zone void of real exercise, more than anything else. These people wonder why they never quite get in shape, even though they are frequently out of doors, wandering about.

The random people look funny simply because they are completely out of place, yet their matching spandex would indicate that they feel we all need to notice just how out of place they are. They make a bold statement about whatever it is they are doing, trying to impress everyone else. Yet they are more annoying than in any way taken seriously. They look extremely funny. Together. In unison.

Of course, this doesn't sum up everyone who gets out for some exercise now and then. There are always people who just don't fit into one category or another. But whatever your motivation for exercising in the form of your choice, from one funny looking exerciser to the rest of you, thanks for the entertainment.


Friday, May 09, 2003

More Nudity You Will Not Find Here
Buck Naked Tennis anyone?

Can I just say, eeeyeewwww? And, ouch??


Sinead O'Connor Update
After this major decision, Sinead has now decided her new career will be to teach religion.

Now, my question is, do we really want the person who tore up a picture of the Pope on national television involved in any way teaching religion to youngsters, or pursuing other pastoral care?

You decide for yourself.


Nothing Happened
I saw something disturbing last night. I saw a kid on a bike get hit by a car.

I was headed to my late night softball game. The street where the fields are located is very dark, but very busy. There are no streetlights on this stretch of road. People drive down it at high speeds, so it's not exactly the safest place to drive, let alone ride a bike at night, in the dark. I turned onto the street and wasn't really paying attention to much except messing with my cd player. But when I looked up, I saw a kid or young man struggling on a bike on the other side of the road in the oncoming traffic. He was wobbling along, not really riding, kinda half falling over, half pedaling, no momentum. Then I saw a car driving slowly behind him speed up a bit and run into him, knocking him off his bike and onto the pavement.

It took a second for me to realize what I'd just seen. It had all happened in just a few seconds, so I really wasn't sure what I'd witnessed. I also tend to freeze up when I see car or bike incidents occur. Bad memories and personal experience. My heart stops, and I immediately think worst case scenario. So this scene shocked me, and my mind immediately began to scramble about what to do.

The car hadn't hit him hard, but it had definitely caused the kid to fall off his bike, possibly injured. It almost looked like it could have been some other kids in a car picking on this kid on the bike, driving slowly behind him then going too far with the prank by actually bumping into him. As it happened and I passed the incident, I suddenly slowed down. Several cars slowed down on the other side of the road near the kid. I didn't know what to do. I had never actually called 911 before, but I had never seen anyone on a bike get hit by a car. I now had my phone in my hand pondering if this was a 911 moment.

He laid there for just a second, then slowly got up and moved his mangled bike over to the sidewalk. He walked slowly, but didn't indicate in his movements that he was hurt. He also didn't seem upset or angry. Maybe he was stunned. I wasn't close enough to see much detail, but he just seemed to wander out of the way, dragging his bike along with him. The car that had hit him had taken off, and a few other cars were still stopped, but it was hard to tell if they realized what had just happened and had stopped to help, or if they were just waiting for him to get out of their way.

This is not a very good part of town. This street is really dark. I really didn't know what to do, being alone, young, female and in an unsafe neighborhood. I kept watching the scene in my mirror for a minute or two. This all happened in a very short amount of time, and I couldn't think fast enough to keep up with what I was trying to see to make sense of it. My car was a ways up the road past the incident. I wanted to go back and see if he was okay, but I also didn't want to be the girl who went missing after stopping on an unsafe street to help a stranger late at night. This may not have been the right time to be selfish about my own safety, but I nevertheless found myself considering if it was safe enough for me to assist someone possibly in need.

I watched for another second, seeing a few cars stop on that side of the road and look, then move on. Were they checking on the kid? Was he okay? Was this really no big deal? Over, just like that? Then I realized I couldn't see the kid anymore. I'd lost sight of him in the dark shadows on the sidewalk. Cars were moving on that side of the road, as normal. As far as I could tell, he was gone.

I noticed I was stopped in the middle of the street, and since the kid must have been okay enough to get out of the street and go somewhere else, and no one else seemed concerned about what had just happened, I decided to pull into the parking lot and head to the field for the game. I felt uneasy about this, having just witnessed an accident, now heading to my softball game as if that was no big deal. I took my phone with me as I walked to the field, staring over at the street where I'd seen the incident. I was still prepared to call 911 if I saw something indicating that needed to be done. I was still looking for the kid along the side of the road in the distance, but it was so dark I couldn't see anything. No more cars stopped, no one else had called an ambulance, no police arrived. The street seemed dark and quiet as usual, traffic flowing normally as if nothing had just happened. I asked a few other people standing around if they'd noticed it from where they stood. They were close enough to the street to be able to see or hear an accident occur. They hadn't seen or heard anything.

Did I imagine it? Did I not see what really happened? Is this a common occurrance on this street? Maybe the kid just fell off his bike? Maybe he was messing around, getting spooked by cars behind him? Maybe he wasn't being safe on his bike? Maybe he was older than he looked at first glance in the dark, and possibly drunk? He was pretty wobbly before he ended up off his bike and on the pavement. I just didn't know. But the whole scene bugged me for much of the night.

When the game finished and we headed home, I drove slowly out onto the street to scan once more for any signs of the kid, the bike, or anything that had happened. I looked as hard as I could into the dark, but I saw nothing. Not even pieces of a bike. No trace of anything unusual. As far as life on this street was concerned, nothing had happened.

I'm disturbed that someone can get hit by a car, and it's as though nothing happened. I'm disturbed that I had to stop and think about whether it was safe enough for me to stop and help, or even just to check on the kid and what really happened.

I'm disturbed that I saw nothing happen.


Thursday, May 08, 2003

Ventriloquist Painting
One of the latest searches for cynicism lead someone here longing for 'the ventriloquist painting'. Therefore, I will write a story based on this hot topic. Warning: following is possibly a really bad story.

Once upon a time, there was a ventriloquist. His name was Vincent. As a child he'd dreamed of becoming a world famous ventriloquist. Instead of playing with the other kids outside, as a normal young boy would do, he'd spend hours alone in his room, speaking without moving his lips, having complete conversations with his stuffed teddy bear, G.I. Joe, and a tattered rag doll given to him by his crazy Aunt Petunia who always wished he'd been a girl. He was embarrassed of the rag doll, yet it held a certain charm when it came to practicing throwing his voice. It seemed to understand his intense desire to become a world reknown ventriloquist. The rag doll became his best friend. Vincent named the doll Randy.

As he grew older, he perfected his craft of ventriloquism. For his sixteenth birthday, instead of wishing for a new car to go with his new driver's license, he asked for the envy of all ventriloquists far and wide, the V-2000 Ventriloquist Dummy Deluxe. Vincent's parents had long since given up on having a normal child interested in normal things, but they took great care in making sure Vincent was happy. So as Vincent awoke on the morning of his sixteenth birthday, he was startled to find a V-2000 staring at him from next to his bed. He screamed, then struck up a conversation with himself that has since never ended.

Soon Vincent abandoned Randy the Rag Doll, and the V-2000 became his constant companion. He named it Vaughn, and they were truly inseparable. Vincent and Vaughn participated in the school's talent show, to the sounds of boos and hisses from the student audience. Vaughn accompanied Vincent to his senior prom, much to the amusement of his fellow students. As Vincent graduated valedictorian of his high school class, his speech honored his most dear and loyal friend, Vaughn. As the two buddies bantered back and forth on stage in front of the entire student body, friends, and family, it became clear to Vaughn that his lifelong dream of becoming the most famous ventriloquist in history was about to begin. He knew he would be a star.

For the next several years, Vincent struggled to find his place in the world of ventriloquism. He found it to be a tough market, full of fierce competition and an overall lack of interest from mainstream entertainment. However, there was a small niche of loyal ventriloquist followers, and soon he became a legend in the quaint world of ventriloquism.

As his career continued, many up-and-comers in the world of ventriloquism began stealing Vincent's and Vaughn's spotlight. They were young and hip, incorporating all kinds of new-fangled intricacies into their performances. Vaughn was no longer the top of the line model, and he was beginning to show his age. Vincent's jokes and conversations were becoming dull and out of date. He knew he needed a 'hook', a splash of something more colorful, to stand out from the rest of the common ventriloquists saturating the market. But what could he do? His answer was soon to come.

During a show near a PETA demonstration, Vincent and Vaughn mistakenly staged their show dangerously close to the angry demonstrators. As they began their routine, the PETA mob erroneously assumed Vincent and Vaughn were part of the Proud Fur-Wearing Podiatrists convention. The protestors began throwing paint at the Podiatrists, and before Vincent could carry Vaughn to safety, they were doused by buckets of red and white paint.

At first, Vincent was distraught. He was covered with paint, as was Vaughn. The more they dodged the paint, the more ferociously they were pursued by the PETA mob. As Vincent continued his conversation with Vaughn through the paint attack, he noticed he was attracting a lot of attention, including passersby and media. People were cheering for him, and laughing at him. He was red and white from head to toe, and he suddenly realized this splash of color was exactly the 'splash of color' he needed to revolutionize the world of ventriloquism.

Under the marketing expertise of Vaughn the V-2000, Vincent worked to develop the extreme sport of Ventriloquist Painting. It combines the refined artistic experience of an upscale ventriloquist show, with the sport and raw, unleashed creative passion of a good old fashioned paint throwing. His number one sponsor is PETA, and through this partnership of Vincent, Vaughn, and PETA, Ventriloquist Painting is the world famous, highly reknowned, extreme sport known internationally today.

The End

That could be the worst story ever.