Funny

Camptathalon 2019

Veering away from the ‘Rona Madness to finally get around to posting the Camptathalon results from last year.

Unlike 2018, no natural disasters ruined our festivities. Unless you count “snow in May” as a natural disaster, because that did put a little hitch in our giddyup this time around. Our campsite was set to open on the Friday of our camping weekend, three to four weeks later than usual. We had reservations for that night. But a couple of us headed up a night early, figuring if the snow wasn’t going to be a problem Friday, how bad could Thursday be? Turns out the campsite needed the official blessing of the Forest Service to be opened. And we all know that nothing expedites a process like a federal bureaucracy.

But hey, I got to see a tree fall in a forest. It makes sound.

For those of you reading your first Camptathalon Blog, we keep a running log of things said and did. Most are intentionally out of context.

What is Camptathalon? Find out here.

Enjoy.

Thursday.
1:00 Campsite closed. Fuck you.
20190614_094949.jpg
1:15 Find some random remote spot. Free. That’s $24 the Forest Service will never see.
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2:49 First sighting of other human beings since we arrived at spot – PG & E Truck
3:20 Water’s fucking cold. Add Polar Bear Competition to Camptathalon? Sparky lasted 37 seconds.
5:30 Relocate to a second site because it has a picnic table and a shitter.
5:50 We fixed your fire pit for you, Forest Service. Is that worth $24?
20190613_181853.jpg6:20 Dinner: Burger & Chips
7:45 “Probably shouldn’t pee in front of that camera.”
“That’s not a camera.”
“What is it, then?”
“I don’t know.”
“We should totally zipline that motherfucker.”
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Friday
6:45 “I brought the coffee grinder because last year you brought good beans and we couldn’t grind them.”
“Oh, I brought ground coffee, because last year I brought good beans and we couldn’t grind them.”
7:40 Shitter’s closed. But the picnic table is nice.
7:50 “I just did something I haven’t done in twenty years.”
“Did you just dig a hole?”
“Nope. I didn’t have a shovel.”
8:40 Pack up camp again. Moving to third site in last twenty hours
9:00 Campsite’s still closed. But the “Road Closed” sign’s moved to the side. Hope?
9:12 Ranger: “It’s still going to be a few hours. I need to look at each campsite. Hopefully I’m done by noon. Please move your cars so I don’t have to come out and explain this to others.
9:22 Filling up ice chests with snow. Saving money left and right.
9:50 Setting up chairs across the street from campsite, like Black Friday shoppers.
9:59 Camp host drives by. “You guys waiting to get in?”
“What gave you that idea?”
10:05 “Hey, Mr. Forest Guy, I’ll give you a Dirty Wookie if you open this place.”
“Which kind of Dirty Wookie?”
(Transcriber’s Note: Dirty Wookie is the name of a beer. On Urban Dictionary, it has a rather different definition. I’ll politely not provide a link.)
10:15 Host and Forest Guy are talking loudly just to fuck with those assholes sitting across the street.
10:22 Host and Forest Guy leave. Sign’s still up.
10:40 Tree chopper arrives.
10:42 “It’s still going to be a while. You guys want to go fish or swim or something?”
“We got nowhere to be, and this is what we’d be doing if we were in our campsite. Except with beer instead of soda.”
10:49 Rick arrives. Now there’s three camp chairs sitting patiently across the street.
10:58 “I won’t reveal the Loser Libation yet, but it is much worse than Bud Ice.”
11:08 Rick has to move his car because it’s in the fall zone. Then they ask him to just block the road.
20190614_110910.jpg11:09 We’re helping. That’s worth more than a Dirty Wookie.
11:12 “You can stop blocking the road now.”
“No way. Now I’ve had the taste of power.”
11:15 Any way we can turn tree chopping into a Camptathalon event?
11:16 Camp Host takes “Road Closed” sign out to road, singing “Signs, Signs, everywhere there’s signs. Do you know what that means? Get the FUCK out of my road!”
(Transcriber’s Note: Camp Host is a late-60’s female hippie, looks like a grandma)
11:21 Did I hear that right? “We’re Open?”
11:31 I must not have heard that right.
11:41 Rick busts out the Fireball on the side of the road.
11:50 Fuck this. Let’s go have lunch at the resort.
12:42 “I’ve heard in religious places like Utah, it’s not good to be a ‘stone’s throw’ from anything.”
12:51 Campsite is OPEN! The watched pot thing came true.
1:24 First beer of the weekend cracked open. Not counting the ten or so last night.
1:52 Cocks flag is up. Wisconsin Lunchbox is hung.
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2:01 Rick christened the campsite. With urine.
2:45 It’s a quarter to three and I’m drinking whiskey.
3:13 “I’ll warm up your chili for you.”
3:42 Eternal point-distribution debate. 4, 3, 2, 0? 4, 2, 1, 0? 5, 3, 2, 0? Rick says “it’s easy,” wants 2nd and 3rd place to get 3.5 and 2.5. Fuck half points.
3:47 First Score 1989 Baseball Card Pack opened by Sparky. Best Player: Bobby Thigpen, Relief Pitcher, Chicago White Sox
3:48 People move in next door. Hope they’re cool. Confidence is high.
3:52 C-17 Starlifter buzzes the camp.
4:01 Reading 1940 Baseball review. Hank Greenberg. “I believe he was a Jew.”
5:29 Chris arrives.
5:41 “I’m going to pitch a tent. Then maybe I’ll put up where I’m sleeping tonight.”
5:50 The Pube Mixe and the cheese Balls. Still undefeated after three years.
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6:09 Concerned that Chris is the favorite for the poker tournament because he hasn’t been drinking since 2:00.
6:10 Official Opening Toast

6:17 “That’s the best Dirty Wookie I’ve ever had.”
6:21 “I would give Bea Arthur a Dirty Wookie.”
6:26 Chili dinner is served. With beans this time, so it’s proper chili.
7:07 Preparations for poker.
7:15 Chris casts deciding vote to not to reward winner. First place will receive 4 points, second place: 3, third place: 2, loser: 0.
7:20 Loser Libation is…. 32 oz. Coors Banquet Beer.
7:21 Debate over which is worse Coors vs. Bud Ice.
7:22 Toast of Fireball to commemorate fire winning Camptathalon 2018.
7:42 Neighbors left. Couldn’t handle the heat. Or the stink. Buh Bye.
7:43 Blinds raise. An intermission reading from Rimmer.
(Transcriber’s Note: We bought a signed copy of a smut book by Christine Rimmer many years ago for 50 cents. It has no rimmers.)
7:55 The Cheese Balls and Pube Mixe have been open for two hours. Do your fucking job!
8:30 Rick: “I have nothing to live for.” Wins next hand.
8:43 Sparky “wins” the Loser Libation.
9:05 How can I not be betting after the flop? I’m dealing!
9:09 Things have devolved.
9:20 Rick too tossed to play better.
9:30 Rick escorted to bed, still in poker game.
9:31 Sparky: “At least he didn’t do the Loser Libation.”
9:35 First Camptathalon disqualification ever. Does DQ drop to fourth place or still get third place?
9:47 WORST. POKER GAME. EVER.
9:50 Have we ever even raised the blinds?
10:46 Sparky didn’t finish Loser Libation. Party Foul! But he did play Rick’s hands after DQ. Party win?
11:07 Tony bets big and loses.
11:16 Standings after one event: Chris 4, Tony 3, Rick 2, Sparky 0
1:31 Chris and Tony still awake. Sparky stumbles out of his hammock to take a piss. Can’t get back in.
1:34 “You okay, Sparky?” “Yeah, I’m fine.”
1:35 Sparky goes to sleep in back of truck.
1:41 Nighty Night.

Saturday
6:15 Tony: First vomit of the weekend? No. Sparky did last night.
6:16 Black vomit. That’s a new one.
6:30 Sparky jumps in the lake.
7:46 Rick attempts to read what happened last night. WTF is all this??
8:28 Hangover competition: Tony, Chris, Rick, Sparky.
8:40 Chris reveals he’s never seen any Friday the 13th or Halloween movies. His Camptathalon Pass is now provisional.
8:42 Not even 9:00 AM and we’re already talking about jizz.
9:08 Oregon Trail
9:33 Our Oregon Trail names are: Brigham, Ezekiel, Hiram, and Doug.
9:34 First beer of the day.
9:55 Chris dies on 49th card. Outskirts of Willamette and some douchebag hipster probably could’ve helped him but his oxen weren’t organic enough.
10:10 Fuck you.
10:45 Cribbage!
11:00 Travel to the Big Fucking Rock.
12:27 Back from BFR. Growler open.
12:30 “I played with your slingshot while you were gone.”

12:35 Preparation for the Jonny Goudreau Memorial Butter Toss. We forgot a target, so it’ll be Little Debbie’s face on the Nutty Buddy box.
12:45 Sparky butters directly onto Little Debbie’s face.

12:46 Standings after second event: Tony with 6 points, everyone else in a 3-way at 4 points.
12:52 We forgot the golf clubs and bocce balls, too, so this might be a very abbreviated Camptathalon.
12:55 Event three: Home Run Derby.
20190615_130456.jpg1:12 Round One: Tony 3, Chris 2, Sparky 6, Rick 2. Rick and Chris headed to a jack-off.
1:17 First jack-off tied 2-2. They have to jack-off again, just minutes after the first.
1:21 Rick wins 3-2 to advance to second round.
1:29 Second round: Rick 0, Tony 0, Sparky 1 (retired after second out). Rick was tired after two consecutive jack-offs. Not sure Tony’s excuse.
1:31 Sparky explaining the rules of a jack-off while his dick’s in his hand. (Peeing).
1:35 Tony wins jack-off 4-1.
1:41 Sparky wins H.R. Derby 3-2 (with four outs left)
1:42 After three events: Tony 9, Sparky 8, Rick 6, Chris 4
2:04 “Can I mustard you?”
2:22 Draft 80s & 90s hotties:
Draft Order: Rick, Sparky, Tony, Chris
1st rd.  Phoebe Cates, Jennifer Anniston, Bo Derek, Denise Richards
2nd rd.  Rose McGowan, Jessica Biel, Alicia Silverston, Kathy Ireland
3rd rd.  Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, Heather Graham, Catherine Zeta Jones
4th rd.  Joan Jett, Christina Applegate, Mia Sara, Selma Hayek
5th rd. Debbie Gibson, Lucy Diekens, Sarah Jessica Parker, Mila Kunis
2:34 “Is Bea Arthur taken yet?”
“It’s the 1980s, not the 1880s.”
2:41 Potential draft topics: Overrated bands, Greatest Sports Seasons (team), cocktails, Fast Food/Fast Casual, Comedies
2:55 Attempting to add Coop to Camptathalon as first-ever team competition. Winners get 4 pts, losers 2 pts.
3:22 Rick and Chris win, tightening standings. Going into final event: Tony 11, Sparky 10, Rick 10, Chris 8
3:38 Comedies Draft
Draft Order: Chris, Tony, Mark, Rick
1st Rd.  Idiocracy, Airplane!, Real Genius, Animal House
2nd Rd.  Office Space, There’s Something About Mary, Police Academy, Caddyshack
3rd Rd.  Mony Python & Holy Grail, Happy Gilmore, Billy Madison, Young Frankenstein
4th Rd.   UHF, Fletch, Major League, Blazing Saddles
5th Rd.  Team America, PCU, Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, Beverly Hills Cop
3:55 Discussion of honorable mentions: all Vacation movies, American Pie, South Park Movie, Blues Brothers, Waiting
4:07 Final Event: Cards Against Humanity
4:08 But first, another reading from Rimmer
4:52 Chris wins event with “The shambling corpse of Larry King.”
4:53 Chris complains that he won three events, won’t win Camptathalon. Is reminded that he voted to not give an extra point to event winner.
5:03 Tony takes second place in Cards Against Humanity with “Not Wearing Pants.” Wins Camptathalon despite never winning an event.
5:04 Final Standings: Tony 14, Chris 12, Sparky 11, Rick 11
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5:56 Tri-tip dinner
9:00 Rick is the unofficial Fartathalon winner.
9:30 Made it past sunset. Calling it an early night.

Sunday
6:21 The flag comes down.
6:27 The Cheese Balls used to mock us when they emerged victorious. Now they just pity us.
20190616_063613.jpg7:27 Leave campsite behind.
8:00 Greasy spoon diner has WiFi!
Fin

***No Wookies were dirtied in the course of this Camptathalon***

 

 

Coronavirus Quaran-geddon Part III

I’ve got a shirt that reads “It’s all fun and games until the beer runs out.”

I usually wear it when I’m man camping or doing some other weekend-style, fun-time activities.

When I threw it on the other day, however, it took on quite a different meaning. The beer running out seems far more imminent a threat now than when I’m out golfing or rafting. And when it runs out, it won’t just be a temporary message that maybe I need to cut back.

That’s a lot scarier than the toilet paper situation, if you ask me.

We’ve shut down all of society to stop the spread of a disease that might kill one percent of the people who catch it,. But it probably kills substantially less because that one percent relates only to those showing enough symptoms to warrant a test. When they started testing more people in South Korea, it seems a lot of people have it but show no symptoms and probably aren’t dying. So maybe the death rate is closer to, I don’t know, one-tenth of one percent? One-hundredth of one percent? That sounds like a good estimate. That would mean that only one out of one hundred who have the virus fit enough of the tick boxes to get tested, and of those, one in one hundred die.

It isn’t so much the death rate, the experts say, as the contagion rate. Each person infects three people, whether they’re on quarantine or washing their hands or whatever. You could lock yourself in your house and that virus will jump out your window and knock on your neighbor’s door. Then those three people will infect three other people. Whereas the flu, which only infects 1.3 people, will grow to something like 14 people, the exponential rate of Coronavirus, they say, means that one infected person will infect 59,000 people by the time you’re done reading this blog post.

At least that’s how it’s being reported.

We’ve had just over 6,000 cases in California, so I guess we only started with 10% of one infected person? We’ve also had 33 deaths, in a state with some 40,000,000 people. Am I prepared to have that number double? Triple? Quadruple? When all it takes to stop that death toll is by shutting down the entire state. I mean, who cares about an extra 5,000,000 unemployed if it can save 20 lives? It’s not like being unemployed and homeless has a high mortality rate or anything.

Although, to hear those in charge, those people are losing their jobs and it’s not even helping. Nothing we’re doing is working. Otherwise why would they continue to change the rules every day? Closing all the bars and restaurants didn’t seem to work, because the next day, we were stay at home and the day after that we were shelter in place. It couldn’t just be that Newsom and Trump love nothing more than seeing themselves on tv, and people might stop tuning in to their press conferences if they aren’t making up some cockamamie new rules. f they’re we’re need to have a new press conference every day. To get eyeballs, they gotta ban something new. Gotta double down on what we did yesterday, regardless of its effectiveness.

Maybe I’m coming at this from a different angle because of where I work. In California education (and I assume education across the country, but California education burns through a lot more money), we continually jaunt and jump from one “fix du jour” to the next. Somebody at the district or county office finds somebody who’s written a book or has a website about how education can be fixed and they pay him or her $10-20,000 to come present to teachers at a specific school or district. One year we had some lady from Georgia who yelled at us about using academic language. I don’t think she intended to yell, but maybe volume modulation isn’t part of academic language. Then we had a principal from a Newsweek article who raised test scores up 100 points. At the end of his presentation, he said maybe if we followed all of his directives (and paid him an extra $100,000 to visit more often), we could be on the cover of Newsweek, too. Of course, after raising his school’s test scores 100 points, they were still 60 behind us. And since he’d started spending more time promoting himself than them, they’d dropped back down, so we were about 100 ahead of them. But tell me again how we can get on the cover of a news magazine? Another time it was a woman who said that she felt sorry for her daughter’s teachers when she goes into parent-teacher conferences, because she knows that teacher already knows who she is and that she’s such a better teacher than they are. It must be daunting. Shocking that the room full of teachers that she said this to didn’t all jump up and applaud, huh?

But I’ve sat through all of them. Sometimes we pretend to follow the new directive for a whole year. Most of the time it’s forgotten by Winter Break, because somebody at the district office has found the next manna from heaven. Or, more realistically, has found the next kickback from the next dude who’s getting $100,000 from us. Sometimes they still give lip service to the previous fix, but usually they don’t even bother. After all, this new thing is a panacea, so who gives a shit about academic language?

We never see any of these things through, even if the presenters themselves say it’ll take a few years to see quantifiable results. So at the end of the year, our test scores go up or they go down or they stay the same. But what caused that change or non-change? Who can know? Ten things changed and maybe one of them had an effect or, meh, maybe it’s just a good/bad batch of kids this year and next year, it’ll be completely different. And if it’s not necessarily a good batch, but rather something we tried for a year back when they were in third grade, then who the fuck cares? We’ll change something again next year to even it out.

That’s what this Coronavirus shut-down has felt like. Every day they come out with new things that they’re shutting down. But there’s never any data to back it up. There’s never any discussion about if anything we’ve done has been effective so far. And how can there be? We barely test anybody, and if we did, it would take too long to get the results. Any numbers they give us now are the people who felt sick two weeks ago and got tested a week ago. They were probably sick before we even started washing our hands. But who needs data?

“We shut all the schools, but there’ve been ten new cases, so now you can’t go to restaurants. We shut the restaurants, but there’ve been five new cases, so now you have to stay at home. Goddammit, people, you’re not listening to us. We’re up to one hundred sick people! Fire every single person from every single job!”

The governor actually took the nicer approach. He commended us for doing what we’re supposed to be doing before saying that it isn’t working, so we’re going to do more of it.

At least we’ve determined that education isn’t “essential.” I guaran-fucking-tee my district will use that as their opening salvo the next time we’re negotiating a raise.

I assume the reason they did this piecemeal was because they couldn’t go for the whole pinata at the beginning. If they told us to shut down on day one, we would’ve said no. So instead they told us to wash our hands and then told us that wasn’t enough, despite no evidence to back that up. The real reason we’re on lockdown now is because Newsom and Trump saw that everybody went along with it, no questions asked, then took the next step.

Great and all, if you buy their rationale, but that’s kinda what Hitler did before World War II, too.

Newsom said if we don’t follow his orders, 25,500,000 Californians will contract the virus. Despite the fact that only 500,000 people worldwide have had it. Think about that. For every one person worldwide, an extra fifty-plus people in California will catch it. And that’s evidenced by the 3,000 or so in the state who already have it.

Now he needs another 50,000 hospital beds for “the surge in cases.” What surge? Where is the evidence of this surge? The few times I drive out, isolated in my car, nobody is out anywhere. Airplanes are flying with seven passengers aboard.

Every day we’re being bombarded by reports of who has it now. Two players from a hockey team. A senator. An actor. A member of a rock band. And each one of them is treated like an HIV diagnosis in the mid-1980s. It’s a surefire death sentence. If the NHL ever comes back, how will the Ottawa Senators field a team with two dearly departed, and I’m sure the rest of the team will have it soon, too. And poor Tom Hanks will never be able to make a movie again. And the Senate… Meh, fuck the politicians. But how dare he go to work when he didn’t know he had the virus? Talk about non-essential…

My local Kaiser has stopped taking non-emergency medical conditions, so I can’t get allergy shots anymore. The last time I went in (the day before shots got shut down like I was Indiana Fucking Jones grabbing his hat as the door dropped) they greeted me at the door with soap and asked me what I was there for, then sent me around to avoid any contact with anyone. But that wasn’t enough, so they shut the shit down. My primary care physician sent a mass e-mailed saying don’t come it unless it’s an emergency. And chances are, any non-COVID emergency will be told to shelter in place. We don’t give a shit about your terminal cancer, fuckface, this county has 50 Coronavirus cases.

Wait, did I read that right? My county currently has 50 cases. Two deaths. So they shut down the entire medical facility for 50 people? How big is this hospital? The good news is that I know of a doctor and a facility that’s more than ready for Gavin Newsom’s 50,000 phantom victims.

Flatten the curve. I get it. But are we really flattening the curve? It seems to me that if we’re just pushing pause on life for three to six weeks. Then we’ll go back to giving hugs and everyone will catch the virus anew. We’re delaying the curve, not flattening it. Okay, maybe the curve will have 50 fewer people in my county.

Unless washing our hands works. Too bad we didn’t bother doing our due diligence to find out.

Maybe we’ll reopen society in stages. We could do some businesses, then the others. But how would we decide who opens first? There doesn’t seem to be gradation in essentiality. You’re either essential, in which case you’re still open, or you’re not. So then maybe we should have every business reopen with only 25% of their staff. We can have a lottery. Then, once those 25% all turn into zombies, we send them home, wait a week, and pick the next unfortunate saps. That would flatten the curve. And it worked really well in World War I. I mean, aside from the whole 60,000 British casualties on a single day of battle.

I know, I know. Y’all don’t come here for the vitriol. You come for the pithy. So let me put away my tinfoil hat and come up with some of my more run-of-the-mill observations. To wit:

– We’ve been doing some spring cleaning. What the hell else are we supposed to do with all of our time? Get to know our family? So I did a really good job of going through some of my old books to clear some space on the bookshelf. So did Wife, and even Daughter okayed a few hand-me-downs.

But what the hell were we supposed to do with these books now? All of the used bookstores are closed and something inside me cringes if I have to throw a book away. It seems so wasteful. And it takes up vital trash space for all the plastics.

Fortunately, we have a Free Little Library. If you aren’t aware of these, people build little wooden mailbox-sized houses with clear doors out where people walk. If there’s a book in there you want, you just take it, and if you have a book that you are done with, you can leave it there. Great. I can just dump all of these books there. Except its got limited real estate, and I notice that it’s filled up recently, probably because every other household in the neighborhood’s doing the same thing as me.

So now I’m like Andy Dufresne taking rubble out to the prison yard in his pants. I’m taking one or two books each day and trying to slip them in. At last check, seven of the thirty or so books came from this house. And I’ve still got a stack ready and waiting. Come on, neighbors, read the shit I’m putting out there.

That might be the motto for this blog, too.

– We’re trying our best to support places that are still open. We’re doing takeout. We’re doing drive-throughs and curbside. I keep going to my favorite brewery to refill my growler. On one trip last weekend, I ran into the Sprouts (a grocery store that doesn’t have the same foot traffic as the behemoths) while Wife did curbside pickup at Joann’s. Then she did curbside at Target, which is super fancy. You don’t have to call them or anything. Just open your app when you’re in the parking lot and Big Brother heads right out. Then I went to the BevMo to pickup my online alcohol order. They’re not quite as high-tech – I had to call somebody to meet me at the front door with my booze – but really, I was picking up booze that I had ordered online, so who the hell cares that they weren’t to Amazon Prime delivery yet. I keep wondering to myself if those in charge would’ve been so ready to shut the whole shit down if we weren’t already living in the future.

But there are other businesses that I want around after the shitshow who aren’t quite as conducive to supporting while in quarantine. There’s an Indian place with a wonderful lunch buffet. Sure, I could order from them a la carte, but that just seems wrong. Why pay for one entree when I’m used to having ALL the entrees. Plus I probably should’ve been paying closer attention to which dishes I like all those times I partook. But then, what’s the point of a buffet if not mindless scooping?

Another favorite that doesn’t have a to-go option is Mongolian BBQ. Perhaps I’m being obstinate with the Indian food, but with Mongolian, I really don’t see how it’s feasible. You have to stand in line and put your grubby paws on the same food that other paws have already grubbed. Even if I could put that into a Doordash order, there’s no way the chef’s going to know the proper number of spicy versus sweet versus salty sauce scoops. I don’t even know. It’s a touchy-feely things, like those old grandma recipes that said q.b., short for quanto basta, meaning “How much is enough” or “as much as needed.” But I don’t think Doordash has a q.b. option.

We need restaurants or businesses like this to establish Patreon accounts. I’d be willing to send them some money to keep them around. And if they want to make it good for a meal when this thing is done, great. But if not, consider it a much better pay-it-forward than buying that fat fuck behind me’s Frappuccino.

Sure, I could get gift cards in the meantime, but if the business doesn’t have an updated website (and let’s be honest, the Mongolian and the Indian restaurants aren’t likely to be the most technologically savvy), that means I have to go in. But are they even open?

So they just need to establish a Patreon. If it’s good enough for podcasts, which don’t even give me an egg roll on the side, it should be good enough for brick-and-mortars.

-The grocery stores seem to be restocking some of the staples. Bread and ramen still seem a little sparse. Meat is still hit or miss, but it’s better than all-miss, as it was a week ago. It’s almost like, follow me here, our economy produces enough for us to consume, as long as we don’t freak out and try to buy the whole goddamned store.

I’m reminded of FDR’s first Fireside Chat, after he’d closed all the banks. Well, he didn’t close all the banks, he only declared a bank holiday that ended up lasting the better part of a week. Back then, can you imagine, presidents and the government actually thought there were limits to what they could do, who and what they could command to stay indoors and close their doors. So when the banks were about to reopen, he got on the airwaves to tell the people to not be numbnuts the next day. Banks, he explained, only keep enough cash on hand to cover normal withdrawals and the rest is tied up in mortgages and shit like that. “[A]n amount which in normal times is wholly sufficient to cover the cash needs of the average citizen.” But if all ya numbnuts go and try to get your money at the same time, it won’t be there.

The same could be said for tortillas and ground beef and pasta. If we had all bought what we needed for, say, one or two weeks worth of isolation, instead of six months, there’d be plenty to go around. Unfortunately, our current commander-in-chief doesn’t seem quite as concerned with calming and quelling the populace. His fireside tweet would probably go something along the lines of, “Go Fuck yourself. Pull my Finger!”

-Somebody posited that the run on flour wasn’t so much hoarding as it was a byproduct of most Americans baking at home for once. Makes sense, since the flour that goes to bakers and restaurants is probably direct from suppliers. I don’t think Krispy Kreme is heading the the Piggly Wiggly each day.

But what does this say about the toilet paper? Are we finally shitting at home instead of work?

-Has everyone else lost track of what day it is? Holy crap!

I was thinking about buying a Nintendo Switch to introduce Daughter to the joy of video games, and possibly Wife and I to the joys of a moment of goddamn peace. Sure, Daughter’s watched me murder some nasty Brits in Assassin’s Creed III on my fancy, high-tech PlayStation 3, but maybe it’s time for her to learn of the existence of non-violent games.

Turns out there are no Nintendo Switches for sale, like, anywhere. Not available on Amazon, no Target or Best Buy or GameStop (before they closed) within 200 miles of me had one in stock. I did a little research and discovered that this shortage was coming even before people were going to be shut in for months. It was just sped along by the Quaran-geddon.

All is not lost, though. Amazon might be able to get some once they end their moratorium on non-essential restocking. The article I read suggested mid-April. No problem, I thought. Why, mid-April must be coming any day now.

What? It’s still March?

Fuck!

Expletive Deleted

She kneed him in the guts and called him braggart in front of everyone.

The first part seems physically difficult. The latter part lacks punch.

Of course, this isn’t the original line. The original line, from Weird Science, was “She kneed him in the nuts and called him faggot in front of everyone.” The first part is a much more natural assault and the latter half was an insult used often in the mid-eighties despite being out of vogue these days. Although I teach at a high school, and it’s not quite as taboo as polite society would have you believe.

But the line about the guts and the braggart comes from the censored version, the “edited for content” television broadcast, of Weird Science. And I love me some edited for television shit.

Sorry, “some edited for television [shucks.]”

Why do I love them so? Because they do shit like changing shit to “shucks” instead of “crap,” a word that means the same thing but is substantially less offensive. Crap would probably fit the context of shit about ninety percent of the time. But who gives a flying [fruit] about context? Not those TV censors! Instead, they find a word that sounds similar. Grammar be [dimed.] Because lip-readers are the only ones who deserve to understand a character’s motivation.

So motherfucker becomes mother trucker, which I don’t mind. Or mother father, as in, “You tell that mother father what’s going to happen if he tries to pull that shucks again!” Which makes no [mango friday] sense.

The most famous editing was probably Smokey and the Bandit, where the cop often mutters “Son of a bitch” under his breath. It was turned into “Scumbum.” So then people started calling people “Scumbum,” because let’s face it, that’s a pretty [fruitin’] cool pseudo-insult. Heck, it’s probably a better putdown than son of a bitch. Who the hell cares if they’re called a son of a bitch? It’s an insult against your mother, not you.

I remember when “Devil Went Down to Georgia” came out, it was a big deal which radio stations would broadcast the actual lyric, son of a bitch, and which ones would sanitize it to son of a gun. Most took the latter. Nowadays I can’t imagine bitch being an issue. If anything, gun is the more offensive word these days.

But scumbum? Them’s some fighting words, mother trucker.

I think mother trucker should be used more often. It rolls off the tongue. And if you think about it long enough, it is a bit of an insult. It brings to mind Large Marge from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. As opposed to mother fucker, which is an accurate describer of every father in the world, as well as a large swath of the fatherless set.

One time in the late 1990s, I saw that Pulp Fiction was going to be playing on broadcast television on a Saturday afternoon. Needless to say, I cleared out my entire weekend for that Must-See event. Think about it. How many words in Pulp Fiction WON’T be bleeped out? Half?

My favorite part of the edited version is when Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta are debating religion. Jules, Samuel L. Jackson’s character, has just “seen the light” after surviving being shot at and, while he’s sitting there eating his non-pork breakfast, he has what alcoholics refer to as a “moment of clarity.”

Vincent, played by John Travolta, is not impressed, to which Jules responds, “Look, if you want to play blind man, go walk with the shepherds. But me? My eyes are wide-fucking-open.”

Except on Channel 8, his eyes were “wide, focused open.”

Not bad. The cadence works and I’ll give an extra point to the bureaucrat in charge. It almost makes sense. Odd context, a natural speech might reverse those two adjectives. And really, wouldn’t you narrow your eyes to focus? But I’m nitpicking. A solid effort on that one.

The next few make a little less sense. Here’s what it sounds like in the real movie:

“Jesus Christ.”

“Don’t blaspheme.”

“God damn it!”

“I said don’t blaspheme. Don’t do that!”

Totally works. It’s a strong indication of Jules’s newfound faith that he’s offended by two phrases that are so commonplace as to be far removed from their blasphemous roots. In fact, these phrases seem so tame that I’m surprised they felt the need to edit them out in the late 1990s. Heck, Mr. Furley was saying “Damn” on Three’s Company as early as fifteen years prior. Sure, putting the “God” in front adds some extra gravity, but this is Pulp Fiction we’re talking about. Is there some 90-year-old sufferin’ from the vapors tuning in to this broadcast?

Well, if they are, they aren’t going to hear “Jesus Christ” or “God Damn it.” Instead, they’re going to hear “Jeez, oh mighty!” and “Gosh dang it.”

But Jules is still going to respond to each with “Don’t blaspheme.”

Of course, both of those phrases have their origins in blasphemy. Jeez is short for Jesus, and throwing in the “Oh, mighty” probably just makes it moreso. And we all know “gosh darn it” is just a poor man’s curse. Kinda makes me wonder about “Gee” and “Gosh” by themselves. Am I breaking one of the commandments and taking my savior’s name in vain when I say, “Gosh, I never thought of that? Golly gee!” Because if so, then the next time a student or my daughter asks a question I don’t know the answer to, I might as well answer, “Fuck a cunt-bubble with a shit-stained twat cock if I know.” At least then I’ve kept the religion out of it.

Now that I think about it, what about the word “good?” The etymology of that word’s gotta be God. As in, God is good. Ergo good must come from God. So if someone asks how I’m doing and I say good, am I breaking more than just grammatical rules? Thou shalt have no gods before me and thou shalt not modify a verb with an adjective! Although to all the grammar nazis out there who try to correct people who respond, “I’m good,” you’re the one who’s wrong, not the utterer. “To be” is a transitive verb, not an action verb. Meaning what follows it pertains to the subject. So the “good” in “I am good” is modifying I, a noun, not am, a verb. So quit trying to sound smart when you’re not, scumbum.

But unlike good, which is so far from its roots that even Mormons don’t find it offensive, most people know what they mean when they say “Jeez” and “Gosh.” And what they mean to do is to AVOID being blasphemous. And if you then jump down their throat about it, then you’re kinda being a prick. Even as a very new born again, Jules’s reaction is a tad excessive. He could just politely explain to Vincent the origin of those two phrases. To just scream “Don’t blaspheme!” makes me think he wasn’t really paying attention to what his close accomplice was actually saying. How rude! The mother trucker.

One other edited movie jumps out at me for all the wrong reasons. Not so much for the words they used as a replacement, but because of which words they chose to replace in the first place. And by extension, which words were perfectly fine.

One of the best movies of the late 1970s, or really of all time, is The Jerk. If you haven’t seen it (shame on you!), it stars Steve Martin as Navin Johnson, who was born a poor black child. Trust me, it makes sense.

Large swaths of the film needed to be edited. For instance, he names his dog “Shithead,” which the TV version changes to “Stupid.” It works either way, as the dog got his name as a result of Navin waking up an entire hotel because he thought the dog was warning him of a fire. So props to the censors for picking a word that sounds similar but also fills the original purpose of the dialogue. If the guy at the hotel told him he should name the dog Simon, the joke would’ve been lost.

Later on in the movie, however, they make a choice that is not quite as laudable. Did you know that the n-word was perfectly fine for broadcast television in the early 1980s?

In a scene near the end, after Navin’s become a multi-millionaire (don’t ask), he’s approached by a businessman about keeping his product from the riff-raff. Only he doesn’t use the word riff-raff. The word he uses starts with an n. To which Navin responds, “Did you say [riff-raff]? You are talking to a [riff-raff].” GEt it? Because he was born a poor black child. He then tries to kick the guy in the nuts, but there’s a clanging sound, causing Navin to pass out.

On the TV version of that scene, there were no edits. Every time the n-word was used in the movie, it was said on the screen. Because who could possibly be offended by it?

But in the following scene, it is revealed that the reason Navin passed out after kicking the dude in the nuts was because the guy was “Iron Balls” McGinty. There was no explanation as to how or why Mr. McGinty had come by his metallic testicles. I’m sure there was an extensive backstory that got cut in the post-edit. Perhaps there were plans for a spinoff Iron Balls trilogy, if only The Jerk hadn’t been such a flop. It was only the… holy crap! The Jerk was the eighth-highest grossing movie of 1979? Wow. Y’all didn’t have much going for you in the late 1970s, did you? Don’t get me wrong, I love the movie. But its sophomoric humor is far from cinematic gold. Last week, I wrote about UHF, a sophomoric film that came out precisely one decade later, and it came in at #113 for the year. Behind such masterpieces as Coccoon: The Return and Halloween 5 and Police Academy 6 and Friday the 13th, Part VIII. (And people think it’s only recently that Hollywood lost its ability to come up with anything new). It was even two spots behind Die Hard, which had already been in the theaters for six months before 1989 even started.

Clearly, Weird Al needed to put more n-bombs and testicle jokes in his movie. Or he needed a time machine to get back to 1979.

Not that the TV version made any testicle jokes. Like the dog, whose name changed to Stupid, Iron Balls was christened Iron Bill for the masses. Not sure why there was a clanging sound when Iron Bill got kicked in the nuts. Two totally unrelated items. Like Samuel L. Jackson screaming “Don’t blaspheme!” at someone who had done no such thing.

But “balls,” you must understand, is vulgar. It might be considered offensive. Some parent might have to turn to their child and engage in an awkward conversation about biology and anatomy and what or what is not appropriate nomenclature for the complexities of human nature and society. Balls aren’t some easy, diminutive word with a straight-forward history of hierarchy in society like… like… Hoo boy, how many times did they drop the n-bomb in the scene right before?

That wasn’t the only film with questionable censoring decisions. Blazing Saddles  was famous for cutting the farting scene. Well, they didn’t cut the scene, they just cut the audio on all the farts. So what viewers saw was a bunch of guys eating beans around a campfire with a substantial lack of ambient background noise.

But, once again, Blazing Saddles says the n-word a lot. Seventeen times, in fact. And each one made it past the censors, who must’ve just been too exhausted after silencing all the flatulence to turn their attention to a minor racial epithet.

Of course, we see a lot less creative censoring than we used to. Most media outlets don’t face the same restrictions they did in the twentieth century. There’s a good chance you’re watching something on YouTube or Hulu or even TBS, none of which are required to bleep out anything. I’m always shocked when I’m listening to Sirius/XM and a song from college comes on. Whoa, so that’s what the lyrics are? It flows do much better than blank air every other word.

Did you know that Alannis Morisette was not,  in fact, asking if you think of her while you flick someone else?

And holy crap, “Semi-Charmed Life” has this whole other verse about… um… what rhymes with safety word?

We’ve also become more lenient as a society about what does and what does not constitute a word of curse. Hence, balls.

When we do bleep things out, we don’t even bleep them anymore. Thanks to some of those 1990s alternative and hip hop artists, we’ve become accustomed to blank air replacing cuss words. If The Jerk came out today, we wouldn’t hear about Iron Balls or Iron Bill. He’d just be Iron (Dead Air) McGinty. And the dog would be named ”      .”

And if Pulp Fiction came out today, I wouldn’t have to devote a full afternoon to the viewing. With all the dead air, the edited version that aired on broadcast tv would be about twenty minutes long.

Going to the Reno of Love

I went to Reno a few weeks ago. Nothing much to note. Reno is pretty much always Reno. It ain’t like a box a chocolates. You always know precisely what you’re gonna get.

Although I did find out that you shouldn’t attend a minor league baseball stadium on the final weekend of the season unless you want them to be out of everything. I understand not having all the beers in stock. Don’t want to have half a keg that has to last through to next April. But the mini helmets for the ice cream? Come on, those will be perfectly fine next year.

But I’m not here to talk about minor league baseball or the cockamamie drink-ticket policy that the casinos are starting to implement. Really? You’re going to charge me for a Grey Goose? That’s probably a blog post for another time.

No, for some reason, this trip to Reno reminded me of another trip to Reno many years ago. Before I blogged. Scary to think that time ever happened. I think we used pagers and wore Day-glo parachute pants. And maybe the Challenger ran into the World Trade Center. I’m not sure. The older I get, everything more than a week old just fuses all together into one large morass that is “Youth.”

Although this story involves having a regular bartender, so it was probably after the age of twelve. Let’s hope.

My regular bartender, you see, served happy hour at a bar that had NTN/Buzztime trivia. For those of us who preferred to exercise some brain cells while killing the others. I spent many an afternoon there grading papers, because when a student writes a term paper comparing the military draft to the NFL draft, his teacher just might need a cold one.

The bartender had been in an on-again, off-again relationship with a guy. The relationship tended to be “off” at the times she was pregnant with his child and then “on” when whoever he was banging in his off-time got pregnant. Quality relationship, I assure you.

One time whilst not pregnant, she realized he was a flight risk lifelong catch, and decided that if she liked it, she ought to put a ring on it. Like, right quick! Because no better person to enter into a legally-binding life-partnership with than someone who might or might not be around next week.

She asked some of us regulars what we were doing that Sunday because, if we wanted, we could come to their wedding in Reno. It turns out I wasn’t doing anything. Heck, my bartender wasn’t going to be working, so there was little chance of scoring free drinks in town. Is there anywhere else I might find some free drinks? Reno, you say? Well, that sounds like some synergy right there!

As I said, this was a long time ago, when Nevada casinos offered free drinks. These days, they require $100 worth of bets and a Maruader’s-Map-style oath solemnly swearing that there is more money where that came from as long as they continue to ply me with alcohol. And that I won’t lose that money in any of their competitors’ establishments. And, naturally, that I am up to no good.

When Sunday rolled around, we loaded up in a couple of cars and caravaned to the most romantic place on Earth. Sorry, I meant the most romantic spot in Nevada. Make that northwestern Nevada. Not counting the Tahoe vicinity. Or maybe Burning Man. Or, I don’t know, the Mustang Ranch?

You know what? I’ll just say it. Reno’s a shithole. And thank God for that, because if it were a place people might want to go, I wouldn’t be able to find $5 tables anymore.

We stopped off at Boomtown, the first casino you come to along I-80.

Boomtown’s super classy. If you aren’t familiar with it, it’s similar to Primm along I-15, being the stateline between California and Nevada, ie the first place you can gamble en route to your gambling destination. Except that, whereas Primm has three or four casinos, Boomtown only has one. Primm also has roller coasters. And the Bonnie and Clyde death car. And shows. Boomtown has none of those.

Now that I think about it, Boomrown’s nothing like Primm. Primm is still about an hour away from Vegas, so maybe you need to take a leak or you’re not going to make it to The Strip in enough time to bet on the Super Bowl coin flip. But Boomtown’s only about five miles from Reno. There’s no viable reason to stop there on the way into Reno. There’s reason to stop there on the way out, because you can pay Nevada prices for gas instead of California prices for your drive back. But on the way there, it only serves people with poor planning abilities or no impulse control. Kinda like a couple deciding on a whim that they should get married this weekend.

I don’t remember why we stopped. Gas? Smokes? Regardless, they got in a fight about something. Not sure what. Gas? Smokes? Anyway, we all decided to hit the buffet here on the way back to commemorate the occasion, and it was onward to the drive-thru chapel.

Except it wasn’t a drive-thru. That’s the fancy Vegas shit. These Reno rat-bastards made us get out of the car to negotiate the ceremony details! They haggled over prices and pictures and, I don’t know, whether the deluxe marriage package comes with large fries or if they have to be ordered separately. I didn’t inquire about the primae noctis add-on.

Although to be fair, I don’t know all of the privies of the negotiation because I was stuck outside watching the five kids they share via various previous relationships and what George Washington referred to as “foreign entanglements.”

Also, I might’ve been a bit twitchy, because I have a general rule about being outside in Reno. And the general rule is: under no circumstances should one ever be outside in Reno.

If you’ve never been to Reno, I’ll paint you a picture. Pull up a mental picture of Las Vegas. Now take away all the fountains and Sphinxes. And rides and shows. And attractive people. And any building built after 1980. You can keep the weather, though. Oh, and maybe ass a little dilapidated infrastructure and a few homeless people passed out on the sidewalk. Now you’ve got Reno.

Oh wait, did I say the weather is the same as Vegas? I only meant in the summer. The winter weather is way worse in Reno.

But that’s all on the outside. Inside, they have these wonderful, climate-controlled resorts with neon and free alcohol.  There’s a reason three of the Reno casinos decided their best bet was to combine into one three-block long structure so that people can move from one to the other without breathing legitimate air.

But whatever, Bartender, for you I’ll travel all the way to my Mecca, able to see the Great Mosque, my religious fervor gambling addiction quivering in my bones. Ignore the Silver Legacy! I’m here to celebrate a friend’s most blessed day, a day she’s been looking forward to since at least last Thursday. So I’ll suck it up and get ready to throw some rice or confetti or… wait, was somebody supposed to bring the rice?

Although it doesn’t matter, because here come Bride and Groom and, oh no, they don’t look too terribly happy. Did someone forget the Smokes? Gas?

“I fucking told you,” Bride was saying.

Groom was mumbling something or other.

“They won’t marry us unless we get a marriage license.”

Wait, what? This is Nevada, home of the quickie wedding. Don’t they issue the marriage certificate AT the wedding facility? All you should have to do is prove your identity as an adult and sign on the dotted…

Wait, what’s that? Groom didn’t bring his ID? Was that his super secret way of avoiding this date with destiny? If I “accidentally”  leave my driver’s license at home, I’ll escape scot free! 

Except Bride said she told him this would happen. Clearly she knew he didn’t bring proper identification to his own wedding. I would be intrigued if I could get over my sweating scrotum and quivering gambling glands.

Awe, what the hell. Inquiring minds want to know.

Turns out Groom didn’t have his driver’s license with him because he was no longer in possession of said license. It’s a temporary thing. He’s supposed to get it back soon.

Why was Groom temporarily identification-less? Had he perhaps left it at a bar the night before? Maybe it went through the laundry in his gym shorts. Or the cops took it away. Do cops take your ID away? I always assumed that, if the courts suspend your license, you still get the card back. In case you need to get married in Reno or something.

No, it turns out Groom had recently been involved in a car crash. And, as a dutiful driver, he got out of the car and exchanged information with the other driver.

By literally giving his driver’s license to the dude.

I’m going to let that one sink in for a bit. I think I went into a daze when I heard it.

Look, I know I have a tendency to get a little bit snooty in my middle-class upbringing. I understand that other people’s experiences and worldviews can’t always match my own and maybe some people are raised to think that “giving the other driver your information” means something different than I think it does.

Then again, I’ve been in a fair number of accidents in my life, and was capable of jotting down the other driver’s license number and insurance info perfectly fine, even in the times before cell phones could immediately take pictures of that information. And never once have I offered to give away my primary form of identification. Nor have I asked for said in return. Nor has anyone I’ve ever gotten into an accident with offered their identification nor requested possession of my identification, except for the temporary purpose of copying down the information.

Taking the other person’s identification is indicative of human trafficking, not a minor rear-ender.

Who the hell gets in an accident and immediately says, “Hey, here’s my driver’s license. You can send it back to me whenever you’re ready. Want me to buy you a stamp?”

Well, maybe a guy who is trying to avoid hitchin’ his old lady that weekend.

Now you might think that, a time when one of the two signatories to a legal contract isn’t able to prove their identity isn’t the best time to plan a last minute trip to said document signing, but whatever. Who can argue with True Love?

Regardless, I guess this trip to Reno is wasted. Whatever shall we do? And I’m only asking because the glistening dome of the Silver Legacy is just a few blocks away and it may or may not be speaking through my subconscious, begging me to come visit. She’s letting me know in no uncertain terms that she knows I’m in her neighborhood and that I better not be thinking about turning tail and skipping town before giving her a little laugh and a tickle. I’m just sayin’, y’all, ain’t no scorned lover like a scorned lover with more money than the Pope and more secret recording devices than… the Pope. The Silver Legacy knows what I’m doing all day, every day, and most of the time, she approves. But some of the time…

Do we have to caravan back together if they didn’t even tie the knot? I know they were talking about a celebratory buffet at Boomtown, but that’s only if there’s something to celebrate, right? Do we still need to go to the buffet at Boomtown if we’re just calling it lunch?

But wait, Bride has a plan. Of course she has a plan, because she was just telling Groom that she told him this would happen. So she’s prepared. Not prepared enough to, like, pick a different date for the wedding. Or a new fiance. But she’s prepared.

Groom brought other forms of identification. Nothing official, mind you. Not a social security card. Not a military i.d. Groom’s never been in the military, so that would be tough. But I’m guessing he’s been arrested before. Would a mug shot would count as an official government document?

He brought mail from home. Um, okay. I know it’s often used as proof of residency, but that’s not really what they’re going for here. They don’t need to prove that Joe Schmoe lives at 123 Main Street, but rather, WHO IS Joe Schmoe.

He also brought his work i.d. Good news is it has picture of him. Bad news is it’s not terribly official. I mean, the liquor store that you’re rent-a-copping at might be comforted by the fact that ABC Security is capable of color printing a badge, but if you give me a five-minute crash course in Photoshop and point me toward a Kinko’s, I could get a homeless guy standing in for Groom in this ceremony.

So this is why Weddings n’ Chips isn’t willing to marry these two. They have to prove that the state of Nevada will issue them a marriage license. They can go to the Superior Court and see if someone more official than an Elvis impersonator will sign off on the Crayola stick figure that their 4-year old wrote “Daddy” under.

Just kidding. There are no Elvis impersonators in Reno. Way too upbeat. If Reno had any impersonators, it’d probably be Phil Collins. Or Falco.

“I don’t know how the hell we’re supposed to find City Hall,” Bride says.

At this point, one of the guys I drove up with, one of the other lushes who not only has a regular, daytime bartender, but who has a regular, daytime bartender who saw fit to invite him to her drive-thru Falco wedding, looks into the Reno skyline and says, “Um, maybe it’s that square building with the American flag that says ‘RENO’ across the top?”

Well spotted, Dude. So much for lushes not having great observational skills. I might’ve noticed that giant building if it hadn’t been in the vicinity of casinos. His vice is not currently in sight, so maybe it’s easier to focus on minor details like thirty-story square buildings with flags on top. My vice is beckoning me, telling me to ignore those other buildings. Those other buildings are skanks who don’t understand what I really need.

So Bride and Groom are heading to the government building on a Sunday to see if they’ll accept Groom’s t-shirt tag as formal identification. Who knows how long that’s going to take? Whatever shall the rest of us do whilst waiting for a rush judgment from the government?

“Saaaaaaay,” I posit. “Would you mind if we maybe… I don’t know… found some air conditioning and maybe a…”

I can’t finish on account of the shakes and the salivations, but my message is clear enough by the single tear forming in the corner of my eye.

“Yeah, that’s fine,” says Bride, whose focused elsewhere right now. “I’ll text you when we find out and, if we can get married, you can meet us-,”

I didn’t hear the rest of what she said, as I was suddenly moving at the speed of light toward yon distant Heaven. The other lushes came with me. It’s vice o’clock!

I dropped the lushes off at the casino bar, despite the fact that it went against every fiber of my being. Don’t they know they can just walk an extra five feet and camp out at a slot machine and then wait fifteen minutes or so for the septuagenarian cocktail waitress to maneuver her walker over in their direction? And then they can get a well drink! Sure, they might’ve lost $50 by the time she gets back with that free drink, but then they can say they didn’t lose $50, they just purchased a $50 watered-down Jack & Coke.

So I sat down at the slot machine and had just ordered my “free” drink when my phone buzzes. It’s my bartender telling us that they made it to the “justice of the peace” and were granted a “marriage license” and were heading back to the “chapel.” She’ll meet us back there.

Well, shit.

I tell my friends to drink up. Those bastards were already been on their second drink. Not that we’d been there for long, but let’s be honest, we all met in a bar and have a regular bartender who invited us to her wedding, so we can down the drinks pretty quick.

I return to my slot machine to wait for my drink. Time slows as I wait for my cocktail. Or “Cock Drink,” as one of my favorite casino servers of all time once referred to them. I think she was about two hours off the boat from Russia. They don’t hire these women for their conversational abilities. They hire them for their ability to bend time like the Matrix and keep our sorry asses glued to our seats donating more capital into the gaping maws of their reverse-ATMs for as long as possible. They are hired to ensure that people continue flocking to the middle of an unlivable desert to visit wonderful nirvanas of neon.

“Chug, chug, chug!” my friends chanted as we headed back to the car. Not that I needed to chug. It was a long way up to the car on level “Luck You Can Find a Spot at All on a Sunday” of the parking structure. Plus, this is Nevada. We can have booze outdoors. Probably in the back seat of a car. Hell, probably while driving, although please don’t take those last two suppositions as legal advice.

Nonetheless, I chugged all the same and we made it to the car and we drove back to the wedding spot and what did we see when we got there?

Our bartender walking out the front door. With her new Husband. Family members cheering on the steps. Throwing hands in the air with illusionary rice.

That’s right. We missed the wedding. The very reason we had gotten up early and driven to this Hellblight place.

Now, I might’ve exaggerated for storytelling purposes about how long it took me to get my drink. I really don’t think we were in the casino for more than about ten minutes before we got the text. And we busted our ass to the car and were outbound within five minutes of that. And we told her we were on our way.

But here we were, having completely missed the 60-second wedding we were here to watch.

The good news was that Bride wasn’t pissed. Heck, this wedding was happening because Groom was a flight risk, and after coming perilously close to driving all the way to Reno to NOT get married, I’m guessing she wanted to get this shit done. Who knows, maybe the government clerk was about to have a change of heart and call Weddings R Us to tell them to rescind the document. When the armored guard bends down in “Groundhog Day,” you take that fucking money and you walk away. Ain’t no time for equivocation.

(That last analogy was going to be about a prisoner during the Storming of the Bastille, but I thought that might be a bit obtuse for a post with tags about Reno and Quickie Weddings.)

The bad news was that the wedding had happened. Meaning we had to celebrate. So it was back to Boomtown for their majestic $7.99 buffet.

At least Boomtown has a casino. Those hour-old mashed potatoes will hold in the chaffing dish a little bit longer. After the shit-show of this day, I’ve got a hankering to bet it all on double-zero.

Old Year’s Resolutions

This time of year, like many others, I like to take stock of my life and make some resolutions.

Except that I’ve always hated resolutions. My eighth grade teacher used to make us copy a quote each week, and sometimes she made us make up our own quotes, which we were too young to counter with “anything I say is a quote from me.” I remember the prompt the Monday after Winter Break: “This year I will _____________.” I filled in the blank with “make it to ninth grade.”

My teacher responded that that wasn’t really a resolution, as it was likely to happen anyway. Had I more self-confidence or experience in remonstrating, I might have asked why we should only resolving something that is not likely to happen.  Why did she want me to avoid accomplishing my Resolution? Why was she setting us up for disaster? Why did she want a bunch of thirteen year olds to start off a fresh new year by failing?

Because guess what? I ain’t gonna lose weight or learn a new musical instrument or write a novel or travel to outer space. Some of those might be doable, but January 1 has no bearing on if and when I decide to do them.  For instance, I started this blog in June and didn’t start posting weekly until September.  Had this been one of my New Year’s Resolutions, it would likely be deemed a failure, because we tend to determine their success or failure by the middle of January, not the end of the year.  So they’re really not New Year’s Resolutions, at all. They’re First Week of the New Year’s Resolutions.

You pick something you don’t like about yourself and say you’re going to change it because the calendar switched. But that thing you don’t like about yourself isn’t going to change because of something arbitrary. Willpower isn’t tied to a date on the calendar. Especially if you take something like losing weight, which is much easier to do in April or May, as the days get warmer and longer.

So I’ve decided to switch things up a bit, and instead of a New Year’s Resolution, I’m looking back and making some Old Year’s Resolutions. I am going to take a look back at the cool new things I’ve tried or accomplished over the past twelve months and make some belated resolutions. And, spoiler alert, I nailed every single one of them!

But, Wombat, isn’t that just a Year-in-Review? You may ask.

And my response is…

Shut up! My blog, my rules.

Resolution #1: I will have a wonderful baby girl.

Considering my wife was three months pregnant on January 1, this one might be close to my “make ninth grade” resolution. But a lot can go wrong in the second and third trimesters. Plus we did not know it was going to be a girl until ten days into the year, so had I tried to make this resolution at the proper time, I would have had a 50/50 chance of failing at the very beginning.

Of course, the more I think about it, I don’t have much to add to the whole “have a baby” thing. My part was finished in 2013, and if things go south, there isn’t much my resolve can do. My wife is doing the heavy lifting for the first six months of 2014.

So maybe I should change it to I will begin to raise a wonderful baby girl.

Yeah, I like that better. That’s something I can actually resolve to do.

Resolution #2: Take up curling.

In January, the Winter Olympics were still a month away.

Gosh, I wonder if they are going to be exciting! I’m sure the Russians will have beautiful Sochi in perfect condition for the wonderful athletes who have trained so hard to get there.

Hey, remember when I did that Learn-to-Curl back in 2013? That was fun. I wonder if I can find a place closer to home and recruit some friends to try it in February. If that’s successful, maybe a couple of us can join a league. And if we get paired with some veterans, maybe we can begin learning the ropes and go undefeated throughout the summer season.

Then maybe I can form my own team and skip during a bonspiel against really good curlers. Like maybe even a couple of those curlers that are going to spend February in those swanky Sochi hotels. Then maybe I could win a do-or-die, skip-vs-skip, closest-to-the-button tiebreaker at 2:00 AM for the right to advance in the loser’s bracket.

If all that happens, who knows, maybe I’ll end the year by asking for expensive curling shoes for Christmas and prepping my hand-picked team for an elongated Winter/Spring season in 2015, forcing my wife to coin the phrase “Curling Widow.” But the “Future Curling Star” onesie I would get for my daughter (see Resolution #1) for Christmas would be super cute.

But that’s crazy. I doubt all of that would happen in one year.

Resolution #3: Lose More Weight.

This is always the scary one, right? But let me tell you, it’s a lot less nerve-racking to make this resolution after the fact.

I lost a lot of weight in 2013. A pre-diabetes diagnosis and a new-fangled invention called the Fitbit put my ass (or, more accurately, my legs and mouth) in gear, and by early October, I was down close to forty pounds. Then Halloween hit, followed by Thanksgiving and Christmas. Combined with those shorter, colder days I mentioned earlier, and about ten of those forty pounds found their way back by the end of the year. But that meant I was still down thirty over the course of the year.

Could I repeat that in 2014? Probably not to the extreme I had the year before. After all, there was less to lose. And all those nasty indicators in my blood have returned back to normal levels. But still…

If I can go back to the Spring and Summer routines I kept in ’13, maybe I can take those ten added pounds back off by June. Then maybe I can take another ten to fifteen pounds off before Halloween kicks off Fat Quarter (which extends past the New Year to include Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day) again. That Fat Quarter will be even harder this year, because while I might be willing to go for a jog in the forty-degree dark when I get home from work, I’m not quite as willing to take the baby along.

But, hey,  if I can lose twenty-plus pounds by October, then I can still gain ten to fifteen back and still be weight-negative for the year.

Resolution #4: Win Camptathalon.

Every year amongst my friends, there exists a Men’s Camping Trip. Because when womenfolk come camping, we have to take more than five paces away from the fire before we drop trou and pee, and I’m sorry, but that just ain’t true campin’.

At said trip each year, there is something called the Camptathalon.

What is it? Only the most grueling competition of wit, acumen, and bravado known to mankind. Think Triathlon, but take out the wussified events like swimming and biking and running. And add things like Whose Horse Comes in Last at the Kentucky Derby. And the Butter Toss.

Oh, and the whole thing needs to be done as inebriated as possible.

Wait, did you say Butter Toss?

I did. And to find out more, you’ll just have to check back in April, when I devote an entire entry to the 2015 Camptathalon.

(That’s what the promotions biz peeps call a teaser.  “What common household object might kill you? Stay tuned until the end of this blog entry to find out.”)

But this year, I plan to win the competition. I came in dead last in 2013. I think I was second or third the year before. But this year, with the competition being held the same weekend as my wife’s baby shower, I feel it is my time to strike.

What would be even cooler is if it was tied at the end of regulation, forcing us to make up a sudden-death cribbage match to decide it all. And if I could be losing said sudden-death cribbage match going into the final turn before pulling out a 21-point hand and a 24-point hand back-to-back. Why, that would almost be as cool as winning a sudden death draw to the button at a curling bonspiel.

If I could also be the first ever Camptathalon champion to not yack his guts out the same weekend, that might be an added bonus. That’s a tradition that need not be continued. Unlike the Butter Toss, which is a tradition as true as the Tournament of Roses.

Butter Toss? Am I sure I’m hearing you right?

April, dude. April.

Resolution #5: Win in Reno

Every year, I make a few trips to Reno. This year, 2014, I’d like to win there.

To be clear, my definition of “win” does not mean to hit a jackpot or win a car or come home with a duffel bag full of cash. I don’t even define winning as being money-ahead at the end of the year. I know the math – giant resorts would not exist in the middle of the desert if customers won over the long run.

What I mean by “win” is I’d like to take one weekend trip wherein, after paying for gas, food, and my portion of the hotel, I’m still money ahead. Is the forty dollars I might win in October going to offset the two hundred I’m going to lose at March Madness? Of course not. But man, that forty dollars would feel awesome, like I’m a world killer! Something definitely worthy of being mentioned in a Year-In-Review,  Retroactive Old Year’s Resolution.

Here is how I would love for this particular resolution to play out. I’d like to win a little bit at everything I do. Put $20 in a slot machine, turn it into $60. Put $2 on a long-shot horse to show and have him eke out third place. Stick around a blackjack table long enough to get buzzed on the casino’s dime yet still walk away up $10. Actually feel like I know what I’m talking about when all of those sports results go final. That would be nice.

To keep with the curling and Camptathalon theme, I don’t know if any of those games I bet on can go to overtime, but maybe I could squeak out a photo finish on the ponies.

Resolution #6: Write.

I’d like to write more this year.

Maybe I can try NaNoWriMo again this year. Even if I only get 20,000 words into a novel, it would be an improvement over 38 of the last 39 years.

Maybe I could even take part in some flash fiction challenges. Writing an entire story from beginning to end might give me a sense of accomplishment. That way, I could also play around with different genres, different voices, different points of view. Who knows? Maybe after I’ve tried a few safe ones, like a standard scary story, I might even write a story from the point-of-view of a female drug addict.

Hey, remember that blog I used to have? I stopped writing anything on it in 2008. right around the time I joined Facebook, because why write a thousand words when I can write fifteen and get immediate gratifica-, er, feedback?

But seriously, in 2014, maybe I can start that up again. Then maybe after a few flash fictions there, I can start up a new one on wordpress instead. And get back to actual blogging in addition to flash fiction.

Maybe I could even make myself post a new entry every week. Sure, it’s arbitrary, but maybe there will be some weeks I don’t feel like writing, like maybe Christmas week, and then all of a sudden it’ll be Monday, and I’ll be like, “oh shit, I have to post a blog entry,” and then I’ll actually write instead of just putting it off. I mean, it could happen. And even if it only works for, like, the last fifteen weeks of the year, what would that be? Twenty thousand words? Thirty thousand? To add to the twenty thousand in the novel? Throw in some of the earlier flashes and I’d be over sixty thousand words written in a year.

Shit, that might almost feel like an accomplishment. ”Hey,” I’ll tell everyone, “I wrote what Ken Follett writes in his sleep!”

It also might be cool to learn how to hyperlink.

On to 2015.

Wow. If I could have made all of those resolutions in January, and followed through on all of them, what a cool year it would have become.

And if so, what would be in store for 2015? What plans should I make? Only one way to find out – wait until next December.

See you all in the New Year

By the way, it was a knife. A knife is a common household object that might kill you. Thanks for staying with us.