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Because You Just Never Know

Pole Position

I grew up playing those video games — Intellivision, Nintendo, Colecovision, and the Ataris 26-, 52-, and (gasp!) 7800 — many that required the steering wheel accessory, like “Pole Position” or “Spy Hunter.” So I was pretty good at avoiding real obstacles on an imaginary road. My mother would tell me how it was a complete waste of my time, detrimental to my overall development. She was right, until. . .

I moved to Los Angeles out of college. My time there did not begin well.  I bought a used Audi GT before making the journey and it had a horrible habit of shutting off at the most inopportune moments, such as while driving.

Every mechanic I brought it to in Boston said, “We don’t know why it’s doing this, but a new fuel pump relay should fix it.” And I got a new fuel pump relay. . . and another. . . and a third.

Other than that, the car was fine, until. . .

During my third week in Los Angeles, the brakes began to squeak. It’s that warning mechanism brakes have that tell you if you don’t replace the brake pads soon, your car will most likely send you hurtling off a cliff at the most inopportune moments, such as while driving. And no one, especially me, wanted that.

Well, I was new in town and unfamiliar with any place to bring it (and there was no Yelp! back then), though I had been to the mall once and remembered passing a Midas Brake Specialists shop next to it. These people not only knew brakes, they were specialists! It said so in the sign. So I had my answer.

Even as a young adult, I’d already had the oil changed several times before, so I knew what to expect — you bring your car in, they take care of the oil, you bring it home. Easy peasy. I figured brakes were the same. That was a big leap of faith.

At that time, I had no job, so I could block off an entire day, though I didn’t expect it to take quite so long. I got there at 8 a.m. and I waited. . .  and waited. . . and waited.

Just after 4 o’clock, the “technician,” a Native American guy with a long, braided pony-tail who stood about five-feet zero, informed me the work was completed and offered to test drive my vehicle with me to see what a great job he’d done.

I thought, “Wow! that’s super service.  Usually, they just fix it and give it to you,” as he took his position in the passenger seat. (I realize he was probably as curious as I was to see if he had done the job right.)

We pulled out of the carport and continued down the side street. Three rights around the block, that’s all. I applied the brakes at the first stop sign. (Have you ever pushed the pedal down to the floorboard? No, of course, you haven’t. The pedal is not supposed to go that far.)

“Uh, it’s a little loose.”

“Oh, that is because they are new brakes,” he says sheepishly in an effort to hide his idiocy.  And what did I know? I’d only been driving a couple of years and never had the privilege of owning “new brakes.”

I took the right, another right, and a third right to bring me back to the front.  The same situation as I pushed down all the way, but the car stopped, so I paid the fee and hopped in to head home.

It was now 4:30 and the shop was closing for the day. I was very tired from my day watching bad daytime talk shows and telenovelas on tv in the waiting room anyway and wanted to do some writing, so I wasn’t thinking, “Take it back and fix it. I’ll wait.”

Onto the main drag, I turned just as rush hour was getting thicker.  A red light stopped me up ahead.  I pushed my pedal down to the floorboard to activate the “new brakes” and the car stopped as it had previously.

With my foot still on the brake, my car started to roll forward a little. Then the light turned green and the car in front of me took off. I accelerated briefly, then it dawned on me, “Did I take my foot off the brake causing it to roll forward or. . . did the car just start to roll by itself?”

Letting the pace car in front of me get some distance, I decided to test the brakes.  Yep, I was right.  I hate when I’m right.  Especially when it’s about MY DRIVING WITHOUT BRAKES!!!

Okay, stay calm.  How bad could it be?  It’s an Audi. Worst case scenario, I cause a huge pile-up at an intersection; at least my car will hold up well. (Actually, the worst case scenario has me running over several bystanders, a lady with a baby carriage, and slamming into a fire hydrant spraying water everywhere causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages.)

Remarkably, I am less scared than angry.  A few thoughts go through my head, including one that has me intentionally causing as much damage as possible so I could sue Midas for every nickel and then forcing the entire staff to work on my estate. But that seemed like a lot of work. I didn’t want to go through all that, as I needed to find a day job.

And then it entered my head — I’d been here before. . . virtually. The hours I spent playing “Pole Position” was a practical application that prepared me for this.  Ha! Mom, I was right! Of course, then my mother’s favorite phrase came into my head — “You could be right, dead right.” Damn you, Mom! Get out of my head. Now is not the time!

Nevertheless, this would be my greatest challenge, my real life Pole Position. If I made it home, I’d have a story to tell. If not, and. . . well, there was always that lawsuit. No one could tell the exact moment I realized the brakes failed, right?

Oh, sure, I could have turned around and gone back to Midas, but where’s the fun in that? (Plus, turning around was not going to be easy.)

Okay, I had to think. Remember my training! I quickly went over the landscape in my head.  It was one right turn (which I could do because this was Los Angeles whose “right on red” law is its greatest cultural contribution), then five lights, across two main roads, and one left turn, which would be the trickiest part.

It was Mission: Impossible. Should I fail, any knowledge would be disavowed. But seriously, in the event I had to abort, I could always gently guide the car into some place that wouldn’t get me nor anyone else injured. . . theoretically.

Back to the road in front of me — I figured since I couldn’t stop, I would have to drive real slow and speed up just enough to keep my momentum.  That way, I would never have to slam on the brakes.  I just had to pray for green lights.

Amazingly, I made them all, including the busiest street at the top of the hill. (The hill was great because it stopped all my momentum.)

Now my mind wandered ahead to the left turn.  What if on-coming traffic was too steady and I couldn’t make it?  I figured out plans B and C just in case.  (Plan B was that I would try the next left hand turn onto another side street, and Plan C was I would soil my pants.) I worried that I had run out of luck.

But huzzah, like the Red Sea underneath the hand of Moses, the southbound traffic parted just enough allowing me the perfect opportunity to make the turn!

Giving it a little gas to crawl onto the driveway, which leveled downward slightly, I yanked up on the emergency brake as I lightly tapped the back of the carport.  Luckily my roommate wasn’t home, otherwise his car would’ve been my wall.  And there it was.  I made it home alive! A real life video game, with potential real life consequences.

Oh, and the next day, I had the car towed back to Midas at their expense, rented a car at their expense, and had them put WORKING brakes in the car at their expense. A lawsuit might have eliminated the need for a job, however, but I let them off the hook as no harm, no foul.

So when you see your kids spending hours in front of the television playing video games – yes, they may be on the freeway to obesity, but they are inevitably setting themselves up with survival skills.

Oh, and never go to Midas.

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10 Things Deflategate Has Taught Us About Ourselves

10 Things Deflategate Has Taught Us About Ourselves

The appeal hearing is over. You know, the appeal in the Deflategate scandal heard by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, the same guy who doled out the punishment in the first place. That phrase “Deflategate” has been in the public consciousness for 191 days thus laying waste to the claim that we have better things to focus on. Some have said it’s been a waste of time and money, while others have said it’s been a complete waste of time and money; I say it’s provided us with something more valuable than justice — a chance for introspection. Deflategate has afforded us the opportunity to see who we really are, as a society. Here are the ten things Deflategate has taught us about ourselves:

We LOVE a good witch hunt.

Something about New England brings out our persecution instincts. Yes, it’s been 322 years since someone was executed as a witch, but there’s really never a bad time to relive those Halcyon days.

Make no mistake, that’s what this was. This time, our witch was a dimpled Golden boy, one married to Giselle (most likely the result of some manner of sorcery and deception). The Wells Report, the investigative version of the Ford Pinto, has proven to be a clumsy attempt at  indicting Tom Brady. Even with the flawed material therein, the league still had to manipulate the verbiage in their to attempt to BURN THE WITCH!

We come to our conclusions and then fill in the details. 

People who wanted to believe Tom Brady was an evil mastermind found their proof in talking points — “The balls were 2 p.s.i’s under regulation!” “The Patriots chose to fire their employees which is a sign of guilt!” “The balls can’t deflate by themselves in cold weather!” Each of these points fit in with their narratives. . . even as all of those were proven false later. By then, everyone stopped paying attention as they were too busy dancing.

We believe the first thing we hear and then stop listening.

But we already knew this one, right? Headlines are front page material; retractions are on page 78, underneath automotive classifieds in type so small anyone over the age of 40 can’t read them. We’ve got our info, now leave us alone. There are cats to be watched on YouTube.

We don’t give two punts about the integrity of the game.

Most of the most vocal among us have no problem when their players lube themselves up to prevent opponents from getting a good grip. The league has played this card even in light of the fact they didn’t check the balls with any certainty or competence. In fact, they weren’t too concerned about anything illegal until after the fact.

We are hypocrites.

Hall-of-Famer and admitted cheater Jerry Rice says Tom Brady is a bum for cheating. But Rice has self-absolved himself of his cheating because, as he puts it, “everyone was doing it.” In his eyes, Brady is a lone wolf, regardless of the fact other quarterbacks have admitted to manipulating the balls. But then, that’s not important to Rice’s argument.

Whoever screams loudest is the winner.

The NFL leaked false information from the giddy up which allowed them to craft the narrative. And it worked. “Most of the Patriots footballs were at ridiculously low air-pressure levels.” “They were so underinflated, in fact, we’re surprised they weren’t mistaken for cow dung during the game.” “These things were just a heap of pigskin, nothing more”. . . of course, when anyone screamed about how this wasn’t true, no one could hear them over the league’s shrill voice of accusation. The league, for all their missteps and comically inept decisions, could not be wrong because they were loudest.

We love cutting others down to feel better about ourselves.

I’ve never won a Super Bowl because it looks difficult, and I don’t have the physical tools, the drive, the discipline, the intelligence. . . really, I’m barely a man. I’m pathetic. But now that I thinkTom Brady cheated to get his, I feel much better about myself. He’s as pathetic as I am. Suzanne Johnson, the wife of the Jets owner Woody Johnson was said to be dancing around when she heard the Patriots QB was found guilty by the court of kangaroos. I wonder if she stopped dancing when someone reminded her that her husband owned the Jets.

We’re more likely to believe a stranger than someone who knows.

ESPN commentators Damien Woody and Tedy Bruschi were asked whether they believed Tom Brady. Bruschi was a good friend whereas Woody only knew the man professionally from over a decade ago. Only Bruschi believed Brady because he knew the quarterback valued integrity above all else. So of course, we can only glean one thing from this — we must throw out his testimonial because he’s Brady’s friend. Only the man who truly knows nothing about the subject is unbiased enough to tell us whether he’s a liar or not.

We love not having accountability. 

We’re only wrong if we admit to being wrong which we’d be foolish to do, even if evidence destroys our case. So you’ll never get an apology from us. And we’ll continue to spout our opinions as if we’re right. It’s your fault for listening to us in the first place.

We are crazy people.

Most of the commentators were not playing with fully inflated footballs either. Troy Aikman said Deflategate was worse than Bountygate, an almost equally-fabricated scandal, where players were paid bonuses to inflict pain on opposing players. With all due respect, Aikman was hit in the head a lot.

ESPN’s Steven A. Smith has no such excuse. He compared Tom Brady to Aaron Hernandez, a convicted murderer, which on the surface makes him look like a loon, but as you look deeper you’ll find that he is really a loon. For more of his lunacy, check out ESPN on a daily basis because, you know what?. . . NO ACCOUNTABILITY.  And we love that!

So I say thank you Roger Goodell and Tom Brady and all the buffoons involved for forcing us to focus on the real depth of our character instead of just silly inflation numbers of footballs. What we do with this knowledge is up to us. I suggest we continue doing the same things. Hey, it’s worked for us for our 400 years, why change now?

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“Introduction to Adult Puberty”

Adult Puberty

You know those videos they used to show us in high school about adolescent boys going through puberty? Well, this is the adult version of those about full-grown males entering middle age. No one ever told you about adult puberty in school so you had to look elsewhere for guidance — like this video, for example.

http://bit.ly/1GvlIUx

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The Wasif’s Latest Book Now Available

"Hollywood Primer: Everything You Need to Know Before Moving to Los Angeles"

Andy Wasif’s new how-to book about moving to Los Angeles is now available through Amazon and Kindle.

It’s the only book about Los Angeles that’s about LIVING here more than about moving here. It provides you with the answers no one thought to mention for the questions you didn’t know to ask.

If you are planning to make the big move to SoCal for any reason — the weather, the industry, witness relocation, etc. — or know someone who is, this book is a MUST. Keep it close to you as you begin your new adventure and may all your dreams come true.

Get your copy here today!

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Red Sox/Yankees: A Flickering Rivalry

Varitek/A-Rod fight

Exactly ten seasons have passed since the Red Sox were defending champs for the first time since the Woodrow Wilson administration. (Nine if you completely disavow the Bobby Valentine fiasco.)

It was an entirely different environment for baseball fandom back then. Fans born today have no idea of the suffrage endured, the “better luck next year” anguish, the torment at the hands of Yankees fans. Oh, how times have changed. The greatest rivalry in American professional sports has gone stale (save for a fight between a drunk fan or two, but that’s all in a day’s game).

Sure, there have been long periods of calm before, interspersed by periods of violent conflagrations — Billy Martin and Jimmy Piersall fighting each other in the tunnel underneath the stands in the 50s; Fisk and Munson rolling around on the ground in the 70s; 2004, when Jason Varitek taught A-Rod about the health benefits of leather taken orally. I mean, this is a rivalry that once reached DEFCON 1, when Pedro was hitting Yankee batsmen as if he was playing “Duck Hunt” on his Nintendo Entertainment System. But this feels different.

For that was when we were frustrated and our buttons could be pushed. Now, we’re riding in duck boats on Easy (Boylston) Street. We’ve all seen that kid with the sign that reads “6 years old and 40 parades” or something like that. He will never know true hardship, that borne of shattered dreams and broken bat flare singles; the anger that comes from leaving a pitcher in the game too long like a turkey on Thanksgiving, or diminutive shortstops hitting one just over the monster. We were a nervous, sad sack of tears and regret back then, but it bred many of our best qualities — bravery, resilience, optimism, probably a little foolishness, but most of all, loyalty.

There are few remnants of those traits in the newest generation of Red Sox fans. It comes too easily for them whereas for us, the only ticker tape we ever saw came when a Telex factory dumped their refuse out the window. (This new generation doesn’t even have to deal with telex machines!) But regardless of the disappointment, I kept watching my team!

At one time, Boston executives couldn’t even get onto the same hotel floor as a Cuban import and now all flights to Boston seem to include a layover in Havana.

Gone are the days when the Red Sox would claim ex-Yankees off the scrap heap — Elston Howard, Rick Cerone, Ramiro Mendoza — and now we’re happily allowing them to overpay for our players — Stephen Drew, Jacoby Ellsbury. Heck, we’ll even cover the Amtrak fare down I-95.

I miss those days. I feel like I had an edge then. I was close to the borderline, baby! Don’t push me with your “19-18!” chants and your brags of 20-some-odd championships (most of which occurred before you were born).

Every hero needs a villain. Who do we root against now? A-Rod? Ha! Expecting anything from him is like expecting a glorious spring lawn once the snow melts and then remembering all the dog poop that’s still there.

Do the fans still bother us? (Well, yes, of course they do, they’re Yankees fans and verbal abuse is in their cholesterol-clogged arteries. Disregard the question.) I just don’t feel the same animosity for them that I once did. Their taunts don’t have the same bite anymore since the Red Sox have tripled the Yankees output of championships during this century. Those numbers they used to spew are now insignificant to an entire generation of fans.

Could it be that we’re the villains now? Nah. I know many teams don’t like us, but that never bothered us before. Did it? To be honest, I don’t even know who I am anymore. I enjoy the winning, that’s true, but it was more the thrill of the victory, which allowed the thrill of rubbing it in the faces of Yankees fans.

This week, we start a new season where the Yankees lineup is peppered with players either on the downward slopes of their careers or pulled from the FBI’s Witness Relocation Program softball team. There are no future Hall of Famers left, no MVPs, no Red Sox killers. They’re not going to put up much of a fight.

The nineteen games where the two squads will square off this year will not lead to seven more in the postseason. They’ll lack the drama, they’ll lack the sense of relief and joy after a victory, the kind we used to have. How do we stoke the fire and make the rivalry fun again?

Maybe Wade Miley starts head hunting since he doesn’t have to bat anymore. Perhaps Pedroia slides in spikes up to his old double play-mate Drew. We’ll be happy to take our cue from any of the guys on the field.

There’s a new league commissioner and maybe that signals a brand new day in this rivalry. But until then, we only have YouTube videos and Ben Affleck-narrated documentaries to teach our children what it means to be decent and hard-cheering fans, and to rekindle old feelings of a rivalry gone bland.

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March Madness Parody Video

With March Madness starting in full force this week, office workplaces will be focused on one thing — their NCAA Tournament brackets. Written by and starring Andy Wasif, here’s a retrospective of one such office from last year.

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2014 – My Year in Review

Happy New Year

December 24, 2014

Festive holiday greetings to you, my dearest friends, future McConaghey, Adell Dazeem, the sons of both Mumford and Anarchy, past McConaghey, and all my bros, brahs, boos, and baes,

I found myself rushing to finish ye annual note as I’ve been otherwise preoccupied with cleaning all the Jell-O pudding pops from my freezer.  In fact, I almost pulled it altogether due to the biting references I included to Kim Jung Un, but as we’re past them now, I decided it would be acceptable to send.

For ‘tis the season to Keep Calm and Open Carry On as we vape the residue of 2014 precipitating upon us.  Where did the time go? December has shown up unannounced not unlike a U2 album in our iPods.  In fact, the whole year stings of surreality.  Did the Ferguson Police dump an ice bucket on top of Joan Rivers and then launch her into Gaza or was that just a vivid dream I had that night I went heavy on the sriracha sauce? It’s safe to say, my 32nd year on this planet (of course, my time spent aboard the space station is another note for another time) was a time to remember.

It was a year of discovery as I found out which “Gilligan’s Island” character I am (“Ginger”), which spice I most resembled (also ginger), what’s the best city for me (Atlantis), and what my birthstone says about my personality (“supreme jackass”);

a year of conclusion as my lawsuit against the Golden Panda Chinese restaurant finally reached a settlement — I received no money up front, but they did promise in writing that a short stranger will soon enter my life bringing joy;

and a year of accomplishment as I completed my latest script, a remake of the comedy classic “9 to 5,” entitled “8 to 7-ish and Every Other Saturday.”  [smiley face]

But mostly, my experiences were as scattered as the choreography in One Direction’s act.  Early in February, as the Polar Vortex smacked me around like Solange Knowles in an elevator, I ventured to Sochi for the XXII Olympic Winter Games where I lucked out by securing a room with a working roof, but the thrill of victory soon dissipated as I could not help but notice all the stray dogs walking around. The only event that interested me was the tug-of-war on my heart strings, and I gave in to magnanimity.

I rescued one pooch whom I named Vlad and took him home with me. And the new living arrangement appealed to him. . . for about 24 hours at which point he invaded my neighbor’s apartment, and peed in the crock pot filled with her famous Chicken Kiev.  Needless to say, it has made our regular Cards Against Humanity game nights in my building quite awkward.

With spring now sprung, my concerns turned from chicken stock to my portfolio of stocks as the NYSE, that fickle foe, shifted along with public favor and suddenly, it was all about the bass, ‘bout the bass, when here I was, betting the farm on treble.  I foolishly ignored the first rule of shrewd investment and did not diversify, thus causing a conscious uncoupling with my savings. [frowny face]

But as Taylor Swift reminds me every day, I chose to “Shake It Off” by turning my bankruptcy into a bankruptunity!  And I took time for some domestic travel, hopping in my classic 1994 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera and heading east where I got to see my friends in New York City . . . from the George Washington Bridge on which I was stuck in a governor-sized traffic jam.  (Cars for days, son!) Fortunately, traffic was alleviated when all the GM cars were recalled and I, a hundred feet from the off-ramp, was forced to walk the final stretch of road.

The adversity awakened the force inside me and I resolved to run my first marathon.  It was quite the undertaking; I had to hire the volunteers, solicit sponsors, find a 26.2-mile course that was both challenging and appealing — why, just filling out the license forms from the city was a Herculean task in itself — and it would have gone off without a hitch too had I remembered to market it to the runners.  But has it not been said many times that failure is merely the Secret Service of success?  [winky face]

And now, looking ahead to next year, I’m primed to take my career to new heights by optimizing my search engine, reshaping my sustainable organizational structure, branding my synergistic solutions, and, most importantly, downloading emojis so I won’t have to type out words in brackets any more.  Baby steps, baby steps.

To all of you and all of yours (whoever and whatever they may be and however they may have found their ways into your possession), may your Internet be hacked and infected with the cyber virus of prosperity and happiness for 2015.

Yours patiently awaiting Saint Nicholas,

Andy Wasif (a.k.a. Adlee Waifish to Mr. Travolta)

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Everything I Ever Learned, I Learned from Billy Joel

Billy Joel

There’s a storm front coming, if you will, as the Piano Man, celebrating his fiftieth year in the music biz, is back in the public eye with his residency at Madison Square Garden, his Kennedy Center Honor, his world tour, and his exclusive channel on Sirius XM radio.  But I, for one, never let my New York state of mind wane.  It may seem shameless to say, but everything I’ve learned, I learned from Billy Joel.

My father wasn’t around much to tell me the ways of the world.  (Well, he was, but he never sang his lessons, nor put them to music, so. . . y’know, in one ear, out the other.)  It was primarily from the extensive catalogue of Sir William Joel (he was knighted, wasn’t he?  I mean, if Elton John was, Billy should be, nationality be damned!) that I’ve picked up a thorough education on such diverse subjects as the entertainment business (if you get cold, you won’t get sold) to balancing work and play, succeeding in relationships, and money management all the way to the guy’s code and enjoying the moment — all the stuff that’s truly important in life.  (Yeah, I’m looking at you calculus, state capitals, chemistry, Shakespeare…  You’re all worthless!)

Hey, life isn’t easy.  Just surviving is a noble fight.  So in order to enlighten you as I have been enlightened, here are fifteen tried and true bits of wisdom from the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer that help as we all have to deal with pressure.

  1. Never buy a big waterbed with the bread you had saved for a couple of years.  Really?  That’s your luxury buy?  Savings accounts barely even reach one percent these days.  The money you took out could not have been worth the time you spent waiting for its value to appreciate.  Have you tried mutual funds?  The stock market is riding new highs this year.  You could do a lot worse.  As for your purchase, who needs a waterbed anyway?  You get sea sick in your sleep.  If you’re gonna save up, buy something a little more durable.  A memory foam mattress is much more comfortable and better for your back.  Plus, you can drink wine while bouncing up and down on it without spilling.
  2. Take the phone off the hook and disappear for a while.  This country is all about success.  If you’re not successful, then you’re nothing.  So we work 26 hours a day, eight days a week.  There’s always someone else who is working harder than you?  But is he happy?  Maybe he’s working so hard because he hates his wife and doesn’t want to go home?  How did he get his current position?  Who is he related to that got him the job?  The mind can literally explode if you work too hard.  I’ve seen it happen (in a reenactment on the Internet).  And still, things can never happen fast enough.  Why aren’t you successful yet?  You can’t be everything you wanted to before your time.  Cool it off before you burn it out.  Visit an amusement park, take in a jazz festival, go on a trip.  Vienna is nice this time of year.  Your mind will thank you by not exploding.
  3. You can linger too long in your dreams.  Dreams are nice.  Feel free to dream on, but don’t imagine they’ll all come true.  But you’ve got to know when to pull the rip cord and resort to your fallback plan (assuming you have one).  There’s a popular image on the Internet of two guys digging in adjacent tunnels.  One of them throws his shovel down and we see that it’s right before reaching the diamond mine.  The point is, you never know when your dream will become a reality and you don’t want to bail too soon, but you’ve got to use some common sense here.  Some dreams have clocks on them.  Once you hit ten or eleven, if you haven’t mastered a back handspring yet, you could probably forget about being an Olympic gymnast.  Still, some guys keep that picture of Kate Upton on their vision boards way too long.  It’s getting depressing.  Give it up.  It ain’t gonna happen.  She’s moved on, so should you.
  4. We can only go so far on caviar and cabernet.  Who are you, Jay Gatsby?  That kind of extravagance is gonna bore you after a time.  That is, if you’re not already bankrupt.  How much caviar can one eat anyway?  It’s so salty.  Your lips are gonna prune up and you’ll be in perpetual “duck face” leaving you looking looking like a sorority girl in Spring Fling photos.  Quit pretending to be some pompous boob and go have some wings and beer.  So enjoy yourself, but don’t overdo it.
  5. We will all go down together.  Look at Mike and Trent in the classic movie “Swingers” when they went back to the trailer with the waitress and “Dorothy” — Mike couldn’t get out of his own way, wallowing in sadness over his ex-girlfriend.  He didn’t score, and that meant Trent had to curtail his activities.  It is the number one tenet of the man’s code:  Leave no man behind!  Either we all get the girl or no one does.  This also works during wartime activities, but hopefully you will not find yourself in that situation.
  6. Let people speak their mind, but not on your time.  Whether it’s cold remedies or stock tips, or the way to dispatch a hornet’s nest, everyone’s a know-it-all.  You can be polite, the ol’ nod n’ smile technique, if you’d like, but really, you have better things to do than to listen to their cockamamie advice.  If you ask for their advice, fine, but you don’t need their advice.  The only guidance you need is from Billy on this one.  Let them ramble on, though.  No need for you to be hot about it.  And then bring it up later to rub their faces in their heaping pile of wrong, especially if they’re covered in hornet stings and you’re not.
  7. Get it right the first time.  This one is rather straight-forward.  You get one chance to make a first impression, whether it’s with a guy/girl, or during your “elevator pitch” to the CEO of the company, or in your tryout as wideout for the San Francisco 49ers, so don’t blow it!   No one is giving second chances anymore.  In this day and age, with 140 characters on Twitter and fifteen second Instagram video clips, even that first time is condensed.  You have no autocorrect in the real world.  Earn the nickname “One-Take Charlie.”
  8. Don’t be afraid to try again.  Yeah, you blew it the first time, everyone goes south every now and then.  Get back on that horse.  Just don’t make the same mistake.  That falls under the umbrella, “If at first, you don’t succeed. . .”  I mean, it might not work.  Don’t beat a dead horse.  But we do like a redemption story.  However, this is your last chance.  So what if you made a fool of yourself on “American Idol” with the whole country watching.  Somewhere, there’s the back room of a sawdust-infested bar that’ll have you.  We’re not saying you’re gonna be back on Redemption Week on the “Idol,” but to remember rule #3.
  9. Never argue with a crazy mi-mi-mi-mi-mind.  It’s the argument equivalent of trying to get a sugar-crazed kid off of the jungle gym.  There’s the old adage that when you argue with a fool, anyone watching from a distance won’t be able to tell which of you is the fool.  It’s why umpires initially walk away from a heated manager.  Another way to phrase this is just avoid fans of any sports team other than your own, or political party, or anyone wearing a bathrobe in public, Alec Baldwin, Beyonce’s sister, a dude roller blading with a snake around his neck, etc.
  10. Tell her about it.  Tell her all your crazy dreams.  Open and honest communication!  It’s the key to any relationship.  What’s on your mind, what are you thinking?  Let’s take a moment to gauge where we are.  Put it all out there on the table, so she’s not left guessing because that’s where the trouble begins.  I lay everything out there — sometimes as I walk to my car, I imagine that I’m a walrus; what it would be like to be a woman; if bears are migrating into cities, why isn’t Bigfoot?  And if he does, what job would he apply for? (I’m not gonna lie to you, I’ve gotten the “we need space” talk a LOT.)  It’s up to your discretion how much you tell.
  11. Leave a tender moment alone.  Okay, this one takes a bit of intuition and may seem to counter the previous rule.  Just because it’s on your mind doesn’t mean she needs to know.  Two people together, even soulmates, can annoy the hell out of each other at most times.  It’s natural.  But if you just keep quiet, it will make things a lot easier.  Recently, there was an Ohio couple married 70 years that died within fifteen hours of each other.  They held hands at breakfast every day.  They didn’t need to say anything.  In fact, the second one of them opened his or her mouth, it might have ruined everything.  No one wants to hear you free associate your feelings every minute of every day.  While you’re being all communicative, you must know when to SHUT. . . UP.
  12. In every heart, there is a room, a sanctuary safe and strong to heal the wounds of lovers past until a new one comes along.  Okay, so you told her too much and doomed the whole relationship, you’ll get over this heartbreak.  Suppressing your feelings is the best way to put the pain behind you, and nothing bad ever boils up again.  That’s what Billy means when he talks about the room in your heart.  Okay, so it’ll also help if you burn all his/her possessions and any of his/her favorite restaurants, just to keep yourself from being reminded of the monumental way you screwed things up with the one person in the world that understood you.
  13. Sinners are much more fun.  Stop being such a saint.  You’re always worried about doing the right thing and concerned about what other people think.  (Honestly, some of those Commandments are kinda overblown.)  “Only the good die young” isn’t completely true as there are so many other factors independent of your lifestyle that contribute to life expectancy, from genetics to environment to diet, etc.  So have some fun, fer cryin‘ out loud!  (I mean, we’re not talking about murder here.)  Claim someone else’s coffee off the counter at Starbucks, make a lefthand turn from the right lane, photobomb a family portrait.  It’ll be okay.
  14. Post-WWII history and pop culture.  All of it.  Him.  That’s where I got all my knowledge.  (Though, lately, I’ve been learning a thing or two from Wikipedia.)
  15. These are not the best of times, but they’re the only times I’ve ever known.  Quit whining!  Could things be better?  Probably, but you’re alive, so suck it up.  What are you looking for, unicorns and gumdrop forests with money trees?  The grass is always greener but you should just stay in the present and enjoy yourself.

There you have it.  It’s life.  Mistakes are to be expected.  But if you carry this list with you as a guide, the words of the Piano Man can take us all through the tough times.   And so it goes.

Posted on

My New Year Recap of 2013

December 24, 2013 11:53 p.m.

Knock Knock.

Who’s th–

POW!  You’ve been punched out with holiday cheer and good will!

To all my dearest, old friends (both tenured and vintage) and new acquaintances including Carlos Danger, Pope Francis, George Louis Alexander, and of course, the NSA (who are not on my mailing list, but are reading this anyway),

I wish you a secular and nondenominational, inoffensive greeting during this most hallowed and joyous time of year (should you choose to find it hallowed and joyous).

As I sit here on this yuletide, stoking a yule log in my hearth and simultaneously noshing on the culinary yule log while nestled comfortably underneath my framed photo of Yul Brenner, it dawned upon me that this is my tenth annual holiday note to the masses.  The swift passage of time has left me at a loss for — what do you call that? — unit of language which functions as a principal carrier of meaning composed of one or more morphemes.  I took at it as an opportunity to partake of the quiche of nostalgia and, via my TARDIS (I rented one as an outright purchase seemed obtuse), I engaged in “Throwback Thursday” (though it is only Tuesday), reviewing the swath of memories a decade has provided.  It was like binge-watching my life.

I chortled at 2004, the year I had my name legally changed to Wa$if, bellowed at 2006, which was adapted into the movie “A Madea Holiday Note,” guffawed at 2009 which was actually penned by another scribe as I was embroiled in a contract dispute, and cackled at my 2010 appearance on the popular reality program “So You Think You Can Dance With the Stars” and my attempt to sidle up to Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn only to get leveled by her bodyguards.  (My neck still hurts when there are sharknado conditions which happen more often than any self-respecting film major would care for.)

As for the past 365, I can only imagine what synonym for “laugh” they will conjure.  It certainly has seemed quite the roller coaster what with the smaug desolation and constant candy crushing, though we did manage to avoid the widely-predicted zombie apocalypse, which was quite a relief for me particularly, as I have a history of undead in my family (though book sales for my travel tome “101 Places to See After You Die” were predictably lackluster.  Such is the price of writing for a specific demographic.)

June, in particular, was quite challenging for me due to an ill-advised twerking accident.   The pain came to me like a wrecking ball and I yelped. . . giving it only two stars as it should have a warning label listing potential physical harm and an attack on good taste.  (Unfortunately, I had to pay for therapy out-of-pocket due to a pre-existing condition from last year’s planking accident. Had I only waited a few months for Obamacare to kick in. . .)  Fully recovered now, I am ready to enter BEAST MODE!!!. . . or beauty mode, whichever is less strenuous.

Creatively, it was a banner year for writing as I came up with such pithy fare as “Everything Must Go” for outside of mattress stores and “Come to Happy Hour for Drink Specials,” tailing airplanes over beaches.

Alas, I was forced to shut down all business for a time.  Apparently, my inability to come up with a budget left me unable to reconcile my meager earnings with my exorbitant spendings.  Fortunately, my insolvency was not terribly noticeable as I borrowed enough to live on.  I’ll let my children and my children’s children deal with it as I have greater issues on my plate such as why are children allowed to have children of their own?!  The very notion of it sickens me, though that could be the recalled poultry I bought on sale for Thanksgivikkah as part of their Duck Dynasty promotion.

I still managed my annual sojourn abroad this year as the Living Social travel deal I came upon was simply too good to pass up (without reading the “terms and conditions” to which I readily agreed).  I spent 39 glorious days in the transit zone of Moscow’s airport where I immersed myself thoroughly in the culture indulging on their authentic cuisine of vodka lattes at the Starbucks and the mcgoulash patty from their McDonald’s.

Upon my return, October featured some very heavy emotional times as I learned somewhat auspiciously that I was not, in fact, Woody Allen’s son.  The bombshell came as somewhat of a shock to me, but not nearly as much as it did to my parents who have been telling me I was for years, in spite of their names on my birth certificate.

All in all, if I’ve taken anything away from 2013, it was the teachings of Rob Ford, the great Mayor of the great state of Toronto, who showed that no matter how unqualified you are, to remain steadfast in your beliefs, even in the face of fierce resistance and common sense.  And conversely, if things are going great, you should voluntarily and without reason change them up, just to mess with people, like Yahoo! mail.

May unmanned drones rain down upon you in targeted strikes of happiness and health, inflicting unspeakable prosperity.

Yours truly,

Andy Wa$if