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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.

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Recapping My 2012

December 24, 2012

@Dearest friends, hobbits, Big Bird, Honey Badger, homophobic chickens, and the 47% of you I know are going to read this no matter what,

#Whatayear!  I refuse to concede that it’s over.  It went by in an instagram, just a flickr.  So much transpired, much of it incredibly pinteresting, such as the *asterisk* replacing italics.  In fact, 140 characters cannot even begin to describe the meme that was 2012, an affair that I attended clothed magnificently in Gangnam style dress of just more than four dozen shades of grey.

And assuming you are reading this now — SPOILER ALERT! – we are still alive!  The Mayans proved their prognostications to be more skewed than those of a Romney pollster, a predicament that proved both bitter *and* sweet, for I chose to engage in carpe diem — a spicy Argentine fish dish I came upon through Epicurious — and hence chose to max out my credit cards.  Boy, is my face red. . . matching my bank account.

The new resolve did however spur me to attack my bucket list, first moving to curb my hoarderism by cleaning my apartment.  Oh, the things I came upon, including six of the ten buckets on said list, my binder of women, my bayonets, the decade-old prototype for a “Touch Me Elmo” doll, and a cache of mislabeled “Livestrong” bracelets.  (The “v” was missing so, as luck would have it, I will be able to use them after all.)

When I reminisce on the year, the visions dance about with tapouts, copouts, knockouts, brownouts, obnoxious louts, acrimonious shouts, and bailouts.  Bailouts especially in Europe, as for much of year, Greece was the word, the word that we heard.  From the blue moon into the summer nights all the way to one evening I spent stranded at the drive-in followed by tears on my pillow straight up until Sandy showed up much different than we expected, the Old World home of democracy kept me engrossed with their economic discord.  The whole ordeal felt so cinematic, and made me want to sing for some reason.

A defining moment of my activity came early summer when I fell prey to the proverbial June swoon, captivated by one lady’s bottomless charm and nonrefundable grace.  Yes, I finally redneckonized what was already gospel — Honey Boo Boo was, indeed, a national treasure.  So I became a redneckluse to devote my time to watching her on television until my friends intervened, getting me to redneckonsider my admiration.  It was then I redneckoned the entire display was nothing more than a pain in the rednecktum.  I came away from the experience a better person, if not more brain dead.

Shortly thereafter, I embarked upon a spiritual awakening, eschewing the hustle and esswallowing the bustle in favor of calmness and serenity, discovering the Zen buried deep inside me (during a routine outpatient surgical procedure).  I took to meditation, walks in nature, and soothing soaks, even utilizing bath salts to relieve my troubles. . .  until I was booked for assault on my neighbors which caused me more trouble.  Admittedly, I was negligent for not reading the label on the bath salts that warned against eating them.

As reparations to my reputation, I volunteered to join the neighborhood watch committee and was quite the vigilant provider of security. . . that is, until the incident.  I believed, erroneously, as it turns out, that all clothes dryers had a protection mechanism that would allow them to shut down in the case of a legitimate fire, but alas, I was wrong.  And on one of my bimonthly trips to the laundry, the act of leaving my clothes in the dryer (having lost track of time as I frolicked in the fields), needless to say, caused me to burn many britches.

Though I was removed forcibly from all future meetings, I was impressed to learn the committee head Mr. Eastwood kept addressing my empty chair which curiously managed to sway his opinion on several key proposals.

As autumn arrived, and I in need of a respite, I did manage to squeeze in my annual sojourn (how journ was it?!).  Though short in duration, I managed to visit such historic sites as the Fiscal Cliffs and the Petraeus Falls, even spending one day in Pennsylvania along the Jersey Shore, its waters lapping the banks of Philadelphia.

Of course, the election cycle played a major role in my focus as it drew more confrontational than a cross-country flight with Alec Baldwin.  Taking my naturalized voting rights seriously, I made a difficult choice after much rumination, eventually casting my ballot for the one candidate I felt best represented my equanimity and sagacious thought — Team Edward.  Though I know not all of you would agree with me, remember, it is our difference of opinions on such important matters that makes this country great.

And so as we go “All In” to the new year, with the passion that Paula Broadwell conducts a no-holds-barred biographical interview, I conclude my primly proper prose whilst enjoying the one-of-a-kind vocal stylings of Michael Buble emulating Harry Connick Jr. covering a Frank Sinatra yuletide classic by wishing each and every one of you a 2013 unlike any other 2013s.  May your Ding Dongs and Ho Hos be abundant leaving your Twinkie and Sno Balls full of happiness.

Sincerely yours,

Andy Wasif

 

Featured Image by: Stuart Miles

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My 2011 in Review

My 2011 in Review

12/18/2011

Dearest ninety-nine percent, GOP mistresses, remaining Mideast tyrants, and Demi Moore,

First off, I want to thank all those who texted me their well wishes after my freak shake weight accident.  Your expressions of concern warmed the cockles of my heart. . . save for those of Anthony Weiner whose cockles are not welcomed on my phone ever again.

I enjoy this time of year when we can put the baggage of the past 12 months in a box, letting bygones be bygones so they may raise other bygones and those bygones can, in turn, become bygones of their own, potentially forming an organic bygone community in the woods somewhere.  But in this moment of introspection, I cannot help but think of how this year was nothing short of a veritable feast of historical significance.

So much has changed – the world was all at once both topsy and turvy, seemingly rotating on a tilted axis like some sort of planetary body.  Antioxidants, once the darling of health food circles, were now being unceremoniously dispersed through questionable crowd control tactics; free radicals now cost money, and the melodious aria cough was downgraded to barely a whoop.  We experienced carmaggedon, witnessed solar flares (from which I was disappointed not to receive super powers), had the end of the world postponed another year, and for a brief time, I became a Leo, before realizing I wasn’t generous enough to qualify.

Where did the time go?  It seemed the Arab spring segued right into the Paterno fall as quickly as a Kardashian marriage.  I had no time to waste in grabbing life by its Florida peninsula.  As a change to my health regiment, I began drinking tiger blood.  That is, until developing a severe allergic reaction to it.  But for that hour and a half, I was WINNING!

By the early summer, I’d come upon a fairly rigid obstacle to my proactive aspirations in the form of a vast financial deficit due to my ill-fated foray into the baklava sector of the commodities exchange.  I was not to be deterred, however, thanks to the motivationals of Governor Rick Perry who said, “The three non-negotiable keys to achieving one’s happiness in life are hard work, perseverance, and I’ll get back to you on that third one.”  Words to live by!

Mastercard was loathe to raise my debt ceiling (downgrading my credit rating to a C- to boot) upon my request forcing me to find more thrifty uses of my FRI (Farmville-related income).  Together with my new iPhone, Siri, I took to streamlining my budget, but after a drawn out battle over whether or not to spend less or earn more, the artificial intelligence system locked me out, unable to use it anymore.  Thus, I tightened my belt, restricting myself to the bare essentials such as food, rent, and the electric milk frother that I simply had to have.  It was bad business not to buy it, lactose intolerance be damned!

One respite from the unequivocal economic exorbitance was a deal I found at Godfather’s pizza offering 9 toppings and 9 dipping sauces for just 9 bucks!  And I could defer payment to my grandkids.  The only downside was that they said it wasn’t my right to choose the toppings.

Despite such difficulties, I still managed to satiate my appetite for travel by working selflessly for causes such as helping the earthquake relief effort in New York City.   The trip also gave me a chance to attend the infamous Occupy Walmart rally which was a powerful event that will stick with me like the pepper spray in my clothes, and a stop at Wall Street’s Zuccotti Park, home to the popular gourmet luncheon spot of the traders – “Quiche My Ass.”  I had the Elitist Arugula Salad for just $59 with a Groupon.

Creatively, I found my Muse fervently aroused as I completed my first novel typed entirely using a banana to hit the keystrokes.  I think the title speaks for itself – “Kjfoewwi6f.”

And as the waxings and wanings of the moon progressed rapidly, I nevertheless found time to learn a new vocation, officially becoming a fruit ninja.  The test was not easy as you are required to hack honeydews, carve cantaloupes, gouge guavas, and joust juniper berries all with finite precision and dexterity to the reverence of bystanders at the Farmer’s Market.  I feel the lifetime ban from the popular locale was well worth the citrus belt I earned.

Moving forward, I do not wish to let future opportunity pass me by, refusing to take for granted that which is within my reach.  As such, I am excited to finally attend a taping of Oprah and Regis in 2012!  It is with the same such enthusiasm that I say to you all, may the unmanned drone of prosperity rain unspeakable happiness and joy down upon your home.

Yours comedically,

Andy Wasif

 

 

[Featured image by: digitalart]