Monday, March 30, 2009

mission accomplished

i did it.

at approximately 6 pm on saturday evening, i got my truck in gear. it's fixed.

after 6 long weeks of spending every weekend stymied about how to make the stupid thing work, today it finally happened.

if you remember correctly, i was very excited and feeling extremely manly at the beginning of this affair, but my enthusiasm was completely misplaced and waned faster than ralph macchio's acting career.

i get it now. now i understand how michael phelps felt after winning 8 gold medals, how columbus felt when he discovered america, how what's his name felt when he discovered the cure to polio, how graham-bell must have felt when he made that first phone call...

i got more: doc brown discovered the flux-capacitor, general patton and the battle of the bulge, sir edumund hillary climbed mt. everest, peter jackson finished the lord of the rings trilogy, freddie prinze jr. finally got rachel leigh cook in 'she's all that,' calvin finished 'the institutes,' george w. bush defeated terrorism, the two nerds created 'lisa' in 'weird science,' that kid finally freed willy, jordan won six titles...

i am among greatness.

feels good to be a winner. feels good to accomplish something.


few other topics to touch upon to make it worth your price of admission:

* new phone for the bragg man: the lg vu. it's a touch screen and it's awesome. i have two free months of tv on this thing. anytime i want i can watch tv on my cell phone... how sweet is that? technology... making every spare moment a waste of time.

* ncaa march madness bracket pool results: disaster. i managed to get one of my final four picks right this year. awful. just awful. i'm ashamed to be me.

* opening day this coming monday. for us cincinnati fans, that means eating a big breakfast, walking over to the opening day parade, and then walking to a bar and watching the game while drinking cheap beer and eating greasy foods. this is my fourth celebration of this event and it is a highlight of the year.

* speaking of baseball, had my fantasy draft a couple of weekends ago. i'm excited about my team but ethan projects me to finish next-to-last. screw you and your numbers and projections ethan.

* tim keller is just great. i've been listening to his sermons on 'the reasons for God' and they just keep blowing me away over and over again. i wish i was smart.

* 'taking the stage', the new mtv reality show about the "school for creative and performing arts" right here in cincinnati, oh, is a great way to spend thursday evenings from 10-11. with the office and 30 rock leading into that dynamite show, thursdays are looking pretty good.

* heidi was super sick last week. it was rough. but she's better now, so that's good. she's pretty cute when she's miserable and helpless. i took care of her like a good husband should.

* the new 'where the wild things are' trailer is up and it looks pretty sweet. if i were more tech-savvy i would post a link, but i'm sure you can figure it out. kevin was right when he mockingly texted me and said that i must have been in heaven to see my favorite story coming to life with arcade fire as the soundtrack.

* the book of judges (the bible) is just brutal. i think all men should be required to read it once a year in order to get in touch with carnal instincts.

* brian kazarian wrote a created a delightful 'greatest prom song bracket' that you should check out.

* first cookout of the year at the bragg's this past weekend. it was a great time. nothing better than a bunch of friends hanging out around the grill, drinking beer and eating meat. i can think of nothing i enjoy more.

* that's all

Thursday, March 19, 2009

city of men

well the results are in.

a complete list of "the manliest cities in america" has been released and i have a lot to say about it.

if you're like me, you probably didn't clink on the above link, so stop reading, click on the link and read the article so we can all sit down and have an intelligent and meaningful conversation about this whole thing... (i'll wait).

alright, now that you've perused the article, you are aware that this study was commissioned by "combos." i can't remember the last time i ate combos, so i guess i'm not much of a man.

but before you start to feel sorry for me, and err in thinking that my masculinity is minimal, consider that i live in cincinnati, OH. that's right, no. 4 on the list.

naturally, after looking for my own city on the list, i began to look around to see where my friends reside and how manly their cities are: and i will tell you that i'm troubled.

kevin, in chicago, IL, comes in 46th.
taylor and etha, in los angeles, CA (orange county, whatever), rank 49th out of 50 (ouch).
brian and duane from san diego, CA register at a lowly 43rd.
billy, kicking it up in columbus, OH, is just a little less manly than i, sitting in 7th place.
keith (the commish) resides somewhere in the sacramento, CA area, and registers at 41.
russ lives in washington DC, and he is 45th.
nate and brandon don't make the list 'cause humboldt just isn't big enough, but having grown up in humboldt, i can tell you that it is the manliest place on earth.

you may expect me to ridicule my friends for their effeminate lifestyles, but i won't. instead, i am in consideration of just getting some new friends, and i'm starting my search in nashville, TN, charlotte, NC, and oklahoma city, OK. if anybody from one of those cities reads this blog, feel free to ask me out on a man date.

i suppose most of you will complain that the actual criteria used to determine these rankings, and you may have a point. here are the categories again, from the report:

sports --- major league teams and "the number of nearby NASCAR tracks and events, NHRA events, local drag racing strips, monster truck events and triathlons/marathons were analyzed."

manly lifestyle --- "the number of US-made cars and full-size pickups registered in the city, membership in motorcycle owner groups, sports TV viewing, bowling, fishing, hunting, woodworking and home improvement work" were some of the criteria for this category.

manly retail stores --- "including BBQ and chicken wing restaurants, steak houses and sports bars, sportsman stores, general hardware and home improvement stores."

manly magazine subscriptions --- "the percentage of households subscribing to manly publications - Sports Illustrated, Car & Driver, Maxim, Playboy, Men’s Health, Popular Mechanics, Boating, etc."

salty snack sales --- "total sales for the “Salty Snack/Cracker” retail. Combos is a product in this business category."

obviously the salty snack sales category can be thrown out, because that's just stupid.

i don't subscribe to any magazines, and i'm as manly as they come, so that category is dumb as well.

i love that BBQ and chicken wings are synonymous with masculinity. that's good.

and of course, sports are quintessential in any man's life.

if i may get serious for a moment, perhaps a "husband/father" category could have been included. how many guys are married and faithful to their wives and are raising their kids... that's pretty manly. also, what is the employment rate in each city. being unemployed and mooching off the government is very un-manly. what about church membership? i go to church every week and meet some of the manliest men there. i think that is saying something.

what are we supposed to do with all this information? obviously nothing. cincinnati, OH is not a manly place. i'm really not buying it. in fact, if you did a poll of "places people actually want to live" just flip the list upside-down, and you have an accurate picture. would you rather live in nashville, TN or los angeles, CA? when was the last time anybody gave a thought to toledo, OH? look at the epicenters of our society, los angeles, new york, chicago, san diego, DC, seattle... perhaps not "manly" but at the very least, "better."

i really don't have anything more to add. i'm going to go be manly and eat some salty snacks with an eye toward a triple bypass surgery in the future to correct my out-of-this-world cholesterol. feels good to be a man, sitting on my manly couch, in my manly house, in this manly city.

and by the way, as an update to my previous post of being a man and feeling great about it... well i still haven't fixed that stupid truck and i'm pissed about it. if fixing cars is what it means to be a man... i want to quit.

oh yeah, PITT, louisville, UNC and memphis in the final four. it's in the book. although, through the first three games of the day, i'm sitting at 0-3 so perhaps you shouldn't take my word for anything anymore.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


i am working on a real entry that i will post later this week, but the other day something happened to me that has happened on average of once-a-week for the past year and a half.

in the course of each week, i go to a bunch of schools to visit my clients.

if you've ever met me, you know that i'm tall, handsome and hairy. when i walk into a school, kids look at me and whisper/shout things like, "you're tall," along with gasps and laughter...

you know how white people are often accused of thinking all black people look the same? i'm thinking of the seinfeld episode where george thinks that his boss looks like sugar ray leonard and invites the exterminator to lunch with him so that his boss will see that george is in fact, not racist, and has black friends.

well, if such stereotypes, generalizations and oversights happen against black people by white people on a regular basis, then i am a victim of this phenomenon reversed.

on numerous occasions i get this question/comment: "i think that's carson palmer," or "hey, are you carson palmer?"

do i look like carson palmer? not really. i'm tall, handsome and have stubble and/or a beard. if that makes me a carson palmer look-a-like, then so-be-it.

i have, on one occasion, actually signed carson's name on a spiral-bound notebook. if this offends you carson, then i am sorry. it was all in good fun.

thinking about this leads me back to the one major regret/"what if" of my life:

when i was growing up, my parents would never let me play football. the pee-wee league played it's games on sunday mornings and it was impermissible that i would be allowed to join a team, and thus miss church every week during the season. every year the sign-ups were announce. every year i begged my parents to let me play. every year was rebuffed with extreme prejudice. every year i threw the football to my goat in the back yard, dreaming about what it would be like to play football.

by the time i got into high school, and games were played under the 'friday night lights' i was too far behind to catch up, and then my mom played the whole, "football is too violent. you'll get hurt. join the boy scouts instead..." card. yeah mom, like boy scouts is any sort of replacement for football. thanks for that.

i've always wondered what it would have been like to play football. i never got to suit up in pads. i've never hit somebody with brute force, or been crushed by a defender as i tried to muscle my way for the first down.

a few years back, when i lived in orange county, my friends brian, ethan, taylor and eric tried to develop a plan where i would be trained and send in a video to some college in order to become the starting quarterback. if i would have known that it is so easy to mistake me for carson palmer, i might have actually went through with the whole plan.

but it never happened. we would sit around, drink some beers, and joke about the drills i would complete and how i would work on my spiral and what it would be like when i became a big star and have my own entourage. but it never came to pass.

and think about it. i would have still ended up here. i was just outside of LA, so i would have gone to USC and taken carson palmer's starting gig, and then the bengals would have picked me first overall in the 2003 draft, and i would have met heidi at some charity event for kids without shoes, we would fall in love and get hitched and life would be pretty similar, except we'd be rich.

i guess it was never meant to be. and i'm perfectly ok with that, but i can't help but wonder, "what if..."

Sunday, March 1, 2009

be a man

as i type this, my fingers are stained with motor oil, car grease and whatever else my pickup has picked up on it's undercarriage for the past 15 years. i washed my hands for 20 minutes yesterday and the stuff just won't come off. it's under my finger nails and entrenched in the recesses of my dry skin, and i love it.

for the past three weekends the captain (captain carl - my father-in-law) and i have been tediously and meticulously attempting to replace the clutch in my 1993 chevy S-10 pickup. the labor costs at a shop were in excess of $300 so we decided to do it ourselves. with haste and optimism, i ran down to the library, picked up a copy of chilton's and got to work.

keep in mind the following factors: (A) it's been bitterly cold here in the NKY. we have not seen a day above 39 degrees to do this work. last weekend, there was ice on the ground and eventually snow coming down from above, but we worked all the same. (B) we don't really know what we are doing. sure, carl has done some work on cars in his lifetime, but we're pretty much just loosening bolts and putting stuff where we think it should go. (C) carl has a lot of tools (the sign of a real man) but we don't have all the right tools. for instance, the truck itself is jacked up on some janky structures, and each step of the way, when we can't get a bolt to come undone, or when we're not sure how to fasten some piece of metal to another, we just find a tool, whether it be a lead pipe or a chisel, to make it work (for instance, we used a saws-all to cut through a bolt that we couldn't get off of the barrel housing (that's right, i just dropped a mechanical term on you... deal with it) and took part of the frame with it. NBD). and (D) there is a terrifying prospect that we have done something (or many things) wrong and this will all be one giant headache that gets us nowhere.

why do i share all of this information with you (other than to illicit your sympathy)? because i feel like a man. at the end of every day that we work on this piece of junk, i come into the house covered in grease, with my fingers falling off from near-frostbite, and my back and arms sore and tired and i couldn't be happier about it. my clothes are ruined and my eyes have specs of metal and crud in them and i feel like a million bucks.

i grew up in the country. growing up, my weekends consisted of chopping and stacking firewood, mowing the lawn, filling pot holes on our gravel road, trimming goats' hooves, painting fences, making and setting aflame large brush piles, and various other manual labor projects.

then i moved to southern california and lost all ties to my masculinity. no longer did i have need for work boots or gloves. no longer did i toil under the midday sun. i spent my time at the beach and studying systematic theologies. i began to care about my appearance and spent my money on fancy clothes and took time to make my hair look good. i don't regret any of this, but i forgot what it was to be a hard-working man.

well it's all coming back to me now. i now understand how a manual clutch works on a motor vehicle. i can point to a variety of pieces of metal in a car and tell you what they are, and perhaps what they do. each day as i place my body underneath a ton of rusted metal, and pray to God that the thing doesn't collapse on me and sever my lower half from my torso (a distinct possibility if you could see the way we have the truck jacked up. heidi is continually terrified that i will actually die as a result of being crushed by this truck), i am vindicated by a return to the value of hard work.

so if the reader would take heed of some simple advice, get to work. build something, destroy something... just because it's a blast to swing a sledge hammer. change your oil of your car or lubricate the chain on your 10-speed bike. pile up a bunch of junk, douse it with gasoline and watch it burn. drink russian imperial stout and smoke a cigar (i hate cigars, but according to my friend kenny, that is what makes a man). take some pieces of wood, a hammer and some nails and just start swinging the hammer. make sure you allow the head of the hammer to demolish your thumb and while you scream every explicative you have ever heard or conceived, smile wide, knowing that you are a man. and that's the best thing you could be (unless you are a woman, in which case i will refrain from making any comments here because i know that i already will get torn apart by the two female readers of this entry).

i am a man. and you're welcome.