Sunday, October 27, 2013

Scary behavior in Wheeling, WV

My last blog was about West Virginia being accredited with the "neurotic" tag.  This one will be a rare continuation or Part 2.  You may refer to it as the "neurotic extension."

So here's the deal.  About 20% of the adults in this town simply DO NOT TALK.  They have the ability to speak, but they voluntarily choose not to do so.  I might be overstating the phenomena.  Let's go this rout. 15% prefer not to talk.  What I mean by this... they'll only talk about shit they're comfortable with.  They usually stick to fantasy football, country music (Jamboree), work and the kids.  They also might talk about the vacation they took to Myrtle Beach.  But other than that...  you won't be having a spirited debate about foreign policy or Obamacare.  These people just don't willingly open their mouths.  Unless it's to eat mediocre pizza and yummy macaroni salad.

Somewhere around 4% are trending dangerously toward being a complete mute.  They are mostly men who got Forrest Gumped when they were little kids.  By that I mean --- in second grade, some teacher probably told them "You're a stupid idiot who needs to shut up."  Needless to say, they ran with the advice and haven't spoken since.

And around 1% simply cannot communicate (complete recluse/shut-in, coma/vegetative state, etc.).

Now here's a little background on the bar scene in Wheeling.  It's often comprised of these guys I'd call "miscellaneous shifty loners types."  They're usually in the 25-35 age bracket.  Most people go to bars to socialize.  Not these ones.  They sit and stoically stare at the widescreen.  Occasionally, they'll clap their hands when the Penguins score a goal.  Sometimes, they'll mutter, "fuck yeah" if there's a touchdown.  Other than that, they just sit or stand in complete silence and drink their Bud Ice.  Every once in a blue moon, their eyes will shift and take notice of some cleavage or woman's ass.  But even that is the exception, not the rule.

So here's where I'm going with this.  Last night was Halloween in Wheeling.  I went down to Tony and Cleo's for a few beers on the early side (9-10:30ish).  They were having their annual Spooktacular Rockamatic concert (Tongue 'n Cheek and Old Buddy Jack).  This is always a costume-oriented event.  I think they give away a few hundred bucks worth of prizes --- Domino's Pizza, lava lamps, car wash gift certificates (they should really call them "truck wash" gift certificates - it's a better sell 'round deez parts).

Like I was saying.  I went out on the early side to chit chat with DBV (obligatory shout-out!).  Other than that - I generally bail early on - mostly due to the obtrusive volume and an overwhelming frustration with the local human population whom I find increasingly less interesting and particularly non-amusing.

So here's my point.  Remember, it was early in the evening.  This is when the aforementioned, non-speaking loner types tend to gather.  But last night was different from all other nights.  Why you ask?  Was it the fucking Passover Seder?  Uh... no.  It was Halloween.  This is when the freaks come out at night.

Like I was saying, it's Halloween.  So naturally, many people go to great lengths when designing or purchasing their costumes.  And some were wearing complete masks or disguising their faces with monster sunglasses, warrior make-up, fake Duck Dynasty beard, porn mustache, etc. 

Now you would naturally assume that people who undertake all this effort would want to talk about their costume: engage in a set routine, explain the costume or even do a little bit of role-playing.  Think again, asshole!  Remember, these are the "mysterious" loner types.  They do nothing, they say nothing, they are nothing.

So here's why it made for a truly bizarre evening.  This particular bar notoriously appeals to the older bracket (40 to 60 year range).  Many of its regular patrons seem to have these alter ego personalities.  They'll try to impress you with tales of greatness (I'm an oil baron... I'm best friends with Ben Roethlisberger... I own an island in the Caribbean, etc.).

Now let's put it all together.  There's just this bizarre, forced merging of behavioral anomalies.  You've got the non-responsive, muted-masked weirdos walking around AND they're slowly being infiltrated by the "extravagant wannabe pseudo-braggadocios."  So you've got these polyester-suited, older men who are desperately trying impress.  They'll be incessantly yapping about how they just cornered the platinum market.  But they're talking to the non-interactive zombie dude who is perfectly willing to just stand and absorb the whole conversation.

When you glance around the bar and see multiple, simultaneous examples of these scenarios playing themselves out.  Well, it's honestly quite terrifying.  All in all, it makes for some scary behavior in Wheeling, WV.

Also scary in Wheeling - the same shit was probably happening 3 miles down the road at TJ's.

One last thought.  Usually I do have a costume.  I normally try and shoot for more of a theme or an idea.  Considering that the recurring Washington Redskins name controversy is back in the news, I should have gone with my Indian/Jewish businessman alter ego personality... SCALPING JEW.  Fortunately, there's still time!  Halloween ain't til later in the week.   

Then again, it could make the muted-silent fucks feel uncomfortable.  Wouldn't want to rock the boat (or in this case... canoe).

Thursday, October 24, 2013

West Virginia is #1... in neurotic behavior

I just saw the Time magazine poll which outlines the behavioral patterns of U.S. residents.

It said that West Virginia is the most neurotic.  Utah is the most agreeable (Sure thing if you're a Mormon.  Judgmental is more like it.).  Wisconsin is the most extroverted (yeah... if you measure social interaction by ones propensity to engage in cow-milking).  And Texas is the most assholic.  Alright... I extrapolated that last entry based solely on the existence of Jerry Jones.

I'm actually a big Dallas fan.  I was at a party last week.  The girl hosting had a huge Cowboys pop-up tent.

Me:  "Nice!  I'm a huge Dallas Cowboys fan..."
Her:  "Me too, Saf!"
Me:  "You didn't let me finish.  I'm a huge Dallas Cowboys fan when they score 48 points on their home field and lose in the final seconds on a heartbreak field goal." 

Still, these bastards are claiming that northern WV is the most neurotic state.  The more I think about it, the more I think these Time-Fucks may have a valid point.

*  Virtually every person I know is on some kind of anti-depressant medication.  Adults, teenagers, embryos... The West Virginia pharmaceutical industry knows no boundaries.  We even lead the nation in pet psychiatry.  Yep... my dog seems to have a case of the beagle blues.  We need to get him some chewable Lexapro-laden Beggin' Strips.  My new cat Palin meows too often for no apparent reason.  Let's put her on a strict regimen of Prozacat. 

*  I can totally understand the widespread neuroticism.  Our state is comprised of all these small towns and tiny communities.  What's the overriding essence --- everyone is in everyone's business.  Around here we call it "beeswax."  Look who just got knocked up.  That couple is living in sin.  I saw Dale buying a porno mag at the 7-11.  Tapioca (yep... I'd give generous odds that some girl in Moundsville is named after a tasty pudding) lost all that weight cuz of all that meth she's doin'.     

*  Montani Semper Liberi --- this is our outdated state motto.  Mountaineers are Always Free ???  What a fucking joke.  I'm not sure where you live, but the West Virginia I know is a total police state.  Roving patrols 24/7.  Desperately searching for that burnt out headlight.  "We got a padiddle at the corner of 14th and Market St."  Then, they go in for the kill.  License, registration, proof of insurance, where are you going, who are you related to, what did you eat for breakfast, where do you get your haircut, is that pocket knife a weapon, why do you have a Cleveland Browns sticker in your windshield.  Did you know that all the drugs in Wheeling come from Cleveland?  Are you a drug mule?  I'd like to ask for your consent to a colonic MRI --- you may or may not have condoms in your butt filled with heroin.

Is it any wonder why the population is so paranoid?

*  Everyone is suing the living shit out of everyone.  Out of all 50 states, we are the litigious heck-hole.  You can't even use the phrase "hell-hole" on a billboard for fear of being sued.  True story - that's how bad it is.  I'm even afraid to buy young Tina a bag of Funyons.  Her parent or court appointed guardian might sue me for multiple reasons:

A.  She prefers Munchos.  The sight of the Funyon bag was an intentional infliction of emotional distress.
B.  She wanted the family size bag, not the chintzy little $1.49 Jew-bag.
C.  My daughter has gluten issues.  You're trying to get her to shit herself at church bingo.
D.  The Funyons were a deliberate attempt at "seduction."  She's on court-ordered home confinement for repeated bullying.  She ain't allowed to leave the house and be in possession of salty snacks.

*  Every kid (ages 18-25) has those idiot discs in their ear lobes.  Not only that... but their face and neck are covered with piercings and tattoos.

If this weirdo shit freaks me out (I'm 43), what the hell do you think it does to someone twice my age?  Think about it.  I'm an elderly geezer who's minding my own business.  I'm at Mehlman's Cafeteria for the 4 o'clock dinner rush.  I'm trying to enjoy my cottage cheese, baked fish and tepid Tab.

Hold your horses!  Here comes the youth gone wild.  They're all wearing headphones but you can here the shitty emo music a mile away.  Then they all start frantically texting and sexting.

How do you think this makes me feel?  Just a tad apprehensive perhaps?

*  West Virginia is God's country.  Sure is, daggumit!  How many times have I had the accidental displeasure of hearing these fire and brimstone preachers on AM radio?  For Christ sake, we lead the nation in Pentecostal religious snake handlers.

What the fuck is this?   What century am I living in?  What planet am I living on?

So is West Virginia really the most neurotic?

Damn straight.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Ravens at Steelers (10-20-13): I want an OBAMATICKET !

I'm a big fan of the NFL East coast "late starts."  By that I mean games that begin in the daylight and finish on the cusp of darkness.  4:25 pm is where it's at.  It really ads to the atmosphere.  By that I mean it gives everyone the opportunity to get substantially more wasted.

I left Wheeling with plenty of time to spare (noon) and there was still a shitload of traffic on the parkway.  I had forgotten about the giant duck.  What a dignified tourist attraction.  Millions have flocked to the see this historic, floating landmark.  They should name this thing "Flotzilla."  Yesterday was its last day.  Seriously... I say keep the damn thing and stick it near the entrance to Sandcastle.  Here's a pic of Fuzz, Jess and baby Gwen with the aforementioned duck. 

Personally, I prefer my own duck --- His name is Mr. Quackers.  He originally had a body.  Now he's just a head, stuck in the hillside.   Mr. Q was a gift from Ken D. of Australian/Appalachian fame.

So anyway, Gigi got off work at 3pm and we zipped down to the hood.  Found a dream parking spot and headed toward the stadium.  Speaking of the hood, my hoodie was tangled up in in my coat collar.  So she stops me and decides to fix it right outside Soho.  While fixing it, we ran into this couple who secretly despise me because we always brag about scoring free tickets (while they pay an outrageous sum every year for seats in the 500 peanut level).  Anyway, I felt a little embarrassed.  Gigi was straightening up my clothing as if I were a little kid.  I growled, "Hey... don't embarrass me in front of my friends who hate my guts."  Now, there's a quote you should trademark. 

Trump really deserves to be compensated anytime someone uses his line.  He made a great case for this during the 2012 election cycle.  When I think of humble, non-conceited individuals... naturally Trump comes to mind.  Just as when I think of lesbian disciplinarian, dyke-dominatrix overlords, I envision former DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano.  It's the same guiding principle. 

So we're looking for a couple freebies.  Gigi's haggling with an older whitey, but to no avail.   I stopped by this Pepsi booth and acquired these free Pepsi Awareness beads.

Now that's a noble cause.  I've always thought Pepsi Co. needs a variety of platforms for inseminating their message.  I know... I know... it's supposed to be disseminating.  But when I think of the cola wars, I prefer visions of artificially inseminated beverages (as opposed to those that are artificially generated).    

So yeah, we ended up snagging 2 freebies.  Took us about 20 minutes.  Yesterday, we just went with the old school "I WOULD LIKE A FREE TICKET" sign.  I'd say that tickets were "marginally plentiful," but not "relatively abundant" (like the Tennessee home opener).   More than one person accused me of seeking an "Obamaticket."  I may have to start using this term.  And we found a fantastic new place to sit/stand outside Gate A.  It's a black podium of sorts.  And this one guy walking by gave us a bag with 3 ice cold IC Lights.  And this other guy asked us to watch his trash (an empty beer can).  He muttered, "Keep an eye on it.  I'll be back to pick it up later."  Let's just say that I liked the cut of his jib.

What blew us away was the number of women ditching their purses.  Some were trying to hide them in the shrubs.  Others were just tossing them in the dumpster.  It was literally a sea of purses.  Lots of pissed off women.  There was also a strange diminutive, spiky-mohawked greaser bitching up a storm.  He reminded me of a youthful Bowzer from Sha Na Na fame.  He was irate to the point of tears.  Trust me, he was good shit.   Still not sure what he was crying about, but mini-Bowzer brought me much happiness.

We also had a run-in with a father-son Jew combo.  The dad was trying to stuff a giant bible into the NFL mandated 6"x 12"x 6" clear plastic bag.  The bible was huge.  We inquired as to why you'd bring a monster bible to a football game and he responded that he reads it while his son gambles at the Rivers Casino.  Interesting.  I suggested that he tell security, he needed to bring it in and pray for the home team accordingly.  I imagine the Rooney empire and Steelers organization would welcome the power of prayer.  For some reason, Gigi felt the need to tell him that I was a Jew.  And I felt the need to clarify --- telling him that I'm an "atheist Jew."

So we skipped the entire 1st quarter.  There was just too much strange entertainment going on outside.  When we entered the stadium, Gigi saw a $5.00 bill lying on the ground, but some dude snagged it just as she was making her descent.  However, she did find 2 buttons.  Here is a picture of said buttons along with some kind of white-necked land-cow...

On my Fantastical Football sheet, I predicted a Steelers 16-13 win.  Almost got it.

Steelers 19
Ravens 16

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Willie Nelson - Wheeling, WV (Capitol Music Hall: 10-16-13)

On a the heels of a sold out show and the last gasp of a ticketless whim, I zipped down to the Capitol Music Hall last night.  My faith in mankind (and to a lesser extent, the Wheeling populace) was restored when this 50 some year old passenger in a convertible pulled up to the curb.  He stuck his head out the window.  With a raspy voice, he blurted, "Hey anybody wanna go see Willie Nelson tonight?"

I was a little taken aback.  For a second I thought he might even offer me some Grey Poupon (or in the case of Wheeling, extra mayonnaise).  But he was totally legit.  I thanked him and his woman profusely and called him a "complete bad ass."  I think those were my exact words - "Sir, you are a complete bad ass."  He chortled, "No problem.  Glad to help."  And they abruptly sped off.

I looked down at the 2 comp tickets.  Holy shit!  They were second row floor.  As my dad used to  say, "How 'bout 'dem apples?"

Anyway, I ran into TFE & AJZ.  Dished them off the two closer tickets and snagged theirs.  I really had no inclination to to be that close.  To be honest, music at the Capitol sounds vastly better if you're in the center floor or front row balcony.  Funny how all those symphonies my parents took me to (kicking, dragging and screaming) finally paid off.  Funny how time slips away.  Like I was saying, I had no desire to be front row.  I mean... what am I supposed to do, yank on Willie's pig tails, offer to suck his cock, etc?

So then I had an extra ticket which I gave to Renee B.  I guess that's how you do it.  Pay it forward.  Just trying to relive the miracle scene.  Oddly enough, it was Bob Weir's birthday yesterday.  The "Miracle Whip" of all miracles.  Normally, I wouldn't know this but facebook likes to keep everyone apprised of celebrity birthdays.  Mr. T, Gary Trudeau, Smurfette... doesn't really matter.  Facebook knows all.  Facebook blows all.

The last time I ran into Willie was in 2006 in the back of a hotel parking lot.  When I say "ran into," I actually mean it.  I was rounding a semi-blind corner in a limo as this old geezer was riding directly toward me on a rusty bicycle.  I had to do a double take.  What the fuck???  That's Willie Nelson!

Anyway, I jumped out of the gas guzzling idiot mobile and introduced myself.  I had just seen him perform a few months earlier at the Dodge Theater in Phoenix while I was out visiting my parents.  We talked about the quality of that venue and then I shifted the conversation toward his appearance in a mid 1980's episode of Miami Vice.

(Gotta love it when Willie orders Steve Buscemi, "Now you hit the ground runnin.")

I then explained to Willie how my friend Mike actually named his cat after him.  So I got him on the phone and demanded that he speak with Mikey for a minute.  Of course, he was more than happy to oblige.  These days, I could probably bring up the stampedes.  I doubt even that would faze him.  Willie Nelson could very well be the "calmest" person I've ever met.

Normally, I'm not one to be star struck.  Trust me - if there's anyone who doesn't have a case of the celebrity/American Idol/hero-worship syndrome... well, that would be me.  Bu I had to get him to sign something.  So I settled for this.  I'm sure you'd agree - this is hardly what you'd call "settling."

If you label this as "settling," you are a complete piece of shit.  Aside from the dome hockey table itself, it's one of the coolest things I own.

Incidentally, I'm working on a new t-shirt.  Top 10 Reasons To Join AGSAF.    Here's the list so far - it could use a little editing..

10.  Saf will guide you on this magical journey

9.  We must actively stare down all of our demons

8.  Being crush asphyxiated or trampled to death is not particularly breathtaking

7.  If obtained from Goodwill, member's only t-shirt would be a strong score

6.  It's free... and it could save your life

5.  O.O.D.A. loops aren't what they used to, aren't what they used to be, aren't what they used to be

4.  As if reading the "Sonofsaf: odd, oh biography" wasn't enough

3.  Cuz you really wanna hear - "No duh, I told you so."

2.  New NFL clear bag policy just doesn't cut it

1.  Herding instincts suck!

I like the list but it seems a little "choppy."  Any suggestions or alterations would be seriously considered.

So anyway, back to the Willie Nelson story - Remember, our encounter wasn't outside some concert in Pittsburgh.  It was in the middle of the afternoon in the back of a hotel parking lot in Queensbury, NY (near Glen Falls in the Adirondack Mountains - he was playing a show at SPAC in Saratoga Springs that night, but I didn't know it).  I know you're all searching for some closure on this cat naming story.  Well.... it turns out that "Willie the cat" has nothing to do with Willie Nelson.  He's actually named after some USA Network Kung Fu character.  Next time I see him, I'll be sure to fill him in.

It kind of makes you wonder if their will be a "next" time.  After all, Willie is now 80 years old.  Same age as my father.  Two very driven people - who've driven in very different directions.  
Hey Saf, isn't this a concert review?  Yeah... I forgot.  The piano was a bit over-modulated.  During the encore segment, he was overpowered by his granddaughter's voice on the Creedence song, "Have You Ever See The Rain?"  The harmonica guy was a tad melodramatic (I can't stand harmonicas - Neil Young gets a pass).  FYI - if you're ever going to a concert at the Capitol, you really don't need a ticket.  Just skip the opener, wait til the first intermission, hang out front with the cigarette exhalers and simply join them on their way back inside.  It doesn't take a $42,000 per year degree from Wheeling Jesuit.

Seriously though, if you're one of those people who gets caught up in trivial bullshit at a Willie Nelson concert... I think you're missing the boat.  Your time would likely be better spent bitching in a Bob Evans drive-thru - because that would be your shining moment... spent "down on the farm."

I wonder if our paths will ever cross again... someday, somewhere perhaps.  Who knows, maybe I'll school him on the dome.  If we ever were to play, I'd even be willing to "lay down" and bestow upon him a "Top 10 Reasons Saf Sucks at Dome Hockey T-shirt."  For those who know me, I never lay down (on the dome).  We'll just have to wait and see how the future plays out.  Until then... on the dome again.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Pearl Jam - Consol Energy Center (11-12-13)

How cool is that Pearl Jam opened their fall tour in the Burgh?  Rhetorical questions seem to be all the rage these days.  So I will answer that question with two words --- "Very Kewl."  And check out the progression of the last night's date... 11,12,13.  Coincidence?  I think not.  Actually, who the hell honestly gives a fuck about numbers and dates?  I'm not running some psychic-zodiac chit-chat hotline.  That honor would fall to the indomitable Dionne Warwick.  We share the same birthday.  Yep, me, her, Bette Midler and the late Jerry Garcia.

Speaking of the fat man, many people have asked me the question, "Hey Saf, what's your favorite Dead song?"  I would always give the same answer - "It's the song I least expect to hear when I'm at one of their concerts."  So naturally, after having subjected my brain to 46 shows, that would encompass most of their library.  After all, who could ever forget the Help > Slipknot > Franklin's  at RFK in 1992?  Or the scorching "So Many Roads" in Richfield of 1993.  Or the Bucket > Shakedown opener at Soldier Field in 1991 or the '95 rain songs at Three Rivers Stadium.  Or whatever really... everyone's got a god-damned opinion.

My point about the Pearl Jam - I think the same rule applies.  I'm a fan of almost all their material.  But there was something "unexpected" about hearing 2 of their songs last night.  "Given to Fly" and probably the best version of "Evolution" I've ever heard.  The funny thing is they play these songs quite regularly.  I've heard both of them a bunch of times, but there's something about those opening chords.  It just threw me for a loop.

I've seen these guys about 10 times - a few Starlakes, a couple Spectrums, throw in a Columbus, Cleveland, an Igloo and now a Consol.  Last night ranked pretty high.  The energy level was in a word... sick.  Is it really asking too much for the entire crowd to stand up for 2 1/2 hours or so?  I think not.  And in typical fashion, they encored with the house lights on.  More bands need to do this.

As usual, we scored a couple freebies.  It took a little more grit and determination than usual, but it was also more rewarding.  Just because it was them.  This wasn't some Drops of Jupiter on a Train heading to the vomitorium bullshit concert.  It was a Pearl Jam fall opener in the Burgh.

I remember last time at Mellon Arena when Eddie Vedder ripped on the city of Pixburgh.

Now that's some classic shit.  Great commentary and follow-up.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  Hard to believe it was 7 years ago.

This time he had nothing but heavy duty compliments.  And he won the crowd over.  Not the biggest accomplishment considering if you mention the word "Corduroy" everyone starts to salivate like a pack of starving Pavlovian dogs.

Just for the record, there are a few Pearl Jam songs I really abhor.  Probably just because they're way overplayed.  The following tunes are what I call "piss songs."  This is where you literally go to the restroom and take a leak.  Songs like "Evenflow" and "Daughter."  I could also do without the "Rockin' in the Free World" encores.  The time has finally come to put that cover to rest.

The Grateful Dead had a few of these urinary songs as well.  Phil's "Wave to the Wind" comes to mind.  How about "Eternity", "Lazy River Road", and "Walkin' Blues?"  Those songs pretty much sucked?  I once heard a really atrocious version of "Loose Lucy."  Hey, I'll actually admit it --- I kind of liked it when Jerry's voice used to crack and he'd forget a lyric or two, but there's this one Loose Lucy that's really embedded in my brain.  Something about the band backing him up.  Singin' YEAH, yeah, YEAH, yeah, YEAH.  Thank you, but I am not having... a real good time.  Vince Welnick is quite possibly the most disappointing musician of all-time.  Just my take.

By the way, I actually do have a favorite Pearl Jam song.  Ironically, this atheist Jew's favorite is.. "Faithful."  Check the set list bitch.

Friday, October 04, 2013

How to destroy Obamacare

I often come up with these zany system disruptions.  Usually, it's an inventive public relations campaign to destroy the credibility of a politician.  A year ago, I formulated a template for how to destroy the NRA.  On second thought, maybe "destroy" is too strong a term.  Let's say "manufacture and emphasize an ideological schism that splits it into two separate factions thus limiting its current ability to wield as much power and influence."  Note: Because of my growing contempt for both parties, I'm an equal opportunity destroyer (but rest assured, I harbor far more hatred for the Christian right/Tea Party extremists).

Dismantling the NRA: first blog and related blog.   

So without further adieu, here's an unusual way to "destroy" Obamacare.

Eventually, this health care issue is going to play itself out when something "unexpectedly bad" happens.  The Republican side just needs that one prime-time incident.  You need to insert some heavy duty propaganda.  We just saw a meager attempt from a serrated Palin.  She put out some extensive tweet to her legion of idiots.  I call them the "freedom followers" because well, you know... who the hell doesn't want freedom?  Such a brave and controversial stand.  Let's do it!  Stand up for eternal liberty and all that jazz.

Yeah, as if she has the technical ability to write a propaganda piece (even one as bad and horrifically misleading as the one I just saw).  I can't even bring myself to physically summon the link.  I'm ashamed to admit that I named my cat after her.  Trust me, it's not entirely a badge of honor.  Sometimes, the animals meows incessantly in the middle of the night and I scream at him to shut the hell up.  It usually works... for maybe 20 minutes.  Then, it happens all over again.  So I walk to the sliding glass door to let him out... and what does he do.  He sits by his food dish waiting for me to fill it up.  But it's already full.  So I have to jostle around the Kibbles and Bits.  THEN, he starts to eat.  Round 2 usually involves me letting him outside.  Very Palinesque.

One more aside... I was watching Hannity's claim last night on Fox - that Harry Reid doesn't care about little kids with cancer.  He wants to defund the research and development aspects.  And of course Obama also wishes to dishonor our older veterans by temporarily closing the World War I/II Memorials.  They even show the "preventative" yellow caution tape.  Weak.

So here' my idea...

Use the Anonymous, youtube video platform.  Don the "Guy Fawkes vendetta mask."

Now claim that you are affiliated with the Affordable Health Care bureaucracy somewhere high up in an "identity protection and compliance" department.  You could also claim to be employed by one of the largest national banks, credit card companies or health care providers.  But it's more effective if you claim to be employed by the federal government.

Here's the gist of the video...

Obamacare: disease
Implementation: identity theft

"What the citizens of the United States don't realize is that Obamacare will be spreading a new disease.  This disease is called identity theft.  If you sign up for Affordable Health Care Act, it is possible you will be targeted for identity theft.  We apologize to all those who will suffer as a consequence.  But we feel it is necessary to take this step to ensure the foundations of democracy.  In the case of Obamacare, it is illegal for the federal government to force you to comply with their demands.  This country was built on concepts of freedom and liberty.  Socialized medicine is not the answer.  We are Anonymous.  We are Legion.  Expect us."

Use a few scary buzz words, like "execution", "viral", "exponential", etc.

It's important to use both terms (Obamacare & Affordable Health Care Act) and inextricably link them to disease, identity theft and a few choice adjectives.

Now let's point out the obvious.  Everyone has either experienced or knows someone that has been impacted by identity theft.  The trials and tribulations are akin to madness.  Its two overriding characteristics: interminable frustration and an absolute sense of helplessness and self-violation. 

Here's a little more background...

Create the narrative where this rogue Anonymous individual (I prefer to use a female govt. employee because it sounds slightly more convincing than a male).  She'll claim to be holding hostage a swath of social security numbers, addresses, birth dates, etc.  During the opt-in phase and while Obamacare is in place or as long as it's the "law of the land," a new list will be distributed to some semi-hostile nation (maybe random cat-phishing phone banks in Nigeria - that kind of thing).  This will continue unabated until the president goes before the nation and explains that he's going to dismantle the Affordable Health Care Act.

This automated program is set up in secured, random multiple locations and it will automatically email the personal information of X amount of individuals from every state in the country.  It's done on a daily basis.  Since Obamacare is a federal mandate, nobody will safe.  And if you want to add insult to injury, blue states will be specifically targeted.  As opposed to red states (or those whose governors publicly oppose Obamacare).  Now that's some mean-spirited shit.  But a word to the wise... you don't want to get overly partisan as it will weaken your fundamental argument about freedom, liberty, blah, etc. 

Next, just include an impassioned plea about how you cannot sit idly by and allow President Obama to draw us further toward socialism.  Never hurts to throw in Pelosi and Reid (their names are synonymous with liberalism/socialism due to the steady stream of Fox News' perpetual golden shower).  But try to evoke a tiny bit of sympathy.  Claim that it's your patriotic duty and you feel as though you honestly have no choice.  It's for the greater good.  That's a critical theme because it's transcends all the petty soundbyte issues and turns everything into a vaguer argument of good and bad, right and wrong.

The beauty of using the Anonymous platform:

* Very well-suited to go viral
* Impossible to dispute their claim
* Impossible to prosecute
* The more you seek to discredit the video, the more publicity it gets
* Fear is a VERY powerful motivator.  Blurring the lines between fear and reality.

Hey, if I think there's even the slightest possibility that Obamacare = identity theft, I will NOT be signing up.  At the very least, I'd be inclined to avoid registering until the govt. gets its act together.  Hmmm, I wonder when that defining moment will take place?

It's like throwing a "gorilla wrench, curve ball, systemic disruption" into the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act (as if it won't have enough logistical problems to contend with).

If that's scenario's too evil, I also have a demented, unrelated piece of propaganda that could be spread on the internet.  Construct a meme that claims PETA is in the final stages of petitioning the government to extend Obamacare to family household pets.  Not farm animals - that would obviously be bullshit.  But make the claim that it's starting with major surgical procedures for cats and dogs.  And it's hoping to expand basic coverage to parakeets, ferrets, snakes, etc.

Rush Limbuagh would go BALLISTIC.  Whether or not it's even remotely true is of no significance.  It's all about the slippery slope of "how far will Obamacare be willing to go."  Trust me, the thought of the government paying for some aging cat to undergo a $400 life saving operation because Ta'Anisha can't bear the thought of her suffering....  You wanna see what a truly enraged Tea Party fuck really looks like?  Screw the cat.  How about a hermit crab?

I might come up with a few more ideas this weekend.  Oglebayfest is cool and all, but sometimes I require greater inspiration.  After all, how much warm Bud Light draft can one drink?  Or better yet, just how much kettle corn can one family consume....

... even these Mormonic Duggar weirdos have their limits. 

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

government shutdown memes / shmoopie analogy

As we enter the second day of the government shutdown, the imbecilic facebook memes are gaining ground.  There seems to be this collective outcry.  And it doesn't matter if you're rich, poor or part of the rapidly dissipating middle class.  Everyone despises Congress. 

We gotta do something!  I can't take it anymore! 

Wait a minute!  I've got the answer.  We need to hit 'em where it hurts.  That's right!  Straight in the pocketbook!  Those worthless bums.

Here's the plan.  We'll dock their paychecks!  Those bastards!

First off, I think the tri-hearted extravaganza closer pretty much sums it up.  If you ever want to delegitimize your cause, just add a bunch of heart symbols or over-utilized "shmoopie" Seinfeld references.  Works wonders.

(Hey, is it me or does Jerry's girlfriend have the identical face of Timmi Calissie?)

Second off, I'm hardly a constitutional law professor, but there's an explicit statement somewhere in the 27th Amendment that makes it illegal to suspend the salaries of members of Congress.  These politicians are gonna git paid no matter what happens.  Of course, such information doesn't make for good a facebook meme or propaganda blip.  I know... I know... but it's a tea-party tantrum!

Third off, the amount of personal fortune most politicians devote to obtaining their respective office easily dwarfs their annual salary.

Fourth off, is the obvious request to "repost anything."  If you love wing dings and aren't afraid to submerge them in a gallon of ranch dressing... then please REPOST and spread the word.  Together, we'll change the world!  One artery at a time, sweet Jesus.

Alright, now I'm sorry to rain on your parade (in this case, it's the annual Dimmeydale 4th of July parade), but let's throw out a couple of inconvenient truths.

The annual U.S. House of Representative salary is $174,000
The annual U.S. Senator salary is $174,000

Here's some other facts that should be painfully obvious.

The average net worth of a member of the the House is approx. 7 million.
The average net worth of the U.S. Senator is around 11.5 million.

Granted, these stats are a little skewed by the likes of Darrel Issa (R-CA) and John Kerry (D-MA), but I think it's safe to say that very few in Congress would experience REAL financial pain if they lost a month's pay.

(Saf, you're such an asshole.  Mitt was a GOVERNOR.  Yeah.. I know.  I get it).

Regardless, these guys and gals don't live paycheck to paycheck.  Maybe 2-3 (out of 535) would have to do some belt-tightening if they lost a year's pay.

Now call me a cynic, but even if you took away a House member's pay for an entire year, that translates into a 2.4% drop in one's total net worth.  Some people experience that same net worth drop during a bad week on Wall Street.

Now for the average U.S. Senator, it translates to 1.5%.  And like I said, that's for an entire year. 

So let's say, we somehow suspend their pay for an entire month.  This seems like a more realistic time frame.  Guess what?  Now you're entering into the realm of fractions of 1%. 

The point to all this - Stop whining about outrageous congressional salaries.  The worst is when people bitch about how much President Obama makes - 400K per year???  Considering the job description, that's peanuts.  There are plenty of hedge fund managers and day traders that would view $400,000 for a DAY'S work as chump change.

How about some other professions?

My least favorite faith healer (Benny Hinn) is worth about a billion.  His job description - Scam his followers.  Sounds a lot like Congress.  Someone really needs to tar and feather that douchebag.

The average salary of a decent NFL nose tackle is around 4 mil.  You know what their job description is?  I can sum it up in 3 words. Clog the line.  Sounds a lot like the tea party faction of the Republican party.

Even though he shirks his moral responsibility to warn the unknowing occupants of PNC Park about the potential for an artificially generated stampede, my favorite newspaper magnate (Bob Nutting) is worth about a billion.  His job description - Maintain the status quo (with regard to outdated stadium emergency evacuation protocol and to a greater extent, economic class disparity).  Still, you gotta love him.  Go Bucs.

So Saf, what do you hope to achieve by writing this particular blog?  What's your goal?  What on earth are you hoping to accomplish?

Well... here's the end game.  For just ONE day per year, wouldn't it be great if everyone had to post something with ORIGINAL content on facebook?  That's right.  I'm gonna make a proposal.  Instead of using the words and pictures of George Takei or some clever kid at MIT, out of the entire year, let's have just ONE day exclusively dedicated to intellectual originality.  We could call it "Facebook Freshness Day" or "Take A PERSONAL Day" or anything else that makes me cringe.  And hey, no posts about the tv show you just watched, the food you just ate, the event you just attended or my all-time favorite --- the weather!  Then, and only then, will you get a true glimpse into the "hearts and minds" of your "facebook friends." 

The funny part - anyone who reads this will automatically think I'm ripping on them personally.  I'm not.  I've already assessed and defined all of you social media whores as collectively guilty.  For it is I, Sonofsaf, who will ultimately be condemned for the sins of Facebook.  And this is a noble cause I'd be willing to die for - just make sure to strap me to the remains of my neighbor's pole and sacrifice me accordingly.

Incidentally, I'm going to alter that pole into a modern version of an atheist-Jewish totem pole.  I just recently viewed an excellent display on Native American Indians in Washington state (Maryhill Museum of Art).  If you find yourself in the absolute middle of nowhere, make sure to check it out.

Anyhoo... I'm calling it the "dominipole."  Picture forthcoming.  If you have some old dominoes lying around, gimme a ring.  This concept is a work in progress.

Pirates vs. Reds (11-2-13) crowd observations

So I went down to PNC Park last night.  Figuring it was their first playoff game in 21 years AND it was a "win you're in" / "lose you're sucked" proposition, I thought it afforded an outstanding opportunity to monitor crowd dynamics.

Ohhh, the crowd was rocking.  Chants of "Let's Go Bucs" and "Here we go Pirates, Here we go!"  The fans were grilling and chilling, smiling and happy.  And if you think that's the essence of this article, you'd be far better off reading the recap in the Wheeling Intelligencer.

I will admit one thing.  For a Pirates game, the energy level was like nothing I've ever seen.  It wasn't cautious optimism, it was energized optimism.  I don't think losing was a credible option last night.  A negative outcome could have lent itself to some incidents.  Not looting or setting vehicles on fire, but maybe isolated acts of violence against Reds fans and possibly window smashing.  Lots of first timers at the ball park.  You wanna know something?  Over the years, I've come to a vital realization.  These days, there are two types of sports fans --- those who want to go to the game and those WHO WANT TO TELL PEOPLE THEY WENT TO THE GAME.  The latter group is the one on the rise (percentage-wise).

As expected, I saw a half dozen people get discreetly turned away with counterfeit tickets.  I even predicted one of them!  Now that's unprecedented.  I'm decent at predicting if people have extra tickets (when they're not holding them up), but who the hell has ever heard of a "I think that dude might get turned away for a bogus ticket."  Now that's some Buccos Nostradamus shit.

Here's what tipped me off.  First of all, this guy in his early 20's was heading in solo.  He had a small hastily made sign that said something to the affect of...

IC Light - $8.00
Parking - $20.00
Pirates wining a playoff game at PNC Park - PRICELESS!

But he was holding a black and white, 8.5" x 11" printout in his other hand.  And he was nervously whooping it up.  He looked skittish and distracted, but at the same time, he was trying to get the crowd going with a "Cincy Sucks" chant.  The crowd embraced him for about 4-5 seconds.  But I saw something different.  I think in the back of his mind, he already new the truth.

I'm not sure where this guy bought his "ticket."  Might have procured it online.  Might have been from a renegade scalper (all the regular black guys are legit --- if you resemble a pigeon, they might try and rip you off, but they'll never knowingly sell you a bunk ticket or a xeroxed print-out).  Well, sure enough, this guy got turned away.  He didn't put up much resistance with the ticket scanner dude.  Just had a pitiable, shell-shocked expression and sulked away.  I almost thought about venturing over and having a word with him, but I didn't.  What would have been the point?

He wasn't the only one turned away.  I saw 5 others do the "No soup for you turn around."

(Great closer - "Come back!  One Year!")

Anyway, two of them looked like complete idiots.  I know it's not politically correct, but I believe the term is "wiggers."  Two white guys decked out in Pirates gear, gold chains, high-top Jordan-Air Nikes with their straight-bill ball caps at the quintessential 127 degree angle.  The Enimem-ish one guy was holding a large manilla envelope.  I  suspect he didn't open it til the last  possible moment.  When their printouts didn't beep upon being scanned, they looked at each other with this "bozo gaze of incredulity."  It was as if all their imagined street-cred was flushed down a thug-toilet of despair.  They both got en-em-uhhed or M&M'ed in the butthole.  Neither went to the cops to complain.  

I also watched as a couple guys slipped in with the sneaky assistance of a PNC Park employee (while  2 cops purposely looked in the opposite direction).  Surprisingly, this happened around 7:15pm when the crowd was near its peak.  No money was exchanged.  One of them had to be a good friend, or at the very least, a recognizable acquaintance.   It was executed with such brilliance and perfection, I almost feel guilty writing about it.  Hey, I'm someone who has attended over 50 games and adamantly refuse to spend ANY sum of money (I once turned down a scalper who wanted only 3 bucks).  This is based on a sound principle --- the outright refusal to monetarily contribute to the Nutting empire.  So obviously, I enjoy it when an official Bucco rep subverts the process.  Not only that, I will salute him/her and this tantalizingly destructive behavior. 

A similar incident occurred about 20 minutes later.   This time it was 4 men, but something went wrong during the negotiation process.  I think only 2 people were supposed to slither in undetected, but the crew's expectations were a bit too lofty.  They wanted it all.  They rode to close to the sun on the wings of pastrami (George Costanza).

I also saw 2 individuals getting wheeled out of the ball park on a stretcher.  Alcohol poisoning would be my best guess, but who really knows.  I was off in the distance, so I couldn't even make out if either was a man or woman.

Single tix were very scarce.  Most of the scalpers wanted around $150-$200.  But it was just too hot a ticket.  Lots of demand and virtually no supply.  And much of the crowd seemed content to hang at the bars.  The street scene off the Roberto DiClemente bridge was definitely a-rockin'.  And the sheer quantity of boats and kayakers on the water was pretty spectacular.  And the weather was perfect as well.  So naturally, I made a hasty retreat back to Wheeling at 8:12pm.  First pitch was at... yep, you guessed it, 8:07pm.

Pirates 6
Reds 2