Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Five Sure-Fire Ways to Get Your Ass Kicked in a Biker Bar.

5.) Toss the keys to your Prius at the bouncer and admonish, "Now you be careful with Daddy's toy!"

4.) Instruct the bartender to, "Be a good fellow and fetch me the wine list...and while you're at would you mind switching the channel to the Bravo Network?"

3.) Slowly stir your drink, tear at your cocktail napkin, and between sobs pout, "What's a brother gotta do to get a hug around here?"

2.) Proudly show off your t-shirt emblazoned with the slogan, "Free Mustache Rides".

1.) Laugh at your beer-drinking buddy, toss your head back and loudly proclaim: "I'm reminded of what Oscar Wilde once said..."

I invite your suggestions...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Don't Forget: It's Nurse's Week!

Just found out that this week is Nurse's Week. I think that in honor of this occasion we should ask our spouse to dress up, and...

Um...on second thought, maybe that's not such a good idea. Amie's giving me that look that says, "Time for you to get off the computer, honey."

More later. I hope.

Well, Waddaya Know?

It would appear that the fine folks at eBlogger have been reading my site. No sooner do I post that - for some inexplicable reason - my profile counter stuck on 16,756 than they fix it. Well, sort of fixed it.

Now, instead of a specific number, it provides me with an "approximate" number. They've rounded up to 17,000. Guess the traffic is too much to count.

Guess now I know how Ronald feels.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Even MORE Motivational Poster Madness.

Just received these from one of my father's friends...thought you'd enjoy them:

Monday, April 27, 2009

Men Are From Mac, Women Are From PC.

I know...I've not been posting in nearly two weeks. Usually there's nobody to blame for my paucity of posting but me. But this time I've got a great excuse...although - believe you me - I'd rather blame my lazy self.

My computer is dead. Or, to be more precise, is on life support, and the EEGs are flat-lining.

Two weeks ago I turned on my Mac and it made a noise that I can only describe as a cross between a butter churn and a 1950's pinball machine on perpetual "Tilt". Now I'm no computer genius, but I think that can be technically labeled a bad sound. I called my good friend, Graham, a self-professed computer geek who just so happens to work for Apple. Like all computer geeks, Graham's first question was, "when was the last time you backed up your data to your hard drive?" I suspect that they all know the answer, and that the answer is always some derivation of "never". I also suspect they ask this question for no other reason than it allows them to immediately create a sense of superiority over you.

So there. That's my excuse. And if you cared, you'd say a prayer that I am able to get most of the data off of my computer's hard drive. And, if you really cared, you'd by me a new Mac laptop. Oh, and a free-standing hard drive, too. In the meantime I am relegated to using Amie's computer. It's a PC. The experience has me thinking of writing a new book, "Men Are From Mac, Women are from PC".
In other news, have you ever wondered what full-blown A.D.D. feels like? Well, if you have, may I suggest you surf over to the Fox Business News channel? There really is only one reason to watch this channel...and that reason is Dave Ramsey. Tonight Amie and I tuned in about 10 minutes prior to his show, and caught the tail end of "Happy Hour". I'm convinced that if A.D.D. screwed me up more than ten minutes of this show did, I would be jumping out a window.

I can just image how the brainiacs over at Fox Business News pitched this one. "CNBC's kicking our ass...we need a amp'd up, high-energy, closing bell recap show of our own. Let's have three hosts! Let's make one of them a ex-jock looking guy, one a Gen Nexer who flips his hair more than Twiggy on a photo shoot, and the other some nonsensical eye candy. And let's make sure none of them have a clue about finance!"

Trust me, stay away from this unwatchable crapfest...unless you're pulling an all-nighter and have run out of both caffeine and sugar.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Number of THIS Beast.

16,756 is now my new lucky number. For the past four weeks the counter on my eBlogger Profile Visits has been stuck on - you guessed it! - 16,756. It would appear that once you've had 16,756 visitors, you've reached your limit. I'm okay with this.

Oh, and in case you were wondering...I despise heavy metal music.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Really Screwed Up.

In case you haven't figured it out yet, I'm really not much on pretense. This is especially true when it comes to wine. In fact, I have a theory that 99.9% of the men who proudly call themselves "Wine Experts" are the exact same kids who were routinely beaten up in high school*. It's the pretense and snobbery that permeates wine which makes it so difficult to convert non-wine drinkers. This is a widely known - and lamented - industry fact.
Another wine fact is that there's always someone trying to invent the next "cool" gadget to allow the wine lover to part with their money...over something other than a bottle of wine. I was reminded of both of these truths recently when I received an unsolicited sales pitch from a company known as Vimentis. To my surprise, it wasn't a solicitation for yet another medical means of male enhancement!

Vimentis is a Canadian business which markets a gadget that fills the void when one asks, "How can I class up the opening of a screwcapped wine bottle?" Well, if asked, my answer would be, "By getting a manicure?" Vimentis thinks the answer is, "By buying our product!" It seems that the fine folks over at Vimentis wants to remind us that selling wine is all about reinforcing pretense, romance...and gadgetry.

And dig their se-duc-tive ad copy! "There is something to be said about the ritual of cork removal..." I'll say there is. It detracts from your enjoyment of your wine, your meal and your table companions. "...and something subsequently lacking when a server presents your wine in a restaurant only to do a quick wrist twist and be done with it." Really? Isn't that a bit tantamount to complaining, "Sure, the movie was great...but the previews they showed before the movie totally ruined the evening", or, "the food at that restaurant was incredible, but the color of their menu covers!" "Vimentis - Bringing Ritual and Romance to the Wine Screw Cap." Is the public really screaming out about the lack of this?

Call me silly, but when it comes to wine, it should be about the wine.

Alas, Vimentis isn't the first company to try to sex up the opening of a screwcap. The first one I encountered was a device that is now known as the WineFritz. I encountered this device years back at a wine event in Vail, Colorado. The inventors - noticing that all the wines on my table were screwcapped - quickly approached me and laid on their well-rehearsed sales' pitch.

"We've invented a device which adds romance to opening a screwcap!" they proclaimed, to which I asked, "Why do you think there needs to be additional romance? Isn't part of the beauty of the screwcap the ease of its use?" They explained that, being owners of a very popular restaurant in neighboring Breckenridge, they knew (or believed they knew) that the addition of romance meant the addition of a heaftier tip for their servers. And, the couple in front of me reasoned, as many wineries provided promotional corkscrews to restaurant servers, perhaps I'd like to buy some of their screwcap devices - emblazoned with my logo - as giveaways?

I picked up their nifty, not-so-little device and asked them, "Have you given any thought to how impractical this is for repeated tableside service?" My comment was met with blank stares. "Think about it," I stated, "a corkscrew fits easily into a server's back pocket or apron. This think is so big, there's no way a server can walk around with it. I'll bet you they'll lose this thing within the first night of using it." Their jaws dropped simultaneously. "But," I added, "you're never going to lose my handy invention for opening screwcaps." Smiling, I held it up:

And they didn't cost me - nor you - anything. Thank goodness for my opposable thumbs. I never go anywhere without them!
*And I'm betting the remaining 0.10% just didn't hear the question correctly.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Wherein My Annual Karen Black Quota is Met.

I have been around airplanes and aviation most of my life. And I'll admit that when I board a commercial airliner I replay a macabre fantasy (which I no doubt share with my fellow Aviators) that fleetingly rears its head as I make my way to my seat: that somehow the pilots would become incapacitated, and it would be up to me to land the plane.

It could a 'minor collision' with an errant private plane, like in Airport 1975. Or, it could be that the crew succumbed to food poisoning after eating fish, al la Airplane! Regardless of the reasons of how we get there, the end result is always the same: my uncanny abilities to fly any plane saves the day. Hey...I did say it was a fantasy!

And while I've only dreamt it, Doug White of Archibald, Louisiana has lived it. The lucky bastard.

Last Sunday, White and his family were flying from Marco Island, FL to Jackson, MS after attending funeral services for his brother. Okay, so he's not that has to be terrible to lose a brother. They were flying in a Beechcraft King Air, a nice turboprop, twin-engine plane to be sure, but certainly not a 747. And while the article didn't mention it, I imagine that this must've been a charter flight, because King Airs are not flown by any regularly-scheduled airline that I' aware of. That is, unless you're going to Hooterville.

Shortly after takeoff, White noticed the pilot was slouched over, and wasn't at all communicative. He quickly surmized the pilot was out (sadly, he later died), and communicated this information to air traffic control. How'd he know how to do that, you ask? Turns out Doug White is a pilot with a single-engine rating and about 130 hours. While that's not a whole lot of flying hours, it's about 100 more than you need to get your pilot's license. So he did have a fairly good - pardon the pun - grounding in landing airplanes.

Hmmm. So, while sad and something you don't read about everyday, this really wasn't so amazing. It's like asking your son, three months into having his driver's license, to parallel park your Porsche. Sure, it would elevate his stress (and yours), but it's not as if he's never parked a car before.

Well done, Doug White...but I take it back. You're not a 'lucky bastard' after all. As for me, I'm holding out for the Big Time. Only hope I don't throw a hissy fit like Karen Black did in Airport 1975.

Silence: The New "No".

Like anyone conducting a job search, I've gotten quite acclimated to hearing the word, "no". No jobs at the present time. No, thank you, we're not interested. Sorry, but no. It's a natural part of job prospecting.

But since when did silence come to substitute "no"?

It seems that in today's workplace there just isn't time for common, professional courtesy anymore. This in spite of the fact that we're bluetoothed to the gills with phones, faxes, multiple email accounts...plenty of opportunities for constant communication.

I know, I know...I'm griping. But it amazes me that potential employers will take the time to talk, interview, meet and follow up with you...up until that time they've made a decision. And, if that decision does not include you, there is seemingly no need for further discussion.

I guess I was taught to have better manners than that.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Best Gift I Ever Gave.

Posting about cheese in a can reminded me of a time long ago when I decided to make some special Christmas gifts for my closest friends. In retrospect, they were perhaps the greatest gifts I ever gave. And, if not "the greatest", then at least the most - um - original.

It's 1991. At that point in my life I was living in Gainesville, Georgia, working in my family's business. My father owned a company which produced a wide range of liquid and aerosol consumer goods; most notably, WD-40 and Barbasol Shave Cream. The company was, for some time, the world's largest manufacturer of shave creams and gels. Most weekends found me on a 60-foot houseboat (my home for a few years, but that's another story), usually sharing a few bottles of wine with some of my friends. On one of these weekends a friend of mine joked about the idea of wine in an aerosol can.

Uh-huh. You can see where this is going.

The following week I happened to be in the company research lab, inspecting a gel shave cream can. Now, shave gels are packaged in a aerosol can known as a 'barrier pack'. That is to say that the product is kept out of contact with the propellant used to dispense the product. This can be done via a plastic piston or plastic sleeve or bag. It wasn't long before I thought, "You know? I could easily put wine in the plastic bag, crimp a valve on it, and charge it with propellant. Then you'd have wine in a bag!"

So it was that I produced "¡Three Amigos! Wine-In-A-Can". The name, "¡Three Amigos!" referred to a fictitious winery owned by me and two buddies of mine (and, of course, a reference to one of my favorite movies of all time), and seemed a fitting name. The next weekend I presented my friends with a can of wine, and we enjoyed a chuckle or two.

With the approach of the Holiday season, I thought that my Wine-In-A-Can could be taken to it's next logical step. So was born the "Mat Garretson Cheap Date Kit"!:

In addition to the ¡Three Amigos! Wine-In-A-Can, there was a can of Cheese-In-A-Can, conveniently shrink-wrapped together. I tied a small bag of oyster crackers to the neck of the can o'cheese, and - TA-DA! - there you had it. The gift even came with a note instructing you to, "tilt your date's head back, ask her to open her mouth, spray equal parts wine and cheese, and drop in a cracker. No muss! No fuss! No dirty glasses or dishes!"

Sadly, I never kept a "Cheap Date Kit" package for myself...I gave them all away. If you happen to find one, let me know. They're incredibly valuable collector's items! Well, to me, anyway.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Agony of Choice.

No. me. Any choice is painful. Still waiting for them to come out with a Pont-l'Évêque version.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Ah...The Smell of It!

Reading about bacon-flavored vodka got me thinking. I know...not a necessarily good idea. With all this lamenting the current state of the economy, why not come up with a distilled spirit that could cash in on our national a very literal sense?

Offered for your consideration: LIQUID A$$ET. The world's first (and, as far as I know, only) premium vodka infused with genuine, U.S. One Hundred Dollar Bills. Just think of the promotions!
  • "Finally! An intoxicating beverage that will really help to piss away your money!"
  • "You think it's expensive? Just wait until you taste it!"
  • "If you have to ask, you can't afford it."
  • "Common sense for your common cents."

I know. The possibilities are endless!

Makin' Bacon.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Exhibit A: Bakon. A bacon-flavored vodka. That's right...a bacon-flavored vodka.

It looks as if science has solved that age old dilemma: how to get your pig belly fix and drunk all at the same time. Bakon. It lubricates without the greasy side effects.

And dig the use of the "K" in the logo. It fetches your attention in a way so "Kountry Kitchen". The producers happily play up the fact that theirs is a potato-based, bacon-infused vodka. I guess this means that all you need do is drop a raw egg in a shot glass, pour in the Bakon and you've got the makings of a healthy breakfast to start your day!

Now, don't get me wrong...I love bacon. I love bacon. But I find America's preoccupation with bacon a bit...well, weird. I'm predicing a quick boom-and-bust life cycle for Bakon (and bacon, for that matter) similar to that other bandier of the 11th letter of the English alphabet: Krispy Kreme.

That's right. Bacon is now in my dead pool. Oh, I'll still eat it (and really enjoy it...especially if it's Benton Farms' Bacon!). But Bacon is far too trendy for my tastes.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Tone Deaf.

I've always felt that GOP Minority Whip Eric Cantor was a bit of a tool. The guy's been harping on Obama should he do anything that remotely looks as if the President is taking his attention away from the economic crisis has himself found the need to spend last night pondering - ahem - different assets.

That's right. Cantor went to a Brittany Spears' concert.

Hmmm. A coulda been watching a has-been. In one evening Cantor has proven he has neither an ear for music or the American people.

There's a joke in there somewhere. Feel free to come up with your own punchline.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The View.

My family and I enjoyed a very relaxing Sunday, thank you very much. Early in the morning I took a long walk around the neighborhood. It was sunny and VERY windy, and reminded me for all the world of walking around the Mountains of Morne in Ireland. Here's the view I enjoyed:

Not too shabby, eh?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Watching & Waiting.

From the moment Jack and Thom leave for school until the moment they return, this is usually where you'll see VIVI. Watching and waiting for her brothers to come home and play with her.

Boy, does this Dawg love those boys!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Someday My Prince Will Come.

And, when I say, "Prince" I mean "Job". Oh, and when I say, "Someday", I really mean "Today". And it goes without saying that when I say "Will", that really means "Better".

There. Are we clear now?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Kids Aren't Alright.

It's true. In the end, we usually become that which we use to rail against becoming. Call it the caving in, call it joining the establishment, call it growing up. As you progress through life, you mellow. It's not that you refuse to acknowledge your inner just come to that point in your life where you finally realize that the cause needs to be worthy of your rebelling against.

And, when you've finally reached that point, it's easy to view members of the younger generation as something that was spawned from parents not even remotely human.

About a week ago I received an invitation to become a Facebook Friend of someone named "Alan Wine Merchant". Not knowing who this person was, I was hesitant to connect. My research found that this was actually a wine merchant in the UK. Over the course of my career, I've sold a lot of my wines to a wide number of British merchants, and figured that this individual may have known me through a visit. Seeing no harm in the offer, I accepted their invitation. And, in the course of our short, one-week friendship, I received three separate offers from my new friend on wines he wanted to sell me. Ugh.

Yesterday I wrote to this chap (like how I can slip into the vernacular?) and politely explained that, if his sole purpose to be on Facebook was to spam his 'friends' with such offers, then I would appreciate him removing me from his list. Short, sweet, and - I thought - polite. Within a few hours I received the following response:

F*CK OFF! Get a life old man and stop leaving rude comments on my wall you obnoxious old bastard!!!!

Really? Am I really that old?

There certainly is a disconnect between the "Gen Xers" and me. On the whole they exhibit an enormous disconnect with both reality and civility...especially in the professional world. The overwhelming sense of entitlement that pours from their mouths is both amazing and sad.

Yesterday's encounter reminded me of another encounter with the younger generation. There is a magazine called Wine X, an allegedly hip, trendy wine publication designed to capture the attention of similarly allegedly hip, trendy wine drinkers. It's painful to read, all posturing, posing fluff (and badly-written fluff at that) that has little or no substance. Obviously, enough people shared this opinion, and the magazine soon fell off the radar.

Anyhow, shortly after its launch, I was contacted by the publisher, a one Darryl Roberts, who asked if I would help him on an article they were preparing on Viognier. At that time I was on a one-man crusade to take this hip, trendy grape from obscurity to mainstream, and would have talked to any media type about it...including one who represented his rag. Of the course of our meeting, I provided Mr. Roberts with a number of handouts I had prepared on Viognier. Imagine my surprise when I read the finished piece and found that a large percentage of their 'report' was comprised of verbatim transfers from my handout.

I soon contacted Roberts and expressed my concern that what he had committed was, basically, plagiarism. This hip, trendy publisher immediately responded with, "You should feel lucky that we even bothered to print your stuff!" When I explained that he was perhaps unaware that his actions were not only unprofessional but legally actionable, he decided to print a corrective acknowledgement in the very next issue.

Amazing, but true.

Perhaps my encounters with the self-absorbed, disconnected from reality, 'me-me-me' generation has provided me with a cause worthy of rebelling against? Nah. They're not worth the time and trouble...and it is fun observing their whiny-baby antics.

Monday, March 16, 2009

"Quick, Robin! To the Bat...Elephant!"

Over the course of his career, Adam West has subjected viewers to some truly bad theater*. My buddy Efrain found this publicity doubt taken at some po-dunk state fair. I don't know who was suffering more humiliation, West or the elephant? Given his body of work, I'm betting on Jumbo. If those blue tights could talk.

Sorry for the sparcity of posts, but I have been busy searching for gainful employment. Hmmm. Perhaps there's a state fair in need of entertainment?
*Insert obligatory, vague Leonard Pinth-Garnell reference here.

Monday, March 9, 2009

From Our "Pissing Away Taxpayer's Money" Department...

For those of you unaware, the state of Pennsylvania serves as the primary retailer of alcoholic beverages within its borders. And, like most business better suited to private enterprise, the PA government does a horrifically bad job as a liquor retailer. And, while you normally get what you pay for, the fine citizens of the Keystone State sure don't. They actually get to pay higher prices for such crappy service.*

The whole shebang is operated by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB for short). The PLCB recently announced that it was spending more than $173,000 to spruce up their nearly 650 stores. Better selections? New signs? Cleaner stores? No, no and no. The money is being spent in hiring a consulting firm that will train store employees to be more courteous. It would appear my belief that PA drinkers pay too much would be right: even in these scant economic times, the PLCB can just piss their (uh...if you live in PA, your) money away!

That's right. Some bright bulb at the PLCB feel that these government employees need to learn to be nicer! They want to make sure clerks are saying "hello," "thank you" and "come again" as they stick it to their customers. Having encountered more than my fare share of these dairy cows masquerading as retailers, I can tell you that - on its face - it's not a bad idea. The ones that I've met have a fairly fatalistic outlook on their career choice. Like most ineffectual governmental employees, these members of the PLCB must have as their motto, "Sure I'm dead wood...but you can't fire me!"

Let's see...there are about 4,000 PLCB employees. $173,000 divided by 4,000 is $43.25. Hell, pay me $20 per employee and I'll just kick 'em in the ass and say, "Smile and be happy you're living off the state teat!" Should affect the same results. I can pretty much guarantee you that the terms "gracious customer service" and "government employee" are mutually exclusive. ..or at least are to the point that no amount of money spent on training will change things. Here's just a suggestion - and I'm just spit-balling here - why don't you just DISMANTLE THE WHOLE DAMN PLCB SYSTEM?!?

Now, to be sure, there have been a few candidates for Governor in PA who have voiced agreement that the whole PLCB should be abolished. That's before they've assumed office. I can only guess that no sitting Governor wants to be remembered as the one who gave 4,000 employees (read: voters) their pink slips. Well, don't you think being made redundant has become en vogue these days? Everyone employer is doing why not add a few more to the ranks in Pennsylvania?

In my experiences selling wine around the globe, there's only one state that surpasses Pennsylvania for sheer ineptitude and idiocy in its regulations and selling of alcoholic beverages. That state would be Utah. But, hell, at least they have an excuse: their state is linked pretty intimately with the Mormon faith. What's PA's excuse?

Do yourself a favor: find ANY excuse not to buy your booze in the state of Pennsylvania. Even if the clerk does smile and say, 'have a nice day'.

* "How crappy?" you ask? So crappy, that Philadelphia residents took to the roads, and were driving over to nearby Cherry Hill, NJ to buy their booze from cheaper, privately-owned and operated retailers. And, in a flourish of typical governmental efficiency, the state of Pennsylvania found a, not in lowering prices and increasing service, but by staking out NJ liquor stores and pulling over anyone driving a car with PA plates as soon as they crossed the border. THAT'S how crappy!

30-Second Movie Review: Bottle Shock.

Is the kind of movie that results when you take the posing pretentiousness of

And the self-aggrandizing romanticism of a fairly unromantic industry like, say

And mix it all into the cinematic version of a

Creating, in the end, something that is a lot like

(Face)Book of Lists.

I joined Facebook almost a year ago, but really have only been actively participating on it within the last two months. This activity came about after I had received three messages from old friends, none of which I'd heard from since my college days. Those three contacts have since spread into hundreds of old friends and acquaintances...from high school, college, extended family and various work-related businesses.

It seems that everyone my age has decided to sign onto Facebook. It's akin to salmon swimming upstream to spawn, or the Swallows returning to Capistrano. Perhaps we're all just feeling that we're sliding into the last half of our lives, and are interested to know how old friends are fairing on their rides.

One of the unintended consequences of being a member of Facebook is that I've received literally hundreds of 'list requests' from fellow members. These request basically consist of a friend sharing with you their - say - Top 10 favorite movies, or their Top 15 favorite albums. The idea being that you will learn something about your friend...and, of course, they want you to reciprocate. It's as if all your friends now think of themselves as self-appointed James Liptons, and wanted to get to know the real me.

Well, if you share such aspirations, let me share with you now one such list that I actually responded to:


25.) I tend to be a fairly impatient person. It’s my worst trait, but I’m working on it.

24.) If I see something that needs to be done I all too often jump right in with both feet and take on the task myself. That’s lead to countless great (and a few really stupid) adventures.

23.) Usually when people ask where I’m from I say, “Georgia.” That said, I’m actually from Chicago, Illinois. By the time I turned 14, my family had moved five times (Chicago, Cherry Hill, NJ; Tustin, CA; St. Charles, IL; Dunwoody, GA). Georgia is where I truly grew up. It’s where I went to high school and college, it’s where my parents, most of my siblings and my oldest friends live.

22.) If I could live anywhere in the U.S., I’d love a big house on the coast, somewhere South of Charleston, SC, and North of the Georgia/Florida border. If I could live anywhere in the world, it’d be in the middle of a vineyard in the French appellation of Bandol.

21.) My wife and I were born on the same day - November 4th, yet seven years apart. As I’ve a twin sister, it means that I’ve always shared my birthday with a woman.

20.) The best birthday present I have ever received was when I was seven years old. I didn’t actually receive this present until I was 36.

19.) We have a Bulldog named “VIVI” (pronounced “viv-vee”). Her daddy was UGA VI, and her brother is UGA VII. As much as I love her, I am much more inclined to have an Airedale as a pet. But my boys love UGA, and you can’t say, “no thanks” to Sonny Seiler.

18.) I’ve four siblings…three older brothers and a sister. Of the five of us, I’m the one with the most gray hair. I attribute this fact that I’m the only one who started their own business.

17.) I don’t have much of a sweet tooth. I could go for months on end without something sweet…but if there’s a cheese course on the menu, lookout!

16.) I lived on a houseboat for nearly three years. Winters on a houseboat really helps to clarify who your real friends are.

15.) For most of my youth I planned to make my living as a Naval Aviator. Then I had the opportunity to learn first-hand that there was very little flying involved. I still love to fly, but I’m glad I didn’t choose that as my career path.

14.) And, while I like the career path I choose; namely, the wine business, I cannot abide the level of pretentiousness and entitlement that pervades the industry. Far too many of my contemporaries have entered the wine business for lifestyle, not livelihood.

13.) I’ve been to my share of Tailhook Association conventions, and you shouldn’t believe everything you’ve read about them.

12.) When I was younger, I was somewhat obsessed with Star Wars…so much so, that I actually saw it over 70 times when it came out in 1977. I never knew that being a geek would serve me so well…until I became the father of two young boys.

11.) I have an amazingly large head, literally speaking.

10.) For someone who has made his living speaking in front of large audiences, I really don’t like public speaking all that much.

9.) Before I can begin to cook the family dinner, I need to ensure the dishwasher is empty. In this way, I can clean as I cook. Some people would call this obsessive behavior. I prefer to call it ‘being organized’.

8.) But I know it IS obsessive behavior.

7.) Every serious relationship that I have had with any woman prior to Amie has ended with that woman eventually becoming a lawyer. I don’t know what that means, but there you have it.

6.) I have two scars on the top of my right hand. These are the result of accidentally putting my hand into a mechanical box sealer while working at my father’s aerosol business.

5.) I’ve had the good fortune to play golf on some of the world’s greatest courses. Every time I’m golfing, I think to myself, “Why don’t I play golf more often?” It’s only when I enter the receipts for green fees, cart rental and the bar tab into my checkbook that I remember why.

4.) If granted the opportunity to start a new career, and money were no object, I’d be hard pressed to choose between being a writer or the curator of a real good aviation museum.

3.) If I could change one thing about me physically, it would be to cure myself of allergies. Cosmetic dental work would be a close second.

2.) I really don’t understand the attraction of horror movies. The idea of spending good money to get the crap scared out of you makes no sense. To me, movies should either make you laugh or make you think.

1.) In my wife I’ve found the embodiment of true happiness, commitment, and unconditional love. I try each day to prove worthy of her.

There. Do you feel that you know me any better?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

"I Got a Rock."

As if dispel any doubts that the United States is pinching its pennies, President Obama's choice of parting gifts to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown surely put the world on notice of this fact. As is customary when a visiting head of state pays a visit to the White House, Prime Minister Brown presented the President with some thoughtful tokens of his country's esteem and appreciation. Custom dictates that our President reciprocate in this gesture.

The Prime Minister of England saw fit to present President Obama with a penholder carved from the oak timbers of HMS Gannet, a Victorian-era ship which spearheaded the Royal Navy's fight against slave trading. This present was especially thoughtful in light of the fact the desk which Obama sits behind in the Oval Office was carved from oak salvaged from the Gannet's sister ship, HMS Resolute. In addition, Brown - on behalf of the people of the United Kingdom - gifted the President with a framed copy of the commission for the HMS Resolute, as well as first-editions of the seven-volume biography of Sir Winston Churchill by Sir Martin Gilbert. All in all, some very fitting, very thoughtful gifts.

And how did President Obama reciprocate? With a "special" collection of 25 "classic" American films. Yes, you read right...with a box set you or I could have easily obtained by by giving a large enough donation to any PBS station, or by going down to your local Blockbuster's! Come to think of it, Blockbuster's is on the ropes these days...perhaps these gifts are a sign of yet another economic bailout in the works?

Looking over the list, I have to agree that there are some true cinematic treasures there, but I wouldn't say these represent the best, all-time, Top 25 movies made in America. To begin with, City Lights needs to go, as does any movie starring Charlie Chaplin...the cinematic definition of 'overrated' if ever there was one. And as much as I love Buster Keaton (a real talent of the silent screen, unlike Chaplin), I don't think The General should have made this list. Although I'm quite a fan of science fiction, he gifted 2001 and E.T.? Honestly?? And how could you include just one installment out of the six in the Star Wars' franchise? Not that any of them rates Top 25 status. It is interesting to note that the one he did include is entitled, The Empire Strikes Back. Now there's a Freudian slip if ever there was one! And two Hitchcock films? And one of them isn't North by Northwest? Give me a break.

And the gifting only got worse: the Browns presented the Obama girls with dresses from the stylish UK Topshop stores, as well as six books written by British authors whose works are soon to be released in the U.S. In return, the Obamas provided the Browns with two models of the "Marine One" presidential helicopter for them to pass along their two sons. Whoopie!

Given the paltry presents, something tells me that Obama's staff forgot about this little act of gifting protocol until the Browns were just hours away from departing. And, after the staffers voiced a collective "DOH!", some poor underling hoofed it over to the gift shop at the Smithsonian and bought the first things they saw.

I'm thinking that - if he knows anything about popular American culture - Gordon Brown has now got to feel a little like Charlie Brown. Especially Charlie Brown on Halloween night. You remember the scene...Charlie and his friends go out trick-or-treating, and at each door all of the other kids get great candy, and Charlie Brown looks into his bag, and says, "I got a rock."

When it comes to gifts of State, Gordon Brown got a rock.

With gifts as thoughtful as the Obama's, I'm thinking I know what Brazil's President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has to look forward to on his March 14th visit to Washington:

Compliments of the United States, Luiz! Don't spend it all in one night.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Guess it Could ALWAYS be Worse.

All this blogging about how bad the job market might make you believe that I don't realize how good I've got it. I'm married to the woman of my dreams, have two great sons, and a smelly, semi-famous Dawg. I could always have followed my original career plans of being a server at a Hooters. Thankfully I didn't. The wings suck and the customers don't tip...with the exception of John Daly. And he just tips over...