It’s Not Exactly Good For You When It’s Fresh, Either

Is there some state regulation mandating that any vending machine or coffee dispenser put in an auto shop must be ancient?  Any time I have to take my car in I end up seeing a coffee pot powered by coal and a soda machine that probably had a “bottles-to-cans” conversion performed some time during the Carter administration.  Despite looking like a prop from The Grapes of Wrath I’ve always had faith that the sugar water cans inside at least get changed out every quarter or so.

As usually happens when I have faith in something, a minor incident has shattered the whole thing.  I had to take my car in for its legally-mandated state inspection, which is always my one Libertarian day a year.  John Galt wouldn’t get his car inspected by the government to see if its turn signals worked, he’d rather just get rear-ended in the name of principle and pontificate on it for seven pages like every Ayn Rand character.

The inspector was finishing up another job, so the store gave me the gift of about 20 minutes of Me Time.  The TV wasn’t working and my smartphone’s battery was just ready to quit, so like a good American I went for Plan C – gorging myself on artificial sweeteners when I’m neither hungry nor thirsty.  So I strolled over to the machine, took a look at my choices, and saw…this:

2005.  This can has been there since I was a sophomore in college.  I don’t even remember who won that Super Bowl.  Pepsi doesn’t even have that logo anymore!  That can predates an entire corporate re-branding that happened years ago!  And I know what you’re thinking – “that’s just the display soda, the real soda in the machine is from 2009 at the earliest.” We’ll never know because the button was too busy being old and having an arrow painted on it to actually work.  My guess is the spring went on strike due to unhygenic working conditions.  So I didn’t get to see what decade the Pepsi can came from; it’ll be Schroedinger’s Can forever.

From now on I think I’ll bring a bottled water when I get my car inspected.

Dear Dear Prudence, Volume I

Every week Slate, an online magazine that’s a lot like if Gawker was written by the editors of The New Yorker, runs an advice column called Dear Prudence.  Written by D.C.-based Emily Yoffe, the column is similar in format to Dear Abby (ask your parents) and covers a range of topics such as manners, etiquette, familial relations, and of course how to deal with the weird sexual kinks of our loved ones.  At least one of those makes it into the column a week.  Drink when you hit it.

Her answers tend to be thoughtful and well-reasoned, but many of these questions deal with issues that are just a little thorny to be answered from only one perspective.  With that in mind, I bring you Dear Dear Prudence.  Each week I will “help” Ms. Yoffe navigate the turbulent waters of anonymous people’s problems.  Let us start off with last week’s column, dated September 1.

Dear Prudence,
I’m a mother of two attending graduate school and constantly in need of quiet time to study. My husband is a great help, but with two toddlers he’s got his hands full. His father often asks to take our daughter to help “lighten the load” but doesn’t ask to take our son, as well. I don’t like my father-in-law because of comments he’s made about women in general and me in particular. He has also served time for drug-related offenses earlier in his life. But I don’t want my feelings to taint my children’s view of their grandfather. He’s recently converted to a neo-Buddhist religion in which he “lives in the now” and tries to get everyone around him to be “enlightened” and forgiving about things that happened in the past. I keep getting this strange notion that something is inherently evil about this man, though he’s tried hard to convince everyone that he’s a new person. Do you think that people can really change in such a significant way that it’d be safe to let him spend time with my kids? Or should I trust my instincts and allow only supervised visits or no contact? My husband doesn’t like his father but humors him so that he doesn’t “have to deal with him.”

—Conflicted Mother

Her father is possibly a child molester and wants to babysit her kids!   We have our weird sex letter of the week, everybody drink a shot!  My first takeaway from this letter is the phrase “inherently evil.”  That is so broadly damning it’s almost hard to take seriously.  How many other people does she think are inherently evil?  Society thinks his worst crimes were drug offenses, which you can probably toss in the Reagan Bin, and she doesn’t say anything about having been molested herself.  What did he do that she’s not telling us about?  Did he chew loudly with his mouth open?  Murder Robert F. Kennedy?  It’s a bit of a leap from “bad father who went to jail for riding the snake” to “kiddie cornholer.”  For the sake of argument let’s take that leap and assume he has an XBox and a 6-pack of Bartles & Jaymes ready to pull out of his van the moment an unattended child crosses his path.  How bad would that be for her kid really?  There are certainly worse things than being molested.  Hell, if anything it builds character.  I grew up Catholic and we used to have this old saying in Youth Group – “walk it off.”  The kid’s gonna have her world shattered someday, you might as well let their granddad take care of it early during Secret Special Time.

Well that was a slam-dunk, on to the next question! Continue reading

Eddie Murphy to Host The Oscars, Finally Embraces Not Being Funny Anymore

Remember that time Eddie Murphy stormed out of the Oscars like a PMSing Katherine Heigl after losing Best Supporting Actor to Daniel Day-Lewis?  That was pretty much like crying yourself to sleep because ‘roids-era Mark McGwire got a hit off one of your pitches.  He was nominated for Dreamgirls – when was the last time anyone watched Dreamgirls?  Until today I forgot that was even a movie.  He lost to Daniel Day-Lewis for his part in Gangs of New York, the best character in a legitimately good movie, and was so offended that he piled his entourage – Judge Reinhold and Hector Elizondo – into his panel van to go drink Scotch and watch the rough cut of Norbit.  Classy move.

Well, The Academy was so impressed with him that they have given Brett Ratner what he wants, which couldn’t possibly be a bad decision.  It’ll be nearly unwatchable, as the Oscars often are, and it got me thinking about the man himself.  Eddie Murphy, despite being an incredibly gifted comedian in the 80s, probably has the least-developed sense of irony in Hollywood.  Don’t believe me?  Look what he did the second he had any clout:

The man is a black hole of irony.  It gets sucked into him and consumed.  He’s perfect for the tap-dancing, drink-when-Jack-Nicholson-wears-sunglasses-indoors Oscars!  Can’t wait.

You Can Add “Oregon” To The List of Things Maryland Is Not

As my friends over at Gobble Gobble Gameday have no doubt noticed, tonight’s Maryland-Miami football game is looking a bit…ugly.  The play has been fine, with short-handed Miami currently trailing Maryland.  Miami’s defense is being pretty well outpaced by Maryland’s offense, but Miami’s Special Teams squad probably has some surprises in store for them.

The real story, though, is Maryland’s uniforms.  They’ve done it – the always-overrated Maryland, who is perennially “poised” to make a run at the ACC Championship but never fails to disappoint – they’ve found a new way to suck.  Have a look:

Photo Hat Tip: SportsGrid

Jesus Christ.  They look like an anime version of Lord Baltimore projectile-vomited onto an Under-Armour shirt (side-note: Why does Under-Armour get to use the “-our” version while flying an American flag?).  I know what you’re thinking – but what about the shoes?  Behold:

Photo by Patrick Semansky - AP

FAB-U-LOUS!  This right here is proof that money plays too big a role in college football.  I know season-opener unis can get a little weird but this is insane.

“Oh, I should totally post this on my blog. Yea, I have one, it’s no big deal.”

A blog is the ultimate act of vanity.  I should know, I used to have one.  You write an entry, you post it, send up a flare in your social media circles so that your friends are now aware that a brick of thought-hash has made its way from your brain to your keyboard or touchscreen or voice input device, then you wait.  You try to pretend you’ve moved on with your day but if you’re writing something for your blog then most likely the valuable part of your day is gone.  The meat is consumed – blogging is simply chewing on the marrow of one’s own existence.

Sure, every once in a while you hit one with a purpose.  The one where Amy Adams cooks her way through a five-pound cook book had purpose.  So much purpose dripped from its unrested slices that it was collected in a tupperware and turned into a Nora Ephron movie.  And said movie of course included a scene where her friends all “informed” her of how popular her little site was.  As if she didn’t know.  “Who, me?”  Yes, you.  Don’t try to pretend you weren’t watching StatCounter, damn you.  Nobody’s that spunky.  She, this person avatar-embodied in Amy Adams, made abso-darn-lutely sure that the movie version of this period in her life – her shining moment – had a footnote making it clear that this was all a surprise.  She never imagined this billboard to her overgrown life-consuming hobby, a distraction from her job answering telephones for some enterprise I can’t remember (Ink cartridges?  Sure, ink cartridges.).  Never once spent the better part of a bowel movement contemplating how her uptight friend (Cindy?  Sure, Cindy.) would never see her the same again once this momentous effort of hers became public.

You may have Nora Ephron fooled, Amy Adams, but you don’t fool me.  I know what you were thinking when you wrote that blog and when you submitted that post and when you made that bowel movement.  “I just read it, it’s great!”  Yea, that’s the stuff.  Like crack, only it doesn’t disable your spawn.

So here I am, chasing that high.  I used to chase it, years ago until it got lost in a haze of alcohol and near-failure.  I’m back where I should be – clear-headed and world-aware enough to know that there is something wrong with every god damned thing I lay my eyes on.  And I’m going to let you all in on it.

Welcome back to Fantastic Manliness, you bastards.