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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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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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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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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

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My Application to Be an NFL Coach

Dear Coachless Football Teams,

I understand your frustration in hiring a new coach to run your on-field product.  The top college coaches aren’t interested and you have trepidation about some of those who have done it before, the Ken Whisenhunts, and the Lovie Smiths, and the Lovey Howells of the world.  Hence, I’d like to take this opportunity to throw my hat into the ring.

Hey, Norv Turner remained the head coach of the San Diego Chargers for six years!  You really have nothing to lose in calling me in.  Tell you what, I’ll even pay for the lunch we have together.  You like Thai food?

I know what you’re thinking:  I don’t have any experience.   True, but what I lack in experience, I make up for with snappy answers at my press conferences.

As for qualifications, where do I begin?  I am a former Monday morning quarterback, with over 30 years of experience chastising coaches for moves that, with the benefit of hindsight, seem incredibly stupid.  I have a very good record of pointing out what should have been done after the fact.

I am a badass, but a player’s coach.  To wit, I run my practices like a drill sergeant, but allow my players who display exceptional effort on the practice field to earn coupons for “one free back rub and tub soak.”

Each day, I am the first one to arrive and the last one to leave the facility.  (Though I do require an eight-hour lunch/siesta in the middle of the day.  Genius needs its rest.)

And I demand that my players will have the best endurance in the league.  I’m like Michael Douglas in ”Miracle.”  (Or was it Kurt Russell?  Y’know, I shouldn’t get them confused, but I do.)  I don’t run two-a-days, I run three-a-days.  And every practice is in pads.  In fact, I require my players to wear pads 24-7, even on off days.  They can only take them off when they shower.

From a strategy point-of-view, I can tell you that a prevent defense doesn’t prevent anything.  So I won’t use it.  A prevent offense, however, I use almost exclusively when in the red zone.  It helps to reduce turnovers close to the goal line which always sap a team of much needed momentum.

In this formation, when the ball is snapped and the offensive line drives the defense into the end zone, the quarterback hands the ball off to the running back who then scampers all the way down to the other end of the field wasting valuable time the defense would otherwise have to get the ball back and tie the game after we punched it into the end zone.  I got the idea from a recent rousing game of ”keep away.”

Defensively, I am just as adept at confusing the opposing team.  Cover-2?  Yeah, too weak.  I use the cover-11 and drop everyone into coverage.

I don’t carry a punter.  The game has four downs and I like to use them all.  Punters just take up a roster spot.  So I usually carry a fourth quarterback.  Tim Tebow will not be one of those four quarterbacks.  I see him more as a down lineman type in my scheme.

”Game management” is my middle name.  When the ball is in our quarterback’s hands with a minute thirty or less, that’s when we’re at our best.  We play the entire game as if that were the case.  The hurry up offense has never been as fast.  The second the center gets to the ball, he’s told to snap it backwards, whether the quarterback is ready or not.

Sometimes I put all four quarterbacks on the field at the same time and get the defense to try to guess who’s going to get the snap.

I’m versed in the pistol, shotgun, run-and-shoot, hit-and-run, pick-and-roll, the wildcat.  I also have perfected formations known as the musket, laser, Shangri la, and the Mississippi midnight mosey.  (The last one is a dance step, but I have a feeling I could integrate it into the offense seamlessly.)

I’m known for the sheer volume of times I employ the on-sides kickoff.  It softens the receiving team up until they don’t expect a long kickoff.

The types of players I am most fond of are tall and lanky wide receivers, that run a 9.0 80-yard dash or faster.  (I don’t believe that a 40-yard dash can adequately gauge a person’s speed and I believe that running them 100 yards is useless as there’s no purpose for that type of distance in American football.)  Someone like former NBA star, at a height of 7’6” Shawn Bradley would be ideal for my pass plays.

My cornerbacks need to have loose hips and tight necks.  So they can only stare at what’s directly in front of them but can constantly change that point of view.

Did I mention I am a tireless workaholic?  I watch film constantly.  For instance, I just finished “Argo.”  It was breathtaking.  I’m considering running a few plays like that.

I even write my own cheers for the cheerleaders.  ”One-two-three-four, we’re not gonna pass no more.” It’s actually my way to call the play to our quarterback.  (The one flaw is that if the other team realizes it’s not a real cheer, we’re in trouble.)

I grow my mustache like Andy Reid, spit when I talk like Bill Cowher, wear a fedora like Tom Landry, a sweater like Mike Ditka, and a hoodie like Bill Belichick, all at the same time.  My nickname is, in fact, ”Bum.”  According to ancestry.com, I am 1/128th Harbaugh.

On a side note, I am an amateur horticulturalist.  What do I grow?  I grow Bill Parcells Coaching Trees in my greenhouse.

”Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing,” was Coach Vince Lombardi, the man for whom football’s ultimate trophy is named.  ”Winning is something that isn’t nothing” is mine.  I live it, I breathe it, I want it etched on my tombstone.

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m good with soundbytes too.  ”If we score more points than the other team, we will win the game.”  ”I can’t have a bunch of guys peeing themselves in the middle of a playoff game.”  ”Exhibitions are for museums!”  Those were all gems I’ve uttered at one time or another.

I mentioned the press conferences earlier.  They’ll become must-see television.  Great fodder for the media and we all know the fans love an engaging coach as much as they love a winning team.  Look at Jacksonville, there can’t be any other reason to continue watching them.

And not to step on the toes of the marketing department, but I have just four words to throw out to you — ”Fans Suit Up Day.”

So, in conclusion, when you’re trying to decide on a has-been using techniques that retired when Slingin’ Sammy Baugh did, consider that the game is changing.  It’s about staying one step ahead of the curve.  Getting the other head coach to lose focus for just one second as he drops his clipboard in stunned disbelief to say, ”What the –?!” as my offensive line goes into a choreographed riverdance as a new twist on the fumblerooski.

My hire will generate interest, much more than any one of a slew of standard-issue coordinators-cum-head coaches, and that’s what you need.  We may even win a game or two.  Well, as long as Cleveland is on the schedule.

If this opportunity should not pan out, I would also consider a job in concessions where I have several years of experience.  The hot dogs have to be kept at a minimum of 125 degrees, otherwise, they <i>will</i> turn green.  That doesn’t make them taste bad, per se, just different.

 

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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

 

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Santa’s Wide World of Sports Christmas List

As we engage in a season of cold weather tailgating, roasting one Mr. Chesterfield J. Nutz over the open fire, along with brats, dogs, and wurst — and is there anything wurst than the New York Jets offensive ineptitude? — we barrel toward the beloved festival known as capitalism’s greatest trium– er, Christmas!

It’s that time when temperatures are low and Dwight Howard’s free throw percentage is even lower, when Santa does a check down on his list, perhaps calling an audible for those last-minute developments mussing up his BCS (Big Claus Shopfest).  (Santa has the sports package on his dish so he’s in the know at the North Pole.)

From the usual historic moments to record-setting performances to unnaturally enhanced performances to memorable blunders and self-inflicted goofs that have left us entertained, offended, perturbed, and beholden to our idiosyncratic whims, it’s certainly been a year for the fan.

Thus, it is an unenviable task he has this year as the world of sports was once again flush with compelling storylines, dynamic heroes, and reviled villains.  Though even the vilified might receive a gift as Santa believes it is better to give than to lead the league in receiving yards.

And decked out in crimson, this Saint Nick, not to be confused with Nick Saban, will soon take to the skies to deliver to all that which was earned in the year that was.  On board his sleigh this year, he has stocked these items for the following people:

“Clipper Darrell” – Your rightful place back in the Staples Center to see LA’s best professional hoops team.

Jeremy Lin – A TexMex-flavored reboot of Linsanity.

Jon Vilma – A better excuse.

Saints Bountygate – Helmet-to-helmet contact.

Jeremy Shockey – A tight end relocation program in case he was the one that ratted out the Bountygaters.

Curt Schilling – A redo in the gaming world.

Austin Collie – A desk job.  It’s safer.

Albert Pujols – A better start.

Junior Seau – A solid legacy and some inner peace.

Magic Johnson – All the batting practice he wants.

The Los Angeles Dodgers – A thank you note from the Boston Red Sox.

Andy Reid – a fresh start.

Alex Smith – a starting job somewhere as he’d probably make a pretty decent starting quarterback.

Scott Pioli and Romeo Crennel – a better year, in every conceivable way.

San Diego Chargers fans – Whoever the opposite of Norv Turner is as their next head coach.

Cole Hamels – A five-game suspension where he actually misses five starts.

Andy Pettitte – Ginkgo biloba so his memory comes back to him.

Ozzie Guillen – A job coaching Fidel’s national team.

Derek Jeter – A Groupon for Jenny Craig.

Tiger Woods – A meeting with the old Tiger Woods.  Maybe he can learn something about winning.

Timothy Bradley – A win in a match he clearly gets outboxed.  (He got that gift early.)

The Replacement Referees – The knowledge that their horrendous pass interference calls live on.

The NBA – A new slogan: “NBA Action – It’s broken and we fix it.”

The NFL – A change to the rules stating that if you throw a challenge flag on a play that was going to be reviewed anyway, you will be not be penalized and it will still be reviewed.

Penn State University – A lot of mouthwash to wash that taste out of your mouth.

Olympic Spoiler Alerts – You’ll get your gift in five hours.

Augusta’s Women – Women’s restrooms.

Lance Armstrong –  A lifetime supply of “Livestrong” bracelets with the “v” etched out which feels more accurate.

The 8th place finisher in the last dozen Tour de France races– A medal.  Gotta figure he was the top clean finisher.

Lebron James – A new monkey for his back.

Stephen Strausbourg – Another 40 innings.

Detroit Tigers Third Base Coach Gene Lamont – A stop sign.

Tim Tebow – Anything he wants… er, well, except a starting job, of course.

The New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers, and Detroit Lions – The extra win they deserve.

The San Diego Chargers – Oh, what the heck, you can get another win as well since you probably only gave up 28 yards on 4th and 29.  Of course, you realize how inept you were for letting it even be that close.

Shortstop Yunel Escobar – Eye black with the Spanish slur for Yunel Escobar written on it.

A-Rod – A cushion football fans use when sitting on the bench.

Shaun White – A lifetime ban from hotels.

Chipper Jones – A peaceful retirement where he can go back to his given name — Andruw.

Adam Greenberg – At least one more big league at-bat, this one against someone other than the knuckleballing Cy Young Award winner.

Melky Cabrera – A better excuse.

Derek Fisher – A new line of work now that flopping has been outlawed.

Mike Brown – The “death stare penalty” sentenced to Kobe Bryant in response to Kobe’s “death stare” at his former head coach.

Kobe Bryant – A huge party where the other guests are NBA players and coaches he’s publicly called out and ridiculed over the years.  There will be clowns and a caricature artist and a piñata.  (Three guesses who the piñata will be.)

Pablo Sandoval – Kung Fu MVPanda.

Felix Baumgartner –  A souvenir photo of his death-defying jump, like one of those snapped on a roller coaster.

Miguel Cabrera – Three crowns.

Mike Trout – An MVP to go with his ROY.

The New York Marathon – Another chance to run the 2012 marathon in 2013.

Johnny “Football” Manziel – Three more years to play like a freshman.

The New Orleans Pelicans – Nothing.  This was just an attempt to get used to their name…  Nope.  Can’t get used to it.

Dwayne Wade and Ndomukong Suh – Soap.

Dale Sveum – A bright orange jumpsuit so Robin Yount recognizes him from the birds.

Justin Verlander – A win in an important game.

Andrew Luck – Well, he certainly doesn’t need any luck so he gets just a little more seasoning.

Peyton Manning – Another Super Bowl win to put a little space between the number of titles he has and the number his brother Cooper has.

Tom Brady – Another Super Bowl win to solidify his place in history.

Jon Gruden – A coaching job so that he may bring his energy and enthusiasm out of the broadcast booth and into the locker room.

The San Antonio Spurs – $250,000 to cover their ridiculous fine for strategically resting players.

David Stern – A time machine to bring him to 2014 so that he can retire already allowing the NBA the chance to regain the legitimacy and dignity it lost spectacularly under his tenure.  Heck, he can go as far into the future as he wants.

NHL – A year off.  You’ve earned it after going so hard these last seven years.

Bud Selig – A title that has eluded him his whole career:  “Best Commissioner.”

Miami Marlins – A new stadium so you can start drawing fans.

and lastly, Bobby Valentine – Another job with a major league team, preferably one that requires him to repeat the words, “Peanuts here!” over and over again, something he may be able to handle without embarrassing himself. The operative word is may.

And after his task has been completed, Santa will then disappear along the horizon, these words echoing soundly behind him, “Merry Christmas to all and to all a fair fight,” preferably one finally between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather.

 

Happy Holidays, everyone!

 

 

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