Tuesday, April 29, 2008

THE LIST for May.

Last month I added a new feature to my blog: THE LIST. The idea is to provide readers with a random list of quotes from film, television, literature or other great works. It was then your job to determine where these quotes came from: who uttered it and where. The first person to correctly identify all of these quotes would win their choice of a Garretson Wine Company ballcap or t-shirt.

I must say that the response to this contest of sorts was very rewarding. I received entries from as far away as the UK, Japan and Australia. It would appear that many readers of this blog share something in common with its author: an annoying knowledge of truly useless trivia.

So, here it is, this month's installment of THE LIST. They all share one thing in common: a repeated phrase. To make things a bit easier, I've listed these quotes in the chronological order in which they were spoken...oldest to latest:

"Stuck in rut, stuck in a rut..."


"The Horror. The Horror."

"Bueller? Bueller?"

"Sure, sure..."

"...for a while, for a while."

Sure...like that helped! I'll give you a hint: five of these quotes come from a different movie, while one is from a television show. That and, seeing as it's April 29th, I'm giving you a few extra days to figure these out. Think you've got the answers? Then email them to me at mrviognier@aol.com. Good Luck!

While you're picking you brain, go pick out some funny at humor-blogs.com.

Monday, April 28, 2008

A (Brown) Rose by Any Other Name.

Some times it's refered to as driving The Dirt Road. Some call it The Cocoa Canal. Still others prefer The Hershey Highway. Having driven Highway 46E between I-5 and Paso Robles soooo many times, I prefer a more geographically familiar term:

But, just to clarify, that's as familiar as it's getting between you and me.

But feel free to get more familiar with humor-blogs.com. More funny, less crap.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Alien Nation.

Lately our country has been positively inundated with foreigners. Have you noticed? For example, this January as I flew through Chicago, I met a group of French men and woman who were on their way to Vail to do some skiing. "Long way to come just to ski," I remarked. "It IS," said one in their cadre, "but it's so much cheaper to fly over here, stay in a nice hotel and ski in Vail than it would be to take the train to ski in Gstaad."


Seems everywhere I fly I'm encountering Europeans that are finding the same values in our country that we associate with Tijuana. Okay, so perhaps it's not that bad. After all, in most U.S. towns you're not apt to find homes constructed out of cardboard. And seldom will you find entertainment such as "The Donkey Lady". That, and you can pretty much drink the tap water in any U.S. town if forced to do so. But I digress.

This weekend Amie and I took the boys for to Monterey. Our eldest son, Jack, was celebrating his ninth birthday (holy crap...NINE!), and he really wanted to check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium. So it was that we stayed at a very nice resort. It was located right on a beautiful golf course, within a 10-minute drive of the Aquarium, and it allowed dogs. As an aside, our Bulldog, "VIVI" became somewhat of a celebrity during the weekend, with people literally lining up to pet her. But I digress.

As today was "Aquarium Day", we spent most of yesterday around the pool. The kids had a blast. Amie and I did, too. But I couldn't help but notice that more than a few poolside loungers were wearing dark socks with shoes, and were sporting skin whiter than mine*. Fine by me. I for one am all for bilking the Eurotrash out of their last Euro. But, shortly after we settled in for a nice afternoon at the pool, this couple - pictured left - showed up.

Judging by their clothes, their complexion and their size (in a word: ZAFTIG), I guessed post-Iron Curtain in origin. Not a problem...'this pool's big enough for the both of us', I thought. It was in this spirit of bonhomie that I decided to order a margarita and chill.

But it was when Mrs. Zaftig decided that poolside was the perfect place to try to clean her toenails that I had enough.

For over ten minutes, our Little Miss (and, to be clear, she was by no means little: you could land an F-18 on her ass) dug and picked at her toenails. Now, certainly I would have liked to have looked away; unfortunately, the pool at the resort was small. At least it was when compared to her ass. But I digress.

12 minutes into it, I thought she has had enough. I certainly had had. But, apparently her fingers could find no purchase on the crap embedded in her toes. Unwilling to demur, she decided that the ideal implement with which to unearth her trash was her room key:

Of course, I could not sit idly by and watch Fraü Bigaß mine the treasure betwixt her cuticles...I had to photograph this spectacle. It's yet another example of the pains to which I will go to to provide you with senseless blog fodder to read.

But I digress.

* "How white?", you may ask? White enough to have been called 'ultra-Caucasian'. But I digress.

When you're finished picking at
your bodily extremities, go check out humor-blogs.com.

Saturday, April 26, 2008


So Wesley Snipes is going to jail. For not filing taxes for for three years, (during which time he earned $13.8 million, of which Uncle Sam reckons he's owed $2.7 mil of Snipes' take), Mr. Snipes gets to spend three years in the pokey.

Learning of his predicament has provided - at least for me - some measure of poetic justice. With the exception of 1993's Demolition Man, Snipes' big-screen efforts have been deplorable. Pity the judge didn't take White Man Can't Jump, Passenger 57, and the Blade trilogy into account when he sentenced him. That'd be a life sentence.

And if To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything Julie Newmar had been considered, Wesley's next role would feature him on a double-billing with Old Sparky. Wonder if Snipes will reprise his Wong Foo role while in The Big House?

Sadly, given the realities borne when you combine up a minimum-security prison sentence, white collar crime and a 'celebrity' inmate, I seriously doubt he'll do the whole 36 months. And, to add insult to injury, he'll probably come out of prison with a LOT of movie offers.

That's when we, the movie-going public will start doing our time.

Wonder if Wesley will get access to a computer in prison? If so, he can check out humor-blogs.com.

Friday, April 25, 2008

My Newest, Bestest Friend.

Flying home from Chicago yesterday I happened to sit next to another celebrity (check out here and here). This latest installment of "Interesting People I Fly With" was none other than Mr. T.

T was looking his typical bad ass self. He was sportin' an American flag do-rag and shades. T wisely decided to forego the bling that is his trademark. Far less hassle with those wonks who work TSA.

Now usually I would have asked if he'd mind me taking a photo, but the dude looked tired. That plus I didn't want to take the chance that he'd open a can of whoopus on me. So, all you're getting is this stock photo, and my promise that this really did happen.

In honor being in his presence I drank bloody mary mix throughout the entire flight. Spicy bloody mary mix. Mr. & Mrs. T Spicy Bloody Mary Mix. I thought it was funny, although T didn't seem to get the ironic humor of my beverage selection. I pity that fool.

And speaking of humor, please do check out humor-blogs.com.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

We Have a Winner! April's THE LIST

Congratulations to Bob Liter of Cincinnati! He was the first to correctly identify ALL five quotes on this month's LIST. For his efforts, Bob wins his choice of a Garretson Wine Company t-shirt or hat. And, for those of you who had been trying to suss out the correct answers - especially YOU, John Malik of Greenville, SC - here then are all five:

"Why a duck?"
Chico (Chico Marx) to Mr. Hammer (Groucho Marx) in The Cocoanuts, 1929.

"Jefe, would you say I had a plethora of piñatas?" El Guapo (Alfonso Arau) to Jefe (Tony Plana) in ¡The Three Amigos!, 1986.

"Who's up for flapjacks?" Ralph (Rick Overton*) to Phil (Bill Murray) in Groundhog Day, 1993.

"If you were a hot dog, and you were starving, would you eat yourself?" Harry Caray (as played by Will Farrell) to Colin Quinn during a "Weekend Update" sketch on Saturday Night Live, 1997.

"Da-Da? Could you tell us another Monkey King Story?" A frequent request uttered by both Jack and Thom anytime we're alone together. 'Monkey King' stories are silly (and sometimes gross) stories for boys-only.

I'll be posting a brand, spanking-new LIST on May 1st. Be the first to figure it out and win some winery wearables...and get yourself mentioned on this site!

*Rick Overton is an under-apreciated stand up comedian who - as an aside - I think does the best Mick Jagger and Keith Richards' imitations ever.

I hope that you make the funny list, and go check out humor-blogs.com!

Ass. Hole.

I've been in Chicago for the last three days...am heading home today. I love Chicago. As a matter of fact, I was born here. It's a great city...incredible food scene, sports teams, great live music, world-class museums and other cultural sites, and the people here are fantastic. In fact, if I wasn't making wine for a living, Chicago would be on my short list of places to relocate.

For a city that gets so much right, there is one thing I absolutely detest about Chicago: the toilets at the O'Hare airport. Here's a photo of your typical O'Hare commode. As you can see, the seat on the toilet is about two inches wide...and when you sit on it, it feels about a half-inch wide. You nearly fall into the bowl. And, in the spirit of ensuring a sanitary seat, they have installed these automatic ass gasket providers. This clear plastic sleeve supposedly provides a clean environment to all comers. To me all it provides is a slippery slope to an already precarious spot to place my bum.

Ah, if they'd only install your run-of-the-mill toilet seat in their airport, Chicago would be altogether perfect. Until they do, when I have to do my business, I'll hold it in until I reach either the Admiral's Club or my hotel room.

One thing I can't hold in is this: humor-blogs.com rocks.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Keepin' It Real. REALLY Real

I have to say I'm not much of a fan of what today passes for R&B. Having grown up on the likes of Otis Redding, Al Green, Sam Cooke, et al, the bar for good R&B has been set pretty high for me. But then - every once in a while - there comes along a group that changes my perceptions.

This is one such group. Enjoy!

And you can keep humor real...just log onto humor-blogs.com.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Introducing THE LIST...Figure it Out and Win Winery Swag!

A few weeks back I was thumbing through my copy of "Spy Magazine: The Funny Years". Back in the day I was a fairly avid reader of this rag...that was until Graydon Carter stepped down from its helm. In its heyday Spy was outrageously witty, and it's not a stretch to say that it's influence may be seen in many of today's best satire (The Daily Show comes to mind).

One of my favorite features in each Spy was its List. In every issue they'd have an annoyingly random list that somehow made sense...at least to the editors who created it. Now that I have my own, occasionally humorous blog, I feel it only right to keep the spirit of Spy alive.

So it gives me great pleasure to introduce THE LIST. Each month, conveniently-located on the right-hand sidebar of this page, THE LIST will contain a series of quotes. These quotes may come from great literature, famous movies or television shows, or something plucked from the stream of our collective conscious. Being a 'family guy' one of these quotes will come from the mouths of one of my kids.

It shall be your task (should you choose to accept it) to determine the source of each quote...both the name of the character who uttered it and the work it was lifted from. Compile your answers and then email them to me at mrviognier@aol.com. Each month the first person to submit the correct answers for all quotes (okay, excepting the one from my kids...I'll give you that one gratis) will win their choice of either a Garretson Wine Company t-shirt or ballcap.

We start our monthly contest with THE LIST for April. Good luck, and start sending in those emails!

And while you're scratching your furtive little brain for the answers, go check out humor-blogs.com.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

"Oh, me? I'm the American Traitor Bitch."

In June of 1972 a thirty-six year old Jane Fonda took an ill-conceived trip to the Far East. Hanoi, North Vietnam to be precise. Fresh off her critically-acclaimed success in Klute (and four years after Barbarella), Fonda let her disdain for the war take center stage, and as a result she's not much welcome at VFW posts anymore.

I well remember the "Hanoi Jane" scandal when it happened, but hadn't thought about it for decades. In fact I forgot all about it until today when I was driving behind this Scion (pictured above). The driver had been festering about Jane so long that - having purchased his new SUV - he felt the need to obtain a custom license plate frame for it. It reads:


It was obvious that he'd given considerable thought to this license frame: the color of it matched that of his Scion perfectly. Now, certainly everyone's entitled, but does a 36 year-old mistake rate such a stylish license plate frame? Really? There's nothing more upsetting that's happened in the last three decades that might trump Jane Fonda's trip to Hanoi?

My first thought was, "oh, dude, get a life," but a few miles down the road, I started thinking, "What I really need is to have his life!" If that's the bee in his bonnet, the fly in his ointment, the pee in his Cherrios, then our Mr. Scion is living on easy street. Either their or at the local funny farm.

They say laughter eases stress...ease yourself over to humor-blogs.com.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Second Verse Same as the First (only a Hulluva Lot Worse)!

Yesterday afternoon Amie and I took our youngest son, Thomas, shopping for birthday presents for his brother (and our oldest son), Jack. As we perused the toy aisles, Thom and I were overcome by the large swaths of shelf space relegated to the two latest installments of Hollywood's ongoing saga, "Quick! We Need a Blockbuster for the Summer!"

The idea here is to fill the cinemas to capacity. To accomplish this (or so goes the thinking), Hollywood needs to crank out a movie which, a: kids are going to be so eager to see that they'll whine their parents into submission and take them, and/or b: tugs at the sentimental strings of the parent's childhood memories. To accomplish the former, they barrage kids with flashy previews on TV, promotional tie-ins with fast-food chains, and fill the toy stores with movie-specific gee-gaws. For the later, Hollywood producers dredge up old cartoons and kid shows of the sixties, seventies and eighties for their stories.

And so it was last night that Thom and I came face-to-face with an entire aisle of a toy store dedicated to Iron Man and Speed Racer crap.

Now, don't get me wrong. I certainly don't begrudge Hollywood the right to make a buck...especially when it comes to producing such wholesome family entertainment like The Flintstones Movie...a movie that was, after all, so damn good that they actually had the temerity to release a sequel.

Every year Hollywood goes back to the same drawing board, and spews out the same hokum. The results are almost always dismal. Despite its track record, Hollywood keeps a-forging ahead with these types of movies. What was that Einstein said about the definition of insanity? Something about doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?

They made that movie too. It was called Pollyana.

The American movie history has a rich history of attempting to resurrect these memories of our childhood, done in the hope of creating A Brand that will allow the producers plenty of dough for a new Maybach and Botox treatments well into their dotage.

And, given the track record they have for exceeding our expectations, I have no doubt that Iron Man and Speed Racer will do extremely well...

...when it's released in China and Eastern Europe.

Movies like these must really gain something in translation.

And while you're eagerly anticipating these summer blockbusters, go bust a gut at humor-blogs.com.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Back to the Future and Back.

Okay, I've given a little more thought to an entry for The Skwib's contest. Vintage ad art, to which the contestant adds in a futuristic vision...and one not of their own making, but rather one in the popular culture (books, TV, Movie, etc.).

Here's one for you Ann Rynd fans:
And let's not forget Ray Bradbury:

And, for you Woody Allen fans:
And while perhaps not technically following The Skwib's rules, I do like this one:
It's got it all...a post-apocalyptic future, a retro look, my Minnesotan-born wife's favorite house feature and damn dirty apes!

Doubtless I could come up with more, but my kids are calling for help with their Pinewood Derby Cars. The race is this Wednesday, so we've got to get working on some wood!

And while I go work on cars, YOU go check out humor-blogs.com!

Vintage Ads Redux.

Mark Rayner has a blog site called The Skwib. It's a site which I check out occasionally when I need a good laugh. Recently Mark offered up a contest in which he invited readers to find vintage ads and create fictional products of the future. Not being one to miss on a chance to Photoshop my way to hilarity, I've taken up the gauntlet, and am working on my own entry.

It's a shame Mark's contest doesn't allow for a contestant to simply take a vintage ad and 'doctor it up' with new verbiage. Because, if it did, I'd be all over that:

Watch this space for my final entry!

The Skwib and other funny blogs can always be accessed by clicking onto humor-blogs.com.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Our Latest Product Placement.

I've been known to wear my heart on my sleeve...both personally and professionally. The later can be proved by the fact that Garretson Wine Company is now the official winery of the Tailhook Association!:
Naval aviation and wine...seems a natural combination, huh? And in case you're wondering...yes, this is serious.

When real Airdales aren't catching the 3 wire they're looking for laughs. Look no further than humor-blog.com.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Foods I'd Kill You For.

I freely admit it. I'm an omnivore. I've yet to find any food that I have a real aversion to...and, sadly, I've the physique to prove my point. Certainly, there are those foods that don't, at the mere thought of them, elicit a Pavlovian-like drool from me. Lutefisk comes to mind (and you can read my review of this Norse classic by clicking here), as does poorly-prepared chitlins (if you don't know what those are, don't ask).

Traveling as much as I do, I've encountered enough exotic and downright bizarre foods to give Andrew Zimmer a run for his money. There are, though, those foods that I truly love so much that I oft times find myself craving them. Having grown up in The South, most of these foods naturally hearken to this part of the world. But my passion for these foods is derived not out of blind bias, but, rather, an preference born from having tasted all other offerings.

So, without further adieu, let me share with you foods I love so much that I just might kill you for them:

1.) Soft Shell Crabs.
I've got a real soft spot for these soft shells. They'd definitely be on the menu if I was afforded one last meal before visiting Old Sparky. I adore these tender crustaceans...fried and served in po' boys, in a sushi bar Spider Roll, or delicately sautéed in butter and served au natural.

The good news is that we're about to get into the season for these beauties...May through July. Let's Eat!

2.) Old South Bar-B-Q in Smyrna
There are some that hold that Smyrna Georgia's greatest contribution to the fine arts was serving as the birthplace of Julia Roberts. They're sorely mistaken...it's Old South Bar-B-Q. I've been going there since 1978, and it still serves as my 'go-to 'cue'. Nowadays I make it a point to stop there for lunch on my way back to the Atlanta airport, and I always order the same thing: barbecue pork salad, a cup of Brunswick Stew and an order of ribs. Same as it ever was.

3.) An F.O. at The Varsity.
When I took Amie back to Atlanta for the first time we were met at the airport by my parents. As we drove through Atlanta I asked my dad to make a stop at the Varsity. "No!" my mom protested, "you can't do that to Amie! Not on her first visit!" I could, because, one, I was hungry, and, two, it was a sure-fire way to determine if Amie and I were destined to be. Nearly 12 years later and now it's Amie who shouts out for a Varsity stop on our return to the Peach State.

We both adore an F.O., also known as a Frosted Orange. It's like a cross between an orange cremesicle and a milkshake. It's the ideal accompaniment to the sweet yet greasy rings and oh-so-delicious dawgs that are practically de riguer on game days...or return trips home.

4.) The Lemon Caper Sweetbreads at Bayona
If you ever had a notion to do me in, find out where I'm going to eat and poison the sweetbreads. I'm a sucker for them...if they're on the menu, you can bet they'll soon be on my table. I've had them everywhere, all across the U.S. and Europe. On fine china in five-star restaurants to grease-stained paper bags at a farmer's market.

So it should come as no surprise that I consider myself quite the connoisseur when it comes to lamb and/or calf thymus gland and/or pancreas. Of all the incarnations of the same I've ingested, none have made me so delighted as those served by Susan Spicer at Bayona in New Orleans. Susan has a deftness with sweetbreads...light, ephemeral orbs that have just the right touch of crispness on the outside, with all that tasty sweetbread goodness on the inside.

5.) The Lumière Cheese of Sweet Grass Dairy.
Sweet Grass Dairy is an artisan cheese producer based in Thomasville, Georgia. Certainly my initial interest in Sweet Grass was due to the fact that they were based in GEORGIA. But, after tasting their products I came to realize that Sweet Grass was the 'real deal', and their cheeses rank up high as some of the best made in the U.S. They also hold their own on a world stage.

My absolute favorite* is an ash-covered goat's cheese they craft called Lumière. It haunts me. In a good way. Go get your own by checking out the Sweet Grass Dairy website.

6.) Steamed Crayfish.
Call them what you will: crawfish, crawdads, crodgers, or (my favorite) mudbugs...just be sure to call me to the table when you serve them. Get a group of friends around a steam pot full of these critters and a cold keg of beer and you're bound to have a good time!

7.) My mom's corned beef and cabbage.
In retrospect I have to say that my mom wasn't a real adventurous cook. Don't get me wrong...I never went hungry, but to my parents food was seen as a necessity of life. Dinner was a well-balanced meal of a protein, a starch and a vegetable, no more, no less.

Every St. Patty's Day mom would get out the Crock Pot and prepare a traditional corned beef and cabbage dinner. Red new potatoes, carrots and rich, dark bread with butter would serve as accompaniments. I loved this meal so much that it became my traditional birthday dinner growing up. I still love it...and Amie sees to it that it's still on my birthday board of fare.

8.) Alan Benton's Hams and Bacon
Three years ago I was invited to be the guest winemaker at the Southern Foodways Alliance weekend at Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee. One afternoon a number of us boarded a van and made a trip to nearby Madisonville, home of the best cured pig meat on this (or any other) planet, Benton's Smoky Mountain Country Hams.

Since that visit, I'm proud to say that I've gotten to know proprietor Alan Benton better. Alan is a gracious, soft-spoken man; a man visibly passionate about his craft. His efforts rank right up there with the very finest Serrano, Ibérico, or Parma. Nowadays, Allan's pig meat is in such high demand that it's often difficult to procure. Lucky for me, he loves my wines! Try to get your own by visiting the Benton Hams website.

9.) The Chicken Wings at Taco Mac.
There was a time in my life that half my body weight consisted of Taco Mac chicken wings. Taco Mac was started in Atlanta back in 1978 by two boys from Buffalo, New York. I can tell you for a fact that their wings are every bit as good as the Anchor Bar's (the Buffalo-based restaurant that was the original Buffalo chicken wing purveyor). My preference was for 30 hot, bleu cheese and a wheat beer.

I say 'was', because these days, while I still crave Taco Mac wings, they've been known to play serious havoc with my gastrointestinal tract.

10.) Homemade Pumpkin Pie.
You may have noticed by now that none of my favorite foods employ the use of my sweet tooth. Truth be told, I don't have much of one. If I were to have to claim allegiance to one sweet, it'd have to be pumpkin pie.

Back home in Atlanta, my passion for pumpkin pie is the stuff of legend. The legend started the night before Thanksgiving, 1977. My mother had baked four pumpkin pies in preparation for our Thanksgiving guests. I awoke in the middle of the night feeling a bit peckish. I entered our kitchen, and came face to face with four - count 'em, four! - beautiful pies. "Who's going to miss one small slice?" I rationalized to myself. That kind of rationalization led me to another, and then another slice. It finally dawned on my teenage brain, "Perhaps it's best if I eat the entire pie. Maybe my mom will forget if she made four or three pies?"

The mother entered the kitchen Thanksgiving morning not questioning her memory, but her children. "Who ate the pumpkin pie?" she asked us all. Not being able to tell a lie (well, perhaps not a lie...just that lie), I fessed up. My dad was a bit shocked, asking, "Mat, you ate the entire pie?" When I told him I did, he put another pumpkin pie in front of me. "I don't believe you. Show me." Now, my dad had tried (and, obviously, forgotten the outcome of) that routine with me five years back with a six pack of beer. I quickly devoured a second pie...just as quickly as I had the six pack.

To this day, every time I'm back with my family for Thanksgiving my mother makes two extra pumpkin pies just for me. Try as I might, I haven't been able to recreate this little piece of family folklore for over 12 years.

* Dear reader, please understand this: to choose an 'absolute favorite' from the SGD lineup is like saying, "Who's prettier, Rita Hayworth, Sophia Loren, or Audrey Hepburn?" Picking one in no way diminishes the others...they're all beautiful.

Want to get your belly full of belly laughs? Go check out humor-blogs.com.

She's Built...Like a Battleship!

Living where I do has its benefits. In this part of California the scenery is incredibly beautiful. A drive less than 30 minutes can find you at either mountains, desert, jungle or coastline. Also, it's not nearly as congested as cities to the north, south and east of us. But there are shortcomings, not the least of which is that there are few stores to do some serious personal shopping.

Now lack of shopping isn't too much of an issue for me. I'm out of state on business at least once a month...providing ample opportunity to visit a Nordstrom or two. While it's not a major issue for me, it is for my wife. Since her arrival to California, Amie has done most of her clothes shopping via the internet. As a result, my wife gets catalogs. A LOT of catalogs.

Yesterday's mail call included a catalog from a clothing company calling itself Newport News. As my wife perused its offerings, I couldn't help but wonder why on earth would anyone pick the name Newport News for a line of women's clothing?!? I'm sure that if you mention the name 'Newport News' to the majority of Americans, the first image that comes to their mind is not of fashionably-clad runway models.

Newport News is home to a real-life 'arsenal of democracy', one of the largest ship-building companies in the world. Hundreds of troop ships, aircraft carriers, destroyers and battleships were constructed in these yards. And they still are.

In my mind I began to recall terms like 'battlewagon', 'garbage scow', and 'tin can'. These terms can be used to describe ships of war...and, for the seafaring misogynist, women. I couldn't help but wonder: is this the kind of imagery that the folks at Newport News Clothing had in mind?

I for one smell a conspiracy!

And now that you've finished reading this bilge, why don't you get your tin can over to humor-blogs.com, swabbie!

To Go Where No Man Has Gone Before...Boldly.

Last night I was checking out the internet, and happened to log onto the 15 Minute Lunch blog site. In his latest post, blogger Johnny Virgil (a pretty funny guy in his own right...check him out) had posted about occasionally discovering 'Klingon food' in his kitchen pantry.

That naturally got me thinking of a story.

About 12 years ago I traveled to Dallas, Texas for the winery I was working for at the time. I had come to Dallas to take part in our distributor's annual trade tasting. I had also come to Dallas extremely late in the evening, thanks to a delayed connection out of LAX. I arrived at the Marriott a little after midnight, and as I tried to check in I was intercepted by the manager, "I'm terribly sorry, sir, but we're overbooked. I have taken the liberty to provide you an Executive Suite at the nearby Hilton for the length of your stay...and, of course, we will pick up the tab." Crisis averted, I thanked the man for his efforts, and was driven over to the Hilton.

I entered the lobby of the Hilton at 1am dog-tired and ready to hit my head on any pillow they offered. As I finished checking in, I felt a strange presence all around me. I slowly turned my head and noticed I was surrounded by Klingons. Yep...Klingons. And not your "Star Trek Original Series' Klingons", but those hemorrhoid-headed, "Next Generation" types. And beyond the Klingons were scores of folks dressed up in various Trek regalia. It quickly dawned on me: I am staying at a hotel that's hosting a Star Trek convention!

Now, let me digress to say that there was a time in my life that I was a BIG-TIME Star Trek fan. "How big a fan?" you may ask? Big enough to have been the president of a Star Trek fan club, a club which had members in such faraway places as Japan and Yugoslavia. Big enough to get confrontational with anyone who dared to call me a 'Trekkie'. I was a Trekker. Trust me, there is a difference*. Yes, I was a fan...and I guess at a certain level I still am. But then I entered puberty, and began to date girls. I left behind the passions of my youth for other, more Earthly, um...passions.

There's a certain unease that comes with being in a lobby full of Star Trek geeks. I imagine it's a bit like feeling claustrophobic: all you want to do is get yourself to a bigger space. I kept my eyes focused on the elevator, walking quickly to its doors in hopes of entering sanctuary. I entered the elevator and breathed a sigh of relief, thinking to myself, "thank gawd I never got that obsessed." It was then I noticed a young lady, about four feet tall looking up at me from glasses that resembled the bottoms of Coke bottles. She was dressed as a lieutenant from "Star Trek: The Next Generation". "Earther lifts," she murmured, "I hate Earther lifts, don't you? They're so jerky," to which I replied, "yeah...I know the feeling." She then came a little closer to me, smiled and purred, "I like turbo lifts...they're much smoother, don't you think?"

Have you ever been hit on by a midget Trekkie? Take my word for it, it's a very disturbing experience.

The next morning I awoke in my hotel bed, fully rested and ready for breakfast. I shaved, showered, dressed and headed down to the hotel's restaurant. Riding in the elevator, I half wondered if my late night foray into the final frontier was some twisted dream. That theory was shot to hell as soon as the elevator doors opened.

As during the night before, the lobby was full of Trekkies. I entered the restaurant and ordered some coffee. Perusing the menu, I couldn't help but notice a group of Klingons looking over the breakfast buffet. They might very well have been the same Klingons I encountered the night before, but you know Klingons: they all look the same. The 'lead' Klingon (and I can only assume he was the leader because his faux-Klingon hemorrhoidal forehead was incredibly realistic) sniffed loudly as if smelling a newly-minted dog turd. "Earther food?!" he complained for all of us to hear, "I can't eat this Earther food!!"

Dude, if only that were true. Then you would starve and die. One less Trekkie would be a good thing, right?

After a very productive day at the trade tasting and a hosting a winemaker dinner, I made it back to the refuge of my hotel room. At 3am in the morning I was awoken by the sounds of Trekkies out in the hallway. They were chatting - loudly - about random Star Trek trivia. Hadn't these kids heard of decaffeinated cola...or SpectraVision? It was then when I heard one of these guys state, "Chet, you're such a phaser-brain that you probably don't even know what the "T" in James T. Kirk stands for!"

Awoken from a deep sleep and highly pissed off, I swung open the door of my hotel room, looked at this group of prepubescent boys and whispered through gritted teeth, "Guys, it's three o'clock in the fucking morning! Some of us have jobs, some of us have a life. Go back into your rooms and keep the noise down...and by the way, it's Tiberius." Just as I was closing the door, one of them proclaim, "Hey! He's one of us!" I swung the door back open, gave them all a serious look, and whispered, "I was never one of you," and slammed the door.

I finished that night sleeping like a rock...or maybe it was a Horta*?

* To those of you uninitiated, a Trekker is a serious student of all things Trek. They realize that the television show was just that...a television show. On the other hand, Trekkies are geeky twerps who spend their lives dressing up like their favorite characters, hoping that one day they'll be transported to the bridge of the real Enterprise.

* A Horta is a rock-eating, silicon-based creature that is
indigenous to the planet Janus VI. The Horta
made its appearance in the original Star Trek episode, Devil in the Dark. Ohmygawd! How in the hell did I remember that crap?

"Beam me up, Scotty...or at least get me over to Humor-Blogs.com!"

Monday, April 7, 2008

My New Best Friend.

Here's the latest installment of my (seemingly) never-ending series of "Interesting People I Meet on Airplanes." On my last flight east I had the chance to sit and chat with actor Bill Paxton. Helluva nice guy...although as we were getting ready for landing, he wouldn't shout, al la Private Hudson in Aliens: "Express Elevator to Hell...Going Down!"

Still...nice guy.

And if you'd like to ride an express elevator to funny, check out humor-blogs.com.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Little Miss Pissy.

Airline travel isn't pretty. Flights are always overbooked and, increasingly, canceled. They fall victim to the whims of weather and flow control, and, by market necessity, a need to be value-priced. As a result, not only has the quality of airline travel declined but so has the quality of airline employees.

In the course of my travels I am always amazed by the number of passive aggressive airline employees I encounter. You've no doubt encountered the type...perpetually pissed off. Pissed off about everything. Now I try to empathize with these folks. They take a lot of crap from equally pissed off customers. Although I'm at my airline's highest level of frequent flier status (and therefore, judging by the attitudes of my fellow elite status fliers, expected to be a demanding asshole), I go out of my way to be nice to airline employees. These folks get beat up so often on a daily basis that they need a smiling face every now and then. It can make their day (mine, too), and can very often work to my advantage when it comes to missed connections, etc.

But then their are those airline employees that are so pissed off at life that they're beyond hope. They view their jobs as a way of pissing off the customer, playing little games of exercising what little power they have.

Last weekend I was flying home from the east coast. My flight was delayed into DFW...so late that I knew I had missed my connecting flight to LAX. As soon as we landed I powered up my phone and called the Executive Platinum hotline. I explained to the agent that I needed to see about getting re-booked on the next available flight to LAX. She was extremely accommodating, getting me the last available seat on the very next flight out...a flight that would (if it arrived on time) still allow me to make my previously-scheduled final connection for the trip home. "I almost hate to ask," I confided, "but any chance for an upgrade?" "You've got the last available seat...and that's in First Class, Mr. Garretson." It's the little things like that keep me a happy customer.

So, I deplane, board the tram, and hike over to the gate for my flight out of DFW. I walk up, hand over my ticket jacket, smile to the gate agent and say, "How are you?" Without looking up from her keyboard she says in a monotone voice, "What can I help you with?" "I missed my connection, but should already be booked on this flight," I told her. "Really?" she said as she finally looked up, "we'll just see about that."

It quickly dawned on me that this lady was obviously in the aforementioned camp of those pissed off employees beyond hope.

She spent the next three minutes (yes, I timed her) typing on her keyboard. "Wow, that's a lot of typing for one ticket," I said. Her response was a smirk. The agent next to her pulled up my ticket...which clearly was marked "First". As this agent handed it over to me, my agent intercepted it and tore it in half. "Is there a problem?" I asked. "I'm putting you back in Coach," she informed me, "First Class has already checked in full." "If it had already checked in full, then how could you have issued me the ticket you just ripped up?" I queried. "Oh, there is one seat left, but that's for an elite flier." she smirked. "Hmmm, last time I checked I was an Executive Platinum customer...aren't I?" I smiled to her. "Well...if you want, I could put you on the upgrade list," she offered. I asked her to do this, she complied, typing away, and then said, "You're first on the upgrade list."

Less than two minutes later she called me back to the gate, and handed me my First Class ticket. "Was all of that really worth your wasted time and effort?" I asked her, to which she said, "It was...to me."

Amazing. Little power plays like that are a waste of everyone's time. Makes me wonder if I shouldn't be more of an asshole frequent flier.

And you'll be upgraded to some First Class fun if you click onto humor-blogs.com.